The Scientific War Work of Linus C. Pauling Narrative  
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Mission Accomplished
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Though encumbered by a busy schedule, Pauling was eager to support his country's armed forces, accepting virtually any viable project offered him. A few such projects even relied on his skills outside of the sciences. During the war, the U.S. military developed a significant interest in German weapons engineering, doing its best to capture, study and sometimes replicate enemy designs. Many of the German weapons included design elements virtually unknown to U.S.-based weapons-makers. As a result, the Navy, Army, and members of government-funded research programs felt it was important to learn as much as possible about German military research since World War I. Linus Pauling, as a member of the OSRD and a capable German-speaker, was asked to oversee the translation of Die Geschützladung ("The Artillery Propellant Charge"), a manuscript composed by German Col. Uto Gallwitz that was not completed until after his death in 1943. Pauling's subsequent translation has not been widely recognized as one of his major war-era achievements but it did, in fact, significantly expand the United States' understanding of German artillery.

While much of his propellant work was done early in the 1940s, Pauling continued to work intermittently on ballistics problems throughout the war. Division 8 of the OSRD continued to provide him with updates on the state of the program until its closure and reassignment. In August 1945, he received his final report from the division which explained the effect of Japanese surrender on arms manufacturing and outlined the post-war goals of the U.S. ballistics program.

Ultimately, Pauling's research team, in conjunction with the various other personnel associated with the ballistics committee, successfully engineered several new powders which proved to be both more stable and more powerful than their predecessors. Their contributions to the war effort, while impossible to measure accurately, undoubtedly proved crucial to American assaults on armored vehicles and entrenched strongholds across Europe, Africa, and the Pacific islands. In 1945 Pauling received a certificate from the War Department, signed by the Secretary of War, the Chief of Ordnance, and the Commanding General of the Army Service Forces. The award was presented "For outstanding services rendered in time of war to the Rocket Development Program of the Ordnance Department." Pauling received a similar award, a week later, from the United States Navy Bureau of Ordnance.

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Audio Clip  Audio: Pauling's Explosives Patent. August 23, 1991. (0:43) Transcript and More Information

See Also: Notes on stabilizers and plasticizers for use in the development of rocket propellants. March 15, 1944. 
See Also: "A Method of Improving the Burning Properties of Propellants." March 12, 1945. 
See Also: "German Powder Development Between 1918 and 1942." September 15, 1945. 
See Also: Statement of Invention. 1945. 

Click images to enlarge 

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Conceptual sketch of German "Die Walze" rocket. approx. 1945.

Certificate of Appreciation for Service to the Rocket Development Program. December 3, 1945.

"Your efforts in this Division have been a great value to the Nation. The development of chromatographic methods of analysis is, in itself, a substantial contribution which is widely used throughout the country wherever investigations of rocket powder are under way. Your studies of stability and surveillance methods have been very helpful in all powder developments and in settling difficulties encountered in manufacturing operations. Your recent suggestion of the use of rate control strands or particles has made the program on castable double base powder much more effective and should give the product a wider range of properties and applications. I believe that you were most helpful in all the Division's undertakings and have every right to feel proud of each contribution."

Vannevar Bush
June 14, 1945
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