S. Berliner, III's sbiii.com ORDNANCE Page keywords = ordnance Aberdeen Proving Ground Jarrett Churchill Yuma tank armor track history self-propelled artillery gun cannon rifle recoil HARP Maryland airplane bomb shell cartidge casing ammunition ammo FLZ Franz Langenhan Zella Mehlis Kropatschek Werndl Steyr Gras Lebel Comet Authenticast Jeep

Updated:  06 Mar 2017; 22:50  ET
[original AT&T Worldnet Website begun 30 May 1996.]
URL:  http://sbiii.com/ordnance.html
[was at "home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasonics/ordnance.html"]

S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"

[consultation is on a fee basis]

Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher

note - The vast bulk of my massive Web presence (over 485 pages) had been hosted by AT&T's WorldNet service since 30 May 1996; they dropped WorldNet effective 31 Mar 2010 and I have been scrambling to transfer everything.  Everything's saved but all the links have to be changed, mostly by hand.  See my sbiii.com Transfer Page for any updates on this tedious process.

S. Berliner, III's




This continues on ORDNANCE Continuation Page 1.

Please refer to the HELP section on Continuation Page 3.


On this main Ordnance page:
  "Jeep" vs. "GP"   new.gif (11 Jan 10)
  Unindexed ORDNANCE APOCRYPHA, below

On the Ordnance Continuation Page 0:
    (combined here from the Main Page and Continuation Pages 1 and 2 on 18 Dec 2006).

On the Ordnance Continuation Page 1:

    (Moved from Ordnance Page 2 on 12 Feb 2002).

On the Ordnance Continuation Page 2:
  RAILROAD GUNS     (now continued on separate page)   new.gif (05 Jan 2012)

On Ordnance Continuation Page 3:
  CALIBER (Calibre).
  Anzio Annie
  Russian Armor

On Ordnance Continuation Page 4:
  Drake Cannon
  Coastal Defense Guns at Fort Casey
  M274 Mechanical Mule
  M3 Medium Tank - Lee vs. Grant (01 Mar 2015)

On Ordnance Continuation Page 5:
  Arsenals (to follow)
  The Incredible M½ Ultralight Tank. new.gif (06 Mar 2017)

On the Ordnance Atomic Cannon Page:

On the Atomic Cannon Page:
  Atomic Cannon CQ (Seek You = HELP!)

On the Atomic Cannon Continuation Page 1:
  Atomic Cannon in Asia!

Atomic Cannon Pictures Page.

On the 175mm "Baby" Atomic Cannon Towed Mount Page.   added (12 Jan 2013)
  175mm "Baby" Atomic Cannon Towed Mount
  Atomic Cannon Background.

On the Ordnance Railroad Guns Continuation Page:
  RAILROAD GUNS     (continued from Ordnance Continuation Page 2)   new.gif (05 Jan 2012)

The Ordnance Supergun Page - Fantasy:
  Newton's Orbital Cannon
  Jules Verne Moon Gun
    and harsh reality:
  Paris Gun
  Valier-Oberth Moon Gun
  5 inch HARP Gun
  7 inch HARP Gun
  16 inch HARP Gun
  Babylon Gun
  Jules Verne Launcher (the Hunter Gun)
  Chinese Supergun

Ordnance Models Page.

G. B. Jarrett Ordnance Page (Ordnance Museum founder).

Comet Metal Products Authenticast Models Page.

- WWII tank ID plates and nameplates available on cont. page 2!

"Jeep" vs. "GP"

This is an old story, noted on my Chrysler page 1, and it is wrong, WRONG, WRONG!  Sorting through old records, I ran across a letter dated 15 Jan 1993 from Ray R. Cowdery (n.o.f. of Lakeville, Minnesota), Jeep expert par excellence.  I had questioned the designation "GP", which I'd always "known" stood for "General Purpose".  Ray put me and the matter to rights most specifically, so I will quote his letter almost verbatim here, even preserving the format to a great extent:
    new.gif (11 Jan 2010)
" - - - regarding the question of the meaning of the letters GP which Ford Motor Company used to designate their early production 1/4-ton
4x4 trucks produced for the US Army.

The General Purpose definition of GP was accepted for many years in the absolute absence of any sort of reasonable proof of
etymology.  It was simply another of the many fables that surrounded and continue to surround the famous 1/4-ton (like the
"cheap-jeep-in-a-crate" story -- I'm the guy that has offered up to $50,000.00 for one for the past 7 years.  No takers).  So
well accepted was the General Purpose definition, that everybody who wrote about the "jeep" stole the fable and used it WITHOUT EVER
THINKING ABOUT IT.  Even the guy who wrote the November '92 article for Smithsonian liked the fable!  The lack of thinking
about it and the general unwillingness to do actual research to support conclusions are the reasons this fable survived unchallenged
until the publication of my book, All-American Wonder, volume I in 1986.

In my research for that book I was never able to locate an original US Government reference to wanting a "general purpose" 1/4-ton in any of
the source material.  Rather, the US Government repeatedly stated that they wanted a specific purpose vehicle - a "tactical vehicle"
called a "truck".  To fill that bill Willys-Overland produced the MA, Bantam made the BRC-40*, and Ford built the GP. But why did
Ford call their 1/4-ton a GP?

After a great deal of research I found the answer to that question in a very rare manual in my own collection.  On page 1, section D1
of the book SERVICE SCHOOL FOR US ARMY INSTRUCTORS ON FORD US ARMY VEHICLES (1941) dated 5 August 1941, was an explanation of the
Ford Parts Numbering System.  A portion (and the only relevant portion) of that page says:

	2. Prefix
	   The first digit in the prefix indicates the year for which the
	   part was designed as follows:
	   "8" for 1938
	   "9" for 1939
	   "0" for 1940
	   "1" for 1941
	   "G" Government unit regardless of year.

	The second digit.... has the following significance:
	   1 Stands for 85H.P.  V-8
	   2  "      "   6OH.P. V-8
	   9  "      "   95H.P. V-8
	   N  "      "   4-Cyl
	   P  "      "    80 W/B Reconnaissance Car

			End of Direct Quotation


			page 2, GP fable

So there you have it!  GP means "Government 80-inch Wheel Base
Reconnaissance Car", and nothing else.  Remember, it was Ford
that assigned the GP designation - the US Government DID NOT do it!

Incidentally, I am one of those people who would not even accept my mother's
statement that GI means Government Issue unless I could independently corroborate
the story.  Thank goodness that's the way Smithsonian is edited, and I'm happy to
have been a part of their jeep efforts.
- - -

{s. - Ray Cowdery}

Ray Cowdery

* BRC-40 means Bantam Reconnaissance Car - 1940.  Not very "general".

PS:  the amphibian version of the 1/4-ton 4x4 was never officially called a "Seep".  Ford's
    designation for this vehicle was GPA, (because it was a Government 80-inch wheel base
    amphibian) and so it is known in all parts books and manuals."
Ray even copied various Smithsonian functionaries, the Ordnance Museum, and Bill Withuhn, then-Curator of Land Transportation at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

    [Sorry 'bout the slight delay, Ray!]

There is more about Jeeps (and the Mini-Jeep) on my Chrysler page 1.   added (16 Mar 2016)


Army ordnance buffs should# visit the Ordnance Museum at Aberdeen Proving Ground off Routes 40 and I95 just south of Havre de Grâce and the Susquehanna River Toll Bridge - very much worth the time (and allow plenty of that, in proportion to your interest!).  There are acres of tanks and armored vehicles, domestic and foreign, of all eras, Anzio Annie, a 280mm Atomic Cannon, a 16" coastal defence gun, a V1 buzz bomb and a V2 rocket, and a great indoor museum with a fine small arms collection!  This fabulous museum is an absolute must for the ordnance devotée!  The formal collection began with one Major Raymond C. Marsh ca. 1925, who was given (assumed) the task of cataloging all the WWI items the Army had collected as a result of the Westervelt or Calibre Board.  It was Major Marsh who came up with the the catalog system still used by the Museum today.  The collection was greatly augmented by aquisition of much of the vast personal collection of WWI-vintage arms and armor of Col. G(eorge). B(urling). Jarrett, who later (WWII era) became Curator; his airplanes went to the Paul Mantz and Rhinebeck Aerodrôme collections.

[Origins of museum collection revised 13 Apr 00 per Dr. William F. Atwater, the present Director.]

Much more on the Ordnance Museum on Page 2.

See also the The Patton Museum of Calvary and Armor at Ft. Knox in Radcliff, Kentucky; it features the evolution of Armor and includes exhibits of armored vehicles.

The Ordnance Museum has links to many other similar museums at http://www.ordmusfound.org/museums.html.

New to me in the NYC area (Danbury, Connecticut) is the Military Museum of Southern New England, where they apparently have a 1917 WWI Ford or Renault tank, an M-18 Hellcat tank destroyer, an M-22 Locust (the parachutable minitank), an M-8 6x6 armored car, a PzKpfw II (Ausf. 1), a towed 40mm AA gun, a 105mm Howitzer, and some 10,000 other items.

    (If you're in Danbury, visit the Danbury Railroad Museum;

    they have/had an ex-U. S. Army ALCo RSC/D-1/4/5{?} locomotive.)

When engines were hard to come by during WWII, Chrysler engined the M4A3 Sherman medium tank series (the Canadian Sherman V) with a really-strange A57 motor made from five (5) readily-available Royal 6 L-head engine blocks and heads, arranged in "W" fashion [ _\|/_ ], with a common crankcase and crankshaft, sort of like a weird cross between a radial and an in-line aircraft engine.  Much more on this unusual engine at my Chrysler A57 Multibank Engine page.   rev (08 Oct 2011)

Visit Chris Shillito's UK site, Armour in Focus; these guys not only preserve 'em, they RUN 'em!

WOW!  French war buff Philippe Gorczynski found and has now unearthed a near-intact British World War I Mark IV Female tank at Flesquières near Cambrai (on 19 Nov 98)!

This news from Long Island NEWSDAY, 20 Nov 98, with a picture showing the left track dislodged and the right one missing.  Sunday's THE NEW YORK TIMES Week in Review for 22 Nov 98, Section 4, page 2, shows M. Maurice Lavallée and neighbors watching the tank being unearthed with an explanation that it was abandoned by the British in 1917 and buried by the Germans to be used as a bunker (no tracks show).  Northern Light Search Engine reports "'Monster' first war tank unearthed - Scholar with metal detector discovers legendary war machine that terrified Germans buried in a French field since battle of Cambrai - Summary: The battlefields of the first world war disgorged one of their last and most legendary monsters yesterday - an almost perfectly preserved British 26 ton tank.  It was discovered - with guns, engine, tracks and interior intact - when a war scholar's metal detector went off the scale in a field at Flesquieres, northern France" - from the Guardian (presumably the one from Manchester).

When new, the Mk. IV Female looked like this ("Male" tanks had cannon, "Female" tanks had only machine guns):


There is a WWI Flesquières Mk. IV story (in English) on the site of the French l'Association 1914-1918 (28 Feb 06), replete with a full text and many photographs.

Here is the Mk. IV at Aberdeen's Ordnance Museum:

(Ordnance Museum Foundation Photo)

WOW!  From the Net, with no attribution, a captured Mark IV being paraded in Berlin:

WWI Brit Mk IV Berlin

[see below for another kind of "Mark IV"]

I had an early and abiding interest in tanks and armored vehicles and had (still have) an enormous collection of model tanks and such.  The highlight of my collection was/is a complete set of all Comet Metal Products ( Authenticast) die-cast tanks and armored vehicles in 1:108) scale@.  At the tender age of 14 or so, I wrote to President Truman to try to obtain a model of the M-48 Patton tank he'd just been presented; the Chief of Ordnance, himself, replied, with photos and drawings of the new tank!  From those photos, I modified an Authenticast M-26 Pershing to approximate the M-46 Patton and Comet used it as the development model for their new M-46!  I was next accepted as the youngest member ever in the (then) Army Ordnance Association, later the American Ordnance Association, and now (with a typical modern gobbledegook name) the Defense Preparedness Association.  Then I worked as an Engineering Aide at Aberdeen Proving Ground summers while in college in the early '50s and then full time for a while as a Certified Ordnance Proof Director.  I was in the old Development & Proof Services and some of my time was spent testing vehicles, especially the Mechanical Mule* ½-ton 4x 4, while the bulk of the time I was in the Tank and Self Propelled Artillery section.

* - I saw one in St. Charles, Illinois, in 1999; what a surprise!  Much more about the Mule is now on Ordnance Page 4.

@ - See the Authenticast Atomic Cannon and the Honest John on Continuation Page 2 after Railguns.  For those who know of them, I have a complete set of all the AUTHENTICAST tanks and military vehicles in a custom-fitted display case, plus the 280mm and an Honest John rocket on mobile launcher (Jimmy 6x6), both too big for the case, plus the original reference manual.  I even recovered and have the prototype M-26-cum-M-46.

[There is also more on the U. S. Army Ordnance Museum on Continuation Page 2.]

While there (APG), at first, I drove a 1949 Chrysler New Yorker 8 sedan (I have another, a Highlander 8 club coupé, now), the Silver Anniversary car with an enormous hood and trunk lid; once it was parked directly behind a gun emplacement where I was firing the 120mm AA (antiaircraft) gun.  It was cool and dry (read dusty) so I had the windows shut tight.  After the firing test, I came back to find the car looking like a double-ended angry alligator!  The shock waves had popped both the hood and the trunk lid (without breaking the locks!) and they stood gaping.

One night, driving back from home on Long Island down old Route 40 (there was no I-95 yet), I spotted one each Soviet Zis, Zim, and Pobeda passenger cars rolling sedately along.  The next night, in the old Maryland Restaurant, I was busily yapping to my buddies about this amazing occurrence.  I lived in civilian housing on base (in T-2001, for afficionadoes) and, when I returned, I found a pair of huge MPs waiting for me.  With no explanation, they unceremoniously bundled me off, even though I was a civilian, to the Provost Marshal's office.  I was charged with treason for talking in public about a secret project!  When I ascertained that the secret proect was the testing of the three Soviet cars, I cracked up.  The PM didn't think there was anything funny about a clear-cut case of treason, so I asked his indulgence to either call a lawyer or be escorted to my quarters by the MPs for only a moment to get evidence to clear myself; he wisely chose the latter.  The MPs hung on me like glue while I hunted through my piles of magazines (even back then there were piles of them).  I then returned triumphantly to the PM, waving my copy of Popular Mechanics in his face.  "See, see," shouted I, enjoying his total discomfiture as he saw right on the cover a color photo of the three cars taken in Poland where the CIA or whoever had obtained them, with driving impressions, if not a road test, inside.  So much for my treason!

I only had one other run-in with the MPs; I was leaving the BOQ to attend the wedding of a friend, the Deputy Base Commander's daughter, in the Post Chapel.  By then, I had traded the Chrysler for a 1948 Jaguar 3½-litre drophead (the so-called "Mark IV"), a huge and very rapid 4-passenger convertible with separate wings (fenders) and gigantic, free-standing Lucas P-100 headlamps.  Running late (also characteristic even then), I really barreled away, accelerating so hard that my seat back popped loose and fell into the back seat, carrying me with it.  I was now in the enviable position of having my foot jammed onto the accelerator in first gear while lying flat on my back, well below the cowl, with the steering wheel jammed in my chest, it having pulled back to its farthest extension as I fell backward. With the head (top) down, I had a grand view of the sky and telephone poles and wires whizzing past, when I heard sirens come up alongside.  I could steer straight by the phone lines but couldn't lift my foot off the accelerator and onto the brake pedal.  Finally, I killed the ignition and shuddered to a stop.  As I jammed the wheel forward and pulled myself upright, I found two pairs of very unhappy MPs awaiting my resurrection.  They didn't seem to care at all for my explanation but cared less for the idea of explaining to the General why I had missed his daughter's wedding.  So, with lights blazing, sirens screaming, and horns blaring, I arrived most dramatically, under escort, at the chapel.  Immediately after the service, I departed equally grandly for the PM's office.  Matters there were greatly expedited so that I could get to the reception on time.

Here she (the car, stupid!) is, with the head in the landaulet position, at Havre de Grace just after arrival in Maryland:

1948 3½-litre D. H. at Havre de Grace
(that's a friend's 1949 Mercury*,
partially hidden by the balcony,
the one mentioned on the Ordnance Continuation Page 2}

{see above for another kind of "Mark IV"}

* - What model was this Mercury?

APG and other Maryland old-timers will recognise the SRTB (Susquehanna River Toll Bridge) pass tag attached above my New York State license plate.

One episode when I SHOULD have been run in was when I noticed the laxness of a particular security guard and decided to have some fun.  I am tall and fair, with (then) light blonde hair.  I found a suitable-sized picture of a particularly ugly gorilla and carefully pasted it over mine on my high-level security pass.  For nearly a year, I got away with this until the enormity of it hit me; this guy had a wife and children and would be cashiered out if caught.  So I peeled the poor gorilla off and put him in the circular file.  Still, it WAS a great gag.

Proof Officers and Proof Directors had enviable safety records but there were inevitable foul-ups.  Once, while traversing a firing range directly behind the firing line, I heard the chant, "Ready on the right, ready on the left, ready on the firing line!", followed immediately by a warning whistle and "FIRE!", all in far too rapid succession, and I found myself directly behind a BAT 105, a 105mm Battalion AntiTank recoilless rifle, as it fired.  No one had checked to the rear.  All I could recall was a blaze of yellowish-red light and incredible heat and then coming back to consciousness sitting up while sliding rapidly away from the firing position on very rough concrete!  Oooh, that smarts!  My hair stank and was very much shorter and my eyebrows were just plain missing. Amazingly, other than a sore butt, I had no injuries.

Range Safety Officers did a bang-up job of making sure that everything was safe before firing tests could proceed but, again, there was the occasional goof-up.  One dear soul was boozed up on the job, a very definite no-no; he gave me an all clear, sounded the siren, and away I went, firing high-explosive shells 'way down range, over a wooded copse.  Well, "copse" almost had an "r" in it (a whole bunch of them); there was a work party in the woods when the shells started landing and bursting all around them.  All of a sudden, a Jimmy 6x6 came flying out of the woods on an access road perpendicular to the firing front, with laborers of a dark complexion falling off and running like mad to get back on, just like in the cartoons.  It may be politically incorrect to note this but you really could see the whites of their eyes, opened wide with terror.  The Range Safety Officer was cashiered for that one, and properly so.

Another time, although no one was directly at fault on this one (it was one of those errors of omission, not commission), I was firing proof slugs (test dummy rounds) from the 175mm Baby Atomic Cannon for maximum range, i.e., at a very high elevation.  Now, Aberdeen is some 20 miles north of Baltimore and suddenly there was an alarm and all firing had to cease.  The captain of a Swedish freighter in the Baltimore ship channel had just radioed the Coast Guard that his vessel was being fired upon by a large-caliber gun.  It seems that nobody, certainly neither I nor the ballistics people, realized that I had the vertical energy to fire into the stratosphere and Meteorology determined that my rounds happened to get caught in a strong southerly stratospheric wind that gave them an extra 10 miles range.  When those cast iron slugs hit the water coming down at terminal velocity, they geysered every bit as much as a giant naval shell exploding!

We were super careful around explosives, wearing anti-static guards and never smoking and so forth; however, the inevitable always inevits.  I loaded a 120mm casing with a full charge but did not put the fiber plug in before I went to lunch.  I was testing an extremely high-energy propellant, so it didn't take very much space in the casing, plus I was testing at -60°F in the cold room, so the charge was reduced, anyway.  Well, my buddy came back from lunch before I did and, seeing the apparently empty casing, put in another full charge and the plug.  I then cold-soaked the round and fired it at 0º elevation.  At -60ºF, steel is about as flexible as an ice cube and the double charge simply blew the entire breechblock clean off the gun!  I heard this muffled blast, far more energetic than just the muzzle blast should have been, at the same instant that I beheld the back doors of the cold room majestically open outward in a puff of smoke and frost and the entire breech mechanism come flying backward through the opening, tumbling over and over and turning white with a rapidly-accumulating coat of frost.  It tumbled across the lawn behind the cold room until it fetched up exactly one foot from our office building, where the staff stood in the windows, frozen with horror at this approaching apparition.  The right-hand door of the cold room slammed heavily into the wall alongside but the left-hand door was on an outside corner and it bent neatly in half as it folded itself around the corner.  That was a most expensive oversight, indeed!

[I apparently forgot to note here (or lost) that I ran around bare-chested that halcyon summer, with the ambient temperature jammed at 120°F in the shade!  I ran in and out of the -60°F cold room that way, never thinking that the thermal shock could have caused my eyeglass lenses to shatter explosively (they never did).  But, what DID happen was that the sweat on my face and arms and torso froze instantly and fell on the floor of the cold room like hail and, when I went back outside (VERY quickly), I was instantly covered with a thick layer of frost and couldn't see through the glasses at all!]

Another time, I was setting up a 76mm high-velocity anti-tank gun for a demonstration before Congress.  I was to fire a proof slug against a piece of heavy armor plate 'way downrange; it would make a whale of a lot of noise and be very dramatic!  Well, the day before the demo, I was ranging in on the target when a huge buck hove into view.  In those days, the range was over-run with deer that ate into unexploded WWI ammo in the middle of the night with earth-shaking results, ate the telephone cables, starved every winter, and generally were regarded as vermin.  I'm not terribly proud of it now, in retrospect, but we waited until the buck was directly in front of the plate before firing the slug; there was a puff of red and two antlers went sailing into the air!  Next we got the exact range and the slug hit the plate dead on, rebounded, and came straight back at us (it missed)!  Needless to say, laborers went right out and tilted the plate differently.  Happily, no human was injured in any of these little shenanigans.

Anent that Mechanical Mule, the M274 ½-ton 4x4 vehicle was really little more than a platform with a collapsible steering wheel and some pedals up front and a horizontally-opposed 4-cylinder (originally) pancake engine under the rear deck.  One day, running tests on the Mule out on the open range, I had the Mule parked in front of an instrumented electronics van.  The Mule starts with a pull-cord, just like an outboard motor.  The shift gate is a wee bit sloppy and this one was pretty well worn out from incessant testing.  As the driver, standing in front of the Mule, yanked on the cord, the engine fired up instantly, just as the shift linkage jumped itself into first!  The driver jumped out of the way as the Mule lurched forward; the Mule buried its front in the side of the van and then tried to turn the van over!  The Mule's engine stalled when the van and the Mule each reached 45º, the van tilted sideways with the Mule reaching skyward.  Well, that's Government property, so I called for the MPs (I seem to have had an affinity for those great guys).  When the investigator asked who was the driver of each vehicle, I answered "Nobody".  Why was it that the MPs never seemed to like my stories?  We went around on the usual "Whaddya mean, nobody?" bit; eventually they accepted that good, old "Nobody" was at both wheels.  So much for Government forms!

Much more on the Mule at M274 Mechanical Mule on Ordnance page 4.

[Additional unindexed Ordnance apocrypha was moved from here to:
Ordnance Continuation Page 0 on 18 Dec 2006.]

    (Ordnance apocrypha continued on Ordnance Continuation Page 1)

I ran (08 Feb 2000) across the Website of the British Royal Armouries, which you simply must visit (especially Fort Nelson at Portsmouth, with its artillery collection)!

So much fun (and I got paid for it); such grand stories!

[Continued on Ordnance Continuation Page 0).]



  What happens to all this when I DIE or (heaven forfend!) lose interest?  See LEGACY.


See Copyright Notice on primary home page.

U.S.Flag U.S.Flag


THUMBS UP!  -  Support your local police, fire, and emergency personnel!

Contact S. Berliner, III

(Junk and unsigned e-mail and blind telephone messages will NOT be answered)

© Copyright S. Berliner, III - 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017  - all rights reserved.

Return to Top of Page