Tools & Equipment 1

John Barton - On Shovels


I recently received some dated government documents that give extremely detailed specifications for shovels. They include drawings, measurement, markings, finish, etc. I’ll show some scans below. They provide complete descriptions of many types and styles.

I’d like to show some info about the number 2, round point, D handle shovel, usually associated with our jeeps. First, I have not seen any WWII documents or manuals that state a MB/GPW gets a #2 shovel. It has been discussed on here many times, with the basic spec’s given, that this (#2 round point D handle) is the jeep shovel. I have yet to see- in any G503 wartime SNL, ORD7 8 9, or TM, a description of a shovel. There are pictures of jeeps with shovels on them in a few manuals, but they are not discussed. I have seen articles in the MV magazines that gave unit Tables of Equipment (T/E)‘s. If there was a jeep and a shovel in a T/E, I guess you could make a connection and claim that at least one jeep and a shovel would eventually meet. In later M series manuals I have seen this shovel listed in a roundabout way. The vehicle has a “pioneer rack” then lists tools that fit in the rack. Again, the manual doesn’t say shovel is part of vehicle equipment. The shovel is described “must meet spec xxx…”. That number is the same as the documents I’m going to reference.

But, again- the shovel and axe were not part of the vehicle, They weren’t put on at the factory, and weren’t provided by some upper echelon. The unit that had a jeep, had a T/E, and if it included shovels, they probably carried it on the jeep.

I received these papers from the historian at the AMES company. AMES supplied “over 11 million” shovels to the government in WWII. Not all were #2, in fact- they are more famous for the folding E-tool. I have not been through all the documents, but even if I find a contract, it will not say the shovels were for jeeps.
However, the #2 round point, D handle shovels that AMES did sell…would have to meet Federal Specification GGG-S-326. These are not AMES documents, but the federal spec that AMES had to comply with to sell the government a shovel. I received several versions of this document dating from 1917 up to 1940. This spec (latest revision) is still in effect. You can order it from the GAO, but I did not find an online version. If you want to sell a shovel to the government…it must still meet these specs.

John Barton, Sun Dec 04, 2005



I read all the spec’s. They describe several styles of #2 shovels that would fit on jeep. #2’s came in long handle, square point, different blade types, etc.. But, the #2 shovels that will fit a jeep are called:-


Plain back, blade secured by two straps, Solid shank, socket for wood handle, Open or closed back, has open recess or covered back…


Plain back two strap  

See how the "D" handle is way out from body on last pic above!! Discussed below 


Again, the plain back two strap style seems more prevalent, the solid shank was next, and least often seen was the open back. But all did appear, as well as the WWI style (it is described in the 1917 spec), the solid wood D handle, the British (my description) T handle, and others. Some have posted on here that the open back, rolled over shoulder was not correct. It does appear in period pics. Some have also posted that all WWII shovels needed USA stamped on them to be correct; not so-see below.

The government spec’s refer to shovels by commercial number…#2, #3, #4, etc…as well as the government designated names (type A, etc or type II, VI etc), and sometimes cite a specific manufacturers model as an example of what shovels must look like. Using a branded and commercial designation implies that off the shelf stock shovels were used in writing the specs. There is probably no Willys or Ford engineering drawing for a shovel!!

Posting some scans from 1934 and 1940 version of spec. Can’t post all of each, one is 21 pages, the other is 12. Also the photocopy quality is not that great on 1934 version…I hope you can read these-

Note the detail about wood goes on for 3 pages about knots, blemishes, etc. Detailed metal requirements…Rockwell hardness, min/max thickness, etc



The 1934 spec contains the most details…the 1940 revision has a few differences. One important difference, is the marking (included in scans above). All must have manufacturer’s name or trademark. From 1917 until also needed USED stamped on it- United States Engineering Depot. After 1934, it also needed- USA (Army purchases only) stamped on it.. But those requirements are not in the 1940 revision…only name or trademark were necessary. I have seen USED shovels, there was a pic of one on here a few days ago.. I have found USA on many.. But, it was not a requirement for WWII. I imagine a lot of WWII jeeps had USED and USA marked shovels…but a shovel without USA is correct after 1940..if you go by the specs!
“Made in USA” appears on many shovels, (sometimes with USA) but I don’t believe that is what the spec refers to.

Did the government realizing in 1940, that they would need a lot of shovels, and that manufacturers had a lot of commercial unmarked ones in stock, remove the USA requirement?? The government and suppliers probably also had some USA stamped still in stock??. If you read the Rifkin report on the jeep procurement…there were many instances were the spec was determined and written from an available part…and not the other way around. I don’t know…speculation on my part. Another reason for this guess is that the history of QMC and Procurement (as I can find on the web) describes how gov’t buyers would use commercial samples, and had relationships with large suppliers. So, having a spec that described an already existing, on the shelf, item is not unusual. I don’t think the government wrote a new spec for the jeep shovel and then send out initiations….the shovels were already there.
Page 49 of the Jeep Genesis/Rifkin Report (the ISO book…not the actual report) lists some of the final characteristics that were provided by the QMC Motor Transport Service to Willy’s. Included is the sentence-“and brackets for mounting the standard shovel and axe”. What is a “standard” shovel?
How did the Willys engineers decide the body cut-out and shovel bracket dimensions? Probably went to the hardware store and bought a shovel and axe?? Do any of the jeep historians have any info??

Shovel fit:
There are #2, round point, D handle shovels…that meet the spec in every regard…but do not fit on a jeep. (see pic above) It must have the correct lift. The spec allows several inches variance. Lift is how much the D handle rises off the ground if back of blade is flat on ground. Another lift measurement is how far the blade tip is off the ground if the handle is flat on the ground. 

Check out Claude Pons’ website...he illustrates what I call the flea market test. If you lay the shovel tip down on the ground, there needs to be 3 or 4 inches of space between where wood handle enter blade socket. If the handle is parallel, or near parallel to the ground.. it will not fit on jeep. The D handle will stick out from side of jeep…6 or more inches…! The government bought some of these!…there are pics of many shovels on jeeps…D handle sticking out.. or the handle is snug and the blade is out on fender!. Claude’s site also has 30/40 pictures of the 1000+? surplus shovels that where found in the French warehouse (70’s). (An article in ARMY MOTORS listed all the brands they found are at the bottom of this page.) The Becker/Dentzer book also lists them.
AMES now owns most of the old shovel brands…they also made shovels for other companies during WWII. Baldwin, AMES, True Temper- seem to be most common? 

Some pictures of variations:
- WWI styles -


I looked for this information because I am asked many questions about shovels and axes…I don’t have any gov’t contracts…I couldn’t prove that any particular brand or style was on a WWII jeep. Please don’t start the wrench argument! I’m providing it for information only. Looking at the pictures of WWII jeeps and shovels, I think it can be seen that shovels purchased under both specs showed up on jeeps. There are some that look painted black, some that don’t look painted. I have found OD painted shovels with or without USA, etc. A WWII jeep shovel could be: #2, round point, several styles of D handle, vary between- 38 3/8” and 41 3/8”, painted or natural metal, wax or lacquered wood, USA on some, brand or trademark for sure, handle painted some with name, and probably some other variations. Specs are precise, but describe a lot of shovels. And, I get asked, but I’m not aware of a certain shovels for slats, MB’s or GPW’s
Comments, additional info, or more pics (I probably have it), are appreciated.
Thanks, John 

John Barton can be contacted through the G503 Technical Pages 


- Supplied by Jon Rogers -Article by Orie Nelson in Army Motors.


Please Note:- ARMY MOTORS EDITOR asks that  if you have or discover a shovel not identified in the article, that you notify Orie Nelson, via the Editor so it can be added to his Data Base.

- NEXT -