Lahti L39 20mm anti tank gun and ammo (VWM)

Vlad, do you have a better image of the cartridge?
Finnish HE types are extremely rare.

No, sorry, the display was positioned very high with poor lighting, I took this picture with my arms stretched up all the way with no visual control. Basically, a lucky shot.

Well done then!
Too bad they are displaying the average stuff in a big way and disregard the real seldom stuff.

Vlad - that Lahti 20 mm gun rang a chime with me. We had one of those deactivated, parts easily removed in a hurry welded on, chrome plated, and mounted on top of a little Plymouth (or perhaps some other) station wagon that the boss had for business use. Had our name on the door - commercial vehicle. I think the first time he drove it through the toll plaza of the Golden Gate Bridge, the toll takers probably went goofy. It became a rather “known” fixture about town. When the attitude towards guns started turning sour in the city and state, it was getting old and he removed the gun and junked the car.

Wish I had a picture of it. It was nifty, (guess that word dates me). I took a picture of it, but in recent years, could find it. We’re talking about 45 years ago now. That’s how common those guns were then, at least in the USA. I think they all came from Golden States Arms or Interarms (at that time, “Interarmco.”).

RimPin - I could not find the picture I took, but I found the following
picture of the car taken by my dear friend and colleague Michael
Carrick, former editor of the “Powder Flask” column in “Gun Report
Magazine.” Mike was the Manager of the store when I went to work
there. This appeared in in the issue of May 2004, Page 9, and with the
following comments. I am pretty sure Mike took the picture, as I
believe mine was from the other side of the car. He had this to say
about it:

"I was manager of the San Francisco Gun Exchange in the mid-1960s. The
store owned a 1960 Plymouth Valiant station wagon with an L39 Lahti
mounted on the roof. I drove it for a couple of years after the owner,
Nate Posner, got tired of the stares. Finally, it died of mechanical
causes, and I dismounted the Lahti. It had had all moving parts
spot-welded closed. Over the period of several months, I would work on
the welds with a Moto-Tool grinder. Eventually, I got the gun to
function. In those years, ammo was cheap and readily available. I too
the gun into the woods one winter day when there was about two inches of
snow on the ground and fired at a target on a pine tree. The tree was
about six to eight inches in diameter where the target was pinned. The
first shot cleared the snow from the ground for about a ten-foot
diameter circle in front of the muzzle, and pine tree broke right in
half where the bullet struck. (Note from JLM - this was with ball
ammunition - probably AP - that we had at the store at the time, I am
sure). We were impressed! Of course, I had to give the gun up in
1968. MFC

Hope the picture is o.k. I scanned the page and cropped to the picture,
so the resolution is not all it could be with today’s digital cameras.

Lol John! That would be a sight to see. An old Plymouth with a MG strapped to the roof… If the vehicle was still around, you may think it was a movie prop from the movie Mad Max! (If you ever find the photo, I would love to see it!)


EOD, At one time these were not particularly rare and I suspect there are still quite a few out in the old collections. I have run across a number of collectors who had one.

In the early 70s I had an old friend, now long gone, who lived in Illinois on an old family farm that was mostly surrounded by deep swamp and almost inaccessable. The old family house had a front porch on both stories. On the upper porch outside his bedroom he had a Lahti L39 sitting on a table with a big ammo can with 20-30 TP loads. In the front of the house was only woods and swamp with a small field of corn he had planted. It was mid summer but he had just shot a deer and had it hanging in his basement. He had used the L39! The small field was to attract the deer from the swamp and the L39 was just outside his bedroom door to the porch to keep him in venison year round. He let me fire a couple of rounds and I was impressed. My memory was it had an optical sight and was extremely accurate.

Those days are long gone…


John, thanks a lot for sharing that photograph. Unbelievable what was possible before hysterical outbursts became a way of life.
Assuming it says Valiant on the body, it was indeed a Plymouth station wagon.

Lew, while not being old enough (younger than 65 !) to have similar experience I assume the old days were much better in many respects.

A similar recollection, more in the line of small arms: Honest Joe’s Pawn Shop in Dallas, Tex. in the 1950s and into some part of the 1960s had a Willys Jeepster station wagon with a chrome-plated German MP.40 mounted on the hood, sort of like an outsized hood ornament. It occasioned a fair amount of amusement but nothing more, as far as I could tell. Jack

Jack - not surprising that in Texas an MP40 displayed that way would only be amusing to some. I assume that if a gun shop in San Francisco, and there is only one in a city that years ago have seven or eight and in which most major gun and ammunition companies had offices, did something like our Valiant Plymouth, there were be anti-gun demonstrations over it. Times have changed, and NOT for the better. All the cops I knew, and there were many, thought our car was “cool” and a great ad for the Gun Exchange. At least, in the end, a perfectly good Lahti was brought back to life.

John - Thank you for finding the photo! The wagon is just as I had imagined, only a little more “classy looking”, given your business name on the side door! Lol. You guys must have had lots of fun at the exchange!

Best Regards,

[quote]Finally, it died of mechanical causes, and I dismounted the Lahti. It had had all moving parts spot-welded closed. Over the period of several months, I would work on
the welds with a Moto-Tool grinder. Eventually, I got the gun to function.[/quote]

At least it was returned to its proper use. I wonder if it’s still around today?

On the subject of guns mounted on top of road vehicles, here’s a couple of pics I took at AUSA this autumn, for you to enjoy:

First, a classic VW Microbus with a remote-controlled M134 Minigun mounted in the sunroof:

Second, a rather well-armed ‘Flyer’ - a US lightweight vehicle intended for special forces use. It has five MGs mounted covering all angles (the nearest one being the experimental GD LWMMG in .338 Norma Magnum calibre) plus, just in case that traffic jam needs a bit more effort to clear, on top is an ATK M230LF Chain Gun (30x113B calibre) in a remotely-controlled mounting:

Tony - The VW Microbus is awsome! I’ve never seen anything mounted to them, except for surf boards.

I guess the “unfair advantage” sign behind the bus would be directed towards the hippies…? LOL!


Was Eon Productions (British film production company, produced the James Bond film series) involved in the concept/design work for these vehicles?

Better have really good hearing protection when firing 30x118mmB rounds just above your head or .338 Norma Magnum rounds to your side!

Writing as someone who irreparably damaged his hearing after firing a 50 BMG at Kynoch’s indoor “tunnel” range, having forgotten to put his ear-defenders on in the heat of the moment … be careful folks !!


Peter - I sympathize. A 90 mm Tank Main Gun on a Patton started my slide downwards. When I got out of the Army and took a sound test on some sort of machine for college, I already had a noticeable hearing loss. When I was an active shooter, I wore both ear plugs and muffs, and yet today, I getting deafer and deafer even though I have not heard a gun shot in 3 years.

If there are any young shooters on this forum, don’t look on ear protection as for “sissies,” like I (and many others) did when I was young. The guys who wore it were the smart ones. The Army experience was beyond control, except for my own stupidity of getting clear up to mid-turret when we were suppose to be walking at least 10 yards, as I recall, behind the tank, because the Army didn’t even issue ear protection on the small arms ranges.

But, it is no joke. I don’t even like phone calls much anymore, because I can only understand half of what is said unless a person has a drill sgt.'s voice and excellent enunciation.


Was Eon Productions (British film production company, produced the James Bond film series) involved in the concept/design work for these vehicles?[/quote]

Not as far as I know. The VW I know nothing about, the Flyer is being promoted by General Dynamics who rather overdid the armament, I think - the vehicle doesn’t have enough room for the number of gunners required to operate that lot!

I have fired the .338 LWMMG at NDIA and it wasn’t that bad, even though I just had the issued foam earplugs. The 4.6mm HK MP7 was much worse - I was firing that on full auto, next to a block wall which bounced the sound right back at me, and those earplugs didn’t help a lot - my ear was singing for an hour or so afterwards.

I know that both the US and British armies are keen on fitting suppressors to just about every gun these days (the US is even talking about fitting them to mortars!). The initial motivation was tactical (especially for concealing the location of snipers) but they are now getting worried about liability over future claims concerning hearing loss.