Lew - I don’t have much information on Dela Enterprises Inc. I typed the better part of my answer earlier, but then all of a sudden, all of it just disappeared from the screen while I was finishing it, and I could not recover it.
About that time, I got a UPS Package with some good stuff in it, that I was expecting :-) and that interrupted my timely submission of an answer here.
I have only two things in my files about Dela - a factory drawing of a .38 Special Flare round and a blurb from the “American Rifleman’s” Dope Bag column, written by C. E. Harris using information he got from Woodin Lab. The issue is from March 1979, pages 76 and 77. I will report what it says in just a minute.
Regarding my Dela Enterprises box, it has no “country of origin” markings anywhere on it. It has only a glue-on top label. The box is a 50-round package with dividers in the insert accomodating that amount. However, the label was changed at some time, in pen and ink, to show 24 rounds.
It does give an address for the company: 1234 Industrial Avenue, Escondido, California 92025, which is in Southern California. It indicates the contents are “9 m/m Luger Red Flare Signals, DELA #9RF-2100B, Lot No. 901.” That is the total information on the box.
As for the blurb in the “American Rifleman” magazine, it says:
"The technical Staff contacted William H. Woodin of Tucson, Ariz., who furnished some of the following information:
“During the late 1960s Dela Enterprises, of Escondido, Calif. produced signal cartridge of various types and colors in .38 Spl and .45 ACP. Some of these cartridges were tested by the U.S. Army Infantry Board at Ft. Benning, Ga. The .38 Spl signal cartridges typcially have red anodized or red-lacquered aluminum bullets. The cases predominantly used were nickel plated and made by Sako in Finland, headstamped with the Dela Signal name. Early cartridges were loaded in standard commercial caseswith various headstamps. Many Dela Signal headstamped cases were also sold on the open market to handloaders. These Cartridges were intended for signaling use in .38 Spl. revolvers, as a substitute for or supplement to the Mk 79 pen-type flare projectors carred by combat air crews.- C.E.H.”
The article doesn’t mention that they were also made in 9 mm Parabellum, and that the colors available were red, green and yellow, nor does it address the fact that they were made in both flare and smoke form, with a small, very sharp projection at the tip of the projectile identifying flares. It is absent on the projectiles of the smoke cartridges, which otherwise look the same.
It does establish the Finnish connection. I suspect that the empty cases were sent in the boxes you have, and that the “Made in Finland” referred to the cases only. To my knowledge, they were loaded by Dela Industries, although I cannot find a reference for that information. The first to bring forth specimens of these, fairly contemporary with their production, was S. Fuller, and it may be he that told me they were loaded in California. Some of the 9 mm cartridges were loaded in Sako-headstamped cases as I recall, so if your box is sized for 9 mm cases or rounds specifically, that would not interfere with the theory that the cases alone were shipped from Finland. I cannot check mine, as they are part of the section of my ammunition that became of questionable legality in my state where the State pastime is passing stupid laws that affect nothing but honest citizens, while crime runs rampant in the State. All those cartridges were removed from the State once I surrendered my license, along with rounds that were specifically made illegal, like tracers, incendiaries, and the like.
I am sorry that I cannot provide any more information right now on this. I am told that Mel Carpenter is quite expert on the Dela Rounds, and I would suspect Pepper would know plenty about them also. Are you two out there?