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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Colt sold - this is what Clawson says - about 5000 of the new Government Model (1911) to the French Government.
The last delivery - again this is what Clawson tells us - in January 1916. Now i bought No. C 27356 that was delivered in June (!) 1916 (150 pistols) to the French government.
Is there any mor information available what happened with these 5000 pistols???? Who carried them?
As I don't speak French I cannot search the French sites on the net.
Mine has been in Germany for a long time. So it was probably captured.

I have only seen one for sale (Rock Island Auction) in the last years.
 

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In France, it is generally admitted they were used by the tank corps. They were supposed to be carried into the same holster as for the flare pistol (basically a beefed up lookalike of the Ruby holster). This is because of various pictures of french tankers illustrated with these holsters hanging from their belt.
However, I have doubts as there is to my knowledge no picture of a french WW I soldier, tanker or not, totting a M1911. And also, bear in mind that the crude tanks of the time had no radio and all the communications were made by flares, flags or messengers, explaining the tankers with the said holster.
The fate of the french 1911s after war is also a mystery, the after war pamphlets depict only the Ruby, Star pistols, and the french 1973 and 1892 and spanish 8 mm as service handguns.
 

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Most of the foreign acquired guns were disposed after the war. I only know that Belgian arms dealers played a role in the sales and that some of it was transfered through Belgium (Belgian ports).

Regarding the holster, I obviously do not know if the tank crews carry a flare gun or a Colt but do know that this holster pattern was made for several foreign pistols including the FN Browning Model 1900. As tanks frequently got stuck or disabled with crews having to bale out, it seems more logical to me that these would carry pistols, after all how many flare guns does one crew need.

Anthony
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hello Anthony,
when those pistols were sold, were they proofed before? Mine does not have any foreign proof marks.

Another Question: Clawson tells us, thes pistols were mostly bought in 1915. As far as I know the serious building of tanks started in 1916. And I do not think it possible that the French army kept those Colt Pistols in store until the tank crews needed them. But - as usual - I can be wrong!
What do you think ?

Peter
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
5240097_548df7d2552e2.jpg
Two Questions:
When those pistols were sold were they proofed. Mine has no proof only the Colt VP stamp on the triggerguard.

I do not understand why the French Government would buy those pistols during 1915 when the tank corps really started in 1916. I cannot imagine those Colts were kept in storage for at least six month.
Could it be they were used somewhere else???

has anyboby seen a French Colt before??? (Not me...)

Peter
 

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[QU
Two Questions:
When those pistols were sold were they proofed. Mine has no proof only the Colt VP stamp on the triggerguard.
I do not understand why the French Government would buy those pistols during 1915 when the tank corps really started in 1916. I cannot imagine those Colts were kept in storage for at least six month.
Could it be they were used somewhere else???

has anyboby seen a French Colt before??? (Not me...)
Peter[/QUOTE]

Question 1 : no proof except for the original markings ; the same is true for the Colts Army Special the French bought in 1915.

Question 2 : with the French at war, all is possible, from the best to the worst. Bear in mind that these 5000 Colts required an unusual ammunition, they were the only weapons in the inventory to fire it. There could have been a delay between the guns and ammos shipments... The discrepancy between both dates militates against this tank corps theory. Also, there were far more than 5000 tankers, and many pictures depict them with Ruby holsters (every tanker was equipped with a pistol and trench knife).The first action of the french tanks were 132 Schneider CA1s on april 16, 1917 at Berry Au Bac.
Then, the Colts were certainly used by other units, that still need to be identified.
 

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MYSTERY SOLVED :

On a french site, was reported a 27 november, 1917 dated instruction about the Air Corps Armament ; every pilot could have, as an emergency weapon a Colt, Luger or Parabellum pistol !
Apparently, captured weapons were not wasted.
 

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Very interesting. What would be the Parabellum pistol, a C96? IMO I would choose the Luger. Higher velocity for air-to-air shooting. Or if shot down behind lines and somehow survived, you could use enemy ammo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Ok... where is that site?? Has anybody some more Information on the Air Corps Armament.
And again: Where are those pistols... 5000 is quite a lot!
Peter
 

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Hello Anthony,
when those pistols were sold, were they proofed before? Mine does not have any foreign proof marks.

Another Question: Clawson tells us, thes pistols were mostly bought in 1915. As far as I know the serious building of tanks started in 1916. And I do not think it possible that the French army kept those Colt Pistols in store until the tank crews needed them. But - as usual - I can be wrong!
What do you think ?

Peter
Hi, No special markings at all. The purchases were made to fill needs and not for specific units... so I would not assume that these were purchased for tanks corps but rather issued later on as needs presented themselves.

Also we should not underestimate transfer times, I found contracts that required more than 12 months to reach France. Let us not forget that shipping records here in the U.S. either list departure dates from factory warehouses or at best arrival / transfer to transit depots...

Anthony

- - - Updated - - -

Very interesting. What would be the Parabellum pistol, a C96? IMO I would choose the Luger. Higher velocity for air-to-air shooting. Or if shot down behind lines and somehow survived, you could use enemy ammo.
Typically, I found that "Parabellum" refers to Luger... With their shortages, they were using everything they could get their hands on.
 

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Ok... where is that site?? Has anybody some more Information on the Air Corps Armament.
And again: Where are those pistols... 5000 is quite a lot!
Peter
I have been trying to track some of these French purchases for years. A lot was handled by Belgian arms dealers and transfered through Antwerp and Zeebrugge. There was a huge arms market from 1919 through the 1920s. Asides from the occasional gun, the bulk seems to have left the West. (and no, they did not go to the Congo as some made up stories circulate).

Anthony
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Good Morning Anthony,
thank you very much for this information. You are very kind to share it!!!!

My question was not if these pistols were proofed before delivery to the military units but if they were proofed at the time they were sold out of service.

For Example: Most of the Colt 1911A1 Pistols in Germany come from dealers who bought them "wholesale", had them proofed and then retailed them at a healthy profit.

I have the idea that my pistol was a captured one that was later hidden somewhere. I thought that the fact, that this pistol shows no proof marks would support this explanation.

A peacelful Christmas to all
Peter
 

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Ok... where is that site?? Has anybody some more Information on the Air Corps Armament.
And again: Where are those pistols... 5000 is quite a lot!
Peter

The forum is : histoirémilitaria14-18 (it is a french one).
The air corps had the distinction of using a lot of U.S weapons : Winchester 1894 (sometimes fitter with sling swivels and / or bayonet lug for a french M1892 musketoon), Winchesters Self loading Model 1907 in .351 SL, Model 1910 in .401 SL, Colt M.Gs...
Parabellum was the named used in France for a Luger. After WW 2, Luger became widespread because of the huge numbers captured.
5000 pistols at the scale of W.W 1 is not a huge number. There were about 18000 fighter pilots not to mention bomber and reconnaissance units.
You have more chance to find one in the U.S than in France, at least the first one I saw was in the U.S...
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Hold it: I just got the Colt Archive Letter for my French Colt Government: Clawson was right; mine went in January, 1916 and not in June (as I had claimed....) as part of the last delivery to France which Clawson mentions in his book. Mr. Clawson I apologize; I was wrong!
Peter
 

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Colt sold - this is what Clawson says - about 5000 of the new Government Model (1911) to the French Government.
The last delivery - again this is what Clawson tells us - in January 1916. Now i bought No. C 27356 that was delivered in June (!) 1916 (150 pistols) to the French government.
Is there any mor information available what happened with these 5000 pistols???? Who carried them?
As I don't speak French I cannot search the French sites on the net.
Mine has been in Germany for a long time. So it was probably captured.

I have only seen one for sale (Rock Island Auction) in the last years.
Hi I'm french, I have a colt government number C 21119 french army tanker soldier with holster, I will send you pictures asap :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
looking forward to those pictures

Hi I'm french, I have a colt government number C 21119 french army tanker soldier with holster, I will send you pictures asap :)
Hey, that sounds good. I am looking forward to those pictures. I am really curious to see a French holster for a 1911.
Peter
 
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