RedditAnother OSS piece
This is a FP-45 "Liberator" pistol. It was a secret project taken up in 1942 by the US to arm partisan troops behind the lines. The purpose was to build a cheap pistol and then drop them in mass behind enemy lines. There, the partisan troops could pick them up and use them to "upgrade..." kill the enemy and take his weapon. They made over a million of these in the course of about six weeks at a cost of about $1.25. They were purposely cheaply made so that they could be thrown in a river or lake and they would quickly deteriorate.
The "FP" in the name stands for "Flare Projector" and .45 caliber. The aim there was to confuse any spies to think they were making a survival flare pistol for downed airmen etc rather than an actual pistol. The parts on the blue prints were given vague names as well so even the employees did not know they were building pistols except for a select few in the final assembly process. It is a single shot and smooth bore pistol. Accuracy was expected to be fifty feet or less but that is probably optimistic. It can be reloaded, but it is a slow process. To reload it, you have to pull and rotate the striker back, raise the rear sight that doubles as a breech block and knock out the fired cartridge (no extractor/ejector), put in the new cartridge, close the breech block, rotate the striker back into position and now you're ready to fire again. Almost as fast as a musket.
They were originally intended for use in France but practically none made it to France and the balance was shipped over to the Burma/China/India theater of operations that the OSS would spread out.
One of the tactics that there was, was to announce to the enemy that they had dropped the pistols. They did this to put a fear into the enemy to make them try and have eyes in the back of the head. Meaning, maybe they would drop 10,000 pistols but they'd announce on the radio that they dropped 50,000. Then, if the enemy captured all 10,000 of them they still assumed 40,000 were out there and distributed among the population.
Largely the idea was a failure, but it was a valiant attempt to arm people who needed guns.
I have actually shot this once and lived to tell the tale. It wasn't bad shooting it, between my friends and I we probably put five rounds down range. Every liberator was fired at the factory and some were fired as many as 50 times to ensure lot safety. The pistol and ammunition are original, however the box and accessories are reproduction from Vintage Ordnance.
WIKIPEDIAThe FP-45 Liberator
A pistol manufactured by the United States military during World War II for use by resistance forces in occupied territories. The Liberator was never issued to American or other Allied troops, and there are few documented instances of the weapon being used for its intended purpose; though the intended recipients, irregulars and resistance fighters, rarely kept detailed records due to the inherent risks if the records were captured by the enemy. Few FP-45 pistols were distributed as intended, and most were destroyed by Allied forces after the war.
The Liberator was shipped in a cardboard box with 10 rounds of .45 ACP ammunition, a wooden dowel to remove the empty cartridge case, and an instruction sheet in comic strip form showing how to load and fire the weapon. The Liberator was a crude and clumsy weapon, never intended for front-line service. It was originally intended as an insurgency weapon to be mass-dropped behind enemy lines to resistance fighters in occupied territory. A resistance fighter was to recover the gun, sneak up on an Axis occupier, kill or incapacitate him, and retrieve his weapons.
It was manufactured under the "FP" prefix and referred to in official documentation as a "Flare pistol". The pistol was valued as much for its psychological warfare effect as its actual field performance. It was believed that if vast quantities of these handguns could be delivered into Axis-occupied territory, it would have a devastating effect on the morale of occupying troops. The plan was to drop them in such great quantities that occupying forces could never capture or recover all of them. It was hoped that the thought of thousands of these unrecovered weapons potentially in the hands of the citizens of occupied countries would have a deleterious effect on enemy morale.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower's staff never saw the practicality in mass dropping the Liberator over occupied Europe, and authorized distribution of fewer than 25,000 of the half million FP-45 pistols shipped to Great Britain for the French resistance. Generals Joseph Stilwell and Douglas MacArthur were similarly unenthusiastic about the other half of the pistols scheduled for shipment to the Pacific. The Army then turned 450,000 Liberators over to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which preferred to supply Resistance fighters in both theaters with more effective weapons whenever possible.