|Powders and Propellants
In 1941 Charles C. Lauritsen, a representative of the NDRC, traveled to the UK to study British powder manufacturing, where
he spent several months examining the British approach to rocketry. During his stay, he was introduced to the process of
"dry extrusion" in which a propellant is squeezed and dried to form a large grain. This process allowed the British to create
propellants with greater explosive power than that possessed by their American counterparts. Lauritsen was impressed and,
upon his return to the U.S., convinced the NDRC to expand its program in rocketry, resulting in the creation of Section L.
In early May 1942, the members of Section 1 of Division B of the NDRC agreed to begin a program on the study of ballistics.
The United States was finding much of its artillery to be of only minimal use against the heavily armored tanks and ships
of the enemy. It was widely recognized that any improvements made to the U.S.'s high- and hyper-velocity guns could greatly
advance the Allied cause. On August 11, 1942, Pauling was asked by Bush to serve as Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Internal
Ballistics as related to Hyper-Velocity Guns. Pauling readily accepted and at 10:00 AM on August 28, 1942, the committee
convened in Washington D.C. for its first meeting. Pauling, serving as chairman, presided over a group of nine scientists,
many of whom were close personal friends as well as professional colleagues.
The committee was initially tasked with the analysis of preexisting propellants, providing research data that would allow
for specific informed studies leading to the creation of more sophisticated powders. The committee quickly discovered, however,
that it did not have the means to collect the required data. In order to continue with its original task, it had to reevaluate
its intended approach to the study of projectile weapons.