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- Performed by Arms Factory Radom/Steyr Daimler Puch Radom
- Date of production 1940–41
- Place of creation Radom, The General Government
- Dimensions length: 207 mm
- Calibre 9 mm Parabellum
- ID no. MAK/381/M
- Object copyright The Museum of the Home Army dedicated Gen. Emil Fieldorf “Nil”
- Digital images copyright public domain
- Digitalisation RDW MIC, Małopolska's Virtual Museums project
The pistol was a legend cherished during the war and, especially during the post-war period. It was a very good Polish design (based on the structure of the Colt M1911 pistol) delivered by the engineer Piotr Wilniewszczyc and Jan Skrzypiński. Work on the pistol began as early as 1930...more
The pistol was a legend cherished during the war and, especially during the post-war period. It was a very good Polish design (based on the structure of the Colt M1911 pistol) delivered by the engineer Piotr Wilniewszczyc and Jan Skrzypiński. Work on the pistol began as early as 1930, and in February 1931 a prototype of the pistol was finished. The weapon was supposed to be named WiS, after the designers' initials, but the name was replaced with Vis as the latter was more commercially appealing (Latin vis — power). Mass production of the pistol was launched in the Arms Factory in Radom in 1932 — at that time the factory made only a trial version of the pistol and it was tested in only some military units. It officially premiered as a regular weapon of Polish Army officers and non-commissioned officers in 1936. The pistol's patent designation was Pistolet Vis wz. 35. Until the war began, 45,000 pieces of the weapon were manufactured, though the stated demand amounted to 90,000 pieces.
The exhibit is a specimen designed by Poles, yet manufactured in the occupied part of Poland — the General Government, in the State Arms Factory in Radom; from 1939 it was managed by German Daimler Steyr-Puch A.G. Appreciating the advantages of the Polish pistol, in 1940 the Germans undertook the assembly of the pistol using parts made before September 1939; in 1941 they continued to make it using newly made parts. We know of the pistol's four manufacturing series distinguishable by their serial numbers, details and the finish of parts (the latter getting worse with the deteriorating situation of Germany). The Germans produced a total of 350,000 pieces of the Vis. This exhibit represents the 1st manufacturing series made by the German occupier in the seized Arms Factory in Radom, made from the parts the Poles made in the same factory. The pistol has a grip fitted with a rail for a rifle butt and a hook used to disassemble the gun (a feature that will be done away with in the 3rd series). The framework around the trigger mechanism is routed to improve the grip with a so-called “trigger thumb.” Signs denoting the Polish technical checks, visible on the internal surface of the lock, also corroborate this thesis. Another fact that points to the pistol's origin from that period is the finishing of the surface and the quality of the anticorrosive coating. Interestingly enough, the rail was made as early as the interwar period but the planned rifle butt was never manufactured. Later, as mentioned before, the Germans renounced the rifle butt idea as a useless feature increasing the cost. A more crucial element of the pistol — the barrel — was not made in Radom, but in Steyr, the mother plant in Austria where the final assembly works were done. The Germans were afraid that the finished pistols would be stolen by clandestine activists, hence such a solution. Towards the end of the occupation, production of the Vis was moved to occupied Austria as a result of an evacuation due to the approaching front. Noteworthy are also Waffenamt's check signs and the German designation of the pistol's model minted on the left-hand side of the lock, differing from the pre–war designation mainly due to the lack of the manufacturing date and the Polish state eagle “design 27”— a sign showing that the weapon was taken over by the State Treasury.
This exhibit belonged to a Home Army soldier, Zbigniew Lisowski a.k.a. Płomień. He fought during the war in the guerrilla Lampart troops, renamed during the Storm campaign as the 4th Battalion of the 1st Podhale Rifles Infantry Regiment of the Home Army. Following 1945, he went on fighting as part of an anti-communist guerrilla warfare in the Ogień group.
Elaborated by the Museum of the Home Army dedicated Gen. Emil Fieldorf “Nil”, © all rights reserved