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M3 submachine gun

Discussion in 'Allied Light Weapons' started by warhistory, Oct 19, 2012.

  1. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Who ever said you or your sources were wrong? You are looking at it from a very different perspective and for some reason viewing other points of view as criticism of yours. For example, you gave "one WWII veteran's account of several in my possession". However, a single Light Tank Company by T/O&E had 70 M3. A Medium Tank Company 92. The Battalion HQ&HQ Company 47 more. Service Company 44 more. So 437 in just a single Tank Battalion.

    It was as ubiquitous as the M1 Carbine and the M1911 Pistol and worked well enough that it was retained in inventory for nearly 50 years. That is no criticism of you, your Dad, or Mr. Martin.
     
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  2. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    I've read that the M-3 grease gun was considered for awhile by the US Army to be mounted in fixed apertures in the sides of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle in the early pre-development stage. There were tons of them laying around in boxes at many arsenals, and it seemed to be a good idea at the time. Some Army generals didn't want this option in the finished product in fear that the infantrymen inside would not dismount and deploy if the action was hot and heavy in the local area, so that idea was nipped in the bud so to speak. Not sure how that would've worked out, but it sure would've looked neat.
     
  3. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    Sketchy memory here (was briefly fascinated with the Bradley & it's flammable tendencies), but I've a feeling the M3 was put aside for the purpose as the M16-ish 'Firing Port Weapon' came on line at about the same time.
     
  4. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    Here we go.
    Not the best picture, but a pretty standard ball mount by the looks of it.
    Can easily see the M3 plugging in in a similar manner.
    Ports deleted at a later date:
    b96854065d24d16ed643d112da53e369.jpg
     
  5. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Yeah I read that too, but since we were talking about the grease gun here I didn't see the need for mentioning the modified M-16ish looking weapon in the firing port that was discontinued later. Serves me right. The grease gun would've worked better me thinks, but they didn't ask me!
     
  6. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    Maybe tells us something of how things like the M3 are replaced by modular efforts in the more modern militaries.
    The SMG as a whole's star has faded a bit.
    Even the modern-ish MP5 appears to be going out of fashion as a police weapon (here at least, used to be a regular sight around airports, London etc. Sterling's before that), with assault rifles being deemed more appropriate for current threats.

    Wonder if the SMG would return to favour in a large war.
    Much of their history seems to be as an 'Urgent Operational Requirement', which explains basic stuff like the M3 & Sten as well as anything else.
     
  7. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Well I'd rather not have to find out that way.
     
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  8. WILD DUKW

    WILD DUKW Active Member

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    I very much respect your obvious expertise. I too have some experience and expertise regarding the US Army Ground Forces during WWII. Over the past two decades I have written and published on a variety of topics that fall within that broad, deep subject. This, coupled with my six-plus decades of hunting and target shooting experience, enhanced by my education and training as a licensed gunsmith, leads me to the conclusion that you do not have sufficient experience or training with firearms to claim "the finer points of hunting and target shooting had little real application on the World War II battlefield." The fact that it flies in the face of the Army marksmanship training program makes it a ridiculous assertion.

    The primary causes of enemy casualties are well known to me. Your dismissal of the importance of small arms marksmanship because it was not a major creator of enemy casualties is based on a false equivalency and does not address the accidental discharge issue I brought forward.

    In your first paragraph you state: ""It served its purpose" is not an analysis of its effectiveness as a battlefield weapon.""

    In your second paragraph you write: " The M3 Submachine Gun did what it was supposed to do."

    These statements are mutually exclusive.

    By the way, the M3 Submachine Gun did what it was not supposed to do, accidentally discharge, sometimes killing or wounded the very men "it was supposed to serve" in combat.

    The primary causes of enemy casualties are well known to me. Your dismissal of the importance of small arms marksmanship because it was not a major creator of enemy casualties is based on a false equivalency and does not address the accidental discharge issue I brought forward.

    The fact that the prototype T20 was rated better than its competitors is irrelevant to the documented problem accidental discharge.
     
  9. EKB

    EKB Member

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    Not trying to question what you say, but it would be useful to show statistics about mishaps compared to production quantity. If we could compare accident rates of weapons it would shed more light than heat.
     
  10. WILD DUKW

    WILD DUKW Active Member

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    You are exactly right. We know it happened from the sources I cited. I know why it happened because I have handled the M3 grease gun and tested what one of the sources in a dry fire situation.

    Now all that is lacking is a survey of after action reports, official literature, unofficial sources, and autobiographies in order to quantify the results. As of right now we have three eyewitness accounts from men who served in three different units.

    I don't think the production quantity is a key factor. Seems to me an estimation of the number of M3s actually used in combat would be the important element with which to compare the number of incidents. Regardless, if sufficient data can be obtained, one could structure a report containing both quantitative and qualitative analysis of the number of incidents as they relate to the various factors.

    First, however, I'd like to see someone here admit the problem existed, and acknowledge the possibility that it might have been serious issue that deserves further investigation.
     
  11. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    This also occurred with other open-bolt submachine guns such as the Sten, M38, MP40, Sterling, etc etc. This was not unique to the M3 and this has nothing to do with production quality. This is a function of design parameters and is a risk with most open-bolt SMGs, especially with wartime expedient designs which do not implement a safety to prevent such actions from occuring.
     
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  12. Terry D

    Terry D Active Member

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    Kind of what I said previously. Now, if there is or was some kind of comparative test or study of the MP40, Sten, and M3--all open-bolt second generation SMGs with similar general characteristics--then we might get somewhere more definite. I wonder if APG or the British ever did anything like that.
     
  13. Terry D

    Terry D Active Member

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    Some people here have said that the problem of accidental discharge did indeed exist with the M3--I believe I said so myself in an earlier post.

    The Army recognized the problem too. The 1974 edition of FM 23-41 has this under the heading "Cocking":

    "Caution. If the gun is accidentally dropped, the bolt may be jarred far enough to the rear to clear the top cartridge in the magazine, but not far enough for the sear nose to engage in the sear notch. When this happens, the bolt will chamber and fire the cartridge as it goes forward."

    I don't know if earlier editions of the manual say the same. The question remains of how often this kind of accident happened.
     
  14. WILD DUKW

    WILD DUKW Active Member

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    On the other hand I can easily see it not working at all using the ball mount pictured. It's fun to imagine such things, and using one's imagination is a good thing, right?
     
  15. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    The problem is that the 231 FPW has several inches of clearance between the socket and magazine. Whereas, there is hardly any clearance on the M3/M3A1, as such, the magazine would foul the movement of the gun in such a socket mount.

    It would be much easier, and simpler, just to have a pistol port to stick the barrel of the gun out of. Something akin to the Tiger I
    [​IMG]
     
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  16. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    Several ball mounts out there, AFV & aerial, that mostly clamped the barrel.
    Not got enough ref on Bradley development to know, but it does appear the FPW crossed over from that M3 work quite quickly. It can only be speculation really without a manual sort of illustration or description from the development. Suppose a shorter magazine might help, but again speculating.
    I'd somehow expect a closed mount as the open firing port's always risen & fallen in popularity (though the Russians continued as fans. Clambered about inside a lovely 'NOS' BMP once, supplied with a full set of paper-wrapped AKs for the ports.). Not seen as a great idea in the NBC-obsessed world Bradley was born in, and the implication on sketchy Bradley stuff is that there was a system of some sort that was to be built around the SMG. Not sure a straightforward port would have been mentioned as specifically for one weapon or another.
    Whatever. One of those little AFV project details. Something will doubtless crop up one day, if the thing existed at all.
    Had a look on Wiki... As ever very vague, but the article there does at least mention RIA did the work. Might help, one day.
    Zaloga's Osprey on Bradley only really mentions the FPW in passing, and nothing on the M3 SMG.
    Just a picture of a FPW saying it has a 'firing port adapter' attached, and a couple of external shots of ports on early models & how they were patched over:

    bradley.JPG

    Not that the WW2 Germans didn't just stick with simple ports. The Nahverteidigungswaffe (CDW) & it's grenades continue to fascinate.
     
  17. WILD DUKW

    WILD DUKW Active Member

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    This is for all those poo-pers out there who so easily dismissed the discharge dangers of the M3 Grease Gun. I finally recalled another incident in which on of these weapons claimed the life of an American soldier. John Sword (aka Grumpy) was a squad leader in the I&R Platoon, 315th Infantry, 79th Infantry Division. (For those who are counting this is the fourth separate account of an M3 accidentally discharging from four separate units.) ANYONE BEGINNING TO SEE A PATTERN?

    Grumpy's War_0002.jpg Grumpy's M3 Grease Gun.jpg
     
  18. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    I usually stay away from such debates, but I don't understand why this discussion has carried on for so long.

    Your article above does not describe the mechanism by which the M3 discharged. It could have been the bolt accidentally closing on a live round due to a sharp jolt, it could have been the guy had his finger on the trigger and bumped it, it could have been a hang fire, etc etc.

    I've encounter sear failures on Stens which result in a full mag dump. A friend of a friend was killed by an accidental discharge by a Sterling after the butt hit on concrete. This does not make either the Sten or the Sterling the work of the devil, a bad gun, or an unsafe gun. Every engineered product is a compromise between good and bad, and the disadvantages endemic in open bolt guns are well known. I see no one here denying this -- what I see is a refusal to brand the M3 as a "piece of shit" on the basis that as an open-bolt gun it has a propensity to fail in a manner which is identical to other open-bolt guns, and it isn't as good as the Thompson. I would refer you to my Post 51, as well as Posts 52 and 53 from TerryD. For what its worth from my experiences the Thompson is a far better gun. The only thing I do not like about the Thompson is its bulk when carrying inside armored vehicles, in particular Sherman tanks. For this the M3 is better suited for my own purposes.

    PS: Am I one of these "poo-pers"? I will remind you that I did enjoy a Taco Bell dinner last night. Its good for lubricating the digestive tract.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
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  19. WILD DUKW

    WILD DUKW Active Member

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    It's not an article. It is a page from a war memoir written by a man I was privileged to know who served in the 315th Infantry.

    I am aware of what Grumpy says and does not say. It is an accidental discharge which may or may not be the result of some of the problems you mentioned. It is, however, worthy of consideration in light of the established pattern of accidental discharges experienced with this weapon.

    "For this the M3 is better suited for my own purposes." So you have actually used an M3 and handled it inside a Sherman tank? If not, how can you claim "the M3 is better suited for your own purposes"?

    Meant to write "poo-pooers" but decided not to change in because on reading it "poo-pers" somehow seemed more applicable.
     
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  20. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Before I get started just want to make it clear I'm not the "you"referenced below.
    They most assuredly are not indeed they are almost completely inclusive.

    The problem is you are looking at a few incidents and he's talking about the overall performance of the weapon.
    Not really or at least not obviously. Did the competitors also have this problem? It seems likely from some of the other info presented just in this thread. Just because a weapon has some flaws doesn't mean that it's not the best choice at the time especially in war time with the associated pressures.
    In statistics a sample size of less that 12 is usually considered completely worthless. The patter here is you are only quoting events that support your position. If you can only find 4 for such a widely produced and used weapon you have a very poor case.
     

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