The following volume deals with the manufacture of military pyrotechnics, the materials and machinery used, and the latest approved methods of assembly.
During the progress of the World War, the continually changing needs and requirements of the War Department occasioned their corresponding changes for military pyrotechnics, the result being that when the armistice was signed this branch of the service was undergoing a change and being rapidly developed along more scientific lines.
It is my aim to show in the following work the methods of manufacture, the materials used, machinery, and manner of assembly practiced by the manufacturers engaged in fulfilling contracts for the Government on various forms of pyrotechnics at the time that the armistice was signed.
Military pyrotechnics has passed through various vicissitudes during the development of civilization and its wars, and has come down from a time when the compounding of explosive material was a function of the magician and alchemist.
Such development in the art as it exists to-day has been brought about more from the practical accomplishment of a desired result than from a technical study and carefully planned scientific approach to the subject. As in the various arts having their foundation in practice dating back centuries ago, strange heritages appear. The only excuse for their existence is in the phrase, "It has always been done this way." When the manufacturers were questioned in regard to the reason, from a technical point of view, for many of their operations, it was very evident that a woeful lack of technical knowledge was interfering with the development of the art.
In this volume hardly any attempt will be made to show wherein the present methods of manufacture are faulty, or wherein more approved types of machinery can be used to advantage, or where greater savings in the cost and use of chemicals can be accomplished, and a higher efficiency in the character and degree of the illumination of the various pieces can be brought about. The text deals simply with the present manufacturing conditions, and is given in the form described in order that it may serve as a foundation drawn from practical experience for many years.
As the Eygptian Phoenix rose resplendent in its red and gold plumage from the ashes of its past, so may a new development in the art rise from the ashes of the present antiquated methods of manufacture.
Henry B. Faber.
In spite of the fact that the methods of military pyrotechnics as practiced at the present time give every indication of a woeful lack of development along technical and scientific lines, it must be borne in mind that this art was practiced hundreds of years ago and has developed slowly, keeping pace, in a measure, with scientific developments.
A note of caution should perhaps be sounded, as the reader may feel that the art as a whole has shown so little real advancement and may condemn too hurriedly the practices which have been in effect for many years. Bear in mind the fact that many minds and many trained and practiced hands have worked in pyrotechnics, and before discarding the practiced old for the unknown new in compositions and assemblies, it is well to give due credit to the present methods despite their ancient heritage, and not to treat too lightly practices which have at least fulfilled their function in producing a reasonably satisfactory article.
H. B. F. S