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ficulty and delay also developed in obtaining delivery of taps, dies
and all necessary fixtures. Raw material deliveries always fell be-
hind schedule, for even after they were produced and shipped there
were endless transportation delays.

But despite all obstacles, work on the original carriage order was
pushed unremittingly and the pilot carriage of the project was de-
livered in October, 1918. Some two months after this first carriage
order was placed with the arsenal, the Standard Steel Car Company
agreed to accept an order for 1044 carriages, complete with trans-
port vehicles, limbers, etc., but without the recoil mechanism. Al-
though as one of the most important freight and passenger car
builders in the country this company possessed an extensive and
well equipped plant, it was nevertheless necessary practically to
double the capacity of its huge erecting shop by the construction of
additional buildings and greatly to increase other plant facilities to
make ready for the tremendous task undertaken.



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We Story~ if Ordnance in the World War



To expedite production sub-contracts for many of the smaller
component parts were immediately placed by the Standard com-
pany with more than 100 firms through the east and middle west.
As many of these firms were already working on sub-contracts for
the Watertown Arsenal carriage order, their utilization on the
order with the Standard company meant better prices and closer
standardization of parts. Subsequent placing of orders by these
sub-contractors with manufacturers of raw and finished materials
meant that the ramifications of this 240 carriage project soon had
extended throughout the entire industrial fabric of the eastern and
central states. This tremendous outlay obviously multiplied
enormously the effect of delay and uncertainties in transportation,
of fuel shortage and the other handicaps under which the project
labored. Raw materials could in most instances be obtained only
through allocation by the War Industries Board and the granting
of priority orders on the manufacturers of these materials, who
were over-loaded with other government orders of varying impor-
tance. Notwithstanding all handicaps, however, work was forced
ahead and the deliveries contemplated for 1919 were in sight when
the armistice was signed.

Construction of the 240 howitzer recuperators to match the car-
riages to be turned out by the Standard Steel Car Company was
undertaken by the Otis Elevator Company. To carry out a con-
tract for 1,039 recuperators accepted on May 1, 1918, this company
had to completely rebuild and equip a plant which it already owned
in Chicago. Forgings for the recuperators were furnished by the
Carnegie Steel Company which completed the rough-machining be-
fore shipment to the Otis Elevator Company. The first recuperator
was finished by the latter company early in November, 1918, a little
more than six months after the order was placed.

Another independent order for recuperators to keep pace with
the carriage capacity to be developed by the Standard Steel Car
Company was placed with the Watertown Arsenal in the summer
of 1918. This order called for 250 recuperators in addition to those



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&e Story gf Ordnance in the World War



which the arsenal had already been called upon to deliver in its
original carriage contract. Much new equipment had to be secured
to take care of this order, but production was gotten under way
rapidly. The arsenal furnished most of its own recuperator forg-
ings but an additional supply came from the Carnegie Steel Com-
pany. Recuperators actually completed at the arsenal numbered
16 by December 31, 1918, and 280 forgings were in process of ma-
chining.

With both the arsenal and the Otis Elevator Company thus
rapidly coming into quantity production on recuperators there was
no danger of the 1919 program for 240 howitzer deliveries being
held up by a lack of this mechanism.

The massive gun bodies for the 240 howitzer were placed in pro-
duction at the Watervliet Arsenal, that is, they were ordered ma-
chined and completed there. Orders for rough forgings to be
shipped to the arsenal were distributed between five or six plants.
From November 20, 1917, to November 7, 1918, a total of 1,160 gun
bodies were ordered completed at Watervliet. Construction of an
entirely new machining plant was necessary to carry out the work
and allotments to the arsenal during the war for increasing its
facilities totaled nearly $14,000,000. The arsenal undertook to de-
velop a maximum capacity of 100 cannon a month and to deliver
the last of the 1,160 not later than September 30, 1919.

Gun bodies actually completed up to December 12, 1918,
totalled 158, the pilot cannon having been delivered in August,
1918.

Thus, by December, 1918, it is seen that production in all parts
of the 240-millimeter howitzer had been placed squarely upon its
feet and promised rapid increase in deliveries. Had the war con-
tinued, by the spring of 1919, many of our overseas divisions would
have been equipped with this splendid weapon produced wholly in
American plants. It was planned to develop a capacity of 80 units
a month in the early part of 1919.



[76]



ANTIAIRCRAFT GUNS.

Before we mount into the larger size field guns, let us survey
briefly our preparation in the line of antiaircraft guns, which also
were of 7 5 -millimeter size.

We had before 1916 developed a 3-inch antiaircraft unit for
fixed emplacement at coast fortifications which is still today the
most powerful antiaircraft weapon of its caliber. But we had given
little or no attention to mobile artillery of this sort. To meet the
necessity of early production when we entered the war, therefore,
an improvised mobile unit was turned out. This consisted of a sim-
ple structural steel design upon which was mounted one of the 75-
millimeter guns already in production. Fifty of these carriages
were manufactured and shipped to France and guns which the
French were turning out for us were mounted upon them there. In
mobility this unit, it was recognized from the beginning, left much
to be desired. Its steel carriage design, therefore, was superseded
by a truck mount, orders for which were placed in July, 1917.
Upon this mount was placed our own 75-millimeter field gun,
model of 1916.

It was intended throughout, however, that this preliminary pro-
gram should give way to the production of a specially designed
antiaircraft unit with a powerful 3-inch gun. It was recognized
that the 75-millimeter field guns which made up these original units
did not have sufficient power. They were used because they were
quickly available and because the French had pressed them into
the same service. This improved 3-inch gun was just coming into
production when the armistice was signed, orders for 612 having
been placed in July, 1917. Had the war continued, our divisions
would have been equipped with a splendid antiaircraft weapon. As
it was, the antiaircraft material in use by our forces when hostilities
ceased was all supplied by the French with the exception of about
68 of our first 75-millimeter units.



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We Story gf Ordnance in the World War



MOUNTING THE COAST AND NAVAL GUNS.

In the 5 and 6-inch guns that could be spared from the Coast
Artillery and the reserve store of the Navy there was shell power
that might quickly be made available for the western front. When
we entered the war the Ordnance Department at once set out to
master the problem of placing these heavy fixed-emplacement
pieces on mobile field mounts.

An inventory showed that ninety-five 6-inch and twenty-eight
5-inch guns could be secured from the Coast Artillery and forty-six
6-inch guns from the Navy, while an additional 30 guns of the
6-inch size were offered by a private dealer in this country. Minor
alterations were necessary in many of the guns to make them
adaptable to field mounts, and the navy guns, ranging from 30 to
50 calibers in length, had to be cut down to a uniform length of 30
calibers. The long 6-inch seacoast guns were not shortened be-
cause it was planned to return them to the coast defenses from
which they were taken.

Speed in the manufacture of the carriages for these guns de-
manded that they be of the simplest design consistent with the
great strength necessary to bear the weight of this fixed-emplace-
ment material. The carriage design for the 5 and 6-inch naval guns
having been placed under test and found to meet all requirements
by September, 1917, orders were placed for ninety-two 6-inch car-
riages and twenty-eight 5-inch. Owing to the great weight of the
long 6-inch seacoast guns, however, it was found that it would be
necessary to carry them separately on big transport wagons. Such
a wagon was designed and an order placed for 55 in February, 1918.

When the armistice was signed practically all of these mounts
had been completed. Seventy-two entirely assembled 6-inch units
and twenty-six 5-inch had been floated for overseas.

RAILWAY ARTILLERY PROJECTS.

Railway artillery forms another chapter in the history of our
War-time Ordnance preparation. An inventory taken by the Ord-



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*®e Story" gf Ordnance in the World War



nance Department as soon as war was declared against Germany
showed some 464 big guns available for mobilization on the west-
ern front. These ranged in size from the 8-inch rifle to the single
16-inch experimental howitzer which the Ordnance Department
had produced prior to 1917. In the number were included guns
which could be spared from the coast defense as follows: ninety-
six 8-inch, one hundred twenty-nine 10-inch, forty-nine 12-inch, and
one hundred fifty 12-inch mortars. The Navy offered to turn over
twelve of its 7-inch guns; and in addition six 12-inch, 50 calibre,
rifles were commandeered from a private concern where they were
under manufacture for the Chilean government.

Here was an assortment of guns that offered splendid op-
portunity for equipment in heavy artillery. The Ordnance De-
partment determined that railway mounts offered the only means
of providing the required mobility for this heavy fixed emplace-
ment materiel and at once undertook the production of such
mounts.

The use of heavy railway artillery had been developed to a high
degree during the war before our participation. It had come to
be almost as varied in design as field artillery and each type of
mount had certain distinct tactical uses. Guns, howitzers and
mortars were all adapted to railway mounts. These mounts were
of three general types, the first permitting a 360-degree gun
traverse, or all-around fire, the second providing limited traverse,
and the third providing no lateral movement for the gun, the
traverse aim being secured by means of shifting the position of the
railway car on a curved track, or epis.

The railway mount with the 360 degree traverse was used for
the 7- and 8-inch weapons and also the 12-inch mortars. This gun
carriage revolves on an axis and turns the gun with it. The recoil
in this mount is absorbed by a recoil system similar to that used
with field guns. Mounts permitting a limited traverse movement
of the accord type were used for guns and howitzers of great range.
It is necessary to shift the car upon which this carriage is mounted



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*®e Story gf Ordnance in the World War



on a curved track, or epis, when wide traverse movement is required
for aiming the gun. Only part of the recoil shock is absorbed in
the recoil system of the carriage, much of it being transmitted to
the gun car itself, which necessitates the car being bolted to the
track and braced from the ground. In the third mount, known as
the Schneider type, also used for the heaviest guns, the gun trun-
nion and mount are fastened rigidly together. Thus with no
traverse movement provided it is necessary to depend entirely upon
movement of the car on a curved track to secure traverse aim. The
carriage, of course, provides elevation for the gun. The entire re-
coil in this type is absorbed by a retrograde movement of the car
along the track, the heaviest guns driving the car twenty or thirty
feet back after fire.

The first railway mount project of the Ordnance Department
was undertaken as a measure of defense against possible attempts
by German submarines to raid our coast. The twelve 7-inch guns
turned over by the navy were mounted for this purpose. A special
pedestal mount was designed, giving the gun a 360-degree traverse.
This gun was mounted on one of three standard types of railway
artillery cars designed by the Ordnance Department for the 7-
and 8-inch guns and the 12-inch mortars, the three types having
the same general features.

Taking the projects in the scale of gun sizes, for the 8-inch
coast defense guns the first type of mount was adopted. Orders
for 47 gun cars and mounts were placed with three concerns, two
of which had materially to expand their shop facilities before begin-
ning work. The prevalent condition of congested railroads and
depleted raw material markets proved a serious handicap to getting
production under way. But by June, 1918, the first eight-inch rail-
way mount had passed a thoroughly satisfactory test at the Aber-
deen Proving Ground. When the armistice was signed 18 com-
plete units had been turned out and the contracting plants had
developed a capacity of 15 mounts per month. Three complete
units had been shipped overseas. These units included ammunition



[80]



Six of these huge 12-inch guns were under manu-
facture in the United States for the Chilean gov-
ernment when the United States entered the war.
They were provided with sliding railway mounts,
one of which is shown in this picture. The
mount is an American design though an adapta-
tion from the French. The first of these mounts
was completed within eighty-five days after the
order was placed and all of them were awaiting
shipment to France when the armistice was
signed. The mount has thirty-six car wheels and
a length of 105 feet, so that the track can stand
the tremendous strain when the gun is fired. The
range of these guns is 25 miles, firing a 700-pound
projectile. As an indication of the sound basis
of claims made as to what Ordnance production
would have been with the continuation of hos-
tilities, work on mounts for these guns was con-
tinued after the armistice and 45 were completed
on April 7, 1919, whereas General Pershing had
requested only 40 for the entire campaign of
that year.



[83]



^e Story" gf Ordnance in the World War



cars, transportation cars, tools, spare parts and all necessary ap-
purtenances. It was necessary to equip the gun cars of these units
with narrow-gauge as well as standard-gauge trucks so they could
operate on the narrow-gauge track used in the fighting zone in
France.

An eight-inch gun of longer range than the coast defense guns
was subsequently designed with railway mount and an order placed
for 25 for use abroad in 1920. When the armistice was signed this
undertaking was abandoned.

Railway mounts for the ten-inch coast guns were divided be-
tween the Schneider and the Batignolles types. As a joint opera-
tion with the French government, we undertook to place 36 of
these weapons on Schneider mounts, the forging and rough ma-
chining to be done in this country and the finishing in the French
shops. Contracts for our part of the project were distributed among
three plants. Gen. Pershing had called for the delivery of 36 sets of
parts in France by March 2, 1919. When the armistice was signed
8 complete sets had been produced, and there is little doubt that
had the war continued the 36 sets would have been delivered by the
date specified.

The Batignolles mount project for the ten-inch coast gun was
placed with the Marion Steam Shovel Co., which undertook to pro-
duce 18 of these mounts. Difficulty in translating the French draw-
ings and in securing the necessary raw materials and machine
equipment entailed serious delays in this project and the armistice
was signed before any of the mounts were produced. The entire
project was cancelled shortly after the armistice.

The Marion Steam Shovel Company also undertook the manu-
facture of Batignolles mounts for twelve of the 12-inch coast de-
fense guns. This contract was given preference over the ten-inch
mounts, and, although none of the twelve-inch mounts had been
produced by November 11, work had progressed so far that the
Ordnance Department ordered all 12 completed. The first was de-
livered about April 1, 1919.



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"&e Story gf Ordnance in the World War



For the twelve-inch Chilean naval guns the Ordnance Depart-
ment redesigned the Schneider mount to facilitate manufacture in
this country, as our manufacturers had experienced endless trouble
in producing the French designs because of their entire lack of con-
formity to American shop practice. It was decided to build three
mounts for these 6 twelve-inch guns, holding one gun in replace-
ment reserve for each mount. Although the order for these
mounts was not placed until the summer of 1918, all three had been
completed and made ready for shipment to France by November,
1918, each with its entire equipment of supplies, spare parts, am-
munition cars, etc.

Of the 150 twelve-inch mortars which it was believed could be
safely withdrawn from the coast defenses, contracts were let for
the mounting of 96, General Pershing having asked that 40 be de-
livered in France in time for the contemplated 1919 campaign.
Provided with railway mounts, it was seen that these mortars
would provide an excellent weapon for short, plunging fire.

The project of mounting these weapons proved one of the larg-
est of the entire artillery program. The Morgan Engineering Co.,
of Alliance, O., which undertook to build the cars and the barbette
carriage mounts upon which the mortars were placed, had to erect
a complete plant at a cost of $1,700,000 for the building alone.
Specially designed machine tools necessary to carry out the work
cost the government more than $1,800,000 additional. Although
construction of the plant was not begun until December, 1917, it
was entirely completed by June, 1918, and the pilot mount had suc-
cessfully passed firing tests at Aberdeen by the end of August, an
exceedingly noteworthy achievement in view of the weather con-
ditions that prevailed that winter and the manifold industrial handi-
caps encountered. Every structural part for all of the 91 mounts
ordered had been completed when the armistice was signed. De-
spite the relaxation which followed the Armistice the company had
delivered 45 complete units by April 7, 1919, whereas Gen. Persh-
ing had requested only 40 for the entire campaign of that year.



[85]



^e Story* gf Ordnance in the World War



These mortars as mounted were provided with a hydropneu-
matic recuperator of far greater size than any that had hitherto
been produced in this country, and this feature added immensely
to the project.

It was in May, 1918, that the Navy offered to turn over to the
Army certain f ourteen-inch naval rifles then under construction and
of which it was estimated 30 would be completed by March, 1919.
For these guns it was planned to use the redesigned Schneider rail-
way mount that had been adopted for the twelve-inch Chilean gunSo

Accordingly, an order for 16 of these mounts was placed with
the Baldwin Locomotive Works, specifying deliveries to begin by
February 1, 1919, and to be completed by the following April. The
signing of the armistice, however, led to the abandonment of the
entire project. Five of these guns were mounted by the Navy itself
on railway mounts of another design, to be manned by naval per-
sonnel in France. The Baldwin Locomotive Works constructed 1 1
of these mounts for the Navy Ordnance Bureau and 6 of them
were subsequently turned over to the Army.

Finally, the Ordnance Department designed and built a railway
mount for the huge sixteen-inch howitzer which had been bored
and finished prior to 1917. The design for the mount was finished
on February 10, 1918, and in order to complete the project in the
shortest possible time it was placed with three manufacturers, who
did a remarkably fast job in turning it out.

Whereas all previous railway mounts for guns of this size had
been designed to be braced from the track when the gun was set
in position for firing, a great advantage was obtained by obviating
the necessity for this in the sixteen-inch howitzer mount. No track
preparation whatever was necessary to fire this weapon. The great
firing load, estimated at 748,230 pounds, is safely transmitted to the
trucks of the gun car through an intricate system of equalizer
springs. The recoil action is absorbed chiefly by a hydraulic recoil
cylinder with which the gun is equipped and the balance is taken
up by a retrograde movement of the car on the track of 20 or 30



[86]



We Story* if Ordnance in the World War



feet. This unit was demonstrated by exhaustive tests to rank with
the highest types of ordnance in use today. Orders for 61 ad-
ditional 16-inch howitzers had been placed prior to the tests of the
pilot mount but were cancelled when the armistice was signed.

ARTILLERY AMMUNITION

In April, 1917, there existed in the country less than 780 pieces
of heavy artillery and little more than 1,000,000 rounds of ammuni-
tion therefor. No piece heavier than the 6-inch gun had yet been
made for mobile artillery troops.

Some idea of the size of the project in hand may be had from the
requirements table of July 1, 1918, which called for more than 153,-
135,000 rounds during the next 18 months, at a cost of between 3%
and 4 billion dollars.

The difficulties attendant upon such an undertaking were
stupendous. To begin with, it was a new industry as far as the
larger calibers were concerned, a type of experimental work ordi-
narily requiring years to develop — which had required years for
the Allies to develop — and calling for specially trained technical
experts and a high type of mechanical labor. The few existing
shops in the country, absorbing all the experienced labor in this
line, were already occupied with materiel for the Allies and were
therefore unavailable. The adoption of the French designs for
the two most important pieces, the 75 and 155 millimeter, requested
by the French and advisable for many reasons, necessitated a long
delay in obtaining drawings and translating them to American
standards, in modifying existing facilities and in learning foreign
methods. At the outset, delay in appropriations proved a serious
handicap in placing contracts and getting preparations under way.
The shortage of raw material, the railway congestion, the desper-
ate machine-tool situation, and the labor problem — all operated to
render almost impossible a very difficult task.

The Allies gloomly predicted that it would require years even
to prepare for manufacture and that the possibility of getting



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*@e Story" §f Ordnance in the World War



quantity production under way before the end of the War was out
of the question.

In the face of this, Army Ordnance set to work and trained
labor, constructed 53 great plants, designed several superior new
types of ammunition, and at the time of the armistice was produc-
ing it at a rate that amazed the experts of the Allied armies. Not
knowing it could not be done, we went ahead and did it.

There is not space here to go into the detailed story of each
calibre. Briefly, the Field Artillery, consisting of 75 m/m gun and
howitzer, 4.7-inch gun, 5- and 6-inch guns, 155 m/m gun and
howitzer, 8-inch gun and the 240 m/m gun represent the mobile
type on mounts and carriages. Of this group the 75 and 155 m/m
are the most important.

Ammunition for the 75 m/m comprises both Shrapnel and H. E.
' shell. Later a gas shell of this type was developed and more than
half a million manufactured. As certain facilities for Shrapnel
manufacture already existed, whereas the H. E. facilities had to be
newly created, the former was considerably ahead in production,
about 7Vi million of these being produced before the armistice as
against a little more than 4 million of the H. E. shell. Compared
with the vast requirements on this item, this is not a favorable
showing, but it must be remembered that we were attempting to
do in one year what Germany and France with regular military
establishments and ample appropriations had required many years
to do.

The 155 m/m was an adaptation of the B model of the famous
French Grand Puisson Filloux ammunition, a 95-pound shell with


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Online LibrarySevellon BrownThe story of ordnance in the World War → online text (page 5 of 22)