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WASHINGTON, D. C., JULY 17, 1917.
STATEMENT OF BRIG. GEN. WILLIAM CROZIER, CHIEF OF
MACHINERY AND OTHER FACILITIES FOR MANUFACTURE OF RIFLES.
(See p. 937.)
The CHAIRMAN. “For the purchase or manufacture of machinery and other facilities for the manufacture of rifles, including the necessary buildings, range, etc., for the fiscal year 1918, $9,500,000.” Explain this item, General.
Gen. CROZIER. The United States has available for use in its own territory-that is, I mean in the territory of the United States proper and excluding the Philippine Islands, the Hawaiian Islands, and the Panama Canal Zone-something over 600,000 military rifles of the present standard model, which figure includes those which are in the hands of the troops, both Federal troops and State troops.
The CHAIRMAN. Is that the modern Springfield rifle?
Gen. CROZIER. Yes. The Ordnance Department has two plants for the manufacture of this rifle—one at Springfield, Mass., and the other at Rock Island, Ill. The combined capacity of these two plants working at the most advantageous rate_that is to say, working day and night-and under the supposition that the plants can be entirely devoted to the manufacture of new rifles—that is, that they do not have to use any of their facilities for the manufacture of spare parts for rifles, for the repair of rifles, for the manufacture of pistols, for the manufacture of machine guns, or parts for machine guns, or, as I stated, for anything else than the manufacture of rifles—is 1,500 rifles per day. The small-arms factory at the Rock Island Arsenal had been closed down prior to early last autumn and manufacture at the Springfield Armory had been proceeding at a rate not 20 per cent of the capacity of that armory. During this period of complete inactivity at the Rock Island Arsenal factory and of very greatly diminished activity at the Springfield Armory, the demand for workmen who had been trained in small-arms manufacture became enormous because of the orders for military rifles placed in this country by the belligerent powers of Europe. This demand, of course, absorbed immediately all the people who had been let out of the Government employ at its factories, and was still very far from being satisfied. So that the desperate demand for workmen continued for a long time and, because of not being met, contributed to something like misfortune on the part of the people who were engaged in this form of manufacture.
Now it was under such conditions that the work of rehabilitating the manufacture of arms at the two Government armories was undertaken pursuant to appropriations which were made in the Army act of about 10 months ago. Of course, you can see that it was impossible to start up any very great increase of the capacity suddenly; but on the whole, we have done fairly well. We have raised the number of employees at the Rock Island Arsenal from nothing to several hundred—I do not remember just how many now--and the
number of employees at the Springfield Armory has been trebled or quadrupled, and in each place the number of employees is now greater than it has ever been in the history of either establishment. This notwithstanding the fact that there had to be something very like a fight for this class of employees.
Mr. Sisson. General, how many shifts do you have a day in each factory?
Gen. CROZIER. We are working on two 10-hour shifts. We think that is the most advantageous rate.
The output of these two armories is not up to the figure which I have given you, but it is getting there, and I think it will reach that figure before the end of this calendar year. Now under these circumstances we have been plunged into this war. It is evident from what I have just told you that it is impossible to supply the troops which we can raise and will raise at the time they ought to be supplied with rifles of the standard model of 1903, ordinarily spoken of as the Springfield rifle. Therefore we have had to look for something else to supplement our own sources of supply. Among the foreign rifles which were being manufactured in this country, there was one of a model known as the Enfield rifle, model of 1914, which was and is being manufactured for the British Government at three factories, the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. factory, generally called the Winchester Co., at New Haven, Conn., the Remington Arms Union Metallic Cartridge Co., of which the factory is at Ilion, N. Y., and the Remington Arms Co., of Delaware, of which the factory is at Eddystone, Pa., between here and Philadelphia. The Remington Arms Union Metallic Cartridge Co. and the Remington Arms Co. are distinct corporations. These companies are all manufacturing this Enfield rifle, model of 1914, for the British Government.
The number which they have under manufacture is fast approaching completion, so that it is apparent and has been apparent for several months that the capacity of these three establishments will be available for the use of the United States, and it is equally apparent that it ought to be made use of. Of course, what we should have liked to do would have been to make use of this windfall of capacity in the manufacture of the standard model of Government rifle, the model of 1903; but these companies having just been through a very trying experience in inaugurating the manufacture of a new rifle, were decidedly of the opinion that an output of the Springfield rifle could not be guaranteed to commence within a year. They call that a conservative statement, and I agree with them, owing to the time which would be required for the special tools and fixtures and gauges which are necessary for mass production of such an article as a military rifle, particularly in this time when toolmakers and gauge makers and fixture makers in this country are in such demand in comparison with the supply that there may be said to exist almost a famine for them. The only thing we could do, therefore, was to utilize in some fashion the capacity of these companies for the continuation of the manufacture of the rifle which they were already set up for, namely, the Enfield rifle. But we did not wish to introduce into our forces a new model of ammunition.
We could take care of two models of rifles without any very great difficulty, but two kinds of ammunition, particularly when it is under
stood and remembered that this small-arms ammunition is the same kind of ammunition that is used in the machine guns, of which the employment has been so greatly increased in this war, would be a source of great danger of confusion; troops in a critical situation, finding themselves with the ammunition which they had with them and which they had relied upon not suited to their guns. Therefore we undertook a study of the question of so changing this rifle; that is to say, so changing the design of it that the two rifles manufactured would be fitted for the use of the American ammunition and not for the use of the English ammunition, the two kinds of ammunition not being interchangeable. Fortunately, that was found to be a matter of no very great difficulty. It did not involve the changing of many parts. Of course, the new rifles would have to be bored to a slightly different caliber, a difference of 0.003 of an inch, our caliber being 0.03 of an inch and the British caliber being 0.303' of an inch. With regard to that there has been a curious misapprehension, namely, to the effect that we expected to fire our bullets through the British rifle after such an alteration of the chamber of the British rifle as would admit our cartridge.
Of course, we never dreamed of doing any such crazy thing. Our rifle fires a little more powerful cartridge than the British rifle. Therefore one of the changes was a slight strengthening of the barrel, a change of design. Certain changes also were necessary in the feed mechanism of the magazines, but they were slight. The problem was entirely soluble and it has been solved. Sample rifles have been made firing our ammunition, and involving no enormous production of new gauges or new tools or new fixtures. It has involved some changes which has required some delay, measured in a few months. That delay has also been contributed to by our determination to get a better rifle than had been made for the British, that is to say, the rifle as made for the British Government was not interchangeable completely in all its parts as between the three different plants manufacturing it. We may not be able to get complete interchangeability either, but we will get a good degree of interchangeability as between the rifles manufactured in these three separate plants. That will require an overhauling of some of the gauges and bringing them to common dimensions, for which we have considered that we could well afford the time, the time not being very great. So that was the conclusion, to employ these three factories, to have them make the British rifle but modifying the design so that that rifle should use our ammunition.
Carrying out this plan we ran into a situation which had grown out of the relations between the British Government and these manufacturers. I think you all know in substance what that situation is. These manufacturers had undertaken the production of these rifles in large quantities for the British Government. Owing to the great many difficulties involved in such a tremendous undertaking which had not been thoroughly understood, some few of which I have mentioned to you, they found themselves unable to carry out their agreement, and a readjustment of their relations with the British Government was necessary. A feature of that readjustment was the taking over by the British Government of the cost of manufacture
and assumption by the British Government of the ownership of a large part of the machinery and equipment for rifle making in these plants, which at the conclusion of the manufacture and upon the completion of the rifles they were making became the property of the British Government. That machinery and equipment are essential to our program, and it is essential to any program for the production of rifles for the complete supply of the troops which we have started to raise and are expecting to raise for this war. Therefore it became necessary for us to arrange to secure it from the British Government. The machinery is very considerable in amount. There are something over 16,000 machines altogether in the three plants, the value of which has been carefully ascertained by chartered accountants in this country, and the cost, including the installation, has been certified to be $20,000,000.
The CHAIRMAN. Who certified that? Gen. Crozier. Chartered accountants in the United States. I spoke of the ascertainment of the value a moment ago. There has not been any estimate or ascertainment of the present value of this machinery. It is believed by those who have been closest to it and understand it best that its value now is considerably greater than its original cost of $20,000,000, because of the very great rise in the price of all machinery of that class since the time that this machinery was purchased. Under these circumstances we had conferences with representatives of the British Government and ascertained from them that they were willing to allow us to acquire this machinery, and we had some discussion as to the price that should be paid for it. To make a careful estimate of the value of each machine and of each article of equipment would have required a very long time, and even then would have been subject to the inaccuracies which come from an estimate. There is not any exact way of ascertaining what that machinery is worth. As I indicated a moment ago, there are those who think that if it was offered for sale now it would bring a higher price than was paid for it. I do not want to commit myself to any such assertion. I do not know whether that is so or not, but it seems to be a fact that is subject to verification that it did cost about $20,000,000. Now the conditions were such that its acquisition by the United States became an advantageous transaction to both the British Government and ourselves.
As I said, the machinery was indispensable to us in the manufacture of our rifles. We were in the position then of somebody who wanted something from some one else who had a corner in the market. There was not any other way by which we could acquire this machinery. It is not possible for it to be produced anywhere in the world by anybody for use by us in time for our needs. They have got what might be called an absolute corner in this machinery. On the other hand, the British Government had no use for it; that is, it had no use for the large part of it, although it had use for some of it. The supply of rifles which they have needed from this country has been completed. They do not need any more rifles from the United States. They are now able to take care of their
demands with their own home production in England, and this machinery was on their hands, and we were in the position from that point of view of effecting a squeeze perhaps——that is to say, almost anything that they
might get for this machinery would have been velvet. So there we were; one side having to have this machinery, the other being the only persons who could supply it, they having the machinery on hand and having no use for the greater part of it. Now, there was not any exact method of ascertaining under such circumstances as these what a proper price for the machinery would be. The British had used it for the manufacture of about 1,200,000 rifles. We have as our program the production in these plants, with the same machinery, 1,000,000 rifles. The numbers are practically equal.
So the representatives of the British Government and the representatives of the American Government after talking it over reached the agreement that the fairest price to be paid was one-half the cost; that is to say, the British for their 1.200,000 rifles which they had used this machinery for would stand half the cost of it and the United States for the 1,000,000 rifles that they expected to build with this machinery would contribute the other half of the cost, with the advantage to the United States that upon the completion of the manufacture, if it shall be completed with these 1,000,000 rifles, the machinery would remain the property of the United States; the title passes to the United States under that agreement and the machinery is available for continuing the manufacture of rifles if the further prosecution of the war shall call for it, or for such other use as we can make of it, replacement of some of our older machinery in our own armories, or any other use.
Now, the cost of the machinery having been ascertained and certified to be about $20,000,000—and when I say machinery I mean machinery and equipment and a few buildings put up for this special purpose and a little bit of land purchased for rifle ranges, etc., amounting I think to something like $10,000—and from this cost it was agreed that there should be subtracted $2,000,000 as representing the value placed on installation expenses and other intangible items, and the machinery which the British Government wished to retain the ownership of and ship abroad. This machinery is described as that which has not been uncrated or set up in the shops. It has not been used at all and has not been unboxed or put in place. That is one of the items, and there are some others going to make up the $2,000,000. Subtracting that amount from the $20,000,000 leaves $18,000,000, and that $18,000,000 is the sum which was divided, and the agreement which has been entered into, subject to an appropriation by Congress, is that the United States shall pay $9,000,000 for this machinery and equipment and certain small tools, etc., used in the manufacture which are on hand.
Mr. SHERLEY. What is the other $500,000 for!
Gen. CROZIER. The other $500,000 is for unforeseen expenses in connection with the transaction which may not be covered by other appropriations. You appreciate that the transfer of such an amount of machinery and equipment as this from one Government to another is a very considerable transaction. In ordinary times it would be called an enormous transaction. To list, inventory, inspect, verify the presence of, identify, mark, and transfer to the custody of our agents such an amount of machinery and equipment as that is a very great undertaking. The Ordnance Department, in addition to the other work that is thrown on it at the present time, is not organ