Skip to comments.Tommy Gun – Automatic Stardom
Posted on 09/08/2020 7:30:16 AM PDT by w1n1
Few firearms have earned the mystique that the Thompson submachine gun has enjoyed for nearly a century. The long association that the "Tommy Gun" has had with gangsters, G-men and G.I.s has made it a movie star, a prized collectible, and an American icon.
The gun's genesis dates back to World War I when retired General John T. Thompson sought to develop a lightweight, fast-firing rifle that U.S. troops could use as a "trench broom" to break the stalemate of trench warfare.
Thompson believed recoil or gas operated weapons were too heavy and complicated for this role and sought a new method of operation. He formed the Auto-Ordnance Company (AOC), found financial backing, and hired engineers to help develop this weapon.
Thompson seized upon the concept of the Blish Lock, developed by John Bell Blish (a career U.S. naval officer and inventor), as the key element for the design.
The principle is that dissimilar materials adhere to each other on an inclined plane with greater force than similar materials. When work revealed that the .30-06 cartridge was too powerful for this system, the weapon was designed around the standard .45 ACP pistol round instead. In the final design, an H-shaped bronze wedge would adhere to the steel bolt to keep the breech closed until pressure dropped to a safe level.
COLT'S MANUFACTURING COMPANY produced the Model 1921 for AOC under contract. The guns were finely machined, with rich bluing, finished walnut stocks and fully adjustable Lyman rear sights. The bolt handle was on the top of the receiver and the separate safety and selector, as well as the magazine release, were on the left side. A Model 1921 weighed almost 11 pounds unloaded and almost 15 pounds with a loaded 50 round drum magazine.
The 10 ½-inch barrel included machined cooling fins. In 1926, designers added a Cutts compensator as an option, and guns so equipped were called the Model 1921AC. The gun fired 230-grain .45 ACP cartridges at a cyclic rate of 800 to 900 RPM. The guns cost $225 each, with a 20-round stick mag. Optional 50-round "L" mags were available for $20 each. To give an idea of the relative expense at that time, a new Model T automobile could be purchased for about $400.
Needless to say, sales were slow. The U.S. Postal Service purchased some for the U.S. Marines to use to guard mail cars on trains. The Marines liked the gun and bought a few hundred more, and they used them to great effect in the South American Banana Wars of the 1920s.
The U.S. Army tested the gun, and although they found it suitable, they failed to adopt it. About 650 were sold to the Irish Republic, although U.S. Customs confiscated most of these. An estimated 150 or so did make it to the Irish Republican Army to be used in the Irish Revolution and Irish Civil War.
Auto-Ordnance sold a few guns to police agencies and to large companies worried about labor unrest. In the summer of 1921, several Model 1921s were used in West Virginia's "Battle of Blair Mountain," a labor dispute that escalated into an armed conflict between coal miners, the company (who used the Thompson guns), and the government.
DESPITE ITS MILITARY INTENT, the Tommy Gun really entered the public consciousness as a crime gun. As Prohibition-era bootleggers and gangsters sought to expand their business, protect their turf and rub out the competition, the Thompson was prized for its firepower and large ammo capacity.
Many shooters removed the buttstock to make the gun easier to conceal, although at a loss of accuracy. The negative perception of the Tommy Gun only worsened with the activity of Depression era criminals such as John Dillinger, "Machine Gun" Kelly and "Pretty Boy" Floyd. High profile killings such as the February 1929 St. Valentine's Day Massacre, in which seven men were machine-gunned in a Chicago garage, also damaged (or added to) the guns reputation. However, as criminals turned to the Thompson, so did the police. Many local agencies acquired Thompsons in case any state hopping "motor bandits" showed in their area. Read the rest of tommy gun.
The chopper or Chicago typewriter.
off topic ..
Interesting that the postal service used marines to protect the mail. I dont remember hearing about this.
“The U.S. Postal Service purchased some for the U.S. Marines to use to guard mail cars on trains”
Interesting . . .
And now, with nearly zero security, Demon-Rats will stuff ballots through the U.S. mail to steal an election.
My oh my, how times have changed.
4 lb of lead in 3 seconds.
Had a tendency to “walk.” Always wondered what a Thompson chambered in 9MM would be like.
Just aim low initially and make that muzzle rise work for you. ;)
Wish I could afford one...
The Michigan AG basically admitted that she plans to steal the election.
Regarding the Marines on mail guard duty:
They didnt F-around!
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.