- 歴史と経済 (ISSN:13479660)
- vol.56, no.4, pp.1-16, 2014-07-30 (Released:2017-08-30)
By the turn of the 20th century, Russian and German encroachment on the British Empire had significantly threatened Britain's global dominance, and Britain was struggling to defeat the local army in South Africa in the Second Boer War (1899-1902). Aware of the declining power of the mother country, Britain's leading colonies, such as India, Canada, and Australia, sought independence in munitions supplies by launching efforts to develop their own defense industries. They began by constructing small arms factories, since rifles are used in vast quantities in wartime and require mass production. This paper focuses solely on Australia: the Australian Government's Lithgow small arms factory (LSAF), which commenced production in 1912, raises a series of important questions concerning not only military, but industrial and technological issues as well. Australia, which became the independent Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, decided to create the LSAF in 1907 and sought modern machineries of the highest quality, all of which had to be purchased from abroad. As LSAF's main products were British Lee-Enfield rifles and only British makers were capable of manufacturing the gauges and jigs need for maintaining interchangeability of parts, the factory initially intended to order its machinery from Britain. Greenwood & Batley Ltd. (G&B) of Leeds, England was the world leader in the rifle plant business and was expected to win the 1909 bid for LSAF's plant. However, G&B faced unexpectedly strong competition from the American firm, Pratt & Whitney Company (P&W) of Hartford, Conneticut. P&W ultimately won the contract by guaranteeing shorter delivery times and offering machinery with "double the rifle production capacity" of G&B. Australia's decision to introduce U. S. technology was based on the fact that the newest, most efficient machinery had largely been invented in the 'American system of manufacture'. Neverthless, LSAF's rifle production rate proved very low until the First World War broke out. This stagnancy was caused by 'culture shock,' namely an incompatibility in technology standards and disputes between the British craft union and the P&W manager who favored rationalization, or in order words by friction between Britain and the United States. As LSAF was key to Australia's national security, a thorough examination of the problems is critically important. This paper aims principally to demonstrate that Australia erred in its selection of rifle plant and put its defense strategy at risk.