• Sten Machine Carbine Mk II (Mfg by Royal Ordnance Factory, Fazakerley in 1942)

    Sten Machine Carbine Mk II
    (Mfg by Royal Ordnance Factory, Fazakerley in 1942)

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    Caliber: ........................ 9mm Parabellum
    Rifling & Twist: ............ 2 or 6 Groove,Right Hand, 1:10"
    Barrel Length: .............. 7.75 in.
    Overall Length: ............ 2 ft, 6 in.
    Weight: ........................ 6 lbs, 10 oz
    Magazine Capacity: ...... 32 rounds
    Qty Mfg: ...................... 1,950,000 at Fazakerley, 2,466,383 total between August 1941 and March 1945.

    Source: .... The Sten Machine Carbine by Peter Laidler (2000) - ISBN: 0-88935-259-3

    Sten Machine Carbine Mk II

    (18 picture virtual tour)
    Observations: (by "Claven2")
    Note: Pics of rifle provided courtesy of Milsurps.com moderator Claven2.

    The First World War had demonstrated to the world the utility of the submachine gun. The Germans, in particular, had put the MP18 to good use with its 9mm parabellum cartridge and 32 round detachable snail drum magazine. The MP28 brought further refinements after the war, primarily by doing away with the temperamental and difficult to produce snail drum magazine in favor of a much simple box magazine.

    In 1940, after the set backs of Dunkirk, the British Ministry of Defense began to see the seriousness of the situation in europe and to recognize the value of the submachine gun, which hitherto had been thought of as a classless thug-weapon unworthy of widespread use by the British Tommy. Initially, the Royal Air Force began to push for some form of submachine gun for airfield defense with a strong preference for a copy of the expensive and difficult to produce German MP38. As the development of an entirely new or overly complex weapon was not feasible in a very short timeframe, it was decided to directly copy the German MP28, captured examples of which were reverse-engineered. Given the pressing need, the navy decided to join with the RAF in adopting the new weapon, and played a key role in its design. This "new" submachine gun was given the name Lanchester after George H. Lanchester, the man tasked with development and production of the gun at the Sterling Armament Company. Ultimately, only the Royal Navy would deploy the Lanchester in significant numbers.

    The Lanchester was supplanted for non-naval British forces by a more mass produceable submachine gun in the Sten Mk1. Designed and championed by Harold John Turpin and Col. Reginald V. Shepherd, the Sten MkI was superior to the Lanchester in that it was lighter, cheaper and much faster to produce. The basic premise of the Sten was developed in one evening (December 2, 1940) by Harold Turpin when he sketched the trigger and sear mechanism on a scrap of paper. The sketch still exists today and all Sten guns are still identical to that hand sketch.

    The Sten MkI was manufactured beginning in March of 1941 by the Singer Sewing Machine Company, Ltd. - ultimately 300,149 would be built including both MkI and MkI* patterns. The MkI* differed in that the wooden forestock was replaced with the now-familiar sheet steel cover and the spoon-billed flash eliminator. A Sten MkI* took 12 hours to manufacture.

    In late March 1941, Turpin received a request to modify the Sten for paratrooper use, making it lighter and more compact. The resultant gun would become the Sten MkII, and the first order was placed in August 1941 with Longbranch in Canada for 17,000 guns. In the UK, the guns were made by BSA (starting Sept. 1941), Fazakerley (starting Dec. 1941), and Theale (starting Mar. 1942). Prototypes were also made at RSAF Enfield. Fazakerley was to be the most prolific producer.

    Unlike many British firearms, the producer was not explicily marked on the UK-produced Sten guns (as opposed to Longbranch which did mark them). Rather, Fazakerley guns are prefixed with an "F", BSA guns with a "B" and Theale guns with a "T". Sometimes a second letter character proceeds the factory ID letter which increased by one letter after each run of 99,999 guns was produced.

    One problem that came to light during the war was the receiver tube construction. At one point, Drawn Over Mandrel (DOM) tubing became scarce and some tubes were made by rolling sheet metal stampings into tubes with integrated trigger housing plates. These did not prove strong enough in use and most were later scrapped. The parts were then re-used in production.

    Sten MkII's were produced with, primarily, two types of buttstocks. The early T-type stock (depicted on the subject Sten) and a loop-type stock aproximating the shape of a wooden rifle butt. Other versions of the Sten were produced with still more buttstock or pistol grip variations.

    Sten MkII bolts were produced both of machined steel, and of cast aluminum-bronze. The steel versions are much more commonly encountered as the Al-Bronze versions typically did not last as long in service before requiring replacement and were also made in fewer quantities. Their very existence was due to a general shortage of ordnance-grade steels during the war.

    British made Stens were not so much manufactured as assembled. Parts were made in small job shops all over England and assembled at one of the three primary factories. Often, not two parts on a Sten will seem to have been made in the same town. One of the most obvious differences is in the magazine housing assemblies. Sten guns with consecutive serial numbers could differ in that one type was gas welded and left rough, while the next gun could be arc welded and sanded smooth. These types of differences no doubt led to the often unwarranted perception among soldiers that the Sten guns were of low quality or unsafe. when properly maintained and in serviceable condition, the Sten was a reliable and deadly weapon, often outperforming the well-liked Thompson in adverse conditions.

    The very great majority of British-produced Sten guns will be finished in a black paint called Suncorite 259. This is a painted on and baked coating used on many British MOD issued steel pieces of kit which is all but impervious to caustic agents and the elements. In contrast, the Longbranch made guns were either blued or parkerized. The gun depicted above is phosphated and then Suncorite painted, likely on more than one occasion, though the current coat is mostly intact.

    The Sten was eventually produced in an all-stamped receiver variant, the MkIII, by Lines Brothers. Additionally, A MkV version was produced with a wooden buttstock a longer sight radius, a pistol grip, and on early examples, a foregrip. Silenced versions such as the MkIIS were also produced for special operations and the basic design of the Sten was copied and adapted by many nations, including the Germans themselves who sought a cheaper alternative to the MP40.

    Although Commonwealth production of the Sten MkII ceased in 1945, the guns continued to be issued in Canada and the UK and only began to be phased out with adoption of the Sterling 9mm submachine gun by both countries, though the UK Royal Navy used the guns well into the 1960's as a replacement to the Lanchester [note: in Canada the Sterling was referred to as the C1]. In India, where it was also standard issue, the guns continued in use much longer, well into the 1980's.



    Collector's Comments and Feedback:

    1. The majority of collectors will not have an opportunity to own an original, live, select-fire Sten. In most of Europe, ownership of live Stens is outright banned. In the US, pre-ban models are rare and expensive, while semi-automatic versions are modified to fire from a closed bolt. In Canada, only a select few "grandfathered" owners can retain originals, though modern semi-automatic copies can be purchased or made in both open and closed bolt configuration under certain tightly controlled conditions.

    The vast majority of Stens in private ownership and collections are deactivated. The degree of this deactivation varies from place to place based upon the laws in effect in each region. Nevertheless, Sten collecting, either live or deactivated, remains a popular passtime and the information above applies equally in all cases.

    The Sten depicted in the above gallery is a UK-made Fazakerley example out of British service which had been upgraded to MkV cocking handle and has been Factory Thorough Repaired (FTR'd) at least once. At some point a second serial number was applied to the gun for reasons unknown. In all likelihood the original electro-pencilled serial number was at one time hard to read after being re-painted in suncorite so the armorers applied a new number. It is deactivated in that the bolt face will no longer support a cartridge and the barrel was been permanently welded to the receiver and the bore plugged. In all other respects, it still mechanically operates.
    ........... (Feedback by "Claven2")
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Sten Machine Carbine Mk II (Mfg by Royal Ordnance Factory, Fazakerley in 1942) started by Badger View original post
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Brian227's Avatar
      thanks
    1. philb's Avatar
      out of interest how much of the sten was hand filed finished ? receiver etc
    1. Badger's Avatar
      These comments sections in the MKL are not designed for interactive feedback, only comments about the articles. In the case of this type of library item, I think you'll have better luck getting an answer by posting your question in the main forums.

      Regards,
      Doug
Warpath Vintage