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December 08, 2006

On the issue of whether to let officers be in charge of procurement or not...

...better known as the "Answer to the Whatziss" posed earlier this week.

Also known as the dangers of a college education.

This one.

The Great and Powerful Og got it right, as did Rick and Rod - it's a gauge. Pogue sorta fell into my visual trap (I figured people would try to find it to be a fuze) and stumbled into the answer backwards.

It's a gauge used to check fuze setters. It's post-WWII Brit, though the US has equivalents.

Gauge, Testing, Fuze Setter No 1

In use, looking sorta like this.

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Expensive piece of kit, when procured, I don't doubt. It's made of tough stuff so that it can handle the use and still maintain it's dimensional integrity and accuracy.

So what's this got to do with the title of the post, you ask? Simple.

But you'll need to go to the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry to find out.

As I was gathering the stuff for picture taking, I paused when looking at the assembled gimcrackery.

Various fuze setters

I instantly detected the presence of Officers In Peacetime. I make a living studying things and ideas for the Army, and I've been a combat developer myself. I can sense the odor of the ordure of Officers in Peacetime.

See, we've got a problem. Someone gave the artillery some new-fangled things called mechanical time fuzes. Like these two.

Well, ya gotta be able to twist 'em, when seated on the projo, to align the marks that match the time setting the Fire Direction Center sends to the guns. And you don't want these things to be all loosey-goosey, so they're made with some decent resistance so that the spin imparted during firing doesn't cause the fuze setting to change. And artillerymen do their jobs outdoors in all weathers, so wet, slippery, muddy hands could also use some mechanical advantage.

So, obviously we need a gizmo to help the soldier do his job.

Enter the Officer.

The M28 fuze setter, shown here on an M564 MTSQ (Mechanical Time Super-Quick) fuze, was obviously designed by an officer. With an Engineering degree.

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How can I tell? Well, lessee, no less than two settable dials, made out of hard, expensive steel. I mean, look at the engineering and manufacturing effort that went into this thing.

That big handle? Nicely rubber covered? It contains two C-cell batteries. And a switch. Because that triangular projection just above the scales on the dial... contains a light. So that the Gun Bunny (Hi Frank!) can see those close-set numbers on the dial at night. Of course, because we ended up making it do all things for all fuzes, it has some scales that are on the edge of the setter, where the light doesn't shine... but hey, they tried, right? Yep, a lighted fuze setter, with comfy grip, ability to set the scales on multiple fuzes in all weather, that has to be made in a precision machine shop by highly trained and experienced personnel. Which we will then give to people who will, because they're in a hurry being shot at and need to move, toss it in the back of the track and move out. Or leave it behind.

So, after some years of use (and expense), we give the officers another shot - and this time, we tell 'em to ditch that fancy stuff and stick to the basics. Heh. But... well, they're officers, probably engineers and graduates of West Point, and they just can't help themselves.

And they come up with the M23. Okay, that's an improvement. Got rid of the light, simplified manufacture, kept the comfy handle, and made the scales easier to read. It only costs half of what the other one does (no, I actually have no idea what these guys cost - I'm sure it's on the 'net somewhere though...).

The Democrats take power, and they wanna spend money on something else, so they cut the budget. Some ROTC grad with a degree in forestry is given the job of coming up with a cheaper, even simpler, and please, cheaper and more robust a fuze setter.

Alright! *Now* we're getting somewhere! The M27.

M27 Fuze Setter

Kewl! It's got three pieces. The big, cheap, aluminum casting with a little machining required. And two little steel pieces (one of them a rivet) which will engage the notch on the fuze. Darn near indestructible, easy to use, and, for officer-work, cheap too.

But, the Dems are still in power and budget pressures are tight. So the Army implements an incentive program that will pay for good ideas - significant sums of money, too, if the savings from the idea are big enough.

So, an enlisted soldier, someone like frequent commenter fdcol or pogue, looks around, grabs a piece of mild sheet steel, does some cutting with a torch, grinds off the edges and submits this design for a fuze setter that does what all those others do, and costs about $1 after the stamping die is made. The M27.

M27

He takes his money and immediately retires to Florida.

Um, and my undergrad degree is in Geography and I went to a Land Grant college. Why do you ask?

Comments on On the issue of whether to let officers be in charge of procurement or not...
fdcol63 briefed on December 8, 2006 10:36 AM

LOL - thank goodness SOMEONE had already made it simpler for my limited "junior enlisted" brain by the early '80s! We predominantly used the M34, but also used the M27 on occasion.

The others would have been much too complicated for us non-officer types! LOL

Pogue briefed on December 8, 2006 11:01 AM

That's great! You don't mind if I print this out and post it on the unit bulletin board, do you?

John of Argghhh! briefed on December 8, 2006 11:31 AM

Well, only if *everyone* who reads it promises to come visit and gimme traffic anyway.

I want you to keep a roster, and check 'em off as they comply...

Hey - I'm an officer, remember?

MajMike briefed on December 8, 2006 03:22 PM

still too complicated.

i'm guessing a flat tip screwdriver and a BFR to hit it with wouldn't work?

Pogue briefed on December 8, 2006 03:50 PM

Well, I have used a Leatherman tool to set an M577...

LarryK briefed on December 8, 2006 04:10 PM

My favorite dispay at the Cavalry Museum at Ft Riley is the display of Army saddles over the years. It starts out in the mid 1800's and ends in the mid 1940's. The saddles start very simple ... have additions ... gets to heavy for the horse ... are gradually simplified ... and the 1940's saddle looks almost exactly like what they started in a hundred years before.

og briefed on December 8, 2006 06:06 PM

Way cool! It's hard to tell from the pics, is the gauge graduated in degrees around the tapered part? That would make a great deal of sense.

Nicely done.

og briefed on December 8, 2006 06:07 PM

Way cool! It's hard to tell from the pics, is the gauge graduated in degrees around the tapered part? That would make a great deal of sense.

Nicely done.

John of Argghhh! briefed on December 9, 2006 08:37 AM

Og - the gauge is graduated in seconds, to match the fuze setter settings.

MajMike. Only a tanker with "open protective" would want an artilleryman setting time fuzes with a screwdriver and a rock.

What we did was change the fuzes to use a screwdriver - as Pogue notes. With nice big black numbers on a white background (looks just like an odometer). I'll post a pic when I get back from this weekend in Boston.

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