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U.S. Army Ordnance Research and Development in World War II

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U.S. Army Ordnance Research and Development in World War II: A Review
  • U.S. Army Ordnance Department
    • Merriam Press World War 2 History Series
      • 136 6×9-inch pages
      • 108 photos
      • 27 illustrations
Written just after the war by an unnamed Army officer, this work reviews the activities of the U.S. Army’s Ordnance Department’s research and development of small arms, ammunition, artillery, bombs, armored and unarmored combat and motor transport vehicles, aircraft armament, rockets and launchers, fuels and lubricants, rubber, steel, and ballistics, from 1940 through the end of the war.
     Also includes details of the effect of climate and terrain upon development trends (jungle, cave, desert, and arctic warfare).
     Written utilizing numerous source documents, listed in the end notes.
     The material published in this Monograph is a complete reprint of the text of Chapter 1 (“Review of Ordnance Research and Development in World War II”) of a manuscript in the National Archives (Records Group Number 156, Box A746). The author was not identified on the copy we worked from, although it seems likely this manuscript was written by an officer (or historian) of the U.S. Army’s Ordnance Department, since the author obviously had access to most, if not all, Ordnance Department records.
     While no date is given as to when the manuscript was originally prepared, it would seem likely that it was written not long after World War II. It was not declassified until 27 September 1958.
     Although much more could obviously be written about the Ordnance Department’s research and development role in World War II, this work is certainly of immense value because of its almost exclusive use of original source documents, as well as having been written shortly after the events occurred.
  • Introduction
  • The Situation in 1940
  • The Effect of Climate and Terrain Upon Development Trends
  • Jungle Warfare
  • Cave Warfare
  • Desert Warfare
  • Arctic Warfare
  • The Course of Development
  • Combat Vehicles
  • Motor Transport Vehicles
  • Artillery
  • Small Arms
  • Aircraft Armament
  • Artillery Ammunition and Bombs
  • Small Arms Ammunition
  • Rockets
  • Fuels and Lubricants, Rubber, and Steel
  • Ballistics
  • Unfinished Business, 1945

    I was thinking about ordering a copy of US Army Ordnance; Research and Development in World War II: A Review for my current study/research of U.S. small arms. Your book synopsis/description states that it includes material on small arms and ammunition, however, a review of the Table of Contents shows nothing about such coverage. I finally concluded that since the book is only [136] pages long, it couldn't deal comprehensively with any subject.
    My suggestion is that you revise the description to specifically describe the contents for any potential purchaser.
    —Bill Hansen
    Publisher's Comment: As I told Bill, this is a "review," not a comprehensive history. For those that want an overview of the subject, this will do the trick. The references listed in the footnotes might be of value to doing further research in the Archives. I have, however, updated the listing of the Contents to include the sub-sections within the chapters so that you have a better idea of what the book covers. Alo, note that Bill was "reviewing" a book he has never seen. Also note that the title is based on the overall report's actual title.

    Product Reviews

    (1 Rating, 1 Review) Average Rating:
    A Review
    Justin Bittick (Cottonwood, AZ) 9/5/2009 1:23 AM
    If you are looking for indepth coverage of ordnance research and development, this not the book you want. It is, however, a very handy review of ordnance activities during the war, hence, the subtitle "A Review". It starts off listing what weapons were in the U.S. Army's arsenal in 1940 and then provides a very general course of weapons as they were added to the inventory. There is no information on weapon performance, charts, graphs, etc. There is some discussion on jungle, cave (what weapons would be best for dealing with Japanese cave defenses), desert and arctic warfare/conditions. Fuel and lubricants get an honorable mention as well as synthetic rubber. The final chapter mentions what projects were kept alive following the War's end. The last 12 pages include line drawings of various weapons/vehicles. The footnotes give the authors sources which may prove invaluable to someone wishing to locate original documents (provided that they can be found--first hand records are difficult to locate from WWII). Overall, I got my money's worth, gained information I had not yet encountered and even had a few questions answered. Publisher's Comment: The book reprints the text of a single chapter in a larger post-war report merely meant to provide an overview of various aspects of the U.S. Army. The documents are probably in the National Archives and/or the Army's Military History Institute in Pennsylvania. The illustrations came from other sources, as the original document was not illustrated.