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PRESERVING THE ITEMS THAT WITNESSED HISTORY

M-51 Yugoslav Paratrooper Knife

M-51 Yugoslav Paratrooper Knife

In post-war Communist Yugoslavia, a lot of military equipment was imported from the Soviet Union, and some of the locally manufactured army gear was made under Soviet influence.  M51 combat knife was introduced to Yugoslav People's Army units at the beginning of the 1960s, as the standard combat knife for Yugoslav special forces. It was built in the Factory Zastava Kragujevac and its design is based on the design of the Soviet WW2-era combat knife, NR 40 ( Russian: Нож Разведчика, meaning the scout knife).
 


The knife was the formation knife used by the 63rd parachute brigade, the highest-rank combat unit in the Yugoslav People's Army, and all the other units that used rifles without bayonets (submachine guns), officers and Guard units. The knife was in operative use until the early 70s when it was decommissioned and introduced to Territorial Defense Units (Teritorijalna odbrana). The knife was never used in combat until the Ten-Day War in Slovenia when it was a part of the equipment of the Slovenian Territorial Defense.



The blade of the knife is made out of steel, it is forged in one piece, straight and single-edged, and its top is shaped in a form of a slant pike. The marking on the blade is in the form of the five-pointed star, with the number 69 in the center. The knife hilt consists of a corrugated, wooden handle, which is thickest in the middle, and an S-shaped steel guard. At the bottom of the hilt, there is a steel sleeve.  The guard of the knife is in the form of a slightly S-shaped cross, whose upper side is bent towards the handle and lower towards the blade, contrary to the Soviet NR 40 unconventional bend. The knife scabbard is composite, it is made out of wood and the scabbard mouth and tip are made out of steel.  At the top of the mouth, a leather scabbard frog is attached. Both the wooden parts of the handle and the scabbard have their markings.  The knife scabbard and handle are colored in gray-olive paint (Serbian: Sivo Maslinasta Boja, shortened SMB) a standard color used for Yugoslav People’s Army equipment. The overall length of the knife, including the handle, is 260 mm, the blade is 150 mm long and 24 mm wide. The knife is very light, it weighs just over 200 grams measured with a scabbard, and 160 without it. This rare collectible knife is praised among civilians for its high quality, and it remains a popular knife for hikers and nature enthusiasts.


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