Jump to content


Photo

American Armaments Corporation


  • Please log in to reply
26 replies to this topic

#1 Rich

Rich

    intellectual bully ilk

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 4,427 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:WW II, Current Defense Issues, Military History in General

Posted 27 March 2018 - 1446 PM

This is a section from my work in progress For Purposes of Service Test, which is a history of the U.S. Army Armor Force in World War II and its interactions with Ordnance and industry I kind of got side tracked in looking at John Browning's 37mm gun development...maybe another post...which then took me to the AAC. Over the years I have read a lot of misinformation about that organization, hopefully this clears some of it up. Enjoy, comments and corrections are welcomed. Unfortunately the footnotes don't transfer, so they are at the end. Since a lot of posts from here were of untold help I thought this would be a good place to post this.

 

The American Armament Corporation (AAC) of New York also offered candidates to fill the 37mm gun requirement. AAC was incorporated in New York by Alfred Joseph Miranda Jr. and his brother Ignacio on 15 December 1933 as a subsidiary of their international trading company, Miranda Brothers Incorporated, which they had formed in 1922 ostensibly to sell automotive vehicles and aircraft to South American countries. The Miranda brothers with their web of corporate contacts were some of the more colorful – and perhaps shady – characters in prewar and wartime America. They were born in Mexico in 1897 and 1898 respectively, claiming to be “descendant of early Spanish colonists in Mexico” who gave up their “hereditary Spanish title of Condé de Eras y Soto” when they became naturalized American citizens in 1930. Their father set up a Mexican export business in New York, but struggled after backing the wrong side during Mexico’s Madero Revolution in 1910. During the Great War, Alfred served with the Office of Naval Intelligence and later both brothers maintained close contact with Navy officers at home and abroad. In 1921, the brothers took over their father’s defunct business and renamed it Miranda Brothers, Inc. the next year.

 

The brothers got their first taste of being “merchants of death” in 1920, when a Colombian naval and military purchasing mission approached Alfred to act as a translator and agent. He put the Colombians in touch with the Driggs Ordnance Company, which specialized in building naval ordnance. In 1926, they began selling aircraft for Major Alexander P. de Seversky in Europe and Asia. By the mid-1930s AAC was closely connected with Driggs, Curtiss-Wright, Poole Engineering, and Brewster Aircraft, all of which were busily engaged in selling or attempting to sell munitions to various South American countries, including Bolivia, Chile, and Colombia, when they ran afoul of the United States Neutrality Act. In September 1934, the brothers, along with some of the other officers of their company and others from the Electric Boat Company, Driggs, Curtiss-Wright, Pratt & Whitney, United Aircraft Exports, Inc., Federal Laboratories, Inc., Lake Erie Chemical Co., and U.S. Ordnance Engineers, Inc. were called to testify before U.S. Senator Gerald Nye’s (R-ND) committee investigating the munitions industry, war profiteering, and its relationship to the U.S. entry into the great war. During his testimony, Alfred Miranda famously – or perhaps infamously – remarked regarding the use of bribery in South America, “…I guess that they have been doing business that way for a great many years, Senator. Maybe the Europeans taught them to do business that way.” In the aftermath of their testimony the brothers, along with the president of Curtiss-Wright and others, were indicted in January 1936 for violating the embargoes of Bolivia and Chile during the Chaco War. Their convictions were first overturned in lower court, but then upheld on appeal to the Supreme Court in a precedent-setting decision affirming the supremacy of the executive branch of the federal government in the conduct of foreign affairs. In February 1940, the Miranda brothers began a one-year sentence at Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary.

 

However, their pending prison time did not prevent the brothers from pursuing business – with whoever would pay.

 

In March 1938, Ignacio, acting as agent for the government of Japan, contacted Seversky with an offer to buy 20 fighter-bombers through a dummy corporation set up by the Miranda’s. They aircraft were shipped to Japan later that year, but the New York Times exposed the sale, ruining Seversky’s relations with the Army Air Corps and further blackening the Miranda’s reputation.

 

Also in 1938, AAC completed construction of the “Tucker Tiger”, famed automotive designer Preston Tucker’s “antiaircraft combat car”. Lightly armored and armed with a 37mm automatic gun (probably the AAC-built Baldwin gun), the Tucker Tiger armored car was capable of 74 MPH – on good roads – but Ordnance turned it down after testing at Aberdeen in November 1938.

 

After they were released from prison in early 1941, the brothers began lobbying for a Presidential pardon, without success. However, with the world now at war, business at least was good. In 1939, Alfred had convinced Brewster Aircraft president James Work to make them exclusive agents for Brewster’s foreign business at a 12 1/2% commission rate. While selling aircraft for Brewster they also acted as agents successfully promoting Melvin Johnson’s automatic rifles and light machine guns to the Netherlands Purchasing Commission. The energetic brothers soon had orders flowing in from Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Finland, among others, but Brewster soon ran into a problem – the company could not afford to both pay the brothers and expand its limited workforce and plant capacity. Soon, the orders were backlogged and the entry of the United States into the war did little to help. Work cut the Miranda’s commission rate, but they continued to bleed capital from Brewster that was needed for expansion of the plant and workforce. Production at Brewster lagged and the Navy briefly took over the company from Work, who returned in early 1942, just in time to be the subject of lawsuits for financial mismanagement by stockholders and for back commissions owed by the Miranda brothers. The suit was settled in May 1943 and awarded the Miranda’s $4.2-million, $3.6-million of which had already been paid them as commissions. However, the Miranda’s fortunes were also waning. In 1943, an explosion destroyed the AAC ammunition plant at Derry, Pennsylvania and the government turned over control of the main AAC assembly plant at Rahway, New Jersey to Vultee Aircraft Corporation, effectively ending the company’s existence and the brothers direct involvement in the war.

 

The gun AAC proposed as an antitank gun apparently utilized a cartridge and projectile similar to the Ordnance-designed M2A1. It was a conventional semi-automatic, hand-loaded gun on a simple, split-trail carriage. AAC gave it the company designation of M-21 and reportedly completed 60 of them, beginning in 1937, but they were not accepted by Ordnance. Some were later sold by AAC to the Dutch Purchasing Commission in 1941.

 

AAC also promoted a 37mm gun design first proposed by Dr. Samuel Neal McClean, a dentist and inventor, in 1902 for the Ordnance Department. McClean’s gun was a fully-automatic, gas-operated, clip-fed weapon with a non-recoiling barrel. Unfortunately, its performance left something to be desired and after two rounds of testing Ordnance rejected it. The McClean Arms & Ordnance Company investors were so disappointed they refused to underwrite further development and the company collapsed. Undeterred, McClean joined Driggs-Seabury Company in 1909 (it became Drigg Ordnance in 1915) and continued development of his gun. In 1916, Imperial Russia, desperate for ordnance, contracted Driggs for 300 of the “improved” model McClean gun (known as the “Maklen” gun in Russia). Poole Engineering Company of Baltimore, Maryland, manufactured 268 and delivered 218. After McClean’s death in 1930, Driggs sold the rights for the McClean gun to the Miranda brother’s AAC, purportedly for $10,000. About the same time, AAC acquired the rights to the Baldwin gun from Poole and by the late 1930s was vigorously promoting themselves to the U.S. Army and foreign governments as “manufacturers of Field, Naval, Aircraft, Tank, Antiaircraft and Antitank Cannon.”.

 

However, while AAC photographed many prototype guns mounted on various types of carriages for its sales catalogs, it appears they manufactured relatively few actual guns. The largest order for 37mm guns filled by AAC was for the Dutch, who ordered 40 of the 50 caliber McClean guns on naval mounts on 25 September 1940 and later placed an initial order for 305 single and twin-mounted 44-caliber guns for fitting in tanks ordered from the Marmon-Herrington Company (a total of 594 guns were eventually required, see Chapter 9: Commercial Tank Designs). Nevertheless, many historians continue to conflate the Browning-Colt designed T9/M4 37mm Aircraft Cannon with the AAC guns, often stating they were designed by the “AAC Division of Oldsmobile”, when no such entity in fact existed.

 

Hearings Before the Special Committee Investigating the Munitions Industry, (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1934), pp. 549-552.
“A. I. Miranda Weds Miss Bayard”, The New York Times, 2 December 1973.
Hearings Before the Special Committee, p. 551; “Aviation: Mirandas to the Sidelines”, Time, 10 May 1943, p. 81. Ignacio managed a stock market account for Commander James H. Strong and in September 1938, Alfred Miranda acted as go-between for his acquaintance British Squadron Leader Frederick W. Winterbotham of RAF Intelligence in the Air Ministry, with Sidney Cotton, a British entrepreneur, in forming a company to do clandestine aerial photography of Germany. Roy C. Nesbit, Ultra Versus U-Boats: Enigma Decrypts in the National Archives, (Barnsley: Pen & Sword Military, 2008), p. 5; Hearings Before the Special Committee, p. 658.
Hearings Before the Special Committee, pp. 461, 551.
“Aviation: Mirandas to the Sidelines”, Time, 10 May 1943, p. 81.
Hearings Before the Special Committee, p. 622; see also Frank I. Schechter, Trade Morals and Regulation: The American Scene, 6 Fordham L. Rev. 190 (1937).
299 U.S. 304, United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp. (No. 98), December 21, 1936.
Time, 10 May 1943, p. 82; The Baltimore [MD] Sun, 16 February 1940, p. 4.
Robert Hucker, "Seversky: Innovator and Prophet." Air Classics, 20th Anniversary Special Edition 1964–1984, 1984, pp. 70-71; James K. Libbey, Alexander P. De Seversky and the Quest for Air Power (Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books, 2013), pp. 140-142.
David Haugh, “American Armament Tucker Tiger”, Wheeled Fighting Vehicle Data Sheets, (NP: 2005).
Time, 10 May 1943, p. 82.
It was a 37 x 142R rather than a 37 x 148R.
Little is known of these guns. One, Serial #5, was discovered by a collector in the former American Armament Corporation's ammunition loading facility in Derry, Pennsylvania in 2006 and advertised for sale onlinhttp://g503.com/foru...ic.php?p=792800accessed 13 October 2017.
Chinn, Vol. I, pp. 232-237.
“AAC 37 mm Aircraft Cannon”, American Armament Corporation brochure, N. Y., Dec. 1936. AAC also advertised heavily in Army Ordnance (cf. Vol. XX, No. 118; Vol. XXI, No. 122) and in magazines (cf. a British weekly, The Aeroplane, “Artillery for the Air” (Mar. 29, 1939, p. 402)).
AAC produced at least four different 37mm cartridges: a 37 x 87R for the Puteaux/Baldwin aircraft gun, the 37 x 142 R for the antitank gun, a 37 x 178R for the 44 caliber tank gun, and a 37 x 202R for the 50 caliber antiaircraft and naval gun. Williams, “Ammunition Data Tables”.
See, among others, Robert F. Dorr, Fighting Hitler's Jets: The Extraordinary Story of the American Airmen Who Beat the Luftwaffe and Defeated Nazi Germany (Minneapolis: Zenith Press, 2013), p. 36.

 


  • 0

#2 bojan

bojan

    Crew

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 11,593 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Belgrade, Serbia
  • Interests:Obscure tanks and guns.
    Obscure facts about well known tanks and guns.
    Obscure historical facts.

Posted 27 March 2018 - 1647 PM

Rich, did you have this?

https://www.flickr.c...lru/6830121860/

 

And a surviving 37mm M1921:


  • 0

#3 bojan

bojan

    Crew

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 11,593 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Belgrade, Serbia
  • Interests:Obscure tanks and guns.
    Obscure facts about well known tanks and guns.
    Obscure historical facts.

Posted 27 March 2018 - 1648 PM

Also AAC offered 37mm cannon to the Yugoslavia in 1940 as AT gun, nothing came out of deal.


  • 0

#4 Rich

Rich

    intellectual bully ilk

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 4,427 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:WW II, Current Defense Issues, Military History in General

Posted 27 March 2018 - 1701 PM

Also AAC offered 37mm cannon to the Yugoslavia in 1940 as AT gun, nothing came out of deal.

 

Lucky Yugoslavia... :D

 

Yeah the video is of Serial #5 of the M-21 AT Gun.


  • 0

#5 bojan

bojan

    Crew

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 11,593 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Belgrade, Serbia
  • Interests:Obscure tanks and guns.
    Obscure facts about well known tanks and guns.
    Obscure historical facts.

Posted 27 March 2018 - 1755 PM

Considering how desperate we were for any AT (and most other) weapons, it says something about gun... :)


Edited by bojan, 27 March 2018 - 1755 PM.

  • 0

#6 Rich

Rich

    intellectual bully ilk

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 4,427 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:WW II, Current Defense Issues, Military History in General

Posted 27 March 2018 - 1952 PM

Considering how desperate we were for any AT (and most other) weapons, it says something about gun... :)

 

Yeah. M-21 was a pretty basic piece of kit and the round it fired was something of an antique. That takes us to the Ordnance 37mm...and again comments and corrections are welcomed.

 

In 1922, Rock Island Arsenal also attempted development of a replacement for the 37mm M1916 Infantry Gun, designating it the 37mm Gun and Carriage Model of 1923.  It utilized Browning’s 37 x 120R cartridge, which Ordnance inexplicably hoped would generate a muzzle velocity of 2,000 F.P.S.  One was built, but  it was not accepted for standardization. Instead, Ordnance shortened the M1923’s barrel. Three more were then ordered as the 37mm Gun T4 and then they were standardized as the M1.  One was destroyed in testing, while another was rebuilt to accept Browning’s larger 37 x 123B cartridge. Modifications to the remaining three guns led Ordnance to re-designate them as the M2 in 1929 and then after further changes as the M2E1 in 1930. Twelve guns were then ordered as the M2A1, but inexplicably Ordnance chose to chamber them for the original Hotchkiss 37 x 94R cartridge, the replacement of which had been the initial rationale for the start of the project eight years earlier!  Even more inexplicably, the gun modified to fire the 37 x 123B Browning cartridge was also re-chambered as apparently were the other two original guns.   While it was claimed the 37mm M2 muzzle velocity was 1,850 FPS, sufficient to penetrate 1” of perpendicular armor at 500 yards, it was in fact an anemic 1,400 F.P.S.   Although two of the guns were eventually used in the Medium Tank T5 Phase I, by 1932 both Ordnance and the Infantry agreed the effort expended on the 37mm M2A1 Gun was wasted declared it obsolete. However, it was another three years before Ordnance developed the military characteristics of its desired replacement and began testing various designs.

 

“Rock Island Arsenal Notes”, Army Ordnance, Vol. 3, No. 14 (Sep.-Oct. 1922), pp. 120-121; K[eith] F. Adamson, “Infantry Artillery Weapons”, Army Ordnance, Vol. 3, No. 15 (Nov.-Dec. 1922), pp. 154-156; Army Ordnance, Vol. 4, No. 23 (Mar.-Apr. 1923), pp. 338-339.
  Mellichamp, A Gun For All Nations, p. 205.
  Mellichamp, A Gun For All Nations, p. 207 states it was designated T1, which was the designation assigned Jervey’s gun. It may be that T4 on a faded document was read as a T1.
  The long gestation of the 37mm Gun M2 may be seen in the photographic record of Rock Island Arsenal Command Archives Manuscript Collections, Photograph Collection #5: 2008.8.56 – Gun Carriage, M2, 37mm (1920); 2008.8.52 – Gun Carriage, M2, 37mm (1923); 2008.8.154 – 37mm Gun Carriage, M.1925e (1925); 2008.8.32 – 37mm gun, M2E1 on Carriage, M1E1 (1930); 2008.8.53 – Gun Carriage, M2, 37mm (1931).
  Mellichamp, A Gun For All Nations, p. 207.
  Jones, et al, The Fighting Tanks, pp. 266, 272.
  Green, et al, p. 182.


  • 0

#7 RETAC21

RETAC21

    A la lealtad y al valor

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 13,550 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Madrid, Spain
  • Interests:Military history in general

Posted 28 March 2018 - 0302 AM

The Maklen guns didn't end their life in Russia, 30 ended up with the Spanish republican forces, and 13 made it to the Canaries in the 40s.


  • 0

#8 bojan

bojan

    Crew

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 11,593 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Belgrade, Serbia
  • Interests:Obscure tanks and guns.
    Obscure facts about well known tanks and guns.
    Obscure historical facts.

Posted 28 March 2018 - 0550 AM

In USSR Maklen saw last noted use in 1941 during defense of Smolensk as an AA gun.


  • 0

#9 Rich

Rich

    intellectual bully ilk

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 4,427 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:WW II, Current Defense Issues, Military History in General

Posted 28 March 2018 - 1046 AM

Yeah, the "Maklen" guns seem to pop up all over the place, which is pretty cool since only the 218 were ever delivered to Russia. It isn't clear what happened to the 50 that weren't delivered and I don't think the AAC ever built more of them, instead concentrating on promoting their version of the Baldwin gun. However, knowing the Miranda brothers, I could just seem them sending off "samples" to potential buyers. :D


  • 0

#10 RETAC21

RETAC21

    A la lealtad y al valor

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 13,550 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Madrid, Spain
  • Interests:Military history in general

Posted 28 March 2018 - 1143 AM

Surprised the Mirandas didn't deal with the Spanish Republic, it seems like it was open season to swindle it.


  • 0

#11 Rich

Rich

    intellectual bully ilk

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 4,427 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:WW II, Current Defense Issues, Military History in General

Posted 28 March 2018 - 1456 PM

Surprised the Mirandas didn't deal with the Spanish Republic, it seems like it was open season to swindle it.

 

I suppose they were too busy with their legal battle with the Feds for violating the Bolivian and Chilean embargoes during 1936 to 1940 to get themselves into another violation of a Federal arms embargo... but I'm sure they would have otherwise. In a way, I think of them as a Marx Brothers version of the Merchants of Death. :D


Edited by Rich, 28 March 2018 - 1458 PM.

  • 0

#12 Colin

Colin

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 16,889 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Vancouver, Canada
  • Interests:tanks, old and new AFV's, Landrovers, diving, hovercrafts

Posted 29 March 2018 - 0055 AM

How did the US 37mm get 2900 FPS out of a 37x223 case, when the Brits were getting 2600fps out of a 40x304 case? (source wiki)


  • 0

#13 TonyE

TonyE

    I/Kitsap Militia

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 5,470 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Norway
  • Interests:Them grate steal beest! and, there history.

Posted 29 March 2018 - 0812 AM

Yeah, the "Maklen" guns seem to pop up all over the place, which is pretty cool since only the 218 were ever delivered to Russia. It isn't clear what happened to the 50 that weren't delivered and I don't think the AAC ever built more of them, instead concentrating on promoting their version of the Baldwin gun. However, knowing the Miranda brothers, I could just seem them sending off "samples" to potential buyers. :D

 

Seem to recall that a few "Maklens" are listed as part of slovak army inventory in 1939.


  • 0

#14 TonyE

TonyE

    I/Kitsap Militia

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 5,470 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Norway
  • Interests:Them grate steal beest! and, there history.

Posted 29 March 2018 - 0816 AM

Also AAC offered 37mm cannon to the Yugoslavia in 1940 as AT gun, nothing came out of deal.

 

It was offered to Norway a year or two earlier aswell, up against Bofors, Kongsberg, Skoda and Rheinmetall guns of the same caliber. While those four were all deemed satisfactionary, the AAC gun was not viewed favorably.


  • 0

#15 Rich

Rich

    intellectual bully ilk

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 4,427 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:WW II, Current Defense Issues, Military History in General

Posted 29 March 2018 - 1121 AM

How did the US 37mm get 2900 FPS out of a 37x223 case, when the Brits were getting 2600fps out of a 40x304 case? (source wiki)

 

I suspect by accidentally typing a "9" instead of a "6" when writing up its military characteristics...


  • 0

#16 Rich

Rich

    intellectual bully ilk

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 4,427 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:WW II, Current Defense Issues, Military History in General

Posted 29 March 2018 - 1122 AM

 

Also AAC offered 37mm cannon to the Yugoslavia in 1940 as AT gun, nothing came out of deal.

 

It was offered to Norway a year or two earlier aswell, up against Bofors, Kongsberg, Skoda and Rheinmetall guns of the same caliber. While those four were all deemed satisfactionary, the AAC gun was not viewed favorably.

 

 

"Not viewed favorably" is probably a fitting epitaph for AAC...


  • 0

#17 bojan

bojan

    Crew

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 11,593 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Belgrade, Serbia
  • Interests:Obscure tanks and guns.
    Obscure facts about well known tanks and guns.
    Obscure historical facts.

Posted 29 March 2018 - 1646 PM

OTOH, Yugoslav army for all it's faults saw the way of the future - 47mm Vz.38 was considered barely adequate, and new AT gun was required to be 75-76mm caliber. 37mm Vz.37 and 47mm M35 (acquired in January 1941 from Spain of all places..) were considered substitute standard. In that light, 37mm M-21 was probably jokingly bad.


  • 0

#18 RETAC21

RETAC21

    A la lealtad y al valor

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 13,550 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Madrid, Spain
  • Interests:Military history in general

Posted 31 March 2018 - 1207 PM

Hmmm, which gun is that 47mm M35?


  • 0

#19 bojan

bojan

    Crew

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 11,593 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Belgrade, Serbia
  • Interests:Obscure tanks and guns.
    Obscure facts about well known tanks and guns.
    Obscure historical facts.

Posted 31 March 2018 - 1453 PM

Boehler 47mm ATG, Italian made.


Edited by bojan, 31 March 2018 - 1454 PM.

  • 0

#20 RETAC21

RETAC21

    A la lealtad y al valor

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 13,550 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Madrid, Spain
  • Interests:Military history in general

Posted 01 April 2018 - 0636 AM

Boehler 47mm ATG, Italian made.

 

Interesting, because none were supplied during the war and the Italian corps only had 12 (30 at most according to the estimates of italian authors) so it seems there's another shady deal floating there if the number was significant enough.


  • 0




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users