I wanted to create a new thread here to try and shed some light on questions raised by this previous post of a Polish 1930 FB Radom Karabinek (kbk) wz.29: http://forums.gunboards.com/showthread.php?t=67759
Here's what we saw:
- 1930 FB Radom wz.29, s/n 6709p (8mm)
- 1930 FB Radom wz.29, s/n 7629 (.22 trainer version)
- 1930 FB Radom wz.29, s/n 7801 (8mm)
- 1930 FB Radom wz.29, s/n 8014n (8mm)
Now here's a good Polish website:
According to this website (which is cobbled together from five different Polish books), the FB Radom factory produced just 1,000 new wz.29's in 1930, its first year of production. This is the generally accepted number in the U.S. collecting community as well. Yet we seem to have pretty clear evidence of more rifles being produced... above we see a difference of 1,305 between the low and high s/n's, with the strong possibility of even more.
What's up with these Polish serial numbers? Is it some kind of clever scheme to hide actual production figures? Or is the production several thousand rifles higher than thought?
Food for Thought
While FB Radom didn't start producing new wz.29's until 1930, Zbrojownia Nr. 2 (Armory No. 2) in Warsaw began making rifles to the wz.29 standard in 1927. These rifles were made from German K98's and parts taken as WWI reparations. The rifles, which differ only slightly in appearance from the new wz.29 but often retained original markings, were designated as the wz.98/29. Production of the wz.98/29 continued until 1933, which is probably when the German parts ran out. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be any production data on them. But we do know that production was moved from Warsaw to Radom. So it's likely that by 1930, FB Radom was simultaneously producing new wz.29's and making wz.98/29's from reparation parts, quite possibly a mixture of both. Based on the "n" and "p" letter blocks stamped on the above bolts, I'd be willing to bet they were originally German, restamped with a matching Polish s/n, and installed on new wz.29 rifles.
Poland also started exporting wz.29e's in 1928. Since new wz.29 production didn't start until 1930, we know that Poland was making its export models either from previously-made wz.98/29's or straight from reparation parts. Many of the wz.29e's got completely scrubbed of markings except for their serial numbers, especially when Poland wanted to hide its hand such as in Spain.
The Big Question
So, if FB Radom only produced 1,000 new wz.29 rifles in 1930, why do we have at least four examples in the 6XXX to 8XXX serial number range? Assuming that Radom started its serial numbering somewhere closer to zero, this implies that Radom built a few thousand more rifles. This is backed up by export sales: in 1930 alone Poland sold over 14,000 wz.29e's to China and Hijaz. So are the generally-accepted Radom production numbers wrong?
Let's step back a bit. According to the Gwóźdź book, of the 264,300 total new wz.29's produced at FB Radom from 1930 to 1939, only 7,900 were exported as wz.29e's. According to the website, however, the total number of wz.29e's exported was over 143,000. Thus the majority of the rifles exported (135,100 of them) must have been taken from wz.98/29 stocks or built straight from reparation K98's, for which we have no production data. It also implies that Poland produced at least 400,000 wz.29's altogether.
So here's a hypothesis: in 1930, all the different types of wz29 rifles were serialed together as though they were one production run. Whether Radom built a new wz.29, or rebuilt reparation parts into a wz.98/29 or wz.29e, in the end they all got stamped together. Due to the four new wz.29's falling into a relatively close block, it seems likely that blocks were assigned. All we need now is data to clarify what actually happened.
Request for Information
Do you have a 1930 FB Radom Polish wz.29? If so, please post your s/n information so we can figure this out. In fact, I'd be willing to start a database on all Polish wz.29's if you want to send me information about your rifle from any year. Might be a fun project! Thanks...