PRESENTING THE ANH HAN SOLO BLASTER HOLY GRAIL...

Prop Runner

Sr Member
It finally arrived today: a near-perfect specimen of an aerial WWII German MG81 machine-gun booster/flash suppressor. Several disclaimers before I begin:
  1. It's on loan from the owner.
  2. It's NOT - repeat to infinity - NOT for sale.
  3. It won't be cast in resin.
  4. 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.
And without further ado, the photos:

























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... :eek

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. :D

For more on the discovery of this part, please read these threads:

http://www.rpf.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=96292

and

http://www.rpf.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=97264

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.

- Gabe
 

amish

Sr Member
That is so beautiful. I am still in shock :)

I will post more later when I have time to digest this all.

edit: Had sometime to digest this.

First, Gabe that is a great piece of history you hold in your hands. Not only Star Wars history, but a rare piece of WWII history. I look forward to the replica that will follow.

As for the bull barrel prognosis, it seems that your theory may very well be correct, and it also makes perfect sense to me given the pictures and the way booster could hold the bull barrel in place along with the hider.

I still have a lot more to digest :)

Thanks for posting those excellent pictures, and thank you a 1000 times for all of the renderings that you have shared with us and whatever resources that you put into acquiring this piece on loan.

Tom
 

Sporak

Sr Member
Gone but not forgotten.
Oh that is nice...Interesting differences...

Man this has been quite a year...
 

Prop Runner

Sr Member
Thanks for the good words, guys. :)

Originally posted by amish@Nov 2 2005, 02:45 AM
First, Gabe that is a great piece of history you hold in your hands.  Not only Star Wars history, but a rare piece of WWII history.
You know, in my frenzy to get this thread posted, I didn't really have time to sit back and proccess the historic significance of this part. It's now dawning on me that I'm holding in my hand an item that helped Lufftwafe gunners take better aim at allied fighters, bombers, and ground troops. A real wave of sadness suddenly came over me. And then I think of the Mauser and MG34s that may have played similar roles. :( I'm glad Bapty used just as many allied weapons to arm stormtroopers or I'd be feeling REALLY bad right now. In a weird way, I'm glad the MG81 is so rare, because it means the majority of them were shot down and destroyed...

Then again, I'm consoled by the fact that such a prominent prop made up of entirely German gun parts and optics was bestowed on a scoundrel like Han Solo. :D

- Gabe
 

casey

New Member
i love how instead of giving measurements theyre right there in the picture completely undisputable. good idea.

is the knurled middle part as wide as the threaded end you measured in the pic?
 

Prop Runner

Sr Member
Originally posted by casey@Nov 2 2005, 03:50 AM
i love how instead of giving measurements theyre right there in the picture completely undisputable. good idea.

is the knurled middle part as wide as the threaded end you measured in the pic?
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Thanks. :) The outer diameter of the part is between 32.50 and 33.00. Here's the breakdown:

Front edge of hider: 32.45 mm +/- 0.07 mm (high uncertainty due to dings)
Knurled section of booster: 32.66 mm +/- 0.03 mm
Flat section of booster: 32.43 +/- 0.01 mm
notched section of booster: 33.00 mm +/- 0.05 mm (uncertainty due to deformation from cuts)

Much more subtle differences than any replica ever made to date.

On the other hand, the knurling is deeper than any replica I've ever seen. It actually cuts into the flat section. Initial measurement of the inner diameter on the curved edge of the booster show that it's about 0.5 mm deep.

- Gabe
 

Prop Runner

Sr Member
Originally posted by Durasteel Corporation@Nov 2 2005, 04:20 AM
Gabe

When youre done with it, make sure to send it back to me with proper insurance.

:D  D
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:lol You wish.

I don't believe the "D" in your name stands for "Dick." (scroll up - my source's name is Richard ;) )

Seriously, Drew, I want to publicly thank you too for backing up us suppressor advocates and using your wealth of metallurgy knowledge to support the engineering and common-sense arguments that helped cement the consensus. :)

- Gabe
 

micdavis

Master Member
While I agree that his is a fantastic find and great information. Let's not forget this is one example of a found item.

Others, including the one USED in Star Wars could likely have different (yet subtle) features.

The "notches" or whatever you call them in the back ring are clearly different than photos we see of the Screen Used Han Blaster.

Let's try not to be beguiled by the find.
 

Prop Runner

Sr Member
True, Mike. I should have pointed that out. However, since we don't have access to the hero, the best I can do is reverse engineer what I have. Maybe David can chime in with his boosters, however there may be intentional design differences between those and the correct part. I should also point out that the shots of the hero part leave much to be desired in terms of sharpness, perspective, and parallelism to the film plane. If there are some major discrepancies, I can always tweak a dimension or two to get it closer.

I'll leave it up to Phase Pistol or Serafino to post the obligatory "scaled line up shots" - let's see whose post first. :D

- Gabe
 

micdavis

Master Member
Don't get me wrong Gabe, I am the first to agree the photos lie all the time. It's been proven so many times that I truly laugh at people who think photos are the ultimate proof.

That doesn't mean we should ignore photos either, but they are frequently misleading.

Can we get a comparison of the notches on your sample, right next to a Hero shot?
 

Prop Runner

Sr Member
Originally posted by micdavis@Nov 2 2005, 04:58 AM
Can we get a comparison of the notches on you sample, right next to a Hero shot?
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That's what I'm hoping Serafino or Phase Pistol will do for me as a favor, since they're so damn good at it, lol.

Honestly, I'm pretty wiped and hungry, so I think I'll take a break for the next 2-3 hours. What's good on TV tonight? What's my girlfriend up to? ;)

- Gabe
 

lonepigeon

Sr Member
I really don't see a great difference between this actual found part and the one on the real prop.
Comparing it side by side to the real prop I see that MAYBE the ends of the round notches are a tad more pointed on the found part. The tool that cut the ones on the real prop might've just been a tad duller.
The knurling might be cut a little deeper on the found part as well, but those are the only two things I see.
So a couple minor variations due to tool settings are possible, but I see no dimensional differences.

On the other hand the earlier replica muzzle has many flaws which stand out being placed next to the found part. One error being the the ends of the notches are far too rounded. The rear dimensions are obviously far off.

PS - Big thanks to the owner for lending that out to you Gabe. It's an excellent piece in amazing condition.
 

Prop Runner

Sr Member
Thanks for your impressions, Chris. :)

Since Serafino and Phase Pistol are probably sleeping off their Halloween weekend, I figured I'd start the scaled photo comparisons:



So except for Chris' observations about the oval cuts and knurling, indeed the found part and the hero seem to match up exactly. I took the new photo using zoom from a distance to simulate as best I could the orientation of the hero suppressor and to reduce optical distortion.

The only other suppressor photo anywhere near as clear (and film plane parallel) is the one below, but there's not enough detail to make an effective comparison.



The monochrome Chronicles photos are right out, as we all know the blaster edges were poorly cropped out by image layout editor the publisher used used.

- Gabe
 

Serafino

Sr Member
Hey Gabe, if I had some of these around I'd be glad to do some comparison shots but this gun is not my bag at all. :angel

I agree with Chris' comments, the notch shapes and 'knurling' depth do seem different. There is a LOT of light being reflecting from between the grooves of the 'knurling' on the prop, whereas on the found object the ridges are very narrow rather than clearly defining the remains of the original turned cylinder as on the prop.

I have to say one thing about using photos--photos only lie to people who don't use them correctly. When one knows what the limits are of getting information from photographs, one can work within those limits to derive accurate information.

Photographic distortion is a specific set of effects which can be defined and understood. IMO if an apparently clear feature in a photo cannot reasonably be ascribed to a specific distortion effect, then it is reasonable to believe that you are seeing an actual feature of the pictured part. Photographs 'lie' to those who approach them sloppily, but they are also extremely literal mechanical transcriptions of the light effects present at the time, and they are very 'uncreative' 'liars'. :)

(Edit: I also notice that the 'knurling' doesn't go up as high towards the flash hider--the prop has a very nice smooth rounded 'shoulder' there. )
 
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