This is a flare pistol, mainly used during and after W.W.II in aircraft. Flare pistols were called Very pistols in late 1800s. They were named after Edward Wilson Very (Wiki) there are two spellings Wiki shows Verey, the Signal-Cartridge patent (below) shows Very. His cartridge looks similar to a shotgun shell except there's a couple of pyrotechnic balls that ignite as soon as the cartridge is fired and so, like a tracer round, there's light from the muzzle until burnout after reaching maximum altitude. He patented the signal cartridge (not a pistol) which came to be called the Very Light.
Signal Cartridges were intended to be used like Signal Flags (Wiki) or Morse Code (Wiki) and Aldis lights 1867 (Wiki), that's to send a message. Note the Very patent is dated 1877 so came after the Aldis light. Not sure of the relative adoption rates but expect it would be a lot easier (lower cost) to bring a flare pistol on board any ship than it would be to mount an Aldis signal lamp.
Although intended to be mounted in the M1 aircraft mount, this flare pistol can be used as a conventional flare pistol. The barrel hinges down to allow loading/removing a flanged partridge (Fig M74A1). But a grooved (flangless) type cartridge (Fig M9A1) must be breach loaded from the muzzle end of the barrel.
Designed during W.W.II to be manufactured by the Eureka Vacuum Cleaner Co. (Wiki) and so uses metal stamping instead of machined parts. The frame is cast aluminum.
The two levers on the top of the barrel give it a very unique look. The top hook shaped lever when pulled back allows the pistol to be installed or removed from the M1 mount in an aircraft.
As received the firing pin is not coming out of the breech. If a dead 9V battery is trapped between the back of the barrel and the breech block, and while the safety is held down the trigger pulled, you can hear the snap but there's no mark on the battery. Putting a 1/16" brazing rod into the firing pin hole with the pistol pointed up (barrel closed) and pulling the trigger vigorously shoots the rod so the firing pin is moving, it's just too short to work.
Here's some information on the firing pin
Casehardening Indicator: Not casehardened Firing Pin Type: Shoulder For Use With/On: 1095-726-5820 AN-M8 Metallic Hardness Rating: 40.0 minimum Rockwell C and 45.0 maximum Rockwell C Overall Length: 0.687 inches minimum and 0.697 inches maximum FSC Application Data: Pistol,pyrotechnic Material: Steel, Fed QQ-S-631,comp 1095 Weapon Model Number: AN-M8 Weapon Size Designation: 40 millimeter Striking End Diameter: 0.124 inches minimum and 0.126 inches maximum Striking End Radius: 0.031 inches nominal Striking End Type: Spherical Surface Treatment: Phosphate
Uses 37mm flares or 26.5mm flares by using an adapter.
Doesn't seem to use M79 type 40mm rounds. Need to check to see of M79/M203 type rounds can be fired from an AN-M8 .
A unique feature of the AN-M8 is that it can use both American annular groove ammunition, like the M9A1 (Fig M9A1) and British flanged ammunition like the M74A1 (Fig M74A1). This is very similar to the difference between a .45 Colt flanged round and a .45 ACP round.
Fig 30 Ammo
Left to right
Custom made round for Canadian Flare Pistol
Flange dia 43.9 mm
Flange thickness: 3.8 mm
Body dia. just above flange: 39.7 mm
Body dia. at open end: 39.5 mm
Mk19 type 40mm Practice Round & solid aluminum projectile
Flange dia 43.6 mm
Flange thickness: 1.88 mm
Body dia. just above flange: 41.3 mm
Body dia. at open end: 41.1 mm
37mm? Flare case that takes 209 Shotgun primer.
Flange dia 42.7 mm
Flange thickness: 3.4 mm
Body dia. just above flange: 39.0 mm
Body dia. at open end: 38.0 mm
The M169 40mm case used for the M385 practice round that's used in the M79/M203 gernade launcher will not fit the AN-M8.
The AN-M8 bore is within less than a half mm of 40mm I.D.
The M169 case has an OD of more than 41mm.
See: OP 1664 (Vol 1) 1947: Part 3 Ch 8 Aircraft Pyrotechnics, S1 - Pistol and Hand-size signals -
Parachute Star M11: 7.69" long, 1.58" (40.1mm) dia
Double-Star AN-M28 to AN-M33: 3.92" long, 1.58" dia combinations of Red, Yellow and Green
Single-Star AN-M34 to AN-M36: Red, Yellow or Green
AN-M37 to AN-M42: 3.85" long, 1.54" dia
Fig 1 Right side
s/n is on back of frame.
Fig 2 Left side
Fig 3 The firing pin retainer can be seen. It has a central hole for the firing pin, and a couple of spanner wrench holes to the left and right of the center. The top hole contains a 6-32 x 1/8" long set screw. Also see Fig 7 below.
Fig 4 marking inside a triangle:
Pistol Pyrotechnic M8
Smith Wesson Co.????
Fig M74A1 British style Flanged Round
Must be breach loaded.
Fig M9A1 American style Grooved Round
Note must be muzzle loaded because flare body is larger in diameter than bore of pistol.
A flanged round can not be muzzle loaded.
Fig 5 The Periscopic Aircraft Sextant has a mount with a hole that's about the same size as this flare pistol.
But it does not fit. It sure would be convenient if it did.
These pistols require a special aircraft mount, typically on the side, not the top like the sextant mount.
Fig 6 Grips removed
Fig 7 Firing Pin Group Removed
The set screw is 6-32 x 1/8" long.
Need to know the firing pin diameter at primer end
and it's protrusion past breech block when fully forward.
Let me know where to buy one.
Fig 8 Remove Trigger guard & trigger hinge screw
Fig 9 Remove barrel group
Fig 10 Remove right side plate after removing grips
Fig 11 Frame with plate in place
Fig 12 Frame with plate off
Fig 13 close up of mechanism & with firing pin in place
Fig 20 Partially disassembled
AN-M8 Flare Pistol
Can fire both flanged "American" shells as well as grooved "British" shells.2347645
Flare pistol,John M Sherrer, Glen R Severance, Ephraim S Huntington, Eureka Vacuum Cleaner Co, May 2, 1944, 42/69.1, 42/44
2354025 Firearm, Johnson Edwin H, Kilgore Mfg Company, Jul 18, 1944, 42/1.15, 42/46, 102/342 -
2360168 Flare pistol, Glen R Severance, Frederick K Comiskey, Hilten E Jones, Eureka Vacuum Cleaner Co, Oct 10, 1944, 42/46, 42/1.15
2363203 Flare pistol, John M Sherrer, Glen R Severance, Ephraim S Huntington, Eureka Vacuum Cleaner Co, Nov 21, 1944, 42/69.1
2400322 Flare pistol installation, Wheeler Henry L, Cons Vultee Aircraft Corp, May 14, 1946, 89/37.19, 89/37.4, 89/134, 89/36.14, 89/37.16, 89/31, 89/936 - mounting into side of aircraft
2449540 Aircraft flare, Albin Joseph, priority: 1942-06-09, Patent Citations (25),
Very Signal Cartridge
190263 Signal-Cartridge, E. W. Very, May 1, 1877, 102/346 - oldest patent in this class, 300 feet up 8 seconds burn time (starts burning in barrel) -1299136 Projection of explosive shells, bombs, or grenades, S.C. Davidson, Apr 1, 1919, 89/1.3, 89/1.1, 42/105 - tripod mounted flare pistol
oldest in class 102/346 AMMUNITION AND EXPLOSIVES\PYROTECHNICS\Gun-type cartridge
RE8167 Signal Cartridge, E.W. Very, April 9, 1878, 102/346; 102/342 (reissue of 190263)
1306407 Flare Light Shell, S.C. Davidson, June 10 1919, 102/342, 102/346 - cartridge for breach loading smooth bore launcher/gun
2344957 Pistol rocket, Anzalone Ralph, Aerial Products Inc, Filed: Jan 12, 1940, Pub: Mar 28, 1944, - 2 parts, one breach loaded the other muzzle loaded. Referenced by 35 other patents
Sedgley Flare Gun
1788443 Firearm, Reginald F Sedgley, 1931-01-13, 42/8; 43/135; 42/1.15 - gas, shot, bullets or signals
1874815 Firearm, Reginald F Sedgley, 1932-08-30, 42/51 - one handed operation for pilots
2111374 Line throwing mechanism for pistols, Reginald F Sedgley, 1938-03-15, 42/106; 102/504; 89/1.34 -
2309107 Parachute device, Guy E Giroux, Aerial Products, 1943-01-26, - molded as thin sheet of rubber in hemispherical shape
2344957 Pistol rocket, Anzalone Ralph, Aerial Products, 1944-03-28, - fins outside flare pistol barrel
2397114 Rocket construction, Anzalone Ralph, Aerial Products, 1946-03-26, - fins fold inside flare pistol barrel
2417592 Smoke generator, Dwyer Martin, Aerial Products, 1947-03-18, - metal can with pop-top lift and pull tab
2442528 Rocket device, John O Beattle, Aerial Products, 1948-06-01, - flare with parachute
2459267 Self-contained emergency signaling device adapted to be operated automatically after being launched, Dwyer Martin, Harbor Hewlett, Philip B Edwards, Aerial Products,1949-01-18, - dropped from aircraft, timer
2505950 Launching or discharging equipment for signaling, Dwyer Martin, Tsang Chi Mou, Aerial Products,1950-05-02, - for distress signaling, not countermeasure flares.
Stumbled on this at Numrich Product# 1371200. Has Israeli markings (see Fig 2) and marked 1000-03155.
This pen gun style flare launcher made in Israel and patterned after the USAF A/P25S-5A.
The body is made as one part since no threaded joint is needed for breach loading. I'm guessing tear down is by unscrewing the cocking handle.
I expect it takes a 1/2" OD flare/rocket.
Also see the Korean Police Action era Survival Kit M-186 Pocket Flare Gun.
Fig 2 Israeli markings
What do they say? (tell me)
Fig 3 Muzzle loading
Patent 3717068 Rocket launcher
Patent 3855930 Personnel distress signal
PatentsFirst search on inventor: Robert Mainhardt, - there are a number of patents by Mainhardt that are not shown. I have the feeling some of these where done for the CIA????
3212402 Hand weapon, Mathew C Hengel, Arthur T Biehl, Mainhardt Robert, MB Associates, App: 1962-11-29, Pub: 1965-10-19, -
Rocket projectile but not Gyrojet at this time. The application date was: 1962-11-29 . . . but
patent 3345902 for the projectile has an application date of 1966-04-04.
Sequential patents 3367112 and 3367113 have an application date of 1965-10-18.
So . . . while this is a rocket firing pistol it is not the Gyrojet pistol. For that see 3412641 below.
PS this design is missing vital safety features that are in 3412641 so is not a practical weapon.
3323457 Underwater weapon, Arthur T Biehl, Mainhardt Robert, 1967-06-06, -
3329063 Rocket machine gun, Frederick K Ehrenburg, Mainhardt Robert, MB Associates,1967-07-04, -
some interesting ideas including a barrel with a bend to shoot around corners.
I don't think it even got to the prototype stage.
3344711 Javelin stabilized quiet round, Robert C Mawhinney, Bert F Gould, Arthur T Biehl, Mainhardt Robert, William D Barton, 1967-10-03 - An adapter allows a .22 Long Rifle cartridge to be modified to shoot a 0.030" dia projectile that will not show up on X-ray.
This patent is a decade prior to the Georgi Markov "umbrella pellet" poisoning (Wiki).
Steyr ACR: A Polymer Flechette-Firing Bullpup From the 90s -
to improve hit probability SPIW (Wiki) & ACR (Wiki).
AAI 2nd Gen SPIW Flechette Rifles, 17:39 - first contract in 1962
Winchester 1964 SPIW: Flechettes and a Blow-Forward Grenade Launcher, 17:49 - 1962 SPIW program
YouTube: Nuclear Vault:
Advanced Combat Rifle (1991), 15:24 -
BUT . . . This patent predates the ACR program by 30 years!
3345902 Method of manufacturing a miniature rocket, Arthur T Biehl, Mainhardt Robert, MB Associates, App: 1966-04-04, Pub: 1967-10-10, -
3378944 Flare launching device, Mainhardt Robert, Edward F Lamp, MB Associates, 1968-04-23, -
While this is functionally the same as the flare launcher above, this patent is way too complicated.
See 3717068 Rocket Launcher below for my unit's patent.
3412641 Pistol for firing a miniature ballistic rocket, Arthur T Biehl, Mainhardt Robert, MB Associates, App: 1966-06-27, Pub: 1968-11-26, -
"The present pistol is an improvement over that illustrated, described and claimed in Patent No. 3,212,402..."
Only the first of three drawings shown at left.
This is how I remember the Gyrojet pistol.
3546997 Small arms weapon, Bert B Gould, Arthur T Biehl, Robert Mainhardt, William D Barton, MB Associates, 1970-12-15, -
The idea was to use a rocket about the size of a rifle bullet. It would be more effective since it would have higher velocity.
These projectiles have fins, i.e. very expensive to make.
3367112 Multiple plate rocket nozzle, Mainhardt Robert, MB Associates, App: 1965-10-18, Pub: 1968-02-06, - Gyrojet
the rear assembly that includes a small primer and three angled nozzles.
3367113 Internally cut rocket nozzle, Mainhardt Robert, MB Associates, App: 1965-10-18, Pub: 1968-02-06, -
A rocket with angled nozzles so that it will spin. The Gyrojet.
3397638 Rocket launcher, Bert B Gould, MB Associates,App: 1961-03-08, Pub: 1968-08-20, -
This appears to be a cluster of very small rockets, about the size of small arms flechettes (Wiki), that could be packaged into a Gyrojet type rocket.
3521344 Method of making a rocket nozzle, Bert B Gould, Arthur T Biehl, Robert Mainhardt, William D Barton, MB Associates, 1970-07-21, - In this patent and in 3344711 the idea of getting the cg near the front is a key idea, i.e. like an arrow.
n.a. 3521345 Method of making a rocket nozzle, Bert B Gould, Arthur T Biehl, Robert Mainhardt, William D Barton, MB Associates, 1970-07-21, -
3698320 Telescopic rocket, MB Associates, 1972-10-17, - telescoping part extends length to add stability
3717068 Rocket launcher, D Cochran, S Salter, MB Associates, 1973-02-20, - Flare Launcher
3855930 Personnel distress signal, S Mulich, D Duffy, S Salter, MB Associates,1974-12-24, -
4002122 Microjet fuse, Bert B. Gould, MB Associates, App: 1961-03-02, ( SECRET 16 years), Pub: 1977-01-11, -
This rocket projectile is only 1/10" dia x 1-1/2" long.
4644930 Gun for firing a variety of projectiles, Robert Mainhardt, 1987-02-24, -
for the CIA?
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FM 3-23.30 Grenades and Pyrotechnic Signals, Oct 2009
TM 901095-201-15 Operator, Organizational, Field and Depot Maintenance Manual
Ground Signal Projector M1A1;
Hand Pyrotechnic Projector M9; and
Pyrotechnic Pistol AN-M8 with Pyrotechnic Pistol Mount M1
TM 9-1095-201-25P Organizational, Field and Depot Maintenance, Repair Parts and Special Tool Lists for
Ground Signal Projector M9, and
Hand Pyrotechnic Projector M9, and
Pyrotechnic Pistol AN-M8 with Pyrotechnic Pistol Mount M1
30 March 1962
TM-43-0001-37 Technical Manual, Army Ammunition Data Sheets:
Military Pyrotechnics (Federal Supply Class 1370)
Notes on Signal and Illuminating Devices and the Apparatus for Projecting them, from the French Edition of 1917, Translated and edited at the Army War College, May 1917
Military and Civilian Pyrotechnics, by DR. Herbert Ellern, 1968 -
Pyrotechny by George W. Weingart, Poor Man's James Bond, Vol1 No. 1
Pyrotechnics by George Washington Weingart, 2nd Ed 1947
Patents with "Pains-Wessex" somewhere
OSS "Stinger" Covert Cigarette Guns -
PRC68, Alphanumeric Index of Web pages, Contact, Products for Sale
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