Pistol Walther P.38 is one of those pistols, which have become part of the story and recognized even by the people, who have no interest in firearms. This gun is not only went through the Second World War, but for a long time it was used after its completion.
Walther P.38 is like an army of fans, and those, who believes the weapon of one of the worst developments of designers the company Walther. There was even a joke about eight warning shots and an accurate throw, characterizing the gun as a weapon is not the most accurate. Let us try to become more closely acquainted with the gun and try not biased assess its strengths and weaknesses.
A brief history of gun Walther P.38
As with any weapon, which subsequently gets spread, Pistol Walther P.38 did not appear out of the blue, it was preceded by a series of pistols less successful designs. Designers of the company Walther set a goal - to create a gun easier and cheaper, than the P.08 Georg Luger. From a technical point of view, the task was more than a simple, as the gun P.08 weapons complex and expensive to manufacture, but there was one snag.
This snag characteristics were Luger pistol, which could compete with, not all designs. But not even that was the main problem. The main problem was that, that the military is very much attached to the P.08 and in order to get them to change the gun to the other I had to do something, least, not worse, or rely on good luck.
The first designs of Walther pistols, that should have been replaced by P.08, We were very far from ideal. For some reason, the designers decided to move in a direction, that was wrong. The main mistake of designers was the idea of creating a pistol chambered for 9x19 with automatic, built on the use of the recoil energy during free course of the shutter.
The result of the movement in this direction was the gun, which very much resembles an enlarged and substantially weighted version of the gun Walther PP. of course, such weapons could not meet even the most modest requirements in mass production, it does not matter. With this gun began some confusion in the notation, since he was named Walther MP (Militarpistole), this designation is used for subsequent samples, all based on the automation system blowback. The first two options pistol MR does not differ fundamentally, The third option was already another, Its distinguishing feature was the trigger mechanism with a hidden trigger.
Despite all the efforts, to bring the latter option gun design to acceptable performance in durability and reliability and attempts to reduce the weight of the arms, fruit it has not brought any. Soon came the understanding, that the automation system with a free gate, It can not be realized in the gun, eating relatively powerful cartridge 9x19, at the appropriate level, under the technical achievements, that were available at that time. As time has shown, automatic application of such system is possible in pistols, but it has its own nuances, the most famous example of such weapons can be called VP70 gun company Heckler und Koch.
It is worth noting, that designation referred to MR and other experimental models of pistols, Automatic already stoilas not free during the shutter, but that it was specifically to arms, no reliable data.
In the search for a workable automatic system, which would be different reliability and simplicity, Fritz Bartlemens offered its own development, which, subsequently, and became the basis for weapons, which we now know under the designation Walther P.38.
The basic idea of the design was to improve automation system with a short recoil, Browning proposed. The main advantage of its development Designer singled stem stroke, which is now moving in a straight line, without misalignment when unlocking the barrel. This was achieved by introducing into the original design of the latch, which, when reversing, He interacted with the rod and output of the clutch barrel and bolt group.
On the basis of this design has been developed following a gun, which was proposed by the military. This gun has had the designation AP. The weapon was rejected by the military because, that trigger the gun was hidden, apparently considered such a solution is not enough safe. After the change of the "shortage", weapons were proposed military again, new designation HP It used the trigger mechanism of the second embodiment of the gun MR. This gun was already almost Walther P.38 and after changing a few unimportant details was adopted in 1940 year.
It should be noted, that prior to adopting, the weapon with the name of HP could be found on the shelves of gun shops, and the gun was offered not only in the embodiment under 9x19 cartridges, but also for ammunition .32 century .38 Super Auto and .45 ACP. mentioned, that the weapon under this designation was made up to 1944 of the year, and even if this is true, it is obvious, that volumes were very low, since all enterprises, especially those, who were engaged in the manufacture of weapons, worked exclusively for military purposes, rather than commercial.
by the way, There is one little known fact about this weapon. This gun was adopted by the Swedish army under the designation M39, but he did not appear in the army. Before the Second World War, Walther P.38 won the competition for a new Swedish army pistol, which it sent a little more than a thousand of these weapons. However, the outbreak of war brought about changes and Sweden had to give up the gun and adopt Husqvarna M / 40.
The Many Faces of P.38
Despite, Walther P.38 options that gun is not much, you can find quite a large number of weapons under this designation, which although will not differ by device, but it will be different in quality and individual parts.
Since the army is constantly needed weapons, production of pistols Walther P.38 were deployed not only at the production facilities of the company, to the production plants were connected Mauser, which was removed from production R.08, opting R.38. Besides, guns in large numbers were made on plants with Spreewerke 1942 of the year. Differences manufacturers and constantly increasing requirements in terms of production inevitably affects the quality of weapons, what, perhaps, and caused some hostility to the gun, many.
quite expectedly, that when a man takes a new gun in the hands and from the very beginning starts to notice flaws in the processing, and subsequently also the failures of individual nodes, he formed a persistent view of the gun, and it is clearly not a positive. The most frequent, characterizing the drop in quality when production scale, It was the work of a safety device. When the fuse, drummer blocked, and it all worked then, when every gun have paid enough attention to the plant.
The military also samples the middle of the Second World War could not boast of high quality, that even as seen in processing outer surfaces of arms. As a result, the drop in production quality, drummer, after a brief operation of weapons, I have ceased to be rigidly locked, when the fuse. As a result of this, trigger, striking it, It led to fire. By the way, somebody out there was talking about TT?
The deployment of large-scale production for the ever-growing needs of the military have even led, only within the walls of the company Walther P.38 from the start of production, Some units have changed. for example, the first fifteen hundred pistols Walther P.38 had hidden in the shell-gate ejector, and after the release of nearly five thousand guns, Shank drummer was changed, which have changed the cross section from square to round.
If we talk about the quality of weapons, depending on where it is produced, it would be absolutely incorrect. The Germans are still Germans always, even when they are forced to rush. The difference as soon as there is a function of time, when one or the other gun was produced. For this reason, it is often possible to meet opinion, that guns, made at factories Spreewerke, different lower quality, but then began to produce their guns only 1942 year, wherein the production rate was significantly higher, than that Walther and Mauser companies.
For comparison, here are some numbers. FROM 1939 of the year, Walther company has produced about 475 thousand units pistols Walther P.38. The company Mauser poklyuchilas to production at the end of 1941 year and made 300 thousand. Production at the company's factories Spreewerke deployed only 1942 year, and the company issued before the end of the war 275 thousands of pistols Walther P.38.
Distinguish the weapon from different manufacturers can be hallmarks of, good, in this case, everything is simple and clear to the limit. first 13 thousands of pistols Walther Company can be identified by the presence of the well-known logo - the image from the tape written on it the name of the company. These 13000 guns are called "zero" series, as the serial numbers of weapons to start from scratch. In the middle 1940 of the year, encoding names of plants were put, producing military goods, Company plant Walther received a numeric designation 480, which also was applied to the cover-shutter instead of the company's logo. By the end of 1940 of the year, designation changed again, Now instead of the numbers used letters, for the company Walter entrenched letters AC, who changed the number of 480 on the housing-gate.
Pistols Mauser company is easily recognized by three letters byf, but there are a small number of weapons with other symbols - svw. This designation is entered in the 1945 year. Pistols company Spreewerke had marked svq.
As it has been said before, pistols Walther P.38 variants not so much. If you take only the war period, we can distinguish the full version of Walther P.38 and with a shortened barrel. There may be some confusion, a shortened version of the gun Walther P.38 also produced in the postwar period, but visually guns labeled R.38K easily distinguished from the military and post-war - the weapons, which was produced for the needs of the Gestapo, front sight was located in the same place where a full-sized version of the weapon, on the trunk. Postwar embodiments have flies location on the casing-gate.
After the end of the war, the Walther P.38 pistol continued its service, the truth is already under the name P1. The only difference between this weapon and its predecessor was the frame, made of aluminum alloy. Interestingly, pistols, which were released for export, still had the designation P.38. subsequently,, the P4 pistol appeared, which shortened the barrel and improved the safety mechanism, it was based on, once again, pistol R.38K.
Despite, that the latest version of the Walther P.38 pistol was removed from service in 1981 year, arms production for export continued until the end of the twentieth century.
But the story did not end gun. Since these weapons has left its mark on history, many enthusiasts continue to work with him. of course, we are not talking about, to produce the Walther P.38 in-house, however, the result of this work is still of interest. So, often, taken guns of the war period and by eliminating the drawbacks of series production brought to a perfect performance and attractive, spoiled for the consumer, appearance.
An example of such work is the Walther P.38 pistols after revision by John Martz. One of the variants of his pistols was dubbed the Baby P38 by analogy with the "pocket" pistols of the early twentieth century.. In the version of the weapon shown in the photo, the barrel was shortened, to "Gestapo" version, modified coating external surfaces, shortened handle and replaced by a plate, avoids the disadvantages of serial production of weapons in the internal parts.
Many have a negative attitude towards such work results., since the weapon loses its historical value, however there is not a single person, who would not admit, that the end result is definitely more presentable, than that, what was taken as a basis.
By the way, at the hands of the Master "suffered" and P.08, which can be seen now as the rifle with a long barrel and fixed butt. But back to the gun Walther P.38, in its original version.
The design of the gun Walther P.38
As already mentioned above, the basis of the design was the gun Walther P.38 automation system with a short recoil and locking bore, swingable in a vertical plane latch. Interestingly, the system of protection against accidental shot was implemented. External fuse switch, blocked when turned on drummer, respectively, the trigger when triggering could not budge it.
Besides, one more detail was introduced into the design, protecting the weapon from premature firing, before locking the barrel. A spring-loaded part was stretched through the entire bolt of the weapon, which, when closing the shutter casing, rested against the bottom of the sleeve and pressed into the shutter casing. The movement of this part back led to the unlocking of the striker, Besides, it was also used as an indicator of the presence of a cartridge in the chamber.
Despite the outward simplicity of the pistol design, the weapon turned out to be clearly overloaded with small elements, which performed one single function. Yes, the pistol turned out to be easier and cheaper to manufacture, than the P.08, but by modern standards, the production of such a pistol would be unreasonably difficult, without clear advantages in the form of higher performance compared to competitors or a low price.
To be objective, then this pistol finally lost its relevance as a military weapon back in the 50s of the last century, since by that time there were a lot of cheaper options, both in production, and on the counter.
How bad is the Walther P.38?
No need to search long, to find people, unflattering about this weapon. There are really a lot of negative reviews, and they mainly relate to weapons of wartime release and P1. In the first case, everything is explained by a decrease in the quality of production due to large volumes of weapons produced in a short time.. In principle, any weapon with a design, consisting of many small parts, in such conditions it will not be of the best quality.
If we talk about the P1 pistol, it is obvious, that part of the weapon was made by replacing the frame of pistols, produced during World War II, and hardly anyone paid attention to the quality of individual nodes, which led to undesirable consequences.
The very design of the pistol, as shown by the work of enthusiasts, who brought military samples to perfection, quite efficient, it just can't handle low production levels. Draw conclusions, pistol-based traumatic, signaling and, especially, pneumatic, completely incorrect.
Good Walther P.38 pistol or bad, difficult to speak. For its time, the weapon turned out to be really excellent, although not adapted for production in wartime. Since the pistol did not have a chance to develop rapidly into a simpler design, and the quality of production crippled the credibility of him, Walther P.38, although it left a mark on history, but did not become on a par with other more successful models of pistols.