[Lone Sentry: German Emergency Signal Container and Flare Pistol, WWII Tactical and Technical Trends]
  [Lone Sentry: Photographs, Documents and Research on World War II]
Home Page | Site Map | What's New | Intel Articles by Subject

"German Emergency Signal Container and Flare Pistol" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following U.S. intelligence report on the German signal pistol and container was originally printed in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 22, April 8, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


The Notsignalbehalter, or emergency signal container, is a watertight semicircular case which can be carried by means of a one-half-inch leather or web strap. The case is made of thin sheet iron, and the cartridge holder inserts are made of sheet aluminum. The pistol contained in it is made either of aluminum or an aluminum alloy. Each container has in it one flare pistol, 10 red-star signal flares, 7 green-star signal flares, and 7 white-star signal flares. In the particular container examined there were three semicircular cartridge holders (only one shown in accompanying sketch) and one flat cartridge holder (not shown in sketch). There were six cartridges in each holder.

The emergency signal container has been observed being carried by German parachute, air, foot, and tank troops. It is a very neat and compact unit which, besides being watertight until time of use, is very light in construction.

The total weight of the entire unit is 8.04 pounds. The following is a breakdown of the weights of the container and various components:

Entire case   8.04 lbs
Case without cartridges2.70 lbs
Semicircular insert with cartridges1.10 lbs
Flat insert with cartridges1.00 lb
Live individual cartridge0.16 lb (approx)
Expended cartridge0.05 lb
Pistol1.58 lbs

The weights of the individual cartridges varied from 0.15 to 0.18 pound for the different colored flares. An approximate weight is therefore taken.

The container is of a semicircular shape, approximately 13 inches high and 7 3/4 inches wide. It is approximately 4 inches from the flat side of the container to the center of the opposite curved side.

[German Emergency Signal Container and Flare Pistol]

Besides the regular ones, a wide variety of additional flares are available for the flare pistol; they consist of parachute, high-burst, low-burst, yellow smoke, and whistling flares, and four blue streamers. The regular red, white, and green flares are also manufactured in cartridges approximately 3/4 inch shorter than the regular cartridge.

It is also of interest to note that the Germans have designed a small grenade to be fired from the pistol. This serves to illustrate the versatility of the weapon.

A rather important feature of the red, white, and green flares was the method of identification. The color of the flare is painted on the base and end, and also on a strip around the cartridge just above the base. In addition, for purposes of night identification, the red flare has a base serrated completely around, the white flare has only half the base serrated, and the green has no serrations at all. This makes for ready recognition at night.

Flares of other colors and for other uses are marked by means of painted stripes and bands. Also, a raised figure is used on the top of the shell.

The flare cartridge cases appear to be made of aluminum and approximately the size of an eight-gauge shotgun shell. Other flares which fit the pistol had cases of brass, indicating that more than one type of metal is used in the manufacture.

The flare pistol was at first thought to be made of steel; later as a result of tests, it was found the pistol frame and barrel were made of aluminum or an aluminum alloy, but, of course, various pins and parts are made of steel. This accounts for the extreme lightness of the pistol. The actual weight of the entire pistol is 1.58 pounds.

The pistol, while being very light and versatile, has a very heavy recoil. This is to be expected, as the recoil varies inversely with the weight of the pistol. Another detrimental feature is that it has a very large number of parts. This does not seem to be necessary for the use to which the pistol was intended. Also, long cartridges, such as those containing parachutes, do not readily slide in and out after shorter flare cartridges have been fired because of the formation of a "cake" inside the barrel.


[Back] Back to Articles by Subject | Intel Bulletin by Issue | T&TT by Issue | Home Page

Web LoneSentry.com