Why didn't the Hi-Power (P-35) see more use in WWII?


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Dave R
January 12, 2004, 08:01 PM
The Hi-Power was introduced in 1935. Germany took over the FN plant in Belgium early in the war and issued some P-35's. Britain had some P-35's. Maybe the only handgun to be used on two sides of the front in WWII?

So why didn't it see more widespread use? I would think the high capacity would be valuable. And we all know how good the ergonomics are.

Hitler's insanity? Must use Lugers and P-38's...

Britain's pride in the Webley?

I understand the USA's decisision to stick with the 1911.

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Dave Markowitz
January 12, 2004, 08:31 PM
The Germans used a lot of BHPs, along with every other handgun they could get their hands on. The Germans were not about to discontinue the rest of their handgun production to concentrate on HPs, even if they liked them the best (and I doubt they did). The production lines for Lugers, P-38s, Radoms, et al. were already setup and producing guns. It wouldn't have made any sense to shut them down.

The Brits, Canadians and Chinese used probably all the BHPs that Inglis could make. In addition, British Commonwealth forces alread had their Enfields and Webleys in production, and took deliveries of large numbers of S&W Hand Ejectors.

Lone Star
January 12, 2004, 09:50 PM
I believe that Germany alone used over 300,000 M-35's, mostly in paratroop and SS units. Hundreds of thousands more were made by Inglis in Canada.

Lone Star

Boats
January 12, 2004, 10:00 PM
I'd hazard a few guesses along three lines: 1) In most Euro armies, pistols are a rank badge more than a combat arm, so the grunts most likely to use them against an enemy, usually didn't have them, commandos excepted. 2) There was a relative lack of H2H or infiltration tactics on the Western Front, which is why even most 1911 accounts from WW2 are from the Pacific Theater and not many pistol accounts of British origin are found from anywhere. 2) Most Axis pistols were only used in random occupation shootings and then mobile death squads before the full implementation of the Final Solution, so no one discusses the relative "combat" merits of the Luger, P-35 and P-38 all that much as dollars to donuts most axis pistol shots fired were executions.

jar
January 12, 2004, 10:10 PM
It did see a lot of use. As did every other handun that could be made in the US, Canada, Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, China, Japan, Turkey, Russia, Poland...

Dr.Rob
January 13, 2004, 01:28 AM
Yeah we all know the fight for Stalingrad was from stand off range and everyone played fair.

I'd bet there are PLENTY of Tokarev vs. Luger discussions that went on on the Eastern Front.

;)

On that note however, the ONLY written account I've ever seen/read by a GI capturing a Hi-Power was from an officer in Italy. He remarked that the gun wasn't well known, but prized as it held a lot of bullets. He later shipped home his HP and a Luger inside an old accordian, along with a fancy german dagger.

My Great Uncle brought back a 38 S&W cal revolver with no legible markings that he claimed he took from a German he killed. I'd guess now that it may have been an RWS?

According to "Tales of the gun" No army in history showe an interest in pistols like the Wermacht of WW2 did.

Croyance
January 13, 2004, 02:53 AM
German units were always short of handguns. So the idea that they were only issued to officers and special units doesn't really hold.
The Nazi's couldn't make handguns fast enough. They used every handgun factory they captured and still didn't have enough. Must have been a logistical nightmare.

Tamara
January 13, 2004, 09:13 AM
Maybe the only handgun to be used on two sides of the front in WWII?

There were also Waffenamt-marked Norwegian license-built 1911's.

gvass
January 13, 2004, 09:53 AM
"Maybe the only handgun to be used on two sides of the front in WWII?"

No!
Radoms, French M1935 A&B, Italian Beretta M1934 & 1935 (Italy was not on axis-side since 1943), Czech CZ M24, and almost all German-occupied country's pistols can be considered as "used by both sides".

Captured German guns (even tanks!) were also used (issued!) by regular Soviet units.

MrAcheson
January 13, 2004, 09:58 AM
The germans also used captured tanks and field pieces. Truth be told, the blitzkreig of France used mostly "inferior" Czech tanks.

Delmar
January 13, 2004, 09:59 AM
And just to compound the problem, the Inglis made Hi Powers were converted from metric to inch standard, and as I understand it, not all was peaches and cream from a production standpoint.

Jim K
January 13, 2004, 03:13 PM
Some years ago, I talked to a fellow who had been a Captain during the fighting in northern Germany. He told me that he and a German actually played one of those duck and shoot behind trees scenarios with pistols in a forest. He counted the shots the German fired, and when he got to eight, he stepped out in the open. That was when he found out about the BHP. Fortunately, he was not hurt, but at that point, one of his men with a BAR shot through the tree, the High Power, and the German, in that order.

I would have considered the story so much BS, except that he had the HP. It had a bullet hole completely through it, just above the grip, and three rounds left in the magazine. The gun was cocked and of course could not be uncocked. The slide was smashed and couldn't move, but he had had the chamber drilled out to deactivate the round in the chamber. There were blood stains on the pistol. The German, needless to say, was killed by that bullet and several others.

I am always one to caution against acceptance of "war stories". But some you believe.

Jim

Dave Markowitz
January 13, 2004, 09:24 PM
I would have considered the story so much BS, except that he had the HP. It had a bullet hole completely through it, just above the grip, and three rounds left in the magazine.

.30 M2 AP: When it absolutely, positively, has to be destroyed RIGHT NOW. :evil:

What a souvenir that HP would be!

4v50 Gary
January 14, 2004, 04:05 PM
Heckuva great Hi-Power story Jim. Thanks.

jar
January 15, 2004, 10:40 AM
One other thing to remember about the HP and WWII is that it was still a fairly new pistol design and that Germany had also just adopted the P-38 (even newer) as a standard sidearm. The P-35 was adopted in 1935 and really didn't go into production until 1936.

Hitler assumed power in 1933 and began military buildups right away. So a large percentage of the German sidearms were purchased from Walther, Mauser and other makers based on the designs that came out in WWI.

The HP and P-38 were only entering the pipeline and the vast majority of stocks would have been the older handguns.

Owen
January 15, 2004, 01:09 PM
I bet if you shot a Glock with A BAR, it would still work!!!

:evil: :evil: :evil:

owen

Johnny Guest
January 15, 2004, 02:11 PM
About 30 years ago, I noticed a largely-stripped P35 frame in a box under my gunsmith's bench. I asked about it and he said a customer had sold/given it to him for parts - - No extra charge for the story - -

Somewhere in Europe, late in the war, he got the drop on a German (Unk if officer or non-com) who surrendered. The GI could see a pistol holster and told the German to drop his sidearm. The German slowly drew it forth, and, never pointing it, dropped the mag and drew back the slide. The GI figured the guy was just unloading it and did not shoot him. The prisoner then separated slide and frame and threw the parts in opposite directions and raised his hands. The GI picked up the frame and mag but couldn't locate the missing parts. He was unfamiliar with the type pistol and ket the frame as a souvenir.

Best,
Johnny

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