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A Recurring Thought Of Mine

Mark Knight

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Perhaps Italy's strangest manufacturing story concerns the 6.5mm Carcano. The M91/38 short rifle, of Dealey Plaza fame and the most incredible rifle in history (according to WC supporters), began production in early 1940 and ended production in early 1941, being replaced by an all new design of long rifle; the M91/41 long rifle. What made Italy drop the M91/38 short rifle after only ONE year of production?

Regardless of convictions that each Carcano made bore a unique serial number, the fact is that several Carcanos may have carried the serial number 2766 with or without the "C" prefix.  After the war Carcano rifles and carbines found their way back to the RE Terni plant by the thousand. Most of these weapons had seen service on the battlefields of Europe and Africa and were in poor condition. Adam Consolidated arranged for the renovation and repair of the defective units to make them ready for the US market. Luciano Riva, a 5th generation gunsmith of some repute, was required to renovate and repair damaged or defective weapons and, where appropriate, to shorten or lengthen the barrels of weapons to meet the needs of the US sporting and target shooting fraternities. Additionally, and most importantly, all identifying markings on the weapons were to be removed and the words "Made in Italy" stamped on each barrel.

On February 12th 1963, Fred Rupp dispatched carton no. 3376, said to contain C2766, via North Penn Transfer Company against Crescent Firearms order no. 3178 to Klein's Sporting Goods of Chicago. If the record thus far is to be believed then Klein's took delivery of Mannlicher Carcano serial no. C2766, allegedly one of a very few rifles out of a total of 150,000 repaired and renovated by Luciano Riva that did not have its identifying marks removed. Luciano Riva allegedly failed to ensure that all identifying marks were removed from a small number of Carcano rifles. The seemingly arbitrary decision of US Customs to impound that particular consignment of 5,200 rifles out of 150,000 shipped to Adam Consolidated, resulted in the contents of carton no. 3376 being sold to Klein's Sporting Goods. How lucky could the FBI get?

A. Hidell of Dallas, Texas, had enclosed a US Postal Money Order no. 2,202,130,462 to the value of $21.45 in payment for one Mannlicher Carcano 6.5MM Carbine with scope as advertised with reference no. C20-T750 priced at $19.95 with an additional $1.50 postage and handling. Though the advert offered ammunition and a clip as added extras, Hidell did not order either. The simple conclusion is that the FBI knowingly obtained this unused, unpaid money order from Postal Inspector Harry Holmes and then provided photographs of this unpaid money order to the Warren Commission. And the Commission knew, (i.e. David Belin) that they were offering this unpaid, never deposited money order as proof that Oswald purchased a mail order rifle from Klein's. This unpaid money order is the key to understanding that the FBI and Warren Commission knowingly created the hoax that Oswald purchased a mail order rifle from Klein's that he used to assassinate President Kennedy. This unpaid money order is one of the most important "smoking guns" found in the Warren Volumes. It proves that Oswald did not purchase a mail order rifle, and it shows that both the FBI and Warren Commission knew that this unpaid money order had never been cashed or deposited. The FBI never produced a single document that shows the date C2766 was delivered to Klein's (sold by Crescent on June 18, 1962) nor the identity and address of the person who purchased that rifle from Klein's. All original records from Crescent Arms and the Klein's microfilm disappeared while in FBI custody. Only "photographs" of documents were given to the WC, and are now at the National Archives.

The attempt to link (HARVEY) Oswald to Castro through FPCC brochures, Mexico City, Robert McKeown, and radio interviews in New Orleans with CIA asset Edward Butler is undeniable. Lee Oswald's attempt to purchase a rifle from Castro's close friend, Robert McKeown, in early September, 1963 strongly suggests that the choice of a rifle to be placed on the 6th floor of the TSBD had not yet been made. This is reason to believe that the Mannlicher Carcano rifle found on the 6th floor was not chosen as the “murder weapon” until after Labor Day weekend, 1963.  The rifle depicted in the Life photo (identified as CE-139, Serial # C2766) is in fact a very rare model known as a Moschettieri del Duce Carcano which is a ceremonial rifle of Mussolini's Guard, of which only a few hundred were ever made. Its difficult to imagine such a weapon would ever turn up as part of a cheap batch of surplus Carcanos being offered for sale by a sporting goods store in Chicago for $21; far more likely is that it was someone's battlefield trophy until such a time as it turned up as evidence in the JFK case.  The sling itself tends to bear out this fact as it is clearly a ceremonial sling and not a field sling common to surplus military rifles.

Frazier's testimony before the Warren Commission reveals that the markings on the rifle were considered top secret by the Italian Government, and that there was a discussion off the record deciding what they could enter into the record. Furthermore, when they went back on the record, they failed to say what was excluded. This begs the question of what could be top secret about the markings?" If author/researcher Ritchson is right - and the rifle was nothing but a ceremonial rifle - this becomes more interesting.  a CIA report dated five days after the assassination which reads, "The weapon which appears to have been employed is a Model 91 rifle. 7.35 caliber. 1938 modification.  The description of a 'Mannlicher-Carcano' rifle in the Italian and foreign press is in error.  This later CIA description is interesting in that it matches exactly the description of the alleged murder weapon, a description that came from the Italian Armed Forces Intelligence Service. So, why (as this original thread asks) would a Mannlicher-Carcano be chosen as the rifle that will live in infamy?

In 1963, as head of the Senate's Juvenile Delinquency Subcommittee, Senator Thomas Dodd of Connecticut was experimenting with ordering arms from mail order houses in an attempt to gather information allowing Congress to stem unregulated traffic. Senator Dodd instituted the program on behalf of Colt and other small firearms producers in Connecticut who complained of foreign imports. Oswald might have participated in this program. Dodd, a former FBI agent and long-time J. Edgar Hoover loyalist was also a leading member of the Cuba Lobby (which grew out of the right-wing, red-hunting, China Lobby) through which he was in touch with the same Cuban-exile mercenaries as Oswald. He was also investigating the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in which Oswald may have been an infiltrator. Two of the gun mail-order houses were the ones from which Oswald ordered his Smith and Wesson .38 revolver (Seaport Traders of Los Angeles) and his Mannlicher-Carcano rifle (Klein's of Chicago).  An investigator looking into interstate firearms sales at this time was Manuel Pena, the Los Angeles police lieutenant who was later one of the pivotal officers investigating Robert Kennedy's assassination. It was Pena who traced Oswald's telescopic sight to a California gun shop. One of the primary culprits, robbing domestic manufacturers of profits, was the Mannlicher-Carcano.  

William Orchard wrote that the shooters were "confident of their ability to control the crime scene" and - knowing that the FBI would manage the cover story - the assassination planners were more concerned with killing the President than with giving the FBI a clean crime scene. The decision to pin an inferior Italian rifle on the patsy was (in Orchard's opinion) a sign of disrespect for the FBI. There was also a tactical reason for choosing the 6.5 mm Mannlicher-Carcano and that is described in the narrative; the Book Depository was chosen to incriminate Oswald, and not for its desirability as a shooting location. The shooter in the Oswald window was not expected to hit anything (a fact he probably was not aware of) ... this was the least desirable shooting location and he was their poorest shooter.  The planners did not tell him that his poorly performing MC rifle (unsighted, with a defective scope) was meant to be an insult to the FBI; they told him it was a symbol of Italian pride. The planners knew that his shot would not go where it was aimed and they did not care. If everything went as planned, there would be a highly coordinated set of audible shots (and one silenced shot) and it would all be blamed on Oswald ... but things did not go as planned. The four shooters at the east end of the plaza were told to aim at the President’s head and shoot in rotation.

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Here are some good references:

  1. Bailey, G. W. (2011) “A Mauser, is a Mauser, is a Mannlicher-Carcano”. Oswald’s Mother
  2. Craig, J. (March 2016) “The Guns of Dealey Plaza: Weapons and the Kennedy Assassination”
  3. Evica, George. (December 1995) “Perfect Cover – A Theory of the JFK Assassination: What Happened on November 22nd, 1963”. The Assassination Chronicles Volume 1, Issue 4
  4. Graf, W. and Bartholomew, R. (1996) “The Gun That Didn't Smoke”
  5. Griffith, Michael (2002) "Twenty simple Truths About the JFK Assassination"
  6. Griffith, Michael (April 2001) “Extra Bullets and Missed Shots In Dealey Plaza”
  7. Hewett, Carol (December 1995) “Silencers, Sniper Rifles & the CIA” Kennedys and King
  8. Hidell, A. (June 2017) “The South Knoll Gunman”
  9. Inkol, Sheldon. (May 1990) "Other Patsies," The Third Decade 
  10. Marsh, W. A. (March 1996) "No Mentesana Rifle," Assassination Chronicles
  11. MacDowall, W. (2000) “The Great Carcano Swindle”
  12. Roberts, Craig (January 1994) "Kill Zone: A Sniper Looks at Dealey Plaza"
  13. Orchard, W. (November 2011) "The Shots in Dealey Plaza"
  14. Sibley, R. (September 1985) "The Mysterious Vanishing Rifle" The Third Decade
  15. Tatro, Edgar (June 1983) “Where Have all the Bullets Gone?” Continuing Inquiry
  16. Tatro, E. (July 1981) "Who's Afraid of the Grassy Knoll South?", Continuing Inquiry
  17. Turner, S. (December 2005) “How many shots?” thread in JFK Assassination Debate



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Ordering the revolver appears to be some form of an inside joke. Whoever did order that gun from Seaports was having an inside joke in the process by claiming the name of the person who could vouch for the buyer was DF Drittal. Greg Parker maintains this stands for the German phrase Dienst Fur Drittel - "on behalf of a third party."  Another coincidence is the G-2 linguist John Hurt, who married a Russian immigrant, Ana Drittel, a performing, NY cellist. Eleven months later, the FBI obtains a mail order record of an order for a pistol purchase, with a witness signature signed D.E. or D.F. Drittal. A week prior to the discovery of this mail order record Oswald, under arrest in Dallas, attempts to make a collect phone call from the jail to a John Hurt in Raleigh, NC. Further, Julius Drittel, deceased in 1953, was the brother-in-law of the NSA's John B. Hurt, a master linguist married to Drittel's sister, Ana.  Perhaps it’s something of a major (though cryptic) clue that the rifle was purchased by or for a third party. The other names being German words/phrases strengthen the case that "DF Drittal" is, as well.

Other coincidences surround the Dodd Subcommittee and the weapons.  An investigator looking into interstate firearms sales at this time was Manuel Pena, the Los Angeles police lieutenant who was later one of the officers investigating Robert Kennedy's assassination. It was Pena who traced Oswald's telescopic sight to a California gun shop.Pena has an odd background; he served in the Navy during WWII and in the Army during the Korean War, and was a Counterintelligence officer in France.  He spoke French and Spanish, and had connections with various intelligence agencies in several countries. Pena also served the CIA for a long time. In 1967, Pena "retired" from the LAPD, leaving to join AID, a cover for political operations in foreign countries.  Roger LeJeunesse, an FBI agent who had been involved in the RFK assassination investigation, told William Turner that Pena had performed special assignments for the CIA for more than ten years. 

Gerald Hill and William Westbrook are DPD persons of interest, who quickly controlled the Dallas evidence and witnesses while securing a bear trap around Oswald (just as Hernandez and Pena did for LAPD). Hill is described as a downtown “beat sergeant” on temporary loan to Captain Westbrook’s personnel department to purportedly help vet incoming Police Academy cadets. He is not mentioned much in the Warren Report, and yet he managed to be center stage at all of the strategic locations and events of the day, with first-hand knowledge unsurpassed by any other Dallas law officer.  Captain William Westbrook. He was supervising a small unique group, and I don’t believe he’d been with DPD very long. Nor did he stay with them more than a year or so after the assassination. He also didn’t have much to say to the Warren Commission, and they didn’t have much interest in putting him on the record.   Both he and Hill responded pretty quickly to the TSBD … strange considering their normal day jobs and official roles in DPD. Lieutenant Manuel Pena and Sergeant Enrique "Hank" Hernandez were two veterans of the Los Angeles Police Force who had the most day-to-day control of the RFK assassination investigation ... both had CIA connections through their training for and participation in police operations in Latin America.

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6 hours ago, Gene Kelly said:

Interestingly, the Klein's advert entered into evidence by the WC is for a Carcano of the right length but comes from the November 1963 issue of Field and Stream. This advert was offered to the WC by the ubiquitous Postal Inspector Harry Holmes. This might be as good a time as any to mention that Harry D. Holmes was more than just a Postal Inspector. In addition to his postal duties, Holmes was an FBI informant. He appeared to have an uncanny knack of being in crucial places at crucial times during the day of the assassination and on subsequent days. Odd though it may seem, he also took part in the interrogation of Oswald at the DPD.

Keins Coupon.jpg

Some great posts above Gene.  Just wanted to note the question, how did Oswald supposedly order the rifle he never picked up, in was it April or March (?) using and ad from the November 1963 Field and Stream?

Between what you write above and what David Josephs has also done, with contributions of a few others I'm well beyond convinced Oswald never ordered the rifle or pistol, much less ever picked either one up or used them.  The FBI set up the whole scam (possibly with CIA help?).

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Thanks Ron, appreciate the shout-out.  I am only summarizing the good work of others (whom I've followed on the Forum over the years) like David, Bill Simpich, Jim D. and John Armstrong (to name a few).  It was CIA, all the way (with a little help from their police friends). 

Oswald’s postal box was likely being monitored, but (strangely) Harry Holmes never mentioned that Oswald would have to had filled out a 2162 form. All indications are that Oswald did not pick up the rifle package at the Post Office in Dallas ... there is no paperwork to substantiate this, and no witnesses.  I don't think it was the FBI (they were simply covering their organization 'marker' after the fact). 

The .38 caliber pistol that Oswald allegedly used to kill Tippet was sold from Seaport Traders.  Oswald took order of a snub-nosed Smith &Wesson .38. Before he could order it, he would be required under Texas law to get a “certificate of good character” from either a Justice of the Peace or a District Court Judge. This would be difficult since he was allegedly ordering the pistol under his Alek Hidell alias. Imagine applying for a certificate verifying your character using a phony name ... this leads one to conclude that he never did. There is an invoice (#70638) saying the gun was shipped COD via REA to A. J. Hidell. This particular invoice is (a copy, since the original was never obtained by the FBI). It also states that it was shipped to his PO box address (which  can’t be done) and was shipped to REA office for pick-up.

John Armstrong looked into this in great detail ... no ID was required to show up and pay the COD charge and retrieve the package. Anybody could have appeared at the office and paid for the pistol. There are no receipts found in Oswald’s belongings (no invoices, no receipt for payment). Someone went to great lengths to forge Oswald's' handwriting, fabricate Waldman Exhibit 7, and connect Oswald to the Hidell alias.  A lot of loose ends here. 

What is very compelling to me is that an investigator looking into interstate firearms sales at this time was Manuel Pena, the infamous LAPD lieutenant who was later one of the officers "investigating" Robert Kennedy's assassination.  Notably, it was Pena who traced Oswald's telescopic sight to a California gun shop!  Pena was the trusted courier of key evidence being supplied to the FBI ... and he was affiliated with the same mercenaries and cut-outs used by JMWave operatives in various operations -- Saigon, El Salvador, Uruguay, Phoenix -- who were employed by cover with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).   I believe that DPD officers Hill and Westbrook served the same function that LAPD officers Pena and Hernandez did, 5 years later.   

What are the odds?  


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Its interesting that this thread was first started almost ten years ago ... and recently revisited by Lawrence.  The question as to why a Carcano has always intrigued me.  My reading convinces me that there's some hidden (ironic) symbolism to its selection as the incriminating weapon.  Many excellent researchers have poked holes in its provenance, most notably Gil Jesus, David Josephs,  Lisa Pease and John Armstrong to name a few more recently ... and historically George Evica, Craig Roberts, Graf and Bartholomew,  John Craig, Michael Griffith,  Bill MacDowall, William Orchard, et al.  These all point to serious inconsistencies exist about the rifle's ownership, origin, purchase, and efficacy as a weapon.  No serious assassin would chose that weapon or take three shots from that location, if they wanted to succeed and escape. 

But what nags at me is that the Italian heritage (and SIFAR secrecy) also points towards William Harvey,  who was  at the time exiled to an Italian posting.  I believe Orchard's thesis that the selection of this poor weapon (in questionable firing condition) was intentionally meant as an insult or "message" to the FBI, to make the crime scene "messy" and uncomfortable for them.  Its no secret that Harvey didn't care for his former agency (or Hoover) and it appears the FBI scrambled in the aftermath to cover up its true origin ... and manufacture a lot of flimsy evidence aimed at Oswald.  In other words, Harvey and Co. were blackmailing the FBI.  It would seem (as a sub-plot) that the CIA and FBI were at war. 

There's also a fascist theme to this particular rifle ... shades of Gladio, Permindex and right-wing blowback. Someone allegedly ordered the rifle right around the same time that Senator Christopher Dodd's subcommittee began hearings in January 1963. And what always intrigues me is that an investigator looking into interstate firearms sales at this time was Manuel Pena, the infamous LAPD lieutenant who later played a role in Robert Kennedy's assassination. It was Pena who traced Oswald's telescopic sight to a California gun shop. After the assassination, Dodd promoted a story to the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee that Oswald bad been trained at a KGB assassination school in Minsk. The American Security Council - an organization advocating removal of Castro from Cuba and escalation of the war in Vietnam - is at the center of all this intrigue.  I would refer to the excellent 1996 article by Lisa Pease entitled "Thomas J. Dodd & Son: Corruption of Blood?" originally published in Probe Magazine. 



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