The following is the forward by Lieut. Gen. Sir Frank King KCB MBE, General Officer Commanding-In-Chief, Northern Ireland to FWA Hobart’s Pictorial History of the Sub-Machine Gun. The pictorial history dates to 1973, so it’s over 40 years old, and the submachinegun stood in a different place in history of the time. But Sir Frank’s take on it is quite idiosyncratic:
As a young officer I will remember the introduction of the first British Sub-Machine Gun – the Sten – to the British Army. It was heralded with especial ecstasy in many newly formed Battle Schools, by Senior Officers who extolled its easy production, cheapness, simplicity, and devastating firepower at short range. Indeed, there were many enthusiasts who described these advantages as decisive, and likely to change quickly the course of the war. This did not happen. The Germans possessed a similar weapon. And with its relatively short effective range the SMG became merely one of the family of arms required by infantry to cover the requirements of their particular battle field.
Notwithstanding this it had, and indeed it has, a very effective military role to play and deserves a high place in the gratings of usefulness of weapons. Above all, it is perhaps most favoured by terrorists and insurgents, particularly when operating in urban or jungle environments where its undoubted excellence as a short range and powerful destroyer is accentuated by the ease with which it can be produced or procured, concealed, distributed and used. it has deservedly earned an important place in the history of small arms
It may seem strange that the story of the Sub–Machine Gun should be related by a retired Gunner. Major Hobart saw through at an early age, the complex and at times almost ritualistic façade which obscures the relatively simple problems of field gunnery, and for many years now has devoted his considerable energy and enquiring mind to the more precise and intimate science that embraces small arms. There are few officers better suited or qualified for this task. He has produced a comprehensive, knowledgeable and authoritative history and his book must commend itself to every student of Infantry soldiers and of Small Arms design.
While we chuckled at the “terrorists and insurgents” remark, Sir Frank was on to something. For another ten or so years, terrorists very frequently appeared with submachine guns, with some favorites being the Uzi, the Vz. 61 Škorpion, and the older Czech Vz 23-26 series. But by 1973, these weapons were already on the way out, with the similarly compact but much more powerful AKM replacing them. and the fact of the matter is, insurgents are armed with whatever they can arm themselves with. The two principal sources of rhymes for insurgents are always external sponsorship, and internal battlefield recovery. In both cases the arms of the insurgents wind up looking a lot like the arms of armies; the armies of either their friends or enemies respectively.