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Hyman S. Lebman, Gunsmith To The Outlaws


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#1 OCM

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 12:19 PM

Going to start a post here about H.S. Lebman. Anyone have anything on him, please jump in. Bill Helmer did a lot of research on him and the late Rick Cartlidge was planning a book on him.
He was a saddle & boot maker in San Antonio, regular guy, middle class family, nice home and all, but also made illegal weapons for the likes of Baby Face Nelson, John Dillinger, Homer Van Meter and others.
He supplied Thompsons to Nelson and Dillinger, also was the one that made the Colt " baby machine guns " out of Colt Super 38s and the full auto Winchester model 1907s, .351.
It was rumored that AOC had donated some Thompsons to Lebman, to donate to John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson and others, to promote the Thompson Submachine gun . I guess it worked as there was a couple mystery TSMGs coming out of Texas. Good promotional idea, true or false ? Interesting story anyway.
In November 1933, Thanksgiving Day, Lebman & his family had Les Gillis ( Baby Face Nelson ) and his wife, Homer Van Meter and moll, Marie Conforti over for Thanksgiving dinner. How about a time machine on that dinner.

Some more later, have to do some file digging-
Collectables: Helmer has a pair of boots made by Lebmam and I had a Western Saddle made by him. ( see picture) it had his leather stamp on the back and address of his shop in SA.

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Edited by OCM, 07 January 2013 - 04:28 PM.

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#2 OCM

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 06:41 PM

According to Bill Helmer, the recovered gun at Little Bohemia, was traced back to a gun shop in Fort worth, where it was sold to a gentleman named H. S. Lebman from San Antonio. This put the sting on Lebman.
This was the same gun shop that Machine Gun Kelly got a Thompson from BTW.( I knew his son, Bruce Barnes )
Nelson & Van Meter had purchased both Colt minis & Thompsons from Lebman and had them shipped to St Paul. The Colt mini that was recovered from Dillinger's place in St Paul, was traced to a dealer in California, WHO was dealing with a LA Police officer that had developed a special converted 38 Super for police work, but was basically a rapid fire gun with a long magazine. Somehow Lebman was involved in this also.
The St Paul Colt mini, found at the St Paul apartment building after the shoot out with Dillinger, somehow had reached Dillinger via Lebman. The gun was found to contain parts from the LA Police officer type converted ones.
There is also a possibility that H. S. Lebman was supplying the Barker Karpis gang & Pretty Boy Floyd-
Busy guy, had a family to support-
When caught at his home in San Antonio, he had Homer Van Meter's 38 Super in the process of being converted to a Colt mini. I think he had a couple legal Thompsons too.
What he got busted for was the possession of government property, a US Army Colt 45. His case ran into 1941 and was dismissed finally, he got off scott free.
As I remember the Nelson Colt mini was full auto, while the Dillinger one was select fire.

Interesting guy, H.S. Lebman-

Edited by OCM, 07 January 2013 - 04:29 PM.

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#3 darrylta

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 09:02 PM

It's obvious that the front grip is Colt / Remington and appears to have a trimmed grip hanger welded
to the frame. I've always wondered how it was attached.
This would make a nice project display gun.
-Darryl
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#4 DeaconKC

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 09:50 PM

OCM, I always enjoy the stuff you come up with and present so well. Thank you!
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#5 OCM

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 08:50 AM

It's obvious that the front grip is Colt / Remington and appears to have a trimmed grip hanger welded
to the frame. I've always wondered how it was attached.
This would make a nice project display gun.
-Darryl

Darryl-
I had manufactured two such,(non-functional display models only) one is in the DC museum now, other in a private collection in St Paul. I had seen one that Lebman had done with a Cutts, so I fashioned both after that. I had one on display in my private collection, mounted with a B&W photo of the Lincoln Court Apartments where John had the shoot-out with the cops.
Remember too, I had the very car he used to escape from there, a 1933 Essex Terraplane 8, complete with two bullet holes from the little battle outside. My most prized Dillinger collectable of all times.
A gentleman name Rick Ramos, I think that was his name, did a bang up article on the Lebman Colt minis and contemporary military versions of the same. It ran in SAR.
We did a fun-gofey photo Op, of the Lebman saddle I had, on one of my wife's horses. We put the saddle on the horse, then put the Lebman display gun next to it like a cowboy would have a Winchester rifle. All set up for Baby Face Nelson- Haaa.

Sandy

Edited by OCM, 02 November 2013 - 10:14 AM.

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#6 OCM

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 08:51 AM

OCM, I always enjoy the stuff you come up with and present so well. Thank you!

You betcha, fun stuff for all of us.
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#7 OCM

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 05:33 PM

Blueprint rendering of the Lebman Colt mini machine pistol.
According to the article in SAR, there are two registered transferable 1911 mini machine pistols in existance today.
One is an AO 1911A1 and converted to full auto by Armitage International and reworked to select fire by Stan Andrewski.
The other popped up at Knob Creek in 1987.

Now there is an item to add to a collection, a Baby Face Nelso-John Dillinger type Colt mini sub machine gun.

Article relates that the Nelson mini had select fire, while Dillinger's in St Paul did not. It appears that Lebman could have mounted a sliding type select fire selector in the center of the slide serrations. My photos don't show this tho.
There was some thought from Bill Helmer at one time that Dillinger escaped possibly with the Lebman Colt mini or fired it through the apartment door.
My views of the original door on Apartment # 303 in St Paul, is it was more of a straight on volley from inside by Dillinger. Also we know he left with # 7387 from the Crown Point break, and was firing it down the hallway as he left the apartment building.
AND unless he had two Colt minis, the Lebman one was left behind and is with the FBI now.
This is the correct one Dillinger had in St Paul, the front grip was cut down by Lebman at the tip, The Nelson one not. That's how a sharp eye can tell.

OCM

Edited by OCM, 11 October 2015 - 08:48 AM.

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#8 DarkSide25

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 01:15 PM

OCM,

thanks for the interesting exclusive information and pictures.

If you do not mind, please, answer a few questions.
1) Different sources indicate that Lebman Colt mini sub machine gun has 2 versions: .45 ACP caliber with 18-round extended magazine and .38 Super caliber with 22-round extended magazine. What is the caliber of the gun in the photo above (Lebman_Pistol_1___001), and what - the Lebman mini sub machine gun here (Lebman_Pistol_4__007)?
2) Based on these photos, Lebman Colt mini sub machine gun with fire selector was converted from M1911A1, and gun without selector based on the M1911. But the .38 Super Colts made only on the base of M1911A1. Consequently, Lebman guns was chambering under .38 Super from original .45 ACP caliber?
3) Some sources reported that Lebman converted 5 pistols. This number is correct?
4) Different sources indicate a different rate of fire - 700, 750-800, 900-1000, and 1200 rounds per minute. What is it for your data? Also, would be grateful to you for Lebman mini sub machine gun other characteristics (length, weight, etc.).
5) You write that Dillinger gun had a fire selector and Baby Face Nelson was only full-auto, but judging by the photos, it was the opposite. Perhaps I misunderstood your message?
6) According to the diagram above, Cutts compensator was fixed on slide, not barrel. Is that correct?

Regards, DarkSide25
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#9 OCM

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 02:31 PM

I'll try, as I said please jump in on this subject.
A lot of information comes from Ramos and a SAR article & Swearengen. It's vague and scattered. Helmer has a lot on this but it;s hard to get him to do much computer stuff- The FBI is pretty much out of it these days.
The Dillinger one was a Colt .45, an early example without select fire. It was recovered at the raid at the Lincoln Court Apartments in March 34. The Nelson one pictured was recovered from the Little Bohemia Lodge shoot-out somehow, don't remember, but he used it to kill a couple cops and must of left it at the site, down the road from Little Bo. Believe it's also a .45 .
The FBI has 3 of the Colt minis I believe, but it's said Nelson had 4 and Lebman was working on one for Homer Van Meter ( 38 Super) when arrested.
It's basically impossible to check them out with the FBI, only FOIA and old files. Usually I have Larry Wack look these up. To physically inspect them can't happen and how many ?
I'm saying that Lebman made 6 total, early versions the .45, later the Super 38. Remember he was making full auto Winchester 351 07s too.
Rate of fire, or specifications I have no clue but have heard they were uncontrolable, basically hung on. I have never run across anyone that has personally inspected one, but would love to. Someone that knows these Colts inside and out.
I think you misread maybe, ( maybe me, don't author very clear) the Dillinger Colt mini did not have select fire the Nelson one did, but my photos don't show this, at least from the FBI collection. I've seen the Dillinger one, Nelson one and one with a Cutts, can't remember where. ( photos)
The diagram is Ramous' rendition of what and how the Colt mini worked, only his idea.

Please feel free to add coments on this subject, I'm trying to find out as much as I can too. As I said, it a vague subject that has never been researched in detail. The closest I've come to Lebman is one of his saddles. Photos of his shop & home. We've done fairly good research on his converted Winchesters, as they are on display in Tucson. Also ran across an article just yesterday about the police taking the Winchester out to the range in Tucson after the arrest to check them out- Now that would be cool. Also had a guy that I knew, police officer, that was able to look inside the guns at Tucson.

Hope that helped-

OCM

Edited by OCM, 15 November 2012 - 08:50 AM.

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#10 OCM

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 08:00 PM

Yet another oddity, is it Hyman or Hinman, seen it both ways. My saddle just had HS Lebman. I may be in San Antonio this next Spring for a Helmer thing, check out the local lore on HS. Helmer said he knew/knows his son.

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#11 DarkSide25

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 03:19 PM

OCM,

thank you very much!

Yes, this is very interesting, and, unfortunately, insufficient disclosure topic.
In the book "Small arms yesterday"
there is a very interesting picture.

Posted Image

Probably, this is Colt's experimental model based on the Lebman's M1911.

Full-auto Winchester 1907, I believe, is discussed in this thread?
I will write about this gun in this thread.

Regards,
DarkSide

Edited by DarkSide25, 14 November 2012 - 03:44 PM.

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#12 OCM

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 03:58 PM

It's related to Lebman, please write away. This is a subject that sould of been written about a long time ago, I'm affraid a lot of info is gone now- I' m very limited on the subject-
Most of my 07 stuff comes from Henwood's book, other historical stuff is from past research etc,.
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#13 OCM

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 07:22 PM

OCM,

thank you very much!

Yes, this is very interesting, and, unfortunately, insufficient disclosure topic.
In the book "Small arms yesterday"
there is a very interesting picture.

Posted Image

Probably, this is Colt's experimental model based on the Lebman's M1911.

Full-auto Winchester 1907, I believe, is discussed in this thread?
I will write about this gun in this thread.

Regards,
DarkSide



Looks like Russian ? The Navy was doing some stuff based on the Lebman Colt mini, but as I remember was not successful .
It's kind of an odd weapon, can't holster it, just have to carry it around in the open I guess. I've always thought it was just a toy to the outlaws, one of those gotta have it things that Lester's buddy made. Nelson did open up with one right in the front seat of a cop car at Little Bo, certainly can read all about that in the books. The Winchester 07 possibly the same type thing more of a battle gun, car to car . Barrow had the figured out with the BAR.
Appears that Dillinger used the Thompson as an intimidator for his business, where dual 38 Supers or 45s was the gun of choice.
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#14 DarkSide25

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 01:28 PM

It's related to Lebman, please write away. This is a subject that sould of been written about a long time ago, I'm affraid a lot of info is gone now- I' m very limited on the subject-
Most of my 07 stuff comes from Henwood's book, other historical stuff is from past research etc,.


Looks like Russian ? The Navy was doing some stuff based on the Lebman Colt mini, but as I remember was not successful .

Yes, this book - a Russian translation of the German guide. Unfortunately, there is nothing written about this modification Colt M1911A1, and provided only drawing. In addition to the information about experiments on basis of Lebman’s Colt, I read about modification of William Swartz in .38 Super and .45 ACP, but little about it is known. This modification has a shoulder stock.

Thanks for the info, it's very interesting!
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#15 DarkSide25

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 01:33 PM

It's kind of an odd weapon, can't holster it, just have to carry it around in the open I guess. I've always thought it was just a toy to the outlaws, one of those gotta have it things that Lester's buddy made. Nelson did open up with one right in the front seat of a cop car at Little Bo, certainly can read all about that in the books. The Winchester 07 possibly the same type thing more of a battle gun, car to car . Barrow had the figured out with the BAR.
Appears that Dillinger used the Thompson as an intimidator for his business, where dual 38 Supers or 45s was the gun of choice.


Of course, this is a very specific weapon. I think it is of interest primarily as one of the first examples of micro submachine guns – predecessors of Ingram M10, PM-63, Micro Uzi, etc. In fact, this is one of the first PDW.

Edited by DarkSide25, 21 November 2012 - 01:36 PM.

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#16 OCM

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 10:39 AM

Beistigue Hermanos Co of Spain had a mini machinegun in 1927. This was based on the German Mauser model 1896 with select fire called a Royal. This was very saught after by the Chinese and was introduced in the International marketplace. Same year, 1927, Astra/Unseta developed another version of the " Schnellfeuer " machine pistol called the Model F.
Then Germany got into it with their Mauser, designed by Joseph Nickl, an Austrian, in 1930. The SAR article said they made 4000 of them, the Reihenfeuer Model R-713.
Enter Star who made a machine pistol with a copied Colt 1911, chambered in 45, 38 Super and 9mm,, the Model 1922.
Finally the first recorded full auto conversion , of a Colt 45 auto, came from H.S. Lebman. He had been experimenting with converting self-loading rifles ( Winchester Model 07) to full auto, eventually selling these and Thompsons to Pancho Villa.
This led to a gentleman named Lester Gillis aka Baby Face Nelson. We know the rest.

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#17 OCM

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 07:02 PM

Very interesting article sent to me by a friend- Good read for history types-

http://www.mysananto...guns-825223.php
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#18 OCM

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Posted 12 October 2013 - 05:28 PM

Just found an old, poor photo of HS Lebman from a newspaper. Friend had sent it- To be honest, I don't recall ever seeing a picture of him.


Edited by OCM, 11 May 2016 - 08:38 PM.

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#19 OCM

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Posted 16 October 2013 - 02:33 PM

Larry Wack's FBI site has another photo of the mysterious HS Lebman, with handcuffs on. In a recent article it said Lebman said he didn't know the guys he sold guns too. You Bet, Hyman. Lester Gillis and his wife Helen were kind enough to have Thanksgiving dinner with you in 1933, just a friendly couple you met at church ?
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#20 StooperZero

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Posted 18 October 2013 - 02:01 PM

On one the the blueprints/photographed workshop drawings etc:   I had for the 1911 sub-gun  , gripping/shooting just like a standard 1911 would be semi Then there was a second trigger on the side of the foregrip and that allowed F/A if you held the front one in first.  It also stated that there were even attempts to make a 31rd 38 super magazine.

 

 

 

 

that looks like a corndog  for a foregrip.


Edited by StooperZero, 18 October 2013 - 02:02 PM.

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