In the period from the forties to the sixties of the last century, the NA-40 army knife was the main authorized cold steel in the Soviet army and the armies of many socialist countries. Apparently, thanks to such a widespread use of this weapon, its history has acquired many legends. Often having nothing to do with reality.
Army knife NA-40, the history of creation, myths and legends about the knife, production, design features of the army knife NA-40.
Only the lazy did not write about the army knife NA-40. Sometimes they point out that in 1940 the NR-40 reconnaissance knife and the NA-40 submachine gun knife were adopted by the Red Army. This is where the first legend is born!
It is believed that during the Soviet-Finnish war it became clear: a fighter of the Red Army, armed with a submachine gun, has nothing to go hand to hand with. His weapon does not have a bayonet. So, in 1940, following the results of the “winter” war, the knife of the machine gunner NA-40 was adopted by the Red Army. Funny idea!
Recall that the development and mass production of submachine guns in the USSR was the result of the war with Finland. In which the new rifles showed themselves not in the best way – the automatic ASV-36 and the self-loading SVT-40. Degtyarev submachine guns (PPD-34, PPD-38 and PPD-40) in the Soviet units during the “winter” war were few. And for the sake of the soldiers they armed, inventing a specialized knife, to put it mildly, is not reasonable.
Approximately the same picture with the knife of the scout HP-40. So far, no one has managed to find a single Soviet knife, which in its design, device and size would differ from the authorized NA-40. Yes, and under this abbreviation is not “a knife of a machine gunner”, but a “knife of an army sample of 1940.” NR-40 and NA-40 are just different names for the same weapon.
The adoption of the army knife NA-40 in service with the Red Army.
The adoption of the NA-40 knife for arming of the Red Army is in no way connected with the beginning of mass equipping of infantry units with relatively short-barreled (without a standard bayonet) manual automatic weapons. The reason is completely different. The soldier needed cold steel, suitable both for hand-to-hand combat and for everyday use. Cut bread or open a can of stew.
The time was hard, the resources of the state are limited, well, who in this situation will produce a special scout knife ?! That’s why the NA-40 was used not only by infantrymen, but also by sailors, and tankers, and artillerymen, and sappers. Well, scouts, of course.
Production of the army knife NA-40.
The army knife NA-40 was manufactured by several state enterprises and artels. Here are just a few of them:
Zlatoust plant number 259.
Factory “Labor” in the village of Vacha.
Artel “Star” in the village of Belyakovo.
Kustari in the village of Medovtsevo.
The NA-40 army knives were also mass-produced by order of the state by artisan craftsmen in Uzbekistan. The only manufacturer that branded its products was the ZiK plant (Zlatoust Tool Plant-Combine No. 259 named after V.I. Lenin). The rest simply did not have such technological capabilities..
It is often indicated that the guard and blades of the NA-40 knives burned, and the sheath and hilt were painted black with bakelite varnish. Note that this is only partly true. The scabbard and pens were really painted everywhere. But chemically oxidizing metal parts could only in Zlatoust in the factory.
Inverted Guard of Army Knife NA-40.
It can often be read that the guard on knives of the Great Patriotic War was set upside down. In this case, its bevel towards the blade was on the side where the sharpening was. This allowed the thumb to rest against this bevel, when the knife was held with the cutting edge up.
Such a grip of weapons was supposedly needed when removing sentries. When a knife was struck from the side or from bottom to top. Such tricks, according to popular rumor, were taken from the instructions of the NKVD on knife fighting.
However, none of those living on earth ever held such instructions. I can fully assume that such publications existed somewhere in the bowels of the Soviet special services, but they belonged to closed literature, which was used by a very limited circle of people. It may be that there were no such instructions in nature, but the “bloody gebenia” studied knife fighting in the shoulder way. At instructors who received this knowledge from their mentors, and so on along the chain.
As for the inverted guard, then the answer is simple. In the production, which was carried out by unskilled workers, it could simply be turned over by mistake. OTK, apparently, closed his eyes to it. For to rivet the shank of the handle to rebuild the knife did not make sense, since improper installation of the guard on the functionality of the product did not affect.
Design features of the army knife NA-40.
The design of the army knife NA-40 is very simple. Blade with a pike nose straight length 155 mm. Made of U7 steel. Hard wood handle. It was mounted on the shank, which passed through it and from the end of the handle was riveted through the washer. The pen and guard were painted with black bakelite varnish. Wooden sheath, as a rule, with a tin tip and a tin edging. After assembly, they were also painted black.
Legend of army knives NA-40 associated with the Ural Volunteer Tank Corps.
The most beautiful, but also the craziest legend about knives NA-40 is associated with the Ural Volunteer Tank Corps. According to it, in 1943, the entire corps, equipped with weapons and equipment, made for the contributions of workers of the Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk and Molotov (Perm) regions, from privates to commanders, the workers of the Zlatoust tool factory made “knives of the Finnish type” with a black handle from ebonite , scabbard and metal parts.
According to the description, these were actually army knives of the 1940 model. German intelligence immediately drew attention to the non-standard cold weapons of tankers. And the Ural tank corps began to be called the “Schwarzmesser Division” – “the division of black knives”.
To begin with, the usual standard army NA-40 was already black in accordance with tactical and technical requirements. Even if we assume that an ebonite handle was put on the ZiK on a standard NA-40. Although this is unlikely, because ebonite was a scarce dielectric with normalized tempering. The knife would still be outwardly difficult to distinguish from the regular.
That is, until such a weapon is picked up, it is completely impossible to understand what kind of handle it is on. From black ebonite, or idle wooden, painted black. How German intelligence officers at a distance distinguished the NA-40 with a wooden handle from the NA-40 with ebony, it is completely impossible to understand.
I think that the fighters of the Ural Volunteer Tank Corps were actually given the most ordinary army knives NA-40 manufactured by ZiK. And the whole story with the Schwarzmesser Division is simply, as they say today, a fake.
Replicas of the army knife NA-40.
Sometimes they write that there was even a general version of the NA-40. We must say right away that there are no documents confirming this! But soldiers often mocked at the authorized knife. Sometimes, fighters individually made both brass scabbard and plexiglass handles for him. In a word, there were many options for decorating. They must have become the starting point for the legend of the general, richly finished version of the NA-40.
Today, many knife companies produce replicas of the army knife NA-40 (HP-40). As a rule, these are knives with a blade shortened by 10 mm, resembling a legendary weapon in general appearance. Finishing such “copies” can be very diverse. However, often these crafts are very weakly related to the real NA-40. Weapons, on the one hand, cheap and practical, and on the other, very brutal because of its simplicity.
According to the magazine “Weapon”.