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Liberator Pistol Mystery... Solved?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by cxm, Jun 25, 2005.

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  1. cxm

    cxm Member

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    As most will know, during WW II the Army had millions of "Liberator" .45 acp cal pistols made to distribute to resistance operations in occupied countries. These were of course rather "inexpensively" manufactured... by General Motors as I recall.

    One of the things that remained somewhat of a mystery as far as I can determine was what happened to these guns after WW II.

    Very few examples exist in private collections today and they are pricey when they are offered for sale.

    The few examples I have seen are all supposed to have come out of the Phillipines. Millions sent to Europe have generally been assumed to have been destroyed.

    Talking to a friend who was in the Army in the mid 1970s may have the solved the mystery of what happened to the Liberaotrs sent to Europe.

    My friend said there were "thousands and thousands" of new Liberator pistols packed on pallets and stored in the Frankfurt area in the 1977-78 time frame. He said therer were iglos full of pallets of these pistols in storage.

    Apparently these were stored to be issued to Germans in the event the Russians attacked (it was expected they would fairly quickly over-run Germany in such an event) for use by resistance groups. The pistols still had the ammunition in the grip.

    So it seems the guns survived at least into the 70s and perhaps into the 90s... and may still survive, though the locations they were stored are being closed... and with the current political climate they probably will be destroyed if they have not been yet.

    FWIW

    Chuck
     
  2. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    I think you have a reasonable explanation, although I would have thought that some researcher would have come up with this well before now. If the pistols did or do exist I presume they will be destroyed. It's something neither the current German government nor the U.S./NATO military would have any more interest in.

    American collectors are unlike to see them, as the ATF&E would likely rule that they had "no sporting purpose." :cuss:
     
  3. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

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    I am not sure what mystery is solved here. A single unconfirmed report of there being thousands and thousands stored in crates in unknown locations is pretty darned far-fetched.

    Your time line is hokey. Based on the report, you say that they survived into the 70s and maybe into the 90s. Well, it would have been the 70s since your friend supposedly saw them in 77-78. I don't know how you stretched this to suggest they potentially survived into the 90s. With only a date of 77-78, how do you get to the 90s but not get to present day? How do you get to the 90s when you don't even have evidence from the 80s?

    It is interesting to note that you wondered what happened to the guns after WWII. I don't recall any big shipments of guns to Germany after WWII, but do know that thousands were dropped to civilian resistence during WWII.

    What you seem to be saying is that you are trying to figure out what happened to surplus guns not distributed during WWII. If so, there should be quartermaster records for the shipments as the time frame you seem to be indicating would likely be part of the Berlin airlift.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 25, 2005
  4. MillCreek

    MillCreek Member

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    I thought I read an article on this very topic a few years ago in American Rifleman or one of the other gun rags. The article stated that 'most' of the remaining unissued stock was destroyed shortly after the war.
     
  5. 444

    444 Member

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    I heard a very similar story a couple years ago, only they were sitting on pallets ready to be returned back to the US for private sale: but were being held up because of red tape.
     
  6. cxm

    cxm Member

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    Information

    First, I believe the person because of the work he did at the time and where he was stationed. His information seems quite credible to me.

    Now, as to time lines... My deduction is simply they were stored at least until the Soviet threat abated after 1989. I do know the installations at which they are stored existed at least until the mid-late 90s.

    Quartermaster records may well exist as to their delivery to Germany...but I surmise they were in Europe at the end of WW II and simply remained there. Keep in mind these guns were not serialized being intended to be disposable, so record keeping probably was not, at least initally, at the same level as other weapons.

    The person who told me about these guns is not a "gun person." Initally he simply said there were iglos full of ".45s." Which is of course correct... just not complete. I was quite surprised and discussed his observation further with him... and then realized he was not talking about 1911 .45s, but talking about Liberators.

    Their intended use seems perfectly credible as well...

    IIRC these guns are smooth bore, so I'm not sure they could be sold in the U.S. OTOH, I think the ATF classified them as C&R many years ago... so who knows...

    Anyway, until someone comes up with a better explaination I'm satisfied the report I heard is accurate. I am however, attempting to contact someone else who was there at the time to see if he has any recollections.

    FWIW

    Chuck
     
  7. sgt127

    sgt127 Member

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    I would bet there are an awful lot of them, wrapped in oilcloth and tucked into cupboards, barns and sock drawers all over Europe. Having remembered what happened 60 years ago, I'm sure there are alot of old folks that made a decision not to be unarmed again.
     
  8. isp2605

    isp2605 Member

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    Sounds like the stories we were given in the late 80s and early 90s about all the chemical warfare gear "prepositioned" in Europe. I was on a NATO inspection team at the time doing the NBC side of the inspections during NATO war games. I did 3 short tours there and was told there were warehouses full of NBC gear prepositioned. We asked where these warehouses were located but no one seemed to know. Everyone had been told for years it was there but no one knew where, at least no one we could find.
    100 years from now some soldier from the FES (Federation of Euopean States - or whatever they'll be called then) will open a long forgotten building and wonder where all the NBC junk came from. Or they were never there to begin with.
     
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