The Walther P38 is a 9
mm pistol that was developed by Walther
as the service
pistol of the Wehrmacht
at the beginning of World
War II. It was intended to replace the costly Luger
P08, the production of which was scheduled to end in 1942.
The P38 concept was accepted by the German military in 1938 but production of
actual prototype ("Test") pistols did not start until late 1939.
Walther began manufacture at their plant in Zella-Mehlis
and produced three series of "Test" pistols, designated by a
"0" prefix to the serial number. The third series satisfied the
previous problems and production for the Heer (German
Army) began in mid-1940, using Walther's military production identification
code "480". After a few thousand pistols the Heer changed all
codes from numbers to letters and Walther was given the "ac" code.