By Anders Thygesen
The Welrod Mk.IIA is a unique pistol with an integrated silencer chambered for the .32 ACP cartridge. The pistol was invented by the Special Operation Executive (S.O.E.) during World War II and airdropped to the resistance in the occupied countries in large quantities. The purpose was to silently liquidate informers, collaborators and Gestapo officials. An assignment the Welrod completed to its fullest.
Around the middle of 2005, a unique lot of 10 so called Drill Purpose (DP) Welrods suddenly surfaced. In order to authenticate them a story followed purporting they originated from a WWII weapons cache in Norway. Shortly thereafter the DPs were put up for sale at online auctions and gun shows in Scandinavia.
However, when a treasure like a DP Welrod pops up out of nowhere never having been mentioned in any of the many documents that I have had the opportunity to read during my research, I became a little skeptical.
The DP was described to me as a non-firing version made to chamber an empty .32 ACP shell case. The barrel is smoothbore with a “calibre” of only 5mm but fitted with the usual bleeder holes. They are stamped with the usual five pointed star and square, inspection stamps and a two digit serial number. The bolt is solid in front and fitted with a shortened firing pin. The DP Welrod can be recognized because of a painted white 1/2 inch wide band around the silencer tube just in front of the trigger. I have since discovered that not all of them have the painted white band.
Unfortunately, with the exception of the rubber grip and silencer tube end cap, I have not had the chance to handle the DP myself. But I have had the opportunity to compare close up photos of the DP with the original Welrods, and they are definitely not made on the same set of machine tools. I have listed only a few of the differences below:
1.) The DP trigger guide plates have sharp edges as opposed to the Welrod which has rounded edges.
2.) The knurled pattern on the DP muzzle cap is coarse cut when compared to the Welrods fine pattern.
3.) The luminous paint on the DP is bright white but on the Welrods it is dark yellow and browning due to old age.
4.) Noticeable differences in the serial digits because of different type faces.
5.) The finish on the DPs looks pristine with the exception of the white band where the paint is almost worn off.
6.) The black grip is made from soft rubber: its shape, size and feel differ a lot from the original Ebonite grip.
7.) The rubber discs in the silencer are undoubtedly made from modern materials and bear no similarity to the originals consisting of laminated layers of rubber and leather/linen.
It is difficult to conceive that a special DP Welrod would be made solely for instructional purposes when it would be easier to use the already available original. In wartime, it would not be feasible to start a second production line for a dummy pistol. Furthermore, the fact that the DP is a combination of the Mk.II and Mk.IIA is also worth considering. It has the first pattern oval ejection port scallop that characterizes the Mk.II but the trigger and trigger guides (side plates) of the Mk.IIA models. I have only seen two Welrods with this combination and they were from the early stages of the production with a serial number close to #3000.
Another thing that raises concern is the bleeder holes in the barrel. If the DP was made for practice and instructional purposes, as claimed, why bother with the bleeder holes? It was obviously never going to fire a live round from a .32 ACP casing through a 5mm smoothbore barrel. Besides, the operator does not have access to the barrel on the original Welrods as the silencer tube is fixed to the receiver with a mandrel stamp. To gain access to that particular area would be going far beyond the term “field stripping” and would be a job for the armourer. In short, it simply doesn’t make sense to drill bleeder holes in a smoothbore barrel, especially because the bolt face is solid and therefore unable to fire a cartridge or operate a firing pin.
The silencer is complete with baffles, spacers and rubber disks. The rubber discs are made from what looks like a modern day rubber material. I am convinced that the reason that the DPs are marketed with the non functional barrel and bolt is to enable it to pass as a non-firing replica, making it easier to get across country borders, and to gain access to a potential worldwide buyer market.
I must admit that it is a very well made copy of the Welrod and a lot of effort has been put into the job to make sure the details are correct. The threads are identical, making the parts interchangeable. The small inspection stamp found on the butt of the receiver is present and there are even traces of black paint that can occasionally be found on the original Welrods.
Summary & Conclusion
During my research, I have been in contact with the dealer on a regular basis reporting my findings. He has explained that he bought 10 DPs from a man in Norway claiming that he had found them in a weapons cache from World War II.
With the above mentioned findings at hand, the dealer confronted the seller only to find him hospitalized and in a terminal condition. The dealer then made contact with the seller’s son who admitted that a total of 15 DPs had been produced whereupon he then gave the dealer a box of unfinished DP parts as shown in the photo.
In my opinion the problem is not the reproduced items them selves, but that they were marketed and sold as original items. For decades, collectors of German war artifacts have been suffering from this type of scam, and now unfortunately we must conclude that the same is happening when collecting from “the other side” too. Apparently, the widespread use and high prices obtained on internet auction sites have provided incentive for this type of scam. Internet auctions were not in common use 10 years ago, the market of potential buyers was also much smaller and confined to local areas, keeping the sale price down, making it unfeasible to start such fraudulent productions at such a high level.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V12N11 (August 2009)|