53 Comments

    • The Far East was about the only place they were sent, notably the Philippines and Indochina. Contrary to popular belief, no FP-45s are known to have been supplied to the Resistance in Europe.

      cheers

      eon

      • I’ve read elsewhere that they had planned to drop the liberator pistols into france and general De Gaulle stopped them. apparently he was thinking of the large amount of these floating around france post-war, mostly in the hands of communists, and how it would make it very hard to stabilize the country.

        the story never did make sense to me. with all the guns that were taken from germans and even from the french army post-surrender..not to mention all the other firearms supplied by the allies…why would he be worried about some pistols?

        • The reason the FP-45s never “went to France”, according to Clandestine Operations; the Arms and Techniques of the Resistance 1941-1944 by Pierre Lorain, was that they simply were not needed. SOE was the primary supplier of arms to the Resistance until mid to late 1943, and as such most of the arms dropped to them were British.

          The standard handguns of the Resistance were the British service revolvers in 0.380in (aka .38 S&W), including the Webley Mk IV, Enfield (in both DAO and selective DA forms), and the S&W Victory Model (Model 10). They also had a large number of Colt 1911A1s, mainly Remington-Rand made. The Colt .45 was the preferred weapon, but the revolvers were about 50% of the actual deliveries.

          Contrary to popular belief, few Inglis High-Powers went to the Resistance. That was the sidearm of the British Commandos and SOE network heads.

          The “default” SMG of the resistance was the Stem MK II. Sten MK IIIs were delivered, but were less liked because unlike the MK II, which could be broken down into three sections (stock, barrel, receiver) for concealment in any space that could take the 33cm stock (the longest bit), the MK III only had a removable stock, leaving the rather obvious 48cm long receiver/barrel group to hide.

          Thompson SMGs were also supplied, mainly to units operating in the countryside where their bulk was of less concern than their massive firepower.

          The M3 “Grease Gun” was supplied by OSS beginning in late 1943. Yes, the Grease Gun was apparently deployed with the Resistance before American troops got them in time for D-Day. Arguing with “Wild Bill” Donovan was generally a losing proposition, and he wasn’t too impressed with the UD42 or Marlin (Hyde M2) 9mm SMGs that OSS was originally supplied with.

          And this isn’t even counting the rifles, which were pretty much all SMLES, No. 4, etc., except for some M1 Carbines that arrived in ’43. Which was the one the Resistance wished they’d had at the start, being more compact than a full-grown rifle, having smaller rounds that weighed less, and which reached out farther and hit harder than any SMG.

          In short, the FP-45 didn’t go to Europe because there was simply no need of it there. There were more than enough “real” guns to go around.

          cheers

          eon

  1. That Chinese “Boy” could be anything from 15 to 55 years old. And he ceased to be a “Boy” ( Colonial Dispregiative Term) when he accepted the Liberator.

    Doc AV
    Sino-Hoplo-Phile.

  2. This person would also have several things other than that Liberator (harvesting sickles are pretty nasty up close and personal). Remember, the first rule of “throw-away” pieces is to get a better implement by killing the owner of said implement. Too bad the Japanese likely smashed all the repeating crossbows they found.

    I don’t understand how one is to use the Liberator considering most occupying hostile troops don’t loiter near noisy construction sites.

    • Actually, improvising a suppressor for a Liberator can be as simple as sticking a potato on its muzzle. It only holds up for one shot, but that’s all you have, anyway, without going through the reloading cycle.

      And you don’t “throw it away”. You pass it on to the next guy who needs a rifle from the enemy. Once he has one, he passes the FP-45 on to the next guy, and etc.

      One pistol + ten rounds of .45 ammunition = 10 more rifles for your side. And 10 less soldiers on the other.

      cheers

      eon

        • It’s been done. Of course, the Japanese forces tended to be a bit…atrocity-prone… under those sorts of circumstances.

          cheers

          eon

          • Well, just make sure to “vanish” their commander and couriers as quickly as possible, so that nobody on the other team figures out what’s going on!

  3. From “Small Arms of the World”, Smith and Smith, 1969:
    “There is reason to believe, on the basis of data furnished by intelligence groups, that more killings were actually done with this simple, crude pistol than with all the service .45 automatics issued!”

  4. The Liberator in its modern reproduction is a beast. The bullets keyhole and its accurate to maybe 7 meters. Accurate means one can hit the chest of a target. To be fair it will always fire.For its intended purpose it is it will indeed do its job. One needs courage to shoot at a better armed opponent.

  5. To paraphrase the old Irish sergeant-major in “Fort Apache”…”’tis better than no w(eapon)at all…” Fired a single shot from one, once. Hit the vitals of a B10 silhouette at about 10 feet. I guess it will function as intended. However, for a little more of an investment, they could have made something a bit more effective. The couple I’ve handled were unissued, so it seems they didn’t get distributed as widely as was planned.

    • “However, for a little more of an investment, they could have made something a bit more effective.”
      FP-45 Liberator value was $2.10 (in 1942) for comparison STEN value was $10.

      “so it seems they didn’t get distributed as widely as was planned”
      Apparently finally delivering more advanced weapons (United Defense M42 sub-machine gun) was considered more effective.

    • If they were dropped by parachute or smuggled in, there would be a large quantity in crates. It likely would be a coordinated effort of supposedly un-armed Partisans shooting at once.

      • According to OSS Special Weapons & Equipment;

        Length overall; 6″

        Weight with extra ammo in handle; 1 lb 7 oz

        Packed 1 to a carton with 10 rounds of ammo, 20 cartons to a case (20 weapons- 200 rounds)

        Shipping weight of case; 50 lbs

        cubage; 0.5 cu. ft.

        These would be distributed to guerrilla bands, one or two per band, not one for each man.

        The Liberator, being smoothbored, was a point-blank range weapon, mainly intended for ambush. If you think of it as the tactical equivalent of a Derringer, you have the right idea.

        Massed fire is for rifles. Which the Liberator was an “acquisition tool” for.

        cheers

        eon

  6. I’d have thought that Chinese OSS HQ in 1945 would have had something more substantial around to give someone visiting in person — the Liberator being intended to be dropped expendably far behind enemy lines.

  7. Reality check. The “shoot the lone enemy for his rifle” idea was, by and large, a socially acceptable cover story. Doubtless it happened somewhere, sometime, but let’s face it, if it had been anything like a common occurrence it would have been bally-hooed by the OSS as a great triumph.
    Which is not to say it wasn’t useful, it was, but in two less hollywood movie like roles. First, it is a pistol, the universal badge of rank for an officer. By distributing them to the leadership cadre of an insurgency the cadre gain great face with the population and the distributors put the cadre in their debt.
    The second use is less glamorous but absolutely essential to the success of an insurgency. The great danger to the insurgents is not the enemy armed forces, it’s the informers within their own population and the FP-45 (like any pistol) works just fine for informer execution. When the guerrillas show up at two in the morning and drag Tommy Traitor out of his hooch and, with the rest of the village watching, put the FP-45 to the back of Tommy’s head and pull the trigger the resulting audiovisual display leaves no doubt as to who’s in charge and what happens if you turn rat.
    That last use of the pistol is one of the reasons it’s called War and not Football.

    • Agreed. Indeed a nice handy execution (not assassination) weapon for collaborators or, especially in the Far East, for those inconvenient prisoners, no muss no fuss, no double tap necessary. Also for giving humane release to wounded friendlies to avoid capture by the Japanese–leave no live man behind– or those that were in agony and had no chance to make it. No combat unit should have been without one or two of these “tools” in the hands of an NCO.

      Of course, as stated, it would have been a good “status” weapon for partisans and police when more conventional guns would be in short supply.

      I remember old catalog adds for farmers for devices called a “humane killer” that were shaped in a manner that would rather “fit” livestocks “foreheads) and could be tapped with a hammer to discharge a pistol bullet. The picture often associated with them was the unsuspecting cow blithely unaware of what was going to happen.

      Either would be effective today for executions rather than this bizarre poisoning ritual.

      • I don’t know about China, but I have it on good authority (from a Marine who was there in ’45) that in the Philippines the preferred method of dealing with collaborators was any of the edged weapons the archipelago is famous for, but especially the bolo, which over there is thought of much as Americans think of the Bowie knife.

        Decapitation was the standard penalty, being fast, sure, and pretty much silent. If the collaborator was a Muslim Moro (and many were due to their loathing of the Catholic majority), mutilation was also part of the process, in keeping with the Islamic doctrine that you arrive in Paradise in whatever condition you left Earth. (Yes, removal of the “naughty bits” was very much part of the SOP; they were usually stuffed in the Quisling’s mouth.)

        As for shooting them, with a “Liberator” or anything else, the general opinion there was that since ammunition generally came in by American submarine unless it was captured along with weapons from the “Hapons”, and was therefore fairly scarce and precious, it was almost immoral to waste a round on a double-crosser. Often expressed as “not worth a bullet”.

        cheers

        eon

    • Well, on the one hand, as a badge of office a pistol needs to be carried in a holster. But, the idea of a gun to get a gun is slightly suspect. In that regard it would only really work to come across a solitary enemy soldier and be able to get to close to them. If this were done in an occupied city, one would imagine the Axis powers would have had some severe reprisals. And having soldiers travel in pairs and keep out of arms-reach of civilians would minimize effectiveness.

      The more appropriate use could be as a weapon for an uprising just before an invasion by liberating troops. Something to maximize chaos and tie up troops.

      One poster stated that de Gaulle did not want a lot of Liberators floating around post-war France. Fair enough. It might have been better if the pistol had been chambered in something obsolete, something like 41 cal rimfire–after the ten cartridges supplied with the pistol, good luck finding any more, and too big for 9mm and too small for 45 cal.

      Speaking of 9mm, the CIA had a fling with the same idea in the 1960’s: the 9mm “deer gun.”

    • The Welrod was a much more effective means of dealing with collaborators, and safer for the executioners, especially the ones sans pistol grip. Just jam the end of the suppressor into the target’s back, push the trigger button, and then let go, allowing the elastic cord to pull it up into your sleeve.

  8. I have seen liberator Pistols in the resistance Museum in Amsterdam, not sure they are imported after the war, however that seems unlikely.

    • https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/3d/51/ea/3d51ea462f34f973bb6fbcacdd26f9ef.jpg

      Pretty simple, actually. Assuming you can cut, fold, and spot-weld or braze sheet metal, and have some springs, some steel welding rod, something for that breechblock/
      hammer block, and a piece of nominal 1/2″ ID Schedule 80 or better seamless steel tubing, you could just about make one in a couple of evenings at home.

      Frankly, going back to the old Popular Mechanics Do-It-Yourself Encyclopedia of 1955, a homemade crossbow is more complicated. Also more labor-intensive to make. This thing rates about even with a decorative metal ashtray that automatically extinguishes the butt.

      cheers

      eon

  9. Here in the U.S. it’s legal to make for yourself (no sale, or transfer) any firearm you can legally own.
    I’m actually surprised there is not a large sub-culture of youtube videos on it. (I know there are many on finishing “80%” receivers.)

  10. Eon I also have read the book on the Liberator pistol that states that Liberator pistols were not delivered into Europe and that they were only delivered in packs of 50 guns. I have trouble believing all this because of a conversation I had with a WW II vet in about 1972. I bought a Liberator pistol at a gun show. Then I showed it to my father-in law he was not impressed because a neighbor of his had 5 of them one new and 4 still in the boxes. The next time I was in my wife’s hometown my father-in law introduced me to him. He showed me the guns and we had a long talk. He had been a waist gunner on B 24 Liberators flying out of Bari Italy. He said he had made several flights to Yugoslavia dropping liberator pistols. He said he hated those missions. He said before they took off they loaded the front bomb bay door with a load of uncrated (or louse) pistols. They then made the usual flight to Yugoslavia. When they were over the mountains he was given the job of putting on a parachute and tying a tether strap to it. He also has an aluminum scoop shovel on a tether line. Then the rear bomb bay doors were opened and he had to shovel the guns out as fast as he could. Several passes were needed to clear most of them out. He then climbed out of the front bomb bay and the doors to it were opened to deliver the last of them. He told of having to climb out and man his gun to shoot at fighters then go back to shoveling. The worst part of the job was that doing it worked up a sweat that later made him very cold in his flight suit. He sent the 5 home from Italy. He thought they were common to have but he would not sell any of them to me. I never had the feeling I was being told a tall tail or anything like that. Later my father-in law told me the vet moved to North Dakota.

    • Hm. Interesting.

      I have trouble with the “shoveling them out the bomb bay” part. Even at low altitude (most B-17 and B-24 equipment drops were at 200 feet or less), they would have been in the crates, palleted, and with parachutes on really short static lines. I have photographs of such drops over Southern France and Yugoslavia at that time, so I’m pretty sure that was SOP.

      SOE drops by RAF Whitleys, Hudsons, Wellingtons, and Halifaxes were in “C containers”;

      http://www.warrelics.eu/forum/attachments/airborne-special-forces/210955d1307823074-british-type-c-drop-container-soe-norway-img_4375.jpg?s=9876b2b6fbfc6d70bab28264a2d739f6

      and “H containers”, which were basically a “stack” of five 12″ high x 15″ diameter sheet-steel canisters held together by two lengthwise steel rods, with a bumper on one end and the parachute pack on the other. (Can’t find a photo of one online, sorry.)

      Small arms other than “long guns” (Thompsons, rifles, etc) were generally dropped in H containers. One standard “package”, H2, was six Sten MK IIs; H3 was pistols, but they might be either .380 revolvers or .45 autos, depending on availability. H1 was explosive kits, H4 was incendiary materials, and H5 was sabotage equipment, BTW.

      SOE definitely did not drop Liberators into France. AFAIK, OSS didn’t, either. The OSS Weapons book has (on pp. 118-119) a complete inventory of the stores at the Algiers base in spring 1943. Weapons included;

      2000 Thompson SMGS (the M3 wasn’t available yet)

      1000 .38 revolvers

      100 .45 autos

      12 Reising SMGs (GOKW)

      12 Garands

      40,000 hand grenades

      300 “Martin” (sic) SMGS (Marlin-made Hyde M2s, IOW)

      2 Winchester 12-gauge “trench guns”

      4 Bren guns

      4 Colt .22s (Woodsman, with “silencers”)

      4 .32 Colt M1903s

      4 “Luger” 9mms (courtesy of Stoeger’s in NYC, most likely)

      500 fighting knives (Sykes-Fairbairns)

      200 spring coshes

      and 2000 “hunting knives” (probably commercial Marble and Buck items).

      No mention of FP-45s at all. And they would have been available from mid-’42 on.

      Like the M3s, they might have arrived later. And if there were anywhere they might have been needed in Europe, the Balkans would have been my first guess.

      And they most likely would have come from Algiers, because the main air route up into the Balkans after Tunis was from the US 15th AF bomber base at Benghazi, Libya, up across Albania, to avoid both German radars on the Italian boot and Turkish airspace. (The latter couldn’t do much about it, and half the time didn’t even know, but the forms had to be observed for diplomatic reasons.)

      Not disagreeing, just saying.

      😉

      cheers

      eon

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