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Discussion Starter #1
Does anyone know the model designation of the 38 spl S&W that was manufactured out of all aluminum during maybe the early 50's? Apparently they were for the most part returned and refitted with steel cylinders.

A friend had one a couple of years ago but he sold it and couldn't remember.

Thanks
 

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The Air Force referred to them as the "M13" but S&W never gave them a factory model designation.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks, that's a start.

Do you know if they went back to S&W for refitting for the most part?

I'm wondering about these as I found a cylinder for one today.
 

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According to Roy Jinks, the USAF scrapped most of their M13s. S&W produced the same revolver for the commercial market as the Model 12 M&P Airweight but in 1954, the factory substituted steel for aluminum cylinders
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Again, thanks. There isn't much to go on with this part that would give any indication of whether it would have been mil or civ. The only markings on it are 961 which is stamped under where the extractor would be if it was still with it.
 

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Colt And Smith & Wesson Aircrewman Revolvers

Both Smith & Wesson and Colt manufactured the M13 Aircrewman revolver. The S&W version was based on their K-frame revolver and the Colt was based on their D-frame revolver. Only the frame and cylinder were aluminum, and except for the wooden grips, all other parts were steel including the two inch barrel. The revolvers were designed for use with M41 .38 Special cartridge with a chamber pressure of 16,000 pounds per square inch. Use of other .38 Special cartridges with a chamber pressure exceeding the M41 cartridge could result in a catastrophic failure of the cylinder. This was the reason for the M13s recall and destruction in the late 50's and early 60's. I have never heard or read that any Aircrewman revolvers, Colt or S&W, being retrofitted with steel cylinders. All were destroyed except for the few we see on the market now and then. Fewer Colt M13s were produced than S&W M13 Aircewman revolvers.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well, I guess this could make a pretty but light paperweight.

I don't know exactly where I heard the story about the cylinders being replaced but I guess we all have heard stories that come from nowhere.

thanks for the additional info
 

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My brother (an auxiliary sheriff's deptuty) has one of the early J-frame AirWeight revolvers with the aluminum cylinder. He routinely uses it as one of his backup guns loaded with standard velocity .38 Spl ammo. He doesn't shoot it much but says its a pleasure to carry in an ankle holster.
 

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To: Krag

Other than the military M13 K-frame, I was unaware that S&W commercially manufactured a J-frame Airweight revolver with an aluminum cylinder. The commercial version of the military D-frame Colt M13 revolver is the Colt Cobra, keeping the aluminum frame but with a steel cylinder. An even lighter version of the Colt Cobra is the Colt Agent which is the Cobra with a shortened grip.
 

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Smith produced both commercial and military K & J frame revolvers with alloy cylinders, the first Airweight Chief Specials (Pre Model 37's, J frames) had alloy cylinders and are very much coveted by collectors, the switch to the steel cylinder was made in 1954. The SCSW indicates approx. 3777 were produced with the alloy cyinders with 609 going to the Air Force. The .38 M&P Airweight (pre-Model 12, K frame) was also produced commercially, and until 1954 with the alloy cylinder, I see these offered for sale, not all the time but they don't seem to be as rare as the early J frames, at least to me.

This week there was a C prefix SN pre-12 with alloy cylinder on Gunbroker, I don't know it it sold but it had its finish stripped from the cylinder and frame, the barrel was blued, kind of an interesting revolver. I only mention this as the photos were excellent, I'm not endorsing it nor do I have any connection to it.

I think Smith should re-introduce the Model 12 with upgraded alloys (and leave the IL off) - I have a 12-2 I like to carry, it is so very light, and I only shoot it with standard pressure loads. If the current alloy Smith's (637, 638, etc.) can stand +P I know they could make an updated Model 12 rated for +P and I think there would be a market for it, especially if it had a 3" tube.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
The one that I did see a couple of years ago was the first time I'd heard of them. Supposedly it was a "right as" one with the backstrap (if I recall correctly) having USAF markings. By the time I saw it it was "taken" with a phone call and that was the end of the story. If what I've seen since looking into this cylinder is true that one was a true steal if it was really correct, at under a thousand by a couple of hundred.

I'll never know as it is all history and no one is talking about it and I'm not askin'.

I hope to someday unite this cylinder with someone who'd like to put one back as it was if they have one with a replaced steel one. Until then I have to hold it down with a couple of 45 acp rounds so it won't float away.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
OT, by the way, what did I do to get busted down to an E1 poster? I know I was awol for a bit but I thought that I gave the old man a good story.
 
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