"Pilots, Man Your Planes!"   
                                         WWII U.S. Naval Aviation Collector's Guide                                                                              
 
THE CUTTING EDGE

Manufacture of The Engineer Knife by Imperial and Ulster was conducted as a joint venture. In 1942, the Imperial Knife Co. and the Ulster Knife Co. joined forces (later known as the Imperial Knife Associated Companies) to produce knives for the US military. The company that produced knives through their association (on paper) was known as the Kingston Cutlery Co. , located in Kingston, NY, which was a recognized manufacturer of the all stainless steel MIL-K knife. Imperial and Ulster still maintained production of their own lines of knives utilizing their branding on the tang, but the knives manufactured by Kingston were simply stamped Made in USA. Imperial branded Engineer knives are found with a USMC stamped round shield. As with Made in USA branded examples, the Marine Corp was procuring these knives prior to the adoption of the M-575. Ulster produced branded Engineer knives as well in bone stag and all steel construction with no shield. The knife pictured below is of wartime manufacture and could be considered correct for the M-575.  The distinguishing features of the Imperial/Ulster/Kingston Engineer knife include the can opener’s dome headed leverage pin and large clevis. Kingston pocket knives were manufactured in both bone stag and black plastic grips and were of all steel construction and supplied to the BuAer as Jackknife M-575. Every knife company seemed to have their own style of can opener and varieties within their own production until the standardization of the “Safety Can Opener”. Imperial applied for a patent in November 1944 for their own design which was known as the  “Eagle Claw” or “Eagle Beak" can opener.


Below: The M-592 kit which included the Jackknife M-575.
Above and below:  These two models are correct M-575 jackknives.

This model would have been introduced after the production of the last M-592 kits but could have been included in later life rafts and other emergency kits.

A pilot from VF-83 in the summer of 1945 with a pocketknife hanging from his life vest. It is only speculation, but his lack of an M-592 survival kit may indicate that his squadron has been equipped with the Model A or PK-1 pararaft kit. If so, it was a common practice to remove and retain desirable items from the newly obsolete backpad kits, therefore that may be the origin of his knife.