The Walther P38 was produced and developed as a 9 mm pistol by Walther as the official service pistol of the German Wehrmacht during the beginning of World War II.
The Walther P38 was intended to replace the much more costly Luger P08, the production of the LUger P08 was scheduled to end in 1942.
The Walther P38 was first introduced by the military in the year 1938, however the full scale production of actual test pistols did not begin until late in the year 1939. Walther first began their manufacture at their Zella-Mehlis plant where 3 series Test pistols were produced. The third test pistol met the requirements of the Heer or Germany Army which began using the pistols in the mid 1940s. In mid 1942, production moved to the Mauser plant in Obendorf and a Spreewerk plant in Hradek and Nisou, Czechslovakia. Production of the weapon continued through World War II.
The P38 was the very first locked breech type pistol to utilize the double action trigger. The person shotting the pistol could load a round into the pistols chamber, use the convenient de-cocking lever to safely and efficiently lower the pressured hammer without firing a round and successfully carry the loaded weapon with the hammer down. Pulling the trigger with the hammer down, would fire the first bullet and chamber the next while ejecting the chambered round. All of these features are within many of todays modern handguns.
A somewhat modified variant of the P38 referred to as the P1 was introduced by the Bundeswehr in 1957. This variant came with a receiver constructed of aluminum alloy as opposed to steel. There were additionally short barreled variants of the P1 called the P4.
The Walther P5 is an improved version of the Walther P38 and was adopted and developed after WWII by the police forces of Baden-Wurttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate.