Originally discussed in 1943, the Office of Strategic Services conceived that a carbon dioxide powered dart gun could be used to deliver a fatal injury to a target at range without the flash or report of a conventional pistol. The applications of such a weapon for a special operations force would be quite broad; termination of sentries or guard dogs during an infiltration, eliminating patrollers in an escape and evasion scenario, or good old fashioned assassination all spring readily to mind. Evaluating the concept, OSS R&D concluded the only way to get the right balance of lethality to stealth was for the projectile to be "sensitized" with an "impregnated compound" (read: covered in deadly poison), comparable to the use of similar compounds by blowgun-using cultures to take down large game. In February of 1945 a specific mission finally came down that called for a batch of combat dart guns, and a contract was cut for the Long Engineering and Research Corporation to actually build the weapons dubbed "Flying Dragon". Shipped out to the OSS in late June, Flying Dragon was put up against a number of other clandestine weapons; the Flying Dragon could deliver a poison dart while only producing a 66 decibel report (comparable to a casual conversation), beating out all the tested firearms and falling just short of the "William Tell" crossbow in overall noise level. Following the tests the Flying Dragon would be set aside in favor of a new concept, which called for mounting a sharp tip and a set of tailfins on a CO2 cartridge to turn it into a tiny gas-powered missile, inviting comparisons to the later Gyro-Jet line of weapons. In the Cold War era, the Flying Dragon was effectively abandoned in favor of more exotic devices, like the reported CIA "heart attack gun", leaving only the original batch of about 12 as examples. This example, numbered "5" on the frame, barrel segments and safety, is a scarce piece, borderline unique in its rarity. In construction, the pistol is built around a cast aluminum grip and frame assembly, which itself bears a strong resemblance to the later CIA "deer gun" single shot insurgency pistol, with a cylindrical holder for a standard 12 gram CO2 "powerlet" cartridge, a simple bar trigger and sliding safety arrangement, and a flip-up "L" shaped rear sight graduated to 150 yards. The barrel is of two-piece steel construction, with a simple blade front sight at the end. Fully assembled, the pistol measures 35 1/2 inches overall, but can be rapidly taken down to two 16 1/8" barrel segments and a main body measuring 6 3/4 inches long and 7 inches tall, suitable for concealment on the person or transport inside a reasonably small case. One of the darts is also included, which measures 5 3/4 inches overall with a translucent red plastic body and a steel conical spike tip. Included with the lot are photocopies of the book "OSS Weapons II" by Dr. John Brunner, with relevant historical information.
Fine. The frame retains about half of the dark black finish, showing areas of bright exposed alloy on the high edges and in the grip area. The barrel shows a few spots of brown patina and mild handling marks. No attempt has been made to test fire the weapon (even though we really want to), so no assurance of function can be offered. A very rare piece of clandestine American arms history, this highly unusual weapon would be a sure fire conversation starter in any collection of military or clandestine hardware.
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