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Thompson Versus the Grease gun

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  • Thompson Versus the Grease gun

    U.S. Submachine guns Thompson .45 versus U.S. M3 “Grease Gun”

    The Thompson .45 has movie star good looks and fame. It was the gangsters and FBI’s weapon of choice in the old gangster movies. It was a beautiful weapon. It’s outline is one of the most recognizable weapons shapes in history. But it was expensive to produce for an army that needed millions of them.

    The .45 M3 sub machinegun was much less expensive t o make. And it was much lighter at 8-1/2 versus 10-1/2 pounds for the Thompson. And being shorter it was handier for vehicle crews especially tank crews. With its lower rate of fire it was said to be easier to handle on full auto. But it did not have the good looks of its cousin the Thompson. But I think it has a sort of utilitarian good look to it. And it did not get the staring role in movies like the Thompson.

    I would bet if the average G.I had a choice he would choose the Thompson. But witch was truely the better weapon in actual use?
    "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" Beatrice Evelyn Hall
    Updated for the 21st century... except if you are criticizing islam, that scares the $hii+e out of me!

  • #2
    When determining 'better' for a weapon, it is important to look at the big picture. Sure, the Thompson was probably a much more desirable weapon for anybody, but if you can make 3 grease guns for every Thompson the drop in quality is made up for by quantity on a strategic scale.

    In war, it might not matter, for example, if the British high command produces a 'less than perfect' sub machine gun that falls apart in the operators hands a tenth of the time, but as our good friend lcm will no doubt attest the other nine times in the long run makes up for it.
    Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
    And sorry I could not travel both
    And be one traveler, long I stood
    ...
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.

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    • #3
      Thompson was supposed to be much better than the GG.

      One of the curiosities I have w/ the Thompson vs. Grease gun issue is why the Grease gun was even considered. The production numbers of the Thompson were actually very impressive (more were made than, for instance the MP40) , and actual guns on hand probably greatly exceeded the actual need for the weapon.

      US TOEs do not have too many thompsons authorized, and the tommy was inferior to the M1 garand in most situations.

      Comment


      • #4
        The Thompson, particularly with the Cutts compensator, is more accurate. Other than that there isn't alot to choose between the two. The Thompson is also heavy.

        The big difference in the eyes of the US Army was $25 to procure a Thompson, $9 to $11 for a M3. The M3 also is more compact so when it is issued to tank crews it is handier to use from the vehicle and store.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
          US TOEs do not have too many thompsons authorized, and the tommy was inferior to the M1 garand in most situations.
          Every infantry company had 14 issued to the headquarters section for distribution as they saw fit or a need for them. Almost every tank and halftrack was issued several for crew use (the exact number varies with the vehicle).

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
            Thompson was supposed to be much better than the GG.

            One of the curiosities I have w/ the Thompson vs. Grease gun issue is why the Grease gun was even considered. The production numbers of the Thompson were actually very impressive (more were made than, for instance the MP40) , and actual guns on hand probably greatly exceeded the actual need for the weapon.

            US TOEs do not have too many thompsons authorized, and the tommy was inferior to the M1 garand in most situations.
            I would also say the higher production of the Thompson to the MP40 is far, far more due to the powerhouse of the American industrial machine rather than the Thompson's actual ease of production.
            Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
            And sorry I could not travel both
            And be one traveler, long I stood
            ...
            Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
            I took the one less traveled by,
            And that has made all the difference.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
              Every infantry company had 14 issued to the headquarters section for distribution as they saw fit or a need for them. Almost every tank and halftrack was issued several for crew use (the exact number varies with the vehicle).
              Yes.

              Originally posted by Duke Maynard View Post
              I would also say the higher production of the Thompson to the MP40 is far, far more due to the powerhouse of the American industrial machine rather than the Thompson's actual ease of production.
              My curiosity also has much to do with 'why' so many were made when they were modestly issued by US forces. US forces made big use of the M1 carbine or M1 garand in lieu of submachinegun type weapons. But still, some 1.7 million Thompsons (not sure on the exact dates) were manufactured.

              The MP38/MP40 was more widely issued than the Thompson ever was- literally, every German infantry section had one or two or even three of them. Their tanks and halftracks (like the US) had a MP40 hanging inside the vehicle. Only 1 million of these were made, and the wermacht fielded more infantry during the war.
              Last edited by Cult Icon; 05 Dec 12, 20:07.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Duke Maynard View Post
                In war, it might not matter, for example, if the British high command produces a 'less than perfect' sub machine gun that falls apart in the operators hands a tenth of the time, but as our good friend lcm will no doubt attest the other nine times in the long run makes up for it.
                Unless you are the tenth guy.

                A point in the M3's favor is that they were issued for so long after the war. A friend of mine said during the Gulf War I they were issued two per tank, and they were accurate enough to shoot anyone who was on the tank.

                Though many TSMGs were produced, many were Lend-Leased to the Home Guard or British Army, which is perhaps why they were not as ubiquitous in the US Army. HQ groups seemed to have them in abundance - Patton's men had plenty.

                The Thompson is pretty heavy, especially if the L-drum is used. I suppose accuracy beyond 50M is somewhat important, but I guess the M1 was so plentiful if you needed to reach out you could always find someone with a Garand to do your work. It's not an easy weapon to control on full auto, so I guess for spray-and-pray the M3 was as good as anything.

                Finally, as has been pointed out here, "quantity has a quality all its own." The Thompson was produced by gunmakers (I think - Savage, Auto Ordnance, maybe Colt) while the M3 was produced by manufacturers like Fisher Guide Lamp (or was it Inland?) and maybe Rock-Ola (which I know produced M-1 Carbines - I could be wrong about the M3).

                Jon
                "There are only two professions in the world in which the amateur excels the professional. One, military strategy, and, two, prostitution."
                -- Maj. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

                (Avatar: Commodore Edwin Ward Moore, Republic of Texas Navy)

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                • #9
                  There are numerous accounts of US Marines during the Korean War recovering M-1927 and later era Thompsons on the battlefield from dead Chi Coms long after they were discontinued in USMC usage. The guns were WWII Lend-Lease refugees from the former Nationalist Chinese forces, but they were put to good use by the US Marines in a later war. The common consensus was, like most good weapons, if you keep them clean, they'll never fail you during battle and the vast majority of those asked preferred them over the M-1 and M-2 carbines because of their hitting power and ease of getting ammunition.
                  Last edited by johnbryan; 06 Dec 12, 07:42.
                  "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Duke Maynard View Post
                    When determining 'better' for a weapon, it is important to look at the big picture. Sure, the Thompson was probably a much more desirable weapon for anybody, but if you can make 3 grease guns for every Thompson the drop in quality is made up for by quantity on a strategic scale.

                    In war, it might not matter, for example, if the British high command produces a 'less than perfect' sub machine gun that falls apart in the operators hands a tenth of the time, but as our good friend lcm will no doubt attest the other nine times in the long run makes up for it.
                    Saving money is all well and good for governments,I was lucky,I survived but I wonder how many poor buggers died because of the deficiencies of the damned things at a critical time? The people that vote to save money by producing doubtful crap never have to be in a desperate situation with one in their hands do they!! lcm1
                    'By Horse by Tram'.


                    I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
                    " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by lcm1 View Post
                      Saving money is all well and good for governments,I was lucky,I survived but I wonder how many poor buggers died because of the deficiencies of the damned things at a critical time? The people that vote to save money by producing doubtful crap never have to be in a desperate situation with one in their hands do they!! lcm1
                      In theory (since we can not just re-run WW2 all over again), less died because of the increased firepower of the British infantry and Partisans increasing allied combat effectiveness overall and shortening the war, reducing (at least allied) casualties.

                      Unfortunately, some will get screwed over. But in the long run, it balances.
                      Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
                      And sorry I could not travel both
                      And be one traveler, long I stood
                      ...
                      Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
                      I took the one less traveled by,
                      And that has made all the difference.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Duke Maynard View Post
                        In theory (since we can not just re-run WW2 all over again), less died because of the increased firepower of the British infantry and Partisans increasing allied combat effectiveness overall and shortening the war, reducing (at least allied) casualties.

                        Unfortunately, some will get screwed over. But in the long run, it balances.
                        Dook! that is not an answer to my comments whatsoever,surely you are not trying to tell me that an almost useless bit of scrap metal like the Sten gun gave us increased firepower? A few bucks more per gun would have provided us with a weapon that we knew we could rely on when needed! All this crap about the Partisans being pleased to get the Sten to use,well I suppose at a time when you have got virtually nothing to use,they were better than nothing but it was not to do with the high standard (HaHa) of the gun.Where as to give them to soldiers to use against a very efficiant enemy, was nothing more than bloody pathetic!! lcm1
                        'By Horse by Tram'.


                        I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
                        " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Did not see it mentioned here...... but when in vietnam one of our doorgunners carried a grease gun.He liked it because he said it sprayed a lot of lead in all kinds of directions. perfect from the door of a huey,when your M-60 ran out........I noticed it had no rifling in the barrel.......never heard.........does the thompson have rifling? that would make it much more accurate than the Grease gun.........

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                          • #14
                            I think that the thompson was a better gun becasue of its quicker rate of fire, and i also think that it was accurate enough that spraying from the hip was decently effecive, so i think it might have been a little more versitile, save the fact that it was heavier.
                            Do not fire until you see the whites of their eyes!- Gen. Israel Putnam


                            Neither current events nor history show that the majority rule, or ever did rule. -Jefferson Davis

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by jeffdoorgunnr View Post
                              Did not see it mentioned here...... but when in vietnam one of our doorgunners carried a grease gun.He liked it because he said it sprayed a lot of lead in all kinds of directions. perfect from the door of a huey,when your M-60 ran out........I noticed it had no rifling in the barrel.......never heard.........does the thompson have rifling? that would make it much more accurate than the Grease gun.........
                              Sounds like his grease gun's barrel was worn smooth from long overuse over the years. Both weapons originally had rifling in their barrels.
                              "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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