WWII: How common were sub-machine guns?


PDA






natedog
September 10, 2004, 12:16 AM
How common were submachine guns in WWII? Were bolt-action battle rifles used more often, or were SMGs? In the US Army, who was issued a Thompson, and who was issued a Garand or Carbine? What about the Nazis? The Red Army? The British?

Thanks!

If you enjoyed reading about "WWII: How common were sub-machine guns?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
dfariswheel
September 10, 2004, 12:45 AM
The most issued weapon in the war was still the bolt action rifle.
In the American military, it was the M1 rifle.

American Army.
We operated on a TO&E or Table of Organization & Equipment.
This was an official plan of who was to get what. Riflemen got rifles, machine gunners got pistols, SMG's, or Carbines, Officers and Sgts got pistols and Carbines, etc.

After the TO&E was met, it was sort of "first come, first served". Of course, officers usually got what they wanted.
Almost everybody wanted a SMG, and SMG's were kind of "community property". If a patrol was going out, it was expected that SMGs would be loaned to patrol members.
If you were a casualty, your SMG stayed with the unit.

British Army.
Passed out STEN guns and Thompson's heavily to Commandos and lots of other troops early in the war, and lots of STENs throughout out due to the speed and low cost to make them compared to a rifle.
Later in the war, the big users of SMGs were the Commandos and paratroopers.
I'm not sure, but I got the feeling that he Brits didn't use SMGs as heavily as we did, later in the war.

Germans.
Hitler liked the SMG concept, and the Germans used them heavily, especially on the Eastern Front. Usually officers and Sergent's got first pick, then the regular troops. The SS got first pick also, and were probably the biggest users.

Russians.
Were the heaviest users of SMGs in history. Entire battalions were armed with SMGs and nothing else.
The SMG was cheap, fast, and easier to make than a rifle. It required little training, and the Russians passed them out in huge numbers.

In all army's, SMG's usually wound up in the hands of officers and Sergent's who had the "pull" to get one if they wanted it, and elite troops like paratroopers, Rangers, and Commandos.
Ordinary troops usually got a rifle, until they too got enough pull to acquire one.

In the Red Army they were passed out like hotcakes to anybody and everybody.

RON in PA
September 10, 2004, 01:03 AM
In the US army there were approx. 4 million M1 rifles, approx 2-3 million bolt actions (used primarily for training and lend lease to allies, but used by US forces early in war esp. Marines), 6 million M1 carbines and maybe 2 million submachine guns. Most pictures that I've seen of US troops in Europe show the M1 rifle as the predominant infantry weapon.

The Soviets made approx.12-14 million 91/30 and other Mosin bolt actions plus 2 million Tokarev semiautos and about 6 million submachine guns. Pictures from the last 2 years of the war would lead one to believe that all the front line Soviet troops were using submachine guns.

In the German army bolt action rifles predominated.

4v50 Gary
September 10, 2004, 01:06 AM
Would have to agree that the Soviets were #1 when it came to issuing SMGs. They use to have SMG Battalions on their TOE. Good for tank assault.

Graystar
September 10, 2004, 06:51 AM
Isn't a sub machinegun an automatic weapon that fires a pistol cartridge? Why would anyone use a sub machinegun in war? (besides special ops)

Feanaro
September 10, 2004, 06:59 AM
Isn't a sub machinegun an automatic weapon that fires a pistol cartridge? Why would anyone use a sub machinegun in war? (besides special ops)

A Sten, for example, could be cranked out quicker, cheaper, and easier to manufacture than any rifle of the era. Takes less train than a rifle, especially if you employ the "unwashed masses" AKA conscripts.

MP5
September 10, 2004, 07:03 AM
Why would anyone use a sub machinegun in war?

Cheap and easy to produce, relatively speaking, and better suited to close-quarters urban combat, like the bloodbath of Stalingrad. Imagine trying to swing a full-sized rifle around and take aim amidst tight stairwells, dinky apartment rooms, rubble, etc. A rifle barrel could be easily grabbed or knocked aside by the enemy under those conditions, too. I imagine SMG's would also be better suited to dense forest terrain, like Hürtgen Forest, where LOS is limited and fighting occurs at closer distances.

Speaking of SMG's, the Soviet PPSh was apparently highly prized loot to the Germans on the Eastern Front. If you want to learn more about the typical infantry weapon distribution in the Red Army during the war (including a number of TO&E charts), see Zaloga and Ness's Red Army Handbook 1939-1945.

BigG
September 10, 2004, 08:00 AM
The most issued weapon in the war was still the bolt action rifle Yeah, but who won the war?

Mulliga
September 10, 2004, 08:23 AM
IIRC from my old Combat Mission wargame, standard '44 pattern for an infantry team was 10 M1s, a Thompson, and a BAR.

moa
September 10, 2004, 01:36 PM
Didn't Germans field a semi-auto carbine? K43?

Also, I don't think the Japanese, Chinese, Italians, etc., had or carried many SMGs.

Texian Pistolero
September 10, 2004, 02:00 PM
Can't vouch for it, but I read somewhere that many Russian SMGs (Shpagin ?) were made by taking an old WW1 bolt rifle, cutting the barrel in half, and using both halves to make two SMGs.

The drum mags were custom fitted to each gun, and not sure to mate with other guns.

What you wanted depended on range, a lot of Russia is flat. But in general, soldiers seemed to prefer automatic weapons to bolts.

Hkmp5sd
September 10, 2004, 06:18 PM
Didn't Germans field a semi-auto carbine? K43?
Yep. The Walther G43/K43 was primarily used as a sniper rifle. Following the war Czechoslovakia adopted it for use by their military snipers.

Feanaro
September 10, 2004, 06:26 PM
Didn't Germans field a semi-auto carbine? K43?

The G43 was a semi-auto rifle based on the SVT-40, in 8mm Mauser. It had some issues ast first and was never produced in massive numbers. It was also about the same length as the Kar98K.

Also, I don't think the Japanese, Chinese, Italians, etc., had or carried many SMGs.

I can't tell you how many were issued but the Italian army adopted one of(if not) the first SMGs. The Model 18 Beretta (http://www.berettaweb.com/Militari/Beretta-1918_ovp.gif) in 9mm Glisenti, which is basically a retarded 9x19. This was upgraded to the Model 38, in 9x19. The Japanese had the Bergmann SMG(An MP18 modified to accept a box magazine and the 7.63mm cartridge) and then the Type 100. Shown here (http://www.rt66.com/~korteng/SmallArms/images/japsubs.jpg) is the Type 100(Top. Folding stock model), Type 100(middle) and Bergmann(bottom). Not much to say on the Chinese, don't know much about their weapons.

jobu07
September 10, 2004, 06:26 PM
"Also, I don't think the Japanese, Chinese, Italians, etc., had or carried many SMGs."

I could have sworn the italians had some sort of berretta sub gun or something of the time that was pretty nice, but pricey to build. Maybe it was a glisenti or something. I cna't seem to remember the name of it. Mab? Argh, I dunno. I'll have to crack open the history books.

BryanP
September 10, 2004, 07:01 PM
You are probably thinking of the Beretta Model 1938A. Double triggers (one for semi-automatic, one for fully-automatic fire) and very accurate. You can read more about it here -

http://www.comandosupremo.com/1938a.html

White Horseradish
September 10, 2004, 07:29 PM
Can't vouch for it, but I read somewhere that many Russian SMGs (Shpagin ?) were made by taking an old WW1 bolt rifle, cutting the barrel in half, and using both halves to make two SMGs.

This was done in Leningrad during the siege due to the difficulty in getting anything into the city.

jefnvk
September 10, 2004, 08:16 PM
Isn't a sub machinegun an automatic weapon that fires a pistol cartridge? Why would anyone use a sub machinegun in war? (besides special ops)

IIRC, the price to make a Sten was about $6. And if it ever got to urban fighting (which I would believe hapened often), I think the advantages of 30 fast shooting bullets over 5 slow firing ones is obvious. But I agree that on a field, a SMG would be at a disadvantage.

Hkmp5sd
September 10, 2004, 09:00 PM
For those interested in German weapons, a pretty good book on the subject is Guns of the Third Reich by John Walter. It begins in 1919 and follows the progression of small arms development and use by the German military, including the assimilation of small arms production from conquered coutnies and the use of captured weapons.

Jim K
September 10, 2004, 09:30 PM
In the U.S. Army, the SMG (Thompson or M3) was issued to tank crews as their personal weapon. (The "tanker Garand" is a post-war civilian clunker which was never issued to anyone.)

Carbines were issued primarily to company grade officers, but some admin personnel got them also. Pistols went to field grade officers and to personnel who could not carry their primary weapon and a long gun as well. Troops like photographers got them also.

The submachinegun is short range, compared to a rifle, but most fighting was done at well under 100 yards, and much of it at under 25 yards, so a lot of low power bullets often proved more useful than a few rifle bullets.

Jim

Stickjockey
September 11, 2004, 03:52 AM
Didn't the Chinese make a copy of the 192? Thompson?

daniel (australia)
September 12, 2004, 09:00 PM
The Australian Army used the locally-developed Austen and Owen designs quite widely. They were found to be particularly effective in jungle warfare, such as in the New Guinea campaign. The Owen in particular was well liked by the troops, and issued at the rate of about 2 per 10 man section.

http://www.surplusrifle.com/shooting/owengun/index.asp

Vern Humphrey
September 12, 2004, 09:11 PM
Quote:
------------------------------------
And if it ever got to urban fighting (which I would believe hapened often), I think the advantages of 30 fast shooting bullets over 5 slow firing ones is obvious.
------------------------------------

The problem is, people tend to get behind things when the shooting starts. A bullet that will penetrate a wall is a great asset in fighting in built-up areas. In fact, a standard tactic is to use machineguns with armor-piercing ammo.

If you enjoyed reading about "WWII: How common were sub-machine guns?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!