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~ Introduction ~

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~ Variations Of The Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife ~



The Australian Pattern

Known to most collectors as the ‘Australian Stiletto’ this unique and fascinating knife could be a study in its own right if it were not for the fact that they are so very difficult to find.  This interesting knife is of very unique design and although cosmetically different in many ways (both knife and scabbard) to the traditional F-S, the basic construction remains so similar it can confidently be considered a variation of the F-S design.

The Second Pattern F-SSecond_Pattern_-_Variations_Of_The_Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife.html
The Third Pattern F-SThird_Pattern_-_Variations_Of_The_Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife.html
The Ribbed & Beaded F-SRibbed_%26_Beaded_Pattern_-_Variations_Of_The_Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife.html
The Wooden Gripped F-SWooden_Gripped_Pattern_-_Variations_Of_The_Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife.html

Unlike the vast majority of ‘non’ Wilkinson F-S knives where the manufactures have never been identified, we know that the Australian Stiletto was made by two Australian makers, Whittingslowe & Gregsteel.  Their respective maker marks can often be seen stamped into the blades ricasso, Gregory Steel Products & WE respectively.  However many examples are not ‘maker’ marked but with careful observations it is I believe possible to attribute these to one or other of the known makers!

Both the Gregsteel and WE knives conform to the same basic design which consists of a long narrow tapered blade of around 7½” (longer and narrower than the standard F-S pattern) with a square tablet shaped ricasso reminiscent of the original First Pattern F-S design.  The cross-guard is flat sided with rounded ends.

A fine example of the A.A.S made by Whittingslowe with a leather scabbard by R.G. Brown.

The grip is normally cast alloy, in one piece (with no pommel nut),  although  some  rare  wooden knives have been noted all of which have thus far been attributed to Gregsteel.  The alloy gripped knives have 26 concentric rings (the standard Third Pattern F-S has 27) whereas the wooden gripped knives only have 21.  Sometimes the Australian Government acceptance mark of  D⩚D  can also be found stamped into the ricasso.  Interestingly some Australian collectors have noted an extra long ⩚ stamped into the opposite side of the ricasso.  On close inspection this appears it could be and arrow ‘over’ and I which is the Government ownership mark for India.  The meaning of this mark is not fully understood and research continues.

Both knife and scabbard are stamped with the Australian Department of Defence ownership mark of D⩚D.

~ Gregsteel Or Whittingslowe ? ~

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As previously mentioned not all Australian Stilettos are marked with either of the two maker marks and as both makers seem to have rigidly conformed to the same pattern it is somewhat difficult to attribute an unmarked knife to one maker or another.  However after careful observation of a number of these knives I have noted a very slight distinguishing feature that I believe sets the two manufactures apart.  If one looks closely at the ricasso where the blades grind meets the bottom edge of the ricasso, some terminate in a right-angle perpendicular to the blades central ridge, whereas other have a small sloping angle.  A small detail I grant you but never the less reflective of the machinery being used to perform this task.  From observed knives it appears that those knives with a straight perpendicular grind were made by Gregory Steel whereas those with an angled grind are from Whittingslowe.

The ‘angled’ grind of the ricasso attributes this knife to Whittingslowe.

The ‘perpendicular’ grind of this ricasso indicates a Gregsteel product.

Below two close-up views showing both side of the ricasso of a Whittingslowe knife (below).  One side showing the standard Australian Government ownership mark of D⩚D above their stylized ‘WE’ makers mark.  The other side of the ricasso is interesting as it shows what first appears to be an elongated broad arrow, however on closer inspection there is a division in the central line which creates and arrow above a simple ‘I’ perhaps indicating Indian inspection at some point (?).     

Another interesting example of a Whittingslowe knife, again the ricasso showing one side to have the standard D⩚D and WE markings, while the other side also has the broad arrow of ‘I’ as per the previous example shown above.  This knife is also interesting in that it has an unusual grip of a different pattern to the normal alloy examples one sees.  At first one would suspect the grip to be a replacement but the owner (an experienced collector) informs me that the grip does in fact appear original.  It is also worth noting that the number of concentric rings on alloy gripped knives is 26, however on this example there is only 21, this is the precise number seen on the wooden gripped version which has only thus far been seen on Gregsteel knives!  Whatever the reason for this anomaly it makes for an interesting and unique knife.

Courtesy John Kroezen collection

This truly exceptional Gregory Steel ‘wooden gripped’ Australian Stiletto is one of the finest examples I have yet seen.  The full length blade is in perfect condition and the ricasso is clearly marked ‘Gregory Steel Products’, (note the perpendicular grind to the ricasso).  The wooden grip has the standard 21 concentric rings and unusually is in superb condition.

Courtesy John Fischer collection

~ The R.G. Brown Leather Scabbard ~

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It would seem that both Gregsteel and Whittingslowe obtained their scabbards from the same source.  With the exception of those knives that have replacement scabbards the standard pattern appears to have been made and supplied by ‘R.G. Brown’.  These are of the more standard ‘hunting knife’ styles but are clearly designed for this particular knife.  Interestingly they have a number of marks, most notably the makers mark (R.G. Brown) stamped vertically between the belt loops, the is stamped above the date of 1943 which conveniently gives us a date for these knives.  Below this and stamped horizontally just above the mouth of the sheath is the Australian Government ownership mark of D⩚D.  One other marking that as yet has remained a mystery is stamped clearly on the back, the letters HB above a broad arrow!  Occasionally one does encounter another style of scabbard, almost identical but with straight sides (from the base layer of leather), examples with ‘no’ marking what so ever have also been observed.  There are two other styles of scabbard also known, one made of canvas and another from a modified bayonet scabbard.

~ An Unmarked Example Attributed To Gregsteel ~

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This splendid example has no makers marking or military ownership/inspection marks.  The un-trimmed and square bottomed scabbard does not conform to the standard brown type but does have the interesting marking of ⩚L stamped in ink to the rear.

A superb and highly detailed technical analysis between a Gregsteel and Whittingslowe AAS.


With kind permission of Bob Stone.

~ Further Reading ~

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~ Introducing A Guest Article By Michael Lobb ~

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My good friend Michael Lobb has a particular interest and expertise in one of the most fascinating wartime F-S variations, namely the Australian Army Stiletto or AAS as it often called.  Mike has written an excellent article that covers the full history of this important Australian fighting knife.  This uniquely Australian knife has a fascinating history and although scarce and much sought after by todays collector, there are a number of variations both in the knife, it’s markings and the sheath to look out for.  Michael has done a sterling job in bringing this elusive knife to life, sharing all the details and characteristics that make it one of the most interesting fighting knives of its period.


To read this ‘Guest Article On The A.A.S. by Michael Lobb - Click On This Link’, or follow the link in the main navigation bar at top.


If you have a specific area of expertise and would like to consider submitting a guest article then drop me a line.


Cheerio and happy collecting,

Roy .
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