Osprey’s new Weapons series, which well suits the publisher's format, goes from strength to strength with this excellent and detailed book. The Fairbairn- Sykes commando dagger developed by two former Hong Kong police officers is one of the most iconic and deadly close combat weapons in the world. This detailed book does the weapon the justice it deserves, tracing its development at the start of World War 2 for use with newly formed Commandos, SAS and SOE forces. The weapon was designed for Special Forces who often needed to silence a sentry quickly and quietly and as Churchill said take the fight to the Germans with cold steel while the allies prepared to go on the offensive later in the war. The knife was a departure from bayonet fighting and its use required considerable training not only in its lethal use when applied to certain key arteries but also in preparing the user for the considerable psychological impact of the brutality of combat knife use.
The book looks in detail at the evolution of the knife and its design, both improvements in design and sheath design but also how mass production brought simpler designs. This section although interesting is mainly for the serious collector. The sections on the training in the use of the weapon are the most interesting with some real life accounts and a good service history. The book details which units were issued the weapon and how other countries adopted its use and modified the basic design to better fit their own specific needs ,mainly to make the weapon more ‘squaddie proof’ - that is to take the abuse and misuse that the common soldier would put the weapon to, from cutting cheese to opening cans.The final parts of the book look at how the commando dagger has become the icon weapon/ symbol of many of the world's Special Forces and briefly examine the modern evolution of the fighting knife but this section is sadly brief due to space constraints. Overall this is an excellent book and well worth adding to your collection.
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