Spoiler Alert If you haven’t seen the latest episode of The Book of Boba Fett, the following article contains some plot details. Be sure to check the episode out before reading this article if that’s an issue.
If you’re a gun owner and take commercial flights, you’ve run into what Din Djarin (the main character from The Mandalorian) did in the latest episode of The Book of Boba Fett: a prohibition of guns on civilian transports like aircraft. Fortunately, the New Republic seems to have the equivalent of the Firearms Owner Protection Act, so he was able to take his weapons along, but only in his checked baggage.
On top of being relatable, this moment gave the show’s writers a chance to show us all of Mando’s weapons, including one we hadn’t seen before.
At first glimpse, it looks like some sort of concealed carry blaster, one that serves as a BUG, or backup gun. But once he places it in a secure cargo bin in front of the security droid, we get a better look:
Most of these weapons are things we’ve seen before in The Mandalorian. There’s his main sidearm, which appears to be a dressed up Bergmann 1896 (h/t to my son, Noah, for that catch). He’s also got a small knife, a vibroblade (a Mandalorian’s answer to the lightsaber), flamethrower cartridges, “Whistling Birds” (the little dart-like things), and more.
After this glimpse, he then adds the Darksaber and some bombs from his belt, but at that point his head gets in the way of the little pistol next to the vibroblade.
Fans of obscure World War II weapons will know what this is right away: the FP-45 Liberator. Built in secret by General Motors, the Liberator was designed to be cheap and disposable. Why? Because allied aircraft were going to dump them all over Nazi-occupied territory. Normally, you wouldn’t want to put more weapons in enemy territory, but these were meant to be found and used by civilians.
If you were a French (or maybe even a German) citizen happened upon one, they’d have a single shot .45 ACP blaster. Extra rounds came with it that could be stored in the grip.
The Liberator also came with a small dowel rod to extract spent cases and illustrated comic book-like instructions. Such a crude weapon definitely wouldn’t be useful all by itself against the might of the Wehrmacht, but if you were smart enough to catch one of them alone, you might find the opportunity to trade a round of .45 for a Mauser 98K, MP40, or, toward the end of the war in some areas, a Sturmgewehr 44 as seen in the staged photo below:
We know that at least one Liberator was used to kill a Nazi, and that there were thousands in circulation, but their overall their direct impact was limited.
A good bit of the reason more Nazis weren’t killed with them was Charles de Gaulle. He convinced allies to dump the idea (often quite literally into the sea) because he didn’t want France to be armed after the war, as this could hurt his push for political power. This likely caused more American and British troops to die in the war.
The main thing Liberator pistols actually accomplished was to hurt the morale of Nazi troops and their collaborators in occupied European countries. Just knowing that any citizen could come up at any moment and deliver a “trade offer” you can’t refuse adds to stress and fear. It didn’t take too many Liberator drops to accomplish that.
Even today, the basic concept of the Liberator continues to strike fear into the hearts of would-be tyrants. Hysterics over “ghost guns”, including the first somewhat useable 3D-printed gun that was named after the original Liberator, is almost identical to the fears Nazi soldiers and de Gaulle had. An armed populace doesn’t frighten good people much, but politicians who want to impose their will on a population (and the voters who support them) can’t stand the idea that they, too, might one day be extended a “trade offer.”
Circling back to The Book of Boba Fett, it’s good to see that the people behind the newest Star Wars series were willing to throw this little Easter egg into the episode. It shows that there are real gun people involved in the production, and that at least one of them was a big enough fan of the Nazi-killing concept to include it.
The only question now is whether we’ll get to see how it performs as a blaster on screen.