History of Mark 1 Navy knife, part 1 of 3

The specification for the Mark 1 was very similar to the traditional hunting knife with 5.25-inch blade made during the 1930's .It is a handsome, hefty knife, mirror finished blade and a nickel silver guard. The handle is composed of stacked , smooth leather washers with colored disc called "Karolith". The spacers are blue, red and black with thin brass dividers. The large, asymmetric pommel is made of polished aluminium.

Introduction into World War II

Mark 1 knives manufactured for the U.S.Navy have a blade length of 5.24-inches but most other features vary considerably. The blades may be blued, polished bright, chromed or parkerized. They usually have flat grind (i.e. the blade tapers evenly all the way from the spine to the cutting edge on both sides) but knives made by Camillus have a sabre grind (i.e. the blade starts to taper in the middle of the blade, not the spine) Only Ka-Bar produced knife blades with a fuller, though they also produced knives with a flat grind.

Some handles are fitted with a double cross-guard (typical of U.S. military knives of the period) but others have a single cross-guard like the RH-35. Apart from the knives made by Colonial Knife, handles are composed of stacked leather washers, a ubiquitous feature of WWII American military knives. Pommels came in a range of materials: wood; steel; aluminum; and may be symmetric or asymmetric.

For collectors, all of this means that there is a huge range of variations.


Typically, a knife maker's name or emblem is found on the obverse side of the blade, on the ricasso. (if you hold a knife in the right hand with the blade pointed away from the body and cutting edge facing down, the obverse side is the left side of the blade.) On USN Mark 1 knives, however, the maker's name usually appears on the reverse side. The obverse side is typically stamped "USN" or "USN Mark 1".


Knives were initially issued with leather sheaths made by at least five different manufacturers. They are of robust construction and usually have an integral belt loop. This is in contrast to the sheaths usually found with Army Air Corps survival knives and six inch utility knives of the period 




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