The LC-14-B Woodman's Pal survival axe was originally a tool for forestry or agriculture, but quickly earned a place as an outstanding military implement. The well designed and balanced blade was first procured in World War II. The LC-14-B Woodman's Pal served through the Vietnam War and is still part of the military inventory of edged tools in the 21st Century.
Type IV Survival Ax, Vietnam era version of LC-14-B. Photos: Courtesy of ebay seller roughrider4.
The Woodman's Pal was developed by Frederick Ehrsam in 1941, and quickly established itself commercially as a superior tool for the forest or jungle. During World War II the tool was issued to Signal Corps and other soldiers under the nomenclature "Knife LC-14-B" for brush clearing or as a survival tool. It came with a cotton sheath/bag that had a zipper down one side, a strap at the closure and an M1910 hook at top. Using the hook, the LC-14-B could be attached to a pistol belt or other attachment point equipped with the hanger grommets. The back of the case had a short strap with snaps to aid in tying the case down.
In addition to the tool itself, two booklets and a sharpening stone were issued in the bag.
The booklets were titled:
Care, Use and Sharpening of Knife LC-14-B (Orange cover)
Fighting with Knife LC-14-B (Blue cover)
The LC-14-B was manufactured for the Army by Victor Tool Co. of Reading, PA. The parkerized blade is 12 inches long, 2 5/8 inches at its widest point and 16 5/8 inches overall length. The handle is made of stacked leather washers with a steel hand guard painted black. The blade is stamped as shown in the photo, left. The handguard is stamped on the back "LC-14-B." The case will be marked inside the zipper with "LC-14-B" and the manufacturer information.
Type IV Survival Ax in Vietnam
During the Vietnam war, the Woodman's Pal was designated as the Type IV Survival Ax, the main component of the "Tool Kit, Survival, Type IV" issued as NSN 8465-973-4807 under specification MIL-S-8642C. It was issued to air crews, helicopter crews, and for other survival purposes. In addition to the tool itself, the kit included:
Sharpening stone on chain with instructions
Burning Glass (magnifying lens) with instructions
Pouches for the stone and glass
Nylon tie cord, OD color
During this time period the tool was manufactured by Frank & Warren, Inc. The blade itself and the case will be so marked. The base of the case had two grommets for tying it to a leg or pack so it will not bounce. Early cases were cotton duck but were changed to nylon like other Army equipment of the Vietnam era.
For aircrew survival, the same tool was issued as the Global Survival Kit, SK-NA-2 Aircrewmans.
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