Spike Bayonet -  Early 19th Century

Spike Bayonet –
Early 19th Century

 

A well-known bayonet used in World War II was the M1942.  Though Bayonets have been a weapon of choice as early as the 17th Century, they were also extensively utilized throughout WWII.  Their design, shape and application evolved some, but overall, the bayonet has maintained a basic structure since its inception.

 

Early History

Prior to the 17th Century reference to bayonets, the term was in fact used during the 16th Century, however, sources are unable to confirm if the name referred to what has since been called a bayonet, or if the term referred to an object more in line with a knife.  In either case, the bayonet is believed to have first been developed as a hunting weapon.  It was used in early battles in conjunction with muskets.

 

M1942 Bayonet

Bayonets evolved over the centuries and but the M1942 Bayonet was used extensively as its design enabled it to be used with the M1 Garand.  The blade on the M1942 is 16” long and the handle is 4” long.  This particular bayonet is an exact duplicate of the

US military bayonets top down: M1905 Bayonet, M1 Bayonet, M1905E1 Bowie Point Bayonet (cut down version of the M1905), and the M4 Bayonet for the M1 Carbine.

US military bayonets top down:
M1905 Bayonet, M1 Bayonet, M1905E1 Bowie Point Bayonet (cut down version of the M1905), and the M4 Bayonet for the M1 Carbine.

M1905 Bayonet, used with the US Rifle Model 1903.  The construction of these bayonets allowed them to be used interchangeably with the M1903 fitting the M1 Garand and the M1942 fitting on the M1903 and the other variants of this weapon produced throughout WWI and WWII.

 

By 1943, a change in design was proposed.  The US Army had decided that a shorter bayonet would better serve the military on a number of levels.   At this time, a number of the M1905 and M1942s were recalled and their blades were cut down to 10 inches from the original 16.  All bayonets that were shortened to the 10” length, as well as all the new ones manufactured with a 10” length, became known as M1 bayonets.

Modern Day Bayonet

 

Shown here is the M7 Bayonet with an M8A1 Sheath

Shown here is the M7 Bayonet with an M8A1 Sheath

Today, it is rare for a bayonet to be used in a one-on-one combat.  However, a number of modern assault rifles are still produced with a bayonet lug.  When issuing this weapon, a number of armies still include a bayonet.  Some of today’s bayonets, such as the American M7, are basically used as a fighting knife.  They have been found to be effective in a number of other areas such as bottle openers, as a throwing knife and even as a utility knife.  When combined with its scabbard, the bayonet can be used to cut wire.    Troops can also use it to cut themselves free – if necessary – through the thin metal of an airplane or helicopter in the event of a crash.  Since one multi-purpose bayonet is able to serve a number of different purposes, it has become a cost-effective tool for the military.