Olean and Bradford, Pa., are world-renowned as knife-making cities, not least for their contributions to making iconic blades for the U.S. Armed Forces beginning in World War II.
The KA-BAR knife, originated by the Union Cutlery Co. of Olean, was adopted by the U.S. Marines as its official fighting knife in 1942, while Case & Sons of Bradford produced the V-42 and fixed-blade “Bolo” Survival Machete.
These two Case models are featured on the History Channel show “Forged in Fire” in back-to-back episodes tonight.
“We were contacted by the show’s producers some time ago,” Case spokesman Fred Feightner explained to The Bradford Era’s Marcie Schellhammer on Tuesday. “They told us they were considering a potential episode that would be dedicated to the remaking of a vintage wartime knife.
“So of course we told them the story of the V-42 that was carried exclusively by members of the First Special Service Force during World War II,” he said, referencing one of the precursors to today’s U.S. Special Forces.
“We’re proud of the heritage of that knife, and we’re extremely honored to have this show feature the V-42 so the entire ‘Forged in Fire’ audience can learn and appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into making such a knife,” Feightner said.
The two episodes are part of a five-episode “Branch Battle” tournament, History’s website notes. The description of the show says “top bladesmiths from each military branch including Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines compete to replicate some of military history’s most iconic edged weapons.”
Today’s episode will feature four Army soldiers “challenged to hand-forge their own V-42 stiletto, the knife issued exclusively by Case to the First Special Service Force (aka the “Devil’s Brigade”) during World War II. The resulting knives are then put through a series of tests to see which knife performs best and is the most accurate replica of a WWII-era original V-42.”
The winner of the competition will move on to the finale, which will premiere at 9 p.m. May 22.
The second episode tonight will feature four bladesmiths from the Air Force to “forge another WWII relic, the Case fixed blade ‘Bolo’ Survival Machete. The contestants will employ the San Mai technique to combine high carbon steel with helicopter parts to make this knife.”
The winner will move on to the finale as well.
“Both the V-42 and the Fixed Blade Survival Machete were made by Case during WWII, as most manufacturing was devoted to the war effort,” reads the show’s description. “In all, the U.S. government called on Case to make dozens of customized knives during WWII for each branch’s unique needs.”
Feightner said the Bradford company — today part of the Zippo Manufacturing Co. family — is honored to be part of the show.
“Just being a part of this special military-themed tournament series is a thrill for us, we’re sure the Case fans across America agree, too,” he said. “We hope we get to do it again soon.”