Torpedo

Torpedo

KATHERINE C. EPSTEIN
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Harvard University Press
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wpmts
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  • Book Info
    Torpedo
    Book Description:

    When President Eisenhower referred to the "military-industrial complex" in his 1961 Farewell Address, he summed up in a phrase the merger of government and industry that dominated the Cold War United States. In this bold reappraisal, Katherine Epstein uncovers the origins of the military-industrial complex in the decades preceding World War I, as the United States and Great Britain struggled to perfect a crucial new weapon: the self-propelled torpedo. Torpedoes threatened to upend the delicate balance among the world's naval powers, they were bought and sold in a global marketplace, and they were cutting-edge industrial technologies. But building them required substantial capital investments and close collaboration among scientists, engineers, businessmen, and naval officers. To address these formidable challenges, the U.S. and British navies created a new procurement paradigm: instead of buying finished armaments from the private sector or developing them from scratch at public expense, they began to invest in private-sector research and development. The inventions emerging from torpedo R&D sparked legal battles over intellectual property rights that reshaped national security law.Torpedoblends military, legal, and business history with the history of science and technology to recast our understanding of defense contracting and the demands of modern warfare.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-72628-4
    Subjects: History, Political Science, Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[xii])
  3. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-17)

    “Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action,” President Dwight D. Eisenhower informed his fellow citizens in his 1961 Farewell Address, “so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.” The need for constant preparedness and instantaneous readiness in turn demanded “an immense military establishment and a large arms industry,” the conjunction of which was “new in the American experience.” In the most famous passage of his speech, Eisenhower warned, “[W]e must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”

    Although the military-industrial complex is difficult to define,...

  4. 1 AMERICAʹS WEAPONS OF THE WEAK
    (pp. 18-38)

    Most histories of the US Navy in the 1890s emphasize two events: the publication of Alfred Thayer Mahan’sThe Influence of Seapower upon Historyin 1890 and the Spanish-American War in 1898. The former called for command of the sea through battleship fleets, and the latter demonstrated the ability of heavy naval guns to win an empire at Manila Bay and Santiago Bay. Both fit neatly into a broader narrative that draws a straight line from the emergence of the so-called New Navy of steel vessels in the early 1880s to Woodrow Wilson’s famous call for “a navy second to...

  5. 2 BRITAINʹS WEAPONS OF THE STRONG
    (pp. 39-65)

    In the decades before World War I, Great Britain was the most powerful nation in the world, and the Royal Navy was its most powerful arm. The body that oversaw the Navy was the Board of Admiralty—or simply the Admiralty. With roots stretching back centuries, the Admiralty was actually a medieval position known as the Lord High Admiral in commission, meaning that it was held not by an individual but by a group of individuals, collectively known as the Lords Commissioner of the Admiralty. The head of the Board was the First Lord, a civilian of Cabinet rank (and,...

  6. 3 THE US NAVY AND THE EMERGENCE OF COMMAND TECHNOLOGY
    (pp. 66-103)

    In 1915, when the relationship between the US Navy and its primary torpedo supplier, the E. W. Bliss Company, had become fractious, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels looked back in anger on their twenty-five-year history. He wrote:

    The relations between the United States Government and the Bliss Company have been peculiar, in that the latter have been the sole private manufacturers of torpedoes for the Government in the United States ever since we have been using these weapons. They have sold us many millions of dollars worth, and it is has been upon our suggestions and our expressed needs...

  7. 4 THE ROYAL NAVY AND THE QUEST FOR REACH
    (pp. 104-132)

    On October 20, 1904, Admiral Sir John “Jacky” Fisher became First Sea Lord. Two years later, the famous battleship HMSDreadnoughtentered service, a symbol of the naval arms race and Anglo-German antagonism that culminated in World War I. These events serve as familiar signposts in many narratives of the prewar period, creating a neat, linear account of the origins of World War I. The reality was far more complex and interesting. Fisher did not want theDreadnought, and he was not obsessed with the German threat. Too much was changing, technologically and diplomatically, to permit the Royal Navy to...

  8. 5 COMMAND TECHNOLOGY ON TRIAL IN THE UNITED STATES
    (pp. 133-182)

    In the five years before the outbreak of World War I in Europe, the Bureau of Ordnance suffered the consequences of its earlier errors in dealing with command technology—and it repeated them. First, the bureau’s dispute with the Bliss Company over superheater royalties, which had been simmering since 1907, boiled over, culminating in a lawsuit. Next, the Bliss Company tried to export torpedoes containing the balanced turbine, leading the government to file a lawsuit that went all the way to the Supreme Court. As both parties grappled with the consequences of their earlier actions, the pace of technological development...

  9. 6 A VERY BAD GAP IN BRITAIN
    (pp. 183-212)

    In July 1914, the Admiralty planned to convene a conference at Spithead. A wide array of strategic and tactical issues, such as “Position of Battle Fleets in war time with reference to employment in the North Sea” and “General consideration of the duties of Battle Cruisers,” was considered for discussion.¹ The July crisis and ensuing outbreak of World War I meant that the conference did not happen, but what is striking in reading over the agenda is the range and importance of topics that were up for debate because they remained unsettled. World War I caught the Royal Navy in...

  10. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 213-230)

    Sir John Fisher famously wrote, “Strategy should govern the types of ships to be designed. Ship design, as dictated by strategy, should govern tactics. Tactics should govern details of armaments.”¹ Less famously, the chief of the Bureau of Ordnance, N. C. Twining, wrote: “To make progress, change is inevitable; change diversifies type; the ultimate type develops the tactics for that type, and tactics must conform to material, not material to tactics, when material improves.”² In fact, as both men undoubtedly realized, too much was changing too quickly for industrial navies before World War I to achieve the neat, linear relationship...

  11. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. 231-234)
  12. ARCHIVAL SOURCES
    (pp. 235-238)
  13. NOTES
    (pp. 239-296)
  14. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 297-300)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 301-305)