Tag Archives: walther P38

Picking up a hogleg on the side of the road

Pistols were typically not issued to enlisted men in the U.S. Army in WWII save for machine gunners, MPs, and senior NCOs. With that being said, many enterprising Joes picked up handguns they found along the way, typically from former enemy stockpiles to augment their M1 Garand, Carbine or Thompson.

GIs with trays of captured Walther P38s

While of course, the guns were valuable as souvenirs, second only to a Gunto sword or HJ dagger, they were also carried and undoubtedly used to one extent or another.

96th Infantry Division moves up Big Apple Hill, scene of intense fighting on Okinawa, April 1945. While his M1 Garand is very much in use, he also sports both a Japanese Nambu holster and an M1911

U.S. Soldier in an M-1943 Field Jacket, armed with an M1 Garand somewhere in the ETO. Besides the  bandoliers of .30-06, he has a captured P08 trophy Luger hanging from his belt

Two German soldiers surrender to a USGI armed with his own recently acquired Luger in WWII Europe

US soldier with captured P38 Walther in an Army M7 shoulder holster

Likewise, the British, Canadians and Australians were also captivated with second-hand Axis pistols and were frequently seen carrying them.

Lance Sergeant Earl Henry Scotty McAllister, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, posing with a captured Luger after heavy fighting during the Battle of the Falaise Gap.

Owen SMG-equipped Australian troops examine a captured Nambu Type 14 after the Battle of John’s Knoll–Trevor’s Ridge.  

Captured P38 pistols being examined by British soldiers in WWII

Canadian soldier checking out a captured P38 during WWII


CPL Kormendy of The Calgary Highlanders, note his P-38

Poetically, William Joyce, AKA Lord Haw-Haw, was shot in the butt by a British soldier with a captured P-38 while being taken into custody near the Danish border in May 1945.

P-38 101

I’ve always had a soft spot for P-38s (the guns, not the can openers, as I find the longer P-51 type a much better form of the latter and don’t even get me into the P-38 Lightning) since I was a kid.

With that, I had the great opportunity recently while in the GDC Vault to find examples made by all three WWII makers– Walther, Spreewerk, and Mauser– as well as some Cold War-era West German Ulm-marked guns.

There you go…

For insights into how to tell them apart and what to look for, check out my column at Guns.com. https://www.guns.com/news/2019/12/04/the-world-of-german-p-38s-walther-mauser-spreewerk-and-otherwise

Berlin Wall, now gone for 30 years

As the “Iron Curtain” descended across Europe, the tensions along the border between the two new Germanys escalated until 1961 when construction began on a wall surrounding West Berlin from East Berlin. Dubbed a means to keep fascism out of the People’s Republic (antifaschistischer), the Berlin Wall was more of a mechanism to keep East Germans from escaping the soul-crushing misery that was Communism by fleeing to the West. It is estimated that more than 3 million Germans fled from East to West between 1949 and 1961. If they weren’t stopped, eventually all the workers would have fled the worker’s paradise and the country would be empty!

The guns of those two forces, with the DDR’s heavily indoctrinated Grenztruppen on the East, and the FGR’s Bundesgrenzschutz to the West, were interesting.

In 1975-76, Walther produced a limited run of 5,200 P38 P4 pistols, a shortened version of the P1, specifically for use by the West German Border Patrol and Customs agencies. The above, in the author’s personal collection, is one of those former BMI guns. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

More in my column at Guns.com

Even the Mona Lisa has cracks in it

Portugal has a long and treasured military history. For more than 115 years the Portuguese Army (Exército Português) has issued German-made 9mm steel-framed pistols starting with the DWM Luger in 1906 and moving to the Walther P-38 after WWII.

Dubbed the M1961, the single stack P38 saw lots of service in places like Angola and Mozambique during the African bush wars of the 1960s and 70s, and still equips soldados in Afghanistan and Mali today.

Now, at the end of an era, Lisbon has gone Glock, adopting the Austrian-made polymer-framed G17. The model selected by the Portuguese Army, a Gen 5 variant, includes several features from the G19X such as a Coyote Tan scheme, night sights, and lanyard ring.

Note the Exército engraving and Portuguese rampant lion

More in my column at Guns.com.

The Russians really, seriously, never throw anything away

Throughout history, captured weapons have been recast into trophies by the victors. The historic Vendôme column, ordered in 1803 by Napoleon, was decorated by a series of bronze plaques cast from melted down Austrian cannon captured in his Italian campaign. Likewise, Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square was in turn made from French cannons captured from “The Little Corporal” himself.

The British repeated the gesture after the Crimea by casting the original Victoria’s Crosses from the Tsar’s guns taken in that war.

With that in mind, the Russians picked up some 3 million usable weapons from the Germans in the tail-end of WWII and, taking them back to the Motherland, lovingly cleaned them, packed them in cosmoline, and stored them just in case they were ever needed again. After all, it is 100% cheaper to keep an old gun rather than make a new one.

They gave freighter-loads of them away for generations to hard-working proletariat masses in the various People’s Republics of Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa, where they were often encountered during the Cold War and continue to pop up to this day.

MG-42 and three StG-44s, all WWII-era German guns, which were captured by French Gendarmes in Djibouti in 1976

Well, the Russians still apparently have warehouses full of the stuff.

Like Indiana Jones-Lost Ark-storage style government warehouses:

Filled with the most amazing stuff:

And they are going to be culling some to craft the stairs to the Russian state military chapel.

Za raditeley!

More in my column at Guns.com.