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Old June 18, 2004, 07:38 PM   #1
FirstFreedom
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Who made the first submachine gun?

I'm a little confused, because I've understood that the Germans are credited with the first (either) submachine gun, or assault rifle (can't remember which), in the late 30's. But if it's a submachine gun, didn't the Thompson beat them to it? Wasn't the Thompson designed in 1927? What's the brief history of firsts in full-auto small arms, both subguns and assault weapons?

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Old June 18, 2004, 08:02 PM   #2
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Actually, the Thompson was first produced commerically in '21, IIRC. It was intended to be a "broom for sweeping trenches" during WWI, but made it inot production a bit late. I am pretty sure it was the first submachine gun.

All this from memory - if someone has documentation, have at it!
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Old June 18, 2004, 08:18 PM   #3
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The first submachine gun was the Model 1918 Bergmab 9mm. It was extensively used in combat by the German sturmtruppen.
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Old June 18, 2004, 08:39 PM   #4
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They first pistol-caliber automatic weapon was the Italian Villar Perosa of 1914. This was the "first" SMG.

This was originally developed for aircraft use, but was adapted for infantry use. This was a double barreled weapon with two vertical magazines.

German SMG predecessors were the Artillery Luger with shoulder stock and "snail" drum magazine, and the Mauser 1896 pistol with shoulder stock, and modified to fire full-auto.

The first true SMG was the German Schmeisser-designed, Bergman-manufactured MP-18 of 1918.

It's a toss-up for first commercial SMG between the Auto Ordnance Thompson Model 1921, and one of the Spanish-made copies of the MP-18.
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Old June 19, 2004, 09:00 AM   #5
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Thompson,himself, coined the term "submachinegun."
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Old June 19, 2004, 09:11 AM   #6
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As opposed to the perhaps more accurate term Maschinenpistole...
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Old June 19, 2004, 09:42 AM   #7
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OK, thanks, so pistol-caliber subguns came on the scene in 1914-1921+.

But what is the history then of true assault rifles (not Clinton "AW"s)? Is that what I'm thinking of from the late 30s? Did Germany not have an intermediate-powered cartridge, select-fire before the kalishnakov and others came along in the 40s?
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Old June 19, 2004, 09:49 AM   #8
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Old June 19, 2004, 09:57 AM   #9
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According to Small Arms of the World, a requirement for a 7.92 cartridge with a 33mm case was solidified in 1934. Haenal & Walther produced a small number of 'machine carbines' around 1942. The rifle that wound up being produced & widely distributed was the Schmeisser MP43/MP44 starting in 1943.
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Old June 19, 2004, 10:24 AM   #10
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The final version (MP-44) was later renamed the StG.-44. The word "Sturmgewehr" (litterally: "assault rifle"), is a word generally credited to Adolf Hitler himself. Interestingly, the original "MP" designation was designed to fool Hitler. He was a chronic medler-what might now be referred to as a "micromanager"-and had previously forbade the developement of any new small arms save maschinenpistolen.
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Old June 19, 2004, 12:06 PM   #11
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As always, in gun advances, you can rarely point to a specific arm and state "This is the FIRST flintlock, revolving firearm, SMG, or assault weapon".

A case for the predecessor to the modern assault weapon COULD be made for the Henry rifle.
It's a short, light, lower power, rapid fire, large magazine capacity weapon.

Another good candidate is the Remington Models 8 and 81 carbine as modified in the 1930's by lawmen by adding a 30 round magazine.
Texas Ranger Frank Hamer used one while hunting for Bonnie and Clyde.
Again, short, light, an intermediate power cartridge, fast firing, large magazine capacity.

Probably the BEST predecessor is the US M1 Carbine, and many experts consider it the "first" assault weapon, by a modern understanding of what an assault weapon is.
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Old June 19, 2004, 01:06 PM   #12
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I sure love my M1 Carbine!

When was the M2 first manufactured in numbers? That might qualify. Although the .30 Carbine is more of a souped-up pistol round than the "intermediate" round required to make it a true assault rifle.
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Old June 21, 2004, 05:45 PM   #13
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True, I guess there is the question of defining "Intermediate power" - but probably the M1 carbine is closer to a pistol round than a intermediate, being close to .357 mag and all. In any event, was the M1 carbine always issued as a select-fire weapon?
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Old June 21, 2004, 05:49 PM   #14
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M-2 is select fire. M-1 is semi only.
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Old June 21, 2004, 08:20 PM   #15
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Quote:
The final version (MP-44) was later renamed the StG.-44. The word "Sturmgewehr" (litterally: "assault rifle"),
The Russians used this as a template when designing the AK. The West didn't catch on until later.
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Old June 24, 2004, 01:33 PM   #16
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A MOVE THREAD and a comment - -

I was remiss in not moving this thread from Rifles to Full Auto previously. I believe it will get more reactions here. Or not. Sorry.


dfariswheel wrote:
Quote:
They first pistol-caliber automatic weapon was the Italian Villar Perosa of 1914. This was the "first" SMG.

This was originally developed for aircraft use, but was adapted for infantry use. This was a double barreled weapon with two vertical magazines.
Actually, it depends on which account you read. The Italian Army probably mounted them on bicycles (!) and motorcycles first, and then on aircraft. Somewhere in the chronology, some enterprising armourer got the idea to split the little double gun, mount a stock on each half, and, Vo-alla, a highly portable pistol caliber machinegun was implemented.

Only time I've ever seen one depicted in movies was in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." Sean Connery managed to shoot down his own biplane with a Villar Perosa.

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Old June 24, 2004, 04:02 PM   #17
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Quote:
Only time I've ever seen one depicted in movies was in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." Sean Connery managed to shoot down his own biplane with a Villar Perosa.
I seem to recall it being a much bigger gun.
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Old June 24, 2004, 04:45 PM   #18
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Say what?

Quote:
I seem to recall it being a much bigger gun.
Do you mean, the one in the movie being much bigger than the V-P?

Or, the real V-P being a much bigger gun than the one in the movie?

Or, uh, . . . .



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Old June 24, 2004, 05:49 PM   #19
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The V-P was a 9mm, right? Magazine fed? As I recall the one on that plane had the barrels too far apart, and looked like it was belt fed. I think I've seen a picture of a V-P, and I don't think it was the one. Someone got the movie?
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Old June 25, 2004, 12:26 PM   #20
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" Small Arms of the World" has the story and photos. Originally theV-P was for vehicles ,twin mount(no stock) with mags mounted above the gun, fired like a machine gun. Later changes included stock etc.It was used on motor cycles , aircraft etc.
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Old June 25, 2004, 04:44 PM   #21
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Oops - damn, should have put this in full auto from the get-go...sorry.
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Old June 28, 2004, 10:45 AM   #22
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Well, darnit, gifted - - -

Now you have me doubting my own recollection. I looked for my VHS tape of The Last Crusade over the weekend, but may have loaned it out. I hate to need to rent a movie that I already own!

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Old June 30, 2004, 01:12 AM   #23
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Well. someone else might have it, or you could just take your time.
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Old October 13, 2004, 01:26 AM   #24
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I seriously doubt the twin mounted tail gun unit on that german biblane in "Indiana Jones and the last crusad" was a V-P.

It makes no sense in any way.

A. According to IMDB, the film is set around 1938. Why would ANY german aircraft EVER have an antiqueted, and VERY obsolete, italian sub-machinegun for defense against enemy aircraft instead of there own array of light machine guns specifically designed for this use??? I believe almost all the Luftwaffe's aircraft used MG-15's and MG-17's for air defense at this point.

B. Why would any 30's era airplane, biplane or monoplane, mount pistol calliber weapons for air defense against fighters wich were at that time armored and mounting up to four or more machineguns and light cannon in an array of callibers from .303inch to 20mm???

C. It was a movie, I bet the biblane used wasnt even german, IMDB says it was the same planes used in The Mummy. And of all the weapons to install on the plane for the movie, where would they get a V-M, and what remotely historical basis would there be for them to use it???
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Old October 13, 2004, 07:50 AM   #25
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It makes no sense in any way.
Neither do pusher-engined flying wings in the Egyptian desert, but that's Hollywood for ya'.
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