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REPORT OF THE BOARD OF ORDNANCE AND
Washington, D. C., October 1, 1901. The SECRETARY OF WAR.
SIR: Under the provisions of the act approved February 24, 1891, and in compliance with instructions contained in General Orders, No. 89, Headquarters of the Army, Adjutant-General's Office, June 25, 1901, the Board of Ordnance and Fortification has the honor to submit for transmission to Congress its report for the eight months from November 1, 1900, to June 30, 1901.
CHANGES IN PERSONNEL. There have been material changes in the personnel of the Board since the date of the last report. By the fortifications appropriations act approved March 1, 1901, provision was made for an increase of membership as follows:
One additional member shall be added to the said Board of Ordnance and Fortification who shall be an artillery officer of technical ability and experience, to be selected by the Secretary of War.
By the army appropriation act approved March 2, 1901, a further increase of membership was authorized, viz:
The Secretary of War is hereby authorized to appoint two additional members for the Board of Ordnance and Fortification, both of whom shall be selected from the Artillery Corps.
Acting in accordance with these provisions of law, the Secretary of War in General Orders, No. 50, Headquarters of the Army, AdjutantGeneral's Office, April 9, 1901, designated Col. Wallace F. Randolph, Chief of Artillery, as a member of the Board of Ordnance and Fortification, and by Special Orders, No. 85, Headquarters of the Army, Adjutant-General's Office, April 12, 1901, Lieut. Col. J. P. Story, Artillery Corps, was also detailed as a member of the Board.
By virtue of Special Orders, No. 105, Headquarters of the Army, Adjutant-General's Office, May 6, 1901, Brig. Gen. George L. Gillespie, Chief of Engineers, became a member of the Board, vice Brig. Gen. John M. Wilson, Corps of Engineers, retired from active service.
The Board now consists of the following members: Lieut. Gen. Nelson A. Miles, commanding the Army, president; Brig. Gen. A. R. Buffington, Chief of Ordnance; Brig. Gen. George L. Gillespie, Chief of Engineers; Col. John I. Rodgers, Artillery Corps; Col. Wallace F. Randolph, Chief of Artillery; Lieut. Col. J. P. Story, Artillery Corps, and Hon. Thos. J. Henderson, civilian member.
NEW LEGISLATION. The only new legislation affecting the Board, other than that indicated above, is contained in the fortifications appropriations act approved March 1, 1901, 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, fuses, 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 eighty-eight; 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 Fortification, one hundred thousand dollars, the expenditure of which shall be made by the several bureaus of the War Department heretofore having jurisdiction of the same, or by the Board itself, as the Secretary of War may direct: Provided, That before any money shall be expended in the construction or test of any gun carriage, ammunition, or implements under the supervision of the said Board, the Board shall be satisfied, after due inquiry, that the Government of the United States has a lawful right to use the inventions 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 person either having such lawful right or authorized to convey the same to the Government.
It will be noted that the expenditure of its funds “shall be made by the several bureaus of the War Department heretofore having jurisdiction of the same, or by the Board itself, as the Secretary of War may direct.”
This change in legislation enables the Board, subject to the approval of the Secretary of War, to more directly control the funds at its disposal, and has been repeatedly recommended in previous annual reports. It will, it is believed, greatly facilitate the work of the Board.
FINANCIAL STATEMENT. In compliance with the act of February 24, 1891, which requires “a detailed statement of all contracts, allotments, and expenditures made by the Board,” an exhibit, marked “Appendix A,” accompanies this report, giving a detailed statement of the allotments and expenditures from October 31, 1900, the date of the last annual report, to June 30, 1901, the end of the fiscal year.
Prior to the act of March 1, 1901, the Board was prohibited from making contracts, this duty devolving upon the several bureaus of the War Department; and although since that date the Board has had authority to enter into contracts for the purchase of experimental war material, no occasion has arisen for the exercise of this power.
November 1, 1900, the Board had on hand $208,981.69, and by the act of March 1, 1901, the further sum of $100,000 was appropriated; to this must be added the sum of $7,988.50, revoked from prior allotments, making the total available $316,970.19. Allotments have been made amounting to $107,307.66, leaving a balance available June 30, 1901, of $209,662.53, for continuing the work of the Board.
SUBJECTS CONSIDERED. In the accompanying Appendix B will be found a complete list of the subjects considered by the Board, together with a brief statement of the action taken in each case.
THE HUNDRED-GUN CONTRACT. By the terms of the contract entered into November 7, 1891, between the Bethlehem Iron Company and the Chief of Ordnance, the company named agreed to deliver twenty-five 8-inch, fifty 10-inch, and twentyfive 12-inch guns for coast defense. The deliveries already made
under this contract and the present condition of the work are shown by the following extract from the report of the company dated September, 27, 1901:
Twenty-five guns, 8-inch caliber.-Guns Nos. 1 to 25, inclusive, shipped.
Fifty guns, 10-inch caliber.-Guns Nos. 66 to 75, inclusive, are in advanced stages of manufacture. All could be finished, if required, by January 1, 1903.
Twenty-five guns, 12-inch caliber.-Guns Nos. 76 to 82, inclusive, 84, 85, 86, and 87, shipped. Gun No. 83, model 1895, proof fired, and ready for shipment. Guns Nos. 88 to 100, inclusive, are well under way and all could be delivered by June 30, 1905, if desired.
EXPERIMENTAL GUNS AND CARRIAGES.
The 10-inch Brown segmental-tube wire-wound gun.—This gun was built under an allotment of $33,000 made by the Board September 15, 1896. On December 22, 1899, the completed gun was inspected by the Board at the shops of the Reading Iron Company, Reading, Pa., and on January 9, 1900, it was shipped to the proving ground at Sandy Hook.
Owing to delays on the part of the trustees of the Brown patents in designating a suitable powder, the preliminary firing tests of the gun were not begun until February 21, 1901. The first proof round, with a pressure of 10,000 pounds, developed a crack extending throughout the third chase hoop. As this hoop is simply a thin covering used to protect the outer layer of wire from mechanical injury, it was not believed that the defect had in any material way weakened the gun, and on March 6, in the presence of the Board, three additional rounds were fired with pressures ranging from 15,700 pounds to 26,900 pounds. It being evident from these and subsequent rounds that with the special kind of powder determined upon by the trustees the required velocities could not be obtained, the Board on April 6, 1901, granted the request of the trustees to increase the chamber capacity of the gun. This alteration necessitated sending the gun to the shops of the manufacturers, and it has just been returned to the proving ground for continuation of the tests.
The Bofors cast-steel 15-cm. gun.—On January 19, 1898, the Board made an allotment of $13,000 to procure from the Aktiebolaget Bofors-Gullspang of Sweden one 15-cm. rapid fire cast-steel gun of the latest pattern, with pedestal mount and 100 rounds of ammunition. An additional allotment of $2,417 for the same purpose was made April 12, 1898. Although it was the understanding at the time of making the allotments that the material would be delivered ready for test within twelve months, the gun and projectiles were not received at the proving ground until July of the present year. The company finding the shipment of powder impracticable, has requested the Department to procure sufficient for 100 rounds in this country, the cost to be deducted from the contract price originally agreed upon. This request has been granted and the firing test of the gun will be begun as soon as the necessary powder is procured.
The 10-inch Howell disappearing carriage (counterpoise). This carriage was constructed under a special act of Congress, approved June 6, 1896, appropriating $50,000 for the purpose, and it has been tested, accepted, and paid for. On April 25, 1899, the Board recommended the adoption of this carriage as an additional type for the service. The Secretary of War, in withholding his approval of the recommendation, again referred the matter to the Board for further