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Underwood Rebuild Program, 1951

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Dan Pinto, Photo Editor

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    Posted: Mar 07 2019 at 5:43pm

2019-D
Underwood Rebuild Program, 1951



We have long known that Underwood rebuilt carbines for the Korean War. Their rebuild mark is a .U. on the left side of the stock usually near the wrist back to the midsection of the butt. A common question was when did the rebuild program take place?

Not much is known about the rebuild program other than the assumption that the carbines were broken down, gauged and refinished. Post-WWII overhaul called for installing adjustable sights, rotary safeties, type 3 barrel bands with bayonet lug and replacement of obsolete parts such as the early hammers and springs.


With previous internet searches the Underwood rebuild program have yielded few results except for a small glimpse in newspaper articles as we previously reported:

The May 3, 1951 edition of the Hartford Courant contains a Police Report of a 19-year-old man who was “accused of stealing an Army carbine from the carbine assembly department of the Underwood Corporation.” Also, a “paper bag containing carbine parts was found under his bed.” (He was subsequently fired by Underwood, found guilty, and was sentenced to two years probation.)

The September 21, 1951, issue of the same newspaper reported on an Open House held at Underwood. It stated “While the chief interest of the 3600 visitors was in the operations in connection with the production of typewriters, there were many who were surprised to witness the operations in connection with changes made in the army carbines. Underwood has a big contract for making the changes from the original productions for use in World War II.”


Since the report of those two articles, an additional article was found in the February 27, 1951 issue of the Bridgeport Telegram in Connecticut on Underwood's record earnings. “Underwood has been awarded several defense contracts, and re-arrangement is underway in some company plants, including the Bridgeport works, to handle the defense productions, according to the report”

The article goes on to mention the Bridgeport works recently adding a third factory on Gilbert Street. As well as “ The Bunnell street plant is expected to be in full swing on defense by June [1951]

For those interested in prime contractor locations please see Where Are They Today?

The Hartford Courant March 1, 1951, mentions the Springfield Ordnance District announced an award of an $800,000 contract for small arms to Underwood Corporation of Hartford Connecticut.

If this was the rebuild program it would seem that the Hartford plant was up and running in only a month when the 19-year-old man was accused of stealing parts.




 
In researching one of Underwood's war-time Vice Presidents, Leon C. Stowell, Who in 1945 was promoted to President of Underwood Corporation,
 I discovered that in early 1952 Mr. Stowell and his wife were on a countrywide swing of Underwood regional offices to give a “Well Done” to its employees for far exceeding sales of typewriters, adding machines, and accounting machines as well as office equipment that goes with the machines.


In the Daily Oklahoman 13 April 1952 article titled “ Top Underwood Man Gives City Office Employes [sic] a 'Well Done' Mr. Stowell was quoted as saying “In addition the corporation has defense orders, but these amount to a small dollar percentage of the company's sales. Underwood recently reconditioned 400,000 carbines for the government. During the war, it made 1,750,000 barrels and 650,000 complete carbines.

In the Ogden Standard-Examiner (Utah) 25 April 1952 article titled “Office Machine President Optimistic About Business” Mr. Stowell was quoted as saying “During World War II Underwood company build carbines for the armed forces. Now it is helping with the Korea war, having just completed reconditioning 400,000 carbines and making parts for them.






We know that Underwood produced spare bolts and it would seem that spares contracts went beyond the rebuild program, but what other parts for the M1 carbine were produced in this period?














We also know that Underwood subcontracted M1 Garand bolts for Harrington & Richardson Arms who got their contract in April of 1952.




From the above, it is clear that the rebuild program took place at the Capitol Avenue plant and was doing so in May 1951. We now know that the contract for the rebuild program was wrapped up by April 1952 based on the news articles

We cannot say for sure that the carbine parts were produced at the Bridgeport works under the reporting of defense contracts mentioned in February 1951


It appears that both Underwood and Standard Products Co. both had rebuild contracts for 400,000 carbines which were done in the same period.

Of all the stateside rebuilds most were done at armories. The only two contracts for non-armory rebuild programs were to Standard Products Co. and Underwood Corporation, both of which were prime contractors of the M1 carbine.

Of interest on the Standard Products Co. rebuild program was that in the Times Herald Jan 30, 1951, it was reported that Standard Products Co. announced the receipt of a $1,780,000 defense contract for overhauling and rebuilding several thousand carbines.

On February 11, 1951, the same newspaper stated a $2,000,000 in war contracts, most of the work occurring in the Port Clinton, Ohio Division.

In The News-Messenger August 6, 1951, article the Cleveland Ordnance district announced another contract award for $193,000 to Standard Products Co. Port Clinton, facilities “to increase the production of carbines and parts”.

It is unclear if these parts were for the carbine or other defense contracts at this time. War Baby III page 1197 shows 9 additional contracts. One being the overhaul and rebuild of carbines and another for handguard assemblies for the M1 carbine. The other 7 were "rifle, Cal. .30 M1" related.

Dan Pinto         


For more on the Standard Products Co. rebuild program Click Here 


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dnikkor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Apr 13 2019 at 12:40am
One of my Standard Products carbines, which I believe was a DCM carbine, was rebuilt by Underwood and stamped with their .U. stamp on the left side of a very nice Winchester stock. Everything else is pretty much typical mixmaster though the Underwood barrel is probably the original. A nice bonus was an IU stamped oiler holding the sling.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote m1a1fan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Apr 13 2019 at 12:18pm
It's amazing how many barrels they made for themselves and others as part of the Free Issue Barrel Program. Underwood's leadership knew what they were doing and jumped on every opportunity to conduct business before, during and after the war. Wonder if there was any typewriter "tech" UW could have applied to their M1 Carbine program?

Does anyone know if rebuild programs, no matter the timeframe, had the same specifications of what was to be done?

EDIT: Nevermind, answered my own question.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MilsurpsUSGI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Apr 15 2019 at 11:15pm
Thanks for the well written and very informative article.   I didn't know before that STD-PRO made hand guards for the M1 Carbine.   I've seen several rebuilds over the years equipped with Type 3 hand guards having rivet heads that had a brass like color to them, as if plated.   When asking about them before, the answer I always received was, "They're commercial - not USGI."   Is it possible these were made by STD-PRO?   I think I still have a couple of them.   - Bob
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote New2brass Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 07 2019 at 4:14pm
If Standard Product did indeed make replacement hand guards then we do not know how of they were marked. The marking requirements changed after the war.
 
I believe that Standard Products also had some contract to rubberize some stocks for jungle conditions, but I think this was for the M1 Garand.
Anyone else ever hear of that?
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