Discover more from The Tactical Notebook
Untimely Explosions (Third Problem)
An Ordnance Decision Game
This is the fourth part of a multi-part decision game. If you have not already done so, please work through the first three posts in this series.
Solution to the Second Problem
The interim report of General Gossot, which dealt with events that took place between 2 August 1914 and 20 January 1915, described the correlation between the delivery of shells made by inexperienced contractors and a sharp increase in the number of 75mm guns destroyed by premature explosions. Nonetheless, you decided that providing batteries at the front with all of the ammunition they needed was more important than preventing the losses, in both men and matériel, that resulted from these accidents.
Thus, you redouble your efforts to increase the production of explosive shells for 75mm field guns. At the same time, you also devote a lot of time, trouble, and treasure to the production of shells of other types.
The Third Problem
On 18 February 1915, General Joffre, who commands all French field armies fighting in France and Flanders, reports a deficit of 176 75mm field guns. That is, he has 176 field gun crews that have everything that they need to take part in active operations - trained men, horses, vehicles, and accessories - except a 75mm field gun.
On 20 February 1915, General Joffre informs the minister of war that, because of a shortage of suitable ammunition, he intends to withdraw 380 of the 580 de Bange 90mm field guns employed by French field armies. (Since the onset of position warfare, these obsolete weapons, which had been adopted in 1877, had been employed to complement, and, at times, replace 75mm field guns.) He therefore requests that the rate of delivery of 90mm ammunition be increased to 4,100 shells per day.
On 1 March 1915, General Joffre sends a long letter to the minister of war that makes three points related to your sphere of responsibility.
Unless the armies at the front receive 60,000 75mm shells each day, he will have to curtail operations.
He can make good use of as many as 80,000 75mm shells per day.
He requests that, as the stock of explosives used to fill shells seem to be running short, the War Ministry reserve such materials for the production of shells for 75mm field guns.
On the same day, you receive figures for the production of explosive shells for 75mm field guns during the month of February 1915. On average, the experienced factories produced 22,500 such shells, the new workshops some 53,214. Thus, the total number of shells (75,714) produced each day exceeds the minimum requirement set by General Joffre. Better yet, it comes close to the goal he wishes to attain.
That’s the good news.
The bad news, delivered by General Gossot, concerns the relationship between some of the shells produced by new factories and premature explosions. In particular, Gossot has discovered that shells of bibloc construction are far more likely to cause such accidents as shells of monobloc construction.
Roughly half of the shells produced by new workshops, and all of those made by experienced factories, are of the monobloc type. That is, they are formed from a single piece of steel. Thus, a third of the total, more or less, is made up of bibloc shells, which are formed from two pieces of steel - one for the cylindrical body and one for the ogive (nose piece.)
What, General Baquet, do you do?
Please feel free to use the comments section to post your solutions. In doing so, please refrain from posting any information that gives away the historical ending. (There will be an opportunity for retrospective discussion, complete with sources, once we have finished with the series.)