Rudolph had a gun fetish no less than Willy. Willy’s gun fetish was phallus related. It was overcompensation for his withered hand and small manhood (as Mrs. Wolfe’s courtesans testified). Rudolph’s gun fetish related to his job. He was shoved into the infantry. The infantry fought and died or else survived by guns. Guns were the tools of their trade. Rudolph therefore had a gun fetish because his job had a gun fetish.
This makes it different from his personal fetish which was a passion for birds and for taxidermy. The first being geeky. The second being politically incorrect today. Audubon launched the bird lover passion but Audubon created his magnificent bird art by posing dead birds and through taxidermy. So Rudolph’s fetish for dead things and taxidermy, while morbid and nasty now, was considered perfectly normal behavior among bird lovers back then. And like Teddy Roosevelt, Rudolph saw no contradiction between bird conservation which he embraced and shooting birds and then mounting them. Both men were famous for their fetish for taxidermy as well as conservation. It was a fetish to be sure but a fetish considered perfectly normal back then. But I digress!
Rudolph was the dissecting type. He dissected birds. He dissected battles. He dissected clocks and machines. He attended human dissections.
He once received a dissection skull from the senior doctor of Vienna’s top medical school. How morbid! The doctor’s junior collaborator was Doctor Freud. It was considered a tribute toward Rudolph’s support for science. Oops! Does that make Freud morbid?
Lots of Victorians had skulls on their desks. Skulls decorated Catholic churches too. Oils. Art. The difference was Rudolph’s gift of a dissection skull reflected his modern Darwinian approach to life. You study. You research. You dissect. You analyze. You rationalize. Then you can ‘New & Improve’ it. Rudolph’s scientific and dissecting mind therefore approached the tools of his job in the same way he approached everything else. He dissected. He researched. He studied. He analyzed. He rationalized. He was painstakingly objective. It was like his speech. It was excessively over educated and precise and scientific and biological and technological.
While teenaged Mary might see that skull as morbidly deliciously romantically suicidal, Rudolph just saw a dissection skull.
It was a gift from brilliant doctors at the Vienna top medical school who were doing cutting edge (play on words) research into the human brain which made Vienna the top epicenter into what today is psychology. It was a gesture of respect toward Rudolph’s support of their work.
Rudolph wanted to go to university and do cutting edge research such as this. He was denied his deepest wish to go to university. So he supported universities and teaching schools as well as modern teaching hospitals. When he was awarded some token tribute for his support he was always conflicted. He would take pride in the award but say he regretted never going to university to do cutting research himself. So if Rudolph read any emotion into that tribute of a dissection skull it was probably that he never went to university himself to achieve such cutting edge research work. Honorary tokens are a pale afterthought to genuine achievement.
The irony was the many academics and research scientists who gave Rudolph those pale afterthoughts, tributes, probably considered Rudolph’s royal patronage to be very important, just as important as what they were doing in their fields of research.
What does this have to do with guns? Rudolph job was gunnery. Therefore he directed his fetish for dissection and analysis toward gunnery. He approached the tools of his trade, gunnery, rationally and scientifically and objectively. A gun to him was not a phallic symbol for overcompensation for a withered hand or small manhood. It was not a symbol for any emotional thing. It was a tool of his trade. It was the form and function of his job. And any tool can be ‘New & Improved’. And after Koniggratz the tools of his trade, gunnery, had to be ‘New & Improved’ if his empire was to survive the next war.
So Rudolph collected guns. He studied guns. He researched guns. He dissected guns. He tested guns. He monitored all prototypes of new guns.
He joined committees for gun modernization. He was obsessed by Koniggratz and the impact that a gun had on geopolitics and historic domination and humiliation and winners and losers and power and loss of power.
So Rudolph gravitated toward committees that oversaw the development and purchase of modern gunnery. It was his job. It might not have been the job he wanted but it was his job. Rudolph did his job professionally.
He was desperate to win the approval of his father Francis Joseph who loved his army more than anything so Rudolph worked just as many long hours as his father. 30. 40. 50 . 60 events and meetings a week. Sometimes 200 meetings or events a week. Ten hour days except for Sunday. He worked on gunnery. It was the same precision that make Rudolph compulsively travel across the large country inspecting the army and attending war games and writing long memorandums on battles and endless reports on the status of the army —- none of which his father ever bothered to read.
Rudolph applied his fetish for scientific and technological dissection and research and analysis toward his job. And unlike Albrecht and Francis Joseph, Rudolph knew that there was a technological revolution occurring over modern gunnery. Rudolph knew that every modern nation was racing toward achieving the repeater rifle and full metal jacket bullet and nitro powder.
Paul S Scarlata in his two books on the gun crisis explained that ‘Between 1886 and 1903 every major military power in the world adopted a repeating rifle firing a high performance, small bore, smokeless powder cartridge. In fact I think it fair to consider the ‘arms race’ that went on during this period to be just as significant as the nuclear arms contest….. The rapid pace of firearm and ammunition development had take the army’s leadership, which was used to the more staid pace of change, by surprise…’ The nation to score all three revolutions in gunnery at the same time resulting in the first successful prototype would win the next war. And in fact between 1886 and 1895 every major army developed the modern models of gunnery which with only minor modifications became the guns that were welded in WW1.
So Rudolph applied his penchant for OCD toward the goal. OCD causes its sufferers to fixate on details, especially the tiny details. So Rudolph focused obsessively on all of those tiny details of a technological revolution in gunnery which would make or break the next war.
Did that make Rudolph morbid? Then so was Mannlicher and Mauser and Browning and Colt and Remington and Winchester. What applies to the goose applies to the gander. If Rudolph was morbid and suicidal because he had a gun fetish then all of those other famous guys were morbid and suicidal too. Or else these are all men whose job and interest and fetish if you will involved modern gunnery.
Post Mayerling everyone said Rudolph’s gun fetish proved he was morbidly insane. But Pre Mayerling no one ever commented on his gun fetish — or indeed on any rumors of suicide. After all, if the Crown Prince did talk of suicide then surely the Hofburg and the infamous secret service would have done something about it. Surely! No one did anything whatsoever. Zero. Zip. Nada. Nothing. Francis Joseph just scoffed that Rudolph worked too hard when he did not have the iron constitution for hard work being born sickly. Unlike Francis Joseph who was famously titanic in his strength to bare the weight of the nation on his shoulders —- while furiously kicking anyone who offered to help him. Francis Joseph did not share.
The best that could be found Pre Mayerling were references by people toward Rudolph’s famous flare for stupid accidents. Perpetual stupid accidents and refrains in letters like ‘And I don’t take care of myself at all…’ Those were probably self harm. Cutting. But that is not suicide. That is a ritual of control. There is a difference.
Like his anorexia nervosa (which he got from his mother Sisi) Rudolph was anal about his endless writings and memorandums, rituals of control, elaborate organization, rigidity, workaholism, and painstaking perfectionism which people thought infantile and hysterical or else over managing and priggish. In short: Rudolph was an irritatingly fussbudget. Albrecht would complain that any meeting Rudolph attended turned from one hour to many hours. Meetings running over time because of micro managing Rudolph the irritating fussbudget.
But these are all compulsions and rituals of control. Coping mechanisms. Classic OCD which shadows sufferers of anxiety depression lie a twin bane. Anxiety Depression causes the sufferer to focus obsessively on the past (depression) and the future ( anxiety) resulting in the inability to savor the present or live for the moment. So Rudolph was always fixated on the past (Koniggratz ) and likewise he was always fixated on the future (the impact of the gun crisis on the approaching war and how that would effect the survival of the nation). Who cares about the ball tonight! Don’t you realize the very survival of the nation is at stake!
And that was Rudolph’s approach to everything. It was so intense it was not surprising he had gastritis and early stage of ulcers. The result was Rudolph placed excessive stress on himself as well as impossible standards of perfectionism.
That of course set up the anguish of failure and gut wrenching guilt as he failed to achieve the impossible standards while striving to deal with every situation which turned into a crisis. The trouble was the gun crisis really was a crisis.
Rudolph along with Archduke Leopold whose job Rudolph inherited were developing the weapons of modern warfare while struggling with old men who had absolutely no concept what the impact of the repeater rifle loaded with the full metal jacket nitro bullet along with the machine gun and modern artillery could and would do to the Victorian concept of Napoleonic warfare.
And Anxiety Depression over stimulates the body’s chemistry of ‘fight or flight’. And of course PTSD does the same. The sufferer appears to hysterically overreact and also struggles to excessively impose rituals of control on the situation which is always seen as desperate. Except in the case of the gun crisis it really was desperate. Heads would roll. Win or lose, heads would roll.
But in both logistics and gunnery engineering and testing of prototypes such OCD actually works well. It makes one hypo vigilant. Deeply concerned. Deeply involved. Painstaking. Proactive. Hands on. Detail oriented. A workaholic.
In an era of cavalier irresponsibility toward doing the job other than parade ground gallops and drunken fornicating, such irritating fussbudgets at least are professional. Professionalism in the antiquated army? How amazing!
And gunnery engineering and testing specially requires such anal attention to tiny details. Otherwise guns blow up and nations are defeated on the battlefields.
Rudolph had guns and bird eggs and machinery and taxidermy and newspapers and dogs all over his digs. That is very OCD. Hoarding and clutter is typical. He dissected gunnery the way he dissected everything else. And he cleaned and maintained his own guns.
Back then if you shot a gun you had to spend hours cleaning it. Otherwise your gun would not shoot again. This is unlike today when guns, like so much else, is fairly maintenance free. For whatever reason Rudolph did not toss his guns to Loschek to clean and oil such as most Victorian masters did. His obsessive compulsive rituals of control meant he maintained his guns himself.
But I suspect that Mauser likewise cleaned his own guns. Ditto Mannlicher and Browning. Any man who collected guns and loved guns cleaned those guns himself. And they were not called morbid or suicidal. So why was Rudolph? Oh yes! Mayerling! And that one episode……
Sisi’s Lesbian like to spread stories of nasty, hairy, brutal, repulsive, and dangerous males in general and Rudolph The Dangerous And Deviant Boy in particular.
She hated the Habsburgs and the Habsburgs hated her. She particularly liked to plant seeds in her beloved’s Sisi about Rudolph The Nasty Boy. She did much the same with Francis Joseph and everyone else who threatened her monopoly on her beloved. Sisi was Ida Ferenczy’s ONLY ONE the same way Valerie the Bed Pan Miracle was Sisi’s ONLY ONE. So Sisi’s Lesbian spread this one story which destroyed Rudolph’s reputation Post Mayerling. It was a story about Rudolph’ reckless love affair with guns. His homicidal and morbid gun fetish. This story is the one reputed occasion Pre Mayerling when Rudolph apparently shot himself.
It was when he was a teenager. The gun was a rifle. The wound was to his left hand. It occurred during some type of emotional run in with his mother. As Sisi was almost never ever near her son that a rare occurrence indeed. Usually they inhabited separate cities and separate lives. There is actual correspondence that indicates that Sisi would ask Rudolph NOT TO COME to some city or hotel or private train or palace when she was there. So Sisi and Rudolph being together was super rare. Being together and apparently alone was even more super rare.
Whatever then happened, Sisi then atypically ‘nursed’ Rudolph for a day or two or otherwise paid some sort of atypical attention to him as if guilty about something. .
This is all very, very atypical because Sisi is never on record paying Rudolph any attention whatsoever. Much less ‘nursing’ him. Typhoid. Nope! Concussion. Nope! Total emotional and physical breakdown courtesy of the Brutal Colonel. Nope! Crying at his wedding. Nope! You name it. She ignore him. If they were forced to take the same train she never allowed him in her luxurious carriage. If they were forced to share a hotel she never allowed him in her hotel suite. If she enjoyed a palace she would ask that he NOT COME and share the palace no manner how large that palace was for as long as she was there.
When Rudolph was given grace and favor digs in one drafty old castle where she had a luxurious million guilder suite she never used that suite again (but never allowed anyone else to use it either). Sisi would not visit Rudolph unless lots of people were around as required to display ‘family warmth’.
And she did not expect Rudolph to visit her. When Rudolph was sick later from gonorrhea or when he wept and tried her hug her at that last Christmas she would either ignore him or else slap him down and rant that the demons and spirits were damning him because he was such an awful person. She never ever visited him. Much less nursed him. So this one and only time was very atypical behavior indeed —- as if she was guilty about something.
Now Sisi was as famous for her skill of guns as horses. Odd that no one says that makes her morbid or suicidal. She had guns no less than Rudolph. And somehow Rudolph ended up shot in the left hand by a rifle. Now try to hold a rifle, especially one of those older Victorian rifles which were much longer than now, to your left hand and then pretend to shoot yourself!
And other than this supposed event, Rudolph never ever shot himself between the time he held his first gun at the age of six until Mayerling. And that supposed gun that ‘killed him’ at Mayerling was a civilian gun which previously discharged all six chambers and was found tossed on the side table in the bedroom. It was not found by Rudolph’s dead hand. And that supposed dead hand which supposedly featured that ‘cocked’ finger (apparently one of the fingers not severed by defensive wounds) was found slumped on the floor sans gun. So how was it cocked? Cocked around what? It was not holding anything. And that dead hand which boasted that ‘cocked’ finger was missing severed fingers and had a wrist which was partially severed. And that dead right hand supposedly shot the gun found on the side table and left an entry wound that shattered the entire right temple but left a small and tightly drilled exit wound in the left temple. (Please watch another Poirot TV Show before continuing this blog! You can never watch too much Poirot! Or any CSI!). But let’s ignore the Crime of the Fin De Siecle right now!
Before Mayerling the only time Rudolph apparently ‘hurt’ himself with his guns was this one time when he was a teenager and it was one of the very few times he and Sisi were interacting together, both being such gun lovers. And according to Sisi’ Lesbian that proved how ‘dangerous’ and ‘deviant’ Rudolph was. And then atypically Sisi ‘nursed’ him for a day or two as if guilty.
Draw your own conclusions however you wish. I will conclude that Rudolph approached guns professionally.
Rudolph’s gun fetish, painstakingly anal and dissecting manner of approaching life, and obsession with modern gunnery resulted in his job being increasingly geared toward committees which oversaw gunnery. So he was soon working with the likes of Archduke Leopold the Inspector General overseeing the Steyr Mannlicher contract to purchase the first major modern rifle in Habsburg History. The repeater rifle and full metal jacket bullet was the single most crucial event to occur in the entire Habsburg Army since Napoleon destroyed the Habsburg Infantry with modern artillery and then Prussia destroyed the Habsburg Infantry with the Pin Rifle.
It was a crucial event which naturally Mayerling romantics ignore as totally disconnected to the story they so love to tell. But it was central to Rudolph’s job. It was the most important thing happening with his job.
So he had to be involved with the crisis of the development of modern gunnery or else be an idiot.
And Rudolph’s gun fetish, OCD, anxiety depression which focus abnormally on the past and the future, painstakingly dissecting mind, and anal fussbudget micro managing approach to life meant he would approach this very crucial event as if life or death. Which it was. For his job. Which it was.
He was in fact so involved with the Streyr Program that when Archduke Leopold was ordered to take the fall for the 11mm Debacle ordered by Albrecht then it was Rudolph who was appointed the next Inspector General. Then the rest of his life until the day he left for Mayerling was about gunnery and guns. Steyr. Spandau. The Mannlicher Repeater Rifle. The Commission Repeater Rifle. The Steyr full metal jacket bullet. The Spandau full metal jacket bullet.
The Autumn War Games were totally embroiled with gunnery and bullets. And as Inspector General Rudolph was praised or blamed for gunnery and bullets. At the end of the War Games he was ordered by Albrecht and Francis Joseph to resign in disgrace and take the blame for gunnery and bullets. So regardless of Mayerling Experts in Romance and Morbidity, Rudolph’s job connected him to gunnery and bullets. What was the important thing going on with gunnery and bullets between 1886 and 1889? The revolution in gunnery and bullets. The Steyr full metal jacket 1610 fps bullet and the Mannlicher Rifle. Gosh! It all keeps coming back to guns doesn’t it?
Now in 1886 Steyr announced their spectacular Mannlicher Repeater Rifle and 1610fps full metal jacket bullet. Drum Roll Please! Naturally their most famous customer, the Imperial Army’ was top of the list to inquire about it. But Steyr was not like Spandau. It was a private manufacturer and sold to damn near everyone except the French (per the Prussian Austro Treaty). But everyone else! The Dutch! South America banana republics. Third World countries. Asian countries. Everyone! So Francis Joseph was not their biggest customer. Just their most prestigious. He was like that elephant sitting in the middle of the room dictating to everyone. The uninvited and oversized guest too big to ignore but everyone wants to leave. . Steyr did not need Francis Joseph. But right now Francis Joseph desperately needed Steyr. So now the Imperial Army rushed experts to Steyr. Leopold and bright lights like Rudolph studied the revolutionary gun and bullet while biting their fingernails to the quick. The last chance the Imperial Army had to modernize and actually win a war was this gun and bullet.
And rumors were circulating that Bismarck was not quite so ‘sated’ with his Iron & Blood borders as he claimed. Rudolph latest trip to Berlin witnessed parades of eager Berliners hot for war. He visited Junker mess clubs where Junkers boasted of the upcoming war and their invincible army and their preordained victory to come. It was a forgone conclusion they would win the fast approaching war.
France was so desperate to avoid that war they were frantically contacting the Prussian Ambassador in Paris to stop it even while drawing up drafts. Alas the Prussian Ambassador in Paris was one of the Junkers manufacturing the approaching war. He was not interested in stopping it. It seemed that war was about to explode at any time! So war was in the air.
That made the decision to buy or not buy Steyr absolutely critical for the Imperial Army . It meant that the gunnery and bullet decision would very likely make or break this fast approaching war. This meant the decision was vital. It had to be done right. Promptly. And professionally. It was a life and death decision for the Imperial Army and for the very nation itself. One more Koniggratz style defeat, courtesy of a wrong gun, would destroy the country.
One more defeat would put the ‘Gravedigger of the Habsburgs’ Supreme Commander Albrecht into his own pre-dug grave. One more defeat would be the straw that would break the back of Francis Joseph’s emperorship.
It is unknown how closely Francis Joseph and Albrecht was following the gun crisis. Albrecht was going senile and was obsessed with Magyar Conspiracies the way the 1950s saw Red Conspiracies. Though Albrecht also saw endless Protestant and Freemason and Jewish Conspiracies the way so many Muslims see Freemason and Jewish and Christian Crusader Conspiracies. So many conspiracies! So little time!
Francis Joseph had a very limited education so he approached gunnery as it related to his passion for hunting. But a hunting shotgun or rifle is not the same thing as a revolutionary prototype repeater and full metal jacket bullet. When in doubt Francis Joseph savored reading his Red Book of Regulations. Or else he rewrote critical memorandums how to clean brass buttons. Or else he redesigned uniforms. Taaffe kept him abreast of what was important by clipping out newspaper articles and highlighting the key paragraphs which pertained to Francis Joseph. So it is likely both men did not even know where Steyr was even located in Bohemia. Much less what prototype it was releasing.
Archduke Leopold with bright lights like Rudolph in tow did descend on Steyr. They painstakingly studied the gun and full metal jacket and custom 1610 powder. They jumped on board and drew up an imperial degree dated for June 20th of 1886 to officially adopt the revolutionary products. The initial order was for 143,000 rifles. But then things got sticky.
Rubin was the inventor of the full metal jacket rifle bullet. And Rubin declared his ideal form of the full metal jacket bullet to be 8mm. The revolutionary small bore. Rimmed but soon to be un-rimmed. Soon to be a torpedo (pointed). But to do that successfully could not be rushed! Next to a diamond, nothing so small was so complex as a full metal jacket bullet!
Steyr embraced the Rubin bullet and wanted to fill the 8mm Rubin Full Metal Jacket Bullet with their equally revolutionary 1610 fps custom black powder which was a black powder pellet surrounded by granular black powder to achieve the fastest black powder bullet on the market.
Nitro had heretofore failed despite everyone fiddling with it. Nitro had a frustrating track record of unpredictability accordingly. Of course Steyr had a nitro R & D program (targeting a nitro blend by 90 and full nitro by 95). Everyone did. But right now Streyr wanted the fastest doable and proven and reliable bullet in the world for the 86 repeater to shoot. Why create the ultramodern repeater and engineer it to shoot obsolete bullets? Or else shoot a heretofore unstable nitro? The 86 model had to shoot something.
But you could not just shove any bullet into any gun. FPS (Feet per second) and caliber and impact on rifling and fouling all had to be studied. What was the best rifled pattern for the caliber? How did the bullet interface inside the repeater mechanism? How did the bolt interface with the bullet? How much pressure was too much? Too little? What was the Goldilocks Sweet Spot of NEEDFUL PRESSURE? How did the rifled barrel interface with the bullet? All of that had to be tested to prove interface compatibility. And the 86 model had to shoot something.
That translated into a 8 mm caliber Rubin Full Metal Jacket Bullet packed with custom 1610 black powder along with a special 318 rifle pattern inside the barrel. The repeater was tested and rifled and bored to fit this bullet.
Mannlicher wanted this bullet. Rubin said this bullet was the future. Everyone agree that once nitro was perfected it would likewise be a 8 mm caliber Rubin Full Metal Jacket Bullet. That would up the 1610 fps to achieve 2000 fps. Glorious! But right now the Austro Hungarian Army had piles of obsolete 11 mm cartridges which could only do 1440 fps. And they were not even Rubin Full Metal Jackets.
Albrecht and Francis Joseph wanted to use up the old 11 mm ammo. Waste not! Want not! Translation: Penny Wise! Pound Foolish! To the fury of Mannlicher and horror of every expert from Leopold on down , the revolutionary gun was ordered to shoot obsolete 11 mm bullets! Rudolph, just getting over a nearly fatal bout of gonorrhea was shocked.
Despite the fact that Rubin, who invented the Full Metal Jacket Bullet, declared 8 mm to be the new modern standard! Regardless of the powder inside of that bullet, the new standard was the 8 mm caliber full metal jacket. All of the Steyr R & D was pinned on what would become the new military standard for gunnery and ammo: 8 mm. But Albrecht and Francis Joseph overruled Archduke Leopold and Mannlicher and Steyr and Rubin and every expert! To pinch pennies!
Hardly had production gotten under way when the French announced their mediocre Lebel tubular magazine repeater rifle was going to shoot the 8 mm Rubin Full Metal Jacket Bullet packed with Meille blanc white powder! The French had finally stabilized nitrocellulose to achieve the new ideal 2000 fps! And it was suppose to be less fouling on the rifled barrel as well as smokeless in battle!
Steyr saw a sudden powwow of experts from Leopold down to Mannlicher. The panic was such that even men without anxiety depression with OCD and PTSD howled! That howl could be heard around the world! Everyone modern country was now stuck with obsolete gunnery and the revolution of gunnery had barely started!
Much of the gun crisis was the convergence of three revolutionary technologies crashing together pell mell. The repeater. The full metal jacket bullet. And nitro. And the three revolutionary technologies did not so much converge as crash! What use was a repeater with obsolete bullets? Or the full metal jacket without nitro? And no one knew how to interface the three revolutionary technologies together successfully. The Lebel was a totally mediocre repeater. The only thing it did well was shoot the mythic Meille blanc nitro full metal jacket bullet which so far no one had even seen! Not even Rubin had a good powder inside his revolutionary full metal jacket bullet which he invented. Mannlicher had bar none the best repeater on the market. But it was engineered to shoot an obsolete 11 mm howbeit with a great 1610 black powder. The Lee Metford was likewise engineered to shoot the English version of the 8mm full metal jacket black powder bullet. Browning and Mauser had squat. Ditto Colt or Remington or Winchester. Squat. So the howl heard around the world was horrific! And part of that howl heard around the world was probably Rudolph’s famously deep voice howl! His bellowing howl was famous!
As the dust settled everyone took a deep breath. Then each nation’s leaders and gunnery bastions reacted to the news differently. Mauser and Browning simply continued per their self imposed schedules which apparently hinged on watching everyone else stumble so they could learn the lessons of haste and not make the same mistakes. The Enfield Armory choose to concentrate on developing the Lee Metford repeater and full metal jacket bullet first. Then worry about filling it with nitro as they evolved it into the Lee Enfield.. The ‘Mad Minute’ more than compensated for the lack of nitro. Nitro had such a bad reputation they declined to panic.
Bismarck and Spandau took the panicky news the worse. Why? Because Bismarck was manufacturing a war against France which now had a lousy repeater which apparently shot great nitro. ‘The inferiority of our armaments would be sufficient to encourage France or Russia to fall upon us!’ But France was not preparing anything but a defensive war. So only Bismarck had cause to panic because he was manufacturing a war faster than Spandau could manufacture a gun and bullet.
Steyr and Mannlicher decided their repeater was the best. It was.Their version of the full metal jacket was damn good. Their 1610 powder was now the second best powder in the world. Sure. Sure. But it was reliable and tested and ready. Right now only the French Meille claimed to have stabilized nitro. Sure! Sure! But Meille was not handing out samples. So why abandon the R & D program or panic? The Lebel was lousy. Mano u mano, the Mannlicher even firing 1610 would tie it. The Mannlicher repeater was bar none the fastest to load and fastest to fire repeater on earth! It never jammed. It was fumble proof. It was the sweet girl of a repeater which any soldier wanted to love. So salvage the situation!
Francis Joseph and Albrecht ordered Archduke Leopold to fall on his sword as the Inspector Of the Infantry despite the fact that two old men overrode every expert including Leopold. But Leopold still started the salvage throughout 87 and going into 88 as his successor was picked: Inspector General Rudolph. That meant that Rudolph was probably already on the ground working with Leopold.
His biographies don’t mention the gun crisis at all to document his movements but his approach to any and all modern technologies and his fetishes and OCD and obsession with modernizing gunnery in the wake of Koniggratz is consistent with Rudolph being involved and Leopold recommending Rudolph as his successor. And once Rudolph inherited the job from Leopold he inherited the gun crisis.
As 1887 unfolded Leopold and Rudolph played salvage. They stopped production.They went back to the original bullet they wanted: 8mm. They kept to the 1610 custom black powder which was damn good. They did not stampede into nitro. No one even knew about the Meille and tackling a rushed nitro would be suicidal. R& D was on scheduled to produce a hybrid nitro by 90 and a full nitro by 95 (with a proposed rimless torpedo style bullet which Rubin was pioneering) so they kept to the R& D. They ordered 90,000 guns already delivered to the army brought back. They decided to re-bore and re-rifle the barrels. They picked a special 318 extra deep rifled bore. They replaced the repeater mechanisms and tested the bolt to make sure the full metal jacket did not blow up inside the mechanism from too much pressure or else blow out the straight bolt. Mannlicher agreed that his wedge lock which anchored his bolt would probably have to be buttressed by two lug nuts. But Mannlicher was always working on each upgrade five years ahead of the curve. War Games in 88 would be crucial test of course but one which he felt confident would prove his gun was the best. But now he got his wish to retrofit the guns to shoot 8mm. The 11 Debacle lost the gun the chance to be tested in war games in 87. All of this of course meant that they had to retool the factory floor. Then they would finish the rest of the order (after retooling again).
That meant expensive cost overruns of course. Six months of pointless delay to deliver the guns missing the 87 war games. But they were confident the guns could be salvaged, retrofitted, and updated to shoot the 8mm 1610 fps Rubin Full Metal Jacket Bullet by early 1888. That still placed them ahead of Spandau. And factoring the mediocre Lebel that would still make them tied with the French. A brilliant bullet in a lousy gun neutralizes a brilliant bullet. The Mannlicher shot the fastest and loaded the fastest and never jammed and could not be fumbled. 1610 fps was damn good. They were still tied with the French. And no war was proposed with France anyway. So why panic?
It is highly probable that Steyr was looking ahead even when the blundering imperial order for 11 mm was issued. Steyr always looked ahead. They knew the 11 mm imperial order was a blunder and probably had the ideal gun and bullet they wanted to begin with already tested while preparing to salvage the blunder.
Everyone except Albrecht and Francis Joseph knew it was a blunder so logically everyone was preparing to fix the blunder. The blunder had to be fixed.
Steyr sold internationally so the vast majority of their clients expected the blunder to be fixed. Later when Steyr got the contract to manufacture the Spandau Frankenstein gun Steyr promptly fixed it to sell internationally. Their clients expected any blunder to be fixed. Spandau’s modus operandi might be to bellow ‘There is nothing wrong! We Junkers are the best! Anything we do is the best! It is just development hiccups! it is a Jewish conspiracy!’ Steyr simply fixed the gun so it stopped blowing up.
Later Steyr retrofitted the gun to Mauser standards because the customer is always right even if the Mauser striper and 90% bolt was not as glorious as claimed. The customer is always right. This was normal Steyr behavior like their R & D program. They were not a Commanding Heights company like Spandau. They were a capitalistic company. They operated independently to manufacture the best for their customers. And the customer is always right.
The salvage went amazingly fast considering the mess. The cost overruns could not be avoided however. And the Imperial Army was close to bankruptcy so such costly overruns really hurt. All to originally use up old stockpiles! Penny wise! Pound foolish!
The blunder was embarrassing of course. For Albrecht and Francis Joseph. It was despicable that Leopold was ordered to take the fall as royal scapegoat for two aged idiots. But that was not Steyr’s problem. If the news got out who really ordered the 11 mm Debacle which cause gross cost overruns and delayed the release that would embarrass two royal idiots. But again that was not Steyr’s problem. And Leopold was quietly taking the fall exactly like Benedek after Koniggratz.
In hindsight the Steyr repeater and full metal jacket bullet proved to be consistently ahead of the curve of rivals. They were ahead of almost everyone including Rubin himself in the development of both gunnery and ammo. They were head of Browning for a while. They were ahead of Mauser for a while.
Steyr stayed neck and neck with the French in the development of nitro in fact. The Steyr full nitro came on board by 92. Ahead of Rubin or America. And unlike the Spandau nitro, it did not blow up guns. The Meille was first out of the gate but had to be ‘upgraded’ so perhaps their rush out of the gate was premature. Or else perhaps their rush out of the gate was simply to spook Bismarck. Which it did deliciously.
So much so one cannot help wonder if the French were playing mind games to sabotage Bismarck’s upcoming war. It ultimately stopped that war from happening in fact. It throw Spandau into such a panic Spandau shot itself in the collective foot. But more on that later.
Mauser and Mannlicher both produce their best products by 95. Indeed by 95 the gun crisis was pretty much over. Every modern army had their modern gunnery with which they would wage war up through WW 1 and in the case of the Mannlicher and Enfield into part of WW 2. Tinkering continued but the prototypes were achieved. The Gun Crisis was over. Gunnery parity was achieved as Spandau abandoned their Commission Rifle to adopt the Mauser while finally working out the ‘hiccups’ of their nitro which caused guns to blow up — after Steyr developed their full nitro by 92 which did not cause guns to blow up.
The Lebel Repeater was never improved and the Vielle nitro was drastically upgraded (indicating it might originally have had issues) by 95. The Lee Metford and Lee Enfield proved to be legendary by 95. Mauser was vindicated by 95. But Mannlicher was mano y mano with everyone in 95. So by 95 the gun crisis was over as parity was achieved. Everyone rushed into machine guns after Browning broke the Maxim Monopoly . Willy got bored with guns and turned to dreadnoughts.
The 95 parity which ended the gun crisis saw Mannlicher fixing minor problems with his gun by reinforcing the straight bolt with lugs. So it stayed neck to neck with the Mauser 90% bolt and the Lee 60% bolt. Mauser adopted the stripper and the Lee Enfield adopted the charger. Both stripped bullets out of packets. Steyr fixed the Commission Rifle for Spandau and adopted it to use a stripper and spring like the Mauser gun. But the retrofitted Commission rifle was mostly used in reserves as a back up gun and was sold to the Turks. Spandau gave up on it despite never admitting its flaws or why the gun blew up. In WW1 the Mannlicher consistently rivaled the Mauser and Lee Enfield and Lee Metford gunnery.
Paul S Scarlata compared all of the historic guns which starred in the gun crisis and discovered that the Mannlicher Repeater was both the first and in many ways was also the best. He rated it for speed and ease of loading, rate of fire, bolt speed, lightness, and found it superior to not only the Spandau Commission rifle but the Mauser and Lee Enfield. He found that the Mannlicher straight bolt was smooth as butter, fast, and applied the exact NEEDFUL PRESSURE. He found the Mauser stripper and Enfield charger more difficult and slower than the Mannlicher enbloc packet clip. Modern armies of millions of draftees need a fumble free and forgiving gun. The Mannlicher was one sweet girl of a gun. The proof of the pudding was when the Garand adopted the enbloc packet clip. Today guns use the enbloc packet clip magazine. Not the Mauser stripper or the Enfield charger. So Mannlicher has been proven to win the prize. This is despite the fact he is unknown today solely because his guns were never tooled to shoot the 7.9 mm instead of the 8 mm bullet. That means hobby shooters simply have not ever fired a Mannlicher to discover what a sweet girl of a gun it is.