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Anyone have any information on the 950 Colt Woodsman .22s that went to the Air Force for their Arctic Survival Kits in August 1949? I'm looking for details of use, AF TM or FM references... composition of survival kits they were used in etc... Have heard a couple of stories about them being carried in B-47s and being at Northern Maine airbases in the 50s and 60s... Anyone out there who was AF at the time and has any details??? Any help would be appreciated! Thanks! Bob Best
 

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Nothing like resurecting a six year old thread instead of starting a new one.

After looking at one of these cool little pistols I have a question myself.

The Standard Catalog of Military Firearms indicates an order for 950 pistols. 925 went to the Air Force. 25 went to Springfield Armory.

Did the Springfield guns make it out into the wild? Any price difference between them? Or are they all considered equally?

 

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Did the Springfield guns make it out into the wild? Any price difference between them? Or are they all considered equally?

Rick:

I have an interest in the Woodsman Arctic Survival pistols and am fortunate to have two in my collection. All of the factory letters I have seen to date were written for pistols that went to Ogden, UT and not to SA. I don't know if any of the SA shipped guns have survived but I would not expect there to be any significant differences in the value of an SA shipped gun as compared to an Ogden shipped gun.

Did the pistol you examined have a factory letter? Where did it ship to?

Regards,
Charlie Flick
 

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I wrote those words in the Standard Catalog of Military Firearms.

The information concerning the details of the pistols was taken from my copy of the Air Force contract. The information concerning the shipping destinations was taken from the Colt shipping records. The information concerning AF activity during those days is based on my knowledge of Air Force history as a retired Air Force officer and navigator (1962-84).

I did not say the guns were used on those particular Arctic missions, although I consider it likely; I merely offered up what I considered to be related information so the reader could make his own conclusions.

While still on active duty in the late 1970s I interviewed the oldest sergeants I could find in the life support equipment areas and could find none who still had first hand knowledge of the survival kits with the Colt Woodsman in it.

None of the guns I have seen or been made aware of were among the 25 shipped to SOD. If any of those made it into the wild I would not expect there to be any difference in value from those shipped to Hill AFB.

I am presently in Shanghai, on a month long tour of Japan and China. When I get home in late April I will pull my notes and see if I have any additional information to offer.

Bob Rayburn
 

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Hi Bob; I am putting together a package for one of our Forum members on the AF Colt Woodsman; It includes following: Copies of the Orginal Colt Contract for the 950 Woodsmans, A Copy of the Colt Letter for my "Artic Survival Kit" Woodsman; An article wriiten by me for the Rampant Colt Publication (Colt Collecetors Assoc) Vol.11 No1 March 1992 and some other misc. data I have regarding these military woodsmans that I have been collecting over the years. I'd be glad to share it with you also if you want it. Hearafter, I will put these packages together for any other interested parties for a nominal $5.00 just to cover copyng and S&H (just in case the other 900+ owners want copies too!). Let me know, OK - Jackson
 

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How would a .22 Colt Woodsman be of value in the Arctic?


Far as I recall finding out, there is nothing to Hunt there besides Seals and Polar Bears, with those only occuring scarcely and on the Ice Flows of the ajacent open Sea, or aways out from Shores where the Land meets the Sea further inland and under the Ice...unless, maybe, one is on the Southern fringes of open Shorelines in the Spring and Summer, where there would be some species of pro-tem Migratory Birds occupied with their Nesting and Baby rearing, along with Seals and Polar Bears.

Arctic Seals are very alert and shy and would be a tough target with a .22 Pistol...it would be very difficult to ever get close enough...or, one has to find their Breathing Holes in the Ice, and, wait long periods of time for one to show themselves, and, even then, shooting them would not help much, since the Seal would be in the Water, under the Ice, accessible only through a sometimes smaller than the Seal sized breathing Hole.

Polar Bears would not be effected by the .22 Pistol, and or it's use would add ire to whatever in-progress predation interest the Bear had, and he or she would just maul and eat you.


So, other than some of Spring, and most of Summer, everything North of the Southern Shores, there would be nothing whatever to Hunt, nothing whatever to eat, there is no Vegetation, no Animals/Birds, no Bacteria, no Protozoans, no nothing but Ice and aridity and Wind.
 

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They flew over a lot more than just the polar ice cap, including plenty of forested areas full of small game. There were several in-depth studies coming out of WWII of downed pilots trying to survive, evade and escape and the overwhelming majority of them said they would value a small caliber weapon for hunting much more than a service pistol, M1 carbine or any other type of gun.

Less well known than the Colt Woodsman, the USAF also bought a pretty large quantity of High Standard GB pistols for the same purpose. These are rarely seen but the ones that are known appear to have actually been used. They often have crude electro-pencil markings--U.S.A.F.--on them.

Jackson, I think I have most of the materials you mention but would gladly pay $5 for your packet to make sure.

Regards,
Kevin Williams
 

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My dad was a navigator/bombadier on the B-47 stationed at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ. It's how we ended up in Arizona. He flew with a Colt 1911A1 issued to him by the Air force. I inherited it upon his passing. He spent many TDY's in Alaska and has an Air Force commendation for secret recon work over Russia. I miss him. John
 

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I found a newspaper article dated March 7, 1951 that indicates the Air Force developed the M6 Aircrew Survival Weapon.

Toledo Blade - Google News Archive Search

I wonder if the Woodsmans were ever issued. They all seem to be in like new shape. Could be that they were supplanted by the M6 before they were placed in the kits.
 

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I found a newspaper article dated March 7, 1951 that indicates the Air Force developed the M6 Aircrew Survival Weapon.

Toledo Blade - Google News Archive Search

I wonder if the Woodsmans were ever issued. They all seem to be in like new shape. Could be that they were supplanted by the M6 before they were placed in the kits.
That folding 410/22 is the only type I was ever familiar with during my Air Force flying days - 1962-84.
 

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I found a newspaper article dated March 7, 1951 that indicates the Air Force developed the M6 Aircrew Survival Weapon.

Toledo Blade - Google News Archive Search

I wonder if the Woodsmans were ever issued. They all seem to be in like new shape. Could be that they were supplanted by the M6 before they were placed in the kits.
Before the M6 there was the M4 which was the bolt-action .22 Hornet rifle. Before that they used some Stevens OU (.22 over .410) guns. There were all kinds of different survival kits developed, depending on the aircraft and the region in which they operated. This was clearly a big deal to the AAF and USAF.
 

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Does anyone know of any documented instances of Survival Kits being used advantageously owing to actual forced landings or crashes into Wilderness regions?

Or, instances where for lack of such Kits, Pilots and Crew of Downed Planes fared poorly, where thereafter, the AF particularly wanted to make sure such Kits would be on Board?
 

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Maybe BigRix has it right - possibly never used and went directly to DCM? I have looked for many years in different publications for any confirmation of use - including US Handguns of WWII by Pate, and US Military and Marksmanship Automatic Pistols by Jenkins. Nice little reference in the latter book to s/n 65104 sold thru DCM in 1961 with a period Colt Box (orginal?). Military Contract lists all of the modifications for this pistol and states "Exterior Containers shall be furnished". I have pictures of what appears to be Kraft boxes with the Contract Makings. Interesting is that the Artic Survival Package apparently contained a "Gaff Hook Assembly" and a box with a "Split" Rod Assembly as a short weapon or digging tool also to be used with the Gaff Hook for fishing. I keep thinking that there is somewhere a USAF manual for the proper use of the Artic Survival Kit. Also, the contract is with the Ordnance Office in Springfield and referrs to US Army Specs for packaging instructions, cleaning, etc. As to if is was ever used is another story yet to be verified.
 

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The Consolidated B-36 bomber was the primary strategic bomber of the USAF at the time that Colt "Arctic Woodsman" and High Standard survival pistols were ordered. In service from 1949 to about 1959 the B-36 (and its successors the B-47 and B-52) frequently flew over or near Arctic areas. The link below is to a site that lists 11 different B-36 crashes. Of those 11 four occurred in Canada, a location that would make an Arctic Survival Kit very handy to have.

Goleta Air and Space Museum: Convair B-36 Crash Reports and Wrecks

Although entirely fictional, the Hollywood movie "Strategic Air Command" had a major scene involving a B-36 (piloted by actor and USAF Reserve officer Jimmy Stewart) which crashed in Greenland in a blizzard. The movie was made with substantial assistance from the USAF. I wish I could report that Jimmy Stewart saved the day with an Arctic Woodsman but apparently that scene was left on the cutting room floor.

Regards,
Charlie Flick
 

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The Consolidated B-36 bomber was the primary strategic bomber of the USAF at the time that Colt "Arctic Woodsman" and High Standard survival pistols were ordered. In service from 1949 to about 1959 the B-36 (and its successors the B-47 and B-52) frequently flew over or near Arctic areas. The link below is to a site that lists 11 different B-36 crashes. Of those 11 four occurred in Canada, a location that would make an Arctic Survival Kit very handy to have.

Goleta Air and Space Museum: Convair B-36 Crash Reports and Wrecks

Although entirely fictional, the Hollywood movie "Strategic Air Command" had a major scene involving a B-36 (piloted by actor and USAF Reserve officer Jimmy Stewart) which crashed in Greenland in a blizzard. The movie was made with substantial assistance from the USAF. I wish I could report that Jimmy Stewart saved the day with an Arctic Woodsman but apparently that scene was left on the cutting room floor.

Regards,
Charlie Flick
This is an older thread, but very informative. I was referred to this thread from another forum for more info on the Arctic Survival Kit Woodsman, which is always a good sign to a thread's relevance.

Anyhow, that link is a fascinating read. I have an entirely new level of respect for our airmen and bomber crews of the WWII, Korea, and Cold War Era. Thanks for posting that way back when, Charlie.

I hope to see one of these Woodsmans in person in the future! I may have to walk home if I find one for sale...
 

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I just love this forum. I never knew about the .22 survival pistol for the Air Force, even though I was Air Force for over 20 years. I carried a .45 all my time even after they went to the Beretta, but they sure wanted me to give it up. The pilots all carried some special gear, but I never thought about a .22 pistol.
 

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I own this one.

Further digging by the seller got me the survival manual, survival fishing kit and gaff - he 'thinks' there are holsters to be found.

Army fixed-wing pilots got these, as well.

*********

Sold To: United States Government

Shipped To: Transportation Officer
Springfield Ordnance Depot
Springfield, Massachusetts

For: Reshipment

Date of Shipment: August 18, 1949

Colt Factory Order: #6525

Number of Same Type Guns In Shipment: 25
 

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Wow - that's awesome! And I guess there's the answer to the question from a while back as to whether any of those 25 Springfield examples made it into the wild. Would love to see pics of the kit if you've ever taken any.


Of course, I could take the pics for you. I've got a nice Canon 7D and an old Glock that is very unique in a blocky, plain way and would fill that space in your safe quite nicely :cool:
 
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