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Old 03-08-21, 02:00
Mike Cecil Mike Cecil is online now
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Colbert, Washington, USA
Posts: 2,110
Default VAOS Numbering

Hi David,

The Vocabulary of Army Ordnance Stores (VAOS) was the classification of, and numbering of, stores for inventory and requisitioning purposes once they were approved for use and manufactured with that number stenciled or stamped in place.

The process, from what I understand, was that Army issued a requirement, MGO Design Division then came up with the solution, after experimentation and trials, then the ADD would produce a set of final drawings for manufacture. These would include specifications of where and how to apply the VAOS number for ID purposes.

The Ministry of Munitions was then issued with an order by Army, such as "500 XYZ according to drawings ADD xxx". The Ministry of Munitions, through the Board of Area Management (BAM) in each state, issued manufacturing orders to industry, such as an order to a Major Coordinating Contractor in the case of larger munitions items, or direct to small manufacturers where an item could be manufactured by a single company.

The manufacturer then produced the item and lodged it for Army Inspection Branch to approve and accept it for service use. Once it passed inspection, it was then delivered to an Ordnance Store for issue to units through the supply chain.

As far as the user was concerned, only the VAOS number was relevant, as that was what was used for requisitioning.

So there were several sets or copies of drawings required for each item ordered, which were then disseminated through the ordering and manufacturing system at national, state BAM, and company level, but I've never been able to find any surviving drawings - they seem to have been disposed of when no longer required. The Ministry of Munitions was swallowed up post-war, in various govt re-organisations. Maybe there are drawings stuck away in the National Archives somewhere, but in most instances, it appears they were the victim of archival 'selection' by either the originating agency, or the archives themselves.

In instances where an item was still an in-service requirement, the 'master' drawings were retained by Army in the long term. I can remember my father's company receiving an order for outboard motor refueling funnels during the 1970s, with the drawings dated in the 1930s! Same with 1 pint oil cans - the drawings dated from the 1930s, but with revisions noted.

Hope that makes some sense.

Mike
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