The Clandestine Operative’s Sidearm of choice: The high normal model HD MS Pistol

via Justin Black of Spycraft101

amongst intelligence companies and clandestine groups, the high general model HD militia Silencer (MS) is the common for suppressed pistols wherein all others are judged. First adopted through the famed office of Strategic features in early 1944, it saw carrier in all theaters of World war II. The pistol become so useful that it remained in the stock of the imperative Intelligence company as late because the 1990s and possibly beyond.

An fashioned prototype in keeping with the Colt Woodsman, from Dr. John Brunner’s publication “OSS Weapons 2nd edition.”

right through its short lifespan, the OSS worked tirelessly to boost the absolute best silent weapons for field use. plenty of initiatives had been implemented, starting from the artistic to the downright bizarre (see this post for some examples). amongst these have been the Bigot device, which changed into a conversion of the regular government situation 1911 to enable it to hearth a heavy metal dart the usage of a captive .25 ACP blank round. 

several crossbows were developed as smartly, most famously the Little Joe, which made its method into the fingers of the Alamo Scouts in the Pacific Theater for operational checking out. There changed into even a CO2 dart gun universal because the SAC-46 Flying Dragon, which was estimated with poison-tipped darts for instantaneous takedowns of sentries or assassination goals.

but none of those fantastic tasks provided a significant capabilities over the excessive ordinary model HD MS (now and again written as HDM/S). light-weight, professional, quiet, and accurate, it changed into hard to beat. 

With the built-in suppressor and correct ammunition, the pistol produced a mere 20 decibels of sound, about the identical noise degree as someone’s muffled cough. Stanley Lovell, the head of research and building for the OSS, reported in his biography that Wild invoice Donovan smuggled a model HD MS into the Oval office in 1942 and fired it right into a sandbag while President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke on the telephone, oblivious to what changed into taking place simply a couple of toes away.

Lovell’s penchant for hyperbole need to be taken under consideration here, and the story is likely apocryphal. however the mannequin HD MS became without question a quiet and beneficial killing tool.

Prototypes and editions

A single prototype .380 ACP caliber model turned into constructed, time-honored as the P-380. It turned into both louder and heavier than the .22 long caliber model HD MS, but these have been initially considered suitable compromises for the reason that the tons-more desirable ballistic efficiency of the .380 ACP circular.

production of the P-380 became at first halted in October 1943 when Colt refused to manufacture barrels in either .32 or .380 caliber. Negotiations ultimately moved ahead and a manufacturing run of 1,000 pistols turned into scheduled to start in August 1945. despite the fact, delays cause the date being pushed again to September 15th, 1945, and with the aid of that time the battle turned into over, and the contract was canceled. just one suppressed .380 ACP high regular model P-380 changed into ever delivered to the OSS. 

P-380 Prototype, from the high typical Collectors’ affiliation

A .25 ACP caliber variant become also demonstrated by way of high standard within the early Nineteen Forties, however counsel on this prototype is extraordinarily confined. 

In 1944, the Infantry Board conducted tests on the HD MS which covered the manufacture and use of a folding wire shoulder inventory. The inventory became a simplistic design. A 0.four” metal wire with a single bend and an adaptor for short attachment and detachment from the bottom of the pistol grip. 

The stock provided an improvement in standard steadiness when firing however become far from most appropriate. There became no cheek relaxation, and the rear sights have been simply 9 inches from the shooter’s face. When the slide recoiled all the way through firing it tended to set off a flinch reflex right through testing. The Infantry Board’s report posted in December 1944 didn’t suggest adoption of the model HD MS with wire inventory as a helpful weapon for infantry instruments. 

From Dr. John Brunner’s ebook, “OSS Weapons 2nd edition.”

From Dr. John Brunner’s ebook, “OSS Weapons 2nd version.”

The OSS at the beginning requisitioned 500 of the wire shares, but ultimately backtracked since the pistols they’d already issued had made their technique to various field locations around the world, and mating the stocks with the pistols would show to be a challenging logistical concern.

youngsters, years later the workplace of Technical services in the CIA would verify and adapt shoulder shares for the mannequin HD MS once once again. army Lieutenant Colonel William “invoice” Parr labored as an engineer for OTS in the Fifties and Nineteen Sixties.

In his interview for Robert Wallace’s e-book “Spycraft” he recalled that OTS worked with U-2 pilots to investigate the best manner for them to raise a model HD MS with shoulder inventory and holster within the cockpit. OTS engineers even converted some model HD MS pistols to completely automatic fire. They have been capable of firing 10 rounds in under 1.5 seconds, after amendment to the sear and magazine spring. lamentably, no photos of the CIA’s shoulder stocks are presently frequent to exist.  

carrier right through World conflict II

by using July 1944 just about 1,400 mannequin HD MS pistols had been dropped at the ecu, Mediterranean, and much East Theaters of Operation. The British special Operations government additionally issued them to their personal operatives.

a number of of the new pistols have been introduced to high-ranking OSS officials and other dignitaries, together with Admiral Chester Nimitz. This ended in the inadvertent leak of the weapon’s existence and deployment when a image of Admiral Nimitz and his son Chester Jr. firing the pistol was posted within the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper on November 12th, 1944.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer on November twelfth, 1944.

in the Pacific Theater of Operations, six model HD MS pistols made their way into the hands of the famed Alamo Scouts. They used it basically for the killing of sentries and foraging for meals throughout long missions with little possibility of resupply. The Alamo Scouts also verified another OSS weapon, the Little Joe crossbow, but found the high ordinary to be the superior option for his or her functions.

It become additionally provided to guerrilla businesses such because the French Resistance, who mandatory to be capable of execute enemy troops and instantly disappear into the population at giant without being detected or captured. In city operations, the model HD MS also proved beneficial for surreptitiously disabling streetlights to provide the cover of darkness. 

in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, OSS Captain Lewis Allison said that the HD MS turned into receiving high compliment and have been used invariably. The modus operandi there turned into to use the pistol for close-latitude sniping from home windows, and towards sentries as well. A 1945 report referred to seven selected situations of a success use of the mannequin HD MS in container operations.

The model HD MS because it was shipped with the aid of the OSS all the way through World battle II. From Dr. Brunner’s book OSS Weapons 2nd edition.

After the conclusion of World conflict II (and the end of the OSS as well), high usual pistols were transferred into the stock of the newly fashioned relevant Intelligence agency. The CIA begun issuing the mannequin HD MS with an additional .22 brief journal as well as the standard .22 long Rifle journal. as soon as once again it could find itself within the some distance-flung reaches of the world.

may additionally Day, 1960

The mannequin HD MS’s optimal declare to fame (or infamy) is its fateful journey on may also 1st, 1960 as the sidearm of choice for CIA pilot Francis Gary Powers on his doomed reconnaissance mission over the Soviet Union.  Powers was piloting a high-flying U-2 reconnaissance plane at the time, photographing suspected Soviet nuclear checking out amenities. When the Soviets detected his plane on radar they sent aloft a barrage of SA-2 surface-to-air missiles. Powers’ aircraft was hit, as turned into a Soviet MiG-21 that turned into pursuing him. 

Powers survived the crash, parachuting to the earth. He became automatically surrounded via unarmed Russian civilians who had been drawn by means of the spectacle of the crash and downed pilot. When Russian authorities arrived and detained him, his survival kit proved to be a treasure trove of intelligence and publicity price to the Soviets.

no longer handiest was he carrying the suppressed high average, but also a silver dollar coin on a necklace. The coin held a hidden needle lined in saxitoxin, which Powers had been provided as a suicide enforce if he feared for his life.   

Now, greater than 60 years later, that model HD MS, serial no. 120046, resides in the KGB’s legit museum in Lubyanka, domestic to their infamous headquarters which also served as an interrogation and execution facility. 

Francis Gary Powers’ mannequin HD MS on screen in the former KGB HQ in Lubyanka, Moscow.

carrier in Vietnam

The mannequin HD MS additionally saw provider in Vietnam with a few companies. Pilots employed by using Air the united states, the CIA’s clandestine airline, had been regularly fitted with the high ordinary in shoulder holsters. It became equally everyday with the military suggestions Command – Vietnam’s reports and Observations group, or MACV-SOG.

MACV-SOG warriors carried an amazing range of each US-manufactured and foreign weapons on their covert missions, and the excessive average changed into a mainstay of their arsenal. 

some of MACV-SOG’s suppressed weapons, together with the long-lasting model HD MS. photograph by means of Ed Wolcoff.

one of the crucial intricate but helpful mission sets belonging to MACV-SOG changed into prisoner snatches. The accurate methodology changed into a subject of countless debate among the many teams, and relentless experimentation on true-world missions.

One tactic the crew used changed into to determine a VC or NVA courier with a formation of bodyguards and set an ambush. The ambush could be initiated by deliberately wounding the courier with the mannequin HD MS, while the rest of the squad was killed. The wounded courier may then be interrogated on site or extracted again to base. 

On as a minimum one event in Vietnam, the mannequin HD MS turned into used for a aim for which it changed into absolutely unsuited. military green Beret Robert Castillo turned into on a five-day reconnaissance mission in 1971 deep inner enemy territory. overnight he rested with his again in opposition t a tree and the model HD MS in his lap. 

within the center of the nighttime he become approached by means of a tiger smelling a potential meal. Castillo remained silent for as long as feasible unless the tiger become simply a couple of ft away. He then raised the .22 pistol and emptied the magazine at once into the tiger, definite he became about to be eaten. The .22 rounds have been no longer satisfactory to kill the big predator automatically but it drove it away, and Castillo survived to complete the mission.

within the fall of 1969, a Vietnamese agent of the critical Intelligence company used a model HD MS to assassinate a individuals’s Minister of Mobilization in a public park in vast daylight hours. The suppressor was so beneficial that witnesses did not understand that the Minister had been killed firstly and thought that he had died of a surprising heart assault. The murderer was in a position to slip away within the confusion unnoticed. 

here yr, a mixed group of military special Forces soldiers, CIA personnel, and South Vietnamese partners were able to trap a Viet Cong typical officer through silently killing his safety element because the widespread slept in a faraway plantation house. He changed into then awoken and suggested of his personal catch by means of the South Vietnamese. 

One use of the mannequin HD MS lead to an incredible scandal which played out in the American information media in 1971. Two years prior, eight army particular Forces troopers led by means of Captain Robert Marasco had identified a double agent among their Vietnamese companions. Thai Khac Chuyen changed into being paid with the aid of the CIA to improve a community internal Cambodia however turned into additionally working on the behest of everyday Duong Van Minh, who himself become working with communist forces to unify South and North Vietnam. 

Chuyen’s betrayal of his US partners become uncovered when a Viet Cong camp became raided, and the following site exploitation grew to become up a image of Chuyen with a excessive-rating Viet Cong professional. 

Excerpt from a brand new York times article posted on April 4th, 1971.

Captain Marasco claimed he had obtained oblique guidance from his CIA companions to dispose of Chuyen “with severe prejudice.” The eight troopers advised Chuyen that they had yet another mission for him, however detained and interrogated him using sodium pentothal, which elicited a confession. They then took him on a ship out into the South China Sea and killed him with a mannequin HD MS. His physique changed into certainly not recovered. 

besides the fact that children the eight soldiers have been finally charged below the Uniform Code of military Justice, they have been in no way arrested or convicted as a result of an (unsurprising) lack of cooperation from the valuable Intelligence agency. 


it is tricky to claim the place lots of the approximately 2,600 fashioned excessive common mannequin HD MS pistols are now, greater seventy five years after they first regarded. a couple of are in inner most collections, just a few extra in a number of museums. Some were definitely lost, or deliberately destroyed. As late because the 12 months 2000, the USMC 1st force Reconnaissance enterprise had ten mannequin HD MS pistols in their armory. 

creator Gene Williams says he for my part noticed one in the fingers of a “special forces contractor” in Afghanistan after 9/11. And a couple of greater are undoubtedly in the stock of some clandestine organization, or buried in a secret cache, waiting for their return to motion. 

An HD MS nonetheless in USMC provider in the yr 2000.


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