Today we have a guest post by Peter Rasmussen on some of the history of the Husqvarna M40 pistol, also commonly called the Lahti. We will cover the mechanical aspects of the pistol in a later post, but this information from Peter is an excellent overview of the different markings found on different batches of the pistols. Thanks, Peter!
Also, Peter is currently working on researching Bergmann pistols, and would appreciate hearing from owners of various models. If you contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, he can add your pistol to his catalog, and possibly be able to tell you where it was originally delivered.
The Husqvarna M 40 Pistol
This pistol used the Bergman locking system but looked like a Luger, it replaced the Bergman pistol in the Danish army. As a weapons officer in the Danish armed forces I have handled and repaired the Lathi pistol that was a substitute standard pistol at the time. I had a lot of information in my archive that is source for this article. I had for many years contact with an old historical interested Husqvarna employee Gunnar Granquist; his nephew Bertil Granquist has taken over his archive and he has been most helpful.
The Swedes adopted the Finnish Lahti Pistol in 1940 when Walther became unable to deliver more P38 pistols. Call the m/39 by the Swedes, only a very few Finnish L 35 pistols were brought in Sweden – probably less than 20.
In 1940 two representatives from the Swedish army (Magnus Hedenlund and Charles Holmgren) managed to buy the production rights from Eimo Lathi in Finland, who at the time worked for the Tikkakosky factory. Unfortunately the Swedes needed cannons too, so all the alloy steel went to cannon production. Cannons were in short supply, my grandfather was commander of a cannon team on the harbor of Hälsingborg 1939 to 1941, his cannon was made of a telegraph pole and two wagon wheels, all painted nicely grey, it could be seen from passing ships and from Elsinore just 4 km away, where the Germans kept a strict eye after April 1940.
The Swedish production m/40 pistol was downgraded and was made of molybdenum steel that resulted in many blow ups. I was on a pistol course with 5 other staff sergeants in Sweden, in just a week we blew up 9 pistols, the submachine gun ammo was too strong for them. First the Swedes made a more comfortable loading (M39B) for the pistols, then sold them out and reissued the Browning 1907 pistol.
Originally the pistol production was intended to take place at the Rosenfors factory near the town of Hultsfred on the east cost of Sweden, but they were not able to produce the pistol. One witness remembers a heap of discarded pistols in the factory with a sign saying: “Here lies the result of unskilled peoples’ work.” The task was then transferred to Husqvarna in March of 1941. An order for 60,000 pistols was placed, and the first the pistols were made with a loaded chamber indicator, but that was soon removed and the holes for it welded over. All pistols had slot for shoulder stock but these were never issued, only a very few was made for test purposes.
The first batch of pistols delivered had no nut at the beginning of the barrel. Upon receiving the pistols in the Eskiltuna army storage facility, just 300 meters through the woods from the Husqvarna factory, the pistols were controlled by an army officer who stamped his initials just above the lanyard loop.
A crowned SS, is Sture Stenmo before 31./3. 1946
A crowned NS is Niels Salihn from 1946 to 1948
These pistols usually had an additional regimental Marking, followed by a number:
I 11 in Växjö
I 12. in Jönkjöping
I 13 in Falun
I 14 in Gävle
P 4 in Skövde
P 4 in Skövde
KA 1 in Sokholm
KA 2 in Blekinge
KA 3 in Gotland
KA 4 in Göteborg
An encircled SÅS is Sven Åke Sundhagen, who controlled pistols for the Air Force. Most, if not all, of these pistols have the regimental markings followed by a number:
F 1 Västerås
F 2 Hägernes
F 3 Linköping
F 5 Ljungbyhed
F 7 Skaraborg
F 9 Göteborg
F 14 Halmstad
F 16 Upsala
F 18 Tullinge
F 20 Upsala
22/7 1943 Husqvarna delivered 300 pistols
28/7. 1943 Husqvarna delivered 500 pistols
Usually the regimental markings were on a round washer inserted in the grip.
The Navy never discarded the Browning 1907 pistols, and thus never adopted the Lahti.
The End in Sweden
In 1991 all shooting with these pistols was prohibited in the Swedish Army and the stock of 50 000 M 40 pistols were sent to destruction. By 1993 the last pistols were discarded from the Swedish Army.
Danforce was a unit of Danish fugitives, meant to prevent a communist take over when the Germans withdrew. From Denmark they got their pistols direct from Husqvarna and a Danish officer named Einar Roth controlled the pistols, he stamped with a crowned HV. A similar unit of Norwegians was formed, but they got there pistols from Swedish military stores. The Danes got 3500 pistols, most delivered after 1946. Einer Roth also controlled these pistols. The Danish army used the M40S (as the Danes called it) up to 1950, where the SIG 210 was issued. Some were left over in the home guard and smaller units.
The Swedish military intelligence service had several hundred M 40 pistols made in strict secrecy that had no Husqvarna markings at all, even the Husqvarna logo in the grips were dug out of the mold.
These pistols were given to agents and high ranking resistance personnel; the idea was properly to make it possible for the Swedes to deny all knowledge of the person, encountered with such a pistol, and not to offend the Germans. These pistols had five digit serial numbers, and most surfaced in Norway, plus a few in Denmark.
The foreman at the Husqvarna factory who oversaw this production was Arthur Hytting. He states that there was made less than 400 such neutral pistols, with serial numbers from 31600 to 32000. A few were made with a different barrel length. Neutral Swedish cartridges,without headstamps, are also known to exist.
There was a batch of 400 M 37/39 submachine guns made up in the same way. They were shipped across Oeresund to Denmark in fishing boats, placed in Danish fish cases. It was impossible to find such cases in Sweden at that time, so the man in charge of the transport simply went down to the fish case factory claiming he was from AB Svensk film, and they were making a movie that should look like taking place in a harbor in Denmark. In that way he got his cases for the 400 submachine guns for the waiting Danish military groups. In Copenhagen Harbor as they were transferred to a lorry one case slipped, and submachine guns and cartridges were scattered on the ground – but the German soldiers guarding the harbor helped to repack the goods. Some sort of agreement must have been made between the Germans and the resistance movement to let these weapons in.
The fishing boats were purchased Swedish ones, remarked with Danish registration numbers. The transports started in Rya habor in Göteborg.
In the Husqvarna records it says that all these neutral weapons were sold to a suspicious firm: Scania Steel Company, which was led by a man called Algot Vigot Tonman, who was a part of the secret organization called the C-Bureau – which later became the technical department of the Swedish military intelligence service.
The H Prefix Pistols
Husqvarna made a few pistols for the civilian market – they had an H in front of the serial number. This pistol was in the factory catalog listed as the Model 600. A total of 42 samples were made, numbered from H1 and up.
The D Prefix Pistols
The Danish police ordered 10,000 pistols in 1946 from Husqvarna. They were received in the spring of 1947, some were taken from stock and pistols with the control marks NS, SS and HV is encountered in this lot. Some of these pistols were used by the Danish security police, and were marked RPLT S and a number from 1 and to around 50.
Others were used by dog patrols for training the dogs and were threaded on the muzzle, for a red painted nut with a 3 mm hole, for shooting blanks. The chambers of these pistols were lengthened 2 mm from 19 to 21 mm, to fit the Danish military blank cartridges.
The VP Prefix Pistols
In 1978 the firm V Pabst and Son brought the police Lahti pistols and the spare parts from the police workshop, of these they made up a few pistols VP 100 to VP 105. These were resold in Germany.
The PS Prefix Pistols
The Swiss firm Poul Schafrot also made up a few pistols from spare parts, numbered PS 1 to PS 20.
Swedish Railway Pistols
200 pistols were sold to the Swedish Railways, they are stamped SJ and a number.
Made in Sweden Pistols
Some of the Danish police pistols resold by Pabst were on buyers’ request stamped with “Made in Sweden” if the country of origin was important in the receiving country.
Triangle Stamps on Barrels
The Swedish military stamped 1 to 3 triangles on the underside of rusty barrels – 3 for the most rusty.
Some of the pistols have 1 to 3 dots stamped in the rear part of the frame, meaning that modification 1 to 3 has been made on the pistol.
4 mm Trainers
The Swedish Army used 4 mm insert barrels for training purposes.
A 4 mm thick iron cleaning rod with a flat eye and a 5 cm high double aluminum oil bottle were issued.
Each pistol was issued with a combination tool made of sheet steel. This tool had a built-in screwdriver and fitted over the magazine to facilitate loading.
Several types of holsters are encountered:
1) Black or brown pigskin, with room for 2 magazines, cleaning rod and the combination tool.
2) Identical holster in cow hide – these are officers holsters, sometimes with a Swedish regimental button.
3) Canvas holster, with or without compartments, made by the Danish firm Kitt-Catt, with a lift-the-dot type closure. Swedish officers and civilians could also buy a luxury holster, made of brown cow hide.
Some Lahti pistols turned up in Israel, they were Finnish L35 model, which the Irgun (an offshoot of the Haganah) got 600 of. They made canvas holster for the guns.