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What Happened to all the Thompsons After WW2?


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#1 huggytree

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 12:48 PM

I am curious where all the Thompsons went after WW2...millions made and barely any left. While many European countries adopted the Mp40. We sent M1 Garands all over the world....where did the Millions of Thompsons go? did no one want them? scrap?....

 

Was the Thompson just not wanted and melted for scrap?


Edited by huggytree, 17 December 2017 - 12:49 PM.

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#2 johnnj

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 12:52 PM

Huggy,  I'm glad you asked this question. I also look forward to hearing members thoughts on the subject.


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#3 richard w.

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 01:02 PM

Ha ha. Don't lynch me guys but I don't understand why we made so many in the first place.

 

Unless somebody is giving them to you for free or you are really, really desperate like the Brits early in the war, why would anyone want the Thompson?

 

Heavy, expensive, uses a cartridge that only one country in the world favored...


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#4 huggytree

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 01:27 PM

.45 is better at killing than a 9mm.

Heaft could be one of the reasons.

9mm being more popular outside the us could be another

The guns were there. Free or close to free.

Yet no one wanted them . M1 garands are the same weight yet they were sent all over the world.
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#5 richard w.

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 01:45 PM

Speaking of Garands, I'm going to really be a iconoclast today and suggest that every Joe issued a Thompson might have been better off with an M1.

 

General Gavin could have carried anything he wanted but he explained in his book that he jumped with a Garand loaded with AP because it was the best tool for killing.


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#6 Junkhunter

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 02:01 PM

I suppose if I was clearing apartments I'd want a Thompson but if I was in a field, pasture or woods that Garand loaded with black tips would look pretty good to me. Didn't think we made millions of them I figured maybe a million between both models during the war years.
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#7 Sandman1957

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 03:02 PM

I'll take the first stab.     When a new weapon is brought into the inventory, it does not mean all the "older" models are disposed of.  They remain in the inventory and can be reissued to other units or personnel.  Older model guns normally go thru rework and are stored for future wartime use (War Reserves).  Thompsons were sent to our allies just like carbines and garands.  Thompsons saw much use in Korea, and Vietnam.  Many were sold to other countries as is the standard military sales practices.  Some went to Police Departments, to Other Government agencies, such as the Secret Service, Treasury Department, F.B.I. and and Intelligence Agencies.  Special Forces units and Intelligence agencies armed many small armies around the world in the "wars in the shadows".  Overtime, when they were no longer "War Reserves" and no other use for them was out there Many were cut, the parts put into bins, and became scrap metal.     Alot were dumped over the side of returning ships as were all small arms.  That was not done randomly, messages directed what ships units etc and the War Department kept a handle of the amount of weapons returning for future use.  There were also many Wartime storage areas filled with weapons and ammo around the world.  Norway, Okinawa, across europe etc are examples.     As far as what "you" would carry.  Hate to burst your bubble but Its not burger king, its not have it your way... the Military has a "Table of Organization", and "Table of equipment".  You are "issued" a weapon based on the billet to which you are assigned per the Table of Organization of the unit you are assigned.  An example is M1 Carbines replaced 1911A1 .45 Automatics.  The numbers of 45s were reduced and sent back to storage, and Carbines replaced the pistols.  Yes some folks have picked up other weapons on the battlefield, but you still have to account for your weapon and SN.     This is still the same standard practice.  I have carried weapons as a Marine and as a DoD Civilian "Emergency Essential Employee".  37 years of combined (armed) service.   Best example is where are all the 45s.  STILL IN WAR RESERVES.  CMP has not recieved ANY of them.   The 45 I was issued in 1980 as a new 2dLT was a WWII gun. Our 60mm Mortars were WWII.  Sights had been upgraded but the tubes had been in constant service since WWII.  Still had a few M1 Carbines back then as well.    Semper Fi Sandman1957 USMC 1980 - 2000 "Other" Government Agencies / DoD 2000 - Jan 2017


Edited by Sandman1957, 17 December 2017 - 03:15 PM.

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#8 inertord

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 04:21 PM

This photo accounts for a few M1 Thompsons

Attached Files


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#9 Merry Ploughboy

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 04:32 PM

A guy I knew years ago said he occasionally carried a Thompson (M1 or M1A1) in Vietnam.  He said he could use just about anything in the armory: Thompson, M3 sub gun, M1 or M2 carbine, M14, M16, even an M60 beltfed if he wanted to lug it around.  Or an AK47 if he picked it up in the field.  And what eventually happened to the 400,000+ M16s that the U.S. left behind in Vietnam is documented in "The Black Rifle" - the Vietnamese sold them for about $50 - $100 each on the open market.  I would guess that many of the other firearms were left behind were similarly liquidated.


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#10 full auto 45

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 04:34 PM

"War's over boys! Throw them guns overboard."


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#11 Mk VII

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 04:48 PM

Huge quantities were sold or given away under the various postwar defense assistance programs. Nationalist China and RVN were two big users. Many European nations received WW2 US materiel, whether sold or loaned, often for free, and Thompsons were among them (saw one in a new item on political prisoners in a Turkish prison some years back). Free and available right now has a draw all of its own.


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#12 Petroleum 1

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 06:06 PM

Good question Huggy...I think there was a little over a million made.


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#13 huggytree

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 06:22 PM

1.5 million is the number I saw

I think around 6 million m1 garands made (guess right now)

If given a choice Id probably pick the m1 garand also. Both suck because of weight.

Why did armies take mp40s after the war? Why didnt any use the Thompsons ?? Or am I wrong ? Israel France etc took mp40s

Edited by huggytree, 17 December 2017 - 06:24 PM.

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#14 inertord

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 08:11 PM

Many European Armies and Police Forces were limited to 9mm or less caliber for handguns and subguns after the war.
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#15 buzz

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 08:24 PM

When talking about guns, one must be careful to separate actual facts from gun shop factoids.

 

The Thompson M1A1 weighs 10.6 lbs empty and the MP40 weighs 8.8 lbs empty.

 

I'm sure the extra 1.8 lbs made the soldier's arms pull right out of the sockets.

 

You hear a lot of people blah-blah-ing about this gun being better than that gun, but it's mostly just gun shop bubba talk.


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#16 huggytree

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 08:45 PM

20% heavier. Add ammo. 45 weighs more than 9mm. Maybe 25% heavier. When I hand my Thompson to someone the first thing I see is the shock of how much it weighs. Name a heavier subgun ?

The non acceptance of the .45 might be the answer to my question.

Edited by huggytree, 17 December 2017 - 08:46 PM.

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#17 Petroleum 1

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 09:17 PM

Look at all the Thompsons that went to Russia in WW2 it was the ammunition they didnt like.
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#18 thirtyround

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 09:24 PM

As said before, the US stored vast amounts of weapons and other armament after the war years.  As Sandman stipulates, a lot was "dumped" by order, I would speculate there was just as much combat write-off.   During the Korean "police action" the US armed pretty much their entire South Korean military... a model somewhat for the future.  As Communism spread, those countries that "resisted" or were perceived to.... received our assistance in the form of training and everything we had piled up around the globe.  Hell, even Yugoslavia back in the 50's wasn't necessarily a US ally , but they weren't a Russian lap dogs either.  Yugoslavia received (1950's) thousands of US Thompson's and 30/50 cal Browning MG's, rolling stock such as WW2 half tracks, Sherman tanks, various other "obsolete" armored tracked and wheeled vehicles etc.  Later on ditto for South Vietnam.  Concerning the Thompson smg, Just my opinion based on the "Red Menace" spreading its tentacles around the globe... I would speculate the US military inventory were probably never destroyed, instead sent to depots and drained off arming US friendly countries.   ,   


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#19 Junkhunter

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 11:27 PM

That sounds about right for making 1.5 million Thompson's disappear. Fortunately it appears all 25 million magazines are still here :-)
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#20 buzz

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Posted 18 December 2017 - 01:45 AM

20% heavier. Add ammo. 45 weighs more than 9mm. Maybe 25% heavier. When I hand my Thompson to someone the first thing I see is the shock of how much it weighs. Name a heavier subgun ?

The non acceptance of the .45 might be the answer to my question.

 

Huggy,

 

First of all, the Thompson was a successful military and police weapon and was well liked by the US and British troops that used it.

 

The Suomi KP31 was pretty much the exact same weight and was also a highly successful and well regarded weapon, the Finns would equip entire companies with them.

 

The Lanchester was around 9.5 lbs.

 

Is a one pound difference in gun weight really going to be a deal killer?  It's not like all the other smgs were 4 lbs and the Thompson was 10 lbs.  Most smgs were 8 to 10 lbs.

 

Even an UZI is almost 8 lbs and it's a tiny gun, a sub-compact.

 

The garand was spread around to our various allies, like the greeks, danes and the Italians.  It's a 10+ lb gun and uses an American cartridge.\

 

To assume that a gun was not adopted by an ally because of ammo or weight is just spitballing, it's just speculation.


Edited by buzz, 18 December 2017 - 01:58 AM.

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