British Trials with Thompson SMG during 1921
The American made Thompson gun was demonstrated at Enfield on 30th June 1921 under the personal direction of its inventor Brigadier-General John Thompson and was recorded in British SAC Minute 407 dated 7th September 1921 which stated; “The gun is an entirely new type. Its special features lie in the general arrangement and in the method of locking the breech. “ The Committee noted the report but took no further action.
The Thompson gun was later demonstrated at the National Rifle Association meeting at Bisley on 11th July 1921. It was described by Major Hardcastle – probably the greatest living authority on small arms – in his report of the Bisley meeting of 1921 “On 11th July 1921 there was a public demonstration of the Thompson sub-machine gun. The firm asked for a marksman to fir the pistol prone with automatic firing of the 100 round magazine at 200 yards. Sergeant A. G. Fulton, DCM, assistant foreman at the CIA range, volunteered and after a few trial shots by single fire he started automatic fire and hot or nearly hit the 200 yard target for the whole magazine. Some hundred people saw him do it. Without the prone position the full automatic firing is very erratic and dangerous”.
Minute 407 ‘report by C.I.S.A. on (1) Thompson Automatic sub-machine gun and (2) Thompson Auto-rifle .30 inch calibre’ dated 7th September 1921 reads;
A demonstration of the Thompson automatic sub-machine gun was carried out at Enfield on 30.06.21 under the personal direction of the inventor, General Thompson, late of the US Army, representing the Auto-Ordnance Corporation of America.
Representatives of the Royal Air Force, Admiralty, War Office, India Office, Australian Commonwealth and Metropolitan Police were present.
After General Thompson had given a short description of the characteristics of his sub-machine gun, a short programme arranged by him to demonstrate its functioning was carried out by a representative of his firm.
Ammunition used – Colt Automatic Pistol .45 inch (230 grain bullet, 4 grain charge).
The following is a brief description of the gun, a full description will be found in the handbook supplied by the Auto-Ordnance Corporation;-
The gun is of an entirely new type.
It fires ordinary .45 inch auto-pistol ammunition.
……..Two types of magazine are provided, one is of the vertical box type, holding 20 rounds in zig-zag formation and the other of the circular self-propelled drum type. The latter is supplied in two sizes to hold 50 and 100 rounds respectively……
……weight of gun without magazine 10lbs 4 oz
The following tests were carried out:- functioning – automatic and semi-automatic 216 rounds. No stoppages.
The weapon is handy and compact and is designed in a manner convenient for manufacture. The 20 round box magazines are much simpler than the drum magazines and appreciably lighter for the same number of rounds, 5 empty box magazines folding 100 rounds in all weighing 2lb as against 3lb 2oz for the 100 round drum and 2lb 8oz for the 50 rounds drum. The box magazines are also simpler for packing and transport.
General Thompson also brought down his auto-rile .30 inch calibre and after demonstrating the peculiarities of its mechanism, 15 rounds were fired by a representative of his firm.
Minute 415 – Major Hardcastle’s report on the Bisley Meeting 1921
(a) On 11.7.21 there was a public demonstration of the Thompson sub-machine gun and of the Auto-rifle. It was on the lines of the official demonstration at Enfield a few weeks ago and wen toff without a hitch. Incidentally the frim asked for a marksman to shoot the pistol prone with automatic firing, 100 round magazine at 200 yards.
Sergeant A G Fulton DCM assistant foreman at the CIA range volunteered and after a few trial shots by single fire he started automatic fire and hit or nearly hit the 200 yard target for the whole magazine. Some hundred people saw him do it. Without the prone position, the full automatic firing is very erratic and dangerous.
Minute 436 dated 18.1.22 C.I.A. 12.12.21 to D of A.
I attach a report of an investigation I have carried out on the Thompson sub-machine gun, in view of the claim that is made that it works on the principle described as ‘adhesion’. You will see from this report that it is my opinion that this contention is not substantiated.