yeovil at waR

thompson submachine gun

Weapons of the Home Guard


The .45" calibre Thompson submachine gun was designed by Brigadier-General John T Thompson of the US Army Ordnance Department. A forerunner of the familiar 'Tommy' gun, his first weapon to be produced in 1917 he called the 'Trench Broom' and this was the first American submachine gun. The war ended before it was accepted but Thompson had 15,000 guns made by Colt which became the Model 1921. Although it achieved notoriety during the gangster era of the 1920's it was not accepted by the military. In 1938, after some minor modifications, it became the .45 M1928A1, followed by the M1 and the M1A1. After war broke out in 1939 large quantities were shipped to Britain and France. Over 1.3 million Thompson submachine guns of all models were produced and used by American, British, Canadian and Commonwealth troops as well as limited numbers distributed to the Home Guard.

The Thompson SMG was a blowback operated, air cooled, magazine fed weapon designed to be fired from the shoulder. It could take 20 and 30 round box magazines as well as 50 and 100 round drum magazines and had selective fire. It weighed around 10.5 lb (4.8 kg) empty - the filled 100 round magazine added a further 8.5 lb (3.9 kg). It was 33.75" (852mm) long with a 10.5" (267mm) barrel. Cyclic rate of fire was 700 rounds per minute with a muzzle velocity of 920 ft/sec (282 m/sec). The effective range was 220 yards (200m) with a maximum range of 1700 yards (1570m).


Adapted from my e-book "A Photographic Guide to the Taunton Stop Line"