Chapter V.



During the years immediately preceding our entrance into the war there was much discussion within the War Department, as well as in the country at large, of the need for increased military preparedness. Reference to the department reports for 1914, 1915, and 1916 shows that what was then considered as the best military and civilian opinion was agreed that the army that would have to be called into the field in any large emergency was one of 500,000 men.

In these reports attention was called to the fact that while our available resources in trained men, in airplanes, and in machine guns were entirely inadequate, our reserve stocks of rifles and small-arms ammunition were sufficient for even a larger Army than the half million suggested.

On the outbreak of hostilities there were on hand nearly 600,000 Springfield rifles of the model of 1903. This arm is probably the best Infantry rifle in use in any army, and the number on hand was sufficient for the initial equipment of an army of about 1,000,000 men. What no one foresaw was that we should be called upon to equip an army of nearly 4,000,000 men in addition to furnishing rifles for the use of the Navy.

The emergency was met in several different ways. The available Springfields were used to equip the Regular Army and National Guard divisions that were first organized. In addition to these rifles we also had in stock some 200,000 Krag-Jorgensen rifles that had been stored for an emergency and were in sufficiently good condition to be used for training purposes. In addition, efforts were made to speed up the manufacture of new Springfields.

It was soon found, however, that manufacturing difficulties would make it impossible to increase the output of Springfields to much beyond 1,000 per day, which was clearly insufficient. At this juncture decision was reached to undertake the manufacture of an entirely new rifle to meet the deficiency.

Fortunately, there were in this country several plants which were just completing large orders for the Enfield rifle for the British Government. A new rifle---the model 1917---was accordingly designed. This rifle resembled the British Enfield sufficiently so that the plants equipped for Enfield production could be rapidly converted to its manufacture, but it was chambered to use the same ammunition as is used in the Springfield and in the machine guns and automatic rifles of American manufacture.

Diagram 26 shows the number of Springfields and Enfields accepted to the end of each month from the beginning of the war up to the end of April, 1919. The figures include the prewar stock of Springfields.

Diagram 26. Thousands of Springfields and Enfields accepted to the end of each month.

Beginning with slightly less than 600,000 Springfields at the outbreak of the war, the total at the end of the war had increased to nearly 900,000. The Enfields first came into production in August, 1917. After their manufacture had actually begun the output increased rapidly until it totaled at the end of the war, in November, 1918, nearly 2,300,300.

During the entire period the production of spare parts for the Springfield rifles was continued at an increased rate. The first divisions sent to France were equipped with this rifle. It is a fact that about half the rifle ammunition-used against the enemy by United States troops was shot from Springfield rifles. The test of battle use has upheld the high reputation of the Springfield, and has demonstrated that the American Enfield is also a weapon of superior quality. The American troops were armed with rifles that were superior in accuracy and rapidity of fire to those used by either their enemies or the Allies.

Machine Guns

The use of machine guns on a large scale is a development of the European war. This is demonstrated by the records of every army. In the case of the American forces the figures are particularly impressive. In 1912 Congress sanctioned the allowance of the War Department of four machine guns per regiment. In 1919, as a result of the experience of the war, the new Army plans provide for an equipment of 336 machine guns per regiment. The second allowance is 84 times as great as the one made seven years earlier.

In the annual report of the Secretary of War for 1916, transmitted in the fall of that year, attention was called to the efforts then being made to place our Army on a satisfactory footing with respect to machine guns. The report says:

Perhaps no invention has more profoundly modified the art of war than the machine gun. In the European War this arm has been brought into very great prominence. * * * When the Congress at the last session appropriated $12,000,000 for the procurement of machine guns, it seemed important, for obvious reasons, to free the air of the various controversies and to set at rest in as final a fashion as possible the conflicting claims of makers and inventors. A board was therefore created. * * * A preliminary report has been made by this board, selecting the Vickers-Maxim type for heavy machine guns, recommending the purchase of a large supply of them, and fixing a date in May at which time exhaustive tests to determine the relative excellence of various types of light machine guns are to be made.

In accordance with these recommendations, 4,000 Vickers machine guns were ordered in December, 1916. By the end of the next year 2,031 of them had been delivered. In further accord with the recommendations of the board, careful tests were held in May, 1917, of various types of heavy machine guns, and also of light machine guns, which have come to be known as automatic rifles. Rapidity of fire, freedom from stoppage and breakage, accuracy, weight, ease of manufacture, and other factors were all carefully examined.

The Vickers gun justified the good opinion previously formed of it, but it was clear that it could not be put on a quantity-production basis because of technical difficulties in manufacture. Fortunately, a new gun well adapted to quantity production was presented for trial. This gun, the heavy Browning, performed satisfactorily in all respects and was adopted as the ultimate standard heavy machine gun. The light Browning, designed by the same expert, was easily in the lead as an automatic rifle, weighing only 16 pounds. The Lewis gun, too heavy for satisfactory use as an automatic rifle and not capable of the long-sustained fire necessary in a heavy gun, was very well suited, with slight modification, for ease as a so-called flexible gun on aircraft. A small number (2,500) of these guns were ordered for training purposes for ground use, but the bulk of the possible production of this gun was assigned to aircraft purposes. In addition to the flexible type, airplanes require also a synchronized gun; that is, a gun whose time of firing is so adjusted that the shots pass between the propeller blades. The Vickers gun had been used successfully for this purpose in Europe and the call was insistent for their diversion to this use, both for our own planes and for those of the French. After many trials and adjustments, however, the Marlin gun, a development of the old Colt, was adapted to this purpose, releasing part of the early production of Vickers guns for ground use. A subsequent development was the design of a modified form of the heavy Browning for aircraft use as a synchronized gun.

Production of all the types mentioned was pressed and the advantages of preparedness illustrated. The placing of the order for 4,000 Vickers in 1916 enabled 12 of our early divisions to receive that weapon as their heavy machine gun. The thorough trial given in May, much earlier than would have been possible except for previous plans, made possible a selection of suitable types for every purpose and the completion of the first light Brownings in February, 1918, and the first heavy Brownings in April of the same year.

The remarkable rise in the rate of production is shown by months in diagram 27. The rise was broken only in September, the month of the influenza epidemic.

Diagram 27. Thousands of American machine guns produced to the end of each month.

The earliest needs of our troops in France were met by French Hotchkiss machine guns and Chauchat automatic rifles. A little later, divisions going over were provided with Vickers heavy guns and Chauchat automatic rifles. After July 1, divisions embarking were equipped with light and heavy Brownings. Both Browning guns met with immediate success and with the approval of foreign officers as well as with that of our own.

Although the light and the heavy Browning guns were brought into production in February and April of 1918, they were not used in battle until September. This was not because of any shortage of supply in the later summer months but because of a deliberate and most significant judgment on the part of Gen. Pershing. After careful tests of the new weapons had been made in Europe the American commander in chief decided that the two new Brownings were so greatly superior to any machine guns in use by any of the armies on either side that the wisest course would be to wait until several divisions could be equipped with them and a plentiful future supply assured before using them in battle at all.

What he feared was that if the first of the guns to reach the expeditionary forces were used in battle there would always be some chance that one might be captured by the Germans. If this should happen it was possible that with their quick recognition of the importance of any military improvement and the demonstrated German industrial capacity for quantity production, they might begin the immediate manufacture of German Brownings. In this event the advantage of the possession of large numbers of greatly improved types of machine guns and automatic rifles would be partly lost to the American forces.

For these reasons the Brownings were not used in combat until they were used in large numbers in the Meuse-Argonne battle. There they amply justified the faith of the American commander and the Ordnance Department in their superior qualities.

The total number of machine guns of American manufacture produced to the end of 1918 is shown in Table 4. In addition there were secured from the French and British 5,300 heavy machine guns, of which nearly all were French Hotchkiss guns, and 34,000 French -Chauchat automatic rifles.

Table 4. Machine guns produced to the end of 1918.

Rifles and Machine Guns Used in France.

When-troops embarked for France they carried with them their rifles, and sometimes their machine guns and automatic rifles. If appropriate allowance is made for such troop property in addition to what was shipped in bulk for replacement and reserves, it is found that about 1,775,000 rifles, 29,000 light Brownings, and 27,000 heavy Brownings, and 1,500,000,000 rounds of rifle and machine-gun ammunition were shipped to France from this country before November 1. These supplies were supplemented by smaller amounts received from the French and British, as already mentioned. The actual use of American-made machine guns and automatic rifles in France is summarized in Table 5.

Table 5. Use of American-made automatic arms in France

Pistols and Revolvers

From the beginning of the war the call for pistols was insistent. In this case the American Army was fortunate in having in the Browning-Colt a weapon already in production and more effective than the corresponding weapon used by any other army. But while there never was any question as to the quality of the pistol, there was much trouble in securing them in numbers adequate to meet the demands. To help meet the situation a revolver was designed using the same ammunition, and placed in production in October, 1917. As a result the troops in France who were likely to require them for close combat were supplied with one or the other of these weapons so far as possible, but full equipment was never secured.

Small-Arms Ammunition

A-sufficient supply of small-arms ammunition has always been available to provide for troops in service. The complication due to the use of machine guns and automatic rifles of French caliber has been successfully met. To meet the special needs of the Air Service and of antiaircraft defense, new types of ammunition have been designed and produced, the purposes of which are indicated by their names---armor piercing, tracer, and incendiary. Before the end of the war American production of small arms ammunition amounted to approximately 3,500,00O,000 rounds, of which 1,800,000,000 were shipped overseas. In addition, 200,000,000 rounds were secured from the French and British.

Arms and the Men

Diagram 28 is an attempt to answer in graphic form the question "To what degree did the different elements of our troop program and our small-arms program move forward in company front?" The upper heavy black line represents the number of men in the American Army from month to month. The lower black line represents similarly the strength of the Army in France.

Diagram 28. Small arms available each month.

On the same scale are drawn four other lines indicating widely fluctuating quantities for the different months. The lowest of these represents the size of army that could have been equipped, according to the tables of organization, with the number of pistols and revolvers actually on hand each month. The diagram shows that we never had nearly enough of these weapons to equip fully our entire Army, and only during part of the months of the war were there enough for the full equipment of the troops in-France even if all the pistols and revolvers had been there and issued.

The line for automatic rifles shows an adequate supply for all troops only in the last two months of the war. That for machine guns shows inadequate supplies up to July and then so enormous a production as to be sufficient before the end of the war for an army of nearly 8,000,000 men. The line for rifles shows relatively close agreement during the entire period. There was an initial surplus, then a deficit for six months, and after that a consistent surplus.

In the cases of automatic rifles, machine guns, and rifles there was always a supply on hand in excess of what would have been required for the equipment of the expeditionary forces alone.

In making the computations for all these comparisons an appropriate allowance has been made in every case for reserves, wastage, and time lost in transit. The curves represent as nearly as it has been possible to make them the actual balance each month between the number of men and the total equipment available. They can not, of course, take into account any shortages that may have resulted in specific localities through failures in distribution.

Only the Springfield and Enfield rifles are included in the computation of available rifles, although hundreds of thousands of Krag-Jorgensen and Russian rifles and some Canadian Ross rifles were used for training purposes.

The rapid rise of the lines representing the men that could have been equipped with machine guns and automatic rifles in the later months is due to the heavy production of Brownings. In fact, this production was one of the striking features of our war effort. It would have resulted, if the fighting had been prolonged, in a greatly increased volume of fire on the part of the American troops.

Preparing for the Campaign of 1919.

At this point it is appropriate to comment on the fact that there are many articles of munitions in which American production reached great amounts by the fall of 1918 but which were not used in large quantities at the front because the armistice was signed before big supplies of them reached France. In the main, these munitions are articles of ordnance and aviation equipment, involving such technical difficulties of manufacture that their production could not be improvised or even greatly abbreviated in time.

As the production figures are scrutinized in retrospect, and it is realized that many millions of dollars were spent on army equipment that was never used at the front, it seems fair to question whether prudent foresight could not have avoided some of this expense.

Perhaps the best answer to the question is to be found in the record of a conference that took place in the little French town of Trois Fontaines on October 4, 1918, between Marshal Foch and the American Secretary of War.

In that conference the allied commander in chief made final arrangements with the American Secretary as to the shipment of American troops and munitions in great numbers during the fall and winter preparatory for the campaign of 1919.

This was one day before the first German peace note and 38 days before the end of the war, but Marshal Foch was then calling upon America to make her great shipments of munitions and her supreme contribution of man power for the campaign of the following year.


1. When war was declared the Army had on hand nearly 600,000 Springfield rifles. Their manufacture was continued, and the American Enfield rifle designed and put into production.

2. The total production of Springfield and Enfield rifles up to the signing of the armistice was over 2,500,000.

3. The use of machine guns on a large scale is a development of the European war. In the American Army the allowance in 1912 was four machine guns per regiment. In 1919 the new Army plans provide for an equipment of 336 guns per regiment, or eighty-four times as many.

4. The entire number of American machine guns produced to the end of 1918 was 227,000.

5. During the war the Browning automatic rifle and the Browning machine gun were developed, put into quantity production, and used in large numbers in the final battles in France.

6. The Browning machine guns are believed to be more effective than the corresponding weapons used in any other army.

7. American production of small arms ammunition amounted to approximately 3,500,000,000 rounds, of which 1,800,000,000 were shipped overseas.

8. Attention is directed to diagram 28, comparing numbers of men under arms each month with numbers for which equipment of pistols, rifles, automatic rifles, and machine guns were available.



Chapter VI.



It was true of light artillery as it was of rifles, that the United States had, when war was declared, a supply on hand sufficient to equip the Army of 500,000 men that proponents of preparedness had agreed might have to take the field in the event of a large emergency. There were 900 pieces of field artillery then available. The gun on hand in largest quantities was the 3-inch fieldpiece, of which we had 544. As 50 of these are required for 1 division, this was a sufficient number to equip 11 divisions. When the emergency arrived, however, it was far larger than had been foreseen even by those who had been arguing that we needed an army several times as large as the one we then had. The initial plans called for the formation of 42 divisions, which would require 2,100 3-inch fieldpieces almost at once. In addition, these divisions would require for active operations in France a repair shop reserve, a replacement reserve, and a stream of guns in transit which would increase their initial requirements to about 3,200. To keep this army going would only require a production of about 100 guns per month, but to get it going within a reasonable length of time would have required a productive capacity of 300 or 400 guns per month, depending on how soon it was imperative for the army to be in action. The great difference between the manufacturing output necessary to get an army going quickly and that required to keep it going after it has been equipped, explains the enormous industrial disadvantage suffered by a nation which enters a war without its stocks of military supplies for initial equipment already on hand.

To meet the situation the decision was made in June, 1917, to allot our own guns to training purposes and to equip our forces in France with artillery conforming to the French and British standard calibers. The arrangement was that we should purchase from the French and British the artillery needed for our first divisions and ship to them in return equivalent amounts of steel, copper, and other raw materials so that they could either manufacture guns for us in their own factories or give us guns out of their stocks and proceed to replace them by new ones made from our materials.

The plans then formulated further provided that, with our initial requirements taken care of in this way, we should at once prepare to manufacture in our own plants artillery of these same calibers for the equipment of later divisions. In general, it may be truly said that these plans were carried through successfully along the lines originally laid down. With no serious exceptions, the guns from British and French sources were secured as needed, but our own plants were slower in producing complete units ready for use than had been hoped and planned.

In our factories the 3-inch guns of improved model which had been ordered in September, 1916, were changed in caliber to use standard French ammunition, and became known as 75 mm. guns, model 1916. The British 18-pounder then being produced in this country was similarly redesigned, and became known as the 75 mm. gun, model 1917. Work was immediately begun also on the plans for the French 75 mm. gun so as to make it possible to produce it in American factories. For this gun, however, it was necessary to develop new manufacturing capacity.

In the case of other calibers of artillery, the same means in general were taken to secure a supply. Material previously on order was adapted to meet the new conditions; capacity actually engaged on production for the French and British was utilized to as great an extent as possible, and foreign plans were adapted to American practice and new plants erected to push production. It was necessary, of course, in all this work not to interfere with American production for the Allies. Of the enormous amount of equipment made necessary by the expansion of the Army from its first strength to the contemplated force of 5,000,000 men, the artillery and artillery ammunition could be improvised with the least facility, for the necessary processes of its manufacture involved irreducible periods of time. In spite of all these handicaps, the record of actual production on United States Army orders only, is 1,642 complete units of artillery before the armistice was signed. The total production of complete units of artillery in American plants is shown by the figures of diagram 29. The data are exclusive of production for the Navy and for the Allies.

Diagram 29. Complete units of artillery made in America.

In point of fact the figures showing the number of complete units produced are somewhat unfair to the American record. The difficult problem of planning the production of the different component parts was not satisfactorily solved until about the end of the war. The result was that by the production of a single component, after the armistice was signed, hundreds of units were completed, and the totals for the months after the armistice are as large as those before October, although the work actually done in those months was very much less. These facts are revealed by the monthly and total figures of the diagram. Up to the end of April, 1919, the number of complete artillery units produced in American plants was more than 3 000, or equal to all those purchased abroad from the French and British up to the signing of the armistice.

Artillery Ammunition.

In the magnitude of the quantities involved the Artillery ammunition program was the biggest of all. Copper, steel, high explosives, and smokeless powder were all required by the hundreds of millions of pounds. As no firms were prepared to manufacture complete rounds, it was necessary for the Ordnance Department to make contracts for each component and to assume the burden of directing the distribution of these components between manufacturers. For the shrapnel it was possible to use the design substantially as had previously been used in this country, but the high explosive and gas shell proved more troublesome. A large supply of American shell was produced, however, before the signing of the armistice, and shipment to Europe in quantity had begun. The ammunition actually used against the enemy at the front was nearly all of French manufacture, but the approaching supply from America made possible a more free use of the French and British reserves. As shown in diagram 30, our monthly production of artillery ammunition rose to over 2,000,000 complete rounds in August and over 3,000,000 rounds in October if we include United States calibers. By the end of 1918 the number of rounds of complete artillery ammunition produced in American plants was in excess of 20,000,000, as compared with 10,000,000 rounds secured from the French and British.

Diagram 30. Thousands of complete rounds of American artillery ammunition produced.

British and American Artillery Production

One mode of measuring our accomplishments in the way of artillery production is to compare what we succeeded in producing in our own plants in the first 20 months after the declaration of war with what Great Britain produced in the first 20 months after her entry into the war. This comparison is made in diagram 31, which compares for that period of time American and British production of complete units of light and heavy artillery and rounds of light and heavy shells. Antiaircraft artillery (a small item) is not included in either class. Canadian production of machined shell for Great Britain and the United States is included in each case.

Diagram 31. British and American production of artillery and ammunition in the first 20 months of war.

In each of the comparisons of diagram 31 the bar in outline represents British production over the first 20 months, and the one in solid black the American output over the first 20 months. The figures show that the British did better than we did in the production of light artillery, but that we excelled their record in heavy artillery and in both sorts of shell production.

Smokeless Powder and High Explosives

One of the striking contributions of the United States to the cause of the Allies was the enormous quantity of smokeless powder and high explosives produced. From April 1, 1917, to November 11, 1918, the production of smokeless powder in the United States was 632,000,000 pounds, which was almost exactly equal to the combined production of France and Great Britain. This was not all for our own use. About half the British supply in 1917 was drawn from this country, and in 1918 over a third of the French supply was American made. This large supply was made possible in part by plants erected for the British in this country, but the American Ordnance Department also added new plants. As a result, the established rate of production in this country by the close of the war was 45 per cent greater than the combined French and British rate.

The American production of high explosives---T. N. T., ammonium nitrate, picric acid, and others---was not established, when we declared war, on so large a scale as that of smokeless powder. It was necessary therefore to erect new plants. This need, by the way, was the main reason for the restrictions on the sale of platinum, which is necessary at one point in the process of manufacture. As a result of the efforts that were made, our established rate of production of high explosives at the close of the war was over 40 per cent larger than Great Britain's, and nearly double that of France. The averages for August, September, and October for the three countries were:

Great Britain-----------------_---------30, 957, 000
France-----------------------------------22, 802, 000
United States---------------------------43, 888, 000

The result of the high rate of production of both smokeless powder and high explosives was that the artillery ammunition program was never held up for lack of either the powder which hurls the bullet or shell from the-gun or the high explosive which makes the shell effective when it reaches its destination.

Toxic Gases.

When the clouds of chlorine suddenly enveloped the British and French lines in the Ypres salient, early in 1915, a new weapon was introduced into the war. That it was a powerful weapon is evidenced by the fact that during the year 1918 from 20 to 30 per cent of all our battle casualties were due to gas.

At the time we entered the war we had had practically no experience in manufacturing toxic gases, and no existing facilities which could be readily converted to such use. At the signing of the armistice, we were equipped to produce gas at a more rapid rate than France, England, or Germany.

In the early days of our participation in the war it was hoped that concerns engaged in chemical manufacture could be put into this new field. There were many valid objections, however, to such a plan. Many of these concerns were already crowded with war work. Entirely new equipment would have to be installed, which, in all likelihood, would be practically worthless at the close of the war. Exhaustive investigation and experimentation would mean delay in securing quantity production. The element of danger would mean difficulty in securing and retaining adequate labor forces. For these reasons the Government found it necessary to build its own chemical plants and to finance certain private firms. The majority of these producing plants, together with plants for filling shells with gas, were built on a tract of land in the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., which came to be known as the Edgewood Arsenal. The auxiliary plants were also known as Edgewood Arsenal. The columns of diagram 32 show the number of short tons of toxic gases produced in American plants each month. The increase in production was rapid and steady during 1918 and, before the armistice, more than 10,000 tons had been manufactured.

Diagram 32. Tons of toxic gases manufactured each month.

Production of gas and the capacity for filling were at all times well ahead of the supply of shell containers to be filled. In June, 1918, considerable quantities of mustard gas, chlorpicrin, and phosgene were shipped overseas for filling gas shells produced by the French. By the end of July no more French shells were available for this purpose and the surplus gas was sold to the French and British.

Tractors and Tanks.

An innovation in this war, development of which in the future promises to be even more important, was the increased use of motor transportation. As applied to the artillery, this meant the use of caterpillar tractors to haul the big guns, especially over rough ground. When we entered the war no suitable designs existed for caterpillar tractors of size appropriate for the medium heavy artillery. But new 5-ton and 10-ton types were perfected in this country, put into production, and 1,100 shipped overseas before November 1. About 300 larger tractors were also shipped and 350 more secured from the French and British.

The tank was an even more important application of the caterpillar tractor to war uses. In the case of the small 6-ton tanks, the efforts of this country were largely concentrated on improvement of design and on development of large scale production for the 1919 campaign. Up to the time of the armistice 64 had been produced in this country, and the rate at which production was getting under way is shown by the fact that in spite of the armistice the total completed to March 31, 1919, was 799. The burden of active service in France was borne by 227 of these tanks received from the French.

The efforts of this country in the case of heavy 30-ton tanks were concentrated on a cooperative plan, by which this country was to furnish Liberty motors and the rest of the driving mechanism, and the British the armor plate for 1,500 tanks for the 1919 campaign. It has been estimated that about one-half the work on the American components for this project had been completed before November 11, and the work of assembly of the initial units was well under way. For immediate use in France, this country received 64 heavy tanks from the British.

Our Artillery in France.

The most important single fact about our artillery in France is that we always had a sufficient supply of light artillery for the combat divisions that were ready for front-line service. This does not mean that when the divisions went into the battle line they always had their artillery with them, for in a number of cases they did not.

The statement does mean, however, that when divisions went into line without their artillery this was not because of lack of guns but rather because it takes much longer to train artillery troops than it does infantry and so, under the pressure of battle needs in the summer and fall of 1918, American divisions were put into line a number of times supported by French and British artillery or without artillery.

When the armistice came m November the American forces not only had a sufficient number of 75's for the 29 combat divisions, but in addition enough more for 12 other divisions.

A careful study of the battle records of all the divisions shows that if all the days in the line of all the combat divisions are added together, the total is 2,234. The records further show the number of days that each division was in line with its own artillery, with British artillery, with French, or without any.

The result of the compilation is to show that in every 100 days that our combat divisions were in line they were supported by their own artillery for 75 days, by British artillery for 5 days, by French for 11 days, and were without artillery for 18.5 days out of the 100. Of these 18.5 days, however, 18 days were in quiet sectors and only one-half of one day in active sectors. There are only three records of American divisions being in an active sector without artillery support. The total of these three cases amounts to one-half of 1 per cent, or about 14 hours out of the typical 100 days just analyzed.

The most significant facts about our artillery in France are presented in summary in table 6 which takes into account only light and heavy field artillery and does not include either the small 37-mm. guns or the trench mortars.

Table 6. American artillery in France ----Summary.

The facts of the table can be summarized in round numbers with approximate accuracy by saying that we had in France 3,500 pieces of artillery, of which nearly 500 were made in America, and we used on the firing line 2,250 pieces, of which over 100 were made in America.

Guns Needed Vs. Guns Available.

Diagram 33 shows the degree of balance which existed-each month throughout the war between the men under arms and the artillery that was available for them. The number of men in the entire American Army is shown by the upper black line and the number of these who were in France is shown by the lower black line.

Diagram 33. Artillery available each month.

The upper hollow line shows the size of army that could have been fully equipped each month with the pieces of light artillery, consisting of 75 mm. and 3-inch field guns, that were then actually available. If the supply had been fully ample this line would run somewhat above the upper black line, to allow for an adequate reserve and for the retirement of the less satisfactory types of guns Actually the hollow line runs below the black one from September; 1917, to September, 1918, and indicates a slight deficiency in training equipment, which was relieved in the fall of 1918 by large deliveries of the 1917 model

In a similar way the lower black line shows for each month the size of army that could have been equipped with the proper number of pieces of heavy artillery of calibers greater than 3 inches. The measure of full equipment is based on the tables of organization adopted early in the war. These tables call for more heavy artillery for a given number of men than the French, British, or Germans actually used, and much more than had ever been thought advisable before this war.

If all our heavy field artillery had been of types suitable for use in France, we should have had enough, even on this high standard, to meet the needs of the expeditionary forces. However, as we had some types that were considered suitable only for training the shortage indicated by the diagram was a real one. The rapid rise in the latter months o£ the war shows that the great difficulties of manufacture of this type of material were being overcome toward the end of the war. In considering the facts presented by this diagram it is to be borne in mind that all suitable pieces of artillery are taken into account from the date they were produced or secured whether they were then located in America or in France. The comparison is between the men that we had and the guns that we had each month.


1. When war was declared the United States had sufficient light artillery to equip an army of 500,000 men, and shortly found itself confronted with the problem of preparing to equip 5,000,000 men.

2. To meet the situation it was decided in June, 1917, to allot our guns to training purposes and to equip our forces in France with artillery conforming to the French and British standard calibers.

3. It was arranged that we should purchase from the French and British the artillery needed for our first divisions and ship them in return equivalent amounts of steel, copper, and other raw materials so that they could either manufacture guns for us in their own factories or give us guns out of the stocks and replace them by new ones made from our materials.

4. Up to the end of April, 1919, the number of complete artillery units produced in American plants was more than 3,000, or equal to all those purchased from the French and British during the war.

5. The number of rounds of complete artillery ammunition produced in American plants was in excess of 20,000,000, as compared with 10,000,000 rounds secured from the French and British.

6. In the first 20 months after the declaration of war by each country the British did better than we did in the production of light artillery, and we excelled them in producing heavy artillery and both light and heavy shells.

7. So far as the Allies were concerned, the European war was in large measure fought with American powder and high explosives.

8. At the end of the war American production of smokeless powder was 45 per cent greater than the French and British production combined.

9. At the end of the war the American production of high explosives was 40 per cent greater than Great Britain's and nearly double that of France.

10. During the war America produced 10,000 tons of gas, much of which was sold to the French and British.

11. Out of every hundred days that our combat divisions were in line in France they were supported by their own artillery for 75 days, by British artillery for 5 days, and by French for 11 days. Of the remaining 181 days that they were in line without artillery, 18 days were in quiet sectors, and only one-half of 1 one day in each hundred was in active sectors.

12. In round numbers, we had in France 3,500 pieces of artillery, of which nearly 500 were made in America, and we used on the firing line 2,250 pieces, of which over 100 were made in America.



Chapter VII.


Prewar Equipment

When war was declared in April, 1917, the United States had two aviation fields and 55 serviceable airplanes. The National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics, which had been conducting a scientific study of the problems of flight, advised that 51 of these airplanes were obsolete and the other 4 obsolescent.

This judgment was based on the operations in Mexico, which had demonstrated serious defects in the designs of American planes used there. It was well known that improved types had been developed in the European conflict, but the details of their design were carefully guarded and withheld from neutrals.

Immediately following the declaration of war, the Allied Governments, particularly the French, urged the necessity of sending 5,000 American aviators to France during the first year, if superiority in the air were to be insured. This request emphasized the need of speed. The European instructors who came over later to assist in the training work made no pretense that the 5,000 schedule was practicable. The problem was to approximate it as nearly as possible. Public expectation was greatly exaggerated, due to the general ignorance, shared by even the best informed American authorities on aviation, as to the requirements, other than simple flying ability, which this service exacts.

There were three primary requisites for bringing into existence an elementary aviation service. These were training planes, aviators, and service planes. All of them had to be created.


For the task of training, as well as that of securing the necessary planes and motors, there existed in our Army no adequate organization of qualified personnel. Before the war our air service had been small, struggling, and unpopular. Aviation was restricted to unmarried officers under 30 years of age, and offered no assured future as a reward for success. It had made its greatest appeal to the younger and more daring types of line officers, and was not an organization on which a great industrial expansion could be built, or from which any large numbers of qualified instructors could be drawn.

Training for aviation divides itself into three stages---elementary, advanced, and final. Elementary training, given to all candidates alike, includes physical training, hygiene, various practical and theoretical military subjects, the study of the structure and mechanism of airplanes and engines, signaling, observation, ground gunnery, and elementary flying to the point of doing simple flying alone.

Advanced training consisted in the specialized work necessary to qualify the student as a well-prepared all-around pilot or observer, as the case might be, ready to take up and master quickly any type of machine or any kind of observation or bombing duty which the exigencies of the service might necessitate.

Final training, given in Europe, was a short intensive specialization on the particular type of machine, or the particular military problem to which the pilot or observer was finally assigned.

The initial shortage of instructors and the opening of new fields made it necessary to retain a considerable proportion of the early graduating classes as instructors. At the date of the armistice there were 27 fields in operation, with 1,063 instructors; 8,602 men had been graduated from elementary training, and 4,028 from advanced training. There were then actually in training 6,528 men, of whom 59 per cent were in elementary, and 41 per cent in advanced training schools.

There had been sent to the expeditionary forces more than 5,000 pilots and observers of whom, at the date of armistice, 2,226 were still in training, and 1,238 were on flying duty at the front.

Diagram 34 shows the number of flying officers in the Army from month to month.

Diagram 34. Flying officers in the Army each month.

The columns show the whole number in service each month and the upper portions the numbers of those who were in service overseas. The total personnel of our Air Service, including flying and non-flying officers, students, and enlisted men, increased from about 1,200 at the outbreak of the war to nearly 200,000 at the close.

Training Planes and Engines.

With 5,000 aviators demanded and only 55 training planes on hand, the production of training planes was the problem of greatest immediate concern. A few planes provided for in the 1917 fiscal appropriation were on order. Other orders were rapidly placed. Deliveries of primary training planes were begun in June, 1917. To the date of the armistice over 5,300 had been produced, including 1,600 of a type which was abandoned on account of unsatisfactory engines.

Advanced training planes reached quantity production early in 1918; up to the armistice about 2,500 were delivered. Approximately the same number were purchased overseas for training the units with the expeditionary-force. Diagram 35 shows the production of training planes and engines by months.

Diagram 35. Production of training planes and engines to the end of each month.

European experience had demonstrated that the maintenance of a squadron, whether in training or in service, requires more engines than planes for replacements. Pending the results of American experience, British figures, requiring an average production of two engines per plane, were adopted as standard for American computations. Extensive orders were placed for two types of elementary and three types of advanced training engines.

The upper line in the diagram shows that quantity production; of, training engines was reached in 1917, and that by the end of November, 1918, a total of nearly 18,000 training engines and more than 9,500 training planes had been delivered. Of the engines, all but 1,346 were built in the United States; and of the 9,500 training planes, more than 8,000 were of American manufacture.

Service Planes.

As soon as war was declared it became possible for American officers and engineers to learn the secrets of the great improvements that had been developed during the war in the design of airplanes used in battle service. A commission was immediately sent abroad to select types of foreign service planes for production in the United States.

A controlling factor in their selections was the necessity of redesigning the models so as to take American-made motors, as foreign engine production was insufficient to meet even the needs of the Allies.

Because of this and because of the rapidity with which the designs of the smaller planes were changing, the best allied authorities urged the concentration of American production on the more stable observation and bombing machines, leaving the production of pursuit planes to the European factories, which were in closer contact with the front. In the case of any plane selected only an estimate could be made as to its probable adaptability to a new type of motor, this engineering risk being less in the more conservative types of design. This consideration, together with the imperative need for quick large scale production, led to the selection of four types for this experiment: The De Havilland-4 (British) observation and day-bombing machine, the Handley-Page (British) night bomber, the Caproni (Italian) night bomber, and the Bristol (British) two-seater fighter. This selection was approved by the French and British authorities.

The redesigned De Havilland-4 proved to be a good, all-round plane of rather poor visibility, with a tank design which increased the danger in case of a crash, but with these defects more than compensated by unusually good maneuverability, and great speed. The De Havillands were acknowledged to be the fastest observation and bombing planes on the western front. At the time of the armistice this plane was being produced at a rate of over 1,100 per month. A total of 3,227 had been completed, 1,885 had been shipped to France, and 667 to the zone of the advance. The Handley-Page was redesigned to take two high-powered American motors, passed its tests, and on the date of the armistice, parts for 100 had been shipped abroad for assembly.

Delay in the receipt of plans for the Caproni greatly retarded the redesign of this machine. Successful tests of the new model were, however, completed previous to the armistice. The Bristol fighter was a failure. The changes necessary to accommodate the American engine so increased the total weight as to render the machine unsafe.

Diagram 36 shows the production of service planes from American and foreign sources. The total at the end of November, 1918, was nearly 7,900, of which nearly 4,100 were of American manufacture, and remaining 3,800 were of foreign manufacture. In other words, of every 100 battle planes which we received up to the end of November, 1918, 52 were of American manufacture and 48 were made in foreign factories.

Diagram 36. Production of service planes to the end of each month.

Two new models---the Le Pere two-seater fighter, and the Martin bomber---were designed around the standard American motor, and in tests prior to the armistice each showed a performance superior to that of any known machine of its class. Neither, however, was completed in time for use in actual service.

Service Engines.

The rapid development of the heavier types of airplane, together with the pressing need for large scale production, made necessary the development of a: high-powered motor adaptable to American methods of standardized quantity production. This need was met in the Liberty 12-cylinder motor which was America's chief contribution to aviation. After this standardized motor had passed the experimental stage production increased with rapidity, the October output being over 3,850. The total production of Liberty engines to the date of the armistice was 13,571. Of this production 4,435 were shipped overseas to the expeditionary forces and 1,025 were delivered to the British, French, and Italian air services. It is noteworthy that at the present time the British are requesting the delivery of Liberty motors to them in accordance with arrangements made during the war. ,

Other types of service engines, including the Hispano-Suiza 300 horsepower, the Bugatti, and the Liberty eight-cylinder, were under development when hostilities ceased. The Hispano-Suiza 180 horsepower had reached quantity production; 469 of this type were produced, of which about one-half were shipped overseas for use in foreign-built pursuit planes.

The columns of diagram 37 indicate the total number of service engines produced for the Army to the end of each month, and show how many of them came from American factories and how many from foreign ones.

Diagram 37. Production of service engines to the end of each month.

Up to the end of November, 1918, the total number of service engines secured was in excess of 22,000. Of this number more than 16,000, or 73 per cent, were from American sources and less than 6,000 from foreign sources.

Raw Materials

The American and allied airplane programs called for quantities of certain raw materials, which threatened to exhaust the supply. This was true of spruce and fir, lubricating oils, linen, dopes, and mahogany.

In order to meet the spruce and fir shortage labor battalions were organized and placed in the forests of the west coast, loyal organizations of civilian labor were fostered, new kiln processes were developed which seasoned the lumber rapidly, without loss of strength and resiliency. These methods solved the problem. Approximately 174,000,000 feet of spruce and fir were delivered, of which more than two-thirds went to the Allies.

Castor oil was at first the only satisfactory lubricant for airplane motors. The limited supply was far short of the prospective demand, but the situation was met by planting a large acreage of castor beans and the development of a mineral oil substitute.

To meet an acute shortage of linen for the wings of planes a fabric of long fiber cotton was developed which proved superior to linen.

The standard "dope" used by the Allies to cover the wings of their planes, making them air and water tight, was limited in supply and highly inflammable. A substitute dope, far less inflammable and of more plentiful basic materials, was produced.

Mahogany for propellers was partially replaced by walnut, oak, cherry, and ash, and by improved seasoning processes excellent results were secured.


Few facilities and little experience existed at the beginning of the war for the development of many of the delicate instruments and intricate mechanisms required in the equipment of service planes. Intensive research brought some notable results, of which several deserve especial mention. These are:

The oxygen mask, equipped with telephone connections which enabled the flyer to endure the rarified air at any altitude which his plane could reach without losing speaking contact with his companions.

The military parachute, which was developed to unprecedented safety. This was used principally for escape from burning balloons, and was improved so that it would bring down safely the entire balloon basket with its load. During the entire war there was not an American casualty due to parachute failure.

The electric-heated clothing for aviators on high altitude work. The electric suit, developed in the latter months of the war and used at the front, was lined with insulated coils through which current was driven by means of a small dynamo actuated by a miniature propeller driven by the rush of the plane through the air.

Long-focus, light-filtration cameras by which good photographs could be taken through haze from altitudes of 3 miles or more. Primary credit for this belongs to Europe, but America improved the mechanism and standardized the design for quantity production.

The wireless telephone, by which the aviator is enabled to converse easily with other planes and with ground stations. This development came too late to be of any substantial use at the front, but its value for peace as well as for any future war is obvious.


Diagram 38 allows the total number of observation balloons manufactured and the number that were shipped overseas.

Diagram 38. Observation balloons produced and shipped overseas each month.

In no field did American manufacturing capacity achieve a greater relative success. Before the armistice we had produced 642 observation balloons and had received 20 from the French. Forty-three of our balloons had been destroyed and 35 given to the French and British.

This left us with 574 balloons at the end of the war. On the same date the Belgian Army had 6, the British 43, the French 72, and the Germans 170 on the western front. These figures mean that at the end of the war we had nearly twice as many observation balloons as the enemy and the Allies combined had at the front.

Forty-Five Squadrons at the Front.

The American pilots of the Lafayette Escadrille were transferred from the French to the American service December 26, 1917, flying as civilians until formally commissioned in late January, 1918. They were then attached to and served with the French Fourth Army, operating over Rheims.

In addition to the purely American operations, two full squadrons were attached to the British Royal Air Force in March and June respectively, of 1918, remaining with the British throughout the war, and participated in the following engagements: The Picardy drive, Ypres, Noyon-Montdidier, Viellers, Bray-Rosieres-Roye, Arras, Bapaume, Canal du Nord, and Cambrai.

The strictly American aviation operations started in the middle of March, 1918, with the patrolling of the front from Villeneuve-les-Vertus by an American pursuit squadron using planes of the French-built Nieuport-28 type. These operations were in the nature of a tryout of the American trained aviators, and their complete success was followed by an immediate increase of the aerial forces at the front, with enlargement of their duties and field of action. By the middle of May squadrons of all types---pursuit, observation, and bombing---as well as balloon companies were in operation over a wide front. These squadrons were equipped with the best available types of British and French-built service planes.

The rapid increase in American air forces is shown in diagram 39. The height of the columns shows the number of squadrons in action each month. The squadrons were of four types: Observation squadrons, whose business it is to make observations, take photographs, and direct artillery fire; pursuit squadrons, using light fighting planes to protect the observation planes at their work, to drive the enemy from the air, or to "strafe" marching columns by machine-gun fire; the day bombers, whose work was the dropping of bombs on railways or roads; and the night bombers, carrying heavier bomb loads for the destruction of strategic enemy works.

Diagram 39. American air squadrons in action each month.

In April the American forces just going into active sectors had three squadrons, two for observation and one for pursuit. Their strength totaled 35 planes. In May, as the diagram shows, the squadrons were increased to nine. The most rapid growth occurred after July, when American De Havilland planes were becoming available in quantity for observation and day bombing service, and by November the number of squadrons increased to 45, with a total of 740 planes in action.

The equipment of American squadrons was in the early months entirely of French and British manufacture. American De Havilland-4 planes were first used at the front on August 7, and the number in service increased rapidly from that time on.

The total number of service planes that had been sent to the zone of advance by the end of each month for the use of American airmen with our armies is shown in diagram 40. The upper portion of the columns represents planes of American make, and the lower portion planes of foreign make. Of the total 2,698 planes sent to the zone of advance, 667, or one-quarter, were of American make and the proportion was rapidly increasing at the time of the signing of the armistice.

Diagram 40. Service planes sent to zone of advance by end of each month.

Of the 2,031 planes from foreign sources sent forward about nine-tenths were French. The planes sent to the zone of advance are approximately one-half of the service planes received by the A. E. F., the other half being in back areas.

The rapid rate of destruction of planes at the front is illustrated by the fact that out of the 2,698 planes dispatched to the zone of advance about 1,100 remained at the time of the signing of the armistice,

Important Operations.

Three major operations, marking the critical points in American participation in the war, also furnish a comparison indicating the growth of American air forces in action. These are: The Second Battle of the Marne, St. Mihiel, and the Meuse-Argonne.

Chateau-Thierry ---July.

On the Chateau-Thierry-Soissons front the Germans had at the start a pronounced superiority in the air. The American Air Service succeeded, however, in establishing the lines of contact with enemy airmen from 3 to 10 miles within the enemy's lines, photographed the entire front and the terrain deep behind the lines, and played an important part in putting German air forces on the defensive. The German concentration for the attack of July 15 was reported in detail and the location of the German reserves established, while the secrecy of the allied mobilization for the counterattack was maintained and the Germans surprised. The American force employed consisted of four pursuit squadrons, three observation squadrons and three balloon companies.

St. Mihiel --- September.

In capturing the St. Mihiel salient the American first army was aided and protected by the largest concentration of air force ever made, of which approximately one-third were American and the other two-thirds were French, British, and Italian squadrons operating under American command. Throughout this operation the German back areas were kept under bombardment day and night; their reserves and ammunition dumps were located for the American long-range artillery; propaganda designed to disaffect enemy personnel was dropped; record was made by photograph of every movement of the enemy's lines and reserves, such information being frequently delivered to headquarters in finished photographs within half an hour of its occurrence; and fast pursuit planes armed with machine guns flew low over the German lines, firing directly into his infantry.

Day bombers and corps and artillery observers were forced to fly low on account of the fog which hampered all the day operations, greatly reduced the visibility, and made infantry liaison especially difficult. This accounts for the fact that some trouble was experienced by the Infantry with German "strafing" planes.

The American air force employed consisted of 12 pursuit squadrons, 11 observation squadrons, 3 bombing squadrons, and 14 balloon companies. This large force performed an amount of flying approximately three times as great as was done during the Chateau-Thierry operations. Diagram 41 shows the number of hours spent in the air each week by American service planes at the front. During the last two weeks of July the flying time was more than i,000 hours per week. The week of the St. Mihiel offensive it rose-to nearly 4,000 hours.

Diagram 41. Hours spent in the air each week by American service planes at the front.

Meuse-Argonne --- September to November.

Because the Meuse-Argonne engagement covered a wider front and a more extended period of time, against an enemy who had improved his distribution of air force along the entire southern section of the front, no such heavy instantaneous concentration of planes as was made at St. Mihiel was possible. In this operation, moreover, less assistance was rendered by French and British flyers. The American force used during the engagement was considerably larger than at St. Mihiel.

During the six weeks' struggle, the losses were heavy, but replacements were brought forward so rapidly that at the last stage of the action the available American strength was greater than at the start. As shown by diagram 41, American air activities continued during the Argonne fighting on the same scale as during the St. Mihiel offensive.

Strength at Armistice.

At the signing of the armistice, there were on the front 20 pursuit squadrons, 18 observation squadrons, and 7 squadrons of bombers; with 1,238 flying officers and 740 service planes. There were also 23 balloon companies.

The Test of Battle.

The final test of the American Air Service is the test of battle. The final record is the record of the results of combat. Casualty figures are an important part of the record. American aviators brought down in the course of their few months of active service 755 enemy planes. Our losses in combat were 357 planes. This is illustrated in diagram 42. The record of our balloon companies shows a somewhat less favorable comparison between our own and enemy losses, the figures being 43 American and 71 German balloons destroyed.

Diagram 42. Airplanes and balloons brought down in action.


1. On the declaration of war the United States had 55 training airplanes, of which 51 were classified as obsolete and the other 4 as obsolescent.

2. When we entered the war the Allies made the designs of their planes available to us and before the end of hostilities furnished US from their own manufacture 3,800 service planes.

3. Aviation training schools in the United States graduated 8,602 men from elementary courses and 4,028 from advanced courses. More than 5,000 pilots and observers were sent overseas.

4. The total personnel of the Air Service, officers, students, and enlisted men, increased from 1,200 at the outbreak of the war to nearly 200,000 at its close.

5. There were produced in the United States to November 30, 1918, more than 8,000 training planes and more than 16,000 training engines.

6. The De Havilland-4 observation and day bombing plane was the only plane the United States put into quantity production. Before the signing of the armistice 3,227 had been completed and 1,885 shipped overseas. The plane was successfully used at the front for three months.

7. The production of the 12-cylinder Liberty engine was America's chief contribution to aviation. Before the armistice 13,574 had been completed, 4,435 shipped to the expeditionary forces, and 1,025 delivered to the Allies.

8. The first flyers in action wearing the American uniform were members of the Lafayette Escadrille, who were transferred to the American service in December, 1917.

9. The American air force at the front grew from 3 squadrons in April to 45 in November, 1918. On November 11 the 45 squadrons had an equipment of 740 planes.

I0. Of 2,698 planes sent to the zone of the advance for American aviators 667, or nearly one-fourth, were of American manufacture.

11. American air squadrons played important roles in the battles of Chateau-Thierry, St. Mihiel, and the Meuse-Argonne. They brought down in combat 755 enemy planes, while their own losses of planes numbered only 357.


Chapter Eight

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