This volume treats of the problems of a great Army agency and its prewar and wartime research and development programs. It is directed primarily to the men and women whose responsibility it is to make the U.S. Army the most effective possible tool of national defense. Technical history rarely makes light reading and this book is not intended to supply diversion for the casual reader. Yet inasmuch as many more Americans than ever before are today concerned with military affairs, others than Army staff planners may find this analysis of the Ordnance Corps' past of interest and use.
The scheme of treatment of the three projected volumes of Ordnance history is basically chronological. This first volume undertakes to discuss the steps that precede manufacture of munitions. The second volume will cover the problems of computing quantities to be ordered, the processes of production and procurement by purchase, and the tasks of distribution and maintenance of equipment in the zone of the interior. A third volume will be dedicated to the operations of Ordnance overseas.
To provide essential background this book includes a rather lengthy analysis of pre-1940 difficulties and a rapid sketch of the confused interim when the United States hovered between peace and war. Discussion of the vital preliminaries to efficient wartime functioning follows in chapters describing the evolution of a workable organization and the recruiting and training of soldiers and civilians to carry out the Ordnance mission. The last section of the book deals with research and development of weapons, the process that in a scientific age necessarily also precedes production of matériel.
Special recognition must be accorded Lida Mayo who, though a latecomer to the staff and hence not listed as an author on the title page, assembled the data and wrote the sections on self-propelled artillery, mines and mine exploders, terminal ballistics, and bombs. Dr. Albert E. Van Dusen, now Assistant Professor of American History at the University of Connecticut, made a valuable contribution in collecting and sifting the materials upon which much of Chapters II and VII are based. Several chapters are the work of more than one individual. Peter C. Roots wrote the story of German rearming contained in Chapter IX, the first half of Chapters X and XI, and the section on armor plate in Chapter XIII. Dr. Harry C. Thomson, the sole author of the chapters on over-all organization, military training, civilian personnel, and conservation of materials, also wrote most of the second part of Chapters X and XI. Mrs. Mayo, as noted, prepared the section on self-propelled artillery in Chapter X, the . . .