The Sten Machine Carbine

by Peter Laidler, Capt, REME (V)

Deluxe First Edition, 2000
produced and edited by B Blake Stevens ISBN 04MMS-259-3
404 pages, 368 illustration

US $59.95 List

The Sten was born of sheer necessity in the bleak, dark days after Dunkirk, when Britain stood alone against Hitler's Wehrmacht.  Substantial Quantities of Thompson submachine guns had been ordered from America in early 1940, but they were expensive -- and after the fall of France in June, 1940, the pound Sterling was virtually worthless outside the Commonwealth.

The idea for the Sten first came to Harold Turpin, the Senior Draughtsman in the Design Department at RSAF Enfield, as he was working on War Office orders to reverse-engineer a captured German MP28(II) Schmeisser machine pistol into a weapon for the Royal Navy.   Realizing that (what was to become) the Lanchester was far too expensive and complex to be made in the quantities required within the critical time-frame before the expected German invasion, Turpin sketched out a simple, cheap trigger mechanism at his dining room table on the night of December 2, 1940.

The next day Harold Turpin showed his sketch to then-Major Reginald Shepherd, the Inspector of Armaments at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich. In his own words, Harold Turpin's proposal was "to produce five Stens for the price of one Lanchester, and fifteen for one Thompson". This proved to be the impetus for the entire programme and by the end of 1941 the 'STEN', named after Shepherd, Turpin and ENgland, had armed over 500,000 men. As shown in the Frontispiece, even King George VI was issued his own personal MkII Sten!

Over four million Stens were eventually produced; in Britain in a total of five service Marks and two silenced versions, plus several interesting experimentals; at six different manufactories and assembly plants. MkII I Stens were made in Canada, and two little-known versions of the Sten were manufactured in New Zealand. A further hybrid Sten copy called Austen, which embodied several features of the German MP38, was produced in Australia.

Thanks to the intentional simplicity of Harold Turpin's original design, hundreds of clandestine copies and clones of the Sten were secretly manufactured by weapon-starved Resistance groups in occupied Denmark, Norway, and Poland during World War II.

Overall, the Sten has probably been the most imitated submachine gun in the world -- even the German Reich copied the MkII Sten almost exactly (the Mauser Werke Potsdam Gerat), and later produced an 'improved' model (the MP3008, or Neumunster Gerat.

In more recent years, several commercial manufacturers in the United States have also produced copies of the Sten, including some interesting miniature "collectibles".

This in-depth study includes clear photos of all models and markings, manufacturers' codes and all components; plus chapters on How the Sten Works; Sten Myths Exploded; Armourers' Repair Procedures; Accessories and Ancillaries; and much, much more!

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