The kampfpistole is a rifled adaptation of the smoothbore leuchtpistole, a single-shot break-action flare gun used by the German military during the Second World War.

Nazi Germany designed its flare guns as multirole weapons which could fire projectiles with light offensive capabilities such as smoke grenades, explosive rounds and cased propaganda leaflets. The kampfpistole is marked with a white phosphorescent Z to identify it in low-light conditions, which gave it the alternative nickname ‘Model Z’. The wheel-shaped attachment above the grip is used to adjust for range: setting the distance then aligning the built-in bubble level with the horizontal plane will angle the barrel correctly for firing. The weapon is stamped ac 41 above the trigger, indicating that this example was manufactured in 1941 by Carl Walther GmbH; the pattern was also produced by Erfurter Maschinenfabrik (Erma), which used the code ayf instead.

During the war the leuchtpistole was also adapted into the sturmpistole (assault pistol), which could additionally fire fragmentation and miniature anti-tank grenades, although these would have been of limited effectiveness against late-war armoured vehicles.

The pictured pistol belonged to a German sniper and was captured by two members of the 18th Armoured Division 2NZEF at Palena, most likely in May 1944. The Germans had incorporated the town of Palena into the Winter Line, a sequence of well-defended fortifications intended to halt the Allied advance through Italy. New Zealand assaults against the Winter Line included the unsuccessful Battle of Orsogna in 1943 and the hard-fought Battle of Monte Cassino in 1944. 

Wehrmacht propaganda photo from the German Federal Archive’s collection.