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Lethal Weapon (Tomahawk)
ABCNEWS.com ^ | April 15 | David Tillett

Posted on 04/15/2003 7:18:06 AM PDT by Wonder Warthog

U.S. forces are using two types of tomahawks in Iraq: one, a high-tech cruise missile — the other, a bit more like the hatchet Mel Gibson used in the movie The Patriot.

Members of Air Force security groups, Army Rangers and special forces are some of the U.S. troops who have chosen to add tomahawks to their basic gear. So why would a member of today's armed services want a relic of the American frontier? According to one modern tomahawk manufacturer, it comes down to science, and the reasons soldiers carried them in the Revolutionary War are still valid today.

"The physics behind it make it an appropriate choice for any kind of battlefield conditions," said Ryan Johnson, owner of RMJ Forge.

"You take a knife, a knife has a certain amount of leverage that's given to you. The tomahawk can be used like a knife, but you also have that 18 inches of handle that gives you a huge amount of difference in power as far as the power of the cutting stroke. It's much more practical as a field tool because you can again use it like a knife or you can use it like an ax."

Tomahawks Also Used in Not-So-Distant History

The tomahawk was commonly carried by soldiers even prior to the Revolutionary War, but its use in modern times is not unprecedented.

According to Johnson, soldiers have used tomahawks in most of the major wars the United States has fought.

"In World War II, there were not only Native Americans using them, but also just your regular GI. A lot of these people were just carrying stuff from home, stuff that they used on the farm," Johnson said.

He added that an uncle who had served in the Korean War told him soldiers would take the standard hatchet that they were issued and grind the back down into a spike to make a "fighting hatchet."

World War II Marine veteran Peter LaGana was a pioneer in the modern military use of tomahawks. He created an updated tomahawk design and, from 1966 to 1970, sold about 4,000 of them to members of the armed forces serving in Vietnam before closing down his company.

From top right to lower left: American Tomahawk Co. founder Peter LaGana's original 1966 design for the "Vietnam Tomahawk," with drop-forged head and hickory handle; today's Vietnam Tactical Tomahawk with synthetic handle; LaGana Titanium Tactical Tomahawk. (Courtesy of American Tomahawk Co.)

While tomahawks have historically been made in a variety of patterns, LaGana chose a "spike hawk" design — which has the cutting blade common to hatchets, but a sturdy penetrating spike on the opposite side.

In November 2000, professional knife and tomahawk thrower Andy Prisco approached LaGana and got his approval to license his design and restart the defunct firm, the American Tomahawk Co. — which Prisco did in January 2001.

Prisco's revitalized firm sells several different tomahawk designs, mainly to sportsmen and collectors. But he said that among members of the military, the top-selling product is the Vietnam Tactical Tomahawk, which uses LaGana's original head design and an updated synthetic handle. LaGana died in 2002 after a battle with cancer.

Johnson, who had a childhood interest in historical weapons, says he began hand-forging tomahawks at age 12. It became a way of life for him, as he put himself through college selling hand-forged tomahawks and knives, and made it his full-time occupation once he graduated.

RMJ Forge's version of a modern tactical tomahawk, the Eagle Talon Special Forces Tomahawk. (www.rmjforge.com)

Originally, most of his customers were period re-enactors or people interested in early American history. He first made tomahawks specifically for members of the military in the spring of 2001.

The effort was sparked by a request from a friend in an Air Force security group who sent him an e-mail with a picture of an 18th-century spike tomahawk and asked if he could make an updated tactical version. Johnson's modern tomahawk is made from a single piece of steel, with synthetic scales on the grip.

It wasn't until after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and the United States began fighting in Afghanistan that he started making them in quantity. In fact, it dramatically changed the way he does business — Johnson says his time is now almost exclusively devoted to producing the modern tomahawks for military customers, and he makes only a few historical tomahawks a month.

While these modern tomahawks do everything their frontier counterparts did, their makers say theirs are uniquely suited to challenges U.S. forces may face in urban combat.

The Web sites for both RJM Forge and ATC mention a variety of capabilities of their products, including breaching doors, smashing locks or tearing out windows to enter buildings, chopping holes in cinder block walls — and even punching through a standard Kevlar helmet.

(Excerpt) Read more at abcnews.go.com ...


TOPICS: War on Terror
KEYWORDS: iraqifreedom; oldweapons; tomahawks; weapons
Check the URL for pictures.
1 posted on 04/15/2003 7:18:06 AM PDT by Wonder Warthog
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2 posted on 04/15/2003 7:19:04 AM PDT by Support Free Republic (Your support keeps Free Republic going strong!)
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To: Wonder Warthog
including breaching doors, smashing locks or tearing out windows to enter buildings

Now I'm being filled with genetic memories of my ancestors and their tomohawks, so I don't expect to accomplish too much work now... thanks a lot... ;0)

3 posted on 04/15/2003 7:22:56 AM PDT by Chad Fairbanks (Some days, it's just not worth gnawing through the straps...)
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To: Wonder Warthog
I like the design explanations:

Eagle Talon

Cause and Effect...Reasons Behind the Design

Handle

The handle is a full tang construction, 3/8" thick.  To break the handle, you have to break the steel. This ensures that you always have a handle to hold on to. There is no need to have a handle guarantee because unless you use a cutting torch or a chop saw, you are not going to break the handle.

The handle is also skeletonized. Not only does this reduce the weight, it also allows the handle to accept Micarta handles, or to be cord wrapped. Any Talon with Micarta handles can be cord wrapped - the handles come off with a standard philips screw driver.

The cord wrapped handle has over 21 feet of nylon parachute cord. The user can remove this cord for use, and still use the tomahawk effectively.

The Micarta handles are each laced with 2 feet of 4mm nylon cord. This cord can be removed for other uses. This lacing greatly enhances the gripping power available on the hawk.

The Micarta scales are shadow-boxed 0.050", that is they are inset so that steel always hits before Micarta. This offset also enhances the grip.

The handle is an overall oval shape. A round handle is difficult to index, and is not comfortable in the hand when swinging or chopping. Control is very important when swinging something razor sharp - the oval shape helps facilitate this control.

 

 

Materials

The Talon is made from 4140 Chrome-Moly steel. This material is often chosen by designers for its' toughness, and is used extensively in machinery, heavy equipment, even tanks. The tensile strength is much higher than commonly used knifemaking steels.

The Micarta handles are very tough having over twice the impact resistance of Acetal, hickory and other commonly used materials. Micarta also has a low moisture absorption rate, and excellent UV resistance.

The screw fasteners utilized on the handles are 304 stainless steel. This ensures that you will always be able to take the handles apart. Corrosion inside the screws is not a problem.

Spike

The spike is made long enough to inflict a death blow, short enough to keep the piece balanced. There is a lot of material directly behind the spike to ensure striking stability. The spike geometry is designed such that the best balance between penetration ability and strength is reached. The spike will penetrate through a kevlar helmet, easily punches completely through your typical steel clad door and eats tires for breakfast. In other words you stick it in an assailant or use it to punch holes in 55 gallon oil drums to string cable in making road blocks. ( A common Talon use )

Blade

The forward edge is designed for general field use. The blade geometry is designed for taking abuse. The concept in my mind was this: The spike and the beard are your killing edges, the forward edge takes care of chores and chopping around. One guy in Afghanistan used his to chop armament off of a downed Soviet MIG.

4 posted on 04/15/2003 7:25:05 AM PDT by dark_lord
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To: Wonder Warthog; Chad Fairbanks
Great post! Pictures are below.


Members of a Special Operations team deployed near Iraq prior to the start of combat hold tomahawks their unit purchased. Their identities have been obscured at the request of Army officials. (Courtesy of American Tomahawk Co.)


From top right to lower left: American Tomahawk Co. founder Peter LaGana's original 1966 design for the "Vietnam Tomahawk," with drop-forged head and hickory handle; today's Vietnam Tactical Tomahawk with synthetic handle; LaGana Titanium Tactical Tomahawk. (Courtesy of American Tomahawk Co.)


RMJ Forge's version of a modern tactical tomahawk, the Eagle Talon Special Forces Tomahawk. (www.rmjforge.com)

5 posted on 04/15/2003 7:28:14 AM PDT by Constitution Day (Esse Quam Videri)
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To: dark_lord
Wow! I gotta get me one of THOSE... the old wooden handled one I have pales in comparison...
6 posted on 04/15/2003 7:29:37 AM PDT by Chad Fairbanks (Some days, it's just not worth gnawing through the straps...)
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To: Wonder Warthog
Call me Crazy but this article smells like an attempt to portray our soldiers as bloodthirsty savages by comparing them to Mel Gibsons character in the Patriot.
7 posted on 04/15/2003 7:32:53 AM PDT by Formermasslurker
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To: Wonder Warthog
bump
8 posted on 04/15/2003 7:35:41 AM PDT by RippleFire
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To: Constitution Day
Powder..Patch..Ball FIRE!

One of my favorite weapons is the hawk. I throw a hand forged 20oz, my 11 year old son is deadly with his 10oz mouse hawk. His favorite activity at vouz is to challenge older kids to a game of "Handles". He NEVER loses... still has the original handle on his hawk from over 18 months ago...

9 posted on 04/15/2003 7:36:32 AM PDT by BallandPowder (Will I vote for Pres Bush if he helps the Assault Weapons ban past sunset? I don't know yet.)
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To: Formermasslurker
Well, I won't call you crazy. But yeah, I do think you're reading too much into the article. I didn't detect any slight to the U. S. military here -- just a real interesting story.
10 posted on 04/15/2003 7:37:21 AM PDT by 68skylark
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To: Constitution Day
While shopping last night the fire alarm in the store went off. The first responder off of the truck was carrying a short fire axe. Understand the difference between and axe and a Tomahawk, but the similiarities are still there.
11 posted on 04/15/2003 7:37:27 AM PDT by 30-06 Springfield
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To: Chad Fairbanks
Puts to shame my favorite; the Philippine bolo...
12 posted on 04/15/2003 7:38:05 AM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: Eric in the Ozarks
And it works great for smashing in the doors of frontier cabins, killing the men, and making off with the women-folk... errr not that I'd know about that or anything... ;0)
13 posted on 04/15/2003 7:39:56 AM PDT by Chad Fairbanks (Some days, it's just not worth gnawing through the straps...)
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To: BallandPowder
I don't have any experience with them but they sound like a lot of fun.

Like your tagline, BTW.

14 posted on 04/15/2003 7:42:18 AM PDT by Constitution Day (Esse Quam Videri)
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To: Wonder Warthog
While tomahawks have historically been made in a variety of patterns, LaGana chose a "spike hawk" design — which has the cutting blade common to hatchets, but a sturdy penetrating spike on the opposite side.

This design originated with the 15th to 16th century battle axes and hammers used against opponents in plate armor. It's a time-proven design.

15 posted on 04/15/2003 7:43:37 AM PDT by asformeandformyhouse
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To: Chad Fairbanks
Norse invaders carried iron and bronze hachets when they sailed down to plunder Atlantic Europe. They had copper and iron ore--a competitive advantage at the time.
16 posted on 04/15/2003 7:49:33 AM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: Eric in the Ozarks
True, but they DID run like frightened little girls when they ran into my New World ancestors in Vinland ;0)
17 posted on 04/15/2003 7:54:03 AM PDT by Chad Fairbanks (Some days, it's just not worth gnawing through the straps...)
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To: Constitution Day
Powder..Patch..Ball FIRE!

Yeah they are a lot of fun, Hawk and Knife competitions are a part of the Rondezvous experience, trappers, mountain-men longhunters and native americans ALL used tomahawks as a main battle weapon because of their versatility and deadliness. We do it to keep history alive and because it is fun. Of course it never hurts to have another weapons skill under your belt either....

18 posted on 04/15/2003 7:59:17 AM PDT by BallandPowder (Will I vote for Pres Bush if he helps the Assault Weapons ban past sunset? I don't know yet.)
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To: dark_lord
Just curious, but to my very limited knowledge of this topic, the current designs seem to derive more from mountain climbers ice axes....am I wrong?
19 posted on 04/15/2003 8:15:16 AM PDT by ken5050
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To: Wonder Warthog
Cool.
20 posted on 04/15/2003 8:20:57 AM PDT by Warhead W-88
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To: Constitution Day
Thanx for doing the pics--I'm pretty HTML challenged.
21 posted on 04/15/2003 8:44:17 AM PDT by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel)
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To: Formermasslurker
"Call me Crazy but this article smells like an attempt to portray our soldiers as bloodthirsty savages by comparing them to Mel Gibsons character in the Patriot."

This would be bad???

22 posted on 04/15/2003 8:44:32 AM PDT by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel)
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To: Wonder Warthog
Somehow the thought that you will probably have to confront a really pissed off Marine weilding one of those at you would give me ALOT of food for thought and a strong desire to go home.
23 posted on 04/15/2003 8:45:32 AM PDT by Lee Heggy (Tastes like chicken.)
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To: ken5050
It does look like more of a hand axe than a hachet. Longer handle and big spike...
24 posted on 04/15/2003 8:49:31 AM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: Wonder Warthog
You're welcome! HTML is pretty easy... when I joined FR I didn't know anything about it.
25 posted on 04/15/2003 8:49:38 AM PDT by Constitution Day (Esse Quam Videri)
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To: Wonder Warthog
Nice hawks .... that tactical hawk and a K-Bar would make an interesting HTH combo.
26 posted on 04/15/2003 8:54:12 AM PDT by Centurion2000 (We are crushing our enemies, seeing him driven before us and hearing the lamentations of the liberal)
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To: Chad Fairbanks
They made a Sun Tzu mistake. Don't besiege walled cities.
27 posted on 04/15/2003 9:12:02 AM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: Eric in the Ozarks
Norse invaders carried iron and bronze hachets when they sailed down to plunder Atlantic Europe. They had copper and iron ore--a competitive advantage at the time.


28 posted on 04/15/2003 9:42:56 AM PDT by RansomOttawa (tm)
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To: Chad Fairbanks
True, but they DID run like frightened little girls when they ran into my New World ancestors in Vinland ;0)

Actually, they settled in relatively small numbers and either died out or assimilated with the natives. The real culprit was Global Cooling, which also made the Greenland colony unworkable. The temperature in Greeland today is still cooler than it was when the Vikings were settling Greenland and starting to look at Vinland. While I have no doubt that your New World ancestors could have given the Vikings something to run from from time to time (the Vikings probably would not have had disease so much on their side if they came in smaller numbers), the Europeans still had superior technology and weapons and they would not have been stopped. This isn't a commentary on any inherent superiority on the part of the Europeans. Simply facts of technology and culture.

29 posted on 04/15/2003 10:12:47 AM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: Question_Assumptions
Tell ya what, give me booze and a weapon, and I'll take on any culture ;0)
30 posted on 04/15/2003 10:26:14 AM PDT by Chad Fairbanks (Some days, it's just not worth gnawing through the straps...)
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