I’m flattered to say that we received another research question from the Pattern Room, and a bit dejected to say that once again it was something I couldn’t provide a good answer to. However, the information that is available is certainly interested by itself, and perhaps someone reading this will recognize the gun and be able to tell us more about it.
The gun is the Andrews Machine Carbine:
This photo (and the other two below) came from a Dutch gun magazine, where they accompanied an article which said, basically, “we have no idea what this thing is an no other information on it”. One of Ian Hogg’s books does actually reference it, and that is really the only source of information about it, aside from inferences made form the photos. So, here are the data point that Hogg mentions:
- It was designed by an Australian, named Andrews
- It is chambered for standard 9mm Parabellum cartridges
- Prototypes were made in 1943 by BSA, for British Army trials
- It used two full-length guide rods, one above and one below the barrel
- The guide rods carried a pair of recoil springs, as well as carrying the bolt inside the receiver
In addition to this information, a couple things are apparent:
- The gun uses standard Sten magazines
- The bolt occupies the full volume of the inside of the receiver, thus requiring the firing mechanism parts to be mounted on the outside in a separate housing
- It has a sliding dust cover to close off the ejection port. Not clear if it is manual or opens automatically when firing
- The grip folds up, although is does not cover the trigger (which is offset on the right side of the gun)
- It is equipped with a sling or lanyard loop on the back of the receiver
So much for the facts. Now, for my speculation…
The compact design, folding grip, and sling loop and suggest to me that this was intended to be a covert weapon intended to use by the Cloak & Dagger folks. With the grip folded and no magazine (and presumably without have “MACHINE CARBINE” engraved on it), this would not look like a firearm to the casual observer. It could be carried hanging under the arm, rather like a Bonnie & Clyde style whippit gun.
Mechanically, it appears to be a pretty straightforward blowback submachine gun. The trigger group being mounted on the side looks unusual, but really isn’t any more complex than the standard mounting position under the receiver, and does reduce the overall dimensions of the piece. Presumably the threaded guide rod connections at the front would have been much similified once the gun went into serial production (which never actually happened)…although perhaps they were intended to make the gun look less like a gun.
As far as anyone can tell, this never went past prototype stage, and most likely there are no surviving examples of the gun. If anyone knows more about it, we would be very interested to hear from you!