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ANNUAL REPORTS, WAR DEPARTMENT

FISCAL YEAR ENDED JUNE 30, 1907

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WAR DEPARTMENT

Washington, December 2, Sır: Pursuant to the provisions of the act of Congress aj February 24, 1891, I have the honor to transmit herewith a sign of the Seventeenth Annual Report of the Board of Ordnance an fication, covering the fiscal year from July 1, 1906, to June 3 Very respectfully,

ROBERT Shaw OLIVE)

Acting Secretary of To the PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE.

The Board of Ordnance and Fortification.

WASHINGTON, October 25, 1907. SIR: Under the provisions of the act approved February 24, 1891, the Board of Ordnance and Fortification has the honor to submit, for transmission to Congress, its seventeenth annual report, covering the fiscal year from July 1, 1906, to June 30, 1907.

CHANGES IN PERSONNEL.

The personnel of the Board has remained unchanged, except that Brig. Gen. Thomas H. Barry was relieved by paragraph 17, Special Orders, No. 41, February 18, 1907, and Maj. Gen. J. Franklin Bell, Chief of Staff, detailed as a member. By paragraph 25, Special Orders, No. 130, June 4, 1907, Brig. Gen. William P. Duvall, General Staff, was detailed to act as a member during the absence only of General Bell.

The Board now consists of the following-named officers: Maj. Gen. J. Franklin Bell, Chief of Staff, president; Brig. Gen. William Crozier, Chief of Ordnance; Brig. Gen. A. Mackenzie, Chief of Engineers; Brig. Gen. Arthur Murray, Chief of Artillery; Lieut. Col. George F. E. Harrison, Coast Artillery Corps; Lieut. Col. Erasmus M. Weaver, Coast Artillery Corps; and Gen. Thos. J. Henderson, civilian member. Maj. Lawson M. Fuller, Ordnance Department, continues as recorder.

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LEGISLATION.

The only special legislation affecting the Board is contained in the fortifications appropriation act approved March 2, 1907, making appropriation for continuing the work of the Board, as follows:

To enable the Board to make all needful and proper purchases, experiments, and tests to ascertain, with a view to their utilization by the Government, the most effective guns, small arms, cartridges, projectiles, fuzes, explosives, torpedoes, armor plates, and other implements and engines of war, and to purchase or cause to be manufactured, under authority of the Secretary of War, such guns, carriages, armor plates, and other war material as may, in the judgment of the Board, be necessary in the proper discharge of the duty devolved upon it by the act approved September twenty-second, eighteen hundred and eightyeight; to pay the salary of the civilian member of the Board of Ordnance and Fortification provided by the act of February twenty-fourth, eighteen hundred and ninety-one, and for the necessary traveling expenses of said member when traveling on duty as contemplated in said act; for the payment of the necessary expenses of the Board, including a per diem allowance to each officer detailed to serve thereon when employed on duty away from his permanent station, of two dollars and fifty cents a day; and for the test of experimental guns, carriages, and other devices procured in accordance with the recommendation of the Board of Ordnance and Fortibcation, twenty-fre tbousand dollars, the expenditure of which shall be made by the veral bureaus of the War Department berettore having jurisdiction of the same, or by the Board itself, as the Serretry of War may dirort: Provided. That before any money shall be expended in the construction or text of any gun, gun carriage, a n unition, or implements under the supervision of the said Board, the Board shall be satice after due inquiry, that the Government of the United States has a lawful rigbt to use the intentions involved in the construction of such gun, gun carriage. ammunition, or implements, or that the construction or test is made at the request of a persoa either having such lawful right or authorized to convey the same to the Goveruinent,

GENERAL OPERATIONS.

The Board is required by statute to submit a statement of its general operations. The objects for which allotments have been made are discussed under appropriate headings, but the operations of the Board have consisted, in the main, of the supervision of work preriously undertaken, such as the continuation of the tests of plates representing the main and secondary armor of battle ships to determine their resistance to projectiles of various sorts fired at different angles of impact, the data obtained being used for the formulation of battle tactics; the tests of wire-wound guns to determine their availability for adoption, and the perfection of instruments for fire control and direction. The increasing importance of searchlights in warfare has also induced allotments for several experiments with the object of improving this necessary auxiliary.

Many suggestions are received from persons unfamiliar with the requirements of modern artillery practice and fortress armament which are often absurd or have been previously tried and discarded, so that the number of rejected plans far exceeds those recommended for trial. All plans have, however, been carefully considered and no project has been rejected without good and sufficient reason. A list of the subjects considered by the Board will be found in Appendix B.

ARMOR-PLATE TESTS.

January 4, 1906, the Board made an allotment of $54,019.40 to cover the cost of targets, armor plates, projectiles, powder, fuzes, and all other expenses, including labor, of making tests of armor plate in accordance with program submitted by the Chief of Ordnance at the request of the Board. On May 2, 1907, an allotment of $2,500 was made for continuing the experiments.

FOURTEEN-INCH WIRE-WOUND GUN. Under date of March 7, 1907, the Chief of Ordnance presented to the Board the question of the practicability of wire winding for guns of 14 inches caliber, the caliber recommended by the National Coast Defense Board for the defense of certain positions. The Board recommended that one 14-inch gun be constructed on the wire-wound system, in accordance with plans submitted.

EXPERIMENTAL GUNS AND CARRIAGES. Brown 10-inch segmental-tube wire-wound gun.-This gun was built under an allotment of $33,000 made by the Board September 15, 1896. Its test was begun in February, 1901, and in the two years fol.

lowing it was fired a total of 24 rounds, mishaps of various kinds necessitating its removal from the proving ground for repairs. The last round fired from the gun was on October 28, 1903, following which permission was granted the Company to remove the gun for alteration of the breech mechanism, which had operated in an unsatisfactory manner throughout the test. The gun was taken to the shops in Reading in January, 1905, that the desired changes might be made. It has not been returned so far, and, as remarked in the last annual report of the Board, it is doubtful when the repairs will be completed and the gun returned for continuance of tests.

Brown 6-inch segmental-tube wire-wound gun.-The act approved June 6, 1902, providing for fortifications and other works of defense, including the armament thereof, contained a provision that, in the discretion of the Secretary of War, a portion of the money appropriated could be used for the purchase of material for a limited number of steel-wire seacoast guns. The trustees of the Brown wire-gun patents made application to the Secretary of War to be permitted to furnish guns of their design under this clause.

The Secretary of War, on July 21, 1902, referred to the Board for consideration and recommendation the question whether or not it was advisable to adopt as a type the Brown segmental-tube wire-wound gun, and to purchase or construct guns of that description for the service of the United States.

On August 7, 1902, the Board replied that “it is not at present prepared to recommend the Brown segmental-tube wire-wound gun as a type for the service.” The Board did, however, recommend, and the Secretary of War approved, an allotment of $25,000 to procure one Brown 6-inch wire-wound gun, with suitable mount, implements and accessories, and 500 rounds of ammunition. This allotment was, on December 4, 1902, increased $16,000 upon the representation of the trustees as to the cost of manufacture, and the amount of ammunition to be furnished was reduced to 250 rounds.

On May 4, 1905, a further allotment of $3,960 was made to provide 30 additional rounds of ammunition—and a like number for the Crozier gun—for rapidity test. March 10, 1906, an allotment of $400 was made for repairing gas check seat of the gun and for rebanding ten projectiles for continuing the tests. The total amount allotted for purchase of the gun and mount and expenses of test is therefore $43,380.

In March, 1906, the gun was removed from the proving ground for repairs to the breech mechanism, and returned the latter part of July.

The tests were continued from that time until February of the present year, the aggregate number of rounds fired being 98. The condition of the gun at this time was such that the Board determined to make no further firings in continuance of the test, and recom. mended the appointment of a committee of experts in gun construction with a view to aiding the Board in determining the relative merits of the Crozier and Brown systems of gun construction.

Crozier 6-inch wire-wound gun.-The Board at its meeting September 10, 1903, made an allotment of $11,000 for the construction of a wire-wound gun on the design of Gen. William Crozier, Chief of Ord. nance. This gun differs in many respects from the Brown 6-inch gun, the most notable difference being the absence of the segmental

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