Sunday, September 14, 2014

Techblogging August 1944, I: Ancient Scandals

My Dearest Reggie:

The trip through the Oregon country was as wonderful as ever, although somewhat trying, in that Wong Lee and I were confined in close quarters with three teen-agers with considerably less patience with sweeping coastal vistas. Nor was the impatience much lessened by the experience of the sleepy pace here in Canada. Your youngest is amazed to see the way that time has stopped since he left! Ore perhaps he merely chafes under instructions to be circumspect in looking up old friends. Word is not likely to get back to the police, never mind the FBI or Border Patrol where it is not sought, but even so, I should hate to undo the work of his "midnight rebirth," and his American life will be the easier if there is never occasion to doubt his supposed American birth. 

Turning to your hospitality, I can only repeat my thanks, and apologise for the burden we impose on your wife, who has retired to your summer place on Bowen Island, as I am sure she will let you know. Fortunately, a few more days (and one more newsletter), and I shall be on my way to the South Seas, while Wong Lee adopts the role of teen-ager-wrangler-in-chief and chivvies the young ones back down the coast to California. 

If I can ask one more favour, could  you discretely seek out our friend and put some questions to  him? I distinctly recall him saying, on more than one occasion, that his grandfather came to the country to work on the railroad. Nor was he above the old joke, "Ching, Chang, Chong, the Old Names make the sound of the hammers," although careful to leave his own clan off the list. While I would not put it past the Old Man to lie to us in the matter, I am confident that Grandfather would have sought his own sureties in the matter of purging the relevant  records. Yet it seems certain now that our friend's employer believes that it has in its possession documentary evidence of our friend's grandfather's date of arrival in the country and racial origins. I know that you will regard this as a footling matter, but it is important to me that when discussions turn to breaking off the relationship, we have the upper hand, in the form of an offer to address their technical concerns, and not they, in the form of a breach of the morals clause of the employment contract. (If you are wondering about the fate of your "Christmas present," Bill and David have subcontracted the matter to a Santa Clara engineering student of the utmost discretion.)

Speaking of investigations, and morals concerns, you are correct that the fonds that I have directed "Miss V.C." towards in the Vancouver Archives are related to Old Liu, and, of course, the Honolulu arrests cannot go unmentioned, even after 39 years, as his family's continuing attempt to ignore their ancestor would anyways suggest. Yes, these are not matters that one wishes to discuss with an eighteen-year-old girl, and, yes, her mother's opinion of me can still go lower. However, they are also not a side of life that can be practically withheld from a young lady of her generation, what with the Andrews Sisters and burlesque dancers and worse on every radio and cinema screen. Old Lieu will introduce "Miss V.C." to the specific cargo that the whalers of the old McKee "triangle trade" brought in to Nootka, and the provision that was made to place that cargo on the trail and rails to Chicago. If she does not now think of the issue of the "Prince of Maquinna," it will be because she is diverted into the larger scandal, seeing in the fonds the connection to the Chinatown arrests that the family interest so promptly suppressed. 

And that, apart from the delicious scandal of it all, will, I imagine, bring her back to the rails and the connection with her grandfather on another line of inquiry. 

I suppose. Right now, she is asking for my assistance in reaching Nootka. Naught but disappointment awaits her inquiries there, as you had the good sense to move our landings to more congenial locations in anticipation of the Volstead Act, but I can hardly tell her that! 

As I rather expected, we have seen more of Lieutenant A. than one might have expected. His employment in Seattle seems none too onerous, and his attendance at Pearl Harbour scarcely required, as in practice if not in strict chain of command the refitting of the new flagship's radio arrangements is in other hands. Fortunately or not, it now appears that the young man will continue his remote association with it, too. That is, he will join Nimitz's family in Honolulu, rather than that of his admiral at sea, for the forthcoming campaign, with signals responsibility. It does not appear that military service is  necessarily that onerous if you choose your grandfathers adroitly. It rather makes me wonder how "Sink-Us" got his appointment!   

I do not ignore your inquiries about Fat Chow. We believe that he is going to reach Kashgar via Herat, and when we know more, we will let you know.

Flight, 3 August 1944


“While the Iron is Hot”  Germany is nearly beaten, and our bombing was never going to win the war by causing the German national morale to collapse (the idea that it might is all Germany’sfault!), but this is still the time to bomb the hell out of them, not to indiscriminately kill civilians, as the German “air torpedoes” are doing, but to “display our power in a way which all civilians can see.” This will not cause German civilian morale to collapse, because it won’t, but it will. Also, something about German war production and making Herr Goebbels work harder. Perhaps he has offended the paper by stealing its sweet papoose? Oh, no, G. Geoffrey Smith!

“The Rocket-firing Typhoons” Normandy is a typical Montgomery battle, in that he draws the enemy in one flank and then strikes and breaks through on the other. (Such genius is like a candle, suddenly lit on the darkness of the night of all warfare before him.) Thus, it is to Montgomery’s credit that it is the Americans who have broken out, and the ‘rocket-firing Typhoons,’ in spite of also having little obviously to do with this breakout, which was largely accomplished by ‘.50-cal firing Thunderbolts,’ have actually been quite important.

“Civil Aviation” We are talking about talking about civil aviation! In this number, the talking about talking is by the Tory Reform Committee, Dr. Edward P. Warner, and a fellow who rejoices in the title of “Inspector of the Czechoslovak Air Force.”

War in the Air

Today we talk about Normandy and rain, signs of  German Air Force activity, the bombing of tank factories, and an attack on “Sumatra’s naval base.” I read the last first, and it sounds as though Aceh was very heavily hit. As far as I know, all of our people are lying low in Zamboanga, but with Ramadan fast approaching, I fear some may already be on the Verandah of Mecca.

The lead item credits to the torrential rain in Normandy the German redeployment south of Caen, which held up a major Second Army assault in spite of a heavy commitment by ‘rocket-firing Typhoons.’ It is hoped that at least the redeployment of tanks and antitank guns had a knock on effect, holding up the delivery of flying bombs to their launching platforms. German fighters have not exploited the low ceiling, but night bombers have attacked the Caen area in some force. The paper notices the 3% death rate of American wounded in Normandy, and credits this amazing achievement to “whole blood, penicillin and the sulphanomides, and the rapid evacuation from the battle front, in part using air ambulances. Bombers continue to attack oil targets, but there is the thought that tank factories may be supplanting them as priority targets. Attacks also continue on possible “rocket shell” targets, and rumours that flying bombs are dropping incendiaries are refuted. “Slaughter in Jugoslavia” covers not one ethnicity/language/sect having its revenge on another, but the destruction of 38 locomotives from the air. More work for the foundries of the North! The paper notices that “old” Stirlings have been used in attacks on V1 and perhaps V2 bombsites, but this does not indicate a shortage of heavy bombers because of an argument too obvious and conclusive to be held up to the light of day here, any unmentioned persons who might have proposed the contrary being quite wrong, and probably unpatriotic, too.

Here and There

Ranger and Fairchild are now subcontracting the Merlin, because absolutely as many Detroit shops as possible should have access to British taxpayer-subsidised Derby research and development! Sir Stafford Cripps states in a written reply to a question by Mr. Granville (Independent, Eye), that the Ministry of Aircraft Production is, in fact, producing jet aircraft. U.S. experts are studying flying bomb parts, the paper greets the news that British bombers can shoot down German fighters as a welcome refutation of the idea that only “Flying Fortresses” can do this. BOA may soon fly in South America, says American Aviation, WAAFs arrive in Cyprus. The paper finds it noteworthy that a Sikorsky YR-1B helicopter was transported to a “northern airfield” for cold weather tests as cargo in a Curtiss Commando, “kangaroo”-style. Eighty fellowships to study aviation engineering, of an average value of £600/annum have been established by ICI. The Excess Profits Tax has clearly been kind to Imperial Chemical, and a good thing, considering all the benefits to modern life that chemistry will bring.

 Colonel Frederick MacKie, of Marks, Somerset, veteran of the Indian Medical Service and the Younghusband Expedition and long-time chief medical officer of BOAC, has died at 69. Air Vice-Marshal Stevenson, Commodore of the RCAF Pacific Coast Defences, is so bored by the lack of need for actual defending that he is doing a grand tour of the Pacific war zone with his staff and anyone else who wants to come along. They will be studying the influence of climate on strategy, and also hulu dancing. Glenn Martin has developed a method to avoid the prefreezing of perishables for air transport. It involves it being really cold in aircraft flying at high altitude, and the American Association of Waist Gunners is contesting the patent.  “Canopus,” first of the Short flying boat airliners, has racked up 11,000 flying hours while covering 1,500,000 miles. It turns out that many of Britain’s small aviation firms have spent the war repairing or converting aircraft, there was a celebratory luncheon in London in honour of Bleriot’s flight, and Flight Lieutenant P. M. C. Hill, son of Air Marshal Sir Roderick Hill, was killed on a bombing mission in Italy last month at the age of 26.

“Two Bells: The Bell Aircraft Corporation’s Unorthodox Jet-Propelled Aircraft and Helicopters: No Combinationof the Two –Yet.” Having developed the Airacuda and Airacrobra in the past, Laurence Bell’s firm can probably be depended upon for further novelties. Chicago-based Air Tech has published “exclusive” three-view silhouettes of the Bell jet fighter, giving the paper apparent license to reprint them. Equally vague is word of the Bell helicopter, and the “yet” is presumably an indication that the paper knows more than it is allowed to say. The one actual fact in the article is that GE has allocated space to the manufacture of the “Whittle-GEC prime mover.”

“Indicator” discusses “Inefficient Efficiency: Killing Individual Enthusiasm: The Need for Personal Interest in Aircraft Manufacture and Operation: A New King of Incentive: Debunking the ‘Power-Plotters”
In short, I infer that Indicator continues to be biter about what I assume was his grounding, causing to lash out at the various novelties of the age. And, actually, I should restrain my comments until I have read to the end of the number, because that is not the implicit burden of this column. The last two paragraphs are a full-throated rant against “train ‘em young” and “paper-efficiency, even with the help of psychiatrists.” Although he does have a point, in that it is much easier to “catch ‘em” at 29 than it is at 18.

The paper is appalled by the army-centric, parochial view of the fighting in Tunisia presented by the recent Tunisia, as issued by the Ministry of Information. Although the photographs are nice. It calls for campaign histories to be issued by the Ministry of Defence, so that the contributions of all three services can be weighed even-handedly, and no pernicious distortions of therecord allowed to creep in to the record.

Maurice F. Allward, “Engine Mountings” Rather in the spirit of Aviation’s multipart series on, say, the load-bearing capacity of acetate or celestial navigation comes this second article on the subject of attaching engines to aircraft. I know that this is a matter of concern, but . . . Actually, while I was prepared to denounce this article on account of insufferable boredom, the further I read, the more I sense a kindred spirit.   One of my great regrets about leaving London as I did was that I never got to see the shattered mountings of Belfast’s machinery. I do not think that the profession gave the least thought to the potential consequences of using cast-iron to tie down the machinery, even after all the mining incidents of the first war, until the moment when we were faced with a ship whose fine and modern propulsive plant was sitting on the shards of its former mounting in the hull of the ship. The pictures of the reconstructive work that I have seen scarcely do it justice.

So mountings are a matter of import. Aircraft, of course, have used forgings rather than castings from the beginning. Did you know that a single one of the  forgings that holds the engine of the Bf109F weighes 30lbs, with total mounting weight coming in at 146lbs, whereas the mounting in the Hurricane Mark IIC weighes but 68lbs? So that is to the credit of the British engineer. On the other hand, the wing mountings of the Mosquito’s engines  weigh 87.8lbs each. De Havilland’s excuse of being outdone by Kingston-upon-Thames is that this but allows for welded construction, which eases mass production at the expense of considerable distortion, which the firms must carefully correct for various reasons, but not least to achieve the careful aerodynamics of the plane. Or they could just disguise the bad welds with packed-in solder until the whole thing lets go on its first contact with Arctic waters! The Airacobra is worth special comment, as the engine was notoriously at the centre of mass, requiring a 10 foot flexible shaft to be run through the structure, with a central bearing. The total assembly weighed 50.7lbs, and had to be supported to prevent fuselage flexing. This was achieved by using two massive strength girders running the length of the fuselage, which prevented flexing, but also servicing, since it is hard to imagine how a field shop could possibly repair these girders if damaged by enemy action, and the girder gets in the way of access, although the legend that it took three days and a “small army” of mechanics, engineer officers and Aircraftsmen “Plonks” to remove a broken instrument from the cockpit panel is probably just a rumour. The article ends by suggesting that research into hitching a Merlin to the extension shaft bearing is ongoing, which means that it is not complete, which explains why the Merlin has not yet been placed into the P-39, or somewhat more relevantly, the P-63.

“No Helicopters for Canadian Bus Lines” Well, that is that, then.

“Were They Jet Planes?” American periodical Iron Age suggests that German fighter jets have been seen in Normandy.

“Studies in Recognition”

This week’s number covers the HawkerHenley, the failed light bomber that became a target tug back in 1938 or so,

 the Boulton Paul Defiant that was so relegated after its failure in the Battle of Britain, Miles Martinet target tug that may or may not have replaced them both in the deep obscurities of the middle years of the war (flying a more expendable Bristol Mercury engine), and yet another American advanced trainer, the Beech Kansas AT-11, because the genius of American mass production lies in its ability to concentrate production on a single type of highly efficient design, thereby reaping the benefits of the assembly line.

Behind the Lines

German military commentator Sertorius says that planes were involved. The Rumanian air transport service has been taken over by the German General Staff. A “dispirited Reichswehr colonel” tells the driver who gave him a lift from Paris to Lisbon that the flying bomb might have been  a mistake, because it diverted air force efforts form the battlefield, where the supply lines are now in such danger that the troops are running out of ammunition. The driver then ran to tell Reuters what this visitor from the ancient past had to say. General Stumpf is promoted chief of the German metropolitan air force. Hanna Reisch is said to have test flown a flying bomb. A Berlin newspaper has admitted that the Allies have air superiority.

“Annular or Tandem?” Words fail me, Reggie.


E. N. Bray believes that the flying bomb should be called “the flying bomb.” “Moorhen” compares the case of railways and civil aviation to the rubber trade, somehow, in a way that proves that the railways have a place in the future of civil aviation. F. Ashley believes that RAF training will not make up the shortfall in British aviation technical training as it is too superficial, and something about the South African Air Force Association. 

The Economist, 5 August 1944


“An Interim Report” The Prime Minister gave a speech to the Commons which the paper sees in the way of being an interim report, inasmuch as it is about the war, and, although you may not have noticed this, Reggie, the war has not yet been won. Oh. You had noticed it? Well, there is still the matter of the flying bombs (and possibly “rocket shells”), which have so far killed 4,737; injured 14,000; destroyed 17,000 houses; rendered another 200,000 uninhabitable; with another 600,000 damaged. The paper is now prepared to concede that this is substantial, but we have still won the war, and this bombardment cannot change that. Unless it provokes a premature combined assault in the Pas de Calais . At this point this only seems likely if the Germans can restore their front, but look how long we were held on the Somme in the last! Now, I have Mr. Janeway’s assurance that the war will go on longer than expected, and since Mr. Janeway is always wrong, it follows that we will have a  new “Hundred Days” this fall. But what if some strange fever struck Mr. Janeway that day, and he is right for once? How long can London hold?

“Britain and Argentina” Argentines are excitable at the head of the paper, and at great length.

“The Health Controversy” Doctors are critical of proposals for the National Health Service. As of course they will be, for change is always frightening. Still, I have the first-hand experience of “Cousin H.C.s’ inadvertent experiment to insulate me against taking this controversy too seriously.

“Land Reform in Poland” Liberated by the Red Army, governed by a pro-Soviet rump, why of course the details are up in the air, and this is worth discussing! People have, of course, criticised collectivised agriculture at great length, but Poland’s agricultural sector is primitive and unproductive now. As the paper details at length. Perhaps there are wonder crops like kudzu in the offing!

Notes of the Week

Turkey is staying out of the war more. Finland is surrendering more. The Speaker’s Conference on Electoral Reform, in the course of condemning recent Conservative practice, recommends revolutionary changes that will transform British electoral politics forever by reducing the influence of money donations. Preventing politicians from spending or receiving money to influence the process is certainly something that strikes me as something that can work! Anything that would get the Santa Clara land commissioners out of my pocket…. Mr. Jinnah and Mr. Gandhi are meeting and agreeing, or not meeting and disagreeing. The Viceroy and British Government focus on economics, and, in general, everyone caught in the snowslide that is Indian independence is holding a detached wheel in front of them so that they can pretend to be the captain.

“Post-War Wealth”

The fifth Bulletin of the Tory Reform Committee is out, and seeks to find the middle ground between those who think that we cannot afford a social welfare state and those who promise the moon and the stars. The table here offered combines the official prewar numbers, the paper’s estimate for 1943, and the Committee’s projections.

(£ millions)

Government Expenditure
Private expenditure on consumption
Private net investment at home
Public and private net investment abroad


The paper thinks that the third column seems to be on the low side. There is also the question of where the national income stands. The Committee sees a 1000 million increase over 1938 to £6,225 million, but this supposes a 10% increase in productivity and a fall in unemployment to 5%, and the paper deems this optimistic. Such remarkable numbers are for America, where they will lead to depression through over-production. The Government’s margin for manoeuvre has already been lost, and that the future will be bleak and bare, etc.

Poles, Greeks and Latins (Free French) are excitable.

“Bomb Damage Repairs” The paper briefly reviews the measures taken to repair bomb damage and house the displaced. A skeptical “claims” garnishes Ministerial statements that all is going as well as might be expected. Perhaps the paper has moved to taking the flying bombs seriously? It seems not. The paper appends a table to show that far more were killed and wounded in the 1940 Blitz than by the flying bomb attack (1935 killed in June ’44 compared with 22,000 in Sept-December 1940), and that the latter number is not incomparable with road fatalities –which are also up disconcertingly over the year (401 in May 1943, 632 in May 1944).  Conspicuously absent are comparisons of “dehousings,” which, I thought, was the intent of the  most effective bombing campaign ever? (Ours, if you had not guessed.)

American Survey

“Midwestern Steel Town” Our Correspondent in Indiana writes that the 36,000 steelworkers of Gary, Indiana, are “partially or wholly producing more than 80 per cent as much steel as the whole of Japan.” This is far above what the Brookings Institution estimated might be possible a few years ago, and there is no intimation that this rate can be continued indefinitely. Steel production in Gary is up 75% over WWI, but has required double the workforce, and three times the average income. That is, $31.20 for a 40 hour week, but the average workweek is 50 ½ hours, and the time-and-a-half brings in another $12.28. This, however, is the average pay, and “many” get more. I am sure that the average reader of The Economist is grateful for this explanation of the way that “averages” can work. This income has had astonishing effects. OCI notes that saving funds have grown “astonishingly,” but that there is also much evidence of “foolish spending.” “the sale of cheap things has fallen off, while the demand for high-priced apparel can hardly be met. Jewellery stores are selling amazing quantities of costume jewellery.” Some think a terrible day of reckoning is coming for those who were so extravagant as to splurge on sheets and blankets (the example being an old Coloured woman who could never have afforded such things before), and those who note that there are 43,000 paid workers in Gary, and 30,000 savings depositers in Gary banks; while the tripling of currency in circulation since 1939 points to considerable cash-hoarding, as well. OYC is impressed by the congeniality of relations between business and organised labour, but there is some tension over Coloureds moving into new neighbourhoods, especially traditional ethnic neighbourhoods occupied by Poles and Jugoslavs. The question, again, is postwar jobs.

American Notes

“The New South” The paper is pleased that several reactionary Southern politicians have been defeated in the Democratic primaries. It is hoped that progress in race relations will endure when the war ends and unemployment revives sectional tensions. Another politician of whom the paper disapproves, this one a Republican, is in some small difficulties. Hamilton Fish has admittedly been renominated in New York, but with a reduced majority, thanks to Dewey’s intervention against him, and the paper hopes to be rid of him yet now that he has lost some of his stronghold districts.

“The Coal Deficit” 610 million tons of bitumen against 626 million tons targeted, and 60 million of anthracite against 65 is certainly a deficit, but even the paper will not call it a desperate one.  (It does not notice, as Time does, that the deficit in coal is less than the deficit in firewood.) Production is up to 1500 tons per man, against 1250 in 1942, compensating for loss of labour, and no rationing will be required this winter. It is curious that this would follow on the generous wage awards of the winter strikes.

“Geared to Rubber” The rubber crisis is over. It is a tyre crisis now. The Rubber Director has stated that a deficit of 6000 men is all that stands between the public having enough tyres, and none at all, and it is all the President’s fault, and certainly not that of the authorities for not giving the tyre plants sufficientn priority for capital goods.

The World Overseas

Our Accra Correspondent dwells on issues related to “Secondary Industries in West Africa.” Primary exports have not been the salvation of west Africa, and malnutrition remains a problem. (As opposed to a disgrace that dishonours Great Britain.) Something must be done, as long as it is on a very long time frame in order to avoid heavy expenses, and allow all substantial changes to await a miraculous change in the habits and mentality of native Africans. Or else we will continue to be criticised for being oppressive and patronising colonial masters. discussion in Canada continues over the relation between Canadian oil and US policy. Canadian politicians are appalled at the lack of American interest in the Canol oilfields, just because they are stranded on the wrong bank of the Mackenzie River and isolated by hundreds, if not thousands of miles of –well, you cannot say “trackless” anymore, precisely—wilderness. Perhaps if enough more good money is thrown after bad, they will come to be a paying play in the distant future!

I briefly considered driving the new Alcan Highway back home after my flying trip to Alaska a few months ago until I had the sense to mention it to someone, who hastily disabused me of the idea that there is actually a road along the line of the highway, as opposed to the tracks of truck drivers who make the trip by force of pure will, so I can imagine the mess that was made of the "Canol pipeline" route.

Germany at War

“Last Ditch” Germany may or may not fight to the…

The Business World

“Electricity Shares” London utility shares are a bargain, as investors are staying away from them for some reason. (I am making an “explosion” sound as I write, Reggie. The paper seems to think this so irrational as not to require comment.)

“The Entry into Industry” With the decline in the birth rate, juvenile labour is becoming increasingly hard to come by (fallen by half!), and industry must work harder to attract and secure their share of 14-year-old school leavers and to train them for semi-skilled or even skilled positions. I end with the paper’s introduction, which was a mention of the former plight of 18 and 19 year old workers, who in 1931 were a disproportionately high proportion of the unemployed due to being displaced by new waves of school leavers –“Too old at eighteen.” That does sound like a disgracefully callous way of treating the youth labour force, and a mentality that needs to be dispensed with in this new era of fewer youth and more “county colleges.”

Business Notes

“Portal Bungalows” Minister Portal’s prefab bungalows have come in for much criticism. These criticisms are dispensed with by the observation that the choice is not between good houses and prefabs, but between prefabs and no houses at all. Who would not want to move into  a house whose “shell” was made by the Pressed Steel Company? It just makes me want to burrow more deeply and comfortably into chaise and robe. You  have a beautiful house, Reggie, and it has not escaped me that its "shell" is not by "Pressed Steel." Though even such a house would probably go for a pretty penny in San Francisco if it had this view. Ah, well, perhaps British Columbia real estate values will recover after the war.

“Equities after the War” If all things go well, equities in select classes will go up somewhat! Encouraged by this wild optimism, I manoeuvre to move money into the British market! The new Treasury Bonds sound more promising –or would if I had any confidence that the cost of living would rise more slowly than the value of the bonds. Talk of civil aviation, the cinema, the disposal of Government factories, of needful investments in roadways and farming (more science!) round out the number. Well, except for some financial data that I discuss below. Less facetiously, I do see possibilities in the British equity markets. They will, when you see them, restore the Earl’s belief that I have tiny little electrons on the brain. Perhaps I do; but, seriously, the future belongs to something, and why not little electrons? How can you go wrong with Metropolitan Vickers, STT, GEC and Marconi? (Even the paper manages to note that electrical engineering has the strongest industrial equities.)

Flight, 10 August 1944

The front cover advertisement for Power Boats celebrates a fighter squadron that lost its leader in the drink on the return flight from Holland, landed, refuelled, and flew back to search for him, leading the RAF’s Rescue Launches straight to him. A little maudlin, but better than Hawker’s unfortunate ad that uses an unmistakeable silhouette of the Prime Minister, a Saunders-Roe ad that states that the future belongs to flying boats, and an ad for a British ball bearing maker that asserts that air supremacy belongs to “us.” (The inference that it belongs to Britain being an exercise in nostalgia, I am afraid.)

Or is it? I notice that Blackburn celebrates its history in naval cooperation with a drawing of the Baffin, while Westland offers a drawing of the Whirlwind, and Fairey one of the Barracuda. The drift of the discussion back in the spring, if I recall correctly, is that Westland and Blackburn have new naval cooperation types in development. These, obviously, cannot yet be the subjects of ads, hence the appearance of satisfactory old crates. So perhaps Fairey does, too?


“The Official Mind” The paper has clearly had an article about the technical details of the flying bomb squelched, and is upset.

“Air Power in the Offensive” Bombers bombing, rocketeers rocketing, air superiority achieved, etc.
“Sublime!” The Prime Minister credits the air forces with the success of the Normandy landings. A picture of the B-24 Consolidated Liberator Vultee Liner appears. Not shown: a Lockheed Constellation taking all of its markets.

War in the Air

The paper notices that these “aircraft carriers” have been quite a hit in the Pacific, and that Admiral Sir BruceFraser has been one of our most successful fighting admirals. So his arrival in Trincomalee intimates that our aircraft carriers will soon be doing even more than they have already been doing “in concert with Admiral Nimitz.” the paper suggests that he is old for the role. Many natives of Gibraltar are returning to the island now that the danger has past. (And there is room for them to live.) The July summary of RAF activities shows that the air force was quite active. We lost 221 machines over Normandy, 475 in Italy, 10 in the Middle East, 12 in Southeast Asia. Field-Marshal Rommel has been wounded in action, a victim of air attack. Turkey is staying out of the war even more.Germany is running out of oil even more, our correspondent at SHAEF reports that 36 groups of fighter-bombers softened up the Germans before the St. Lo attack, followed by 1,508 heavies, 9 more groups of fighter-bombers, and “the medium bombers of 9th Air Force.” In total, 2,423 aircraft dropped 61,951 bombs of 4,30s tons. To assist in air-ground cooperation, “tanks were fitted with radio sets to enable the tanks to make direct requires to aircraft for specified targets to be attacked.”
It is not surprising, given their small numbers, OSHAEFC says, that the German Air Force has not been seen often over the front. What is surprising is that reconnaissance aircraft are not the exception. It is also time to note the “Locust” airborne tanks, the thirteen US Army chaplains who parachuted with the troops on D-Day, and flying nurse orderlies such as Leading Aircraftwoman Venter, who has “been doing this work since D-Day,” and so might qualify as one of the (admittedly few) women who landed in Normandy on that day who should have been there.
Also, the air defence fight over southern England is apparently a “machine war.”


“The B-29” The paper has been beaten to press by Aviation. (Not that anyone would know it in this city. Misplacing my copy, I drove out to the university in its splendid setting, albeit all too recently hacked out of the forest, and had to brow-beat the Library Staff into processing most of the last six months of technical magazines through to the reading room.)

The paper’s treatment, brief as it is, is not devoid of interest. For example, Boeing pioneered a new production method (for it). The tubular spar construction of the Flying Fortress wing was replaced by a web-type made up of heavy extruded aluminum flanges. The main web spar, at 255lbs, is the largest extrusion in use in a production aircraft. The wing is heavily loaded, giving a high stalling speed and thus high takeoff and landing speed, but this is mitigated by the modern flap wizardry. Control forces are less than on the B-17 using a simple control tab system rather than “hydraulic boost,” of the kind otherwise notable in the Lockheed P-38 publicity blitz. Reading between the lines, I think it is a sore point in Seattle that they were not able to implement hydraulic power boosting in the B-29’s controls. Certainly it will make it harder for them to move into competition with the Constellation with a B-29 adaptation. The engine nacelle is as small as possible, with air inlets concentrated in a single location. Again, given that air flow is so critical to radial engine cooling, this observation may conceal some operational anxieties. (Or, since I know how much you love your gossip, Reggie, I could just talk about the “Boeing Trimotor.”)  The B-29 is said to be the most heavily tested aircraft ever, this in the sense that since it was ordered “off the drawing board,” much of the work that should have been done on a preproduction series has had to be done on the early production models, instead.

Here and There

Mr. F. J. Mortimer, CBE, FRSA, Hon. FRPS, is reported dead “as a result of shock arising from enemy action.” The Society of Licensed Aircraft Engineers is having a meeting to discuss demanding that people respect them more, and print “F.S..L.A.E” after their names in the press, possibly with an “R.,” as soon as His Majesty be so obliging. Equal priority for airliners is demanded by someone of someone. The regular Rome-Lisbon air service is reopened. The B-29 is unique in that is the first heavy bomber designed originally with a pressure cabin to go into operational service, priority being denied the Ju-86P. Glass-plastic-balsa sandwich material is stronger than balsa-metal and balsa-plywood composites, and so might be used in aircraft fuselages. Lancaster “S for Sugar” is retired after 114 missions. The death of N. M. Polikarpov is announced. Nearly 10,000 Amereican aircraft have been supplied to the Red Air Force, approximately half having flown to Russia via Alaska and Canada. Inasmuch as many of them have been P-39s and P-63s, notice the discussion of them elsewhere in this letter. 

It is hilarious, think some, to imagine “doodle-bug” technology applied to road transportation, as the tails would be red-hot. The United States is to be allowed extensive use of five Canadian air bases around Hudson Bay and on Baffin Island, in the hope that so many Yankee dollars will be sprinkled around that some hardworking European sectaries will be persuaded to move there, start farming, and buy land from Canadian worthies upon which to do it. Preferably before they arrive on site. James Stewart has received the Oak Leaf Cluster to his Distinguished Flying Medal. Northrop Aircraft will convert their P-61 to a post-war transport by fitting it with a new fuselage. And if that doesn’t work, they can fit the new fuselage with new engines!

“Fairey Barracuda: How Aircraft production Group Scheme has Enabled Schedule to be Met and Even Exceeded “Parent” and “Daughter” Firms” Hard as it is to be believed, this beflapped monstrosity actually flies off of warship decks, and is built in large numbers. I suppose that it is some consolation that it could have been worse. Remind me to tell you over sherry when we meet in person next about the little project that Brewster had on the go when I arrived in Buffalo last spring.

Studies in Recognition
Covers the Vultee Vanguard fighter, Mitsubishi OB-97 Bomber-Transport, Brewster Bermuida, and, just for the novelty of finally being the fastest and most modern aircraft in a grouping, the Blenheim IV.

Behind the Lines

A Hamburger newspaper predicts that the new German fighter production programme will soon eliminate our air superiority. The German Air Force has a new chief of staff, as the old one, Colonel General Gorten, tried to blow up Hitler. An air smuggler trying to fly durable goods out of Sweden to Germany was caught in Stockholm, delaying the flight. Presumably, he roused suspicions by claiming to be Napoleon and disrobing in public, or alternatively by drooling and staring vacantly. Two months and more after the flying bomb campaign began, it is either noticed that a special training course for launching crews is required, or one is begun. A Rumanian captain and two lieutenants have been court martialled and condemned to death for suggesting that Rumania surrender more. No word on whether the sentences have been carried out, however. Perhaps this is too much hypocrisy even for Bucharest? Further details of Hanna Reisch’stest flights of a V-1 are given. A woman as impervious to flying conditions as most women are to good sense.

Jugoslavs talk about talking about civil aviation!

C. H. Potts, “Civil Aircraft Engines; Liquid-Cooled or Air-Cooled: The claims of the Radial: Vital Importance of Long Overhaul Life” The life of a civil aeroengine entering service right now should be long enough that it does not have to be overhauled before it is replaced by a turbine engine, I should imagine. But Squadron Leader Potts (ret.) is here to press the claims of the radial engine, which he sets in a fairly self-evidently false comparison with the Merlin and Sabre. Specifically, he thinks these actually existing engines have far too short an overhaul life notwithstanding claimed long lives, as he believes that these do not take auxiliaries into account. On the other hand, the 3000hp American radial of which he has heard only the vaguest of details is self-evidently the future of British postwar civil aviation.


In this light, it is no surprise to see that “Spot Landing” thinks that Britain is not paying enough attention to the helicopter, and that “Realist” thinks that no-one has thought of “jet-driven crewless mail planes.” “Tenderfoot” writes Flight, under the misapprehension that it is the newsletter of the Friends, to say that it does not give the RAF enough publicity,. Mercifully, we end on a cartoon, which at least tries to be whimsical.

 (Spoiling the indistinct punchline:


The Economist, 12 August 1944


“Terms for Germany” The paper is appalled by reports that Poland will be satisfied with East Prussia and Silesia and parts of Pomerania, while parts of western Germany are annexed to its neighbours. This amounts to a “Carthaginian Peace,” and will surely lead to another war. Everyone wants to be the new Lord Keynes, Reggie.

“The Monetary Agreements” Even Lord Keynes. As I have already mentioned your daughter-out-of-law has taken up the brush to cover this subject.

“The Administration of Policy” What a delightfully paperish headline! The question of how to administer such portions of the Beveridge Report as are, in fact, adopted arises.

“East Prussian Bastion” It is to be supposed that the Germans will attempt to defend East Prussia against the encroaching Russians.

Notes of the Week

“The Battle of France” The paper manages –almost—to be excited by the way that “the Battle of France is speedily mounting to a climax.” I personally think that we are mistaking a retreat on the line of the Somme for a German military collapse, but we shall see.

“Plot and Purge” In an unexpected turn of events, the Germans are punishing the unsuccessful bomb plotters. The paper supposes that in the coming weeks and months further fissures will appear between Party and Army, that “this is in reality the beginning not the end of the German plot.”

“The Pace of Parliament” Is too slow? Too quick? Just right? Well, a full paragraph of empty space dealt with, and good for that! Etc. The paper seems concerned that the Planning Act will not pass. I should think that a backlog of 600,000 damaged houses might focus attention!

“Story of a Rising” Warsaw has risen in rebellion, because, apparently, no-one there has read their Clausewitz (the quote to which I have been directed is to the effect that every attack eventually passes its “culminating point” and goes from being irresistible to being too feeble to hold its place, or some such. I do not see the Germans counter-attacking and advancing in the East when they are in danger of losing Paris, but even so.)

The paper also covers provincial elections in Canada, the British Medical Association’s continuing engagement with the proposed National Health Service, and summarises a Letter to the Editor from the aforementioned Lord Keynes, which points out that the paper has entirely misconstrued his Bretton Woods press conference. The paper justifies its own neglect by pointing out that it would have been hard for its correspondents to travel all the way to the conference setting and cover the conference in person, so it was only natural that they would simply recopy the report of a correspondent that was there. Good show, OWC/ONYC! The paper would have been glad to have sent a correspondent to the conference had someone else only paid for it.

“American and British War Efforts”

United States

United Kingdom



Government Expenditure
Private Net Investment
Gross National Product

Costs of War

United States

United Kingdom

Resources derived from-
Increased Production
Reduced Consumption
Reduced provision for, or drafts on, capital


The increase in American GNP is equal to the increase in government expenditure. Capital only suffered to the extent that consumption increased. In Britain, however, reduced consumption and drafts on capital financed a very large part of the war effort.

“Target for Tomorrow” It is to be regretted that the paper ignored Fortune on “194Q,” and waited for the Federal Reserve Bulletin to do its own much grayer version of the same exercise to respond. I regret it because, in the Bulletin’s version, “194Q” becomes “V+2,” or, it supposes, 1947, when with a fall in employment from wartime highs but still well above 1939, and with a ten percent gain in productivity per head, the American GNP will reach $170 billion, which will also be the benchmark for consumption. Demand must rise to this level to sustain employment. Private consumption might be $113 billion, Government $30 billion, and this leaves $27 billion to be made up in demand for private capital goods. The paper is alarmed to see an allowance for a favourable balance of trade, with a net export of $2 billion, as this will cut into British possibilities. It does not end on a theme of gloom and doom, if only because $2 billion is a small enough proportion of $27.

“Inquest on Irish Exports” Rumbling from Dublin that Britain did not buy enough, and did not pay enough, for Irish farm exports out of “mixed motives,” a dangerous impression, the paper supposes. Because terrible things will happen if the Irish are mad at you!

Lord Keynes’ correction follows, which is to say that he said nothing about bringing the gold standard back at the Bretton Woods conference. The technical details I leave in other hands, as I have had quite enough of attempts to explain the various kinds of gold standards to me, be “Mrs. J. C.” ever so clever in her explanations and analogies.

American Survey

“Post-War Rubber Supplies”

There might be a shortage again by “four years after the war.” This will not help the American synthetic industry, however.

American Notes

“The Philadelphia Story” The Army has broken the Philadelphia transport strike with threat of draconian penalties if the strikers did not return to work. Among the matters resolved were an end to discrimination against Coloured workers, the forcing of whom into the ranks of the Philadelphia Transport Company having been the proximate grounds for the strike. The paper fears for race relations when peace returns.

“The Peace President” Is how Governor Dewey is attempting to position himself. The GOP made  a brief and half-hearted attempt to embrace “state’s rights,” as the Democrats are seen to have abandoned the cause, but the idea did not sit well with the Republican Governors, who prefer to be appalled by the New Deal but not inclined to alter what was done.

“The Last Round-Up” Of civilian labour for war work is ongoing. Heavy guns and ammunition, trucks, tyres, tanks, bombs, radar and construction material and tentage fabric are all caught in emerging shortages. Some new regulations will hopefully avert National Service at this late hour.

“They Want to be Shown” Is a play on the state motto of Missouri, from which the new President, Senator Truman, originates. Or new Vice-President, for however many years the President has in him less four. Meanwhile, the senior Senator from Missouri, Champ Clark, has also been defeated in the primary, so that both of Missouri’s new senators will be new to the chamber. The paper supposes that this shows that the voters of Missouri are coming around to the idea that the paper has been right about everything all along. Colonel McCormick, the Hearst press, and the Dies Committee think that it is the sinister influence of the CIO’s Political Action Committee that is responsible, and that they are a bunch of secret communists.

“Wartime Migration” Americans have migrated where the war jobs are, notably to California, which has gained 1.6 million. That’s a great many houses…

The Business World

“Freedom of the Screen” I suppose that, having inadvertently backed into the penumbra of the shadow of “show business” I should care more,but I do not. My interest is confined to the tiny little electrons that make the radios (and, I suppose, projectors) go, and not to the interests of exhibitors against studios, which is the issue here.

“The Future of Fish” The fishing fleet declined by about a third in the 30s, from 348,00t to 262,000, the labour force from 98,900 to 51,550. Methods went ahead while catches went down with a decline in the domestic market and attempts at self-sufficiency in Germany. It is supposed that the price of fish will be sustained in the postwar due to shortage of meat, and that landings will temporarily increase, as they did in 1919-20. In the long run, however, prosperous people eat less fish and more meat, so the industry will have to find ways to encourage consumption, perhaps by encouraging refrigeration, which will ease concerns over freshness, or by proper education of housewives. This goes for herring; the white fish trade is another matter. Here the issue is low prices due to overfishing bringing more product onto the market.

Business Notes

Talk of civil aviation and of oil, the market showing some lift on events in Normandy, worries about the threshold at which the banks (and West African gold producers) will pay the Excess Profits Tax impacting on their share prices, price management in the Lancashire cotton trade talked of.   A detailed breakdown of the British diet shows that considerably more was spent to buy considerably less in 1943 than in 1939, that spam and powdered eggs have made solid inroads into the British diet, that milk consumption is up and dairy down, mainly on the strength of declining cheese consumption. At least British eaters are better off than in occupied Europe, where starvation comes ever closer.  An increase in the women engineer’s wage rate has been negotiated.

Aviation, August 1944

Down the Years in Aviation’s Log

In 1919, the paper celebrated the three year anniversary of the New York-Washington air mail route, which carried an astonishing 15,643lbs of mail every month. The Cleveland-Chicago route had just flown its 75th consecutive non-stop flight ; R-34 flies from Scotland to New York and back in 4 ½  days coming and 3 ¼ going. Fifteen years ago, German liner Bremen catapults Heinkel K2 sea-mail-plane to expedite delivery to New York. The Army takes delivery of 40 Douglas observation planes and orders another 20. Chicago Municipal Airport handles 1,429 arrivals in one week. Ten years ago, PAA’s brand new S-42 Brazilian Clipper takes off in 18 seconds with 17 tons, climbs above 15,000ft in 47 minutes. General Foulois presents a plan for a 1000 a/c purchaes in 1934, while Westbound airmail averages 42hr 32 minutes coast-to-coast.

Line Editorial

Junior’s topic for the month is “The NATIONAL DEBT and your Postwar Job.” He reminds us that victory in this war has depended on our ability to produce (fortunately, not our ability to design). “The stark reality of war finally shocked us out of our economic lethargy.” Now, however, our national debt is astronomical and growing, and the “depression years’ fear of insecurity that all but paralyzed our spirit of enterprise, our inventive genius, and our natural instinct for expansion” will reappear if we do the slightest thing ever so slightly wrong. What wrong thing might we do? Junior tells us, although it is a little difficult to tell since the pages were cut off the square and I have to guess the line-ending words in the outboard paragraphs.  (Very professional work, paper!)

First, the debt is  huge, equal to 4% of the national income. If spread evenly, interest payments would take “at least $80 of every workers’ income per year, the equivalent of $1.60 out of each and every weekly pay check.”

This doesn’t seem as frightening to me as it must be supposed to be to someone Junior must now convince that the debt does not matter because “we owe it to ourselves.” What is this legerdemain? Well, Junior points out that one person’s debt is another man’s saving, or something like that, and that Britain has enjoyed prosperity coming out of wars in which it incurred vast national debts. Postwar, much will depend on the way in which the debt is distributed, and government expenses are met from taxation. Taxes on corporate profits will check investment. This would be bad. Surtaxes on people “who do a considerable amount of saving” will require that the debt be distributed in large part among small savers. This will balance the damage done to demand for goods as between the large savers with less, and the small savers with more. If tax revenues are drawn from sales taxes and income taxes on the poorer classes, there will be a heavy impact on demand, reducing the return from investments and so discouraging them, and producing a net transfer of wealth from poor to rich. This would be bad. (Junior appears to agree with Fortune and the Federal Reserve that maintaining demand is crucial.) If the national debt is widely distributed, and the expenses of government largely met by taxes on individuals, with stiff surtaxes on the wealthy, with substantial exemptions for investments and offsets for losses, then the wealthy will invest rather than sitting on their cash, the poorer classes will have the security of substantial savings, investment will be high because demand will be high, and, in short, the ship of state will sail securely into a golden future.

Are we there yet? No, Junior wants to see reforms of taxation policy, and a commitment to gradually pay down the national debt during “boom” years, when people and businesses will wish to redeem government bonds to buy, respectively, capital goods and durable consumer goods. Moreoever, the era of technological expansion is not over, indeed, has scarcely begun. Junior takes this as proxy for increasing productivity, hence national income. In the Twenties, purchasing power increased 50%, in 1929—39, by less than 6%. Supposing that national income grows more slowly than in the Twenties, more quickly than in the Thirties, say by 33% from whenever the fighting stops (hopefully 1945), then by 20% a decade, the national income (in current prices) will be $175 billion in 1955, 216 billion in 1965, $275 billion in 1975. The burden of the national debt will have fallen in half, even if none of it were to be repaid! But we have to tax the wealth-producing entrepeneurs less to see this golden future.

Aviation Editorial

Leslie Neville thinks that we have to be realistic about the postwar personal plane market. This doesn’t seem unreasonable to me, as no-one has told me to be unrealistic about it. (Except for “Cousin H.C.,” with his “municipal aerodrome on every flat surface.”)

C. L. “Les” Morris, “Teaching the First Helicopter Pilots” It turns out that flying a triple-coupled gyroscope is hard. Put that way, I am mildly surprised that it is not impossible.

Frederic Flader, “The Economic Future of Aviation Technology” Mr. Flader imagines three airlines, one with 1935—45 technology, one with “immediate postwar” technology, and one with Future technology. Based on these numbers, he proposes that in the Future, air traffic volume will increase 54 times.

Design Analysis Number 8

Hall L. Hibbard, “The Lockheed P-38 ‘Lightning’” One of the most controversial and successful fighters of ever is given an objective analysis by the engineer who is still hurt by its withdrawal from service in Europe on account of its inability to compete against less controversial but more successfuller fighters. Lockheed really has got its old plane into all the papers. I hope that all of this effort pays off for the firm, somehow. You will notice above that I finally wrapped my head around one important innovation buried in here, the hydaulically-boosted automatic "manoeuvring flaps" are the one thing that Lockheed has that Boeing has not. So notwithstanding the defensiveness of this series, I would have bought more Lockheed shares had the Constellation not made this an obvious move, such that I suspect overpricing.

Wellwood E. Beale, “Boeing’s new Wind Tunnel Accelerates Research” It does, you know. It even has a spruce fan blade, made by Boeing people. (Who else would make it? Also, spruce?) Mr. Beale, one suspects, is finding counting all his money a bit boring and so puts pen to paper, but not so boring that he actually works on his article.

Ernest G. Stout, “Takeoff Analysis for Flying Boats and Seaplanes” Stay tuned for further entries in this number, “Hydrodynamics of China Clippers,” and “The Veterinary Science of Oxcarts!”

John B. Scalzi, Structural Weight Engineer, Curtiss-Wright Corporation, “A Method for Calculating Weights of New Flaps” Take the weight of the competitor’s flaps, multiply by 20%. This will tell you how much money you have to pay in bribes tdo the chief of Materiel Command to get  him to buy Curtiss-Wright junk. Er, I am sorry. The article is actually some classic engineering statics, and by “classic” I mean that it is curiously absent calculus given that it features things that move. Far be it from me to point the finger –I very well remember how much I deplored the intrusion of dots and dashes into my statics, so long ago, but the taint of corporate failure really does hang over this, and I hope that Mr. Scalzi is auditioning for a better job.

Kenneth Campbell, Wright Aeronautical Corp, “Fan Cooling ‘Ups’ Performance, Part II” Here at the other extreme is quite a sophisticated analysis of a complicated effect, delivered self-deprecatingly on the basis that the estimates are likely to be as much as 20% out, and that the point here is to avoid preliminary analyses that are “several hundred percent out,” which I imagine to be a pointed dig at someone who seriously mistook the case. (Presumably, given the absence of any such fans on American planes as opposed to German, to the pessimistic side.) It does appear, however, that Wright was experimenting with fans before the first FW190 was captured, so that it was not entirely a response to that panic. Experiments in 1932, 1935, 1937, 1939 and 1941 are cited. I note that the Curtiss-Wright shop abandoned the aerodynamic shaping of the fan blades as “unnecessary.” Taking this to be code for “too hard,” I am getting out of Curtiss-Wright stock.

Ed. C. Powers, Combustion Engineering, “This Aircraft Heater Won’t Blow Out” We have had a solid relationship with Combustion Engineer of Toledo, and I did not even realise that they were into aircraft heaters. It is a good news that they are in the business, not because aircraft heaters are a big business to be in, but because the first cold day in August caught us out for a scenic drive on Mount Baker, and I am acutely reminded that cars can get very cold, very quickly, in spite of the hot engine ahead. That Combustion Engineering is miniaturising its expertise from ships and locomotives to airplanes promises a further step downwards to a potentially very lucrative market.

Herbert Chase, “Hole Piercing Proves Faster –And Cheaper” Mr. Chase is arguing with someone about something less than fascinating, but the burden of the argument suggests that Erco putting-things-through-things machines are the best ones that Glenn L. Martin uses.

William N. Findley, “Load Characteristics of Cellulose Acetate Plastic, Part III” Today, he looks at stress and creep. 

Edward E. Thorp, “Looking after those Aerols” Aerols are a brand of landing shocks which need periodic maintenance.

AAF Devises All-Purpose LooseningTool” It seems to be a socket screwdriver with a rachet that allows it to convert a hammer blow on the handle into torque. I almost did not mention it here so as not to spoil the surprise –I have obtained one for you and it is coming by sea, hopefully to arrive in your hands before the war is over—but I am searching for the chosen vessel that will manfacture the thing for the Army in order to invest as much in it as I am allowed.

J. A. Wahle and Hugh Gourdin, Pan American Airways“. . . It Takes a Flight Engineer” Flight engineers beat pilot and automatic control of complicated power plants because they have the “human touch.” This is not a fight you can win, gentlemen. There are plenty of power systems for you to control on the ground and at sea.

B. Mattson Compton, “Addendum to Graphic Solutions to Celestial Avigation” it was just a few months ago that we were promised an introduction to air navigation, and now we have an appendix, admittedly to a particular method. It seems as though plenty of people are thinking about this, but relatively few want to write about it at any length.

Robert I. Colin, “Robot Engine-Tutor Talks Back” No word on whether it abducts the scientist’s beautiful daughter, though.

Raymond L. Hoadley, “What Price Stocks Now that Cutbacks are Here” The aviation firms, which managed to be on death’s door in spite of massive profits during the peak of war production due to the excess profits tax, will do just fine in the period of contract cancellation, and Wall Street should not dump their stocks. Perhaps they’ll get business making prefabricated housing or something, and, anyway, they are very liquid.

Aviation News

The lead story is that the Civil Pilots Training programme has been extended. The second is that Robert H. Hinckley has been named director of Contract Settlement at the WPB. The F7F is in testing. Something called the “China Aircraft Corporation,” an all-Chinese manned and owned organisation, has opened shop in San Francisco. My eyes are rolling, but I will leave this to the Benevolent Association –for now.

America at War Communique No. 32

Aircraft are involved everywhere. The Navy, it is announced, has added 22 fleet carriers to its line up since the beginning of the war, and the Army Air Force’s B-29 is the most significant military development of the war, so far, says General Arnold. (The fall of France? D-Day? Pearl Harbor? Pff. It is the fact that we can now bomb countries “everywhere,” something that militarists (at least militarists without a home defence air force) must now take into account, since “any country can be invaded, bombed, and shot up within two days.”

Washington Windsock

The paper’s Washington correspondent reports that B-29s give the capability to call anywhere in the world within 48 hours with heavy bombardment, aerial gunnery and parachute ground forces. B-29 bombing from China will intensify as gasoline deliveries there increase, which Stubblefield seems to imagine, or at least reports, is going to happen. Remember when the submarines were sinking all those ships, and the Navy came within a whisker of giving trans-Atlantic air transport the number one priority? Stubblefield does, but we’re probably too young to recall those long gone days. Anyway, it would have been a mistake, it turns out. Stubblefield thinks that Wilson, Donald Nelson, Ted Wright, General Arnold, Admiral Ramsey, Charles S. Gorrell and others not mentioned are wonderful. Bombing helped make the invasion possible by blowing up Germany’s things. Mr. Stubblefield cannot possibly be long for his job.

Aviation Manufacturing

Since it cannot be avoided further, the lead number takes notice of the monthly aircraft production figures for May. The total is down to 8,049 in June, a drop of 9% on May, and we can no longer point to weight growth as consolation, as it is static. Navy fighters, trainers and C-46s are down in particular. Harvard Business School offers a plan to the Government for disposal of military transport assets. Essentially, if the airlines have to pay enough for them, the industry won’t collapse.

Transport Aviation

Talking about talking about international civil aviation continues. Wichita proposes a plan to have 6 air parks. The War Department will return another 15 DC-3s to the airlines, bringing the total up to 257 in civil operation, compared with 324 in May 1943. About 80% of airmail is now moving by air, alleviating the winter bottleneck. (The paper says "scheduled routes," because the fact that airmail does not always go by air is one of the Great Secrets of American aviation.)

Aviation Finance

Curtiss-Wright’s 1943 sales are up 65% over 1942, which sounds impressive until you note that Grumman is up 94%, Pan American 95%, Sperry “double,” and that both Lockheed and McDonnell have declared special dividends.

Aviation Abroad

Robot bombs are destructive but inaccurate. You don’t say! Sir Roy Fedden is reported in The Aeroplane as believing that Britons are indifferent to technological progress, civil aviation, proper technical and managerial training. The solution is to be super-enormous landplanes and flying boats, plus possibly flying wings. I am pretty sure that I have read this novel before, although there is some small progress, in that the Established Church is no longer blamed. The only part I cannot script is the ironic ending, in which Fedden gives up his place in the lifeboat so that some bright young thing, played by Veronica Lake, can be saved, while he is tragically lost along with his creation to the  iceberg, playing the part of  "Thinly Veiled Allusion." Flying icebergs, perhaps? Or, more likely, flying boats that cannot take off.

“Sideslips” saw a prospectus of a postwar flying wing transport with an outdoor swimming pool, is amused, as also by the American Airplanes pilot who wasn’t concerned about a 250 foot ceiling because his plane wouldn’t go that high, and the USAAF sergeant hitching a ride on a B-29 who thought that its flap was falling off. (Silly man. They burn off.) If this seems inconsequential, a third of the column is devoted to the question of “Superfortress” versus “Super Fortress.” In other hilarity, a meteorologist is a man who can look a girl in the eye and tell whether, and is amused by a “companion reporter,” who, in a visit to a high-altitude research laboratory, spent his entire time chatting up the nurse.

Fortune, August 1944

This month’s cover illustrates “Reconversion in Typewriters.”


Professor Charles A. Dice, who teaches Business Organization at Ohio State University, is unimpressed with Baron Keynes.

The Job Before Us

John Chamberlain, “The Five Years After 1918” Were terrible. Let’s not do that again.

“Liberation: An Agenda” This story has been seen elsewhere lately. Belgium has plans for after Liberation!

John Davenport, “Mr. Jean Monnet of Cognac” Mr. Monnet is expected to be a man of account in postwar France. Mr. Monnet is already a man of account, and not above getting his name into the papers, if the right paper comes along, and that would be the Luce press.

“A Dream of Reconversion” The L. C. Smith & Corona typewriter factory of Syracuse, New York, struggles to meet military orders with resources left over from wartime production of percussion primers and rifles, dreams of peacetime prosperity. It will, however, need many machine tools for reconversion back to typewriter production.

“Science Comes to Langages” Apparently, languages can be studied scientifically, thereby increasing the supply of military translators. Two pictures illustrate, neither with a single woman in them. My experience suggests complete humbug on that score alone, but Doctor William S. Cornyn of Yale is shown teaching an interested class how to pronounce Burmese. The same methods have been used to teach Italian, Persian, Turkish, Thai, Chinese, Hausa. Then I turn over and hear that Franz Boas and Edward Sapir are mentioned as founding members of this Linguistic Society of America. They both struck me as first-class men when I knew them (though I vaguely gather that Doctor Sapir’s methods have been said to be unsound), so I suppose that should withhold judgement. Pursuing the matter, I am almost tempted not to tell you that the young man we remember (although in truth only four years younger than we) died in 1939! I hope that this does not depress you as much as I.

The point that comes up here and elsewhere is that there are not nearly enough Americans with foreign language skills to meet the demand for translators. Which makes me wonder about our society. The paper tells us that there were only 50 men in American universities studying Chinese literature, making it all the harder to train enough enlisted men as Chinese interpreters. Certainly no-one is denying that this is a persistent problem, but perhaps those who see the problem could also explore the reason why it is not a sufficiently pressing problem as to require a peacetime solution. The answer, of course, is to be found no further than Chinatown, and the unspoken inference is that the problem is that there are not enough of the right kind of Chinese speakers. With that kind of attitude, there will continue to be this deficit, it seems to me.

“Venture Dimes” Toronto’s gold mining stock promoters are vaguely criminal, although there is considerable gold mining going on.

“High Vacuum” Making vacuums was apparently an old technique (stills are instanced) that was refined for war needs to make electron tubes. This even though “high vacuum physics” was “a dominating force in the laboratory.” The nature of vacuum is explained, and the reason why it is so important –becacuse electron tubes “bottle” vacuum, as it were. Though there are many other uses, and the war such much investment on the other side of matters, vacuum pumps to make all the vacuum. As is often the case in the paper’s little vignettes, there is a starring firm, National Research, about which we have heard in connection with penicillin manufacture. It will be interesting to see who, besides electron tube makers, need vacuum pumps in peacetime. 

John Dewey, “A Challenge to Liberal Thought” Mr. Dewey is 84 and consumed with an argument that confronts him with the accusation of being hostile to “liberal” thought.

“The Elegant Era” As rendered ion nostalgic watercolours, old-time railroad cars were very elegant. Apart from the noise and drafts, that is. Page over, and the question is “Passengers: Profit or Loss” Modern railway cars are homey rather than elegant, and may or may not make money depending on how fares are priced in relation to peoples’s willingness to pay. Aviation would have someone pull out dubious numbers to prove that passenger miles will increase 54 times exactly, while this paper prefers pretty pictures of ways in which trains might go faster (streamlining and smoothing out curves.) Remember “Cousin H.C.'s” old argument, that if the road is to run down one side of the field where the railway already runs down the other, there was precious little point in the roadbuilder buying all the field? Finally he is wrong!

Given all this, perhaps 100mph passenger trains will be possible, and that will be grand. Fourteen hours New York-Chicago! But then what would be the overhead? The paper is taking so much time to make traction and go ahead in this number that I am beginning to wonder if it is practicing to be The Economist, until I am finally reminded that passenger fares are set by the ICC. Smoke is being blown –just not at me.

The Farm Column

Ladd Haystead notes the ongoing “agricultural twilight” of the Northeast, abandoned first by wheat, then vinyards and orchards and cheesemaking. In the 1940 Census, 1 of 20 Northeastern farms counted as abandoned, compared with 1.3 of a hundred for the country as a whole. Livestock now dominates Northeastern farming by value, mostly from dairying and poultry. Haystead supposes that “mining the soil” contributed heavily to this, or the unsuitability of weather, or the application of unsuitable foreign techniques from England, or competition from other regions, or, really, anything but the cause obvious from the development of farming in other heavily populated regions. Farmers close to cities produce milk, eggs, truck vegetables, fruit and flowers because that is where the money is. Or they sell to developers. This is  how  urbanisation works, I feel like yelling at Mr. Haystead, largely because I have not had the dread conversation with Michael. Having set off down the wrong path, he arrives at the same answer as always, although since he is dealing with the Northeast, there is no long list of exotic arables  ideal for soil-rehabilitation, only good old fashioned alfalfa, timothy, clover, orchard and broom grasses, with a bright new future of exotic legumes perhaps a glimmer of laboratory promise. 

When he turns to a particular operation, the large Seabrook farm in New Jersey, he at least notices truck gardening. The Seabrooks also believe that the demand from frozen foods will increase dramatically, giving the vegetable grower a more national range –although that means competing with other regions of the country, the one thing that gives truck gardeners near New York, or London, or Paris there competitive advantage. Other scientific advances he specifically notes (obviously not covering New Jersey farmers) include dehydrated orange juice. Yes, well, I do not know about that one, Reggie. It’s been a good wartime staple, but, when you get right down to it, they don’t really need to put oranges as such in the product. A little limonene for flavour and a great deal of sugar will do quite as well.

Business at War

Mr. Janeway’s byline is missing in this number. We cover the unexpected boom in surgical instruments, which require a particularly high grade of steel, and which were supplied largely from Germany before the war, and the music that plays in modern factories, which is supplied by the Muzak Corporation and RCA Victor. I have been exposed to this in some industrial settings, and while there is inevitably grousing about selections, it is pleasant enough where ambient sound allows it.


This survey tries to assess American attitudes towards “full employment.” Given unlimited opportunities to work,  most expect far more to work than did even before the crash in ’29. Given constraints, 36% think that married women with working husbands should not be employed, or other constraints on working time, while 44.3% prefer the development of new products and new markets. 27.3% are significantly and disproportionately worried about the national debt. Although the question seems to have been formulated as an opportunity to lecture, or hector, as the  paper points out that while on the one hand that the debt is no great problem and easily repaid, a “shockingly” high proportion of respondents did not know this. People tend to underestimate the taxes that others pay overestimate the number of trade union members, have no idea what “Little Steel” is, and in general know about some things (the farm population is small) but not other things (prewar exports were small). 

The general point seems to be that if Depression returns, there will be great pressure on women and probably Coloureds to withdraw from the waged work force. I tend to think that will not  happen for a few years, however. That is, "V+2" or "194Q" may well be as rosy as they are pictured as being by the Luce press. The concern comes after that, when the average American has made up for the deprivations of war. Given a radio, a car, a house, a refrigerator, perhaps a television, conceivably air conditioning or a private plane, what else could he possibly want? At that point, will his concerns not turn to the future, and making up any inroads on his wartime savings against an uncertain future? And without demand, how will we maintain employment? And if employment begins to fall, will the prophecies of the scare-mongers not become self-fulfilling?

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