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Did Sir Winston Churchill’s gun inspire Star Wars?

A serious looking Winston Churchill on a starry background with a Stormtrooper blaster is imposed over him, as if he is holding it.

Sir Winston Churchill is more famous for defeating evil empires than giving them style tips, but a recent discovery by the Royal Armouries’ Senior Curator of Firearms Mark Murray-Flutter shows that Churchill was one of the first private owners of a Sterling-Patchett submachine gun.

The Sterling Mk4 model famously inspired the Stormtrooper blasters in Star Wars A New Hope. The blasters in the film were even modified versions of actual Sterlings, with the Stormtrooper version being fitted with a WW2 German gun sight, B&Q drawer runners, and part of a photocopier, giving its now-famous appearance, but still being recognisable as a Sterling SMG.

Sterling Submachine Gun and Star Wars

Winston Churchill famous photograph of him holding a tommy gun, with a sterling smg in front of the photo

Churchill with another SMG, the Tommygun, and his own personal Sterling from our collection. Clearly he liked SMGs!

A Storm trooper blaster

The Stormtrooper Blaster based on the Sterling. Can you see the similarities to the original above?

Winston Churchill was an avid collector and user of firearms and a known expert marksman, unlike Imperial Stormtroopers. Part of his collection now lives at the Royal Armouries Museum in the form of a specially gifted Sterling MkII, even having a silver plaque with part of his famous speech engraved on it. This piece was recently re-discovered after research by Mark Murray-Futter into its origin. It was found to be authentic and listed on Churchill’s personal Firearms Certificate. After he died it was sold by his son, then eventually gifted to the Royal Armouries in 2005.

To quote Mark about this exciting discovery:

“To have one of his firearms, especially as there are so few, in the collection is amazing as it allows us to explore the life and times of Sir Winston Churchill, one of the most important figures of the 20th century…”

Churchill was gifted 500 rounds of ammunition by Sterling as well, and almost certainly shot the weapon. So if you ever pictured Churchill shooting a Star Wars blaster, you might not have been far wrong.

A close up of a machine gun with a silver plaque with churchills speech

The Plaque says “The Rt Hon Winston Churchill M.P, Prime Minister 1940-1945. He inspired the nation; “We shall fight on the beaches, on the landing ground. In the fields, in the streets. In the hills. We shall never surrender.” House of commons 4th of June 1940″.

Other inspirations

Churchill also inspired the alien Admiral Raddus, in Star Wars Rogue One, giving the wartime Prime Minister quite the sci-fi resume.

Find this interesting? We explore the links between cultural icons and real-life weaponry in the Royal Armouries upcoming exhibit Make: Believe, featuring he real Star Wars blasters themselves opening later this month.

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