Designed by Walther, the P.38 was a replacement for the iconic P.08 Luger, which was costly and time-consuming to produce. When WWII broke out the Germans needed more than Walther could produce, leading to subcontracting the new 9x19 mm gun out to Mauser and Spreewerk. In total, the three manufacturing plants produced over 1.2 million P.38s, from 1938 to the end of the war.
The three plants, along with the five years it was produced in volume, produced dozens of variations that are the focus of P.38 collectors worldwide. This post highlights the some of the last variations made by the Spreewerk plant in the final months of WWII.
Production started at Spreewerk with the assigned code of CYQ in June 1942. CYQ P.38s were serialized starting with number 1, and produced in blocks of 10,000. After 10,000, the numbering restarted again at 1 and the suffix A was added, then B, etc. There is detailed information available about which month a particular serial number and its' letter block were manufactured. By January 1945, the plant was into the Y Block.
Many collectors like to focus on late war production. This collection features a Y block made in January 1945 and a Z block made in February 1945. After the plant ran through the alphabet they started back with lower case "a", but made it a prefix. The "a" prefix was made in March 1945 and the "b" prefix made in April 1945. The last wartime production at Spreewerk is referred to as the "0" series, also made in April 1945, and it is believed by many collectors to be a last gasp attempt to produce side arms for the Volkssturm, The Volkssturm was the German National Militia, set up in the last months of the war, made up largely of young boys and old men.
These late war P.38s occupy a unique place in history. By the beginning of 1945 it had to be obvious that the war was lost, yet, as many as 40,000 more P.38s were manufactured at Spreewerk, culminating in the "0" Series.
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