Sunday, May 31, 2015
The Ford Model A of 1928–1931 (also colloquially called the A-Model Ford or the A, and A-bone among rodders and customizers) was the second huge success for the Ford Motor Company, after its predecessor, the Model T. First produced on October 20, 1927, but not sold until December 2, it replaced the venerable Model T, which had been produced for 18 years. This new Model A (a previous model had used the name in 1903–04) was designated as a 1928 model and was available in four standard colors.
By 4 February 1929, one million Model As had been sold, and by 24 July, two million. The range of body styles ran from the Tudor at US$500 (in grey, green, or black) to the Town Car with a dual cowl at US$1200. In March 1930, Model A sales hit three million, and there were nine body styles available.
The Model A was produced through 1931. When production ended in March, 1932, there were 4,858,644 Model As made in all styles. Its successor was the Model B, which featured an updated 4-cylinder engine, as well as the Model 18 which introduced Ford's new flathead (sidevalve) V8 engine.
Prices for the Model A ranged from US$385 for a roadster to $1400 for the top-of-the-line Town Car. The engine was a water-cooled L-head 4-cylinder with a displacement of 201 cu in (3.3 l). This engine provided 40 hp (30 kW; 41 PS). Top speed was around 65 mph (105 km/h). The Model A had a 103.5 in (2,630 mm) wheelbase with a final drive ratio of 3.77:1. The transmission was a conventional 3-speed sliding gear manual unsynchronised unit with a single speed reverse. The Model A had 4-wheel mechanical drum brakes. The 1930 and 1931 editions came with stainless steel radiator cowling and headlamp housings.
The Model A came in a wide variety of styles: Coupe (Standard and Deluxe), Business Coupe, Sport Coupe, Roadster Coupe (Standard and Deluxe), Convertible Cabriolet, Convertible Sedan, Phaeton (Standard and Deluxe), Tudor Sedan (Standard and Deluxe), Town Car, Fordor (2-window) (Standard and Deluxe), Fordor (3-window) (Standard and Deluxe), Victoria, Station Wagon, Taxicab, Truck, and Commercial.
The Model A was the first Ford to use the standard set of driver controls with conventional clutch and brake pedals; throttle and gearshift. Previous Ford models used controls that had become uncommon to drivers of other makes. The Model A's fuel tank was situated in the cowl, between the engine compartment's fire wall and the dash panel. It had a visual fuel gauge, and the fuel flowed to the carburetor by gravity. A rear-view mirror was optional.In cooler climates, owners could purchase an aftermarket cast iron unit to place over the exhaust manifold to provide heat to the cab. A small door provided adjustment of the amount of hot air entering the cab. Model A was the first car to have safety glass in the windshield.
The Soviet company GAZ, which started as a cooperation between Ford and the Soviet Union, made a licensed version of the Model A from 1932–1936. This itself was the basis for the FAI and BA-20 armored car, which saw use as scout vehicles in the early stages of World War II.
In addition to the United States, Ford made the Model A in plants in Argentina, Canada, France, Germany and the United Kingdom and Denmark.
In Europe, where cars were taxed according to engine size, Ford equipped the Ford Model A with a 2,033 cc (124.1 cu in) engine providing a claimed output of just 28 hp (21 kW; 28 PS). However, the engine size was still large enough to equate to a fiscal horsepower of 14.9 hp (as opposed to the 24 hp of the larger engine) and attracted a punitive annual car tax levy of £24 in the UK and similar penalties in other principal European markets. It therefore was expensive to own and too heavy and thirsty to achieve volume sales, and so unable to compete in the newly developing mass market, while also too crude to compete as a luxury product. European manufactured Model As failed to achieve the sales success in Europe that would greet their smaller successor in England and Germany.
From the mid 1910s through the early 1920s, the Ford Motor Company dominated the automotive market with its Model T. However, during the mid-1920s, this dominance eroded as competitors, especially the various General Motors divisions, caught up with Ford's mass production system and began to outcompete Ford in some areas, especially by offering more powerful engines, new convenience features, or cosmetic customization. Also, features Henry Ford considered to be unnecessary, such as electric starters, were gradually shifting in the public's perception from luxuries to essentials.
Ford's sales force recognized the threat and advised Henry to respond to it. Initially he resisted, but the T's sagging market share finally forced him to admit a replacement was needed. When he finally agreed to begin development of this new model, he focused on the mechanical aspects and on what today is called design for manufacturability (DFM), which he had always strongly embraced and for which the Model T production system was famous. Although ultimately successful, the development of the Model A included many problems that had to be resolved. For example, the die stamping of parts from sheet steel, which the Ford company had led to new heights of development with the Model T production system, was something Henry had always been ambivalent about; it had brought success, but he felt that it was not the best choice for durability. He was determined that the Model A would rely more on drop forgings than the Model T; but his ideas to improve the DFM of forging did not prove practical. Eventually, Ford's engineers persuaded him to relent, lest the Model A's production cost force up its retail price too much.
Henry's disdain for cosmetic vanity as applied to automobiles led him to leave the Model A's styling to a team led by his son Edsel, even though he would take credit for it despite his son doing more of the work.
It was during the period from the mid-1920s to early 1930s that the limits of the first generation of mass production, epitomized by the Model T production system's rigidity, became apparent. The era of "flexible mass production" had begun.
The Ford Model A was well represented in media of the era since it was one of the most common cars. Model kits are still available from hobby shops in the 2000s, as stock cars or hot rods.
Perhaps in reference to the remarkable upgrade from the previous Model T, a song was written about the Model A by Irving Kaufman called Henry's Made a Lady Out Of Lizzie, a reference to the moniker Tin Lizzie given to the Model T.
Several Model As have obtained particular fame. The Ramblin' Wreck, a 1930 Sport Coupe, is the official mascot of the student body at the Georgia Institute of Technology and appears at sporting events and student body functions. Ala Kart, a customized 1929 roadster pickup built by George Barris won two straight "America's Most Beautiful Roadster" awards at the Oakland Roadster Show before making numerous film and television appearances. Between October 1992 to December 1994, Hector Quevedo, along with his son Hugo, drove a 1928 Model A 22,000 miles (35,000 km) from his home in Punta Arenas, Chile to the Ford Motor Company headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. The car required minimal service including a flat tire and transmission work in Nicaragua and is now housed in the Henry Ford Museum.
Charlie Ryan's Hot Rod Lincoln was a Model A with a Lincoln flathead V12 and other modifications.
Friday, May 29, 2015
An aerosani (Russian: aэросани, aerosani, literally 'aerosled') is a type of propeller-driven snowmobile, running on skis, used for communications, mail deliveries, medical aid, emergency recovery and border patrolling in northern Russia, as well as for recreation. Aerosanis were used by the Soviet Red Army during the Winter War and World War II.
The first aerosanis may have been built in 1903-05 by Sergei Nezhdanovsky. In 1909–10 young Igor Sikorsky tested self designed aerosani, before he built multi-engine airplanes and helicopters. They were very light plywood vehicles on skis, propelled by old airplane engines and propellers.
Military use of the aerosani goes back to at least the 1910s. During WWI, aerosanis were found to be useful for reconnaissance, communicating and light raiding in northern areas. During the 1939–40 Winter War against Finland, some were equipped with a machine-gun ring mount on the roof. They could carry four to five men, and tow four more on skis. The aerosanis were initially used for transport, liaison, and medical evacuation in deep snow, and mostly used in open country and on frozen lakes and rivers because of their poor hill-climbing ability and limited maneuverability on winding forest roads.
During WWII, aerosanis were found to be useful for reconnaissance and light raiding in northern areas, thanks to their high mobility in deep snow (25–35 km/h, where many vehicles couldn't move at all). Responsibility for aerosanis was transferred to the Soviet Armoured Forces (GABTU) and orders were submitted for design and fabrication of lightly armoured versions, protected by ten millimetres of steel plate on front. They were organized into transport or combat battalions of 45 vehicles, in three companies, often employed in co-operation with ski infantry. Troops were usually carried or towed by transport aerosanis, while fire support was provided by the heavier machine gun-armed, armoured models. Aerosanis were not used for direct assault because of their vulnerability to explosives such as mortar rounds.
The ANT-I through ANT-V were a successful series of aerosanis of the 1920s and ’30s, designed by aircraft engineer Andrei Tupolev. However, there is reason to believe that in 1924 the Soviets obtained plans and specifications for 'air sleighs' from Chester B. Wing, an aviator, automobile dealer and former mayor of St. Ignace, Michigan, U.S.A. He had built practical aerosleds to aid transportation across the ice between St. Ignace and Mackinac Island, and for use by fishermen. The Spring 1943 issue of the magazine Science and Mechanics states that "from his aerosleds the Russians developed their present battle sled." The claim though has to be viewed in the context of a picture of an Igor Sikorsky machine in Kiev pre-WWI.
The first military aerosanis used in Finland, the KM-5 and OSGA-6 (later called NKL-6), were initially built at the Narkomles Factory in Moscow. During WWII, improved NKL-16/41 and NKL-16/42 models were built, and production started at the ZiS and GAZ car factories, and at smaller industries such as the Stalingrad Bekietovskiy Wood Works. In 1941 the armoured NKL-26, designed by M. Andreyev, started production at Narkomles. The following year, Gorki Narkorechflota developed the smaller, unarmoured GAZ-98, or RF-8, powered by a GAZ-M1 truck engine and durable metal propeller. There was also an ASD-400 heavy assault sled used in WWII.
The RF-8, or GAZ-98, was an aerosan used by the Soviet Union during the Second World War. The GAZ-98K was a version with a more powerful GAZ Shvetsov M-11 five-cylinder air-cooled 110-hp radial aviation engine in place of the standard automotive engine.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
The S&W Model 19 is a revolver produced by Smith & Wesson on its K-frame platform. The model 19 is chambered for .357 Magnum. The K-frame is somewhat smaller and lighter than the original N-frame .357, usually known as the S&W Model 27.
The .357 Magnum is the oldest "magnum" handgun cartridge. Smith & Wesson played a major part in the development and success of the cartridge and revolver that went with it. Firearms writer and experimenter Philip Sharpe is credited for its development during the 1930s when police agencies were asking for a more powerful round. S&W's Dan Wesson agreed to produce a new revolver that would handle "high-intensity" .38 Special loads, but only if Winchester would develop a new cartridge. Elmer Keith, a well known author and wildcatter at the time, was experimenting with hand loading .38 Special ammunition beyond their original specifications, taking advantage of the newer and better designed firearm frames and metallurgy, and also played a major role in the development of the .357 Magnum. Winchester introduced the .357 Magnum, which was dimensionally identical to the .38 Special except for a .125 inch longer case, and the first revolvers (referred to as ".357 Magnum Models") were completed by S&W on April 8, 1935.
Retired Assistant Chief Patrol Inspector of the U.S. Border Patrol, famous gunfighter, and noted firearms and shooting skills writer Bill Jordan consulted with Smith & Wesson on the design and characteristics of the Model 19. Jordan's idea for a "peace officer's dream" sidearm was a heavy-barreled four-inch K-Frame .357 Magnum with a shrouded barrel like the big N-frame .357 and adjustable sights. After a year of experimentation with improved-strength steels and special heat-treating processes, the result was the .357 Combat Magnum (later designated Model 19), with the first serial-number gun (K260,000) presented to Jordan on November 15, 1955.
The Model 19 was produced in blued carbon steel or nickel-plated steel with wood or rubber combat grips, an adjustable rear sight, semi-target hammer, serrated combat-type trigger, and was available in 2.5" (3": Model 66—rare), 4", or 6-inch barrel lengths. The weights are 30.5 ounces, 36 ounces, and 39 ounces, respectively. The 2.5- and 3-inch barrel versions had round butts, while the others had square butts.
The Model 19 was produced from 1957 (first model number stampings) to November 1999. The Model 66 was produced from 1970 until 2005. The Model 66 differed by its use of stainless steel and its smooth target-type trigger. The Model 19 and the Model 66 had the same trigger options.
Engineering changes were designated with a "dash-" number after the model number. The engineering changes are as follows:
Monday, May 25, 2015
The Smith & Wesson Model 36 is a revolver chambered for .38 Special. It is one of several models of "J-frame" Smith & Wesson revolvers. It was introduced in 1950, and is still in production.
The Model 36 was designed in the era just after World War II, when Smith & Wesson stopped producing war materials and resumed normal production. For the Model 36, they sought to design a revolver that could fire the more powerful .38 Special round in a small, concealable package. Since the older I-frame was not able to handle this load, a new frame was designed, which became the Smith & Wesson J-frame.
The new design was introduced at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) convention in 1950, and was favorably received. A vote was held to name the new revolver, and the name "Chiefs Special" won. A three inch barreled version of this design went into production immediately, due to high demand. It was available in either a blued or nickel plated finish. It was produced as the "Chiefs Special" until 1957, when it then became the Model 36. The "Chiefs Special" continued to be manufactured as a separate variant.
In 1951, Smith & Wesson introduced the Airweight Model 37, which was basically the Model 36 design with an aluminum frame and cylinder. The aluminum cylinders proved to be problematic and were abandoned in favor of a steel cylinder.
In 1989, Smith & Wesson introduced the LadySmith variant of the Model 36. This was available with a 2 inch or 3 inch barrel and blued finish. This model also featured special grips designed specifically for women, and had "LADYSMITH" engraved on the frame.
Approximately 615 Model 36-6 Target variations were produced. This variant had a 3 inch full lug barrel with adjustable sights and a blued glass finish.
In 2002, Smith & Wesson reintroduced the Model 36 with gold features (hammer, thumbpiece, extractor, and trigger), calling it the "Model 36 Gold". The gold color was actually titanium nitride.
In 2005, Smith & Wesson produced the "Texas Hold 'Em" variant. This was produced with a blued finish, imitation ivory grips, and 24k gold plate engraving.
A large number of Model 37 variants with a lanyard ring attached were made for Japan. Part of this contract was cancelled, resulting in a large number of these being sold to a wholesaler, who then re-sold them for civilian use. These entered the civilian market in 2001. In 2006, the Model 37 was dropped from Smith & Wesson's catalog.
Serial number 337 was shipped to J. Edgar Hoover and is engraved with his name.
Designed to be small and compact, the Model 36 is available with a 1.875 inch barrel.
Like nearly all other "J-frame" Smith & Wesson revolvers, it has a 5-round capacity in a swing-out cylinder, and features an exposed hammer. It features a nickel-plated or blued finish and either wood or rubber grips.
Sunday, May 24, 2015
The Colt Detective Special is a carbon steel framed double-action short-barreled revolver, and is an example of a class of firearms known to gun enthusiasts as "snubnosed", "snubbies", or "belly guns". As the name "Detective Special" suggests, this model revolver was used as a concealed weapon by plainclothes police detectives.
Introduced in 1927, the Detective Special was one of the first short-barreled revolvers produced with a modern swing-out frame. It was designed from the outset to be chambered for higher-powered cartridges such as the .38 Special, considered to be a powerful caliber for a concealable pocket revolver of the day.
The Detective Special is by design a shortened and somewhat streamlined Colt Police Positive Special, sharing that revolver's slim 'D' size frame and six round capacity. The DS uses a slightly smaller frame than the Colt Official Police or Smith & Wesson 'K' Frame revolvers, but is larger than the compact 'J' frame used in Smith & Wesson five-shot revolvers.
The Detective Special went through several issues or series. The First Series was produced from 1927 until 1946. Compared to later production models, the First Series used a narrower frame, with reduced clearance between the frontstrap of the gripframe and the rear of the trigger guard. Other distinctive features included a shorter ejector-rod with an ungrooved, knurled tip; a checkered hammer spur and cylinder latch, a "half-moon"-shaped front sight, and an overlapping screw and locking pin set-up on the right side of the frame. Grip panels were wooden. A rounded butt on the metal frame became standard in 1933, but pieces with the original square butt (like that of the Police Positive Special) continued to be produced into the 1940s.
The Second Series ran from 1947 to 1972. The ejector-rod was longer and had a groove in its knurled tip; a three-inch-barrel variant was offered, with a yet longer ejector-rod. The cylinder latch was smooth, and the trigger spur serrated. The right side frame screw has no locking pin, and the rear half of the front sight is a serrated ramp. The grip panels were plastic in 1947, but were changed back to wood starting in 1955 (first with a silver-tone Colt medallion, and later a gold-tone). An optional hammer shroud was available from the factory to prevent the hammer from catching on clothing.
The transition from First to Second Series was gradual, with some post-WWII Second Series guns retaining short ejector rods and checkered hammers. Because of this, assigning a given revolver to a particular issue is best done by serial number.
During the 1960s, the grip frame of the Second Series Detective Special was shortened, matching that of Colt's other snub-nosed pistols, the Cobra and Agent. Despite this alteration, the Detective Special's overall grip size remained unchanged, as Colt fitted the Second Series with new, lengthened gripstocks that extended below the frame.
The Third Series ran from 1973 to 1986. A new shroud extended down from the barrel, enclosing and protecting the ejector-rod, and the front sight was changed to a full ramp. New, oversize wood gripstocks were introduced that covered the front frame strap. The Third Series featured improvements to the revolver's internal lockwork as well. As with the previous two Series, a few nickel-plated guns were produced, and a 3-inch-barrel variant was again offered. In 1986, facing stagnant sales numbers as well as rising production and labor costs, Colt discontinued production of the Detective Special.
Colt filed for bankruptcy protection in 1992. After reorganization, the company restarted production of the Detective Special in 1993. The post-1992 Detective Special is sometimes called the Fourth Series, and featured "composite" (rubber), wrap-around grips with a gold medallion. Only a two-inch barrel was offered, in blue or hard chrome finish. The new production run continued only until 1995, when Colt introduced its stainless-steel SF-VI as a replacement for the Detective Special.
From its introduction, the Detective Special used Colt's ‘Positive Safety Lock’ (hammer block), first featured on the Police Positive; the mechanism interposes a bar between hammer and frame until the trigger is pulled, preventing accidental discharge if the hammer is struck (e.g., if a dropped gun falls onto its hammer) with the trigger forward. First and early Second Series Detective Specials are becoming highly sought after by collectors, particularly if they are in prime condition and still have the famous Colt 'Royal Blue' finish.
The Detective Special was initially available in both bright blued and nickel finishes; a stainless steel finish replaced the nickeled option during the Fourth Series. For the Second Series, caliber options were .32 New Police, .38 New Police, and .38 Special; only .38 Special was offered for the other Series. The standard barrel length was 2 inches, but also a (rare) three-inch-barrel was offered during the Second and Third Series.
Interest has arisen over the use of higher-pressure (+P) .38 Special ammunition in the Detective Special. In their more recent owners manuals, Colt authorized limited use of +P ammunition in steel-framed revolvers (including earlier versions), citing 2000 to 3000 rounds before recommending the gun be returned to the factory for inspection. Many believe that this is was due to potential liability rather than engineering requirements, as the standard pressure ammunition of yesteryear was about the same pressure as modern +P ammunition. SAAMI lowered the pressures in 1972.
The DS series was discontinued in 1995. While no longer manufactured, Colt still supports the DS with parts and repair services.
Due to the good concealment qualities of the revolver, the Colt Detective Special was used as a weapon mostly by plainclothes police detectives, though it was also a popular off duty and backup firearm for uniformed police officers. It was used by bodyguards, and for personal defense and shooting sports.
The Colt Detective Special was a popular weapon before the semi-automatic pistol replaced the revolver in many police departments as well as law enforcement units and armies. Myanmar Police Force and some other countries are still using the batches as officers' sidearms.
Saturday, May 23, 2015
The Smith & Wesson Model 29 is a six-shot, double-action revolver chambered for the .44 Magnum cartridge and manufactured by the U.S. company Smith & Wesson. It was made famous by — and is still most often associated with — the fictional character "Dirty Harry" Callahan from the Dirty Harry series of films starring Clint Eastwood.
The Model 29 was offered with 3", 4", 5", 6", 6½", 8⅜" and, later, 10⅝" barrel lengths as standard models. Other barrel lengths were available either by special order from Smith & Wesson's Custom Shop or custom built by gunsmiths. The 5" barreled variant had a full length underlug. Finish options available included a highly polished blued or nickel-plated surface.
S&W's production of a large N-frame revolver in .44 Magnum began in 1955; the Model 29 designation was applied in 1957. It remained primarily the province of handgun enthusiasts, some law enforcement personnel and hunters until 1971, when Clint Eastwood made it famous as "the most powerful handgun in the world" in the movie Dirty Harry. After the movie's release, retailers had trouble keeping the Model 29 in stock.
At the time of its introduction, the Model 29 was the most powerful production handgun. There were a number of custom, or wildcat, calibers that were more powerful, as in the old Howdah pistols of the 19th century. Elmer Keith's achievements in maximizing the power and performance of the .44 Special was the inspiration and driving force behind the introduction of the .44 Magnum by Smith & Wesson. His intention for the new round was for it to be used in sidearms for hunters of large, dangerous game, rather than for self-defense, though with today's specialty cartridges, it can be a good defensive round.
The Model 29 will chamber and fire .44 Special cartridges, as the .44 Magnum was developed from the .44 Special. The Magnum case is slightly longer to prevent magnum rounds from being chambered and fired in handguns chambered for the .44 Special.
In the late 1990s, Smith & Wesson discontinued production of many models of revolvers, including the 'basic' Model 29; since then, at various times, the model, in limited or 'custom' configurations, has been manufactured in as many as 10 evolutions.
The original Model 29 was superseded by the Model 29-1 in 1960, with modifications made to the ejector-rod screw. The Model 29-2 replaced it the following year, with one screw that had secured the cylinder-stop spring being deleted. The barrel length was shortened from 6 1/2" to 6" in 1979. These two versions are known as "pinned and recessed". "Pinned" means that the barrels are screwed in, and additionally secured by a pin driven through the frame and a notch in the barrel. "Recessed" denotes the rear of the bored cylinder holes being recessed, so that when loaded the cartridge rims are fully enclosed by the cylinder. In 1982, the cost-cutting Model 29-3 dropped recessed cylinders and pinned barrels for crush-fit barrels.
The -4 and -5, produced from 1988 and 1990 respectively had changes to improve durability for heavy use. In 1994 the 29-6 began production, now fitted as standard with rubber Monogrips from Hogue to replace the previous wooden items, standard tapped holes also being provided for attaching scope mounts. The 29-7 started production in 1998 with changes to the locking mechanism, the firing pin's attachment, and a hammer and trigger produced with a metal injection molding process.
Friday, May 22, 2015
The Walther P38 (also known as a Pistole 38) is a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol that was developed by Walther arms as the service pistol of the Wehrmacht shortly before World War II. It was intended to replace the costly Luger P08, the production of which was scheduled to end in 1942.
The first designs submitted to the Heer (German Army) featured a locked breech and a hidden hammer, but the Heer requested that it be redesigned with an external hammer.
The final developmental stage in the P38's design history was the Modell MP/H (indicating exposed hammer). Apparently only a few were produced before the army adopted the HP in 1938 (Modell Heeres Pistole—Model Army Pistol). The production relationship between the HP and the almost simultaneous P38 (Pistole 1938) is unclear and quite confused.
The P38 concept was accepted by the German military in 1938 but production of actual prototype ("Test") pistols did not begin until late 1939. Walther began manufacture at their plant in Zella-Mehlis and produced three series of "Test" pistols, designated by a "0" prefix to the serial number. The third series pistols satisfactorily solved the previous problems for the Heer and mass production began in mid-1940.
Early P38s were almost identical to the HP (which continued to be produced for "commercial sales," i.e., to well-connected Nazis). The major differences were different slide markings, an external extractor, the HP's rectangular firing pin was replaced by one with a round tip, a different configuration for the locking lever and slide stop lever on the left side, and a re-configuration of the grip panels.
It is interesting to note that in 1944 the cost of one complete P38 was $14.08, while the cost of one complete P08 Luger was $19.80. The commercial retail price of the Model HP during this time was $75.
Several experimental versions were later created in .45 ACP, and .38 Super, but these were never mass-produced. In addition to the 9 mm Parabellum version, some 7.65×21mm Parabellum and some .22 Long Rifle versions were also manufactured and sold.
The Walther P38 was in production from 1938 to 1963. From 1945 to 1957, no P38s were produced for the German military. Slowly over time, West Germany desired to rebuild its military so that it could shoulder some of the burden for its own defense. Walther retooled for new P38 production since no military firearms production had occurred in West Germany since the end of the war, knowing that the military would again seek Walther firearms. When the Bundeswehr announced it wanted the P38 for its official service pistol, Walther readily resumed P38 production within just two years, using wartime pistols as models and new engineering drawings and machine tools. The first of the new P38s were delivered to the West German military in June 1957, some 17 years and two months after the pistol had initially seen action in World War II, and from 1957 to 1963 the P38 was again the standard sidearm.
In late 1963 the postwar military model P1 was adopted for use by the German military, identifiable by the P1 stamping on the slide. The postwar pistols, whether marked as P38 or P1, have an aluminum frame rather than the steel frame of the original design. The aluminum frame was later reinforced with a hex bolt above the trigger guard.
The last death penalty in Germany was conducted with a variant of the Walther P38 with a silencer in East Germany on June 26 in 1981. During the 1990s the German military started replacing the P1 with the P8 pistol and finally phased out the P1 in 2004.
An improved version of the P38, the Walther P4, was developed in the late 1970s and was adopted by the police forces of South Africa, Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Württemberg.
Thursday, May 21, 2015
The Nambu pistol (南部拳銃 or 南部大型自動拳銃 Nanbu kenjuu or Nanbu ōgata jidou-kenjuu?) was a series of semi-automatic pistol produced by the Japanese company Koishikawa Arsenal later known as the Tokyo Artillery Arsenal. The series had five variants, the Type A Model 1902 (also called the Grandpa Nambu), the Type A Model 1902 Modified (also known as the Papa Nambu), the Type B (also known as the Baby Nambu), the Type 14 (南部十四年式自動拳銃) and the Type 94. The pistols were designed by Kijiro Nambu and saw extensive service during the Russo-Japanese War, Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II. The Type A was made in very small numbers. Type A Modified and Type B Nambus were never formally adopted by any branch of the armed forces of Imperial Japan but were sold to officers through officer stores. The Type 14 was adopted as an official sidearm. As World War II progressed, and particularly in the final year of the war, in order to speed production, Type 14s began to be more hastily manufactured with a subsequent decline in quality.
The origin of the Nambu pistol series goes back to a design by Lieutenant General Kijiro Nambu. General Nambu claimed the design originated with experimentation during the "30 year Automatic Pistol Plan" of 1897 in Japan. It is probable that the pistol series was influenced by the Mauser C96, after a Japanese commission toured Europe and reported recent developments. The first Nambu type known as the Type A was completed in 1902. The Type A underwent trials with the Imperial Japanese Army but was never formally adopted. Many Original Type As were sold commercially to China and Siam. Coinciding with British customs, Japanese army officers were expected to purchase their own side arms. The Nambu Type A Modified pistol was adopted by the Imperial Japanese Navy in 1909 and the Thai Army in the 1920s.
Most of the Type A Modified and Type B Nambu pistols were produced by the Tokyo Arsenal with a few pistols being produced by the Tokyo Gas and Electric Company. The Type 14 Nambu was produced by the Nagoya Arsenal in either Nagoya's Atsuta or Toriimatsu factories.
The Nambu pistol series withdraw the magazine from the left side of the pistol by pressing the magazine release button on the left side of the magazine. The magazine case is loaded by hand, and there is no charger clip for loading. The A Nambus and the Type 14 Nambu have 8-round magazines while the Type B Nambu has a 7-round magazine.
The Nambu pistol series is a recoil operated, locked breech, semi-automatic pistol. The pistols are slender barreled with a single piece frame. The barrel is forged integrally with the receiver. The breech-lock was achieved by a propping system similar to the breech lock system used in the Glisenti Model 1910. As the barrel moved forward, the block would be lifted as it rode across the frame forcing the lug upward to lock into the bolt. The Nambu series is well balanced despite the main spring chamber protruding from the left side.
The Nambu pistol uses a low pressure 8 mm cartridge, which is considerably less powerful than comparable Western rounds like the .45 ACP, the 7.62x25mm Tokarev, the .455 Webley, and the 9x19mm Parabellum. The safety catch on the Type A requires both hands to operate; it was omitted entirely from the Type 14.
The "Type 14 Nambu" was designed in 1925 with the goal of simplifying manufacturing to reduce cost. It was officially adopted for issue to non-commissioned officers in the Japanese Army in 1927 and was available for purchase by officers. The Type 14 was an improved version of the Type A Modified Nambu. As many as 400,000 Type 14s were possibly produced. Most Type 14s are marked with the month and year of production according to the year of Emperor Hirohito with his reign name abbreviated Sho from Showa left of the stamped date.
Later production models are distinguished by an enlarged, oblong trigger guard (which was introduced after Japanese soldiers reported difficulty in accessing the trigger while wearing gloves in Manchuria) and sometimes have a knurled steel cocking knob instead of the standard "slotted" cocking knob. An auxiliary magazine spring was added from mid-1940 to retain the magazine and aid the magazine follower. The safety is a lever on the left side and locks the barrel and barrel extension as well as stopping the sear from moving. A redesigned cocking knob was implemented in 1944 in order to simplify production. The Type 14 also lacks the grip safety used on the previous models. The Type 14 could be equipped with the Type 90 tear gas grenade with use of a special attachment.
Pre-World War II Type 14s are well made, with quality dropping during wartime. Machining marks, a lack of polishing, and thin bluing became more common as wartime shortages affected quality. The later Type 14s remained quite functional despite the decreased quality. Holster quality for the Type 14 also degraded as the shortages of critical raw materials forced a change from a leather holster to rubberized canvas.
One quality of the Type 14 caught the eye of William B. Ruger who had acquired a captured Nambu from a returning U.S. Marine in 1945. Ruger duplicated two Nambus in his garage, and although he decided against marketing them, the handgun's rear cocking device and the Nambu's silhouette were incorporated into the Ruger .22 semi-automatic pistol series, when in 1949 the Ruger Standard (and later Mark I, II, and III) pistols were sold to the American public.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
The Mauser C96 (Construktion 96) is a semi-automatic pistol that was originally produced by German arms manufacturer Mauser from 1896 to 1937. Unlicensed copies of the gun were also manufactured in Spain and China in the first half of the 20th century.
The distinctive characteristics of the C96 are the integral box magazine in front of the trigger, the long barrel, the wooden shoulder stock which can double as a holster or carrying case and a grip shaped like the handle of a broom. The grip earned the gun the nickname "Broomhandle" in the English-speaking world because of its round wooden handle, and in China the C96 was nicknamed the "box cannon" (Chinese: 盒子炮; pinyin: hézipào) because of its square-shaped internal magazine and the fact it could be holstered in its wooden box-like detachable stock.
With its long barrel and high-velocity cartridge, the Mauser C96 had superior range and better penetration than most other pistols; the 7.63×25mm Mauser cartridge was the highest velocity commercially manufactured pistol cartridge until the advent of the .357 Magnum cartridge in 1935.
Mauser manufactured approximately 1 million C96 pistols, while the number produced in Spain and China was large but unknown due to the loss, non-existence or poor preservation of production records from those countries.
Within a year of its introduction in 1896, the C96 had been sold to governments and commercially to civilians and individual military officers.
The Mauser C96 pistol was extremely popular with British officers at the time and many purchased it privately. Mauser supplied the C96 to Westley Richards in the UK for resale. By the onset of World War I, the C96's popularity with the British military had waned.
As a military sidearm, the pistols saw service in various colonial wars, as well as World War I, The Easter Rising, the Estonian War of Independence, the Spanish Civil War, the Chinese Civil War and World War II. The C96 also became a staple of Bolshevik Commissars and various warlords and gang leaders in the Russian Civil War, known simply as "the Mauser".
Winston Churchill was fond of the Mauser C96 and used one at the 1898 Battle of Omdurman and during the Second Boer War; Lawrence of Arabia carried a Mauser C96 for a period, during his time in the Middle East. Indian Revolutionary Ram Prasad Bismil and his partymen used these Mauser Pistols in the historic Kakori train robbery in August 1925. Chinese Communist General Zhu De carried a Mauser C96 during his Nanchang Uprising and later conflicts; his gun (with his name printed on it) can be viewed in the Beijing war museum.
Imported and domestic copies of the C96 were used extensively by the Chinese in the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Chinese Civil War, as well as by the Spanish during the Spanish Civil War and the Germans in World War II.
Besides the standard 7.63×25 mm chambering, C96 pistols were also commonly chambered for 9×19mm Parabellum with a small number also being produced in 9 mm Mauser Export. Lastly, there was a Chinese-manufactured model chambered for .45 ACP. Despite the pistol's worldwide popularity and fame, China was the only nation to use the C96 as the primary service pistol of its military and police.
The Broomhandle Mauser is a popular collector's gun. It was popularized in Soviet films as the iconic weapon of the Russian revolution and civil war. The C96 frequently appears as a "foreign" or "exotic" pistol in a number of films and TV shows, owing to its distinctive and instantly recognisable shape. A C96 was modified to form Han Solo's prop blaster pistol for the Star Wars films. Reproductions of the blaster became so popular in the Cosplay community that gun collectors became aware that fans were buying and altering increasingly rare original Mausers to make blaster replicas. Author Ian Fleming outfitted agents of SMERSH in the James Bond series with Mausers on the advice of firearms expert Geoffrey Boothroyd.