28 April 2011
Bayonet Fact File No. 42: The Siamese Type 66 Knife bayonet for the Type 66 Mauser Rifle of 1923 ...
The Siamese Type 66 Knife bayonet for the Type 66 Mauser Rifle of 1923
Overall Length: 411mm Blade Length: 300mm
Muzzle Ring: 15.5mm Scabbard: 318mm
The bayonet (Plate A) has a beaked blued steel pommel with a T-sectioned mortise and a coil-spring actuated fixing catch which is operated by a plain domed button on the reverse side. The pommel is secured to the blade tang by two flush-finished and almost invisible steel rivets. The two dark hardwood grips meet the pommel in a diagonal line. The grips are held in place by two small screwdriver slotted bolts, with flat countersunk heads set in oval washers, which screw into plain oval nuts. (These typically Japanese oval washers and nuts have been described as ‘race-track’ shaped by collectors in the USA.)
The blued steel cross-guard has a high-set muzzle ring and a lower quillon in the form of a forwardcurving hook with a slightly flared end. The cross-guard is secured to the tang by two flush rivets. The bright-finished blade is flat-backed and single-edged with a fuller on each face. It terminates in a slightly swaged centred spear point.
The assembled bayonet has no visible markings, but marks are revealed if the grips are removed, these being shown in Plate A. The obverse blade tang is stamped with a Japanese numeral “3” (three horizontal lines) whilst the obverse side of the tang is stamped with a Japanese character (believed to be ‘te’) and “56” in Western numerals. The underside of each wood grip is again stampedwith the ‘te’ character and numbered “56”.
The scabbard, in contrast, has no markings. It is constructed entirely of blued steel, the body terminating in a ball finial at the tip. The mouthpiece has blade-retaining springs and is held in place by a screw-bolt set centrally on the obverse side in a raised section of a strengthening band which runs around the scabbard body. A skateboard shaped frog-stud set on an oval base can also be found on the obverse side of the scabbard body.
The bayonet’s country of origin was known as Siam until 1939 when it officially became Thailand. The name reverted to Siam from 1945-49, then it became Thailand once again. In 1923 Siam adopted a Mauser Short Rifle firing an 8x52mm rimmed cartridge. This rifle was officially termed the Type 66, these being the last two digits of the year 2466 of the Buddhist calendar used in Siam. (The Buddhist calendar year is arrived at by adding 543 to the Western European Gregorian calendar year, so 1923 + 543 equals 2466. However, the Buddhist New Year occurs on the 12th April so the year of adoption of the Type 66 actually runs from April 1923 to April 1924.) In the past, a number of authors have incorrectly identified this rifle and bayonet as the Type 51 of 1908.
The Type 66 Mauser Rifle and its bayonet were supplied to the Siamese authorities by the Taihei Kumiai (Pacific Union) munitions export company of Tokyo, rifle manufacture having been undertaken at the Koishikawa Arsenal, also located in Tokyo, Japan. The Siamese rifle was a shortened and modified Japanese Meiji Year 38 rifle which had been adopted by Japan in 1905. The Siamese bayonet is based on the earlier Japanese Meiji Year 30 bayonet of 1897, but has a larger 15.5mm muzzle ring, as opposed to the 14mm ring of the Japanese model which fitted their Arisaka Rifle. The Siamese Type 66 blade is shorter (300mm) and has a centred spear point, whereas the Japanese bayonet has a 400mm blade with an off-centre slant point. The Siamese Type 66 scabbard is also based on the Japanese Type 30 design but is obviously shorter and has a frog-stud which replaces the Japanese frog-strap staple, which was formed as part of the strengthening band around the scabbard body near the mouthpiece.
Siam purchased a total of 50,000 Type 66 bayonets from Japan – 5,000 in March 1925 and 15,000 in the March of each of the three following years, 1926, 1927 and 1928. It is interesting that there was a two-year delay between Siam adopting the Type 66 and the first deliveries. This may have been due the damage to manufacturing facilities caused by the Tokyo earthquake of 1923.
Another possible cause was the attitude of King Vajiravudh of Siam (also known as King Rama VI). He was an enthusiastic anglophile who had trained at Sandhurst and who had served as an officer in the Durham Light Infantry. He was opposed to the adoption of the Japanese-made Mauser rifles by the Siamese military as he favoured the British S.M.L.E. Rifle and P.1907 bayonet. His own personal guard, the Wild Tiger Corps, had been armed with the British arms in 1919 which were designated the Type 62 rifle and bayonet in Siam.
The Siamese Pattern 1907 bayonet has been nicknamed the “Pussy Cat” bayonet by today’s collectors as the emblem of the Wild Tiger Corps, a tiger’s head, is stamped on the blade ricasso. King Vajiravudh however died in 1925, leaving the way clear for the Siamese military to complete their acquisition of their preferred Type 66 Mauser rifle and bayonet.
The Type 66 bayonet was used in Siam for quite a long period (seemingly until around 1968 when many were sold-off to military surplus dealers). During this extended period many bayonets required refurbishing and this was undertaken at Siamese arsenals. The illustrated bayonet may have been refinished as the bayonets originally received from Japan appear to have been marked with a
serial number (in Siamese numerals) plus an inspection stamp on the rear surface of the pommel, these missing markings having
possibly been polished away during the renovation process.
Other Type 66 bayonets were re-gripped, replacement grips of teak-wood being secured by German-style screw-bolts having domed
heads and fitted with nuts which had slots for a bridge screwdriver. Many bayonets were reblued or Parkerised. A small quantity of the Type 66 bayonets may have been newly made in Siam, these being of somewhat inferior quality than the Japanese imports.
Plate B shows a Type 66 bayonet fixed on its companion rifle. The pommel T-mortise fits a similarly T-shaped bayonet bar positioned on the lower side of the rifle’s nose-cap, whilst the cross-guard muzzle ring fits over the end of the barrel. The rifle’s clearing rod screws into a threaded hole in the forward surface of the nose-cap and its protruding section lies above the fixed bayonet’s hilt. The Type 66 bayonet shown in this Plate is a refurbished example which has German-style grip bolts instead of the original Japanese oval-washered bolts.