"The psychological reaction of any man, when he first takes the smatchet in his hand is full justification for its recommendation as a fighting weapon. He will immediately register all the essential qualities of good soldier-confidence, determination, and aggressiveness.
Its balance, weight and killing power, with the point, edge or pommel, combined with the extremely simple training necessary to become efficient in its use, make it the ideal personal weapon for all those not armed with a rifle and bayonet."
~W.E. Fairbairn

Creation

Fairbairn created the smatchet during World War II. The whole knife was 40cm long. The double-edged, leaf shaped blade allowed for stabbing or slashing. The knife was heavy enough to smash through helmets if used properly. The large pommel could also be used as a bashing weapon. It could also be used like a machete to cut through brush. As cool as this knife sounds, the soldiers didn't seem to like it, and its use by the British Army was discontinued. Colonel Applegate and Fairbairn came up with an improved design, it could not, however, be brought into production for use in WWII.

Evolution

In 1987, Applegate approached Bill Harsey with a view of producing an improved smatchet. The resulting knife had a blade that was slightly heavier for better balance and a symmetrical handle, it was also cheaper to produce.
In America, Buck and AL Mar both made smatchets in the late 1980s and early 1990s, however, they proved too costly to produce and production ceased.
The M9 scabbard was based on the smatchet's scabbard. An early design patent, dated 1989 issued to Charles A. Finn references the smatchet scabbard patented by William E. Fairbairn.
In the year 2000 Böker started to produce its version of the smatchet.
The improved smatchet is in use today by the British Special Forces

The Name

Smatchet n.
A small, nasty person, or a nasty child.

Sources

http://www.museumofworldwarii.com/
http://www.usmilitaryknives.com/
http://www.gutterfighting.org/

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