The concept was suggested by a Polish military attache in March 1942. The project was assigned to the US Army Joint Psychological Warfare Committee and was designed for the United States Army two months later by the Inland Manufacturing Division of the General Motors Corporation in Dayton, Ohio. Production was undertaken by General Motors Guide Lamp Division to avoid conflicting priorities with Inland Division production of the M1 carbine. The army designated the weapon the Flare Projector Caliber .45 hence the designation FP-45. This was done to disguise the fact that a pistol was being mass produced. The proposed intent was to drop these weapons at concentration camps where internees would pick up these weapons overcome Nazi Guards and hopefully liberate the camp. The original engineering drawings label the barrel as "tube", the trigger as "yoke", the firing pin as "control rod", and the trigger guard as "spanner". The Guide Lamp Division plant in Anderson, Indiana assembled a million of these weapons. The Liberator project took about 6 months from conception to end of production with about 11 weeks of actual manufacturing time, done by 300 workers.Design
The FP-45 was a crude, single-shot pistol designed to be cheaply and quickly mass produced. The Liberator had just 23 largely stamped and turned steel parts that were cheap and easy to manufacture. It fired a .45 caliber pistol cartridge from an unrifled barrel. Due to the unrifled barrel, it was intended for very close ambush (1-4 yds). Its maximum effective range was only about 25 feet (less than 8 m). At longer range, the bullet would begin to tumble and stray off course. Because of the low quality, it was nicknamed the "Woolworth gun."Wartime use
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. Extra rounds of ammunition could be stored in the pistol grip. 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 weapon, sneak up on an Axis occupier, kill or incapacitate him, and retrieve his weapons.
The weapon was valued as much for its psychological warfare effect as its actual field performance. It was believed that if vast quantities of these weapons could be delivered into Axis-occupied territory, it would have a devastating effect on the morale of occupying troops. The plan was to drop the weapon in such great quantities that occupying forces could never capture or recover all the weapons. 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 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 Stillwell 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 OSS. Resistance fighters in both theatres were supplied with more effective weapons whenever possible, and French use of the FP-45 remains undocumented; although OSS distributed a few to Greek resistance forces in 1944. 100,000 FP-45 pistols were shipped to China in 1943, but the number actually distributed remains unknown. A few were distributed to Philippine troops under the Commonwealth Army and Constabulary and resistance fighters.Firearms collectors
The original delivered cost for the FP-45 was $2.40/unit ($32 in 2010). A Liberator in good condition today can fetch approximately $1200, with the original box bringing an additional $500, with an original extremely rare paper instruction sheet the value could exceed $2000 to a collector of rare World War II militaria. Fakes of these sheets exist, but authentic copies have a watermark that can be seen clearly, which is difficult to duplicate.The Concept Revived
The Liberator was replaced with the Deer gun in 1964 when a modernized equivalent was designed for possible use in Vietnam. This was because the CIA needed a weapon of this type, and most Liberators were scrapped after World War II. The Deer Gun was chambered for 9x19mm Parabellum and was loaded by unscrewing the barrel and inserting a round to fire.References