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Unconventional Warfare and Unconventional Weapons

The OSS.22 caliber T1E1 Stinger Gun

OSS.22 caliber T1E1 Stinger Gun

The T1E1 Stinger Gun makes up part of the US Army Core Collection held at the Museum Support Center at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

Well before the Allied invasion at Normandy, Allied strategy placed covert operatives into enemy-held areas in France to assist the French Resistance to disrupt German lines of communications and supply before, during, and after Allied operations at Normandy on June 6, 1944.

The partisans that supported the Normandy landings were trained by Allied tripartite Special Operations and Special Operations Executive SO/SOE and Jedburgh Teams. Operation Jedburgh began before the Normandy landings that placed three-man teams behind enemy lines, including an American or British officer, a French officer, and an enlisted radio operator. Their objective was to organize, train, and later lead the Maquis into battle. French resistance to German occupation came in various organized forms. Soldiers of the Maquis were known as Maquissards that belonged to, among others, the Gaullist Armée Secrèt, also called the Corps Franc de Tulle. They wore the brassard with the cross of Lorraine of the Forces Françaises de l'Interieur (FFI). Together with the Communist Franc Tireurs et Partisans (FTP), the resistance numbered about 8,000 semi-armed fighters. The resistance had major centers of activity in the northern city of Caen and just southwest thereof.1

William Joseph "Wild Bill" Donovan served in the US Army and appointed head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency, during World War II. OSS activities created a steady demand for devices and documents that could be used to trick, attack, or demoralize the enemy. Finding few agencies or corporations willing to undertake this sort of low-volume, highly specialized work, General Donovan enthusiastically promoted an in-house capability to fabricate the tools that OSS needed for its clandestine missions. By the end of the war, OSS engineers and technicians had formed a collection of labs, workshops, and experts that occasionally gave OSS a technological edge over its Axis foes.2

A good example of the products developed in the cottage industry was the .22 caliber T1E1 Stinger gun, which could be worn in a shirt breast pocket as a writing utensil. The Stinger gun was a tiny and easily concealed one-shot weapon for short ranges. It could easily be fired from the palm of the hand at a person sitting in a room or passing in a crowd. Inexpensive and available in large quantities, the gun could easily be distributed widely in occupied countries. It was factory loaded and discarded after use. Ten pens were packed in a wood and cardboard box sealed in a moisture proof envelope. The Stinger gun measured 3.5" in length and 0.5" in diameter, and weighed 1 oz.3

The T1E1 Stinger Gun makes up part of the US Army Core Collection held at the Museum Support Center at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

1For details on the Jedburgh Teams, see Major General John K. Singlaub, US Army (Ret.), and Malcolm McConnell, Hazardous Duty: An American Soldier in the Twentieth Century, (New York: 1991), p. 38-42.

2CIA: Look Back … Gen. William J. Donovan Heads Office of Strategic Services ,; and | What Was OSS?.

3OSS data sheet of unknown origin and date.