Walther’s .45ACP MP (P38 Precursor)

During the process of developing the pistol which would become the German army’s P38, the Walther company was also interested in potential export contracts (like the one they actually did get from Sweden). One potential contract briefly explored was to the United States, and a few prototype MP pistols were made in .45 ACP caliber. These were larger in all dimensions than the standard MP, and shared the features of those other developmental guns (most distinctively the shrouded hammer and internal extractor). This pistol was almost certainly taken as a souvenir form the Walther plant in 1945 by an American GI. No records exist of any American trials of the guns, and it seems that the plan to offer them for sale was never followed through on, probably because of the (9mm) guns’ success in German military trials.

16 Comments

  1. Highly unusual and unique find; great looking pistol. What it should tell us though is that German small arms companies saw the U.S. foremost as a business opportunity, not as future enemy. Much the same as with P08 before WWI.

  2. “One potential contract briefly explored was to the United States, and a few prototype MP pistols were made in .45 ACP caliber.”
    Did Walther company exported any of their gun to U.S.A. before that?

    “.45 ACP caliber”
    At that time it (as 11,25 mm) was default pistol cartridge of Norway (c.f. Colt Kongsberg), so they might be hoping for deal in Norway, though Norwegians seems to be happy with already used automatic pistol.

    • “At that time it (as 11,25 mm) was default pistol cartridge of Norway (c.f. Colt Kongsberg), so they might be hoping for deal in Norway, though Norwegians seems to be happy with already used automatic pistol”

      Agreed. Possibly they also had some South American nations in mind too… Brazil was a noted buyer of German rifles and used .45 ACP pistols. The same goes for Argentina, although the later had pistols’ manufacturing of their own.

    • So you want a cool German reproduction pistol offered in a popular American “man-stopping” caliber and threaded for a suppressor. I wonder what plywood pests you’re exterminating on a daily basis such that you’d want a one-shot stop without terrifying your neighbors.

      • I had a part time job at a machine shop owned by Walt Langendorfer, designer and patent holder of the Rhino Device for M16/AR15 rifles. Walt had a huge collection of WWII items and firearms. He had two German Lugers serial number 1 and 2 with threaded barrels. I do not remember who built them. These were bring home Lugers and he had the capture papers with them. When Walt died they were not in his collection.

    • “P38 in 45 acp with a threaded barrel. It would be a hot seller.”
      Not so fast. P38 is short-recoil operated fire-arm. Adding substantial to barrel might have negative effective for functioning.

      • Back in the 1960s, the CIA had a special replacement barrel made for P.38s, threaded for a suppressor (included), with special heavy-bullet (150-grain) subsonic ammunition.

        The idea was that since P.38s were so common in postwar Europe and elsewhere, a locally-procured Walther could be fitted with this barrel, used for an IA, and then its regular barrel swapped back in. Thus providing a suppressed weapon and hopefully bollixing forensic analysis. (As long as you remembered to pick up your brass after the fact.)

        Reportedly, the heavy-bullet round gave reasonably reliable functioning. And it must be said that the P.38 has never been picky about ammunition, one of its virtues as a service pistol.

        cheers

        eon

        • “What happened to this guy?”
          “An invisible assassin apparently emptied a gun into him but I can’t tell if he died from the bullets wrecking his liver and stomach or if he died from the three-story drop from the top of this multiple level parking lot or if he died from the ice-axe stuck in his head.”

          How’s that for overkill?

          • Back then, the defenestration trick was practically the stock MO of MI6.

            It got so bad that other intel “lion tamer” units were doing it to blame their hits on MI6. Just like the Egyptian and other Arab countries’ hit squads adopted Beretta .22s with suppressors because the Mossad used them. How better to blame a hit on those accursed Joos?

            For years it was assumed by Interpol and etc. that Dr. Gerald Bull was offed by Mossad for building Saddam’s “Project Babylon” super cannon, because he was shot in the head, from behind, with a suppressed .22 in classic Mossad style.

            After OIF, we now know that it was Saddam’s own intel hitters that terminated Dr. Bull, because they were afraid he was going to spill the beans on the project to Der Spiegel. Using the Mossad MO did, however, divert attention from them, and the project, almost long enough to complete the gun.

            Unfortunately for Saddam, Operation Desert Storm went off eleven weeks before it would have been ready to shell Tel Aviv.

            Incidentally, even most artillery experts today know so little of Dr. Bull’s work, starting with HARP, and culminating in the Babylon cannon, that the latter has to be defined as a “Forgotten Weapon”.

            BTW, Bull apparently got the idea from both the WW1 German “Paris Gun”, and Jules Verne’s 1879 novel “The Begum’s Fortune”;

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Begum%27s_Fortune

            cheers

            eon

  3. Norway was closer to home for Walther, and though a pistol contract for one or more of the Norwegian costume wearing groups would be useful business

    Norway does have a very small population.

    The united state is a possibility, even with the interwar disputes going on between the the gangs in DC and Berlin over tariffs and bilateral trade deals

    The gang in DC was even describing the Berlin gang’s bilateral trade deals as “a threat to world peace”

    (Translated, it means that the gang in DC was threatening to start a war to stop bilateral deals).

    Several of the South American states (gangs) had bilateral deals with the gang in Berlin

    I’m guessing that they may have been the prime target for a .45 MP.

    South American gangs and Juntas were already big customers for Mauser rifles, and they tended not to have much of a manufacturing base,
    And what manufacturers they did have were unlikely to be as vociferous a political lobby as the New England gun makers and other industrialists were in the back rooms of DC.

    I like the P38, I think that it is a comfortable and handy little gun (the H&K P7 is even more so). The idea of a P38 that is larger in every direction, goes directly opposite to the thing that I like most about the P38.

    Yeah, I like very small guns, I’m compensating.

    • “idea of a P38 that is larger in every direction, goes directly opposite to the thing that I like most about the P38.”
      Looking upside-down: if they needed to up-scale design to .45 Auto cartridge, then this mean 9×19 Parabellum version size is well-adjusted to cartridge.

      “I like very small guns”
      In fact while Walther might be today best known for PP (and derivatives) and P38, Walther first production automatic pistol was for 6,35 mm Browning [.25 Auto] cartridge, namely Deutche Selbstlade Pistole Walther, Modell 1910, Kaliber 6,35. see photos:
      https://unblinkingeye.com/Guns/WMod1/wmod1.html
      Following automatic pistol, known as Walther Modell 2 used same cartridge. Both were introduced to market before Great War. Later they also introduced others automatic pistol for that cartridge, of which Walther Modell 9 is most notable, as it was product of race for smallest size possible. After 2nd World War Walther produced TP and TPH, automatic pistol, available also in .22 rim-fire.

  4. I think both Sistema Colts and Ballester-Molinas are marked 11.25 mm. No idea what the Norwegians put on their 1911s.

  5. I have a reprint of the fabulous 1939 Stoeger catalog which shows the Walther HP pistol in 9mm for sale for the then princely sum of $75.00. The same catalog lists a Colt 1911 for $41.50.
    The Walther add says the HP has been made experimentally in .38 Super and .45 automatic and will be on sale in those cartridges by mid-1939 for 10% more than the 9mm. WWII probably put a stop to all that.

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