The FP-45 Liberator was an inexpensive single-shot pistol designed by the U.S. military during World War 2 to serve as a disposable weapon, the idea being to "arm a million people in Europe for the cost of a single battleship." Though described as an 'assassination weapon' some historians bristled at the connotation, indicating that the intent was to provide ultra cheap 'insurgency weapons' which could be dropped behind enemy lines to friendly forces. The simple design and single shot capacity would ensure that the weapon be regarded as relatively useless by any enemy military (firing a .45 ACP round from an unrifled 4-inch barrel, the Liberator's effective range was around 3 yards, the crude construction gives a lifespan of about 50 rounds, and the all-metal body and locked breech means the weapon can cut the shooter's hand when fired if they are not wearing gloves, and is generally incredibly unpleasant to shoot), but could be used as a last ditch defensive weapon or to procure better weapons from enemy forces, which was the Liberator's primary purpose. The weapon was made in utmost secrecy, with instructions using non-firearm terms such as "spanner" to describe the parts and a deliberately misleading designation ("FP" for "Flare Projector").
The use of .45 ACP, despite it not being common in Europe at the time, was for several reasons: the gun was not intended to have a service lifetime long enough for ammo resupply to be an issue, the lower operating pressures compared to 9mm allowed looser production tolerances, and the US already had massive production lines laid down to produce .45 ACP quickly and cheaply. In addition, it was desired for the guns to be useless if they were accidentally dropped to the Germans: the standard bomber drop was intended to be 600 guns each packaged with 10 rounds, and accidentally dropping 6,000 rounds of 9mm ammo to the occupying German forces would be unlikely to assist in the war effort.
The Liberator is an extremely simple single-shot weapon: while it can store 10 additional .45 ACP rounds in the grip, this is just a compartment and does not feed into the weapon. To operate it, the cocking knob is pulled back to cock the weapon and twisted aside to provide access to the breech. The block is raised by pulling up the rear sight and then pushed down after a round is inserted, after which cocking knob is rotated back into position. There is no extractor mechanism, and reloading the weapon often requires the spent casing first be manually forced out of the barrel from the front, with a wooden dowel rod provided for this purpose. This rather infamously resulted in the only gun in history that took longer to reload than it did to manufacture (This is a mild exaggeration: it is based on dividing the number of guns produced by the total manufacturing time for all of them (11 weeks to make 1,000,000 guns, working out as a gun produced every 6.7 seconds assuming 24/7 production), rather than the time to make a single gun). Production cost was an average of $2.10 per gun ($31.76 in 2018 money).
25,000 were dropped to the French resistance, 100,000 sent to China, and a few thousand airdropped in Greece, but most of the remainder of the production run of around a million guns were destroyed after the war. This was largely a result of massive Nazi reprisals against civilians in Czechoslovakia following the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich (Operation Anthropoid) in May 1942, which convinced the allied leadership that random actions by armed partisans could harm civilian support for the war effort.
(1942 - 1945)
- Type: Single-shot smoothbore pistol
- Caliber: .45 ACP
- Weight: 1 lbs (0.5 kg) empty
- Length: 5.6 in (14.1 cm)
- Barrel length: 3.9 in (10 cm)
- Muzzle velocity: 820 ft/s (250 m/s)
- Feed System: Breech-loading
- Fire Modes: Single shot
The FP-45 Liberator and variants can be seen in the following films, television series, video games, and anime used by the following actors:
|Show Title / Episode||Actor||Character||Notation||Air Date|
|Mail Call / 'Snafu'||R. Lee Ermey||Himself|
|Game Title||Appears as||Mods||Notation||Release Date|
|Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater||EZ GUN (main game) / Monkey Shaker (Snake vs. Monkey)||With Soviet-style suppressed rounds and laser aiming module||Shown firing tranquilizer darts, incorrectly shown as bolt-action||2004|
|Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker||EZ Gun||With Soviet-style suppressed rounds and laser aiming module||Fires life- or Psyche-gauge-regaining darts, incorrectly shown as bolt-action||2010|
|New Dream Hunter Rem: Massacre in the Phantasmic Labyrinth||is seen in the Geppetto base||1992|