By Frank Iannamico
The ambiguous British Sten machine carbine (submachine gun) of WWII fame has been one of the most copied firearms in all of military history. Although unrefined and often described as crude and even ugly. The Sten offered a cost effective solution to any country that was in need of inexpensive small arms. The real beauty of the Sten lies in its simple design that could be easily manufactured, even by undeveloped nations with few manufacturing resources. Although crude, it is as effective as the most expensive Thompson when in the hands of determined, well trained troops.
The British Sten was made in several models or “marks”. The British manufactured over two million of the most common Mark II model. The Mark II was also the most copied version. The Sten’s of various marks were issued by the British up until 1953. The British eventually replaced the Sten with the similar, but more refined Sterling submachine gun.
The Sten was designed and built by the British as an expedient weapon as they were bracing for a planned German land invasion of their country in 1940. The British had previously relied on Lend Lease small arms from the United States. The German U-boats patrolling the sea lanes in the North Atlantic hampered the shipments of war supplies from the U.S. to England. This prompted the British to rely more own their own resources for weapons. After the United States entered the war in 1941, most of the US arms production was needed to arm the rapidly growing US Army.
The Sten was copied by many countries both during and after World War II. During the war, Russia and Germany both made copies of the Sten Mark II. The United States, after testing several submachine guns, even considered adopting the Sten. But eventually developed the M3 submachine gun commonly known as the “grease gun” instead. In the days of WWII, Americans were too proud to adopt a foreign weapon for their army.
The subject of this article is the Sten variations produced and used by Nazi Germany during WWII.
The German produced not one, but several versions of the Sten. The first one they produced was an exact duplicate of the British model, including all the markings and proofs! This Sten clone was called the Gerät Potsdam. The German duplicates are hard to tell from the original British produced Stens. These guns were manufactured by Mauser and were very expensive to produce. The expense was high because of the limited number ordered, and the high cost of tooling up for the project. It is believed that these exact Sten copies were intended for use in clandestine operations that wanted to conceal the origin of the weapons in the event any were captured by the Allies.
The Gerät Potsdam Stens were destined to arm German partisans operating behind Allied lines. It is commonly believed that few were ever issued for their intended purpose. It is a mystery as to where all these Stens went. (although they are so similar to the British models it would be difficult to tell if they were German or British manufactured). It is thought that most were issued to the Volksstrum to defend Berlin in the final days of the war in Europe.
One other German variation of the Sten was made in limited numbers. The designation of this Sten was the MP 3008, project number V.71083. The MP prefix is for Maschinenpistole, the German term for submachine gun. The 3008 number originates from the equipment number assigned to the weapon on the official Wehrmacht equipment list. This Sten copy was assigned Gerätenummer (equipment number) 3008. It was also known as the Neumünster Device, and the Volks MP. It is reported that approximately 10,000 were hastily manufactured in 1945.
The MP3008 Sten prototypes were made by Mauser and incorporated several design changes by the Germans. The most noticeable change is the fixed vertical magazine housing. There is also a loop on the front portion of the magazine housing for attachment of a sling. The weapon used the common German MP40 maschinenpistole, 32 round double stack, single feed magazine. The use of the MP40 magazine itself was a big improvement in the Sten design. The original British Sten magazines were the source of many feeding malfunctions. Some of the Nazi Stens were parkerized others were simply painted in a variety of colors. Another difference was the front sight configuration.
The front sight is part of a simple ring that is located just behind the barrel. The rear sight is similar to the British models. The fixed sights are calibrated for 100 meters. The recoil spring differs somewhat, it has a thicker seating ring located on the forward end. The ring aids in retaining the cocking handle. The rear spring retainer cap is made in two pieces and are held together by a swaged rivet.
The MP3008 bolt appears almost identical to its British counterpart, although the relationship of the cocking handle to the bottom of the bolt is different because of the MP3008’s vertical magazine housing. The German bolt design varied somewhat between manufacturers. The trigger assembly is permanently attached to the trigger housing, and is not easily removed as in the British models.
The cocking handle is located on the right side of the weapon, the same as the British version. The cocking handle itself is slightly different than the British model, it is one of the few machined parts on the weapon. Some of the early manufactured cocking handles were knurled.
The magazine release is located on the weapons left side. The left side release button enables the operator to change the magazine without breaking his strong hand (trigger finger) from the weapon.
The MP3008 barrel is unique. It features eight grooves, and it appears completely different than a standard British Sten barrel when looking down the bore. The barrels all have a right hand twist. All the German Sten clones were chambered in the common 9mm Parabellum pistol/submachine gun round used by both the British and German forces during the war.
The MP3008 is field stripped exactly like the British Sten. The MP3008 also handles and shoots much like its British cousin. The cyclic rate is virtually the same at 500 rounds per minute in full auto. The T or loop configuration stock copied from the British Sten is used, although they vary in construction slightly between manufacturers. A few wood stocked MP 3008’s were used as well. The wooden stocks were “flat board” type construction. The fire mode selector works and appears exactly like the British Sten, except the selector knob is marked D for Dauerfeuer or full automatic and E for Einzelfeuer or semi automatic fire.
The German MP3008 was manufactured by six companies who all used a large number of widely dispersed subcontractors (like the British did). This allowed manufacture to continue even under the consistent, heavy Allied bombing of Germany. The basic design and parts configuration varied slightly from company to company. Some earlier MP3008’s have a smaller ejection port than later versions, and some are equipped with a 6 groove barrel rather than the more common 8 groove.
As with all other German weapons of World War II there are a large amount of Waffenamts stamped all over the gun. Waffenamts are German proof marks, consisting of a stylized eagle over a number. The number identifies the inspector that examined the parts or assemblies. Many of the Waffenamts on the subject MP 3008 were an eagle/77. Similar Waffenamts are also seen on Polish Radom pistols manufactured under German supervision during the war.
While the outside appearance of the German MP 3008 may resemble a British Sten at first glance, dimensionally it is quite different. No parts are interchangeable. The British Sten was manufactured using the English standard of measure, inches, while the German MP 3008 was manufactured using the metric system.
British Stens may appear crude to the unaccustomed eye, but the German MP 3008 is even cruder. The welds and fitting of the parts aren’t even up to the British standard. This is unusual for the Germans, who generally are quite meticulous about most things, especially weapons. Of course the MP 3008 Sten clone was a war time expedient project as Germany was about to be invaded, as the British situation had been just four years earlier.
Some manufacturers codes noted on MP3008’s are;
fxo… Haenel A.G.
nea…Walter Steiner Co. Suhl
The Germans like the British five years earlier, built the Sten under desperate circumstances. The Germans situation however, ended in the ultimate defeat of the once powerful and feared Wehrmacht.
To field strip…
Remove magazine, be certain weapon is unloaded.
Locate spring retainer cap at the rear of the receiver tube. Press inward on the retainer cap, while pulling buttstock downward, completely removing buttstock from the weapon.
Turn retainer ring counter clockwise, to disengage it from the receiver. The retainer cap, retainer ring, and recoil spring can now be removed from the rear of the receiver tube. CAUTION, when fully assembled this unit is under spring tension.
Pull the cocking handle back to the safety notch in the receiver. Position the handle so it can be pulled out of the bolt. Once the cocking handle is removed the bolt can be withdrawn from the rear of the receiver tube.
Weapon is now field stripped for cleaning.
Reverse procedure to reassemble.
To read more about the Sten submachine gun series, there is a new book entitled “The British Sten Manual for Shooters and Collectors”. The book is available from Moose Lake Publishing. To order call 207-683-2959.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V2N6 (March 1999)|