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Odd ball Thompson SMG

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by dfariswheel, Jan 17, 2006.

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  1. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Member

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    I was watching an old early 30's crime movie the other night.
    It was "The Big House" with Wallace Beery.

    During the big prison break, Beery and the others break into the armory and arm themselves with rifles, pistols, and several Thompson submachine guns.

    The gun Beery was using had an odd attachment I've never seen on a Thompson before.

    It was a telescoping tube device attached to the mid-point of the barrel, with the other end attached to the actuator knob.

    Clearly this blocked the sights of the gun.

    When he fired it, the actuator moved the telescoping tube in and out of the front half.

    Anyone have any idea what this was?

    The only thing I can think of, was since this was the only Thompson I saw actually being fired, possibly it was some sort of blank firing device.

    Possibly, there was a port into the barrel that used gas pressure to operate the bolt by moving the actuator back.
     
  2. Thefabulousfink

    Thefabulousfink Member

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    I beleive what you saw was a very old muzzle break. Did It look like a box attached to the end of the barrel?

    I'll try and find a picture.
     
  3. Thefabulousfink

    Thefabulousfink Member

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    no luck with the pics, I believe that they were an after market muzzle break that could be clipped to the end of the barrel and removed easily. I also believe that they are very rare, but have been shown in at least one pic from the 1920s or '30s (I saw it on 'Tales of the Gun').
     
  4. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Member

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    No, this wasn't the box-like muzzle brake. That, I've seen.

    This was a long telescoping tube attached to the MIDDLE of the barrel and going back to the actuator knob on the receiver.

    At first, I thought it was some type of telescopic sight, until Beery fired it.
     
  5. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    FWIW, I took a look at some books on the Thompson, with pictures of TSMG's of that era and can't find anything that looks like what you described. Until late WWII, the TSMG already had a muzzle break as standard equipment, so I don't know why they would need another when shooting blanks. I would think a blank adapter would be inside the barrel or at the muzzle. The only thing I can think of that would look like that would be an attachment to use the vertical foregrip to cock the gun like a pump shotgun. I have never heard of such a thing, but it wouldn't be impossible.

    If I get a chance to see the movie, I'll take a look.

    Jim
     
  6. chestnut ridge

    chestnut ridge Member

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    There is a satire of The Big House; by Laurel and Hardy.
    It is called Pardon Us. There are several scenes involving apparently
    full auto thompsons. One scene shows a thompson with the strange
    tube mounted much like a scout rifle scope. I thought it was some type
    of optic sight. This movie is available now on dvd.
     
  7. TexasRifleman

    TexasRifleman Moderator Emeritus

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    That does seem reasonable, that little knob is hard to grab sometimes. With gloves on it's even worse.
     
  8. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Member

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    No this attachment would make it HARDER to cock the gun.
    It's NOT attached to the gun anywhere except the middle of the barrel and the actuator knob.

    Imagine a thin tube with the front end attached to the middle of the barrel.
    There is smaller diameter tube telescoping into the bigger tube.
    This smaller tube attach's to the actuator knob.

    When the gun fires, the actuator moves back and forth with the bolt, and the thin tube telescopes into the larger tube.

    Again, the only possible purpose I can see would be as some sort of blank firing assist device.

    This is the only time I've ever seen something like this, and possibly the Thompson was still new enough in 1930 that a better blank firing arrangement hadn't been developed.

    One thing's certain: The gun was a 1921 model Thompson, and whatever the attachment was didn't slow it down any.
    Every time Beery fired, cases POURED out the ejection port.
     
  9. lbmii

    lbmii Member

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    Sounds like some sort of device to slow the cycle rate down.
     
  10. loose cannon

    loose cannon Member

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    my wife a longtime tommygun fan had some big problems with the m1927 round knob so im putting together a special tommygun useing the kahr/auto ord m1 semiauto a extended boltknob and a m1927 verticle foregrip.

    with 20 rd mags its to be her plinker/ranch defense carbine.
     
  11. mrmeval

    mrmeval Member

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    A hint

    http://www.machinegunbooks.com/cgibin/ikonboard/printpage.cgi?forum=1&topic=742

     
  12. thrifty7

    thrifty7 Member

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    If I recall correctly, The Thompson is blowback operated, which would not work well with blanks, if at all. The tube sounds like a crude conversion to gas operation, which can be tuned to operate quite well with blanks. I have never seen one, but that is what it sounds like to me.
     
  13. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    The blank firing attachment seen in some films is a square box muzzle
    attachment very unlike the Cutts Compensator introduced about 1925;
    the square blank attachment is very noticeable, so I would not be
    surprised that some prop man would come up with a gas tube assist
    to the actuator believing it would be less conspicuous.

    Does anyone have The Big House on DVD?
     
  14. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    The Model 1921 and Model 1928A1 Thompsons are not actually direct blowback, as they have the Blish "lock". The M1 and M1A1 Thompsons are straight blowback. In point of fact, straight blowback guns are the easiest to adapt to blank firing. A simple muzzle constriction (usually screwed into the barrel and invisible from the outside) works very well. In the Thompson, a constrictor could be inserted into the Cutts Compensator without even altering the gun.

    Jim
     
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