Implemented in the late ’50 and stored in a dedicated anti-G garment side pocket, the knife was primarily intended, in case of an ejection, to swiftly cut the parachute lines if dragged by the wind after landing; free them if they were twisted, or to try to give a flight direction during descent.
The “Überlebensmesser” is a gravity knife: contained in its handle, the blade extends by the force of inertia or by the hand whipping movement.
The first version, manufactured by german company Eickhorn, was replaced by the models LL80 and finally by version AES 83.
AES 83 stands for "Annette Eickhorn Solingen"; Founded in 1975 by Annette Eickhorn a few weeks before her husbands Carl Eickhorn company was bankrupt.
With the begins of Swiss AF overwater/ sea training operations (as SAKA in Sardinia, NORKA/ NOMAD and NIGHTWAY in the North Sea), the knife was replaced by a safety/ hooked cutter; in fact trying to free yourself in the water caught in the parachute lines with a standard knife can lead to puncture the lifejacket or the survival raft.
SOLDATENMESSER 61 -
SOLDIER KNIFE 61
Since the first issue as personal equipment in 1891 the Soldatenmesser (Soldier Knife) issued by the Swiss Armed Forces have been revised several times. There are five different main Modelle (models). Their model numbers refer to the year of introduction in the military supply chain. Several main models have been revised over time and therefore exist in different Ausführungen (executions), also denoted by the year of introduction. The issued models of the Swiss Armed Forces are:
Modell 1890 (+Ausführung 1901)
Modell 1951 (+Ausführung 1954/ 1957)
Modell 1961 (+Ausführung 1965/ 1978/ 1994)
Despite replaced in all Swiss Army services since 2009 by the Soldier Knife 08, the model 61 is still included in all individual and ejection seat survival packs of the Swiss AF.
Victorinox and Wenger have produced the model 1961 from 1962 untill 2008. Each knife has the year of production stamped on the tang of the backside of the main blade. Untill 1987 each knife carries a W+K stamp on the frontside scale. W+K stands for Waffenkontrolle. This is the quality inspection stamp of Swiss Army.
In 1987, Swiss Army decided that it was no longer required to put a W+K stamp on each knife. After Victorinox and Wenger delivered so many years high quality knives, Swiss Army stopped quality inspections. Victorinox and Wenger than produced new scales without the spot for the W+K stamp.
The model 1961 has a 93 mm (3.7 in) long knurled alox handle with the Swiss crest, a drop point blade, a reamer, a blade combining bottle opener, screwdriver, and wire stripper, and a combined can-opener and small screwdriver. The knife was 12 mm (0.47 in) thick and weighed 72 g (2.5 oz).
This official Swiss military model also contains a brass spacer, which allows the knife, with the screwdriver and the reamer extended simultaneously, to be used to assemble the SIG 510 (Stgw 57), SIG 550 (Stgw 90) assault rifles: the knife serves as a restraint to the firing pin during assembly of the lock.