GERMAN 98/05 VARIATIONS.
The German 98/05 "Butcher Blade" bayonet was the most common bayonet used by the German army in WWI, it was called the "Butcher Blade" by the Allies due to it's distinctive shape. For the fuller details on this Bayonet read Anthony Caters book GERMAN BAYONETS Vol I, it is probably the best reference to this blade currently available. The book goes into a lot more detail on manufacturers, scarcities etc. than I want to go into here. The photographs are all of blades in my collection which includes most but not yet all of what I consider to be the major variations ( I do not go as far as individual makers, only distinct "patterns" or countries of use)
BRIEF HISTORY S98/05
The Seitengewehr 98/05 was introduced into the Prussian army in late 1905, as a replacement for the 98/02 for engineers and pioneer troops, as the 98/02 was deemed to long and heavy for it's intended purpose. Initial production was in two versions, the first plain backed, and the second with 29 double teeth. The scabbard was leather with steel throat and chape mounts. The bayonet as typical of German blades did not have more than a vestigial muzzle ring, relying on the length of the hilt mounting to fix the blade to its rifle. The plain back version was identified as the S98/05 or S98/05 o.S. (ohne Säge - without saw) and the saw back as the S98/05 S or m.S. (mit Säge - with saw). About 6% of blades made were fitted with the saw back
At the beginning of WWI it was found that the S98/05 had a problem when used with the Karabiner 98 rifle, the shorter barrel on this model led to burning and damage to the grips as the barrel finished before the vestigial muzzle ring, so in1915 it was decided to fit a steel flash guard (Schutzbleche) to the back of the bayonet to protect the grips. The bayonet was modified by removing most of the muzzle ring remaining, reducing the back of the tang and adding the flash guard. This led to a change in designation of the bayonet to the S98/05 nA (for neuer Art - new type) for new production and a retroactive change to S98/05 aA (alter Art - old type). These still had the additional letters to indicate whether the blade was equipped with the Saw back or not S98/05 aA S and S98/05 nA S. Additionally in 1915 an all steel scabbard was introduced to replace the more easily damaged leather.
The change over between the aA and the nA bayonets led to blades that were neither one version or the other, these are known as the transitional pattern blades. This meant that you can get high eared aA blades with flash guards, and low eared nA without. The form of the partial muzzle ring is used to identify the base model. Both sawback and non sawback versions can be found. It is possible that some of the aA blades are actually partially converted aA pattern bayonets rather than relics of production, and the date mark on the spine should be used to confirm if the model is a possible transition model or not.
Allied propaganda had a field day with the Terrible Hun Saw Back Butcher Blades, which was reported to be used because of the terrible wounds it inflicted - it was actually used as a distinctive blade for NCO's and as a saw for cutting wood wire fence posts etc. After rumours of Allied mis treatment of prisoners captured with these blades it was decided in 1917 to stop production of the saw backed version totally, and either send saw backs to rear echelon troops or remove the saw back. (Note with the withdrawal of the saw back, troops had to be issued with wire saws). The modified blades were designated the S98/05 S.abg. (Säge abgeschliffen - saw removed).
By the end of WWI the 84/98 was taking over as the primary bayonet for the German troops, and production stopped. Large numbers of the blades were shipped to Turkey, Poland, and Yugoslavia and others, for use by their nations armies. Between the wars the 98/05 was issued to specially identified troops as a mark of distinction or honour. The peace treaty restricted the numbers of weapons allowed to the German army and so after 1920 authorised blades were stamped with 1920 on the cross guard (in 1923 the 98/05 was removed from service), this stamp indicates official use by the Weimar republic.
A further version of the blade can be found with a deep V notch in the pommel, these were "deactivated" for use as side arms, they may also be found with the press stud ground flush. The notch was supposed to deactivate the blade but often was not taken deep enough and the blade could still be attached to the rifle.
During WWII some 98/05 bayonets were reconditioned and used by the Luftwaffe for ground personnel, only limited numbers of these blades have been recorded
ERSATZ BAYONETS 88/98
The Ersatz bayonets contrary to popular belief were actually made at the beginning of the WWI, as the armament factories couldn't produce weapons fast enough to cope with the rapidly expanding army, and not at the end to cope with materials constraints. There are over 80 identified Ersatz bayonets produced during the first years of the War, either by modifying captured blades or using newly made blades, and most can be identified by the use of metal hilts. The S98/05 as copied by makers of the Ersatz blades and both sawback and non sawback versions were made. There are no recorded saw back removed versions of the blade, as by the time this rule came in all Ersatz blades were used by rear echelon troops and no new blades were in production.
98/05 were used by the Czechs up to 1939, and the blades were marked with CSZ and the Czech Lion. They have the flash guard removed and may be fitted with smooth grips.
Polish Bayonets are normally marked on the Pommel with WZ.98, or WZ98 over 05. These may also be found with smooth replacement grips or with 7 diagonal grooves. Versions with the saw back removed have also been noticed.
Large numbers of German blades were used by the Turkish army between the wars, and both 98/05 and 88/98 variants were pressed into service. With the introduction of a new rifle in 1935 many of these blades were modified to fit the new rifle. The modifications were a shortening of the hilt, a new cross guard, and a reduction in blade length to nominally 10" 250mm. Due to the shape of the 98/05 style blade the shortening of these blades was accompanied by a grinding to make the blades parallel. Sawback and plain blades can be found and the Turkish removal of the sawback was not as total as that of the German army.
The 98/05 bayonets used by Yugoslavia underwent a significant modification before use by the Yugoslav army. The blades were all reshaped to give a a parallel blade. New cross guards without muzzle rings were normally fitted (although ones with rings have been noted). New Scabbards to fit the slimmer blade were made, and new grips were often fitted with or without the flash guard, they can also be found with and without blueing. Although seen on EBAY there are no sawbacked versions of this blade, those that appear are actually Belgain M24 longs with the saw teeth added, although several people paid a lot of money when they first turned up.
|S98/05 aA |
close up of grip damage on S98/05 aA without flash guard
|S98/05 aA transitional|
|Throat markings on aA transitional S 98/05 with leather scabbard |
S98/05 nA S transitional sawback with leather scabbard
98/05 aA mS, early version made in 1906 with original scabbard and frog
Early point did not have a false edge, these were often ground on later as in this case
Markings are for the Wurttenberg Pioneer battalion, the smallest German state they only had the one pioneer battalion. Scabbard is marked to 2 rather than 3 so is not matching but from the same unit.
Frog is marked to the 13th Battalion as well so is original frog although 1914 dated
|S98/05 nA S|
S98/05 nA and blued blade
|S98/05 nA S abg with sawback removed|
S98/05 S abg - close up of ground area
1915 marked Duisberg made 98/05 nA, this is one of the less common maker/date combinations according to Carters books
Scabbard inspection mark
also on frog stud
Bavarian 98/05 nA with spine marking for Ludwig 1917
No makers marks on either ricasso - very uncommon
Square oil hole probably indicates Fichtel and Sachs as maker
Crowned R inspection mark under cross guard
|88/98 ersatz with original 98/05 scabbard (EB47)|
|88/98 ersatz 7 groove steel hilt with plain blade with narrow fullers (EB47)|
|88/98 ersatz with Parallel blade|
|88/98 ersatz 51 tooth sawback in original 98/05 sawback leather scabbard (EB43)|
|Unit markings on leather scabbard for Ersatz 98/05 sawback|
|A very interesting conversion of the 98.05 into a trench club by the addition of a heavy lead club cast onto the end of the blade, a very effective close combat weapon in the right hands -|
photo courtesy of Phil Dickens
1920 marked 98/05 nA that has been refinished and is completely reblued for Police issue. The hilt has been marked with a police unit marking. Frog is a 1940 made example.
|Another Weimar re issue this time a 98/05 the cut out in the pommel was to turn the blade into a side arm as it was meant to disable the locking stud. this one has had all of the stud assembly welded/brazed and chromed, and the grips replaced with horn grips. In addition there has been a "latch" fitted to the spine which would prevent it fitting into a standard scabbard.|
Currently I am unsure of status of this piece. IS it a dress piece? if so why has V notch been left in and not filled.
|1920 date on cross guard of Weimar republic bayonet|
S98/05 with V notched hilt
S98/05 with V notched hilt - showing spring under operative press stud
|Refurbished German 98/05 used by initial units on formation of Czech republic in 1918|
E Lion 23 markings on 98/05
Czech marked 98/05 with Czech lion, bayonet has been refurbished and blued before issue
|Czech marked 98/05 with Czech lion and regimental marks (courtesy Adam Lubas)|
Post WWI rework of German 98/05 with sawback removed
Original grips replaced with new smooth grips and flash guard has been removed
Interestingly serial is on ricasso and on cross guard, was this to allow the serial to be read with the scbbard on
Pommel has WZ 98 Polish marking
Polish frog is missing buckle, much of the original paint is intact
|Shortened and re shaped saw backed German 98/05|
Close up of blade on reshaped sawback
|S98/05 sawback removed |
close up of cross guard modifications and the removed sawback
|Shortened and reshaped German 98/05|
|1935 pattern conversions of German S98 and S98/05 pattern sawbacks. both have only partial removal of sawback, and show signs of the hilts being shortened, resulting in longer ricasso's|
|98/05 modified to fit the export pattern rifle by adding a high muzzle ring directly to the blade tang, instead of moving the cross guard back and adding it to that|
|Converted from German M16 Ersatz by shortening and grinding original shape would be as a German 98/05 |
Close up of the badly ground end of the above blade
M24B made from German 98/05 with blade ground parrallel, these often have replaced grips with grooves slanting in reverse to the German originals and blued and without muzzle rings
M24B without muzzle ring and marked on the crossguard M24B