The Fairbairn Smatchet

Discussion in 'Knife Arts' started by Chrisoro, Aug 10, 2015.

  1. Chrisoro

    Chrisoro Blue Belt

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    As I couldn't find any threads dedicated to this iconic weapon of WW2, I decided to make one.

    [​IMG]

    The smatchet was a big military fighting knife/short sword designed by William E. Fairbairn. It was designed to be as brutal and lethal as possible, with the least amount of training, and is one of two handheld bladed weapons of which instruction was given in his hand-to-hand-combat manuals 1942 All In Fighting / Get Tough!(.pdf). Get Tough! was essentially the same book as 1942 All In Fighting, except that the chapter on the use of the rifle was removed. I believe both manuals are now in the public domain.

    Here's how Fairbairn described the smatchet in 1942 All In Fighting:

    Here's the relevant instruction in the use of the Smatchet from 1942 All In Fighting:

    Carrying, Drawing, and Holding:
    The smatchet should be carried in the scabbard on the left side of the belt, as in Fig. 113. This permits one to run, climb, sit, or lie down.
    Note.-A.ny equipment at present carried in this position should be removed to another place.
    Pass the right hand through the thong and draw upwards with a bent arm (Fig. 114).
    Grip the handle as near the guard as possible, cutting edge downwards (Fig. 115).
    [​IMG]


    Close-In Blows:
    Drive well into the stomach (Fig. 116).
    "Sabre Cut" to right-low of neck (Fig. 117).
    Cut to left-low of neck (Fig. 118).
    Smash up with pommel, under chin (Fig. 119).
    Smash down with pommel into the face (Fig. 120).
    [​IMG]


    Attacking Blows:
    "Sabre Cut" to left or right wrist (Fig. 121).
    "Sabre Cut" to left or right arm (Fig. 122).
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2015
  2. Chrisoro

    Chrisoro Blue Belt

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    While there are quite exact reproductions of the OSS/SOE Smatchet available, these tends to be quite expensive, so I have been looking for good and less expensive alternatives for quite some time. A few years ago, Cold Steel released a knife/short sword they called a Smatchet, but it had a far longer and thinner blade than the original WW2 Smatchet.

    However, this year Cold Steel released the Shanghai Warrior knife which is essentially a bigger version of the earlier Shanghai Shadow. I believe the Shanghai Warrior is far closer to the original W. E. Fairbairn-designed smatchet of WW2, than their earlier attempt, which in my opinion is more of an an oversized smatchet-like machete. As I'm a sucker for everything related to WW2 combatives, I already have the Cold Steel Smatchet, which I was a bit disappointed in considering how unfaithful it is to the original WW2 Smatchet. It also had a really cheap looking and flimsy sheath.

    I have of course ordered the new Shanghai Warrior now, as it became available in web stores and will post a comparison of it next to the Cold Steel Smatchet when I get it.

    As of now, here's some pictures for comparison.

    The Shanghai Shadow(7" blade) and the Shanghai Warrior(9 3/4" blade):
    [​IMG]



    The Cold Steel Smatchet (14» blade):
    [​IMG]


    The original Fairbairn WW2 Smatchet (10 9/10" blade):
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2015
  3. Chrisoro

    Chrisoro Blue Belt

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    Here's an interesting article on the Smatchet from Defense Media Network:

    The Smatchet: Fairbairn’s Other Fighting Knife

     
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  4. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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  5. Sapphire

    Sapphire Yellow Belt

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    Reminds me of a leaf bladed sword. Very nice. I just wish less people thought that gun > knife all the time.
     
  6. Chrisoro

    Chrisoro Blue Belt

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    Apparently, it was based on the Royal Welch Fusiliers’ World War I trench sword, which proved to be very effective during the Battle of Messines Ridge in 1917. :)

    [​IMG]

    A well made replica (according to this review, at least) is available here, btw.

    Yes. I would think something like this could be effective in changing that perception. :)

     
  7. Sapphire

    Sapphire Yellow Belt

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    I dislike double-edged blades but that blade shape still speaks to me. I'm much more of a bolo-machete person at heart though.

    You know, I've talked about that drill with a lot of people who have simply never heard of it. I'm especially surprised when cops and soldiers haven't heard it.
     
  8. Chrisoro

    Chrisoro Blue Belt

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    In both cases, we are talking broad, multi-purpose blades, of which there is a kind of primeval feeling. I believe some of the oldest swords found, were leaf shaped bronze swords, such as early greek xhipos. :)

    While I would have no trouble carrying either(or even large kukris or bowie knives) if I was to go to any kind of war where there were a good chance of close quarter combat, the reason I personally is partial to the smatchet size and shape is part because I have great respect for its designer, part because I generally tend to feel that blades in the 9-12" ranges is more natural to my personal style as fighting weapons, especially if they employ a design that facilitates both effective cutting and stabbing, and part because it is a historical weapon that actually was tested in fairly modern combat(ww2) and found very effective(see the article I posted above).

    Speaking of which, the U.S. Army did at one time issue a large bolo knife, which most certainly also saw combat, and I have deep respect for the design as well.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2015
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  9. Chrisoro

    Chrisoro Blue Belt

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    Just recieved the Cold Steel Shanghai Warrior. Here are a comparison with the Laredo Bowie and with the Cold Steel Smatchet, as promised:

    Laredo Bowie( 10 1/2" blade) & Shanghai Warrior(9 3/4" blade). When holding them right below the guard, they have very close to the same effective reach, but the Laredo has a somewhat longer functional edge.
    [​IMG]

    Here's the Cold Steel Smatchet(14" inch blade), The Shanghai Warrior (9 3/4" blade) and a Ti-Lite for comparison (4" blade).
    [​IMG]

    The Cold Steel Shanghai Warrior also has a much nicer sheath than the Smatchet:
    [​IMG]
     
  10. TSDTexan

    TSDTexan Master Black Belt

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    Everytime I see that ring pommel on a bisymmetrical blade of that approximate size, I cannot help but to think about a kunai blade in the hands of Jason Statham.

    knai-discount-1024x468.jpg
     
  11. TSDTexan

    TSDTexan Master Black Belt

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    .
    ExpendablesKunaiNew1.jpg
     
  12. TSDTexan

    TSDTexan Master Black Belt

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    However, with regard to fixed blades this more what I prefer.
    Short handle tactical gladius... Or

    Gladius10.jpg
     
  13. TSDTexan

    TSDTexan Master Black Belt

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    .long handled
    1f175bdd2907a97fd3b89a3ecea8655c.jpg
     
  14. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    Well, his character in a film anyway. :) His actual sport was diving, he was in the Olympics.
     
  15. Chrisoro

    Chrisoro Blue Belt

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    @TSDTexan
    I would think comparing the size of the Shanghai Warrior with the United Cutlery Kunai is streatchning the meaning of the word "aproximate" a bit, since the Shanghai Warrior has a blade that is about four inches longer. ;) But yes, I see the similarity. I think both are based on the historical Kunai, which was not originally used as a throwing weapon but as a masonary tool. :)
     
  16. TSDTexan

    TSDTexan Master Black Belt

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    True... but at the same time, I don't think 4 inches will matter very much when it (either one) is buried to the hilt in the sternum.
     
  17. TSDTexan

    TSDTexan Master Black Belt

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    Other weapon that I am fond of is a tanto point-bit tamahawk. Been working with hawks since I was a kid. Much like the one below. Just think of a tanto rotated 90 degrees and attached to a shaft. It is a weapon, and serves no other utility. DSC06537.JPG
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2015
  18. Chrisoro

    Chrisoro Blue Belt

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    Do you happen to have a picture of one?
     

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