It finally arrived today: a near-perfect specimen of an aerial WWII German MG81 machine-gun booster/flash suppressor. Several disclaimers before I begin:
And without further ado, the photos:
- It's on loan from the owner.
- It's NOT - repeat to infinity - NOT for sale.
- It won't be cast in resin.
- It WILL be replicated soon as a functional, 1045 medium carbon steel machine-gun part, but do NOT - repeat to infinity - NOT PM or e-mail me requesting to get on an interest list. Appropriate announcements will be made when it's time.
The following pics compare the MG81 booster-suppressor to the MARK IV suppressor replica:
And finally, overall dimensions:
A few notes and observations:
As a mechanical engineer, let me be the first to say how utterly impressed I am with wartime German engineering. To get a physical dimension that on a drawing says 95.00 mm, 33.00 mm, and 32.50 mm to match within +/- 0.04 mm (that's 0.002 in.), the tolerances and quality control observed in a wartime factory 60 years ago to make this part exceed modern aerospace geometric tolerances, and that's NOT an exaggeration...
Overall, it's easy to see that the real suppressor is beefier than one of the closest replicas out there. In length, the two are nearly identical, but from end to end, you can all tell that there are glaring inaccuracies in the replica. Can't speak for David's or MR's, but I was told the MARK IV suppressor was copied directly off an Icons prototype. Goes to show how limiting photo references can be. Imagine how more accurate replicas will now be of the newly-discovered ANH Obi-Wan saber's emitter and gear.
The small part that fits inside the suppressor is what my source calls a booster cone. It's part # C10 in this diagram:
While I'm not saying it's the case, it is possible that in the beginning of the ANH production, the suppressor still had its booster cone:
The reason I say this is because in this LFL production photo, the suppressor is concentric to the bull barrel:
The famous screw could be used to hold the cone in place and the Naked Runner bull barrel might have fit inside the cone, whose inner diameter is 22.5 mm (0.886 in.). Do we know the true diameter of the bull barrel?
Working on this assumption, the cone may have been lost if the suppressor had been removed during production or if it fell off and had to be reattached. Without the cone, using the screw alone or with some other insert to keep the suppressor on the bull barrel may account for the famous offset that we see in the promo stills. I invite critical analysis of my theory.
Tomorrow I'm off to my local machine shop to verify the exact type of internal metric thread at the rear of the suppressor, and in a few days I'll post a detail drawing and renders of my revised suppressor 3D CAD model, which will serve as the basis for the most accurate replica of this part ever made.
For more on the discovery of this part, please read these threads:
I could never have obtained this amazing part were it not for all the hard work of other possessed fanatics like myself to bring us to this happy day. Primarily, I'd like to acknowledge Amish, for starting the thread that led to the discovery and his determination to keep the quest going despite the mistaken conventional wisdom regarding the origins of the part, and of course Darth Lars, who made the connection to the German MG81 machine-gun. Bobadebt's unmatched contributions in his quest to perfect the replica of this part cannot be praised enough, and I'm very grateful for his generous advice and suggestions. Last but not least, I'd like to thank my source, Richard, an avid machine-gun enthusiast lucky enough to own a firing MG81 machine-gun, who was kind and trusting enough to loan me his suppressor after I confessed to him that it was part of a famous prop from Star Wars.
Honorable mention must also go to my 3.2 megapixel Canon PowerShot A70 for allowing a mediocre photographer to snap such sharp close-ups.
Please feel free to post your questions and comments, and many, many thanks to Whackychimp for hosting these historic photos.