Liberator .45

Clandestine organizations can come up with some weird ideas. In regards to World War II and weapons the United States’ FP45 has to be one of the weirdest. It was a one pound, single shot, all-metal, unrifled pistol taking the .45 ACP round. Its purpose was for dropping behind enemy lines in both Europe and Asia so resistance groups could use them to shoot armed German or Japanese troops. Then the shooter could make off with the dead soldier’s better weapon.

Evidence this wasn’t one of the brightest ideas military minds dreamed up is that according to the Wikipedia website, there is not a single documented case of one being used for its intended purpose. That’s not too hard to accept considering armed enemy soldiers weren’t often encountered alone, and also the noise a .45 ACP makes is apt to bring running all other enemy soldiers in hearing distance. There was one other thing for the shooter to consider. A .45 ACP bullet fired in an unrifled barrel was only going to be effective at close range. Very close range!

Never mind the feasibility factor the United States Army had a million FP45s produced in mid-1942. Manufacturer was the Guide Lamp division of General Motors, which up to that point had produced headlights for the automotive industry. Guide Lamp was also the maker of the later M3 submachine gun commonly called the “grease gun.” Cost of the FP45s was said to be $2.40 each. When the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was organized to serve as America’s first clandestine warfare organization, the army turned the FP45s over to them.

FP45s came in a waxed cardboard box complete with a 10-round pack of .45 ACPs and even a small piece of wooden dowel to punch out the empty case after firing. More usable was a sheet of instructions in cartoon drawing-form showing how to load, fire and unload the FP45.

Despite the huge number of FP45s made in 1942 originals are very rare today. I’ve seen the pistol alone priced at over a grand and have never seen one with an original box, much less the paper instruction sheet.
By Mike “Duke” Venturino

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