The book “The Mauser Parabellum – analysis of a million of Luger pistol” by Joop van de Kant and Don R. Hallock, describes some Imperial Luger pistols used by the Thai Police. These pistols survived WWI and were sold as surplus to the Royal Thai Police somewhere between 1919 and 1937.This is an evidence of the fact that, the Royal Thai Police started using Imperial Lugers before that the Mauser Parabellum contract was set up. Most probably, they decided to pass the contract to Mauser for the “new” Parabellum simply because they were satisfied with the Imperial surplus pistols already in use.The contract passed to Mauser in 1936-1937is absolutely understandable considering the fact that:1.The Policemen and the gunsmith are already familiar with the Parabellum therefore no additional costs are foreseen for training operational and logistic personnel; 2.Documentation, User Manual, if available, can be reused as they are; no additional cost to update the documentation; 3.The Imperial and Mauser model have the same caliber (9mm Parabellum) therefore no impact on the the ammunition stock. In the end, the selection of the “new” Mauser Parabellum is a cost/effective solution because allows the reuse of competence with no impact in the logistic management.One of the main differences between the Mauser Parabellum and the Imperial ones, used by the Thai Police, is a specific Bangkok (Kor Tor) mark (see the paragraph Kor Tor).Until now, no Mauser Parabellum pistols have been reported with this specific mark.Only a small number of Imperial Lugers with Thai Police marks have been reported, but they are enough to propose possible theories.Before introducing the theories, let’s clarify the meaning of the marks.
Kor and Tor
Kor Kai or Kor is the first letter of the 44 letters of the Thai alphabet.
Tor Thahan or Tor is another letter of the Thai alphabet.This acronym is read "Kor Tor" it is considered to be the abbreviation of Krung Thep, the Thai name for Bangkok, the capital of Thailand.This interpretation has been validated by Thai sources (see paragraph Sources) as well as by the Thai Embassy in Italy.Considering the fact that, one of the pistols with the Kor Tor mark shows an Old Bangkok Police Logo supports the interpretation of Kor Tor as the abbreviation of Bangkok. The number that follows is definitely big and cannot be considered the number of pistols in use. It is most probably a serial number for all the guns available.
The NAGA is a mythic animal for Thailand.One of the more beautiful elements of Thai temples and spiritual places is that of the Naga. Naga is a Sanskrit and Pali word for a deity that takes the form of the great snake, often a king cobra.For the occidental point of view it is easy to confuse the mark used in the Parabellum pistol, above the lanyard ring, with a lion or an elephant instead of a Naga, closer to the Thai tradition.The author considers more realistic the interpretation of this symbol as a NAGA instead of a Lion or an Elephant although there is not definitely evidence of that.
A picture from the Görtz archive, shows a Imperial Parabellum with the Kor Tor mark but no the NAGA.The first and fifth pictures show Lugers with both the Kor Thor and the NAGA marks.The last picture of the Imperial Parabellum and then all the Mauser Parabellum don’t have the Kor Thor mark.
It is a fact that the Mauser Parabellum pistols do not receive the Kor Tor mark used by the Bangkok police. It could be that the Mauser Parabellum pistols were not provided to the Bangkok police but to others Police departments in Thailand. In this case, the Bangkok police used only Imperial models and these pistols receive the Kor Tor mark.This hypothesis seems not realistic because the number of pistols indicated by the three digits after the NAGA is small; it represents most probably the number of pistols used by the Bangkok Police and not by the entire Thai Police.
Initially the pistols used by the Bangkok police receive only the Kor Tor mark. Probably, others Police departments received a different mark (no evidence of this).At a certain point, the NAGA mark was introduced for all the pistols and the department mark was not used anymore.It means that the pistol with the Kor Tor mark have been re-marked with the NAGA mark except the ones not in service anymore; this can justify why the first luger analyzed, from the Görtz archive, shows only the Kor Tor mark and not the NAGA. This pistol, most probably, has been kept by the policeman and it was not submitted to the NAGA re-stamp.All the others “new” pistols received only the NAGA stamp and not the department one.The second hypothesis seems, at least to the author, more credible and should be retained until no additional evidences are found.
These Thai (Bangkok) Imperial Parabellum pistols are definitely interesting guns. The lack of official documents is not helping the definition of a correct scenario but we are still in the hypothesis. The only document available is the certificate released by the Major General Vitoon Pitugpol, Commander of the Quarter Master division in Bangkok, to ODIN certifying that the Mauser Parabellum pistols were used by the Thai Police (see The Mauser Parabellum 1930 – 1946 by Joop van de Kant and Don Hallock - page 502.It is definitely difficult to have information from the Thai authorities and the tentative of contacting Bangkok Police and others Thai departments fail.Additional information or evidences provided by collectors are crucial to increase the knowledge about this exotic variation.
Source of the pictures.
The first picture analyzed is from the Joachim Görtz files in the author collection now. The second picture is from the author collection.The third and fourth pictures are kindly provided by Giuliano Alfinito.
The author would like to thank:Joop van de Kant and Don R. Hallock for starting the researches about the Imperial Luger with Thai marks.Uma Sengsomwang Senior Export Sales Executive (Marketing Division) THAI WATANA PANICH PRESS CO., LTD. for the information provided about the marks.Giuliano Alfinito for the pictures of the Imperial Luger with Kor Tor and NAGA mark.