The Sterling Submachine Gun

Published: January 8th, 2019     
Product Image
Author: Matthew Moss; Illustrators: Alan Gilliland, Adam Hook
Reviewed by: 
Frank Landrus, IPMS# 35035
Company: Osprey Publishing
ISBN #: 978-1-4728-2808-8
E-Book ISBN #: 1472828089
Other Publication Information: Softbound, 7.25” x 9.75”, 80 pages
Price: $20.00
Product / Stock #: WPN 65

Matthew Moss is a British author and historian specializing in small arms development, military history, and current defense affairs. Matthew has degrees from the Universities of Liverpool and Chester and has contributed to publications in both the United States and the United Kingdom. He runs the website Historical Firearms, a blog that explores the history, development, and use of firearms. He co-founded the Armourer's Bench (or on Facebook) with Vic Tuff a multi-media exploration of historic small arms. Matthew has contributed to a number of print and online publications including magazines such as Small Arms Review, Popular Mechanics, The Armourer, History of War and Classic Arms & Militaria. This is his first book. He lives in Lancashire, UK.

Adam Hook studied graphic design, and began his work as an illustrator in 1983. He specializes in detailed historical reconstructions. Adam has illustrated Osprey titles on subjects as diverse as the Aztecs, the Ancient Greeks, Roman battle tactics, several 19th-century American subjects, the modern Chinese Army, and a number of books in the Fortress series. His work features in exhibitions and publications throughout the world. Adam Hook delivered the battle scene paintings for this book.

Alan Gilliland spent 18 years as the graphics editor of the UK's Daily Telegraph, winning 19 awards in that time. He now writes, illustrates, and publishes fiction, as well as illustrating for a variety of publishers including Osprey. Alan Gilliland provided the cut-away illustrations for this volume.

Osprey's 65th book in the Weapon series is a square back soft cover including 80 gloss paper pages. The front cover features a black and white photograph of a Sterling L2A3 from the Royal Armouries collection. The bottom of the front cover features a photograph depicting troops of the 1st Battalion, the Lancashire Regiment on patrol in Aden.. I counted 11 black and white pictures, 57 color photographs, 2 color illustrations, 3 color paintings, and two tables. Adam Hook contributes three battle-scene color paintings, including two 2-page spreads. Alan Gilliland provides the labeled color cutaway illustration of the 9x19mm Sterling L2A3 submachine gun.

Matthew Moss kicks off the introduction with a background on submachine guns and the environments in which they were developed. The development of the Sterling submachine gun goes back to the founding of the Sterling Company in 1909 and Matthew follows the company to its bankruptcy in 1988. Along the way, George Lanchester and George Patchett are introduced, along with a discussion on their influence in the designs of the Sterling submachine guns. The Sterling submachine gun was initially evaluated by the British as a replacement for the Sten submachine gun in 1944 and 1945. The Sterling may have seen limited use post-war, but it did not begin to replace the Sten until 1953. The Sterling remained in operational use until 1994 when it began to be phased out by the L85A1 bullpup rifle of the SAR80 family.

The labeled cutaway illustrations provide insight into the pistol's operation highlighted by Alan Gilliland's full color illustration of the Sterling L2A3 submachine gun. Matthew Moss proceeds with the operational history of the Sterling, with a focus on utilization in the Cold War. The Sterling was in battle with many of Britain's post-colonial period conflicts, from Korea to Vietnam. I really appreciated the first person accounts of the Sterling submachine gun in action in the Operational Use section. These accounts really bring the story to life. Adam Hook's three in-action color paintings really provide a highlight to this aspect. The contents include:

  • Editor's Note
  • Artist's Note
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgements
  • The Royal Armouries
  • Imperial War Museum Collections
  • Introduction
  • Development - The Origins of a Cold War British Icon
    • Origins
      • The Lanchester
      • George Patchett and His Machine Carbine {Page 10}
      • The Man Behind the Gun: George Patchett
      • The Sterling's Rivals
      • The Trials Continue
      • The Principle Machine Carbines Tested by the British During 1950-52 [Table]
      • The Patchett Machine Pistol
      • Britain Adopts the Sterling
      • Refinements in Service
      • The Sterling Exposed [Cutaway Illustrations] {Page 22}
      • Liverpudlian Sterlings
      • The Silent Sterling
      • The Experimental Sterling S11
      • The Sterling Rifle
      • Commercial Models
  • Use: Patchett's Gun In Action
    • Into Service
    • Did the Patchett See Action in World War II?
    • Korea
    • Training
    • The Malaysian Emergency
    • Malaysia, 1958 [2-Page Painting]
    • Kenya
    • Magazines {Page 46}
    • Suez
    • The Indonesian Confrontation
    • Aden
    • Northern Ireland
    • Operation Banner, 1972 [1-Page Painting] {Page 55}
    • The Falklands War {Page 61}
    • Defending Government House, 2 April 1982 [2-page painting]
    • The Gulf War
    • The Sterling in Vietnam
  • Impact: Insight and Influence
    • The Troop's Verdict
    • The Sterling and its Contemporaries [Table]
    • Copies and Clones
    • The Canadian Sterling: The C1
    • The Chilean Sterling
    • The Indian Sterling
    • Spanish Sterlings
    • The Sterling's Australian Cousin: The F1
    • The Sterling on Screen
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Books
  • Other Sources
  • London Gazette
  • Archive Sources
  • Index

I really appreciated the structure that Matthew Moss utilized, starting with the development of the Sterling and the following discussion on its development and operational use. The section, "The Man Behind the Gun: George Patchett" really caught my attention, delving into the personalities involved in the development of the Sterling L2A3 submachine gun. George Patchett was a motorcycle rider and designer pioneer who had become a successful racer for Brought Superior and McEvoy. Migrating into motorcycle design for Fabrique Nationale (FN), George got exposed to firearm design.

Matthew Moss provides a very readable text with plenty of photographs that is supplemented illustrations from Adam Hook and Alan Gilliland. I was able to read the book easily over three evenings. If you own one the previous releases in the Weapon series, you know what you are getting. If this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased.

My thanks to Osprey Publishing and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!

  • Front Cover
    Front Cover
  • Back Cover
    Back Cover
  • Sample Page 10
    Sample Page 10
  • Sample Page 22
    Sample Page 22
  • Sample Page 46
    Sample Page 46
  • Sample page 55
    Sample page 55
  • Sample Page 61
    Sample Page 61

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