The first designs submitted to the German Army featured a locked breech and a hidden hammer, but the Heer (German Army) requested that it be redesigned with an external hammer.The P38 concept was accepted by the German military in 1938 but production of actual prototype ("Test") pistols did not begin until late 1939.The Walther P38 semi-automatic pistols were accepted by the German Army in 1938, thus the designation of P38, but prototype testing did not start until late 1939.Production began at the Zella-Mehlis, Thuringia, Germany plant in 1939, and deployment of the Walther P38 pistols as the new standard German Army service pistols began in mid 1940.
Several experimental versions were later created in .45 ACP, and .38 Super, but these were never mass-produced.
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Walther began manufacture at their plant in Zella-Mehlis and produced three series of "Test" pistols, designated by a "0" prefix to the serial number.
The third series pistols satisfactorily solved the previous problems for the Heer and mass production began in mid-1940, using Walther's military production identification code "480".