Tuesday 7 May 2019

"Tommy Gons"

"From Washington
#11115, 11116
00:45 August 14th, 1941

Immediate priority
To: Stalin, Molotov, Shaposhnikov
  1. The American government officially asks if we need submachineguns currently used by the American military (the so called "Tommy gons"), as well as ammunition for them, and in what amounts. The caliber is 11.53 mm, weight 3.5 kg, effective range of 400 m, the length is about the same as the PPD, top rate of fire is 500 RPM. Three types of magazines: 20, 50, 100 rounds. Muzzle velocity around 300 meters per second. The cartridges are the revolver type. Looks like the Americans have a large stock of this machinegun. It might be good for arming reconnaissance units, paratroopers, cavalry, motorcyclists, and partisans. I request your instruction for the volume of the order.
  2. In the same official way (in writing), the American government asks if we need all-terrain  4x4 reconnaissance cars. The exact type was not named, but it is produced by Ford (300 units per day) top speed of 65 kph across bad terrain, 1/4 ton tow capacity, 45 L of fuel capacity, 6 gears forward and 2 reverse, 24 cm clearance, armed with one 7.62 mm machinegun and carries 1200 rounds of ammunition, can be used by reconnaissance, communications, patrols, as a commander's car, a tractor for a 37 mm gun, or for carrying ammunition. Costs around 1000 dollars. I repeat that I am not sure that this is the exact type that will be sent, but I request your instructions regarding purchasing cars of this type.
  3. The American government asks us about the required number of trucks and medium tractors (likely gas fuelled, as is it the most common type here).
August 14th, 1941
Golikov, Umanskiy"
"To Washington
Sent 19:40 August 15th, 1941


Umanskiy, Golikov

1. Agree to take the "Tommy gons" submachinegun, about 2-3 thousand rounds per gun or more. We can accept 10 thousand or more units. If they can give more, say 20 thousand, we will gladly take them. We also agree to take 5000 units of the Ford reconnaissance vehicle.

2. We are in great need of armour for tanks, as was previously communicated by me to Umanskiy and Lukashev. Push this matter through urgently, as the production of our tanks depends on supplies of armoured plates.


RGASPI 558-11-385 pp.111-113


  1. 18 hours to receive a message, decrypt it, pass on to the correct authority, decide to buy a big load of stuff without properly knowing what it actually is that you are buying, without knowing the price of the Thompson, writing a reply and encripting it and sending it,.. ( not that the stuff they bought was bad, it was the best the us got at that time and i believe it was genuinely good stuff, altough the Thompson was to expensive)
    Those where clearly diffrent and desperate times. Do we know when these jeeps and thompson guns started to arrive?

    And was this the first order or where there eaven earlier orders?
    Reading this gives me the idea they basically wanted to buy anything they could.

    1. If it wasn't the first, it would have been one of the first, the Western Allies were unwilling to send aid to the USSR in fear that Germany would defeat it and their equipment would end up in German hands. It wasn't until Barbarossa was blunted that aid was sent.

      Equipment started to arrive in the fall, I don't know when the Tommy guns were shipped specifically. Trials of these guns were performed in March of 1942, likely these were very first trials, since the ammo that came with them was very heterogeneous, vastly inconsistent in type, quality, manufacturer, etc. Presumably it was collected in great hurry from any source that could be found.

  2. And while the Thompson's were incredibly expensive ( they cost more than twice what our .30 cal machines guns cost). We were leasing them and everything else we sent. Leasing weapons in wartime is not a profitable venture. But it allowed us to get around neutrality laws.

    1. Well, depends on how you're defining profitability. Warfare in general, even by proxy, is dreadfully expensive for the *state* (modern centralised territorial states originally evolved specifically to meet the spiraling costs of rulers' military adventures and blocking those of rivals) but any number of actors further down the pole tend to make quite the bank off it. All that money, after all, doesn't just disappear into thin air but gets transferred to varying numbers of people as wages and fees and whatever.

  3. Your comment, brought something to mind. America invented the idea of Lend Lease as a political way of getting weapons to other countries at a low cost, because those countries were the ones doing the fighting. I have never read about how this worked. Did our government buy the weapons from our factories, or did we just force the factories to lease the weapons to foreign countries knowing the weapons would not last for long and the loss be written off by the company or it's insurance company. Not much is written about how much our government took over every aspect of our economic lives during WW 2.

    1. Tolerably sure the practical marshaling of state resources in the great "wars to end wars" of the early 20th century have been studied in downright obsessive detail; whether such works are of the kind one runs into outside fairly specialised scientific literature and in the more approachable "popular history" syntheses is a wholly different matter.

      Anyway, p sure the governement just purchased the goods as normal and shipped them off - or just allowed "cash and carry" foreign purchases before the establishement of the Lend-Lease system. Roosevelt somewhat facetiously sold the program to the public as a "loan" of materiel - in practice almost all was either used up or would have been nonsensical to return - when it factually amounted to using US taxpayer money to supply foreign states fighting a common enemy, but I'm quite positive had he tried something of the sort you describe the manufacturers would have straight up laughed derisively in his face (and gone bankrupt if coerced into submission) and the political sphere outright crucified him for flagrant transgression against fundamental US civil and economic rights and principles.
      Upside down.
      By the balls.
      Would probably have completely imploded the workings of the domestic economy too, idk - I'm no economist but it's kind of a self-evident truth that if factories are to keep running they need to be able to afford their raw materials, replacement parts etcetera and pay their various employees (who can scarcely keep working for very long if they can't put bread on the table)...

      Not to mention that L-L included very considerable amounts of inherently expendable goods such as various raw materials, ammunition, medicines and foodstuffs.