Object Title

Submachine gun - Star Wars Imperial Stormtrooper E-11 blaster

Submachine gun - Star Wars Imperial Stormtrooper E-11 blaster

Date

1976

Object Number

XII.11981

Provenance

Purchased from Bapty & Co. in 2018. The object was manufactured by Sterling Armament Company, 1950s. Modified by Bapty & Co. Ltd for use in the 'Star Wars' films (1977-1980). Deactivated, 2000. Loaned to Lucasfilm Ltd as pre-production reference in 2014.

Physical Description

A (deactivated) commercial pattern British Sterling Mk.IV (L2A3) submachine gun modified as the ‘E-11’ blaster rifle of the ‘original trilogy’ era of the ‘Star Wars’ universe. The piece is in restored condition as acquired by the vendor along with the original Bapty & Co company in 1999. The original rough textured finish (worn in places) has been overpainted with black paint. It is fitted with an M40 telescopic sight (originally used on US armoured vehicles, one of several variants used in the Star Wars films) mounted to a steel strip attached at the rear sight and at the rearmost of the upper cooling vent holes in the handguard area of the receiver. Six black plastic strips are inserted into other cooling holes at either end, covering most of the holes. As part of the deactivation process, the bolt and return spring have been removed and a section of steel bar stock has been inserted in their place. The barrel has been cut and welded. The resin replica Hengstler photocopier counter box and its mounting bracket were added in 2014 as part of pre-production on Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015). Originally these boxes and other small parts were glued on and tended to fall off, with the result that many guns lack them. The result of this latter-day work was the ‘F-11D’ derivative, directly based upon this prop, but redesigned somewhat and realised as an inert prop with electro-mechanical simulated recoil action rather than the traditional movie blank system originally used (destroyed in this example due to the modern deactivated specification). The host Sterling receiver has never been stamped with a serial number (it has only the 1953 – 1972 ‘KR’ prefix), and so was likely provided to Bapty direct from Sterling.

Techniques

Molding, Metalwork, Machining

Materials

Dimensions

OverallHeight200 mm
OverallLength495 mm
OverallWeight3.5 kg
OverallWidth130 mm

Firearms/Artillery

Serial Number NVN

Calibre

9 mm

Associations

Notes

One of a pair of 'blaster' guns from the 'Star Wars' series of films, of Imperial Stormtrooper 'E-11' and Rebel trooper 'DH-17' patterns respectively, both modified by film armourers Bapty & Co. from 1950s vintage Sterling submachine guns. The Imperial blaster is confirmed by Bapty to be screen-used, whilst the rebel example is a unique 'hero' type that does not appear in the finished films. Note that the DH-17 variant held by Lucasfilm Ltd (made for 'Return of the Jedi' (1983)) also did not appear in that film, and bears striking similarity to this piece. It is possible that the former was based upon the latter.

In any case, on the available evidence, both props were assembled for used in 'The Empire Strikes Back' (1980), although it is likely that both Sterlings were also previously used in 'A New Hope' (1977) as Imperial blaster. It should be noted that there are no wholly original complete guns left from the first movie, as all were stripped down after filming was completed and none were retained by Lucasfilm. In facts even in the Star Wars 'Bible' - 'The Star Wars Chronicles' (1977), p.91 - each of the two Imperial blasters illustrated have different features. Both guns may well also have appeared in other unrelated productions supplied by Bapty.

In addition, it is likely that both base guns themselves are likely to have also been used (as Imperial blasters) in 'A New Hope', and may also have featured in other productions as unmodified Sterlings. It would appear that these two guns were kept basically intact as they were post-'Empire' and were still at Bapty's in 1994 when the current owner joined the company. One other 'intact' formerly live-firing gun was sold in the early 2000s and then a batch of 20 more inert guns, rebuilt from existing parts and with other additions, were sold in 2004. These two therefore appear to be the last two known available 'Star Wars' blasters.

It is perhaps worth noting the following regarding the use of 'real' guns in these movies. Production Designer John Barry, is quoted as saying that: 'I took George [Lucas] to all the fun places... We went to one of the big weapon-hiring companies [this is presumably a reference to Bapty's] that had rows of arms and armour... George and Roger Christian (Set Decorator] and I got together a lot... Rather than your slick streamlined ray gun, we took actual World War II machine guns and cannibalized one into another. George likes what he calls the "visceral" quality that real weapons have, so there are really quite larger chunks of real weapons with additional things fixed onto them. It's just so much nicer than anything you can make from scratch; it stops them from having that homemade look.' (Rinzler, JW, The Making of Star Wars, 2007, p.117).