Military Review

Thompson Submachine Gun - America's Legend

Tommy-gan, Thompson submachine gun, Thompson submachine gun, "Chicago piano", "trench broom", "devil's death machine" and even "trade engine" are all names for the most "gangster" in the world weapon, which became a symbol of the American gangster warrior and has established itself well on the battlefields of World War II. In this case, the birth of the legend was almost an accident. The creator of such a famous weapon was a retired colonel John Toliver Thompson - an expert in the field of armaments, a military supplier and an experienced merchant. As a military expert, he was once invited to Russia and participated in testing the Mosin rifle. Even then, Thompson understood that the future was for automatic weapons and was going to develop an automatic rifle for further sale to the military department.

To achieve his goal, he acquired a patent for a bolt for automatic weapons (which was issued to inventor John Blish in 1915), assembled a team of like-minded people and began to develop in 1916. During the two-year tests, it was possible to establish that the bolt, the main part of which was the H-shaped bronze retarder, was quickly wearyed by the recoil of a powerful rifle cartridge. The only cartridge with which such a design worked quite reliably was the Colt .45 ACP pistol cartridge. Considering that even then the .45 ACP was a standard army pistol cartridge, Thompson decided to concentrate all his attention on developing weapons for him.
Thompson Submachine Gun - America's Legend
Thompson M1921

The first reliable model was manufactured in 1918 year. The submachine gun was called the "Annihilator" (the destroyer) and was handed over to tests by the military on the last day of the First World War. During the tests, the commission noted the advantages of high rate of fire (up to 1500 rounds per minute) and reliability of the design. As disadvantages were called - a lot of weight (so only the fully equipped 100 magazine weighed more than 4 kg.) And the high price of weapons (225 $, while the price of a car was about 400 $). The high cost was due to the fact that all the details were carried out on precise metal-cutting machines from solid discs, and the barrel of a submachine gun for protection against corrosion was coated with silver.

The first industrial batch of the Thompsons was produced in 1919 year. Due to the lack of in-house production, the first 15 000 copies were produced in Colt factories. In 1921, a modified batch of M1921 was released, which received improved performance: the rate of fire was slowed down (to 800 rounds per minute), concentric edges appeared on the barrel for faster cooling. In order to increase the accuracy of firing at the end of the barrel was installed muzzle compensator. It was at that moment to increase the advertising effect of the weapon called "Tommi-gan." Subsequently, it became a household name for all models of the company Auto-Ordnance Company, created by John Thompson for the production of its submachine guns.

Taking into account the wishes of the military, in 1923, the “military” model M1923 with a flat head instead of an additional handle (to reduce costs) was presented, with a box-type magazine on 20 cartridges (for easy reloading and weight reduction), with the possibility of installing a bayonet, as well as a bipod for emphasis when shooting. This model could also be used with the “old” drum magazines of the Payne system on 50 and 100 cartridges. But the military did not show interest in this type of weapon. For wider distribution, this model was sent to tests in Europe, but even there it was not possible to find buyers.
English soldier armed with Thompson M1928

At this point, Thompson’s company was on the verge of bankruptcy. Trying to find a way out of the current situation, the inventor tried to push his light machine guns into the police, heading the anti-bandit gun campaign started. Initially, the police showed no interest in this weapon. And as it turned out later, in vain!

The adoption of a “dry law” in the United States led to unprecedented smuggling of liquor. Alcohol was supplied to the country mainly from Canada, where there were no bans on the manufacture and sale. The illegal trade in alcoholic beverages has become fabulously profitable underground business. By the time the market was somewhat saturated, it was Tommi-Gan who became the “engine of commerce”, one of the “most reliable partners”, and also the means for eliminating competitors and the most curious policemen. In the end, in order to adequately confront a well-armed organized criminal group, the Thompson submachine gun was adopted by the police. They also armed with FBI agents, the postal service and the US Coast Guard, and the FBI was armed with a submachine gun until the 1976 year, after which it was declared obsolete and removed from service.

In technical terms, Thompson submachine guns are a weapon made according to a scheme with slowing down the recoil of the free shutter (the so-called semi-free shutter). The slowdown was realized by friction of the H-shaped gate liner, which interacted with the inclined bevel in the receiver. Drummer is movable. The cocking handle is located on the top cover of the receiver. Manual fuse and translator fire modes were made in the form of separate levers located on the left side of the receiver. The sights consisted of a front sight and a combined rear sight - a flip-up adjustable diopter sight and a fixed sight with a V-shaped slot (sighting range of 100-150 meters). Thompson submachine guns could be used with magazines of various sizes - box-shaped double-row magazines for 20 and 30 cartridges or drum cartridges for 50 or 100 cartridges. At the same time, the mass of the 100-cartridge shop was almost 4 kg., Which, together with the high cost and complexity, practically excluded its military use. Drum shops were inserted and pushed into the receiver from the side, which made it possible to ensure more reliable fixation in the weapon, while box magazines were inserted into the receiver traditionally from bottom to top.
Thompson M1 disassembly

All Thompson submachine guns were distinguished by good reliability and high quality workmanship. At the same time, the large steepness of the flight of a bullet, together with the high mass and substantial cost of manufacture, limited the military use of these weapons.

Major modifications of Thompson submachine guns

M1921 is the first production model. It has a vertical front fire control grip, partially ribbed barrel and a high rate of fire.

M1923 is a commercially unsuccessful version of the creation of a military submachine gun with an attempt to increase the effective firing range by using a new, more powerful .45 cartridge Remington-Thompson.

M1927 is a semi-automatic version of the M1921. The barrel was equipped with a muzzle brake-compensator.

M1928 - also known as the “Navy model” (naval model). The submachine gun had a 2 fire regime, a ribbed barrel equipped with a muzzle compensator, a low rate of fire (up to 700 rounds per minute). Produced with a horizontal wooden forearm, and with a vertical front handle. In the US Army was in service under the symbol M1928A1, submachine guns from the time of military release could not have a barrel fin, and also equipped with a completely simplified design.

M1 - A simplified version of the M1928 model, was developed to reduce the cost of production in a war. Model released in 1943 year. It features an automatic with a free gate, the presence of a loading handle on the right side of the receiver, a wooden forearm, a barrel without a compensator and fins and can only be used with box-type stores. An even more simplified version of the submachine gun under the symbol М1А1 had an unregulated diopter sight instead of a throw-over.
American soldier firing from Thompson, Hawaii training base 1944 year

In the United States, as in many European countries, for a long time they did not see powerful military weapons in machine pistols. Only in 1928, the command of the Marine Corps, which took part in the intervention in Nicaragua, acquired several thousand Thompsons M1928 to reinforce their units. The limited use of new items in the armed forces did not reveal the true capabilities of these weapons. Only with the beginning of the Second World War did the essential changes occur in the armament system of the American army. The rapid development and growth of armored troops and motorized infantry led to the need to equip their crews with compact automatic weapons, for this role the Thompson submachine gun was quite suitable. It was then that the Thompson M1928А1, which differs from the 1928 model of the year, was adopted by the US Army, only by the presence of a wooden forearm instead of an additional pistol grip. For the organization of their mass production, the capacities of Auto-Ordnance Corp and the avage Arms Sogr enterprises, which were connected by Thompson under the subcontract, were used.

Despite its heavy weight and cumbersome Thompson submachine guns are widespread on all fronts of World War II. Thanks to his high service and operational properties, he gained popularity among the rangers, paratroopers and military intelligence. The US industry as a result of significant costs and efforts was able to establish mass production of these weapons. In the period from 1940 to 1944, the 1 387 134 Submachine Gun of all models was manufactured 1928 1 562 - 511 1, 285 - 480 1, 1 539.
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  1. xetai9977
    xetai9977 5 October 2013 07: 54
    The main weapon of gangsters in American films about the years of the Great Depression. A very good weapon.
  2. MilaPhone
    MilaPhone 5 October 2013 08: 39
    Somewhere on the Kola Peninsula. Soviet sailors demonstrate their readiness for battle, all armed with the famous "gangster" Thompson submachine gun, supplied to the USSR under the Lend-Lease program. None of the sailors use a horizontal wooden fore-end.
    1. Marek Rozny
      Marek Rozny 7 October 2013 19: 07
      Not only the sailors had Thompson's command post, but also some crews of the Lendliz tanks. The Americans completed the tanks transferred to the Soviet Union with these small arms.
  3. Fedya
    Fedya 5 October 2013 09: 28
    For its time, a normal fart, but moody! Steep advertising received after being shot in the garage, it seems in Chicago.
  4. The comment was deleted.
  5. Ulysses
    Ulysses 5 October 2013 11: 02
    Thompson Submachine Gun (Thompson M1928A1)
  6. georg737577
    georg737577 5 October 2013 11: 19
    It’s worth holding these weapons at least once in your hands to evaluate the quality of the workmanship of the product. I had to hold the 1919 model in my hands, I realized that it is the standard of a high-quality product. The lack of effective managers and the desire to make a really durable and high-quality weapon made me create something delightful and a hundred years later ... Monument to the industrial power of the United States of the early twentieth century. Class!
  7. Echo
    Echo 5 October 2013 12: 35
    Guys, you will laugh, but I even shot with this Tommy-gun. In my opinion, this is the worst submachine gun of its generation, and the Thompsons supplied under Lend-Lease in the USSR were armed "in the order of the order" - whatever they gave, fight with that. I understand everything, Tommy-gun - a weapon in its class is very early and by the Second World War there were already much more advanced systems of submachine guns, but all the same: the PPSh-41 submachine gun Tommy-gun loses in all respects even by itself ... This is not counting the fact that from 25 meters, 45 Auto cartridges of 5 cm cannot penetrate a pine board.
    Quote: georg737577
    It’s worth holding these weapons at least once in your hands to evaluate the quality of the workmanship of the product. I had to hold the 1919 model in my hands, I realized that it is the standard of a high-quality product. The lack of effective managers and the desire to make a really durable and high-quality weapon made me create something delightful and a hundred years later ... Monument to the industrial power of the United States of the early twentieth century. Class!

    Yes, that's exactly what he struck me unpleasantly. Everywhere, milling, drilling, grinding, which is expensive, time-consuming, and for such a class of weapons is completely pointless ... and all this with unstoppable weight and very mediocre fire capabilities. It still remains a mystery to me why the US Army by 1941 still had not got rid of this PP. Looks like someone cool lobbied for these gangster devices ...
    1. Avenger711
      Avenger711 5 October 2013 13: 41
      Because the army itself was second-rate. And then they had good "Garands", in fact, it is clear that the release of "Thompson" during WWII cannot be compared with the PPSh.
    2. Kars
      Kars 5 October 2013 16: 41
      Quote: Echo
      25 meters ammunition 45 Auto 5 cm can not penetrate a pine board.

      45 gauge? Board?

      I apologize for Ukrainian
      1. REZMovec
        REZMovec 5 October 2013 21: 03
        Kars! Everything is very messy in this video. Car door made of tin, On the old car doors were WOODEN with metal plating. About a shovel it was written - 100 m, in the plot - 25 ... I very much agree about the stopping action of the cartridge, but not more than 40-50 meters. A bullet does not take a fortieth board from 25 meters. I am writing with confidence, because I had the opportunity to use both Tommy Gun and Colt M1911.
        1. Kars
          Kars 5 October 2013 21: 21
          Quote: REZMovec
          I am writing with confidence, because I had the opportunity to use both Tommy Gun and Colt M1911.

          the board - pine -20 mm is taken by a firing handle without rifling under a 5.6 mm cartridge
          Quote: REZMovec
          About a spade it was written - 100 m, in the plot - 25 ...

          Quote: zub46
          According to experienced old men, this machine didn’t break a blade of a shovel with 25 steps,

          the words are said by experienced old people, and by the way there is no meter step.
          Quote: REZMovec
          The bullet does not take the board for forty years from 25 meters

          write about it Mythbusters know such ones? I don’t know where you used to operate imported weapons - maybe you had bad rounds of ammunition? and I wrote that about 40 mm I don’t even believe oak from 45 caliber PP.
          Quote: REZMovec
          On old cars, the doors were WOODEN with metal trim.

          I'm not special on old cars - can you throw a link to an old Ford during the Prohibition?
    3. sergey1972
      sergey1972 5 October 2013 17: 51
      echo, just what I wanted to write here for those people who admire this machine gun that they read the memories of more than one veteran who happened to fight with these machine guns. And they all spoke as one about the weak slaughter of this product in the memories that our fighters put on a few sweatshirts for an argument and shot from a certain short distance (I don’t remember the distance). At first I didn’t believe these stories, but then I read the same stories to others. You gentlemen, better read about our PPS machine, which until now Since then found in the arsenal of some African countries. The memories of veterans can be found on the website:
      1. Kars
        Kars 5 October 2013 17: 55
        Quote: sergey1972
        our fighters for a dispute wore several sweatshirts and

        It’s visible that you didn’t bother to watch the video?
    4. tooth46
      tooth46 5 October 2013 18: 15
      I didn't hold it in my hands, but I was interested. According to experienced old men, from 25 steps this machine did not pierce the blade of the shovel, which served as a standard when checking the sharpness of the battle. Unlike PPSh. From weapons "Tommiganom" kicked off to the last. One of the popular names in the Red Army is "dog".
    5. Ols76
      Ols76 6 October 2013 05: 43
      I would like to know where did you get that from 25 meters, 45 Auto 5 cm cartridges cannot penetrate a pine board? Maybe even how it can. It really was for its time a durable and high-class weapon.
      1. uwzek
        uwzek 6 October 2013 22: 25
        You doubt in vain. The .45АКП cartridge has a very weak breakdown effect (stopping - strong). And for a submachine gun this cartridge is even more unsuccessful: the gunpowder suspension is designed for a short pistol barrel and does not increase bullet energy when using a longer machine gun barrel (this explains the attempt of the authors of the model to use a special cartridge, but it was not possible to introduce a new ammunition)
        1. kavad
          kavad 7 October 2013 19: 59

          From 55 minutes, 45 seconds. "A bullet does not take a forty board from 25 meters?" Oh well!
          With the naked eye it is clear that about ten cm, Colt struck, and at Thompson the speed of the bullet is more than 70 m / s.
    6. Hon
      Hon 7 October 2013 08: 35
      The fact is that a simplified (cheaper) model, the so-called "Tommy Gun", was supplied for the army. This PP was much worse than his older brother, who was the favorite of gangsters.
  8. kosopooz77
    kosopooz77 5 October 2013 13: 06
    Echo, in support of your words, I will cite an excerpt from a respected weapons magazine. Literally I don’t remember anymore, of course, but the meaning is this: the story of one veteran, who after being wounded was declared unfit for service in combat units and he ended the war in a company guarding some airfield The company was armed with three-rulers, SVT, Nagan and TT. The soldiers were very happy when they were supplied with Land-Lease "Thompsons", and they immediately decided to try an unprecedented machine. They stuck a bayonet shovel at the parapet as a target and measured a hundred paces. - the shovel stands. The soldiers who sniffed the gunpowder at the front could not believe that not one bullet did not hit an improvised target. We came to see, and there was no limit to surprise! One bullet got stuck in the handle, and two lay flattened on the ground, leaving bayonet neat dents
    1. Witold
      Witold 5 October 2013 21: 08
      I don’t understand why it is necessary to assert the veteran’s bike with such stubbornness without watching the Thomson movie, where this myth is completely refuted.
  9. castle
    castle 5 October 2013 14: 17
    Good health to all. Thompson's submachine gun was expensive compared to the PPSh, but was very reliable. During the Second World War, due to its high operational and operational characteristics, it became popular among rangers, paratroopers and military intelligence of the Western Allies, and then it was used with pleasure in a number of countries, including Yugoslavia. The .45 ACP cartridge was not created for penetration, but in order to fill up or throw away everything that gets into (maybe without fatal outcomes, but anyway, it happened, how to get a sledgehammer in the whole range, even if you were in the bronics). After getting .45 ACP into a person, he does not want to get up, think and act for a long time, and this is the main thing in battle. As for the accuracy of shooting from Thompson, if you don’t shoot with a burst of hips, but aiming at 2 shots from your shoulder, then you can do what you need for 90 meters. And offhand - in line, 25 meters you clear the space.
    1. Mikhail3
      Mikhail3 5 October 2013 19: 44
      Only if the H-shaped moderator is changed after each turn. Sliding a fast-wearing part along a descending ledge ... are you joking about reliability? With a hundred steps, the shovel after two hits did not fall. Powerful ammunition, where there ...
      An ideal device for gang warfare. They become a bandit not to die, but to become a cool person, to grab money ... How many people wouldn’t just go to the arrow (what is it called by the mafia?) If they knew that the opponents would have PCA? And this plucker gives a considerable chance. An important role was played in the formation of the mafia in the SGA, no doubt ...
  10. Ilya Mikhalych
    Ilya Mikhalych 5 October 2013 15: 23
    Something in its reliability is hardly believed, the slowdown of the shutter by friction after all. But for his time he is not so bad, one kind of what is worth.
  11. intsurfer
    intsurfer 5 October 2013 19: 44
    on cable they showed a comparison of Thompson with a modern automatic machine - Thompson won both in reliability and accuracy. :)
  12. Captain45
    Captain45 5 October 2013 21: 03
    I didn’t put anything because this article was already on the site last year. I copied it for myself. Question to the moderators - why repeat? Nothing to publish? You were offered many interesting articles. Do not repeat.
    1. lelikas
      lelikas 6 October 2013 14: 02
      Quote: Captain45
      I didn’t put anything because this article was already on the site last year.

      Article from 11 years old;)
  13. Volodya Sibiryak
    Volodya Sibiryak 6 October 2013 15: 54
    Well, he definitely does not hold charisma.
    1. svp67
      svp67 6 October 2013 21: 19
      Quote: Volodya Sibiryak
      Well, he definitely does not hold charisma.

      Even the Germans were "interested" in him
  14. svp67
    svp67 6 October 2013 23: 28
    "Yes, you are not here ..." Harsh everyday life of "Thompson" on the "Russian" front in winter
  15. Sevastopol
    Sevastopol 16 October 2013 17: 17
    because of the caliber, the effective range of this legend was no more than 50 m, like a pistol. whereas PPSh - 150-200. those. it could only be used in street battles, and not everywhere. one more minus is the price, one more - expensive cartridges.
    those. some disadvantages, and of the pluses, only the stopping effect of the bullet. very doubtful for combat PP. but amers didn’t have an analogue to our teaching staff and teaching staff, right?
    it’s too heavy for the police, hidden wearing is impossible. there is a colt for gangsters. and this is likely only for very large gang warfare. It seems that this is simply an incomprehensible love of amers for the excessive elephant-broom .45.