Retrotechtacular: Firepower For Freedom

As the United States were settled, its leaders found that they needed firepower to preserve freedom. This became especially apparent during the military engagements of the era, so a number of specialized facilities were founded to manage the research, development, manufacture, and dissemination of different types of munitions.

Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey was the place for both nuclear and conventional weapon development. The men and women working in this facility created anti-personnel devices, including a flexible, adhesive charge called Flex-X that could be affixed to almost anything. This demolition charge could be layered for increased power, and could even detonate underwater. Picatinny also developed new rocket engines, propellants, and liquid propulsion for projectiles.

In Pennsylvania, a small-arms ammunition plant called Frankford Arsenal developed a duplex rifle cartridge. That is, a lead projectile fires on target, and a second one sitting behind it in the cartridge shoots at an angle, landing an inch or so near the lead bullet. Frankford workers also ground precision optics for target sighting and centering, and developed a case-less cartridge. Propellants geared for a wide variety of uses also came out of Frankford. These propellants were employed to deliver nerve agent antidotes, inflate life rafts quickly, and eject pilots from sketchy situations.

The Edgewood Arsenal in Baltimore specializes in the research and development, manufacture, and supply of chemical weapons. They are particularly adept at fire suppression. Edgewood research has provided civilian benefits as well, such as an anthrax vaccine. In addition, Fort Detrick, Maryland contains a biological R&D wing where vital antidotes and vaccines are developed.

All of this R&D and manufacture was orchestrated by the Ammunition Procurement and Supply Agency (APSA) located near Joliet, IL. In addition to reviewing all contractor bids with equal consideration, APSA controlled distribution, maintaining inventory on large computers that could crunch numbers like nobody’s business.

Retrotechtacular is a weekly column featuring hacks, technology, and kitsch from ages of yore. Help keep it fresh by sending in your ideas for future installments.

61 thoughts on “Retrotechtacular: Firepower For Freedom

  1. “As the United States (..) needed firepower to preserve freedom.”
    I thought it was irony… but not.
    Retrotechtacularly retrospectively ridiculous propaganda. It´s all about glorious PAST of USA here…

    “Preserve freedom” … through weapons ? Who does still believes that ? Seriously ? I mean OUTSIDE USA ?

    “Retrotechtacular is a weekly column featuring hacks, technology, and kitsch from ages of yore” this time it goes definitely in the KITSCH

          1. Such as when?

            It appears authoritarians in USA now allow attacks to commence in order to solidify their own sense of self importance, while manufacturing patsies they railroad.

            It is what it is. Armed people waving their weapons around insisting they are keeping us safe, while normal people shrink back in growing horror.

        1. I definitely don’t consider myself combative, having not been in more than a heated argument in over 20 years. But I do exercise my right to be armed.

          I have decided to bear arms, you have decided not to. This is what makes the US great, the right to have an opinion and make the decision ourselves.

          Removing firearms from circulation, so some feel safer, is as much an affront to our rights, as forcing every citizen to take marksmanship lessons and own weapons. If we lose one of our constitutional rights, where does it end? Lose the right to bear arms today, could lead to everyone being forced Muslim or Buddhist tomorrow, could lead to the police/military being able to search your home anytime they want, just because they are bored.

          1. @Noirwhal
            All of these guns didn’t prevent anything…..your right…..other than if it were not for Americans and their guns, we would be speaking a different language right now and being ran by a huge dictator only looking out for themselves making the economy worse (worse than Obama that is)

    1. Yes, the preservation of freedom through firepower. Ideally owned by the citizenry. The Swiss and the Americans thought that right was so foundational to the preservation of individual freedom that it was written into their highest laws (in America’s case, the 2nd Amendment in the Bill of Rights to our Constitution).

      I understand there are plenty of pacifists in Hackaday’s readership, but there are also many of us who believe in going about peaceably armed each and every day, and in our countries having arms to protect the citizenry from foreign invasion.

    2. As the United States were settled….
      Sorry, I didn’t get pass the first sentence. Are we talking about 1776, Louisiana Purchase, when Hawaii and Alaska were added? Are they currently settled?

      1. The artcle and video appear to be discussing post-war issues.

        So its freedom to wage a 30 year cold war against russia – why? Because it was good for authoritarian-centric businesses and also authoritarians.

        1. This was from the middle 60’s, when the normal people veered to more positive attitudes but the authorities were well into a hysterical fear of the so-called ‘domino effect’ and the spread of communism after first seeing the establishment of the soviet bloc and china going communist and then later the asian issues with Korea and Cambodia and Vietnam andsoforth. A fear which was pushed a lot by so-called think tanks who ‘advised’ the people in Washington.
          It wasn’t all directed at Russia at all though, they had the Vietnam war and China and stuff.

          Oddly now it’s sort of reversed were the common man fears the spread of islam but the authorities in the west insist they see no trend at all and there is absolutely nothing to worry about.

        1. I’m not sure what you’re talking about, I’m not sure you do either.

          Alexander the Great conquered much of the ancient world from Greece to Egypt and into northwest India. My impression is you’re referring to the Roman Empire, if so he was a a couple centuries too early for that.

          And then something about religion destroying their empire? Again if you’re referring to the Roman Empire; unrest, decay, corruption and civil war destroyed it more so than religion. But it lasted approximately 500 years and for most of it they were certainly well prepared for war.

    3. By your logic, we can safely remove all state troopers from the interstate roads, and no highway robbery would commence, but I wouldn’t bank on it. You could ban all *weapons*, and there would still be guys with sandbags waiting to knock you out and bury you alive if the remote byways were left unguarded. Then again, everything is the man’s fault, isn’t it?

  2. Let’s be logical: The imperialist defects and pirates needed firepower to win the battle for a new frontier against countries who had been doing the same thing in Europe-Asia for thousands of years, and peaceful natives.. That was just 2.2 centuries ago..

    HackaDay is around 0.11 centuries old for people who can’t quantify a century in their brain..

    Also, America only uses less than 15% of the engineering and science they’ve paid for with defense spending, and that doesn’t factor foreign engineering they borrowed for the total.. Just in case anyone is curious how a country accumulates trillions in debt and has to cheat national statistics by boosting production at their mints..

    1. “America only uses less than 15% of the engineering and science they’ve paid for with defense spending”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_United_States_federal_budget#Total_outlays_by_agency
      Defense spending isn’t that much more than 15% of the budget. Interesting , eh?

      But we spend over 50% on social programs,and I doubt they have 15% ROI, so in a way defense spending is at least producing _something_

      I’d still say the 0.5% spent on NASA is the best ROI we’ve got though, by a big margin.

      1. Your numbers are way off. This isnt the place, but USA spends more than the rest of the world combined on “defense”.

        Social security in usa is self funding – it isnt part of the normal ‘social programs’ budget count- but right wingers include it anyway, for obvious reasons.

    2. Notice how Americans get hostile towards social programs, meanwhile the country has about half as many employers as it does citizens who are of legal age to be employed and that unemployed dependent half are usually blocked from health-care to the point they develop more costly issues that in the end cost more money to tax-payers than the regular care would have.. Don’t dare ask what that other half are suppose to do without government support, logically sound explanations are the work of the devil and the politician/pastor isn’t having that..

      Prison industrial complex anyone? Let’s all be ‘humane’ and ‘intelligent’ with our nations problems. It’s not like we can’t manufacture more money to avoid looking like a failure to the world who we are mostly in debt to anyway..

      Also if we are going to show off US defense spending: US spends $581,000,000,000+ a year just on it’s defense budget, Russia spends $70,000,000,000+ and has hypersonic ICBMs that DARPA and Northdrop Grumman can’t figure out how to track along with it’s own ABM and SAM that can stop >>>ALL<<< US ICBM, Drones, F22, F23, B2 etc..

  3. I was expecting some level of propaganda, this was a video to be shown to solders after all. In 1966, we needed to explain to newly drafted grunts why they were drafted but the college bound engineers weren’t. Why they would get “Dear John,” letters, and the geeks would get married.

    But holy hell, we needed guns because of “growing pains” in America? We had to “roll back the western frontier with firepower”?

    I’m beginning to see where the classic “liberal at 20, conservative at 40” line comes from; people who grew up under this kind of propaganda are the cause. Let’s call those what they were, massacres of natives and a war fought because a newspaper and a political party wanted a fight. Wait, that last one sounds very familiar . . .

    Okay, back to watching what I hope will switch to tech at some point and not be filled to the hilt with more chest pounding machismo.

    1. Liberals are against war, generally speaking… Its a diametric opposition.

      You would think all the ex-soldiers and especially draftees would vote against war.

      Instead our country has been heavily propagandized to the point of being, I claim, Post-Morality.

      1. Very wise words, imho.
        The original video certainly shows a cool invention, nice plastic explosive, but it’s dripping from cheap ass propaganda the Soviets would be envious off.

    2. I always figured the liberal at 20, conservative by 40 thing was more of a growth of critical thinking skills/ general crankiness as people get older.

      Personally, I went through the progression of Anarchist / socialist / progressive / conservative left / libertarian / all other people are morons, oh God, just let them leave me alone / Meh.

      I’m just resigned to the movie “Idiocracy” becoming increasingly prophetic. Every time I watch it, it seems a little less ridiculous…..

      (All political leaning labels such as ‘progressive’ or ‘left’, etc. are from the American point of view. Simply for Tris at the first post. Because you know, nothing outside of America really matters. Unless you want to hear wailing and gnashing of teeth.)

      In case you didn’t notice, I’m still in the Meh zone at the moment. I don’t know what comes after that. I’ll probably go back towards the Anarchy wing again. Only question is will it be a left or right leaning Anarchism? (Yes there is such a spectrum)

      1. Oh, and you guys got me sidetracked. LOOK PEOPLE! ROCKETS! Other things that go BOOM! Fun stuff with chemistry!
        Isn’t that what we should be here for? Ignore all the propaganda? Laugh at it for the silliness it really is and appreciate the innovation going on, no matter for what purpose?

        Instead, we get sidetracked right away.

        ROCKETS! Just saying.

      2. I have to disagree slightly with you…

        Liberal at 20
        Liberal at 30
        Liberal at 40
        And still…
        Liberal at 50

        I’ll call you if there’s any change.

        But I have to say… Oh cool, the Frankford Arsenal, I grew up near there.

      3. The statement is supposed to imply that with age and wisdom comes conservative political beliefs.

        I personally disagree strongly. i think as people age their willingness to harm others for their own gain increases.

      1. Way better from my POV.

        All this freedom rhetoric in the country with the most prisoners per capita and total?

        All this peace rhetoric from a country that foments revolutions in foreign lands?

        All this bravery rhetoric when our marauding military murders millions of people from the safety of advanced aircraft, ships and drone bases?

        I think American propaganda is incredible.. It is very depresssing.

  4. Bit embarrassing that nowadays all those weapons and clever designs are sold to insane countries who certainly won’t ever be confused as having any affinity for freedom.

  5. Came for Tony Stark comments, saw the usual f*ckery from entitled people raised off the blood of others who will trash a city over perceived injustice or their sports team but claim defense of a people from slavery, destruction, or freedom is “not worth dying over”. Love all the “imperialists America” haters coming from a land that was busy screwing over India not even 20 years ago, pretending that they had nothing to do with any of this sort of thing…

    But back to the geekism I came here to find

    ” They say that the best weapon is the one you never have to fire. I respectfully disagree. I prefer the weapon you only have to fire once. That’s how Dad did it, that’s how America does it, and it’s worked out pretty well so far” -Tony Stark

    1. Blah blah, rick.

      We dont go into countries to save people. We do it for cash-money, and power projection.

      If you actually think USA invaded Iraq, Afghanistan, Lybia, Syria, etc, just in recent memory, “to help people” – I am afraid you need to work very hard understanding the issues.

      Trying to write off the negative opinions of imperialism as you have shows a crass and cognitively disingenuous world view.

  6. HaD, please don’t mind the comments. I don’t want to have future videos excluded from Retrotacular just because some whining naggers want to talk politics instead of technology.

  7. I am a Brit and we lost the right to bear Arms about 1930. It went alot worse in the Eighties after a School Massacre in Dunblane, all handguns & Civilian Rifles were melted down after this.. As an ex Gun (Rifle) and Firearms License owner I really regret losing my Hobby.. I am though consoled a little at least, that here we stand a great deal more chance of being Killed by Lightening than by any type of Firearm, wit a Murder rate 1/5th that of USA.. The Cops are a bit trigger happy sometimes, though better than US. Many Thousands are Killed every Year in the US by Guns and lack of proper-affordable Healthcare. Gun Rights are OK But what about the right to safety of Kids, to get decent Medical treatment for poorer families or the elderly?..

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