Semiauto M2 Hyde Reproduction: The Interim US WW2 Subgun

George Hyde designed the gun that would eventually be adopted as the M2 submachine gun in the late 1930s, and it was first tested at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in October of 1939. At that time, the gun had many good traits (weight, handlings, etc) but suffered from parts breakage and unreliability. Hyde went back to work on the gun at the Inland Division of GM, and came back with a much improved version in April of 1942.

The Inland-Hyde SMG was chambered for .45 ACP ammunition and used standard Thompson magazines, and was poised to become the US Army’s new submachine gun, replacing the overly expensive Thompson. The Hyde passed a 6080 round endurance test with flying colors, and exhibited much better effectiveness in fully automatic than the Thompson. At the end of the April tests, it was formally accepted to replace the Thompson and given the designation M2.

A contract was given to the Marlin company (Inland being busy with other projects) to manufacture 164,450 of the guns, with delivery to begin in December 1942. However, Marlin had problems tooling up to produce the new gun, in particular with dies for several parts to be made using powdered metal sintering. Actual delivery of the first guns did not happen until May of 1943. In the meantime, Hyde and Inland had continued working on cheaper and simpler designs, and created the stamped sheet metal M3 “Grease Gun”. By the time the M2 was actually ready for delivery, the M3 had been tested and accepted by the Army as a better replacement than the M2. By mid-June, the M2 was declared obsolete and Marlin’s contract cancelled.

In total only about 500 M2 submachine guns were made, with (I believe) 6 surviving today. The example in this video is a semiautomatic-only reproduction made from scratch by a viewer of the channel, who graciously offered to loan it to me for this filming. Thanks, K!

37 Comments

  1. “replacing the overly expensive Thompson”
    How does M2 Hyde price compare to M1 Carbine? According to link below cost of one Gun, Submachine, Caliber .45, M2. was $38.58 in 1942. Wikipedia query M1 Carbine says that At the beginning of World War II the average production cost for an M1 carbine was approximately $45 but I do not know if it was fixed or changed until 1945?

    “George Hyde designed the gun that would eventually be adopted as the M2 submachine gun in the late 1930s, and it was first tested at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in October of 1939”
    https://www.americanrifleman.org/articles/2017/5/1/the-m2-submachine-gun/ says that A Brooklyn, N.Y., gun designer, George J. Hyde, had patented a submachine gun in 1935. and shows excerpt from that patent, showing gun similar to M2.

    • Retired UK military armourer Peter Laidler asserted that each Thompson cost His Majesty’s government between 45 and 55 pounds.

      • Fifteen Stens could be produced for the cost of a single imported Thompson, or five for the labor and materials on the fusty MP28,II naranjero Lanchester clone

        • BSA produced Sten MkIIs initially at £4-7-3d. (4.36), but reduced cost to £2-16-6d. (2.82). ROF Fazakerly ultimately reduced the cost of a MkII Sten to just £1-14s. (1.70). [Laidler, 37].

          • According to Wikipedia, the initial unit cost of the M1 carbine was $45 USD, approximately half the $94 dollar unit cost of the M1 Garand self-loading rifle, or “clip-fed, shoulder-fired, gas-operated, air-cooled, semi-automatic” killing machine, if you prefer.

  2. If production had gone well, where would the M2 serve? Is it light and handy enough for paratrooper usage without chasing the weapons canister?

    • “If production had gone well, where would the M2 serve”
      Where other .45 sub-machine guns were used.

      “Is it light and handy enough for paratrooper usage without chasing the weapons canister”
      Hard to say what would be weight of paratrooper version (i.e. with folding stock rather than fixed wooden), but nonetheless as it uses .45 Auto cartridge you could bring less cartridge for same mass than .30 Carbine cartridges.

      • While the M1 Carbine certainly has better performance than any sub-machine gun of the same era, it was also misunderstood. I assume that only secondary line troops were given the M1 carbine as everyone else at the front carried a full strength rifle (not including machine gunners or any person with the M1918 BAR). In any case, the two main cartridges of the American infantry squad were .30-06 and .45 ACP, which means any serious weapon sent to the front was going to shoot one or the other. Exceptions to the trend generally gave the quartermaster a headache, which explains the lack of mass issue of the M1 Carbine. When I say mass issue I mean issuing the same weapon to everyone (or at least the majority) in the platoon as opposed to giving the item to the platoon leader only. I could be wrong.

        • Um, yes, you are.

          Between 1940 and 1945, the U.S. military acquired approximately one million M1 Garand rifles, some 250,000 .45 caliber SMGs of the Thompson (Blish retarded blowback), M1A1 (closed-bolt straight blowback TSMG), and M2 (open-bolt API TSMG) models, some 140,000 M3 SMGs (The M3A1 version wasn’t introduced until late in 1945, after VJ Dsy)- and some six million M1, M1A1 (paratrooper folding-stock), M2 (selective-fire, introduced June 1944), and M3 (IR sniperscope equipped, introduced secretly July 1944 in PTO) Carbines.

          Those Carbines weren’t all sold overseas under Lend Lease and they weren’t all sitting in armories Stateside. Besides paratroops, the carbines were standard issue for support units like engineers, artillery, and service forces (quartermasters’, etc.). They were also issued to tank crews in preference to .45 SMGs as they were more effective vs. enemies armed with rifles in terms of effective range (300 yards vs 100-150).

          They were also extensively used by the Marine Corps in the Pacific Theater, as their light weight and short overall length compared to the Garand or 1903, coupled with the greater penetration of the .30 carbine bullet over the .45 SMG bullet, made them a more effective weapon for jungle warfare. the phulippiner resistance received a large number for this exact reason, plus the fact that you could get three Carbine rounds in the same space as one .30-06, or 6 rounds in the same space as one 12-gauge shotgun shell, when loading a submarine for a supply run.

          Incidentally, a single .30 Carbine round, complete, weighs 195 grains with the standard 110-grain FMJ ball projectile. The .45 ACP FMJ bullet by itself weighs 230 grains. So no, the .30 USC round does not weigh more than a .45 ACP cartridge.

          The M1 Garand was the standard weapon for frontline infantry in all theaters after early 1943 (when supply finally caught up with demand). But everybody else generally had the M1 carbine.

          cheers

          eon

          • Thanks for the correction, I thought something was off. I’m beginning to think that the M1 Carbine is sidelined in movies and games because most people look at (or play as) infantry. Tank crews generally do not use their issued long arms unless they are dismounted. And engineers, artillerymen, and logistics guys generally don’t want to get within rifle range of the other team, which explains why they don’t get more presence in the popular media. And let’s not get started on the special camouflage engineers.

          • The impression I get is that a lot of sergeants and officers carried M1 carbines at the front. No one was relying on pistols as their sole armament. Figure the sheer number of guys having to occasionally travel to dangerous areas as part of their specialty, which in other armies would mean they’d carry pistols.

          • “So no, the .30 USC round does not weigh more than a .45 ACP cartridge.”
            I wrote that? I did not want. To keep things clear
            One .45 Auto cartridge mass is 21,4 g
            One .30 Carbine cartridge mass is 12,5 g
            One .30 Carbine cartridge is lighter than one .45 Auto cartridge

            Hope, that this is now clear.

          • Regarding M1 Carbine popularity it is worth noting that according to Wikipedia query .30 Carbine:
            In 1944, Smith & Wesson developed a hand-ejector revolver to fire .30 Carbine. It went through 1,232 rounds without incident. From a four-inch (102 mm) barrel, it launched the standard GI ball projectile at 1,277 ft/s (389 m/s), producing an average group of 4.18 inches (106 mm) at 25 yards (23 m); the military decided not to adopt the revolver.
            Even if not finally adopted, it suggest that M1 Carbine was popular enough to grant development of handgun using its cartridge.

            To say about actual usage of M1 Carbine we would need to analyze photos of that era, possibly big number, which I do not ever attempt to do. But want to point one photo: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:First_Iwo_Jima_Flag_Raising.jpg
            if your reaction is hey, that event looked differently! you might be confusing real event (as shown there) with sculptor impression: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_Corps_War_Memorial

          • Daweo;

            As W.H.B. Smith points out in Small Arms of the World, the S&W .30 USC revolver was essentially a Model 10 Victory Model with the same heat-treatment as the larger N-frame .357 magnum 9later called the Model 27). Its intended purpose was as a backup sidearm for paratroops armed with the M1A1 carbine, being lighter than the M1911A1 .45 pistol and using the same ammunition as their issued long arm.

            What did the project in was the fact that firing the .30 Carbine round from a lightweight pistol generated unacceptable blast, flash and recoil. As anyone today who has ever fired a Ruger Single Six in .30 or the Automag III self-loader in the same caliber will attest.

            It can certainly be learned, and handloads can be developed to make it less traumatic for the shooter while retaining the ballistic advantages of the high-velocity (by handgun standards) .30 USC round, But that’s not something you generally want to spend time and assets on in wartime.

            Jeff Cooper pointed out that accurate handloads for the .30 in a Ruger revolver ended up in the same ballistic range as the old .32-20 Winchester high-speed “Rifle Only” loads. His opinion was that the “Rifle Only” advisory was less inspired by real problems than out litigious culture. Both he and Elmer Keith routinely used handloads in .32-20 Colt Peacemakers and S&W Model 10s that would have the gun makers perspiring and lawyers salivating.

            The .327 Federal has largely out-evoved all of the above. Given the choice between a .30 USC Ruger single-action today, and one in .327, I’d take the latter, just because it can also use .32 S&W (long or short) the same way a .357 can also chamber .38 Special.

            There’s a lot to be said for versatility.

            cheers

            eon

          • As any student of the Battle of Iwo Jima knows, there were *two* flag raisings on Mt. Suribachi. The first is in Denny’s *First Iwo Jima Flag Raising* on Wikipedia. It was decided that a larger flag and a longer pole would be required. So another group went to the summit with additional photographers and a film crew. That footage became the most famous U.S. photograph of the war–tied perhaps with the immediate post-war “kissing sailor?” At any rate, the second flag raising is the one in the statue/monument with Pima Indian Ira Hayes and so on.

            Carbines were carried by ammo carriers/ porters, mortarmen, machine gunners, messengers, bazooka teams, jeep drivers, radio men, NCOs, many officers, etc. etc. etc. They were ubiquitous in WWII, and as other posters have noted, in the Pacific War proved popular.

            While not a rifle, it was certainly the *best pistol* of the war by a long shot… (see what I did there?!) as revealed in Ian’s review of the Soviet Stetchkin machine pistol.

    • New technologies were traditionally ‘make or break’ factor in product developments. I came first time to touch with sintered powder technology on this continent; they were hubs for chain saw clutches. It would be expensive and close to impossible to make them by hobbing (cutting spline portion). Now we have method such as MIM in common use. Thus, to know HOW to make the parts is important, it drives design process.

      For example, M.Johnson smartly applied electro-resistant (arc) welding on receivers of his rifles and later machineguns. Thru this method he was able to connect efficiently rear cast/ machined portion with sheet metal front.

    • The duPont companies (which include General Motors and used to include Remington) were early adopters of powder metallurgy for forming complex shapes.

      Powder metallurgy is actually fairly old, probably going back to the 18th or early 19th century on a very small scale

      It was one of the few ways to get any of the platinum metals into useable sized pieces, as the melting points were far too high to melt and cast them, and they are usually too hard to forge weld.
      Other methods like using arsenic to create an alloy with a lower melting point, then oxidising the arsenic to leave the formed platinum behind – were fraught with fairly obvious problems.

      Into the twentieth century, and powder metallurgy was (and I think still is) the only way to create solid pieces of tungsten, ready to be drawn into lamp filaments.

      Following the effective cutting off of the supply of diamonds used make the dies for drawing tungsten filaments, to the Axis during Wwii
      A new technology was experimented with;

      Forming the drawing dies from metal carbides by sintering, as an ersatz alternative to using diamonds.

      Tungsten carbides seem to dominate now, but at times other carbides have been tried, including tantalum and uranium carbides.

      I gather that some of the people involved in developing sintered tungsten carbides, later ended up in Sweden with Atlas Copco, where they were able to develop the technology to make carbide inserts for rock drills, and as a corollary, carbide inserts for metal working tools.

      The technology actually comes full circle, and so long as any metal that can form carbides is already fully combined with carbon, you can include diamonds in the mix. Very useful for making diamond impregnated saw blades.

      In more general engineering, powder metallurgy allows complex parts to be made with less distortion than with castings.

      It also allows otherwise incompatible properties to be combined, for example in bearings where metals that wont alloy can be combined in a very fine grained mix

      The part can also be made porous, for example “oilite” bushes.

      Hope this explains some of it.

  3. This is remarkably good looking creation by Mr. Hide, minus the swell receiver portion. Shame he did not manage to carry it thru. My first impression (while overlooking size of magazine) was that this is chambered for .30cal M1 carbine. The overall size certainly suggests so.

    Actually, there is a method,in order to lower mass of breech, how to substitute for by use of stronger drive springs. It involves mechanism which disconnects automatically at time of charging and reconnects back before trigger is pulled; thus the charging resistance is manageable. If open bolt system is used, the momentum forward add to it.

      • I still think it’s a shame.

        I respect the M3’s reliability and controllable rate of fire. On the other hand, I hate how so many Gen 2 SMGs squandered any short-barrel compactness advantages by pointlessly using rear-seared fire control groups, even though they’d figured out front-seared FCGs in Gen 1.

        I’d love to see what Hyde could have done if, rather than scrapping the M2 and starting over, he’d evolved it into an M3 along the lines of:
        -M2 FCG and grip on a stamped or square-tube lower.
        -Same reliable, easy to load, and plentiful double-feed TSMG mags.
        -Stock mounted to the lower (no swell for the upper) would be easy to saw and rout in minutes.
        -Excessive LOP “engineered away” in three seconds on a chop saw.
        -M3-like bolt (with wider feed lip and front sear notch) in a DOM-tube upper, rather than the massive amount of engineering required for dies and jigs to stamp and weld two mating, odd-shaped halves into (for all functional purposes) a cylinder on a box.

        More compact, more ergonomic; less time on the drawing board, more guns in troops’ hands sooner.

  4. Was pretty excited when I first clicked the link. The headline made me think somebody was bringing a semi-auto repro to market. Can’t imagine there would be anywhere enough demand to warrant serial production. Truly a Forgotten Weapon.

  5. Amazing that this custom repro was made. Congrats and Kudos to the manufacturer! Now make me that prototype pre browning Colt auto pistol! 🙂
    Of course this does point out that American ingenuity will be making guns even if the manufacturers disappear.

    • Yeah, I too marvel at the fact that at the end of the description text, and so casually during the video, Ian is all like, “yep, here’s a gun one of the viewers made, and sent in for testing…”

      And all I could think of was, wait a minute, full stop, did you just say somebody just happened to have the engineering skill, the machining experience, the woodworking ability, and the overall mechanical capacity and aptitude to slap together a (more or less) fully faithful WORKING REPRODUCTION of a dead design that ran limited production numbers to begin with? What? Seriously??

      Yep, and he even picked a nice wood grain, and did an amazing job on the markings, etc. What kind of website is this? Who else but Ian has this level of expertise just randomly floating around out there in the comments section of the internet? Only Forgotten Weapons has viewers sending in, you know, fully functional 70 yr old protypes…

      Why did he make it? Because he could.

      _______

      Amazing. All of you people.
      _______

      Need more proof, scroll up and read what “Keith in England” said about sintered metal mfg. Or “eon’s” breakdown of M1Carbine production, or just about any of “Daweo’s” well researched posts. There are tons of others too. There is such a depth and richness to the level of collective abilities/experience here. Truly a unique corner of the web.

      So yes, to the viewer who took the time, mapped it out, overcame the hurdles, reworked the problem part until it was just right, and finally became content with the finished product, to you we all say, well done, man. Impressive.

      I always come for the entertainment, I always leave with an education…

  6. The M3 also used the concept of a short, large diameter bolt. That M2 really sits between Thompson and Grease gun.

    Ian, assessment of recoil of an open bolt submachine gun based on firing a closed-bolt reproduction may not be accurate.

  7. Interesting in that it almost has a straight-line stock.

    The swell in the receiver for the oversized bolt reminds me of the spring tube in break-barrel air rifles. I imagine it has a similar effect on weight distribution, shifting the balance point of the gun rearwards.

  8. Ian,

    The USMA museum in Highland Falls NY has an original M2 SMG if you ever want to see one. I still have some contacts there with the History and Public Affairs Department…

    Thanks for doing what you do!

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