Monday, July 2, 2012

Austrian Army Folding Shovel - Österreichischen Klappspaten

Österreichischen Klappspaten / Feldspaten

Thanks to : Marksharky from Four Bees for the Post 
Please visit also his Blog : Here 

After WW2, Austria did not fare too well during the post-war occupation.  After they were ravaged by the Russians, and occupied by the US, they finally regained their "independence" in 1955.  Austria declared their "eternal neutrality" and re-started a new army (Defence Force), the Bundesheer.  The new Austrian Army was equipped with US equipment, weapons, and uniforms, as well as their own "Germanic equivalent" to the US uniforms and equipment.  It was no surprise that Austria manufactured, and issued their own version of the US M43 folding shovel.

These Austrian folding shovels were first issued during the first couple of years of the new Bundesheer's existence. The first camo covers were manufactured using the "new camo" pattern adopted in 1957. It is my guess that this is also the first year that these shovels were issued as well. The Austrian Army used this camo from 1957 until the 1970's. All of the camo was manufactured in the 1950's and 1960's. Since my two shovels are dated 1957 and 1967, and they have their original camo covers, this makes them some of the earliest of the old, post-war, Austrian equipment. Sometime in the late 1970's, the Austrian Army abandoned the use of camouflage for uniforms and equipment and adopted standard, OD Green for all military equipment and uniforms.

These Austrian shovels appear at first to be identical to the old WW2, US M43 shovels. However, on closer inspection, there are some significant differences. The first and most obvious, is the curvature of the blade. These Austrian blades are more curved from side-to-side and front-to-back, than the flatter, US shovels.

The blade adjustment and locking arrangement is also slightly different (and improved). Between the locking nut and the blade mount, there is a flat washer with two flat lugs. These lugs fit into the various notches in the blade mount-hinge. This allows for several additional angles as opposed to the "straight, 90 degree or folded" options found on the US shovels, and makes for a very secure lock-up.

There are also a few differences between the two of my shovels. Blade curves are slightly different and the handles are different lengths, and the handle ends are shaped differently. The handle rivets and seam in the handle mount sockets are in different locations as well. I am sure this is just manufacturing variation and not different model specifications though.


1970s Shovel Cover 

1957-1970s Shovel Cover 


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