Rock Island Arsenal Museum

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The Ghosts of Quarters One

October 28, 2019
The Army Sustainment Command History Office
Historical black-and-white photo of Quarters One, the residence on the Rock Island Arsenal
Quarters One

Completed in 1871, Quarters One at Rock Island Arsenal has its fair share of recorded history. This includes stories from distinguished visitors, residents, and many others. However, the most requested stories are undoubtedly ghost tales and other strange happenings. We have included a few here for your reading pleasure.

More than one enlisted aide reported that they often heard footsteps on the third floor while working on the second floor. The aides also reported other strange occurrences, such as the windows opening and closing on their own, lights turning on and off, and items been thrown about the building while no one was home. One aide created a checklist to track when he had opened turned lights on and off.

Another series of reports came from previous residents. The reports often included hearing unidentified noises throughout the house. On several occasions the post police were called with reports insisting that someone was walking or running around on the third floor. No one was ever found in the house nor was a reason ever determined that could have produced the sounds in the house.

Enough stories surfaced while writing a short book on Quarters One that the History Office sent a survey and floor plans to several former residents and aides. Many marked the same kinds of incidents in the same rooms.

A final story for this edition related to the call box in the kitchen. The callbox in Quarters One is notorious for many stories of how it will ring and random numbers will drop without physical input. This is despite being in apparently perfect working condition. During a recent tour the group made their way into the kitchen. As the group approached the call box a number dropped down and the bell started ringing and rang for about a minute. Thinking it was a joke the tour guide laughed and checked the room number, only to realize the number was for a room on the third floor. The third floor was empty and locked at the time.

As historians we try to always remain factual; however, there are enough accounts across time that add up to leave questions in our minds. Regardless of your belief in ghosts or the unknown, one thing does remain true: that Quarters One is a treasure for us here at Rock Island Arsenal and one of Brevet Brigadier General Rodman’s many achievements that has withstood the sands of time.

Nambu Pistol Series

July 24, 2019
G. Neuhaus

Nambu Pistol

Of all the things you own that were made in Japan, we're betting a Nambu pistol isn't one of them. The Nambu pistol series was developed by Lieutenant General Kijiro Nambu in 1092, who claimed the design for Japan, but it looked a lot like the Mauser C96 Japanese officials admired while touring Europe.

The Rock Island Arsenal Museum has on display two pictols, the Nambu Type 14 and the smaller Type B "Baby" Nambu. Both are semi-automatic, using the recoil of the first round to provide the energy to move the next round into position. The Nambus have a skinny barrel and one-piece frame, were loaded by magazing instead of a spring-clip option, and had an effective firing range of about 55 yards.

Baby Nambu Pistol

The Baby Nambu was smaller, firing 7mm rounds. It held 7 rounds in the magazine, as opposed to the 8 in the Type 14. The Nambu magazines slid into the bottom of the pistol and are not shown in the video. The Baby Nambu was supposed to be a sidearm for Japanese officers. Like the British officers, the Japanese were expected to purchase their own pistol but it was priced out of reach for all but the most high-ranking and thus became a status accessort. Only 6,000 were made and the Japanese army never adopted them as an official sidearm.

Such was not the case with the larger Type 14 which made it into the Japanese inventory. Based on the original Type A "Grandpa" Nambu, it was issued to NCOs in 1927 and could be purchased by officers. The Nambu Type 14 is prized by the Japanese-style production date stamped on the right side. Most Type 14's are engraved wiht the current year of Hirohito's reign and the name given to his reign. Ours is 17.12, adding 17 to the year 1925, with the last digits as the month of production, which would be December of 1942.

M918 Howitzer

July 24, 2019
G. Neuhaus

Photo Credit: US Army. 1-377 Charlie Battery, Field Artillery, live fire exercise. Boom!

The 155mm M198 Howitzer has something for everyone. A howitzer is defined as a towed artillery piece with a short barrel that fire a projectile up and out, then swoops down for a sharp descent. All kinds of nasty stuff can come out of that tube. We've used rocket rounds, willy-pete, parachute flares, high-explosive guided rounds, and even had a nuclear warhead for it, although we took that out of the inventory in 1992. It puts the "heavy" in heavy artillery, weighing in at almost 8 tons, but that still makes it light enough to be dropped onto the battlefield by a Chinook. The M198 has to be folded up for transport, and sits on its wheels when ready for use. Then it takes a crew of nine and six minutes to put it into lethal action, and they can fire four rounds per minute. Its maximum effective range is 14 miles, but a rocket can goose it up to 18 miles. If you're keeping an eye on the defense budget, the M198 costs $527,337.

Rock Island has always been famous for its superior howitzers, and we can claim the M198 too. We designed it, tested it, and manufactured it right here on the Arsenal. Rodman Laboratory started development in the 70's when we needed a new howitzer to replace the old WWII-era M114's. We made 1,908 recoil mechanisms for it and produced 421 complete howitzers. It was a stand-out during the Gulf War and is still in use today. You can watch our Weapons Wednesday video on the M198, then drive down Rodman Avenue to check it out.