Thompson Sub Machine guns

Discussion in 'Royal Engineers' started by DavidW, Oct 10, 2014.

  1. A-58

    A-58 Not so senior Member Patron

    I lifted this from wiki:

    The M1A1, standardized in October 1942 as the United States Submachine Gun, Cal. .45, M1A1, could be produced in half the time of the M1928A1, and at a much lower cost. The main difference between the M1 and M1A1 was the bolt. The M1 bolt had a floating firing pin and hammer, the bolt of the M1A1 had the firing pin machined to the face of the bolt, eliminating unnecessary parts. The reinforced stock and protective sight wings were standard. The 30-round magazine became more common. In 1939, Thompsons cost the government $209 apiece. By the spring of 1942, cost reduction design changes had brought this down to $70. In February 1944, the M1A1 reached a low price of $45 each, including accessories and spare parts, although the difference in price between the M1 and M1A1 was only $0.06. By the end of the war, the M1A1 was replaced with the even lower-cost M3 (commonly called the "Grease Gun").

    The good ole Tommy Gun was popular with the boys;

    The police like them.


    The bad guys liked them too. They called them "choppers" and carried them around in violin cases.


    German paras liked them.


    The Tommies even liked the Tommy Gun!


    The Aussies at Tobruk seemed to like them as well.


    Even the Marines liked them, but I've read that US forces in the more equatorial areas of the Pacific the felt that the Thompson was not as effective in dense undergrowth. Seems that the low velocity .45 round didn't cut through the jungle underbrush very well. The BAR was far more suited for "Jungle Cleaning" and several were issued to each squad later in the war. Here the Devil Dogs are engaging the Nips on Okinawa. Not much jungle there though, so the Tommy Guns were well liked again.

  2. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

    A post war Weapons Effectiveness questionnaire of Canadian infantry officers gave high ratings to the Thompson. They loved the stopping power vs the Sten.
  3. No.4CommandoBairn

    No.4CommandoBairn Well-Known Member

    I've always liked that photo of the Tommy with the Tommy Gun. I'm waiting to find a photo of dad in his tin hat - got his beret, without, his cap-comforter - and this photo looks so like him, even down to the stripe. It probably isn't ... but it's near enough for me to know what he'd have looked like in his hat. :)

    Some East Surreys were with No.4 - some of whom were with dad right from the start ... he used to tell me about one in particular who died (along with another of his pals) in a training accident.

    Once you start 'delving', you just can't stop, eh? ;)
  4. gpo son

    gpo son Senior Member

    Grandpa said to Dad (on his embarkation leave), as he handed him a .45 APC "they will give you a .38 it will killl a man, you need a gun that will stop a man, this will do that. I hope you never need to use it; but, if you do, dont hesitate"
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  5. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

  6. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    As mentioned earlier, Chindits loved these guns because of their stopping power and ease of use in tight jungle terrain.

    Livingstone Cheevers copy 2 2 copy.jpg
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  7. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    An old post but for David's original query, TSMGs do appear on the 1941-42 WE issues of Fd Sqn/Coy and Fd Pk Sqn/Coy.

    The general comments did remind me of a couple of negative descriptions from senior figures in units that you might expect to be natural users of the Thompson.

    "TSMG - a showy weapon that promises much more than it can perform. Teaches bad tactics, especially in jungle. Is grossly inaccurate even in expert hands. This inaccuracy is greatly exaggerated in battle. To kill with this weapon it is best to stand within a yard of your enemy. The Sten gun is even less satisfactory. It is legitimate to use these weapons when entering a village held by the enemy, and in similar confined spaces". From 'Report on Operations of 77th Indian Infantry Brigade in Burma, February to June 1943, by Brigadier O.C. Wingate'.

    "Thompson Sub-Machine Gun, Cal .45; Held up well on all operations with very little maintenance. There were some instances of jamming after a large volume of fire had been delivered. This weapon has become extremely unpopular though, because of its poor penetrative power. The .45 Cal bullet will not penetrate the branches of trees, roots, trees and dugouts, to anywhere near the degree of the .30 Cal bullet, and this is vital in jungle warfare. It is suggested in the Squads this weapon be replaced with a .30 Cal automatic weapon". From report of Fourth Marine Raider Battalion, 14 September 1943. From the same document there is a description of the Squad/Platoon format used by the Raiders at this time, which includes " is strongly recommended that the armament of the Squad be changed to 2 M1 (rifles) and 1 BAR per fire group. Squad leader an M1. The Thompson Sub is no weapon for a man on the front line".

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  8. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    As usual, even veterans and experts disagree about the goodness or badness of a weapon.
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  9. Blutto

    Blutto Plane Mad

    Frequently equipment is criticized, not for quality and reliability reasons, but for its suitability for the task. For example I can think of lots of reasons why a 50 cal machine gun is unsuitable for home defence, but none are in relation to its stopping power :).
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  10. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

    Personal style and preference is surely a critical element as well. Charles Upham, VC & Bar, went into battle with a revolver and a sack of grenades. Highly effective for him but unlikely to be the choice of weaponry for the average infantryman.
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  11. Blutto

    Blutto Plane Mad

    Rather like a past acquaintance of mine that operated in some rather dense jungle. They were issued with .223 rifles (Armalite?), presumably due to their portability and a perception of problems with corrosion during very extended patrolling.

    They were dumped after one patrol, as deflection of the light weight round by jungle foliage made it hard to hit anything. The replacement was a Browning pump action shot gun, engagements were generally close quarters. No point in the insurgents hiding behind trees now.
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  12. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member

    Thanks Gary, how many were present in each, does it say?
  13. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    Hello David. Just a sprinkling it seems.

    Field Park Coy or Sqn (Jul41) - 2 machine carbines

    Field Sqn or Coy (Oct42) - 9 machine carbines (HQ) and 8 per Tp or Sec

    Field Sqn (Armd Div) (Jul41) - 8 machine carbines

    As you may well recall from past discussions, beginning 1943 the info on small arms (pistols, rifles, machine carbines) starts to vanish from WEs. There's no indication in the ones I've seen as to which personnel were likely to be equipped with them, and there's no differentiation between Thompsons and Sten guns, both being under the banner machine carbines.

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  14. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    Interestingly Finns were very satisfied with Suomi M/31 submachine gun in forest fighting, i.e. short range violent confrontations even if it also used the same 9 mm x 19 (Parabellum) ammo as Sten. With 750 - 900 rpm and 70-round drum magazine it had much short range firepower and as fairly short weapon it was handy in thickets and also in trench clearing. Its magazine did not rattle but was fairly difficult to fill.
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  15. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    From the great "Some Like it Hot"

    Some Like It Hot (1959) - IMDb

    My mom says that she was laughing so hard in the theater at Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in drag that she went into labor with my little sister :)

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  16. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    A classic picture, one of the two best things Curtis ever did and the best thing Lemmon ever did. I love it when he shakes those marachas. There are some great stories about making that movie. It deserves its own thread.
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  17. Vintage Wargaming

    Vintage Wargaming Well-Known Member

    Presumably the best being the Black Rose of Falworth - “yonda stands da castle of my fodda” - although apparently he never said that. And why not.
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  18. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    Those two together in The Great Race are hard to beat. I'm laughing just thinking about it.
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  19. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

    Loved that movie
  20. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member

    Thanks Gary

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