There are two main types of wartime Flieger -Kappmesser with a total of 10 known variations. The Type I LGK (three manufacturers, five WWII variations) has wooden scales (handle), was made between 1937 and 1943, and unlike successive models has no “take-down” capability. The LGK Type II (two makers, five WWII variations) is the same knife, but with takedown features, and was produced from 1943 to 1945 and then again from ca. 1950 to 1965.
After the end of World War II, the newly organized West German Bundeswehr placed new orders with German cutlery manufacturers for a post-war version of the Kappmesser to be issued to Army airborne forces and tank crews. The Luftwaffe ofWest Germany abandoned the gravity knife concept entirely and bought entirely different salvage knives, including a deck line cutter. The Type III “trapdoor” initial gravity knife, manufactured between 1955 and 1961 did not prove to be very reliable and so the original WWII Type II design was reintroduced until finally superseded by the earliest knives. type IV in approx. 1968. The Type IV LGK is very similar to the WWII production Type II takedown knife, but features plastic polymer instead of wood flakes and was manufactured by WMF, OFW and Eickhorn from 1972-1984.
They were handed over to the soldiers of the Bundeswehrto 2017. West Germany’s third post-war model is the LGK Type V, initially named AES79 and still produced under the designation LL80 (1979–present) by Eickhorn today. The LL80 is smaller, has fewer parts, and is more cost-effective to produce than the earlier Flieger-Kappmesser . It was purchased by the Swiss Air Force and issued to their Dassault Mirage pilots in 1983. These knives are marked AES83 and bear the aircraft number on the metal head.
On the other side of the Iron Curtain , in the German Democratic Republic , World War II Gravity Knives were reconditioned and reissued to paratroopers and pilots until existing stocks were depleted. In the early 1960s, two companies produced an East German version of Type I knives. They were then used until the early 1970s.
ibberson gravity knife
After numbers of Flieger-Kappmesser Type I were captured by British forces , the British government approached George Ibberson & Co. of Sheffield , England, a manufacturer of knives and cutlery, and requested production of a British version of the gravity knife. German Luftwaffe for special operations. Executive (SOE) and other clandestine warfare units. Under the initial wartime contract, George Ibberson & Co. manufactured 500 gravity knives for issue to SOE and other special forces. These Sheffield gravity knives had smooth wood or textured plastic scales, but were otherwise identical in features and operation to the Flieger-Kappmesser.Type I, with a gravity-deployed locking blade and a collapsible spike or pick. In the hands of British SOE agents, the Sheffield gravity knife was considered a secondary combat weapon. In addition to the knife blade, SOE melee instructors found the collapsible rigging spike useful for silently killing sentries by opening the carotid artery in the neck.
Fake Gravity’ and Non-Gravity Knives
Some folding or telescoping knives that can open their blades by the force of inertia or gravity were not designed or advertised by the manufacturer to do so. Knives that lock their blades open, but do not have any closed position locking devices, are called “false” gravity blades.
Illustration shows the internals of a 1960s Japanese import ‘fake’ gravity knife. Other knives may be considered ‘fake’ gravity knives, including certain back-lock and liner-lock folding knives that do not lock a blade in the open and closed positions.
After the passage of the Switchblade Knife Act in the US in 1958, it was discovered that some American companies were importing folding stiletto knives without spring mechanisms that did not have a pronounced blade heel (inner surface) on the area pivot which allowed the 11 and 13 inch blade models to open easily. Modern (post-1965) folding stilettos imported or distributed in the US now have blade studs that are intentionally pointed and against the locking mechanism, preventing inertial opening.
Other blades commonly confused with gravity knives include the automatic OTF knife , the switchblade and butterfly knife (or balisong), the slide knife , penny knife , and even occasionally common folding hunting knives such as the buck. 110 Folding Hunter.