The Sten Gun
The British Army entered the Second World War without an adequate submachine gun of its own. During the battles on the Continent in 1940, the need for one was made apparent. At the time, only US Thompsons were available. A British copy of the German MP 28, called the Lanchester, was rushed into service, but it was complicated and not easily built in large numbers.
In early 1941, a prototype was put forth by the Royal Small Arms Factory in England, inspired by captured German MP40s. It was named by using the initials of its its designers, Major RV Sheffield and Mister HJ Turpin, and adding them to the first two letters of Enfield, the location of a small arms factory and arsenal. The Sten Gun was first used at Dieppe by Canadian troops. It completely replaced the Thompson in Northwest Europe by the time of the Normandy landings in June 1944.
The Mark I Sten, which featured a flash hider, wooden furniture, and folding hand grip, was quickly replaced by the Sten Mark II, which saw widespread issue. Two million examples of this Mark were produced. The Sten was a very simply built weapon, manufactured from just 47 parts, mainly stamped from steel and welded, sweated, pressed or riveted together. The only machined parts were the bolt and barrel. It's compact size, simplicity of manufacture, and ease of dismantling (and hiding) made it a favourite among Resistance groups on the Continent. As well, it could use captured German 9mm ammunition. In fact, the magazine was a very close copy of the German MP40 magazine, which unfortunately meant that like the German version, it was prone to jamming.
The Sten Mark II could be fitted with a silencer, becoming the very first silenced SMG. Large numbers of the silenced version were made.
The Sten Mark III was an even simpler version introduced by Lines Brothers, a firm of toy makers, and was issued out out by the time of the Normandy landings. While possibly the best Sten version of the Sten, it was not produced in large numbers. It's main feature was a fixed barrel and all-in-one body and casing.
MkII Mk III Mk V Calibre 9 mm Parabellum Magazine 32 round detachable box Length 762mm
30 inches Unloaded Weight 2.95 kg
6 lb 8 oz 3.18 kg
7 lb 3.86 kg
8 lb 8 oz Cyclic Rate of Fire 550 rpm 550 rpm 600 rpm Muzzle Velocity
The Sten Mark V was introduced for airborne troops, though no real improvements were made. Cosmetically, a wooden butt, a pistol grip, and a fore grip were added, along with a bayonet lug (to accept the spike bayonet of the No. 4 rifle).
The Sten was issued to vehicle crews, despatch riders, and those who had no need for a long range weapon. In the main, however, it was issued to infantry battalions, especially platoon commanders, platoon sergeants, and section leaders in infantry platoons. Officers also carried them. On the night of 8-9 June 1944, during confused fighting in the town of Bretteville, a German despatch rider, thinking the town had been secured by his unit, rode past the battalion headquarters of the Regina Rifles. No less a person than the Commanding Officer personally brought the despatch rider down with his Sten gun. Another Canadian battalion commander in Normandy is also noted to have personally hunted down a German sniper, tracked him to a barn, and personally "gunned the bastard down" with his Sten.
Artifacts from the collection of Sergeant Dennis Russell.
Mark II Sten Guns, showing the attachment of the sling as well as alternate styles of butt stocks.
The Sten at top also shows how the magazine housing could be rotated.
Last edited by #juan; Sep 20th, 2008 at 01:10 PM..