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Made during WWII by the Union Switch and Signal Company, which converted to manufacturing firearms as part of the war effort, this silent 16mm film documents the production of .45 automatics. These weapons are "carved out of steel" through a variety of techniques including machine forging. The film traces all aspects of manufacture, testing, and finally railroad shipping of the completed and tested weapons.
Union Switch & Signal company of Swissvale Pennsylvania, primarily made railroad signaling equipment but received a contract on May 5, 1942 for the manufacture of 200,000 M1911A1 pistols. The first pistols were accepted by Ordnance inspectors in January 1943, but the company received word that their contract would be canceled. The last of the pistols was shipped on November 27, 1943. 55,000 U.S.&S. pistols were delivered serial numbered from 1041405 to 1096404 with peak production reaching 650 pistols a day. The company continued producing carbine parts under another contract.
U.S.& S. produced high quality pistols that consistently rated high in the interchangeability tests. Many of these pistols were shipped to the Navy and the OSS.
The M1911 is a single-action, semi-automatic, magazine-fed, recoil-operated pistol chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge. It served as the standard-issue sidearm for the United States Armed Forces from 1911 to 1986. It was first used in later stages of the Philippine–American War, and was widely used in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. The pistol's formal designation as of 1940 was Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911 for the original model of 1911 or Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911A1 for the M1911A1, adopted in 1924. The designation changed to Pistol, Caliber .45, Automatic, M1911A1 in the Vietnam era.
In total, the U.S. procured around 2.7 million M1911 and M1911A1 pistols in military contracts during its service life. The M1911 was replaced by the 9mm Beretta M9 pistol as the standard U.S. sidearm in October 1986, but due to its popularity among users, it has not been completely phased out. Modernized derivative variants of the M1911 are still in use by some units of the U.S. Army Special Forces, the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps.
Designed by John Browning, the M1911 is the best-known of his designs to use the short recoil principle in its basic design. The pistol was widely copied, and this operating system rose to become the preeminent type of the 20th century and of nearly all modern centerfire pistols. It is popular with civilian shooters in competitive events such as USPSA, IDPA, International Practical Shooting Confederation, and Bullseye shooting. Compact variants are popular civilian concealed carry weapons, because of the design's relatively slim width and the power of the .45 ACP cartridge.
World War II and the years leading up to it created a great demand. During the war, about 1.9 million units were procured by the U.S. Government for all forces, production being undertaken by several manufacturers, including Remington Rand (900,000 produced), Colt (400,000), Ithaca Gun Company (400,000), Union Switch & Signal (50,000), and Singer (500). New M1911A1 pistols were given a parkerized metal finish instead of blueing, and the wood grip panels were replaced with panels made of brown plastic. The M1911A1 was a favored small arm of both US and allied military personnel during the war, in particular, the pistol was prized by some British commando units and the SOE as well as Commonwealth South African forces.
So many 1911A1 pistols were produced during the war that the government cancelled all postwar contracts for new production, instead choosing to rebuild existing pistols with new parts, which were then refinished and tested for functioning. From the mid 1920s to the mid 1950s thousands of 1911s and 1911A1s were refurbished at U.S. Arsenals and Service depots. These arsenal rebuilds consisted of anything from minor inspections to major overhauls of pistols returned from service use. Pistols that were refurbished at Government arsenals will usually be marked on the frame/receiver with the arsenal's initials, such as RIA (Rock Island Armory) or SA (Springfield Armory).
Among collectors today, the Singer-produced pistols in particular are highly prized, commanding high prices even in poor condition.
This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD and 2k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com