George Hyde’s First Submachine Gun: The Hyde Model 33

George Hyde was a gun designer who is due substantial credit, but whose name is rarely heard, because he did not end up with his name on an iconic firearm. Hyde was a German immigrant to the United States in 1927 who formed the Hyde Arms Company and started designing submachine guns. His first was the Model 33, which we have here today. This quickly evolved into the Model 35, which was tested by Aberdeen Proving Grounds in the summer of 1939. It was found to have a number of significant advantages over the Thompson, but also some durability problems. The problems could probably have been addressed, but Hyde (who had gone from working as shop foreman at Griffin & Howe to later becoming chief designer for GM’s Inland division during WWII) had already moved on to a better iteration. His next design was actually adopted as the M2 to replace the Thompson, but production problems caused it to be cancelled. The M3 Grease Gun was chosen instead, and Hyde had designed that as well. He was also responsible for the design of the clandestine .45 caliber Liberator pistol.

The Hyde Model 33 is a blowback submachine gun which obviously took significant influence from the Thompson – just look at the front grip, barrel ribs, controls, magazine well, and stock design. However, it was simpler, lighter, and less expensive than the Thompson. It fared better than the Thompson in military mud and dust tests, probably in part because of its unusual charging handle, a long rod mounted in the rear cap of the receiver. This was pulled rearward to cycle the bolt, a bit like the AR15 charging handle. Like the AR15, this setup eliminated the need for an open slot in the receiver. Apparently, however, the handle had a disconcerting habit of bouncing back into the face of the shooter when firing.

13 Comments

    • The Thompson was simplified somewhat, going from the Blish Block delayed blowback to a pure blowback. It was still rather heavy. (Of course, no-one has ever created a piece of equipment which was light enough to satisfy a foot soldier. 🙂

      • “It was still rather heavy.”
        It should be remembered that Thompson become default U.S. sub-machine gun, mainly due to lack of alternative (no other sub-machine gun could be delivered fast enough/in enough quantity), rather than superiority of it design.
        It was just heavy (M1928 – 4,9 kg empty) compared even to contemporary .45 sub-machine gun: Halcon M/943 at 4,05 kg (empty).
        While cost of manufacture and mass were definitely disadvantage Thompson, ergonomic-wise it should be praised in comparison to WW2 weapons. In area of ergonomics it inspired Australian OWEN sub-machine and post-war Ingram Model 6 POLICE sub-machine gun:
        https://modernfirearms.net/en/submachine-guns/u-s-a-submachine-guns/ingram-m6-eng/

      • “Stamped firearms were not a thing in the U.S. (nor almost anywhere) in the 1930s, so there’s a lot to be considered in what would have been “easier.”(…)”
        I think M1 Carbine is relevant here, because it was popular U.S. fire-arms, not only in term of raw number of produced overall, but also numbers of manufacturers involved.
        According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M1_carbine#Production
        largest producer was the Inland division of General Motors, but many others were made by contractors as diverse as IBM, the Underwood typewriter company, and the Rock-Ola jukebox company.
        There are also prices given and M1 Carbine was much cheaper than Thompson:
        M1 carbine was also one of the most cost effective weapons used by the United States Military during World War II. At the beginning of World War II the average production cost for an M1 carbine was approximately $45, about half the cost of an M1 rifle at approximately $85 and about a fifth of the cost of a Thompson submachine gun at approximately $225

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