In the HBO® epic Band of Brothers, there is a brief “firearms oops” in the scene where Private Webster confronts a baker who is reluctant to supply bread from his shop to the starving prisoners of the liberated Nazi Concentration camp outside town. He stuffs his GI .45 into the baker’s face to gain cooperation, but the pistol he is using isn’t a GI .45. Watch carefully—you will see white three-dot sights on Webster’s gun. Short supply of the real deal resulted in a substitution of a modern commercial replica pistol of the “loosely based on” variety.
In May 1921, Gen. John Taliaferro Thompson went on a sales tour of Europe, visiting Belgium, Britain, France and Spain to promote his innovative “submachine gun,” a term he coined for the fully automatic .45 ACP that arrived too late for service in World War I. He was invited to demonstrate the Model 1921 at the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield on June 30, 1921, which he did with some success. The chief inspector of small arms’ report illustrates his concerns with the accuracy and reliability of the gun. He was particularly puzzled by the requirement for the Blish locking system, albeit couched in faintly impenetrable army technical language.
The U.S. Army wasn’t particularly impressed with the concept of a submachine gun, and little ordnance research and development was done following World War I. However, a distinguished Ordnance Dept. officer who retired a couple of years before America’s entry into that war felt that the submachine gun had the potential to be an extremely valuable arm.
John Taliaferro Thompson entered the U.S. Army in 1882 and made a name for himself during the Spanish-American War directing the supply of munitions during a time of near chaos. Thompson was later a key player in the development of two legendary American military arms—the M1903 Springfield rifle and the M1911 .45 pistol.