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Title: America's Munitions 1917-1918

Author: Benedict Crowell

Release Date: March 7, 2015 [EBook #48428]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII


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One minute before the hour.

All guns firing.

Nov. 11, 1918. 11 A. M.

One minute after the hour.

All guns silent.

This is the last record by sound ranging of artillery activity on the American front near the River Moselle. It is the reproduction of a piece of recording tape as it issued from an American sound-ranging apparatus when the hour of 11 o'clock on the morning of November 11, 1918, brought the general order to cease firing, and the great war came to an end. Six seconds of sound recording are shown. The broken character of the records on the left indicates great artillery activity; the lack of irregularities on the right indicates almost complete cessation of firing, two breaks in the second line probably being due to the exuberance of a doughboy firing his pistol twice close to one of the recording microphones on the front in celebration of the dawn of peace. The two minutes on either side of the exact armistice hour have been cut from the strip to emphasize the contrast. Sound ranging was an important means of locating the positions and calibers of enemy guns. A description of these wonderful devices, which were a secret with America and the Allies, is given in Book III, chapter 4.

[Pg 1]

America's Munitions




[Pg 2]
[Pg 3]

Washington, D. C., December 24, 1918.

Dear Mr. Crowell: American munitions production, which for some time has been in your charge, played an important part in the early decision of the war, yet the very immensity and complexity of the problem has made it difficult for this accomplishment to be adequately understood by the public or in fact by any except those who have had occasion to give the matter special study. As the whole people have been called upon to make sacrifices for the war, all the people should be given an opportunity to know what has been done in their behalf in munitions production, and I therefore ask that you have prepared a historical statement of munitions production, so brief that all may have time to read it, so nontechnical that all may be able readily to understand it, and so authoritative that all may rely upon its accuracy.

Cordially yours,

Newton D. Baker,
Secretary of War.

Hon. Benedict Crowell,
The Assistant Secretary of War.

[Pg 4]

Washington, D. C., May 10, 1919.

Dear Mr. Secretary: Responding to your request, I transmit herewith a brief, nontechnical, authoritative history of munitions production during the recent war. The several chapters have been prepared in the first instance by the officers who have been directly responsible for production, and have been assembled and edited, under my direction, by Hon. Robert J. Bulkley, assisted by Capt. Robert Forrest Wilson and Capt. Benjamin E. Ling. Capt. Wilson has undertaken responsibility for the literary style of the report, and has rewritten the greater part of it, consulting at length with the officers who supplied the original material, and with officers of the statistics branch of the General Staff, in order to insure accuracy.

Maj. Gen. C. C. Williams, Chief of Ordnance; Brig. Gen. W. S. Peirce, Acting Chief of Ordnance; Maj. Gen. C. T. Menoher, Chief of Air Service; Maj. Gen. W. M. Black, Chief of Engineers; Maj. Gen. W. L. Sibert, Chief of Chemical Warfare Service; Maj. Gen. H. L. Rogers, Quartermaster General; Mr. R. J. Thorne, Acting Quartermaster General; Maj. Gen. G. O. Squier, Chief Signal Officer; Brig. Gen. Charles B. Drake, Chief of Motor Transport Corps; and Maj. Gen. W. M. Ireland, the Surgeon General, have cooperated in the preparation of the material transmitted herewith.

Special acknowledgment for the preparation and correction of the several chapters is due to the following officers:

The ordnance problem, Col. James L. Walsh.

Gun production, Col. William P. Barba.

Mobile field artillery, Col. J. B. Rose.

Railway artillery, Col. G. M. Barnes and Maj. E. D. Campbell.

Explosives, propellants, and artillery ammunition, Col. C. T. Harris and Maj. J. Herbert Hunter.

Sights and fire-control apparatus, Col. H. K. Rutherford and Maj. Fred E. Wright.

Motorized artillery, Col. L. B. Moody and Lieut. Col. H. W. Alden.

Tanks, Lieut. Col. H. W. Alden.

Machine guns, Col. Earl McFarland and Lieut. Col. Herbert O'Leary.

Service rifles, Maj. Lewis P. Johnson and Maj. Parker Dodge.

Pistols and revolvers, Lieut. Col. J. C. Beatty and Maj. Parker Dodge.

Small arms ammunition, Lieut. Col. J. C. Beatty, Maj. Lee O. Wright, Maj. A. E. Hunt, and Capt. C. J. Evans.

[Pg 5]

Trench warfare material, Lieut. Col. E. J. W. Ragsdale, Capt. J. R. Caldwell, Capt. R. D. Smith, and Lieut. J. T. Libbey.

Miscellaneous ordnance equipment, Lieut. Col. S. H. MacGregor, Maj. Bashford Dean, Capt. A. L. Fabens, and Capt. James S. Wiley.

The aircraft problem and airplane production, Lieut. Col. George W. Mixter.

The Liberty engine and other airplane engines, Lieut. H. H. Emmons, United States Navy.

Aviation equipment and armament, Lieut. Col. E. J. W. Ragsdale, Maj. E. Bradley, Capt. Robert D. Smith, Capt. H. E. Ives, and Lieut. John M. Hammond.

The airplane radio telephone, Col. C. C. Culver and Lieut. Col. Nugent H. Slaughter.

Balloons, Capt. H. W. Treat.

The Engineers in France, Lieut. Col. J. B. Cress and Capt. C. Beard.

Military railways, Col. J. M. Milliken and Mr. S. M. Felton.

Engineer activities at home, Lieut. Col. J. B. Cress and Lieut. Col. R. W. Crawford.

Sound and flash ranging and searchlights, Lieut. Col. J. B. Cress and Maj. W. D. Young.

Toxic gases, Col. M. T. Bogert, Col. W. A. Walker, Lieut. Col. E. M. Chance, and Lieut. Col. William McPherson.

Defensive gas equipment, Col. Bradley Dewey and Lieut. Col. A. L. Besse.

Subsistence, Lieut. Col. J. H. Adams and Capt. S. B. Johnson.

Clothing and equipage, Lieut. Col. F. A. Ellison and Capt. W. H. Porter.

Miscellaneous quartermaster undertakings: Music, Maj. George H. Richards; fuel, oil, and paints, Mr. J. Elliott Hall; brushes, Capt. T. W. S. Phillips; rolling kitchens, Capt. J. G. Williams and Mr. M. A. Dunning; tools and tool chests, Mr. W. F. Fusting and Mr. M. E. Moye; hardware, Lieut. Col. H. P. Hill and Mr. William A. Graham; factory enterprises, Lieut. Col. H. P. Hill; shoe fitting, Col. F. A. Ellison; meat cutting, Dr. W. O. Trone; packing, Capt. R. H. Moody; horses and mules, Maj. A. Cedarwald.

Motor and horse-drawn vehicles: Motor vehicles, Col. Fred Glover; horse-drawn vehicles, Maj. A. Volgeneau.

Medical and dental supplies, Lieut. Col. J. P. Fletcher and Capt. W. G. Guth.

Salvage, Col. J. S. Chambers and Capt. F. C. Simpson.

Mr. W. L. Pollard, Mr. Aaron Rachofsky, and Lieut. J. J. Cameron have rendered very valuable assistance in assembling data concerning quartermaster activities.

Cantonments and camps, and miscellaneous construction, Maj. W. G. Maupin.

[Pg 6]

Signal Corps material, Brig. Gen. C. McK. Saltzman and Capt. Donald MacGregor.

The accuracy of all statistics and direct statements of fact has been checked and approved by the statistics branch of the General Staff, under the direction of Maj. W. R. Burgess.

Respectfully submitted,

Benedict Crowell,
The Assistant Secretary of War,
Director of Munitions

Hon. Newton D. Baker,
Secretary of War.

[Pg 7]


Except in one or two instances, this account of the production of munitions in America for the war against Germany and her allies contains nothing about secret devices invented during the period under discussion. When the necessity for silence with respect to vital matters brought about a voluntary censorship in American publications, the land was filled with rumors of new and revolutionary developments in war matériel, particularly of new weapons of offense. It is fair to the American public to-day to state that such rumors were not without foundation. American inventiveness rose splendidly to the emergency. The expected American offensive in 1919 would have had its "surprises" in numbers, some of which might well have proved to be decisive. Certain of these inventions had been put in large production before the armistice was declared, others had been carried to an advanced experimental stage that insured their success. Since the value of these innovations as part of the Nation's permanent military assets depends largely upon their secret nature, it would be obviously unwise to mention or describe them at this time.

The Director of Munitions wishes to acknowledge the debt of America, so far as the production of munitions is concerned, to the Navy for its cooperation in industrial matters at home and its strong aid in the safe transport of munitions to France, and to all the other Government departments, each one of which contributed in numerous and important ways to the success of the munitions enterprise. The debt also extends heavily to the War Industries Board, its functions of creating facilities for manufacture, opening up new sources of raw materials, allocating materials, decreeing priorities, fixing prices, and acting as purchasing agent for the allies, making it the national industrial clearing house through which the War Department could work without waste effort. Acknowledgment is made to such essential agencies as the United States Railroad Administration, the United States Fuel Administration, the War Trade Board, and the United States Food Administration, and to all official or volunteer activities looking to the conservation and mobilization of our national resources. Without this entire cooperation the history set forth in these pages would not be what it is.

[Pg 8]
[Pg 9]


Introduction 13
Book I—Ordnance.
Chapter 1. The ordnance problem 21
2. Gun production 38
3. Mobile field artillery 56
4. Railway artillery 91
5. Explosives, propellants, and artillery ammunition 103
6. Sights and fire-control apparatus 135
7. Motorized artillery 148
8. Tanks 154
9. Machine guns 158
10. Service rifles 177
11. Pistols and revolvers 187
12. Small-arms ammunition 191
13. Trench-warfare material 200
14. Miscellaneous ordnance equipment 221
Book II—The Air Service.
Chapter 1. The aircraft problem 235
2. Airplane production 239
3. The Liberty engine 265
4. Other airplane engines 281
5. Aviation equipment and armament 294
6. The airplane radio telephone 323
7. Balloons 331
Book III—The Engineer Corps.
Chapter 1. The Engineers in France 347
2. Military railways 367
3. Engineer activities at home 375
4. Sound and flash ranging and searchlights 383
Book IV—Chemical Warfare.
Chapter 1. Toxic gases 395
2. Gas defense equipment. 410
Book V—Quartermaster Activities.
Chapter 1. Subsistence 435
2. Clothing and equipage 453
3. Miscellaneous quartermaster undertakings 475
4. Motor and horse-drawn vehicles 496
5. Medical and dental supplies 511
6. Salvage 517
Book VI—The Construction Division.
Chapter 1. Cantonments and camps 535
2. Miscellaneous construction 548
Book VII—The Signal Corps.
Chapter 1. Signal Corps material 567
Conclusion 585
[Pg 10]
[Pg 11]


[Pg 12]
[Pg 13]


As our war against Germany recedes into the past its temporal boundaries become more sharply defined, and it assumes the character of a complete entity—a rounded-out period of time in which the United States collected her men and resources, fought, and shared in the victory.

As such it offers to the critic the easy opportunity to discover that certain things were not done. American airplanes did not arrive at the front in sufficient numbers. American guns in certain essential calibers did not appear at all. American gas shells were not fired at the enemy. American troops fought with French and British machine guns to a large extent. The public is familiar with such statements.

It should be remembered that the war up to its last few weeks—up to its last few days, in fact—was a period of anxious suspense, during which America was straining her energies toward a goal, toward the realization of an ambition which, in the production of munitions, dropped the year 1918 almost out of consideration altogether, which indeed did not bring the full weight of American men and matériel into the struggle even in 1919, but which left it for 1920, if the enemy had not yet succumbed to the growing American power, to witness the maximum strength of the United States in the field.

Necessarily, therefore, the actual period of hostilities, between April 6, 1917, and November 11, 1918, was devoted in this country to laying down the foundations of a munitions industry that should bring about its overwhelming results at the appointed time. What munitions of the more difficult sort were actually produced in this period might almost be termed casual to the main enterprise—pilots of the quantities to come.

The decision to prepare heavily for 1919 and 1920 and thus sacrifice for 1917 and 1918 the munitions that might have been produced at the cost of any less adequate preparation for the more distant future, was based on sound strategical reasoning on the part of the Allies and ourselves.

On going back to the past we find that on April 6, 1917, the United States scarcely realized the gravity of the undertaking. There was a general impression, reaching even into Government, that the Allies[Pg 14] alone were competent to defeat the Central Powers in time, and that America's part would be largely one of moral support, with expanding preparation in the background as insurance against any unforeseen disasters. In line with this attitude we sent the first division of American troops to France in the spring of 1917 to be our earnest to the governments and peoples of the Allies that we were with them in the great struggle. Not until after the departure of the various foreign missions that came to this country during that spring did America fully awake to the seriousness of the situation.

All through the summer of 1917 the emphasis upon American man power in France gradually grew, but no definite schedule upon which the United States could work was reached until autumn or early winter, until the mission headed by Col. Edward M. House visited Europe to give America place on the Supreme War Council and in the Interallied Conference. The purpose of the House mission was to assure the Allies that America was in the war for all she was worth and to determine the most effective method in which she could cooperate.

In the conferences in London and Paris the American representatives looked into the minds of the allied leaders and saw the situation as it was. Two dramatic factors colored all the discussions—the growing need for men and the gravity of the shipping situation. The German submarines were operating so effectively as to make exceedingly dark the outlook for the transport on a sufficient scale either of American troops or of American munitions.

As to man power, the Supreme War Council gave it as the judgment of the military leaders of the Allies that, if the day were to be saved, America must send 1,000,000 troops by the following July. There were in France then (on Dec. 1, 1917) parts of four divisions of American soldiers—129,000 men in all.

The program of American cooperation, as it crystallized in these conferences, may be summarized as follows:

1. To keep the Allies from starvation by shipping food.

2. To assist the Allied armies by keeping up the flow of matériel already in production for them in the United States.

3. To send as many men as could be transported with the shipping facilities then at America's command.

4. To bend energies toward a big American Army in 1919 equipped with American supplies.

In these conferences sat the chief military and political figures of the principal European powers at war with Germany. In the Supreme War Council were such strategists as Gen. Foch for the French and Gen. Robertson for the British, Gen. Bliss representing the United States. The president of the Interallied Conference was M. Clemenceau, the French prime minister. Mr. Winston Churchill, the minister[Pg 15] of munitions, represented Great Britain, while Mr. Lloyd-George, the Prime Minister of England, also participated to some extent in the conferences.

Out of bodies of such character came the international ordnance agreement. It will be apparent to the reader that this agreement must have represented the best opinion of the leaders of the principal Allies, initiated out of their intimate knowledge of the needs of the situation and concurred in by the representatives of the United States. The substance of this agreement was outlined for Washington in a cabled message signed by Gen. Bliss, a document that had such an important bearing upon the production of munitions in this country that its more important passages are set down at this point:

The representatives of Great Britain and France state that their production of artillery (field, medium, and heavy) is now established on so large a scale that they are able to equip completely all American divisions as they arrive in France during the year 1918 with the best make of British and French guns and howitzers.

The British and French ammunition supply and reserves are sufficient to provide the requirements of the American Army thus equipped at least up to June, 1918, provided that the existing 6-inch shell plants in the United States and Dominion of Canada are maintained in full activity, and provided that the manufacture of 6-inch howitzer carriages in the United States is to some extent sufficiently developed.

On the other hand, the French, and to a lesser extent the British, require as soon as possible large supplies of propellants and high explosives: and the British require the largest possible production of 6-inch howitzers from now onward and of 8-inch and 9.2-inch shell from June onward.

In both of these matters they ask the assistance of the Americans.

With a view, therefore, first to expedite and facilitate the equipment of the American armies in France, and, second, to secure the maximum ultimate development of the ammunition supply with the minimum strain upon available tonnage, the representatives of Great Britain and France propose that the American field, medium, and heavy artillery be supplied during 1918, and as long after as may be found convenient, from British and French gun factories; and they ask: (A) That the American efforts shall be immediately directed to the production of propellants and high explosives on the largest possible scale; and (B) Great Britain also asks that the 6-inch, 8-inch, and 9.2-inch shell plants already created for the British service in the United States shall be maintained in the highest activity, and that large additional plants for the manufacture of these shells shall at once be laid down.

In this way alone can the tonnage difficulty be minimised and potential artillery development, both in guns and shells, of the combined French, British, and American armies be maintained in 1918 and still more in 1919.

This agreement had a profound effect upon American production of munitions. Most important of all, it gave us time; time to build manufacturing capacity on a grand scale without the hampering necessity for immediate production; time to secure the best in design; time to attain quality in the enormous output to come later as opposed to early quantity of indifferent class.

In the late autumn of 1917, shortly after Russia collapsed and withdrew from the war, it became evident that Germany would[Pg 16] seize the opportunity to move her troops from the eastern front and concentrate her entire army against the French and British in 1918.

This intelligence at once resulted in fresh emphasis upon the man-power phase of American cooperation. As early as December, 1917, the War Department was anticipating the extraordinary need for men in the coming spring by considering plans for the transport of troops up to the supposed limit of the capacity of all available American ships, with what additional tonnage Great Britain and the other Allies could spare us. It is of record that the actual dispatch of troops to France far outstripped these early estimates.

Then came the long-expected German offensive, and the cry went up in Europe for men. England, "her back against the wall," offered additional ships in which to transport six divisions over and above the number of troops already scheduled for embarkation, agreeing further to feed and maintain these men for 10 weeks while they were brigaded with British units for final training. After the six additional divisions had embarked there was still need of men, and the British continued their transports in our service. The high mark of shipment was in July, when 306,000 American soldiers were transported across the Atlantic, more than three times the number contemplated for July in the schedule adopted six months earlier.


[Pg 17]

The effect of this stepping up of the man-power program upon the shipment of supplies was described by Lieut. Col. Repington, the British military critic, writing in the Morning Post (London) on December 9, 1918, in part as follows:

* * * they (the British war cabinet) also prayed America in aid, implored her to send in haste all available infantry and machine guns, and placed at her disposal, to her great surprise, a large amount of transports to hasten arrivals. * * *

The American Government acceded to this request in the most loyal and generous manner. Assured by their Allies in France that the latter could fit out the American infantry divisions on their arrival with guns, horses, and transport, the Americans packed their infantry tightly in the ships and left to a later occasion the dispatch to France of guns, horses, transport, labor units, flying service, rolling stock, and a score of other things originally destined for transport with the divisions. If subsequently—and indeed up to the day that the armistice was signed—Gen. Pershing found himself short of many indispensable things, and if his operations were thereby conducted under real difficulties of which he must have been only too sensible, the defects were not due to him and his staff, nor to the Washington administration, nor to the resolute Gen. March and his able fellow workers, but solely to the self-sacrificing manner in which America had responded to the call of her friends.


The really amazing thing which America did was to place in France in 19 months an army of the size and the ability of the American Expeditionary Force. The war taught us that America can organize, train, and transport troops of a superior sort at a rate which leaves far behind any program for the manufacture of munitions.[Pg 18] It upset the previous opinion that adequate military preparedness is largely a question of trained man power.

When the war touched us our strategical equipment included plans ready drawn for the mobilization of men. There were on file at the Army War College in Washington detailed plans for defending our harbors, our coasts, and our borders. There were also certain plans for the training of new troops.

It is worthy of note, however, that this equipment included no plan for the equally important and equally necessary mobilization of industry and production of munitions, which proved to be the most difficult phase of the actual preparation for war. The experience of 1917 and 1918 was a lesson in the time it takes to determine types, create designs, provide facilities, and establish manufacture. These years will forever stand as the monument to the American genius of workshop and factory, which in this period insured the victory by insuring the timely arrival of the overwhelming force of America's resources in the form of America's munitions.

B. C.

Washington, May, 1919.

[Pg 19]


[Pg 20]
[Pg 21]


To arm the manhood called to defend the Nation in 1917 and 1918, to make civilians into soldiers by giving them the tools of the martial profession—such was the task of the Ordnance Department in the late war.

The off-hand thought may identify ordnance as artillery alone. It may surprise many to know that in the American ordnance catalogue of supplies during the recent war there were over 100,000 separate and distinct items. Thousands of the items of ordnance were distinctly noncommercial, meaning that they had to be designed and produced specially for the uses of war.

While the principles of fighting essentially have changed not one whit since the age when projectiles were stones hurled by catapults, nearly every advance in mechanical science has had its reflection in warfare, until to-day the weapons which man has devised to destroy the military power of his enemy make up an intricate and an imposing list. When America accepted the challenge of Germany in 1917, part of the range of ordnance had already been produced in moderate quantities in the United States, part of it had been developed by the more militaristic nations of the world in the last decade or quarter century, and part of it was purely the offspring of two and one-half years of desperate fighting before America entered the great struggle. Yet all of it, both the strange and the familiar, had to be put in production here on a grand scale and in a minimum of time, that the American millions might go adequately equipped to meet the foe. Let us examine the range of this equipment, seeing in the major items something of the character of the problem which confronted the Ordnance Department at the outset of the great enterprise.

Starting with the artillery, there was first in order of size the baby two-man cannon of 37 millimeters (about an inch and a half) in the diameter of its bore—a European development new to our experience, so light that it could be handled by foot troops in the field, used for annihilating the enemy's machine-gun emplacements.

Then the mobile field guns—the famous 75's, the equivalent in size of our former 3-inch gun, the 155-millimeter howitzer, the[Pg 22] French 155 millimeter G. P. F. (Grand Puissance Filloux) gun of glorious record in the war, and its American prototypes, the 4.7-inch, 5-inch, and 6-inch guns—all of these employed to shell crossroads and harass the enemy's middle area.

Beyond these were the 8-inch and 9.2-inch howitzers and the terrific 240-millimeter howitzer, for throwing great weights of destruction high in air to descend with a plunge upon the enemy's strongest defenses.

Then there were the 8-inch, 10-inch, 12-inch, and 14-inch guns on railway mounts, for pounding the depots and dumps in the enemy's back areas. These weapons were so tremendous in weight when mounted as to require from 16 to 24 axles on the car to distribute the load and the recoil of firing within the limits of the strength of standard heavy railway track.

All of these guns had to be produced in great numbers, if the future requirements of the American forces were to be met, produced by the thousands in the cases of the smaller ones and by the hundreds and scores in the cases of the larger.

These weapons would be ineffective without adequate supplies of ammunition. In the case of the mobile held guns this meant a requirement of millions of shell or shrapnel for the incessant bombardments and the concentrated barrages which characterized the great war. The entire weight of projectiles fired in such an historic engagement as Gettysburg would supply the artillery only for a few minutes in such intensive bombardments as sowed the soil of Flanders with steel.

The artillery demanded an immense amount of heavy equipment—limbers, caissons, auto ammunition trucks, and tractors to drag the heavy and middle-heavy artillery. Some of them were fitted with self-propelled caterpillar mounts which could climb a 40° grade or make as high as 12 miles an hour on level ground. These, the adaptations to warfare of peaceful farm and construction machine traction, for the first time rendered the greater guns exceedingly mobile, enabling them to go into action instantly upon arrival and to depart to safety just as soon as their mission was accomplished.

Then, too, this artillery equipment must have adequate facilities for maintenance in the field, and this need brought into existence another enormous phase of the ordnance program. There must be mobile ordnance repair shops for each division, consisting of miniature machine shops completely fitted out with power and its transmission equipment and mounted directly on motor trucks. Then there must be semi-heavy repair shops on 5-ton tractors, these to be for the corps what the truck machine shop was to the division. Each army headquarters called for its semipermanent repair shop for artillery and still larger repair shops for its railway artillery.

[Pg 23]

And in addition to all these were the base repair shops in France, which were erected on a scale to employ a force three times as large as the combined organizations of all the manufacturing arsenals of the United States in time of peace, having a capacity for relining 1,000 cannon and overhauling and repairing 2,000 motor vehicles, 7,000 machine guns, 50,000 rifles, and 2,000 pistols every month. This equipment of artillery and its maintenance organization implies the flow from American industry of enormous quantities of repair parts and spare parts to keep the artillery in good condition.

Coming next to the more personal equipment of the soldier, we find the necessity confronting the Ordnance Department to manufacture shoulder rifles by the million and cartridges for them by the billion. The great war brought the machine gun into its own, requiring in the United States the manufacture of these complicated and expensive weapons by the tens of thousands, including the one-man automatic rifle, itself an arm of a deadly and effective type.

Simultaneously with the mass employment of machine guns in the field came the development of the modern machine gun barrage, the indirect fire, of which required sighting instruments of the most delicate and accurate sort, and tripods with finely calibrated elevating and traversing devices, so that the gunner might place the deadly hail safely over the heads of his own unseen but advancing lines and with maximum damage to the enemy. These thousands of machine guns required water jackets to keep their barrels cool and specially built carts to carry them.

The personal armament of the soldier also called for an automatic pistol or a revolver for use in the infighting, when squads came in actual contact with soldiers of the enemy. These had to be produced by the hundreds of thousands.

The requirements of the field demanded hundreds of thousands of trench knives, murderous blades backed by the momentum of heavily weighted handles, which in turn were protected by guards embodying the principle of the thug's brass "knucks" armed with sharp points.

Then there were the special weapons, largely born of modern trench warfare. These included mortars, ranging from the small 3-inch Stokes, light enough to go over the top and simple enough to be fired from between the steadying knees of a squatting soldier, to the great 240-millimeter trench mortar of fixed position. The mortars proved to be exceedingly effective against concentrations of troops, and so there was devised for them a great variety of bombs and shell, not only of the high explosive fragmentation type, but also containing poison gas or fuming chemicals. Great quantities both of mortars and their ammunition were required.

From the security of the trenches the soldiers first threw out grenades, which burst in the enemy's trenches opposite and created[Pg 24] havoc. From the original device were developed grenades of various sorts—gas grenades for cleaning up dugouts, molten-metal grenades for fusing the firing mechanisms of captured enemy cannon and machine guns, paper grenades to kill by concussion. Then there were the rifle grenades, each to be fitted on the muzzle of a rifle and hurled by the lift of gases following the bullet, which passed neatly through the hole provided for it. The production of grenades was no small part of the American ordnance problem.

In addition to these trench weapons were the Livens projectors, which, fired in multiple by electricity, hurled a veritable cloud of gas containers into a selected area of enemy terrain, usually with great demoralization of his forces.

Bayonets for the rifles, bolos, helmets, periscopes for looking safely over the edges of the trenches, panoramic sights, range finders—these are only a few of the ordnance accessories of general application.

Then those innovations of the great war—the tanks—the 3-ton "whippet," built to escort the infantry waves, the 6-ton tanks, most used of all, and the powerful Anglo-American heavy tanks, each mounting a 37-millimeter cannon and four machine guns.

The war in the air put added demands upon ordnance. It required the stripped machine gun firing cartridges so rapidly that their explosions merged into a single continuous roar, yet each shot so nicely timed that it passed between the flying blades of the propeller. There had to be electric heaters for the gun mechanisms to prevent the oil which lubricated them from becoming congealed in the cold of high altitudes. The airplane guns required armor-piercing bullets for use against armored planes, incendiary bullets to ignite the hydrogen of the enemy's balloon or to fire the gasoline escaping through the wound in the hostile airplane's fuel tank, and tracer bullets to direct the aim of the aerial gunner. Other equipment for the airman included shot counters, to tell him instantly what quantity of ammunition he had on hand, and gun sights, ingeniously contrived to correct his aim automatically for the relative speed and direction of the opposing plane. These were all developments in ordnance brought about by the great war, and in each case they involved problems for the production organization to solve.

Then there were the drop bombs of aerial warfare, of many gradations in weight up to 500 pounds each, these latter experimental ones forecasting the day when bombs weighing 1,600 pounds would be dropped from the sky; then bomb sights to determine the moment when the missile must be dropped in order to hit its target, sights which corrected for the altitude, the wind resistance, and the rate of speed of the airplane; and then mechanisms to suspend the bombs from the plane and to release them at the will of the operator.

The list might be stretched out almost indefinitely—through pyrotechnics, developed by the exigencies in Europe into an elaborate[Pg 25] system; through helmets and armor, revivals from medieval times to protect the modern soldier from injury; through the assortment of heavy textiles, which gave the troops their belts, their bandoleers, their haversacks, and their holsters; through canteens, cutlery for the mess in the fields, shotguns, and so on, until there might be set down thousands of items of the list which we know as modern ordnance.

It will be noted that the most important articles in this range are articles of a noncommercial type. In other words, they are not the sort of things that the industry of the country builds in time of peace, nor learns how to build. Many other war functions came naturally to a country skilled in handling food supplies for teeming populations, in solving housing problems for whole cities, and in managing transportation for a hundred million people; there was at hand the requisite ability to conduct war enterprises of such character smoothly and efficiently. Yet there was in the country at the outbreak of war little knowledge of the technique of ordnance production.

The declaration of war found an American Ordnance Department whose entire commissioned personnel consisted of 97 officers. Only 10 of this number were experienced in the design of artillery weapons. The projected army of 5,000,000 men required 11,000 trained officers to handle every phase of ordnance service. While a portion of this production would have to do with the manufacture of articles of a commercial type, such as automobiles, trucks, meat cans, mess equipment, and the like, yet the ratio of 97 to 11,000 gives an indication of the amount of ordnance knowledge possessed by the War Department at the outbreak of war as compared to what it would need to equip the first 5,000,000 men for battle.

The Government could obtain commissary officers from the food industry; it could turn bank tellers into paymasters, or convert builders into construction quartermasters; find transportation officers in the great railway systems, Signal Corps officers in the telegraph companies, or medical officers in professional life. But there was no broad field to which ordnance could turn to find specialized skill available. The best it could do was to go into the heavy manufacturing industry for expert engineers who could later be trained in the special problems of ordnance.

Prior to 1914 there were but six Government arsenals and two large private ordnance works which knew anything about the production of heavy weapons. After 1914, war industry sprang up in the United States, yet in 1917 there were only a score or so of firms engaged in the manufacture of artillery ammunition, big guns, rifles, machine guns, and other important ordnance supplies for the allies. When the armistice was signed nearly 8,000 manufacturing plants in the United States were working on ordnance contracts. While many of these contracts entailed production not much dissimilar to[Pg 26] commercial output, yet here is another ratio—the 20 or more original factories compared with the ultimate 8,000—which serves as an indication of the expansion of the industrial knowledge of the special processes incident to ordnance manufacture.

When we found ourselves in the war the first step was to extend our ordnance knowledge as quickly as possible. The war in Europe had developed thousands of new items of ordnance, many of them carefully guarded as military secrets, with which our own officers were familiar only in a general way. As soon as we became a belligerent, however, we at once turned to the allies, and they freely and fully gave us of their store of knowledge—plans, specifications, working models, secret devices, and complete manufacturing processes.

With this knowledge at hand we adopted for our own program certain French types of field guns and howitzers and British types of heavy howitzers. The reproduction of the British types caused no unusual difficulties, but the adoption of French plans brought into the situation a factor the difficulties of which are apt not to be appreciated by the uninitiated.

This new element for consideration was the circumstance that the entire French system of manufacture in metals is radically different from our own in its practices and is not readily adapted to American methods.

The English and the American engineers and shops use inches and feet in their measurements, but the French use the metric system. This fact means that there was not a single standard American drill, reamer, tap, die, or other machine-shop tool that would accurately produce the result called for by a French ordnance drawing in the metric system. Moreover, the French standards for metal stocks, sheets, plates, angles, I-beams, rivet holes, and rivet spacing are far different from American standards.

It was discovered that complete French drawings were in numerous cases nonexistent, the French practice relying for small details upon the memory and skill of its artisans. But even when the complete drawings were obtained, then the American ordnance engineer was confronted with the choice of either revolutionizing the machining industry of the United States by changing over its entire equipment to conform to the metric system, or else of doing what was done—namely, translating the French designs into terms of standard American shop practice, a process which in numerous cases required weeks and even months of time on the part of whole staffs of experts working at high tension.

Nor do the French know the American quantity-production methods. The French artisan sees always the finished article, and he is given discretion in the final dimensions of parts and in the fitting and[Pg 27] assembling of them. But the American mechanic sees only the part in which he is a specialist in machining, working with strict tolerances and producing pieces which require little or no fitting in the assembling room. Consequently, in the translating of French plans it was necessary to put into them what they never had before, namely, rigid tolerances and exact measurements.

Figure 1.
Expenditure of Artillery Ammunition in Modern Battles.
Year. Battle. Days' duration. Army. Rounds of artillery ammunition expended.
1863 Chickamauga 2 Union ▏ 7,325
1863 Gettysburg 3 Union ▎ 32,781
1870 St. Privat 1 German ▍ 39,000
1904 Nan Shan 1 Japanese ▎ 34,047
1904 Liao Yang 9 Russian █ 134,400
1904 Sha Ho 9 Russian ██ 274,300
1915 Neuve Chapelle [1]3 British ██ 197,000
1915 Souches [2]1 French ███ 300,000
1916 Somme [3]7 British ████████████████████████████████████ 4000000
1917 Messines Ridge [3]7 British █████████████████████████ 2753000
1918 St. Mihiel [2]4 United States ██████████ 1098217

[1] Artillery preparation lasted 35 minutes.

[2] Artillery preparation lasted 4 hours.

[3] Artillery preparation intermittent 7 days.

One of the most striking developments of the present war has been the great increase in the use of artillery to precede infantry action in battle. This is illustrated by a comparison of the expenditure of artillery ammunition in characteristic battles of recent wars with that in important battles of the present war. The special features of the several battles should be kept in mind. Chickamauga was fought in a heavily wooded region; Gettysburg and St. Privat over open farm land. The latter battles, together with Nan Shan, and all the battles of the present war considered below, involved artillery preparation for assault upon armies in defensive position. The expenditures, therefore, are roughly comparable.

The high mark of the use of artillery in offensive battle was reached at the Somme and Messines Ridge, before the effective use of tanks was developed.

When an army of 100,000 men expands and becomes an army of 3,000,000, it becomes a job just 30 times bigger to feed the 3,000,000 than it was to feed the 100,000. A soldier of a campaigning army eats no more than a soldier of a quiet military post. The same is true approximately in the case of clothing an army. But the army's consumption of ammunition in time of war is far out of proportion to its numerical expansion to meet the war emergency.

[Pg 28]

For instance, an Army machine gun in time of peace might fire 6,000 rounds in practice during the year. This was the standard quantity of cartridges provided in peace. Yet it is necessary to provide for a single machine gun on the field in such a war as the recent one 288,875 rounds of ammunition during its first year of operation, this figure including the initial stock and the reserve supply as well as the actual number of rounds fired. Thus the machine gun of war increases its appetite, so to speak, for ammunition 4,700 per cent in the first year of fighting.

Figure 2.
Rates of Artillery Fire Per Gun Per Day in Recent Wars.
War. Army. Ap­prox­i­mate rounds per gun per day.
1854-1856, Crimean British and French █████ [4]5
1859, Italian Austrian ▎ .3
1861-1865, Civil Union ████ 4
1866, Austro-Prussian Austrian ██ 2.2
Prussian ▉ .8
1870-71, Franco-Prussian German [5]1.1
1904-5, Russo-Japanese Russian ████ 4
1912-13, Balkan Bulgarian ███████ 7
September, 1914 French ████████ [5]8
Jan. 1-Oct. 1, 1918 Italian ████████ [5]8
Jan. 1-Nov. 11, 1918 United States ██████████████████████████████ [5]30
Jan. 1-Nov. 11, 1918 French ██████████████████████████████████ [5]34
Jan. 1-Nov. 11, 1918 British ███████████████████████████████████ [5]35

[4] Siege of Sebastopol.

[5] Field gun ammunition only.

The rates are based upon total expenditure and average number of guns in the hands of field armies for the period of the wars.

A large part of the heavy expenditure of artillery ammunition in the present as compared with other modern wars can be attributed to the increased rate of fire made possible by improved methods of supply in the field and by the rapid-fire guns now in use. In wars fought before the introduction of quick-firing field guns, four or five rounds per day was the greatest average rate. Even this was reached only in the siege of Sebastopol, where armies were stationary and supply by water was easy, and in the American Civil War, which was characterized by advanced tactical developments. The guns of the allied armies in France fired throughout the year 1918 at a rate about seven times greater than these previously high rates.

In the case of larger weapons the increase in ammunition consumption is even more startling. Prior to 1917 the War Department allotted to each 3-inch field gun 125 rounds of ammunition per year[Pg 29] for practice firing. Ammunition for the 75-millimeter guns (the 3-inch equivalent) was being produced to meet an estimated supply of 22,750 rounds for each gun in a single year, or an increased consumption of ammunition in war over peace of 18,100 per cent.

Figure 3.
Expenditure of Artillery Ammunition in Recent Wars.
Year. War. Army. Rounds expended during war.
1859 Italian Austrian | 15,326
1861-1865 Civil Union ██████████████ 5000000
1866 Austro-Prussian Prussian ▏ 36,199
Austrian ▎ 96,472
1870-71 Franco-Prussian German ██ 817000
1904-5 Russo-Japanese Russian ███ 954000
1912-13 Balkan Bulgarian ██ 700000
1918 Present British and French In one month.[6]
████████████████████████████████████ 12710000
1864[7] Civil Union █ 1950000
1918[8] Present United States ████ 8100000
1918[8] Present British ████████████████████████████████ 71445000
1918[8] Present French ████████████████████████████████████ 81070000

[6] Average, year ended Nov. 10, 1918.

[7] Year ended June 30, 1864.

[8] Year ended Nov. 10, 1918.

The industrial effort necessary to maintain modern armies in action may be measured to a certain extent by their expenditure of artillery ammunition. European wars of the past 100 years were for the most part decided before peace-time reserves had been exhausted. The American Civil War, however, required for its decision an industrial mobilization at that time unprecedented, which, like the use in that war of intrenchments by field armies, was more truly indicative of the trend of modern warfare than were the conditions of the more recent European wars.

Thus when a peace army of 100,000 becomes a war army of 3,000,000 its ammunition consumption becomes not 30 times greater, but anywhere from 48 to 182 times 30 times greater—an increase far out of proportion to its increase in the consumption of food, clothing, or other standard supplies. Modern invention has made possible and modern practice has put into effect a greatly augmented use of ammunition. Figures 1, 2, and 3 show graphically how ammunition expenditure has increased in modern times.

[Pg 30]

Another circumstance that complicated the ordnance problem was the increasing tendency throughout the great war to use more and more the mechanical or machine methods of fighting as opposed to the older and simpler forms in which the human or animal factor entered to a greater extent.

At the time the United States entered the war the regulations prescribed 50 machine guns as the equipment for an infantry division. When the armistice was signed the standard equipment of a division called for 260 heavy machine guns and 768 light automatic rifles. Of the heavy machine guns with a division, only 168 were supposed to be in active service, the remainder being in reserve or in use for antiaircraft work. However, the comparison in the two standards of equipment shows the tendency toward machine methods in the wholesale killing of modern warfare and indicates the fresh demands made upon the ordnance organization to procure this additional machinery of death. Moreover, when the fighting came to an end the A. E. F. was on the point of adding to its regimental and divisional equipment a further large number of automatic rifles.

The day of the horse was passing in the great war as far as his connection with the mobile artillery was concerned, and the gasoline motor was taking his place, this tendency being accelerated particularly by America, the greatest nation of all in automotivity. Trucks and tractors to pull the guns, motor ammunition trucks displacing the old horse-drawn caissons and limbers, even self-propelling platforms for the larger field guns, with track laying or caterpillar mounts supplying not only mobility for the gun but aiming facilities as well; these were the fresh developments. Some of these improvements were produced and put in the field, the others were under development at the signing of the armistice. The whole tendency toward motorization served to complicate ordnance production in this country, not only in the supply of the weapons and traction devices themselves, but in the production of increased supplies of ammunition, since these improvements also tended to increase the rapidity with which bullets and shell were consumed.

The total cost of the ordnance alone required to equip the first 5,000,000 Americans called to arms was estimated to be between $12,000,000,000 and $13,000,000,000. This was equal to about half of all the money appropriated by Congresses of the United States from the first Continental Congress down to our declaration of war against Germany, out of which appropriations had been paid the cost of every war we ever had, including the Civil War, and the whole enormous expenses of the Government in every official activity of 140 years. To equip with ordnance an army of this size in the[Pg 31] period projected meant the expenditure of money at a rate which would build a Panama Canal complete every 30 days.

Above are sketched some of the difficulties of the situation. In our favor we had the greatest industrial organization in the world, engineering skill to rank with any, a race of people traditionally versatile in applying the forces of machinery to the needs of mankind, inventive genius which could match its accomplishments with those of the rest of the world added together, a capacity for organization that proved to be astonishingly effective in such an effort as the nation made in 1917 and 1918, enormous stores of raw materials, the country being more nearly self-sufficient in this respect than any other nation of the globe, magnificent facilities of inland transportation, a vast body of skilled mechanics, and a selective-service law designed to take for the Army men nonessential to the Nation's industrial efforts for war and to leave in the workshops the men whose skill could not be withdrawn without subtracting somewhat from the national store of industrial ability.

It only remains to sketch in swift outlines something of the accomplishments of the American ordnance effort. In general it may be said that those projects of the ordnance program to which were assigned the shorter time limits were most successful. There never was a time when the production of smokeless powder and high explosives was not sufficient for our own requirements, with large quantities left over for both France and England.

America in 19 months of development built over 2,500,000 shoulder rifles, a quantity greater than that produced either by England or by France in the same period, although both those countries in April, 1917, at the time when we started, had their rifle production already in a high stage of development. (See fig. 4.) However, the Franco-British production of rifles dropped in rate in 1918 because there was no longer need for original rifle equipment for new troops.

In the 19 months of war American factories produced over 2,879,000,000 rounds of rifle and machine-gun ammunition. This was somewhat less than the production in Great Britain during the same period and somewhat less than that of France; but America began the effort from a standing start, and in the latter part of the war was turning out ammunition at a monthly rate twice that of France and somewhat higher than that of Great Britain. (See fig. 4.)

Between April 6, 1917, and November 11, 1918, America produced as many machine guns and automatic rifles as Great Britain did in the same period and 81 per cent of the number produced by France; while at the end of the effort America was building machine guns and machine rifles nearly three times as rapidly as Great Britain and more than twice as fast as France. (Fig. 4.) When it is considered[Pg 32] that a long time must elapse before machine-gun factories can be equipped with the necessary machine tools and fixtures, the effort of America in this respect may be fairly appreciated.

Figure 4.
Production of Rifles, Machine Guns, and Ammunition, France and United States Compared with Great Britain.
Machine guns and machine rifles: Per cent of rate for Great Britain.
Great Britain 10,947 ██████████████ 100
France 12,126 ████████████████ 111
United States 27,270 ████████████████████████████████████ 249
Great Britain 112,821 ██████████████ 100
France 40,522 █████ 36
United States 233,562 ██████████████████████████████ 207
Rifle and machine-gun ammunition:
Great Britain 259,769,000 ██████████████ 100
France 139,845,000 ████████ 54
United States 277,894,000 ███████████████ 107
Machine guns and machine rifles: Per cent of rate for Great Britain.
Great Britain 181,404 ██████████████ 100
France 229,288 ██████████████████ 126
United States 181,662 ██████████████ 100
Great Britain 1,971,764 ██████████████ 100
France 1,416,056 ██████████ 72
United States 2,506,742 ██████████████████ 127
Rifle and machine-gun ammunition:
Great Britain 3,486,127,000 ██████████████ 100
France 2,983,675,000 ████████████ 86
United States 2,879,148,000 ████████████ 83

British and French production of rifles during 1918 was at a lower rate than had been attained because there was no longer need for original equipment of troops.

Prior to November 11, 1918, America produced in the 75-millimeter size alone about 4,250,000 high-explosive shell, over 500,000 gas shell, and over 7,250,000 shrapnel. Of the high-explosive shell produced 2,735,000 were shipped to France up to November 15, 1918. In all 8,500,000 rounds of shell of this caliber were floated—nearly two-thirds of it being shrapnel. American troops on the line expended a total of 6,250,000 rounds of 75-millimeter ammunition, largely high-explosive shell of French manufacture drawn from the Franco-American ammunition pool. American high-explosive shell were tested in France by the French ordnance experts and approved for use by the French artillery just before the armistice.


The Lincoln Memorial and the Potomac River in the background.








The charging floor of an "open-hearth" furnace building, showing two furnaces on the side into which the raw materials are "charged." Each of these furnaces is 75 feet long and 15 feet wide, and the melted steel lies in a shallow bath inside the three doors, into one of which the man is looking. The pool or "bath," as it is termed, is 33 feet long by 12 feet wide and approximately 2½ feet deep, weighs approximately 60 tons, and is composed of pig iron and well-selected scrap steel from previous operations, which are placed in the furnace through the three doors shown, the furnace being all the time at a temperature so high that the naked eye may not look within the furnace, but must be protected with blue glass or smoked glass, exactly as when looking at the noonday sun. The eye can see nothing in the atmosphere of the bath in which the steel is being melted and refined, due to the exceedingly high temperature, which gives a light as white as that of the sun.

[Pg 33]

Figure 5.
Production of Artillery Ammunition, France and United States Compared with Great Britain.
[Types for use in A. E. F.]
Unfilled rounds: Per cent of rate for Great Britain.
Great Britain 7,748,000 █████████████████████████████ 100
France 6,661,000 █████████████████████████ 86
United States 7,044,000 ███████████████████████████ 91
Complete rounds:
Great Britain 7,347,000 █████████████████████████████ 100
France 7,638,000 ██████████████████████████████ 104
United States 2,712,000 ███████████ 37
Unfilled rounds: Per cent of rate for Great Britain.
Great Britain 138,357,000 █████████████████████████████ 100
France 156,170,000 █████████████████████████████████ 113
United States 38,623,000 ████████ 28
Complete rounds:
Great Britain 121,739,000 █████████████████████████████ 100
France 149,827,000 ████████████████████████████████████ 123
United States 17,260,000 ████ 14

In artillery ammunition rounds of all calibers America at the end of the war was turning out unfilled shell faster than the French and nearly as fast as the British; but, due to the shortage in adapters and boosters, a shortage rapidly being overcome at the end of the war, the rate of production of completed rounds was only about one-third that of either Great Britain or France. In total production during her 19 months of belligerency America turned out more than one-quarter as many unfilled rounds as Great Britain did in the same time and about one-quarter as many as came from the French munition plants. In completed rounds alone did America lag far behind the records of the two principal allies during 1917 and 1918. (Fig. 5.)

The production of completed rounds of artillery ammunition was gaining rapidly, beginning with the early summer of 1918, and in the month of October was approaching half the rate of manufacture in[Pg 34] Great Britain or in France. Figure 6 shows graphically the rate at which the artillery ammunition deliveries were expanding.

Figure 6.
Complete Rounds of Artillery Ammunition Produced for the Army Each Month During 1918 (Figures in Thousands of Rounds).
Jan. ██ 130
Feb. ██ 138
Mar. ██████ 500
Apr. ███████████ 906
May ████████████ 1034
June ████████████████ 1319
July █████████████ 1051
Aug. ████████████████████████ 1984
Sept. ██████████████████████████████ 2548
Oct. ████████████████████████████████████ 3026
Nov. ███████████████████████████████ 2570
Dec. ████████████████████████ 2024

In artillery proper the war ended too soon for American industry to arrive at a great production basis. The production of heavy ordnance units is necessarily a long and arduous effort even when plants are in existence and mechanical forces are trained in the work. America in large part had to build her ordnance industry from the ground up—buildings, machinery, and all—and to recruit and train the working forces after that. The national experience in artillery production in the great war most like our own was that of Great Britain, who started in from scratch, even as we did. It is interesting, then, to know how Great Britain expanded her artillery industry, and the testimony of the British ministry of munitions may throw a new light on our own efforts in this respect. In discussing artillery in the[Pg 35] war the British ministry of munitions issued a statement from which the following is an excerpt:

It is very difficult to say how long it was before the British army was thoroughly equipped with artillery and ammunition. The ultimate size of the army aimed at was continually increased during the first three years of the war, so that the ordnance requirements were continually increasing. It is probably true to say that the equipment of the army as planned in the early summer of 1915 was completed by September, 1916. As a result, however, of the battle of Verdun and the early stages of the battle of the Somme, a great change was made in the standard of equipment per division of the army, followed by further increases in September, 1916. The army was not completely equipped on this new scale until spring, 1918.

Figure 7.
Complete Units of Mobile Artillery Produced for the Army Each Month During 1918.
Jan. ██████ 73
Feb. █████ 68
Mar. ███████ 89
Apr. ███████ 86
May ██████ 76
June ████████ 106
July ███████ 85
Aug. ██████████████ 180
Sept. █████████████████████ 271
Oct. ████████████████████████████████████ 465
Nov. █████████████████████ 266
Dec. ██████████████████████ 279

Thus it took England three and a half years to equip her army completely with artillery and ammunition on the scale called for at the end of the war. On this basis America, when the armistice came, had two years before her to equal the record of Great Britain in this respect.

As to the production of gun bodies ready for mounting, the attainments of American ordnance were more striking. At the end of the[Pg 36] fighting America had passed the British rate of production and was approaching that of the French. In totals for the whole war period (Apr. 6, 1917, to Nov. 11, 1918) the American production of gun bodies could scarcely be compared with either that of the British or that of the French, this due to the fact that it required many months to build up the forging plants before production could go ahead.

In completed artillery units the American rate of production at the end of the war was rapidly approaching both that of the British and that of the French. In total production of complete units in the 19 months of war, American ordnance turned out about one-quarter as many as came from the British ordnance plants and less than one-fifth as many as the French produced in the same period. Figure 8 represents visually America's comparative performances in the production of gun bodies and complete artillery units.

Figure 8.
Production of Artillery, France and United States Compared with Great Britain.
Gun bodies (new): Per cent of rate for Great Britain.
Great Britain 802 ██████████████████████ 100
France 1,138 ███████████████████████████████ 142
United States 832 ███████████████████████ 104
Complete units:
Great Britain 486 ██████████████████████ 100
France 659 ██████████████████████████████ 136
United States 412 ███████████████████ 85
Gun bodies (new): Per cent of rate for Great Britain.
Great Britain 11,852 ██████████████████████ 100
France 19,492 ████████████████████████████████████ 164
United States 4,275 ████████ 36
Complete units:
Great Britain 8,065 ██████████████████████ 100
France 11,056 ██████████████████████████████ 137
United States 2,008 █████ 25

Stress has sometimes been laid upon the fact that the American Army was required to purchase considerable artillery and other supplies abroad, the latter including airplanes, motor trucks, food and clothing, and numerous other materials. Yet, balanced against this fact is that every time we spent a dollar with the allied governments for ordnance, we sold ordnance, or materials for conversion into munitions to the allied governments to the value of five dollars.[Pg 37] The interallied ordnance agreement provided that certain munitions plants in the United States should continue to furnish supplies to the allies, and that additional plants for the allies should be built up and fostered by us. Thus, while we were purchasing artillery and ammunition from the allies we were shipping to them great quantities of raw materials, half-completed parts, and completely assembled units, and such war-time commodities as powder and explosives, forgings for cannon and other heavy devices, motors, and structural steel. The following table shows the ordnance balance sheet between America and the allied governments:

Purchase and sales from Apr. 6, 1917, to Nov. 11, 1918.
Purchases: By Army Ordnance Department from Allied governments $450,234,256.85
By Army Ordnance Department to Allied governments 200,616,402.00
By United States manufacturers other than Army Ordnance Department to Allied governments 2,094,787,984.00
Total 2,295,404,386.00

The credit for the ordnance record can not go merely to those men who wore the uniform and were part of the ordnance organization. Rather it is due to American science, engineering, and industry, all of which combined their best talents to make the ordnance development worthy of America's greatness.

[Pg 38]


The sole use of a gun is to throw a projectile. The earliest projectile was a stone thrown by the hand and arm of man—either in an attack upon an enemy or upon a beast that was being hunted for food. Both of these uses of thrown projectiles persist to this day, and during all time, from prehistoric days until now, every man who had a projectile to throw was steadily seeking for a longer range and a heavier projectile.

The man who could throw the heaviest stone the longest distance was the most powerfully armed. In the Biblical battle between David and Goliath, the arm of David was strengthened and lengthened by a leather sling of very simple construction. Much practice had given the young shepherd muscular strength and direction, and his longer arm and straighter aim gave him power to overcome his more heavily armed adversary.

Later, machines were developed after the fashion of a crossbow mounted upon a small wooden carriage which usually was a hollowed trough open on top and upon which a heavy stone was laid. The thong of the crossbow was drawn by a powerful screw operated by man power, and the crossbow arrangement when released would throw a stone weighing many pounds quite a distance over the walls of a besieged city or from such walls into the camps and ranks of the besiegers. This again was an attempt by mechanical means to develop and lengthen the stroke of the arm and the weight of the projectile.

With the development of explosives, which was much earlier than many people suppose, there came a still greater range and weight of projectile thrown, although the first guns were composed of staves of wood fitted together and hooped up like a long, slender barrel, wound with wet rawhide in many folds, which, when dried, exerted a compressive force upon the staves of the barrel exactly as do the steel hoops of barrels used in ordinary commercial life to-day.

This, the first gun, sufficed for a long while until the age of iron came. And then the same principle of gun construction was followed as is seen in that historical gun, the "Mons Meg," in the castle at Edinburgh. The barrel of that gun is made of square bars of[Pg 39] iron, placed lengthwise, and similar bars of iron were wrapped hot around the staves to confine them in place and to give more resisting power than was possible with the wooden staves and the rawhide hooping.

Thus, all during the age of iron, gun development went steadily forward. Every military power was always striving by the aid of its best engineers, designers, and manufacturers to get a stronger gun, either with or without a heavier projectile, but in every case striving for greater power. As a special development we find in March, 1918, the now famous long-range gun of the Germans, which was at that time trained upon Paris, where it successfully delivered a shell approximately 9 inches in diameter, punctually every 20 minutes for a good part of each day until the gun was worn out. This occurred after a comparatively small number of shots, probably not more than 75 in all. The rapid wearing out was due to the immense demands of the long range upon the material of the gun. The Germans in the shelling of Paris used three of these long-range weapons and 183 shells are known to have fallen in the city.

The Germans evidently calculated with great care and experience upon the factors leading up to this famous long-range type of gun, which had an effective shooting distance of approximately 75 miles, which range, in the opinion of our experts, it is now quite easy for an experienced designer and manufacturer to equal and excel at will. In fact, one would hesitate to place a limit upon the length of range that could be achieved by a gun that it is now possible to design and build. In this connection it is interesting to note that the great French ordnance works at Le Creusot in 1892 produced the first known and well-authenticated long-range gun, which was constructed from the design of a 12-inch gun, but bored down to throw a 6-inch projectile. And instead of the usual 8 miles expected from the flight of a 6-inch shell this early Creusot long-range gun gave a range of approximately 21 miles with a 6-inch projectile, using a 12-inch gun's powder charge.

Closely connected with the development of the gun itself, and a necessary element of the gun's successful use, is the requirement that the weapon itself be easily transported from point to point, where its available range and capacity for throwing the projectile can be made of maximum use. This requires a gun carriage which has within itself various functions, the primary one being to establish the gun in the desired position where it can be made most effective against the enemy. Then, too, the gun carriage must have stability in order to withstand, absorb, and care for the enormous recoil energies let loose by the firing of the gun. It is obvious that the force which propels the projectile forward is equal to the reacting force to the rear, and in order to care for, absorb, and distribute to the earth this reacting force to the rear the carriage must have[Pg 40] within itself some very peculiar and important properties. To this end there is provided what is known as a "brake" which permits the gun, upon the moment of firing, to slide backward bodily within the controlling apparatus mounted upon a fixed carriage.

The sliding of the whole gun to the rear by means of the mechanism of the brake is controlled, as to speed and time, by springs, by compressed air, by compressed oil, etc., either all together or in combinations of two or three of these agencies; so that the whole recoil energy is absorbed and the rearward action of the gun brought to rest in a fraction of a second and in but a very few inches of travel. The strains are distributed from the recoil mechanism to the fixed portion of the carriage that is necessarily anchored to the ground by means of spades, which the recoil force of each shot sets more firmly into the ground, so that the whole apparatus is thus steadily held in place for successive shots.

In mobile artillery, again, rapid firing is a prime essential. The 75-millimeter gun of modern manufacture is capable of being fired at a rate in excess of 20 shots a minute—that is, a shot every 3 seconds.

Rarely however, is a gun served as rapidly as this. The more usual rate of fire is 6 shots a minute or 1 about each 10 seconds, and this rate of fire can be maintained in the 75-millimeter gun with great accuracy over a comparatively long period.

The larger guns are served at proportionately slower rates, until as the calibers progress to the 14-inch rifles, which have been set up upon railway mounts as well as on fixed emplacements for seacoast defense, the rate of fire is reduced to one shot in three minutes for railway mounts, and to one shot a minute for seacoast mounts, although upon occasions a more rapid rate of fire can be reached.

Under rapid fire conditions, the gun becomes very hot, owing to the heat generated by the combustion of the powder within the gun at pressures as high as 35,000 pounds per square inch or more, which are generated at the moment of fire. This heat is communicated through the walls of the gun and taken off by the cooling properties of the air. Nevertheless, the wall of the gun becomes so hot that it would scorch or burn a hand laid upon it. The rapid fire and heating of the gun lessens the effective life of the weapon, due to the fact that the hot powder gases react more rapidly on hot metal than they do upon cold metal; hence a gun will last many rounds longer if fired at a slow rate than if fired at a rapid rate.

It may be helpful to keep in mind throughout that the sole purpose of a gun is to fire a projectile, as was stated at the very beginning of this chapter. All other operations connected with the life of a gun, its manufacture, its transportation to the place where it is to be used, its aiming, its loading and all its functions and operations are bound up in the single purpose of actually firing the shot.

[Pg 41]

Consider now for a moment, the life of, let us say, one of the 14-inch guns.

In the great steel mills it requires hundreds and perhaps thousands of workmen to constitute the force necessary to handle the enormous masses of steel through the various processes which finally result in the finished gun.

From the first operation in the steel mill it requires perhaps as long as 10 months to produce the gun ready for the first test. During the 10 months of manufacture of one of these 14-inch rifles there has been expended for the gun and its carriage approximately $200,000. Of course, while it requires 10 months to make a final delivery of one gun after its first operation is commenced, it should be remembered that yet other guns are following in series and that in a well-equipped ordnance factory two and perhaps three guns per month of this kind can be turned out continuously, if required.

Remembering now that it requires 10 months to produce one such 14-inch rifle and that its whole purpose is to fire a shot, consider now the time required to fire this shot. As the primer is fired and the powder charge ignited the projectile begins to move forward in the bore of the gun at an increasingly rapid rate, so that by the time it emerges from the muzzle and starts on its errand of death and destruction, it has taken from a thirtieth to a fiftieth of a second in time, depending upon certain conditions.

Assuming that a fiftieth of a second has been taken up and that the life of a large high-pressure gun at a normal rate of firing is 150 shots, it is obvious then that in the actual firing of these 150 shots only three seconds of time are consumed. Therefore, the active life of the gun, which it has taken 10 months to build, is but three seconds long in the actual performance of the function of throwing a shot.

However, after the gun has fired its life of 150 shots it is a comparatively simple and inexpensive matter to bore out the worn-out liner and insert a new liner, thus fitting the gun again for service, with an expenditure of time and money much less than would be required in the preparation of a new gun.

As the size of the powder charge decreases, a progressively longer life of the walls of the bore of a gun is attained, so that we have had the experience of a 75-millimeter gun firing 12,000 rounds without serious effect upon the accuracy of fire. Large-caliber guns, such as 12-inch howitzers, with the reduced powder charge required for the lower muzzle velocities employed in howitzer attack, have retained their accuracy of fire after 10,000 rounds.

From the fact that when in action guns are served with ammunition, aimed, fired, and cared for by a crew of men carefully trained to[Pg 42] every motion involved in the successful use of the gun, it is most essential that the design and the material shall be such, both as to calculation in the design and as to manufacture in the material, as will insure the maintenance of the morale of the crew that serves the gun. Each man must be confident to the very last bit of fiber in his make-up that his gun is the best gun in the world, that it will behave properly, that it will protect him and his fellow soldiers who are caring for the welfare of their country, that it will respond accurately and well to every demand made upon it, that it will not yield or burst, that it will not shoot wild, but that it will in every respect give the result required in its operation.

To this end it has for generations been known that the requirements of manufacture of ordnance material, particularly for the body of the gun, are of the very highest order and call for the finest attainable quality in material, workmanship, and design.

It is well known and admitted that the steel employed in the manufacture of guns must be of the highest quality and of the finest grade for its purpose. It requires the most expert knowledge of the manufacture of steel to obtain this grade and quality. Until recently this knowledge in America was confined to the Ordnance officers of the Army and of the Navy and to a comparatively small number of manufacturers—not more than four in all—and only two of these manufacturers had provided the necessary equipment and appliances for the manufacture of complete guns.

Until 1914 the number of guns whose manufacture was provided for in this country as well as in the countries of Europe, excepting Germany, was very small. It might be stated that the sum total of guns purchased by the United States from the two factories mentioned did not exceed an average of 55 guns a year in calibers of from 3-inch to 14-inch, and that the stock of guns which by this low rate of increase of manufacture had been provided for us was pitifully small with which to enter a war of the magnitude of the one through which this country has just passed.

The two factories in question not having been encouraged by large purchases of ordnance material, as were similar industries in Germany, were not capable of volume production when we entered the war. But at the same time the gun bodies produced by these concerns at least equaled in quality those built in any other country on earth; so that while the big-gun-making art was in existence in this country and was maintained as to quality, it was most insufficient as to the quantity of the production available.

When the United States faced the war in April, 1917, arrangements were at once entered into to obtain in the shortest space of time an adequate supply of finished artillery of all calibers required by our troops and to get this supply in time to meet our men as[Pg 43] they should set foot on the shores of France. Many thousands of forgings for guns, and finished guns too, had been ordered by the allies of the few gun makers in this country; and these makers were, at the time we got into the conflict, fully occupied for at least a year ahead with orders from the French and English ordnance departments. All of this production was immediately useful and available for the combined armies of the allies, and so it was allowed to go forward, the forgings preventing a gap in the output of the finished articles from the British and French arsenals which were then using the semifinished guns made in the old factories in existence in this country in April, 1917.

Some idea of the volume of this production in this country will be gained from the following table showing material supplied to the allies between April, 1917, and the date of the signing of the armistice, November 11, 1918.

Guns of calibers from 3-inch to 9.5-inch furnished to the allies 1,102
Additional gun forgings furnished to the allies tubes 14,623
Shell and shell forgings furnished to the allies in this period pieces 5,018,451

In supplying all of this material from our regular sources of manufacture in this country to the finishing arsenals of the allies we were but maintaining our position as a part of the general source of supply. The plan of the French and British ordnance engineers at the outbreak of the war in 1914 was to build their factories as quickly and as extensively as could possibly be done. By the time the United States entered the war all of these factories were in operation and clamoring for raw material at a rate which was far in excess of that which could be supplied by the home steel makers in Great Britain and France. Consequently their incursions into the semifinished ordnance material supplies in the United States were necessary. In sending these large quantities of our own materials abroad, when we needed them ourselves, we were distinctly adding to the rate and quantity of the supply of finished ordnance for the use of our own Army in the field as well as being at the same time of inestimable value to the allies. This was because the French and British had agreed to supply our first armies with finished fighting weapons while we were giving them the raw materials which they needed so badly.

The four gunmakers in America meanwhile were being expanded into a total of 19 makers. All of these 19 factories during the month of October, 1918, were practically in full operation. Many of them were producing big guns at a faster rate than that for which the plants had been designed. In the month of October, 1918, with 3 of the 19 factories yet to have their machine-tool equipment completed, there were produced 2,031 sets of gun forgings between the calibers of 3-inch and 9.5-inch, which is at the rate of upward of 24,000 guns a year. This figure, of course, does not indicate anything of the [Pg 44]gun-finishing capacity of the country; yet this expansion may be contrasted to the fact that our supply of finished guns prior to 1917 amounted only to 55 weapons a year.

Monthly production of finished cannon, ranging in size from 75 millimeters to 240 millimeters, at the various machining and assembling plants.[9]
Caliber. 1917 1918 Total
Dec. Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May. June. July. Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec.
75-millimeter 5 45 48 52 74 127 169 142 204 199 214 320 214 1,813
3-inch antiaircraft 3 16 24 16 2 11 10 11 22 50 34 31 230
4.7-inch 6 8 15 29 71 50 39 218
155-millimeter howitzer 3 10 16 28 75 110 248 206 350 231 179 1,456
155-millimeter gun 2 14 51 22 40 129
8-inch howitzer 34 38 8 28 22 33 14 14 191
240-millimeter howitzer 1 1 2
Total 8 61 75 112 130 163 261 272 507 492 769 672 517 4,039

[9] Carriages, recuperators, and sights had to be added to these cannon to make them complete units ready for service.

Monthly production of cannon forgings.
Caliber. 1917 1918 Total
Dec. Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May. June. July. Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec.
75-millimeter 4 13 73 62 79 239 376 574 678 754 1,385 674 310 5,221
3-inch antiaircraft 6 7 5 4 12 10 6 49 163 124 18 404
4.7-inch gun 9 10 8 28 70 100 84 35 25 53 422
155-millimeter howitzer 2 13 26 61 44 146 133 176 204 273 279 276 62 1,695
155-millimeter gun 1 15 4 42 28 56 105 79 24 354
8-inch howitzer 34 38 8 28 22 33 14 14 191
240-millimeter howitzer 30 21 31 22 49 153
Total 6 26 114 174 175 440 525 872 1,074 1,259 2,031 1,214 530 8,440
[Pg 45]

Our chain of gun factories, that were making this remarkable production, were built as follows:

One at the Watertown Arsenal, Watertown, Mass., near Boston, for the manufacture of rough machined gun forgings of the larger mobile calibers. This factory was entirely built and equipped on Government land with Government money and is splendidly able to produce rough machined gun forgings of the highest quality at the rate of two sets a day for the 155-millimeter G. P. F. rifles, and one set a day of the 240-millimeter howitzers.

At Watervliet Arsenal, Watervliet, N. Y., large extensions were made to the existing plant that had always been the Army's prime reliance for the finishing and the assembly of guns of all calibers, including the very largest. This plant was extended to manufacture complete four of the 240-millimeter howitzers each day, and two a day of the 155-millimeter G. P. F. guns.

At Bridgeport, Conn., there was constructed a complete new factory by the Bullard Engineering Works for the United States to turn out four 155-millimeter G. P. F. guns a day.

At Philadelphia, the Tacony Ordnance Corporation, as agents for the Government, erected complete a new factory officered and manned by experts well-trained and experienced in the difficult art of the manufacture of steel and gun forgings. On October 11, 1917, the grounds for this great undertaking had been merely staked out for the outline of the buildings. Seven months later, on May 15, 1918, the entire group of buildings, comprising a complete steel works from making the steel to the final completion of 155-millimeter gun forgings, was entirely erected at a cost of about $3,000,000. This difficult and rapid building operation was carried through successfully during the extraordinarily severe winter of 1917-18. On June 29, 1918, the first carload of gun forgings was accepted and shipped from this plant, so we have the marvelous enterprise of building a complete steel works from the bare ground forward to the shipment of its first forgings in a total elapsed time of only eight and one-half months.

At another, the works of the Midvale Steel Co. in Philadelphia, large extensions were made to enable some of the larger guns to be produced, to be finished later at the Watervliet Arsenal.

At the Bethlehem Steel Co.'s plant, Bethlehem, Pa., as early as May, 1917, orders were placed and appropriations allotted for expansions to this enterprise to enable a rapid output of a larger number of gun forgings and finished guns.

Large extensions were made at the works of the Standard Steel Works Co., Burnham, Pa., to increase their existing forging and heat treating facilities, so that at this plant two sets of 155-millimeter howitzers and one set of 155-millimeter gun forgings were produced each day.

[Pg 46]

At Pittsburgh, Pa., the plants of the Heppenstall Forge & Knife Co. and the Edgewater Steel Co. were extended so as to provide for the daily production at the first plant of forgings for one 3-inch antiaircraft gun and one 4.7-inch gun, and at the second plant of forgings for one 155-millimeter G. P. F. gun and one 240-millimeter howitzer per day.

At Columbus, Ohio, the Buckeye Steel & Castings Co. in combination with the works of the Symington-Anderson Co. at Rochester, N. Y., had their facilities extended to provide for the manufacture each day of six sets of forgings for the 75-millimeter guns.

At the Symington-Anderson Co. in Rochester, N. Y., there was provided a finishing plant for the 75-millimeter gun with a capacity of 15 finished guns per day.

At Erie, Pa., one of the most remarkable achievements in rapid construction and successful mechanical operation was performed by the erection of a plant that was commenced in July, 1917, and out of which the first production was shipped to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in February, 1918. The American Brake Shoe & Foundry Co. built and operated this plant as agents for the Ordnance Department, and much credit is due them for their energy and organizing capacity.

It is doubtful if history records any similar enterprise in which guns were turned out in a plant seven months from the date of beginning the erection of the factory. This plant was laid out to manufacture 10 of the 155-millimeter Schneider-type howitzers a day, and before the signing of the armistice it had more than fulfilled every expectation by regularly turning out up to 15 howitzers a day, or 90 a week.

At Detroit, Mich., the Chalkis Manufacturing Co. adapted an existing plant, and additional facilities were erected for the manufacture of three of the 3-inch antiaircraft guns each day.

At Madison, Wis., the Northwestern Ordnance Co. erected for the United States an entire new factory, beautifully equipped for the manufacture of four guns a day of the 4.7-inch model.

At Milwaukee, Wis., the Wisconsin Gun Co. put up for the Government an entirely new works capable of finishing six 75-millimeter guns each day. The plants at both Milwaukee and Madison acquitted themselves very well and gave us guns of the highest quality.

At Chicago, the Illinois Steel Co. expanded existing facilities to produce more of the necessary electric furnace steel, which was forged into guns at several works producing gun forgings, both for the Army and Navy.

At Indiana Harbor, Ind., the works of the Standard Forgings Co., whose sole business had been the volume production of forgings with[Pg 47] steam hammers and hydraulic presses, were expanded to the enormous degree of producing each day 10 sets of gun forgings for the 155-millimeter howitzer and 25 sets a day for the 75-millimeter gun. It should be stated that this was a triumph of organizing ability and that this factory was one of our main reliances for these guns.

At Gary, Ind., the American Bridge Co. created what is perhaps the finest gun-forging plant in the world, comprising four presses from 1,000 tons to 3,000 tons forging capacity and all the other necessary apparatus for the production each day of two sets of 155-millimeter G. P. F. guns and the equivalent of one and one-half sets a day of the 240-millimeter howitzers.

At Baltimore, Md., the plant of the Hess Steel Corporation was enlarged from its peace-time capacity and caused to produce at three times its normal rate the special steels required for gun manufacture.

It will become evident that the collection of machinery, buildings, and equipment necessary to produce these guns in the short space of time required and at the rate of production stipulated, was an enormous task in itself. It required the production of vast quantities of raw materials and the congregating in one place of large numbers of men capable of undertaking the exceedingly intricate mechanical processes of manufacture. The success of this plan and its carrying out is due largely to the loyalty of the manufacturers who unselfishly came forward early in 1917 and agreed at the request of the Ordnance Department to turn over their plants, lock, stock, and barrel, to the requirements of the department; agreed also to undertake the manufacture of products totally unfamiliar to them; agreed likewise to lend all of their organizing ability and great material resources to the success of the plants which the United States found necessary to build in the creation of a new art, in new locations and in an extent theretofore undreamed of.


Steel, of course, and steel in some of its finest forms is the basis of gun manufacture. The word "steel" for the purpose of producing guns means much more than is ordinarily carried by the word in its everyday and most commonly accepted use. Only steel of the very highest quality is suitable for gun manufacture, as was indicated previously when attention was directed to the complete reliance which the operating crews must place in their guns and the severity of the uses to which the big guns are put.

Let us take a hasty trip through a big gun plant, watching the processes through which is finally evolved from the raw materials one of our hardy and efficient big guns.

Entering an open-hearth furnace building at one of our big gun plants, we find two large furnaces in which the raw materials are[Pg 48] charged. Each of these furnaces is 75 feet long and 15 feet wide, and in them in a shallow bath or pool lies the molten steel. The pool is about 33 feet long by 12 feet wide and approximately 2½ feet deep. This pool, or "bath" as it is termed, weighs approximately 60 tons and is composed of pig iron and well-selected scrap steel from previous operations.

The furnace is at all times during the operation of melting these raw materials in the bath kept at such a high temperature that the eye may not look within at the molten mass without being protected with blue glass or smoked glass, exactly as when looking at the noonday sun. The eye can see nothing in the atmosphere of the bath in which the steel is being melted and refined because the temperature is so exceedingly high that it gives a light as white as that of the sun.

After 12 or 15 hours of refining treatment in this furnace the metal is tested, analyzed in the chemical laboratory, and, if found to be refined to the proper degree, it is allowed to flow out of the furnace on the opposite side from that through which it entered. Flowing out of the furnace the entire charge of 60 tons finds its way into a huge ladle which is suspended from a traveling crane capable of safely carrying this great weight.

The ladle is then transferred by the crane to a heavy cast-iron mold which is built so as to contain as much of the 60 tons of molten metal as is required for the particular gun forging under manufacture.

The mold, which we have before us now on our imaginary trip through the gun plant, will provide an "ingot" from the molten metal that will be 40 inches in diameter and 100 inches high. On top of this ingot is a brick-lined so-called "sinkhead." This sinkhead is that portion of the molten metal that has been allowed to cool more slowly in the brick lining than the ingot does in the cast-iron mold proper. The ingot with the sinkhead will weigh approximately 60,000 pounds.

This sinkhead is to insure greater solidity to the portion of the ingot which is used for the gun forging. Only that part of the ingot below the sinkhead enters the forging. The sinkhead itself is cut off while hot under the press in a subsequent operation and afterwards remelted.

Next the ingot is placed under a 2,000-ton forging press which handles ingots up to 45 inches in diameter. There it is forged into a square shape after coming from the mold in an octagonal form. Previous to its being put under this press, however, a careful chemical analysis has been made of the ingot to determine that it is satisfactory for gun purposes, and then before being put under the press the whole ingot is heated in the charge chamber and fired either by a gas or oil flame.


The ladle is receiving metal from the furnace and the crane is conveying the ladle to the mold.


Arrow points from letter A to a completed ingot from a mold. The brick-lined sink head is a part of the mold and is to insure greater solidity to the portion of the ingot which is used for the gun forging; only the part below the sink head entering the forging, the sink head itself being cut off hot under the press in a subsequent operation.



This press can forge ingots up to 45 inches in diameter. The ingot under the press is shown in a partly forged state. Note that the original octagonal shape of the ingot as it came from the mold has been forged down to a square shape and later will be forged into a round shape. After coming from the mold, the ingot has been subjected to a careful chemical analysis to determine its fitness for use as a gun barrel.


This press is needed for such large caliber guns as the 14-inch and 16-inch guns. The piece of forging under the press is armor plate and not a gun forging.


Three tubes of the 155-millimeter guns suspended at furnace ready for heating and quenching to give them the necessary combination of hardness and toughness. The door of the furnace is open. The tubes remain in this furnace for perhaps eight hours at a temperature of 1,500° Fahrenheit or until a bright yellow color, uniform in every part.


The gun tube is 41 feet long.



The ingot out of which this tube was made, came from the mold in an octagonal shape and later was forged into a square shape and finally made round. It now, too, has the hole bored partially into it. Through this hole, ultimately, will pass the projectile.

[Pg 49]

The forging press used for the larger caliber guns, such as 14-inch and 16-inch, is of a 9,000-ton weight capacity.

After the ingot forging has been reduced from squareness to a cylindrical shape under the press, it is allowed to cool, then taken to the machine shop, where it is turned and the hole through which the projectile ultimately will pass is bored into it. This hole is somewhat smaller than the diameter of the projectile, because in the finishing operation, when the gun is assembled finally and put together, the hole must be within one-one-thousandth of an inch of the diameter required, which is all the tolerance that is allowed from the accuracy to which the projectiles are brought. Otherwise the accuracy of the gun in firing would be injured and the reliability of its aim would not be satisfactory.

During all of these operations with the ingot, the steel is largely in the soft condition in which it left the forging press. As is well known, steel is capable of taking many degrees of "temper." Temper is an old term that no longer is quite descriptive of the condition desired or obtained, but it is sufficiently expressive of the condition desired for the purposes here. This condition is one of a certain degree of hardness—greater than that ordinarily carried by the soft steel—combined with the greatest obtainable degree of toughness. This combination of hardness and toughness produced to the proper degree resists the explosive power of the powder and also causes the wear on the gun in firing to be diminished and made as slight as possible.

To effect this combination of hardness and toughness it is necessary to take the bored and turned tubes of the guns and suspend them by means of a specially made apparatus in a furnace where they are heated for a period of perhaps eight hours to a temperature of approximately 1,500° F. or a bright-yellow color, uniform in every part of the piece.

After being subjected to this treatment for the time mentioned, the tube is then conducted by means of a traveling crane apparatus to a tank of warm water in which it is dipped and the heat rapidly taken from it down to a point of practically atmospheric temperature. This "quench" as it is called, produces the required degree of hardness called for by the ordnance officers' design; but the piece has not yet got the required degree of toughness. This toughness is now imparted to the hard piece by heating it once more in another furnace to a temperature of approximately 1,100° F., or a warm rosy red, for a period of perhaps 14 hours. From this temperature, the piece is allowed to cool naturally and slowly to the atmospheric temperature.

The ordnance inspectors at this point determine whether the piece has the required properties in a sufficient degree, by cutting from the[Pg 50] tube a piece 5 inches long and ½ inch in diameter. The ends of this piece are threaded suitably for gripping in a machine. The piece is then pulled until the half-inch stem breaks. The machine registers the amount of force required to break this piece and this gives the ordnance engineer his test as to the degree of hardness and toughness to which the piece has been brought by the heat treatment processes just described.

A satisfactory physical condition having been determined by pulling and breaking the test pieces described, the whole forging is sent to the finishing shop where it is machined to a mirror polish on all its surfaces. The diameters are accurately measured and the forgings assembled into the shape of a finished gun.

In this process there is required a different kind of care and accuracy. Up until this time the care has been to provide a metal of proper consistency and quality. From this point forward the manufacture of a gun requires the machining and fitting of this metal into a shape and form so accurate that the full strength of the gun and the best accuracy of fire may be attained.

To explain how and why hoops are placed upon the gun tubing and how the various hoops are shrunk from the outside diameter of the gun will require a few lines.

Cannon are made of concentric cylinders shrunk one upon another. The object of this method of construction is twofold. The distinctly practical object is the attainment throughout the wall of each cylinder of the soundness and uniformity of metal which is more certainly to be had in thin pieces than in thick ones; the other object is more closely connected with the theory of gun construction.

When a hollow cylinder is subjected to an interior pressure the walls of the cylinder are not uniformly strained throughout their thickness, but the layer at the bore is much more severely strained than that at the outside. This can be readily seen if we consider a cylinder of rubber, for example, with a bore of 1 inch and an exterior diameter of 3 inches, which are about the proportions of many guns. If we put an interior air pressure on the cylinder until we expand the bore to 2 inches, the exterior diameter will not thereby be increased 1 inch. But supposing that it were increased as much as the bore, that is, 1 inch, we would have the diameter, and therefore the circumference, of the bore increased 100 per cent, and the circumference of the exterior increased 33⅓ per cent. That is, the layer at the bore would be strained three times as much as that at the exterior, and the interior layer would commence to tear before that at the exterior would reach anything like its limit of strength. The whole wall of the cylinder therefore would not be contributing its full strength toward resisting the interior pressure, and there would be a waste of material as well as a loss of strength.[Pg 51] Let us now consider, instead of our simple cylinder, a built-up cylinder composed of two concentric ones, the inner one of a bore originally a little greater than 1 inch, and the outer one of exterior diameter a little less than three inches, originally; so that when the outer one is pressed over the inner one (its inner diameter being originally too small for it to go over the inner one without stretching) the bore of the inner one is brought to 1 inch, and the exterior of the outer one to 3 inches. We now have a cylinder of the same dimensions as our simple one, but in a different state; the layers of the inner one being compressed and those of the outer one extended.

If now we commence to put air pressure on the bore, we can put on a certain amount before we wipe out the compression of the inner layer, and bring it to a neutral state, and thereafter can go on putting on more pressure until we stretch the inner layer 100 per cent beyond the neutral state, as before; which would take just as much additional pressure as the total pressure which we employed with our simple cylinder. We have therefore gained all that pressure which is necessary to bring the inner layer of our built-up cylinder from its state of compression to the neutral state. If we have so proportioned the diameter of junction of our inner and outer cylinders and so gauged the amount of stretching required to get the outer one over the inner one that we have not in the process caused any of the layers of the outer one to be overstrained, the gain has been a real one, attained by causing the layers of the outer cylinder to make a better contribution of strength toward resisting the interior pressure. This is the theory of the built-up gun.

The number of cylinders employed generally increases, up to a certain limit, with the size of the gun, practical considerations governing; and the "shrinkage," or amount by which the inner diameter of the outer cylinder is less than the outer diameter of the one which it is to be shrunk over, is a matter of nice calculation. Roughly speaking, it is about one and one half one-thousandths of an inch for each inch of diameter, varying with the position of the cylinder in the gun; and its accurate attainment, throughout the length of the cylinder of a large gun, is a delicate matter of the gun-maker's art and the machinist's skill.

The method of assembly is to have the cold tube set upright and prepared for a circulation of water within the bore of the tube to keep it cool. Then the hoop, whose inside diameter is smaller than the outside diameter of the tube on which it is to be shrunk, is measured and carefully heated to a temperature of approximately 450° F., or just about the temperature of a good oven for baking or roasting. This mild temperature so expands the material in the hoop that the difference of diameter is overcome and the hot hoop is expanded to a larger inside diameter than the outside diameter of the[Pg 52] cold tube on which the hoop is to be placed. Next the hot, expanded hoop is placed in position around the breech end of the tube, and slowly and carefully cooled, so that in contracting from the high temperature to the low ordinary temperature, the hoop shrinks toward its original diameter and thus exerts an inclosing pressure or compressive strain upon the breech end of the tube.

Now when the gun is fired the tube tends to expand under the pressure and this expansion is resisted, first by the compressive force exerted by the shrunken hoop and later by the hoop itself, so that the built-up system is stronger and better able to resist the explosive charge of the burning powder than would be the case if the gun were made in one piece and of the same thickness of metal.

This brief explanation will show why so many pieces are provided for the manufacture of the finished gun and the reason for the large number of machine tools and machining operations necessary in order to carry forward the manufacture of the finished article. Sometimes one or more of the outer cylinders are replaced by layers of wire, wound under tension.

Both our 4.7-inch gun, model 1906, with which our troops have been equipped for a long time and which throws a projectile weighing 45 pounds a distance of about 6 miles, and the French 75-millimeter (2.95-inch) gun, successfully used by the French since 1897, were designed to be drawn by horses, and the guns are best used when drawn by teams of 6 or 8 horses. As the horse has a sustained pulling power of only 650 pounds, it is obvious that the weight to be drawn by the team of 6 horses must not be more than 3,900 pounds. So there is every incentive for making mobile artillery of this kind as light as possible, consistent with the strength required for the work to be done. Thus the pulling power of the horse coupled with his speed has been the limiting factor in the design and weight of mobile field artillery.

As one of our foremost United States ordnance engineers once said, "the limited power of the horse is what has governed the weight of our artillery," and that "if Divine Providence had given the horse the speed of the deer and the power of the elephant, we might have had a far wider and more effective range for our mobile artillery."



In the foreground are three large gun tubes partially completed. This company started the manufacture of the first piece of ordnance material in America in 1880.

[Pg 53]

One of the answers of the United States ordnance engineers to this problem, as developed in the recent war, has been the production of a tractor to replace the horse, and this tractor has the speed of the deer and the power of the elephant. The most powerful tractors are mounted on track-laying devices and are colloquially known as caterpillars. One of these powerful caterpillars, on which is mounted an 8-inch howitzer with a range of 6 miles, which is manned and operated by only two men, and which can go up hill and down hill, over broken brushwood, trees, etc., was recently given a severe test at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds. Here it was sent through a dense wood in which it bumped square into a live locust tree that was 17 inches in diameter at the bottom. This tree, almost the tallest in the wood, was prostrated by the attack of the tractor, which rode over it and then emerged from the wood, took up its position, and fired its shot almost in as short a time as that which it takes to tell of the deed. Truly the power of the elephant and the speed of the deer has been brought to the aid of the ordnance engineer for any future warlike operations.

The number of workmen employed in gun production at once in this country totaled 21,329, and fully that many more are estimated to have been employed in the manufacture of gun carriages and fire-control instruments. Consequently in turning out the complete big guns there were fully 42,000 workmen engaged by the month of October, 1918. Furthermore, these men became so skilled in their work that it may be said that the difficult art of gun making has become firmly established in this country and that the United States may now and at any time in the near future rely on this trained body of artisans for the finest kind of gun-metal manufacture.

[Pg 54]


Production of cannon forgings during the war at the various plants.
Caliber. Contractor. 1917 1918 Total
Dec. Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May. June. July. Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec.
75-mm. field gun, model 1916 Bethlehem Steel Co., Bethlehem, Pa. 2 1 32 14 13 3 75 23 7 1 180 1 352
Standard Forgings Co., Indiana Harbor, Ind. 1 5 11 10 19 5 67 29 2 149
Buckeye Steel Co., Columbus, Ohio 154 10 164
75-mm. field gun, model 1897 do. 44 162 419 325 322 658 181 224 2335
Standard Forgings Co. 10 32 275 310 471 245 39 1382
75-mm. field gun, model 1917 Bethlehem Steel Co. 1 7 30 38 47 33 62 61 69 121 76 247 47 839
3-inch anti-aircraft gun do. 6 7 5 4 12 10 6 46 112 109 5 322
Heppenstall Forge & Knife Co., Pittsburgh, Pa. 3 51 15 13 82
4.7-inch gun Bethlehem Steel Co. 9 10 8 28 70 94 66 14 43 342
Heppenstall Forge & Knife Co. 6 18 21 25 10 80
155-mm. howitzer Bethlehem Steel Co. 10 26 51 9 37 25 5 11 52 19 32 277
Standard Forgings Co. 2 3 10 20 55 44 89 74 169 127 157 10 760
Standard Steel Co. 15 54 64 82 130 93 100 100 20 658
155-mm. gun Bethlehem Steel Co. 1 9 21 7 5 4 1 48
Edgewater Steel Co., Pittsburgh, Pa. 4 13 21 24 5 67
Standard Steel Car Co., Burnham, Pa. 6 4 21 14 23 41 21 9 139
Tacony Ordnance Co., Philadelphia, Pa. 3 15 31 26 75
American Bridge Co., Gary, Ind. 8 7 10 25
8-inch howitzer Midvale Steel Co. 1 5 11 10 19 5 67 29 2 149
240-mm. howitzer Bethlehem Steel Co. 30 16 16 19 16 97
Edgewater Steel Co. 1 14 15
Tacony Ordnance Co. 4 15 3 12 34
Watertown Arsenal [10] 7 7
Total 6 26 114 174 175 440 525 872 1074 1259 2031 1214 530 8440
[Pg 55]

[10] Figures in first table indicate delivery of completed sets of forgings only. Deliveries of finished and accepted gun forgings, not in complete sets, were made in carload lots and in other large quantities by various factories prior to the dates when their receipt of machine tools enabled them to produce completed sets. For instance, Watertown Arsenal made its first carload shipment of forgings on Oct. 28, 1918.


Progress of the work of machining and assembling cannon at the various factories during the war.
Caliber. Contractor. 1917 1918 Total
Dec. Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May. June. July. Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec.
75-mm. field gun, model 1916 Symington-Anderson Co., Rochester, N. Y. 1 51 81 61 88 48 74 12 416
Wisconsin Gun Co., Milwaukee, Wis. 8 18 20 38 27 5 116
Watervliet Arsenal, Watervliet, N. Y. 4 38 18 14 26 35 8 8 5 5 5 166
Bethlehem Steel Co. 1 1 2
75-mm.field gun, 1897 model Symington-Anderson Co. 1 52 50 136 239
Wisconsin Gun Co. 1 2 6 26 35
75-mm.field gun, model 1917 Bethlehem Steel Co. 1 7 30 38 47 33 62 61 69 121 76 247 47 839
3-inch antiaircraft gun Chalkis Manufacturing Co., Detroit, Mich. 1 7 19 48 29 30 134
3-inch antiaircraft gun, 15-pdr. Watervliet Arsenal 3 16 24 16 2 11 9 4 3 2 5 1 96
4.7-inch, model 1906 Northwestern Ordnance Co., Madison, Wis. 5 7 31 23 32 98
Watervliet Arsenal 6 8 10 22 40 27 7 120
155-mm howitzer American Brake Shoe & Foundry Co., Erie, Pa. 3 10 16 28 75 110 248 206 350 231 179 1,456
155-mm. gun Bullard Engine Works Co., Bridgeport, Conn. 1 14 28 18 36 97
Watervliet Arsenal 1 23 4 4 32
8-inch howitzer Midvale Steel Co. 34 38 8 28 22 33 14 14 191
240-mm. Watervliet Arsenal 34 38 8 1 1 2
Total 8 61 75 112 130 163 261 272 507 492 769 672 517 4,039
[Pg 56]

Chapter III

The chance observer might assume that once the Ordnance Department had succeeded in putting in production the cannon of various sizes described in the preceding chapter the battle of providing artillery was as good as won. But such was not the case. Even after the ponderous tubes had come finished from the elaborate processes of the steel mills, the task of the ordnance officers had only just begun. Each one of these guns had to be rendered mobile in the field and it had to be equipped with a mechanism to take up the retrograde shock of firing (the "kick") and to prevent the weapon from leaping out of aim at each discharge.

Mobility to a gun is given by the carriage on which it rides. The device which absorbs the recoil and restores the gun to position is called the recuperator (in the case of the hydropneumatic French design) or the recoil mechanism. Carriage and recuperator, or recoil mechanism, together are known as the mount.

The forging, boring, reinforcing, machining, and finishing of the gun body is not half the battle of manufacturing a modern military weapon; it is scarcely one-third of it. No ordnance officer of 1917-18 will ever forget the heartbreaking experiences of manufacturing the mounts, a work which went along simultaneously with the production of the cannon themselves. The manufacture of carriages often presented engineering and production problems of the most baffling sort. As to the recuperators, a short analysis of the part they play in the operation of a gun will indicate something of the nature of the project of building them in quantities.

The old schoolbook axiom that action and reaction are equal has a peculiar emphasis when applied to the firing of a modern piece of high-power artillery. The force exerted to throw a heavy projectile 7 miles or more from the muzzle of a gun is equally exerted toward the breach of the weapon in its recoil. Some of these forces handled safely and easily by mechanical means are almost beyond the mind's grasp.

Not long ago a touring car, weighing 2 tons, traveled at the rate of 120 miles an hour along a Florida beach. Conceive of such a car going 337 miles an hour, which is much faster than any man ever traveled; then conceive of a mechanism which would stop this car,[Pg 57] going nearly 6 miles a minute, stop it in 45 inches of space and half a second of time, without the slightest injury to the automobile. That is precisely the equivalent of the feat performed by the recuperator of a 240-millimeter howitzer after a shot.

Conceive of a 150,000-pound locomotive traveling at 53.3 miles an hour. The action of the 240-millimeter recuperator after a shot is equivalent to stopping that locomotive in less than 4 feet in half a second without damage.

The forging for the 155-millimeter howitzer's recuperator is a block of steel weighing nearly 2 tons—in exact figures, 3,875 pounds. This must be bored and machined out until it weighs, with the accessory parts of the complete recuperator placed on the scales with it, only 870 pounds. It is scarcely fair to a modern hydropneumatic recuperator to say that it must be finished with the precision of a watch. It must be finished with a mechanical nicety comparable only to the finish of such a delicate instrument as a navigator's sextant or the mechanism which adjusts the Lick telescope to the movement of the earth. No heavy articles ever before turned out in American workshops required in their finish the degree of microscopic perfection the recuperators called for.

We adopted from the French, the greatest of all artillery builders, four recuperators—one for the 75-millimeter gun, one for the 155-millimeter gun, another for the 155-millimeter howitzer, and the fourth for the 240-millimeter howitzer. These mechanisms had never been built before outside of France. Indeed, one could find pessimists ready to say that none but French mechanics could build them at all and that our attempt to duplicate them could end only in failure. Yet American mechanical genius "licked" every one of these problems, as the men in the greasy overalls say, and did it in little more than a year of time after the plans came to the workshops. There was not one of these beautiful mechanisms, in France the product of patient handiwork on the part of metal craftsmen of deep and inherited skill, that eventually did not become in American workshops a practical proposition of quantity production.

The problem of building French recuperators in the United States, in short, may be regarded as the crux of the whole American ordnance undertaking in the war against Germany, the index of its success. It presented the most formidable challenge of all to American industrial skill. There were men whose opinion had to be considered and who were convinced that it was impracticable to attempt to produce French recuperators here. Although the superiority of these recoil devices in their respective classes were universally conceded, Germany had never been able to make them, while England, with the cooperation of the French ordnance engineers freely offered, did not attempt them. The French built them one by one, as certain custom-built[Pg 58] and highly expensive automobiles are produced. When American factories proposed to produce French recuperators not only but to manufacture them by making parts and assembling them according to the modern practice of quantity production, the ranks of the skeptics increased.

Yet, as we have said, the thing was done. The first of these recuperators ever produced outside of the French industry were produced in America and manufactured by typically American quantity methods.

The first of these recuperators to come into quantity production was that for the 155-millimeter howitzer. Rough forgings began to be turned out in heavy quantities by the Mesta Machine Co. in the spring of 1918, while the Watertown Arsenal, the other contractor, reached quantity production in rough forgings in September, 1918. At their special recuperator plant at Detroit the Dodge Bros. turned out the first finished 155-millimeter howitzer recuperator in July, 1918, and went into quantity production with them in September, producing 495 in the month of November alone, and turning out up to the end of April, 1919, the great number of 1,601 of them.

Next in order of time to be conquered as a factory problem was the 155-millimeter gun recuperator. The rough forgings at the Carnegie Steel Co., the sole contractor, were in quantity production in the spring of 1918. The first of these recuperators finished came from the Dodge plant in October, 1918; and although 30 issued from the plant and were accepted before the end of the year, quantity production may be said to have started on January 1, 1919, when the factory began producing them at the rate of more than four a day. In March the high mark of 361 recuperators was reached, and the total production up to the end of April was 880.

The heavy 240-millimeter howitzer recuperator was third to come into quantity production. The rough forgings were being turned out in quantity in the spring of 1918 by the Carnegie Steel Co., while the Watertown Arsenal, the other contractor, produced a number of these rough forgings in August, 1918. The two contractors for finishing and turning out the complete recuperators were the Otis Elevator Co., at its Chicago plant, and the Watertown Arsenal. The arsenal produced the pilot recuperator in October, 1918. In January the Otis Elevator Co. produced its first four, while quantity production began in February, 1919, both contractors that month sending out 19 recuperators, a number which may be regarded as good quantity when the size of this mechanism is taken into consideration. Both plants together in April turned out the large number of 89 recuperators for the 240.

Last to come through to quantity production was the hardest of the four to build, the one that promised to defy American industry[Pg 59] to build it at all—the 75-millimeter gun recuperator. The two contractors for the rough forgings for this recuperator were the Carbon Steel Co. and the Bucyrus Co. The Carbon Steel Co. was in large series production of them in the spring of 1918, and the Bucyrus Co. reached the quantity basis of manufacture in October, 1918. In that month alone both contractors together turned out 1,305 sets of forgings.

The machining and finishing of the 75 recuperator was in the hands of the Rock Island Arsenal and the Singer Manufacturing Co., which built a costly plant especially for the purpose at Elizabethport, N. J. The first recuperator of this size to appear and be accepted under the severe tests came from the arsenal in October. Thereafter the production ceased for a while. The contractors indeed built recuperators in this period, but the recuperators could not pass the tests. The machining and production of parts seemed to be as perfect as human skill could accomplish, but still the devices would not function perfectly. Adjustments, seemingly of the most microscopical and trivial sort, had to be made—there was trouble with the leather of the valves and with oil for the cylinders. These matters, which could scarcely cause any delay at all in the production of less delicate machinery, indicate the infinite care which had to be employed in the manufacture of the recuperators. At length the producers smoothed out the obstacles and learned all the secrets and necessary processes, and then the 75-millimeter recuperators began to come—2 in January, 1919, and then 13 in February, 20 in March, and 23 in April.

It should be remembered that by quantity production in this particular is meant the production in quantity of recuperators of such perfect quality as to pass the inspection of the Government and to be accepted as part of our national ordnance equipment. In this inspection the Government was assisted by French engineers sent from the great artillery factories in France which had designed the recuperators and which until the successful outcome of the American attempt were their sole producers. Such inspection naturally required that the American recuperators should be the equals of their French prototypes in every respect.

Because the production of French recuperators stands at the summit of American ordnance achievement, here at this point, before there is given any account of the manufacture of field artillery, the theme of this chapter, a performance table is inserted to show the records written by the various concerns engaged in making these devices.

[Pg 60]

American acceptances of recuperators by firms on Army ordnance orders only.
Item, process, and firm. 1918 1919 To­tal, Nov. 11, 1918. To­tal 1918. To­tal, Apr. 30, 1919.
To Ju­ly 1. Ju­ly. Au­gust. Sep­tem­ber. Oc­to­ber. No­vem­ber. De­cem­ber. Jan­u­ar­y. Feb­ru­ar­y. March. A­pril.
75-mm. gun recuperator:
Carbon Steel Co. 259 259 254 750 1,005 300 552 407 49 2,600 3,379 3,835
Bucyrus Co. 29 78 300 173 111 68 435 691 759
Total 259 259 283 828 1,305 473 663 407 117 3,035 4,070 4,594
Finish machining and assembling—
Singer Manufacturing Co. 3 8 11
Rock Island Arsenal 1 2 13 17 15 1 1 48
Total 1 2 13 20 23 1 1 59
155-mm. howitzer recuperator:
Mesta Machine Co. 676 646 648 899 1,080 226 49 31 4,000 4,175 4,255
Watertown Arsenal 160 80 80 25 1 268 320 346
Total 676 646 648 1,059 1,160 306 74 1 31 4,268 4,495 4,601
Machining complete and assembling—
Dodge Bros. 1 27 249 285 495 403 141 796 1,460 1,601
155-mm. gun recuperator:
Carnegie Steel Co. 212 213 229 269 401 389 21 1,480 1,734 1,734
Finish machining and assembling—
Dodge Bros. 1 10 19 116 270 361 103 30 880
240-mm. howitzer recuperator:
Carnegie Steel Co. 286 99 115 61 70 79 678 710 710
Watertown Arsenal 21 21 21 21
Total 286 99 136 61 70 79 699 731 731
Finish machining and assembling—
Otis Elevator Co. 4 14 41 62 121
Watertown Arsenal 1 5 19 27 1 1 52
Total 1 4 19 60 89 1 1 173

The process of manufacture of recuperators requires four steps—forging, rough machining, finish machining, and assembling. In the case of 155-millimeter howitzer recuperators all the machining was done by one firm; in the other cases rough machining was done by various firms, including, in the case of the 155-millimeter gun and 240-millimeter howitzer recuperators, the firms doing the forging. Complete records of rough machining are not available.

[Pg 61]

In discussing here, therefore, the production of field artillery in the war period, we are concerned chiefly with carriages and recuperators, for they offered the major difficulties. Since the production of gun bodies for these various units has been taken up in the preceding chapter, such reference to them as is necessary will be brief. For the sake of additional clearness in the mind of the reader inexpert in these things, the line should be sharply drawn between field artillery and the so-called railway artillery, which was also mobile to a limited degree. The mobile field artillery consisted of all rolling guns or caterpillar guns up to and including the 240-millimeter howitzer in size; and also included the antiaircraft guns of various sizes. All mobile guns of larger caliber than the 240-millimeter howitzer were mounted on railroad cars.

The list of the mobile field artillery weapons in manufacture here during the war period was as follows:

The little 37-millimeter gun, the so-called infantry cannon, one of which two husky men could lift from the ground—a French design;

The 75-millimeter guns—three types of them—the French 75, adopted bodily by the United States; our own 3-inch gun redesigned to the French caliber; and the British 3.3-inch gun, similarly redesigned;

The 4.7-inch gun of American design;

The 5-inch and 6-inch guns, taken from our coast defenses and naval stores and placed on mobile mounts;

The 155-millimeter gun, a French weapon with a barrel diameter of approximately 6 inches;

The 155-millimeter howitzer, also French;

The 8-inch and 9.2-inch howitzers, British designs, being manufactured in the United States when war was declared;

The 240-millimeter howitzer, French and American; and, finally,

The antiaircraft guns.

In modern times, but prior to 1917, the United States had designed types of field-artillery weapons and produced them in quantities shown by the following tabulation:

2.95-inch mountain gun 113
3-inch gun 544
4.7-inch gun 60
5-inch gun 70
6-inch howitzer 40
7-inch howitzer 70
Total 897

A comparison of this list with the enumeration above of weapons put in production during the war against Germany indicates that we greatly expanded our artillery in types. That we were able to do this at the outset and go ahead immediately with the production of many weapons strange and unknown to our experience, without[Pg 62] waiting to develop models and types of our own, is due solely to the generosity of the governments of France and Great Britain, with whom we became associated. We manufactured in all eight new weapons, taking the designs of three of them from the British and of five from the French.

It might seem to the uninitiated that the way of the United States to a great output of artillery would be made smooth by the action of the British and French Governments in agreeing to turn over to us without reservation the blue prints and specifications that were the product of years of development in their gun plants. Yet this was only relatively true. In numerous instances we were not able to secure complete drawings until months after we had entered the war, due to the practice of continental manufacturers that intrusts numerous exact measurements to the memories of the mechanics working in their shops. Consequently it required several months to complete drawings, and when we received them our troubles had only begun.

First there came the problem of translating the plans after we received them. All French dimensions are according to the metric system. A millimeter is one one-thousandth part of a meter, and a meter is 39.37 inches. An inch is approximately 0.0254 meter. Thus to translate French plans into American factory practice involves hundreds of mathematical computations, most of them carried out to decimals of four or five places. Moreover, the French shop drawings are put down on an angle of projection different from what is used in this country. This fact involved the recasting of drawings even when the metric system measurements were retained. When it is considered that such a mechanism as the recuperator on the 155-millimeter gun involves the translation of 416 drawings, the fact that the preparation of French plans for our own use never took more than two months is remarkable, particularly so since it was hard to find in the United States draftsmen and engineers familiar with such translation work.

Once our specifications were worked out from the French plans, it then became necessary to find American manufacturers willing to bid on the contracts. The average manufacturer would look at these specifications, realize what a highly specialized and involved sort of work would be required in the production of the gun carriages or recoil mechanisms, and shake his head. In numerous instances no such work had ever before been attempted in the United States.

However, as the result of efforts on the part of the Government an increased capacity for producing mobile field artillery was created as follows:

At Watertown, N. Y., the New York Air Brake Co., as agent for the United States, constructed a completely new factory to turn out[Pg 63] 25 gun carriages a month for the 75-millimeter guns, model 1916—the American 3-inch type modified to the French dimensions.

At Toledo, Ohio, increased facilities were put up at the plant of the Willys-Overland Co. to manufacture a daily output of 17 French 75-millimeter gun carriages, model 1897.

At Elizabethport, N. J., the Singer Manufacturing Co. erected for the Government a complete new factory for finishing daily 17 French 75-millimeter recuperators.

At New Britain, Conn., the plant of the New Britain Machine Co. was adapted and increased facilities were created for the manufacture of two 3-inch antiaircraft gun carriages a day.

At Detroit, Mich., Dodge Bros., as agents for the Government, erected an entirely new factory, costing in the neighborhood of $11,000,000 to give the final machining to the rough-machine forgings for five recuperators daily for the 155-millimeter gun and to machine completely the parts for twelve recuperators daily for the 155-millimeter howitzer. Their huge new plant for this purpose established a record for rapidity of construction in one of the most severe winters of recent history.

At the plant of the Studebaker Corporation at Detroit, facilities were extended for turning out three carriages a day for the 4.7-inch guns.

At Plainfield, N. J., extended facilities were created at the factory of the Walter Scott Co. for manufacturing 20 carriages a month for the 4.7-inch guns.

At Worcester, Mass., at the plant of the Osgood Bradley Car Co. increased facilities were built for the daily manufacture of five carriages for the 155-millimeter howitzers.

At Hamilton, Ohio, at the works of the American Rolling Mill Co., extensions were made to provide for the manufacture each day of three carriages for the 155-millimeter howitzers.

The plant of the Mesta Machine Co., at West Homestead, Pa., near Pittsburgh, was extended to the enormous capacity of turning out the forgings for 40 recuperators a day for the 155-millimeter howitzers.

Extensively increased facilities were made at the shops of the Standard Steel Car Co., at Hammond, Ind., for the daily output of two carriages for the 240-millimeter howitzers.

Increased facilities were created in the plant of the Otis Elevator Co., Chicago, Ill., for the finish machining of the equivalent in parts of two and one-half recuperators a day for the 240-millimeter howitzers.

Large extensions were made to the plant of the Morgan Engineering Co., Alliance, Ohio, for the manufacture monthly of 20 improvised mounts for the 6-inch guns taken from the seacoast fortifications.

[Pg 64]

The facilities of the United States arsenals at Watertown, Mass., and at Rock Island, Ill., for the manufacture of field-gun carriages and recuperators were greatly increased.

This carriage construction for the big guns required the closest kind of fine machine work and fittings where the brake or recuperator construction entered the problem, and the great plants built for this purpose of turning out carriages and recuperators were marvels for the rapidity of their construction, the speed with which they were equipped with new and intricate tools, and the quality of their output.

Every mobile gun mount must be equipped with a shield of armor plate. The size of the artillery project may be read in the fact that our initial requirement for armor for the guns ran to a total of 15,000 tons to be produced as soon as it could be done. Now, we had no real source for getting armor in such large quantities, because the previous demands of our artillery construction had never called for it. The prewar manufacturers of artillery armor were three in number—the Simmons Manufacturing Co., of St. Louis; Thomas Disston & Sons, of Philadelphia; and the Crucible Steel Co. To meet the new demand two armor sources were developed—the Mosler Safe Co. plant of the Standard Ordnance Co. and the Universal Rolling Mill Co. The process of building this armor had been a closely guarded secret in the past, a fact entailing extended experiments in the new plants before satisfactory material could be obtained.

The new artillery program required the manufacture of 120,000 wheels of various types and sizes for the mobile carriages. The Rock Island Arsenal and two commercial concerns prior to the war had been building artillery wheels in limited quantities. One completely new plant had to be erected for the manufacture of wheels, while seven existing factories were specially equipped for this work. We had to develop new sources of supply of oak and hickory and to erect dry kilns especially for the wheel project.

The largest order for rubber tires in the history of the American rubber industry was placed as one relatively small phase of the artillery program, the order amounting to $4,250,000. Rubber tires on the wheels of all the heavier types of artillery carriages, so that the units might be drawn at good speed by motor vehicles, was essentially an American innovation. No tires of this size had ever been manufactured in this country. Consequently it was necessary for the firms who got the orders to build machinery especially designed for the purpose.

With practically all of the manufacturers of the American metal-working industries clamoring for machine tools, and with some branches of the Government commandeering the machine-tool shops in whole sections of the country, it is evident that the necessity for the heavier types of machine tools required by the manufacturers of[Pg 65] artillery material offered a weighty problem at the outset. In fact, the machine-tool supply was never adequate at any time, and the shortage of this machinery hampered and impeded to a great degree the speed of our artillery production.

The Nation was raked with a fine-toothed comb for shop equipment. The Government went to almost any honorable length to procure this indispensable tooling. For instance, when the Dodge plant at Detroit was being equipped to manufacture the 155-millimeter recuperators, the Government agents discovered trainloads of machinery consigned to the Russian government and awaiting shipment. These tools were commandeered on the docks. One huge metal planer had dropped overboard while it was being lightered to the ocean tramp that was to carry it to a Russian port. Government divers fixed grappling hooks to this machine, and it was brought to the surface and shipped at once to the Dodge plant.

The 3-inch gun which we had been building for many years prior to the war was a serviceable and efficient weapon; but still we were unable to put it into production immediately as it was. Our earliest divisions in France, under the international arrangement, were to be equipped by the French with 75-millimeter guns; while we, on this side of the water, reaching out for all designs of guns of proven worth, expected to manufacture the 75's in large numbers in this country. The French 75 in its barrel diameter is a fraction of an inch smaller than our 3-inch gun, the exact equivalent of 75 millimeters being 2.95275 inches. Thus, if we built our own 3-inch gun (and the British 3.3-inch gun, as we intended) and also went ahead with the 75-millimeter project on a great scale, we should be confronted by the necessity of providing three sorts of ammunition of almost the same size, with all the delays and confusion which such a situation would imply. Consequently we decided to redesign the American and British guns to make their bores uniformly 75 millimeters, thus simplifying the ammunition problem and making available to us in case of shortage the supplies of shell of this size in France.

With all of the above considerations in mind, it is evident now, and it was then, that we could not hope to equip our Army with American-built artillery as rapidly as that Army could be collected, trained, and sent to France; and this was particularly true when in the spring of 1917 the Army policy was changed to give each 1,000,000 men almost twice as many field guns as our program had required prior to that date. Consequently, when on June 27, 1917, the Secretary of War directed the Chief of Ordnance to provide the necessary artillery for the 2,000,000 men who were to be mobilized in 1917 and the first half of 1918, the first thought of our officers was to find outside supplies of artillery which we could obtain for an emergency[Pg 66] that would not be relieved until our new facilities had reached great production.

We found this source in France. The French had long been the leading people in Europe in the production of artillery, and even the great demands of the war had not succeeded in utilizing the full capacity of their old and new plants. Two days later, on June 29, 1917, the French high commissioner, by letter, offered us in behalf of France a daily supply of five 75-millimeter guns and carriages, beginning August 1, 1917. The French also offered at this time to furnish us with 155-millimeter howitzers; and on August 19, 1917, the French Government informed Gen. Pershing that each month, beginning with September, he could obtain twelve 155-millimeter Filloux guns and carriages from the French factories.

Before the signing of the armistice 75-millimeter guns to the number of 3,068 had been ordered from the French, and of this number 1,828 had been delivered. Of 155-millimeter howitzers, 1,361 had been ordered from the French and 772 delivered before November 11, 1918. Of 155-millimeter guns, 577 had been ordered from the French and 216 delivered previous to the granting of the armistice.

From British plants we ordered 212 Vickers-type 8-inch howitzers, and 123 had been delivered before the armistice had been signed; while of 9.2-inch howitzers, Vickers model, 40 of an order for 132 had been completed. In addition to this, 302 British 6-inch howitzers were in manufacture in England for delivery to us by April 1, 1919. These figures, with the exception of those relating to the order for British 6-inch howitzers, do not include the arrangements being made by this Government during the last few weeks of hostilities for additional deliveries of foreign artillery.

As to our own manufacture of artillery, when we had conquered all the difficulties—translated the drawings, built the new factories, equipped them with machine tools and dies, gages, and other fixtures needed by the metal workers, and had mobilized the skilled workers themselves—we forged ahead at an impressive rate. When the armistice was signed we were turning out 412 artillery units per month. Compare this with Great Britain's 486 units per month in the fall of 1918 and measure our progress, remembering that England had approximately three years' head start. Compare it with the French monthly production of 659 units per month, and remember that France was the greatest artillery builder in the world. When it came to the gun bodies themselves we obtained a monthly output of 832, as against Great Britain's 802 and France's 1,138. And our artillery capacity was then, in the autumn of 1918, only coming into production.

In the war period—April 6, 1917, to November 11, 1918—we produced 2,008 complete artillery units, as against 11,056 turned out by[Pg 67] France and 8,065 completed by Great Britain in the same period. In those 19 months we turned out 4,275 gun bodies, while in the same months France produced 19,492 and Great Britain 11,852.


The smallest weapon of all the field guns we built was the French 37-millimeter gun, the diameter of its bore being about 1½ inches in our measurements, the figure being 1.45669 inches. This was the so-called infantry field gun, to be dragged along by foot soldiers when they are making an advance. Its chief use in the war was in breaking up the German concrete pill boxes, machine gun nests, and other strong points of enemy resistance. In service it was manned by infantrymen instead of artillerists, a crew of eight men handling each weapon, the squad leader being the gunner. One of the men of the crew was the loader, and he was likewise able to fire the piece. The other six men served as assistants.

The 37-millimeter outfit as it exists to-day consists of the gun, with a split trail, mounted on axle and wheels. By means of a trailer attachment on the ammunition cart it can be drawn by one horse or one mule. The ammunition cart itself is merely a redesigned machine-gun ammunition vehicle. The wheels and axle can easily be removed and left a short distance in the rear of the place where it is desired to set up the gun. The whole outfit weighs only 340 pounds and is about 6 feet long.

The gun rests on its front leg which is dropped to form a tripod with the two legs of the split trail. The gun proper can be removed from the trail and the sponge staff can be inserted in the barrel through the opened breech. Two men can bear this part of the weapon in advancing action. Two other men are able to carry the trail, when its legs are locked together, while the four other members of the squad bring along the boxes of ammunition.

The ammunition cart holds 14 ammunition boxes, each containing 16 rounds. A spare-parts case, strapped to the trail, contains a miscellaneous assortment of such parts as can readily be handled in the field. A tool kit in a canvas roll is also transported on the cart, along with entrenching tools and other accessories.

Equipped with a telescopic sight for direct fire and a quadrant, or collimating sight, for indirect fire, great accuracy is obtained by this small piece of artillery. The length of the barrel of the gun proper is 20 calibers, which means that it is 20 times 37 millimeters in length, or about 29 inches. The length of the recoil when the gun is fired is 8 inches.

Two types of ammunition were provided for this gun at first; but, as the low-explosive type was not so effective as desired, it was[Pg 68] abandoned entirely in favor of the high-explosive type contained in a projectile weighing 1¼ pounds. This projectile is loaded with 240 grains of T. N. T. and detonated by a base percussion fuse. The range of the gun is 3,500 meters, or considerably more than 2 miles. Only three to six shots from this gun were found to be necessary to demolish an enemy machine gun emplacement or other strongly held position.

In the great war the 37-millimeter gun found itself and proved its usefulness. The original model had been designed at the Puteaux Arsenal in France in 1885; but it was not until after 1914 that the weapon was produced in quantities.

In this country we took up the production of 37-millimeter guns in October, 1917. While our shops were tooling up for the effort, 620 of these weapons were purchased from the French and turned over to the American Expeditionary Forces. For the purposes of greater speed in manufacture our executives took the gun apart and divided it into three groups, known as the barrel group, the breech group, and the recoil group. Additional to these, as a manufacturing proposition, were the axle and wheels and the trail.

The barrel group went to the Poole Engineering & Machine Co., of Baltimore, Md., who subcontracted for some of the parts to the Maryland Pressed Steel Co., of Hagerstown, Md. The breech group was manufactured by the Krasberg Manufacturing Co., of Chicago. The C. H. Cowdrey Machine Works, of Fitchburg, Mass., turned out the recoil mechanisms. The axles and wheels were built by the International Harvester Co., of Chicago. The trails were turned out by the Universal Stamping & Manufacturing Co., also of Chicago.

When crated for overseas shipment, the gun, ammunition cart, and all accessories, weighed 1,550 pounds and occupied about 15 cubic feet of space.

The first delivery of completed 37-millimeter guns from our factories was made in June, 1918, and at the cessation of hostilities manufacturers were turning out the guns at the rate of 10 per day. Between June and November 122 American-built 37-millimeter guns were shipped abroad, and more were ready to be sent over when the armistice was signed. The gun had been so successful in use abroad that our original order of 1,200 had been increased to 3,217 before the signing of the armistice, including the 620 purchased from the French.

The various groups of this gun were shipped to the plant of the Maryland Pressed Steel Co., Hagerstown, Md., for assembly and were there tested at a specially built proving ground, 8 miles from the factory.

Three 37's were issued to each infantry regiment, making one for each battalion. The required equipment for a division was, therefore, 12 weapons.



[Pg 69]

Figures on 37-millimeter gun production.
Guns procured from the French Government 620
Guns ordered manufactured in United States, October, 1917 1,200
Increase in order, September, 1918 1,397
Total number ordered in United States 2,597
Total number of guns completed prior to the signing of the armistice 884
Guns delivered for overseas shipment prior to the signing of the armistice 300
Guns shipped to various camps in this country 26
Guns shipped to other points in this country 4
On hand at Hagerstown Arsenal, proof fired 425
Completed and ready for proof firing 129


Next in order in the upward scale of sizes we come to the 75-millimeter gun, which was by far the most useful and most used piece of artillery in the great war. In fact the American artillery program might be divided in two classes, the 75's in one class, and all other sizes in the other, since it may be said practically that for every gun of another size produced we also turned out a 75. In number the 75's made up almost half of our field artillery. The 75-millimeter gun threw projectiles weighing between 12 and 16 pounds and it had an effective range of over 5½ miles.

We approached the war production of this weapon with three types available for us to produce—our own 3-inch gun; its British cousin the 3.3-inch gun or 18-pounder; and the French 75-millimeter gun, with its bore of 2.95275 inches. The decision to adopt the 75-millimeter size and modify the other two guns to this dimension, giving us interchangeability of ammunition with the French, was an historic episode in the American ordnance development of 1917.

While in 1917 the French with their excess manufacturing capacity began work on our first orders for 1,068 guns of this size to supply our troops during the interim until American factories could come into production, we were preparing our factories for the effort. Roughly speaking the 75 consists of a cannon mounted on a two-wheeled support for transportation purposes. This support also provides a means for aiming by suitable elevating and traverse mechanisms. As previously explained, a recoil mechanism is also provided to absorb the shock of firing, allowing a certain retrograde movement of the cannon and then returning it in position for the next shot—returning it "into battery," as the artillerists say. By its recuperator device the field gun of to-day is chiefly distinguished from its brother of the latter part of the nineteenth century. Without a recuperator the gun would leap out of aim at each shot and would have to be pointed anew; but one with a recuperator needs to be pointed only at the beginning of the action.

When we entered the war we found ourselves with an equipment of 544 field guns of the old 3-inch model of 1902. This gun had a[Pg 70] carriage provided with the old-style single trail. By 1913, however, we had been experimenting with the split trail and it had been strongly recommended by our ordnance experts; and in 1916 we had placed orders for nearly 300 carriages of the split-trail type, which had come to be known as Model 1916. Of these orders 96 carriages were to come from the Bethlehem Steel Co., and the remainder from the Rock Island Arsenal.

Meanwhile for some time the Bethlehem Steel Co. had been engaged in turning out carriages for the British 3.3-inch guns. Here was capacity that might be utilized to the limit; and, accordingly, in May, 1917, we ordered from the Bethlehem Co. 268 of the British carriages. At the same time we ordered from the same company approximately 340 of our own Model 1916 carriages at a cost of $3,319,800. A few weeks later the decision had been made to make all our guns of this sort conform to the French 75-millimeter size, and these British and American carriages contracted for in May were ordered modified to take 75-millimeter guns. The carriages needed little modification and the guns not much. Subsequently, in rapid succession we placed orders with the Bethlehem Steel Co., calling for the construction of an additional 1,130 of the British carriages, all of them to be adapted to 75-millimeter guns.

Next it was the concern of the Ordnance Department to find other facilities for manufacturing carriages for these weapons. The artillery committee of the Council of National Defense located the New York Air Brake Co. as a concern willing to undertake this work; and in June, 1917, this company signed a contract to produce 400 American model 1916 carriages at a cost of $3,250,000.

By December we had the drawings for the French carriages of this size and made a contract with the Willys-Overland Motor Car Co. to produce 2,927 of them. The table at the end of this section shows the production attained at these various plants.

The manufacture of carriages for the 75's produced concrete results, as our factories here were turning them out for us at the rate of 393 per month when the fighting ceased, and our contract plants in France were making 171 per month. In all we received from American factories 1,221 carriages. At the rate of increase we would have been building 800 carriages per month by February, 1919.

It may be said we were thoroughly impressed with the difficulties attached to the transplanting to this country of the manufacture of French 75-millimeter recuperators. It was a question whether this device could possibly be built by any except the French mechanics trained by long years in its production. At first it seemed that we could secure no manufacturer at all who would be willing to assume such a burden. Not until February, 1918, were complete drawings and specifications of the recuperator received from France. At length the Singer Manufacturing Co., builders of sewing machines, consented to take up this new work, and on March 29 the company contracted to produce 2,500 recoil systems for the 75-millimeter gun carriages. In April, 1918, the Rock Island Arsenal was instructed to turn out 1,000 of these recuperators.


This type of gun has been used by the French Army since 1897, and was the gun most used by the Allies in the Great War. This gun throws a shell weighing 12.3 pounds a distance of 8,400 meters or shrapnel weighing 16 pounds a distance of 9,000 meters. The weight of the gun and carriage is 2,657 pounds. The service muzzle velocity of the shell is 1,805 feet per second, while for shrapnel it is 1,755 feet per second.


This gun throws a shell weighing 12.3 pounds a distance of 8,300 meters, and 16 pounds of shrapnel a distance of 8,900 meters. The weight of the gun and carriage is 2,887 pounds. Its muzzle velocity for shell is 1,750 feet a second and for shrapnel 1,680 feet a second.

[Pg 71]

The production of gun bodies for the 75-millimeter units was quite satisfactory. The Bethlehem Co., the Wisconsin Gun Co., the Symington-Anderson Co., and the Watervliet Arsenal were the contractors who built the gun bodies. Gun bodies of three types, but all of the same 75-millimeter bore, were ordered—the American type (the modified 3-inch gun), the British type (the modified 3.3-inch gun), and the French type.

Our ordnance preparation would have given us enough 75's for the projected army of 3,360,000 men on the front in the summer of 1919, together with appropriate provision for training in the United States. Of the 75's built in this country, 143 units were shipped to the American Expeditionary Forces before the armistice went into effect. Meanwhile the French had delivered to our troops 1,828 units of this size. The total equipment of 75's for our Army in France from all sources thus amounted to 1,971 guns with their complete accessories.

Unit. Contractor. Number ordered. Number completed at signing of armistice. Number floated overseas to Nov. 11, 1918. Number completed up to April 17, 1919.
75-mm. gun carriage, model 1916 Rock Island Arsenal 472 159 34 185
Bethlehem Steel Co. 455 14 25
New York Air Brake Co. 400 33 97
75-mm. gun carriage (French) Willys-Overland Co. 2,927 291 1,299
75-mm. gun carriage (British), complete Bethlehem Steel Co. 2,868 724 124 921
75-mm. gun carriage limber (British), complete do. 968 439 1,010
75-mm. gun carriage limber, model 1918 do. 436 436 441
American Car & Foundry Co. 3,661 3,661 980 3,661
75-mm. gun caisson, model 1918 Bethlehem Steel Co. 1,666 302 4,957 831
American Car & Foundry Co. 20,356 11,680 18,301
75-mm. caisson limber, model 1918 Bethlehem Steel Co. 1,916 1,210 1,916
American Car & Foundry Co. 20,675 15,526 4,126 20,675
75-mm. cannon, model 1916 Symington-Anderson Co. 640 416 19 416
Wisconsin Gun Co. 160 116 116
Watervliet Arsenal 264 161 192
Bethlehem Steel Co. 340 2 2
75-mm. cannon (French) Symington-Anderson Co. 4,300 103 860
Wisconsin Gun Co. 2,050 9 190
75-mm. cannon (British) Bethlehem Steel Co. 2,868 592 124 909


In the 4.7-inch field gun, model of 1906, America took to France a weapon all her own. It was a proven gun, too, developed under searching experiments and tests. There were 60 of these in actual service when we got into the war. The 4.7-inch guns, with their greater range and power, promised to be particularly useful for destroying the enemy's 77-millimeter guns.

[Pg 72]

The carriage model of 1906 for the 4.7-inch gun is of the long recoil type, the recoil being 70 inches in length. The recoil is checked by a hydraulic cylinder, and a system of springs thereupon returns the gun to the firing position. The gun's maximum elevation is 15 degrees, at which elevation, with a 60-pound projectile, the gun has a range of 7,260 meters, or 4½ miles. With a 45-pound projectile a range of 8,750 meters, or nearly 5½ miles, can be obtained at 15 degrees elevation. It is possible to increase this range to about 10,000 meters, or well over 6 miles, by depressing the trail into a hole prepared for it, a practice often adopted on the field to obtain greater range. The total weight of the gun carriage with its limber is about 9,800 pounds.

An order for 250 of the 4.7-inch carriages was placed with the Walter Scott Co., at Plainfield, N. J., July 12, 1917, upon the recommendation of committees of the Council of National Defense, who were assisting the Ordnance Department in the selection of industrial firms willing to accept artillery contracts. Of the 250 ordered from this concern, 49 were delivered up to the signing of the armistice.

The Rock Island Arsenal had also been employed previously in turning out 4.7-inch carriages; and the capacity of that plant, although small, was utilized. Under the date of July 23, 1917, the arsenal was instructed to deliver 183 carriages. Late in December, 1917, the Studebaker Corporation was given an order for 500. On September 30, 1918, Rock Island Arsenal was given an additional order for 120 carriages, while the Studebaker order was reduced to 380. Additional plant facilities had to be provided at both the Walter Scott Co. and the Studebaker Corporation.

Up to December 12, 1918, a total of 381 carriages of the 4.7-inch type had been completed and delivered. These carriages included the recoil mechanism. In the month of October, 1918, alone, 113 were produced, and this rate would have been continued had the armistice not been signed.

Cannon for the 4.7-inch units were turned out at the Watervliet Arsenal and the Northwestern Ordnance Co., Madison, Wis. Deliveries from the Watervliet Arsenal began in June, 1918, totaling 120 up to December, while the Northwestern Ordnance Co., starting its deliveries in August, had completed 98 by December.

Up to the 15th of November, 64 complete 4.7-inch units had been floated for our forces overseas.

Forgings for the 4.7-inch gun cannon were made by the Bethlehem Steel Co. and the Heppenstall Forge & Knife Co., of Pittsburgh, Pa.

Owing to the great difference in cross section between muzzle and breech end of the jacket, great difficulty was experienced in the heat treatment of these forgings, particularly on the part of manufacturers who had had no previous experience in the production of gun forgings.


This gun throws a projectile weighing 45 pounds a distance of about 6 miles.


The upper view shows the piece mounted on an auto truck for quick moving about.

[Pg 73]

In order to produce enough forgings to supply the finish-machining shops, an order for 50 jackets was later given to the Edgewater Steel Co., of Pittsburgh, Pa., where the jackets were forged. These were then sent to the Heppenstall Forge & Knife Co. for rough machining and finally returned to the Edgewater Steel Co. for heat treating. An order for 150 jackets was also given to the Tacony Ordnance Corporation.

Shortly before the signing of the armistice, the jacket was redesigned so that the heavy breech end was forged separately in the shape of a breech ring. This design, however, was not produced.

It was desired to develop a 4.7-inch gun carriage having the characteristics of the split-trail 75-millimeter gun carriage, model of 1916, so that greater elevation and wide traverse could be obtained. The Bethlehem Steel Co. was given a small order for 36 carriages of their own design prior to the war, and their pilot carriage had been undergoing tests at the proving ground. The design was, however, not sufficiently advanced to be used in the war.

Unit. Contractor. Number ordered. Number completed at the signing of armistice. Number completed up to April 17, 1919.
4.7-inch gun carriage, model of 1906 Rock Island Arsenal 303 183 183
Studebaker Corporation 380 88 175
Walter Scott Co. 250 49 57
4.7-inch gun-carriage limber American Car & Foundry Co. 433 433 433
Maxwell Motor Co. 479 82 250
4.7-inch gun caisson American Car & Foundry Co. 1,848 320 848
Ford Motor Co. 1,001 106 400
4.7-inch cannon Northwestern Gun Co. 56
Watervliet Arsenal 93

Sixteen of these units, also 48 which were previously on hand, were floated for overseas up to November 11, 1918.


In the war emergency America sought to put on the front every pound of artillery she could acquire from any source whatsoever. Accordingly, before any of the manufacturing projects were even started, the Ordnance Department conducted a preparedness inventory of the United States to see what guns already in existence we might find that could be improvised for use as mobile artillery in France. The search discovered a number of heavy cannon that could serve the purpose—part of them belonging to the Army, these being the guns at our seacoast fortifications; part belonging to the Navy, in its stores of supplies for battleships; and part of them being[Pg 74] the property of a private dealer, Francis Bannerman & Son, of New York.

The guns for this improvised use were obtained as follows:

From the Coast Artillery, a branch of the Army, we obtained ninety-five 6-inch guns, 50 calibers in length, and twenty-eight 5-inch guns, 44.6 calibers; from the Navy stores came forty-six 6-inch guns, ranging from 30 to 50 calibers in length; from Francis Bannerman & Son, thirty 6-inch guns, 30 calibers long. This was a total of 199 weapons of great destructive power, awaiting only suitable mobile mounts to make them of valiant service on the western front. It was the task of the Ordnance Department to take these guns and as swiftly as possible mount them on field artillery carriages of an improvised type that could be most quickly built.

Minor changes had to be made on many of the guns obtained in this manner in order to adapt them for use on field artillery carriages. The various seacoast guns were retained as they were in length, because it was planned to return them eventually to the fortifications from which they had been taken. The Navy guns, all of the 6-inch size, were shipped to the Watervliet Arsenal to be cut down to a uniform length of 30 calibers.

The need for speed in manufacture demanded that the carriages for these guns should be of the simplest design consistent with the ruggedness required for field operations and the accuracy necessary for effectiveness. When tests of the first carriages produced were made it was found that requirements had been more than met.

Orders were placed on September 24, 1917, with the Morgan Engineering Co., of Alliance, Ohio, for 70 mounts for the 6-inch units. A few days later this number was increased to 74, while on the 28th of September, 1917, the same company was given an order for 18 additional 6-inch gun mounts and 28 mounts for the 5-inch guns. Orders for limbers were placed with the same company on December 1.

It was soon discovered that big transport wagons would be required to carry the long 6-inch seacoast guns separately because of their great weight. On February 15, 1918, the Morgan Engineering Co. was ordered to build these necessary transport wagons.

Difficulties in securing skilled labor, necessary materials, and tools delayed production of these mounts, but the eighteen 6-inch gun mounts ordered September 28, 1917, were completed in March, 1918, while the twenty-eight 5-inch gun mounts ordered on the same date were finished in April. In August, 1918, the seventy-four 6-inch gun mounts were turned out. The production of an additional order for thirty-seven 6-inch gun mounts was just beginning when the armistice was signed.

[Pg 75]

The 6-inch gun carriage, bearing the gun, weighs about 41,000 pounds. A maximum range of over 10 miles can be obtained by this weapon. The complete 5-inch gun unit weighs about 23,500 pounds and has a maximum range of more than 9 miles. In understanding the difficulties that faced the Ordnance Department in building carriages for these guns, it should be recalled that these big weapons were originally built for fixed-emplacement duty and were therefore much heavier than mobile types. This fact complicated the problem of designing the wheeled mounts. They proved to be more difficult to maneuver than the lighter types of guns.

Model. Size. Number ordered. Number completed prior to Nov. 11. Number floated for overseas.
1897 5-inch 28 28 26
1917 6-inch 74 74 68
1917-A 6-inch 18 18 4
1917-B 6-inch 37 1


It is a testimonial to the adaptability and skill of American industry that we were able to duplicate successfully in this country the celebrated 155-millimeter howitzer, before 1917 built only in the factory of its original designer, the great firm of Schneider et Cie., in France. This powerful weapon is a fine example of the French gun builders' art, in a country where the art of gun-making has been carried to a perfection unknown anywhere else.

The 155-millimeter howitzer's history dates back to the nineteenth century. In its development the French designers had so strengthened its structure, increased its range, and improved its general serviceability, that in 1914 it was ready to take its place as one of the two most-used and best-known weapons of the allies, the other being the 75-millimeter field gun.

As thus perfected the howitzer weighs less than 4 tons and is extremely mobile for a weapon of its size. It can hurl a 95-pound projectile well over 7 miles and fire several times a minute. The rapidity of fire is made possible by a hydropneumatic recoil system that supports the short barrel of the gun and stores up the energy of the recoil by the compression of air. With the gun pointing upward at an angle of 45 degrees, the recoil mechanism will restore it into battery in less than 13 seconds. The carriage of the gun is extremely light, being built of pressed steel parts that incorporate many ingenious features of design to reduce the weight. The shell and the propelling charge of powder are loaded separately.

[Pg 76]

The American-built 155-millimeter howitzer was practically identical with that built in France. Any of the important parts of the American weapon would interchange with those which had come from the Schneider factory. We equipped the wheels of our field carriage, however, with rubber tires, and gave the gun a straight shield of armor plate instead of a curved shield.

In the spring of 1917 we bought the plans of the howitzer from Schneider et Cie. and began at once the work of translating the specifications into American measurements. This work monopolized the efforts of an expert staff until October 8, 1917.

In order to facilitate the reproduction here, we divided the weapon, as a manufacturing proposition, into three groups—the cannon itself, the carriage, and the recuperator or recoil system—and placed each group in the hands of separate contractors. There was, of course, the usual difficulty in finding manufacturers willing to undertake production of such an intricate device and who also possessed machine shops that had the equipment and talent required for such work, and in procuring for these shops the highly specialized machinery that would be necessary.

The American Brake Shoe & Foundry Co., of Erie, Pa., whose magnificent work in building a special plant has been described in the preceding chapter, took an order in August, 1917, for 3,000 howitzer cannon and by October, 1918, was producing 12 of them every day. The company turned out its first cannon in February, 1918, approximately six months after receiving the contract, having in the interim built and equipped a most elaborate plant. It is doubtful if the annals of industry in any country can produce a feat to match this.

In fact, the production of cannon by the Erie concern so outstripped the manufacture of carriages and other important parts for the howitzer that it was possible by September, 1918, for us to sell 550 howitzer bodies to the French Government. When the armistice was signed on November 11, 1918, the company had completed 1,172 cannon.

In November, 1917, we placed orders for 2,469 carriages for this weapon, splitting the order between the Osgood-Bradley Car Co., of Worcester, Mass., and the Mosler Safe Co., of Hamilton, Ohio. Then followed a long battle to secure the tools and equipment, the skilled mechanical labor, and the necessary quantities of the best grades of steel and bronze, an effort in which the contracting companies were at all times aided by the engineers of the Ordnance Department. All obstacles were overcome and the first carriages were ready for testing in June, 1918. When the armistice was signed 154 carriages had been delivered, and production was moving so rapidly that one month later this number had been run up to 230.

[Pg 77]

The limbers were manufactured by the Maxwell Motor Car Co., which had orders to turn out 2,575 of them. The first deliveries of limbers came in September, 1918, and seven a day were being turned out in October, a total of 273 having been completed by the day of the armistice. A month later the number of completed limbers totaled 587.

It was in the making of the recuperator systems that the greatest problems were presented. No mechanism at all similar to this had ever been made in this country. No plant was in existence here capable of turning out such a highly complicated, precise, and delicate device.

Finally, after much Governmental search and long negotiation, the Dodge Bros., of Detroit, motor car builders, agreed to accept the responsibility. In this effort they built and equipped the splendid factory, costing $10,000,000, described elsewhere.

This howitzer recuperator is turned out from a solid forging, weighing 3,875 pounds, but the completed recuperator weighs only 870 pounds. Each cylinder must be bored, ground, and lapped to a degree of fineness and accuracy that requires the most painstaking care.

Difficulties of almost every sort were experienced with the forgings and other elements of the recuperators. The steel was analyzed and its metallurgical formulas were changed. The work of machining proceeded favorably until the very last operation—that of polishing the interior of the long bores to a mirrorlike glaze and still retaining the extreme accuracy necessary to prevent the leakage of oil past the pistons. Such precision had been theretofore unknown in American heavy manufacture. Until the many processes could be perfected, the deliveries were held back.

Even with the delivery of the first recuperator, difficulties did not vanish. This mechanism has no adjustments which can be made on the field, but depends for its wonderful operation upon the extreme nicety of the relation of its parts. It required the alteration of certain small parts before the first trial models could be made to function.

However, all obstacles and difficulties were finally overcome, and in the plant that had been erected during the bitter cold of one of our severest winters, and with practically entirely new machinery and workmen, production got under way, and the first recuperator was delivered early in July, 1918, nine months after the contract was signed. Production in quantity began to follow shortly after that month, and by November an average of 16 recuperators a day was being turned out. Of the 3,120 recuperators contracted for, 898 had been finished when the armistice was signed, and this quantity was increased to 1,238 one month later.

[Pg 78]

The steel required for the recuperators in these 155-millimeter howitzers, and also for those of the 155-millimeter guns, was of special composition; yet all the forge capacity in this country was being utilized in other war manufacture. New facilities for the manufacture of these forgings had to be developed by increasing the capacity of the Mesta Machine Co. of Pittsburgh, until it could meet our requirements. The Government itself contracted for these forgings and supplied them to Dodge Bros.

Each howitzer required some 200 items of miscellaneous equipment, such as air and liquid pumps and other tools. These were purchased from many sources, and many of these contractors had just as much difficulty with the small parts as the larger firms had with the more important sections of the howitzers.

Many of the problems involved in turning out the complete unit could not be known or understood until they were met with in actual manufacture. Mechanical experts representing Schneider et Cie. were on hand at all times to help solve difficulties as they arose.

The Government turned to France for an auxiliary supply of carriages for the American-built howitzers, placing orders for 1,361 with French concerns. Of this number 772 had been completed when the armistice was signed, and the French expected soon to turn out the carriages at the rate of 140 per month. It might also be noted here that we placed an order in England for 302 British 6-inch howitzers, a piece very like the French howitzer. The British contract was to be completed April 1, 1919.

The various parts of the 155-millimeter howitzer were assembled into complete units and tested at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds. After being assembled and tested, the whole unit was taken apart and packed into crates especially designed for overseas shipment. One crate held two howitzer carriages with recuperators in less space than would have been occupied by one carriage on its wheels.

It will be noted that the first gun body of the 155-millimeter howitzers made in this country was delivered in February and the first recuperator in July. Before the recuperators were ready, the other parts of the howitzer had been proof-tried by using a recuperator of French manufacture.

During the months of August and September, 1918, the first regiment equipped with 155-millimeter howitzers was made ready at Aberdeen. The big weapons were packed and on the dock for shipment overseas when the armistice was signed. These first ones were to be followed by a steady stream of howitzers. All arrangements had been made to assemble units and crate them for overseas at the Erie Proving Ground at Port Clinton, Ohio.

[Pg 79]

None of the 155-millimeter howitzers built here reached the American Expeditionary Forces, but French deliveries of the weapon up to the signing of the armistice totaled 747.

Unit. Contractor. Number ordered. Number completed Nov. 11, 1918. Number completed Apr. 17, 1919.
155-mm. howitzer carriage Osgood Bradley Car Co. 900 136 369
155-mm. carriage replacement parts. do. 49 0
155-mm. howitzer carriage do. 250 93
Do. American Rolling Mill Co. (old Mosler Safe contract). 1,270 18 26
Do. Rock Island Arsenal 172 0
155-mm. howitzer carriage limbers Maxwell Motor Co. 2,575 273 700
Do. Rock Island Arsenal 100 0
155-mm. howitzer caisson Ford Motor Co. 8,937 4,373 8,937
155-mm. howitzer cannon American Brake Shoe & Foundry Co. 1,172 1,789


The reproduction in the United States of the French 155-millimeter G. P. F. (the French designation) gun presents much the same story as that of the howitzer of equal size—a story of difficulties in translating plans, writing into them the precision of finishing measurements that the French factory usually leaves to the skill of the mechanic himself, difficulties in finding manufacturers willing to undertake the work, and then of providing them with suitable raw materials and machinery, and, above all, of locating the necessary skilled mechanics.

This strange, big monster of a weapon is of rugged design. The entire unit weighs 19,860 pounds. The gun has the extremely high muzzle velocity of 2,400 feet per second, a rate of propulsion that throws the 95-pound projectile 17,700 yards, or a little more than 10 miles.

The wheels of the carriage have a double tread of solid rubber tire. By an ingenious arrangement a caterpillar tread can be applied to the wheels in a few minutes whenever soft ground is encountered.

The center of gravity of the unit is low. The wheels are of small dimensions and the cradle is trunnioned behind in such a fashion as to reduce the height of the cannon. The carriage has a split trail, which allows for a large clearance for recoil at a high elevation and a large angle of traverse. The carriage when traveling is supported on semielliptical springs, as is also the carriage limber.

Two large steel castings make up the carriage of this unit. The bottom part of the carriage is supported by the axle, which carries the two sections of the split trail upon the hinge pins. The top part of the carriage is supported by and revolves upon the bottom carriage and carries in trunnioned bearings the recuperator. The prin[Pg 80]cipal difficulty in carriage manufacture was to obtain in this country the extremely large steel castings of light-section, high-grade steel.

The carriages, 1,388 in number, were ordered in November, 1917, from the Minneapolis Steel & Machinery Co. The first delivery of carriages was made in August, 1918, and in the last week of October they were being turned out at the rate of seven a day. Up to the armistice date 370 had been produced, of which 16 had been sent overseas.

We also placed orders in France for 577 of these carriages, of which 216 had been completed upon the signing of the armistice. The American monthly rate of production of carriages in October was 162.

The 155-millimeter gun itself is far from being simple to manufacture. It is of considerable length and is built of a number of jackets and hoops to give the required resistance to the heavy pressures exerted in firing, this being a high-velocity gun. Except for a slight change in the manner of locking the hoops to the jacket, our gun is identical with that of the French.

Orders for 2,160 cannon were given to the Watervliet Arsenal and the Bullard Engineering Works, at Bridgeport, Conn., in November, 1917. The Bullard Engineering Works had to construct new buildings and to purchase and install special equipment, and the Watervliet Arsenal had to extend its shops and also purchase and install much additional machinery—a job that took time at both places.

The first deliveries of cannon came from Watervliet Arsenal in July, 1918. During October 50 cannon were delivered, and it seemed certain that by early in 1919 the projected eight cannon per day would be the rate attained. We shipped 16 of the cannon overseas. By November 11 we had received 71 cannon, a number increased to 109 by December 12.

Limbers in the same quantity as carriages were ordered from the Minneapolis Steel & Machinery Co., which produced a limber to accompany each one of its delivered carriages. This limber has an extremely heavy axle, similar to the automobile front axle. Its size and weight caused difficulty in obtaining it as a drop forging.

To Dodge Bros. was assigned the task of producing the recuperators for this gun in their special plant. The 155-millimeter gun recuperators, however, were made secondary to the production of the recuperators for the 155-millimeter howitzers, which were the easier of the two sorts to build.

Forgings were available and work started on recuperators in April, 1918. No rapid completion of these intricate mechanisms was possible, however, as the first forgings encountered many delays in their machinings. In the cycle of operations, with everything speeded up to the limit, more than three months must elapse from the day the recuperator forging is received to the day when the completed mechanism can be turned over to the inspector as an assembled article.


This weapon throws shell or shrapnel weighing 95 pounds. Muzzle velocity for shell is 1,420 feet per second. The weight of the howitzer and carriage is 7,600 pounds.


[Pg 81]

It was in October, 1918, that the first 155-millimeter gun recuperator was delivered. The factory expected to reach a maximum capacity of 10 a day. The company built 12 more by December 1. After the armistice was signed the company's order was reduced to 880, which had all been completed by May 1, 1919.

In order to have recuperators available for use for the units shipped from the United States minus these mechanisms, 110 rough-machined recuperator forgings were shipped to France, where the work of machining and completing was done.

The translation of the French plans for this weapon furnished one of the most difficult pieces of work undertaken by the Ordnance Department. Without counting in the gun pieces, the carriage and limber is made up of 479 pieces, while the recoil mechanism itself has 372 pieces. A total of 150 mechanical tracings had to be made by our draftsmen for the carriage and test tools; 50 for the carriage limbers; 142 for the recoil mechanism; 74 for the tools and accessories; or a total of 416. It was extremely difficult to secure draftsmen who could do this work, and the translation, accomplished in a few weeks, is regarded as a remarkable achievement.

The cannon for this gun were tested at the Erie Proving Grounds and there packed for overseas shipment. We had many cannon and carriages awaiting shipment when the armistice was signed, the plan being to send them to France, where they would be equipped with recuperators.

Unit. Contractor. Number ordered. Number completed Nov. 11, 1918. Number completed Apr. 17, 1919. Number floated Nov. 11, 1918.
155-mm. gun carriage model 1918 (Filloux). Minneapolis Steel & Machinery Co. 1,446 370 800 16
155-mm. gun carriage limber, model 1918 (Filloux). do. 1,446 370 800 16
155-mm. gun cannon proper Bullard Engine Works 1,400 53 250 16
Do. Watervliet Arsenal 760 18 68


In the early days of the war the British designed an 8-inch field howitzer that proved itself on battle fields in France. Great Britain loaded her own plants with orders for this weapon and then turned to the United States for additional facilities. The Midvale Steel & Ordnance Co. at Nicetown, Pa., was manufacturing this unit for the British at the time we entered the war.

On April 14, 1917, exactly eight days after we had formally announced our purpose of warring with Germany, an order for 80 of these 8-inch howitzers was placed with the Midvale Steel Co. It was understood that production on our order was to be begun upon[Pg 82] the completion of the British contract on which the Midvale Co. was then engaged. The order included the complete units, with carriages, limbers, tools, and accessories, all to be built in accordance with British specifications.

Contracts for the trails were sublet by the Midvale Co. to the Cambria Steel Co; for the wheels, to the American Road & Machinery Co.; for the limbers and firing platforms, to the J. G. Brill Co.; and for the open sights, to the British-American Manufacturing Co. Panoramic sights for these guns were furnished by the Frankford Arsenal.

So satisfactory did the production proceed that on December 13, 1917, the first of the 8-inch howitzers was proof-tried with good results. Early in January, 1918, the complete units began to come through at the rate of three a week, increasing to four a week in April and to six a week in May.

A subsequent contract with Midvale brought the total number of howitzers ordered from that plant up to 195. These weapons, all of the model known as the Mark VI, were all produced and accepted before the signing of the armistice, 96 of them being shipped overseas, with their full complement of accessories. Each completed unit cost in the neighborhood of $55,000. These weapons throw a 200-pound projectile 11,750 yards.

The progress of the war moved so swiftly, however, that there soon was need for artillery units of this same size but with longer range. Accordingly, a new design, known as the Mark VIII½, was brought out, having a range of over 13,000 yards. On October 2, 1918, we placed with the Midvale Co. an order for 100 of these 8-inch howitzers, specifying carriages of the new, heavier type.

When we entered the war the Bethlehem Steel Co., at Bethlehem, Pa., was producing for the British Government a howitzer with a bore of 9.2 inches. The Bethlehem Co. expected to complete these British contracts in July, 1917. The 9.2-inch howitzer was approximately the same size as the 240-millimeter howitzer which we were getting ready to put into production. However, in our desire to utilize every bit of the production facilities of the country, we ordered 100 of the 9.2-inch howitzer units from the Bethlehem Steel Co. and placed additional orders for 132 of these units in England. The British concerns delivered 40 howitzers before the armistice was signed.

Mark. Size. Contractor. Number ordered. Number completed Nov. 11, 1918. Number floated. Number completed to Apr. 17, 1919.
VI 8-inch howitzer. Midvale Steel Co. 195 167 96 195
VIII½ do. do. 100 34
Model 1917 9.2-inch howitzer. Bethlehem Steel Co. 100 1


This gun shoots shell weighing 290 pounds 8,690 meters. The weight of the howitzer and carriage is 29,100 pounds.


[Pg 83]


The scheme of production of the French 240-millimeter howitzers was entirely aimed at the year 1919; since even if American heavy manufacturing establishments had not been loaded with war orders, it would have been well-nigh impossible to turn out this mighty engine of destruction in quantities in any shorter period of time.

Although approximately the same size as the British 9.2-inch howitzer (the exact diameter of the bore of the 240 being 9.45 inches) and only a little larger than the 8-inch howitzer, the French gun was far more powerful than either. The 8-inch and the 9.2-inch howitzers had ranges in the neighborhood of 6 miles, while their shell weighed from 200 to 290 pounds. The 240, on the other hand, hurled a shell weighing 356 pounds and carrying a bursting charge of between 45 and 50 pounds of high explosive. Its range was almost 10 miles.

We produced the 8-inch and the 9.2-inch howitzers to fill the gap during the two years which must elapse before we could get into quantity production of the 240. The French and British governments in the fall of 1917 asserted their ability to equip our first 30 combat divisions in 1918 with heavy howitzers, so that if our production came along in the spring of 1919 it could meet the requirements of the war situation.

Consequently we planned to equip our first army of 30 divisions with 8-inch and 9.2-inch howitzers in equal numbers of each. Our second army of 30 divisions should be wholly equipped with 240-millimeter howitzers; and our expected production of these, being beyond our own contemplated needs, would serve to replace such 8-inch and 9.2-inch howitzers as had been lost in the meantime.

As we adapted it from the French Schneider model, the 240-millimeter howitzer consisted of four main parts—the howitzer barrel, the top carriage, the cradle with recoil and mechanism, and the firing platform. Each of these four parts had its own transportation wagon and limber drawn by a 10-ton tractor. The weapon was set up with the aid of an erecting frame and a small hand crane.

Each of the main sections is composed of numerous smaller assembled parts made up of various grades of iron and steel and raw materials, all requiring the greatest precision in their manufacture and all having to pass rigid and exacting tests for strength and dimensions.

The production of even one of these enormous weapons would have been a hard job for any American industrial plant, but to manufacture over 1,200 of them, and that within the comparatively limited time allowed and under the abnormal industrial and transportation conditions then prevailing, was a task of tremendous difficulty and complexity.

[Pg 84]

On September 1, 1917, an order was placed with the Watertown Arsenal for 250 carriages for the American 240's, to be turned out complete with the recoil mechanism, transportation vehicles, tools, and accessories. To show the size of the job, an allotment of $17,450,000 was set aside to cover the estimated expenses at the arsenal.

Well equipped as the Watertown Arsenal was said to be at the time for the production of heavy gun carriages, it was found necessary, in order to handle this job, to construct a new erecting shop that had a capacity practically as large as all the other buildings of the plant put together. The number of employees at the arsenal was increased from 1,200 to more than 3,000.

The greatest difficulty experienced was in obtaining the large number of heavy machine tools required, and experts were sent out to scour the country in an effort to locate these tools wherever they might be available. Raw materials could not be procured in sufficient quantities, while numerous transportation delays impeded the work.

Finally, in October, 1918, the pilot carriage was completed and sufficient progress had been made on the entire contract to assure production of the required number of units in the early part of 1919.

A second carriage contract (Nov. 16, 1917) went to the Standard Steel Car Co., of Hammond, Ind. This called for the delivery of 964 carriages complete with transportation vehicles, limbers, tools, etc., but not with recuperators. These the Otis Elevator Co., of New York, undertook to deliver.

The Standard Steel Car Co. is one of the most important builders of railway cars, freight and passenger, in the country, and it possessed a large and well-equipped plant. Nevertheless, the company was compelled to construct several additional buildings and practically to double the capacity of its huge erecting shop in order to prepare adequately for the tremendous task undertaken.

As a means to save time, subcontracts were immediately placed with more than 100 firms throughout the East and Middle West for the production and machining of as many as possible of the component parts needed by the Standard Steel Car Co. Wherever practicable, the subcontractors working on similar contracts for the Watertown Arsenal were retained by the Indiana company, so that better prices might be obtained, parts standardized, and the whole production greatly facilitated.

Once the work was well under way the ramifications of this one contract, with its subcontracts for parts, materials, tools, building construction, etc., extended throughout practically the entire industrial facilities of the eastern and central sections of the country.

[Pg 85]

As in the case of the contract given the Watertown Arsenal, there were many difficulties in obtaining tools and raw materials. In a large majority of cases allocations, partly of iron and steel products, had to be obtained through the War Industries Board. When allocations had been granted, priority orders had to be secured, as the producers of these materials were already overworked with Government orders of varying importance.

With the pilot carriage complete in the early part of October, production on all the main parts had progressed by November to such an extent that a large output of finished carriages was assured for December and thereafter, had not the signing of the armistice intervened and ended the necessity for further expedition of the work.

Orders for howitzer bodies were placed as follows:

Bethlehem Steel Co., Nov. 21, 1917 237
Edgewater Steel Co., Oct. 24, 1917 175
Tacony Ordnance Corporation, Nov. 14, 1917 175
Watertown Arsenal, Nov. 10, 1917 80
American Bridge Co., Mar. 31, 1918 800

The Watervliet Arsenal on November 20, 1917, was instructed to do the machining of forgings so as to turn out 250 gun bodies for the 240-millimeter howitzers, and three months later this order was doubled. On November 7, 1918, an additional 660 were ordered from Watervliet, making a grand total of 1,160 howitzer cannon of this caliber ordered machined and completed at the Watervliet Arsenal. The arsenal contracted to reach an output of 100 cannon a month and deliver the last of the 1,160 not later than September 30, 1919.

It was found necessary to erect an entirely new shop for the machining of these howitzers. This shop was completed in May, 1918. During the war period $13,164,706 was spent or allotted to the Watervliet Arsenal for increasing its facilities. Forgings were furnished to the arsenal by the Government, but the forging situation was never a delaying factor in the production of 240-millimeter howitzers.

In all, 158 sets, of 1,467 ordered, were delivered up to December 12, 1918. The pilot howitzer was delivered by the Watervliet Arsenal to the proving ground on August 24, 1918.

In the summer of 1918 the Watertown Arsenal contracted to build 252 additional recuperators for these howitzers. Work was started at once in the shops, and, though additional facilities had to be prepared and much new equipment added, the production of the first recuperator was begun without delay. It was found that the planing equipment at the arsenal was not sufficient to handle the work, and therefore a great deal of the rough planing was done by subcontractors.

The Watertown Arsenal was to furnish its own forgings, but it was quickly found that an additional source of supplies was required.[Pg 86] The Carnegie Steel Co. had been given an order on December 27, 1917, for 1,300 recuperator forgings, and some of these were sent to the Watertown Arsenal.

The first recuperator was completed October 28, 1918, and 16 had been finished up to December 31, 1918, when 280 forgings were in the process of machining.

To handle its order for 1,039 recuperators, the Otis Elevator Co., of New York, found it necessary to rebuild a plant which it owned in Chicago. Forgings were furnished by the Government.

On May 1, 1918, the Otis Elevator Co. started its rough machining. Hard spots were found in the metal, causing great trouble at first, but this difficulty was overcome by changes in the heat treatment. The Carnegie Steel Co. was then instructed to rough-machine the forgings before sending them to the Otis Elevator Co. An order was also given to the Midvale Steel Co. to rough-machine 24 forgings. Early in November, 1918, the Otis Elevator Co. finished its first recuperator.

One 240-millimeter howitzer unit was completed at the time of the signing of the armistice, out of a total of 1,214 contracted for; but had war conditions continued, the expectation was for a monthly capacity of 80 units by 1919. Actual deliveries are given below:

Units. Contractors. Number ordered. Number completed Nov. 11, 1918. Number completed Apr. 17, 1919.
240-mm. unit, complete, except howitzer. Watertown Arsenal 250 [11]1 [11]41
[12]4 [12]25
240-mm. howitzer carriage units, except recuperators. Standard Steel Car Co. 964 5 67
Windlasses Dodge Manufacturing Co. 1,125 33 350
Rammer trucks do. 1,205 2 375
Shot trucks do. 3,214 2 1,000
240-mm. howitzer cannon Watervliet Arsenal 2 19

[11] Carriage alone.

[12] Carriages with recuperators.


The American development of antiaircraft artillery had, previously to 1917, been confined almost exclusively to the task of designing and constructing stationary units of defense for our coast fortifications. It was naturally expected that it would be at those points that we would first, if ever, have to meet an attack from the air. Very little attention had been paid mobile artillery of this sort.

Before April, 1916, the Ordnance Department had designed a high-powered 3-inch antiaircraft mount for the fixed emplacement at coast fortifications. The gun on this mount fired a 15-pound projectile with a muzzle velocity of 2,600 feet a second. It is still to-day the most powerful antiaircraft weapon of its caliber. Between May, 1916, and June 18, 1917, orders for 160 of these mounts were placed with the Watertown Arsenal and the Bethlehem Steel Co. Up to April 10, 1919, a total of 116 of these had been completed and sent for emplacement at the points selected.



[Pg 87]

By the end of 1916, however, it was foreseen that it would be necessary to provide antiaircraft artillery of a mobile type as part of the equipment for any field forces that might be sent abroad. Since that contingency seemed entirely possible at that time, and as it appeared to be impossible to provide a suitable design that would have a sufficient period of time in which to get proper consideration and test, it was decided to improvise a simple structural steel design that would permit quick construction and on which a 75-millimeter field gun, that was already in production, could be mounted.

This design was completed May 1, 1917, and an order for 50 placed with the Builders Iron Foundry. Deliveries on these were made during the fall of 1917, and the carriages were at once shipped to France for equipment with French field guns and recuperators that had been already procured for the purpose.

In its mobility the improvised antiaircraft gun mount was far from perfect. It was necessary to disassemble it partly and mount it on trailers. The need for a mount that could be moved easily and speedily had been realized before our entrance in the war, and a design embodying these qualities was completed as early as December, 1916.

This truck was designed to be equipped with the American 75-millimeter field gun, model of 1916. Before the drawings were completed an order for the pilot mounts of this type was placed with the Rock Island Arsenal. The war came on, and it was decided not to wait for a test of the mounts before starting general manufacture. Accordingly the New Britain Machine Co., in July, 1917, was given an order for 51 carriages. No further orders were placed for carriages of this sort, as it was not thought best to go too heavily into production of an untried mount.

It may be noted here that our first 26 antiaircraft guns were mounted on White 1½-ton trucks.

It was also realized that the field guns with which these mounts were to be equipped did not have the power and range that the war experience was showing to be necessary. The only reasons that the field guns of the 75-millimeter caliber were used in this way was because they were the guns most quickly available and because the French were already using them for this purpose.

To meet the need of more powerful antiaircraft weapons, a need becoming more pressing each day, a 3-inch high-powered antiaircraft gun was designed and mounted on a four-wheel trailer of the automobile type. This mount permitted elevations of the gun from 10[Pg 88] degrees to 85 degrees and also allowed for "all around" firing. An order for 612 of these carriages was given to the New Britain Machine Co. in July, 1917, shortly after the contract for the 51 truck mounts had been placed with that concern.

Because of the urgency of the situation it was necessary to construct these carriages without the preliminary tests on a pilot carriage. This, of course, is a very undesirable practice, but under the existing conditions no other procedure would have been practicable. The French antiaircraft auto truck mount, which had the French 75-millimeter field gun with its recuperator placed upon a special antiaircraft mount, was not adopted at the time, because, in July, 1917, the whole question of the possibility of constructing French recuperators in this country was still entirely unsettled. It was imperative then that we develop our own designs.

All of the 51 truck mounts for the antiaircraft guns were delivered during the fall and early winter of 1918, and 22 of them were in France before December, 1918.

Delivery of the first carriage for the 3-inch high-powered gun mounted on the trailer carriage was made in August, 1917. It had been rushed ahead of general production in order to be given some sort of a test. No further deliveries were made, but manufacture reached a point where production in quantity could begin.

A representative of the Ordnance Department was sent to France and England in December, 1917, to gather all the information possible on antiaircraft artillery. As a result of his investigations it was determined that it would be best to procure the greater part of our fire-control equipment in France, since the instruments developed there were in some cases of a highly complicated nature and their manufacture entirely controlled by private parties. Orders were placed for enough of these instruments for the equipment of the first 125 batteries.

Meanwhile, fire-control instruments of various types were in the process of development in this country; but, as they were largely based upon theoretical construction derived from study of the French practices, it was deemed best not to manufacture any of these instruments in quantity, as better instruments of French design were available. Drawings of the French instruments were brought back by the Ordnance officer on his visit to France and were available in this country in the spring of 1918, when manufacture of some of them began in the United States.

At the signing of the armistice our forces in France were equipped almost wholly with antiaircraft artillery loaned to us and supplied by the French. This, of course, does not include the 101 improvised and truck mounts completed during 1917. Production here, how[Pg 89]ever, had reached such a point that shipment of material would have begun in quantity in January, 1919.

The estimated requirements of antiaircraft artillery for 2,000,000 men in 48 divisions is only 120 guns. Other material, of course, would have been required previously for defense of depots, railheads, etc., dependent in a great measure upon the activities of German bombers. It is estimated that about 200 guns would have sufficed for this purpose.

To summarize, 50 of the so-called improvised 75-millimeter antiaircraft guns and mounts had been ordered and completed up to the time of the signing of the armistice; 51 of the 75-millimeter antiaircraft mounts, model of 1917, had been ordered and 46 completed; while 612 of the 3-inch antiaircraft trailer carriage mounts, model of 1917, had been ordered, of which 1 had been actually delivered at the signing of the armistice, the balance to come at the rate of 26 per month starting in December.

Artillery—Production of complete units, by months.
[Deliveries in the United States on U. S. Army orders only.]
To Jan., 1918. 1918 Total.
Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May. June. July. Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec.
75-mm. gun, model 1897 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
75-mm. gun, model 1916 0 0 0 9 4 6 21 2 60 42 51 11 45 251
75-mm. gun, model 1917 1 11 36 28 58 22 61 61 55 130 211 110 55 839
75-mm. antiaircraft gun 0 49 2 0 0 1 1 2 16 2 18 6 3 100
3-inch antiaircraft gun 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
4.7-inch gun 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 15 15 28 72 50 44 224
155-mm. howitzer 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 8 39 63 65 100 276
5-inch seacoast gun 0 0 1 27 [13] [13] [13] [13] [13] [13] [13] [13] [13] 28
6-inch seacoast gun 0 0 12 5 2 45 23 4 1 [13] [13] [13] [13] 92
155-mm. gun 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 5 10 16
8-inch howitzer 7 12 17 20 22 2 0 0 23 27 33 13 15 191
9.2-inch howitzer[14] 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 [14]0
240-mm. howitzer 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1
8-inch seacoast gun 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 14 4 1 22
10-inch seacoast gun 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
12-inch gun 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 3
12-inch seacoast mortar 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 10 2 13
Total 8 72 68 89 86 76 106 85 180 271 464 276 277 2,058

[13] Project complete.

[14] No deliveries made by Bethlehem Steel Co. on U.S. Army orders until after signing of the armistice because of priority given to British orders placed before the American declaration of war.

By "complete units" is meant gun body complete, carriage, and recoil mechanism or recuperator. Units are given as complete when their component parts were complete, although the actual assembly of these parts at a common point, testing, and final delivery usually required from two weeks' to two months' additional time.

The 5-inch, 6-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch seacoast guns and the 12-inch seacoast mortars were taken from the fortifications and modified for use with mobile carriages, all above 6 inches for railway mounts.

The 75-millimeter gun, model 1897, was the approved model for active service in France. Model 1916 and model 1917 were used for training purposes both in the United States and in France.

[Pg 90]

Production of mobile artillery (complete units), Apr. 1, 1917, to Nov. 11, 1918.
[Including all produced for France and Great Britain in United States.]
Produced. Shipped Overseas.
75-mm. guns (or British 18-pounder) 970 181
3-inch and 75-mm. antiaircraft guns 97 [15]26
4.5-inch howitzers 97 97
4.7-inch guns 157 64
155-mm. (5-inch and 6-inch seacoast guns) 121 [16]114
155-mm. howitzers 144 0
7-inch guns on caterpillar mounts [17]10 0
Railway artillery 20 11
Heavy howitzers [18]418 322
Total 2,034 815

[15] Does not include 51 improvised mounts for which guns were furnished by French.

[16] Includes sixteen 155-mm. guns and carriages shipped without recuperators.

[17] Built for the Marine Corps.

[18] Includes sixteen 8-inch howitzers built for the Marine Corps.



This rifle has a range of about 10 miles and throws a projectile weighing 165 pounds. Note the means of loading and the depression angle.

[Pg 91]


As soon as war was declared against Germany the Ordnance Department, in its search for an immediate equipment of strong artillery, surveyed the ordnance supplies of the country and discovered some 464 heavy guns which might be spared from the seacoast defenses, obtained from the Navy, or commandeered at private ordnance plants where they were being manufactured for foreign Governments. There were six guns of this last-named class—powerful 12-inch weapons which had been produced for the Chilean Government. It was seen that if all, or if a large part, of these guns could be made available for service in France, America would quickly provide for herself a heavy artillery equipment of respectable proportions.

The guns thus available for mounting on railway cars ranged in size from the 7-inch guns of the Navy to the single enormous 16-inch howitzer which had been built experimentally by the Ordnance Department prior to 1917. The list of these guns according to number, size, length, and source whence obtained was as follows:

Number of guns. Size. Length. Source whence obtained.
Inches. Calibers.
12 7 45 Navy.
96 8 35 Seacoast defenses.
129 10 34 Do.
49 12 35 Do.
6 12 50 In manufacture for Chile.
150 (mortars) 12 10 Seacoast defenses.
21 14 50 Navy.

In addition to these there was the 16-inch howitzer, 20 calibers in length, which had been built by the Ordnance Department before 1917.

The expression 14-inch gun, 50 calibers, means that the gun has a barrel diameter of 14 inches and that the gun body is fifty times the caliber of 14 inches, or 700 inches (58 feet 4 inches) long.

The Ordnance Department conceived that the only way to make these guns available for use abroad would be to mount them on railway cars. These guns were not vital in the defense of our coast under the conditions of the war with Germany, but it was[Pg 92] evident that they would make a valuable type of long-range artillery when placed on satisfactory railway mounts.

Mounting heavy artillery on railway cars, however, was not an idea born of the recent war. The idea was probably originally American. The Union forces at the siege of Richmond in 1863 mounted a 13-inch cast-iron mortar on a reinforced flat car, this being the first authenticated record of the use of heavy railway artillery.

In 1913 the commanding officer of the defenses of the Potomac, which comprise Forts Washington and Hunt, was called upon to report on the condition of these defenses. In reply, he advised that no further expenditure be made on any one of the fixed defenses, but recommended that a "strategic railroad" be built along the backbone of the peninsula from Point Lookout to Washington, with spurs leading to predetermined positions both on Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River, so placed as to command approaches to Washington and Baltimore.

Further, he recommended that 4 major-caliber guns, 16 medium-caliber guns, and 24 mine-defense guns be mounted on railroad platforms, with ammunition, range finding, and repair cars making up complete units, so that this armament could be quickly transported at any time to the place where most needed. He suggested that this scheme be made applicable to any portion of the coast line of the United States. His argument was based upon the fact that guns in fixed positions, of whatever caliber, violate the cardinal military principle of mobility.

The nations engaged in the war now ending developed to a high stage the use of heavy artillery mounted on railway cars, bringing about a combination of the necessary rigidity with great mobility, considering the weight of this material.

Railway artillery came to be as varied in its design as field artillery. Each type of railway mount had certain tactical uses and it was not considered desirable to use the different types interchangeably. The three types of cannon used on railway mounts were mortars, howitzers, and guns. It was not practicable to use the same type of railway mounts for the different kinds of cannon. Moreover, these mounts differed radically from the mounts for such weapons at the seacoast defenses.

The three general types of railway mounts adopted were those which gave the gun all-around fire (360-degree traverse), those which provided limited traverse for the gun, and those which allowed no lateral movement for the gun on the carriage but were used on curved track, or epis, to give the weapons traverse aim.

The smaller weapons, such as the 7-inch and the 8-inch guns and the 12-inch mortars, were placed on mounts affording 360-degree[Pg 93] traverse. The limited traverse mounts were used for the moderately long-range guns and howitzers. The fixed type of mount was used for long-range guns only, and included the sliding railway mounts, such as the American 12-inch and 14-inch sliding mounts and the French Schneider à glissement mounts.

The work of providing railway artillery—that is, taking the big, fixed-position guns already in existence within the United States and similar guns being produced and designing and manufacturing suitable mounts for them on railway cars—grew into such an important undertaking that it enlisted the exclusive attention of a large section within the Ordnance Department. This organization eventually found itself engaged in 10 major construction projects, which, in time, had the war continued, would have delivered more than 300 of these monster weapons to the field in France and, to a lesser extent, to the railway coast defenses of the United States.

As it was, so much of the construction—the machining of parts, and so on—was complete at the date of the armistice, that it was decided to go ahead with all of the projects except three, these involving the mounting of 16 guns of 14-inch size, 50 calibers long, the production of 25 long-range 8-inch guns, 50 calibers, and their mounting on railway cars, and the mounting of 18 coast-defense, 10-inch guns, 34 calibers long, on the French Batignolles type of railway mount.

Inasmuch as it will be necessary in this chapter to refer frequently to the barbette, Schneider, and Batignolles types of gun mounts for railway artillery, it should be made clear to the reader what these types are.

The barbette carriage revolves about a central pintle, or axis, and turns the gun around with it. When it was decided to put coast-defense guns on railway cars, the guns were taken from their emplacements, barbette carriages manufactured for them, and the whole mounted upon special cars. The barbette mount revolves on a support of rollers traveling upon a circular base ring. In the railway mount the base ring is attached to the dropped central portion of the railway car. The barbette railway mount is provided with struts and plates by which the car is braced against the ground.

The Schneider railway mount is named after the French ordnance concern Schneider et Cie, who designed it. In this mount the gun and its carriage are fastened rigidly parallel to the long axis of the railway car. Thus the gun itself, independently of any movement of the car, can be pointed only up and down in a vertical plane, having no traverse or swing from left to right, and vice versa. In order to give the weapon traverse for its aim, special railway curved tracks, called epis, are prepared at the position where it is to be fired. The car is then run along the curve until its traverse aim is[Pg 94] correct, and the vertical aim is achieved by the movement of the gun itself. In the Schneider mount there is no recoil mechanism, but the recoil is absorbed by the retrograde movement of the car itself along the rails after the gun is fired. This movement, of course, puts the gun out of aim, and the entire unit must then be pushed by hand power back to the proper point.

In the Batignolles type, gun and cradle are mounted on a so-called top carriage that permits of small changes in horizontal pointing right and left. Thus with the railway artillery of the Batignolles type also, track curves, or epis, are necessary for the accurate aiming. The Batignolles mount partially cushions the recoil by the movement of the gun itself in the cradle. But, in addition, a special track is provided at the firing point and the entire gun car is run on this track and bolted to it with spades driven into the ground to resist what recoil is not taken up in the cradle. The unit is thus stationary in action, and the gun can be more readily returned to aim than can a gun on a Schneider mount.


The conditions under which the war with Germany was fought virtually precluded any chance of a naval attack on our shores which would engage our fixed coast defenses. The British grand fleet, with the assistance of fleets of the other allies and America, had the German battle fleet securely bottled. On the other hand there was the prowling submarine able at all times to go to sea and even to cross the ocean, and some of the latest of these submarines were armed with long-range medium-caliber guns. It was not beyond possibility that some sort of an attack would be made on our shores by submarines of this character, yet it was safe to believe that these craft would keep well out of range of the guns at our stationary coast defenses.

To protect our coast from such attack the Ordnance Department conceived the plan of mounting heavy guns on railway cars. They might then be moved quickly to places on the seacoast needing defense. For this purpose the Navy turned 12 of its 7-inch rifles over to the Ordnance Department for mounting. Meanwhile our ordnance officers had designed certain standard railway artillery cars, known as models 1918, 1918 Mark I, and 1918 Mark II, for 7-inch and 8-inch guns and 12-inch mortars, respectively. These cars all had the same general features.

The model 1918 car was selected for the converted 7-inch Navy rifle. The rifle was mounted on a pedestal set on the gun car in such a manner as to give all-around fire, or 360-degree traverse. The pedestal mount permitted the gun to be depressed at an angle[Pg 95] suitable for firing from high places along the coast down upon the low-lying submarines.

Contracts for the various parts for these cars and the pedestal gun mounts were let to concerns engaged in heavy steel manufacture, but the assembling was done by the American Car & Foundry Co., of Berwick, Pa. Twelve of the 7-inch rifles were so mounted. As this equipment was intended exclusively for use in this country, the gun cars were equipped with the American type of car couplings.


For the 8-inch guns taken from seacoast fortifications the Ordnance Department designed a barbette mount giving complete, 360-degree, traverse, thus providing for fire in any direction. There were 96 such guns available for railway mounts. Orders for 47 gun cars with carriages for mounting the weapons were placed with three concerns—the Morgan Engineering Co., of Alliance, Ohio, the Harrisburg Manufacturing & Boiler Co., of Harrisburg, Pa., and the American Car & Foundry Co., of Berwick. Two of the three contractors found it necessary to provide additional facilities and machine-tool equipment at their plants in order to handle this job.

The first railway mount for the 8-inch gun was completed and sent to the Aberdeen Proving Ground for test in May, 1918. In early June the test had shown that the weapon was efficient and entirely satisfactory. Before the end of the year 1918 a total of 24 complete units, with ammunition cars for standard-gauge track, shell cars for narrow-gauge track, transportation cars, tools, spare parts, and all the other necessary appurtenances of a unit of this character, had been completed. Three complete 8-inch units were shipped overseas before the armistice was signed.

When the armistice came the Harrisburg company had delivered 9 of these mounts and the Morgan Engineering Co. an equal number, making 18 in all. The former concern had reached an output of 5 mounts per month and the latter 10 per month.

An interesting feature of this mount is that it can be used either on standard-gauge or on narrow-gauge railroad track. The narrow gauge adopted was that in standard use in the fighting zones in France, the distance between the rails being 60 centimeters, or the approximate equivalent of 24 inches. Each gun car was provided with interchangeable trucks to fit either gauge. The artillery train necessary for the maneuvering of the weapon was also similarly equipped to travel on either sort of track.

As a rule the longer the barrel of a cannon, the greater its range. The 8-inch seacoast guns thus mounted were 35 calibers in length, that is, thirty-five times 8 inches, or 23 feet 4 inches. The requirements of our forces in the field in France called for guns of this same size[Pg 96] but of longer range. Consequently an 8-inch gun of 50 calibers—that is, 10 feet longer than the seacoast 8-inch gun—was designed, and 25 of them were ordered. This project came as a later development in the war, the guns being intended for use abroad in 1920. The railway mounts for the weapons had not been placed in production when the armistice came. Because of the incomplete status of this project in the autumn of 1918, the whole undertaking was abandoned.


There were at the seacoast defenses and in the stores of the Army a large number of 10-inch guns of 34 calibers. Of these 129 were available for mounting on railway cars. It was proposed to mount these weapons on two types of French railway mounts—the Schneider and the Batignolles.

The project to mount 36 of these weapons on Schneider mounts was taken up as a joint operation of the United States and French Governments, the heavy forging and rough machining to be done in this country and the finishing and assembling in the French shops. The American contractors were three. The Harrisburg Manufacturing & Boiler Co. undertook to furnish the major portion of the fabricated materials for the carriages and cars. The Pullman Car Co. contracted to produce the necessary trucks for the gun cars, while the American Car & Foundry Co. engaged to build the ammunition cars.

Eight sets of fabricated parts to be assembled in France had been produced before the armistice was signed. Gen. Pershing had requested the delivery in France of the 36 sets of parts by March 2, 1919. After the armistice was signed there was a natural letdown in speed in nearly all ordnance factories, but even without the spur of military necessity the contracting concerns were able by April 7, 1919, to deliver 22 of the 36 sets ordered. Had the war continued through the winter there is little question but that all 36 sets of parts would have been in France on the date specified.

The 10-inch seacoast gun, Batignolles mount project, was placed exclusively in the hands of the Marion Steam Shovel Co., of Marion, Ohio. It had been proposed also to mount 12-inch seacoast guns on this same type of equipment, and this work, too, went to the Marion concern. There were to be produced 18 of the 10-inch units and 12 of the larger ones.


This view shows gun in act of hurling projectile parallel to track.


This gun, thus mounted on a railway car, is capable of an all-around fire and can deliver a shot in any direction from its location on the car.


The force of the recoil sends the entire car back on track about 5 feet.


It is capable of hurling a 700-pound shell 25 miles. This is a modified Schneider type of carriage.


[Pg 97]

The Marion Steam Shovel Co. had had a large experience in producing heavy construction and road-building equipment. The concern encountered numerous difficulties at the start in translating the French drawings and in substituting the American standard materials for those specified by the French. These difficulties, combined with struggles to obtain raw materials and the equipment for the increased facilities which had to be provided at the factory, so delayed production that no mount for either the 10-inch or 12-inch guns had been delivered at the time of the armistice. The first mount of these classes—one with a 12-inch gun—reached the Aberdeen proving ground about April 1, 1919. The 10-inch project, calling for 18 mounts, was canceled soon after November 11, 1918. The work on the dozen mounts for 12-inch guns, however, had progressed so far that the Ordnance Department ordered the completion of the entire equipment.

As has been stated, the Government found in this country six 12-inch guns being made for the Republic of Chile. Their length of 50 calibers gave them a specially long range. It was decided to place the Chilean guns on a sliding mount. In a mount of this type the retrograde movement of the car along the track as and after the gun is fired takes up and absorbs the energy of fire.

The first sliding railway mount used on the allied side in the great war was of French design. But our manufacturers had so much trouble with French designs that when the project came up of mounting the Chilean guns in this fashion it was decided that it would be quicker to design our own mount. Consequently the French design was taken in hand by our ordnance engineers and redesigned to conform to American practice, with the inclusion in the design of all original ideas developed by the Ordnance Department in its creative work during the war period up to that time. The manufacturers who looked at the French design of the sliding railway mount estimated that it would take from 12 to 18 months before the unit could be duplicated in this country and first deliveries made. They looked at the American design and estimated that they could build it in 3 months.

It was decided to build three mounts of this character and thus have a reserve of one gun for each mount to serve as replacement when the original guns were worn out. Contracts were placed in the early summer of 1918, and all three mounts were delivered before the armistice was signed, the first mount being completed within 85 days after the order was placed. For these mounts the American Bridge Co. furnished the main girders or side pieces, the Baldwin Locomotive Co. built the railway trucks, and the Morgan Engineering Co. manufactured the many other parts and assembled the complete units. The speed in manufacture was made possible by the fact that the plant engineers of the three companies helped the ordnance officers in designing the details. With such intimate cooperation, the concerns were able to begin the manufacture of component parts while the drawings were being made.

All three weapons with their entire equipment, including supplies, spare parts, ammunition cars, and the whole trains that make up[Pg 98] such units, were ready for shipment to France in November, 1918. Each mount as it stands to-day is 105 feet long and weighs 600,000 pounds. The load of the gun and the peak load put on the carriage when the gun is fired are so great that it requires four trucks of 8 wheels each, 32 car wheels in all, to distribute the load safely over ordinary standard-gauge track.


In years past the Ordnance Department had procured a large number of 12-inch mortars for use at seacoast defenses. These great weapons are 10 calibers in length, or 10 feet in linear measurement, the diameter of the barrel being just an even foot. Of the number stationed at the coastal forts and in reserve it was decided that 150 could be safely withdrawn and prepared for use against Germany. When Gen. Pershing was informed of the proposal, he asked that 40 of these weapons mounted on railway cars should be delivered to the American Expeditionary Forces for use in the planned campaign of 1919. In order that there might be an adequate supply of them, the Ordnance Department let contracts for the mounting of 91 of these mortars on railway equipment, a project which would give the United States a formidable armament and still provide a reserve of 59 mortars to replace the service mortars on the carriages after repeated firing had worn them out.

This job proved to be one of the largest in the whole artillery program. The entire contract was let to the Morgan Engineering Co., of Alliance, Ohio. In order to handle the contract, a special ordnance plant, costing $1,700,000 for the building alone, had to be constructed at the company's works at Alliance. The work was so highly specialized that machine tools designed for the particular purpose had to be produced. The Government itself bought these tools at a cost of $1,800,000. Although work on this plant was not started until December 10, 1917, and although thereafter followed weeks and weeks of the severest winter weather known in recent years, with all the delays in the deliveries of materials which such weather conditions bring about, the plant was entirely complete on June 1, 1918, not only, but the work of producing the mounts had started in it long before that, some machines getting to work as early as April.

The gun car used for mounting the mortar carriage was of the same design as that for the 7-inch and 8-inch guns, except that each truck had six wheels. The carriage built upon this car was of the barbette type, and it allowed the gun to be pointed upward to an angle as high as 65° and provided complete traverse, so that the mortar could be fired in any direction from the car. A hydropneumatic system for absorbing the recoil of the mortar after firing was adopted. This recuperator in itself was a difficult problem for the manufacturer to solve, being the first hydropneumatic recuperator of the size ever built in this country.


This huge weapon in this position is ready to fire half a ton of shot a distance of 25 miles. It requires only two men to operate the powerful elevating apparatus necessary to bring the gun into quick-firing position.


Lower view shows the mortar in its extreme position of recoil.

[Pg 99]

In spite of the weight and elaborate character of this unit it was put into production in an astonishingly short space of time. The pilot mount came through on August 22, 1918, less than nine months after the spade was first struck in the ground to begin the erection of the ordnance plant. By the end of August the pilot mortar had successfully passed its firing tests at Aberdeen, functioning properly at angles of elevation from 22 degrees to 65 degrees and in any direction from the mount. While this unit was put through hurriedly for these tests, the preparation for the rest of the deliveries was made on a grand scale, looking toward quantity production later on. When the armistice was signed, every casting, forging, and structural part for every one of the 91 railway mounts was on hand and completed at the works of the Morgan Engineering Co., and thereafter the process was merely one of assembling, although in a unit of such size the assembling job alone was one of great magnitude. Even at the reduced rate of production incident to the relaxation of tension after the armistice was signed, the company delivered 45 complete units to the Government up to April 7, 1919, or five more than Gen. Pershing said he would require during the whole campaign of 1919. Careful estimates show that if the war had continued the company would have delivered the mounts at the rate of 15 per month beginning on December 15, 1918, a rate which would have completed the entire project for 91 mounts by the middle of June, 1919.

As in the case of the 8-inch railway guns, the 12-inch mortars were provided with interchangeable wheel trucks allowing the unit to travel and work either on standard-gauge track or on the 60-centimeter, narrow-gauge track of the war zone in France.


The War Department did not have any 14-inch guns which could be spared from the seacoast defenses for use abroad. The Ordnance Department, therefore, inaugurated the project for the construction of 60 guns of 14-inch caliber. For the construction of such guns complete new plants were required, as all available facilities were already taken over for other projects considered more important. This contract was to have been turned out by the Neville Island ordnance plant. The Navy Department in May, 1918, expressed willingness to turn over to the Army certain 14-inch guns, 50 calibers, then under construction and of which it was estimated that 30 would be completed by March, 1919.

It was decided to place some of these 14-inch guns on American sliding railway mounts, and 16 such mounts were ordered from the Baldwin Locomotive Works, deliveries to begin February 1, 1919. The 16 units were to be delivered prior to April, 1919, but due to the[Pg 100] signing of the armistice work was suspended on the contracts, since the mounts were designed for use in France. The contract was canceled in March, 1919.

The Navy itself placed five of these guns on railway mounts of another design to be operated in France by naval forces on shore. Eleven such mounts were built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works under the supervision of the Navy Ordnance Bureau, and six of them were afterwards turned over to the Army.


Without discussing here the 12-inch howitzers, 20 feet long, which the Ordnance Department ordered produced and mounted on railway trucks, a development for use abroad in 1920, we come, finally, to the largest weapon of all in the railway artillery program, the 16-inch howitzer, the barrel of this mighty weapon being 26 feet 6 inches long. The American 16-inch howitzer had been forged out and finished prior to the date of America's entrance into the war. It was proposed to place this weapon on a railway mount and make it available for use on the western front.

The Ordnance Department completed the design for the mount on February 10, 1918. In order to turn out the unit in the shortest possible time, the project was placed with three manufacturers, each of whom was to produce different parts. The American Bridge Co. received the order to build the structural parts, the Baldwin Locomotive Works contracted for the trucks, while the Morgan Engineering Co. undertook to assemble the unit and also to build the top carriage and other mechanical parts. The contractors did a speedy job in producing the mount for this howitzer.

In nearly all railway artillery of this size it is necessary to provide bracing when the gun is set up in position for firing. The 16-inch howitzer mount was unique in that the weapon could be fired from the trucks without any track preparation whatsoever. An exhaustive test at the Aberdeen proving grounds demonstrated that this piece of artillery ranked with the highest types of ordnance in use by any country in the world.

In the meantime orders had been placed for 61 additional howitzers. The American Expeditionary Forces asked that 12 of these enormous weapons be sent overseas as soon as they could be produced, a job which would have extended over a period of months, if not years. Since none of the additional howitzers had been produced when the armistice was signed, the project of building mounts for them never got under way. The pilot howitzer and mount were not shipped abroad.


This type was evolved entirely by the Ordnance Department. It is an excellent weapon for coast defense and hurls a 1,200-pound projectile more than 18 miles.


A 1,600-pound projectile being loaded into the 16-inch howitzer from which it will be sent on a journey of approximately 13 miles.


This view shows howitzer in the act of firing.

[Pg 101]

In the design of railway equipment for high-angle weapons such as howitzers, two loads must be considered by the builders in order to provide a gun car of sufficient strength to hold its freight. One of these loads, the lighter one, consists merely of the ordinary weight of the gun and its carriage upon the car wheels. The other load, the so-called firing load, consists of the weight of the unit plus the additional weight of the down-thrust of the howitzer when it recoils. In the case of the 16-inch howitzer the firing load is 748,231 pounds. The weight of 748,231 pounds must be distributed along the tracks by the numerous sets of wheels at the instant the gun is fired.

The mount for the howitzer is so constructed that this load is partly taken up by the slide of the gun car along the track. In addition, the howitzer is equipped with a hydraulic recoil cylinder. Thus the unit has a double recoil system. The car trucks in the tests comfortably transmitted, through a series of equalizer springs, this enormous load upon an ordinary rock-ballast track, without any distortion to the track or roadbed or impairment to the working parts of the unit. After each discharge the whole huge mount moves backward along the track for a distance of 20 or 30 feet.

Each railway artillery project called for the manufacture of a great equipment of ammunition cars, fire-control cars, spare-parts cars, supply cars, and the like, a complete unit being a heavy train in itself. Such armament-train cars, together with numerous other accessories and necessary equipment, were designed by the Ordnance Department and produced for each mount. In all, 530 ammunition cars were produced up to April, 1919. Most of them were shipped abroad, but 118 were retained for use in this country. Since the overseas cars were to be used with French railway equipment, it was necessary to fit them out with French standard screw couplers, air brakes, and other appliances for connecting up with French railway cars.

The matter of traction power for these gun and armament trains near the front set a problem for the Ordnance Department to solve. It was out of the question to use steam engines near the enemy's lines, since the steam and smoke would betray the location of artillery trains at great distances. The Ordnance Department adopted a gas-electric locomotive of 400 horsepower to be used to pull railway artillery trains at the front, and was on the point of letting a contract to the General Electric Co. for the manufacture of 50 of them when the armistice was signed.


It seems fitting at this point to say something about the Neville Island ordnance plant, on an island in the Ohio River near Pittsburgh, which would have produced weapons of the character of those used with railway mounts and would have turned them out in large numbers had the armistice not come to put an end to this enormous project. The plant was being erected for the Government by the United States Steel Corporation without profit to itself. The[Pg 102] estimated cost of this plant when finished was $150,000,000. Designed to supply the needs of the Army for artillery of the heaviest types, the Neville Island plant was being constructed on such a scale that it would surpass in size and capacity any of the famous gun works of Europe, including the Krupps.

It was being equipped to handle huge ordnance undertakings, such as the monthly completion of 15 great 14-inch guns and the production of 40,000 projectiles monthly for 14-inch and 16-inch guns. The plans of the Government contemplated the production of 14-inch guns to the number of 165 in all and their shipment to France in time to be in the field before May 1, 1920. An initial order for 90 of these weapons had been placed at the arsenal while it was being erected.

Besides 14-inch guns the plant was being equipped to turn out 16-inch and even 18-inch weapons. The immense size of the machinery necessary for such production can be understood when it is noted that an 18-inch gun weighs 510,000 pounds and a 14-inch gun 180,000 pounds. It requires from 12 to 18 months to produce guns of this size, yet Neville Island was being developed on a scale to build hundreds of them simultaneously. The entire plant was to cover 573 acres and was to employ 20,000 workmen when in full operation.

At the signing of the armistice work was suspended at Neville Island, and four months later the whole project was abandoned.

Type. Total Ordered. Number produced Nov. 11, 1918. Number produced to Apr. 7, 1919. Number required by A. E. F. for campaign during 1919. Guns available. Remarks.
7-inch Navy gun, railway mount 12 12 12 0 12 Produced for antisubmarine work along America's seacoast.
8-inch, 35-caliber seacoast gun, railway mount 47 18 33 36 96
10-inch, 34-caliber seacoast gun on French type railway mount. 36 [19]8 [19]22 36 111 Fabricated material and trucks, complete, produced within country, mount to be assembled in France.
Do. 18 0 0 18 Project cancelled on signing of the armistice, Batignolles.
12-inch, 35-caliber seacoast gun on French type railway mount. 12 0 1 12 49 French Batignolles type.
12-inch, 50-caliber gun on American sliding railway mount. 3 3 3 4 6 Guns obtained from Chilean Government manufactured in this country.
14-inch, 50-caliber naval gun on railway mount. 11 11 11 11 21
12-inch, 10-caliber seacoast mortar on railway mount. 91 1 45 49 150
16-inch howitzer, 20-caliber on railway mount. 1 1 1 0 1 61 guns under construction.
14-inch, 50-caliber guns on American sliding railway mount. 16 0 Protect cancelled Mar. 11, 1919. Guns under construction.
12-inch, 20-caliber howitzer on railway mount. 1 0 If war had continued, 60 mounts contemplated.

[19] Sets, fabricated parts.

[Pg 103]


The Interallied Ordnance Agreement of the late fall of 1917, supplying to the United States as it did French and British artillery and other heavy ordnance supplies until the developing American ordnance industry could come into production, nevertheless called upon the United States to produce heavily the explosives and propellants that are of such major importance to a modern army. These commodities were needed by the armies of France and Great Britain more than any other sort of ordnance which America could supply.

The result was an enormous production of propellants and explosives in the United States during the period of American belligerency, no other prime phase of the ordnance program being carried to such a stage of development. The reader will clearly see the distinction between propellants and explosives. The propellant is the smokeless powder that sends the shell or bullet from the gun; the explosive is the bursting charge within the shell.

To realize the expansion of the American explosives industry during the war period, consider such figures as these: America in 19 months turned out 632,504,000 pounds of propellants—the powder loaded into small-arms cartridges or packed into the big guns behind the projectiles to send them against the enemy. In those same 19 months France produced 342,155,000 pounds of propellants and Great Britain 291,706,000 pounds. The American production was practically equal to that of England and France together.

In those 19 months we produced 375,656,000 pounds of high explosives for loading into shell. In the same 19 months England produced 765,110,000 pounds of high explosives and France 702,964,000 pounds. America was below both France and England in total output, but in monthly rate of output America had reached 47,888,000 pounds as against France's 22,802,000 pounds and England's 30,957,000 pounds. Our rate of manufacturing propellants at the end of the fighting was up to 42,775,000 pounds as against France's 17,311,000 and England's 12,055,000.

Figure 9 shows graphically the achievements of America in manufacturing propellants and explosives.

[Pg 104]

In the production of artillery ammunition a comparison with France and Great Britain shows that our monthly rate in turning out unfilled rounds of ammunition at the end of the war was 7,044,000 rounds, as against 7,748,000 rounds for Great Britain and 6,661,000 rounds for France. In producing complete rounds of artillery ammunition, our monthly rate at the signing of the armistice was 2,429,000 rounds while that of Great Britain was 7,347,000 rounds and that of France 7,638,000 rounds.

Figure 9.
Production of Smokeless Powder and High Explosives, France and United States Compared with Great Britain.
Smokeless powder: Pounds. Per cent of rate for Great Britain.
Great Britain 12,055,000 ██████████ 100
France 17,311,000 ██████████████ 144
United States 42,775,000 ████████████████████████████████████ 355
High explosives:
Great Britain 30,967,000 ██████████ 100
France 22,802,000 ███████ 74
United States 43,888,000 ██████████████ 142
Smokeless powder: Pounds. Per cent of rate for Great Britain.
Great Britain 291,706,000 █████████████████ 100
France 342,155,000 ███████████████████ 117
United States 632,504,000 ████████████████████████████████████ 217
High explosives:
Great Britain 765,110,000 █████████████████ 100
France 702,964,000 ███████████████ 92
United States 375,656,000 ████████ 49

In the 19 months of our participation in the war our production of unfilled rounds in ammunition was 38,623,000 rounds, while that of France was 156,170,000 rounds and that of Great Britain 138,357,000 rounds. In that time we had produced 17,260,000 complete rounds, while France had produced 149,827,000 rounds, and Great Britain 121,739,000 complete rounds.

The entrance of the United States into the war found the existing American explosives manufacturers operating to the very limit of their capacity in production for the allied governments and for general commercial purposes.

[Pg 105]

Since the outbreak of the war in 1914 the explosives business in this country had increased enormously and the trained men familiar with manufacturing operations and conditions in this highly specialized and extremely dangerous industry had fallen short of meeting demands.

When we entered the war, therefore, it became necessary at once to distribute this limited force of experts as equitably as possible and to put chemists, engineers and other specialists in the various plants under the supervision of this trained personnel so as to produce in as quick a time as possible a vastly enlarged force of competent operators and supervisors for the production of explosives.

Summed up, the problem that faced the Ordnance Department was, while maintaining the current great production of explosives, to expand enormously the facilities for further production, to provide personnel for operating these expanded facilities, to build up entirely new manufacturing plants for making both propellants and high explosives, and in addition to all of this, to bring into existence huge loading plants.

In all, 53 new plants for making explosives and propellants and for loading these were undertaken at a cost of approximately $360,000,000. When the armistice was signed a very large part of this construction work had been completed and was in an efficient state of operation.

How creditably this reflects upon America can be understood when it is made plain that in addition to the development of production there was also to be worked out the very intricate question of design, not only of the plants themselves but also of their products, which required an exceptional degree of technical skill and thorough control.

Prior to our entry into the war the Ordnance Department had depended upon ammonium picrate, known in the Army vernacular as explosive "D," as a bursting charge for our high-explosive shell.

During the progress of the European conflict the British had developed an explosive they called amatol, which is a mixture of trinitrotoluol—T. N. T.—and ammonium nitrate. As this had proved to be entirely satisfactory in actual service on European battle fields, and as ammonium nitrate could be produced here in large quantities, we adopted it.

The Ordnance Department eventually put into effect a standard policy for the use of high explosives. Every effort was being made to conserve the supply of T. N. T., and consequently this explosive was specified for the shell of smaller calibers only. The standard filling scheme was as follows: T. N. T. for shell between and including the calibers of 75-millimeter and 4.7-inch; amatol for shell of calibers between 4.7-inch and 9.2-inch, including the latter; ammonium picrate, or explosive D, for shell of 10-inch caliber and higher. While[Pg 106] these were the standards the scheme was not always followed rigidly. As a matter of fact amatol was loaded into shell of all sizes and so was T. N. T., although explosive D was never used in shell smaller than those for the 10-inch guns. These departures from standard practice were due to the necessity for keeping certain plants in production and to other special causes and exceptional circumstances.

Production of large quantities of T. N. T. and ammonium nitrate was the first big problem to be solved by the high-explosives section of the Ordnance Department. All the work of the explosives section can be subdivided under four group heads—raw materials, propellants, high explosives, and loading.


The first steps taken in the endeavor to meet the need for raw materials were to increase greatly the available means for obtaining toluol, phenol, caustic soda, sodium nitrate, sulphuric and nitric acids, ammonia liquor or aqua ammonia, and to attempt to provide a substitute for cellulose in case a shortage of cotton should render its use necessary.

How to increase the supply of toluol, the basic raw material from which T. N. T. is made, was the greatest and most pressing of all the problems in regard to the existing raw materials. Before the war the sole source of this ingredient was from by-product coke ovens. The monthly capacity of these ovens in 1914 was, approximately, 700,000 pounds. By April, 1917, when we stepped into the conflict, this capacity had been increased to 6,000,000 pounds a month.

By the time the armistice was signed our efforts for greater production had been carried on so successfully that the supply had been increased to 12,000,000 pounds a month, and the average cost of this was only 21 cents a pound. This tremendous increase of production not only took care of all demands for commercial purposes and permitted the shipment of about 11,000,000 pounds to the allied Governments, but was more than ample to take care of our own entire explosives program, leaving a stock on hand December 1, 1918, of 17,000,000 pounds.

A few details of how this tremendous increase in production was brought about through the energies of the officials charged with this task and the most efficient and whole-hearted cooperation of patriotic business concerns are interesting.

Three general sources existed from which toluol was obtained: first, from the by-product recovery coke ovens; second, by the stripping or absorbing of toluol from carbureted water and coal gas; and third, by the cracking or breaking down of oils.

[Pg 107]

In augmenting the supply of toluol through the first process, construction of additional by-product coke ovens by the following big steel companies was arranged:

Company. Toluol capacity per year.
Jones & Laughlin Steel Co., Pittsburgh, Pa. 5,770,160
The Sloss-Sheffield Co., Birmingham, Ala. 2,019,556
United States Steel Corporation, Clairton, Pa. 2,308,064
International Harvester Co., Chicago, Ill. 1,585,794
United States Steel Corporation, Birmingham, Ala. 2,019,556
Rainey-Wood Co., Swedeland, Pa. 2,163,810
The Seaboard By-Product Co., Jersey City, N. J. 1,081 905
Pittsburgh Crucible Steel Co., Midland, Pa. 2,019,556

The total cost of these additional ovens was about $30,000,000, which was met by private capital after contracts for the purchase of the product had been made, insuring a secure return on the investment. Production was to begin in 1919.

In addition to this there was arranged construction for 320 additional ovens at the following places:

Company. Date of contract. Estimated cost. Estimated time of completion.
Donner Steel Co., Buffalo, N. Y. May, 1918 $6,000,000 Mar., 1920
Birmingham Coke Co., Birmingham, Ala. July, 1918 2,500,000 Oct., 1919
Domestic Coke Corporation, Fairmont, W. Va. Sept., 1918 2,700,000 Nov., 1919
Domestic Coke Corporation, Cleveland, Ohio July, 1918 1,500,000 Feb., 1920
International Coal Products Corporation, Clinchfield, Va. May, 1918 2,000,000 Aug., 1919

From these sources the monthly production of toluol in 1920 would have been increased by 600,000 pounds a month.

While all these arrangements for vastly increasing the supply of this chemical in 1919 and 1920 were being made, technical experts of the Ordnance Department stimulated production by visiting existing by-product coke ovens and advising as to changes and alterations in the plants, both in regard to equipment and methods of operation.

Investigations were made early in the summer of 1917 on the possibility of recovering toluol by stripping illuminating gas, and a report was made on this subject in October, 1917. Construction of the necessary plants to carry out this plan was begun late in November, and the first plants were in operation in April, 1918. This was considered a remarkable record, in view of the fact that the operating personnel for the purpose had to be established and trained in this entirely new line of activity.

In this connection it is extremely interesting to note that the American people in 13 of the largest cities of the country played an unconscious part in contributing to the successful termination of[Pg 108] the war by using artificial gas of considerably less heating power, as a result of the removal of the toluol for explosive purposes. For example, in New York City, due to the extraction of toluol, the artificial gas there was reduced in heating value approximately 6 per cent and the candlepower lowered from 22 to 16 because of this stripping process.

Contracts for taking the toluol from artificial gas were made with companies in the following cities: New York and Brooklyn, N. Y.; Boston, Mass.; New Haven, Conn.; Albany, N. Y.; Utica, N. Y.; Elizabeth, N. J.; Washington, D. C.; Detroit, Mich.; St. Louis, Mo.; New Orleans, La.; Denver, Colo.; and Seattle, Wash.

The total cost of the installations made for this purpose in these cities in connection with the gas plants was about $7,500,000.

For the production of toluol by cracking crude oils or petroleum distillates, three processes of the many submitted were officially approved and contracts awarded for operation.

The first and most important of these was that of the General Petroleum Co. of Los Angeles, Calif. Under their scheme a yield of 6 per cent toluol was obtained from a petroleum distillate, of which there was a large quantity available, by treatment under temperature and pressure. To facilitate production of toluol by this means, two large plants, one at Los Angeles and the other at San Francisco, were erected at a cost of approximately $5,000,000. These plants have a monthly capacity of 3,000,000 pounds of toluol and their construction destroyed all possibility of a shortage in this vital raw material.

Another process was that known as the Rittman process, evolved by a scientist of the Bureau of Mines. This scheme, which called for producing toluol from solvent naphtha or light oils by cracking under high pressure and temperature, was finally demonstrated to be capable of operation under war conditions, and production had just started at a plant on Neville Island, Pittsburgh, Pa., at the time of the signing of the armistice.

A third process was that known as the Hall process, by which toluol was also obtained by cracking solvent naphtha under high pressure and temperature by another, different, mechanical system. This scheme was in operation on a small scale during 1918 at the Standard Oil Plant, Bayonne, N. J.

Phenol, one of the essentials in the manufacture of picric acid, was another raw material, the production of which was greatly augmented. At the time of our entry into the war the monthly production amounted to 670,000 pounds, while in October, 1918, it had been increased to 13,000,000 pounds. In December, 1917, the price of phenol as fixed by the War Industries Board was 46 cents a pound, while Government contracts in force a year later had reduced this figure to 31 cents a pound.

[Pg 109]

The price of sulphuric acid jumped from $14 a ton to $60 a ton early in the war, while nitric acid advanced from 5¼ cents a pound to 10 cents. The shortage of sulphuric acid was met by the erection of both chamber and contact plants in all high-explosives factories built for or under direction of the Ordnance Department.

Both pyrites and sulphur were used at the beginning of the war, but the submarine warfare stopped the importation of the pyrites from Spain, and therefore sulphur deposits in Texas and Louisiana were depended upon. A destructive storm in the early part of 1918 temporarily curtailed the production from Louisiana deposits, but repairs were made in time to prevent its effect being felt by the acid manufacturers.

The submarine also had the effect of lessening the importations from Chile of sodium nitrate, which prior to the war were depended upon entirely in the production of nitric acid. It became necessary, therefore, to develop other methods of production. After investigations a plant for the fixation of nitrogen under what is known as a modified Haber process was erected at Sheffield, Ala., while a plant for the same purpose using the cyanamide process was erected at Muscle Shoals, Ala.

Both of these were equipped for the oxidation of ammonia to nitric acid, each using a different process. When the armistice was signed these plants were just coming into production. The existence of these two nitrate plants insures the independence of this country in its supply of commercial nitrogen, either for peace or for war.

There were also in course of erection, though not in operation on November 11, 1918, great plants for the extraction of nitrogen from the air, at Toledo and Cincinnati, Ohio, but construction on these two plants, each of which was to cost $25,000,000, was stopped when the armistice was signed.


In army usage the term "propellant" includes both smokeless powder and black powder.

At the outbreak of the European war, the producing capacity in this country for smokeless powder was approximately 1,500,000 pounds a month. By the time the United States got into the war this capacity had been increased from 25 to 30 times, and under the explosives program laid down by us it was indicated that even this capacity would have to be greatly increased.

The increase in the production of smokeless powder was helped by the construction of two of the largest smokeless-powder plants in the world—one known as the Old Hickory Plant, located almost on the site of Andrew Jackson's old home at Nashville, Tenn., and the other at Nitro, near Charleston, W. Va.

[Pg 110]

The Old Hickory Plant was the larger and more complete of the two. It is probably the biggest plant of its kind in the world and is entirely self-contained; in other words, the plant actually takes the crude, raw cotton and, producing both the acid and solvents used, puts it through every process until the final product is attained.

Nine powder lines were planned for this enterprise, each with a capacity of 100,000 pounds per day, although developments from the early operations indicated that the ultimate production of the plant would reach 1,000,000 pounds a day.

The estimated cost of this huge undertaking was in the neighborhood of $90,000,000. Negotiations were begun in October of 1917 and led to a contract with the du Pont Engineering Co., under which this concern was to construct the plant and operate it for a six months' period after its completion.

Operation of the first powder line in the plant was to start September 15, 1918, or seven and one-half months after the signing of the contract. Ground was broken March 8, 1918, and work was pushed so efficiently and successfully that on July 1, 1918, the first powder line was put in operation, 75 days ahead of the schedule called for in the contract.

Some idea of the magnitude of this enterprise can be realized in the statements that the plant covers an area of 5,000 acres and that in addition to the powder plant proper there was built a city, housing twenty odd thousand people, complete with schools, churches, and all other elements that go to make up a town. There was also built in connection with the plant a number of subprocess plants for the manufacture of purified cotton, sulphuric acid, nitric acid, diphenylamine, and other chemicals used in powder manufacture. Each of these was an undertaking of no little size in itself.

Operation of the plant during the four and one-half months preceding the signing of the armistice showed a production in excess of contract requirements. On November 11, 1918, the plant was over 90 per cent complete and about 50 per cent in operation. At that time 6,000,000 pounds of powder over and above contract expectations had been produced, the total capacity having reached 423,000 pounds a day.

The second powder plant, located at Nitro, is somewhat smaller than the Old Hickory Plant. It has a capacity of 625,000 pounds of smokeless powder a day. It was built under the direction of D. C. Jackling, director of United States Government explosive plants, by the Thompson-Starrett Co., of New York. The contract was dated January 18, 1918, and ground was broken February 1. A contract for the operation of the plant was signed with the Hercules Powder Co., and at the time of the armistice the output was running approximately 109,000 pounds a day, with the expectation of early and speedy increase. As in the case of the Old Hickory Plant, a large village and many subprocess plants were constructed in connection with this enterprise.


[Pg 111]

When the war began smokeless powder was dried by the circulation of warm dried air for a long period of time over the damp powder as it came from the solvent recovery house. This process required from six weeks for small-caliber powder to nine months for large-caliber powder. This time-consuming method being obviously impracticable in war, the Ordnance Department authorized the so-called water-drying process. This consists in the immersion of the powder as it comes from the solvent recovery house in warm water for varying periods up to 72 hours, the water then being expelled by filtration or centrifugal force and the surplus external moisture dried off by hot air. By this method the time of drying was reduced to 4 days for the small-caliber powder and to 22 days for powder for the larger caliber guns.

Just prior to the signing of the armistice an entirely new drying process had been experimentally tried out. This was known as the Nash or alcohol-drying process. The preliminary tests indicated that this method was a great improvement both in safety and in the reduction of cost. The indications were that drying could be reduced from days to hours by this new method. The Nash process also insured apparently a more uniform and tougher grade of powder, both of which characteristics were greatly to be desired.

In spite of the rise in price of labor and of almost everything else, the cost of powder was being reduced. At the beginning of the war cost figures were 80 cents a pound for small-arms and 53 cents a pound for cannon powder. When the armistice was signed these costs had been reduced to 62 cents for small-arms powder and 41¼ cents for cannon powder.

At the time of the signing of the armistice there was on hand approximately 200,000,000 pounds of smokeless powder.

It early became evident that the supply of cellulose, even though all available sources of supply were utilized to the utmost, would nevertheless be insufficient to meet our vast production program. For years it had been rumored that the Germans in the manufacture of their smokeless powder had been using, with great success, cellulose produced from wood pulp. Following out this idea, experimental work was undertaken in an effort to develop cellulose that could be produced from wood pulp in suitable physical form for nitration and which would meet the chemical requirements.

In the southern and southwestern portions of the United States there are large tracts of land from which timber has been removed and there[Pg 112] are also vast acreages of swamp lands. Processes developed by the Ordnance Department had in view the idea of taking as much of these lands as possible for farming and reforesting and utilizing the tree stumps thereon. These stumps contained quantities of turpentine and resin that could be recovered and the resultant pulp after proper treatment could be prepared in suitable form as cellulose for nitration purposes.

The question of black powder, while an important one, did not present many difficulties excepting one, the necessary supply of potassium nitrate. This was because Germany was the principal source of the potash. It was thought that sodium nitrate might possibly have to be used as a substitute. Experimental work along these lines indicated that by using certain precautions, this substitution, if necessary, could be made, although it was never adopted.

Black powder of all grades for military purposes was being produced at the rate of 840,000 pounds a month, at a cost of 25 cents a pound, at the time the armistice was signed. At that time there was on hand 6,850,000 pounds of black powder.

If the war had continued the United States could have produced during the year 1919 more than 1,000,000,000 pounds of smokeless powder. Two-thirds of this would have been available for our overseas forces and the balance would have gone to the allied governments. This rate of production would have amounted to about seven times the quantity of explosives normally manufactured in peace times.


In addition to solving the problem of producing a sufficient quantity of propellant powder there was also the problem, just as important, of assembling this powder into fixed ammunition, or loading it into bags. The Frankford Arsenal and commercial cartridge factories, after expansion, were enabled to take care of the expanded small-arms program. But it became necessary for the Government to erect and operate several great bag-loading plants. These were located at Woodbury, N.J., Tullytown, Pa., and Seven Pines, Va.

The ordinary cartridge fired from the rifle is familiar to most people. The projectile is fitted into the metal case in which the explosive force is contained. Projectiles for big guns are made along similar lines, until the 4.7-inch gun is reached. Up to and including guns of this caliber the projectile is fired with what is known as fixed ammunition—that is to say, the shell itself is fixed into a metal container which holds the powder.

Guns above the caliber of 4.7 inches, however, are fired with unfixed ammunition—that is, the powder is loaded in silk bags,[Pg 113] the projectile placed in the gun, and a number of bags, depending upon the size of the charge necessary, put into the breach of the gun behind the projectile. The powder is then ignited and the big shell ejected by the gases generated.

From the mills the powder is shipped to the bag-loading plants in bulk. The silken bags are manufactured in huge quantities by industrial plants and forwarded to the bag-loading plants, where are also daily received large quantities of metal and fiber containers, into which are loaded bags packed for overseas shipment not to be unpacked again until they have reached the battle field.

Filling the bags is a precise and delicate operation. Chances can not be taken or averages struck. Errors may mean the possible loss of battles. A battery commander who has figured his range and who is about to drop a number of high-explosive shell on an enemy battery must know exactly how much powder he has behind his charge. If more powder is in the bag than he calculates on, he will overshoot his mark; if less, the shell instead of dropping upon an enemy battery may explode in midst of his own advancing troops.

The three bag-loading plants the Government constructed at Woodbury, Tullytown, and Seven Pines were built to load bags that were to be used in firing guns from 155-millimeter caliber up to a caliber of 10 inches. The estimated average capacity of each plant was 20,000 bags a day, but as a matter of fact a maximum capacity of 40,000 bags a day at each plant had been reached before the signing of the armistice. Two shifts a day were used at these plants most of the time. In each shift there were approximately 3,500 operatives, most of them women.

At each of these plants, which are located in comparatively isolated points, because of the dangerous work, special housing facilities had to be constructed. For example, at Tullytown there were 70 bungalows, 13 residences for officers and executive heads, and six 98-room dormitories, while at Woodbury 19 great dormitories were built to house workers.

The number of buildings at Tullytown is 215. They range from guardhouses to electrical generating stations for power and light. Besides this construction there are between 22 and 30 miles of railroad track laid at each of these points. The extremely dangerous nature of the work makes it necessary to store not more than 400,000 pounds of explosives in a single building, and where powder is stored the buildings are at least 350 feet apart.

Up to the time of the signing of the armistice there were loaded into small-arms ammunition 19,741,500 pounds of powder; there were[Pg 114] assembled into fixed ammunition approximately 33,000,000 pounds of smokeless powder; and there were assembled into bags, properly packed for shipment, approximately 32,300,000 pounds of smokeless powder.


When Europe was plunged into the great war in August, 1914, the American production of trinitrotoluol for commercial purposes amounted to approximately 600,000 pounds a month of varying grades of purity. This quantity was almost entirely consumed in the making of explosives for blasting purposes. When we entered the war this production had been increased to 1,000,000 pounds a month, exclusive of that which was being used here commercially. Under pressure of our own war-time needs the production of this highly important explosive chemical had been run up to 16,000,000 pounds a month at the termination of hostilities in November, 1918.

During the early stages of the war the average price of T. N. T. for military purposes was $1 a pound. Largely, however, because of the tremendous quantity production and enormous economies effected by reason of this, and despite the scarcity of raw materials, and notwithstanding the greatly increased labor cost, this price had been reduced at the time of the signing of the armistice to 26½ cents a pound. There were in the course of erection at the time of the armistice, two great Government T. N. T. plants—one at Racine, Wis., that was to have a capacity of 4,000,000 pounds a month, and one at Giant, Cal., with a capacity of 2,000,000 pounds a month.

During the war three grades of T. N. T. were produced. Grade I was used for booster charges—that is, those charges which initiated the explosive wave in the main shell charge. Grade II was used as a shell filler; while Grade III was utilized with ammonium nitrate in producing amatol.

In view of the fact that high explosives were produced in such enormous quantities and that it was necessary to carry on these tremendous manufacturing operations with an inexperienced force, the toll of life taken in the production was remarkably small. Only two explosions of any magnitude occurred in plants where explosives were manufactured and both of these took place in T. N. T. producing plants. One of these happened at Oakdale, Pa., in the plant of the Aetna Explosives Co. in May, 1918. This cost the lives of 100 persons. The other took place on July 2, 1918, at Split Rock, N.Y., in the plant of Semet-Solvay Co., where 60 people lost their lives. At the time of the explosions neither of these plants was operating on War Department contracts.

[Pg 115]

Before the great war about 58,000,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate used in the manufacture of commercial explosives were being produced annually in this country, at an average cost of about 12 cents a pound. By January, 1917, the commercial explosives manufacturers had extended their facilities so that they had increased their production by 1,700,000 pounds monthly. This expansion, however, was insufficient to meet our demands, and a Government ammonium nitrate plant was erected at Perryville, Md. This plant was operated under the supervision of the Atlas Powder Co., who also cooperated in its erection.

It did this manufacturing under the Brunner-Mond process that was developed in England under the patents of Capt. Freeth. Under this process ammonium nitrate is produced by the double decomposition of ammonium sulphate and sodium nitrate.

In December, 1917, the Atlas people detailed several technical men to go to England and study the Brunner-Mond process as carried on there. In 1918 these men returned to the United States and prepared designs as a result of the information they had gained abroad.

Ground was broken for the plant at Perryville March 8, 1918, and it was in production by July 15. This plant is a large one, of excellent construction, and absolutely fireproof, as is necessary because of the nature of the work conducted in it. Because of the type of the building the rapidity of its construction may well be classed as phenomenal. Even while the plant was being put up, experimental work of a highly technical nature was being carried on.

At the time of the signing of the armistice production of ammonium nitrate at the Perryville plant had reached 452,000 pounds a day, and this was greatly in excess of that being obtained at the English plant of a similar size that had been in operation for months before ground had been broken for our American plant.

Each of the Government-owned nitrogen fixation plants at Muscle Shoals, Ala., and Sheffield, Ala., was also equipped to produce ammonium nitrate by neutralization. Our total capacity from all sources at the time of the signing of the armistice was 20,000,000 pounds monthly. Ammonium nitrate is the one material in the field of explosives that shows an increase in price over that of normal times. The average cost of this substance used for military purposes was 17½ cents a pound. There were on hand 60,500,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate on November 11, 1918.

Picric acid as such is not used by this country directly for military purposes. But it is one of the raw materials used in producing ammonium picrate, or explosive D, and in the manufacture of the poisonous gas known as chlorpicrin.

[Pg 116]

Picric acid is, however, the main explosive used by the French, who had placed enormous contracts for this material with explosives manufacturers prior to the entry of the United States in the war. Because of our purchase of early large supplies of ammunition and guns from the French Government, to be largely paid for by picric acid, large contracts were entered into by our Government for this explosive, which was produced here in accordance with French specifications and subject to joint inspection by our officers and the French.

In November, 1917, we were turning out 600,000 pounds of picric acid monthly, and a year later this had been increased to a monthly production of 11,300,000 pounds; the average cost was 56 cents a pound.

To insure production quickly for the needs of the times, three Government picric-acid plants were authorized. One of these was located at Picron, near Little Rock, Ark., to be operated by the Davis Chemical Corporation; another was located at New Brunswick, Ga., to be operated by the Butterworth-Judson Corporation; and the third was located at Grand Rapids, Mich., for operation by the Semet-Solvay Co. All of these contracts were made on a cost-plus basis. Each of these plants was to have a capacity of 14,500,000 pounds of picric acid a month. The plant at Picron in Arkansas was the only one that had started production before the signing of the armistice.

Ammonium picrate, otherwise known as explosive D in our Army annals, is produced by the ammoniation of picric acid, and because it is more insensitive than picric acid and is less liable to form sensitive salts with metals it is used as the explosive charge for all armor-piercing projectiles.

Our average monthly production of ammonium picrate in May, 1917, was 53,000 pounds, and this had been increased without the erection of any Government plants to a monthly capacity in November, 1918, of 950,000 pounds. There was on hand at the time of the signing of the armistice 6,500,000 pounds of this explosive, the average cost of which was 64 cents a pound.

Tetryl, on account of its high cost and the lack of manufacturing facilities for its production, was not used except as a loading charge for boosters. It is more sensitive than T. N. T. and has a higher rate of detonation.

Only two companies, the du Pont Powder Co. and the Bethlehem Loading Co., manufactured tetryl. Expansion of these two plants increased the monthly capacity of 8,700 pounds in December, 1917, to 160,000 pounds in November, 1918, while its cost was reduced from $1.30 a pound to 90 cents a pound.

[Pg 117]

This increased capacity, however, was not in excess of our explosives requirements, and there was authorized by the Government the erection of a plant at Senter, Mich., that was to be operated by the Atlas Co., and which was to have a monthly capacity of 250,000 pounds. This plant had not reached production when the armistice was signed.

The Aetna Powder Co. at the time we entered the war was manufacturing for the Russian Government tetranitroaniline that was to be used in the loading of boosters and fuses. This company's plant at Nobleston, Pa., was destroyed by an explosion. Ordnance officers learned that this material was equal to tetryl as a military explosive. Consequently a contract was entered into with Dr. Bernhardt Jacques Flurschein, the holder of the patent rights, to have manufactured T. N. A. for our own uses. A Government plant was authorized for erection on the ground of the Calco Chemical Co., Bound Brook, N.J., to be operated by that concern. Production at this plant was to be on a cost-plus basis, the estimated cost of the material being 70 cents a pound. When the armistice was signed, about 8,000 pounds of T. N. A. had been produced, but none had been utilized.

Mercury fulminate, a very sensitive and powerful explosive, was used only in caps, primers, detonators, etc., as a means of initiating detonation, on account of its own high rate of detonation. The three plants operating in this country to produce this explosive for commercial purposes, the du Pont Co., Pompton Lake, N.J., the Atlas Powder Co., Tamaqua, Pa., and the Aetna Powder Co., Kingston, N.Y., expanded their facilities sufficiently to meet our program. Their average monthly production in 1918 was 50,000 pounds at a cost of $3.21 per pound, and there was on hand in November, 1918, 330,900 pounds of this explosive.

In the early stages of the war to meet the apparent shortage of T. N. T. and ammonium nitrate then existing because of our enormous explosives program, it was necessary to develop an explosive for trench warfare purposes that could be used for filling hand and rifle grenades, trench-mortar shell, and drop bombs. To meet this need, the Trojan Powder Co., of Allentown, Pa., submitted a nitrostarch explosive. After exhaustive investigations and complete tests, this explosive was authorized for use in loading the hand and rifle grenades and the 3-inch trench-mortar shell.

Development of a nitrostarch explosive for commercial purposes had been under consideration and investigation by two other large experienced manufacturers for a number of years, but the difficulties incident to the production and purification of nitrostarch were such that their efforts had met with little success.

[Pg 118]

The Trojan Powder Co., operating under secret process, solved this problem, and all nitrostarch explosives used were produced by this company, although another nitrostarch explosive known as "grenite," which was produced by the du Pont Co., was tested and authorized for use.

Our country was the only Government that used nitrostarch explosives during the war, and the development of this explosive made the loading problem easier and made possible the use of materials that were available and whose cost was low. The average cost of this explosive was 21.8 cents a pound. In July, 1918, the average monthly production of nitrostarch was 840,000 pounds and this had been increased by November, 1918, to 1,720,000 pounds a month.

There were loaded with nitrostarch explosive 7,244,569 defensive hand grenades; 1,526,000 offensive hand grenades; 9,921,533 rifle grenades and 813,073 three-inch trench-mortar shell. At the time of the signing of the armistice there was on hand of this explosive 1,650,500 pounds.

The du Pont Co. developed an explosive called lyconite, and this was authorized for use in the loading of drop bombs.

Anilite, a liquid explosive used by the French, was thoroughly investigated and improvements were made in it to render its use safer, but development had not progressed far enough to warrant authorization for its use prior to the signing of the armistice.

Chlorate and perchlorate explosives were also investigated and several types developed that were considered entirely satisfactory for use, but these never got into production before the end of the war.


When we entered the war the quantity of field artillery ammunition on hand was considerably less than a single month's supply, basing our rate of expenditure on the estimated rate for November, 1918. There were no facilities of any degree of magnitude available to take care of our projected program for filling the high-explosive shell necessary for use by our overseas forces.

Consequently it became necessary at once to plan and to develop the resources of the country for the production of metallic parts, such as the shell proper, the fuse, boosters and adapters, as well as to design and build entirely new plants and to train completely new forces for the loading of the shell with the high explosives.



Detonator (explosive)


Explosive charge (T. N. T.) or (Amatol)

Smokeless powder

Primer (brass)

Adapter (steel)

Percussion fuse

Booster case, or Jacket, or Gaine. (cold drawn or pressed steel-machined)

Copper band or rotating band

Cartridge case (drawn brass)


[Pg 119]

The explosion of an H. E. shell is really a series of explosions. The process of the burst is about as follows: The firing pin strikes the percussion primer, which explodes the detonator. The detonator is filled with some easily detonated substance, such as fulminate of mercury. The concussion of this explosion sets off the charge held within the long tube which extends down the middle of the shell and which is known as the booster. The booster charge is a substance easily exploded, such as tetryl or trinitroaniline (T. N. A.). The explosion of the booster jars off the main charge of the shell, T. N. T. or amatol. This system of detonator, booster, and main charge gives control of the explosives within the shell, safety in handling the shell, and complete explosion when the shell bursts. Without the action of the booster charge on the main charge of the shell, the latter would be only partially burned when the shell exploded, and part of the main charge would thus waste itself in the open air.

The shell used by our Army before the war had been largely of the base-fuse type. Interchangeability of ammunition with the French required that we adopt shell of the nose-fuse type. The boosters and adapters that went with this type were unfamiliar to our industry.

The adapter is the metallic device that holds the booster and fuse and fastens them in the shell. The adapter, therefore, is a broad ring, screw-threaded both outside and inside. The inside diameter is uniform, so as to allow the same size of booster and fuse to be screwed into shell of different sizes. The outside diameters of the adapters vary with the sizes of the shell they are made to fit, the rings thus being thicker or thinner as the case may require. Fuses of several sorts are employed by the modern artillerist; and with shell equipped with adapters, any fuse may be inserted in the field right at the gun.

Unexpectedly the manufacture of boosters and adapters proved to be much more difficult than it appeared to be at the start, and the shortage of these devices was a limiting factor in the American production of shell.

On May 1, 1917, drawings and specifications were sent to the principal manufacturers of ammunition and ammunition components inviting bids on 3-inch ammunition. These bids were opened on May 15, 1917, and after full discussion with the Council of National Defense orders were placed for 9,000,000 rounds of 3-inch shell and shrapnel ammunition. The bids for shell and shrapnel ammunition for all the other calibers of guns and howitzers we had on hand then were about to be asked, when the French mission to this country arrived; and the sending out of proposals was deferred, while discussion ensued as to changing our 3-inch and 6-inch artillery to 75-millimeter and 155-millimeter calibers, so as to make our ammunition interchangeable with that of the French. This decision was made June 5, 1917.

There then took place much discussion and consideration of the French ammunition. The French had several distinct types of shell,[Pg 120] ranging from the very thin walled high capacity kind to the thicker walled types. The French specifications were radically different from our own or those of the British. The steel shell in the French practice was subjected to a drastic heat treatment, which did not seem necessary to us for the thicker walled types of shell.

The French fusing system also was entirely different from that used by our service. French fuses were carried separately, and the adapter and the booster casing were screwed permanently into the shell.

Our decision to adopt French types of ammunition made it necessary to rearrange all our plans, and to obtain drawings of the shell, boosters, adapters, and fuses from France. This caused much negotiating, and a considerable amount of time was consumed in getting the necessary specifications and drawings here.

As a result of recommendations from French officials against production in this country during 1917 of the so-called "obus allongé" and the semisteel type of shell, no attempt was made to produce these for the 155-millimeter guns and howitzers during the first year of the war, but as a result of new recommendations and investigations of our officers in France in the spring of 1918 both of these types of shell were put into quantity production here. When the armistice was signed they were being turned out in such quantities that it appeared that there was sure to be an ample supply on hand in the early spring of 1919.

Radical differences of manufacture existed between the French and British in the matter of specifications and methods of production. Large quantities of British ammunition had been made in this country, and we had adopted the British 8-inch howitzer, so that it appeared we should use British practice in the manufacture of shell. Manufacturers claimed that great delay would result in the production of shell here if the heat treatment and hydraulic tests were insisted upon as the French specifications called for, and investigation proved this to be essentially true, as no facilities for heat treating and hydraulic testing existed.

The upshot of the entire matter was that it was decided to use French dimensions and shell for the 75-millimeter and 155-millimeter calibers so as to obtain uniformity of ballistics, but to permit American metallurgical practice to obtain in the manufacture. Shells made under these specifications were tested by the French commission in France. The verdict on these shell can be summarized in this quotation from their report:

To sum up, from the test of 10,000 cartridges of 75 millimeter, it may be concluded that American ammunition is in every way comparable to French ammunition and that the two may be considered as interchangeable.

Our designs for shrapnel and time fuses had been proven to be entirely satisfactory, and they were continued as they were. In fact[Pg 121] it was generally agreed that ours was the best time fuse used on the allied side during the war. That our decision in the matter of continuing production of shrapnel and time fuses was warranted, is borne out by the fact that we obtained early deliveries in sufficient quantities to meet requirements.

In the use of the adapters and boosters, which introduced an entirely new component to our service in shell making, we had had no experience, and subsequently met with great difficulties due to this lack of experience. Delays were encountered because in this part of shell manufacture it was generally necessary to await information from France whenever difficulties were encountered, or to conduct experiments before we could proceed.

When we began receiving our bids for 3-inch gun ammunition there were comparatively few factories in the United States that were able to turn out complete rounds of ammunition. There were many factories, however, capable of turning out one or more of the shell components. It was necessary to place orders for complete rounds of ammunition with those factories that could furnish them, and have the remaining components manufactured separately, and to provide assembling plants. To get as many factories as possible on a production basis in anticipation of the future large orders for ammunition that must necessarily follow with extension of operations by our field forces, orders for our initial quantities of ammunition were distributed as widely as possible.

To prevent confusion and loss of time because of the scramble for steel forgings and other raw materials it was decided that the Government would purchase all raw materials as well as furnish components for ammunition.

How successful we were in getting into quantity production on ammunition after the numerous and large obstacles in the early months of the war can be indicated best by the fact that of the 11,616,156 high-explosive shell for 75-millimeter guns machined up to November 1, no less than 2,893,367 passed inspection in October; while of the 7,345,366 adapters and boosters for 75-millimeter guns that had been machined up to the 1st of November, 2,758,397 passed inspection in October.

The figures for the 4.7-inch and 155-millimeter guns and howitzers follow:

Kind of ammunition. Machined high-explosive shell accepted up to Nov. 1. Machined adapters and boosters accepted up to Nov. 1.
4.7-inch 994,852 [20]636,096
155-millimeter 2,083,782 2,516,216

[20] For use in 4.7-inch and other sizes.

[Pg 122]

Ammonium picrate or explosive D upon which this country had depended almost entirely up to the time of our entry into the war was forced into the shell under hydraulic pressure. The adoption of the point-fused shell and an explosive for shell filling new to this country, namely, amatol, made necessary the provision of new methods for shell loading and the expansion of plant facilities for these new methods capable of loading the vast and tremendous numbers of shell required in modern warfare. As a result of reports, following investigations by our officers of methods used abroad, various new shell-loading plants were built in the United States.

The names, location, and output of the shell-loading plants in our country are as follows:

Company. Location. Total capacity daily (shell).
T. A. Gillespie Loading Co. Morgan, N. J. 47,000
Do. Parlin, N. J. 25,000
Do. Runyon, N. Y. 3,500
Poole Engineering & Machine Co. Texas, Md. 15,000
United States Arsenal Rock Island, Ill. 1,000
Sterling Motor Car Co. Brockton, Mass. 10,000
American Can Co. Kenilworth, N. J. 20,000
Atlantic Loading Co. Amatol, N. J. 53,500
Bethlehem Loading Co. Mays Landing, N. J. 41,000
Do. New Castle, Del. 27,400
Do. Redington, Pa. 4,000
du Pont Engineering Co. Penniman, Va., G plant 41,000
Do. Penniman, Va., D plant 13,330
J. D. Evans Engineer Corp. Old Bridge, N. J. 30,000
Total 331,730

It was found necessary in the early stages of the war to fill all shell with T. N. T., regardless of cost, until there could be built the required and properly equipped plants for the mixing and loading of amatol.

Two methods for loading T. N. T. were adopted. The one most largely used, however, was the casting method by which the chemical was brought to a molten condition in a steam jacketed kettle and poured into the shell. To do this two operations were usual. First, the shell was filled approximately two-thirds full with the molten material, and then as soon as a crust was formed this was broken through and the second filling took place. This process was necessary to prevent the formation of cavities in the filling charge. Such cavities cause breakdowns, resulting almost invariably in incomplete or entire failure of detonation.

The ammonium nitrate first produced in this country during the war was of such a character that proper densities could not be obtained when mixed with T. N. T. to form amatol. This difficulty was overcome after much investigation, and proper methods were outlined for the ammonium nitrate manufacturers, with the result that Grade III ammonium nitrate was produced as a sharp, hard crystal at a setting point of not less than 290° F. This was found to be perfectly satisfactory.


View of extruding machine bulkhead in background.


This picture shows two complete units for this assembly work. The operation begins in the foreground with cap assembly and progresses toward background, the fulminate detonator being inserted midway down table. The protecting bulkhead for cap supply is shown in the foreground.

[Pg 123]

The so-called 50-50 amatol, composed of 50 parts ammonium nitrate and 50 parts T. N. T., is loaded into shell by a casting method similar to that used in loading T. N. T. alone.

The so-called 80-20 amatol, composed of 80 parts ammonium nitrate and 20 parts T. N. T., was originally loaded cold, by hand, and then followed up with mechanical pressing. As a substitute for this method, which is accompanied by a certain element of danger, the use of hot 80-20 amatol, was resorted to in England. This was tamped by hand to the proper density, it being more compressible than cold amatol.

As this is an exceedingly tedious method of operation it was entirely done away with in England, except for large shell, by the use of what is known as the horizontal extruding machine. With this machine the British were able to load 80-20 amatol with great success into the 75-millimeter shell and higher calibers up to 8 inches.

This machine took a mixture of T. N. T. and ammonium nitrate in a jacketed hopper, so that the temperature might be maintained, and the hopper fed it down through a funnel upon a screw that was placed against the shell by counterweights to give the proper density. One of these machines was imported here from England, but, as it was unsatisfactory from a construction standpoint, new and satisfactory machines were built on the same principles of construction in our own amatol loading plants.

Experimental work with these machines was carried on at the Government testing station Picatinny Arsenal, Dover, N. J., and the du Pont Experimental Station, Gibbstown, N. J., as well as experimental plant operations at the Morgan plant of the T. A. Gillespie Co., Parlin, N. J., and the Penniman plant of the du Pont Co., Penniman, Va. All difficulties of the operations were overcome so satisfactorily that the greater portion of the loaded shell was produced by this method.

The metal parts as received at the shell-filling plant are inspected and cleaned to remove all traces of foreign matter such as grit or grease before being sent to the loading room. After being loaded the shell are again inspected. At intervals a split shell is loaded and then taken apart and examined, so that any loading defects may be found quickly and conditions remedied, before any large quantities of shell are produced.

The cavity left in the amatol by the tube of the extruding machine is filled with molten T. N. T., and a cavity is produced in this T. N. T.[Pg 124] into which the booster fits. This is necessary in order to provide for complete detonation. The booster cavity is produced either by the use of a former, which upon removal leaves a cavity of the proper size, or by plunging the booster into the shell filling before this is cooled, or by drilling out a cavity for the booster after the filling has been thoroughly cooled.

A large number of rounds of ammunition of all calibers had also to be loaded with a flashless compound that was inserted in the propelling charges, so that the discharge of the guns would not betray their positions to the enemy at night, while a smoke compound was inserted in a large quantity of shell so that each missile of this character might be located after firing to determine the accuracy of the shot.

Coordination of manufacture of metallic parts so as to cause the proper quantities of shell, fuse, and boosters to be produced without leaving any incomplete rounds that would have to be held awaiting other components caused the greatest difficulty.

The magnitude of the task of providing the necessary shell components in the tremendous quantities required can be better appreciated by a realization of the fact that the various parts of each component must be made to fit each other properly and perfectly. Gauging had to be resorted to frequently in the process of manufacture to make certain that there was perfect interchangeability of parts of each component to prevent any waste of time in selecting parts to fit each other.

The complete components, too, must themselves be made with equal care and scrupulous attention to make certain that they fit properly. Thus, the booster had to be made in such a fashion and with such precision and accuracy that it would fit perfectly into the shell as well as into the booster cavity in the shell filling into which it is screwed and also at the same time accommodate the fuse which screws into the booster.

This extreme accuracy made necessary a large number of gauges, which had to be designed at the same time as, and in coordination with, the design of the component. For example, in a complete round of artillery ammunition, 80 dimensions must be gauged. To standardize the gauges used for these 80 dimensions, 180 master gauges are required, while the actual number of different gauges used during the various stages of manufacture of a complete round is over 500.

Government inspectors required over 200 gauges in their work of inspecting and gauging the finished components for the shell, so in all about 800 gauges were used in the process of manufacturing a complete round of artillery ammunition, to insure interchangeability of parts, proper fit for the projectile in the gun, and perfect functioning of the various parts.


Notice safety door at the girl's elbow. A flash in this room will not communicate to an adjoining room. The room is heated by overhead hot-air heating system.


Girl operating the same device on the left. The view shows the bulkhead between the operations.


This view shows the exhaust hood open and turntable lowered. Operator raises turntable by foot lever and closes hood before spraying.


Shell is received on the elevated platform and trucked to the edge on hand trucks, where the trolley hook just enters the eyebolt as shell is removed from truck, thus making it unnecessary to lift the shell during any operation in this room.

[Pg 125]

All fixed ammunition was assembled at the shell-filling plants, making it necessary to install at these points storage capacity and equipment to handle the propellant powder as well as to fill the high-explosive shell. Boosters and fuses were loaded at separate plants and shipped to the shell-filling assembly places to be packed for shipment with the shell for transportation overseas.

The cost of a loaded 75-millimeter shell with the fuse and propellant charge ready to be fired is about $11. Such a shell contains a little over 1½ pounds of high explosive, which costs $1. The loading and assembling of the complete round costs $4.

A loaded 155-millimeter shell complete with fuse costs about $30, exclusive of the propellant charge of powder, which is loaded separately. A shell of this caliber holds about 14¼ pounds of high explosive, which costs $10, while the loading and assembling costs $4.

The 75-millimeter and 155-millimeter shell were used in the greatest quantities on the European battle fields, and at the time of the signing of the armistice our American loading plants were concentrating on filling ammunition for guns of these two calibers.

The nature of the work carried on at these shell-loading plants, of course, made the danger of a disaster ever present. Prior to our entry into the war an explosion at the Canadian Car & Foundry Co.'s plant, Kingsland, N. J., resulted in the entire destruction of the plant with large loss of life.

In October, 1918, the Morgan plant of the T. A. Gillespie Co., South Amboy, N. J., was wiped out by an explosion in which about 100 employees lost their lives. Plans for rebuilding this plant, had progressed far when the armistice was signed. In the fall of 1917, 40 people were killed in an explosion at the Eddystone Loading Plant, Eddystone, Pa.

For the successful carrying out of our program for the production of vast quantities of explosives and propellants, as well as shell loading, the women of America must be given credit, on account of the highly important part they took in this phase of helping to win the war. Fully 50 per cent of the number of employees in our explosive plants were women, who braved the dangers connected with this line of work, to which they had been, of course, entirely unaccustomed, but whose perils were not unknown to them.

In connection with the production of shell themselves, the American Ordnance Department adopted certain changes of design which were not only radically different from what we had known before the war but were interesting for the way in which they were brought about and for the results they accomplished.

[Pg 126]

The modern shell as we knew it before the war was simply a metal cylinder cut off squarely at the base and roundly blunted at the nose. The shell is zoned with a so-called rotating ring, a circular band of copper which by engaging the rifling channels of the gun gives to the shell the whirl that keeps it from tumbling over and over and thus holds it accurately on its course in flight.

In the proof-firing of the 6-inch seacoast guns it was discovered that their fire was none too accurate; and the American ordnance engineers began studying the shell to see if the fault lay there. One of these experts was Maj. F. R. Moulton, who before accepting a commission in the Army had been professor of astronomy at the University of Chicago. Maj. Moulton began a study of the 6-inch shell; and soon it was discovered that the mathematics which could chart the orbits of comets could also deal with the flight of projectiles, calculate the influences of air resistance and gravitation, and eventually work out new, scientific contours for offsetting these influences as much as possible.

Maj. Moulton first dealt with the inaccuracy of our 6-inch shell. He discovered the cause in the rotating band. Although but a slight portion of this band was upraised above the surface of the shell's circumference, yet the enormous force exerted upon the projectile to start it from the gun actually caused the cold copper to "flow" backward. The result was that when the shell emerged from the muzzle of the gun it bore around its sides an entirely unsuspected and undesirable flange. This flange not only shortened the range of the shell by offering resistance to the air, but it was seldom uniform all the way around, a condition giving rise to the idiosyncracies of our 6-inch shell as they were fired at the target.

The remedy for this was a redesigned rotating band, making it somewhat thicker in front. The "flow" of the copper could thus be accommodated without causing any detrimental distortion to the projectile. When this improvement was made the 6-inch shell became as accurate as any.

But Maj. Moulton was to make an even greater contribution to the 6-inch shell. This shell, like those of our other types, was square ended at the base. Maj. Moulton in his new design tapered in the sides somewhat, making the shell "boat ended." He elongated the nose, bringing it out to a much sharper point. The result was the first American "streamline" design for a shell. Shell of this new model were built experimentally and tested. The 6-inch gun could fire its old shell 17,000 yards, while the streamline shell went 4,000 or 5,000 yards farther—2 or 3 miles added to the range of an already powerful weapon by the application of brains and mathematics.

[Pg 127]

Figure 10.
Improvement of Field Guns Since the Napoleonic Wars.
Type. Date. Feet per second.
Early rifled guns 1863-1870 ██████████████████████ 1090
Later rifled guns 1870-1893 ██████████████████████████████ 1466
Early quick firers About 1900 ██████████████████████████████████ 1696
Modern quick firers 1914-1918 ████████████████████████████████████ 1770
Smooth bores 1815-1850 ████ 1257
Early rifled guns 1863-1870 ██████ 2004
Later rifled guns 1870-1893 ████████████ 4120
Early quick firers About 1900 ██████████████████ 6160
Modern quick firers 1914-1918 ███████████████████ 6500
Smooth bores 1815-1850 █████ 1670
Early rifled guns 1863-1870 ████████████ 3965
Later rifled guns 1870-1893 ██████████████████ 6168
Early quick firers About 1900 ██████████████████████ 7340
Modern quick firers 1914-1918 █████████████████████████ 8500
With streamline shell 1918-19 ████████████████████████████████████ 12130

The limiting factor in the development of light field guns has always been the continuous hauling power of 6 horses, which is about 4,000 pounds. The gun has been as powerful as possible within the limits of this weight, which includes the carriage and limber as well as the cannon itself. Improved technique and materials have reduced the necessary weight of the cannon from 1,650 pounds in 1815 to about 800 pounds to-day, permitting the use of weight for recoil mechanism and shield of armor plate without exceeding the limit.

The 800-pound nickel-steel gun of 1918 fires as heavy a projectile (12-15 pounds) as the 1,650-pound bronze gun of the Napoleonic wars. The improved material permits a more powerful propellant charge, which results in greater muzzle velocity, a flatter trajectory, and longer maximum range. The latter is due in part also to improved shapes of projectiles and the introduction of rifling. The efficiency of artillery is further increased by the introduction of high-explosive bursting charge. The modern 75-millimeter shell contains about 1.76 pounds of high explosive as against about 0.5 pound of black powder in shell prior to 1893.

The French were experimenting with streamline shell. We adopted the French streamline 75-millimeter shell and put it into production, calling it our Mark IV shell. Our regular 75-millimeter shell, known as the Mark I 1900 shell, had a maximum range of 9,000 yards. The[Pg 128] Mark IV shell proved to have a maximum range of 12,130 yards, giving an increase in range of well over a mile. America up to April 3, 1919, turned out about 524,000 of these streamline shell.

The French also built shell of semisteel, steel to which iron was added. It was claimed that these shell, by bursting into fine fragments upon exploding, were more effective against troops than all-steel shell, because the fragments of the latter were larger. We adopted this shell also and produced it experimentally. In contour it was a compromise between the old cylindrical shell and the extreme streamline type and was easier to make than the latter.

Artillery ammunition, complete rounds—Acceptances in United States and Canada on U. S. Army orders only.
[Figures in thousands of rounds.]
To Jan. 1. 1918 Total.
Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May. June. July. Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec.
Calibers for American Expeditionary Force program.
75-mm. gun H. E. 235 287 809 1,168 1,122 1,175 790 5,586
75-mm. gun shrapnel 20 121 124 483 888 1,011 1,049 730 732 802 1,057 812 738 8,567
75-mm. gun gas 188 164 213 15 580
75-mm. A. A. shrapnel 92 97 185 134 126 634
3-inch A. A. shrapnel 11 59 2 72
4.7-inch gun H. E. 32 45 43 46 166
4.7-inch gun, shrapnel 9 9 14 17 18 23 35 23 38 29 28 15 19 277
5-inch S. C. gun H. E. 7 5 12
6-inch S. C. gun H. E. 2 1 36 23 62
155-mm. gun H. E.[21] 9 33 51 98
155-mm. howitzer H. E.[21] 11 113 193 119 173 140 749
155-mm. shrapnel 12 22 66 41 93 234
8-inch howitzer H. E. 91 8 99
9.2-inch howitzer H. E. 13 8 24 3 48
240-mm. howitzer H. E. 2 2
8-inch S. C. gun H. E. 20 11 31
10-inch S. C. gun H. E. 20 50 4 11 85
Total [22]29 [22]130 [22]138 [22]500 [22]906 [22]1,034 1,321 1,051 1,984 2,548 3,062 2,570 2,024 17,297
Calibers for use in United States only.
2.95-inch mountain gun H. E. 22 22
2.95-inch mountain gun shrapnel 37 9 14 2 62
3-inch F. G. H. E. 333 73 212 142 128 95 3 1 84 1,071
3-inch F. G. shrapnel 957 164 231 174 55 60 15 1,656
3.8-inch howitzer H. E. 3 3 2 2 1 11
3.8-inch howitzer shrapnel 12 1 13
4.7-inch howitzer H. E. 14 4 5 1 1 1 1 12 39
4.7-inch howitzer shrapnel 4 23 5 8 10 10 60
6-inch howitzer H. E. 20 1 3 24 35 83
6-inch howitzer shrapnel 1 3 4
Total 1,398 246 448 342 224 160 20 34 107 10 10 22 3,021
Grand total 1,427 376 586 842 1,130 1,194 1,341 1,085 2,091 2,558 1,072 2,592 2,024 20,318

[21] All thick walled type; not all supplied with fuses.

[22] Shrapnel only.

[Pg 129]

The following table lists the name of each manufacturer of the various types and sizes of shell for big guns and states the quantity turned out by each:

Contractor. Forgings. Machinings.
Quantity ordered to Nov. 1, 1918. Quantity accepted to Nov. 1, 1918. Quantity ordered to Nov. 1, 1918. Quantity accepted to Nov. 1, 1918.
3-inch antiaircraft high-explosive shell.
Hydraulic Pressed Steel Co., Cleveland, Ohio 1,938,806 135,435
John Inglis Co., Toronto, Ontario 500,000 131,542
Saskatchewan Bridge & Iron Works, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan 84,000
West Shell & Box Co., North Edmonton, Alberta 83,000
Manitoba B. & I. Co., Winnipeg, Manitoba 83,000
Medicine Hat P. & B. Co., Medicine Hat, Alberta 83,000
Dominion Bridge Co., Winnipeg, Manitoba 84,000
Salisbury Wheel & Axle Co., Jamestown, N. Y. 500,000 1,097
3-inch antiaircraft shrapnel.
Symington Machine Corporation, Rochester, N. Y. 1,052,099 1,013,199 1,000,000 1,000,000
75-millimeter antiaircraft high-explosive shell.
Moline Forge Co., Moline, Ill. 939,866 540,532
Jackson Munitions, Jackson, Mich. 225,000
Spencer Engine Co., Toledo, Ohio 500,000 28,293
Chamberlain Machine Works, Waterloo, Iowa 365,000 23,669
75-millimeter antiaircraft shrapnel.
Symington Manufacturing Co., Rochester, N. Y. 672,625 672,625 672,625 672,625
75-millimeter gas and high-explosive shell.
T. A. Gillespie, Parlin, N. J. 1,400,000 1,400,000 1,400,000 1,977,149
American International Corporation, New York City 3,000,000 2,433,438
American Can Co., New York City 7,000,000 2,563,151 4,000,000 399,728
Hydraulic Pressed Steel Co., Cleveland, Ohio 12,000,000 4,455,090
Valley Forge Co., Verona, Pa. 4,000,000 880,263
New York Air Brake Co., New York City 2,000,000 192,774 1,300,000 17,652
Worthington Pump Machine Co., New York City 2,650,000 1,473,929 2,660,000 634,159
The Canadian Allis-Chalmers Co., Toronto, Ontario 2,267,062 1,802,117 435 140,647
Canada Car & Foundry Co., Montreal, Quebec 1,656,302 1,592,877
A. P. Smith Co., Orange, N. J. 125,000
S. A. Wood Manufacturing Co., Boston, Mass. 1,500,000 405,344
Vermont Farm Machine Co., Bellows Falls, Vt. 750,000 188,300
American Machinery Corporation, Port Huron, Mich. 200,000
Consolidated Car Heating Co., Albany, N. Y. 810,000 181,885
Wire Wheel Corporation, Springfield, Mass. 300,000 71,239
The Canadian Crocker Wheeler, St. Catherines, Ontario 475,000 160,935
Lachine Manufacturing Co., Lachine, Quebec 660,000 255,264
The Electric Steel & Metal Co., Welland, Ontario 11,458 11,458
J. Bertram & Co., Dundas, Ontario 100,000 51,141
Canadian Fairbanks Morse, Toronto 1,584,548 1,377,800
W. H. Banfield & Sons, Toronto 1,620,000 670,000
Canadian Bridge Co., Walkerville, Ontario 1,450,000 456,993
Canadian Metal Co., Toronto 3,250,000 1,154,371
Goldie & McCullough, Galt, Ontario 1,100,000 921,206 410,000 61,476
John Inglis Co., Toronto 1,700,000 775,033 75,000 42,400
Cluff Ammunition Co., Toronto 600,000 509,343
G. W. McFarland Engineering Co., Paris, Ontario 1,500,000 285,335
Dayton, Ohio, Products Co., New York City 3,500,000 732,842
E. W. Bliss Co., Brooklyn, N. Y. 1,300,000 701,804
Lymburner (Ltd.) Co., Montreal, Quebec 800,000 630,978 2,474,000 1,126,556
Moline Forging & Machining Co., Moline, Ill. 1,500,000 471,281
Laconia Car Co., Laconia, N. H. 550,000
Symington Machine Co., Rochester, N. Y. 4,025,000 6,025,000 1,200,686
Roberts Filter Co., Darby, Pa. 600,000 151,975
Auto Transportation Co., Buffalo, N. Y. 350,000 107,441
Dominion Bridge Co., Montreal, Quebec 795,000 301,144
Canadian Ingersoll Rand Co., Sherbrooke, Quebec 1,100,000 290,431
Steel Co. of Canada, Brantford, Ontario 515,000 162,399
Allis-Chalmers Co., Milwaukee, Wis. 1,520,000 347,635
Jackson Munitions, Jackson, Mich. 775,000 67,570
Maxwell Motor Co., Detroit, Mich. 800,000 61,761[Pg 130]
Batavia Steel Products, Batavia, N. Y. 1,175,000 311,417
Wheeling Mold & Foundry, Wheeling, W. Va. 500,000 118,496
Eddystone Munitions, Eddystone, Pa. 1,000,000 190,100
Lachine Manufacturing Co., Lachine, Quebec
The International Clay & Machine, Dayton, Ohio 124,000 3,812
Smead & Co., Jersey City, N. J. 1,100,000 246,841
Manufacturing Production Co., Dayton, Ohio 1,600,000 340,885
Chicago Pneumatic Tool Co., Chicago, Ill. 250,000 132,321
Mueller Manufacturing Co., Port Huron, Mich. 500,000 78,300
The Westfield Manufacturing Co., Westfield, Mass. 1,740,000 413,578
The Platt Iron Works, Dayton, Ohio 1,600,000 170,312
The Mueller Metal Co., Wayne, Mich. 750,000
75-millimeter field-gun shrapnel.
American Can Co., New York City 969,039 969,039 904,067 904,067
Eddystone Munitions Co., Eddystone, Pa. 769,961 769,961 750,000 750,000
Bartlett-Hayward Co., Baltimore, Md. 6,565,519 4,272,900 6,200,000 3,492,863
Symington Machine Co., Rochester, N. Y. 5,459,378 4,868,942 8,375,000 3,329,025
Frankford Arsenal, Philadelphia, Pa. 650,000 4,713 750,000 4,713
Laconia Car Co., Laconia, N. H. 450,000 369,483
Bossert Corporation, Utica, N. Y. 200,000
Hydraulic Pressed Steel Co., Cleveland, Ohio 2,285,000 10,000
Canada Forge Co., Welland, Ontario 730,000
The Liberty Ordnance Co., Bridgeport, Conn. 1,000,000 27,000
155-millimeter howitzer high-explosive shell, Mark I, type B.
Whittaker Glessner, Portsmouth, Ohio 130,000 137,406
American Rolling Mills, Middletown, Ohio 100,000 49,785
Pressed Steel Car Co., Pittsburgh Pa. 600,000 552,867
American Car & Foundry Co., New York City 2,800,000 1,110,964
New York Air Brake Co., New York City 350,000 1,158 138,316
Wm. Wharton Manufacturing Co., Philadelphia, Pa. 280,000 61,224
Standard Steel Car Co., Pittsburgh, Pa. 450,000
Standard Forging Co., Chicago, Ill. 21,141
Curtis & Co., Manufacturing Co., St. Louis, Mo. 500,000 404,645
American Steel Foundry Co., Chicago, Ill. 412,042 412,042
Midvale Steel & Ordnance Co., Philadelphia, Pa. 130,000 130,000
Detroit Shell Co., Detroit, Mich. 500,000 45,563
J. J. Cavrick, Batavia, N. Y. 300,000 92,974
Standard Sanitary Co., Pittsburgh, Pa. 600,000 94,409
Potter & Johnson, Pawtucket, R. I. 175,000
North American Motor Co., Pottstown, Pa. 30,000 29,446
Minneapolis Steel & Machine Co., Minneapolis, Minn. 400,000 245,344
W. J. Oliver Manufacturing Co., Knoxville, Tenn. 130,000 88,662
Twin City Forge & Foundry Co., Stillwater, Minn. 600,000 54,483
Winslow Bros. Co., Chicago, Ill. 600,000 176,081
American Brake Shoe & Foundry Co., New York City 750,000 184,697
American Clay & Machine Co., Bucyrus, Ohio 700,000
Elyria Machine Co., Elyria, Ohio 100,000 32,139
American Machine & Manufacturing Co., Atlanta, Ga. 240,000 75,063
Haroun Motor Corporation, Wayne, Mich. 200,000 23,899
Wagner Electric Manufacturing Co., St. Louis, Mo. 300,000 12,569
155-millimeter howitzer high-explosive shell, Mark IV, type D.
National Tube Co., Pittsburgh, Pa. 800,000 48,263
P. Lyall & Sons, Montreal, Quebec 400,000 4,774 150,000 2,559
National Iron Works, Toronto, Ontario 400,000 9,137
Dominion Steel Foundry, Hamilton, Ontario 400,000 23,270
Studebaker Corporation, Detroit, Mich. 800,000 800,000
Fairfax Forge Co., Montreal, Quebec 400,000 150,000
Pressed Steel Car Co., Pittsburgh, Pa. 1,000,000 15,122
Cleveland Crane Co., Wickliffe, Ohio 500,000
Bethlehem Steel Co., South Bethlehem, Pa. 600,000 139,103
G. W. McFarland, Paris, Ontario 370,000 521
LaClede Gas Light Co., St. Louis, Mo. 850,000 850,000
Standard Forging Co., Chicago, Ill. 500,000
Whittaker Glessner Co., Portsmouth, Ohio 900,000 31,909
Curtis & Co., St. Louis, Mo. 130,000
Warden King & Co., Montreal, Quebec 180,000
John Inglis Co., Toronto, Ontario 400,000
Canada Iron Foundry Co., Montreal, Quebec 100,000 100,000
Cluff Ammunition Co., Toronto, Ontario 500,000
Taylor Forbes (Ltd.), Toronto, Ontario 90,000
Moon Motor Co., St. Louis, Mo. 200,000 [Pg 131]
Standard Sanitary, Pittsburgh, Pa. 150,000
Holden Morgan Thread Co., Toronto, Ontario 100,000
E. Leonard & Sons, London, Ontario 80,000
Otis Fenson Elevator Co., Hamilton, Ontario 200,000
Dominion Copper Products, Montreal, Quebec 150,000 2,056
Caron Bros., Montreal, Quebec 125,000 235
Potter & Johnson, Pawtucket, R. I. 350,000
Biscoe Motor, Jackson, Mich. 325,000
Hudson Motor, Detroit, Mich. 400,000
Munition & M. N. (Ltd.), Sorel 50,000
John Bartram Sons, Dundas, Ontario 450,000
155-millimeter howitzer gas shell.
American Rolling Mills, Middletown, Ohio 500,000 492,399
Midvale Steel & Ordnance Co., Philadelphia, Pa. 120,000 96,799
American Radiator Co., Washington, D. C. 625,000 500 416,667
Wilson Foundry & Machine Co., Pontiac, Mich. 400,000 300,000
Rathbone Sard & Co., Aurora, Ill. 600,000 400,000
155-millimeter gun high-explosive shell, Mark III, type B.
Standard Steel Car Co., Pittsburgh, Pa. 1,000,000 568,092 1,000,000 431,238
Whittaker Glessner Co., Portsmouth, Ohio 350,471 350,471
Standard Forging Co., Indiana Harbor, Ind. 800,000 730,950
Mead Morris & Co., Gloucester, Mass. 300,000 2,056
Twin City Forge & Foundry Co., Stillwater, Minn. 425,000 136,053
Chicago Rlg. Equipment Co., Chicago, Ill. 400,000 23,356
Minneapolis Steel & Machine Co., Minneapolis, Minn. 200,000 41,254
International Arms & Fuse, Bloomfleld, N. J. 500,000 310,130
North American Motors, Pottstown, Pa. 70,000
Potter & Johnson, Pawtucket, R. I. 100,000 73,836
Templer Motor Co., Cleveland, Ohio 450,000 45,014
New York Air Brake Co., New York City 211,684
Jackson Munitions, Jackson, Mich. 177,500 25,981
Pullman Co., Pullman, Ill. 300,000
New Home Sewing Machine Co., Orange, Mass. 200,000
155-millimeter gun high-explosive shell, Mark V, type D.
Symington Chicago Corporation, Chicago, Ill. 1,000,000 805,000
American Rolling Mills, Middletown, Ohio 755,000 36,161
Milton Manufacturing Co., Milton, Pa. 10,000
Whittaker Glessner Co., Portsmouth, Ohio 750,000
Dominion Foundry & Steel Co., Hamilton, Ontario 500,000
Winslow Bros., Chicago, Ill. 400,000
Grant Motor Car Co., Cleveland, Ohio 260,000
Cribbon Sexton Co., Chicago, Ill. 200,000
155-millimeter gun gas shell.
Bethlehem Steel Co., South Bethlehem, Pa. 100,000 92,430
Kohler Co., Kohler, Wis. 850,000 100 657,000 100
American Radiator Co., Washington, D. C. 125,000 83,333
Whittaker Glessner Co., Portsmouth, Ohio 5,000 5,000
American Car & Foundry Co., New York City 1,350,000 63,914
155-millimeter gun and howitzer shrapnel.
Dayton, Ohio, Production Co., Dayton, Ohio 850,000 131,329
Wm. Wharton, jr., Philadelphia, Pa. 540,947 345,457
Bartlett-Hayward Co., Baltimore, Md. 200,000 1,600,000 135,590
Frankford Arsenal, Philadelphia, Pa. 100,000
3.8-inch howitzer shell.
Frankford Arsenal, Philadelphia, Pa. 1,000 1,000 15,928 11,757
Hydraulic Pressed Steel Co., Cleveland, Ohio 105,000
F. R. Wilford & Co. 105,000
3.8-inch howitzer shrapnel.
Frankford Arsenal, Philadelphia, Pa. 18,522 14,264 43,522 14,264
Hydraulic Pressed Steel Co., Cleveland, Ohio 35,000 [Pg 132]
4.72-inch shell.
National Tube Co., Christie Pks. Works 12,500 5,614
United States Government 1,850 1,850 1,850 1,850
Buffalo Pitts Co., Buffalo, N. Y. 12,705
Twin City Forge, Stillwater, Minn. 2,500
4.7-inch antiaircraft shell.
National Tube Co., Christie Pks. Works 230,000 188,495
Maritime Manufacturing Co., Montreal, Quebec 100,000
Spartan Manufacturing Co., Montreal, Quebec 46,000 45,159
Darling Bros., Montreal, Quebec 42,500 15,060
Alberta Foundry & Machinery Co., Alberta 42,500 6,170
4.7-inch antiaircraft shrapnel.
The E. W. Bliss Co., Brooklyn, N. Y. 10,000
Frankford Arsenal, Philadelphia, Pa. 60,000 60,000
National Tube Co., Christie Pks. Works 100,000 42,840
Alberta Foundry & Machinery Co., Alberta 42,500
4.7-inch drill projectile.
Grand Rapids Brass Co., Grand Rapids, Mich. 2,975 404 2,975 405
4.7-inch gun gas shell.
Milton Manufacturing Co., Milton, Pa. 400,000 194,612 400,000 92,342
American Radiator Co., Buffalo, N. Y. 189,360
4.7-inch gun shrapnel.
Frankford Arsenal, Philadelphia, Pa. 22,897 22,440 22,897 22,440
Bartlett-Hayward Co., Baltimore, Md. 312,005 327,183 701,500 306,635
National Tube Co., Christie Pks. Works 754,777 338,507
Metal Production Co., Beaver, Pa. 150,000 11,264
4.7-inch howitzer shell.
Frankford Arsenal, Philadelphia, Pa. 87,833 26,614 87,833 26,614
4.7-inch howitzer shrapnel.
Bartlett-Hayward, Baltimore, Md. 46,115 46,294 40,000 40,000
Frankford Arsenal, Philadelphia, Pa. 79,865 19,999 79,865 20,379
4.7-inch gun high-explosive shell.
National Tube Co., Christie Pks. Works 1,284,848 908,543
Allegheny Steel Co., Pittsburgh, Pa. 900,000 435,978
The E. W. Bliss Co., Brooklyn, N. Y. 10,000
Frankford Arsenal, Philadelphia, Pa. 40,286 12,047 40,286 12,047
Milton Manufacturing Co., Milton, Pa. 700,000 351,731 700,000 285,000
Hydraulic Pressed Steel Co., Cleveland, Ohio 200,000
Darling Bros., Montreal, Quebec 65,000
Spartan Machine Co., Montreal, Quebec 165,000
Robb Engineering Co., Amherst, N. J. 95,000 3,720
Motor Trucks Co., Brantford, Ontario 205,000 11,083
P. Lyall & Sons, Montreal, Quebec 845,000 318,578
Steel Products Co., Huntington, W. Va. 100,000 9,023
Armstrong Ck. Co., Lancaster, Pa. 475,000 20,238
Campbell Howard Machine Co., Sherbrooke, Quebec 350,000
Thurlow Steel Works, Chester, Pa. 136,500 35,116
Bell Manufacturing Co., Fairmount, Ind. 75,000 5,289
Buffalo Pitts Co., Buffalo, N. Y. 350,000 70,975
Indiana Fiber Co., Marion, Ind. 75,000 12,520
Canadian Westinghouse Co., Hamilton, Ontario 300,000 94,156
Ry. Ind. Engineering Co., Greensburg, Pa. 100,000 34,347
Sherbrooke Ironworks, Sherbrooke 60,000 14,026
Bridgeport Project Co., Bridgeport, Conn. 20,000 16,802
American & British Manufacturing Co., Bridgeport, Conn. 87,319 57,932
Maritime Manufacturing Co., St. Johns, New Brunswick 100,000
Alberta Foundry & Machinery Co., Alberta 50,000 [Pg 133]
8-inch gun and howitzer high-explosive and gas shell.
Carnegie Steel Co., Pittsburgh, Pa. 561,548 210,171
Root & Vandervoort Engineering Co., East Moline, Ill. 40,000 40,928 190,000 144,815
Wagner Electrical & Manufacturing Co., St. Louis, Mo. 40,000 40,000 170,000 48,586
McMyler Interstate Co., Cleveland, Ohio 500,000 263,674 450,000 238,470
Pollak Steel Co., New York City 100,000
Curtis & Co., St. Louis, Mo. 295,000 167,202
Midvale Steel & Ordnance Co., Philadelphia, Pa. 140,000 135,176
Standard Steel Car Co., Butler, Pa. 100,000 6,072
Pressed Steel Car Co., Pittsburgh, Pa. 250,000
Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Co., Pittsburgh, Pa. 360,000 166,803
Willys Overland Co., Toledo, Ohio 600,000
Motor Products Corporation, Detroit, Mich. 100,000
British War Mission, Munsey Building, Washington, D. C. 101,817 100,277
Imperial Munitions Board, Ottawa 8,612 7,722
Pollak Steel Co., New York City 75,000 22,681
American Steel Foundry Co., Chicago, Ill. 570,000 247,649
Dominion Steel Foundry Co., Hamilton, Ontario 100,000 91,191
Canada Cement Co., Montreal, Quebec 150,000 22,304 650,000 4,700
British Forgings (Ltd.), Toronto, Ontario 275,000 24,933
Dominion Bridge Co., Montreal, Quebec 150,000 55,324
Standard Forging Co., Chicago, Ill. 300,000 38,659
Pressed Steel Car Co., Pittsburgh, Pa. 250,000 85,750
Wm. Wharton, jr., & Co., Philadelphia, Pa. 125,000
Dominion Foundries & Co. (Ltd.), Hamilton, Ontario 250,000 10,746
American Brake Shoe & Foundry Co., New York City 250,000 197,250
Maritime Manufacturing Corporation, St. John, New Brunswick 460,000 26,000
9.2-inch howitzer high-explosive shell.
Russell Motor Car Co., Toronto, Ontario 335,000 15,049
St. Lawrence Bridge Co., Montreal 335,000 31,880
United States Ammunition Corporation, Poughkeepsie, N. Y. 250,000 6,486
Fisher Motor Co., Orilla, Ontario 180,000 100
Canadian Bridge Co., Walkersville, Ontario 110,000
240-millimeter high-explosive shell.
Carnegie Steel Co., Pittsburgh, Pa. 190,000 92,316
Curtis & Co. Manufacturing Co., St. Louis, Mo. 275,000 174,174
American Car & Foundry Co., New York City 90,000 400,000 47,953
American Steel Foundries Co., Chicago, Ill. 80,000 3,277
Scullin Steel Co., St. Louis, Mo. 350,000
A. F. Smith Manufacturing Co., East Orange, N. J. 25,000
Motors Truck (Ltd.), Brantford, Ontario 125,000
Laclede Gas Light Co., St. Louis, Mo. 526,014
5-inch seacoast gun shell.
Cleveland Crane & Engineering Co., Wickliffe, Ohio 244,812 122,324
McMyler Interstate Co., Cleveland, Ohio 5,000 5,107
Milton Manufacturing Co., Milton, Pa. 30,000 29,121
Machine Products Co., Cleveland, Ohio 75,000 21,532
A. J. Vance & Co., Winston-Salem, N. C. 40,000 1,578
Twin City & Foundry Co., Stillwater, Minn. 400
A. B. Ormsby Co. (Ltd.), Toronto, Ontario 50,000 10,029
P. Tyrall Construction Co., Montreal 105,000 38,385
6-inch seacoast gun shell.
Frankford Arsenal, Philadelphia, Pa. 40,950 25,957 40,950 25,957
Bethlehem Steel Co., Bethlehem, Pa. 16,000 22,053 16,000 15,910
Columbian Iron Works, Chattanooga, Tenn. 40,000 40,346 132,542 149,281
The Pressed Steel Car Co., McKeesport, Pa. 385,000 370,677
Standard Steel Car Co., Hammond, Ind. 400,000 376,827
Anniston Steel Co., Anniston, Ala. 243,812
Westinghouse Electric Manufacturing Co., Pittsburgh, Pa. 35,000 31,310 385,000 192,684
Wm. Wharton, jr., Easton, Pa. 24,000
The Southern Machinery Co., Chattanooga, Tenn. 447,458 19,537[Pg 134]
10-inch seacoast gun shell.
American Car & Foundry Co., New York City 24,360 24,360 275,000 130,040
Carnegie Steel Co., Pittsburgh, Pa. 60,000 61,770
Carnegie Steel Co., Munhall, Pa. 225,000 137,168
12-inch seacoast gun shell.
Carnegie Steel Co., McKees Rocks, Pa. 165,000 7,627
Watertown Arsenal, Watertown, Mass. 15,000 1,449
Washington Steel & Ordnance Co., Giesboro Manor, D. C. 28,631 6,129 38,000 1,907
Leaside Munitions Corporation, Toronto, Ontario 105,000 105,000
Standard Forging Co., Chicago, Ill. 15,000
Bethlehem Steel Co., Bethlehem, Pa. 32,000
American Clay Machine Co., Bucyrus, Ohio 15,000
14-inch seacoast gun shell.
Carnegie Steel Co., McKees Rocks, Pa. 10,000 220
Watertown Arsenal, Watertown, Mass. 9,000
Washington Steel & Ordnance Co., Washington, D. C. 80
16-inch seacoast howitzer shell.
Washington Steel & Ordnance Co., Washington, D. C. 140 140
[Pg 135]


At the threshold of the war with Germany we were confronted with the problem of providing on a large scale those instruments of precision with which modern artillerists point their weapons. As mysterious to the average man as the sextant and other instruments which help the navigator to bring his ship unerringly to port over leagues of pathless water, or as those devices with which the surveyor strikes a level through a range of mountains, are the instruments which enable the gunner to drop a heavy projectile exactly on his target without seeing it at all.

The old days of sighting a cannon point-blank at the visible enemy over the open sights on the barrel of the weapon passed with the Civil War. As the power of guns increased and their ranges lengthened, the artillerists began firing at objects actually below the horizon or hidden by intervening obstacles. These conditions necessarily brought in the method of mathematical aim which is known as indirect fire.

In the great war indirect firing was so perfected that within a few seconds after an aviator or an observer in a captive balloon had definitely located an enemy battery, that battery was deluged with an avalanche of high-explosive shell and destroyed, even though the attacking gunners were located several miles away and hills and forests intervened to obscure the target from view. With the aid of correlated maps in the possession of the battery gunners and the aerial observer, a mere whisper of the wireless sufficed to turn a torrent of shell precisely upon the enemy position which had just been discovered. So accurate had indirect artillery fire become that a steel wall of missiles could be laid down a few yards ahead of a body of troops advancing on a broad front, and this wall could be kept moving steadily ahead of the soldiers at a walking pace with few accidents due to inaccurate control of the guns firing the barrage.

The chief difference between the old and the new methods of artillery practice is the degree of precision attained. At the time of the Civil War the artillery was fired relatively blindly, reliance being placed upon the weight of the fire regardless of its accuracy and its effectiveness; but modern artillery has recognized the importance of the well-placed shot and demands instruments that must be marvels[Pg 136] of accuracy, since a slight error in the aiming at modern ranges means a miss and the total loss of the shot. Such uncanny accuracy is made possible by the use of those instruments of precision known as fire-control apparatus. The gunner who is not equipped with proper fire-control instruments can not aim correctly and is placed at a serious disadvantage in the presence of the enemy. These instruments must not only be as exact as a chronometer, but they must be sufficiently rugged to withstand the concussion of close artillery fire.

Equipment classified under "Sights and fire-control apparatus" comprises all devices to direct the fire of offensive weapons and to observe the effect of this fire in order to place it on the target. Included in this list are instruments of a surveying nature which serve to locate the relative position of the target on the field of battle and to determine its range. For this purpose the artillery officer uses aiming circles, azimuth instruments, battery commander telescopes, prismatic compasses, plotting boards, and other instruments. Telescopes and field glasses equipped with measuring scales in them are also employed in making observations.

Instruments of a second group are attached directly to the gun to train it both horizontally and vertically in the directions given by the battery commander. These devices include sights of different types, elevation quadrants, clinometers, and other instruments. The intricate panoramic sight which is used especially in firing at an unseen target is one of the most important instruments of this group.

Still another set of instruments comprises devices such as range deflection boards, deviation boards, and wind indicators which, together with range tables and other tables, assist the battery commander to ascertain the path of the projectile under any condition of range, altitude, air pressure, temperature, and other physical influences. When it is understood that the projectile fired by such a weapon as the German long-range gun which bombarded Paris at a distance of 70 miles mounts so high into the air that it passes into the highly rarified layers of the air envelope surrounding the earth and thus into entirely different conditions of air pressure, it can be realized how abstruse these range calculations are and how many factors must be taken into account. The fire-control equipment enables the artilleryman to make these computations quickly.

In addition to the above items many auxiliary devices are needed by the Artillery, notable among these being the self-luminous aiming posts and other arrangements which enable the gunners to maintain accuracy of fire at night. This whole elaborate set of instruments is supplied to the field and railway artillery—the big guns—and in part to trench-mortar batteries and even to machine guns, which in the latter months of the war were used in indirect firing.

[Pg 137]

Still another group of pointing instruments is used by antiaircraft guns against hostile aircraft to ascertain their altitude, their speed, and their future location in order that projectiles fired by the antiaircraft guns may hit these high and rapidly moving targets. Sights are also used on the airplanes themselves to aid the pilot and the observer in the dropping of bombs and in gunfire against enemy planes or targets. One of these sights corrects automatically for the speed and direction of the airplane.

Fuse setters, which enable the gunner to time the fuse in the shell so that the projectile moving with enormous speed explodes at precisely the desired point, were required in large numbers.

The responsibility for the design, procurement, production, inspection, and supply of the above equipment to the American Expeditionary Forces was lodged in the Ordnance Department. The effectiveness of the artillery on the field of battle depended directly on the fire-control equipment furnished by this bureau.

The optical industry in this country before the war was in the hands of a few firms. Several of these were under German influence, and one firm was directly affiliated with the Carl Zeiss Works, of Jena, Germany; the workmen were largely Germans or of German origin; the kinds and design of apparatus produced were for the most part essentially European in character; optical glass was procured entirely from abroad and chiefly from Germany.

It was easier and cheaper for manufacturers to order glass from abroad than to develop its manufacture in this country. Educational and research institutions obtained a large part of their equipment from Germany and offered no special inducement for American manufacturers to provide such apparatus. Duty-free importation favored and encouraged this dependence on Germany for scientific apparatus.

With our entrance in the war the European sources of supply for optical glass and optical instruments were cut off abruptly and we were brought face to face with the problem of furnishing these items to the Army and Navy for use in the field. Prior to 1917 only three private manufacturers in the United States had built fire-control apparatus in any quantity for the Government. The Bausch & Lomb Optical Co., Rochester, N. Y., had made range finders and field glasses for the Artillery and Infantry, and gun sights, range finders, and spy glasses and field glasses for the Navy; the Keuffel & Esser Co., Hoboken, N. J., had produced some fire-control equipment for the Navy; the Warner & Swasey Co., Cleveland, Ohio, with J. A. Brashear, Pittsburgh, Pa., had furnished depression-position finders, azimuth instruments, and telescopic musket sights to the Army. The only other source of supply in this country had been the Frankford Arsenal.

[Pg 138]

Prior to 1917 the largest order for fire-control equipment which our Army had ever placed in a single year amounted to $1,202,000. The total orders for such instruments placed by the Ordnance Department alone during the 19 months of war exceeded $50,000,000, while the total orders for fire-control apparatus placed by the Army and Navy exceeded $100,000,000.

To meet the situation, existing facilities had to be increased, new facilities developed, and other, allied, industries converted to the production of fire-control material.

Quantity production had to be secured through the assembling of standardized parts of instruments which heretofore had either never been built in this country or only in a small, experimental way. A large part of the work had of necessity to be done by machines operated by relatively unskilled labor. The manufacturing tolerances had to be nicely adjusted between the different parts of each instrument, so that wherever less precise work would answer the purpose the production methods were arranged accordingly. Only by a careful coordination of design, factory operations, and field performance could quantity production of the desired quality be obtained in a short time. Speed of production meant everything if our troops in the field were to be equipped with the necessary fire-control apparatus and thus enabled to meet the enemy on even approximately equal terms.

To accomplish this object a competent personnel within the Army had to be organized and developed; the Army requirements had to be carefully scrutinized and coordinated with reference to relative urgency; manufacturers had to be encouraged to undertake new tasks and to be impressed with the necessity for whole-hearted cooperation and with the importance of their part in the war; raw materials had to be secured and their transportation assured. These and other factors were faced and overcome.

Although American fire-control instruments did not reach the front in as large numbers as were wanted, great quantities were under way, and we had attained in the manufacturing program a basic stage of progress which would have cared for all of our needs in the spring and summer of 1919. Incidentally there has been developed in this country a manufacturing capacity for precision optical and instrument work, which, if desired, will render us independent of foreign markets. At the present time there exists in this country a trained personnel and adequate organization for the production of precision optical instruments greatly in excess of the needs of the country. One of the problems which we now have to consider is the conversion of this development brought about by war-time conditions into channels of peace-time activity.

[Pg 139]

At the present time American manufacturers are in a position to make instruments of precision equal to the best European product, and the industry will continue, provided there is an adequate market for its product. Such a market will exist if the universities and commercial laboratories of the country will obtain scientific apparatus from American manufacturers rather than import it from abroad as has heretofore been the custom.

In April, 1917, the most serious problem in the situation was the manufacture of optical glass. Prior to 1914 practically all of the optical glass used in the United States had been imported from abroad; manufacturers followed the line of least resistance and preferred to procure certain commodities, such as optical glass, chemical dyes, and other materials difficult to produce, direct from Europe rather than to undertake their manufacture here. The war stopped this source of supply abruptly, and in 1915 experiments on the making of optical glass were under way at five different plants—the Bausch & Lomb Optical Co. at Rochester N. Y.; the Bureau of Standards at Pittsburgh, Pa.; the Keuffel & Esser Co. at Hoboken, N. J.; the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co. at Charleroi, Pa.; the Spencer Lens Co. at Hamburg, Buffalo, N. Y.

By April, 1917, the situation had become acute; some optical glass of fair quality had been produced, but nowhere had its manufacture been placed on an assured basis. The glass-making processes were not adequately known. Without optical glass fire-control instruments could not be produced; optical glass is a thing of high precision and in its manufacture accurate control is required throughout the factory processes. In this emergency the Government appealed to the Geophysical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution of Washington for assistance.

This laboratory had been engaged for many years in the study of solutions, such as that of optical glass, at high temperatures and had a corps of scientists trained along the lines essential to the successful production of optical glass. It was the only organization in the country with a personnel adequate and competent to undertake a manufacturing problem of this character and magnitude. Accordingly, in April, 1917, a group of its scientists was placed at the Bausch & Lomb Optical Co. and given virtual charge of the plant; its men were assigned to the different factory operations and made responsible for them. By November, 1917, the manufacturing processes at this plant had been mastered and large quantities of optical glass of good quality were being produced. In December, 1917, the work was extended, men from the Geophysical Laboratory taking practical charge of the plants of the Spencer Lens Co. and of the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co.

[Pg 140]

The cost to the Geophysical Laboratory of contributing to the Government the solution of the optical glass problem amounted to about $200,000, but the results attained surely more than justified these expenditures. These results could not have been attained, however, without the hearty cooperation of the manufacturers and of the Army and Navy, which assisted in the procurement and transportation of the raw materials. An ordnance officer was in charge of the Rochester party from the Geophysical Laboratory and was responsible for much of the pioneer development work accomplished there. It was at this plant, that of the Bausch & Lomb Optical Co. at Rochester, that the methods of manufacture were first developed and placed on a production basis. The Bureau of Standards aided in the development of a chemically and thermally resistant crucible in which to melt optical glass; also in the testing of optical glass, and especially in the testing of optical instruments. The Geological Survey aided in locating sources of raw materials, such as sand of adequate chemical purity.

By February, 1918, the supply of optical glass was assured; but the manufacture of optical instruments was so seriously behind schedule that a military optical glass and instrument section was formed in the War Industries Board and took charge of the entire optical instrument industry of the country. Through the efforts of its chief, Mr. George E. Chatillon, of New York, the entire industry was coordinated. By September, 1918, the production of fire-control instruments in sufficient quantities to meet the requirements of both the Army and Navy during 1919 was believed to be assured.

To the accomplishment of this result the Ordnance Department contributed most effectively. The information and long experience of Frankford Arsenal in instrument manufacture and in the work of precision optics were placed at the service of contractors; trained officers of the Ordnance Department were stationed at the different factories; in many factories these officers rendered valuable aid in devising and developing proper and adequate factory operations, in establishing production on a satisfactory basis, in securing the proper inflow of raw materials, in devising testing fixtures, in establishing proper manufacturing tolerances, and in testing the performance of the assembled instruments. Schools for operatives in precision optics were established at Frankford Arsenal, Philadelphia, Pa., at Rochester, N. Y., and at Mount Wilson Observatory, Pasadena, Cal. To many contractors financial aid had to be extended. The fire-control program required, in short, all the available talent and resources of the country to carry it to a successful finish.

The general procedure adopted by the Ordnance Department was to assign the more difficult instruments to manufacturers who had had experience along similar lines. To others, who had produced[Pg 141] articles allied only in a distant way to fire-control instruments, less intricate types of instruments were awarded. In certain instances the optical elements were produced by one firm, the mechanical parts by another, the final assembly of the instrument being then accomplished by the latter.

Because our Army had adopted a number of French guns for reproduction here, it became necessary to build sights for these weapons according to the French designs. This gave us much trouble, not only because of the delay in securing samples and drawings from France, but because of the difficulties in producing articles from these French drawings by American methods and with American workmen.

The most intricate of these French sights was the Schneider quadrant sight. It was used with the French 155-millimeter gun, the 155-millimeter howitzer, and the 240-millimeter howitzer. The structure of this sight was highly complicated, and extreme accuracy was required at every stage of production. These sights were put into production by the Emerson Engineering Co. of Philadelphia, the Raymond Engineering Co. of New York, and by Slocum, Avram & Slocum of New York.

The design of this sight was received from France early in 1918, yet it was the 1st of November—10 days before the armistice was signed—when the first Schneider sight was delivered to the Army; but at all times the progress made was as rapid as could be expected. A total of 7,000 Schneider quadrant sights was ordered, which meant a year's work for 1,000 men. Of this order 3,500 sights were to be manufactured by the Schneider Co. in France and the rest by the three firms in this country. On November 11 the American factories had delivered 74 sights and since that time over 560 have been completed.

The amount of labor involved in the case of Schneider quadrant sights is shown by the fact that while the raw material for it cost about $25, the finished sight is worth about $600. In order to expedite production the Government extended financial assistance to some of the factories to aid in the procurement and installation of additional equipment. On November 11 the number of these sights completed was short of requirements for installation on completed carriages by about 400, but the rate of progress which had been attained in production would have overtaken the output of gun carriages by January 1, 1919.

Another difficult task was the construction of telescopic sights for the French 37-millimeter guns, the "Infantry cannon" which we adopted for reproduction in this country. Here again we encountered the same difficulty of adapting French plans to our methods. The original contract was placed with a firm which had had no ex[Pg 142]perience with optical instruments of precision, but no other company was available for the work. When by May, 1918, this concern had produced only a few sights the contract was taken from it and placed with a subcontractor, the Central Scientific Co., of Chicago, who had been building mechanical parts for the sights. In this plant the complete force had to be educated in the art before any production could begin. When the armistice was signed the gun factories had produced 884 of the 37-millimeter guns, but only 142 telescopic sights had been completed. The rate of production of these sights by the Central Scientific Co. was such, however, that the shortage would have ceased to exist shortly after January 1, 1919.

The French design for the telescopic sight for the 37-millimeter gun used on the tanks was also adopted by the Army. Here again difficulty was experienced in manufacture, but excellent progress was made especially by one firm (Burke & James of Chicago, Ill.), and the output in adequate quantities was assured for 1919. The French collimator sight for the 75-millimeter gun presented difficulties to the manufacturer, especially in the optical parts. These were, however, overcome by the Globe Optical Co., who furnished the optics to the Electric Auto-Lite Corporation and to the Standard Thermometer Co. of Boston, with the result that at the time of the signing of the armistice the production of these sights was progressing well.

Periscopes from 20 inches to nearly 20 feet in length were produced in quantity. These periscopes enabled the men in the front-line trenches to look over the top with comparative safety. The long periscopes were used in deep-shelter trenches and bomb proofs. The production of the short-base periscopes and also of the battery commanders' periscopes by the Wollensak Optical Co., Rochester, N. Y., and of the 3-meter and 6-meter periscope by the Andrew J. Lloyd Co. of Boston, Mass., was progressing at such a rate that the needs of the Army for 1919 would be met on time.

At the outbreak of the war the policy followed by the Ordnance Department was to place orders for standard fire-control apparatus, such as range finders of different base lengths, battery commander telescopes, aiming circles, panoramic sights, musket sights, and prismatic compasses with firms of established reputation and experience. The result was that when requests from the Army in France came for instruments of new design, new sources of manufacture had to be sought out and these organizations educated in the methods of precision optics. Such a procedure necessarily caused delay, but it was the only course of action left. Wherever possible part of the total contract was awarded to an experienced manufacturer, so that some production was assured.









[Pg 143]

The records show that the experienced manufacturers overcame the difficulties encountered and had obtained in general a rate of output which was satisfactory at the time of the signing of the armistice. Thus the Bausch & Lomb Optical Co. had delivered large numbers of range finders of base lengths of 80 centimeters, 1 meter and 15 feet, and battery commanders' telescopes; Keuffel & Esser had made many prismatic compasses and a few range finders; the Spencer Lens Co. had produced aiming circles in quantity; the Warner & Swasey Co., with J. A. Brashear of Pittsburgh, had furnished large numbers of the valuable panoramic sights with which much of the artillery fire is directed. Much credit is due the above organizations for the efficient manner in which they placed the manufacture of these items on a high-speed production basis. Frankford Arsenal proved to be a most reliable source of supply for battery commander telescopes, panoramic sights, azimuth instruments for 3-inch telescopes, plotting boards, and other ordnance fire-control instruments.

The manufacture of many other types of instruments was undertaken in this country. Among these the French sitogoniometer, a device which assists the battery commander in obtaining data for the direction of fire, was successfully produced by the Martin-Copeland Co. of Providence, R. I.; quadrant sights for the 37-millimeter gun by the Scientific Materials Co. of Pittsburgh; lensatic compasses and Brunton compasses were furnished by Wm. Ainsworth & Sons of Denver, Colo.; prismatic compasses by the Sperry Gyroscope Co. of Brooklyn, N. Y.; telescopes for sights on antiaircraft carriages by the Kollmorgen Optical Corporation of Brooklyn; altimeters, gunners' quadrants, elevation quadrants, and aiming stakes by the J. H. Deagan Co. of Chicago, Ill.; panoramic telescopes and fuse setters by the Recording & Computing Machines Co. of Dayton, Ohio; battery commander telescopes by Arthur Brock of Philadelphia; tripods for fire-control instruments by the National Cash Register Co. of Dayton, Ohio. Optics for different sights were furnished by the American Optical Co. of Southbridge, Mass., and by the Mount Wilson Observatory of Pasadena, Calif. These and other organizations entered into the task and devoted their energy to the production of equipment desired by the Government.

At no time during the fighting did our artillery units have a sufficient supply of fire-control instruments. This was due to the fact that we were not able to secure in Europe the amount of this equipment required to take care of our needs while our own industry was being developed.

With almost a total lack of optical glass in this country, with an equal lack of factories and workmen familiar with military optical instrument-making, we were suddenly called upon to produce about[Pg 144] 200 different types of instruments in large quantities. These included many new designs of fire-control apparatus made necessary by new artillery developments both among the allies and in our own factories, by the adoption of trench warfare in place of open warfare, by the development of weapons for use against aircraft, by the extension of indirect fire-control methods to weapons which formerly had been fired by direct sighting, and by the use of railway and seacoast artillery.

While we did not solve all the difficulties in this development, we had met and conquered the worst of them, and we were making such great strides in production when the war ended that all the requirements of the Army would have been met early in 1919. It has been a source of inspiration to witness the high sense of patriotic duty and cooperation shown by the manufacturers which made possible the remarkable expansion of the optical glass and instrument industry in the United States during the period of the war.

The following table shows the principal items of sights and fire-control apparatus, the firms that did the work, the quantity of the various kinds of instruments ordered, and the deliveries made up to November 11, 1918, and to February 20, 1919:

Material. Firm. Total ordered. Deliveries to—
Nov. 11, 1918. Feb. 20, 1919.
Aiming circle, model 1916 Spencer Lens Co., Buffalo, N. Y. 1,473 717 1,117
Do. Frankford Arsenal, Philadelphia. 98 98 98
Aiming stakes for machine gun. J. C. Deagan Co., Chicago, Ill. 16,618 1,320
Aiming posts, field artillery. Metropolitan Manufacturing Co., Detroit, Mich. 16,791 25 250
Do. Dahlstrom Metallic Door Co., Jamestown, N. Y. 10,791
Aiming devices. National Vitaphone Corporation, Plainfield, N. J. 5,700 150
Angle of site instruments. Atwater Kent Manufacturing Co., Philadelphia. 4,468 4,401 4,468
Do. Blair Tool Machine Co., New York City 1,090 1,090 1,090
Azimuth instruments, model 1910 Warner & Swasey Co., Cleveland, Ohio 129 126 129
Azimuth instruments, model 1918 Spencer Lens Co., Buffalo, N. Y. 669 1
Boards, gun deflection. Premier Metal Etching Co., New York City. 13
Boards, Pirie deviation. Metallograph Corporation, New York City. 628
Boards, plotting. McFarlan Motor Co., Connersville, Ind. 4,811 4,811 4,811
Boards, Pratt range. F. F. Metzger, Philadelphia, Pa. 134 65
Boards, range deflection. Gorham Manufacturing Co., Providence, R. I. 741
Boards, rocket. Liquid Carbon Co., Chicago, Ill. 3,000 630
Chronographs. Precision Thermometer Co., Philadelphia, Pa. 19 9 19
Chronographs, Aberdeen. Leeds Northrup Co., Philadelphia, Pa. 20 18 20
Clinometers, machine-gun. Atwater Kent Manufacturing Co., Philadelphia, Pa. 26,972 8,270 21,972
Do. Central Scientific Co., Chicago, Ill. 10,644
Clinometers, machine gun, model 1912 F. F. Metzger, Philadelphia, Pa. 25 25 25
Compass, lensatic. Wm. Ainsworth & Sons, Denver, Colo. 11,651 8,150 11,651
Compass, prismatic. Sperry Gyroscope Co., Brooklyn, N. Y. 9,575 600 3,000
Do. Keuffel & Esser Co., Hoboken, N. J. 4,028 3,828 4,028
Compass, transit, pocket, Brunton. Wm. Ainsworth & Sons, Denver, Colo. 1,500 1,500 1,500
Cylinders, cannon pressure. Wilton Tool Co., Boston, Mass. 8,000 8,000 8,000
Depression position finders, Lewis. Pratt-Whitney Co., Hartford, Conn.; J. A. Brashear, Pittsburgh, Pa. 90 81 90
Electrical equipment for aiming posts. Line Material Corporation, Milwaukee, Wis. 26,888 11,765[Pg 145]
Electric lighting devices. Guide Motor Lamp Co., Cleveland, Ohio. 5,352
Flash lights. Delta Electric Co., Marion, Ind. 136,861 73,066 125,448
Do. Novo Manufacturing Co., New York City. 13,563 13,563 13,563
Do. American Ever-ready Works, Long Island City, N. Y. 341,373 194,878 257,258
Glass, optical, lbs. Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co., Charleroi, Pa. 45,000 23,761½ 24,010
Do. Spencer Lens Co., Buffalo, N. Y. 3,490 517½
Do. Bausch & Lomb Optical Co., Rochester, N. Y. 4,450 4,450 4,450
Goniometers, model 1917 Sloane & Chase Manufacturing Co., Newark, N. J. 90
Levels, longitudinal, 3-inch. Young & Sons, Philadelphia, Pa. 1,310 934 1,201
Levels, longitudinal. Arthur Brock, jr., Philadelphia, Pa. 1,474 864 864
Levels, sight Electric Auto-Lite Corporation, Toledo, Ohio. 1,277 560 1,277
Levels, testing. Carlson-Wenstrom Co., Philadelphia, Pa. 1,620 196 590
Lighting devices for field carriages. Globe Machine & Stamping Co., Cleveland, Ohio. 27,240 8,000
Night firing boxes for machine gun. New Method Stove Co., Mansfield, Ohio. 16,618 3,196
Do. Delta Electric Co., Marion, Ind. 16,818 4,417
Periscopes, battery commander's. do. 11,701 289 5,000
Periscopes, mirror. J. R. Young Co. (Penn Toy Co.), Pittsburgh, Pa. 60,000 60,000 60,000
Do. Seneca Camera Co., Rochester, N. Y. 36,625 72 72
Periscopes, rifle, model 1917 Oneida Community, Oneida, N. Y. 140,527 115,236 115,236
Do. John W. Browne Manufacturing Co., Detroit, Mich. 58,313 58,313 58,313
Periscopes, 3 m. deep, shelter. A. J. Lloyd Co., Boston, Mass. 2,234 16
Periscopes, 6 m. deep, shelter. do. 2,234 276 700
Periscopes, trench, No. 10 Wollensak Optical Co., Rochester, N. Y. 32,512 2,948 9,252
Plane tables. Pfau Manufacturing Co., Norwood, Ohio. 4,928 3,200 4,928
Protractors, Alidade. Metallograph Corporation, New York City. 13,945
Do. Wm. Ainsworth & Co., Denver, Colo. 1,000 108
Protractors and straightedges. Frankford Arsenal, Philadelphia, Pa. 1,284 1,284 1,284
Do. Eugene Dietzgen Co., Chicago, Ill. 35,112 35,112 35,112
Do. Whitehead Hoag Co., Newark, N. J. 5,000 3,500
Do. Celluloid Co., New York, N. Y. 12,422 12,422 12,422
Do. Keuffel & Esser Co., Hoboken, N. J. 6,509 6,509 6,509
Quadrants, elevation. Recording & Computing Machine Co., Dayton, Ohio. 214 74 106
Do. J. C. Deagan Co., Chicago, Ill. 120 45 120
Quadrants, gunner's. International Register Co., Chicago, Ill. 72 72 72
Do. Central Scientific Co., Chicago, Ill. 6,245 2,852
Do. J. C. Deagan Co., Chicago, Ill. 6,245 2,552
Do. Gorham Manufacturing Co., Providence, R. I. 491 137 329
Quadrants, range. Talbot Reel Manufacturing Co., Kansas City, Mo. 200 101 186
Do. Slocum, Avram & Slocum, Newark, N. J. 1,386 431 940
Range finders, 80-cm. Bausch & Lomb Optical Co., Rochester, N. Y. 5,470 2,167 2,600
Do. Keuffel & Esser Co., Hoboken, N. J. 1,000
Range finders, 1-meter. Bausch & Lomb Optical Co., Rochester, N. Y. 7,131 1,508 1,665
Range finders, 15-foot. do. 65 55 55
Range finders, 9-foot. Keuffel & Esser Co., Hoboken, N. J. 86
Recording thermometers. Bristol Co., Waterbury, Conn. 439 439 439
Rules, battery commander's. Wescott Jewel Co., Seneca Falls, N. Y. 26,406 26,406 26,406
Do. Stanley Rule & Level Co., New Britain, Conn. 1,500 1,500 1,500
Rules, elevation, slide, model 1918 J. E. Sjostrom Co., Detroit, Mich. 200 200 200
Rules, Hitt-Browne, for machine gun. U. S. Infantry Association, Washington, D. C. 24,058 24,058
Rules, musketry. Taft-Pierce Manufacturing Co., Woonsocket, R. I. 80,000 80,000 80,000
Do. Metallograph Corporation, New York. 55,067 55,067
Rules, slide. J. H. Weil Co., Philadelphia, Pa. 4,852 4,852 4,852
Rules, slide, model E. Frankford Arsenal, Philadelphia, Pa. 1,500 1,500 1,500[Pg 146]
Rules, 2-foot. Stanley Rule & Level Co., New Britain, Conn. 52,519 52,519 52,519
Do. Lufkin Rule Co., Saginaw, Mich. 38,540 38,540 38,540
Do. Upson Nut Co., Cleveland, Ohio. 14,358 14,358 14,358
Do. Chapin-Stephens Co., Pine Meadow, Conn. 7,040 7,040 7,040
Rules, zinc, for machine guns. Clapp Eastman Co., Cambridge, Mass. 5,193 5,193
Rules, 3-foot. L. S. Starrett Co., Athol, Mass. 343 343 343
Rules, boxwood. Stanley Rule & Level Co., New Britain, Conn. 2,000 2,000 2,000
Do. Lufkin Rule Co., Saginaw, Mich. 15,630 3,000 7,509
Rule, zigzag. do. 2,312 2,312 2,312
Sights, antiaircraft, model 1917 Recording & Computing Machines Co., Dayton, Ohio. 25 25 25
Do. New Britain Machine Co., New Britain, Conn. 60 1 60
Sights for antiaircraft carriages. do. 519 27 63
Sights, telescopes, for antiaircraft carriages. Kollmorgen Optical Co., Brooklyn, N. Y. 519 66 255
Sights, telescopes, for goniometers. do. 90 16
Sights, optics, for altimeter telescope, model 1917 Mount Wilson Observatory, Pasadena, Calif. 467 467
Sights, bomb. Globe Optical Co., Boston, Mass. 100 100 100
Sights, bore. Benjamin Electric Manufacturing Co., Chicago, Ill. 2,191 1 2,191
Do. Poole Engineering & Machine Co., Hagerstown, Md. 1,500 524 1,357
Do. Buffalo Forge Co., Buffalo, N. Y. 900 900 900
Sights, panoramic, for machine gun. Atwater-Kent Manufacturing Co., Philadelphia, Pa. 6,000 525
Do. Scientific Materials Co., Pittsburgh, Pa. 4,510
Sights for 1917 6-inch gun carriages. Recording & Computing Machines Co., Dayton, Ohio. 123 123 123
Sights, luminous. Radium Luminous Material Corporation. 1,250 1,215 1,250
Sights, luminous, for machine gun. Watson Luminous Gunsight Co., New York. 123,236 18,018 87,236
Sights, panoramic, model 1917 Warner & Swasey Co., Cleveland, Ohio. 9,500 1,336 2,180
Do. Frankford Arsenal, Philadelphia, Pa. 800 800 800
Do. Recording & Computing Machines Co., Dayton, Ohio. 6,000 100 230
Sights, panoramic, model 1915 Frankford Arsenal, Philadelphia, Pa. 237 237 237
Sights, panoramic, for 8-in gun. Recording & Computing Machines Co., Dayton, Ohio. 30 30 30
Sights, quadrants, Schneider. Emerson Engineering Co., Philadelphia, Pa. 800
Do. Raymond Engineering Co., New York City. 764 1
Do. Slocum, Avram & Slocum, New York City. 3,800 74 567
Sights, telescopic, rifle, style B. Winchester Repeating Arms Co., New Haven, Conn. 89 89
Sights, telescopic, rifle, 5A, mounted on rifle. do. 400 400 400
Sights, telescopic, rifle, model 1918 do. 32,000
Sights, telescopic, rifle, model 1913 Warner & Swasey Co., Cleveland, Ohio. 4,000 4,000 4,000
Sights, optics for telescopic, rifle, model 1918 Eastman Kodak Co., Rochester, N. Y. 42,607
Sights, telescopic, 37-mm. Infantry gun. Central Scientific Co., Chicago, Ill. 4,100 142 578
Sights, Telescopic, for 37-mm. Infantry gun. Universal Optical Co., Providence, R. I. 1,225
Sights, telescopic, for 37-mm gun. Globe Optical Co., Boston, Mass. 50 50 50
Sights, optics, clinometer, for 37-mm. gun. American Optical Co., South Bridge, Mass. 1,692 910 1,692
Sights, telescopic, for 37-mm tank gun. Burke & James Co., Chicago, Ill. 6,576 50 386
Sights, optics for telescopic, for 37-mm gun. American Optical Co., South Bridge, Mass. 784 784 784
Sights, quadrant, for 37-mm gun. Scientific Materials Co., Pittsburgh, Pa. 3,192 600 1,207
Sights for 75-mm. gun. Electric Auto-lite Corporation, Toledo, Ohio. 2,632 221 1,100
Do. Standard Thermometer Co., Boston, Mass. 2,000
Sights, master, for 75-mm. gun. Electric Auto-Lite Corporation, Toledo, Ohio. 820 7
Do. Standard Thermometer Co., Boston, Mass. 410 26[Pg 147]
Sights, optics for model 1901, for 75-mm. gun. Globe Optical Co., Rochester, N. Y. 2,632 385 1,500
Sights, model 1918, for 75-mm. gun. Ansco Co., Binghamton, N. Y. 3,142
Sights, shanks for telescopic, model 1918, for 75-mm. gun. American Standard Motion-Picture Machine Co., New York. 2,178
Sights, for 3-inch gun, model 1916 Peerless Printing Press Co., Palmyra, N. Y. 1,456 455 591
Sights, peep, for 3-inch gun. Standard Thermometer Co., Boston, Mass. 2,000 900 1,600
Sights for 3-inch gun. Frankford Arsenal, Philadelphia, Pa. 366 366 366
Sights, model 1916, for 3.8-inch howitzer carriage. do. 40 40 40
Sights, peep, for Schneider quadrants. Electro Auto-Lite Corporation, Toledo, Ohio. 2,632 96 960
Sights, peep, for 4.7-inch gun. do. 720 24
Sights, for 4.7-inch gun. Carlson-Wenstrom Co., Philadelphia, Pa. 286 70 126
Do. Emerson Engineering Co., Philadelphia, Pa. 500 125
Sights for 5-inch improvised gun carriage. Blair Tool & Machine Co., New York City. 26
Sights for 6-inch improvised gun carriage. do. 143
Sights, dial, 8-inch howitzer. Arthur Brook, jr., Philadelphia, Pa. 75
Sights, clinometer, 8-inch howitzer. do. 75
Rocking bar, 8-inch. do. 75
Sights, lens for master, for 75-mm. gun. Central Scientific Co., Chicago, Ill. 615 615
Sitogoniometer. Martin Copeland Co., Providence, R. I. 5,100 5,100
Squares, zinc. Metallograph Corporation, New York. 13,551 13,551 13,551
Squares, zinc, for machine gun. Clapp Eastman Co., Cambridge, Mass. 12,752 456 12,752
Staffs, sighting. Colson Co., Elyria, Ohio. 1,205 1,205 1,205
Staffs, Jacob's, for field glass supports. McFarlan Motor Co., Connersville, Ind. 15,745 15,745
Tapes, steel, 5 feet. Justus Roe & Sons, Patchogue, N. Y. 50,000 50,000
Do. Lufkin Rule Co., Saginaw, Mich. 31,791 31,791 31,791
Tapes, steel 60 feet. do. 4,250 4,250 4,250
Tapes, steel. do. 1,422
Tapes, metallic linen. do. 10,441 5,608 8,988
Telescopes, azimuth instrument, model 1918 Spencer Lens Co., Buffalo, N. Y. 1,579
Telescopes, battery commander's. Bausch & Lomb Optical Co., Rochester, N. Y. 6,428 2,820 3,698
Do. Arthur Brock, jr., Philadelphia, Pa. 2,029
Do. Central Scientific Co., Chicago, Ill. 2,000
Do. Frankford Arsenal, Philadelphia, Pa. 52 52 52
Telescopes, battery commander's, tripod. National Cash Register Co., Dayton, Ohio. 15,730 9,858 15,730
Telescopes for panoramic 4 and 10 power. Recording & Computing Machines Co., Dayton, Ohio. 217 41 50
Telescopes, periscopic. Keuffel & Esser Co., Hoboken, N. J. 1,579
Tripods for machine-gun sights. Herschede Hall Clock Co., Cincinnati, Ohio. 7,854
[Pg 148]


Complete motorization of field artillery and its ammunition supply is almost certain to be one of the far-reaching and highly important results of our country's experiences in its participation in the war.

Practically all field artillery was of the horse-drawn type previous to our entry into the war, but with the evolution and perfection of the heavier siege artillery, 5-ton, 10-ton, and even heavier, traction engines were brought into play as means of motive power for the big guns and howitzers, with such success that the horse in the field artillery operations was being supplanted to a large degree by mechanical power.

Strictly speaking, the foundation for this departure had been laid before 1917, in the Mexican campaign of 1916 and in experiments that had been conducted at the Rock Island Arsenal. Insufficiency of funds, however, had prevented the experiments from being either thorough or extensive.

A consideration of the difficulties that vehicles of all sorts had to contend with in the battle areas of Europe made it evident at the outset that two general types of motor carriers would be required by the Army so far as ordnance was concerned—one type for far-advanced work, for hauling artillery over the worst possible kind of shell-torn and water-soaked earth, and the other for bringing up ammunition, supplies, equipment for repairs and the like in less advanced zones and areas, but over roads and country that had been cut and hacked and made almost impassible by the activities of the contending forces.


The standard four-wheel-drive commercial trucks, modified to meet the special needs of the service, were adopted immediately after war began, while experimental work was put under way to develop a standard type that would set this country far in advance of all others in this line of activity.

A total of 30,072 of the four-wheel-drive trucks was ordered, and before the armistice 12,498 of this number had been completed, while 23,499 had been turned out by the 31st of January, 1919.

In round numbers, 25,000 of these trucks were to be equipped with bodies for the hauling of ammunition, and the balance with special bodies and equipment suitable for artillery supply and repair, for repair of equipment, and for heavy mobile ordnance.


This truck was designed with special bodies and loads for varied classes of artillery supply, and the bodies could be mounted on either Nash or F. W. D. chassis.


This is another special body equipped with suitable machinery and tools for minor repairs and capable of being mounted on either F. W. D. or Nash four-wheel-drive chassis.


This is the vehicle, designed by the Ordnance Department and civilian experts, that was intended to supersede both the Nash and the F. W. D. and become the standard Army wheeled tractor. It is shown here with standard ammunition body mounted thereon.


Special body, carrying tools and machinery for doing repair work to harness, personal equipment, etc., and capable of being mounted on either F. W. D. or Nash four-wheel-drive chassis.

[Pg 149]

Special bodies were manufactured by these concerns:

The first contract for these trucks was placed on August 18, 1917, and 9,420 were shipped to the American Expeditionary Forces overseas by the date of the armistice.

It required considerable time to work out and perfect all the details of the special bodies and equipment, as most of these were exceedingly complicated, and in a number of cases there were as many as 700 items of equipment on a single truck.

Representatives of the allied governments were not hesitant in asserting that the line of artillery repair trucks developed for our Army was the most complete and well worked out in detail that any army ever received.

These manufacturers did the work of turning out the special trucks:

About 4,000 of the 5,000 special body type of trucks were delivered before the middle of December, 1918.


There were developed five different types of four-wheeled trailers. Each type, being for a particular use, required a special study and individual design, with all the consequent specially prepared machines and specialized shop work.

[Pg 150]

For antiaircraft service, a 1½-ton and a 3-ton trailer were worked out; for the 75-millimeter field gun, a special 3-ton trailer; for the mobile repair shops, a 4-ton trailer; and for the small tank, a special 10-ton trailer.

By the middle of December, 2,157 of these trailers had been delivered of the 4,847 that had been ordered and put in production.

Concerns engaged in turning out trailers were:

It might also be stated at this point, too, that two special types of passenger motor vehicles were designed and built. One of these was for staff observation and the other for reconnaissance. Nearly all of the total of 2,250 that were ordered of these two types were completed by mid-December, 1918, delivery of them having started in the month of April, 1918.


It was found after a comprehensive study of the needs of the various branches of ordnance and the requirement of the big guns that five sizes of caterpillar tractors would be required—of capacities of 2½ tons, 5 tons, 10 tons, 15 tons, and 20 tons.

Commercial types of machines of the 15-ton and 20-ton sort, with only slight alterations, were found to be suitable, but special designs were made for those of 2½-ton, 5-ton, and 10-ton capacity. Our experience in Mexico and the experiments at the Rock Island Arsenal had taught us the need of the special designs of machines of those sizes.

In all, 24,791 of these five types of caterpillar tractors were ordered. The 5-ton machine reached production in the summer of 1918 and the 2½-ton machine in the fall. By the end of the following January, 5,940 of the tractors had been delivered. Manufacturers who had orders for the caterpillar tractors were:

Throughout the production of tractors during the war period there was continuous and persistent experimentation, and satisfactory solutions of many of the problems were being reached at the time of the signing of the armistice.

Self-propelled caterpillar gun mounts were the subject of the most important of these experiments. The self-propelled caterpillar gun[Pg 151] mounts differ from the ordinary caterpillar tractors in that they have the guns mounted directly on them, the guns forming an integral part of the entire machine. Six types of these were being developed, and 270 had been ordered when the armistice came.

A 2½-ton tractor mounting a 75-millimeter gun and a 5-ton tractor containing a gun of the same size were far along the road to success in their first state of development.

Development of caterpillar cargo carriers or caissons for bearing supplies over any sort of terrain, no matter how rough the going might be and regardless of whether there were roads or not, was so far along the pathway of success that two sizes were about to go into production on November 11.

A 2½-ton ammunition trailer, a 2-ton 11-inch trench mortar trailer, and a 4.7-inch antiaircraft gun trailer were also in development, but not in production, at the time of the signing of the armistice.

So successful were the experiments with new types of four-wheel-drive trucks and tractors that orders for what would probably have proven the best type of four-wheel-drive truck and the best type of four-wheel-drive tractor ever produced had been placed, but the signing of the armistice forced cancellations of these orders. In the course of the experiments, all types of American four-wheel-drive vehicles were examined and two of the best French types.

The purchase of $365,000,000 worth of trucks, trailers, and tractors was obligated in about 3,000 separate orders.


In Europe, the French had been the only people to experiment with caterpillar mounts for guns. They produced the St. Chamond type, but this had not gone far beyond the experimental stages.

Prior to the early months of 1918, our own efforts along this line consisted in the building of one caterpillar mount, self-propelled by a gasoline engine and carrying an antiaircraft gun. Around this nucleus an ambitious caterpillar program was built.

An 8-inch howitzer was placed on this antiaircraft caterpillar mount and fired at angles of elevation varying up to 45°. Maneuvered over difficult ground, the machine withstood the firing strains and road tests in a highly satisfactory manner.

As a result of the success of these tests, orders were placed for three more experimental caterpillars to mount 8-inch howitzers. Tests of two of these completed units were so gratifying that it was felt they warranted quantity production. Accordingly, orders were placed for 50 units of the 8-inch howitzer caterpillars to cost about $30,000 apiece, for 50 caterpillar units mounting 155-millimeter guns, and for 250 units mounting 240-millimeter howitzers.

[Pg 152]

The Standard Steel Car Co., Hammond, Ind., was to produce the 240-millimeter howitzer caterpillars, the Harrisburg Manufacturing & Boiler Co., Harrisburg, Pa., was to turn out the 8-inch howitzer caterpillars, and the Morgan Engineering Co., of Alliance, Ohio, was to produce the 155-millimeter gun caterpillars.

Mountings for the 8-inch howitzer and 155-millimeter gun were practically identical. Both utilized many of the standard Holt caterpillar parts. The only real change was in the carriage for the 155-millimeter gun. This was made sufficiently sturdy to carry higher-powered guns. A 194-millimeter gun is now being machined in France, and when finished it will be shipped to this country to be mounted upon the 155-millimeter caterpillar mount for experiment.

The 240-millimeter howitzer mounts were of two types—one following closely the St. Chamond type of the French and the other being a self-contained unit designed by Ordnance Department engineers. The self-contained type is a single unit that mounts both the power plant and the howitzer and for which it is necessary to provide additional cargo-carrying caterpillars to haul ammunition and fuel. Two units make up the St. Chamond type. One mounts the gun and electric motors; the other, a limber, mounts the power plant and carries ammunition.

In the battle area the St. Chamond type had the peculiar advantage that the power-plant unit could be run to shelter and be available for a rapid advance or change of location of the gun mount as the situation might demand. With the self-contained unit a direct hit by the enemy would put both gun and power plant out of commission.

Contracts for the caterpillar mounts called for the completion of the entire program not later than February, 1919. All the firms engaged on the work of production were putting forth every effort when the armistice was signed and there was every reason to believe deliveries would be as scheduled. The termination of hostilities caused all contracts to be reduced. Provisions have been made for only enough caterpillars of each type to provide for further experimental work.

Twenty mounts equipped with caterpillar treads and mounting 7-inch Navy rifles were built by the Baldwin Locomotive Co. for the Navy Department. These were so successfully operated that orders were placed for 36 similar units for the use of the Army, but since the signing of the armistice this order has been cut to 18.

The great gun on a caterpillar mount fires its death-dealing projectile, and almost before the shot has reached its destination the caterpillar mount has moved the gun to another point. With motor still running the gun is fired again and once more quickly moved on to another location, so that the enemy's artillery is unable to get its range.







Special body for field touring on a White one-ton truck chassis.


The machine-gun truck is similar except for the addition of gun racks under rear seat and on Commerce chassis.





Special body with tools for making minor motor repairs.


A specially designed vehicle for carrying different loads, including a 3-inch field-gun carriage and limber in one load and two 3-inch field-gun caissons for another load.




[Pg 153]

Ordnance motor production table.
Size. Quantity ordered. Quantity accepted Nov. 11, 1918. Quantity accepted Jan. 31, 1919. Floated to Nov. 11, 1918.
2½-ton 5,586 10 25 2
5-ton 11,150 1,543 3,480 459
10-ton 6,623 1,421 2,014 628
15-ton 267 267 267 232
20-ton 1,165 126 154 81
1½-ton antiaircraft machine gun 2,289 150 562 126
3-inch field gun 830 235 472 15
4-ton shop bodies 576 101 384 12
4-ton shop chassis 576 260 555
10-ton 540 104 245 1
3-inch antiaircraft 612 542 611 199
F. W. D. chassis 13,907 5,361 10,615 3,561
Nash chassis 16,165 7,137 12,884 5,859
Ammunition bodies 24,729 18,212 21,709
Ammunition mountings 24,729 9,615 11,024 6,955
Artillery repair 1,332 1,318 1,332 350
Artillery supply 5,474 813 1,838 444
Light repair 1,012 1,012 1,012 362
Dodge chassis 1,012 1,012 1,012 436
Commerce chassis 1,500 1,500 1,500 24
Machine-gun body, mounted on Commerce or White 1-ton chassis 1,500 486 1,306 241
1-ton supply 60 60 60 55
White chassis 1,695 1,929 2,695 575
Reconnaissance 1,081 712 1,003 320
Staff observation 1,175 1,164 1,175 189
Equipment repair 310 310 310 121
H. M. R. S. trucks 624 287 416 12
[Pg 154]


The tank, more than any other weapon born of the great war, may be called the joint enterprise of the three principal powers arrayed against Germany—America, France, and Great Britain. An American produced the fundamental invention, the caterpillar traction device, which enables the fortress to move. A Frenchman took the idea from this and evolved the tank as an engine of war. The British first used the terrifying monster in actual fighting.

There is a common impression throughout America that the British Army invented the tank. The impression is wrong in two ways. The French government has recently awarded the ribbon of the Legion of Honor to the French ordnance officer who is officially hailed as the tank's inventor. His right to the honor, however, is disputed by a French civilian who possesses an impressive exhibition of drawings to prove that he and not the officer is the inventor. As this is written a lively controversy over the point is in progress in France. Wherever the credit for the invention belongs, the French were first to build tanks, building them only experimentally, however, and not using them until after the British had demonstrated their effectiveness.

In the second place, it was not the British Army which adopted them first in England, but the British Navy. The tank as an idea shared the experience of many another war invention in being skeptically received by the conservative experts. The British Navy, indeed, produced the first ones in England; but to the British Army goes the glory of having first used them in actual fighting and of establishing them in the forefront of modern offensive weapons.

Brought forth as a surprise, the tanks made an effective début in the great British drive for Cambrai. Later the enemy affected to scoff at their usefulness. The closing months of the tanks' brief history, however, found them in greater favor than ever, and they were used by both sides in increasing numbers.

Up to the beginning of the summer of 1917 there was little accurate information in this country regarding the tanks. Somewhat hazy specifications then began to come from Europe about the designs of the different tanks at that particular time in use on the battle front, but these specifications were exceedingly rough and sketchy, consisting in the main of merely the fact that the machines should be able to cross trenches about 6 feet wide, that each should carry one heavy gun and two or three machine guns, and that their protection should consist of armor plate about five-eighths of an inch thick.


Weight, 5,800 pounds; crew, two men (one gunner, one driver); power plant, two Ford motors, geared together, each motor driving one track; speed, nine miles per hour; climbing ability, 45°.


This machine is practically a copy of the French Renault tank and carries two men (one driver, one gunner). About half of these tanks were equipped with 37-millimeter cannon and about half with machine guns. Certain of these tanks also made with wireless apparatus substituted for the turret of the fighting tanks. Power plant, one Buda 4-cylinder motor; speed, five to six miles per hour; grade capacity, 45°; weight, 15,000 pounds.

[Pg 155]

With these facts as a guide, two experimental machines were decided upon, and work on them was begun immediately. With these machines it was determined to test the relative advantages of a specially articulated form of caterpillar tractor with wheeled traction, making use of very large wheels, and to develop the possibilities between the gas-electric and steam systems of propulsion.

In September, 1917, decision had been made to supply the American Army with two types of tanks—one the large size, typical of that used by the British and capable of containing a dozen men, and the other a smaller one patterned after the French two-man model and known as the Renault. In September one of our officers charged with tank production was dispatched to Europe for a more intimate study of the machines used abroad and for the purpose of getting more detailed information respecting the merits of the various types of tanks, as well as to make arrangements for sending specimens here.

The decision to equip the American forces in Europe with tanks of two sizes was made only after thorough and somewhat protracted conferences with British, French, and American officers in Europe. Complete drawings and samples of the small tank were obtained from the French and shipped to this country. As all of the drawings were made in accordance with the metric system of measurements, it was necessary before anything could be done toward actual production to remake the drawings, as the machine shops here were not equipped to use the metric system.

The large British tank had been successful in its operations on the battle front, but its very decided limitations, recognized by British authorities, caused our officers to think it best to redesign the large tank in preference to copying the existing big British tank with its limitations.

General "fighting" specifications for the big tank were laid down by the British general staff at the conference at British headquarters at which American officers were present. It was agreed that this big tank, known as the Mark VIII, should be of Anglo-American design and construction. Arrangements were made for producing 1,500 of this type. To do this, Great Britain and the United States entered into a working agreement that provided for England to furnish the hulls, guns, and ammunition, while the United States was to furnish the power plant and driving details of the monster. Roughly speaking, each tank would cost about $35,000, of which $15,000 represented the American part of the job, on which some 72 contractors were at once engaged. About 50 per cent of the work[Pg 156] on these tanks had been completed when the armistice was signed, and the first units were undergoing trials.

It was confidently expected that all of the 1,500 contracted for would have been completed by March, 1919. While these Anglo-American tanks were in the process of construction there were also being built here 1,450 all-American tanks of the large English type, and for this all-American tank 50 per cent of the work had also been done at the signing of the armistice.

In December, 1917, a sample French tank of the Renault type reached this country along with detailed drawings and a French engineer. Much difficulty then ensued in getting American concerns to take on production of this machine, because of the difficult nature of its manufacture. Considerable time, too, was taken up in changing the drawings from the French metric dimensions to the American dimensions, and this involved redesigning many parts.

In the manufacture of the armor built for the Renault type of tank the French made no attempt to adhere to simple shapes, and for this reason practically a new source of supply for this kind of armor had to be developed. Contracts for 4,440 of the Renault type of tanks were finally made. The approximate cost of each one of these machines was $11,500. Manufacturing activities for the various parts had to be divided up among more than a score of plants, so that many plants were turning out parts for these machines, while the assembling was done at only three plants, which also made a portion of the parts.

The three assembly plants were the Van Dorn Iron Works, of Cleveland, Ohio; the Maxwell Motors Co., of Dayton, Ohio; and the C. L. Best Co., also of Dayton.

Finished machines of this type started to come through in October. When the armistice was signed 64 of these 6-ton Renault tanks, each designed to carry two men and a machine gun, were completed, while up to the end of December the number of those finished amounted to 209, with 289 in the process of assembly. There is every reason to believe that had the armistice not been signed, the entire original program would have been completed by April.

During the summer and fall of 1918 our tank program had been augmented by the development of two entirely new types of tanks. One was a two-man tank weighing 3 tons, built by the Ford Motor Co. and costing in the neighborhood of $4,000. This tank, mounting one machine gun, has a speed of about 8 miles an hour. Of this type 15 had been built; and, up to the 1st of January, 1919, 500 were to have been finished, after which they were to have been turned out by the Ford Co. at the rate of 100 a day.



The tank has 400 horsepower, a speed of 6 miles an hour, and can climb a 45° grade. It carries a crew of 11 men and is equipped with two 6-pounders and seven machine guns.

[Pg 157]

The other new tank developed was a successor to the French Renault, designed for production in great volume. This tank was to carry three men, instead of two, as the original Renault machine, and mount two guns, one a machine gun and the other a 37-millimeter gun. Some Renault tanks were equipped with 37-millimeter cannon instead of machine guns. Cost of production of this machine would have been very much less than that of the original Renault, while the weight of the machine would have been substantially the same and its fighting power much greater.

An outlay of about $175,000,000 was projected in the tank program, but this, of course, was greatly reduced upon the signing of the armistice. This outlay would have included, besides the cost of the machines, expenses at various plants for increased facilities for operation.

Item. Quantity ordered. Quantity accepted Nov. 11, 1918. Quantity accepted Jan. 31, 1919.[23] Floated to Nov. 11, 1918.
6-ton 4,440 64 291 6
Mark I 1,000
3-ton 15,015 15 10
Mark 8 A. A. components 1,500 [24]1 1
Mark 8 U. S. complete 1,450

[23] Immediately upon signing of the armistice, production was slowed down as rapidly and as much as possible.

[24] Approximately 50 per cent of the production work on components for these 1,500 tanks had been completed by Nov. 11.

[Pg 158]


The machine gun is typically and historically an American device. An American invented the first real machine gun ever produced. Another American, who had taken British citizenship, produced the first weapon of this type that could be called a success in war. Still a third American gave to the allies at the beginning of the great war a machine gun which revolutionized the world's conception of what that weapon might be; while a fourth American inventor, backed by our Ordnance Department, enabled the American forces to take into the field in France what is probably the most efficient machine gun ever put into action.

The machine gun as an idea is not modern at all. The thought has been engaging the attention of inventors for several centuries. The idea was inherent in guns which existed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but they should be called rapid-fire guns rather than machine guns, since no machine principle entered into their construction. They usually consisted of several gun barrels bound together and fired simultaneously.

The first true machine gun was the invention of Richard Jordon Gatling, an American, who in 1861 brought out what might be termed a revolving rifle. The barrels, from 4 to 10 in number, were placed parallel to each other and arranged on a common axis about which they revolved in such a manner that each barrel was brought in succession into the firing position. This gun was used to some extent in our Civil War and later in the Franco-Prussian War.

In 1866 Reffye, a French inventor, brought out the first mitrailleuse—a mounted machine gun of the Gatling type towing a limber and drawn by four horses. It had 25 rifled barrels and could fire 125 shots per minute. The weapon, however, during the Franco-Prussian War, turned out to be a failure for the reason that it proved an excellent target for the enemy's artillery and was not sufficiently mobile. Accordingly the French government abandoned it.

Sir Hiram S. Maxim, who was American born, in 1884 developed a machine gun which operated automatically by utilizing the force of the recoil. This gun was perfected and became a serviceable weapon for the British army in the Boer War. The Maxim gun barrel was cooled by the water-jacket system. When the water[Pg 159] became hot it exhausted a jet of steam which could be seen for long distances across the South African veldt, making it a mark for the Boer sharpshooters. This defect was remedied in homemade fashion by carrying the exhaust steam through a hose into a bucket of water where it was condensed. This Maxim gun fired 500 shots a minute.

Meanwhile in this country the Gatling gun had been so improved that it became one of our standard weapons in the Spanish-American War. Later on it was used in the Russo-Japanese War.

The Colt machine gun also existed in 1898. This was the invention of John M. Browning, whose name has been prominently associated with the development of automatic firearms for the last quarter of a century.

In England the Maxim gun was taken up by the Vickers Co., eventually becoming what is known to-day as the Vickers gun. In 1903 or 1904 the American Government bought some Maxim machine guns which were then being manufactured by the Colt Co. at Hartford, Conn.

In no war previous to the one concluded in 1918 did the machine gun take a prominent place in the armaments of contending forces. The popularity of the earlier machine guns was retarded by their great weight. Some of them were so heavy that it took several men to lift them. All through the history of the development of machine guns the tendency has been toward lighter weapons, but it was not until the great war that serviceable machine guns were made light enough to give them great effectiveness and popularity. Such intense heat is developed by the rapid fire of a machine gun that unless the barrel can be kept cool the gun will soon refuse to function. The water jacket which keeps the gun cool proved to be the principal handicap to the inventors who were trying to remove weight from the device. The earliest air-cooled guns were generally unsuccessful, since the firing of a few rounds would make the barrel so hot that the cartridges would explode voluntarily in the chamber, thus rendering the weapon unsafe. The Benét-Mercié partly overcame this difficulty by having interchangeable barrels. As soon as one barrel became hot it could be quickly removed and its cool alternate inserted in its place.

These conditions led to the development of machine guns along two separate lines—the heavy type machine gun, which must be capable of long sustained fire, and the automatic rifle, whose primary requisite is extreme lightness. These requirements brought the ultimate elimination from ground use in France and in the United States of guns of the so-called intermediate weight as being incapable of fulfilling either of the above requirements to the fullest degree.

The machine gun produced by the American inventor, Col. I. N. Lewis, was a revelation when it came to the aid of the allies early in[Pg 160] the great war. This was an air-cooled gun which could be fired for a considerable time without excessive heating, and it weighed only 25 pounds, no great burden for a soldier. The Lewis machine gun was hailed by many as the greatest invention brought into prominence by the war, although its weight put it in the intermediate class, with limitations as noted above.

Along in the first decade of the present century the Benét-Mercié automatic machine rifle was developed. This was an air-cooled gun of the automatic rifle type and weighed 30 pounds. Light as this gun was, it was still too heavy to be of great service as an automatic rifle, since a strong man would soon tire of holding 30 pounds up to his shoulder, and it was therefore in the intermediate class.

The Germans had apparently realized better than anyone else the value of machine guns in the kind of fighting which they expected to be engaged in, and therefore supplied them to their troops in greater numbers than did the other powers, having, an early report stated, 50,000 Maxim machine guns at the commencement of hostilities. The Austrian Army had adopted an excellent heavy type machine gun known as the Schwarzlose whose chief feature lay in the fact that it operated with only one major spring.

Such was the machine-gun situation, although incompletely set forth here, at the beginning of the great war. The nations, with the exception of Germany, had been slow to promote machine gunnery as a conspicuous phase of their military preparedness. In our Army we had a provisional machine-gun organization, but no special officers and few enthusiasts for machine guns. We were content with a theoretical equipment of four machine guns per regiment. The fact was that in no previous war had the machine gun demonstrated its tactical value. The chief utility of the weapon was supposed to lie in its police effectiveness in putting down mobs and civil disorders and in its value in other special situations, particularly defensive ones.

The three years of fighting in Europe before the United States was drawn in had demonstrated the highly important place which the machine gun held in modern tactics. Because of the danger of our position we had investigated many phases of armed preparedness, and in this investigation numerous questions had arisen regarding machine guns. The Secretary of War had appointed a board of five Army officers and two civilians to study the machine-gun subject, to recommend the types of guns to be adopted, the number of guns we should have per unit of troops, how these guns should be transported, and other matters pertaining to the subject. Six months before we declared war this board submitted a report strongly recommending the previously adopted Vickers machine gun and the immediate procurement of 4,600 of them. In December, 1916, the War[Pg 161] Department acted on this report by contracting for 4,000 Vickers machine guns from the Colt Co. in addition to 125 previously ordered.

The Vickers gun belongs to what is known as the heavy type of machine gun. The board found that the tests it had witnessed did not then warrant the adoption of a light-type machine gun, although the Lewis gun of the intermediate type was then being manufactured in this country. The board, however, recommended that we conduct further competitive tests of machine guns at the Springfield Armory, in Massachusetts, these tests to begin May 1, 1917, the interval being given to permit inventors and manufacturers to prepare equipment for the competition.

The war came to us before these tests were made. On the 6th day of April, 1917, our equipment included 670 Benét-Mercié machine rifles, 282 Maxim machine guns of the 1904 model, 353 Lewis machine guns, and 148 Colt machine guns. The Lewis guns, however, were chambered for the .303 British ammunition and would not take our service cartridges.

Moreover, the manufacturing facilities for machine guns in this country were much more limited in extent than the public had any notion of then or to-day. Both England and France had depended mainly upon their own manufacturing facilities for their machine guns, the weapons which they secured on order from the United States being supplementary and subsidiary to their own supplies. We had at the outbreak of the war only two factories in the United States which were actually producing machine guns in any quantity at all. These were the Savage Arms Corporation, which in its factory at Utica, N. Y., was nearing the completion of an order for about 12,500 Lewis guns for the British and Canadian Governments, and the Marlin-Rockwell Corporation, which had manufactured a large number of Colt machine guns of the old lever type for the Russian Government. The Colt factory in the spring of 1917 was equipping itself with machinery to produce the 4,125 Vickers guns, the order for 4,000 of which had been placed the previous December by the War Department on recommendation of the Machine Gun Board. None of these guns, however, had been completed when the United States entered the war. The Colt Co. also held a contract for Vickers guns to be produced for the Russian Government.

It was therefore evident that we should have to build up in the United States almost a completely new capacity for the production of machine guns. Nevertheless, we took advantage of what facilities were at hand; and at once, in fact within a week after the declaration of war, began placing orders for machine guns. The first of these orders came on April 12, when we placed a contract with the Savage Arms Corporation for 1,300 Lewis guns, which, as manufactured by[Pg 162] that corporation, had by this time been overhauled in design and much improved. This order was subsequently heavily increased. On June 2 we placed an order with the Marlin-Rockwell Corporation for 2,500 Colt guns, these weapons to be used in the training of our machine-gun units.

In this connection the reader should bear continually in mind that throughout the development of machine-gun manufacture we utilized all existing facilities to the limit in addition to building up new sources of supply. In other words, whenever concerns were engaged in the manufacture of machine guns, whatever their make or type, we did not stop the production of these types in these plants and convert the establishments into factories for making other weapons; but we had them continue in the manufacture in which they were engaged, giving them orders which would enable them to expand their facilities in their particular lines of production. Then when it became necessary for us to find factories to build Browning guns and some of the other weapons on which we specialized, we found new capacity entirely for this additional production.

Since we sent to France the first American division of troops less than three months after the declaration of war, they were necessarily armed with the machine guns at hand, which in this case proved to be the Benét-Mercié machine rifles.

Meanwhile the development of machine guns in Europe had been going on at a rapid rate. The standard guns in use by the French Army were now the Hotchkiss heavy machine gun and the Chauchat light automatic rifle, both effective weapons. Upon the arrival of our first American division in France the French Government expressed its willingness to arm this division with Hotchkiss and Chauchat guns; and thereafter the French facilities proved to be sufficient to equip our troops with these weapons until our own manufacture came up to requirements.

The 1st of May, 1917, brought the tests recommended by the investigation board, these tests continuing throughout the month. To this competition were brought two newly developed weapons produced by the inventive genius of that veteran of small-arms manufacture, John M. Browning. Mr. Browning had been associated with the Army's development of automatic weapons for so many years that he was peculiarly fitted to produce a mechanism that could adapt itself to the quantity production which our forthcoming effort demanded. Both the Browning heavy machine gun and the Browning light automatic rifle which were put through these tests in May had been designed with the view of enormous production quickly attained, so that their simplicity of design was one of their chief merits. After the tests the board pronounced these weapons the most effective guns of their type known to the members. The Browning heavy gun with its water jacket filled weighs 36.75 pounds, whereas the Browning automatic rifle weighs only 15.5 pounds. These May tests also proved the Lewis machine gun to be highly efficient. The board recommended the production of large numbers of all three weapons; the two Brownings and the Lewis. The board also approved the Vickers gun, which weighs 37.50 pounds, and we accordingly continued it in manufacture.





[Pg 163]

The first act of the Ordnance Department after this report had been received was to increase greatly the orders for Lewis machine guns with the Savage Arms Corporation, and the second to make preparation for an enormous manufacture of Browning machine guns and Browning automatic rifles. Mr. Browning had developed these weapons at the plant of the Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Co., of Hartford, Conn., which concern owned the exclusive rights to both these weapons under the Browning patents. This company at once began the development of manufacturing facilities for the production of Browning guns. In July, 1917, orders for 10,000 Browning machine guns and 12,000 Browning automatic rifles were placed with the Colt Co. It should be remembered that the Colt Co. was in the midst of preparations for the production of large numbers of Vickers machine guns; and the Government required that the Browning manufacture should be carried on without interference with the existing contracts for Vickers guns. This requirement necessitated an enormous expansion of the Colt plant to take care of its growing contracts for Browning guns. The concern prepared to make the Browning automatic rifle, the lighter gun, at a new factory at Meriden, Conn.

In its arrangements with the Colt Co. the Government recognized that its future demands for Browning guns would be far beyond the capacity of this one concern to supply. Consequently, for a royalty consideration, the Colt Co. surrendered for the duration of the war, its exclusive rights to manufacture these weapons, this arrangement being approved by the Council of National Defense. Mr. Browning, the inventor of the guns, was also compensated by the Government for weapons of his invention manufactured during the war. In the arrangement the Government acquired the right to manufacture during the period of the emergency all other inventions that might be developed by Mr. Browning—an important consideration, since at any time the inventor might add improvements to the original designs or bring out accessories that would add to the efficiency or effectiveness of the weapons.

It may also be added that throughout this period Mr. Browning's efforts were constantly directed toward the perfection of these guns and the development of new types of guns and accessories. His services along these lines were of great value to the War Department.

[Pg 164]

When these necessary preliminary matters had been settled the Ordnance Department made a survey of the manufacturing facilities of the United States to determine what factories could best be set to work to produce Browning guns and rifles, always with special care that no existing war contracts, either for the allies or for the United States, be disturbed.

By September this survey was complete, and also by this time we had definite knowledge of the rate of enlargement of our military forces and their requirements for machine guns. We were ready to adopt the program of machine-gun construction that would keep pace with our needs, no matter what numbers of troops we might equip for battle. As a foundation for the machine-gun program, in September, 1917, we placed the following orders: 15,000 water-cooled Browning machine guns with the Remington Arms-Union Metallic Cartridge Co., of Bridgeport, Conn.; 5,000 Browning aircraft machine guns with the Marlin-Rockwell Corporation, of New Haven, Conn.; and 20,000 Browning automatic rifles with the Marlin-Rockwell Corporation. In this connection it should be explained that the Browning aircraft gun is essentially the heavy Browning with the water-jacket removed. It was practicable to use it thus stripped, because in aircraft fighting a machine gun is not fired continuously, but only at intervals, and then in short bursts of fire too brief to heat a gun beyond the functioning point.

At the same time these orders were placed the Winchester Repeating Arms Co., of New Haven, Conn., was instructed to begin its preliminary work looking to the manufacture of Browning automatic rifles; and less than a month later, in October, an order for 25,000 of these weapons was placed with this concern. Then followed in December an additional order for 10,000 Browning aircraft guns to be manufactured by the Marlin-Rockwell Corporation. A contract for Browning aircraft guns was also given to the Remington Arms-Union Metallic Cartridge Co.

Before the year ended the enormous task of providing the special machinery for this practically new industry was well under way. The Hopkins & Allen factory, at Norwich, Conn., had been engaged upon a contract for military rifles for the Belgian government. Before this order was completed the Marlin-Rockwell Corporation took over the Hopkins & Allen plant and set it to producing parts for the light Browning automatic rifles. Even this concern, however, could not produce the parts in sufficient quantities for the Marlin-Rockwell order, and the latter concern accordingly acquired the Mayo Radiator factory, at New Haven, and equipped it with machine tools for the production of Browning automatic-rifle parts. Such expansion was merely typical of what went on in the other concerns engaged in our machine-gun production. Immense quantities of new machinery had to be built and set up in all these factories. But still the Ordnance Department kept on expanding the machine-gun capacity. The New England Westinghouse Co., of Springfield, Mass., in January, 1918, completed a contract for rifles for the Russian government and was at once given an order for Browning water-cooled guns. For reasons which will be explained later, the original order for Browning aircraft guns, which had been placed with the Remington Arms Co., was later transferred to the New England Westinghouse Co. at their Springfield plant.



This is the machine gun adopted by the French Army. This gun is of a heavy type, air-cooled, gas-operated, and fed from either a strip holding 30 cartridges or a metallic link belt. Its rate of fire is about 500 rounds per minute.



[Pg 165]

As soon as our officers in France could make an adequate study of our aircraft needs in machine guns, they discovered that in the three years of war only one weapon had met the requirements of the allies for a fixed machine gun that could be synchronized to fire through the whirling blades of an airplane propeller. This was the Vickers gun, which was already being manufactured in some quantity in our country, and for which three months before we entered the war we had given an order amounting to 4,000 weapons. On the other hand, the fighting aircraft of Europe were also finding an increased need for machine guns of the flexible type—that is, guns mounted on universal pivots, and which could be aimed and fired in any direction by the second man, or observer, in an airplane. The best gun we had for this purpose was the Lewis machine gun.

For technical reasons that need not be explained here, the Vickers gun was a difficult one to manufacture. The Colt Co., which was producing these weapons, in spite of their long experience in the manufacture of such arms and in spite of their utmost efforts, had been unable to deliver the finished Vickers guns on time, either to the Russian government or to this country. However, by expanding the facilities of this factory to the utmost, by the month of May, 1918, the concern achieved a production of over 50 Vickers guns per day. Doubtless, because of these same difficulties, neither the British nor the French governments had been able to procure Vickers guns as rapidly as they expanded the number of their fighting aircraft, and consequently when we entered the war we received at once a Macedonian cry from the allies to aid in equipping the allied aircraft with weapons of the Vickers type. An arrangement was readily reached in this matter. Our first troops in France needed machine guns for use on the lines. Our own factories had not yet begun the production of these weapons. Accordingly, in the fall of 1917, we arranged with the French high commissioner in this country to transfer 1,000 of our Vickers guns to the French air service, receiving in exchange French Hotchkiss machine guns for Gen. Pershing's troops.

Now while the demands of the allied service had brought forth only the Vickers machine gun as a satisfactorily synchronized weapon,[Pg 166] we, shortly after our entry into the war, had succeeded in developing two additional types of machine guns which gave every promise of being satisfactory for use as fixed synchronized guns on airplanes. One of these, of course, was the heavy Browning gun, stripped of its water jacket; but because this was a new weapon, requiring an entirely new factory equipment for its production, the day when Brownings would begin firing at the German battle planes was remote, indeed, as time is reckoned in war.

On the other hand, our inventors had been improving a machine gun known as the Marlin, which was, in fact, the old Colt machine gun, Mr. Browning's original invention, but now of lighter construction and with a piston firing action instead of a lever control. In the face of considerable criticism at the time, we proposed to adapt this weapon to our aircraft needs as a stop-gap until Brownings were coming from the factory in satisfactory quantities. We took this course because we were prepared to turn out quantities of the Marlin guns in relatively quick time. As has been said, the Marlin resembled the Colt. The Marlin-Rockwell Corporation was already tooled up for a large production of Colt guns, and this machinery with slight modifications could be used to produce the Marlin.

We decided upon this course shortly after the declaration of war, and there followed a severe engineering and inventive task to develop a high-speed hammer mechanism and a trigger motor which would adapt the gun for use with the synchronizing mechanism. But then occurred one of those surprising successes that sometimes bless the efforts of harassed and hurried executives at their wits' end to meet the demand of some great emergency. The improvements added to the Marlin gun eventually transformed it in unforeseen fashion into an aircraft weapon of such efficiency that not only our own pilots but those of the French air forces as well were delighted with the result.

When it was proposed to adapt the Marlin gun for synchronized use on airplanes, the Ordnance Department detailed officers to cooperate with the Marlin company in its efforts. For technical reasons of design the original gun apparently had little or no adaptability to such use. Many new models were built only to be knocked to pieces after the failure of some feature to perform properly the work for which it was designed. Nevertheless the enthusiasm of the company for its project could not be chilled, and it continued the development until the gun finally became a triumph in gas-operated aircraft ordnance.

In the latter part of August we were using the Marlin gun at the front, and cablegram after cablegram told us of the surprisingly excellent performances of this weapon in actual service. It is sufficient here to quote one of these messages from Gen. Pershing, dated February 23, 1918:


This was the first automatic machine gun to be developed. It is of the heavy type, recoil operated, water cooled, and belt fed. The gun is capable of sustained fire for long periods of time provided its water supply is properly maintained, and is adaptable to indirect barrage fire. It is used by the British and U. S. forces and in modified form by the Germans.




A fixed synchronized gun developed from the Colt gun solely for aircraft use. It is of the heavy type, gas operated, air cooled, and belt fed. It is the only gas-operated gun which has been successfully synchronized and has been found to give the closest grouping of shot in synchronized fire which has ever been obtained with any gun.


[Pg 167]

Marlin aircraft guns have been fired successfully on four trips 13,000, 15,000 feet altitude, and at temperature of minus 20° F. On one trip guns were completely covered ice. Both metallic links and fabric belts proved satisfactory.

(Cartridges are fed into the fixed aircraft guns inserted in belts made of metallic links which disintegrate as the guns are fired.)

On November 2, 1918, just before the armistice was signed, Gen. Pershing cabled as follows, in part:

Marlin guns now rank as high as any with pilots, and are entirely satisfactory.

The French government tested the Marlin guns and declared them to be the equal of the Vickers. In order to meet the ever-increasing demands of the Air Service for machine guns capable of synchronization, the original order for 23,000 Marlin guns, placed in September, 1917, with the Marlin-Rockwell Corporation, was afterwards increased to 38,000. Along in 1918 the French tried to procure Marlins from this country, but by that time the Browning production was reaching great proportions, and the equipment at the Marlin plant was being altered to make Brownings.

The original order for Lewis guns, placed with the Savage Arms Corporation, had contemplated their use by our troops in the line; but when it became evident that the available manufacturing capacity of the United States would be strained to the utmost to provide enough guns for our airplanes, we diverted the large orders for Lewis guns entirely to the Air Service. This action was confirmed by cabled instructions from Gen. Pershing. For this flexible aircraft work the weapon was admirably adapted.

To the machine-gun tests, May, 1917, the producers of the Lewis gun brought an improved model, chambered for our own standard .30-caliber cartridges, instead of for the British .303 ammunition, with some 15 modifications in design in addition to those which had been presented to us before, and some added improvements in construction and in the metallurgical composition of its materials. From our point of view, this new model Lewis was a greatly improved weapon. The fact should be stated here that the Lewis gun, as so successfully made for the British service by the Birmingham Small Arms Co., had never been procurable by the United States, even in a single sample for test.

The Lewis accordingly became the standard flexible gun for our airplanes. The Savage Arms Corporation was able to expand its facilities to fulfill every need of our Air Service for this type of weapon, and therefore we made no effort to carry the manufacture of Lewis guns into other plants. Before 1917 came to an end the Savage company was delivering the first guns of its orders.

[Pg 168]

During the difficulties on the Mexican border the United States secured from the Savage Arms Co. several hundred Lewis guns made to use British ammunition. In order to be sure that the guns would be properly used, experts from the factory were sent out to instruct the troops who were to receive the guns. Ordnance officers also went out on this instruction work and established machine-gun schools along the border. The troops did not find the guns entirely satisfactory, in spite of expert instruction that they received from men from the factory. The trouble with the guns at this time was due to the fact that the company making them in the United States had been engaged in the manufacture of machine guns for a short time only and had run into several minor difficulties in the design and manufacture, difficulties which caused considerable trouble in operating the guns in the field, and which were subsequently corrected in the 15 changes mentioned above. The machine-gun schools which were established on the border taught not only the mechanism of the Lewis gun, but also those of the other types of guns with which the various troops were armed. The first thing that these schools developed was the fact that much of the trouble which had been encountered in machine guns was undoubtedly due to the fact that our soldiers were unfamiliar with the operation of the weapons. In fact, at that time we had few experts in the operation of any make of machine guns.

Soon after the establishment of machine-gun schools on the border it became apparent that the system of instruction devised by our ordnance officers had gone a long way toward overcoming the difficulties which the Army had encountered in the use of machine guns. The advantage of these schools was so marked that on the outbreak of the war with Germany the Ordnance Department established a machine-gun school at Springfield Armory. The first class of this school consisted of a large number of technical graduates from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other such schools. These men were employed as civilians, and were taught the mechanism of machine guns in a theoretical way in as thorough a manner as could possibly be done, and were given an opportunity to fire the guns and find out for themselves just what troubles were likely to occur. Many of these men were afterwards commissioned as officers in the Ordnance Department and were sent to the various cantonments throughout the United States to establish schools of instruction in the mechanism of the various machine guns.

After this class of civilians had been graduated from the Springfield school, a number of training-camp candidates were instructed and were afterwards commissioned. When the full success of this school was realized, it was enlarged and expanded, and it instructed not only civilians and training-camp candidates, but also officers of[Pg 169] the Ordnance Department, who were trained as armament officers, instructors, etc. Later the school was still further expanded to include a large class of enlisted men for duty as armorers. In all, over 500 officers were instructed at the Springfield school.

When the war with Germany ceased, the graduates of the Springfield Armory machine gun school were found in almost every line of endeavor connected with arms, ammunition, and kindred subjects.

Now, let us look at the first results of the early effort in machine-gun production. Within a month after the first drafted troops reached their cantonments we were able to ship 50 Colt guns from the Marlin-Rockwell Corporation to each National Army camp, these guns to be used exclusively for training our machine-gun units. Before another 30 days passed we had added to the machine-gun equipment of each camp 20 Lewis guns of the ground type, and 30 Chauchat automatic rifles which we bought from the French. (The Lewis ground gun was almost identical with the aircraft type, except that its barrel was surrounded by an aluminum heat radiator for cooling, a device not needed on the guns of airplanes because of the latter's shorter periods of fire.) Also, in the autumn of 1917 we were able to issue to each National Guard camp a training equipment consisting of 30 Colt machine guns, 30 Chauchat automatic rifles, and some 50 to 70 Lewis ground guns.

At the beginning of 1918 our machine-gun manufacture was well under way. Such was the industrial situation at this time: the Savage Arms Corporation was producing Lewis aircraft machine guns of the flexible type; the Marlin-Rockwell Corporation was manufacturing large quantities of Marlin aircraft machine guns of the synchronizing type; the Colt's Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Co. was building Vickers machine guns of the heavy, mobile type; and a number of great factories were tooling up at top speed for the immense production of Browning guns of all types soon to begin. Meanwhile we kept increasing our orders as rapidly as conditions warranted.

By May, 1918, the first 12 divisions of American troops had reached France. They were all equipped with Hotchkiss heavy machine guns and Chauchat automatic rifles—both kinds supplied by the French government. During May and June, 11 American divisions sailed, and the heavy machine-gun equipment of these troops was American built, consisting of Vickers guns. For their light machine guns these 11 divisions received the French Chauchat rifles in France. After June, 1918, all American troops to sail were supplied with a full equipment of Browning guns, both of the light and heavy types. Part of these Brownings were issued to the troops before they sailed, and the rest upon their arrival in France.

The Savage Arms Corporation built nearly 6,000 Lewis guns of the ground type before diverting their manufacture to the aircraft type[Pg 170] exclusively. On May 11, 1918, this concern had built 16,000 Lewis guns for the American Government, of which more than 10,000 were for use on airplanes. By the end of July the company had turned out 16,000 aircraft Lewis guns, not to mention 6,000 of the same sort which it had built and supplied to the American Navy. By the end of September we had accepted over 25,000 Lewis aircraft guns. On the date of the signing of the armistice approximately 32,000 of these guns had been completed.

By the first of May, 1918, the Marlin-Rockwell Corporation had turned out nearly 17,000 Marlin aircraft guns with the synchronizing appliances. Thirty days later its total had reached 23,000. On October 1 the entire order of 38,000 Marlin guns had been completed, and the company began the work of converting its plant into a Browning factory.

On May 1, 1918, the Colt Co. had delivered more than 2,000 Vickers guns of the ground type. Before the end of July this output totaled 8,000, besides 3,000 Vickers guns which were later converted to aircraft use. In addition the Colt Co. had undertaken another machine-gun project of which nothing has been said before. This concern had completed manufacture of about 1,000 Vickers guns for the Russian government. At this time the aviators at the front began using machine guns of large caliber, principally against observation balloons and dirigible aircraft. The allies had developed an 11-millimeter Vickers machine gun for this purpose, which means a gun with a bore diameter of nearly one-half inch. The Ordnance Department undertook to change these Russian Vickers guns into 11-millimeter aircraft machine guns. This undertaking was successfully carried through by the Colt Co., which delivered the first modified weapon in July and had increased its deliveries to a total of 800 guns by November 11, 1918.

When the fighting ceased the Colt Co. had delivered 12,000 heavy Vickers guns and nearly 1,000 of the aircraft type. As was mentioned before, a considerable quantity of Vickers ground guns had been subsequently converted to aircraft use. The production of ground-type Vickers ceased on September 12, 1918, by which date the manufacture of Browning guns had developed sufficiently to meet all of our future needs. Thereafter the Colt plant produced the aircraft types of Vickers guns only. We shipped 6,309 Vickers ground guns overseas before the armistice was signed, besides equipping six France-bound divisions of troops with these weapons in this country, making a total of 7,653 American-built Vickers in the hands of the American Expeditionary Forces. Later, we planned to replace these weapons with Brownings, turning over the Vickers guns to the Air Service.

[Pg 171]

But America's greatest feat in machine-gun production was the development of the Browning weapons. These guns, as has been noted, were of three types: the heavy Browning water-cooled gun, weighing 37 pounds, for the use of our troops in the field; the light Browning automatic rifle, weighing 15.5 pounds, and in appearance similar to the ordinary service rifle, also for the use of our soldiers fighting on the ground; and, finally, the Browning synchronized aircraft gun of the rigid type, which was the Browning heavy machine gun made lighter by the elimination of its water-jacket, speeded up to double the rate of fire, and provided with the additional attachment of the synchronized firing mechanism. Let us take up separately the expansion of the facilities for manufacturing these types.

In the first place, the Colt Co., which owned the Browning rights, in September, 1917, turned over to the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. the task of developing the drawings and gauges for the manufacture of Browning automatic rifles on a large scale. The latter concern did a splendid job in this work. Early in March, 1918, the Winchester Co. had tooled up its plant and turned out the first Browning rifles. These were shipped to Washington and demonstrated in the hands of gunners before a distinguished audience of officers and other Government officials, and their great success assured the country that America had an automatic rifle worthy of her inventive and manufacturing prestige. By the first of May the Winchester Co. had turned out 1,200 Browning rifles.

The Marlin-Rockwell Corporation attained its first production of Browning rifles in June, 1918, by which time the Winchester Co. had built about 4,000 of them. Before the end of June the Colt Co. added its first few hundreds of Browning rifles to the expanding output. By the end of July the total production of Browning rifles had reached 17,000, produced as follows: 9,700 by Winchester; 5,650 by Marlin-Rockwell; and 1,650 by Colt's. Two months later this total had been doubled—the exact figure being 34,500 Browning rifles—and on November 11, 1918, when the flag fell on this industrial race, the Government had accepted 52,238 light Browning rifles. Of these in round numbers the Winchester Co. had built 27,000; Marlin-Rockwell, 16,000; and Colt's, 9,000.

But these figures give only an indication of the Browning rifle program as it had expanded up to the time hostilities ceased. When the armistice was signed our orders for these guns called for a production of 288,174, and still further large orders were about to be placed. As an illustration of the size which this manufacture would have attained, we had completed negotiations with one concern whereby its factory capacity was to be increased to produce 800 Browning rifles every 24 hours by June of 1919. After the armi[Pg 172]stice was signed we canceled orders calling for the manufacture of 186,000 Browning automatic rifles.

Of the 48,082 of these weapons sent overseas, 38,860 went in bulk on supply transports, while the rest constituted the equipment of 12 Yankee divisions which carried their automatic rifles with them.

The Colt Co. itself developed the drawings and gauges for the quantity manufacture of the Browning gun of the ground type. It will be remembered that the New England Westinghouse Co. was the first outside concern to begin the manufacture of these weapons. The New England Westinghouse Co. received its orders in January, 1918, and within four months had turned out its first completed guns, being the first company to deliver these weapons to the Government. By the first of May it had delivered 85 heavy Brownings.

By the middle of May the Remington Co. came into production of the heavy Brownings. The Colt Co., which was required to continue its production of Vickers guns, was also retarded by the duty of preparing the drawings for the other concerns who had contracted to make heavy Brownings; and this factory, the birthplace of the Browning gun, was not able to produce any until the end of June. By this time the Westinghouse Co. had turned out more than 2,500 heavy Brownings, and Remington over 1,600.

By the end of July the production of Browning machine guns at all plants had reached the total of 10,000; and two months later 26,000 heavy Brownings were in the hands of the Government. In the following six weeks this production was enormously increased, the total receipts by the Government up to November 11 amounting to about 42,000 heavy Browning guns. In round numbers Westinghouse produced 30,000 of these, Remington 11,000, and Colt about 1,000.

We shipped in all 30,582 heavy Brownings to the American Expeditionary Forces, 27,894 going on supply ships and the rest in the hands of 12 divisions of troops.

These shipments actually put in France before the armistice was signed enough heavy Brownings to equip completely all the American troops on French soil. However, at the time these supplies were arriving the fighting against the retreating German Army was at its height, and there was no time for the troops on the line to exchange their British-built and French-built machine guns for Brownings, nor to replace their Chauchat automatic rifles with light Brownings, of which there was also an ample supply in France.

A report of the Chief Ordnance Officer, American Expeditionary Forces, as of February 15, 1919, shows that, except for antiaircraft use, Vickers and Hotchkiss machine guns with troops had been almost entirely replaced by heavy Brownings on that date, and that Chauchat automatic rifles had been replaced by light Brownings.





[Pg 173]

When the armistice was signed we had placed orders for 110,000 heavy Brownings and were contemplating still further orders. We later reduced these orders by 37,500 guns.

Because the Marlin aircraft gun had performed so satisfactorily, and because our facilities for the manufacture of this weapon were large, the production of the Browning aircraft guns had not been pushed to the limit, which latter action would have interfered with the production of the Marlin gun at a time when it was most essential to obtain an immediate supply of fixed synchronized aircraft guns. Only a few hundred Browning aircraft guns had been completed before the close of the fighting. In its tests and performances this weapon had been speeded up to a rate of fire of from 1,000 to 1,300 shots per minute, which far surpassed the performances of any synchronized gun then in use on the western front.

By the spring of 1918 it became evident that we would require a special machine gun for use in our tanks. Several makes of guns were considered for this purpose and finally discarded for one reason or another. The ultimate decision was to take 7,250 Marlin aircraft guns which were available and adapt them to tank service by the addition of sights, aluminum heat radiators, and handle grips and triggers. The rebuilding of these guns at the Marlin-Rockwell plant when the armistice was signed was progressing at a rate that insured the adequate equipment of the first American-built tanks.

Meanwhile the Ordnance Department undertook the production of a Browning tank machine gun. This gun was developed by taking a heavy Browning water-cooled gun, eliminating the water jacket and substituting an air-cooled barrel of heavy construction, and adding hand grips and sights. The work was begun in September, 1918, and the completed model was delivered by the end of October. Before the armistice was signed five sample guns had been built, demonstrated at the Tank Corps training camps, and unanimously approved by the officers of the Tank Corps designated to test it. After a test in France, the report stated: "The gun is by far the best weapon for tank use that is now known, and the Department is to be congratulated upon its development." An order for 40,000 Browning tank guns was given to the Westinghouse Co. This concern, already equipped for the manufacture of heavy Browning guns, was scheduled to start its deliveries in December, 1918, and to turn out 7,000 tank guns per month after January 1, 1919. After the signing of the armistice, however, the order was cut down to approximately 1,800 guns. By March 27, 1919, the company had delivered 500 Browning tank guns, and the order for the remaining 1,300 was thereafter canceled.

After the entrance of the United States in the war the armies on both sides developed a new type of machine-gun fighting, which[Pg 174] consisted in indirect firing, or laying down barrages of machine-gun bullets. This required the development of special tripods, clinometers for laying angles of elevation, and other special equipment; and speedy progress was being made in the quantity production of this matériel when the war came to an end.

In a complete machine-gun program not only must the guns themselves be built, but they must be fully equipped with accessories, such as tripods, extra magazines, carts for carrying both guns and ammunition, feed belts of various types, belt-loading machines, observation and fire control instruments, and numerous other accessories the manufacture of which is absolutely essential but usually unseen by the public. The extent of our work in accessories is indicated by a few approximate figures of deliveries up to the signing of the armistice: nonexpendable ammunition boxes, 1,000,000; expendable ammunition boxes, 7,000; expendable belts, 5,000; nonexpendable belts, 1,000,000; belt-loading machines, 25,000; water boxes, 110,000; machine-gun carts, 17,000; ammunition carts, 15,000; tripods, 25,000.

The aircraft machine guns also required numerous accessories, some of them highly complicated in their manufacture. This special equipment consisted in part of special mounts for the guns, synchronizing attachments, metallic disintegrating link belts, electric heaters to keep the guns warm at the low temperatures at the high altitudes of the aviator's battle field, and many other smaller items.

Not only our own forces but the allied armies as well were enthusiastic about the Browning guns of both types, as soon as they had seen them in action. The best proof of this is that in the summer of 1918 the British, Belgian, and French Governments all made advances to us as to the possibility of the United States producing Browning automatic rifles for their respective forces. On November 6, a few days before the end of hostilities, the French high commissioner requested that we supply 15,000 light Browning rifles to the French Army. We would not make this arrangement at the time because we thought it inadvisable to divert any of our supplies of these guns from our own troops until the spring of 1919, when we expected that our capacity for making light Brownings would exceed the demands of our own troops. Our demand for the lighter guns, incidentally, was far greater than we had originally expected it to be. As soon as the Browning rifle was seen in action the General Staff of our Expeditionary Forces at once increased by 50 per cent the number of automatic rifles assigned to each company of troops, and we were manufacturing to meet this augmented demand when the war ended. By spring of 1919 we expected to be furnishing light Brownings to the British and French Armies as well as to our own.




[Pg 175]

Both types of Browning guns proved to be unqualified successes in actual battle, as numerous reports of our Ordnance officers overseas indicated. The following report from an officer, in addition to carrying historical information of interest to those following our machine-gun development, is typical of numerous other official descriptions of these weapons in battle use:

The guns [heavy Brownings] went into the front line for the first time in the night of September 13. The sector was quiet and the guns were practically not used at all until the advance, starting September 26. In the action which followed, the guns were used on several occasions for overhead fire, one company firing 10,000 rounds per gun into a wood in which there were enemy machine-gun nests, at a range of 2,000 meters. Although the conditions were extremely unfavorable for machine guns on account of rain and mud, the guns performed well. Machine-gun officers reported that during the engagement the guns came up to the fullest expectations and, even though covered with rust and using muddy ammunition, they functioned whenever called upon to do so.

After the division had been relieved, 17 guns from one company were sent in for my inspection. One of these had been struck by shrapnel, which punctured the water jacket. All of the guns were completely coated with mud and rust on the outside, but the mechanism was fairly clean. Without touching them or cleaning them in any way, except to run a rod through the bore, a belt of 250 rounds was fired from each without a single stoppage of any kind.

It can be concluded from the try-out in this division that the gun in its operation and functioning when handled by men in the field is a success.

The Browning automatic rifles were also highly praised by our officers who had to use them. Although these guns received hard usage, being on the front for days at a time in the rain and when the gunners had little opportunity to clean them, they invariably functioned well.

On November 11 we had built 52,238 Browning automatic rifles in this country. We had bought 29,000 Chauchats from the French. Without providing replacement guns or reserves, this was a sufficient number to equip over 100 divisions with 768 guns to the division. This meant light machine guns enough for a field army of 3,500,000 men. In heavy machine guns at the signing of the armistice we had 3,340 of the Hotchkiss make, 9,237 Vickers, and 41,804 Brownings, or a total of 54,627 heavy machine guns—enough to equip the 200 divisions of an army of 7,000,000 men, not figuring in reserve weapons.

The daily maximum production of Browning rifles reached 706 before our manufacturing efforts were suddenly stopped, and that of Browning heavy machine guns 575. At the peak of our production a total of 1,794 machine guns and automatic rifles of all types was produced within a period of twenty-four hours.

Based upon our output in July, August, and September, 1918, we were producing monthly 27,270 machine guns and machine rifles of all types, while the average monthly production of France was at this time 12,126 and that of Great Britain 10,947.

[Pg 176]

In total production between April 6, 1917, and November 11, 1918, we had turned out 181,662 machine guns and machine rifles, as against 229,238 by France and 181,404 by England in that same period.

One of the important features which contributed to the success of the machine-gun program was the cordial spirit of cooperation which the War Department met from the machine-gun manufacturers. Competitive commercial advantages weighed not at all against the national need, and the Department found itself possessed of a group of enthusiastic and loyal partners with whom it could attack the vast problem of machine-gun supply. Without these partners and this spirit, the problem could not have been solved. The United States, starting almost from the zero point, developed in little more than a year a machine-gun production greater than that of any other country in the world, although some of those countries had been fighting a desperate war for three years and building machine guns to the limit of their capacity.

Acceptances of automatic arms, by months, in United States and Canada on United States Army orders only.
To Jan. 1. 1918 Total.
Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May. June. July. Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec.
Ground machine guns.
Browning heavy 12 922 2,620 4,225 9,182 8,838 14,639 6,654 9,516 56,608
Vickers field 2,031 1,021 951 1,386 1,341 1,208 1,349 1,565 789 381 103 12,125
Colt 2,500 305 11 2,816
Lewis field 2,209 291 2,500
Lewis caliber .303 750 300 1,050
Aircraft machine guns.
Browning 211 363 6 580
Marlin 12 3,134 3,850 3,419 5,750 6,250 219 6,356 7,269 1,691 50 38,000
Lewis flexible 6 540 1,085 1,568 1,333 2,629 4,342 4,338 5,595 3,973 5,857 3,792 4,142 39,200
Vickers caliber .30 307 575 373 1,221 2,476
Vickers 11-mm 72 263 95 254 117 161 276 1,238
Tank machine guns.
Browning 3 1 4
Marlin [25]103 [25]9 [25]316 [25]460 [25]582 [25]1,470
Automatic rifles.
Browning light 15 548 363 1,822 3,876 8,196 12,517 6,896 13,687 11,368 10,672 69,960
Total 7,508 4,986 5,901 6,921 9,099 12,831 12,783 24,954 35,447 22,340 35,239 22,714 25,834 226,557

[25] Modified from aircraft, not included in total.

[Pg 177]


Although in the 19 months of American belligerency in the great war we had sent to France upward of two million soldiers, each rifleman among them as he stepped aboard his transport carried his own gun. This weapon, which was to be his comrade and best friend in the perilous months to come, was an American rifle, a rifle at least the equal of any in use by soldiers of other nations, a rifle manufactured in an American plant. It may have been one of the dependable Springfield rifles. More likely, it was a modified 1917 Enfield, built from a design British in fundamental character, but modified for greater efficiency by American ordnance officers after the actual entry of the United States in the great struggle. When it is considered that even a nation of such military genius as France, especially skilled as she was in the construction of military weapons, was three years developing her full ordnance program, even though working at top speed, the rifle production of the United States stands out as one of the feats of the war.

The story of the modified 1917 Enfield, which was the rifle on which the American Expeditionary Forces based their chief dependence, is an inspiring chapter in our munitions history. To get this weapon we temporarily forsook the most accurate Army rifle the world had ever seen and straightway produced in great quantities another one, a new model, that proved itself to be almost, if not quite, as serviceable for the kind of warfare in which we were to engage. It is the story of triumph over difficulties, of American productive genius at its best.

America, since the days of Daniel Boone a nation of crack shots, was naturally the home of good rifles. Hence, perhaps, it is not surprising that the United States should be the nation to produce the closest shooting military rifle known in its day. This was the United States rifle, model of 1903, popularly called the "Springfield."

The Springfield rifle had superseded in our Army the Krag, which we had used in the Spanish-American War. In that conflict the Spanish Army used a rifle of German design, the Mauser. Our ordnance officers at that time considered the Krag to be a more accurate weapon than the Mauser. Still we were not satisfied with the Krag, and, after several years of development, in 1903 we brought[Pg 178] out the Springfield, the most accurate and quickest firing rifle that had ever come from an arsenal.

There was no questioning the superiority of the Springfield in point of accuracy. Time after time we pitted our Army shooting teams against those of the other nations of the earth and won the international competitions with the Springfield. We won the Olympic shoot of 1908 over England, Canada, France, Sweden, Norway, Greece, and Denmark. Again, in 1912, we won the Olympic shoot against England, Sweden, South Africa, France, Norway, Greece, Denmark, Russia, and Austria-Hungary. In 1912 the Springfield rifle, in the hands of Yankee marksmen, won the Pan American match at Buenos Aires, and in 1913 it defeated Argentina, Canada, Sweden, and Peru. In all of these matches the Mauser rifle was fired by various teams; but the Springfield never failed to defeat this German weapon, which it was to meet later in the fighting of the great war.

Altogether the Springfield rifle defeated the military rifles of 15 nations in shooting competitions prior to the war, and in 1912, at Ottawa, an American team firing Springfields set marksmanship records for 800 yards, 900 yards, and 1,000 yards that have never been broken. Much is to be said for the men behind these guns, but due credit must be given to the rifles that put the bullets where the marksmen aimed.

Such was the history of this splendid arm when the United States neared the brink of the great conflict. But as war became inevitable for us and we began to have a realization of the scale on which we must prosecute it, our ordnance officers studying the rifle problem became persuaded that our Army could not hope to carry this magnificent weapon to Europe as its chief small-arms reliance. A brief examination of the industrial problem presented by the rifle situation in 1917 should make it clear even to a man unacquainted with machinery and manufacturing why it would be humanly impossible to equip our troops with the rifle in developing which our ordnance experts had spent so many years.

The Model 1903 rifle had been built in two factories and only two—the Springfield Armory, Springfield, Mass., and the Rock Island Arsenal at Rock Island, Ill. Our Government for several years prior to 1917 had cut down its expenditures for the manufacture of small arms and ammunition. The result was that the Rock Island Arsenal had ceased its production of Springfields altogether, while the output of rifles from the Springfield Armory had been greatly reduced.

This meant that the skilled artisans once employed in the manufacture of Springfield rifles had been scattered to the four winds. When in early 1917 it became necessary to speed up the production of rifles to the limit in these two establishments those in charge of[Pg 179] the undertaking found that they could recover only a few of the old, trained employees. Yet even when we had restaffed these two factories with skilled men their combined production at top speed could not begin to supply the quantity of rifles which our impending Army would need. Therefore, it was obviously necessary that we procure rifles from private factories.

Why, then, was not the manufacture of Springfields extended to the private plants? Some ante bellum effort, indeed, had been made looking to the production of Springfields in commercial plants, but lack of funds had prevented more than the outlining of the scheme.

Any high-powered rifle is an intricate production. The 1917 Enfield is relatively simple in construction, yet the soldier can dismount his Enfield into 86 parts, and some of these parts are made up of several component pieces. Many of these parts must be made with great precision, gauged with microscopic nicety, and finished with unusual accuracy. To produce Springfields on a grand scale in private plants would imply the use of thousands of gauges, jigs, dies, and other small tools necessary for such a manufacture, as well as that of great quantities of special machines. None of this equipment for Springfield rifle manufacture had been provided, yet all of it must be supplied to the commercial plants before they could turn out rifles.

We should have had to spend preliminary months or even years in building up an adequate manufacturing equipment for Springfields, the while our boys in France were using what odds and ends of rifle equipment the Government might be able to purchase for them, except for a condition in our small-arms industry in early 1917 that now seems to have been well-nigh providential.

Among others, both the British and the Russian Governments in the emergency of 1914 and 1915 had turned to the United States to supplement their sources of rifle supply while they, particularly the British, were building up their home manufacturing capacity. There were five American concerns engaged in the production of rifles on these large foreign orders when we entered the war. Three of them were the Winchester Repeating Arms Co., of New Haven, Conn.; the Remington Arms-Union Metallic Cartridge Co., of Ilion, N. Y.; and the Remington Arms Co. of Delaware at its enormous war-contract factory at Eddystone, Pa., later a part of the Midvale Steel & Ordnance Co. These concerns had developed their manufacturing facilities on a huge scale to turn out rifles for the British Government. By the spring of 1917 England had built up her own manufacturing facilities at home, and the last of her American contracts were nearing completion.

Here, then, was at hand a huge capacity which, added to our Government arsenals, could turn out every rifle the American Army would require, regardless of how many troops we were to put in the field.

[Pg 180]

But what of the gun that these plants were making—the British Enfield rifle? As soon as war became a certainty for us the Ordnance Department sent its best rifle experts to these private plants to study the British Enfield in detail. They returned to headquarters without enthusiasm for it; in fact, regarding it as a weapon not good enough for an American soldier.

A glance at the history of the British Enfield will make clear some of our objections to it. Until the advent of the 1903 Springfield, the German Mauser had occupied the summit of military-rifle supremacy. From 1903 until the advent of the great war these two rifles, the Mauser and the Springfield, were easily the two leaders. The British Army had been equipped with the Lee-Enfield for some years prior to the outbreak of the great war, but the British ordnance authorities had been making vigorous efforts to improve this weapon. The Enfield was at a disadvantage principally in its ammunition. It fired a .303-caliber cartridge with a rimmed head. From a ballistic standpoint this cartridge was virtually obsolete.

In 1914 a new, improved Enfield, known as the Pattern '14, was brought out in England, and the British Government was on the point of adopting it when the great war broke out. This was to be a gun of .276 caliber and was to shoot rimless, or cannelured, cartridges similar to the standard United States ammunition. The war threw the whole British improved Enfield project on the scrap heap. England was no more equipped to build the improved Enfields than we were to produce Springfields in our private plants. The British arsenals and industrial plants and her ammunition factories were equipped to turn out in the quantities demanded by the war only the old "short Enfield" and its antiquated .303 rimmed cartridges.

Now England was obliged to turn to outside sources for an additional rifle supply, and in the United States she found the three firms named above willing to undertake large rifle contracts. Having to build up factory equipment anew in the United States for this work, England found that she might as well have the American plants manufacture the improved Enfield as the older type. To produce the 1914 Enfield without change in America and the older-type Enfield in England would complicate the British rifle-ammunition manufacture, since these rifles used cartridges of different sizes and types. Accordingly, the British selected the improved Enfield for the American manufacture, but modified it to receive the .303 rimmed cartridges.

This was the gun, then, that we found being produced at New Haven, Ilion, and Eddystone in the spring of 1917. The rifle had many of the characteristics of the 1903 Springfield, but it was not so good as the Springfield in its proportions, and its sights lacked some of the refinements to which Americans were accustomed. Yet[Pg 181] even so it was a weapon obviously superior to either the French or Russian rifle. The ammunition which it fired was out of the question for us. Not only was it inferior, but, since we expected to continue to build the Springfields at the Government arsenals, we should, if we adopted the Enfield as it was, be forced to produce two sizes of rifle ammunition, a condition leading to delay and unsatisfactory output. The rifle had been designed originally for rimless ammunition and later modified; so it could be modified readily back again to shoot our standard .30-caliber Springfield cartridges.

It may be seen that the Ordnance Department had before it three courses open, any one of which it might take. It could spend the time to equip private plants to manufacture Springfields, in which case the American rifle program would be hopelessly delayed. It could get guns immediately by contracting for the production of British .303 Enfields, in which case the American troops would carry inferior rifles with them to France. Or, it could take a relatively brief time, accept the criticism bound to come from any delay, however brief such delay might be and however justified by the practical conditions, and modify the Enfield to take our ammunition, in which case the American troops would be adequately equipped with a good weapon.

The decision to modify the Enfield was one of the great decisions of the executive prosecution of the war—all honor to the men who made it.

The three concerns which had been manufacturing the British weapons conceded that it should be changed to take the American ammunition. Each company sent to the Springfield Armory on May 10, 1917, a model modified rifle to be tested. The test showed the weapons still to be unsatisfactory, principally because they had not been standardized. Standardization was regarded as an essential for two reasons, one of them a matter of practical tactics in the field and the other relating to production speed.

To begin with, the soldier on the battle field is his own rifle repairman. His unit usually has on hand a supply of weapons damaged or out of commission for one reason or another. If, therefore, any part of the soldier's rifle is broken or damaged, he can go to the stock of unused guns on hand and take from another rifle the part which he requires; and it will fit his gun, provided there has been standardization in the rifle manufacture at home. But if the guns have not been standardized and each weapon is a filing and tinkering job in the assembly room of the factory, then the soldier in the field is not likely to be able to find a part that will fit on his gun; and his rifle, if damaged, goes out of commission. Or, if he finds a part which fits but does not fit perfectly, his gun may break as he fires it, and he himself may suffer serious injury.

[Pg 182]

In the second place, standardization is essential to great speed in production. If one plant producing rifles encounters a shortage in any of the parts of the gun, it can send to another plant and secure a supply of these parts, a favorable condition in manufacture that is impossible if the weapon has not been standardized. The value of standardization in speeding up manufacture, however, is best shown in the actual records of rifle production during the war. The fastest mechanic in any of the three Enfield factories before 1917 had set an assembly record of 50 rifles in one working day for the British gun. After we had standardized the Enfield the high assembly record was 280 rifles a day, while the assemblers in the plants averaged 250 rifles a day per man when the work was well started.

The Enfields sent to the Springfield Armory test were not standardized at all, but were largely hand fitted. Little or no attempt had been made to obtain interchangeability of parts among the rifles turned out by the three plants. Even the bolt taken from one company's rifle would not enter the receiver of another company's.

The Ordnance Department was confronted with the dilemma of approving and issuing a weapon pronounced unsuitable by its own experts and thus obtaining speedy production, or of delaying until interchangeability was established. It chose the latter course.

On July 12 a second set of rifles had been tested. These came more nearly up to our ideas of standardization, but were still not entirely satisfactory. Nevertheless we decided to go ahead with production and improve the standardization as we went along. The Winchester and Ilion plants elected to start work on that understanding, but Eddystone preferred to wait for the final requirements. Ilion afterwards decided to postpone production until the final specifications were adopted. It would have been well if the same course had been followed at the Winchester plant, for word came later from Europe not to send over rifles of Winchester manufacture of that period. The final drawings of the standardized and modified Enfield did not come from the plants until August 18. Six days later the thousands of dimensions had been carefully checked and finally approved by the ordnance officers, and after that production started off in earnest.

The wisdom of adopting the Enfield rifle and modifying it to meet our requirements instead of extending the manufacture of Springfields was almost immediately apparent, for in August, almost as soon as the final drawings were approved, the first rifles were delivered to the Government. This was possible because the modifications which we adopted did not require any fundamental changing of machinery.

[Pg 183]

The principal equipment of these plants was in place and ready to begin manufacturing Enfields at once; and while the changes in the rifle were under discussion, the manufacturers were producing their gauges and small tools as each modification was decided upon.

While we did not succeed in attaining, nor did we attempt to attain, in fact, complete standardization and interchangeability of the parts of the Enfields, we did all that was practicable in this direction, several tests showing that the average of interchangeability was about 95 per cent of the total parts.

Meanwhile we were building up the working staffs of the Rock Island Arsenal and Springfield Armory and speeding the production of Springfields. Before the war ended the Rock Island Arsenal, which was making spare parts for Springfields, reached an output equaling 1,000 completed rifles a day, while the Springfield Armory attained a high average of 1,500 assembled rifles a day in addition to spare parts equaling 100 completed rifles daily.

The Eddystone plant finished its British contracts on June 1, Winchester produced its last British rifle on June 28, and Ilion on July 21, 1917. Winchester delivered the first modified Enfields to us on August 18, Eddystone on September 10, and Ilion about October 28.

The progress in the manufacture was thereafter steadily upward. During the week ending February 2, 1918, the daily production of military rifles in the United States was 9,247, of which 7,805 were modified Enfields produced in the three private plants, and 1,442 were Springfields built in the two arsenals. The total production for that week was 50,873 guns of both types, or nearly enough for three Army divisions. In spite of the time that went into the standardization of the Enfield rifle, all troops leaving the United States were armed with American weapons at the ports of embarkation.

Ten months after we declared war against Germany we were producing in a week four times as many rifles as Great Britain had turned out in a similar period after 10 months of war, and our production was then twice as large in volume as Great Britain had attained in the war up to that time. By the middle of June, 1918, we had passed the million and one-half mark in the production of rifles of all sorts, this figure including over 250,000 rifles which had been built upon original contracts placed by the former Russian government.

The production of Enfields and Springfields during the war up to November 9, 1918, amounted to a total of 2,506,307 guns. Of these 312,878 were Springfield rifles produced by the two Government arsenals. We had started the war with a reserve of 600,000 Springfield rifles on hand, and in addition stored in our armories and arsenals were 160,000 Krags. These latter had to be cleaned and repaired in large part before they could be used. From the[Pg 184] Canadian Government we purchased 20,000 Ross rifles. The deliveries of Russian rifles totaled 280,049. This gave us a total equipment of 3,575,356 rifles. Since approximately one-half of the soldiers of an army as actually organised carry rifles, the number of rifles procured in all by the Ordnance Department was sufficient to arm both for fighting and for training an army of 7,000,000 men, disregarding reserve and maintenance rifles.

The Enfield thus became the dominant rifle of our military effort. With its modified firing mechanism it could use the superior Springfield cartridges with their great accuracy. The Enfield sights, by having the peep sight close to the eye of the firer, gave even greater quickness of aim than the Springfield sights afforded. In this respect the weapon was far superior to the Mauser, which was the main dependence of the German Army. All in all to a weapon that made scant appeal to our ordnance officers in a few weeks we added improvements and modifications that made the 1917 Enfield a gun that for the short-range fighting in Europe compared favorably with the Springfield and was to the allied cause a distinct contribution which America substantially could claim to be her own.

Standardization not only made possible the ultimate speed with which our rifles were produced but, together with the care of the Government in purchasing raw materials and in drawing contracts, it saved a great deal of money in the cost of these weapons. The British had been paying approximately $42 apiece for Enfields produced in the United States. The modified Enfields cost the Government approximately $26 each. Thus in the total production of 2,202,429 modified Enfields, we saved $37,441,293 compared with what this weapon had cost in the past.

Both the Springfield and the 1917 Enfield rifle possessed advantages of accuracy and speed of fire over the German Mauser. It is true that the Mauser fired a heavier bullet than that of our standard ammunition and sent it with somewhat greater velocity; but at the longer fighting ranges the Mauser bullet is not so accurate as the United States bullet. Due to its peculiar shape, the Mauser bullet is apt to tumble end over end at long ranges—"key-holing," the marksmen call it—particularly when the wind blows across the range. Such tumbling causes a bullet to curve as a baseball thrown by a good pitcher, destroying its accuracy.

Early in our fighting with Germany we captured Mauser rifles and hastened to compare them with the Springfields and modified Enfields. We found in the American rifles a marked superiority in the rapidity of fire, the quickness and ease of sighting, and in the accuracy of shots fired. The accuracy was due not only to our standard Springfield ammunition, but also to the greater mechanical accuracy in the finish of the chamber and bore of the American[Pg 185] rifles. The rapidity of fire of the American guns was due to the position and shape of the bolt handle, which is the movable mechanism on the rifle with which the soldier ejects a spent shell and throws in a fresh one.

How we developed this bolt handle is an interesting story in itself. In 1903, when we brought out the first Springfield rifle, we decided to abandon the old carbine which had been carried by our Cavalry regiments and, by making a rifle with a comparatively short barrel, furnish a gun which could be used by both Infantry and Cavalry. The original bolt handle of the Springfield, like the one on the present Mauser, had projected horizontally from the side of the chamber. It was found that this protuberance did not fit well in the saddle holster of the cavalryman, but jammed the side of the rifle against the leather of the holster, with frequent injury to the rifle sight. For this primary reason the rifle designers bent the bolt handle down and back. This modification incidentally brought the bolt handle much nearer to the soldier's hand as he fingered the trigger than it had been before. The Enfield design had carried this development even farther, so that the bolt handle was practically right at the trigger, and the rifleman's hand was ready to pull the trigger the instant after it had thrown in a new cartridge.

Let us see what effect this design of the bolt handle had in the recent war. The Mauser still clung to the old horizontal bolt handle well away from the trigger grip. Some of our best riflemen practiced with the captured Mausers and, firing at top speed with them, could not bring the rate of shooting anywhere near up to the marks set by the Enfields and Springfields. One enthusiast has even maintained that the speed of the Mauser is not over 50 per cent of that of the 1917 American rifle, but this may be an underestimate. On such a basis the result was that under battle conditions with equal numbers of men on a side the Americans had in effect two rifles to the Germans one.

To put it another way, by bending back the bolt handle we had placed two men on the firing line where there was only one before; but the added man required no shelter, nor any clothing, nor rations, nor water, nor pay. Although he sometimes needed repairing, he did not get sick, nor did he ever become an economic burden nor draw a pension. His only added cost to the Government was an increased consumption of cartridges.

When American troops were in the heat of the fighting in the summer of 1918, the German government sent a protest through a neutral agency to our Government asserting that our men were using shotguns against German troops in the trenches. The allegation was true; but our State Department replied that the use of such weapons was not forbidden by the Geneva Convention as the Germans had[Pg 186] asserted. Manufactured primarily for the purpose of arming guards placed over German prisoners, these shotguns were undoubtedly in some instances carried into the actual fighting. The Ordnance Department procured some 30,000 to 40,000 shotguns of the short-barrel or sawed-off type, ordering these from the regular commercial manufacturers. The shell provided for these guns each contained a charge of nine heavy buckshot, a combination likely to have murderous effect in close fighting.

Such was the rifle record of this Government in the war. The Americans carried into battle the best rifles used in the war, and America's industry produced these weapons in the emergency at a rate which armed our soldiers as rapidly as they could be trained for fighting. Success in such a task looked almost impossible at the start; but that it was attained should forever be a source of gratification to the American people.

Rifle production to Nov. 9, 1918.
Months. Eddystone. Winchester. Ilion. Springfield Armory. Rock IslandArsenal. Total.
Before August, 1917 14,986 1,680 16,666
Aug. 1, 1917 to Dec. 31, 1917 174,160 102,363 26,364 89,479 22,330 414,696
January 81,846 39,200 32,453 23,890 7,680 185,069
February 98,345 32,660 39,852 6,910 2,460 180,227
March 68,404 42,200 49,538 120 420 160,682
April 87,508 43,600 36,377 2,631 170,116
May 84,929 41,628 54,477 3,420 550 185,004
June 104,110 34,249 52,995 6,140 619 198,113
July 135,080 35,700 60,413 14,841 2,038 248,072
August 106,595 20,030 65,144 27,020 1,597 220,386
September 110,058 31,550 58,027 29,770 3,813 233,218
October 100,214 33,700 53,563 35,920 3,256 226,653
Nov. 1-9, 1918 30,659 9,100 16,338 10,500 808 67,405
Total 1,181,908 465,980 545,541 265,627 47,251 2,506,307

Note.—Eddystone, Winchester, and Ilion plants turned out the United States rifle, caliber .30, model 1917, popularly known as the Enfield, while the Springfield Armory and the Rock Island Arsenal produced the United States rifle, caliber .30. model 1903, popularly known as the Springfield rifle. The months marked by a drop in the production at Springfield and at Rock Island were months in which the components manufactured were not assembled but were used for spare parts.









[Pg 187]


The American pistol was one of the great successes of the war. For several years before the war came the Ordnance Department had been collaborating with private manufacturers to develop the automatic pistol; but none of our officers realized until the supreme test came what an effective weapon the Colt .45 would be in the hand-to-hand fighting of the trenches. In our isolation we had suspected, perhaps, that the bayonet and such new weapons as the modern hand grenade had encroached upon the field of the pistol and revolver. We were soon to discover our mistake. In the hands of a determined American soldier the pistol proved to be a weapon of great execution, and it was properly feared by the German troops.

We had long been a nation of pistol shooters, we Americans, but not until the year 1911 did we develop a pistol of the accuracy and rapidity of fire demanded by our ordnance experts. The nations of Europe had neglected this valuable arm almost altogether, regarding it principally as a military ornament which only officers should carry. The result of Europe's neglect was that the small-caliber revolvers of the Germans and even of the French and English were toys in comparison with the big Colts that armed the American soldiers.

America owed the Colt .45 to the experiences of our fighters in the Philippines, and to the inventive genius of John Browning of machine-gun fame. In the earlier Philippine campaigns our troops used a .38-caliber pistol. Our soldiers observed that when the tough tribesmen were hit with these bullets and even seriously wounded they frequently kept on fighting for some time. What was needed was a hand weapon that would put the adversary out of fighting the instant he was hit, whether fatally or not. We therefore increased the caliber of the automatic pistol to .45 and slowed down the bullet so that it tore flesh instead of making a clean perforation. These improvements gave the missile the impact of a sledge hammer, and a man hit went down every time.

Moreover, in this development great improvement had been made in the accuracy of the weapon, the 1911 Colt being the straightest-shooting pistol ever produced in this country. Even the best of the older automatics and revolvers were accurate only in the hands of[Pg 188] expert marksmen. But any average soldier with average training can hit what he shoots at with a Colt. The improvements in the automatic features brought it to the stage where it could be fired by a practiced man 21 times in 12 seconds. In this operation the recoil of each discharge ejects the empty shell and loads in a fresh one.

Only a few men of each infantry regiment carried pistols when our troops first went into the trenches. But in almost the first skirmish this weapon proved its superior usefulness in trench fighting. Such incidents as that of the single American soldier who dispersed or killed a whole squad of German bayoneteers which had surrounded him struck the enemy with fear of Yankee prowess with the pistol. The "tenderfoot's gun," as the westerners loved to call it, had come to its own.

By midsummer of 1917 the decision had been made to supply to the infantry a much more extensive equipment of automatic pistols than had previously been prescribed by regulations—to build them by hundreds of thousands where we had been turning them out by thousands. In February, with war in sight, realizing the limitations of our capacity then for producing pistols, the Colt automatic being manufactured exclusively by the Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Co. at Hartford, Conn., and for a limited period by the Springfield Armory, we took up with the Colt Co. the proposition of securing drawings and other engineering data which would enable us to extend the production of this weapon to other plants. This work was in progress when in April, 1917, it was interrupted by the military necessity for calling upon every energy we had in the production of rifles.

In order to supplement the pistol supply, although the Colt automatic was the only weapon of this sort approved for the Army, the Secretary of War authorized the Chief of Ordnance to secure other small arms, particularly the double-action .45-caliber revolver as manufactured by both the Colt Co. and the Smith & Wesson Co. These revolvers had been designed to use the standard Army caliber-.45 pistol cartridges. The revolver was not so effective a weapon as the automatic pistol, but it was adopted in the emergency only to make it possible to provide sufficient of these arms for the troops at the outset.

At the start of hostilities the Colt Co. indicated that it could tool up to produce pistols at the rate of 6,000 per month by December, 1917, and could also furnish 600 revolvers a week beginning in April. As soon as funds were available we let a contract to the Colt Co. for 500,000 pistols and 100,000 revolvers, and to the Smith & Wesson Co. one for 100,000 revolvers. Although these contracts were not placed until June 15, in the certainty that funds would eventually be available both concerns had been working on the production of weapons on these expected contracts for many weeks.

[Pg 189]

When the order came from France to increase the pistol equipment, in addition to efforts to increase production at the plants of the two existing contractors we made studies of numerous other concerns which might undertake this class of manufacture. The proposal to purchase .38-caliber revolvers as a supplementary supply was abandoned for the reason that any expansion of this manufacture and of that for the necessary ammunition would be at the expense of the ultimate output of .45s and ammunition therefor.

In December, 1917, the Remington Arms-Union Metallic Cartridge Co. was instructed to prepare for the manufacture of 150,000 automatics, Colt model 1911, at a rate to reach a maximum production of 3,000 per day. Considerable difficulty was experienced in obtaining the necessary drawings and designs, because the manufacture of these pistols at the Colt Co. plant had been largely in the hands of expert veteran mechanics, who knew tricks of fitting and assembling not apparent in the drawings. The result was that the drawings in existence were not completely representative of the pistols. Finally complete plans were drawn up that covered all details and gave interchangeability between the parts of pistols produced by the Remington Co. and those by the Colt Co., which was the goal sought.

During the summer of 1918 in order to fill the enormously increased pistol requirements of the American Expeditionary Forces, contracts for the Colt automatic were given to the National Cash Register Co., at Dayton, Ohio; the North American Arms Co., Quebec; the Savage Arms Co., Utica, N. Y.; Caron Bros., Montreal; the Burroughs Adding Machine Co., Detroit, Mich.; the Winchester Repeating Arms Co., New Haven, Conn.; the Lanston Monotype Co., Philadelphia, Pa.; and the Savage Munitions Co., San Diego, Calif.

All of these concerns, none of which had ever before produced the .45-caliber pistol, were proceeding energetically with their preparations for manufacture when the armistice came to cancel their contracts. No pistols were ever obtained from any except the Colt's Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Co. and the Remington Arms-Union Metallic Cartridge Co.

Difficulty was experienced in securing machinery to check the walnut grip for the pistols, and to avoid delay in production the Ordnance Department authorized the use of Bakelite for pistol grips in all the new plants which were to manufacture the gun. Bakelite is a substitute for hard rubber or amber, invented by the eminent chemist Dr. Baekeland.

At the outbreak of the war the Army owned approximately 75,000 .45-caliber automatic pistols. At the signing of the armistice there had been produced and accepted since April 6, 1917, a total of 643,755 pistols and revolvers. The production of pistols was 375,404 and[Pg 190] that of revolvers 268,351. In the four months prior to November 11, 1918, the average daily production of automatic pistols was 1,993 and of revolvers 1,233. This was at the yearly production rate of approximately 600,000 pistols and 370,000 revolvers. These pistols were produced at an approximate cost of $15 each.

Production of pistols and revolvers to Dec. 31. 1918.
Pistols. Revolvers. Total pistols and revolvers.
Colt. Remington U.M.C. Total pistols. Colt. Smith & Wesson. Total revolvers.
Apr. 6 to Dec. 29, 1917 58,500 58,500 20,900 9,513 30,413 88,913
January, 1918 11,000 11,000 8,700 7,500 16,200 27,200
February, 1918 14,500 14,500 8,800 8,550 17,350 31,850
March, 1918 21,300 21,300 11,800 12,400 24,200 45,500
April, 1918 22,400 22,400 10,400 10,650 21,050 43,450
May, 1918 35,000 35,000 11,100 12,150 23,250 58,250
June, 1918 37,800 37,800 11,100 14,250 25,350 63,150
July, 1918 39,800 39,800 11,600 11,555 23,155 62,955
August. 1918 40,400 40,400 11,300 13,358 24,658 65,058
September, 1918 32,100 640 32,740 11,100 12,650 23,750 56,490
October, 1918 42,300 3,881 46,181 13,500 16,675 30,175 76,356
November, 1918 45,800 4,102 49,902 11,900 12,660 24,560 74,462
December, 1918 24,600 4,529 29,129 9,500 11,400 20,900 50,029
Total 425,500 13,152 438,652 151,700 153,311 305,011 743,663
[Pg 191]


Prior to the war with Germany the Ordnance Department, in providing .30-caliber ammunition for our Army rifles and machine guns, had thought in terms of millions and had placed its ammunition orders on that scale. But when hostilities were at hand and steel and walnut were being assembled into rifles to arm the indefinitely increasing millions of Yankee soldiers that we would send and keep on sending to Europe until victory was ours, small-arms ammunition stepped out of the million class and became an industry whose units of production were reckoned by the billion.

The war increased the human strength of the American Army approximately thirty times. That ratio of increase was carried over into a production of ammunition for rifles and machine guns. The story of ammunition in the war is the story of a three-billion output forced from a hundred-million capacity. In this effort we find another of those frequent industrial romances which the war produced in America; for, when called upon to do more than an industrial possibility, as we regarded such things in 1917, the contriving executive and organizing ability and the skillful hands of the ammunition industry made good.

Our .30-caliber ammunition capacity in the United States prior to the war was about 100,000,000 cartridges per year. We actually produced in the war period the huge total of 3,507,023,300 small-arms cartridges. Pushed at feverish haste, such expansion naturally recorded its mistakes and its failures; but none of these was fatal or irremediable. The fact will always remain that a difficult art was enlarged in time to take care of every demand of the American Army for small-arms ammunition, and that no military operation on our part was held up by lack of this ammunition. Hence it is submitted that the production of small-arms cartridges was one of the genuine achievements of our Ordnance Department.

Let us consider first the production of the .30-caliber service ammunition, which may be regarded as the standard product of the ammunition industry. This was the ammunition used in our two service rifles, the Springfield or United States model of 1903 and the United States model of 1917, which is a modification of the British rifle, pattern 1914, and in most of the machine guns which we fired[Pg 192] in France, although we used the 8-millimeter cartridge with the Chauchat machine rifle. When the war broke out we had on hand approximately 200,000,000 rounds of .30-caliber cartridges. Most of these had been manufactured by the Government at the Frankford Arsenal, which was, in fact, practically the only plant in the United States equipped to produce this ammunition in any appreciable quantities.

For some years prior to the war, however, the Government had adopted the policy of encouraging the manufacture of Army ammunition in private plants. This was done by placing with various concerns small annual orders for this type of ammunition. These orders were usually in the neighborhood of 1,000,000 rounds each. The purpose of such orders, insignificant as they were, was to scatter throughout the principal private ammunition factories the necessary jigs, fixtures, gauges, and other tooling required in the production of cartridges for Army rifles and machine guns. These small orders might also be expected to educate the operating forces of the private plants in this manufacture. By this means the Government hoped to have in an emergency a nucleus of skill and equipment which could be quickly expanded to meet war requirements.

As a further means of stimulating interest in this peace-time undertaking the Ordnance Department conducted each year a sort of competition among the private manufacturers of small-arms ammunition. The output of each factory accepting the Government orders was tested for proper functioning and accuracy; and those cartridges which won in this competition were used as the ammunition shot in the national rifle matches. Thus the winning concern could use its achievement in its advertising.

But these educational efforts on the part of the Government failed to create a capacity that was anywhere near to being adequate to meet the demands of such a war as that into which we were plunged in the year 1917. We had built up no large reserves of ammunition, and the orders placed with private manufacturers had been so small that they had resulted in virtually no factory preparation at all for great quantity production. To all practical purposes the entire ammunition manufacturing capacity of .30-caliber cartridges in 1917 was encompassed within the walls of the Frankford Arsenal.

There was, however, in the ammunition industry a fortunate condition existing when we entered the war. For some time numerous American concerns had been working on the manufacture of cartridges for both the British and the French Governments. The cartridges being turned out under these contracts were not suitable for our use, being of different caliber than those taken by American weapons, and this meant that the machinery in existence could not be converted to the production of American ammunition without radical and time-consuming alteration of tools, etc. However, car[Pg 193]tridges are cartridges, regardless of their size; and the manufacture which was supplying France and England had resulted in educating thousands of mechanics and shop executives in the production of ammunition. Consequently, when we went into the war, we had the men and the skill ready at hand; we needed only to produce the tools and the machinery in addition to the raw materials.

Yet this in itself was a problem. How should we meet it? Three courses seemed to be possible for the Government. In the first place, we could build from the ground up an immense Government arsenal having an annual capacity of 1,000,000,000 rounds, or ten times that of the great Frankford Arsenal. Or we could interest manufacturers in a project of building a private cartridge factory capable of producing 1,000,000,000 rounds per year. Both of these methods were predicated on the assumption that the existing cartridge factories had their hands full with orders. The third plan was to place our cartridge demands with the existing ammunition plants and let them increase their facilities to take care of our orders.

As soon as the early orders had been given and all available capacity had been set going, this problem engaged the study and attention of the Ordnance Department. In the early fall of 1917 a meeting of the manufacturers of small-arms ammunition was held in Washington to discuss the matter. Principally on account of the difficulties in providing a trained working force for a new Government arsenal or private plant, the opinion was unanimous that the existing concerns should expand in facilities and trained personnel to handle the cartridge project. Out of this meeting grew the American Society of Manufacturers of Small Arms and Ammunition. Thereafter until the close of the war this society or its committees met about once every two weeks to discuss problems arising in the work. The officers of the Ordnance Department in charge of the ammunition project attended all of these meetings. The result of such cooperation was gratifyingly shown not only in the standardization of manufacturing processes in the various plants but also in the output of cartridges.

The success of this effort is best shown in the production figures in the period from April, 1917, to November 30, 1918. In that time the United States Cartridge Co. turned out 684,334,300 rounds of our caliber-.30 service ammunition; the Winchester Repeating Arms Co., 468,967,500 rounds; the Remington Arms-Union Metallic Cartridge Co., 1,218,979,300; the Peters Cartridge Co., 84,169,800; the Western Cartridge Co., 48,018,800; the Dominion Arsenal, 502,000; the Frankford Arsenal, 76,739,300; and the National Brass & Copper Tube Co., 22,700,400.

This production record to some extent was made possible by a leniency on the part of the Ordnance Department which we had[Pg 194] not displayed before the war. When we could take plenty of time in ammunition manufacture our specifications for cartridges were extremely rigid. It soon became apparent that if we adhered to our earlier specifications we would limit the output of cartridges. It was found in a joint meeting of ordnance officers and ammunition manufacturers that certain increased tolerances could be permitted in our specifications without affecting the serviceability of the ammunition. Consequently new specifications for our war ammunition were drawn, enabling the plants to get into quantity production much more quickly than would have been possible if we had not relaxed our prewar attitude.

The ordinary service cartridge consists of a brass cartridge case, a primer, a propelling charge of smokeless powder, and a bullet made with a jacket or envelope of cupronickel inclosing a lead slug or core. Cupronickel is a hard alloy of copper and nickel. Steel would be the ideal covering for a bullet because of its cheapness and availability, but steel has not been used because it is liable to rust and to destroy the delicate rifling of the gun barrel. Cupronickel is a compromise, being strong enough to hold the interior lead from deforming, but not so hard as to wear down excessively the rifling in the gun barrel.

Even as we entered the war the long continued fighting in Europe had created a shortage in cupronickel, and by the time the armistice came it was apparent that this shortage would soon become so acute that we would have to find a substitute for cupronickel. This shortage had already occurred in Germany, where the enemy ordnance engineers had produced a bullet incased in steel which in turn was clothed with a slight covering of copper. The soft copper coating kept the steel from injuring the gun barrel. We ourselves were experimenting with copper-coated steel bullets when peace came, and would have been prepared to furnish a substitute had cupronickel failed us.

Some of the earliest ammunition sent to our forces in France developed a tendency to hang fire and to misfire; and a liberal quantity of it, amounting to six months' production of the Frankford Arsenal, was condemned and withdrawn from use. This matter was aired fully in the newspapers at the time it occurred. It developed that the faulty ammunition had been produced entirely in the Frankford Arsenal and that the cause of the trouble was the primer in the cartridge.

The primer in a cartridge performs the same function that the flint did on the old-fashioned squirrel guns—it touches off the explosive propellant charge. But whereas the flint sent only a spark into the powder, the modern primer produces a long, hot flame.

The primers in the ammunition manufactured at the Frankford Arsenal had given ordinarily satisfactory results in 12 years of peace-time use. The flame charge in this primer contained sulphur,[Pg 195] potassium chlorate, and antimony sulphide. Produced under normal conditions, with plenty of time for drying, this primer was satisfactory. But sulphur when oxidized changes to an acid extremely corrosive to metal parts, and oxidized primers are liable not to function perfectly. Heat and moisture accelerate the change of sulphur to acid; and if there happens to be bromate in the potassium chlorate of the priming charge, the change is even more rapid.

An investigation of the Frankford Arsenal showed that these very elements were present. Because of the haste of production of cartridges, too much moisture had been allowed to get into the arsenal dry houses. The potassium chlorate was also found to contain appreciable quantities of bromate.

The condition was remedied by adopting another primer composition. And then, to play doubly safe, the Government specifications were amended to prevent the use of potassium chlorate containing more than 0.01 per cent of bromate.

However, this condemned ammunition was but a trifling fraction of the total output or even of the production then going on. The primers used by the various private manufacturers of ammunition functioned satisfactorily.

While we were not rigid in our specifications for the bulk of the service ammunition, in one respect we were most meticulous, and this was in respect to the ammunition used by the machine guns mounted on our airplanes. For these weapons we created an A-1 class of service .30-caliber cartridges, since it was highly important that there be no malfunctioning of ammunition in the air. Every cartridge of this class had to be specially gauged throughout its manufacture. This care resulted in a slower production of airplane cartridges than that of those for use on the ground, but we always had enough for our needs.

Until we went to war with Germany our Army had known only the cartridge firing the hard-jacketed lead bullet. But we entered a conflict in which several novel sorts of small-arms projectiles were in familiar use; and it became necessary for us to take up the manufacture of these strange missiles at once. These included such special types as tracer bullets to indicate the path of fire in the air, incendiary bullets for setting on fire observation balloons, hostile planes, and dirigible airships, and, finally, armor-piercing bullets for use against armor plate with which airplanes and tanks are equipped. We had developed none of these in this country before the war, except that in the Frankford Arsenal our designers had done some little experimental work with armor-piercing ammunition, in fact carrying it to the point of an efficient design.

One of the first acts of the Ordnance Department was to send an officer to visit the ammunition factories of France and England to study the methods of manufacturing these special types of bullets.[Pg 196] These friendly nations willingly gave us full information at first hand with respect to this complicated manufacture, which we were thus enabled to begin in September, 1917. Special machinery was required for loading the tracer bullet and also for producing the incendiary projectile. We adopted British practice for both of these. We ourselves were well equipped to begin the production of armor-piercing bullets, for which we had previously solved the problems of design; yet the production of metals to be used in this missile required some further experimental work. By February, 1918, however, our production of armor-piercing bullets was well under way and by the time the war came to an end we had produced nearly 5,000,000 of them.

The tracer bullet which we manufactured contained a mixture of barium peroxide and magnesium and in flight burned with the intensity of a calcium light. These bullets were principally used by machine gunners of aircraft, since in the air it is impossible to tell where machine-gun projectiles are going unless there is some device enabling the gunner to see the trajectory of the bullets. This is done by inserting tracer bullets at intervals in the belts of cartridges fed into the machine gun. The common conception of a tracer bullet is one that leaves a trace of smoke in its flight; whereas the truth is that our tracer and the British tracer were practically smokeless, the gunner observing the direction of aim by following the bright lights of the tracer bullets with his eye. These lights were plainly visible in the brightest sunlight. Although the slight quantity of the flaming mixture burned but a few seconds, it was sufficient to trace the flight for 500 yards or more from the muzzle of the machine gun.

The tracer bullet consisted of a cupronickel shell, the nose of which contained a leaden core to balance the bullet properly. The rear chamber of the bullet held a cup containing the mixture of barium peroxide and magnesium. The rear end of the bullet was left slightly open, and through this opening the mixture was ignited by the hot flame of the propelling powder discharge.

An entirely different principle was used in the construction of the incendiary bullet. This bullet was also incased in cupronickel; but the incendiary chemical, which was phosphorus, was contained in a chamber in the nose of the bullet. A serrated plug held the phosphorus in its chamber, and behind this plug was a solid plug of lead coming flush with the base of the bullet and soldered thereto. On one side of the missile was a hole drilled through the cupronickel into one of the grooves of the serrated plug. This hole was stopped by a special kind of solder. The heat of friction developed in the infinitesimal space of time while the projectile was passing through the gun barrel served the double purpose of melting out the solder from the hole and igniting the phosphorus within the chamber. Thereafter the centrifugal force of the revolving bullet whirled the burning phosphorus out through the unplugged hole. Seen in the air the fire of the phosphorus could not be discerned, but the burning chemical threw off considerable smoke, so that the eye of the gunner could follow the blue spiral to its mark. Our incendiary bullet had an effective range of 350 yards, after which distance the phosphorus was burned out.





[Pg 197]

Equally interesting was the construction of the armor-piercing bullet. Heavy and solid as the jacketed lead bullet used in our service guns seems to be, when fired against even light armor plate it leaves only a small mark upon its objective. As soon as the cupronickel jacket strikes the armor plate it splits and the lead core flattens out and flies into fragments. The armor plate may not even be dented by this impact. Yet change the core of this missile from lead to hardened steel and an entirely different result is produced. Our armor-piercing bullet was made with a cupronickel jacket for the sake of the gun barrel. The inner side of this jacket was lined with a thin coat of lead which was made thicker in the nose of the bullet. Finally a core of specially heat-treated steel completed the construction of the projectile. When this missile is fired against armor plate the jacket splits and the lead lining virtually disappears from the impact, but the pointed steel core keeps on and bores a hole through the plate as it might through soft wood.

The production figures show the degree of success which we attained in the manufacture of this special ammunition. Up to November 30, 1918, the E. I. du Pont de Nemours Co. had produced 6,057,000 tracer cartridges of .30 caliber and 1,560,000 incendiary cartridges of the same size. The Frankford Arsenal turned out 22,245,000 tracer cartridges of this size, 14,148,000 incendiary cartridges, and 4,746,900 armor-piercing cartridges. We placed an additional order for armor-piercing projectiles with the Dominion arsenals, which delivered to us 1,980,000 of such cartridges.

We also set out to develop new manufacturing facilities for the production of this special aircraft ammunition. Excellent tracer bullets were produced by the National Fireworks Co., of West Hanover, Mass., and that company was getting into a satisfactory production stride when the armistice was signed. The Hero Manufacturing Co., of Philadelphia, Pa., also was turning out an approved incendiary bullet when peace came. These various special bullets were loaded in cartridges at the Frankford Arsenal.

When the fighting ceased we were working on the development of armor-piercing bullets that would also be incendiary; and armor-piercing bullets that would also contain a tracing mixture. It was thought that bullets of these types would be particularly valuable[Pg 198] for aircraft use. While we had done considerable experimenting along both lines, no satisfactory types had yet been developed.

There was another class of small arms for which we also had to produce ammunition on a war scale. Our automatic pistols and revolvers demanded .45-caliber ball cartridges. In normal times the Frankford Arsenal had been almost our sole producer of these cartridges, and it had attained an annual output of approximately 10,000,000 rounds of them. This quantity was nowhere nearly adequate for our war needs, especially after the decision to equip our troops much more numerously with pistols and revolvers than had formerly been the case.

Consequently it was necessary for us to develop additional manufacturing facilities for .45-caliber ammunition. We did this by placing orders with some of the same manufacturers who were developing the .30-caliber production. Because it was necessary for us to give preference always to the rifle and machine-gun ammunition, the manufacture of pistol cartridges was not carried through as rapidly as some other phases of the ammunition program. However, a satisfactory output was reached in time to meet the immediate demands of our forces in the field, and this production was expanding and keeping ahead of the increased needs for this sort of cartridges. The total war production of .45-caliber ammunition by the various factories was as follows:

United States Cartridge Co. 75,500,000
Winchester Repeating Arms Co. 46,446,800
Remington Arms-Union Metallic Cartridge Co. 144,825,700
Peters Cartridge Co. 55,521,000
Frankford Arsenal 12,349,200

Early in 1918 our Air Service field forces saw the need of a machine gun of larger caliber than the quick-firing weapons in general use. The flying service of the principal allies had developed an 11-millimeter machine gun for use in attacking the captive balloons of the enemy. This gun fired a projectile only slightly less than one-half inch in diameter. To meet this new demand our Ordnance Department found at the Colt factory about 1,000 Vickers machine guns which were being built on order for the former Russian Government. The department took over these guns and modified them to take 11-millimeter ammunition, and that step made it necessary for us to produce machine-gun cartridges for these new weapons.

We at once developed a modified French 11-millimeter tracer incendiary cartridge, which in later use proved to be highly satisfactory. In an experimental order the Frankford Arsenal turned out about 100,000 of these cartridges, while at the time the armistice was signed the Western Cartridge Co. was prepared to produce this class of ammunition on a large scale.


The top row shows the development of the primer cup and anvil. The second and third rows show the development in the manufacture of the cartridge case. The fourth and fifth rows show the development in the manufacture of the bullet jacket and the lead slug that fits into the jacket and finally the finished cartridge. The bottom row shows the development in the manufacture of the cartridge clip.


In the belts, the bullets in black cases are loaded with tracer ammunition, those with black noses with incendiary ammunition, those having a ring just above the bullet casing with armor-piercing ammunition, while the rest are ordinary service cartridges.

[Pg 199]

Certain American concerns before April, 1917, had been producing 8-millimeter ammunition for the French government for use in its machine guns. When we entered the war our Ordnance Department found it necessary to continue the manufacture of these cartridges for the machine guns obtained from the French. Up to November 30, 1918, a total of 269,631,800 rounds had been produced under our supervision. These cartridges were manufactured by the Western Cartridge Co. and by the Remington Arms Co. at its Swanton plant.

How well and amply we were producing ammunition for our machine guns and rifles is indicated by the fact that our average monthly production, based upon our showing in July, August, and September, 1918, was 277,894,000 rounds as against a monthly average for Great Britain of 259,769,000 rounds and for France of 139,845,000.

Our total production of machine-gun and rifle ammunition during the 19 months of warfare was 2,879,148,000 rounds, while in that period England produced 3,486,127,000 rounds and France 2,983,675,000, but it must be remembered that they had been keyed up to that voluminous production by three years of fighting and that our monthly production rate indicated we would soon far surpass them in quantities.

The following table shows how our total production of ammunition for all small arms, including machine guns, rifles, pistols, and revolvers, grew month by month during the war:

Nov. 30, 1917 156,102,792
Dec. 31, 1917 351,117,928
Jan. 31, 1918 573,981,712
Feb. 28, 1918 760,485,688
Mar. 31, 1918 1,021,610,956
Apr. 30, 1918 1,318,298,492
May 31, 1918 1,616,142,052
June 30, 1918 1,958,686,784
July 31, 1918 2,306,999,284
Aug. 31, 1918 2,623,847,546
Sept. 30, 1918 2,942,875,786
Oct. 31, 1918 3,236,396,100
Nov. 30, 1918 3,507,023,300
Dec. 31, 1918 3,741,652,200
Jan. 31, 1919 3,940,682,744
[Pg 200]


Like many of the other war implements produced by the Ordnance Department for use in France, the weapons employed in fighting from the trenches were entirely novel to American industry; and in the production of them we find the same story of the difficulties in the adoption of foreign designs, of the development of our own designs, of the delays encountered and mistakes made in equipping a new industry from the ground up, but, finally, of the triumphant arrival at quantity production in a marvelously brief time, considering the obstacles which had to be overcome.

When the movements of armies in the great war ceased and they were held in deadlock in the trenches, the fighters at once began devising weapons with which they could kill each other from below ground. For this purpose they borrowed from the experience of man running back to time immemorial. They took a leaf from the book of the Roman fire-ball throwers and developed the hand grenade beyond the point to which it had been brought in the European warfare of the last century. They called upon an industry which had once existed solely for the amusement of the people, the fireworks industry, for its golden rain and rainbow-hued stars for signals with which to talk to each other by night. Other geniuses of the trenches took empty cannon cartridges and, setting them up as ground mortars, succeeded in throwing bombs from them across No Man's Land into the enemy ranks. They even for a time resurrected the catapult of Trojan days, although this device attained no great success. But from all such activities new weapons of warfare sprang, crude at first, but later refined as only modern science and manufacture could perfect them.

America entered the war when this development of ordnance novelties had reached an advanced state. It became necessary for us, then, to make a rapid study of what had been done and then go ahead with our own production either from foreign designs or with inventions of our own.

To this end in April, 1917, a few days after we declared war with Germany, the Trench Warfare Section was organized within the Ordnance Department and given charge of the production of these novelties. The section did not entirely confine itself to trench-warfare[Pg 201] materials, since one of its chief production activities was concerned with the manufacture of the various sorts of bombs to be dropped from airplanes. Also, at the start of its existence it had charge of the production of implements for fighting with poison gas and flame. Although in large part this phase of its work was taken away from it in the summer of 1917 and was later placed under the jurisdiction of the newly organized Chemical Warfare Service, the Trench Warfare Section continued to conduct certain branches of gas-warfare manufacture, in particular the production of the famous Livens projectors of gas and also the manufacture of the portable toxic-gas sets for producing gas clouds from cylinders.

All in all, the Trench Warfare Section was charged with the responsibility of producing some 47 devices, every one of them new to American manufacture and some extremely difficult to make. The backbone of the program consisted of the production of grenades, both of the hand-thrown and the rifle-fired variety, trench mortars, trench-mortar ammunition, pyrotechnics of various sorts, and bombs for the airplanes, with their sighting and release mechanisms.

In the production of these new devices there arose a new form of cooperation between Government and private manufacturers under the tutelage of the Trench Warfare Section. The manufacturers engaged in the production of various classes of these munition novelties joined in formal associations. There was a Hand Grenade Manufacturers' Association, under the capable leadership of William Sparks, president of the Sparks-Withington Co., of Jackson, Mich.; the Drop Bomb Manufacturers' Association, headed by J. L. Sinyard, president of A. O. Smith Corporation, Milwaukee; the Six-inch Trench-mortar Shell Manufacturers' Association, R. W. Millard, president of Foster-Merriam Co., Meriden, Conn.; the Rifle Grenade Manufacturers' Association, under the leadership of F. S. Briggs, president of the Briggs & Stratton Co., Milwaukee, Wis.; and the Livens Projector Manufacturers' Association. A similar association of manufacturers engaged in army contracts existed in the production of small-arms ammunition; but in no other branch of the Ordnance Department was the development of such cooperation carried on to the extent of that fathered by the Trench Warfare Section.

The existence of these associations was of inestimable benefit in securing the rapid development, standardization for quantity manufacture, and production of these strange devices. Each association had its president, its other officers, and its regular meetings. These meetings were attended by the interested officers of the Trench Warfare Section. In the meetings the experiments of the manufacturers and the short-cut methods developed in their shops were freely discussed; and, if modifications of design were suggested, such[Pg 202] questions were thrashed out in these meetings of practical technicians, and all of the contractors simultaneously received the benefits.

The Trench Warfare Section produced its results under the handicap of being low in the priority ratings, many other items of ordnance being considered in Washington of more importance than the trench-fighting materials and therefore entitled to first call upon raw materials and transportation. In the priority lists the leader of 47 trench-warfare articles, the 240-millimeter mortars, stood twenty-second, and the others trailed after.


The first of the trench-warfare weapons with which the rookie soldier became acquainted was the hand grenade, since this, at least in its practice or dummy form, was supplied to the training camps in this country. To all intents and purposes the hand grenade was a product of the war against Germany, although grenades had been more or less used since explosives existed. All earlier grenades had been crude devices with only limited employment in warfare, but in the three years preceding America's participation in the war the grenade had become a carefully built weapon.

The extent of our production of hand grenades may be seen in the fact that when the effort was at its height 10,000 workers were engaged exclusively in its manufacture. The firing mechanism of the explosive grenades which we built was known as the Bouchon assembly. In the production of this item 19 of every 20 workers were women. In fact no other item in the entire ordnance field was produced so exclusively by women. Incidentally, at no time during the war was there a strike in any grenade factory.

For a long time in the trenches of France only one type of hand grenade was used. This was the so-called defensive grenade, built of stout metal which would fly into fragments when the interior charge exploded. As might be expected, such a weapon was used only by men actually within the trenches, the walls of which protected the throwers from the flying fragments. But, as the war continued, six other distinct kinds of grenades were developed, America herself contributing one of the most important of them; and during our war activities we were engaged in manufacturing all seven.

The defensive, or fragmentation, type grenade was the commonest, most numerous, and perhaps, the most useful of all of them. Another important one, however, was that known as the offensive grenade, and it was America's own contribution to trench warfare. The body of the offensive grenade was made of paper, so that the deadly effect of it was produced by the flame and concussion of the explosion itself. It was quite sure to kill any man within 3 yards of it when it went off, but it was safe to use in the open offensive[Pg 203] movements, since there were no pieces of metal to fly back and hit the thrower.

A third development was known as the gas grenade. It was built of sheet metal, and its toxic contents were effective in making enemy trenches and dugouts uninhabitable. A fourth, a grenade of similar construction, was filled with phosphorus, instead of gas, and was known as the phosphorus grenade. This grenade scattered burning phosphorus over an area 3 to 5 yards in diameter and released a dense cloud of white smoke. In open attacks upon machine-gun nests phosphorus grenades were thrown in barrages to build smoke screens for the attacking forces.

As a fifth class there was a combination hand and rifle grenade, a British device adopted in our program. The sixth class of grenades was known as the incendiary type. These were paper bombs filled with burning material and designed for use against structures intended to be destroyed by fire. Finally, in the seventh class were the thermit grenades, built of terneplate and filled with a compound containing thermit, which develops an intense heat while melting. Thermit grenades were used principally to destroy captured guns. One of them touched off in the breech of a cannon would fuse the breech-block mechanism and destroy the usefulness of the weapon.

All of these grenades except the incendiary grenades used the same firing mechanism, and the incendiary grenade firing mechanism was the standard one modified in a single particular.

The earliest American requirement in this production was for defensive grenades, of the fragmentation type. Our first estimate was that we would need 21,000,000 of these for actual warfare and 2,000,000 of the unloaded type for practice and training work. But, as the war continued and the American plans developed in scale, we saw we would require a much greater quantity than this; and orders were finally placed for a total of 68,000,000 live grenades and over 3,000,000 of the practice variety.

By August 20, 1917, the Trench Warfare Section had developed the design and the drawings for the defensive grenade. The first contract—for 5,000 grenades—was let to the Caskey-Dupree Co. of Marietta, Ohio. This concern was fairly entitled to such preference, because the experimentation leading up to the design for this bomb was conducted almost entirely at its plant in Marietta.

Next came an interesting industrial development by a well-known American concern which had previously devoted its exclusive energy to the production of high-grade silverware, but which now, as a patriotic duty, undertook to build the deadly defensive grenades. This was the Gorham Manufacturing Co. of Providence, R. I. This firm contracted to furnish complete, loaded grenades, ready for shipment overseas, and was the only one to build and operate a[Pg 204] manufacturing and loading plant. Elsewhere contracts were let for parts only, these parts to converge at the assembling plants later; and such orders were rapidly placed until by the middle of December, 1917, various industrial concerns were tooling up for a total production of 21,000,000 of these missiles.

The grenade which these contractors undertook to produce was an American product in its design, although modeled after grenades already in use at the front. Its chief difference was in the firing mechanism, where improvements, or what were then thought to be improvements, had been installed to make it safer in the hands of the soldier than the grenades then in use at the front. This firing mechanism with its pivoted lever was, in fact, a radical departure from European practice. The body of this grenade was of malleable iron, and the grenade exploded with a force greater than that of any in use in France.

The remodeling of factories, the building of machines, and the manufacture of tools for this undertaking, pushed forward with determined speed, was completed in from 90 to 120 days, and by April almost all of the companies had reached the stage of quantity production.

And then, on May 9, 1918, came a cablegram from the American Expeditionary Forces that brought the entire effort to an abrupt halt. The officers of the American Expeditionary Forces in no uncertain terms condemned the American defensive grenade. The trouble was that in our anxiety to protect the American soldier we had designed a grenade that was too safe. The firing mechanism was too complicated. In the operation required to touch off the fuse five movements were necessary on the part of the soldier, and in this the psychology of a man in battle had not been taken sufficiently into consideration. The well-known story of the negro soldier who, in practice, threw his grenade too soon because he could feel it "swelling" in his hand, applies to most soldiers in battle. In using the new grenade the American soldier would not go through the operations required to fire its fuse. Cases came to light, too, showing that in the excitement of battle the American soldier forgot to release the safety device, thus giving the German an opportunity to hurl back the unexploded grenade.

As the result of this discovery all production was stopped in the United States and the ordnance engineers began redesigning the weapon. The incident meant that 15,000,000 rough castings of grenade bodies, 3,500,000 assembled but empty grenades and 1,000,000 loaded grenades had to be salvaged, and that on July 1, 1918, the production of live fragmentation grenades in this country was represented by the figure zero. Some of the machinery used in the production of the faulty grenades was useless and had to be replaced by[Pg 205] new, while the trained forces which had reached quantity production in April had to be disbanded or transferred to other work while the design was being changed.

By August 1 the new design had been developed on paper and much of the new machinery required had been produced and installed in the plants, which were ready to go ahead immediately with the production. It is a tribute to the patriotism of the manufacturers who lost time and money by this change that little complaint was heard from them by the Government.

In the production of hand grenades the most difficult element of manufacture and the item that might have held up the delivery of completed mechanisms was the Bouchon assembly. There was an abundant foundry capacity in the United States for the production of gray-iron castings for grenade bodies, and so this part of the program gave no anxiety. The Bouchon assembly threatened to be the choke point. In order to assure the success of defensive-grenade production, the Precision Castings Co. of Syracuse, N. Y., and the Doehler Die Castings Co. of Toledo, Ohio, and Brooklyn, N. Y., worked their plants 24 hours a day until they had built up a reserve of Bouchons and screw plugs and removed all anxiety from that source. The total production of Bouchons eventually reached the figure 64,600,000.

The first thought of the Ordnance Department was to produce grenades by the assembling and quantitative method; that is, by the production of parts in various plants and the assembling of those parts in other plants. But, due to delay in railway shipments and difficulties due to priorities, it was discovered that this method of manufacture, however adaptable it might be to other items in the ordnance program, was not a good thing in grenade production; and when the war ended the tendency was all in the direction of having the assembly contractors produce their own parts either by purchase from subcontractors or by manufacture in their own plants.

The orders for the redesigned grenades called for the construction of 44,000,000 of them. So rapidly had the manufacturers been able to reach quantity production this time that a daily rate of 250,000 to 300,000 was attained by November 11, 1918, and by December 6, less than a month after the fighting stopped, the factories had turned out 21,054,339 defensive grenades.

It should be remembered that the great effort in ordnance production in this country was directed toward the American offensive expected on a tremendous scale in the spring of 1919. Had the war continued the fragmentation grenade program, in spite of the delays encountered in its development, would have produced a sufficient quantity of these weapons.

[Pg 206]

Special consideration is due the following-named firms for their efforts in developing the production of defensive grenades:

The American offensive grenade was largely the production of the Single Service Package Corporation of New York, both in the development of its design and in its manufacture. The body of this grenade was built of laminated paper spirally wound and waterproofed by being dipped in paraffine. The top of this body was a die casting, into which the firing mechanism was screwed. Practically no changes were made in the design of this weapon from the time it was first produced, and the production record is an excellent one.

Our earliest thought was that we would need some 7,000,000 of these grenades and orders for that quantity of bodies were placed in January and March, 1918, with the Single Service Package Corporation. Then it became necessary to discover factories which could produce the metal caps. The orders for these were first placed with the Acme Die Castings Co. and the National Lead Casting Co. for 3,375,000 castings from each concern. But these companies failed to make satisfactory deliveries, and in May, 1918, a contract for 5,000,000 caps was let to the Doehler Die Castings Co. which reached quantity production in August. After that the Single Service Package Corporation, the chief contractor, forged ahead in its work and on November 11 was producing the bodies for offensive grenades at the rate of 55,000 to 60,000 daily. By December 6, 1918, the Government had accepted 6,179,321 completed bodies. The signing of the armistice brought to an end a project to build 17,599,000 additional grenades of this type.

The production of gas grenades offered some peculiar difficulties. We set out at first to produce 3,684,530 of them. By January, 1918, the engineers of the Ordnance Department had completed the plans and specifications for the American gas grenade, and on February 12, an order for 1,000,000 of them was placed with the Maxim Silencer Co., of Hartford, Conn.

The gas grenades were to be delivered at the filling plants complete except for the detonator thimbles, which seal both gas and phosphorus grenades and act as sockets for the firing mechanism. It was seen that the construction of these thimbles might be a choke point in the construction of grenades of both types, and orders were early placed[Pg 207] for them—1,500,000 to be delivered by the Maxim Silencer Co. and an equal quantity by the Bassic Co., of Bridgeport, Conn. On December 6, 1918, these concerns had produced 1,982,731 detonator thimbles.

The body of the gas grenade is built of two sheet-metal cups welded together to be gas-tight. Since, when we started out on this production, we did not know what kind of gas would be used or at what pressure it would be held within the grenade, we set the specifications to make grenade bodies to hold an air pressure of 200 pounds. The welding of the cups frequently failed to hold such pressure, so that the rejections of gas-grenade bodies under this test ran as high as 50 per cent. But in June, 1918, the gas for the grenades had been developed, and we were thereupon able to reduce the pressure of the standard test to 50 pounds. Under such a test the bodies readily passed inspection.

In September, 1918, we let additional contracts for gas grenades—500,000 to the Evinrude Motor Co., of Milwaukee; 500,000 to the John W. Brown Manufacturing Co., of Columbus, Ohio; and 400,000 to the Zenite Metal Co., of Indianapolis.

On November 11 gas grenade bodies were being produced at the rate of 22,000 per day, and the total production up to December 6 was 936,394.

The phosphorus grenade was similar to the gas grenade in construction. The plans and specifications for this weapon were ready in January, 1918. In February the following contracts were let: Metropolitan Engineering Co., Brooklyn, N. Y., 750,000; Evinrude Motor Co., Milwaukee, 750,000; Zenite Metal Co., Indianapolis, 500,000. On December 6, 1918, these concerns had delivered a total of 521,948 phosphorus grenade bodies.

The difficulties which had been experienced in the production of gas grenades were repeated in this project. The Evinrude Co. was especially quick in getting over the obstacles to quantity production. The Metropolitan Engineering Co. was already engaged with large orders for adapters and boosters in the heavy-gun ammunition manufacture for the Ordnance Department and found that the order for phosphorus grenades conflicted to a considerable extent with its previous war work. The matter was thrashed out in the Ordnance Department, which gave the priority in this plant to the adapters and boosters, with the result that this firm was able to make only a small contribution to the total production of phosphorus grenade bodies.

The development of thermit grenades was still in the experimental stage when the armistice was signed. There was no actual production in this country of grenades of this character. In October, however, the development of the grenade in design had reached a stage[Pg 208] where we felt justified in letting a contract for 655,450 die-casting parts to the Doehler Die Castings Co., at its Toledo plant, and for an equal number of bodies with firing-mechanism assemblies to the Stewart-Warner Speedometer Corporation at Chicago.

The incendiary grenade not only did not get out of the development stage, but even a perfected model was regarded as of doubtful value by the officers of the American Expeditionary Forces. Nevertheless, the Chemical Warfare Service was of the opinion that such a grenade should be worked out, and an order for 81,000 had been given to the Celluloid Co., of Newark, N. J. Experimental work was progressing satisfactorily when the armistice was signed.

When the war ended, we were adapting to American manufacture a combination hand and rifle phosphorus grenade, borrowed from the English. The body of this grenade was built of terneplate and it had a removable stem, so that it could be thrown by hand or fired from the end of a service rifle. The American Can Co. built 1,000 of these to try out the design and strengthen the weak features.

Article. Completed to Nov. 8, 1918. Completed to Feb. 1, 1919. Sent overseas.
Dummy hand grenade 415,870 415,870
Practice hand grenade 3,605,864 3,605,864
Defensive hand grenade 17,477,245 25,312,794 516,533
Offensive hand grenade 5,359,321 7,000,000 173,136
Gas hand grenade 635,561 1,501,176 249,239
Phosphorus hand grenade 505,192 521,948 150,600
Thermit hand grenade
Note.—In above figures all grenades are unloaded with the exception of those sent overseas, which were loaded.


In the construction of our rifle grenades there was another unfortunate experience due to a faulty design. The rifle grenade fits in a holder at the muzzle of an ordinary service rifle. When the rifle is fired the bullet passes through a hole in the middle of the grenade, and the gases of the discharge following the bullet throw the grenade approximately 200 yards. Any man within 75 yards of an exploding rifle grenade is likely to be wounded or killed. The rifle grenade is used both as a defensive and offensive weapon, since the firer is well out of range of the exploding missile.

In developing a rifle grenade for American manufacture our engineers adopted the French Viven-Bessiere type. The French service ammunition is larger than ours, and it was therefore necessary to design our grenade with a smaller hole. But in the anxiety to produce this weapon in the shortest time possible the models were not sufficiently tested, and no consideration was taken of the difference in design between a French bullet and an American bullet. The result was that the French grenade did not function well with our ammunition, due to the splitting of the Springfield bullet as it passed through the grenade. The result was that in May, 1918, several months after the manufacture of this grenade had been in progress, the entire undertaking was canceled pending the development of new designs; and 3,500,000 completed grenades had to be salvaged.







[Pg 209]

The original contract for rifle grenades had been let to the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Co. of Pittsburgh. This called for the production of all parts by the Westinghouse Co. and the assembling of them in the Westinghouse plant to the number of 5,000,000 grenades. But there was such a diversity of material employed in the manufacture of rifle grenades that succeeding contracts were let for parts and for assembling separately.

After the rifle grenade had been redesigned new contracts were let for a total of 30,115,409 of them. In August, a few weeks later, the daily production of these grenades in the various plants had reached a total of 130,000 and by the end of October the daily production was 250,000. The goal toward which this production was aiming was the expected spring offensive of the American Expeditionary Forces in 1919. We should have met this event adequately because, while only 685,200 American rifle grenades had actually been shipped overseas when the fighting ceased, we had 20,000,000 of them ready for loading at that time and the production was already heavy and constantly increasing.

Special consideration is due the following-named firms for their efforts in developing the production of rifle grenades:


America entered the war nearly two years after the Germans had made their first gas attack. In those intervening months gas warfare had grown to be a science in itself, requiring special organizations with each army to handle it.

The employment of toxic gas had developed along several lines. The original attack by the Germans upon the mask-less Canadians at Ypres had been in the form of a gas cloud from projectors, these latter being pressure tanks with nozzle outlets. For some time the Germans continued the use of gas solely by this method. Retaliation on the part of the allies quickly followed. However, the employment of gas cloud attacks involved great labor of preparation and was[Pg 210] absolutely dependent upon certain combinations of weather conditions. In consequence, the launching of a gas attack in this form could not be timed with regard to other tactical operations. Therefore the allies were put to the necessity of developing other means of throwing toxic gases, and this they did by inclosing the gas in shell shot from the big guns of the artillery, in grenades thrown by hand from the trenches, and—most effectively of all—by the agency of an ingenious invention of the British known as the Livens projector.

The Livens projector was deadly in its effect, since it could throw suddenly and in great quantity gas bombs, or drums, into the enemy's ranks. It is notable that although the British used this device with great success throughout much of the latter period of the war, and though the French and Americans also adopted it and used it freely, the Germans were never able to discover what the device was that threw such havoc into their ranks, nor were they ever able to produce anything that was similar to it. The Livens projector remained a deep secret until the close of hostilities, and the Government offices in Washington, where the design was adapted to American manufacture, and the American plants producing the parts, were always closely guarded against enemy espionage.

Without going into details of the construction of the Livens projector it may be said that it was usually fired by electricity in sets of 25 or multiples thereof. The drums, which were cylindrical shell about 24 inches long and 8 inches in diameter, were ejected from long steel tubes, or barrels, buried in the ground resting against pressed-steel base plates. At the throwing of an electric switch a veritable rain of these big shell, as many as 2,500 of them sometimes, with their lethal contents, would come hurtling down upon the enemy. The Livens projectors could throw their gas drums nearly a mile.

The projector was entirely a new type of munition for our manufacturers to handle. The Trench Warfare Section of the Ordnance Department took up the matter late in 1917 and by May, 1918, had designed the weapon for home manufacture. Early in June the contracts were allotted for barrels and gas drums, or shell. The production of barrels was exclusively in the hands of the National Tube Co., of Pittsburgh, Pa., and the Harrisburg Pipe & Pipe-Bending Co., of Harrisburg, Pa. These companies reached the production stage in August, 1918, and completed about 63,000 barrels before the armistice was signed. Their respective plants reached a daily production rate of approximately 600 barrels per day.

Somewhat later in the spring of 1918 the contracts for base plates, on which the barrels rest when ready for firing, muzzle covers, and for various other accessories were closed. Over 100,000 base plates were produced by the Gier Pressed Steel Co., of Lansing, Mich., and the American Pulley Co., of Philadelphia, Pa. The Perkins-Campbell Co., of Philadelphia, built the muzzle covers, 66,180 of them. Cartridge cases were manufactured by Art Metal (Inc.), of Newark, N. J., and the Russakov Can Co., of Chicago, the former producing 288,838 and the latter 47,511.


Vertical cross section as laid in the ground ready for firing at 45° elevation.


[Pg 211]

The Ensign-Bickford Co., of Simsbury, Conn., produced 334,300 fuses for Livens shell; the Artillery Fuse Co., of Wilmington, Del., assembled 26,000 firing mechanisms; the E. I. du Pont Co., at its Pompton Lakes (N. J.) plant, manufactured 20,000 detonators, and 487,350 detonators were produced by the Aetna Explosives Co., at Port Ewan, N. Y.; while the American Can Co., at Lowell, Mass., assembled 256,231 firing mechanisms.

Shear wire pistols were used in the operation of the Livens projector. The Edison Phonograph Co., of Orange, N. J., produced 181,900 of these, and the Artillery Fuse Co., of Wilmington, Del., 11,747. The adapters and boosters of the shell were all built by the John Thompson Press, of New York. The Waterbury Brass Goods Co., of Waterbury, Conn., made the fuse casing. Adapters and boosters to the number of 334,500 were turned out by the former, and 299,900 fuse casings by the latter.

The manufacture of gas drums for the projectors was delayed for some time because of difficulties in welding certain parts of the drums. Acetylene and arc welding processes were tried out, and a good many shell were made by such welding; but the lack of expert welders for these processes, and the rejections of shell due to leakage in the welded joints, caused the manufacturer to turn to fire welding, the process for which had been developed by the Air-tight Steel Tank Co., of Pittsburgh, Pa. At the time the armistice was signed the welding problem had been overcome and the production was going forward at a rate to meet the requirements of the expected fighting in the spring of 1919. The shell delivered were produced as follows:

By the Federal Pressed Steel Co., of Milwaukee, Wis., 5,609; by the Pressed Steel Tank Co., also of Milwaukee, 20,536; by the Air-tight Steel Tank Co., of Pittsburgh, Pa., 600; by the National Tube Co., of Pittsburgh, 27,098; by the Truscon Steel Co., of Youngstown, Ohio, 19,880. The entire Livens shell program, as it existed in November, 1918, called for the production of 334,000 shell.


The production of trench mortars was not only an important part of our ordnance program but it was an undertaking absolutely new to American experience. Not only did we have to produce mortars, but we had to supply them with shell in great quantities, this latter in itself an enterprise of no mean proportions.

[Pg 212]

Some seven different types of mortars were in use when we came into the war. Our ordnance program contemplated the manufacture of all seven of them, but we actually succeeded in bringing only four types into production. These four were the British Newton-Stokes mortars of the 3-inch, 4-inch, and 6-inch calibers, and the French 240-millimeter mortar, which had also been adopted by the British. As usual in the adoption of foreign devices, we had to redesign these weapons to make them adaptable to American shop methods. We encountered much difficulty throughout the whole job, largely because of insufficient information furnished from abroad, and because in spite of this handicap we had to produce mortars and ammunition that would be interchangeable with French and British munitions stocks.

The first one of these weapons which we took up for production here was the 3-inch Newton-Stokes. The first contract for the manufacture of mortars of this size was placed with the Crane Co., of Chicago, on November 8, 1917, for 1,830 mortars. This concern at once arranged with the Ohio Seamless Tube Co., of Shelby, Ohio, for the drawing of steel tubes for the mortar barrels. This latter concern, however, was already handling large contracts for the Navy and for the aircraft program, and these operations took priority over the mortar contracts. But the Crane Co. took advantage of the interim to build the accessories for the weapons—the tripods, clinometers, base plates, and tool boxes. In the spring of 1918 the company received the first barrel tubes and began producing completed weapons. But when these mortars were sent to the proving ground the test-firing deformed the barrels and broke the metal bases. Finally it was decided that the propelling explosive used was not a suitable one for the purpose. Another was substituted. The new propellant permitted as great a range of fire without damage to the mortar in firing.

The Crane Co. was eventually able to reach a production of 33 of the 3-inch mortars a day, and up to December 5, 1918, it had built 1,803 completed weapons, together with the necessary tools and spare parts. In the early fall of 1918 an additional contract for 677 of these mortars was placed with the Crane Co. and another for 2,000 mortars of this size with the International Harvester Co., of Chicago. Neither of these two latter contracts ever came to the production stage.

A few days after the original contract for 3-inch mortars was let the Trench Warfare Section took up the matter of producing ammunition for these weapons. Two sorts of shell were to be required—live shell filled with high explosive and practice shell made of malleable iron. The original program adopted in November, 1917, called for the production of 5,342,000 live shell for the 3-inch mortars and 1,500,000 practice shell.





[Pg 213]

The plan was adopted of building these shell of lap-welded, 3-inch steel tubing, cut into proper lengths. The contracts for the finished machined and assembled shell were placed with the General Motors Corporation at its Saginaw (Mich.) plant, with H. C. Dodge (Inc.), at South Boston, Mass., and with the Metropolitan Engineering Co., of Brooklyn, N. Y. In order to facilitate production, the Government agreed to furnish the steel tubing. For this purpose it ordered from the National Tube Co., of Pittsburgh, Pa., 1,618,929 pieces of steel tubing, each 11 inches in length, and from the Allegheny Steel Co., at Brakenridge, Pa., 2,332,319 running feet of tubing. These tube contracts were filled by the early spring of 1918.

The railroad congestion of February and March, 1918, held up the delivery of tubing, but the assembly plants utilized the time in tooling up for the future production. All the plants thereafter soon reached a quantity production, the General Motors Corporation in particular tuning up its shop system until it was able to reach a maximum daily production in a 10-hour shift of 35,618 completed shell.

The casting of malleable iron bodies for the practice shell of this caliber was turned over to the Erie Malleable Iron Co., of Erie, Pa., and to the National Malleable Castings Co., with plants at Cleveland, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Toledo. The former concern cast 196,673 bodies and the latter 1,015,005. The Gorham Manufacturing Co., of Providence, R. I.; the Standard Parts Co., of Cleveland, Ohio; and the New Process Gear Corporation, of Syracuse, N. Y., machined and assembled the practice shell. When the armistice was declared, these three contracts were approximately seven-tenths complete.

We were dissatisfied with our 3-inch shell, for the reason that they tumbled in air and were visible to the eye. The French had developed a mortar shell on the streamline principle which was invisible in flight and had twice the range of ours. Had the war continued the Trench Warfare Section would have produced streamline shell for mortars.

The second mortar project undertaken was the manufacture of the 240-millimeter weapon. This was the largest mortar which we produced, its barrel having a diameter of approximately 10 inches. It proved to be one of the toughest nuts to crack in the whole mortar undertaking. The British designs of this French weapon we found to be quite unsuited to our factory methods, and for the sake of expediency we frequently modified them in the course of the development. The total contracts called for the production of 938 mortars.

It was obvious that the manufacture of this and of other larger mortars would fall into three phases. The forging of barrels, breechblocks, and breech slides was a separate type of work, and we allotted the contracts for this work to the Standard Forging Co., of Indiana Harbor, Ind. The machining of these parts to the fine[Pg 214] dimensions required by the design was an entirely separate phase of manufacturing, and we placed this work with the American Laundry Machine Co., of Cincinnati. Still a third class of work was that of assembling the completed mortars, and this contract went to the David Lupton Sons Co., of Philadelphia, who also engaged to manufacture the metal and timber bases and firing mechanisms. These big mortars had to have mobile mountings, and the contract for the mortar carts we placed with the International Harvester Co., of Chicago. These contracts were signed in December, 1917.

The Lupton plant had difficulty in securing the heavy machinery it needed for this and for other mortar contracts, its machinery being held up by the freight congestion. Early in 1918 the American Expeditionary Forces advised us to redesign the 240-millimeter mortar to give it a stronger barrel. Consequently all work was stopped until this could be done. The first mortars of the new design to be tested were still unsatisfactory with respect to the strength of the barrels; and as a consequence the Standard Forging Co. urged that nickel steel be substituted for basic open-hearth steel as the material for the barrels. This change proved to be justified.

There was also trouble at the shops of the American Laundry Machine Co., its equipment not having the precision to do machining of the type required in these weapons. Accordingly a new machining contract was made with the Symington-Anderson Co., of Rochester, N. Y., which concern was eventually able to reach a production of 20 machined barrels per week.

In all we produced 24 of the 240-millimeter mortars in this country. Certain of the parts were manufactured up to the total requirements of the contracts, but others were not built in such numbers. The International Harvester Co. built all 999 carts ordered.

The production of shell for these big mortars was another difficult undertaking. After consultation with manufacturers we designed shell of two different types. One of these was a shell of pressed plates welded together longitudinally; and a contract for the production of 283,096 of these was placed with the Metropolitan Engineering Co. The other form was that of two steel hemispheres welded together. The Michigan Stamping Co., of Detroit, undertook to build 50,000 of these.

These shell contracts were placed in December, 1917. The Michigan Stamping Co. had to wait five months before it could secure and install its complete equipment of machinery. It was September before all of the difficulties in the Detroit plant's project could be overcome and quantity production could be started. The concern eventually, before and after the signing of the armistice, built 9,185 shell of this type at a maximum rate of 56 per day.

Greater promise seemed to be held forth by the Metropolitan Engineering Co.'s project to build shell of pressed-out plates, elec[Pg 215]trically welded. The Government undertook to furnish the steel plates for this work and secured from the American Rolling Mills Co., of Middletown, Ohio, a total production of 6,757 tons of them. The Metropolitan Engineering Co. had great difficulty in perfecting a proper welding process; and the concern lost a great deal of money on the contract, yet cheerfully continued its development without prospect of recompense in order that we might have in this country the knowledge of how to build such shell. In all, including production after the armistice was signed, the Metropolitan Engineering Co. built 136,189 shell bodies of this size at a maximum rate of 987 per day.

During the summer of 1918 a single-piece shell body of the 240-millimeter size, produced by a deep-drawing process, was worked out. A contract for 125,000 of them was given to the Ireland & Matthews Manufacturing Co., of Detroit, Mich. The armistice brought this contract to an end before it had produced any shell of this new and most promising type.

Early in 1918 we received the first samples of the 6-inch trench mortar. By April all the plans were ready for American production. Again this work was divided by types. The National Tube Co., of Pittsburgh, contracted to build 510 rough forgings of mortar barrels at its Christy Park plant. The Symington-Anderson Co. undertook to machine these barrels. The David Lupton Sons Co. agreed to assemble the mortars, as well as to produce the metal and timber bases for them.

The first machined barrels reached the Lupton plant in June and found bases ready for them. But, as the assembling was in progress, the American Expeditionary Forces cabled that the British producers of mortars had changed their designs, and that we must suspend our manufacture until we also could adopt the changes. The altered plans reached us some weeks later; yet, nevertheless, we were able to make good our original promise to deliver 48 of the 6-inch Newton-Stokes mortars at the port of embarkation in October, 1918.

Meanwhile we had increased the contracts by an additional requirement of 1,577 mortars of this size. The National Tube Co. eventually reached a maximum daily production of 60 barrel forgings. The Symington-Anderson Co. machined the barrels finally at a 33-per-day clip. As many as 11 proof-fired guns per day came from the David Lupton Sons Co.

An interesting fact in connection with the production of shell for the 6-inch mortars is that they were built principally by American makers of stoves. The 6-inch mortar-shell bodies were of cast iron instead of steel, and thus were adaptable to manufacture in stove works. Each shell weighed 40 pounds without its explosive charge. Such shell were used at the front for heavy demolition purposes.

[Pg 216]

The contracts for these shell were placed in March, 1918. The Trench Warfare Section was immediately called upon to secure favorable priority for the pig iron required for this purpose. The various stove works did not have the necessary machinery for building these shell, and so a special equipment in each case had to be built. At the tests the first castings which came through the foundry were found to leak, and this required further experiments in the design, holding up production until July, 1918.

Because of the many troubles encountered in this work the various stove makers in the summer of 1918 formed an association which they called the Six-inch Trench-mortar Shell Manufacturers' Association. This association held monthly meetings and its members visited the various plants where shell castings were being made. The United States Radiator Corporation, the Foster-Merriam Co., and the Michigan Stove Co., were especially active in improving methods for making these shell.

The various concerns producing 6-inch mortar shell and the amounts turned out were as follows:

Foster Merriam Co., Meriden, Conn. 33,959
U. S. Radiator Corporation, Detroit, Mich. 240,700
Globe Stove & Range Co., Kokomo, Ind. 17,460
Rathbone, Sard & Co., Albany, N. Y. 97,114
Michigan Stove Co., Detroit, Mich. 100,000

The following concerns shortly before the armistice was signed received contracts for the production of 6-inch mortar shell, orders ranging in quantity from 50,000 to 150,000, but none of these concerns started production:

It was not until July, 1918, that the plans were ready for the 4-inch Newton-Stokes trench mortars. The American Expeditionary Forces estimated that they would require 480 of these weapons. A total of 500 drawn barrel tubes was ordered from the Ohio Seamless Tube Co., of Shelby, Ohio. This concern was able to ship one-fifth of its order within 10 days after receiving it. The barrels were sent to the Rock Island Arsenal for machining. The Crane Co., of Chicago, held the contract for building the bases, tripods, spare parts, and tools, and also for the assembling of the completed mortars. This factory was already equipped with tools for this work, since it had been building similar parts for 3-inch mortars. Consequently, the Crane Co., in August, almost within a month of receiving its contract, was producing completed 4-inch mortars and sending them to the Rock Island Arsenal for proof firing. The Ohio Seamless Tube Co. reached a high daily production of 83 barrel forgings per day; the Rock Island Arsenal, 10 machined barrels per day; and the Crane Co., 19 assembled mortars per day.



[Pg 217]

We planned to build only smoke shell and gas shell for the 4-inch mortars. Large contracts for various parts of these shell were placed and the enterprise was gaining great size when the armistice was declared, but no finished smoke shell and only a few gas shell for 4-inch trench mortars had been produced. The contracts for the smoke shell were let in October, 1918, and work had not started further than the procurement of raw material before the armistice came. A large number of contractors expected to produce the parts for the 4-inch gas shell, and considerable of the raw materials were actually produced; but only one of the machining and assembling contractors, the Paige-Detroit Motor Car Co., actually completed any of these shell, and production at this plant did not start until December 5, 1918.

Production of trench mortars and trench-mortar ammunition.
Character. Completions to Nov. 11, 1918. Completions to Feb. 1, 1919. Shipped overseas.
3-inch 1,609 1,830 843
4-inch 444 778
6-inch 368 500 48
240-millimeter (9.45 inches) 29 30
Character. Completions to Nov. 11, 1918 (unloaded). Completions to Feb. 1, 1919 (unloaded). Shipped overseas (loaded).
Rounds. Rounds. Rounds.
3-inch live 3,136,275 3,741,237 157,785
3-inch practice 607,178 782,340
4-inch gas 212
4-inch smoke
6-inch live 292,882 492,404
240-millimeter (9.45 inches) 67,829 131,124


Another extensive project in the trench-warfare program was the manufacture of the so-called toxic gas sets. Each set consisted of a one-man portable cylinder equipped with a nozzle and a firing mechanism. Each set was ready for firing as soon as it was placed in position.

In August, 1918, the toxic-gas-set project was taken up by the Trench Warfare Section. Contracts for cylinders were awarded to the Ireland-Matthews Manufacturing Co., of Detroit, Mich., who produced 13,642 cylinders, and to the American Car & Foundry Co. at its Milton, Pa., plant, which concern turned out 11,046 cylinders.

[Pg 218]

The Pittsburgh Reinforcing, Brazing & Machine Co. produced 9,765 valves for the cylinders in two months after receiving the contract. The Yale & Towne Manufacturing Co., of Stamford, Conn., which received the contract for nozzles on September 5, 1918, manufactured 20,501 of them before the armistice was signed; and J. N. Smith & Co., of Detroit, Mich., who did not receive their contract until September 26, built 3,252 nozzles before the fighting stopped. The Liquid Carbolic Co., of Chicago, and the Ruud Manufacturing Co., of Pittsburgh, had the contracts for the firing mechanism; but none of these was produced because at the time the armistice was signed the firing mixture to be used with the cylinders had not been developed.

In connection with the production of materials for gas warfare the Ordnance Department also designed several types of containers for the shipment of poison gas, these including not only the portable cylinders but larger tanks and even tank cars.


A few years ago, when we allowed the adventurous American boy to blow off his fingers and hands by the indiscriminate use of explosives in celebrating the Nation's birthday, we had an extensive fireworks industry in this country. But the spread of the sane Fourth reform had virtually killed this manufacture, so that when we entered the war there were only three or four plants in the United States making fireworks. These concerns kept the trade secrets closely guarded. However, as we approached the brink of hostilities it was evident we would have to build up a large production capacity for the pyrotechnics demanded by the various new types of fighting which had sprung into existence since 1914. Fireworks were extensively used principally for signaling at night and as an aid to aviators in the dark.

One of the men to foresee this need was Lewis Nixon, who had long been in the public eye and was known especially for his advocacy of an American merchant marine. He organized a pyrotechnics concern known as the Nixon Fulgent Products Co., built a plant at Brunswick, N. J., and was ready to talk business with the Government when the war began.

Also there had long been in existence that perennial delight of children and adults alike known as Paine's Fireworks, whose spectacular exhibitions are familiar to most city dwellers in the United States. This concern had its own manufacturing plant, which was ready to expand to meet Government war requirements.

In addition, two other concerns of the formerly declining industry were ready to increase their facilities and produce pyrotechnics for war purposes. These were the Unexcelled Manufacturing Co., of New York, and the National Fireworks Co., of West Hanover, Mass.[Pg 219] The four concerns proved to be able to meet every war requirement we had.

Prior to the war some few military pyrotechnics had been procured by the Signal Corps, the Coast Artillery, the Engineer Corps, and also by the Navy; but on September 27, 1917, the design of all Army pyrotechnics was centralized in the Trench Warfare Section.

Much experimentation was necessary before specifications could be prepared, since the entire fire-signaling field had long been in confusion. We had made our own designs and were proceeding with production in the spring of 1918, when the American Expeditionary Forces made the positive recommendation that the entire French program of pyrotechnics be adopted by the United States. This meant a fresh start in the business, but nevertheless pyrotechnic devices were developed to meet all of our needs. These devices included signal rockets, parachute rockets, signal pistols and their ammunition, position and signal lights, flares, smoke torches, and lights to be thrown by the V. B. discharger, the French device attached to the end of the rifle in which a rifle grenade fits.

At the outset of our efforts we started to build signal rockets, position lights, rifle lights, signal lights, and lights for use with the Very signal pistol. The Very signal pistol, which we adopted first, had the caliber of a 10-gauge shotgun, and its cartridges resembled shotgun shells in appearance, although containing Roman candle balls of various colors instead of leaden shot. The orders from abroad in the spring of 1918 changed the caliber of the Very pistol to 25 millimeters and brought into our requirements some 16 different styles of star and parachute cartridges. In addition to these, there were required about 20 styles of star and parachute cartridges for the French V. B. discharger. The recommendations from France brought in 13 new styles of signal rockets, as well as smoke torches, wing-tip flares for airplanes, parachute flares for lighting the ground under bombing airplanes, and also 12 styles of cartridges for a new 35-millimeter Very pistol for the use of aviators.

After we received these instructions there was great uncertainty here as to the quantity of each item that should be produced; and this matter was not settled until August 5, 1918, when an enormous program of requirements was issued. At first it seemed that the Government itself must build new factories to take care of these needs, but a careful examination showed that the existing facilities could be expanded to take care of the production. The placing of contracts in this undertaking was under way when the armistice stopped the work.

The following table indicates the size of the pyrotechnic undertaking and also what was accomplished. All of this production came from the plants of the four companies which have been named. In addition to the fireworks themselves, accessories were produced by[Pg 220] a number of other concerns. The Japan Paper Co., New York City, manufactured and imported from Japan approximately 3,000,000 paper parachutes. The Remington Arms Co., New Haven, Conn., built about 2,500,000 10-gauge signal-pistol cartridges, except for the stars they contained. The Empire Art Metal Co., College Point, N. Y., produced nearly 2,000,000 Very pistol cartridge cases. The Winchester Repeating Arms Co., Bridgeport, Conn., supplied nearly 5,000,000 primers for these cartridges. Rose Bros. & Co., Lancaster, Pa., produced 65,600 silk parachutes for Very cartridges. Cheney Bros., South Manchester, Conn.; D. G. Dery (Inc.), Allentown, Pa.; Stehli Silk Corporation, New York City; Sauquoit Silk Co., Philadelphia; Lewis Roessel & Co., Hazleton, Pa.; Schwarzenback-Huber Co., New York City; and the Duplane Silk Corporation, Hazleton, Pa., produced a total of 1,231,728 yards of silk for parachutes to float airplane flares. The parachutes themselves for the airplane flares, a total of 28,570 of them, were manufactured by the Duplane Silk Corporation; Folmer-Clogg Co., Lancaster, Pa.; and Jacob Gerhardt Co., Hazleton, Pa. The Edw. G. Budd Manufacturing Co., Philadelphia, built 41,020 metal cases for the airplane flares.

Articles. Ordered. Completed to Nov. 8, 1918. Completed to Feb. 1, 1919.
Signal rockets 615,000 437,101 544,355
Position lights 2,072,000 1,187,532 1,670,070
Rifle lights 55,000 55,000 55,000
Signal lights 3,110,000 2,661,008 2,710,268
V. B. cartridges 1,215,000 110 000 673,200
Very cartridges, 25-millimeter 300,000
Smoke torches 500,000 31,000 188,102
Wing-tip flares 112,000 70,000 100,865
Airplane flares 50,083 2,100 8,000

We also contracted for the production of many thousands of Very signal pistols. Before the original program was canceled the Remington Arms Co. had produced 24,460 of the 10-gauge pistols in contracts calling for a total output of 35,000.

In August, 1918, we let contracts for 135,000 of the 25-millimeter pistols and for approximately 30,000 of the 35-millimeter pistols. The A. H. Fox Gun Co. completed 4,193 of the smaller pistols and the Scott & Fetzger Machine Co. turned out 7,750 of them. Other concerns which had taken contracts but had not come into production when the armistice was signed were the National Tool & Manufacturing Co., the Doehler Die Castings Co., the Hammond Typewriter Co., and Parker Bros.

Considerable experimental work of an interesting nature was carried out looking toward the development of incendiary devices. Three types of flame projectors, flaming bayonets, an airplane destroyer, incendiary darts, and the smoke knapsack were among the projects undertaken. Owing in large measure to changes in requirements by the American Expeditionary Forces none of these devices was actually turned out on any considerable scale.

[Pg 221]


The miscellaneous ordnance equipment of the American soldier in the recent war—that is, articles which he carried with him and which added to his comfort, his safety, or his efficiency as a fighter—while in many respects identical with the equipment used by our troops for many years, at the same time contained several novelties.

In the novelty class were helmets and armor. There is a widespread impression that helmets and body armor passed away with the invention of gunpowder and because of that invention. This impression is not at all true. Body armor came to its highest development long after gunpowder was in common use in war. The sixteenth century witnessed the most extensive use of armor; yet at that time guns and pistols formed an important part of the equipment of every army, and even a weapon which is generally fancied to be ultramodern, the revolver, had been invented.

The fact is that not gunpowder but tactics caused the decline of armor. Not that armor was unable to stop many types of projectiles shot from guns, but that its weight hampered swift maneuvering, caused it to be laid aside by the soldier. The decline of armor may be said to date from the Thirty Years' War. The armies in that period, and particularly that of the Swedes, began making long marches for surprise attacks, and the body armor of the troops was found to be a hindrance in such tactics. Thereafter armor went out of fashion.

Yet it never completely disappeared in warfare. Gen. Rochambeau is said to have worn body armor at the siege of Yorktown. Great numbers of corselets and headpieces were worn in the Napoleonic wars. The corselet which John Paul Jones wore in his fight with the Serapis is preserved at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The Japanese army was mailed with good armor as late as 1870. Breastplates were worn to some extent in the Civil War in the United States, and an armor factory was actually established at New Haven, Conn., about 1862. In the museum at Richmond, Va., is an equipment of armor taken from a dead soldier in one of the trenches at the siege of that city. There was a limited use of armor in the Franco-Prussian War. Some of the Japanese troops carried shields at Port Arthur. Helmets were worn in the Boer War. A notorious Aus[Pg 222]tralian bandit in the eighties for a long time defied armed posses to capture him because he wore armor and could stand off entire squads of policemen firing at him with Martini rifles at close range.

Thus it can not be said that armor, in coming into use again in the great war, was resurrected; it was merely revived. In its static condition during most of the four-year period, the war against Germany was one in which armor might profitably be used. This opportunity could scarcely be overlooked, and indeed it was not. Everybody knows of the helmets that were in general use; yet body armor itself was coming into favor again, and only the welcome but unexpected end of hostilities prevented it, in all probability, from becoming again an important part of the equipment of a soldier.

As a consequence of the attenuated but persistent use of armor by soldiers during the past two centuries and of the demand of the aristocratic for helmets and armor as ornaments, the armorer's trade had been kept alive from the days of Gustavus Adolphus to the present. The war efforts of the United States in 1917 and 1918 demanded a wide range of human talents and special callings; but surely the strange and unusual seemed to be reached when in the early days of our undertaking the Engineering Division of the Ordnance Department sought the services of expert armorers.

Through the advice of the National Research Council, which had established a committee of armor experts, the Ordnance Department commissioned in its service Maj. Bashford Dean, a life-long specialist in armor, curator in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, an institution which, learning of the Government's need, at once placed at its disposal its wonderful specimens of authentic armor, its armor repair shop where models could at once be made, and the services of Maj. Dean's assistant there whom he had brought from France, Daniel Tachaux, one of the few surviving armorers, who had inherited lineally the technical side of the ancient craft.

It may be said that there were but two nations in the great war which went to the Middle Ages for ideas as to protective armor—ourselves and Germany. The Germans, who applied science to almost every phase of warfare, did not neglect it here. Germany at the start consulted her experts on ancient armor and worked along lines which they suggested. The German helmet used in the trenches was undoubtedly superior to any other helmet given a practical use.

The first helmets to be used in the great war were of French manufacture. They were designed by Gen. Adrien, and 2,000,000 of them were manufactured and issued to the French Army. These helmets were the product of hasty pioneer work, but the fact that they saved from 2 to 5 per cent of the normal casualties of such a war as was being fought at once impelled the other belligerents to adopt the idea. Great Britain, spurred by the necessity of producing quickly a helmet in quantity, designed the most simple helmet to manufacture, which could be pressed out of cold metal.




[Pg 223]

When America entered the war she had, naturally, no distinctive helmet; and the English type, being easiest to make, was adopted to fill the gap until we could design a more efficient one ourselves. Consequently 400,000 British helmets were bought in England and issued to the vanguard of the American Expeditionary Forces. Our men wore them, became accustomed to them, and came to feel that they were the badge of English-speaking troops. The British helmet thus became a habit with our men, one difficult to change, a fact which mitigated against the popularity of the more advanced and scientific models which we were to bring out.

Now, the British helmet possessed some notable defects. It did not afford a maximum of protective area. The center of gravity was not so placed as to keep the helmet from wobbling. The lining was uncomfortable and disregarded the anatomy of the head. It was vulnerable at the concave surface where bowl and brim joined.

It is not an astonishing circumstance that some of the earlier helmets worn by the men-at-arms of the days of knighthood possessed certain of these same defects, notably, that they were apt to be top-heavy and uncomfortable. Only by centuries of constant application and improvement were the armorers of the Middle Ages able to produce helmets which overcame these defects and which embodied all of the principles of defense and strength which science could put into them. The best medieval helmets stand at the summit of the art. It was the constant aim of the modern specialist, aided by the facilities of the twentieth century industries, to produce helmets as perfect technically as those rare models which are the pride of museums and collectors.

Certainly in one respect we had the advantage of the ancients in that we have nowadays at our disposal the modern alloy-steels of great resistance. An alloy of this kind having a thickness of 0.036 of an inch is able to stop at a distance of 10 feet a jacketed, automatic pistol ball, .45 caliber, traveling at the rate of 600 feet a second. This was important not only from the standpoint of helmet production, but from the further inference that body armor of such steel might still be profitably used. The records of the hospitals in France show that 7 or 8 of every 10 wounded soldiers were wounded by fragments of shell and other missiles which even thin armor plate would have kept out. The German troops used body armor in large numbers, each set weighing from 19 to 24 pounds. In this country we believed it possible to produce body armor which would not be difficult to carry and which would resist the impact of a machine-gun bullet at fairly close range.

[Pg 224]

The production of helmets, however, was our first concern; and in order to be sure of a sufficient quantity of these protective headpieces, we adopted the British model for production in the United States and went ahead with it on a large scale. For the metal we adopted after much experimentation a steel alloy with a high percentage of manganese. This was practically the same as the steel of the British helmet. Its chief advantage was that it was easy to work in the metal presses in existence and it required no further tempering after leaving the stamping presses. Its hardness, however, wore away the stamping tools much more quickly than ordinary steel sheets would do.

While we adopted the British helmet in design and substantially in metal used, we originated our own helmet lining. The lining was woven of cotton twine in meshes three-eighths of an inch square. This web, fitting tightly upon the wearer's head, evenly distributed the weight of the two-pound helmet, and in the same way distributed the force of any blow upon the helmet. The netting, together with small pieces of rubber around the edge of the lining, kept the helmet away from the head, so that even a relatively large dent could not reach the wearer's skull.

It is an interesting fact that the linings for the American helmets were produced by concerns whose ordinary business was the manufacture of shoes. There were 10 of these companies taking such contracts. Steel for the helmet was rolled by the American Sheet & Tin Plate Co. The helmets were pressed and stamped into shape by seven companies which had done similar work before the war. These concerns were:

Contractor. Delivered.
Edward G. Budd Manufacturing Co., Philadelphia 1,150,775
Sparks, Withington Co., Jackson, Mich. 473,469
Crosby Co., Buffalo, N. Y. 469,968
Bossett Corporation, Utica, N. Y. 116,735
Columbian Enameling & Stamping Co., Terre Haute, Ind. 268,850
Worcester Pressed Steel Co., Worcester, Mass. 193,840
Benjamin Electric Co., Des Plaines, Ill. 33,600
Total 2,707,237

The metal helmets and the woven linings were delivered to the plant of the Ford Motor Co. at Philadelphia, where they were painted and assembled. The helmets were painted in the olive-drab shade for protective coloring. While on dull days such objects could not be discerned at a great distance, in bright weather their rounded surfaces might catch and reflect sunbeams, thus betraying the positions of their wearers. To guard against this, as soon as the helmets were treated to a first coat of paint fine sawdust was blown upon the wet surface. When this had dried, another coat of paint was applied, and a nonreflective, gritty surface was thus produced.


American Helmet. Experimental Model No. 2.

American Helmet No. 8. (Visor up.)



[Pg 225]

We began receiving substantial quantities of finished helmets by the end of November of the first year of the war. On February 17, 1918, practically 700,000 had been shipped abroad or were ready for shipment at the ports of embarkation. Later in the spring of 1918, when we began sending men to France much beyond our earlier expectations, the orders for helmets were greatly expanded. In July the total orders reached 3,000,000, in August 6,000,000, and in September 7,000,000. This would give us enough to meet all requirements until June, 1919.

When the armistice was signed the factories were producing more than 100,000 helmets every four days, and were rapidly approaching the time when their daily output would be 60,000. The Government canceled all helmet contracts as soon as the fighting ceased, having received up to that time a total of 2,700,000 of them.

While this manufacture was going on we were developing helmets of our own. Major Dean went to France to collect information dealing with the actual needs of the service and to present numerous experimental models of helmets for the comment and criticism of the General Staff. In numerous cases these models were accepted for manufacture here in experimental lots.

In all we developed four models which seemed to have merits recommending their adoption. The first distinctive American helmet was known as model No. 2. The Ford Co. at Detroit pressed about 1,200 of these helmets. The helmet, however, was similar in appearance to the German helmet, and for that reason was disapproved by the American Expeditionary Forces.

Helmet model No. 3 was of a deep-bowl type, but it was rejected when the Hale & Kilburn Co., of Philadelphia, after a great deal of experimentation, found that the helmet was too deep for successful manufacture by pressing.

Model No. 4 was designed by the master armorer of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was also found too difficult to manufacture.

Helmet No. 5 was strongly recommended by American experts, but was not accepted by the General Staff. It was designed by the armor committee at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in conjunction with the Engineering Division of the Ordnance Department. Hale & Kilburn undertook to manufacture these helmets, which were to be painted, assembled, and packed by the Ford Motor Co. at its Philadelphia plant. Various component parts of the helmet were sublet in experimental quantities to numerous manufacturers.

The No. 5 helmet, complete, weighed 2 pounds, 6½ ounces. It combined the virtues of several types of helmets. It gave a maximum of protection for its weight. It was comparatively easy to produce. This helmet, with slight variations, was later adopted[Pg 226] as the standard helmet of the Swiss Army. The latest German helmet, it is interesting to note, was approaching similar lines.

We also produced helmets for special services—one with a visor to protect machine gunners and snipers, and another, known as model 14, for aviators, it being little heavier than the leather helmet which airmen wore in the war and twenty times as strong a defense for the head. A third special helmet, known as model 15, was for operators of tanks. It was provided with a neck guard of padded silk to stop the lead splash which penetrated the turret of the tank. The Ordnance Department turned out 25 of these in 10 days and sent them by courier to France for a test.

The Germans issued body armor only to troops holding exposed positions under heavy machine-gun and rifle fire; but such use was distinctly valuable, as was shown by captured German reports.

The Engineering Division of the Ordnance Department developed a body defense including a light front and body plate, these together weighing 9½ pounds. One lot of 5,000 sets was manufactured by the Hale & Kilburn Corporation. The linings of these plates were of sponge rubber, and they were made by the Miller Rubber Co., of Akron, Ohio. All of these sets were shipped abroad for testing; but the report was not favorable, as the American soldier did not wish to be hampered with armor. He had learned to wear his helmet, but he had yet to be convinced of the practical value of body armor.

We developed a heavy breast plate with thigh guards, weighing 27 pounds, which stopped machine gun bullets at 150 yards. An experimental lot of these were completed in 26 days by the Mullins Manufacturing Co., of Salem, Ohio. These were also shipped abroad for test.

A few defenses for arms and legs were prepared which, although light in weight, would protect the wearer from an automatic-pistol ball at 10 feet. About 70 per cent of the hospital cases in France were casualties caused by wounds in the arms and legs. These defenses, however, were rejected on account of their impeding to a certain degree the movements of the wearer.

Our development in armor also produced an aviator's chair weighing 60 pounds. It would protect the pilot from injury from below and from the back, withstanding armor-piercing bullets fired at a distance of 50 yards. Since the piercing of the gas mask canister by a bullet might result in the death of the soldier by admitting gas directly into the breathing system of his mask, the Ordnance Department designed an armored haversack for the gas mask and its canister, this haversack incidentally serving as a breast defense.

[Pg 227]


Another large ordnance operation was the production of bayonets for the service rifles. The British bayonet had proved to be highly satisfactory in the war; and, since it was already designed to fit the Enfield rifle, which we had adopted for our own, we took the British bayonet as it was and, with only one slight alteration, set out to produce it in this country.

The Government found both the Remington Arms-Union Metallic Cartridge Co. at its Bridgeport, Conn., works, and the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. building these bayonets for the English Government. The latter's bayonet needs by 1917 were being well supplied by home manufacture, and this permitted us to buy approximately 545,500 bayonets which had already been manufactured for the British.

The Ordnance Department at once started out these two concerns on contracts for bayonets for the American Government, Remington with total orders for 2,820,803 bayonets and Winchester with orders for 672,500. Remington delivered in all 1,565,644 bayonets and Winchester 395,894. This was a total of 1,961,500 bayonets.

The total production of 1917 rifles was about 2,520,000. These figures indicate that we were short over 500,000 bayonets at the time hostilities ceased; and as a matter of fact this shortage had already become acute, especially in the training camps.

The bayonets had not come as rapidly as we had expected, because to produce them at the rate originally planned would have interfered with the more essential production of rifles by these same companies. Accordingly in 1918 additional contracts for bayonets were made. Landers, Frary & Clark, of New Britain, Conn., engaged to manufacture 500,000 bayonets, and the National Motor Vehicle Co., 255,000. These latter contracts, however, were suspended after the armistice was signed. The additional orders had made it certain that there would be no bayonet shortage by the spring of 1919.

While this production was under way we were also manufacturing bayonets for the model 1903 Springfield rifle. The Springfield Armory produced 347,533 of these and the Rock Island Arsenal 36,800. In addition the Springfield Armory delivered 50,000 bayonet blades as spare parts.

We not only had to provide bayonets but also the scabbards to hold them in. The scabbard of the 1917 bayonet was of simple manufacture and there were no difficulties in securing sufficient quantities. The Jewell Belt Co. delivered 1,810,675 of them; Graton & Knight delivered 1,669,581; while the Rock Island Arsenal produced 3,000. This gave us a total of 3,480,000 scabbards, a quantity greatly in excess of the production of either bayonets or rifles.

[Pg 228]

A new weapon which had come into use during the great war as part of the soldier's individual equipment was the trench knife. The question of making such knives was taken up by the Government with various manufacturers throughout the country and they were given a general idea of what was required and, in conjunction with the Ordnance Department, were requested to develop details. The design submitted by Henry Disston & Sons, of Philadelphia, received the most favorable consideration. This knife was manufactured and known as model 1917. It was a triangular blade 9 inches long. The triangular blade was deemed the most efficient because of the ease with which it would pierce clothing and even leather. This knife was slightly changed as regards handle and given a different guard to protect the man's knuckles, and was known as model 1918. These knives were sent abroad in large quantities to be used by the American Expeditionary Forces. Landers, Frary & Clark produced 113,000 of these knives and the Oneida Community (Ltd.), Oneida, N. Y., 10,000.

On June 1, 1918, the American Expeditionary Forces made an exhaustive test, comparing the various trench knives used abroad. The four knives tested were as follows; United States, model 1917; Hughes; French; and British knuckle knife. These tests were made to determine the merits of the different knives as to the following points:

It was found that the model 1917, although a satisfactory knife, could be improved. Therefore the trench knife known as Mark I was developed partially by the American Expeditionary Forces and partially by the Engineering Division of Ordnance. This knife was entirely different from the model 1917, having a flat blade, metal scabbard, and a cast-bronze handle. It was a combination of all the good points of all the knives used by the foreign armies.

The Government placed orders for 1,232,780 of the new knives. Deliveries were to have begun in December, but before that time peace had come and the orders had been reduced to 119,424. The new model knives were to have been manufactured by A. A. Simons & Son, Dayton, Ohio; Henry Disston & Son, Philadelphia; Landers, Frary & Clark, and the Oneida Community (Ltd.). All contracts were canceled except the one with Landers, Frary & Clark.






[Pg 229]


Another new article in the equipment of our soldiers was the trench periscope, a device enabling a man to look over the edge of the trench without exposing himself to fire. The ordinary periscope was merely a wooden box 2 inches square and 15 inches long, with an inclined mirror set at each end. Production was commenced in October, 1917, by two companies, and 81,000 were delivered by the middle of January. In August, 1918, an additional lot of 60,000 was ordered, but the deliveries of these were slow.

An even simpler periscope was merely a mirror about three inches long and an inch and a half wide which could be placed on a bayonet or a stick and set up over the trench so that it gave a view of the ground in front. A total of 100,000 of these was delivered before the end of July, 1918, and 50,000 additional ones before November. Further facts about periscopes are set down in the chapter in this report relating to sights and fire-control apparatus.

At the beginning of the war all textile equipment, such as cartridge belts, bandoleers to carry ammunition, haversacks, pack carriers, pistol holsters, canteen covers and similar material were supplied in woven material. Only two concerns in this country could manufacture articles of this quality. They were the Mills Woven Cartridge Belt Co., Worcester, Mass., and the Russell Manufacturing Co., Middletown, Conn. Although these two concerns practically doubled their output and worked day and night to supply the material, the demand was too great, and belts and carriers were designed to be stitched and sewn and not woven. Equipment made in this manner is inferior to the woven article. However, the Mills Woven Cartridge Belt Co. produced approximately 3,200,000 of these articles and the Russell Manufacturing Co., 1,500,000. Large producers of the stitched and sewn material were the Plant Brothers Co., Boston, Mass.; R. H. Long Co., Framingham, Mass.; L. C. Chase Co., Watertown, Mass.

For the Browning automatic rifle and the Browning machine gun there were specially designed belts and bandoleers. The rifleman had his own special belt, and his first and second assistants had their own individual belts, and the assistants also had two bandoleers each, one right and one left, which were carried across their shoulders. These were manufactured in quantities by the following manufacturers:

R. H. Long Co., Framingham, Mass. 175,000
Plant Bros., Boston, Mass. 75,000
L. C. Chase Co., Watertown, Mass. 20,000

Many small articles of textile equipment were produced in immense quantities. There were approximately four and a half million canteen covers produced prior to November 1. Large contracts[Pg 230] were placed with the following concerns: Perkins-Campbell Co., Cincinnati, Ohio; Brauer Bros., St. Louis, Mo.; L. C. Chase Co., Watertown, Mass.; Miller-Hexter Co., Cleveland, Ohio; Powers Manufacturing Co., Waterloo, Iowa; R. H. Long Co., Framingham, Mass.; Bradford Co., St. Joseph, Mich.; Galvin Bros., Cleveland, Ohio; Progressive Knitting Works, Brooklyn, N. Y.

Approximately four and a half million haversacks were produced and delivered prior to November 1, 1918. Large manufacturers producing these were as follows: Canvas Products Co., St. Louis, Mo.; Rock Island Arsenal, Rock Island, Ill.; Plant Bros., Boston, Mass.; Simmons Hardware Co., St. Louis, Mo.; R. H. Long Co., Framingham, Mass.; Liberty, Durgin (Inc.), Haverhill, Mass.; Wiley, Bickford & Sweet, Hartford, Conn.

It is impossible here to enumerate the entire range of ordnance munitions produced, outside of the development of guns and their ammunition; but their manufacture, in orders that ordinarily amounted to the millions of individual pieces, engaged the activities of a large number of manufacturers of the United States.

The Government ordered about 1,200,000 axes to be used in trench operations, of which 661,690 were delivered. Bags of all sorts for horse feed, grain, rations, and supplies totaled in their deliveries about 2,250,000. The Government received 809,541 saddle blankets; about 3,750,000 carriers for entrenching shovels, axes, and picks; nearly 4,450,000 covers for the breech locks of rifles; over 1,000,000 currycombs; 76,230 lariats; 727,000 entrenching picks; nearly 4,750,000 first-aid pouches, and over 2,000,000 pouches for small articles; 234,689 Cavalry saddles; 134,092 Field Artillery saddles; 15,287 mule saddles; 482,459 saddle bags; nearly 1,800,000 entrenching shovels; 2,843,092 spur straps; 70,556 steel measuring tapes each 5 feet long.

These figures selected at random from thousands of miscellaneous items indicate to some extent the scale on which America went into the war.

The old model 1910 American wire cutter, although efficient in times past, was not capable of cutting specially constructed manganese wire which the Germans used. Therefore it became necessary for this country to develop a better cutter. A meeting of the plier manufacturers of the country was called and the question was put before them. The spirit of cooperation of the American manufacturers was evident, inasmuch as over 90 per cent of the manufacturers attended the meeting.























[Pg 231]

The model submitted by Kraeuter & Co., Newark, N. J., was adopted and 5,000 were manufactured and sent to France. Although this was the best cutter developed in this short time, it was evident that it was not the right article, and the Engineering Division of Ordnance continued experimenting to make a more satisfactory one. In this connection a one-hand wire cutter was developed by the William Schollhorn Co., of New Haven, Conn. This cutter was a very efficient and satisfactory article, and, although it was never adopted by the American Army during the war, it is worthy of consideration. The American Expeditionary Forces eventually sent back drawings and sample of the French wire cutter, which was developed abroad and known as model 1918. This was a large, two-handed cutter. Production was started. The article was found difficult to manufacture, but the manufacturers undertook it with a will and production was well under way when the armistice was signed.

The mess equipment of the soldier included the following items: meat can, condiment can, canteen and cup, knife, fork, and spoon. These articles were practically the same as the Army had always used, with one exception—the meat can. Advice was received from the American Expeditionary Forces that the meat cans in which the soldiers' food was placed by the cooks of the various organizations were not large enough to hold the portions that the American doughboys needed when they were fighting at the front. Although production was well under way with various American manufacturers on the old model, a new model can was designed which was half an inch deeper. The American manufacturers immediately, with a great deal of trouble to themselves, changed their dies and tools and manufactured a new meat can which was larger than the old. Thousands of cans were turned out daily.

Production data.
Contractor. Contract. Completed and delivered.
American Can Co., New York City 3,553,940 3,553,940
Tin Decorating Co., Baltimore, Md. 2,003,640 2,003,640
Gotham Can Co., Brooklyn, N. Y. 500,000 500,000
Total 6,057,580 6,057,580
Sturgis & Burns, Chicago 2,303,800 1,731,000
Landers, Frary & Clark, New Britain, Conn. 534,360 534,360
Rock Island Arsenal, Rock Island, Ill. 1,658,000 1,358,570
Wisconsin Metal Products Co., Racine, Wis. 50,000 50,000
Acklin Steel Co., Toledo, Ohio 250,000 250,000
Cleveland Metal Products Co., Cleveland, Ohio 300,000 21,750
Whittaker, Glessner Co., Wheeling, W. Va. 500,000 131,880
Total 5,596,160 4,077,560[Pg 232]
Aluminum Co. of America, Pittsburgh 3,385,955 3,385,955
Landers, Frary & Clark, New Britain, Conn. 3,000,000 3,000,000
J. W. Brown & Co., Columbus, Ohio 641,945 641,945
Wheeling Stamping Co., Wheeling, W. Va. 940,812 940,812
Edmunds & Jones Co., Detroit, Mich. 138,360 138,360
Rock Island Arsenal 138,862 138,862
Total 8,245,934 8,245,934
Aluminum Co. of America, New York 3,470,000 3,470,000
Landers, Frary & Clark 2,862,150 2,862,150
Aluminum Goods Co., Manitowoc, Wis. 2,370,000 2,370,000
J. W. Brown Co. 861,471 861,471
Buckeye Aluminum Co., Wooster, Ohio 776,014 776,014
Rock Island Arsenal 361,000 361,000
Total 10,700,635 10,700,635
American Cutlery Co., Chicago 2,865,910 2,865,910
Landers, Frary & Clark 7,286,550 7,286,550
Rock Island Arsenal 527,600 527,600
International Silverware Co. 473,000 473,000
Hinckley Manufacturing Co. 130,000 130,000
Total 11,283,060 11,283,060
R. Wallace & Co. 8,585,000 8,585,000
Wallace Bros. 367,810 367,810
Rock Island Arsenal 200,000 200,000
Charles Parker Co., Meriden, Conn. 810,000 810,000
Wm. B. Durgin Co., Concord, N. H. 500,000 500,000
Total 10,462,810 10,462,810
R. Wallace & Co. 8,037,600 8,037,600
National Enameling & Stamping Co. 906,400 906,400
Wm. B. Durgin Co. 500,000 500,000
Charles Parker Co. 902,000 902,000
Total 10,346,000 10,346,000
[Pg 233]


[Pg 234]
[Pg 235]


When the United States entered the war against Germany in 1917 there was no phase of her forthcoming industrial effort from which so much was expected as from the building of airplanes and equipment for aerial warfare; yet there was no phase of the immense undertaking in which the United States was so utterly unprepared. In many other branches of the work of providing matériel for a modern army, however inadequately acquainted America might be with the developments which had gone on in Europe since 1914, yet she had splendid resources of skill and equipment which could quickly turn from the pursuits of peace to the arts attending warfare. But there was no large existing industry in the United States which could turn easily to the production of airplanes, since such airplanes as were known in Europe in 1917 had never been built in the United States.

It seems difficult now for us to realize how utterly unlearned we were, both in official and technical quarters, in the design, the production, or the use of aeronautical equipment in those early days of 1917. Here in America mechanical flight had been born; but we had lived to see other nations develop the invention into an industry and a science that was a closed book to our people. In the three years of warfare before American participation, the airplane had been forced through a whole generation of normal mechanical evolution. Of this progress we were aware only as nontechnical and distant observers. Such military study of the progress as we had conducted was casual. It had, in fact, brought to America scarcely a single basic fact on which we could build our contemplated industry.

When the United States became a belligerent no American-built airplane had ever mounted a machine gun or carried any other than the simplest of necessary instruments. Such things as oxygen apparatus, electrically heated clothing for aviators, radio-communication with airplanes, landing and bombing flares, electric lighting systems for planes, bomb-dropping devices, suitable compasses, instruments for measuring height and speed, and the like—in short, all the modern paraphernalia that completes the efficiency of combat airplanes—these were almost entirely unknown to us.

The best of the prewar activities of America in this line had produced some useful airplane engines and a few planes which the countries then at war were willing to use only in training of aviators.

[Pg 236]

Within the Army itself there was small nucleus of skill around which could be built an organization expert and sophisticated. We had in the official files no adequate information as to sizes, capacities, and types of planes or engines, or character of ordnance, armament, or aeronautical appliances demanded by the exacting service in which our young birdmen were soon to engage. Even the airplanes on order in April, 1917 (over 350 of them), proved to be of such antiquated design that the manufacturers of them, in the light of their increased knowledge of war requirements a few months later, asked to be released from their contracts.

Nor was there in the United States any industry so closely allied to airplane manufacture that its engineers and designers could turn from one to the other and take their places at once abreast of the progress in Europe. There was little or no engineering talent in the United States competent to design fully equipped military aircraft which could compete with Europe. Our aircraft producers must first go to France and England and Italy, and ground themselves in the principles of a new science before they could attempt to produce their own designs or even before they could be safe in selecting European designs for reproduction in this country.

The first consideration of the whole program by the Joint Army and Navy Technical Board indicated a figure of 22,000 as the number of airplanes, including both training and battle types, which should be furnished for the use of the Army during the 12 months following July 1, 1917. This figure represented the determination of America to play a major part in aerial warfare. It was not possible for the board to realize at that time all of the problems which would be encountered, and the figures indicated confidence in the ability of the industrial organizations of the United States to meet a difficult situation, rather than an exact plan under which such production might be developed.

It is probable that it was not fully realized that the production of this program, with the proper proportion of spare parts required for military operations, meant the manufacture of the equivalent of about 40,000 airplanes.

Without an industry then, and with little knowledge or understanding of the problems of military aerial equipment, we faced the task of securing the equivalent of 40,000 airplanes in 12 brief months beginning July, 1917.

In one respect we were in a degree prepared in professional skill and mechanical equipment to go ahead on broad lines. This was in the matter of producing engines. The production of aviation engines in America had, indeed, been comparatively slight, but in the automobile industry had been developed a vast engine-building capacity. The detail equipment of automobile shops was not entirely suited to aviation engines, but, nevertheless, it furnished the basis for the future successful production of the Liberty engine and the other engines called for by the air program.



[Pg 237]

America succeeded, once the requirements were known, in producing the various accessories of aerial warfare. It was necessary first to learn from foreign sources what these accessories were and how they should be built; but as a rule it was possible to adapt American production resources to the problem, and the difficulties experienced were rather those of determining requirements and the exact adaptation of the various articles to specific airplanes.

The achievements of America in aircraft production during the war period may be summarized as follows:

In our 19 months of warfare we outdid any one of the belligerent nations in Europe in the production of airplanes in its first 19 months of intensive production. In our second year of war we nearly equaled the record of England in her third.

At the end of the effort, after our designers had saturated themselves in the science and were abreast of the developments of Europe, they produced several typical American airplanes which gave promise of being superior to any that Europe was turning out.

We created one of the three or four best airplane engines, if not the best of all, that the world had seen, and produced it in great quantities. We took a standard but complicated aero-engine from Europe and not only duplicated it in quantity here but turned out a finer product than the original French makers had been able to obtain with their careful and more leisurely methods.

In the steel cylinders of all the aero-engines we built was a capacity for producing some seven or eight million horsepower, an energy equivalent to one-fifth of the commercially practicable water power of the United States. The Liberty engines built could alone do the work of the entire flood of Niagara and have a million horsepower to spare.

In three years of warfare the allies had been able to develop only a single machine gun that could be successfully synchronized to fire through a revolving airplane propeller. In 12 months of actual effort America produced two others as good, both susceptible of factory quantity production.

We developed new airplane cameras. We carried to new stages the science of clothing aviators. We developed in quantity the wireless airplane telephone that stilled in the ears of the pilot the bedlam of wind and machine guns and engine exhaust and placed him within easy speaking radius of his ground station and his commander in the air.

We built balloons at a rate to supply more than our own needs.

[Pg 238]

When the shortage of linen threatened the entire airplane output of the nations opposing Germany, we developed cotton wing fabric that not only substituted for linen, but proved to be better; and in producing a liquid filler to make this fabric wind-tight we established on a large scale an entirely new chemical industry in the United States.

Such were the high points in the history of America's aircraft production for war. The details of the developments which led to these results are set forth on the following pages.



Picture taken at Love Field, Tex., from an airplane.

[Pg 239]


Sketchy and incomplete as was our knowledge of airplane construction in the early days of 1917, it was no more hazy than our notion of how many planes to build. What would constitute overwhelming superiority in the air?

As an indication of the rapidity with which history has moved, it may be stated that in January and February of 1917 the Signal Corps discussed the feasibility of building 1,000 planes in a year of construction. This seems now to us a ridiculously low figure to propose as representative of American resources, but in the early weeks of 1917 the construction of a thousand airplanes appeared to be a formidable undertaking. In March, when war was inevitable, we raised this number to 2,500 planes within 12 months; in April, when war was declared, we raised it again to 3,700.

But once we were in the war, through the exchange of military missions our designers were taken into the confidence of the aviation branches of the French, British, and Italian Armies and shown then for the first time a comprehensive view of the development of the war plane, both what had been done in the past and what might be expected in the future. As a result our Joint Army and Navy Technical Board in the last week of May and the early part of June, 1917, recommended to the Secretaries of War and the Navy that a building program be started at once to produce the stupendous total of 19,775 planes for our own use and 3,000 additional ones, if we were to train foreign aviators, or approximately 22,000 in all. This was a program worthy of America's industrial greatness. Of these proposed planes, 7,050 were for training our flyers, 725 for the defense of the United States and insular possessions, and 12,000 for active service in France.

Such was the task assigned to an industry that in the previous 12 months had manufactured less than 800 airplanes, and those consisting principally of training planes for foreign governments.

The expanding national ambition for an aircraft industry was also shown by the mounting money grants. On May 12 Congress voted $10,800,000 for military aeronautics. On June 15 an appropriation of $43,450,000 was voted for the same purpose. Finally on July 24, 1917, the President signed the bill appropriating $640,000,000 for[Pg 240] aircraft. This was the largest appropriation ever made by Congress for one specific purpose, and this bill was put through both Houses within the period of a little more than a week.

The figure 22,000, however, scarcely indicates the size of this undertaking, as we were to realize before long. We little understood the infinite complications of fully equipping battle planes. Lacking that invaluable experience which Europe had attained in three years of production, we had no practical realization of the fact that for each 100 airplanes an equivalent of 80 additional airplanes must be provided in spare parts. In other words, an effective fighting plane delivered in France is not one plane, but it is one plane and eight-tenths of another; which means that the program adopted in June, 1917, called for the production in 12 months of not 22,000 airplanes but rather the equivalent of 40,000 airplanes.

Let us set down the inventory of the Government's own resources for handling this project.

The American Air Service, which was then part of the Signal Corps, had had a struggling and meager existence, working with the old pusher type of planes until in 1914 an appropriation of $250,000 was made available for the purchase of new airplanes and equipment. Shortly after this appropriation was granted, five officers were sent to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a course in aeronautics. When the war broke out in Europe in August, 1914, these men constituted the entire technically trained personnel of the Air Service of the United States. By April 6, 1917, we had 65 officers in the Air Service, an enlisted and civilian personnel of 1,330, two flying fields, and a few serviceable planes of the training type.

This equipment may be compared with that of Germany, France, and England at the time they went to war. Germany is believed to have had nearly 1,000 airplanes in August, 1914; France had about 300; and England barely 250. America's 224, delivered up to April 6, 1917, were nearly all obsolete in type when compared with the machines then in effective service in France.

No sooner had the United States embarked upon the war than the agents of the European manufacturers of airplanes descended upon the Aircraft Board in swarms. France and Italy had both adopted the policy of depending upon the private development of designs for their supplies of airplanes, with the result that the builders of each country had produced a number of successful types of flying machines and an even greater number of types of engines. On the assumption that the United States would adopt certain of these types and build them here, the agents for the Sopwiths, the Capronis, the Handley-Pages, and many others proceeded to demonstrate the particular excellences of their various articles. Out of this confusion of counsel stood one pertinent fact in relief—the United States would have to pay considerable royalties for the use of any of these European devices.

[Pg 241]

As to the relative merits of types and designs, it was soon apparent that no intelligent decision could be reached in Washington or anywhere but in Europe. Because of our distance from the front and the length of time required to put the American industrial machine into operation on a large scale, it was necessary that in advance we understand types and tendencies in aircraft construction, so that we might anticipate aircraft development in such special designs as we might adopt. Otherwise, if we accepted the types of equipment then in use in Europe, by the time we had begun producing on a large scale a year or so later we would find our output obsolete and out of date, so rapidly was the aircraft art moving.

Consequently, in June the United States sent to Europe a commission of six civilian and military experts, headed by Maj. R. C. Bolling, part of whose duties was to advise the American War Department as to what types of planes and engines and other air equipment we should prepare to manufacture. Also, in April the Chief of the Signal Corps had cables sent to England, France, and Italy, requesting that aviation experts be sent at once to this country; and shortly after this we dispatched to Europe more than 100 skilled mechanics to work in the foreign engine and airplane plants and acquire the training that would make them the nucleus of a large mechanical force for aircraft production in this country.

But while these early educational activities were in progress, much could be done at home that need not await the forthcoming reports from the Bolling mission. We had, for instance, in this country several types of planes and engines that would be suitable for the training fields which were even then being established. The Signal Corps, therefore, bent its energies upon the manufacture of training equipment, leaving the development of battle aircraft to come after we should know more about that subject.

It was evident that we could not equip an airplane industry and furnish machines to our fliers abroad before the summer of 1918; and so we arranged with France for this equipment by placing orders with French factories for 5,875 planes of regular French design. These were all to be delivered by July 1, 1918.

In the arrangement with the French factories we agreed to supply from the United States a great deal of the raw materials for these machines, and the contract for furnishing these supplies was given to J. G. White & Co. of New York City. This concern did a creditable job, shipping about 5,000,000 feet of lumber, much necessary machinery, and a multitude of items required in the fabrication of airplanes, all to the value of $10,000,000.

The total weight of the shipments on this contract was something like 23,000 tons, this figure including 7,500 tons of lumber. The other tonnage consisted of tubing of steel, brass, copper and alumi[Pg 242]num; sheets of steel, copper, lead, and aluminum; as well as bar steel, tool steel, structural steel, ball bearings, crank shafts, turnbuckles, radiator tubes, wire, cable, bolts, nuts, screws, nails, fiber cloth, felt, and rubber. All of this was in addition to approximately 1,000 machine tools, such as motors, lathes, and grinders.

The orders for French planes were divided as follows: 725 Nieuport training planes, 150 Spad training planes, 1,500 Breguet service planes; 2,000 Spad service planes; and 1,500 New Spad or Nieuport service planes. The decision between the New Spad or Nieuport service planes was to be made as soon as the New Spad could be tested. These planes were to be delivered in specified monthly quantities increasing in number until the total of 1,360 planes should be placed in our hands during the month of March, 1918, alone. The contracts were to be concluded in June with the delivery of the final 1,115 planes. We also contracted for the manufacture of 8,500 service engines of the Renault, Hispano and Gnome makes, all of these to be delivered by the end of June.

When the armistice ended the fighting, we had produced a total of 11,754 airplanes in America, together with most of the necessary spare parts for about one-third of them.

While a large part of the American airplanes built in the war period were of the training type rather than the service, or battle, type, nevertheless it was necessary that we have a large equipment of training planes in order to prepare the swiftly expanding personnel of the Air Service for its future activity at the front. The nations associated with us in the war, however, had produced their training equipment prior to our participation as a belligerent, and at the time we entered the war the French, British, and Italians were producing only enough training planes to maintain their training equipment and were going in heavily with the rest of their airplane industries for the production of service planes.

With these considerations in mind, the reader may make an interesting comparison of British and American plane production, the British figures being for both the British Army and the British Navy, whereas the American figures are for the American Army alone. In the following table of comparison the British figures are based on the Lockhart Report of November 1, 1918:

Comparative rate of airplane production—British and United States Army.
Calendar year. British Army and Navy. United States Army.
1915, Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 2,040 20
1916, Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 6,000 [26]83
1917, Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 14,400 [27]1,807
1918, Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 30,000 [28]11,950

[26] Experimental.

[27] 1,476 built in last seven months only.

[28] Inclusive of 135 secured by Engineering Department. American total 12,837 if October production had continued through November and December.

[Pg 243]

Broadly stated, and without reference to types of planes produced, these figures mean that the United States in her second year of the war produced for the American Army alone almost as many airplanes as Great Britain in her third year of the war built for both her army and navy. In October, 1918, factories in this country turned out 1,651 planes, which, without allowing for the monthly expansion in the production, was at the rate of 20,000 planes per year. Assuming no increase in the October rate of production, we would have attained the 22,000 airplanes in 23 months after July 1, 1917, the date on which the production effort may be said to have started. Our production of fighting planes in the war period was 3,328.

On the day the armistice was signed we had received from all sources 16,952 planes. Of these 5,198 had been produced for us by the allies. We had 48 flying fields, 20,568 Air Service officers, and 174,456 enlisted men and civilian personnel. These figures do not mean that we had more than 17,000 planes on hand at that time, because the mortality in airplanes is high from accidents and ordinary wear and tear.


Once we had started out on this enterprise we soon discovered that the production of airplanes was something more than a mere manufacturing job. With almost any other article we might have made our designs, given orders to the factories, and rested in the security that in due time the articles would be forthcoming. But with airplanes we had to create the industry; and this meant not only the equipping of factories, but the procurement and sometimes the actual production of the raw materials.

For instance, the ideal lubricant for the airplane motor is castor oil. When we discovered that the supply of castor oil was not nearly sufficient for our future needs, the Government itself secured from Asia a large quantity of castor beans, enough to seed more than 100,000 acres in this country and thus to provide for the future lubrication for our motors. This actual creation of raw materials was conducted on a much larger scale in the cases of certain other commodities used in airplane construction, particularly in the production of lumber and cotton and in the manufacture of the chemicals for the "dope" with which the airplane wings are covered and made air-tight.

An airplane must have wings and an engine with a propeller to make it go; and, like a bird, it must have a tail to make it fly straight and a body (fuselage) to hold all together. Part of the tail (the rudder) moves sideways and steers the airplane from left to right; part moves up and down (the elevators) and makes the airplane go up or down, and parts of the wings (the ailerons) move up and down and make the airplane tip from side to side. All of these things must be connected to the controls in the hands of the pilot. The front[Pg 244] edges of the wings are raised above the line of flight; and when the propeller driven by the engine forces the wings through the air, the airplane is lifted and flies.

All of the airplanes built for the United States during the war were tractor biplanes. In a plane of the tractor type the propeller is in front and pulls the machine. The biplane is so called because it has two planes or wings, one above the other. The biplane has been the most largely used of all types in war for two reasons: first, the struts and wires between the planes form a truss structure, and this gives the needed strength; and second, there is less danger of enemy bullets wrecking a biplane in the air because its wing support is greater than that of the monoplane or single-winged machine.

Since the airplane can lift only a limited weight, every part of the mechanism must be as light as possible. An airplane engine weighs from 2 to 3 pounds per horsepower, whereas an automobile motor weighs from 8 to 10 pounds per horsepower. The skeleton of the airplane is made of wood, mostly spruce, with sheet-steel fittings to join the wood parts together, and steel wires and rods to make every part a truss. This skeleton is covered with cloth, and the cloth is stretched and made smooth by dope.

Wood, sheet steel, wire, cloth, varnish—these are the principal components of an airplane. As raw materials they all seem easy to obtain in America. And so they are in peace times and for ordinary purposes. But never before had quality been so essential in an American industry, from the raw material up to the finished product—quality in the materials used, and quality in the workmanship which fashions the parts. But combined with this quality we were forced to produce in quantities, bounded only by our own physical limitations, and these quantities must include not only the materials for our own air program but also some of the principal raw materials used by the airplane builders in France and England, specifically, all of the spruce which the allies would require and, later, much of the wing fabric and dope for their machines.

Quite early it was apparent to us that we had on our hands a problem in spruce production which the Government itself must solve, if the airplane undertaking were not to fail at the outset. When we entered the war linen was exclusively used for the covering of wings; and it developed almost immediately that the United Kingdom was practically the sole source of linen. But the Irish looms could not begin to furnish us with our needs for this commodity. Later on came up the question of supplying dope and castor oil. Finally, during the last months of the war, it became necessary for us to follow up the production of all classes of our raw material, particularly in working out a suitable supply of steel tubing. But our great creative efforts in raw materials were confined to spruce, fabric, and dope.

[Pg 245]

The lumber problem involved vast questions of an industrial and technical character. We had to conduct a campaign of education in the knowledge of aircraft requirements that reached from the loggers themselves in the woods to the sawmill men, to the cut-up plants, and then followed through the processes of drying and sawing to the proper utilization of the lumber in the aircraft factories.

In working out these problems, while we drew heavily upon the experience in Europe, yet we ourselves added our own technical skill to the solution. The Signal Corps was assisted by the forest products laboratory at Madison, Wis., and by the wood section of the inspection department of the Bureau of Aircraft Production. The United States Forest Service contributed its share of technical knowledge. At the end of the war we considered that our practice in the handling of aircraft lumber was superior to that of either France or England.


Each airplane uses two distinct sorts of wood—first, the spruce or similar lumber for the wing beams or other plane parts; and second, mahogany, walnut, or other hardwoods for propellers. In each case the Army production authorities were involved both in securing the lumber and in educating manufacturers to handle it properly.

In an ordinary biplane there are two beams for each lateral wing, eight beams to the plane. These form the basis of strength for the wings. Because of the heavy stresses put upon the airplanes by battle conditions, only the most perfect and straight-grained wood is suitable for these beams. All cross-grained or spiral-grained material, or material too coarse in its structure, is useless.

Spruce is the best of all woods for wing beams. Our problem was to supply lumber enough for the wing beams, disregarding the other parts, as all other wood used in the manufacture of planes could be secured from cuttings from the wing-beam stock. At the beginning we built each beam out of one piece of wood; and this meant that the lumber must be extra long, thick, and perfect. Until we learned how to cut the spruce economically we found that only a small portion of the lumber actually logged was satisfactory for airplanes. An average sized biplane uses less than 500 feet of lumber. In the hands of skilled cutters this quantity can be worked out of 1,000 feet of rough lumber. But in the earlier days of the undertaking as high as 5,000 feet of spruce per plane were actually used because of imperfections in the lumber, lack of proper inspection at the mills, and faulty handling in transit and in the factories.

We also used certain species of fir in building training planes. This wood is, like spruce, light, tough, and strong. The only great source of supply of these woods was in the Pacific Northwest, although there was a modest quantity of suitable timber in West Virginia, North Carolina, and New England.

[Pg 246]

While at first we expected to rely upon the unaided efforts of the lumber producers, labor difficulties almost immediately arose in the Northwest to hinder the production of lumber. The effort, too, was beset with difficulties of a physical nature, since the large virgin stands of spruce occurred only at intervals and often at long distances from the existing railroads. By the middle of October, 1917, it became evident that the northwestern lumber industry unaided could not deliver the spruce and fir; and the Chief of Staff of the Army formed a military organization to handle the situation. On November 6, 1917, Col. Brice P. Disque took command of the Spruce Production Division of the Signal Corps, this organization later being transferred to the Bureau of Aircraft Production.

When Col. Disque went into the Northwest he found the industry in chaotic condition. The I. W. W. was demoralizing the labor forces. The mills did not have the machinery to cut the straight-grained lumber needed and their timber experts were not sufficiently skilled in the selection and judging of logs to secure the maximum footage. The whole industry was organized along lines of quantity production and desired to avoid all high quality requirements insisted upon by the Government.

One of the first acts of the military organization was to organize a society called the Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen, the "L. L. L. L.," to offset the I. W. W. propaganda, its platform being, no strikes, fair wages, and the conscientious production of the Government's requirements. On March 1, 1918, 75,000 lumbermen and operators agreed without reservation to give Col. Disque power to decide all labor disputes. The specifications for logs were then standardized and modified as far as practicable to meet the manufacturers' needs. We arranged financial assistance that they might equip their mills with the proper machinery. We instituted a system of instruction for the personnel. Finally, the Government fixed a price for aircraft spruce that stabilized the industry and provided against delays from labor disputes.

While these basic reforms were being instituted our organization had energetically taken up the physical problems relating to the work. We surveyed the existing stands of spruce timber, built railroads connecting them with the mills, and projected other railroads far into the future. We began and encouraged logging by farmers in small operations. By these and other methods employed, the efficiency of this production effort gradually increased.

In all, we took 180,000,000 feet of aircraft lumber out of the northwestern forests. To the allies went 120,000,000 feet; to the United States Army and Navy, 60,000,000 feet.




[Pg 247]

Yet when we had resolved the difficulties in the forests only part of the problem had been met. Next came the intricate industrial question of how to prepare this lumber for aircraft use. We possessed little knowledge as to the proper methods of seasoning this timber. The vast majority of woodworking plants in this country, such as furniture and piano makers, had always dried lumber to the end that it might keep its shape. We now were faced with the technical question of drying lumber so as to preserve its strength. The forest products laboratory worked out a scientific method for this sort of seasoning. Incidentally they discovered that ordinary commercial drying had seldom been carried on scientifically. The country will receive a lasting benefit from this instruction carried broadcast over the industry.

In the progress of our wood studies we discovered a method of splicing short lengths of spruce to make wing beams and in the later months of the production used these spliced beams exclusively at a great saving in raw materials. The use of laminated beams would probably have become universal in another year of warfare.


The flying surfaces of an airplane are made by stretching cloth over the frames. When we came into war it was supposed that linen was the only common fabric with sufficient strength for this use, and linen was almost exclusively used by the airplane builders, although Italian manufacturers were trying to develop a cotton fabric. Of the three principal sources of flax, Belgium had been cut off from the allies, Russia was isolated entirely after the revolution there, and Ireland was left as the sole available land from which flax for airplane linen could be obtained.

As late as August, 1917, England assured us that she could supply all of the linen that would be needed. It rapidly became evident that England had underestimated our requirements. An average airplane requires 250 yards of fabric, while some of the large machines need more than 500 yards. And these requirements do not take into consideration the spare wings which must be supplied with each airplane. This meant a demand for millions of yards put upon the Irish supply, which had no such surplus above allied needs.

For some time prior to April 6, 1917, the Bureau of Standards at Washington had been experimenting with cotton airplane cloths. Out of the large variety of fabrics tested several promising experimental cloths were produced. The chief objection to cotton was that the dope which gave satisfactory results on linen failed to work with uniformity on cotton. Therefore, it became apparent that if we were to use cotton fabric, we should have to invent a new dope.

Two grades of cotton airplane cloth were finally evolved—A, which had a minimum strength of 80 pounds per inch, and B, with a minimum strength of 75 pounds per inch. Grade A was later universally[Pg 248] adopted. This cloth weighed four and one-half ounces per square yard.

We placed our first orders for cotton airplane fabric in September, 1917—orders for 20,000 yards—and from that time on the use of linen decreased. By March of 1918 the production of cotton airplane cloth had reached 400,000 yards per month. In May the production was about 900,000 yards; and when the war ended this material was being turned out at the rate of 1,200,000 yards per month. Starting with a few machines, our cotton mills had gradually brought 2,600 looms into the enterprise, each loom turning out about 120 yards of cloth in a week. A total of 10,248,355 yards of cotton fabric was woven and delivered to the Government—over 5,800 miles of it, nearly enough to reach from California to France. The use of cotton fabric so expanded that in August, 1918, we discontinued the importations of linen altogether.

There was, however, danger that we would be limited in our output of cotton fabric if there were any curtailment in the supply of the long-staple sea-island and Egyptian cotton of which this cloth is made. To make sure that there would be no shortage of this material the Signal Corps in November, 1917, went into the market and purchased 15,000 bales of sea-island cotton. This at all times gave us an adequate reserve of raw material for the new fabric.

Cotton proved to be not only an admirable substitute for linen but even a better fabric than the original cloth which had been used. No matter how abundant the supply of flax may be, it is unlikely that linen will ever again be used in large quantities for the manufacture of airplane wings.

Thus, as the airplane situation was saved by the prompt action of the Signal Corps in organizing and training the spruce industry, so again its decision to produce cotton fabric and its prompt action in cornering the necessary cotton supply made possible the uninterrupted expansion of the allied aviation program.

The wings of an airplane must not only be covered with fabric, but the fabric must be filled with dope, which is a sort of varnish. The function of the dope is to stretch the cloth tight and to create on it a smooth surface. After the dope is on the fabric the surface is protected further by a coat of ordinary spar varnish.

We found in the market two sorts of dope which were being furnished to airplane builders of all countries by various chemical and varnish manufacturers. One of these dopes was nitrate in character and was made from nitrocellulose and certain wood-chemical solvents including alcohol. This produced a surface similar to that of a photographic film. The other kind of dope had an acetate base and was made from cellulose-acetate and such wood chemical solvents as acetone.

[Pg 249]

The nitrate dope burned rapidly when ignited but the acetate type was slow burning. Thus in training planes not subject to attack by enemy incendiary bullets the nitrate dope would be fairly satisfactory, but in the fighting planes the slow-burning acetate dope was a vital necessity. Up to our participation in the war the dopes produced in the United States were principally nitrate in character.

It was evident that we should make our new dope acetate in character to avoid the danger of fire. But for this we would require great quantities of acetone and acetate chemicals, and a careful canvass of the supply of such ingredients showed that it would be impossible for us to obtain these in anything like the quantities we should require without developing absolutely new sources of production.

Already acetone and its kindred products were being absorbed in large quantities by the war production of the allies. The British Army was absolutely dependent upon cordite as a high explosive. Acetone is the chemical basis of cordite; and therefore the British Army looked with great concern upon the added demand which the American aviation program proposed to put upon the acetone supply.

We estimated that in 1918 we would require 25,000 tons of acetone in our dope production. The British war mission in this country submitted figures showing that the war demands of the allies, together with their necessary domestic requirements, would in themselves be greater than the total world production of acetone.

There was nothing then for us to do but to increase the source of supply of these necessary acetate compounds; and this was done by encouraging, financially and otherwise, the establishment of 10 large chemical plants. These were located in as many towns and cities, as follows: Collinwood, Tenn.; Tyrone, Pa.; Mechanicsville, N. Y.; Shawinigan Falls, Canada; Kingsport, Tenn.; Lyle, Tenn.; Freemont, Mo.; Sutton, W. Va.; Shelby, Ala.; and Terre Haute, Ind.

But it was evident that before these plants could be completed the airplane builders would be needing dope; and therefore steps were taken to keep things going in all the principal countries fighting Germany until the acetate shortage could be relieved. In December, 1917, we commandeered all the existing American supply of acetate of lime, the base from which acetone and kindred products are made. Then we entered into a pool with the allied governments to ration these supplies of chemicals, pending the era of plenty. Our agency in this pool was the wood-chemical section of the War Industries Board, whereas the allies placed their demands in the hands of the British war mission. These two boards allocated the acetate chemicals among the different countries according to the urgency of their demands. Since it was evident there might be financial losses incurred as the result of the commandeering order or in the project of the new Government chemical plants, the British war mission agreed[Pg 250] that any deficit should be shared equally by the American and British Governments. It was also agreed we should not have any advantage in prices paid for acetates of American origin. Under this arrangement we were able to produce 1,324,356 gallons of fabric dope during the period of hostilities, without upsetting any of the European war-production projects. Had the war continued, the output from the 10 chemical plants in which the Government was a partner would have cared for all American and allied requirements, allowing the production of private plants to go exclusively for the ordinary commercial purposes.


The actual building of the airplanes gave a striking example of the value of previous experience, either direct or of a kindred nature, in the quantity production of an article. What airplanes we had built in the United States—and the number was small, being less than 800 in the 12 months prior to April, 1917—had been entirely of the training type. These had been produced principally for foreign governments. But this slight manufacture gave us a nucleus of skill and equipment that we were able to expand to meet our own training needs almost as rapidly as fields could be equipped and student aviators enlisted. The training-plane program can be called a success, as the final production figures show. Of the 11,754 airplanes actually turned out by American factories, 8,567 were training machines. This was close to the 10,000 mark set as our ambition in June, 1917.

There are two types of training planes—those used in the primary instruction of students and those in the advanced teaching, the latter approaching the service planes in type. The primary plane carries the student and the instructor. Each occupant of the fuselage has before him a full set of controls which are interconnected so that the instructor at will can do the flying himself, or correct the student's false moves, or allow the student to take complete charge of the machine. These primary planes fly at the relatively slow speed of 75 miles per hour on the average and require engines so reliable that they need little attention.

For our training planes we adopted the Curtiss JN-4, with the Curtiss OX-5 engine, and as a supplementary equipment the Standard Aero Corporation's J-1 plane, with the Hall-Scott A-7-A engine. Both of these planes and both engines had been previously manufactured here. The Curtiss equipment, which was the standard at our training camps, gave complete satisfaction. The J-1 plane was later withdrawn from use, partly because the plane itself was not liked, partly because of the vibration resulting from this Hall-Scott engine, it having only four cylinders, and partly because of the uncertainty of the engine in cold weather.


This machine has a dual control and is used solely for training purposes.


An American designed training plane.

[Pg 251]

It was evident that at the start we must turn our entire manufacturing capacity to the production of training planes, since we would need these first in any event, and we were not yet equipped with the knowledge to enable us to make intelligent selections of service types.

In taking up the manufacturing problem the first step was to divide the existing responsible airplane plants between the Army and Navy, following the general rule that a single plant should confine its work to the needs of one Government department only. There were, of course, exceptions to this rule. This division gave to the Army the plants of the—

The factories which fell to the Navy were those of the—

Of these concerns, Curtiss, Standard, Burgess, L. W. F., Thomas-Morse, and Wright-Martin were the only ones which had ever built more than 10 machines.

These factories were quite insufficient in themselves to carry out the enterprise. Therefore it became necessary to create other airplane plants. Two new factories thereupon sprang into existence under Government encouragement. The largest producer of automobile bodies was the Fisher Body Co., at Detroit, Mich. The manufacture of automobile bodies is akin to the manufacture of airplanes to the extent that each is a fabrication of accurate, interchangeable wood and sheet-steel parts. The Fisher organization brought into the enterprise not only machinery and buildings but a skilled organization trained in such production on a large scale.

At Dayton, Ohio, the Dayton-Wright Airplane Corporation was created. With this company was associated Orville Wright, and its engineering force was built up around the old Wright organization. A number of immense buildings which had been recently erected for other purposes were at once utilized in this new undertaking.

As an addition to these two large sources of supply, J. G. White & Co. and J. G. Brill & Co., the well-known builders of street cars, formed the Springfield Aircraft Corporation at Springfield, Mass.[Pg 252] Also certain forward-looking men on the Pacific coast created in California several airplane plants, some of which ultimately became satisfactory producers of training planes.

At this point in the development we were not aware of the great production of spare parts that would be necessary. Yet we did understand that there must be a considerable production of spares; and in order to take the burden of this manufacture from the regular airplane plants, and also to educate other factories up to the point where they might undertake the construction of complete airplanes, we placed many contracts for spare parts with widely scattered concerns. Among the principal producers of spares were the following:

For a long time the supply of spare parts was insufficient for the needs of the training fields. This was only partly due to the early lack of a proper realization of the quantity of spares that would be required. The production of spares on an adequate scale was hampered by numerous manufacturing difficulties incident to new industry of any sort in shops unacquainted with the work, and by a lack of proper drawings for the parts.

As to the training planes themselves, with all factories in the country devoting themselves to this type exclusively at the start, the production soon attained great momentum. The Curtiss Co. particularly produced training planes at a pace far beyond anything previously obtained. The maximum production of JN-4 machines was reached in March, 1918, when 756 were turned out.

Advanced training machines are faster, traveling at about 105 miles per hour; and they carry various types of equipment to train observers, gunners, photographers, and radio men. For this machine we adopted the Curtiss JN-4H, which was substantially the same as the primary training plane, except that it carried a 150-horsepower Hispano-Suiza engine. We also built a few "penguins," a kind of half airplane that never leaves the ground; but this French method of training with penguins we never really adopted.

The finishing school for our aviators was in France, where the training was conducted in Nieuports and other fighting machines.

In July, 1918, we reached the maximum production of the advanced training machines, the output being 427. As the supply of primary training planes met the demands of the fields, the production was[Pg 253] reduced, since the original equipment, kept up by only enough manufacture to produce spares and replacement machines, would suffice to train all of the aviators that we would need.

The actual production of training planes by months was as follows:

Primary training planes, SJ-1, JN-4D, Penguin. Advanced training planes, JN-4 and 6H, S-4B and C, E-1, SE-5.
June 9
July 56
August 103
September 193
October 340
November 331 1
December 423 20
January 700 29
February 526 199
March 756 178
April 645 81
May 419 166
June 126 313
July 236 427
August 296 193
September 233 132
October 212 320
November 186 297
December 162 259
Total 5,952 2,615


It was not until we took up the production of fighting, or service, airplanes that we came into a full realization of the magnitude of the engineering and manufacturing problems involved.

We had perhaps a dozen men in the United States who knew something about the designing of flying machines, but not one in touch with the development of the art in Europe or who was competent to design a complete fighting airplane. We had the necessary talent to produce designs and conduct the manufacture of training planes; but at the outset, at least, we were unwilling to attempt designs for service planes on our own initiative. At the beginning we were entirely guided by the Bolling mission in France as to types of fighting machines.

In approaching this, the more difficult phase of the airplane problem, our first act was to take an inventory of the engineering plants in the United States available for our purposes. With the Curtiss Co. was Glenn Curtiss, a leader of airplane design, and several competent engineers. The Curtiss Co. had been the largest producers in the United States of training machines for the British and had had the benefit of assistance from British engineers, and so possessed more knowledge and experience to apply to the service-plane problem than any other company. For this reason we selected this plant to duplicate the French Spad plane, the story of which undertaking will be told further on.

Orville Wright, the pioneer of flying, was not in the best of health, but was devoting his entire time to experimental work in Dayton.[Pg 254] Willard, who had designed the L. W. F. airplane and was then with the Aeromarine Co.; Chas. Day, formerly with the Sloane Manufacturing Co., and then with the Standard Aero Corporation; Starling Burgess, with the Burgess Co., of Marblehead, Mass.; Grover C. Loening, of the Sturtevant Co.; and D. D. Thomas, with the Thomas-Morse Co., were all aviation engineers on whom we could call. One of the best experts of this sort in the country was Lieut. Commander Hunsaker, of the Navy. In the Signal Corps we had Capt. V. E. Clark, who was also an expert in aviation construction, and he had several able assistants under him.

The Burgess factory at Marblehead, the Aeromarine plants at Nutley and Keyport, N. J., and the Boeing Airplane Co. at Seattle were to work exclusively for the Navy, according to the mutual agreement, taking their aeronautical engineers with them. This gave the Army the engineering resources of the Curtiss, Dayton-Wright, and Thomas-Morse companies.

Quite early we decided to give precedence in this country to the observation type of service plane, eliminating the single-place fighter altogether and following the observation planes as soon as possible with production of two-place fighting machines. This decision was based on the fact, not always generally remembered, that the primary purpose of war flying is observation. The duels in the air that occurred in large numbers, especially during the earlier stages of the war, were primarily to protect the observation machines or to prevent observation by enemy machines.

The first service plane which we put into production and which proved to be the main reliance of our service-plane program was the De Haviland-4, which is an observation two-place airplane propelled by a Liberty 12-cylinder engine. As soon as the Bolling mission began to recommend types of service machines, it sent samples of the planes thus recommended. The sample De Haviland was received in New York on July 18, 1917. After it had been studied by various officers it was sent to Dayton. It had reached us without engine, guns, armament, or many other accessories later recommended as essential to a fighting machine. Before we could begin any duplication the plane had to be redesigned to take our machine guns, our instruments, and our other accessories, as well as our Liberty engine.

The preliminary designing was complete, and the first American-built De Haviland model was ready to fly on October 29, 1917.

Figure 11 does not tell quite the complete story of De Haviland production, since in August and September, 204 De Haviland planes which had been built were shipped to France without engines and were there knocked down to provide spare parts for other De Havilands in service. These 204 machines, therefore, do not appear in the production total. Adding them to the figures above, we find that the total output of De Haviland airplanes up to the end of December, 1918, was in number 4,587.


Engine, Liberty 12-cylinder, 400-horsepower. Weight, empty, 2,391 pounds. Weight, full load, 3,582 pounds. Ground speed is 124.7 miles per hour. Speed at 10,000 feet, 117 miles per hour. Speed at 15,000 feet, 113 miles per hour. 10,000 feet is reached in 14 minutes with full load. Ceiling, 19,500 feet.


This is the American development of the British DH-4.

[Pg 255]

Figure 11.
De Haviland-4 Airplanes Produced Each Month During 1918.
Jan.   0
Feb. ▎ 9
Mar. ▏ 4
Apr. ▌ 15
May █████ 153
June ███████████ 336
July ████████████████ 480
Aug. ████ 128
Sept. █████████████████████ 653
Oct. ████████████████████████████████████ 1097
Nov. ██████████████████████████████████ 1036
Dec. ███████████████ 472

The production of the model machine only served to show us some of the problems which must be overcome before we could secure a standard design that could go into quantity production. Experimental work on the De Haviland continued during December, 1917, and January and February, 1918. The struggle, for it was a struggle, to secure harmony between this English design and the American equipment which it must contain ended triumphantly on the 8th day of April, 1918, when the machine known as No. 31 was completely finished and established as the model for the future De Havilands. The characteristics of the standard American De Haviland-4 were as follows:

Endurance here means the length of time the fuel supply will last. The ceiling is the maximum altitude at which the plane can be maneuvered in actual service. Ground level means only far enough above the ground to be clear of obstructions.

The first De Havilands arriving in France were immediately put together, such remediable imperfections as existed were corrected then and there, and the machines were flown to the training fields. The changing and increasing demands of the service indicated the advisability of certain changes of design. The foreign manufacturers had brought out a covering for the gasoline tanks, making them nearly leak-proof, even when perforated by a bullet. In the first De Havilands the location of the principal gas tanks between the pilot and the observer was not the best arrangement in that the men were too far apart from each other so that, if the machine went down, the pilot would be crushed by the gas tank. Also the radius of action was not considered to be great enough, even though the later machines of this type carried 88 gallons of gasoline.

As a result the American aircraft designers brought out an improved De Haviland known as the 9-A. This carried a Liberty-12 engine; and the main differences between it and the De Haviland-4 were new locations for pilot and tanks, their positions being changed about, increased gasoline capacity, and increased wing surface. The machine was a cleaner, more finished design, showed slightly more speed, and had a greater radius of action than the De Haviland-4 which it was planned to succeed. We ordered 4,000 of these new machines from the Curtiss Co., but the armistice cut short this production.

The difficulties in the way of producing new service planes on a great scale without previous experience in such construction is clearly shown in the attempts we made to duplicate other successful foreign planes. On September 12, 1917, we received from the aviation experts abroad a sample of the French Spad. We had previously been advised to go into a heavy production of this model and had made arrangements for the Curtiss Co. at Buffalo to undertake the work. This development was well under way when in December a cablegram was received from Gen. Pershing advising us to leave the production of all single-place fighters to Europe. As a result we canceled the Spad order, and after that we attempted to build no single-place pursuit planes.



This plane was developed in the United States.

[Pg 257]

At the time this course seemed to be justified. The day of the single seater seemed to be over. The lone occupant of the single seater can not keep his attention on all directions at once; and as the planes grew thicker in the air, the casualties among flyers increased.

But the development of formation flying restored the single-place machine to favor. The formation had no blind spot, thus removing the principal objection to the single seater. The end of the war found the one-man airplane more useful than ever.

Our concentration here, however, was upon two-place fighters. On August 25, 1917, we received from abroad a sample of the Bristol fighting plane, a two-seat machine. The Government engineers at once began redesigning this machine to take the Liberty-12 engine and the American ordnance and accessories. The engine which had been used in the Bristol plane developed 275 horsepower. We proposed to equip it with an engine developing 400 horsepower.

The Bristol undertaking was not successful. The fact that later in the airplane program American designers successfully developed two-seater pursuit planes around the Liberty-12 engine shows that the engine decision was not the fault in the Bristol failure. There were repeated changes in the engineering management of the Bristol job. First the Government engineers alone undertook it; then the Government engineers combined with the drafting force of the airplane factory; finally the Government placed on the factory the entire responsibility for the job, without, however, permitting the manufacturer to correct any of the basic principles involved. All in all, the development of an American Bristol was most unsatisfactory, and the whole project was definitely abandoned in June, 1918.

The fundamental difficulty in all of these attempts was that we were trying to fit an American engine to a foreign airplane instead of building an American airplane around an American engine. It was inevitable that this difficulty should arise. We had skill to produce a great engine and did so, but for our earliest models of planes for this engine we relied upon the foreign models until we were sufficiently advanced in the art to design for ourselves. We were successful in making the adaptation only in the case of the De Haviland and then only after great delay.

But eventually we were to see some brilliantly successful efforts to design a two-place fighter around the Liberty-12. We had need of such a mechanism to supplement the De Haviland observation-plane production and make a complete service-plane program.

On January 4, 1918, Capt. Lepere, a French aeronautical engineer, who had formerly been with the French Government at St. Cyr, began experimental work on a new plane at the factory of the Packard Motor Car Co. By May 18 his work had advanced to a stage where[Pg 258] the Government felt justified in entering into a contract with the Packard Co. to provide shop facilities for the production of 25 experimental planes under Capt. Lepere's direction. The result of these efforts was a two-place fighting machine built around a Liberty engine. From the start this design met with the approval of the manufacturer and engineers because of its clean-cut perfection.

The performance of the Lepere plane in the air is indicated by the following figures:

R. P. M. = revolutions made by propellers in a minute. Climb. Speed.
Altitude. Time. R. P. M. Miles an hour. R. P. M.
min. sec.
Ground 0  0 1,500 136 1,800
10,000 feet 10 35 1,520 132 1,740
15,000 feet 19 15 1,500 118 1,620
20,000 feet 41    1,480 102 1,550

Here at last was a machine that performed brilliantly in the air and contained great possibilities for quantity production, because it was designed from the start to fit American manufacturing methods. We placed orders for 3,525 Lepere machines. None of the factories, however, had come into production with the Lepere on November 11, 1918. Seven sample machines had been turned out and put through every test. It was the belief of those in authority that at last the training and technique of the best aeronautical engineers of France had been combined with the Liberty, probably the best of all aerial engines; and it was believed that the spring of 1919 would see the Yankee fliers equipped with American fighting machines that would be superior to anything they would be required to meet.

Nor were these expectations without justification. The weeks and months following the declaration of the armistice and extending through to the spring of 1919 were to witness the birth of a whole brood of new typically American designs of airplanes of which the Lepere was the forerunner. In short, when the armistice brought the great aviation enterprise to an abrupt end, the American industry had fairly caught that of Europe, and America designers were ready to match their skill against that of the master builders of France, Great Britain, Italy, and the central powers.

The Lepere 2-seated fighter was quickly followed by two other Lepere models—one of them, known as the Lepere C-21, being armored, and driven by a Bugatti engine, and the other a triplane driven by two Liberty engines and designed to be a day bomber. Then the first American designed single-seat pursuit planes began making their appearance—the Thomas-Morse pursuit plane, its 164 miles an hour at ground level, making it the fastest airplane ever tested by our Government, if it were not the speediest plane ever built; the Ordnance Engineering Corporation's Scout, an advanced training plane; and several others. In two-seater fighting planes there was the Loening monoplane, an extremely swift and advanced type. There were several other new two-seaters designed experimentally in some instances and some of them giving brilliant promise.


This is one of the new distinctively American planes.


[Pg 259]

Perhaps the severest and most exacting critic of aviation material is the aviator who has to fly the plane and fight with the equipment at the front. Brig. Gen. William Mitchell, then a colonel, was sent to France in 1917. He became in succession chief of the air service of the First Army Corps, chief of the air service of the First Army, and finally chief of the air service of the American group of armies in France. He commanded the aerial operations at the reduction of the St. Mihiel salient, where he gained the distinction of having commanded more airplanes in action than were ever assembled before under a single command. At St. Mihiel there were 1,200 allied planes in action, including, with our own, French, English, and Italian planes.

Gen. Mitchell, therefore, is a high authority as to the relative merits of air equipment from the airman's standpoint. In the spring of 1919, after a thorough investigation of the latest types of American planes and aerial equipment at the Wilbur Wright Field at Dayton, he sent to the Director of Air Service, Washington, D. C., the following telegram under date of April 20, 1919:

I recommend the following airplanes in the numbers given be purchased at once: 100 Lepere 2-place corps observation, 50 Loening 2-place pursuit, 100 Ordnance Engineering Corporation 1-place pursuit, 100 Thomas-Morse 1-place pursuit, 50 USD9-A day bombardment, 700 additional Hispano-Suiza 300-horsepower engines, 2,000 parachutes. All of the above types are the equal of or better than anything in Europe.


Now, let us see some of the specifications and performances of these new models. The USD9-A, being the redesigned and improved De Haviland 4, may be given a place as a latest model. It is a two-place bombing plane of the tractor biplane type, equipped with a Liberty 12 engine and weighing 4,872 pounds, loaded with fuel, oil, guns, and bombs, and with its crew aboard. With this weight its performance record in the official tests at Wilbur Wright Field in Dayton was as follows:

Speed (miles per hour):
At ground 121.5
At 6,500 feet 118.5
At 10,000 feet 115.5
At 15,000 feet 95.5
To 6,500 feet, time 11 minutes 40 seconds.
To 10,000 feet, time 19 minutes 30 seconds.
To 15,000 feet, time 49 minutes.
Service ceilings (feet) 14,400
[Pg 260]

The Lepere C-11, a tractor biplane equipped with a Liberty 12 engine, Packard make, weighing with its load aboard 3,655 pounds, performed as follows in the tests at the Wilbur Wright Field:

Speed (miles per hour):
At ground 136
At 6,500 feet 130
At 10,000 feet 127
At 16,000 feet 118
To 6,500 feet, time  6 minutes.
To 10,000 feet, time 10 minutes 35 seconds.
To 15,000 feet, time 19 minutes 15 seconds.
Service ceiling (feet) 21,000
Endurance at full speed at ground (hours) 2.5

The Lepere carries two Marlin guns synchronized with the propeller and operated by the pilot and two Lewis guns operated by the observer. A total of 1,720 rounds of ammunition is carried.

The Loening monoplane, a tractor airplane equipped with an Hispano-Suiza 300-horsepower engine and representing, loaded, a gross weight of 2,680 pounds, its military load including two Marlin and two Lewis machine guns, performed as follows at the Wilbur Wright Field:

Speed (miles per hour):
At ground 143.5
At 6,500 feet 138.2
At 10,000 feet 135
At 15,000 feet 127.6
To 6,500 feet, time  5 minutes 12 seconds.
To 10,000 feet, time  9 minutes 12 seconds.
To 15,000 feet, time 18 minutes 24 seconds.
Service ceiling (feet) 18,500

The Ordnance Scout with a Le Rhone 80-horsepower engine, weighing, loaded, 1,117 pounds, is an advanced training plane. In its official test at Wilbur Wright Field it performed as follows:

Speed (miles per hour):
At 6,500 feet 90
At 10,000 feet 83.7
At 15,000 feet 69.8
To 6,000 feet, time  8 minutes 30 seconds.
To 10,000 feet, time 17 minutes 40 seconds.
To 14,000 feet, time 43 minutes 20 seconds.

The Thomas-Morse MB-3 pursuit plane, a tractor biplane equipped with an Hispano-Suiza 300-horsepower engine, weighing, including its crew but without military load, 1,880 pounds, in unofficial tests at Wilbur Wright Field, performed as follows:

Speed, at ground level (miles per hour) 163.68
Climb, to 10,000 feet 4 minutes 52 seconds.



[Pg 261]

The Thomas-Morse pursuit plane is armed with two Browning machine guns synchronized with the propeller and carries 1,500 rounds of ammunition.

Uncertain as we were originally as to types of pursuit and observation planes to produce in this country, we were still more uncertain as to designs of night-bombing machines. These relatively slow weight-carrying planes were big and required the motive power of two or three engines, with the complications attendant upon double or triple power plants. They really presented the most difficult manufacturing problem which we encountered. Until the summer of 1918 there were only two machines of this type which we could adopt, the Handley-Page and the Caproni. We put the Handley-Page into production, not because it was necessarily as perfect as the Caproni, but because we could get the drawings for this machine and could not get the drawings for the Caproni, owing to complications in the negotiations for the right to construct the Italian airplane.

We were not entirely satisfied with the decision to build Handley-Pages, because the ceiling, or maximum working altitude which could be attained by this machine, was low; and, 12 months later, when we were in production, we might find the Handley-Pages of doubtful value because of the ever-increasing ranges of antiaircraft guns.

We secured a set of drawings, supposed to be complete, for the Handley-Page in August, 1917; but twice during the following winter new sets of drawings were sent from England, and few, if any, of the parts as designed in the original drawings escaped alteration. The Handley-Page has a wing spread of over 100 feet. Therefore, it was evident from the start that such machines could not have the fuselage, wings, and other large parts assembled in this country for shipment complete to Europe. We decided to manufacture the parts in this country and assemble the machines in England, the British air ministry in London having entered into a contract for the creation of an assembling factory at Oldham, England, in the Lancashire district. When it is realized that each Handley-Page involves 100,000 separate parts, the magnitude of the manufacturing job alone may be somewhat understood. But after they were manufactured, these parts, particularly the delicate members made of wood, had to be carefully packed so as to reach England in good condition. The packing of the parts was in itself a problem.

We proposed to drive the American Handley-Pages with two Liberty 12 engines in each machine. The fittings, which were extremely intricate pieces of pressed steel work, were practically all to be produced by the Mullins Steel Boat Co. at Salem, Ohio. Contracts for the other parts were placed with the Grand Rapids Air[Pg 262]plane Co., a concern which had been organized by a group of furniture makers at Grand Rapids, Mich.

All of the parts were to be brought together previously to ocean shipment in a warehouse built for the purpose at the plant of the Standard Aero Corporation at Elizabeth, N. J. The Standard Aero Corporation was engaged under contract to set up 10 per cent of the Handley-Page machines complete in this country. These were to be used at our training fields.

Again, in the case of the Handley-Page, the engineering details proved to be a serious cause of delay. We found it difficult to install the Liberty engines in this foreign plane. When the armistice cut short operations, 100 complete sets of parts had been shipped to England, and seven complete machines had been assembled in this country.

None of the American-built Handley-Page machines saw service in France. There had been great delay in the construction of the assembling plant in England, and the work of setting up the machines had only started when the armistice was signed. The performance table of the Handley-Page shows its characteristics as follows:

On its tests 390 gallons of gasoline, 20 gallons of oil, and 7 men were carried, but no guns, ammunition, nor bombs.

After a long delay, about January 1, 1918, tentative arrangements had been made with the Caproni interests looking toward the production of Caproni biplanes in this country. These machines had a higher ceiling and a greater speed than the Handley-Page. Capt. d'Annunzio with 14 expert Italian workmen, bringing with him designs and samples, came to this country and initiated the redesigning of the Caproni machine to accommodate three Liberty engines. The actual production of Caproni planes in this country was limited to a few samples which were being tested when the armistice was signed. The factories had tooled up for the production, however, and in a few months Capronis would doubtless have been produced in liberal quantities.

The performance of the sample planes in two tests is shown by the following figures:

Test 1. Test 2.
Speed at ground level 100 miles per hour 103.2 miles per hour.
Climb to 6,500 feet 16 minutes 18 seconds 14 minutes 12 seconds.
Climb to 10,000 feet 33 minutes 18 seconds 28 minutes 42 seconds.
Climb to 11,200 feet 49 minutes
Climb to 13,000 feet 46 minutes 30 seconds.




[Pg 263]

As we had produced fighting planes built around the Liberty motor, so, too, in the night-bombing class American invention, with the experience of several months of actual production behind it, was able to bring out an American bombing plane that promised to supersede all other types in existence. This machine was designed by Glen L. Martin in the fall of 1918. It was a night-bomber equipped with two Liberty 12-cylinder engines. The Martin spread of 75 feet gave it a carrying capacity comparable with that of the Handley-Page. Its speed of 118 miles an hour at ground level far exceeded that of either the Caproni or Handley-Page, and it was evident that its ceiling would be higher than that of the Caproni, the estimated ceiling of the Martin being 18,000 feet. The machine never reached the state of actual quantity production, but several experimental models were built and tested. Being built around its engine it reflected clean-cut principles of design, and its performances in the air were truly remarkable for a machine of its type. The following table shows the results of the preliminary tests of the Martin bomber:

Test 1. Test 2.
Speed at ground level 113.3 miles per hour 118.8 miles per hour.
Climb to 6,500 feet 10 minutes 45 seconds 7 minutes.
Climb to 10,000 feet 21 minutes 20 seconds 14 minutes.
Climb to 15,000 feet 30 minutes 30 seconds.
Total weight 9,663 pounds 8,137 pounds.

The total delivery of airplanes to the United States during the period of the war was 16,952. These came from the following sources: United States contractors, 11,754; France, 4,881; England, 258; Italy, 59.

Figure 12.
U. S. Squadrons at the Front.
A squadron is equipped with from 15 to 25 planes.
Apr. 30, 1918 ██ 3
May 31, 1918 ██████████ 12
June 30, 1918 ██████████ 13
July 31, 1918 ███████████ 14
Aug. 31, 1918 █████████████████████ 26
Sept. 30, 1918 ██████████████████████████ 32
Oct. 31, 1918 ██████████████████████████████████ 43
Nov. 11, 1918 ████████████████████████████████████ 45

Estimates of aircraft strength on the front were always uncertain, due to variations in the estimates of the number of planes in a squadron. The standing of the United States in aeroplanes at the[Pg 264] front is indicated in the estimate of the American Air Service as of November 11, 1918. The figures of this estimate are as follows:

France 3,000
Great Britain 2,100
United States 860
Italy 600
Total 6,560

These figures represent fighting planes equipped ready for service, but do not include replacement machines at the front or in depots or training machines in France.

Figure 13.
Comparison Enemy Planes Brought Down by U. S. Forces and U. S. Planes Brought Down by the Enemy.
U. S. planes lost to enemy. ████████████████████ 271
Enemy planes lost to U. S. forces[29] ████████████████████████████████████ 491

[29] Confirmed losses; in addition there were 354 unconfirmed.

The actual strength of the central powers in the air is at this time not definitely known to us. Such figures as we have are viewed with suspicion because of the two methods of observation in reporting an enemy squadron. This may be 24 planes to a squadron, that number representing the planes in active service in the air. But each squadron had a complement of replacement planes equalling the number of active planes, so that the squadron could be listed with 48 planes.

However, as some indication of the relative air strengths of the central powers we have a report from the chief of the Air Service of the American Expeditionary Forces showing that on July 30, 1918, Germany had 2,592 planes on the front and Austria 717.


The gross weight of this machine is 9,663 pounds. It can be equipped with five Lewis machine guns. Its ground speed is 113 miles an hour and its service ceiling is 12,800 feet. It climbs to a height of 6,500 feet in 10 minutes 45 seconds and to 10,000 feet in 21 minutes 20 seconds.


[Pg 265]


The Liberty engine was America's distinctive contribution to the war in the air, and her chief one. The engine was developed in those first chaotic weeks of preparation of 1917, when our knowledge of planes, instruments, and armament as then known in Europe was still a thing of the future. The manufacture of engines for any aeronautical purpose was one which we might approach with confidence. We possessed in the United States motor engineering talent at least as great as any in Europe, while in facilities for manufacture—in plants which had built our millions of automobile engines—no other part of the world could compare with us. Therefore, while waiting word from Europe as to the best type of wings, fuselages, instruments and the like, we went ahead to produce for ourselves a new, typically American engine which would uphold the prestige of America in actual battle.

Many Americans have doubtless wondered why we built our own engine instead of adopting one or more of the highly developed European engines then at hand; and no doubt our course in this vital matter has sometimes been set down to mere pride in our ability and to an unwillingness to follow the lead of other nations in a science in which we ourselves were preeminent—the science of building light internal-combustion engines. But national pride, aside from giving us confidence that our efforts in this direction would be successful, had little other weight in the decision. There were other reasons, and paramount ones, reasons leading directly from the necessity for the United States to arrive at her maximum aerial effort in a minimum of time, that irresistibly compelled the aircraft production organization to design a standard American engine. Let us examine some of these considerations.

If there was anything to be observed from this side of the Atlantic with respect to the tendencies of aircraft evolution in Europe it was that the horsepowers of the engines were continually increasing, these expansions coming almost from month to month as newer and newer types and sizes of engines were brought out by the European inventors. It was evident to us that there was not a single foreign engine then in use on the western front that was likely to survive the test of time. Each might be expected to have its brief day of supremacy, only to be superseded by something more modern and more powerful.

[Pg 266]

Yet time was an element to which in this country we must give grave consideration. To produce in quantities such as we were capable of producing would ordinarily require a year of maximum industrial effort to equip our manufacturing plants with the machines, tools, and skilled workmen necessary for the production of parts. The finished articles would under normal circumstances begin coming in quantity during the second year of our program. It would have been fatal to "tool up" our plants for the manufacture of equipment that would be out of date by the time we began producing it a year later.

The obvious course for the United States to adopt, not only with engines but with all sorts of aeronautical equipment, was to come into the manufacturing competition not abreast with European progress but several strides ahead of it, so that when we appeared on the field it would be with equipment a little in advance in type and efficiency of anything the rest of the world had to offer.

This factor of time was a strong element in the decision to produce a standard American engine, since with the possible exception of the Rolls-Royce there was no engine in Europe of sufficient horsepower and proved reliability to guarantee that it would retain its serviceability for the necessary two years upon which we must reckon. There was no other course that we could safely adopt.

But there were other conditions that influenced our conclusion. We believed that we could design and produce an engine much more quickly and with much better results than we could copy and produce any approved foreign model. This proved to be true in actual experience. Along with the production of Liberty engines we went into the quantity manufacture of a number of European engines in this country; and the experience of our engineers and factory executives in this work was anything but pleasant. Among others we produced in American factories the Gnome, the Hispano-Suiza, Le Rhone, and the Bugatti engines.

Now European manufacture of mechanical appliances differs from ours largely in the degree to which the human equation is allowed to enter the shop. In continental practice much of the metallurgical specifications and also of the details of mechanical measurements, limits of requisite accuracy, variations which can be allowed, etc., are not put on paper in detail for the guidance of operators, but are confided to the recollections of the individual workmen. A machine comes in its parts to the assembly room of a foreign factory, and after that it is subject to adjustments on the part of the skilled workmen before its operation is successful. It must be tinkered with before it will go, so to speak. Nothing of the sort is known in an American factory. When standard parts come together for assembly the calibrations must have been so exact that the machine will[Pg 267] function perfectly when it is brought together; and assembling becomes mere routine. Thus when we came to adopt foreign plans and attempt to adapt them to our practices, we encountered trouble and delay.

Thirteen months were required to adapt the Hispano-Suiza 150-horsepower engine to our factory methods and to get the first engine from production tools, while eight months were similarly spent in producing the Le Rhone 80-horsepower engines. Both of these engines had been in production in European factories for a long time, and we had the advantage of all the assistance which the foreign manufacturers could give us.

These experiences merely confirmed the opinions of American manufacturers that the preparations for the production of any aviation engine of foreign design—if any such suitable and adequate engine could be found—would require at least as much time as to design and tool up for the production of an American engine. When to this was added the necessity of waiting for several weeks or months for a decision on the part of our aviation authorities, either in the United States or in Europe, as to which of the many types of engines then in use by the allies should be put into production here, procuring and shipping to this country suitable samples, drawings, and specifications, negotiating with foreign owners for rights to manufacture, etc., there was but one answer to be made on this score, and that was to design and build an all-American engine.

Another factor in the decision was that of our distance from France, a fact making it necessary for us to simplify as much as possible the problem of furnishing repair parts. At the time we entered the war the British air service was using or developing 37 different makes of engines, while France had 46. Should we be lured into any such situation it might have disastrous results, if only because of the difficulties of ocean transportation. Germany was practically concentrating upon not more than 8 engines. The obvious thing for us to do was to produce as few types of engines as possible, thus making simpler the problem of manufacturing repair parts and shipping them to the front.

With these considerations in mind, the Equipment Division of the Signal Corps in May of 1917 determined to go ahead with the design and production of a standard engine for the fighting forces of the aviation branch of the Army. In the engineering field two men stood out who combined in themselves experience in designing internal-combustion engines which approached nearest to combat engines, with experience also in large quantity production.

J. G. Vincent, with the engineering staff of the Packard Motor Car Co., had for approximately two years been engaged in research work, developing several types of 12-cylinder aviation engines of approxi[Pg 268]mately 125 to 225 horsepower, which, however, were not suitable for military purposes because of their weight per horsepower. This work had resulted in the acquirement of a large amount of data and information which would be invaluable in the design of such an engine as the one proposed; and also had resulted in the upbuilding of an efficient experimental organization. He had also had wide experience in designing internal-combustion motors for quantity production.

E. J. Hall, of the Hall-Scott Motor Car Co., for eight years had been developing and latterly producing several types of aeronautical engines, which he had delivered into the service of several foreign governments, including Russia, Norway, China, Japan, Australia, Canada, and England. He had also completed and tested a 12-cylinder engine of 300 horsepower, which, however, was of too great weight per horsepower to be suitable in its form at that time for military purposes. He had thus acquired a large experience and fund of information covering the proper areas and materials for engine parts, and proper methods of tests to be applied to such engines, and in addition he had general experience in quantity production. All of this information and experience was of invaluable assistance not only in designing the new engine, but in determining its essential metallurgical and manufacturing specifications.

These two men were thus qualified in talent and in practice to lay down on paper the lines and dimensions of the proposed engine, an engine that would meet the Army's requirements and still be readily capable of prompt quantity production. They had in their hands the power to draw freely upon the past experience and achievement of practically the entire world for any features they might decide to install in the model power plant to be produced. And this applied not only to the patented features of American motors, but also of foreign engines; for each man had exhaustively studied the leading European engines, including the Mercedes upon which Germany largely pinned her faith up to the end of the war.

With respect to American motor patents, an interesting situation had arisen in the automobile industry. The leading producers of motor cars were in an association which had adopted an arrangement known as the cross-licensing agreement. Under this agreement all patents taken out by the various producers (with a few exceptions) were thrown into a pool upon which any producer at will was permitted to draw without payment of royalties.

A similar arrangement was adopted with respect to the Liberty engine, except that the Government pledged itself to pay an agreed royalty for the use of patents. Thus the engineers designing the engine might reach out and take what they pleased regardless of patent rights. The result was likely to be a composite type embracing[Pg 269] the best features of the best engines ever built. Theoretically, at least, a super-engine ought to result from such an effort.

The ideal aviation engine should produce a maximum of power with a minimum of weight; it must run at its maximum power during a large proportion of its operating time, a thing that an automobile motor seldom, if ever, does for more than a few minutes at a time; and it should consume oil and fuel economically to conserve space and weight on the airplane.

Such was the problem, the design of an engine to meet these requirements, that confronted these two engineers when they were called to Washington and asked to undertake the work.

There have been so many versions of the story of how the Liberty engine was designed and produced in its experimental models that it is fitting that the exact history of those memorable weeks should be set down here.

The engine was put on paper in the rooms occupied by Col. E. A. Deeds at the Willard Hotel in Washington. Col. Deeds had been the man of broad vision who, by taking into consideration the elements of the problems enumerated above, determined that America could best make her contribution to the aviation program by producing her typically own engine. He had proposed the plan to his associate, Col. S. D. Waldon, who had thereupon studied the matter and agreed entirely with the plan. The two officers persuaded Messrs. Hall and Vincent to forego further efforts on their individual developments and to devote their combined skill and experience to the creation of an all-American engine. The project was further taken up with the European authorities in Washington, and it was supported unanimously.

In these conferences it was decided to design two lines of combat engines. Each should have a cylinder diameter of 5 inches and a piston stroke 7 inches long; but one type should have 8 cylinders and the other 12. The 8-cylinder engine should develop 225 horsepower, as all the experts believed then, in May, 1917, that such a motor would anticipate the power requirements as of the spring of 1918, while the 12-cylinder engine should develop 330 horsepower, as it was believed that this would be the equal of any other engine developed through 1919 and 1920. Every foreign representative in Washington with aeronautical experience agreed that the 8-cylinder 225-horsepower engine would be the peer of anything in use in the spring of 1918; yet, so rapidly was aviation history moving that inside of 90 days it became equally clear that it was the 12-cylinder engine of 330 horsepower, and not the 8-cylinder engine, upon which we should concentrate for the spring of 1918.

With these considerations in mind Messrs. Hall and Vincent set to work to lay out the designs on paper. With them were Col. Deeds[Pg 270] and Col. Waldon, the officers to insist that nothing untried or experimental be incorporated in the engines, the engineers to direct their technical knowledge by this sine qua non. The size of the cylinders, 5 by 7 inches, was adopted not only because the Curtiss and the Hall-Scott Companies, the largest producers of aviation engines in the United States, had had experience with engines of this size, but also because a new and promising French engine, the Lorraine-Dietrich, had just made its appearance in experimental form, and it was an engine approximately of that size.

On May 29, 1917, Messrs. Vincent and Hall set to work. Within two or three days they had outlined the important characteristics of the engine sufficiently to secure—on June 4—the approval of the Aircraft Production Board and of the Joint Army and Navy Technical Board to build five experimental models each of the 8 cylinder and the 12 cylinder sizes.

The detail and manufacturing drawings of the two engines were made partly by the staff of the Packard Motor Car Co., under Mr. O. E. Hunt, and partly by an organization recruited from various automobile factories and put to work under Mr. Vincent at the Bureau of Standards at Washington. Due credit must here be given to Dr. S. W. Stratton, the director of that important governmental scientific bureau. The Liberty engine pioneers woke him up at midnight and told him of their needs. He promptly tendered all the facilities of the Bureau of Standards, turning over to the work an entire building for use the following morning. Thereafter Dr. Stratton gave the closest cooperation of himself and his assistants to the work.

While the detail drawings were being made, the parts for the 10 engines were at once started through the tool rooms and experimental shops of various motor car companies. This work centered in the plant of the Packard Co., which gave to it its entire energy and wonderful faculties.

Every feature in the design of these engines was based on thoroughly proven practice of the past. That the engine was a composite is shown by the origin of its various parts:

Cylinders: The Liberty engine derived its type of cylinders from the German Mercedes, the English Rolls-Royce, the French Lorraine-Dietrich, and others produced both before and during the war. The cylinders were steel inner shells surrounded by pressed-steel water jackets. The Packard Co. had developed a practical production method of welding together the several parts of a steel cylinder.

Cam shafts and valve mechanism above cylinder heads: The design of these was based on the general arrangement of the Mercedes and Rolls-Royce, and improved by the Packard Motor Car Co. for automatic lubrication without wasting oil.

Cam-shaft drive: The general type as used on the Hall-Scott, Mercedes, Hispano-Suiza, Rolls-Royce, Renault, Fiat, and others.





[Pg 271]

Angle between cylinders: In the Liberty the included angle between the cylinders is 45°. This angle was adopted to save head resistance, to give greater strength to the crank case, and to reduce periodic vibration. This decision was based on the experience of the Renault and Packard engines.

Electric generator and ignition: The Delco system was adopted, but specially designed for the Liberty to provide a reliable double ignition.

Pistons: The die-cast aluminum-alloy pistons of the Liberty were based on development work by the Hall-Scott Co. under service conditions.

Connecting rods: These were of the forked or straddle type as used on the DeDion and Cadillac automobile motors and also on the Hispano-Suiza and other aviation engines.

Crank shaft: A design of standard practice, every crank pin operating between two main bearings, as in the Mercedes, Rolls-Royce, Hall-Scott, Curtiss, and Renault.

Crank case: A box section carrying the shaft in bearings clamped between the top and bottom halves by means of long through bolts, as in the Mercedes and Hispano-Suiza.

Lubrication: The system of lubrication was changed, this being the only change of design made in the Liberty after it was first put down on paper. The original system combined the features of a dry crank case, such as in the Rolls-Royce, with pressure feed to the main crank-shaft bearings and scupper feed to the crank-pin bearings, as in the Hall-Scott and certain foreign engines. The system subsequently adopted added pressure-feed to the crank-pin bearings, as in the Rolls-Royce, Hispano-Suiza, and other engines.

Propeller hub: Designed after the practice followed by such well-known engines as the Hispano-Suiza and Mercedes.

Water pump: The conventional centrifugal type was adapted to the Liberty.

Carburetor: The Zenith type was adapted to the engine.

As the detailed and manufacturing drawings were completed in Washington and Detroit they were taken to various factories where the parts for the first engine were built.

The General Aluminum & Brass Manufacturing Co., of Detroit, made the bronze-back, babbitt-lined bearings.

The Cadillac Motor Car Co., of Detroit, made the connecting rods, the connecting-rod upper-end bushings, the connecting-rod bolts, and the rocker-arm assemblies.

The L. O. Gordon Manufacturing Co., of Muskegon, Mich., made the cam shafts.

The Park Drop Forge Co., of Cleveland, made the crank-shaft forgings. These forgings, completely heat treated, were turned out[Pg 272] in three days, because Mr. Hall gave the Cleveland concern permission to use the Hall-Scott dies.

The Packard Motor Car Co. machined the crank shafts and all parts not furnished or finished elsewhere.

The Hall-Scott Motor Car Co., of Berkeley, Calif., made all the bevel gears.

The Hess-Bright Manufacturing Co., of Philadelphia, made the ball bearings.

The Burd High-Compression Ring Co., of Rockford, Ill., made the piston rings.

The Aluminum Castings Co., of Cleveland, made the die-cast alloy pistons and machined them up to grinding.

The Rich Tool Co., of Chicago, made the valves.

The Gibson Co., of Muskegon, Mich., made the springs.

The Packard Co. made all the patterns for the aluminum castings, which were produced by the General Aluminum & Brass Manufacturing Co., of Detroit.

The Packard Motor Car Co. used many of its own dies in order to obtain suitable drop forgings speedily, and also made all necessary new dies not made elsewhere.

As these various parts were turned out they were hurried to the tool room of the Packard Co., where the assembling of the model engines was in progress.

Before the models were built, however, extraordinary precautions had been taken to insure that the mechanism would be as perfect as American engineering skill could make it. The plans as developed were submitted to H. M. Crane, the engineer of the Simplex Motor Car Co. and of the Wright-Martin Aircraft Corporation, who had made a special study of aviation engines in Europe, and who for upward of a year had been working on the production of the Hispano-Suiza 150-horsepower engine in this country. He looked the plans over, and so did David Fergusson, chief engineer of the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Co. Many other of the best experts in the country in the production of internal-combustion motors constructively criticized the plans, these including such men as Henry M. Leland and George H. Layng, of the Cadillac Motor Car Co., and F. F. Beall and Edward Roberts, of the Packard Car Co.

When the engineers were through, the practical production men were given their turn. The plane and engine builders examined the plans to make sure that each minute part was so designed as to make it most adaptable to quantity production. The scrutiny of the Liberty plans went back in the production scale even farther than this; for the actual builders of machine tools were called in to examine the specifications and to suggest modifications, if necessary, that would make the production of parts most feasible in machine tools either of existing types or of easiest manufacture.

[Pg 273]

Thus scrutinized and criticized, the plans of the engine were the best from every point of view which American industrial genius could produce in the time which was available. It was due to this exhaustive preliminary study that no radical changes were ever made in the original design. The Liberty engine was not the materialization of magic nor the product of any single individual or company, but it was a well-considered and carefully prepared design based on large practical aviation-engine experience.

On July 4, 1917, the first 8-cylinder liberty engine was delivered in Washington. This was less than six weeks after Messrs. Hall and Vincent drew the first line of their plans. The same procedure was even then being repeated in the case of the 12-cylinder engine. By the 25th day of August the model 12-cylinder liberty had successfully passed its 50-hour test. In this test its power ranged from 301 to 320 horsepower.

As an achievement in speed in the development of a successful new engine this performance has never been equaled in the motor history of any country. No successful American automobile motor was ever put in production in anything under a year of trial and experimentation. We may well believe that in the third year of war the European aviation designers were working at top speed to improve the motive power of airplanes; yet in 1917 the British war cabinet report contains the following language:

Experience shows that as a rule, from the date of the conception and design of an aero engine, to the delivery of the first engine in series by the manufacturer, more than a year elapses.

But America designed and produced experimentally a good engine in six weeks and a great one in three months, and began delivering it in series in five months. This was due to the fact that we could employ our best engineering talent without stint, to the further fact that there were no restrictions upon our use of designs and patents proved successful by actual experience, and to the fact that the original engine design produced under such conditions stood every expert criticism and test that could be put upon it and emerged from the trial without substantial modification.

As soon as the first Liberty models had passed their official tests plans were at once made to put them in manufacture.

The members of the Aircraft Production Board chose for the chief of the engine production department Harold H. Emmons, an attorney and manufacturer of Detroit, Mich., who, as a lieutenant in the Naval Reserve Force, was just being called by the Navy Department into active service.

The production of all aviation engines, for both Army and Navy, was in his hands throughout the rest of the war. He placed orders for 100,993 aviation engines of all types, which involved[Pg 274] the expenditure of $450,000,000 and more of Government funds. Of these 31,814 were delivered ready for service before the signing of the armistice. The United States reached a daily engine production greater than that of England and France combined.

In August, 1917, it was intended to manufacture both engines, the 8-cylinder and the 12-cylinder, and an agreement was reached with the Ford Motor Co. of Detroit to produce 8-cylinder Liberty engines to the number of 10,000. But before this contract could be signed the increasing powers of the newest European air engines indicated to our commission abroad that we should concentrate our manufacturing efforts upon the 12 alone, that being the engine of a power then distinctly in advance in the rapid evolution of aviation engines. The engine production department, therefore, entered into contracts for the construction of 22,500 of the 12-cylinder Liberties, and the first of these contracts was signed in August, a few days after the endurance tests had demonstrated that the 12-cylinder engine was a success.

Of this number of Liberty engines the Packard Motor Car Co. contracted to build 6,000; the Lincoln Motor Co., 6,000; the Ford Motor Co., 5,000; Nordyke & Marmon, 3,000; the General Motors Corporation (Buick and Cadillac plants), 2,000; while an additional contract of 500 engines was let to the Trego Motors Corporation.

Early in the liberty engine project it became apparent that one of the great stumbling blocks to volume production would be the steel cylinder, if it were necessary to machine it out of a solid or partially pierced forging such as is used for shell making. This problem was laid before Henry Ford and the engineering organization of the Ford Motor Co., at Detroit, and they developed the unique method of making the cylinders out of steel tubing. One end of the tube was cut obliquely, heated, and in successive operations closed over and then expanded into the shape of the combustion chamber, with all bosses in place on the dome. The lower end was then heated and upset in a bulldozer until the holding-down flange had been extruded from the barrel at the right place. By this method a production of 2,000 rough cylinders a day was reached.

The final forging was so near to the shape desired that millions of pounds of scrap were saved over other methods, to say nothing of an enormous amount of labor thus done away with. The development of this cylinder-making method was one of the important contributions to the quantity production of Liberty engines.





[Pg 275]

It was evident that in the actual production of the Liberty engine there would continually arise practical questions of manufacturing policy that might entail modifications of the manufacturing methods, while our aviation authorities in Europe could be expected to advance suggestions from time to time that might need to be embodied in the mechanism. Consequently it was necessary to create a permanent development and standardization administration for the Liberty engine. Nor could this supervision be located in Washington, because of the extreme need for haste, but it must exist in the vicinity of the plants doing the manufacturing.

For this reason the production of the Liberty engine was centered in the Detroit manufacturing district, since in this district was located the principal motor manufacturing plant capacity of the United States. James G. Heaslet, formerly general manager of the Studebaker Corporation and an engineer and manufacturer of wide experience, was installed as district manager. The problems incident to the inspection and production of the Liberty engine were placed in charge of a committee consisting of Maj. Heaslet (chairman); Lieut. Col. Hall, one of the designers of the engine; Henry M. Leland; C. Harold Wills, of the Ford Motor Co.; and Messrs F. F. Beall and Edward Roberts, of the Packard Motor Car Co. With them were also associated D. McCall White, the engineer of the Cadillac Motor Co., and Walter Chrysler, of the Buick Co.

The creation of this committee virtually made a single manufacturing concern of the several, previously rival, motor companies engaged in producing the Liberty engine. To these meetings the experts without reservation brought the trade secrets and shop processes developed in their own establishments during the preceding years of competition. Such cooperation was without parallel in the history of American industry, and only a great emergency such as the war with Germany could have brought it about. But the circumstance aided wonderfully in the development and production of the Liberty engine.

Moreover, the Government drew heavily upon the talent of these great manufacturing organizations for meeting the special problems presented by the necessity of filling in the briefest possible time the largest aviation engine order ever known. Short-cuts that these firms might have applied effectively to their own private advantage were devised for the Liberty engine and freely turned over to the Government. The Packard Co. gave a great share of its equipment and personnel to the development. The most conspicuous success in the science of quantity production in the world was the Ford Motor Co., which devoted its organization to the task of speeding up the output of Liberty engines. In addition to the unique and wonderfully efficient method of making rough engine cylinders out of steel tubing, the Ford organization also perfected for the Liberty a new method of producing more durable and satisfactory bearings. Messrs. H. M. and W. C. Leland, whose names were indissolubly linked with the Cadillac automobile, organized and erected the enormous plant of[Pg 276] the Lincoln Motor Co. and equipped it for the production of the Liberty, at a total expense of approximately $8,000,000.

Balanced against these advantages brought by highly trained technical skill and unselfish cooperation were handicaps such as perhaps no other great American industrial venture had ever known. In the first place, an internal-combustion engine with cylinders of a 5-inch bore and pistons of a 7-inch stroke—the Liberty measurements—was larger than the automobile engines then in use in this country. This meant that while we apparently had an enormous plant—the combined American automobile factories—ready for the production of Liberty engines, actually the machinery in these plants was not large enough for the new work, so that new machinery therefore must be built to handle this particular work. In some cases machinery had to be designed anew for the special purpose.

To produce every part of one Liberty engine something between 2,500 and 3,000 small jigs, tools, and fixtures are employed. For large outputs much of this equipment must be duplicated over and over again. To provide the whole joint workshop with this equipment was one of the unseen jobs incidental to the construction of Liberty engines—unseen by the general public, that is—yet it required the United States to commandeer the capacity of all available tool shops east of the Mississippi River and devote it to the production of jigs and tools for the Liberty engine factories.

Then there was the question of mechanical skill in the factories. It soon developed that an automobile motor is a simple mechanism compared with an intricate aviation engine. The machinists in ordinary automobile plants did not have the skill to produce the Liberty engine parts successfully. Consequently it became necessary to educate thousands of mechanics, men and women alike, to do this new work.

It was surprising to what extent unfriendly influence in the United States, much of it probably of a pro-German character, cut a figure in the situation. This was particularly true in the supply factories furnishing tools to the Liberty engine plants. Approximately 85 per cent of the tools first delivered for this work were found to be inaccurate and incorrect. These had to be remade before they could be used. Such tools as were delivered to the Liberty plants would mysteriously disappear, or vital equipment would be injured in unusual ways; in several instances cans of explosives were found in the coal at power plants; fire-extinguishing apparatus was discovered to be rendered useless by acts of depredation; and from numerous other evidences the builders of Liberty engines were aware that the enemy had his agents in their plants.

Difficulty was also experienced in the production of metals for the new engines. The materials demanded were frequently of a much higher grade than the corresponding materials used in ordinary automobile motors. Here was another unseen phase of development which had to be worked out patiently by the producers of raw materials.





[Pg 277]

Difficulties in transportation during the winter of 1917-18 added their share to the perplexing problems of the engine builders, while at times the scarcity of coal threatened the complete shutdown of some of the plants.

Under such obstacles the engine-production department forced the manufacture of the Liberty engine at a speed never before known in the automotive industry. In December, 1917, the Government received the first 22 Liberty engines of the 12-cylinder type, durable and dependable, a standardized, concrete product, only seven months after the Liberty engine existed merely as an idea in the brains of two engineers. These first engines developed a strength of approximately 330 horsepower, and this was true also of the first 300 Liberty engines delivered, these deliveries being completed in the early spring of 1918.

When the Liberty engine was designed our aviation experts believed that 330 horsepower was so far in advance of the development of aero engines in Europe that we could safely go ahead with the production of this type on a quantity basis. But again we reckoned without an accurate prophetic knowledge of the course of engine development abroad. We were building the first 300 Liberty engines at 330 horsepower when our aviation reports informed us from overseas that an even higher horsepower would be desirable. Therefore our engineers "stepped up" the power of the Liberty 12-cylinder engine to 375 horsepower. Several hundred motors of this power were in process of completion when again our observers in France advised us that we could add another 25 horsepower to the Liberty, making it 400 horsepower in strength, and be sure of leading all of the combatant nations in size and power of aviation engines during 1918 and 1919. This last step, we were assured, was the final, definite one. But to anticipate possible extraordinary development of engines by other nations, our engineers went even further than the mark advised by our overseas observers and raised the power of the Liberty engine to something in excess of 400 horsepower.

This enormous increase over the original power of the Liberty engine required changes in the construction, notably in increasing the strength of practically all of the working parts, including the crank shaft, the connecting rods, and the bearings. The change also resulted in making scrap iron of a large quantity of the jigs and special tools employed in making the lighter engines. A still further change had to come in the character of some of the steel used in some of the parts, and this went back to the smelting plants, where new and better methods of producing steel and aluminum for the Liberty engine had to be developed.

[Pg 278]

Thus while there were no fundamental changes in the design of the engine, the increase of its power required a considerable readjustment in the engine plants. Yet so rapidly were these changes made that on the first anniversary of the day when the design of the Liberty engine was begun—May 29, 1918—the Signal Corps had received 1,243 Liberty engines. In this achievement motor history was written in this country as it had never been written before.

From a popular standpoint it may seem that the Liberty engine was radically changed after its inception, but such an assertion is entirely unwarranted; for in the fundamental thing, the design, there was but one change made after the engine was laid down on paper in May, 1917, namely, in the oiling system. The original Liberty engine was partially fed with oil by the so-called scupper system, whereas this later was changed to a forced feed under compression. The scupper feed worked successfully, but the forced feed is foolproof and was therefore installed upon the advice of the preponderance of expert criticism.

It is also true that in working out certain practical manufacturing processes some of the original measurements were altered. But this is a common experience in the manufacture of any internal-combustion engine, and alterations made for factory expediency are not regarded as design changes, nor are they important.

The delivery of 22 motors in December of 1917 was followed by the completion of 40 in January, 1918. In February the delivery was 70. In March this jumped to 122; then a leap in April to 415; while in May deliveries amounted to 620.

The quantity production of Liberties may be said to have started in June, 1918, one year after the engine's conception in Washington. In that month 1,102 motors of the most powerful type were delivered to the service. In July the figure was 1,589; in August, 2,297; in September, 2,362. Then in October came an enormous increase to the total of 3,878 Liberty engines. During the month before the armistice was signed the engine factories were producing 150 engines a day.

In all, up to November 29, 1918, 15,572 Liberty engines were produced in the United States. In the disposal of them the American Navy received 3,742 for its seaplanes; the plants manufacturing airplanes in this country took 5,323 of them; 907 were sent to various aviation fields for training purposes; to the American Expeditionary Forces in France, in addition to the engines which went over installed in their planes, we sent 4,511 Liberty engines; while 1,089 went to the British, French, and Italian air services.

Some of the earliest Liberties were sent to Europe. In January, 1918, we shipped 3 to our own forces in France. In March we sent 10 to the British, 6 to the French, and 5 to the Italians. By June 7 the English tests had convinced the British air minister that the Liberty engine was in the first line of high powered aviation engines and a most valuable contribution to the allied aviation program. The British air minister so cabled to Lord Reading, the British ambassador in Washington. Again on September 26 the British air ministry reported that in identical airplanes the Liberty engine performed at least as well as the Rolls-Royce engine. Birkight, who designed the Hispano-Suiza engine in France, declared that the Liberty engine was superior to any high-powered aviation engine then developed on the Continent of Europe.


[Pg 279]

Figure 14.
Liberty Engines Produced Each Month During 1918.
Jan. ▍ 40
Feb. ▋ 70
Mar. █ 122
Apr. ████ 415
May. ██████ 620
June. ███████████ 1102
July. ████████████████ 1589
Aug. ██████████████████████ 2297
Sept. ███████████████████████ 2362
Oct. ████████████████████████████████████ 3678
Nov. ██████████████████████████████ 3056
Dec. ████████████████████████ 2437

A more concrete evidence of the esteem in which this American creation was held by the European expert lies in the size of the orders which the various allied Governments placed with the United States[Pg 280] for Liberty engines. The British took 1,000 of them immediately and declared that they wished to increase this order to 5,500 to be delivered by December 31, 1918. The French directed inquiries as to the possibility of taking one-fifth of our complete output of Liberty engines. The Italians also indicated their intention of purchasing heavily for immediate delivery.

This increased demand for the engine had not been anticipated in our original plans, as we had no idea that the allied Governments would turn from their own highly developed engines to ask for Liberty engines in such quantities. The original program of 22,500 engines was only sufficient for our own Army and Navy requirements. As soon as the foreign Governments, however, came in with their demands we immediately increased the orders placed with all the existing Liberty engine builders, and in addition contracted to take the entire manufacturing facilities of the Willys-Overland Co. at its plants in Toledo and Elyria, Ohio, and Elmira, N. Y. We also engaged the entire capacity of the Olds Motor plant at Lansing, Mich. In addition we had subsequently contracted for the production of 8,000 of the 8-cylinder engines. Thus the number of engines which would have been delivered under contract, if peace had not cut short the production, would have been 56,100 engines of the 12-cylinder type and 8,000 of the 8's.

The foreign Governments associated with us in the war against Germany showered their demands upon us for great numbers of the American engines, not only altogether because of the excellence of the Liberty, but because partially their plane production exceeded their output of engines. Mr. John D. Ryan, Director of Aircraft Production, verbally agreed to deliver to the French 1,500 Liberty engines by December 31, and further agreed to deliver motors to the French at the rate of 750 per month during the first six months of 1919. The British had already received 1,000 Liberty motors, and this order was increased with Mr. Ryan personally by several thousand additional engines to be delivered in the early part of 1919. When the armistice was signed the Liberty engine was being produced at a rate which promised to make it the dominant motive power of the war in the air before many months had passed.

The engine was originally named the "United States Standard 12-cylinder Aviation Engine." In view of the service which it promised to render to the cause of civilization, Admiral D. W. Taylor, the chief construction officer of the Navy, suggested during the early part of the period of production that the original prosaic name be discarded and that the engine be rechristened the "Liberty." Under this name the engine has taken its place in the history of the war as one of the most efficient agencies which was developed and employed by this country.

[Pg 281]


The production of the Liberty engine so captured popular attention that the public never fairly understood nor appreciated the extent of another production enterprise on the part of those providing motive power for our war airplanes. This was the supplementary manufacture of aero engines other than those which bore the proud appellation of "Liberty."

Let the production figures speak for themselves. In those 19 months, starting with nothing, we turned out complete and ready for service 32,420 aero engines. Of these thousands of engines less than one-half—the exact figure being 15,572—were Liberty engines. The rest were Hispano-Suizas, Le Rhones, Gnomes, Curtisses, Hall-Scotts, and some others, a total of 16,848 in all—built largely for the training of our army of the air.

This production would have been even more notable had the war continued, for at the date of the signing of the armistice the United States had contracted for the construction of 100,993 aircraft engines. Of these 64,100 were to be Liberty engines, so that the total plan of construction of engines other than the Liberty would have produced about 37,000 of them. The total cost of carrying through the combined engine project would have been in the neighborhood of $450,000,000.

While at the outbreak of the war American knowledge of military aviation may have been meager, still it was evident from the start that we would be able to go ahead with certain phases of production on a huge scale without waiting for the precise knowledge of requirements that would come only from an exhaustive study of the subject in Europe. In the first place we knew that we must train our aviators. For this purpose there was at the start no particular need of the highly-developed machinery then in use on the western front. The first aircraft requirement of the early training program was for safe planes, regardless of their type, and motive power to drive them. Later on, when we were better prepared, would come the training that would afford our aviators experience with the fighting equipment. So at the start there was no reason why we should not proceed at once with the construction of such training machines as we knew how to build.

[Pg 282]

An aviation program for war falls into these two divisions—the equipment required for training and that required for combat. While our organization, particularly through the Bolling commission which we had sent to Europe, was making a study of our combat requirements and while we were pushing forward the design and production of the Liberty engine, we forthwith developed on an ambitious scale the manufacture of training planes and engines in this country.

The training of battle aviators, on the other hand, also separates into two parts, the elementary training and the advanced training. The elementary training merely teaches the cadet the new art of maintaining himself in the air. Later, when he has mastered the rudiments of mechanical flight, he goes into the advanced training, the training in his fighting plane, where he requires equipment more nearly of the type used at the front.

For the elementary training we had some good native material to start with. The Curtiss Airplane Co. had been building training planes and engines both for the English and Canadian air authorities. This was evidently the most available American airplane for our first needs. The Curtiss plane was known as the "JN-4" and it was driven by a 90-horsepower engine called the Curtiss "OX." In the production of this equipment on the scale planned by the Signal Corps, the embarrassing feature, the choke point, was evidently to be the manufacture of the engine. The Curtiss plant at Buffalo for the manufacture of planes could be quickly expanded to meet the Government demands; but the Curtiss engine plant at Hammondsport, N. Y., could not develop the production of "OX" engines up to our needs and at the same time complete the orders which it was filling for the English and Canadian air services.

Consequently, contracts were awarded to the Curtiss Co. for its capacity in the production of "OX" engines, and then the American aviation authorities came to an agreement with the Willys-Morrow plant at Elmira, N. Y., for an additional 5,000 of these motors. Ordinarily it would require from five to six months to equip a plant with the large machine tools and the smaller mechanical appliances necessary for such a contract as this. But the Willys-Morrow plant tooled up in three months and was ready to start on the "OX" manufacturing job.




This is one of the successful rotary engines.

[Pg 283]

If speed in production was required at any point in the aviation development it was here in the manufacture of the elementary training planes and engines. Without training material, no matter how many aviation fields we set in order nor how many student aviators we enlisted, the movement of our flying forces toward the front could not even begin. And here entered an interesting engineering and executive problem that had to be worked out quickly by those in charge of our aircraft construction. If it were plotted on paper, the curve of requirements for aircraft training material would climb swiftly to its peak during the first six or eight months of the war and then decline with almost equal swiftness until it reached a low level. In other words, we must produce the great number of training machines in the shortest time possible in order to put our thousands of student aviators into the air at once over the training fields; but when this training equipment had been brought up to initial requirements, thereafter our needs in this direction could be met by only a small production, since the rate of wastage of such material is relatively low. Once our fields were fully equipped, the same apparatus could be used over and over again as the war went on, with little regard to the improvements of the type of battle planes, so that the ultimate manufacture need be large enough only to keep this equipment in condition.

It soon became evident that the production of Curtiss planes and engines, even under the heavy contracts immediately placed, would not be sufficient to take care of our elementary training needs; and the aviation administration began looking around for other types of aircraft that would fit into our plans. The experts in all branches of war flying which the principal allied nations had sent to the United States, warned us against the temptation to adopt many types of material in order to secure a quick early production. If the training equipment were not closely standardized in types, it would result in confusion and delay, both in training the aviator to fly and in preparing him for actual combat. Such had been the experience in Europe; and we were now given the benefit of this experience, so that we might avoid the mistakes which others had made. We were advised to adopt a single type of equipment for each class of training; but if that were not consistent with the demands for speed in getting our service in the air, then at the most we should not have more than two types either of planes or engines.

In the elementary training program it was evident that we could not equip ourselves with a single type of plane, except at considerable expense in time. Consequently we went ahead to develop another.

We found a training airplane being produced by the Standard Aero Corporation and known as the "Standard-J." The company had been developing this machine for approximately a year, and its plant could be expanded readily to meet a large contract. For the engine to drive this plane we adopted the Hall-Scott "A7A." This was a four-cylinder engine. It had the fault of vibration common to any four-cylinder engine, but it was regarded otherwise by experts as a rugged and dependable piece of machinery. The Hall-Scott Co. was equipped to produce this motor on an extensive scale, since at the time this concern was probably the largest manufacturer of[Pg 284] aviation engines in the United States, with the possible exception of the Curtiss Co. The engine had been used in airplanes built by the Standard Aero Corporation, the Aero Marine Co., and the Dayton-Wright Co. Therefore the Joint Army and Navy Technical Board recommended the Standard-J plane and the Hall-Scott A7A engine as the elementary training equipment to alternate with the Curtiss plane and engine.

The Government placed contracts with the Hall-Scott Co. for 1,250 engines, its capacity. But, since a large additional number would be required, a supplementary contract for 1,000 A7A's was given to the Nordyke & Marmon Co. The Hall-Scott Co. cooperated with this latter concern by furnishing complete drawings, tools, and other production necessities.

When it came to the advanced training for our aviators, more highly developed mechanical equipment was required. There must be two sorts of this equipment. The advanced student must become acquainted with rotary engines such as were used by the French and others to drive the small, speedy chassé planes, while he must also come to be familiar with the operation of fixed cylinder engines, possessing upwards of 100 horsepower. These latter were the engines in commonest use on observation and bombing planes. For each type, the rotary and fixed, we were permitted by our policy to have two sorts of engines in order to get into production as quickly as possible, but not more than two.

Here again we had to survey the field of engine manufacture and select closely, at the same time making in point of speed approximately as good a showing as if we had adopted every engine with claims for our consideration and had told manufacturers of them to produce as many as they could.

In this case of rotary engines, our aviation representatives in Europe advised the production here of Gnome and Le Rhone motors. There were two models of the Gnome engine, one developing 110 horsepower and the other 150. The Le Rhone engine produced 80 horsepower. The Bolling commission had recommended that the Gnome 150 be used in some of our combat planes.

In the spring of 1917 we were producing a few Gnome 110 horsepower engines in this country. The General Vehicle Co. at some time previously had taken a foreign order for these engines. But neither the Gnome 150 nor the Le Rhone 80 had been built in the United States, both of these having been developed and used exclusively in France. The first recommendations from our observers in France advised us to produce 5,000 of the more powerful Gnome 150's and 2,500 Le Rhone 80's.

The production of Gnome engines in this country forms a good illustration of the manner in which aircraft requirements at the[Pg 285] front were constantly shifting, due to the rapid evolution of the science of mechanical flight. Our officers did not hesitate to overrule their previous decisions, if such a course seemed to be justified, even at the cost of rendering useless great quantities of work already done and material already produced. This has been shown in the case of the Liberty engine. At the start we set out to build Liberty 8-cylinder engines on a large scale, only to discontinue this work before it was fairly started; but later on we again took up a Liberty 8-cylinder project on almost as great a scale as had been planned originally.

So with the production of the heavy 150-horsepower Gnome engine. Our European advisors were first of the opinion that we should go heavily into this production. Consequently the equipment end of the Signal Corps projected a program of 5,000 of the large Gnome engines. Such a contract was entirely beyond the capacity of the General Vehicle Co., which had been building the lighter Gnomes. So the Government entered into negotiations with the General Motors Co. to assume the greater burden of this undertaking. Under the pilotage of the aircraft authorities, an agreement was reached for the industrial combination of the General Motors Co. and the General Vehicle Co. The former concern brought its vast resources and numerous factories into the consolidation; while the latter furnished the only skilled knowledge and experience there was in the United States in the art of making rotary engines. This seemed to be a great step in our progress and an achievement in itself; but just as the undertaking of the construction of large Gnome engines was about to be started, events in Europe had caused our observers there to revise their first judgment, and we received cabled instructions recommending that we discontinue the development of the Gnome 150.

The entire program for Gnome 150's was canceled, and thereafter the General Vehicle Co., with its relatively small capacity, was called upon to produce as many of the small Gnome 110's as it could. As a matter of record the production of these engines amounted to 280 in number.

The Signal Corps found it difficult to induce manufacturers in this country to undertake the construction of foreign designed engines at all. The plans and specifications of mechanical appliances furnished by foreign engineers and manufacturers are so different from ours that trouble is invariably experienced in attempts to use them here. Successful concerns in this country naturally hesitated to pick up contracts on which they might fail and thus tarnish their reputations. Our advisors in Europe were insistent that we should produce Le Rhone engines in quantity in the United States, yet it was hard to find any manufacturing concern willing to undertake such a develop[Pg 286]ment. Nevertheless, the production of Le Rhone engines proved to be one of the most successful phases of the whole aircraft program. Its story illustrates the obstacles encountered in adapting a foreign device to American manufacture, and it also shows how American production genius can overcome these handicaps.

It was only after strenuous efforts on our part that the Union Switch & Signal Co., of Swissvale, Pa., a member of the Westinghouse chain of factories, was induced to take up the Le Rhone contract. This project called for the production of 2,500 rotary Le Rhones of 80 horsepower each. Let us see how the manufacturers took this totally unfamiliar machine and went about it to reproduce it in this country.

One might think that it would be necessary only to take the French drawings, change the metric system measurements to our own scale of feet and inches, and proceed to turn out the mechanism. But it was not so simple as that. We did receive the drawings, the specifications, the metallurgical instructions and the like, but these we found to be unreliable and unsatisfactory from our point of view. For instance, according to the French instructions the metallurgical requirements for the engine crank-shaft called for mild steel. This was obviously incorrect; and if an error had crept into this part of the plans there was no telling how faulty the rest of them might be. So from the metallurgical standpoint alone this became a laboratory job of analysis and investigation. A sample engine had been sent to us from France. Every piece of metal in this engine was examined by the chemists to determine its proper constituents, and from this original investigation new specifications were made for the steel producers.

The drawings of the engine were quite unsatisfactory from the point of view of American mechanics. They were found to be incorrect, and there were not enough of them. Consequently this required another study on the part of engineers and a new set of drawings to be made up. All of this fundamental work monopolized the time of a large force of draughtsmen and engineers for several months, working under the direction of E. J. Hall and Frank M. Hawley. The engine could not be successfully built without this preliminary study, yet this is a part of manufacture of which the uninitiated have little knowledge.



[Pg 287]

The production of the Le Rhone engine might have been materially delayed by these difficulties, except for the organizing ability of the executives handling the contract. While the metallurgists were specifying the steel of the engine parts and the engineers were drafting correct plans, the factory officials, with the assistance of the engine production division of the Air Service, were procuring machinery and tooling up the plant for the forthcoming effort. By the time this equipment was installed the plans were ready, the steel mills were producing the proper qualities of metal, and all was ready for the effort. The Gnome-Le Rhone factories in France sent one of their best engineers, M. Georges Guillot, and he assisted in the work at the Union Switch & Signal Co. So rapidly was the whole development carried out that the first American Le Rhones were delivered to the Government in May, 1918, considerably less than a year after the project was assumed by the Union Switch & Signal Co., which concern had not received the plans of the engine until September, 1917. By the time the armistice was signed the company had delivered 1,057 Le Rhone engines. Subsequent contracts had increased the original order to 3,900 Le Rhones, all of which would have been delivered before the summer of 1919, had the coming of peace not terminated the manufacture. Although France is the home of the rotary aviation engine, M. Guillot has certified to the Aircraft Board that these American Le Rhones were the best rotary engines ever built.

When it came to the selection of fixed cylinder engines for our advanced training program, all of the indications pointed to a single one, the Hispano-Suiza engine of 150 horsepower. This was a tried and true engine of the war, tested by a wealth of experience and found dependable. France had used the engine extensively in both its training and combat planes. In 1916 it had been brought to the United States for production for the allies, and when we entered the war the Wright-Martin Aircraft Corporation was producing Hispano-Suizas in small quantity. By the early summer of 1917, however, the motor had fallen behind in the development of combat engines because of the increasing horsepowers demanded by the fighting aces on the front, but it was still a desirable training engine and could, if necessary, be used to a limited extent in planes at the front.

The plane adopted by the American aircraft authorities for this type of advanced training was known as the Curtiss "JN 4H." It was readily adapted for the use of the Hispano-Suiza 150-horsepower engine. Contracts for several thousand of these engines were placed with the Wright-Martin Aircraft Corporation, and up to the signing of the armistice 3,435 engines were delivered. Before we could start the production of this engine it was necessary for the Government to arrange with the Hispano-Suiza Co. for the American rights to build it, this arrangement including the payment of royalties. Incidentally it is interesting to note that royalty was the chief beneficiary of the royalties paid by the American Government, King Alfonso of Spain being the heaviest stockholder of the Hispano-Suiza Co.

Although our policy permitted us to produce a second training engine of the fixed cylinder type, no engine other than the Hispano-Suiza was taken up by us. A number presented their claims for[Pg 288] consideration, but they were one and all rejected. Among these were the Curtiss engines "OXX" and "V." A few of both of these had been used by the Navy, but neither one seemed to the Signal Corps to meet the requirements. The Sturtevant Co. had developed a 135-horsepower engine and built a few of them, while Thomas Bros., at Ithaca, N. Y., had taken the Sturtevant engine and modified it in a way that they claimed improved it, although the changes had not substantially increased the horsepower. This engine was rejected on the ground that it was too low in horsepower to endure as a useful machine through any considerable period of manufacture, and also because it was too heavy per horsepower to accomplish the best results.

To sum it up, our training program was built around the above named engines—the Curtiss "OX" and the Hall-Scott "A7A" for the elementary training machines; the Gnome and Le Rhone, for the rotary engine types of planes in the advanced training; and the Hispano-Suiza 150-horsepower, for the advanced training in fixed-cylinder-engine machines. Between the dates of September 1, 1917, and December 19, 1918, we sent to 27 fields 13,250 cadets and 9,075 students for advanced training. They flew a total of 888,405 hours and suffered 304 fatalities, or an average of 1 fatality for every 2,922.38 flying hours. At one field the training fliers were in the air 19,484 hours before there was 1 fatality; another field increased this record to 20,269 hours; while a third made the extraordinary record of 1 casualty in 30,982 flying hours.

Although we do not possess the actual statistics, the best unofficial figures show that the British averaged 1 fatality for each 1,000 flying hours at their training camps, the French 1 for each 900 flying hours, while the Italian training killed 1 student for each 700 flying hours. These figures are significant, although varying conditions in the types of training programs may account to some extent for the wide differences in numbers of casualties at American as compared with allied training camps.

But while we were producing engines for the training airplanes, both elementary and advanced, we were not staking our whole combat program on the Liberty engine alone, although we expected that engine to be our main reliance in our battle machines. Our organization, both at home and abroad, was on the alert continually for other engines that might be produced in Europe or the United States and which would be so far in advance of anything in use by the air fighters in Europe in 1917 as to justify our production of them on a considerable scale. One of these motors which seemed to promise great results for the future was the Rolls-Royce, which had even then, in 1917, taken its place at the head of the British airplane engines.

[Pg 289]

Considerable difficulty was experienced in reaching a satisfactory arrangement with the Rolls-Royce Co. We expected to duplicate this engine at the plant of the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Co., at Buffalo, N. Y., but the British concern objected to this arrangement on the ground that the Pierce-Arrow people were commercial competitors.

It was several months before we could agree on a factory and arrive at a contract satisfactory to both sides. Meanwhile the Liberty engine had scored its great success, and the expected enormous production of Liberties tended to cool the enthusiasm of our aircraft authorities for the Rolls-Royce, as it was evident that the Liberty itself would be as serviceable and as advanced in type as the British product.

The Rolls-Royce Co. wished to manufacture here its "190," an engine developing from 250 to 270 horsepower; and for this effort it was prepared to send to the United States at once a complete set of jigs, gauges, and all other necessary tooling of a Rolls-Royce plant. With this equipment ready at hand the company expected to produce about 500 American-built Rolls-Royce engines before the 1st of July, 1918.

But so rapidly was the evolution of aircraft engines going ahead that even during the time of these negotiations it became evident that something more than 250 horsepower would soon be needed in the fighting planes on the Western front. We therefore abandoned the Rolls-Royce model 190 and started negotiations for the 270-horsepower engine, the latest and most powerful one produced by the Rolls-Royce Co. But for this engine the British concern could not furnish the tooling, which would have to be made new in this country, and this would reduce the schedule of deliveries. As a result no American-built Rolls-Royce engine was ever made.

Another disappointing experience in attempting to produce a foreign designed motor in this country was the project to bring the manufacture of Bugatti engines to the United States. When our European aircraft commission arrived in France, the first experimental Bugatti engine had just made its appearance. It was apparently a long step in advance of any other motor that had been produced. This French mechanism was a geared 16-cylinder engine. It weighed approximately 1,100 pounds and was expected to develop 510 horsepower. It seemed to be the motor to supplement our own Liberty engine construction. Although heavier than a Liberty, it was much more powerful. The first Bugatti engine built in France was purchased by the Bolling commission and hurried to the United States with the urgent recommendation that we put it into production immediately and push its manufacture as energetically as we were pushing that of the Liberty engine.

[Pg 290]

The Signal Corps acted immediately upon this advice and prepared to proceed with the Bugatti on a scale that promised to make its development as spectacular as that of the Liberty. The Duesenberg Motor Corporation, of Elizabeth, N. J., was even then tooling up for the production of Liberty engines. We took this concern from its Liberty work and directed it to assume leadership in the production of Bugattis. The Liberty engine construction had been centered in the Detroit district. We now prepared to establish a new aviation engine district in the East, associating in it such concerns as the Fiat Plant at Schenectady, N. Y., the Herschell-Spillman Co., of North Tonawanda, N. Y., and several others. For a time the expectation for the Bugatti production ran almost as high as the enthusiasm for the Liberty engine, but the whole undertaking ended virtually in failure, a failure again due to the tremendous difficulty in adapting foreign engineering plans to American factory production.

This was the story of it. In due time the sample Bugatti engine arrived, and with it were several French engineers and expert mechanics. But, once set up, the Bugatti motor would not function, nor was it in condition to run; for, as we discovered, during its test in France a soldier had been struck by its flying propeller. His body had been thrown twice to the roof of the testing shed, and the shocks had bent the engine's crank shaft. Then, too, we learned for the first time that the design and development of this engine had not been carried through to completion and that a great deal of work would be required before the device could be put into manufacture. The tests in France had developed that such a fundamental feature as the oiling system needed complete readjustment, and this was only indicative of the amount of work yet to be done on the engineering side of the production. We did our best with this engine; but to redesign it and develop it so that it could pass the severe 50-hour test demanded by our Joint Army and Navy Technical Board was the work of months, and after that the tooling up of plants had to be accomplished. The American Bugatti was just getting into production when the armistice was signed, a total of only 11 having been delivered.

As we have seen, we were already building several hundred Hispano-Suiza 150-horsepower engines for our training planes. Soon after the arrival of our aircraft commission in France we were advised to go into the additional manufacture of the latest Hispano-Suiza geared engine of 220-horsepower. Consequently the Washington office at once arranged with the Wright-Martin Aircraft Corporation, which was building the smaller Hispano-Suizas, to undertake the production of this newer model also. The preparations for this manufacture had gone on in the Wright-Martin plant for a considerable period of time when further advice from Europe informed us[Pg 291] that the Hispano-Suiza 220 was not performing successfully on account of trouble with the gearing. This fact, of course, canceled the new contract with the Wright-Martin Co., the incident being another of those ups and downs with which the undertaking was replete.

Along in the summer of 1918 the Hispano-Suiza designers in Europe brought out a 300-horsepower engine. By this date the development of military flying had made it apparent that engines of such great horsepower could be used advantageously on the smaller planes. However, the engine plants of the allied countries were already taxed to their capacities by their existing contracts, and the demands of these countries for high-powered engines could not be supplied unless we in America could increase our manufacturing facilities even further.

In following out this ambition, we placed contracts for the production of 10,000 Hispano-Suiza 300-horsepower engines. Of these, 5,000 were to be built by the Wright-Martin Aircraft Corporation. To enable this company to fulfill the new contract we leased to it the plant owned by the Government in Long Island City which had formerly been owned by the General Vehicle Co. The other 5,000 of these engines were to be built by the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Co. at Buffalo. We also contracted for the entire manufacturing facilities of the H. H. Franklin Co., of Syracuse, N. Y., to aid both the Wright-Martin Corporation and the Pierce-Arrow Co., in this contract. The first of these high-powered Hispano-Suiza engines were expected to be delivered in January, 1919, but this project, of course, was interrupted by the armistice.

To summarize the complete engine program of the aviation development, the total contracts for engines provided for the delivery of 100,993 engines. These were divided as follows:

OX 9,450
A7A 2,250
Gnome 342
Le Rhone 3,900
Lawrence 451
Hispano-Suiza: 180-horsepower 4,500
Hispano-Suiza: 150-horsepower 4,000
Hispano-Suiza: 300-horsepower 10,000
Bugatti 2,000
Liberty-12 56,100
Liberty-8 8,000

The delivery of aviation engines of all types to the United States Government, engines produced as part of our war program, were as follows, by months:

July, 1917 66
August, 1917 139
September, 1917 190
October, 1917 276
November, 1917 638
December, 1917 596
January, 1918 704
February, 1918 1,024
March, 1918 1,666
April, 1918 2,214
May, 1918 2,517
June, 1918 2,604
July, 1918 3,151
August, 1918 3,625
September, 1918 3,802
October, 1918 5,297
Total 28,509
[Pg 292]

The production by types was as follows to November 29, 1918:

OX 8,458
Hispano-Suiza 4,100
Le Rhone 1,298
Lawrence 451
Gnome 280
A7A 2,250
Bugatti 11
Liberty 15,572

At the signing of the armistice the United States had produced about one-third of the engines projected in its complete aviation program.

Of the output of training engines to November 29, 1918, the various airplane plants took 9,069 for installation in planes, 325 (all of these being Le Rhone rotaries) went to the American Expeditionary Forces in France, 515 (all of which were Hispano-Suizas) were taken by the Navy, a single A7A model was sent to one of the allied countries, while 6,376 engines were sent directly to the training fields.

Of the combat engines produced to November 29, 1918 (which classification includes all of the Liberties, the two more powerful types of the Hispano-Suiza, and the Bugatti engine), 5,327 went to the various airplane plants for installation in planes, 5,030 of them were sent directly to the American Expeditionary Forces, 3,746 were turned over to the Navy, 1,090 went to the several allied nations, and 941 were taken by the training fields.

The shipment of aviation engines to Europe, however, does not imply the immediate use of them by our airplane squadrons at the front. In this report shipment to the American Expeditionary Forces means the shipment of engines from the American factories producing them. As a matter of fact several months usually elapsed from the dispatch of an engine from an American shop until it actually reached the Air Service in France, and even then another month might be required to put the engine into actual service. As a result, of the 5,000 and more aviation engines sent to France by the American engine producers, outside of those installed in their planes, less than 3,000 are recorded in the annals of the American Expeditionary Forces as having been received by them up to the end of December, 1918, the missing 2,000 being in that period either somewhere in transit or in warehouses on the route to their destination.

It is of interest to note what makes of foreign engines were used by our airmen in the war operations. An appended table shows the list of those received, their names, their rated powers, the numbers received month by month, and the totals. The records of the American Expeditionary Forces show that the squadrons in all received from all sources 4,715 aviation engines up to the end of the year 1918, but it should be borne in mind that this figure does not include more than 2,000 engines, principally Liberties, recorded on this side of the Atlantic as having been shipped to the Army abroad. Of the 4,715 engines noted as received, 2,710 were Liberties.

[Pg 293]

None of the foreign engines used by our pilots even approached the Liberty in power. The nearest in power were a Renault and an Hispano-Suiza, both rated at 300 horsepower.

Table of engines received from foreign sources in American Expeditionary Forces monthly.
Name and horse-power. Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May. June. July. Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec. Total.
Hispano-Suiza 180 8 11 19
Hispano-Suiza 220 3 17 164 134 66 15 399
Hispano-Suiza 300 1 1
Renault 190 4 4 18 26
Renault 300 4 10 14 3 32 20 83
Le Rhone 80 10 19 85 114
Le Rhone 120 6 8 14 43 43 114
Clerget 120 3 6 12 8 14 29 72
Clerget 140 10 10
Salmson 230 4 6 2 23 95 92 92 8 322
Fiat 300 23 10 150 183
Gnome 150 12 20 66 86 22 200 406
Peugeot 230 2 2
Beardmore 160 14 14
Total 16 16 30 22 160 324 357 312 528 1,765
[Pg 294]


On one of the early days in the great war a Russian aviator, aloft in one of the primitive airplanes of that time, was engaged in locating the positions of the enemy when he chanced upon a German birdman engaged in a similar mission.

In those ancient times—for they seem ancient to us now, although less than five years have elapsed—actual fighting in the air was unknown. The aviators had no equipment for battle; indeed, it was doubtful if the thought had occurred to either side to keep down the enemy's aircraft by the use of armed force borne upon wings. In the first months of aviation in the great war the fliers of both sides recognized a sort of noblesse oblige of the air, which, if it did not make for actual friendship or fraternizing between the rival air services, at least amounted to a respect for each other often evidenced by an innocuous waving of hands as hostile flying machines passed each other.

But now the wounds of war had begun to smart; and when the Russian saw the German flier going unhindered upon a work that might bring death to thousands of soldiers in the Czar's army, a sudden rage filled his heart, and he determined to bring down his adversary, even at the cost of his own life. Maneuvering his craft, presently he was flying directly beneath the German and in the same direction and was but a short distance below his enemy's plane. Then, with a pull on his control lever, the Russian shot his machine sharply upward, hoping to upset the German and to escape himself. The result was that the machines collided, and both crashed to the ground. This was probably the first aerial combat of the war.

It seems strange to us to-day that the highly complicated and standardized art of fighting with airplanes was developed entirely during the great war and, indeed, was only started after the war had been in progress for several months. Yet such was the case. At the beginning of the war there was no such thing as armament in aircraft, either of the offensive or defensive sort. It is true that a small amount of experimentation in this direction had occurred prior to the war and also in the early months of fighting, but it was not until the summer of 1915 that air fighting, as it is so well known to the entire world to-day, was begun.

[Pg 295]

In this country we had successfully fired a machine gun from an airplane in 1912, while at the beginning of the war the French had a few heavy airplanes equipped to carry machine guns. Yet in August, 1915, Maj. Eric T. Bradley, of the United States Air Service, but then a flight sublieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps, frequently flew over the lines hunting for Germans; and his offensive armament consisted of a Lee-Enfield rifle or sometimes a 12-gauge double-barreled shotgun.

The aviators in those pioneer days usually carried automatic pistols, but the danger to one side or the other from such weapons was slight, owing to the great difficulty of hitting an object moving as swiftly as an airplane travels. The earlier planes also packed a supply of trench grenades for dropping upon bodies of troops. Another pioneer offensive weapon for the airplane was the steel dart, which was dropped in quantities upon the enemy's trenches. Great numbers of these darts were manufactured in the United States for the allies, but the weapon proved to be so ineffective that it had but a brief existence.

It is said that before the pilots carried any weapons at all the first war aviators used to shoot at each other with Very pistols, which projected Roman candle balls. The start of air fighting may be said to have come when the Lewis machine guns were brought out for use in the trenches. Presently these ground guns were taken into the planes and fired from the observers' shoulders. Then for the first time war flying began to be a hazardous occupation so far as the enemy's attentions were concerned.

It was soon discovered that the machine gun was the most effective weapon of all for use on an airplane, because only with rapid firers could one hope to hunt successfully such swiftly moving prey as airplanes. It had become patent to the strategists that it was of supreme importance to keep the enemy's aircraft on the ground. Hence invention began adapting the machine gun to airplane use.

The swiftest planes of all were those of the single-seater pursuit type. It was obviously impossible for the lone pilot of one of these to drop his controls and fire a machine gun from his shoulder. This necessitated a fixed gun that could be operated while the pilot maintained complete control of his machine, and such necessity was the mother of the invention known as the synchronizing gear.

This ingenious contrivance, however, did not come at once. Most of the war planes were of the tractor type; that is, that they had the engine and propeller in front, this arrangement giving them better maneuvering and defensive powers in the air than those possessed by planes with the rear, pushing propellers. The first fixed machine gun was carried on the upper plane of the biplane so as to[Pg 296] shoot over the arc described by the propeller. With the gun thus attached parallel to the line of flight, the pilot needed only to point the airplane itself directly at the target to have the gun trained on its objective. But such an arrangement proved to be unsatisfactory. A single belt or magazine of cartridges could, indeed, be fired from the gun, but there was no more firing on that trip, because the pilot could not reach up to the upper plane to reload the weapon.

So the fixed gun was brought down into the fuselage and made to fire through the whirling propeller. At first the aviators took their chances of hitting the propeller blades, and sometimes the blades were armored at the point of fire, being sheathed in steel of a shape calculated to cause the bullets to glance off. This system was not satisfactory. Then, since a single bullet striking an unprotected propeller blade would often shatter it to fragments, attempts were made to wrap the butts of the blades in linen fabric to prevent this splintering, and this protection actually allowed several shots to pierce the propeller without breaking it.

This was the state of affairs on both sides early in 1915. The French Nieuports had their fixed guns literally shooting through the propellers, the bullets perforating the blades, if they did not wreck them. As late as February, 1917, Maj. Bradley, who was by that time a flight commander in the British service, worked a Lewis gun over the Bulgarian lines with the plane propellers protected only by cloth wrappings.

All of this makeshift operation of fixed machine guns was changed by the invention of