AUTOMOTIVE ordnance, Major-Gen. Wesson states, covers generally automotive weapons-motor vehicles used primarily as fighting machines in battle and hence equipped with guns and protective armor plate. He notes particularly that it is a special and non-commercial phase of automotive engineering.
After describing the mission, personnel, means, and procedure of the Ordnance Department, the author traces the development of the tank since 1918 and contrasts the modern 10-ton tank, which uses about 250 hp to propel it at speeds up to 45 mph while carrying a “payload” of armor, guns, ammunition, men, and equipment amounting to from 30% to 40% of its gross weight, with a 10-ton commercial tractor.
He explains that, when producing a tank, the Ordnance Department uses, wherever possible, commercially available components. When this cannot be done, he noted, a modification of a commercial component is used and, as a last resort, a specially designed ordnance unit is used.
In summing up what is yet to be done, he declares: “We need to make the initial cost of our equipment cheaper so that it may be more widely used and may economically replace man-power in peace, as I am sure it can in war; we must increase the life of our equipment so that we can afford to train with it and not lose sight of the war-time benefits of mechanization by being blinded by the high peace-time cost; we need to make our equipment more readily producible in quantity in order that, when M-day comes, we may get fighting machines quickly, cheaply, and in quantity; we need the continuation of a sympathetic understanding and cooperation of the greatest automotive industry in the world, so that this industry may not only be a potential factor in the defense of America, but a dynamic factor as well.”