John T. Thompson
Photograph of Thompson
|Birth name||John Taliaferro Thompson|
|Born||December 31, 1860|
Newport, Kentucky, United States
|Died||June 21, 1940 79) (aged|
Great Neck, New York, United States
|Years of service||1882–1914, 1917–1918|
|Awards||Distinguished Service Medal|
|Other work||Auto-Ordnance Corporation founder|
John TaliaferroItalian pronunciation: [ˌtaljaˈfɛrro] (anglicized to "Tolliver" ) Thompson (December 31, 1860 – June 21, 1940) was a United States Army officer best remembered as the inventor of the Thompson submachine gun.
The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, and is designated as the Army of the United States in the United States Constitution. As the oldest and most senior branch of the U.S. military in order of precedence, the modern U.S. Army has its roots in the Continental Army, which was formed to fight the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)—before the United States of America was established as a country. After the Revolutionary War, the Congress of the Confederation created the United States Army on 3 June 1784 to replace the disbanded Continental Army. The United States Army considers itself descended from the Continental Army, and dates its institutional inception from the origin of that armed force in 1775.
The Thompson submachine gun is an American submachine gun, invented by John T. Thompson in 1918, that became infamous during the Prohibition era, being a signature weapon of various crime syndicates in the United States. It was a common sight in the media of the time, being used by both law enforcement officers and criminals. The Thompson submachine gun was also known informally as the "Tommy Gun", "Annihilator", "Chicago Typewriter", "Chicago Piano", "Chicago Style", "Chicago Organ Grinder", "Trench Broom", "Trench Sweeper", "The Chopper", and simply "The Thompson".
Born on December 31, 1860 in Newport, Kentucky, Thompson grew up on a succession of Army posts and had decided on the military as a career by the age of sixteen. His father was Lt. Col. James Thompson, his mother was Maria Taliaferro. After a year at Indiana University in 1877, he gained an appointment to the United States Military Academy, graduating in 1882.
Newport is a home rule-class city at the confluence of the Ohio and Licking rivers in Campbell County, Kentucky, in the United States. The population was 15,273 at the 2010 census. Historically, it was one of four county seats of Campbell County. Newport is part of the Cincinnati Metropolitan Area, which includes over 2 million inhabitants.
Indiana University Bloomington is a public research university in Bloomington, Indiana, United States. It is the flagship institution of the Indiana University system and, with over 40,000 students, its largest university.
The United States Military Academy (USMA), also known as West Point, Army, Army West Point, The Academy, or simply The Point, is a four-year federal service academy in West Point, New York. It was originally established as a fort that sits on strategic high ground overlooking the Hudson River with a scenic view, 50 miles (80 km) north of New York City. It is one of the four U.S. military service academies, and one of the five U.S. service academies.
His first duty station was in his birthplace of Newport, where he was assigned to the 2nd Artillery as a second lieutenant. He then attended engineering and artillery schools, and was finally assigned to the Army's Ordnance Department in 1890, where he spent the rest of his military career. During this period he began his specialization in small arms.
With the beginning of the Spanish–American War, Thompson was promoted to lieutenant colonel and sent to Tampa, Florida as Chief Ordnance Officer for the commander of the Cuban campaign, General William R. Shafter. While the rest of the Army was plagued with logistical problems, Thompson managed ordnance supply operations to Cuba efficiently. More than 18,000 tons of munitions were transferred to the battlefield from his Tampa command without any accidents. Thompson was promoted to colonel, the youngest such in the Army at the time.
The Spanish–American War was fought between the United States and Spain in 1898. Hostilities began in the aftermath of the internal explosion of USS Maine in Havana Harbor in Cuba, leading to U.S. intervention in the Cuban War of Independence. U.S. acquisition of Spain's Pacific possessions led to its involvement in the Philippine Revolution and ultimately in the Philippine–American War.
Tampa is a major city in, and the county seat of, Hillsborough County, Florida, United States. It is on the west coast of Florida on Tampa Bay, near the Gulf of Mexico, and is the largest city in the Tampa Bay Area. The bay's port is the largest in the state, near downtown's Channel District. Bayshore Boulevard runs along the bay, and is east of the historic Hyde Park neighborhood.
Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba, is a country comprising the island of Cuba as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean meet. It is east of the Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico), south of both the U.S. state of Florida and the Bahamas, west of Haiti and north of both Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Havana is the largest city and capital; other major cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey. The area of the Republic of Cuba is 110,860 square kilometres (42,800 sq mi). The island of Cuba is the largest island in Cuba and in the Caribbean, with an area of 105,006 square kilometres (40,543 sq mi), and the second-most populous after Hispaniola, with over 11 million inhabitants.
It was also this war which offered Thompson his first exposure to automatic weapons. At the request of Lt. John H. Parker, Thompson arranged for the informal formation of a Gatling gun unit, with fifteen weapons and a generous supply of ammunition, all shipped to Cuba on Thompson's sole authority. This unit later played a significant role in the Battle of San Juan Hill.
The Gatling gun is one of the best-known early rapid-fire spring loaded, hand cranked weapons, and a forerunner of the modern machine gun and rotary cannon. Invented by Richard Gatling, it saw occasional use by the Union forces during the American Civil War in the 1860s, which was the first time it was employed in combat. It was later used in numerous military conflicts, including the Boshin War, the Anglo-Zulu War, and the assault on San Juan Hill during the Spanish–American War. It was also used by the Pennsylvania militia in episodes of the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, specifically in Pittsburgh.
The Battle of San Juan Hill, also known as the battle for the San Juan Heights, was a decisive battle of the Spanish–American War. The San Juan heights was a north-south running elevation about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) east of Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. The names San Juan Hill and Kettle Hill were given to the location by the Americans. This fight for the heights was the bloodiest and most famous battle of the war. It was also the location of the so called "greatest victory" for the Rough Riders, as stated by the press and its new commander, Theodore Roosevelt, who eventually became vice president and later president of the United States, and who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 2001 for his actions in Cuba.
After the war Thompson was appointed chief of the Small Arms Division for the Ordnance Department. While in this position he supervised development of the M1903 Springfield rifle and chaired the ordnance board that approved the M1911 pistol. For the latter he devised unusual tests involving firing the weapon at donated human cadavers and live cattle to assess ammunition effectiveness.
World War I began in Europe in 1914, and Thompson was sympathetic to the Allied cause. Since the U.S. did not immediately enter the war, and because he recognized a significant need for small arms in Europe (as well as an opportunity to make a substantial profit), Thompson retired from the Army in November of that year and took a job as Chief Engineer of the Remington Arms Company. While with the company he supervised the construction of the Eddystone Plant in Chester, Pennsylvania, at that time the largest small arms plant in the world. It manufactured Pattern 1914 Enfield rifles for British forces, and Mosin–Nagant rifles for Russia.
The introduction of trench warfare in the First World War changed tactics substantially, and by 1916 Thompson was experimenting again with automatic small arms, this time attempting to design a weapon that troops could use to clear an enemy trench—what he called a "trench broom." Thompson studied several designs and was impressed with a delayed-blowback breech system designed by John Blish, a commander in the United States Navy. With Blish as a partner, Thompson obtained the necessary venture capital to form the Auto-Ordnance Company, and began working on the design of what eventually became the Thompson submachine gun.
When the United States finally entered the war in 1917, Thompson returned to the Army and was promoted to the rank of brigadier general. He served as Director of Arsenals throughout the remainder of the war, in which capacity he supervised all small-arms production for the Army. For this service he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. He retired again after the war, in December 1918, and resumed work perfecting the "Tommy Gun."
Thompson originally pursued the Autorifle concept: a rifle utilizing the Blish principle delayed-blowback action to avoid the complexity of recoil-operated and gas-operated actions. Testing found that the military issue .30-06 cartridge was too powerful to work satisfactorily using the Blish system.
Thompson eventually decided to use the same .45 caliber ammunition in the Thompson submachine gun that he had vetted for use in the M1911 while in the Army. The weapon was patented in 1920, but the major source for contracts had ended with the armistice. Thompson therefore marketed the weapon to civilian law enforcement agencies, who bought it in respectable quantities. However, by 1928 low sales had led the company to financial crisis, and Thompson was replaced as head of the Auto-Ordnance Company.
Thompson died at the age of 79 on June 21, 1940and is buried on the grounds of the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. Shortly after his death, the looming entry of the U.S. into World War II prompted the Army to order the Thompson submachine gun in large quantities, and it was used extensively during that conflict.
Heckler & Koch GmbH (HK) is a German defense manufacturing company that manufactures handguns, rifles, submachine guns, and grenade launchers. The company is located in Oberndorf in the state of Baden-Württemberg, and also has subsidiaries in the United Kingdom, France and the United States.
A submachine gun (SMG) is a magazine-fed, automatic carbine designed to fire pistol cartridges. The term "submachine gun" was coined by John T. Thompson, the inventor of the Thompson submachine gun.
The Blish lock is a breech locking mechanism designed by John Bell Blish based upon his observation that under extreme pressures, certain dissimilar metals will resist movement with a force greater than normal friction laws would predict. In modern engineering terminology, it is an extreme manifestation of what is now called static friction, or stiction. His locking mechanism was used first in the Thompson submachine gun.
The M1 carbine is a lightweight, easy to use, .30 caliber semi-automatic carbine that was a standard firearm for the U.S. military during World War II, the Korean War and well into the Vietnam War. The M1 carbine was produced in several variants and was widely used by not only the U.S. military, but by military, paramilitary and police forces around the world. It has also been a popular civilian firearm.
The Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) is a family of American automatic rifles and machine guns used by the United States and numerous other countries during the 20th century. The primary variant of the BAR series was the M1918, chambered for the .30-06 Springfield rifle cartridge and designed by John Browning in 1917 for the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe as a replacement for the French-made Chauchat and M1909 Benét–Mercié machine guns that US forces had previously been issued.
The .45 Reising submachine gun was manufactured by Harrington & Richardson (H&R) Arms Company in Worcester, Massachusetts, USA, and was designed and patented by Eugene Reising in 1940. The three versions of the weapon were the Model 50, the folding stock Model 55, and the semiautomatic Model 60 rifle. Over 100,000 Reisings were ordered during World War II, and were initially used by the United States Navy, Marine Corps, and the United States Coast Guard, though some were shipped to Canadian, Soviet, and other allied forces to fight the Axis powers.
The Sterling submachine gun is a British submachine gun. It was tested with the British Army in 1944–1945 as a replacement for the Sten but it did not start to replace it until 1953. It remained in use until 1994, when it was phased out as the L85A1 assault rifle was phased in.
Blowback is a system of operation for self-loading firearms that obtains energy from the motion of the cartridge case as it is pushed to the rear by expanding gas created by the ignition of the propellant charge.
The MP 18 manufactured by Theodor Bergmann Abteilung Waffenbau was the first submachine gun used in combat. It was introduced into service in 1918 by the German Army during World War I as the primary weapon of the Sturmtruppen, assault groups specialized in trench combat. Although MP 18 production ended in the 1920s, its design formed the basis of most submachine guns manufactured between 1920 and 1960.
The Hyde-Inland M2 was a United States submachine gun design submitted for trials at Aberdeen Proving Ground in February, 1941. Work was undertaken by General Motors Inland Manufacturing Division to develop workable prototypes of George Hyde's design patented in 1935. The model first submitted for trials in April 1942 was designated the Hyde-Inland 1. Trials revealed the design was superior to the M1 submachine gun in mud and dirt tests, and its accuracy in full-automatic firing was better than any other submachine gun tested at the time. An improved Hyde-Inland 2 was designated U.S. Submachine gun, Caliber .45, M2 as a substitute standard for the M1 Thompson in April, 1942. As Inland's manufacturing capacity became focused on M1 carbine production, the US Army contracted M2 production to Marlin Firearms in July, 1942. Marlin began production in May 1943. Marlin's production failed to match the trials prototype performance; and Marlin's original contract for 164,450 M2s was canceled in 1943 upon adoption of the M3 submachine gun. The M2 is chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge and used the same 20- or 30-round magazine as the Thompson. Its cyclic rate of fire is 570 rounds per minute. None of the approximately 400 manufactured were issued by any branches of the United States military.
The Owen Gun, which was known officially as the Owen Machine Carbine, was an Australian submachine gun designed by Evelyn (Evo) Owen in 1939. The Owen was the only entirely Australian-designed and constructed service submachine gun of World War II and was used by the Australian Army from 1943 until the mid-1960s.
The MP34 is a submachine gun (SMG) that was manufactured by Waffenfabrik Steyr as Steyr-Solothurn S1-100 and used by the Austrian Gendarmerie and subsequently by units of the German Army and the Waffen SS, in World War II. An exceptionally well-made weapon, it was used by some forces well into the 1970s.
The United Defense M42, sometimes known as the Marlin for the manufacturer, was an American submachine gun in World War II. It was produced from 1942 to 1943 by United Defense Supply Corp. for possible issue as a replacement for the Thompson submachine gun and was used by agents of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS).
Evelyn Ernest Owen was an Australian who developed the Owen submachine gun which was used by the Australian Army in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
John Bell Blish was an American inventor known primarily for developing the Blish lock, used in the Thompson submachine gun. Blish licensed the patent for his lock to the Auto-Ordnance Corporation in 1915 in return for company stock.
An assault rifle is a selective-fire rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine. Assault rifles were first used during World War II. Though Western nations were slow to accept the assault rifle concept, by the end of the 20th century they had become the standard weapon in most of the world's armies, replacing full-powered rifles and sub-machine guns in most roles. Examples include the StG 44, AK-47 and the M16 rifle.
The M3 is an American .45-caliber submachine gun adopted for U.S. Army service on 12 December 1942, as the United States Submachine Gun, Cal. .45, M3. The M3 was chambered for the same .45 ACP round fired by the Thompson submachine gun, but was cheaper to produce and lighter, although, contrary to popular belief, it was less accurate. This myth stems from a US Army training film portraying the M3 as more accurate than its counterparts. The M3 was commonly referred to as the "Grease Gun" or simply "the Greaser," owing to its visual similarity to the mechanic's tool.
The Thompson Autorifle was a semi-automatic rifle that used a Blish Lock to delay the action of the weapon. It was chambered in .30-06, with the 1923 model in 7.62×54mmR Russian rifle rounds.
Auto-Ordnance is a U.S. arms development firm founded by retired Colonel John T. Thompson of the U.S. Army Ordnance Department in 1916. Auto-Ordnance is best known for the Thompson submachine gun, notorious as a gangster weapon of the Roaring Twenties and famous as a military weapon of the Allied forces in World War II.