Friday, May 14, 2010

Major General Julian S. Hatcher

Julian Sommerville Hatcher (June 26, 1888 – December 4, 1963), was a noted firearms expert and author of the early twentieth century. He is credited with several technical books and articles relating to military firearms, ballistics, and autoloading weapons. His premier works are Hatcher's Notebook and Book of the Garand, along with Textbook of Pistols and Revolvers and Pistols and Revolvers and Their Uses. He was also a pioneer in the forensic identification of firearms and their ammunition. Hatcher retired from the United States Army as a Major General. Afterward, he served as Technical Editor of the National Rifle Association's "American Rifleman" magazine.

Hatcher was born in Hayfield (Gainsboro), Virginia and graduated with honors from Annapolis in 1909 after which he voluntarily transferred from the Navy to the Army's coast artillery. He married Eleanor Dashiell and together, they had three children. As Chief of the Small Arms Division in the Ordnance Department and the Assistant Commandant of the Ordnance School before and at the beginning of World War II, he worked closely with Springfield Armory as an engineering trouble-shooter in resolving early production issues associated with the early iterations of the M1 Garand Rifle.

In 1916, the Hotchkiss M1909 Benet-Mercie machine gun was in general use with the U.S. Army and was seeing action during the Punitive Expedition against the bandit Pancho Villa. Reports of its use in Mexico indicated the gun was not functioning properly. Investigation revealed that the chief problems were the 30-round metallic feed strips used in the gun and inexperienced gunners. It was Lieutenant Hatcher who was sent to the border to solve the problems. Finding the cause in a lack of gunner training he established the Army's first machine gun school and trained crews. Soon, the Benet-Mercie proved to be an effective weapon.

Canfield says Hatcher was later instrumental in developing a solution to the vexing problem of brittle metal in early M1903 receivers built by Springfield and Rock Island Arsenals. His solution was to drill a hole in the receiver adjacent to breech. Dubbed the "Hatcher Hole", the modification was typically added to receivers at overhaul.

- Textbook of Pistols and Revolvers
- Machineguns: Mechanism, The Practical Handling Of Machine Gun Fire, Machine Gun Tactics
- Book of the Garand
- Hatcher's Notebook or the digital copy
- Firearms Investigation, Identification and Evidence
- Reloading Information from the American Rifleman Vol. 1

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