Interesting Chinese Submachine Gun

A reader asked for help identifying an interesting Chinese gun I have never come across before. This gun looks remarkably futuristic for a gun that has been around since at least during WWII. I am sure someone here can identify it for us.

Photo taken in Beijing Military Museum

The gun has a very long receiver and the bolt is obviously not telescopic. Despite being a long gun, the barrel is relatively short, it accounts for less than a third of the overall length! Fire control and magazine release are placed where they can be operated with the hand still on the foregrip, quite a nifty feature.

Photo published in [Report from Red China]( by Harrison Forman (1944)

I love the curvy styling of the thumbhole stock in the above photo.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Jake Barnes

    Definitely uses a thompson magazine release

  • higgs

    Looks like a mini. Czech ZH29

    • higgs

      Whiich the ROC used

  • higgs

    The curvy stock model is a 1921 thompson rechambered in 7.62 tork. I’ve read they were made under license. The chinese rechambered every thing. From arisakas to 7.62×39,, to tork STENs they got from canada.

    • JonMac

      Technically not rechambered as such, more a local copy in 7.62×25.

  • Ben

    As far as I’ve found it appears to be a locally copied version of the Yugoslavian M56. I looked at a few sites with images of this rifle and from the rough translation to English I got that it was either a M56 or an M54

    • higgs

      I see no connection to the M56, which I don’t think was in production in 1944. This looks to be a shortned ZH29 mated with a thompson mag well and chambered in 7.62 tork, using PPSH stick mags.

      • Greetings from Texas,
        That’s what happens when you come to the party late. I was also thinking it was at least infulenced by the ZH29. I have a photograph of a Chinese Soldier carrying one, so the Chinese had them to copy or lift ideas from.

        Looks like there is some thompson in there too.

  • Tim

    I am in Beijing; I can go take a peek. Been meaning to get there anyways.

    • Drew

      Tim, would you mind telling me the name of this place or posting the website, i will be traveling through Beijing soon and would love to visit.

    • Xiao

      Let me know when you decide to go, I am in Beijing as well.

  • Jasta

    Curiously, the layout of this SMG is somewhat similar to Polish Mors wz.39 (this is for sure purely accidental, since it’s virtually impossible that the Chinese had known anything about Mors). But maybe the weapon was, as Mors, based on Erma EMP-35?

  • justin

    Kinda looks like a kluged together UD M42 and a thompson or something.

    Most of these guns were sent to the dutch east indies before the japanese invasion and the rest went to the OSS. Its quite possible that some made it to the chinese.

    • Avery

      I definitely see the connection with the UD M42, although the receiver is much longer. I also see higgs’ ZH29 similarities there. It could be an early subgun that’s based off both of them.

  • Anon

    Rechambering to Tok would make sense for that first subgun, since the extreme rearward placement of the vertical grip must have made it massively uncontrollable in .45 ACP. There’s a very good reason why it’s a unique configuration.

  • bbmg

    Looks like something smashed out of a Japanese type 100 and a Thompson.

    In the Imperial War Museum in London there is an interesting Chinese-made Thompson clone with an early example of “Engrish”, the action is inscribed with the word “Thampson”.

  • Jeff

    I’d say it’s a locally made modified thompson, the magazine catch is a giveaway. (see how it curves around a nonexistant trigger guard? It looks like they simply redesigned the lower receiver
    Plus, on the last picture, the top firearm just looks like a 1928 with a new stock

    That, along with this link of another cobbled together PPS-43/Thompson hybrid found on forgotten weapons also reinforces it.

  • Is it just me, or does the Thompson in the last photo look like the bastard offspring of another M1928 and a WA-2000?

  • This is a terrific post and one heck of a mystery. The stock is definitely Eastern Euro / Russian.
    I don’t think there was a great deal of gun building in China early in WWII I know the Chinese were cloning the K98 type rifles and everything else was supplied by the Allied Forces or stuff captured from the Japanese. It’s possible this may be of Japanese origin too.

    Hope somebody IDs it… Whatever it is, it’s pretty cool stuff.

  • Lance

    Differently looks like a 9mm. I dont know. When the reds took over they went to 7.62×25 till today. So this pre-WW2 design dose look 9mm caliber.

  • ragnarok220

    There is no official name for this gun. It’s a Thompson made by the local Warlord of Sichuan province in the 1930s.

  • John McPherson

    Seems to look something like the British made Thompsons in some ways. There were few made and they did not look like the American version.

  • Mike Knox

    As shown, china sucked at designing stuff even if they were ripping off foreign designs since the great war..

  • Josh B

    Looks like a cross between or a heavily influenced from or modified and/or

  • Raoul O’Shaugnessy

    Typical Chines cloning….one from Column A, two from Column B…..

  • KB

    The weapon appears to be a variation of a UD M42. This was supposed to be a cheaper version of the Thompson Sub Machine gun. There were all made in 9mm and it had some Thompson features. Several thousand ended up in the Pacific Theater. There was an experimental version made in .30 carbine. The magazine in the picture of the woman with one strapped to her back seems to be of this caliber. The magazine is too wide, front to back, for a 9mm or .45acp caliber. It is possible that this was converted to fire the 7.92×33 kurz round developed for the STG 44 or a 7.62×39 AK round. This weapon was not originally made with a finned, screwed on barrel, but several parts seem to be “locally converted” to be useful in that area. That is my “guess”

    • higgs

      That mag is the same as the one in the bottom picture, which no way is it Kurz or x39. The lady is just small. and i see nothing reminiscent of the UD42 in that firearm.

  • george

    Couldn’t have taken a picture of the accompanying plackard so someone could translate it?

  • S O

    “This gun looks remarkably futuristic”

    What’s supposed to look futuristic on a gun with so much wood?

  • Mike
  • John Koh

    As mentioned in the caption to the B&W photos, these were lifted from ‘Report from Red China’, a photo-essay by American photojournalist Harrison Forman on the two months he spent with the Communists in the fall of 1944. Presumably, these weapons are in the possession of the local militia arm of the Communist/PLA, then engaged in a life and death struggle against Imperial Japan and ready to open up a second front with the Chinese Nationalist Army. Not supplied unlike the Nationalist Army through the ‘hump’ and the Burma Road, they probably took to ‘jury-rig’ what appear to me to be a M1928 Thompson and a M1 Carbine which could either be hand-me-downs and/or captured pieces to work with the ammunition they had (.45 ACP and .30 Carbine were definitely not heading their way). They were re-bored to 7.62 X 25 Tokarev and clearly modified to accept the PPSh-43 style magazines along with some personalization to the grips and hand-guards as one would do these days with options, rails and accessories. I would not call these copying/cloning rather necessity being the mother of invention. The NVA were to do the same to their PPSh-41 turning it to the K-50M during the Vietnam conflict.

    • It should be the 7.63×25 Mauser round that was common for use in the Boomhandle at the time. Not the Tokarev 7.62×25 variant, which didn’t became common use until 1950 after forming of PRC.

  • Mike

    Looks a little like a Smith and Wesson light rifle (9mm) from early WWII

  • TxDog

    Looks like a hybrid of some sort. With as little industry as China had during the war, it wouldn’t surprise me if they took parts from various Lend Lease weapons that had broken or worn out and cobbled together a working, if of limited utility, firearm.

  • I watched a National Film Board documentary some years ago (1990s?) about a man of Jewish/ German / Canadian origins who was well connected in the firearms / engineering / manufacturing field. He worked closely with Mau and worked on munitions and weapons production/importation. I wonder if he had anything to do with these unlicenced Thompson submachineguns that were being made in 9mm. Take note that BSA produced 9mm copies of the Thompson Submachine gun in England, and they look pretty cool.

    I agree it also looks like the UD / Oss submachinegun a bit.

  • Actually, I think a lot of things in China are very interesting, but sometimes they feel a little sad.

    China’s development is so fast, so many things continue to appear, so many events, sometimes want to experience the taste all, but this is impossible.

  • Joe Cool

    I don’t know the exact details, but the Chinese copied the basic design of the Thompson SMG long ago and made some spinoffs from that basic framework, at least that is what I read when studying Thompsons history.