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Other types of rockets, also developed by the National Defense Research Committee, are fired in large numbers from landing craft and have proved almost ideal for laying down a barrage to cover our soldiers and marines landing on hostile shores at the critical moment when the covering barrage from the guns of the covering fleet has to be lifted. An early use of rockets in such operations was highly effective in December 1943, covering the landing of our forces at Cape Gloucester.
Some measure of the importance now attached to rockets by the fighting services may be obtained from a recent Navy announcement of a program providing for the expenditure of about $100,000,000 a month for the procurement of rockets developed by the National Defense Research Committee.
Amphibious warfare, a type of fighting in which we excel today, was far less familiar to us for 4 years ago. The landing of troops against determined opposition, as on the shores of Sicily, Italy, and France, the atolls of the Gilberts and Marshalls, or rugged volcanic islands like Peleliu and Iwo Jima, presented complicated and dangerous problems. If screening smokes were to be used, their production and control must be carefully studied so they could be relied on with something approaching the certainty that could be placed on the effectiveness of the help of the gun and rocket barrages. Smokes had been used before, but their behavior was not well understood and the available smoke generators were so inefficient that their size and the quantity of fuel often made use next to impossible. Here was a first-rate illustration of the importance of fundamental scientific research. Physicists—including a former Nobel prize winnerphysical chemists, meterologists, mathematicians went to work on the whole problem of smokes and aerosols. They determined the properties of desirable types of smoke and their behavior under various atmospheric conditions. Then the engineers designed the smoke generators with greatly improved efficiency, and today the use of screening smokes is almost routine. Amphibious vehicles.
The National Defense Research Committee has not generally ventured into the field of developing new transport equipment, for the Army with the aid of the automotive industry of the country seemed better qualified. However, it did undertake two developments in this field which have proved of great value. The first was the now much publicized DUKW, an amphibious 216-ton truck, which has been made by the thousands. This versatile vehicle is of particular service in carrying essential supplies of food, guns, and ammunition from cargo ships to inland dumps behind the beachheads from New Guinea to Normandy. In this development fundamental research was necessary to obtain suitable hull characteristics, especially to meet the very severe requirements imposed by the necessity of being able to negotiate the surf on the landing beach. Most of this research was done by a firm of yacht designers working with the makers of the truck. The second development began as the designing of a small cargo carrier for use in the Arctic. Here a team of scientists was organized to obtain data concerning snow conditions, while the engineers were making their preliminary designs. Almost as soon as the Weasel emerged as a completed vehicle, the shifting scene of the war brought need for it in swamps and rice paddies and in the flooded valleys of Normandy, where it was known officially as the M-29C cargo carrier. Tropical deterioration.
The course of the war has taken our armies into the Arctic, into deserts, into jungles, and into tropical islands. Each change of theater has brought new problems for the scientist. One led to the creation, in 1942, of a Committee
a Tropical Deterioration to study the causes of the appallingly rapid deterioration of all sorts of equipment in jungle warfare. This group has isolated and studied the fungi, bacteria, and insects that are the cause of these losses, and bas been able to suggest protective substances and new methods of preventing *ropical deterioration that have appreciably reduced this loss. The savings are doubly significant when it is recognized how much the shipment to tropical areas has cost, often in lives and ships, even after the equipment has been made. serial gunnery.
In the field of aerial warfare, scientific research on the problems of flight falls within the province of the highly successful National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. To the National Defense Research Committee, however, falls the research on a wide range of projects concerning armor, armament, and equipment of planes. Rockets and radar have been mentioned. New lenses and improved cameras make their contribution to better aerial photographs by day and by night, and, thus, to more detailed knowledge of the enemy and to more accurate maps. Better sights have been developed for aerial gunners, and to make the gunners even more effective new training aids have been perfected. Among the latest of these is a frangible machine-gun bullet. Made of plastic instead of metal, it breaks up easily enough so that it may be fired with safety against an "attacking" fighter that is protected with a very moderate amount of armor. Thus the gunner may practice defending his bomber under conditions simulating actual combat. Chemical warfare.
Extensive research and development of new and improved chemical warfare measures, both offensive and defensive, has been carried on by the National Defense Research Committee. The strong position of our services in this field has undoubtedly served to deter the enemy from starting chemical warfare. Flame.
Recent B-29 raids against Japanese cities have called attention to incendiary bombs using a thickened petroleum fuel in place of magnesium. These are another development of the National Defense Research Committee. The research that laid the foundation for the M-69 bomb has borne other fruit, for it has led to greatly improved flame throwers. The greater range and accuracy of these new weapons has been well exploited by the marines in driving Japanese from machine-gun nests, caves, and dugouts. Welding.
Without welding modern methods of armament manufacture and ship construction would not be possible. Welding processes were well developed at the beginning of the war, but new types of armor plate, new steel alloys, and larger and more intricate welds created many new problems. The National Defense Research Committee has a large program devoted to the study and solution of these problems, and there has been satisfaction in seeing how rapidly the results are adopted by industry. Communication.
In bombers, in tanks, in submarines, and in many other places effective com munication between the members of the combat team is of prime importance. The National Defense Research Committee has made an extensive study of communication under such conditions and has found the solution to many of the problems. Improved microphones and headsets, improved methods for sound deadening, speech-training methods, and selected lists of words that are least likely to be misunderstood are but a few of the contributions. Another has been an ear warden or protector that has proved useful to workers in noisy defense plants as well as to men in combat. Damage assessment.
One of the problems of modern war is the selection of the most efficient weapons for a particular situation. Are large bombs or small bombs more effective against a particular target, or would incendiaries or some combination of incendiaries and high explosive be more effective? What is the minimum number of bombs that should be dropped to give reasonable assurance that the mine fields protecting a landing beach have been cleared? These and many other questions are continually arising. First answers are usually based on planned experiments and mathematical calculations. Then, as reports come from photographers or ground observers, the first answers are corrected and improved. In this kind of activity, the services of trained mathematicians are particularly important since it is frequently necessary to reason from very limited amounts of data, and only the refined methods of statistical analysis will give a reliable answer. Applied mathematics.
In many other fields of research, the extent of the mathematical problems has been tremendous and it would have lead to a serious waste of the limited number of trained scientists, had the physicists and chemists assumed the whole burden of mathematical as well as the experimental work. Through the organization of an applied mathematics panel within the National Defense Research Committee, the services of more than 110 mathematicians have been made available. At the same time, there have been set up special facilities provided with modern machine aids to computing, thus further speeding up the program and conserving precious trained manpower. Applied phychology.
Reference has been made earlier to the problem of adapting the weapon to the fighting man who will most use it and in training the fighting man so that he may use it intelligently. The part of this problem which relates primarily to the man has been assigned, for the most part, to the applied phychology panel. This group of psychologists has worked very closely with the Army and the Nary and with the research and development groups of the National Defense Research Committee. First there was the problem of selecting and sorting out personnel, particularly for certain types of duty such as radio man, radar operator, sound operator, or range-finder operator. Next came the problem of how to help train these men. In the short time available, the novelty of the new task and the need for training to simulate, at least in some measure, the conditions to be met under combat all made the problem more difficult. However, tremendous advances have been made and the present-day training procedures and training aids are far more effective than those that were available to us even 3 years ago. What we have learned by applying psychological research in wartime holds many valuable lessons for peacetime industry in the selection and training of personnel and in the design of tools. Transition to production.
New weapons and materials must be brought to bear against the enemy with a minimum of delay. The engineering and transition office works closely with the research laboratories on the one hand and the procurement branches of the Army and Navy on the other hand for the purpose of expediting measures necessary to large-scale production of weapons and materials developed by the National Defense Research Committee. This service is particularly needed where the development is done in nonindustrial laboratories for in such cases the firm selected by the services as the manufacturer must be introduced well before development is complete if long delays are to be avoided.
OFFICE OF FIELD SERVICE
The training of personnel just referred to does not, however, solve one other problem of new equipment. That is the problem of determining the most effecfive way for using the equipment. This requires the combined efforts of the scientists and engineers responsible for developing the device and the officer personnel responsible for directing its use in combat. The demand for scientists and engineers from the laboratories to accompany new equipment in the field roon reached such proportions and involved so many organizational problems, that it could not be handled effectively by the existing organization. A new unit within the Office of Scientific Research and Development was indicated as trcessary. On October 15, 1943, the Office of Field Service was established with Dr. Karl T. Compton, the president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the National Defense Research Committee, as its Chief.
The function of the Office of Field Service is to assist the Army and Navy in making the most effective possible use of new weapons, equipment, and devices
f war, and to aid in bringing to the National Defense Research Committee the information and data it needs as a basis for further improvement of these weap
US For the most part it does this by sending to the appropriate command, vientists and engineers selected because of their particular qualifications for the immediate task. These men are attached to the military commands and superate in close cooperation with the military and naval organizations. While they do not exercise command, the record has shown that their services are so valuable and so much appreciated that they are given effectively a large amount st responsibility. Their recommendations are sought and accepted, and the rall for these men is greater than can be met with the available supply.
During the first 15 months of operation, the Office of Field Service dispatched 14 men to areas outside the United States. During the year 1944, on the aver
ze, 3 men were sent out each week to some foreign assignment. Today, over 2) men are still at overseas stations. Geographically, the Southwest Pacific urea and the Pacific Ocean areas, have claimed about two-thirds of these travelers.
The apparent neglect of the European theater of operations is due largely to the existence in England and on the Continent of branch laboratories operating under the National Defense Research Committee. These laboratories were originally established to provide much needed help in the adaption of radar to the needs of the Air Forces operating from the United Kingdom. They have since been extended to give help in several other fields, and they have been supplemented, as well, by the work of the London staff of the liaison office of the Office of Scientific Research and Development. If the personnel of all these groups were to be included, it would be amply clear that the European theater has not been neglected.
The activities of the Office of Field Service do not lend themselves readily to generalities though they are broad in scope and varied in problem. At the general headquarters in two of the Pacific theaters, teams of scientists are now attached to the staff. While they are expected first to serve to bridge the gap between the scientists in the laboratories of the National Defense Research Committee and the Committee on Medical Research on the one hand, and the military command on the other, they are frequently called on to aid in the analysis of tactical problems involving the use of new weapons. They have given valuable aid in the utilization of radar, in the more effective use of flamethrowers, of rockets, and in the demolition of Japanese bunkers and underwater obstacles, in the study of fungus infections of the skin and infestation of food supplies.
Many of the assignments of Field Service personnel are of relatively short duration. While this creates additional administrative problems, it has the advantage of insuring that the man dispatched to the field goes out with the latest information from the laboratory and that the man returning to the laboratory will bring back up-to-date information of field conditions and problems.
There is in the Office of Field Service one group which has functioned longer han the others. Originally organized under the National Defense Research Committee, this group was later transferred to the Office of Field Service and it is now known as the Antisubmarine Warfare Operational Research Group or A. S. W. 0. R. G. This group has its offices in the Navy Building where it operates in very close cooperation with the Office of Commander in Chief of the United States Fleet. In this cooperative arrangement with the Navy, the group has rendered valuable service both in connection with the antisubmarine problems of the Atlantic and with the offensive submarine activity in the Pacific, and has ably supplemented the work of the laboratory staffs.
COMMITTEE ON MEDICAL RESEARCH The Committee on Medical Research operates through six divisions: Medicine, Surgery, Aviation Medicine, Physiology, Chemistry, and Malaria. In addition to its own staff, the Committee on Medical Research has the benefit of advice from the Division of Medical Sciences of the National Research Couuncil, which has established several advisory groups to aid the Committee on Medical Research in planning its work. The actual research is carried out through some 320 contracts. Antimalarials.
These bare statistics can, of course, give very little idea of the work of the Committee. Its largest single project, for example, having to do with the prevention and cure of malaria, involves studies in medicine, physiology, and chemistry as well as malaria itself. As a part of this program an extensive study of antimalarial drugs has been undertaken in which more than 12,000 different substances have already been examined.
While the search for new drugs is the key to radical improvements in our handling of the malaria problem, of even more immediate practical use have been the studies which the Committee on Medical Research has carried on to determine the best means of using antimalarial drugs already known. These studies have greatly improved our procedures for suppressing the development of malaria in troops exposed to the disease in tropical countries and in managing cases of malaria which do develop. Insect control.
The importance of malaria as a military hazard has led to an intensive study of insecticides and insect repellents, since if the mosquitoes within reach of the soldiers could be killed or could be prevented from biting the soldiers there would be no malaria. However, the study of insecticides has turned out to be much broader than the relation of insects to malaria. Scrub typhus, plague, and the dreaded filariasis, as well as many other diseases, are transmitted by insects. The attacks upon insects is, then, an attack upon a host of diseases to which soldiers may be exposed in distant places.
In its work upon insect control the Committee on Medical Research Division of Chemistry has had the benefit of aid from the Department of Agriculture and other Government agencies as well as industrial and academic research laboratories. Through its studies the value of three excellent insect repellents has been established. Moreover, the remarkable properties of the insecticide, DDT, have been discovered, and a program based upon findings of the Committee on Medical Research undertaken by the Army and the Navy with the aid of the War Production Board for the production of this new material on a large scale. Studies are still proceeding on the best methods of applying and using DDT and other insecticides, and the aid of the National Defense Research Committee's experts on smoke generation has been enlisted to produce better means for dispersing DDT in order to apply it over large areas.
Powerful new weapons may be harmful to us as well as to the enemy if they are not properly used. DDT affords an excellent example. It is so powerful in its effect upon insects that indiscriminate use at home might make it a serious threat to features of our own economy rather than a boon. For DDT does not discriminate between the harmful insects and the beneficial insects which are required for the pollination of flowers and, therefore, for the production of fruit, vegetables, and honey. Potentially at least it could over considerable areas render crops sterile no matter how painstakingly the farmer raised them.
The study of these possible repercussions from the use of the new type insecticides, while not a feature of warfare and not a proper undertaking of the Office of Scientific Research and Development, nevertheless placed a moral obligation upon the discoverers of so powerful an insect weapon to do what they could to see that these other aspects of its use were studied. Therefore, at the suggestion of the Office of Scientific Research and Development, the National Academy of Sciences has established an Insect Control Committee to bring together representatives of the various Government agencies concerned with all features of Insect and rodent control so that the study of these new products can be carried out in a balanced way which will provide information to protect us from the misuse of new substances, like DDT, as well as to indicate the best places in our economy for their employment. Blood.
In this war the treatment of wounded men with blood or plasma tranfusions has become a routine that has been one of the factors in the greatly reduced mortality of wounded soldiers. The Committee on Medical Research has carried on work in several fields of blood chemistry to facilitate the supply of blood and plasma for the wounded soldiers. It has become possible to transport plasma in dry form for use in the advanced stations of all fronts, thus supplying to the wounded the best substitute for whole blood. However, in many instances wounded men lose such quantities of blood that the transfusion of whole blood rather than plasma is required. This need has proved so great that whole blood is now being shipped by air transport from the United States to war theaters. Anticipating this, extensive investigations were directed to the improvement of methods of preservation of whole blood. The difficulty in preservation of whole blood lies in the fact that blood cells have a limited life and deteriorate more or less rapidly according to different environmental conditions. Methods commonly used in usual hospital blood banks permit the preservation of blood for transfnsion for about 6 days. Newly defined conditions for preservation, induding the use of a diluent called acid-citrate-dextrose solution and constant refrigeration, permit the preservation of blood in a state satisfactory for transfusion as long as 30 days. This extended period makes much easier the provision of blood to distant war theaters.
As a result of the Committee on Medical Research researches it has now become possible to fractionate blood plasma proteins so as to obtain valuable materials for stopping hemorrhage and for tissue repair, especially in neurosurgery, as well as materials useful in quite different branches of medicine. For example, the immune bodies in the blood of people who have had measles-a disease which is serious for young soldiers in barracks—may be fractionated out of the blood so that they can be given to susceptible soldiers to prevent an attack.