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Old 09-21-2012, 07:58 AM
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Thumbs up Some history of the M16 and how GM helped.

An interesting read on how GM helped develop the original M16.

Car Company had a Big Hand in Making the M-16 | Military.com
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Old 09-21-2012, 08:10 AM
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Default M16/GM

Thanks for posting that, I always enjoy that 'stuff'.
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Old 09-21-2012, 09:03 AM
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The Willow Run plant is interesting all by itself. Built by Henry Ford, built liberator bombers for the war. They built an airport next to the plant for it. They build planes at some crazy speed.

Anyhow the "New GM" put the plant on the not needed list. Recently they had an auction or all the contents. One story going around was that GM after the M-16 contract had moth balled all the machine tools, fixtures, etc and that it was on standby. I knew someone that worked in the plant (through the internet) so I had asked about this. He worked there since the 1970s. He never saw any of the machinery involved in this. He also had no idea where it went or what became of it.

Theres more to the Willow Run plant, I just cant recall it now.


Also someone was selling bits of demilled (flame cut) Hydromatic M16 receivers at one point. I believe Hydromatic M16s are kinda scarce these days.
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Old 09-21-2012, 09:58 AM
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I see demilled GM lower receivers still trading hands occassionally on forums and such. I believe most, if not all, of the complete GM guns out there are tax stamp (full auto) versions, resulting in a quite expensive collectible considering their relative scarcity to begin with.

As an aside, Detroit-built or associated guns would make for an interesting niche collection. There's everything from the GM M-16s to the Bauer pocket pistols, the guns of the Detroit Police Department, the infamous KTW ammo, etc.
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Old 09-21-2012, 12:05 PM
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Thanks for the link. It kind of proves I'm not full of it.

I remember using a Hydra-matic in 1967, but a lot of people told me they didn't come out until '69.

Another one that gets me is the Bird Cage Flash hider on the M16a1. My Hydra-matics had the three prone flash hider. We used them to cut the wire off c-rat boxes. You had to twist it a certain way or you'd twist off the flash hider.

I left Vietnam in June of '68 and didn't see the Bird Cage flash hider until I joined the National Guard in '73.

It's all coming back now.
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Old 09-21-2012, 12:21 PM
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That's an interesting article. I never used the M-16 as I was out of the Army by then, but I remember getting the M-14. I thought that was a pretty nice rifle. Much easier than the M-1.
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Old 09-21-2012, 12:30 PM
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Default I think there is more to the story

IIRC Stoner designed his weapon system with a certain brand of DuPont powder and a certain cyclic rate of fire. McNamara and his clan that he brought with him from GM to the DOD decided that some of the production steps Steiner specified were not needed and changed the rate of fire. Then DuPont quit making the powder and the replacement Winchester-Olin ball powder was responsible for the jamming rather than the gun's construction.

I find it ironic that a problem caused by the GM whiz kids changing the specs had to be fixed by a GM plant. Now the big question, how much did these "cost savings" actually cost in troops KIA and the $$ cost to the American taxpayer?

Last edited by mwtdvm; 09-21-2012 at 07:25 PM. Reason: Spelling correction THX Wheelgun!
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Old 09-21-2012, 06:59 PM
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The designer was Stoner, Eugene Stoner. Not a big deal but just want to be accurate.

Eugene Stoner - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Another story is that the original M-16 didnt have proper cleaning kits and that the troops were not trained in cleaning and maintaining a direct impingement rifle. As the prior guns were all piston operated.




Quote:
Originally Posted by mwtdvm View Post
IIRC Steiner designed his weapon system with a certain brand of DuPont powder and a certain cyclic rate of fire. McNamara and his clan that he brought with him from GM to the DOD decided that some of the production steps Steiner specified were not needed and changed the rate of fire. Then DuPont quit making the powder and the replacement Winchester-Olin ball powder was responsible for the jamming rather than the gun's construction.

I find it ironic that a problem caused by the GM whiz kids changing the specs had to be fixed by a GM plant. Now the big question, how much did these "cost savings" actually cost in troops KIA and the $$ cost to the American taxpayer?
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Old 09-21-2012, 09:51 PM
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Given their record, turning to GM for product reliability upgrades is akin to turning to John Wayne Gacy for Scoutmaster lessons, or Jeffrey Dahmer for culinary instruction. "Here's your GI weapon, son, brought to you by the same fine folks who gave us the Corvair and the Vega --- Good Luck!
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Old 09-22-2012, 12:35 AM
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Robert McNamara and the Whiz Kids came from Ford. If they were GM men the rifles probably would have been put out of production as soon as they finally got them right.
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Old 10-21-2012, 03:23 AM
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Ok. Ya good info. The history channel did an episode on the conception and evolution of Stoners AR. Talks a lot about same stuff.
However with regards to Corvairs, they were actualy quite a good car.
GM buckle under Ralph Nader's harassment. The Vega is another story all together. So let's be thankful Stoner for his creation and the joy we get out of shooting them.
Peace and Grace
MG
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Old 10-21-2012, 09:10 AM
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The rifle issued to me when I got into boot camp was made by GM. It had been modified from M16 to M16a1 sometime in the 70's and had lots of extra markings on it showing when it happened.Most of the guns in my platoon that had been upgraded to A1 were colt but a few were other brands. Trying to remember 30+ years ago, but it seems to me there were some made by H&R. I could be remembering this wrong,does anyone know of other makers from that time?
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Old 10-21-2012, 09:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wheelgun28 View Post
The designer was Stoner, Eugene Stoner. Not a big deal but just want to be accurate.

Eugene Stoner - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Another story is that the original M-16 didnt have proper cleaning kits and that the troops were not trained in cleaning and maintaining a direct impingement rifle. As the prior guns were all piston operated.
I don't think the ARs were piston operated. They were designed with the gas tube, which is self cleaning by the way.
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Old 10-21-2012, 10:15 AM
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GM had been in the weapons business before. During WWII they made M1 carbines labeled as Inland,Saginaw and Saginaw SG, and completed a few Erwin-Pederson left over after Erwin-Pederson failed to complete their contract. More Inland carbines were made than any of the other makers including Winchester. They also made barrels and other parts for other makers.
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Old 10-21-2012, 11:02 AM
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The Guide Lamp division was stamping out Liberators (pistols not the Bomber) faster than the operator could load and fire one.

In my 11 years of active duty, of all the flavors of M16 I was issued, the Hydra-Matic was always the most accurate and reliable. Yes even more so than the Colt, of which I saw very few.
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Old 10-21-2012, 06:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTS Cop View Post
Robert McNamara and the Whiz Kids came from Ford. If they were GM men the rifles probably would have been put out of production as soon as they finally got them right.
Yep, what was the saying? "The Vietnam War, brought to you by the same people who brought you the Edsel."

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Old 10-21-2012, 08:57 PM
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Before we completely indict the "Whiz Kids", let's get some details straight:

The Whiz Kids came to Ford Motor Company in the late 1946, straight out of the U.S. Army Air Forces Statistical Control unit. Despite the post-war economic boom, Ford Motor Company was a basket case. They were losing money hand over fist, and they were in danger of going bankrupt, or by a takeover from Henry J. Kaiser. Ford was a privately-owned corporation until the mid-1950's

They were hired by Henry Ford, II, and they're responsible for putting modern manufacturing systems and techniques into Ford Motor Company. Most famously there was Arjay Miller, J. Edward Lundy, "Tex" Thornton, and Robert McNamara. Even General Motors contributed to Ford's revival. They provided, intact, the Finance Manual used by Ford. It was copied with the only change being the logo change.

About half of them remained with Ford, and some left because of other career opportunities. Tex Thornton eventually ended up with Litton Industries, and Arjay Miller left to become the dean of the Stanford Business School.

To my knowledge, none of them left with Robert McNamara. The last remaining "Whiz Kid" was J. Edward Lundy, who was a confidant of Henry Ford, and was the Chief Financial Officer for years. He retired in the late 1970's.
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Old 10-21-2012, 09:16 PM
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Yes, the Big 3 used to trade executives like baseball teams trade players. They still do.
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Old 10-21-2012, 09:50 PM
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Quote:
In my 11 years of active duty, of all the flavors of M16 I was issued, the Hydra-Matic was always the most accurate and reliable.
That has been my experience also. I heard rumors of "jamming '16s' when I hit country (2/502 Inf 101st Abn Div). I was issued the Hydra-Matic (which I thought was the only '16s in existance) and found them to be highly reliable.

I just couldn't figure out what the problem was. It wasn't until I got the internet that I found out M16s would get you killed in Vietnam.
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Old 10-21-2012, 09:52 PM
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Good points brought out by(wheelgun 28).
When first issued to troops in the vietnam theatre
the M-16's we're not delivered with cleaning kits.
The thought that they we're "self cleaning" of course
was sadly lacking. Eugene Stoner was in fact the father
of the M-16. And leave it to the suits to change the cyclic
rate of fire and changing to a ball powder and you have a
recipe for disaster. I've owned numerous Colts, from A-2s to
Match H-bars and they have never let me down.
I'll always have a Colt AR in my possession.

Chuck
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Old 10-25-2012, 09:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kraigwy View Post
Thanks for the link. It kind of proves I'm not full of it.

I remember using a Hydra-matic in 1967, but a lot of people told me they didn't come out until '69.

Another one that gets me is the Bird Cage Flash hider on the M16a1. My Hydra-matics had the three prone flash hider. We used them to cut the wire off c-rat boxes. You had to twist it a certain way or you'd twist off the flash hider.

I left Vietnam in June of '68 and didn't see the Bird Cage flash hider until I joined the National Guard in '73.

It's all coming back now.
You couldn't have possibly used a GM Hydra-Matic M16A1 in 1967, as the contracts for M16A1 production were not awarded to GM Hydra-matic and H&R until April of 1968. GM Hydra-Matic's contract number was DAAF03-68-C-0048. Hydra-Matic delivered their first 100 rifles in December of 1968. So unless you had a time machine, it wasn't possible!

The article is a little misleading as well. Colt's XM16E1 was officially adopted as the M16A1 in February of 1967 so GM Hydra-Matic had no "huge part" in helping the Pentagon as the article claimed. Plus, H&R and GM Hyrda-Matic were only awarded 240,000 rifle contracts. A month after they were awarded their contracts, Colt was awarded another contract for over 740,000 rifles.
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Old 10-25-2012, 01:25 PM
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My senior year in high school I had an internship with a company in Roseville Michigan that was a early NDI company (NDI non destructible testing). I was doing maga-flux testing on M-16 bolts (the item name on the work order). I was to determine if the bolts had cracks in them. About 20% of the bolts were rejected due cracks at the face of the bolts. These bolts were delivered almost daily 500 bolts at a time. This was in 1966. In December 1967 I was in Viet Nam carrying the weapon I had inspected. The weapon had a three pronged flash hider we also used to open c-rat cases. This same weapon would jam, or fail to fire quite often. I oped for a 12 Gage shotgun and a 1911. I have no idea what company was sending the material for testing.
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Old 10-26-2012, 09:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mwtdvm View Post
IIRC Stoner designed his weapon system with a certain brand of DuPont powder and a certain cyclic rate of fire. McNamara and his clan that he brought with him from GM to the DOD decided that some of the production steps Steiner specified were not needed and changed the rate of fire. Then DuPont quit making the powder and the replacement Winchester-Olin ball powder was responsible for the jamming rather than the gun's construction.

I find it ironic that a problem caused by the GM whiz kids changing the specs had to be fixed by a GM plant. Now the big question, how much did these "cost savings" actually cost in troops KIA and the $$ cost to the American taxpayer?
Say what you want about McNamara but I don't think you can pin the M-16 on him. It was the Ordnance Dept that made the decision to use ball powder, it was the US Army that witnessed the jamming problems at Colt and it was the US Army Program Manager that decided to hide the reliability problems until the deaths in Vietnam instigated the Congressional investigation.

Stoner designed the AR-10, not the Ar-15/M-16, tow other Armalite engineers designed the AR-15/M-16, but I forget their names.
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