SECRETARY OF THE NAVY JAMES FORRESTAL in his annual report to the President for the fiscal year 1945 wrote:
In mid-1940 the firepower of guns installed on ships of our "one-ocean Navy" approximated 411 tons of projectiles in 15 seconds. Five years later, Navy firepower aggregated 4,500 tons per 15-second period--35% on Navy combatant ships, 37% on other Navy vessels and 28% on merchant ships. Providing the guns, ammunition and other offensive and defensive ordnance for the ships of the new Navy and the planes of its air wing was the primary duty of the Bureau of Ordnance. The discharge of this responsibility involved the infinite tasks of design, manufacture, procurement and maintenance of ordnance items. Not only was the huge naval ship construction program provided with modern armament without delaying ship completions, but the armament of the 1940 fleet was modernized and more than 6,050 merchant ships were supplied with guns and ammunition.1
In these words the Secretary summarized the colossal achievement of the Bureau of Ordnance in providing the ordnance for ships with which the Navy fought World War II.
and Background Mission
The Bureau of Ordnance and Hydrography was one of the five original bureaus established by Congress in1842 to supersede the Board of Navy Commissioners. The bureau system recommended by Secretary of the Navy A.P. Upshur to Congress contemplated a separate Bureau of Hydrography, but presumably in the interests of economy, Congress combined hydrographic functions with ordnance functions in a single bureau. This remained the arrangement until 1862, when the Hydrographic Office was transferred to the newly created Bureau of Navigation. Commodore William M. Crane was named the first Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance and Hydrography by President Tyler. He was assisted by one draftsman and three clerks.
In general, the Bureau from the beginning had the same responsibilities for naval ordnance that it has today. In peacetime, its history has been one of improving old and developing new weapons and ordnance materiel, and, in wartime, of large-scale production and procurement of such equipment. During World War II, however, the Bureau, in addition to large scale procurement, created also a number of new weapons and devices and made extensive improvements in existing ordnance materiel, all of which played a vital role in winning that war.
The theme of this chapter is more the part that the Bureau of Ordnance, through its own organization and management procedures, played in the administration of the Navy Department than the story in detail of how the Bureau carried out its mission. For that story, the student of Naval History is referred to the sources of information given in the footnotes of this chapter and to the bibliography at the end of this work.
From its establishment in 1842 until the Civil War, the Bureau was engaged chiefly in developing new, larger, and stronger guns, chiefly the 9, 10, and 11-inch Dahlgrens.2 During the Civil War, the principal preoccupation of the Bureau was the production and procurement of guns ]and ammunition for the greatly expanded Navy. Following the drought in naval appropriations after the Civil War came a period of development of rifled breechloading guns, torpedoes, armor, and explosives. The Navy Department always depended for its explosives and propellants, large caliber projectiles, armor and for practically all items of ordnance equipment such as rangefinders, fire control instruments, directors, etc. on private industry. Small arms and their ammunition were obtained from the War Department, a fact sometimes overlooked by the unificationists. It was the policy to encourage private enterprise to enter ever more fully into the production of ordnance materiel, such as armor, torpedoes, and large guns. Toward the end of the century, the Bureau, in order to insure high quality of the material under its cognizance and to collaborate in research and development, established a Naval Powder Factory at Indian Head, and expanded the proving ground gun, and armor testing facilities at that place and at
, during the World War I period. Dahlgren, Virginia
The Spanish-American War and World War I underlined the need for additional government-owned production facilities. Three Naval Ordnance Plants were accordingly constructed during the latter war at
, Dayton, Ohio
South Charleston, West Virginia, and The last two mentioned were retained by the Navy, although the Bureau had a continuous struggle after the Washington Naval Conference in 1922 to hold the plants for the Navy. Both made outstanding contributions to ordnance production during World War II. Baldwin, N.Y.
When, with the outbreak of war in
Europein September 1939, a National emergency was declared, the Bureau immediately pressed for additional ordnance production facilities. In July 1940, Congress appropriated $50 million for the purpose. The Bureau surveyed some two hundred sites which offered the advantages of inland location, adequate labor supply, and good transportation connections. From these sites, five were selected for the location of Naval Ordnance Plants, i.e., Louisville, Kentucky; Macon, Georgia; Indianapolis, Indiana; Canton, Ohio; and Center Line, . Early in 1942, five additional plants located at inland points were authorized, bringing the total to ten. The cost of the ten plants totalled approximately $150 million. The plants were entirely government-owned, but were operated by contractors employed by the Bureau on a cost-plus fixed fee basis. The arrangement proved highly satisfactory because of its flexibility and the simplicity with which work could be assigned by the Bureau to Naval Ordnance Plants without having to go through the process of making formal contracts. These plants were in a sense naval gun factories possessing the added advantage that the Bureau was relieved of the responsibility for their management. Michigan
The production of ordnance material in this way should not be confused with procurement through contracts with private industry. The procedures followed in making contracts with private enterprise and the arrangements for financing and expanding the facilities of contractors are described in the chapter in this work on "Industrial Mobilization and Material Procurement." By the end of 1941, the Bureau had prime contracts with some 2,381 firms who in turn were being served by some 5,000 sub-contractors. At the peak of contracting, late in 1944, the number of prime contractors was actually smaller, about 1,800 and the number of sub-contractors greater, about 25,000, indicating the trend toward giving government work to small manufacturing concerns.3
The Bureau's immediate preoccupation when war threatened was therefore the expansion of facilities, both government and private, to take care of its historic wartime task of increasing enormously the production and procurement of Naval ordnance materiel.
For the most part, the administrative machinery that was used to bring science into the war effort was set up after the declaration of a national emergency in September 1939. The mobilization of civilian scientists for that purpose, their collaboration with the armed services in the development of new weapons and instrumentalities of warfare, and the steps taken to coordinate their efforts with those of the Navy Department are described in the chapter on "Research and Development," and need not be repeated here. There were, however, certain phases and aspects of the scientific approach of the Bureau of Ordnance to weapon development in the past and during World War II, that merit additional mention.
Some of the earliest work in the field of metallurgy, for example, and in the use of steel in place of iron, was done at the Washington Navy Yard before and during the Civil War in connection with the improvement of guns. But there was no laboratory dedicated to Ordnance Research until World War I. Two experimental units were, during that war, merged and at some time in the early 1930's designated "The Naval Ordnance Laboratory," but the prosecution of ordnance research languished, so that at one time during the inter-war years the technical staff was reduced to two men.
Even after the outbreak of war in
Europethere were only 50 employees at the NOL, about one-fifth being scientists and technical personnel. Its growth thereafter was, however, rapid, so that, by the middle of 1941, NOL was working on about 100 separate projects. Before the end of World War II expansion of the Laboratory become absolutely necessary but space was lacking for expansion in the Navy Yard. A new Naval Ordnance Laboratory was therefore built at White Oak, , and has become one of the most modern establishments of its kind in the world. Maryland
Although the Naval Ordnance Laboratory was the most important single research establishment under the control of the Bureau, many other similar facilities had to be provided to carry out special experimental work and tests. The Naval Proving Ground and the Naval Powder Factory have already been mentioned. Other establishments were the Naval Mine Depot,
Yorktown, Va., and the Explosives Investigation Laboratories at Stump Neck, Md., and Port Townsend, The Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, R.I., which had been established before the turn of the century, was in part an experimental and testing station, and in part a production facility. It will be mentioned again later on. By the end of World War II, the Bureau's laboratory, experimental, and testing facilities represented an investment of approximately $40 million. Wash.
The major contributions of science to Naval weapon development during World War II was however made in collaboration with the National Defense Research Committee and the Office of Research and Development under which the civilian scientists of the country had been mobilized after the outbreak of the war in Europe. The description, later in this chapter, of the development of the VT fuze will be used as an example to illustrate the procedures followed in carrying out, in collaboration with the civilian scientists, a research and development project of major proportions.
From earliest times up to World War II, the organization of the Bureau had been of the vertical type. The organization chart of February 1, 1940, Figure 17, shows 20 sections grouped under five divisions, as follows:
A Technical Division consisting of twelve sections which employed about 75% of the Bureau's personnel. Each section dealt with a particular kind of ordnance material. For example, the Gun Section handled every phase of supplying the guns needed for the armament of ships, from design through production, procurement, testing, and allocation. Included under this section were the breech mechanisms and yokes of guns, and that section represented the Navy Department on the Army and Navy Gun Forgings Board. Similar sections handled powder, turrets, torpedoes, depth charges, mines, etc. A Research and Inventions Section made up the Research Division. An Inspection and a Patent Section constituted the Industrial Division. The Maintenance and Operating Division consisted of a Finance and Budget Section, and of an Ordnance Requisitions Section, which also kept the Contract Records. A Civil Division consisting of two sections, handled correspondence, the mail, and the files.
Each section, particularly those in the Technical Division, was in effect a complete operating unit in itself, handling its cognizant material from preliminary design to final disposition. It was responsible for results directly to the Chief of the Bureau. The system had the advantage of pin-pointing responsibility and kept the Chief informed of everything that was going on in the Bureau and in the field. Failure to perform efficiently was quickly detected. It functioned satisfactorily in peacetime when the tempo was set by limited appropriations and demands on the Bureau were not great. But it had the administrative defect of an excessive number of lower level executives reporting directly to the Chief of the Bureau. While that was a good way of keeping him informed, it led to a bottleneck in the Chief's office when the workload increased.
Theoretically, the Division Heads coordinated the work of the sections under them and took up important matters with the Chief. They also provided liaison between the Divisions and other branches of the Navy Department. In practice, however, the Section Heads had direct access to the Chief of Bureau. The chart shows the chain of authority to go vertically to the Chief of the Bureau, via the Division Heads, the Chief Clerk, and the Assistant Chief of the Bureau. This type of organization had been popular with all Bureaus, as it merged responsibility and authority at a low level in the organization. But, that type of organization began to show serious defects when the National emergency created a workload in the Bureau far in excess of anything experienced in the
past. The heads of sections and others who, in accordance with the organization, were supposed to get decisions directly from the Chief, often had to wait for hours to see him, with the result that Bureau business was slowed down seriously. The Bureau of Ships, when it was formed by the merger of the Bureau of Construction and Repair and the Bureau of Engineering, was the first to break away from this type of organization, and was soon followed by some of the other bureaus, in adopting a functional type of organization.
The initial step toward reorganization was taken in January 1941 by Rear Admiral W.K. Furlong, USN, who was appointed the Chief of the Bureau from August 1937 to February 1941. He appointed a Board to study the problem and to recommend changes as necessary to insure "the Bureau's ability to meet efficiently the increased demands and workload imposed by the accelerated shipbuilding program."4 As Senior Member of the Board, Captain D.I. Hedrick, USN, summarized the deficiencies in the existing organization as follows:
- Excessive number of sections, requiring the Bureau Chief to deal with too many people, often on similar problems.
- Several sections having cognizance of similar material competing with each other.
- Many instances of illogical assignment of ordnance equipment to sections often based on qualifications or capabilities of individual officers.
Captain Hedrick recommended the adoption of a proposal made by Captain W.H.P. Blandy, USN, a member of the Board, that the organization be changed form the vertical to the functional type, as used in many large industrial establishments. Such an organization had already been adopted by the Bureau of Ships. It was argued that an organization having a small number of divisions headed by experienced senior officers, would allow the Chief of the Bureau to delegate authority more fully and logically, thus relieving him of many details of administration, and giving him time for more important matters. Decentralization was to be carried even further down the line than to the Division Heads. The guiding principle for all Division, Section, and Subsection Chiefs was to be "Don't try to do it all yourself: organize, deputize, supervise."5
Just after the reorganization plan was adopted in February 1941, Blandy was named Chief of the Bureau, which gave him the opportunity of putting the new organization into effect. He served as Chief until December 1943, when he was assigned to an important command in the Pacific Fleet. After the war he became a four-star admiral in command of the
The management engineering firm of Booz, Fry, Allen, and Hamilton made a survey of the new organization in the spring of 1941 and in its report approved of what had been done.6 However, the need for a Planning and Progress Division had not been visualized. Such a Division was added in September 1941.
The chart, Figure 18, shows the organization as of 15 October 1944. The Bureau had actually been operating under this type of organization since September 1941. There were six divisions, each headed by a Director. Wide authority was delegated to the Division Heads, and their orders and directives were considered as emanating from the Chief. They were held responsible for coordinating their work with the other Bureaus and Offices of the Navy Department. Questions of Bureau policy were submitted for decision through the Assistant Chief to the Chief of the Bureau. It is clear that the new organization greatly decreased the number of executives reporting to the Chief. This, according to the Booz Report, was the "key to a properly functioning organization."7 With a few changes, the organization, as shown on the chart, was the one under which the Bureau of Ordnance operated throughout World War II.
The part that the bureaus and other units of the Navy Department played in the administration of the Navy Department in World War II has been broadly described in previous chapters. But, it will be helpful to recite briefly how BuOrd's tasks originated and the organizational procedures followed to carry them out. The Navy's ordnance needs derived from information received from a great variety of sources, but, broadly speaking, the Bureau's tasks were assigned to it by directives received from the Chief of Naval Operations. These directives stipulated what BuOrd was to supply and also the when and where of the delivery of ordnance material. The fashioning of such directives was, however, not a simple matter, as they could not be pulled out of thin air. In actual practice, a vast amount of study and planning by the Bureau in consultation with the General Board, other bureaus, and CNO planners was necessary before CNO was able to issue a directive. Often the Bureau was put in the position of drafting the salient features of a directive, then receiving it officially from the CNO.
Decisions as to what was needed or at least what was desired had their roots in considerations of various kinds. The devising of countermeasures
to meet new enemy weapons and combat tactics was perhaps the most urgent of the tasks assigned to the Bureau and normally received the highest priority for attention. The tasks will be briefly mentioned later on. The development of the proximity fuze will be used to illustrate how the Bureau's mission fitted into the administration of the Navy Department, but first a word as to how the Bureau's reconstructed organization functioned after the receipt of a directive.
The simplest directives were those stipulating the number of guns, their calibers, location, ammunition supply, type of fire control, etc., to be provided for newly authorized ships. Such directives went first to the Planning and Progress Division, where they were analyzed by the appropriate sections, to determine exact requirements. The Directive Section of that Division summarized the data and issued appropriate instructions to the Technical Divisions. Usually the ordnance installations on new ships had features requiring the preparation by the Research and Development Division of plans and specifications needed by the Production Division.
The Production Division had the responsibility for the procurement of the material either by contract with manufacturers or by production in Naval Ordnance Plant. That Division was responsible for the plans and specifications needed by the producing agency. In the case of highly specialized items such as rangefinders, directors, computers, etc., most of which were proprietary, the Bureau did not attempt to furnish detailed plans and specifications, but required the equipment to pass rigid performance tests. Frequently, contracts for sundry parts of an ordnance system were awarded by the Production Division to a number of different prime contractors.8
The Fleet Maintenance Division, also a technical division, was responsible for meeting the requirements of ships in commission for ordnance material of all kinds: such as spare parts, gun replacements, battle damage repairs, and ammunition. That Division was also responsible for shipping such material to the Fleet. In August 1944, this function was transferred to the Administrative Division.
The remaining two divisions, Administrative and Financial,were non-technical. The Administrative Division had cognizance over Bureau military and civilian personnel, and in collaboration with the Bureau of Yards and Docks, of the construction of ordnance shore establishments. Control passed to the appropriate technical division on completion of the establishment. It also prepared and distributed ordnance publications, e.g., Ordnance Pamphlets, Ordnance Data, Ordnance Technical Instructions, Circular Letters, blue prints.
The Financial Division handled the accounting of BuOrd expenditures. It was made a separate division even through a small one so as to give the Bureau the advantage of independent auditing of the Bureau's appropriations, obligated funds, balances available, etc. The other divisions, of course, were not completely divorced from financial matters, but the Financial Division maintained central accounting records available to the Chief of Bureau, SecNav, and Congress as needed.
A word about the Special Board on Naval Ordnance which was established in 1904. The Board was discontinued in the Blandy reorganization on the premise that its duties could be absorbed by the Research and Development Division. Slightly over a year later, however, it was reestablished and functioned throughout the rest of World War II. The Special Board, consisting of 2 to 5 senior officers, represented BuOrd at General Board meetings especially during absences of both the Chief and the Assistant Chief of the Bureau. It had no administrative duties, and was thus free to concentrate on technical matters, investigation of ordnance casualties, and broad "trouble-shooting" for the Chief of the Bureau.9
Under date of December 13, 1942, the Secretary of the Navy authorized the Bureaus to procure their own technical material, a practice that had been followed by the Bureau of Construction and Repair for many years in making contracts for ships and by the Bureau of Ordnance in contracting for armor plate projectiles and gun forgings. The directive also set up the Office of Counsel in the Bureaus to assist them in negotiating and processing contracts. The practice of employing lawyers in the Bureaus, for collaborating with the Judge Advocate General's Office in handling commercial legal matters, was not a new one, but the Secretary's directive broadened the practice when the Procurement Legal Division was established. The chapter in this work on the "Judge Advocate General" gives details on the functions assigned to the legal profession in the administration of the Navy Department during the war.
Officer Personnel. One of the knottiest administrative problems with which the Navy Department had to deal in World War II was the one of officer personnel procurement, training, and employment. The expansion of the officer strength of the Navy is covered in this work in the chapter on the "Bureau of Naval Personnel." There were, however, certain aspects of personnel administration peculiar to the Bureau of Ordnance, that merit additional mention.
All except two of the Bureaus of the Navy Department are manned predominately by officers of the various Staff Corps of the Navy, one of the two exceptions being the Bureau of Ordnance. It has always been a
cardinal tenet of naval ordnance policy that the Bureau and its field activities must be manned by Line Officers, if possible with ordnance Post Graduate Education or considerable gunnery experience in the Fleet. The basis for this policy is the belief that the men who use the weapons of warfare must also be given the authority and have the responsibility for designing and providing them. The policy has the added advantages that it provides a considerable number of shore billets for Line Officers when they are due for shore duty.
The policy has, however, certain well recognized disadvantages. Although practically all of the Line Officers who specialize in ordnance work receive postgraduate education to fit them for their duties and all devote much time to gunnery training at sea, they have neither the time nor the years of education in engineering and industrial management necessary to become specialists in the ordnance field in the sense that officers of the Staff Corps are specialists in their respective fields. Moreover,in time of war, the demand for the services of Line Officers for duties other than strictly ordnance work is so great and their desire to go to sea so strong that a great dearth results of officers capable of training and guiding the reserve officers recruited for ordnance work.
When an extensive increase in officer personnel for such duty became necessary, the responsibility for guiding and indoctrinating the newly appointed men fell largely upon a relatively small number of active and retired Line Officers having ordnance experience. Early in 1941, such officers in the Bureau consisted of 43 active and 22 retired Line Officers. A similar shortage existed in the Ordnance field activities. To remedy the situation, Admiral Blandy took steps to have 40 experienced ordnance officers detached from the Fleet and assigned to duty in the Bureau. As soon as the recruitment and training of Reserve Officers began to make itself felt, the complement of regular officers on duty in the Bureau was again reduced, and thereafter seldom exceeded 100.
Until August 1942, the Naval Personnel Section of the Bureau's Administrative Division was occupied principally in analyzing and reviewing the applications for commissions in the Naval Reserve of individuals desiring ordnance duty. These were being received by the Bureau of Personnel from the Naval Districts in great numbers. Many of the applications were the result of a campaign in 1941 conducted by the Navy Department to interest senior college students and the younger men in industry in the technical work of the Navy. However, not only engineers and technicians were needed for ordnance work but also business men, accountants, lawyers and specialists of many kinds. Instead of relying entirely on the Bureau of Personnel to fill its needs BuOrd, like the other bureaus, continued throughout the war to search for and find officers to do jobs requiring special qualifications.
When the Bureau of Personnel introduced business machine methods for recording the qualifications and experience of officers and for readily locating them in the files,the burden of the Bureau of Ordnance in finding individuals for its special jobs was greatly lightened. A description of the billet to be filled was sent to BuPers, which put the requirements through business machines, for sorting out the cards of individuals having qualifications to fill the position. The cards then went to BuOrd for further study, leading usually to personal interviews with the individuals.
After having solved the principal problems of officer procurement, the Personnel Section was able to give more time to officer training and to their more selective assignment to duty. On the eve of war on December 6, 1941, there were 309 officers on duty in the Bureau of Ordnance, 217 of whom were Reserve Officers.10
In training as in procurement there was an early period of urgency and makeshift which was followed later by more orderly procedures. During the fist half of 1942, many officers were commissioned and ordered directly to ordnance jobs without so much, as minimal indoctrination and training. The Production Division, especially, often had to bring in individuals on a contract basis pending commissioning. After being commissioned they performed the same job in uniform but without any indoctrination as officers.
A constant difficulty in the effective use of officers arose from the insistence of the Bureau of Personnel on standard and inflexible rotation rules. There were many cases in which this policy was a real detriment to the efficient performance of the ordnance work of the Navy, and to the morale of the individual officers in particular. For example, the plans for future operations in the Pacific involved the assembly of ordnance material of all kinds in staging areas. The personnel for operating such equipment were brought together in advance and were trained for the contemplated operations. Many of these offensives never came off. There were cases in which only one functional component was used out of the four or five that had been assembled. Thus, many young officers, who had spent a year or more in training for ordnance work, found themselves with little to do in the advanced areas.
BuOrd made urgent appeals to the Bureau of Personnel for the return to the
and the reassignment of specially trained and qualified officers to duty where they could be usefully employed but BuPers adhered to its policy of not changing the assignment of such officers until they had completed "a normal tour of duty in the advanced theaters."11 The same policy was followed when an officer was discovered with special United States
qualifications fitting him for ordnance duty but whose talents were largely wasted on his current assignment. Such experiences were, however, not unique to the Bureau of Ordnance. All other Bureaus had the same experience with BuPers.
Civilian Personnel. The increase in the number of civilians employed in the Bureau in
during the war was somewhat less than the increase in the number of officers. In 1940, about 70% of the Bureau personnel were civilians; by 1945, the percentage had dropped to 45. Even this, however, represented almost a five-fold expansion requiring a recruiting program and the establishment of a Civilian Personnel Section within the Administrative Division to handle a job that during peace times was handled by the Chief Clerk in addition to his other duties. At its peak, the new Section consisted of 4 Officers and 55 civilians. Washington
Early in the war a number of high level scientists, including Dr. Albert Einstein, were employed by the Bureau under personal service contracts. This proved a flexible and expeditious way of obtaining the part time services of outstanding men which could not have been obtained in any other way. But as time went on more experts became available through Civil Service as well as Naval Reserve channels and the number of personal service contracts dropped off sharply--from 120 in 1942, to 68 in 1943, and to 17 in 1944.12
Inspection of Ordnance Material. The specialized nature of guns and ammunition and the damage resulting from failure in service of weapons and deterioration of ammunition underlined from early times the importance of rigid inspection before service use. The commanding officers of warships in the old days had to test their own guns and to inspect the powder and shot as it came on board. This sufficed during the smooth-bore era, but growing demands made on the strength of guns, and on the stability of explosives and propellants carried in the magazines of ships, soon made more scientific inspection necessary.
The initial solution was the stationing of Naval Inspectors of Ordnance at the -plants of manufacturers of ordnance material. The NIO was, however, much more than an inspector. He was a vital link between the Bureau and the contractor. As Admiral Blandy put it, "A good inspector must combine the functions of confessor, adviser, stimulator, and if need be, a spur. In simple words, it is up to the inspector to put the Prod into Production."
All of the technical bureaus operated similar field inspection services. The offices were in effect extensions of the design divisions of the bureaus, and were called on constantly to advise the bureaus on the technological
aspects of the production of materials and equipment under their cognizance and for drawing up the specifications for such things. The steps taken early in the war to unify the inspection of service in the Navy Department and in the field and the procedures under which the unified service operated are given in Chapter XX "Industrial Mobilization and Material Procurement," and need not be repeated here. The Bureau of Ordnance however made a contribution to inspection procedures which deserves particular mention.
By 1941, the Bell Laboratories and other progressive industries were applying statistical techniques to obtain more economical control over production processes and hence over the quality of mass-produced material. These applications of mathematical statistics reduced production and inspection costs by revealing both actual and potential defects at an earlier point in the production process than was possible under the normal, long-established inspection procedures. At the same time, the Army at Aberdeen Proving Ground was applying similar statistical techniques to the analysis of quality information on War Reserve Ammunition. In this application, statistical methodology permitted extrapolation of data on small samples to indicate overall stockpile quality. In 1943, the Bureau of Ordnance established an Ammunition Quality Evaluation Unit (AQE)13 in its Research and Development Division.
The objectives of this Unit were at first directed at applying mathematical statistics to all phases of the life of ammunition, but its scope was soon broadened to include other objectives as follows:
- More economical and more effective design testing through statistically sound experiments.
- More precise and more meaningful inspection objectives through establishing ordnance classifications of defects.
- More economical and more effective control of production processes through application of quality control techniques.
- More economical and more effective techniques in both acceptance and surveillance inspection through use of statistically sound sampling.
- A more firm budget basis through sound estimates of future stockpile quality levels and hence of material replacement requirements.
In essence, the establishment of AQE recognized the fundamental that quality is a continuous function that is defined in certain parameters by
the design specifications, is established into reality by the production operation and subsequently is altered, in the case of ammunition especially, by the effects of time and physical conditions such as temperature, humidity, chemical activity, radiation, etc. The philosophy was particularly well adapted to the inspection of ordnance material because of the quantities in which most items were produced. The autonomy of the overall evaluation or quality control function was recognized when finally, in 1946, a Quality Control Division was established reporting directly to the Chief of the Bureau. This Division has been accepted as a leader by both military and industrial agencies in the development and extension of statistical techniques for the improvement of quality standards at all stages of development, procurement, and maintenance of ordnance material; its basic philosophy of continuity of the quality function has come to be known colloquially as the "womb-to-tomb" concept.
Naval Ordnance Development in World War II
The Bureau of Ordnance, perhaps more than any other technical bureau, has to keep before the Navy the cardinal importance of getting the most out of the old while the new was still in the process of development. This was particularly true of weapons. From the standpoint of training and morale, it would indeed have been dangerous for the rank and file to have assumed that they could not win with the weapons and equipment on hand. That was Admiral King's philosophy when he repeatedly expressed the credo, "Do the best you can with what you've got." This was his guiding principle in planning current operations.
However, in the councils of the Bureau planners, reflected in strategic planning all the way to the highest levels, it was necessary to be always on the alert for the possibilities of the new, whether about to go into service or still only a bright idea. The imagination to grasp the potentialities of weapons and devices that have not yet been tested in service and the courage to commit manpower and resources in great volume to their development is a gift of the few. It was a gift possessed in abundant measure by the wartime Chiefs of the Bureau of Ordnance.
A brief review of some of the achievements of the Bureau of Ordnance in the field of new weapons and in other branches of Naval Ordnance is in order. It does not, however, lie within the province of this work to describe in detail all of the tasks of the Bureau in carrying out its mission. A detailed history of the Bureau's activities during the war will be found in the works referenced in the footnotes and in the bibliography listed in the appendix at the end of this book.
Weapons and Countermeasures. The strength of the Bureau system lies in its adaptability to the coordination for the common good of the myriad activities involved in producing and operating a Navy. In no branch of the administration of the Navy Department was this of greater importance than in the joint task of the Bureau of Ordnance and the Bureau of Construction and Repair in providing and installing ordnance and equipment on ships and in developing effective countermeasures against new weapons and new enemy tactics.
The Bureau system was actually adopted before the race between weapons and weapon countermeasures became acute. It was, however, foreshadowed in the first frigates built for the U.S. Navy in the 1790's when their designer Joshua Humphreys, in order to keep out the round shot of that day, gave them thicker sides than was the British practice. The ability of the USS Constitution to withstand gunfire directed at her hull was so noteworthy that she became known as "OLD IRONSIDES."
It became the basic policy when new weapons began to appear, to assign the design, development, and procurement of countermeasures to the Bureau of Construction and Repair (later the Bureau of Ships), on the sound principle that the weapon producing bureau staffed by officers who also used the weapons should be in position to freely criticize and evaluate without bias, the adequacy of the countermeasures being provided. The weapon producing bureau was more likely to perform this function satisfactorily if it was not charged with the design and production of the countermeasures. The arrangement also left the shipbuilding bureau with the clear-cut responsibility for insuring that the strength and stability of ships were not impaired by the ordnance installations and by countermeasures.
Oddly enough, however, this principle, though consistently observed, in other respects was not followed in the development of one of the first countermeasures to become important; i.e., the use of armor to protect capital ships against gunfire.
The cognizance of armor when it was adopted as a countermeasure to gunfire in [the] 1880's was assigned to the Bureau of Ordnance (with the exception eventually of special treatment steel, a type of armor, serving also structural purposes). The policy came up for reconsideration many times over the years, and came up again in 1940 as part of a plan to improve the administration of the Navy Department by merging the Bureaus of Construction and Repair, and Engineering, to form the Bureau of Ships. The Secretary of the Navy, Charles Edison, proposed to assign to the Bureau of Ships "all matters relating to such armor, ballistic steel, special treatment steel, etc., as form part of the hull structure of naval vessels, or are rigidly attached thereto;" the Bureau of Ordnance, was however, to be
left with the responsibility for testing the armor.14 President Roosevelt was not prepared to go that far and felt that opposition from vested interests might, if the transfer of armor to the Bureau of Ships were pressed, jeopardize the merger of the two Bureaus, as he believed strongly in the merger.
Armor and Major Caliber Guns. The principal difficulties that BuOrd had to overcome in the procurement of Class A armor during the war arose from the fact that the technology of its manufacture had fallen into disuse as practically no such armor was produced after the Washington Limitation Treaty in 1922, and the fact that the plants capable of making heavy armor were limited. Only three companies, Carnegie-Illinois, Bethlehem Steel, and Midvale had facilities for making armor but were loath to resume its manufacture because, for one thing, there were very few artisans left who were skilled in armor-making. The manufacturers for some time would have been glad to scrap their armor-making plants and to devote the space to the manufacture of commercial steels. They were kept from doing so at the urgent solicitation of the Bureau and the Navy Department. During the peace period, they were also being harassed by certain politicians and the pacifists for being "merchants of death." They sometimes would have been glad to scrap their armor-making plants. The profit limiting clauses of the Vinson-Trammell Act also made the manufacture of armor unattractive. The principal obstacles to the production of armor were finally cleared away and by the early part of 1941 some $300 million had been obligated to expand private armor-making facilities and to rehabilitate the armor side of the Navy-owned South Charleston Plant and to stimulate production by tax amortization. That part of the South Charleston Plant was turned over to the Carnegie-Illinois Co. for joint operation with their Homestead Plant.
The production of major caliber guns was not quite so difficult because there were some commercial uses for the equipment needed to produce the forgings and to do the machining on such guns. The urge for private enterprise during the peace period to do away with such facilities was therefore not so great as in the case of armor.
Ammunition. The term ammunition in its broadest sense connotes the projectiles such as bullets, shells, grenades, depth charges, bombs, rockets, etc. thrown at the enemy; the propellants for throwing them such as powder of various kinds; and of explosives such as TNT, gun cotton, and other chemical compounds with their detonators and fuzes that constitute the bursting charges of projectiles. The Bureau of Ordnance has cognizance of all such ordnance material. Also included are cartridge cases,
It is a long step from the first black powder to the propellants and explosives used in World War II. The developments in this field had their roots in many considerations: in the desire for greater stability of ammunition stored ashore and in ship's magazines; reduction in manufacturing hazards; relative smokelessness as compared to black powder; but most all, in the case of explosives, in the desire for greater destructiveness on less weight and volume. Plain black powder continued however to have certain advantages as the igniting agent to prod modern propellants into action and even as the actual propellant for use in depth charge projectors, torpedo tubes, and in rockets.
Although much of the research leading to ammunition development was done by private industry, Indian Head became the center around which such work revolved. The Du Pont Company had been the principal manufacturer of powder for military purposes in the early days, but even in World War I the Navy had only three sources of supply for propellants: the Naval Powder Factory; the Picatinny Arsenal, operated by the Army Ordnance Department; and the Carney's Point, N.J., plant of the Du Pont Company. During the peace period following World War I, the Army-Navy Munitions Board, described elsewhere in this work, divided the responsibility for powder procurement between the War and Navy Departments with the Bureau of Ordnance having the responsibility for the Navy's part of the task. In order to keep the Navy Department in touch with developmental and manufacturing processes, the Bureau of Ordnance was permitted to place small orders for various explosives with commercial manufacturers. In certain cases, where the Bureau of Ordnance had pioneered a development such as aluminum powder, it also assumed the procurement role.
The Army-Navy Munitions Board compiled the requirements of both services for powder (smokeless) and explosives, and finding that they were far beyond the existing capacity of the country, assigned responsibility for planning and production to the Army, except for production from Navy-owned facilities. Army Ordnance did the planning under its Philadelphia Ordnance District with personnel assigned at Du Pont's Carney's Point Plant and in
. Funds were secured for some of the most critical plant equipment. Basically these plans provided the smokeless powder and initial explosive requirements of both services. New requirements were met by expanding existing plants or building new ones. All were contractor operated under the Army. Wilmington
Flashless powder was a type of propellant that had to be provided early in World War II because of the many night actions that were being
fought in the Pacific. Flashlessness was a characteristic needed not so much to conceal the position of firing ships from the enemy as it was to avoid blinding the ships' crews, even though only temporarily, during firing runs. Work on such a powder was started right after World War I, but was discontinued because flashlessness was accompanied by an increase in the amount of smoke produced, then unacceptable to the Fleet because it interfered with searchlight illumination and fire control. With the advent of radar, both objections became less important. In December 1942, the Bureau requested the National Defense Research Committee to undertake the development of flashless powder which was successfully accomplished in a comparatively short time.
The major problem connected with the introduction of rockets was the development and production of the powder to propel them. Here again, the Bureau of Ordnance, with the help of NDRC, played the major role in development and production. As soon as rockets had proved their value in amphibious operations, the demand from both land and sea forces skyrocketed. By the summer of 1945, rocket powder plants were in operation, capable of producing 18 million pounds of such powder a month.
The improvement of explosives, as distinguished from propellants, was another facet of the ammunition production task of the Bureau. Explosives are used principally in torpedoes, depth charges, mines, and other underwater weapons, in aerial bombs, and in projectiles as bursting charges. TNT became the standard explosive in World War I,but the Bureau shared the desire of the combat forces for a more powerful material. The explosive power of RDX, a compound in the manufacture of which formaldehyde, ammonia, and nitric acid are used was well known but it had two defects; it was extremely sensitive and was very costly to produce. The British solved the major portion of the first defect by adding to it beeswax, plasticizing oils, and TNT, thereby reducing its sensitivity sufficiently to permit its use in weapons. Reducing the cost through better manufacturing techniques was tackled by the NDRC who soon found a solution, with the result that RDX became a practicable ingredient of Torpex, the other two principal ingredients of Torpex being TNT and aluminum powder. On a weight basis, 100 pounds of Torpex produce the same underwater damage as 150 pounds of TNT. On a volume basis, the ratio is 170 to 100 in favor or Torpex.
Projectiles. The story of the Naval projectile is a long one,with the emphasis as to its most important characteristics shifting back and forth over the years. In the early days, the emphasis lay on the development of a projectile (shot, as it was then called) capable of piercing the sides and destroying the masts and spars of wooden ships. Then, in the appearance of shells containing bursting charges, invented by General Paixhans of the French Army in 1822, capable of tearing great holes along the water line
of wooden ships, it became necessary to fit armor to the sides and decks of ships. This led to the development of armor-piercing projectiles. In World War II the emphasis was again reversed, because naval ordnance found its greatest use in bombarding shore positions, in destroying unarmored ships, and for defense against airplanes. Thin-walled projectiles with heavy explosive charges to produce effective patterns of lethal fragments were found best suited to such purposes. This type became known as the HC (high capacity) shell and was produced in addition to armor-piercing projectiles in all calibers from 3 to 16 inches, but the 5-inch Common and Antiaircraft and the 3-inch AA were not designated HC, as they were inherently high capacity types. Very few 5"/38 Common were used--most were AA/Common, having base fuzes actuated on impact, and mechanical time fuzes with auxiliary detonating fuzes in the nose.
In addition to AP, HC, and common ammunition, the Bureau had to supply the fleet, the training activities,and the proving grounds with a variety of projectiles designed for particular purposes. The most important of these was the 5-inch Star Shell for illuminating enemy targets and installations at night.
The consumption of projectiles during World War II was enormous and beyond anything that could have been visualized before the war. Some 30,000 rounds of high capacity ammunition were fired by Naval ships during the invasion of Kwajalein in January 1944 at a cost of about $10 million, but the price was cheap as the personnel losses were only one-twelfth of those at Tarawa, a comparable amphibious operations. Six months later at Saipan, more than 138,000 rounds were fired, at Iwo Jima in February 1945 almost 182,000 rounds were used, and during the
Okinawaoperation in April 145 some 505,000 rounds were fired in providing Naval gunfire support for the assault.15
Between the operations at Tarawa and Kwajalein, a detailed study of Japanese fortifications on
Tarawawas made by officers flown from the Bureau to obtain data for determining the best combinations of projectile and fuze to overmatch Japanese methods. It was the effectiveness of these combinations that made the big difference in the losses.
Mines and Mine Countermeasures. The mine became a potent weapon in naval warfare during the Civil War, but had been used in crude form long before that. It has never been considered an entirely respectable weapon because it accomplishes its ends by stealth, by lying in wait for its prey, and does not distinguish between friend and foe. Its purpose is to do such damage to the underwater hull of ships as to cause them to sink or capsize by destroying their buoyancy and stability. The role of the mine
has been less spectacular that that of the gun or the torpedo, but in World War II the damage done to ships by mines was greater than by either gunfire or torpedoes. More losses of ships and men were, for example, caused by German mines during the invasion of
in June 1944 than by all other weapons combined. France
On the other hand, British mines in World War II sank approximately 1,050 Axis warships and merchantmen and the intensive American Mining Offense in Japanese home waters initiated in the spring of 1945 virtually brought merchant shipping to and from the islands to a standstill. Prince Konoye, a former Japanese Prime Minister, stated after the war that mines were as devastating in their effect as the bombing and incendiary raids in the last few months of the war.16 It is easy to see why minesweeping and other mine countermeasures have become so important in modern sea warfare.
The Bureau of Construction and Repair (later the Bureau of Ships) had cognizance of mine countermeasures and worked closely with the Bureau of Ordnance in this field. Up to World War II, mine countermeasures consisted of providing gear and procedures for sweeping contact mines floating near the surface. Promptly on the outbreak of the war in Europe on September 1, 1939, the Germans began to lay influence mines, not susceptible to such sweeping, in the channels to the ports of the
. Information was received from the British Admiralty within a few weeks that the new mine responded to the distortion of the earth's magnetic field surrounding the mine caused by the passage of a ship close by. United Kingdom
Degaussing was adopted by the Bureau of Construction and Repair as a countermeasure after consultation with the Bureau of Ordnance as to the requirements to be met. A strong electric current generated on board the ship was passed through coils of electric cable wrapped around the ship to neutralize the normal field produced by the ship. This resulted in failure of the detonating mechanism of the mine to function. The Nazis introduced a number of variants in influence mine construction and functioning; the most difficult one for the Bureau of Construction and Repair to meet being the pressure mine.
The British developed, and both the Royal Navy and the U.S. Navy used, magnetic sweeps against influence mines.
At the same time that the mine countermeasure work was being done jointly by the Bureaus, the improvement and production of mines by BuOrd for an offensive mine campaign in Japanese home waters was being carried forward. That campaign was slated originally to be a purely defensive
one, but emerged as a powerful offensive undertaking. Through Army-Navy cooperation and inter-Allied coordination, planned by the Bureau of Ordnance, mines were to be used to form a cordon around the heart of the Japanese Empire. Most of the mines were laid by aircraft of the Army Air Force. The handling of the program from its inception to its termination on V-J Day was an example of the first magnitude of efficient Navy Department administration. The minelaying campaign sank or damaged nearly two million tons of shipping; approximately one-fourth of the pre-war strength of the Japanese merchant marine. Warship casualties included two battleships, two escort carriers, eight cruisers, 46 destroyers and destroyer escorts, 7 submarines, and 81 other naval vessels. Of the more than one million tons of ships damaged by mines, an estimated 25 percent might as well have been sunk, because the facilities of the Japanese repair yards were inadequate to restore them to service.17
Gunnery and Fire Control. Gunnery and fire control gradually became full-fledged naval sciences after the reasons for the poor shooting of the American ships, and the even worse gunnery of the Spanish ships at the Battle of Santiago on July 3, 1898, had been studied and analyzed. Gunnery during the sail-powered wooden ship era had been a matter of fighting at point-blank ranges or with the ships lying yardarm to yardarm and firing into each other with practically touching gun muzzles. Ranges began to increase with improvements in guns and ammunition, but the ability to hit the target decreased because the determination of exact ranges grew ever more difficult as distances increased. Pointing the guns so as to make hits also became more difficult with increasing speed and as the maneuverability of ships became greater.18
The development of optical range finders of greater precision and suitable for measuring longer distances was the first step in improving gunnery. The greatest development in this field took place in Europe, although fairly good optical range finders were manufactured in the
even before World War I. The application of electronics to range finding followed eventually and became one of the major research and development projects of the Naval Research Laboratory during the 1930 decade. United States
Determining the range of the target is, however, only the beginning of fire control. In fact, the more accurate the range the greater the certainty
of missing the target if the laying of the guns fails to take account of the many variables that effect the theoretical flight of the projectile, such as the condition and temperature of the propellant, the condition of the rifling of the gun, the state of the atmosphere, but most of all, the speed and course of the target with respect to the speed and course of the firing ship. The normal naval battle before the advent of Naval Aviation was between ships that were underway, with the range changing continuously. Gun pointers had to be kept informed constantly of changes in range. This was accomplished at first by plotting continuously the estimated position of the enemy ship and of the firing ship. This information was transmitted to the guns in various ways.
The British took the lead in developing mechanical gun directors for integrating continuously all data needed to point the guns for making hits on the target. These developments were made by the Vickers Corporation for the Admiralty. The Bureau of Ordnance and gunnery officers in the Fleet began to study the entire subject intensively, with the result that directors ultimately became the standard equipment for all guns. In their simplest form, they constituted a master sight for the guns under their control; in later models they were complete fire control systems embodying the functions of all of the instruments needed to compute and transmit gun orders and for moving the guns in train and elevation. They proved particularly valuable for firing the guns of any particular caliber in salvo. The British Vickers system was used in the U.S. Navy for secondary batteries in World War I, but we went to the American types soon thereafter.
The development of ordnance material is normally an exclusively naval problem as there is seldom a commercial demand for such material to stimulate invention. This was particularly true of fire and gun control equipment. In some cases, the Bureau of Ordnance gave qualified private inventors the data for working on the problems. In other cases, employees of the Navy Department, both civilian and in uniform, did the research and development work. Private companies then produced the instruments and equipment. Some quite unforeseen commercial uses sprang from mechanisms designed for ordnance work. An interesting example is the gear for controlling the speed of rotation of turrets with great refinement; much greater than needed by industry at the time. This speed gear eventually became the basis as the substitute for the clutch in one make of automobile.
Torpedoes. The history of the administration of the Navy Department would not be complete without mention of the widespread criticism of the torpedoes furnished the Navy by the Bureau of Ordnance during the early years of the war. Torpedoes are the vehicle for carrying explosive
charges into contact with the underwater hull of ships and there detonating the charges in order to destroy the buoyancy and stability of the ship. They are the principal weapon of submarines and form part also of the ordnance of certain types of surface ships and aircraft. Many years of research and development in Europe as well as in the
were necessary before a reasonably reliable torpedo was produced. The development was largely the work of civilian inventors and manufacturers, in which the Bureau of Ordnance in the United States played the important role of deciding on characteristics and in testing and evaluating the improved models that were produced from time to time. The Torpedo Station, United States , was established by the Bureau of Ordnance for this purpose, and eventually entered into the manufacture of torpedoes on a large scale. It occupied about the same place in torpedo development and production. Newport, Rhode Island
World War II provided the first opportunity for American submarines to use the torpedo in combat with the enemy. Almost immediately the distressing discovery was made that the torpedoes furnished them were unreliable and their performance unpredictable.
Taking into consideration the risks and discomforts of submarine duty in general, the hazards in getting the submarine into firing position, and the dangers in getting away from the scene after the submarine had revealed its presence by an attack, it is not surprising that the submarine forces complained bitterly and vociferously about the quality of the torpedoes furnished them. It is certain that the Bureau of Ordnance felt the humiliation of the situation as keenly as anyone in the Navy.
The criticisms fell mainly under three heads: Deep-running or broaching (unreliable depth control); premature explosions or duds (unreliable firing mechanisms); and low order explosions that failed to cause lethal damage to enemy ships.
The finger of responsibility could not, however, be pointed in only one direction. The economy that had to be practiced during the peace period was basically responsible. Actual testing to destruction of live torpedoes was indicated, but was costly because torpedoes are very expensive. Depth control data, and other running characteristics and the reaction of the firing mechanism to impact were tested, partly in the laboratory and partly on the test range, by using dummy warheads and firing the torpedo through submerged nets.
One basic reason for not making the tests with live torpedoes was perhaps the pressure from the civilian employees of the Torpedo Station and from the commercial and political interests in the vicinity of Newport to spend available funds on keeping as large a force as possible employed at the Torpedo Station, instead of spending the money on testing torpedoes to destruction.
Exaggerated emphasis on secrecy played a part in the failure to produce a satisfactory magnetic exploder for torpedoes. This type, when functioning properly, has advantages over the contact-type, because a near hit such as a torpedo running under the bottom of the ship is as good as a direct hit. Work on influence exploder was started in 1926, but was kept a profound secret even after it had been as it seemed successfully tested. The exploder was not issued to submarines until about a year before
Pearl Harbor, which meant that submarine personnel had little time to become familiar with its operation and maintenance. It was soon found that the magnetic device sometimes caused premature explosions, and at other times failed to explode even when a direct hit was made. Such experiences undermined the confidence of the Fleet in the reliability of the exploder, with the result that inactivation of the influence feature of the Exploder Mark 6 became a practice on many submarines in the Pacific. Admiral Nimitz, on July 24, 1943, ordered the inactivation of magnetic exploders for all submarines and destroyers in his command.19
Admiral Blandy did not attempt to justify or hide the failure to produce high quality torpedoes. He addressed the Torpedo Station on the subject in these words:
"Even with the relatively meager funds available in time of peace, much of the work now being done after more than a year and a half of war, could and should have been accomplished years ago. . . . That the work was not accomplished during peace or earlier during this war or, so far as the Bureau's records disclose, that no one either in the Bureau or at Newport apparently questioned the inadequacy of the design without such tests, shows a lack of practical appreciation of the problems involved which is incompatible with the Bureau's high standards, and reflects discredit upon both the Bureau of Ordnance and the Naval Torpedo Station. The Chief of the Bureau therefore directs that as a matter of permanent policy, no service torpedo device ever be adopted as standard until it has been tested under conditions simulating as nearly as possible those which will be encountered in battle.20
Interest in an electrically-propelled torpedo went back to World War I, when the Germans brought out a reasonably satisfactory torpedo of that type. The Bureau of Ordnance started research and development work on the type, which reached the test stage in 1928. Unfortunately, the torpedo was lost on the range and not recovered for two years. The project was shelved in 1931, and not taken up again until the difficulties with the standard torpedo arose. The NDRC was then requested to take up research and development work on the torpedo. By coordinating the efforts of several companies, a successful model was produced by the summer of 1943. Of the torpedoes fired by submarines during the closing months of the war, more than sixty percent were electrically-propelled.
Improvements in torpedoes dropped from aircraft, both for attack on
submarines and on surface ships, were also undertaken by the NDRC at the request of the Bureau of Ordnance. The aerial torpedo with which the
entered World War II had to be launched form an altitude not exceeding 60 feet and at the low air speed of 115 knots. These limitations made the torpedo planes an easy target for enemy antiaircraft fire. By the middle of the war, the aerial torpedo had been improved to the point where it could be dropped from an elevation of 800 feet, at 300 knots. The Bureau began Fleet issue of this vastly improved weapon in the fall of 1944, and before the end of World War II the torpedo was universally acknowledged to be the best aircraft torpedo in use by any nation.21 United States
It had been argued, particularly by the Torpedo Station at
, that making torpedoes was a craftsman's art, that such weapons had to be practically bench-made, and that they could not be mass-produced like other ordnance items. The Bureau of Ordnance, however, took a different view.It was felt that any such concept could not produce the number of torpedoes that would be needed to fight the war. The first step was to reopen the Torpedo Station at Newport , followed by the awarding of contracts to several manufacturers who could quickly apply mass production methods to the task. From January 1, 1939 to June 1, 1946, 57,653 torpedoes were produced by the Bureau of Ordnance for the U.S. Navy at a cost of almost $700 million, including the cost of expanding facilities.22. Alexandria, Virginia
Guns. When World War II broke out, the Navy had the finest shipborne artillery of any Navy in the world. Some important decisions had, however, still to be made as to the best characteristics of antiaircraft weapons. Lessons learned form the Spanish Civil War and the experience of the Royal Navy in air defense dispelled much of the uncertainty that had prevailed.
The steps taken to provide more effective fire power against aircraft will be recited presently, but first a word as to the Navy's surface guns. At the time of Pearl Harbor, the guns installed on ships ranged from the 16"/45 guns installed in the turrets of the latest battleships to the 3"/50 caliber double-purpose guns of small combatant and merchant ships. Between these two lay the 14- and 16-inch guns of the older battleships, the 6- and 8-inch guns constituting the main batteries of light and heavy cruisers respectively, and the 5"/38 caliber guns that formed the secondary and antiaircraft batteries of capital ships and heavy cruisers, and the main battery of aircraft carriers, destroyers, submarines, large merchant ships, and various auxiliary types. The [5"/38] caliber gun, after the introduction of the VT fuze, became one of the Navy's most effective antiaircraft weapons during the last years of the war.
The improvements in Naval ordnance brought about by the Bureau were such that, by the early 1930's, battleships were able to fire 14- and 16-inch projectiles effectively at unseen, maneuvering targets at ranges of more than 15 miles, in salvos from 8 to 12 guns remotely controlled and fired from a single firing key. The range and destructiveness of 8-inch guns was not so great, but the rate of fire was much greater. By the late 30's, improvements in accuracy, smaller pattern size, better rangefinding, increased rates of fire, and many fire control refinements had been made which tended generally to solve a variety of ballistic problems by
more fully automatic processes. The impact of these improvements was particularly great on the 5"/38 caliber gun. The cost of the improvements during the early 30's was defrayed largely from National Industrial Recovery Act appropriations.
During the inter-war period, the Naval Gun Factory was the Navy Department's chief manufacturing source for guns, mounts, and some of the related equipment, but it was realized that in the event of war the Gun Factory would lack the capacity to fill the vastly augmented demands of an enlarged Navy. A survey of the potentialities of American industry to produce the guns, mounts, and related equipment that would be needed was started in1937 and became the basis for an extensive expansion program. Although little could be done at the time because of limited funds, the survey enabled the Bureau to move promptly when appropriations became available in the summer of 1940.
The first expenditures went into the expansion of facilities at the Naval Gun Factory. Naval Ordnance Plants were started at the same time in other communities as already mentioned. To make full use of the new plants, provision had to be made to keep them supplied with forgings as forgings were the basic component of all naval guns, in fact, the bottleneck of gun production. The Bureau therefore, with Government funds, sponsored the expansion of the forging and heavy machinery capacities of such companies as Midvale,
, Erie Forge, Camden Forge, American Locomotive, and Allis-Chalmers. The Bureau managed the expansion so successfully that it was able also to take care of the forgings for the shafting and turbine rotors needed by the Bureau of Ships and the Maritime Commission. By the middle of 1941 the Bureau was able to meet schedules for all of these forging requirements. Bethlehem
The history and statistics of gun procurement need not be recited here but will be briefly mentioned for the 5"/38 double-purpose gun, as it played an outstandingly important role during the war. The gun was developed by the Bureau in the early 1930's. The first installation was in a single open type mount on the Farragut class destroyers in 1934. A closed or turret mount--single purpose--was developed three years later. Work on the 5"/38 twin double purpose mount was started in 1936. By 1940 production was underway.
The gun had a range of 10 miles with a firing rate of 12 to 15 rounds a minute. What was more important according to Admiral Hussey was that "we had it years before . . . actual hostilities . . . when there was ample time to prove its potentialities, to eliminate any bugs that might show up, to incorporate new techniques of fire control and to prepare tooling facilities for manufacture . . ."
During the 5 years from 1940 to V-J- Day, the Bureau procured over
8,000 5"/38 complete guns and mounts at a cost of about $800,000,000. The ammunition for these guns added another half billion dollars to that amount. The brunt of production was carried by contractors such as Northern Ordnance Co., Goss Printing Press, Miehle Printing Press, General Electric, Herring-Hall-Marvin Safe Co., Fisher Body, and other companies. A vast amount of the work was done by sub-contractors. Improvements were constantly made in minor details as well as in production techniques, but there was no radical departure from the characteristics of this and other calibers with which the Navy entered the war except in the small caliber antiaircraft guns. A new 12-inch gun was developed for the main battery of the
class of battle cruisers. There was, however, much modernizing of turrets, gun mounts, fire control, and other ordnance equipment of the older ships. Alaska
The development of more effective antiaircraft weapons was another matter. The problem of defense against aircraft had perhaps not received the critical attention during the peace period that it merited. At the beginning of the national emergency, the 1.1", .50 and .30 caliber machine guns comprised the Navy's principal close-in protection against low-flying aircraft and dive bombers. The Antiaircraft Defense Board, which was set up by the Chief of Naval Operations on August 9, 1940, declared on December 26, 1940 that ". . . the lack of adequate close range antiaircraft gun defense of existing ships of the Fleet constitutes the most serious weakness in the readiness of the Navy for war."
The size and nature of the task to bring about the improvements to correct this weakness can best be visualized at the outset by a few statistics. The largest expenditure of the Bureau of Ordnance for a specific purpose was for the defense of ships against aircraft. From 1 July 1940 through 31 August 1945, more than $1 billion dollars was spent for antiaircraft guns and in excess of $1.6 billion for ammunition for such guns. If the cost of the 5" double purpose guns and their ammunition is included, which played such an important role after the introduction of the VT fuze, the figures become (including also the 3" double purpose guns) $2.1 billion and $2.2 respectively; a total of some $4.3 billion and about 25% of the Bureau's entire expenditures during that period.23
The improvements in close-in antiaircraft defense centered around the introduction of two guns that were new to American naval ordnance. Both were of European origin: the Oerlikon 20mm gun developed in
Switzerland; and the Bofors 40mm gun, which originated in the Krupp works in shortly after the end of World War I and eventually found its way into Swedish hands. Germany
The Oerlikon 20mm fired an explosive bullet weighing two and a half times as much as the .50 caliber bullet and at a rate of 450 rounds per minute. It was adopted by the British Navy in 1937 for installation on minesweepers and other light craft as it was easy to maintain and operate. An American firm was organized in October 1940 to build the gun for the British, but legal difficulties arose which could be largely circumvented if the gun were used also by the military forces of the
. The British then pointed out to the Bureau of Ordnance the advantages in adopting the gun for the United States Navy. Tests indicated that the gun did, in fact, have superior characteristics to the .50 caliber gun. Passage of the Lend-Lease Act in March 1941 removed the shipment restrictions to the allied countries. The Bureau signed a licensing agreement with agents of the Swiss company on March 8, 1941. Letters of intent were placed promptly with a number of large manufacturers and the first gun was test fired on June 8, 1941, 2 months before the execution of formal contracts. United States
The adoption of the Bofors 40mm gun followed a somewhat different pattern. Admiral Furlong became interested in the gun in the fall of 1939. So also did the York Safe & Lock Co. of York,
A representative of that company was to leave Pa. New Yorkfor Swedenin April 1940 to start negotiations for American Manufacturing rights when the Nazi invasion of made it necessary to abandon the visit. Negotiations for a sample gun and for the purchase of manufacturing rights were then carried on through the American Naval Attaché in Norway . A sample gun was tested at Dahlgren on September 28, 1940, which led to the adoption of the gun. Ammunition for the gun consisted of a 4.8 pound cartridge carrying a projectile weighing slightly less than 2 pounds; four cartridges were loaded to a clip. Stockholm
The programs for the production of these two guns in the large numbers that were needed were beset with more than the usual difficulties encountered in weapon production. The drawings furnished by the European manufacturers were on the metric system and had to be converted to English units, interchangeability of ammunition and gun parts with the Army and the British was of the greatest importance, the accuracy required did not lend itself readily to mass production, changes had to be made in gun director and fire control arrangements. Bottlenecks arose, especially in power drives for the Bofors gun.
The guns, especially the Bofors gun, were a great improvement over the antiaircraft weapons on
United Statesships when the war broke out in Europe.
The Proximity Fuze. Next to the atomic bomb, the proximity fuze represented in many respects the outstanding new weapon development of World War II. As a factor in winning the war, it played a highly important
role because the defense of ships against air attack had become a major problem in naval warfare. The proximity fuze contributed, perhaps more than any other single weapon, to the solution of this particular problem, although many other measures besides weapons were necessary to prevent or to minimize the effect of bombing from the air.
Fuzes are devices for detonating the bursting charges carried in projectiles, torpedoes, mines, etc. For projectiles they had been of two principal types: Percussion fuzes that functioned on impact; and Time fuzes, that were armed just before the projectile was fired with a setting to detonate when the estimated time of flight to the target had elapsed. Combinations of the two types had also been developed, permitting a shell, for example, to pass through armor before exploding on the other side.
When the airplane carrying bombs and torpedoes for attacking ships became a serious menace, improving the antiaircraft gunnery of ships became an urgent necessity. Antiaircraft guns of various calibers up to 40-mm for close-in defense against enemy planes had been developed and proved fairly satisfactory for short ranges, but the number of such guns that could be mounted on even the largest ships was limited and the time that the airplane was exposed to their fire was very short. A gun and its projectile were needed to destroy the airplane at longer ranges than could be reached by the small caliber guns.
The 5"/38 caliber double purpose gun was well suited to the purpose if a fuze could be devised which would cause the shell to explode when in close proximity to the airplane without having to make an actual direct hit. Calculations and tests showed that the lethal fragmentation pattern of a 5" shell fired against aircraft covered an area of about 3,000 square feet. If a shell could be exploded within 60 or even 70 feet of the airplane, such a pattern of lethal fragments would result, through which the airplane would have to pass. On the other hand, if a direct hit was needed to cause the shell to explode, the danger area in which the airplane would find itself would be only about 60 square feet. That was the danger area for direct hitting, whether the projectile was large or small, admittedly, however the higher rate of fire of the latter increased its chance of making direct hits. Another way of putting it is that an airplane is up to a 50-times-larger target when attacked by a proximity fuzed shell than when attacked by a contact fuzed shell.
The improvement of fuzes for projectiles, especially the development of a proximity fuze, had therefore become a field of major interest to military inventors all over the world. The Bureau of Ordnance had long recognized that in a reliable proximity fuze lay the hope of augmenting greatly the defense powers of ships against hostile aircraft, and that such a fuze was needed to fully exploit the advances in gunnery that were being made
through improvements in fire control and range finding by electronic methods. The Bureau had during the late 30's been exploring the current idea on the subject, but little progress had been made, as the problem was beset by more than the usual difficulties confronting the development of new weapons.
When, as described in the chapter on "Research and Development," the National Defense Research Committee for the mobilization of civilian scientists was set up early in the summer of 1940, the development of a proximity fuze was promptly taken up by the Bureau with that Committee. On August 12, 1940, a request was made on the NDRC to develop such a fuze, but no specific approach to the problem was stipulated. Infrared, acoustic, magnetic, photoelectric, and radar techniques were all to be considered as possibilities worth investigating.
On August 17, 1940, a new section designated Section T was created in the NDRC to handle the project, with Dr. M.A. Tuve of the Carnegie Institution of Washington as its Chairman.24 A few months later the Bureau of Standards was brought into the project and both organizations for a time conducted parallel research on the broad subject of proximity fuzes. The project was, however, soon split up, with the NDRC working on projectile proximity fuzes, and the Bureau of Standards concentrating on nonrotating applications of influence devices.
A tremendous amount of research and exploratory work was done during the following months. Information was furnished the Bureau and the NDRC by the British technical mission, headed by Sir Henry Tizard, which visited the
United Statesin 1940, as to the status of proximity fuzes in . After weighing the advantages and disadvantages of the various possible types, the decision was made to develop a fuze operating on electronic principles. Great Britain
The designation VT was given the fuze, the letters standing for "variable time." There was no particular reason for this name except that some designation was necessary that would not too openly reveal the principles on which it operated. The VT fuze consisted of four principal parts: A radio frequency oscillator and receiver, and amplifier and thyratron tubes, a battery, and an explosive train incorporating vital safety features. The oscillator sent out a continuous pattern of waves which were reflected back to the oscillator by any target giving a radio reflection. As the projectile approached the target the signals came back with increasing strength finally coming in with such intensity that when the projectile
The principal difficulties that had to be overcome in the design, development, and production of the VT fuze were: It had to withstand the enormous accelerating force of 20,000 g when fired, followed by a centrifugal force caused by about 500 rotations per second during flight. It had to be light, immune to countermeasures, absolutely safe in storage and during transportation, operable regardless of weather conditions, and capable of mass production of unprecedented proportions. None of its components were obtainable in the market in the sizes, quantity, and of the ruggedness essential to the design. The maximum space in the shell that could be devoted to the entire fuze was about the size of a half-pint milk bottle.
It is appropriate to return now to certain aspects of the administration of the VT fuze program. When the Office of Scientific Research and Development was created in the early summer of 1941 to take over general administration of the NDRC and the newly established Medical Research Committee, Dr. Bush was stepped up from Chairman of the NDRC to Director of the OSRD. One of his first acts was to remove Section T from the NDRC and to take it under his personal wing in the interests of speeding up the work. This in no way diminished Dr. Tuve's authority and responsibility in directing the research and development of the project; in fact, his responsibilities increased as time went on.
In March 1942,
was brought into the picture and was given a contract to take over the administration of the program. This included cost accounting and contract subletting. The University established an Applied Physics Laboratory at nearby John Hopkins University , with Dr. Tuve in charge. The laboratory became the coordinating center of the work done by all of the contractors throughout the country who were working on the project. When the Bureau of Ordnance again took over complete control of the program on December 1, 1944, the APL remained the central laboratory for coordinating the development and production of proximity fuzes. Most of the scientists and engineers engaged on the project were unaware of the various shifts in responsibility that had occurred from the initiation of the project by the Bureau in 1940 until its return to complete bureau control at the end of 1944. The development and production of the proximity fuze represented one of the outstanding achievements of the alliance between men in uniform, civilian scientists, and industry. Silver Spring, Maryland
The Bureau of Ordnance continually broadened the base of fuze development. A month or so before the attack on
By the end of 1941, a large number of companies and university laboratories were working on the fuze as contractors for the NDRC, the Bureau of Standards, and the Bureau of Ordnance. Over $50 million were obligated before a single test could be made of a complete VT fuze or many of its most important components. Eventually, 87 companies had prime contract and were operating 110 plants working on the VT fuze.
The development and production of suitable electronic tubes presented the greatest problem, due to the requirement of ruggedness beyond anything that had ever been attempted before. Five companies were at one time or another engaged in the production of tubes, but this number was finally reduced to only one, Sylvania Electric Products, Inc., because that company had demonstrated its ability to produce quality tubes in the quantities required by delivery schedules. By the development of new manufacturing techniques and spreading the work over twenty-three subcontractors the company was able to reach a delivery rate by the end of the war of nearly half a million tubes a day.
The invention and production of a special type of battery was almost as great a challenge as the tube problem. The work was ultimately concentrated in the National Carbon Company. The battery finally produced kept the electrolyte away from the plates until the moment energy was actually needed to activate the radio sending and receiving elements. This was done by carrying the electrolyte in a glass ampule which broke when the shell fired, permitting the electrolyte to flood the battery plates. This arrangement gave the battery an indefinite shelf life.
To save time, mass production contracts were placed and started for the various elements of the fuze long before final developmental work to improve quality had been completed, and also months before the climax in pre-combat testing was reached in
Chesapeake Bayon August 12, 1942. On that day the USS Cleveland fired VT-fuzed 5" shells against radio-controlled planes as targets. Several days of target practice under simulated battle conditions were planned, but all three of the available drones were destroyed on the first day of firing by four proximity bursts. The program now moved forward with accelerated speed.
By the middle of November 1942, 5000 rounds of VT-fuzed 5" shells had been delivered at
. That was the goal set for the first shipment to Mar Island in the Pacific for distribution to ships slated for early battle action. Among the ships was the USS Helena, a cruiser of a Task Force which was attacked by Japanese airplanes on January 5, 1943. The Noumea opened fire with VT-fuzed shells and on the second salvo Helena
brought down a Japanese dive bomber. The circumstances of the engagement and the performance of the ships not supplied with such shells left no doubt that the proximity fuze was responsible for the hit. Widespread distributions to the Fleet as fast as the fuzes came off the production lines was then started.
Those who were entitled to know were kept informed of developmental progress and of the success of the fuze under combat conditions. The original plans contemplated the use of the fuze only by the
and British Navies, and to restrict it to firing over the water, so as to guard against the possibility of a dud falling into the hands of the enemy. However, the success of the fuze led the Army late in 1943 to request such fuzes for both United States and British land operations. This more than doubled the Bureau's estimate of fuze requirements. The two Armies eventually consumed more VT-fuzed ammunition than the Navies. United States
The fuze was especially effective in destroying the V-1 bombs that
Germanybegan to use against on June 12, 1944. The defense of London against the V-1 bomb became of overriding important. Approximately 500 heavy antiaircraft guns were moved to the channel coast where they could engage the bombs before they reached the shores of London . The results after the use of VT-fuzed projectiles began were spectacular with a constant increase in the number of V-1 bombs brought down. On the last day of large-scale attacks, only four out of 104 bombs that were launched succeeded in reaching England . Proximity-fuzed antiaircraft projectiles accounted for practically all of the hits. London
Late in 1943, the Bureau began making VT fuzes for the War Department to be used with the Army's howitzer shells against ground forces, but the ban against their employment over land was not immediately lifted. They were, however, issued to antiaircraft batteries to protect
in the late months of 1944. The full use against ground forces did not take place until December 1944, when the German counteroffensive, known as the Antwerp of the Bulge, justified taking the risk of compromising a weapon that appeared still to be a secret to the enemy. The results achieved were even better than expected. With shells exploding some feet above the ground and showering the area with a hail of high velocity fragments, the foxholes became almost valueless as a sanctuary for the foot soldier. Battle
A few statistics are in order. By the end of 1943, almost two million fuzes had been delivered, and a year later more than 40,000 a day were being produced. The value of procurement contracts for VT fuzes climbed from $60 million in 1942 to $200 million the following year, and reached a high of $450 million in the last year of the war. The form of contracts described in the chapter on Industrial Mobilization and Material Procurement"
made it possible for the Bureau to keep contracts under periodic revision and made it possible to take advantage of lower costs resulting from improved manufacturing techniques and mass production. During the development stage, VT fuzes had to be tailor-made at a cost of $732each, but when mass produced by improved methods came down to $18 in 1945. Vacuum tubes, which in the beginning had cost $5.50 each, at the end of the war cost the Government less than 40 cents apiece.25
A steady expansion of naval ordnance production began in 1933 and continued to the end of World War II. The main emphasis shifted several times. At the beginning of this period, with limited funds available, there was little that could be done beyond maintenance of existing installations. From 1933 to 1939, a gradual enlargement of facilities took place, increasing the capacity of naval ordnance plants and building up the facilities of private contractors throughout the nation. This increase in plant capacity was accelerated by the outbreak of war in
Europe. Emphasis continued on expansion of facilities, rather than actual arms production, until entry into the war. After United States Pearl Harbor, the emphasis shifted to the production of major, non-expendable items, such as guns, armor, and fire-control installations, for equipping and modernizing the rapidly growing Navy. This phase in carrying out the mission of the Bureau of Ordnance was simplified as a result of pre-war plant expansion.
At not time was the shipbuilding program delayed by lack of ordnance material. Then, in 1944, after the greater part of fleet expansion had taken place, and in order to meet the demands of major naval offensives, the emphasis had to be placed on expendable material--ammunition, rockets, fuzes, mines,etc. By early 1945 these items accounted for 61% of the naval ordnance expenditures. Finally, when satisfactory monthly production was reached, increasing emphasis was placed on research and development; in the immediate postwar period the amount spent for research and development approximately equaled that going into production.
1. SecNav Annual Report, Fiscal Year 1945. p. A-63.
2. Most Civil War Dahlgrens were smooth bores, but some were rifled. Lt. John A. Dahlgren, U.S.N., began his work as an Ordnance expert at the Washington Navy Yard in 1847. From that date on, the Yard specialized in Ordnance development and production. In the 80's, the Yard began to be known as the Naval Gun Factory, but officially it remained the Washington Navy Yard until the name was changed by General Order No. 227 of 28 November 1945 to "U.S. Naval Gun Factory,
" and it became a unit of the Potomac River Naval Command. Washington, D.C.
Naval Administration in World War II, Bureau of Ordnance, Part I, Vol. II, p. 53. (Hereafter referenced as BuOrd.) U.S.
4. BuOrd, Part I, Vol. I, p. 66.
5. Report of the Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance to the Secretary of the Navy, December 9, 1943.
6. Survey of Administration, Bureau of Ordnance, Navy Department, by Booz, Fry, Allen, and
, 18 July 1941, p. 1. (Hereafter referenced as Booz Report.) Hamilton
7. Ibid., 18 July 1941, forwarding letter.
8. For further details on the functioning of the Production Division, see BuOrd, Part I, Vol. I, pp. 76-83 and Vol. 2, p. 11ff.
9. A more detailed treatment of Special Board on Naval Ordnance is given in BuOrd, Part I, Vol. V, pp. 240-250.
10. BuOrd, Part I, Vol. 5, p. 89. The maximum number of Reserve Officers on ordnance duty under the jurisdiction of BuOrd in World War II was 6,600.
11. BuOrd, Part I, Vol. V, pp. 66-68.
12. BuOrd, Part I, Vol. V, pp. 147-49.
13. The problem answered by AQE and the basic tools for its solution were recognized originally by Captain G.L. Schuyler, USN (later Rear Admiral, Retired). The Unit itself was established as the result of a study prepared by, and was initially headed by, LT. E.R. Pettebone, USNR. The forward looking officers who actively sponsored and lent senior support to the adaption of the AQE methodology were CDR. John A. Snackenberg, USN (later Rear Admiral), CDR. John Quinn, USN (later Rear Admiral) in the Bureau of Ordnance, and LT. CDR. B.L. Lubelsky, USNR (later Captain, USN) in the Ordnance Inspection Service.
14. Secretary of the Navy's letter to All Bureaus and Offices, S13-1/L8-3(400311) of 11March 1940.
15. Rowland, p. 61.
16. Rowland, p. 156.
17. An article entitled "The Pacific Cinderella," prepared with the cooperation of the Bureau of Ordnance, and published in All Hands, June 1946, gives the details of this operation.
18. A new era in gunnery training and fire control equipment began with the reports of Lieutenant Commander W.S. Sims (later Admiral) while in the USS Kentucky and the USS Monterey on the China Station in 1901. Sims had become acquainted with Captain, later Admiral, Sir Percy Scott at
Hong Kongand his work in improving the gunnery of the British Navy. The part that Sims played in modernizing target practice and gunnery training in the United States Navy is told in Admiral Sims and the Modern American Navy, by Elting E. Morison, previously referred to and listed in the bibliography at the end of this work.
19. Rowland, p. 105.
20. Rowland, pp. 105-106.
21. Rowland, p. 123.
22. Rowland, p. 129.
Newport, 18,751; Alexandria, 9,920; Westinghouse, 8,250; Forest Park, 8,391; St. Louis, 6,257; Keyport, 795; and International Harvester, 5,189. Hundreds of subcontractors were employed on this work. Pontiac
23. Secretary of the Navy's Annual Report for 1945.
24. Captain G.L. Schuyler, USN, was head of the Research Division of BuOrd at the time and was subsequently succeeded by Captain S.R. Shumaker, USN, Commander W.S. Parsons, USN, (later Rear Admiral) was detailed as Special Assistant to Dr. Vannevar Bush, the Chairman of the NDRC to provide direct liaison between Section T and the Bureau of Ordnance.
25. More detailed histories of the development and production of the VT fuze are contained in Scientists Against Time, by James Phinney Baxter, 3rd, and in the narrative history,
Navy, Bureau of Ordnance in World War II, listed in the Bibliography. U.S.