Created By: JonnyB on October 21, 2011 Last Edited By: JonnyB on February 8, 2013
Nuked

All Infantry Have Sub-Machine Guns

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Do We Have This One?? I've Seen It a Million Times.

In World War II, standard infantry still carried bolt-action rifles. Sub-machine guns were rare and generally reserved for officers and special forces. But in the Hollywood version of the war, EVERYONE gets a sub-machine gun. The Allies carry Thompsons or M3 "grease guns", and the Germans almost always carry MP-40s.
Community Feedback Replies: 20
  • October 21, 2011
    hevendor717
    The Medal Of Honor series.
  • October 21, 2011
    Fanra
    In World War Two, standard infantry still carried bolt-action rifles.

    U.S. forces standard firearms during WWII were the M1 Garand and M1 carbine. Not a bolt-action rifles but semi-automatic.

    While it is true that sub-machine guns were not issued as a standard weapon, the Thompson sub-machine gun was used in World War II in the hands of Allied troops as a weapon for scouts, non-commissioned officers (corporal, sergeant and higher ranking), and patrol leaders. By the end of World War II, the Thompson had a total wartime production of over 1.5 million.

    The British standard rifle was a bolt-action Lee-Enfield.

    Germany had the bolt-action Karabiner 98k but they also had the semi-automatic Gewehr 41 and Gewehr 43 which saw widespread deployment.

    So, it is correct to say most infantry carried bolt-action rifles but some (especially the USA) had semi-automatic rifles as standard equipment. Sub-machine guns, as stated, were more rare.
  • October 22, 2011
    JonnyB
    Thanks for the clarification :)

    Still, Hollywood always gets it wrong (except in "hard" WWII epics like Saving Private Ryan). I was just watching a show on Sy Fy today and the allies all seemed to have automatics. And the MP-40 is almost a stereotype.
  • October 22, 2011
    kjnoren
    I think there is a trope here, but as written it's far too specific. It might be tied into that stereotypical stories often assume that every group involved is an elite group, with top of the line and rare equipment.

    So every German unit faced is from Waffen-SS, and they only have Tiger tanks (though I believe US and British troops usually called all German tanks Tigers). All Russian units are Guards units (or Spetsnas, or NKVD/KGB).

    I also think this isn't limited to military fiction either.
  • October 22, 2011
    Lumpenprole
    Part of the general attitude that automatic firearms are superweapons. While they have their uses, tradeoffs involving ammo expenditure and recoil mean that they don't necessarily make the best all-around infantry weapon. The M4 used today by US forces doesn't even have a full-auto fire mode.

  • October 22, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    Hollywood Armory

    Artistic License - Military Equipment

  • October 22, 2011
    nielas
    The British used the STEN submachine gun and they produced over 4 million of them during the war. They were also produced by resistance groups in occupied Europe so expect La Resistance members to have some.

    The Soviet PP Sh-41 was even more mass produced with over 6 million made during WW 2. It was widely distributed so that entire regiments were equipped with it.

    I think the big culprit here is the MP 40 which was not really used by regular German troops in large numbers until late in the war. So if you have a movie about partisans and the Germans are combing the forest looking for them, this trope would come into effect when all the Germans seem to have M P40s.
  • October 23, 2011
    kjnoren
    I like the idea of a Hollywood Armory. Reminds me of the battle scenes in Gladiator, where the Romans used ancient weaponry in ways that were straight out of the American Civil War or a similar modern period.
  • October 23, 2011
    Trotzky
    Holywood Armoury is better, the original trope name only refers to WWII movies.
  • October 23, 2011
    isk2837
    In the Advance Wars video game series, the Infantry units are armed with Machine Guns as their only weapon.
  • October 23, 2011
    Bisected8
    ^ Furthermore, all the infantry, no matter their role, seem to be able to carry machine guns with them to use against other infantry or if their main weapon runs out of ammo regardless of what else they have (e.g. mech troops carry the same machine gun as normal infantry along with their antivehicle weapons even though rocket and grenade launchers tend to be specialised equipment and sufficiently bulky that soldiers with them can only carry a sidearm).
  • October 25, 2011
    aurora369
    And it's submachine guns not machine guns. A machine gun is a much heavier weapon.
  • October 25, 2011
    Chabal2
    Is "Soldiers carry rapid-fire weapons, officers carry pistols" equivalent?

  • October 27, 2011
    TBeholder
    @ kjnoren: It's covered by "Elites Are More Glamorous".

    @ nielas: Yeah, but there's an aposteriori consideration: if they're sent to comb the forest, they may be something more "elite" than regular frontline infantry with K98. Far from guaranteed with all the WWII madhouse, of course.

    Other than that, everyone did have Dakka long ago... just not a lot right away and there were also carbines. In fact, Grigorenko's memoires had a wonderful scene where both sides picked SMG and due to their inferior range this ended up with one Old Soldier ruling the field because he chose Mosin.
  • October 27, 2011
    Lumpenprole
    Brief primer on firearms terminology:
    • An automatic firearm (or more properly a full-auto) is a firearm that continues to fire as long as the trigger is held down or until it runs out of ammunition.
    • A submachinegun is an automatic firearm that shoots handgun ammunition; basically a beefed up handgun, hence the alternate name machine pistol.
      • although calling the Thompson submachine gun a "pistol" is a bit of stretch.
    • An automatic rifle is an automatic firearm that shoots rifle ammunition. Typically has much greater range and penetration than a submachinegun. The heavier calibers, such as the 30.06 round fired by the old Browning Automatic Rifle, blur the line between automatic rifles and machine guns.
    • A machine gun is an emplacement weapon, a "gun" in the same sense that artillery pieces are called guns. A light machine gun is one that is reduced enough in size and weight to be man-portable, but cannot effectively be freely wielded like an automatic rifle; it has to be fired from a bipod or tripod.

  • October 28, 2011
    JonnyB
    I just used "machine gun" in the trope title because to most laymen, anything that shoots rapid-fire is a machine gun.
  • October 29, 2011
    Chabal2
    Empire Earth: The standard WWII soldier carries a submachine gun until they get upgraded to laser guns in a later age. Strangely, the German campaigns where you play as WWI Germany during the trench war has enemy soldiers carrying single shot rifles, but the German soldiers are from the WWII age, meaning they carry machine guns.
  • October 31, 2011
    aurora369
    Well, I'm a layperson, and "machine gun" means "honking big heavy shooty thingy with belt feed" to me.
  • October 31, 2011
    elwoz
    We should probably be precise in the description and/or title just to avoid any potential conflict with people for whom firearm categorization is Serious Business. Also, I like the idea of calling this Hollywood Armory and expanding it to cover all instances of historical military fiction getting the weapons wrong.

    It does seem to me that there's a related trope in which people use fully automatic firearms even though in Real Life that would make them less effective combatants. Maybe that's just More Dakka.
  • February 8, 2013
    elwoz
    I'm discarding this, even though it could be a valid trope, because it has had no comments or updates since October of 2011. If you're interested in seeing it through to completion, go ahead and undiscard it.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=xtv20fiu2pfspofyodzlocqc&trope=DiscardedYKTTW