Electrical Era

The ELECTRICAL ERA is introduced with this display.

Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS

The Twentieth Century brought more that the change from steam to electrical power. New techniques of metallurgy, of preserving metals, and of applying machine power to manufacturing were pioneered at the Armory. With the introduction of the M1, which could not be manufactured on the Armory’s ancient machinery, modern and more efficient equipment was designed and installed.

The two world wars caused dramatic, if temporary, changes in the work force as women replaced men in many jobs. After the Second World War research and development replaced manufacturing as the Armory’s preeminent function.

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Exhibits on manufacturing and workers from the 20th Century

Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS

The ELECTRICAL ERA exhibit area, cases 65, 66, 67, & 67
 
Steps in manufacturing the peep sight of the US M1 rifle
CASE 65


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Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS

MAKING THE PEEP SIGHT The M1 was a totally machine-made weapon. These photographs document the numerous steps required just to make one small component, the rear peep sight. Note that it begins as part of a steel ring cut from a long tube.

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M1 Rifle rear peep sight shown fully elevated
Shown above is a US M1 Rifle with the rear sight, a "peep" sight in which the shooter aligns the front sight through a small hole, is shown fully raised for long range shooting.

Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS

 
steps in the manufacture of the peep sight
Even a relatively simple part of the M1, like the rear peep sight, required many steps to complete. The Army produced many display boards like this to demonstrate the M1 manufacturing processes.

Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS

 
first step
1. Cutting steel tubing to length

Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS

 
step two
2. Grinding surface of rings

Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS

 
step three
3. Internal broaching of surface for peep sight hole

Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS

 
step four
4. Turning edge

Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS

 
step five
5. Warner Swazey Hand Screw Machine rough cut

Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS

 
step six
6. Milling edge

Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS

 
step seven
7. Fellows gear shaper

Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS

 
step eight
8. Broaching into sections

Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS

 
step nine
9. Brown & Sharpe miller cutting guide slots

Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS

 
step ten
10. Drilling and countersinking peep sight

Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS

 
step eleven
11. Knurling face

Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS

 
step twelve
12. Parkerizing peep sights

Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS

 
WOWs
CASE 66
WOW Kerchief
During World War II, when great numbers of men were in military service, their places on Armory production lines were taken by WOWs – Women Ordnance Workers. At one point some 45% of the Armory work force was made up of women. Kerchiefs like this helped boost morale among these women and also served a safety function by keeping long hair from being caught in machines.

Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS

WOWs The demand for skilled labor, regardless of religious or ethnic background, had long been a characteristic of Springfield Armory and had influenced the community which grew up around the facility. The two World Wars of the Twentieth Century created additional demands for labor, demands that could only be met by hiring women. During World War II Women Ordnance Workers, with their distinctive bandannas, contributed to the high productivity of the Armory.

 
Armory workers in two World Wars
CASE 67

Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS

In Two World Wars

In the midst of the technology of machines and weapons it is easy to lose sight of the fact that the workers were the Armory’s most valued resource. Persons with a wide variety of skills and aptitudes were required, not only to build the weapons, but to provide support functions to the Armory’s operations. These posters, badges, and other memorabilia from the period of the two World Wars help remind us of the human side of the Armory’s history.

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Springfield Armory 20th Century rifles
CASE 68

Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS

At the beginning of the Twentieth Century the weapons produced at Springfield Armory still required some hand finishing to complete production. By the time the United States entered World War II the weapons were almost completely machine made, and many of the machines had been designed at the Armory. By the time of the Vietnam War, however, the precision-made M14 could not compete economically with the commercially-produced M16.

Weapons displayed top to bottom catalog#

U.S. Rifle, Caliber .30-06 M1903 SPAR 6389

U.S. Semi-automatic Rifle, Caliber .30 M1 SPAR 768

U.S. Automatic Rifle, Caliber 7.62 mm M14 SPAR 3361

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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Springfield Armory National Historic Site
One Armory Square
Suite 2

Springfield, MA 01105

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