Bench Grass is a blog about the history of technology by the former student of a student of Lynn White. The main focus is a month-by-month retrospective series, covering the technology news, broadly construed, of seventy years ago, framed by fictional narrators. The author is Erik Lund, an "independent scholar" in Vancouver, British Columbia. Last post will be 24 July 2039.
Techblogging August 1944, II: To Sail Beneath the Saffron Flag
Fraternal Brother Liu Chu Wan!
Knowing of old how discretely you vet my cousin's correspondence. I implore your assistance. The matter of self-murder comes up several times in the letter which follows, and I fear my cousin's mood, as he will have heard of the first, the death of Admiral Moon. There has been a fall in the American female suicide rate this year, which Time magazine attributes to nothing less than prosperity. I do not wish to infect my cousin with mad impulses, but I do believe that this anecdote will illuminate changes in the American mood, changes that confirm to me the odds of a postwar housing boom. The item is on a a separate page, if you deem it best to remove it, I would ask that word of it might be whispered in the ear of my cousin and lord.
Your Loving Elder Brother, Tay Chao She
My Dearest Reggie:
Just a brief note to append here before I sail. I will left the household in Santa Clara bring you up to date. Sparrow is refit and ready to sail. Fat Chow will join us in Hawaii. As I have hinted several times, our orders take us to the Philippines as part of MacArthur's navy for a landing on Leyte preparatory to the taking of Luzon. The young people are proceeding south with Wong Lee, your youngest to begin his V-12 programme at the University of California, "Miss V.C." to enroll at Stanford, of all places. She had a busy summer, even managing to reach Nootka, where I relented and had Joseph George take her under his wing and spin tales about the old blackbirding voyages up to Tsawatti. Combine that with Old Liu's tales of Chilcotin cattle drives and Columbia river barges, and she has the old "Red Route" from Whampoa to Spokane. Now she only needs the deeds, to know when and how the ranches along the way came into her family's ownership, to put the rest of the Nootka connection together. As far as I know, those do not exist outside Chicago, but that does not mean that she will not keep looking.
I am sorry to divert you with my little game at this moment. I cannot, still, believe that I am sailing to war at my age, but all the arrangements have been made, and if the strain prove too much for me, there will at least be some poetic closure of a life spared by Japanese shrapnel so long ago. I am sentimental.
I would prefer better.
17 August 1944
“Aircraft in Battle”/ “The Air and
the Invasion” Aircraft were involved!
“The Airborne Army” As was noticed
by Time, although not so far here by
you, Reggie, as I cover it in its calendar turn below, SHAEF has erected the
airborne corps of the allied armies into an international First Airborne Army. This must broadly imply the intention to use this force in a multi-corps operation,
although it is difficult to imagine quite that many paratroopers floating to
Earth. I cannot help but notice the shortfall in new, large transport aircraft
“War in the Air” The not-quite fall
of Brest and Lorient “wins the Battle of the Atlantic on land.” Or wins it
more, and even more when the ports actually fall. LaPallice is bombed again, in case there is any more intact concrete down there.
The paper goes on to note that the lack of aerial reconnaissance made the
Germans blind. This meant that it took until the 12th for the
Germans to realise that they had to withdraw from Normandy or risk being
encircled by the American breakout. This in turn meant daylight movements
through Falaise under continuous air attack. The pilots report a “terrific”
slaughter of vehicles, although I would be more comfortable with a count of
them made from the ground. Even if the air attack on the retreating Germans
proves less effective than it initially seemed, this really has been the coming
of age of “air superiority” in warfare.
“Relation of Air to War” Air ChiefMarshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory* gave an
extended talk to the press on the relationship of air to ground in the recent
campaign that repeats what I have already said at greater length. The enemy
could not strike back due to our fighters, could not use the main roads, due to
our fighter bombers, could not use river bridges that were knocked down by our
medium bombers, could not hold fortified positions that were attacked by our
heavy bombers, were groping in the dark for lack of aerial reconnaissance.
“For Photographic Reconnaissance”
The paper celebrates the Spitfire XI P.R. variant with a 16650hp Merlin 61, 63,
or 63A engine and the gun compartment in the wing removed to install a fuel
tank taking up nearly the whole of the leading edge.
Inventor Adam Craigon of Toronto,
Canada, has the solution to the flyimb bomb problem, and has cabled Mr.
Churchill offering his services. As the
paper goes to press, the existence of the “Gyro Gun-Sight Mk. IID" is revealed
to those of us who have not previously benefitted from a private briefing by
your eldest son. Sid Hall's boy, John, has been killed in a flying accident. The
Consolidated B-32 is revealed, justifying the reduction in B-24 production in a
more seemly way than admitting that they are being taken out of frontline
service in Europe, or so I hear.
The paper notices an article in Flugsport on the B-40 “Flak cruiser,”
and summarises its 1940 article explaining why the concept is unsound. Further
on the theme of old grievances, it notices that the article contains a picture published in Flugwehr in 1940 showing the Defiant’s
four guns, “then an official secret in Britain.” The Lamplugh Committee report
on the future of civil aviation calls on the Government to make an Official
Statement. The cabin of the B-29 is said to be made of a self-sealing material
developed by Du Pont de Nemours. Sounds a little far-fetched to me. Major Mayo,
latterly promoter of the Short-Mayo Composite Aircraft, is now the promoter of
Shipping Airlines, ltd, the airline formed by “forty shipping companies.” If I
had not already reason enough not to rush into this. The US War Department
announces that the P-63 Kingcobra is now in service. Various towns are in
rivalry to build a “super airport” for Atlantic service to London.
“Avro York: Some Impressions and a
General Review of Britain’s Latest Civil Aircraft” This is an odd one. The AvroYork is the Lancaster bomber conversion, so it is old news. Except that bombers
are not really convertible into transports. Bombers lift weight, while
transports lift volume. (The Spitfire V, for example, takes off with a combat
load of fuel and ammunition equivalent to twelve passengers.) In the case of
the York, the problem has been solved by replacing the short fuselage of the
Lancaster with a very long one. It cruises at a lower speed, needs the triple
empennage removed in the Lancaster, and probably has a lower maximum combat
load. (I cannot be bothered to check.) In return, it gets the room to carry 24
passengers, plus conveniences such as a kitchen. Remembering the distant days
of prewar commercial flying and my uncommonly extensive but still minimal
experience, my impression was that European airlines favoured comfort, American
ones, speed. However, many of the “comfort” factors were not ones well
described by advertisements. Cabin temperature, noise, and chair comfort
mattered more than promenades, in other words. The York looks comfortable, but
we are not told about how noisy it is. The engine plant is a 1250hp Merllin, suggesting considerable exhaust noise; but on
the other hand, there are fully feathering Hydromatic propellers.We are thrown back on the question of whether the
engine will be economical to maintain.
“New Zealand Wants British
Commonwealth Air Route”
The paper is amused that General
Korten has received the Order of the Sacred Treasure from Japan in the same
week that notices his replacement, Lieutenant General Kreipe, who replaces him
on account of Korten’s execution in the bomb plot against Hitler. In other
court news, a German paper credits Albert Speer with inventing the V-1.
Pictures of the Finnish Air Force’s Curtiss Hawk 75s appear, the continuing
existence of which (if it is not an old picture, or training aircraft) does
precious little credit to the Red Air Force.
“Beaufighter Strikes” Who does not
want to hear about planes with four 20mm cannons and six .303 machine guns and
twelve 6” rockets and torpedoes and bombs? It is unfortunate that they
only get to shoot at coasters, but some of the coasters have AA batteries.Vroom! Zoom Zoom! It is like dealing with Jackie’s brainstorms again. Remember
the machinery of old Furious?
“Studies in Recognition” Covers the
Wildcat and Yak-9. Is there not an old enough version of the FW190 to which to compare
If one cannot get enough of civil
aviation talk, three letters cover railways and civil aviation; Indicator’s
complaints about young pilots; and talking about talking about civil aviation. The
residuum are two letters answering “Ex-Halton Apprentice’s” criticisms
recently. One writes to defend
Halton on the score of teaching new engines and basic thermodynamics; the other
supposes that Halton apprentices’ time is wasted by too much theory.
21 August 1944
“Surrender Terms” The Allied terms for German unconditional
surrender (never mind that this is a contradiction) are published. The Allies
will provide for destitute Germans and there will be no monetary reparations.
Border adjustments are yet to be determined.
“Kings” Bulgaria and Roumania are
“Bishop’s Move” The Chicago Daily News reports that the
Russian ambassador to Rome has approached the Vatican to talk about talking.
“A Little Matter of Castling” The
Socialists and Communists have agreed on an electoral pact in Italy. It is bad
and wrong, the paper thinks, because the lire circulation has doubled since
Mussolini’s fall, and the national debt has quadrupled, and naturally all of
this must end in tears, which will be the worse for having a left-leaning government.
“Rice Up, Prices Down” A bumper crop
of rice has brought the price of rice down in China and set back inflation. The
paper supposes that this might be the salvation of Free China. Maybe –if enough
Soongs overeat themselves to death.
“Vernichtungslager” The Russian
press has just published the first eye-wtiness description of a Nazi “extermination
camp,” at Maiden, near Lublin, where poison gas chambers killed 250 people at a
time, and great crematoriums burnt the corpses. It is almost inconceivable to
me –would be inconceivable if the vast population deportations had not long
since told us that something of this magnitude had to be going on in the
interior of the Reich. Nor were the Nazis respecters of rank and influence.
Leon Blum is reported to have died here.
“Iki, Waki, Konki,
Sookekki,” (“spirit, harmony, stamina, total action”) is reported to be the
winning slogan “to stir Japanese fighting forces now in their eighth year of
war” in an contest run by the Imperial Rule Assistance Association.
personally have proposed, “To discretely withdraw from the dinner party early,
pleading prior obligations.” I find it hard to believe that there is not a
poetic way of saying it in Japanese.
“Selective Service” The paper
reports an anecdote of the Generalissimo intervening to end abuses in
conscription. Is the paper truly this innocent?
“The Wind from Tauroggen” The
paper’s extended discussion of the ongoing German bomb plot treason trials sends
me to your encyclopedia, after first pulling the relevant volume out of your son's hands, as he is more than a bit jealous of the lost companion of his childhood I learn various things
about the Napoleonic wars, generals named Yorck and Scharnhorst, and the
campaign of 1812/13 which the paper deems to be relevant to the fact that the
Germans are going to shoot some generals to encourage the others.
“Big Game” World leaders are
“Pawns” And Poles.
“Ttile V Nonsense” GI theatres will
not be allowed to screen the latest Zanuck or Fibber McGee and Mollyproductions, as they are deemed political, as are British newspapers, the Air
Force’s Offical Guide, and famous books by famous persons named Charles Beard and Catherine Drinker Bowen, without prejudice to the chances of famous
books written by other famous books. The paper continues to blame Senator Taft.
“Anticlimax” Plans for the next Big
Four meeting are presumably unfolding, but there's little to say. Therefore, ,gossip!
“Seven Forward Passes” General
MacArthur announces the “strategic” conquest of New Guinea. Expect more
“The Noose Tightens” A
“medium-sized” force of B-29s flying from a base “somewhere in Southeast Asia,1800 miles from the target” bombed the Palembang refineries. The same night,
the first night incendiary raid was made on Nagasaki. It was a “precision job,”
the paper says with no sign of irony. Do not play poker with the paper! The
Philippines were bombed by carrier aviation, and heavy bombers from the
Southwest Pacific Command attacked Davos. Hopefully the bombers will not go so
far astray as to damage the old house. Also attacked, the Whangpoo of Shanghai,
the “Volcano Islands,” and the Kuriles.
“The Forgotten War” There’s a war in
China! If it starts going badly, we won’t be able to invade China so that we
can invade Japan. Which is to be presented as something that follows from the first.
“Interim Guidepost” Talking about
talking about postwar oil advances to the point of an “interim guideline.” America and Britain will together dispose of the world's oil. I wonder what the owners of the world's oil will think of it?
“Where it Hurts” Plans for the big
crackdown on Argentina are almost finalised! We are almost ready to punish them
for doing what they did. (Being nice to Germany?) Of
course, it won’t lead to anything so crass as crimping Argentina’s exports to
“Schizophrenia” The Allies are
winning because the Germans are incompetent? That cannot be what the paper is
saying. I certainly hope that this “strange split personality career” will lead
to “physical disintegration,” but it seems a bit premature, jokes about Mr.Janeway aside, to expect it.
“Attack in the South” The landings
on the French Mediterranean career, perhaps the point of the preceding piece,
are covered. I notice “German radio direction-finding stations,” so at least I
know that radar is secret this week. It seems that the invasion was a success,
which pretty much puts paid to the German occupation south of the Loire, not
that that was not already in the cards.
“Graduation Exercise” Somehow,
Colonel Harry Flint of the United States Army arranged a frontline combat
appointment in spite of being 56. He died a hero. It bears repeating that for
such a young country, the United States has a remarkably old military
“A Hell of a Nerve” The German counterattack at Mortain was savaged by artillery called in from an American
forward position on a hilltop which the Germans were never able to take. Various implausible stories are told.
“Counterattack” The Germans have
counterattacked around Warsaw, which probably dooms the rising by the partisans
there, which the Russians were not any too
happy about. Places near the Baltic which no-one but the Russians care
about have been liberated.
“The Blitz and One Man” Our Trotskyite
friend, Mr. Mangan, has shown up in London as a correspondent for the paper
reporting on the “robobombs.” He tells the story of a toolmaker at a London
factory whose house was near-missed. A wife and two children had to be
accommodated at their grandparents’, although apparently the family chickens
were left to fend for themselves. The house had its roof cracked, furniture
thrown down, and the blast “pushed the back and front walls [eventually revealed to be brick shells] some eight inches
from the sidewalks.” This made it difficult to patch the roof, which was done
with a piece of tarpaulin. The family was allowed to move into some
vacant homes across the street. He has since seen more of “the things,”
including one more in his immediate vicinity. He is exhausted, production is
suffering from constant alerts, and he definitely does not want to live in a
“miserable brick house” any more. That preference may pass once peace returns,
but word to the wise. I also wonder how many people are living in houses with
similarly displaced walls and tarpaulin roofs.
At least the RAF is doing its best.
“Death in Manchuria” The Japanese
have announced that they have executed three American soldiers for killing a
Manchurian police inspector in the course of an attempted escape.
“U-Boats’ End” The paper notices
that the Battle of the Atlantic is still over.
“Soldiers’ Return” General Somervell has given a talk to the press deprecating the chances of a very
rapid demobilisation. Brigadier General William Tompkins, a Corps of Engineers
man, is in charge of demobilisation plans, since it takes the brains of a civil
engineer to draw up a mobilisation plan
for an uncertain future date at which war may or may not continue in one or
more theatres, depending.
“The Rescue of Tweed” A member of
the prewar American garrison of Guam walks into American lines, having hidden
in the hills for four years. (In next week's number, he gets divorced from his wife on return to Los Angeles.)
“Slimy Slim” there is a three-humped
sea serpent in Idaho’s Payette Lake, say locals, with a broad wink and a nod,
holding out their glasses so that the paper can buy another round.
“Dewey’s Choice” Governor Dewey has
chosen Tom Curran to run for Robert Wagner’s old seat. Curran is against
communism and the Roosevelt Administration, says the GOP press. Good to know.
“Airborne Army” The Allied parachute
divisions have been organised into an army-level command under
Lietenant-General Lewis Hyde Brereton, formerly commanding IX Air Force, with
the husband of Daphne du Maurier to give him an infantryman deputy. An old Army Air Corps man of my acquaintance pointed out that it was a fine appointment, because at least his men are ready to parachute this time.
“New Boss” “Burly Major General
Curtis Emerson LeMay, 37, crack Flying Fortressman” has been ordered to “China”
to take over the B-29 force. I suppose that I have been complaining about the
age of the American general officer corps enough that I cannot now also
complain that a man in his thirties has been given a fleet. The paper notes
that managing the B-29s is technically difficult. Their remote control guns,
cabin supercharging, and “a set of engines that can suck the tanks dry long
before their time if controls are not set just right” are mentioned. Am I
reading tea-leaves to see these as a new set of concerns? The issue here is
that while my sources at Boeing are frank about the engine problems, and the
sorry story of premature remote control armament applications is brought home
to me every time I talk to your eldest son, I had not heard about difficulties
with the cabin supercharging. This is a pretty abstract concern right now, but I have a high opinion of the company involved, and should like to hear if it is not justified.
“Stubborn Nations” There used to be
fortresses in Brittany in the old days! There still are! We have to take them
before we can use the ports, and we might actually take St. Malo soon, although
it is protected by Nazi fanatics and the “mad” Colonel Andreas von Auloch, who
lost his family in a Berlin bombing, which tragedy will cause him to actually
do his duty, because that is the only conceivable explanation.
“Defeat in the North” Thanks to the
slashing attacks of General Omar Bradley’s tanks and infantry and the direct
command of General “Ike” Eisenhower, our troops “outblitzed” the Germans.
Outwitting the Germans with American speed and daring, with the Canadians and
British helped by inching forward. The upshot is . . .not entirely clear. The
Seventh Army might be encircled on the left bank of the Seine? The language
will look pretty embarrassing if Kluge manages to fall back intact on the
Somme! I think that I shall not bother to revise this passage next week. Let it
stand as an example of not to cover an unfolding story instead.
The fight in Washington continues
over whether the emergent shortages of radar, heavy trucks and bombs are so
pressing as to derail reconversion.
Economists Lewis Bassie and Irving Kaplan, who published a report saying
that the Army had more than enough stuff, even without access to classified
information, have resigned. Donald Nelson, however, has won approval for a
slightly delayed and slightly reduced version of his reconversion plan. The
Army will let 20,000 aircraft workers go now, and 80,000 by year’s end,
although concealing this “in an optimistic release which chose to stress
increased production of long-range bombers –Boeing B-29s and the new
super-Liberator, the B-32.” The main result of this is the cancellation of
Higgins’ C-46 shop and a cutback in P-47 output. Some contracts are to be
transferred from southern California to Dallas, and from Akron to Evansville. A
big strike in the trucking industry in the Midwest for a 7 cents/hour increase
is apparently evidence of a “War’s-almost-over” psychology.
“The Deserters” Meanwhile, the West
Coast workforce is voting with its feet. Los Angelese is said to be losing 7000
workers a month, San Francisco, 4000; Portland and seattle, 15,500. Then it
theorises that the workers are leaving to get permanent work in their hometowns
while the getting is good. Then the paper notes that there is still a labour
shortage on the West Coast, that Boeing needs 4000 men, and that our yards in
Portland need 11,500, the logging industry 7000. I will not speak to the other
employers, but when we say that we need 11,500 people or the Victory Ship
programme is going to fall behind, what we mean
is that we have bitten off more than we can chew and would love to get away with blaming labour shortages. Now, that said, we could
certainly deliver more Victories if we had more labour. Realistically, though,
that would mean addressing the problems that are actually driving labour away, mainly housing.
“Behavior on V-Day” The nation’s
department stores are getting ready for V-Day by preparing to close the store,
remove merchandise from show windows and even board them up, and, as
Milwaukee’s Boston Store says, “Finish waiting on your customer; then get out
“Fabulous” The Agriculture
Department specialists says that this will be a fabulous harvest, with the
biggest wheat crop ever harvested, near record yields of corn, oats, small
grains, rice, peas, beans, vegetables, tobacco. Chagrined experts blame
excellent weather for the starvation deficit, and point to continuing drought
in the East Central states, and a roaring wind and hail storm that streaked for
a hundred miles through Montana and Canada. There’s still time to lose the tree
“Liberation” The people of Guam
greet liberating American soldiers warmly. A range of colourful stories are
told to the paper’s correspondent.
“The Waikiki Conference” The
President went to Hawaii, stayed at the Holmes Mansion on Waikiki Beach,
enjoyed the sun and rested, and met with Nimitz, Halsey, Macarthur and a
Lieutenant General named Richardson. The upshot is the final word that the
Philippines will be invaded, and by MacArthur’s forces, though as the paper
points out, this was put in train months ago. Marshall and King would have
accompanied him to a real war conference. The President then sailed up to
Alaskan waters and back via Seattle. (Our young Lieutenant A. was very briefly
presented to him at Bremerton.)
“Roper and Gallup” Roper’s opinion
survey shows that 52% of Americans
approve of the President, while the Gallup survey finds Dewey slightly ahead,
albeit with only 35 of 48 states so far surveyed.
“Creditor Canada” Canada offers
potential foreign buyers a $300 million line of credit in hopes of maintaining
trade post war. It also offers a not terribly generous set of veteran’s benefits which will probably be revisited in the face of the more generous
American arrangements. It seems penny wise, pound foolish to go cheap on postwar payments after being so extravagant during the war.
“Battle for Reconversion” The
current question is the level of unemployment compensation to be paid laid off
workers. The CFL, AFL, and National Farmers’ Union are backing a proposal for a
peak rate of $35/week for 104 weeks for a man with three dependents who had
been earning $48/week. The Senate has predictably split between “pro New Deal” and others, and
the named others are ‘the conservatives, ’including “all Republicans (save North Dakota’s lone
corporal, Bill Langer) and a solid regiment
of Southern Democrats,” with Arthur J. Vandenberg and Millard Tydings
arguing that debt spending is wrong, and Vermont’s Warren R. Austin seeing
another step in the road to national socialism. The upshot is that the Senate
bill was defeated, and the action moves to the House.
“Everybody Busy” Business boomed in
every corner of the land where the paper’s tireless correspondents were
vacationing in desperate attempts to escape the heat. Car loadings were up 2%
on the strength of the harvest and exports; department store sales were up 4%,
but merchants were cautious in placing orders for fall goods; output of power
was up; private construction was up 132%, public, surprisingly enough, up 12%;
steel production was at 97% of capacity; wheat prices are down on the season in
spite of CCC buying to shore up prices, but still 10 cents higher than last
year; cotton prices were down; lack of shipping holds back cocoa, coffee and
sugar sales, but a large cargo of olives is en route to the US from “Hitler? I do not recall anyone by that name-“ country.
“Joe Frazer and Graham-Paige” This
is the defunct automaker that “Cousin H.C.” has chosen as his wedge into the
market. Either the word has gotten out, or his partners-to-be have chosen to
take a profit, because the paper here covers the rapid run up in their shares
this week. Anyone who has been inside of Willow Run knows this for a stock bubble, and I am wrestling with my conscience about jumping in. Perhaps
tis really is the right time to be in the South Pacific. If you want to take up
the slack, dear Reggie, I shall not judge.
“Border Warfare” Speaking of, new
airlines keep popping up in Mexico.
“Up 10%” Americans made more money
last June than in any previous month in history, with total income paid to
individuals of $13,496 millions, up the titular 10%. Federal interest payments,
up 20% over the last year, and higher transportation industry payrolls were the
biggest factor, although the continued rise in
military payments were also major factors, with factory and farm net
ioperating income, in spite of accounting for nearly half of individual income,
counting for a much smaller share in the rise. Between taxes and the higher
cost of living, however, the actual gain in wealth was smaller.
“Trouble in Akron” There is a tire
crisis again this week. Given how hard it is to sort out whether we have a
rubber shortage or not, the paper comes down on blaming labour, and the Navy, for
cancelling the Brewster Corsair contract instead of the Goodyear, which would
have freed up labour in Akron. There is disagreement over how many labourers
Akron, with its 80,000 man workforce, is actually short. The WMC says 1400,
industry 2700. Either way, they are not going to be found outside Akron, so he
solution is to make the workers work harder for less money. But only for three
months, it is promised.
“Cold Comfort” The ice making industry
is going through the biggest boom in history due to the temporary shortage of
mechanical refrigerators. To meet demand, which is pretty high back East this
last month, the industry must produce close to 50 million tons this year. The
story, here, however, is Chicago’s City Ice & Fuel. An optimistic quote at
the back of the paper, saying that the company does not fear the refrigerator,
since it will let Astor Street take care of itself while it options the “Henry
Ford of the refrigerator” position. All very well, but what it is doing with
its August windfall is to buy up all of the preferred stock issued during the
company’s expansionary period in the 1920s.
“Burial in Vermont” Vermonters are
amused, and also disgusted, by the War Food Administration’s disastrously
failed attempt to bury nine carloads of bad eggs “beyond the town limits of South Burlington.”
It is going to get worse, too, as the 6.2 million cases of eggs bought by the
WFA to maintain the price of 30 cents/dozen are mostly still clogging valuable
cold storage space needed by this season’s crops.
“West Edmond’s Hour of Glory” Fears
that America will run out of oil soon are alleviated by the discovery of a
large new field in West Edmonds, Oklahoma. It will not, however, reverse the
downward trend which has seen the amount of oil discovered in America each year
decline since 1937.
“Smaller and Hotter” The
old-fashioned furnace may be doomed, due to the introduction of cheap new
miniature house heaters. This week, the anthracite coal industry introduced its
own “pint-sized burner.” A steel pipe 18 inches long and four in diameter for a
four-room house, or 6” for a deluxe six-room house, it has a ram feeder at one
end, an ash extractor at the other, a water jacket, and a water pump, and
requires only a small vent, so that it does not have to be installed in a new
or existing chimney. The key is a new and more efficient grate, which is said
to produce 40% more heat per unit of coal. The Bituminous Coal Institute,
meanwhile, is advertising a coal stove three feet high and two feet square,
capable of heating a four-or-five room house (if the circulation takes care of
itself!) It will run three days between stoking, and twenty-seven stove
manufacturers expect to market it before war’s end. Stewart-Warner, meanwhile,
has a gasoline burner the size of a waste basket capable of heating a 20 room
house, and, of course as you would expect from the name, based on the company’s
aircraft heater. The cost of the central heating unit is not announced, but a
one-room version will cost $20 to $30. Fuel costs will be “no higher than those
of the old fashioned furnace.”
Rather more promisingly, the company
is planning to adapt the design to fuel oil and natural gas.
“Pointless Pen” Stratopen has announced
a new fountain pen to be called the Stratopen, which uses a ball bearing
instead of a pen point. Invented by a Hungarian newsman named L. J. Biro, and
developed in Argentina, it “works on the same principle as a printing press.”
From the description which follows, this might be the least useful analogy ever
attempted in science reporting, but it sounds very useful for high altitude
balloonists and mountain climbers.
“Tonsil Blitz” Four hundred grinning
natives (actually, a colony of sealers, but Aleut sealers, so close enough), all wards of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, greeted the three man annual
medical mission to the Pribilof Islands. The grins permitted the
nose-and-throat man in the mission to detect “bad” tonsils, and he promptly had
104 of them out of the 400 hundred residents, operating without sterilisation
equipment and without testing for adverse reactions to anaesthetic.
Post-operative care consisted of free blankets and a truck ride, although the
mission did stop off in Seattle to arrange the shipment of 10 million units of
“Photographic Reconnaissance” The
paper strikingly calls tuberculosis the second most crippling American disease
after –common cold! I suppose that from a coldly utilitarian point of view,
this is exactly true. There are, according the latest report of the
Tuberculosis Control Division, 1.5 million American consumptives, and tuberculosis is
stil the leading cause of death by disease in adults aged 15 to 35. The rate of
death rose in 1944 for the first time in decades, and the Division has launched
a campaign to X-ray (eventually) every American with new mobile X-ray machines.
Although, at the same time, the disease needs to be considered as a public
health problem. The death rate in San Antonio, the worst-rated city, is ten
times as high as in Grand Rapids, with the best showing. Coloureds died from
three to six times more often than Whites, and almost seven times as often in
Newark, N.J, presumably the outlier in that statistic. In short, it is part of
the “slum” problem.
“Teddy Bear’s Father” Cliff Berryman, the editorial cartoonist who invented the “teddy bear,” was feted in
Washington this week, while in the same recent issue of the Cleveland News there appeared a
testimonial to Giljan patent medicine by Alexander Kellough of 2508 Morris
Black Place, and Mr. Kellough’s obituary.
“Mellowing Modernism” Modernist art
apparently normally involves all those paintings that look like babies made
them, and also buildings that are very ugly. On the contrary, now, sometimes,
says the paper, because it has a budget for photographs that it has not used up
with pictures of politicians. For
perspective, New York City’s Municipal Asphalt Plant is the lead illustration. It is modernist and ...well, it's something.
“So Smelly the Rose” Tokyo Rose gets
American syndication in the Bay Area, from KYA, just in time for me to be out
of the country for the duration. The transcripts will be carefully purged of
dangerous Japanese propaganda, which can only be safely heard by discerning
adults, such as readers of this paper.
“Beard’s Last” A paperback mass
market “Basic History of the United States” is to be Charles and Mary Beard’s
last, according to the authors. The paper gives it a three page
review-and-retrospective that I glanced through very quickly in the interest of
finding out who, exactly, they are. (Left-leaning historians/independently
wealthy dairy farmers, apparently.) I mention this to you, beloved cousin of
all too-short-leisure time, because they fall in the “post war depression”
“Historical Amnesia” Howard Fast
presents a new interpretation of the end of Reconstruction in the South, in
which it turns out that the winners were the ones who won.
“The Invaders” Even the paper thinks
that Ilya Ehrenburg’s latest is a bit much.
“Jingle All the Way” Alan Kent and
Austen Herbert Johnson write “singing commercials,” which they represent as
more effective than “nongsinging commercials.” They seem somewhat less than disinterested.
August 24 1944
“The Under-Belly Again” The paper is
surprised by the landing in France, which it expected would wait until events
had made it even more pointless than it is rapidly proving to be already. To
cap the silliness of the commentary, it adds (and agrees with Time here) that it cut off one of the
German lines of retreat from Italy. My experience in land warfare maybe
confined to chasing Boers, but even I know that armies retreat on their communications.
“A Great Air Victory” The German position
in France is collapsing, and aircraft were. . .
in the Air
It is difficult to say anything meaningful
about the fighting in France, north or south, when things are developing so
rapidly, but it is worth noting a raid by Bomber Command against nine German
fighter bases by 1100 Lancasters and Halifaxes of Bomber Command, flying by daylight with American fighter
escort. That is new, and rather frightening for the Germans, because, as
various correspondents to the paper have pointed out so often, the British
bombers carry so many bombs. (5000 tons in this case.) 750 Fortresses and
Liberators were also used. In other news, Jugoslav ground crews are being
trained by the RAF for Marshal Tito’s forces. Our SHAEF Correspondent reminisces
about the days when gliders were being flown out to participate in the invasion
of Sicily. The gliders were put on autopilot and towed behind Halifaxes which
were routed far out into the Bay of Biscay to avoid Ju88 fighters, and landed
with only 30 minutes of fuel at Gibraltar after long flights, with
much greater mileage than the Waco tows from America. A new incendiary bomb
consisting of a small canister of gasoline containing a solution of methane
under pressure is announced. It produces a jet of flame, which burns for about
According to a senior officer of AA
Command, the cost of destroying a flying bomb with artillery is about £500. AirChief Marshal Sir William Mitchell died of a heart attack last week. Canadian
factories have made more than 2300 aircraft for the American services. “S for
Sugar's” famed record of 114 operational flights has been surpassed by “N for
Nan,” at 115; 119 to Berlin. Dr. May Smith is to give a talk to the London
Technical College on “Fatigue and Boredom.” The RAF Transport Command Liberator
“Commando” carrying Lord Beaverbrook back from New York to London has taken the
eastbound Blue Riband at 17hr 34 minutes, besting the old record by 3 hours. In
a statement to the shareholders of Bristol Aeroplanes, W. G. Verdon Smythe said
that “progress has been made” on the Brabazon I.
“London-Paris” The twenty-fifth anniversary
of the first regular air service between the two cities is coming up this week.
Just when depends on which Handley Page bomber or DH4 is deemed to be the first
scheduled, paying flight. Even more shipping companies apply for airlines. I
suppose they think that the future for new shipbuilding is cloudy and that
there is no point in leaving the money in equities, or something. This is
absurd. There will be mass scrappings at the peace, including of near-new
Liberties, and the Victories are going to be neither numerous nor economical.
W. Nichols, “Plastics for Aircraft
Engineers” There will be a lot of “push” for plastic products after the war.
The question is “pull.”
BRICOVMO,Ltd., announces that “The REME of to-day is the motorist of
tomorrow.” That is, in the future, well-bred gentlemen (he smokes a pipe, so he
must be a gentleman; though, as he is doing it while hovering over open
pistons, not a very bright one) will want highly reliable BRICCOVMO parts to do
frequent repairs on his very nice auto. Something of a poser as to how highly
reliable parts are involved in frequent repairs, but I am not in the business
of selling piston rings, pistons and liners. An earnest boy fiddling with his
Lincoln, apparently convinced that a healthy-sounding engine will win a girl’s
heart, it might be a bit more plausible.
“Last of the Many” The last
Hurricane off the old Hawker Aircraft, Ltd, production line is to be delivered
A. Sipowics, “Endurance and Range:
An Elementary Outline of How a Pilot Can, by Simple Means, Make Allowance for
Wind Strength and Direction” Technical,but quite interesting.
“Cyclones New Fins” A method of
putting aluminum fins on steel cylinder barrels developed by Wright will
improve the coolilng of air-cooled engines and save precious alloy steel.
“Studies in Recognition” Gives us
the Ju 188 and C. 202 fighter.
L. Shelford Bidwell writes to say
that his last letter about jets was wrong, and that he has more thoughts about
thrust augmentors. The salient point is that they would only be useful if the
gas thrust out of the back of a jet was moving at a supersonic velocity. While
all of this is pure science fiction for the
moment, it does underline that the apparent simplicity of the jet engine
is likely to get quite complicated in the future era when the simple ones have been made to work properly.
R. E. Gregory writes to say that the
German Air Force has probably disappeared because it is all converting to an
Me. 163” flying wing rocket interceptor of which he has heard somewhere, and
that the final battle over Germany will pit these hot ships against our
supposed jet fighters.
Aviation is amused by Squadron Leader (Chaplain) Perkins, who trained as a
fitter, and was once a fitter in Air Marshal Coningham’s squadron, and who
helps out around the field when not attending to his sky piloting.
28 August 1944
“War Without End?” London News Chronicle political
correspondent E. P. Montgomery fears that if the Nazis go underground, this war
might be prolonged indefinitely in a terroristic campaign of underground
resistance. The paper is somewhat skeptical, but points out that he is right to
fear that the shooting might not end on Armistice Day.
“Straws in the Wind” Sweden and
Switzerland cut Germany, give it the silent treatment, allow that they’ve
always admired the Allies’ dress sense, natural wit, but do not quite go so far
as to notice a vacancy in their social calendars on date of next Allied to-do.
Also something about iron ore, machinery, ball bearing exports. It is easy to
ostracise a trading partner when she runs out of things to trade!
“Bulgaria: To the Exit” Speaking of.
Greeks and Latins are excitable.
“Down with Cake” The paper is still
upset with Dr. Goebbels.
“One-third of a Petticoat” British
clothes rationing is extremely strict, which is amusing because women like to
“Burning Questions” Asia is “burning
at both ends.” And since China “occupiers in Asia a strategic position somwheat
like that of Germany in Europe,” a communist takeover in China will “dominate
the world.” The paper’s reputation as a haven for China hands is clearly
justified, because nothing I can imagine will cause the Communist stock to fall
further in China than warning that a
Communist China will “dominate the world!” God, Reggie, was that moment,
crossing the bar of Pleiku, the last time I ever saw you cry? Not the last time
that I cried, but the last time in shame.
“Beyond China’s Sorrow” The paper’s
correspondent in the Communist controlled areas discovers that the Communists
are reformers, determined to improve the lot of the peasantry. Imagine if any
previous insurgent dynasty had adopted that tack! Imagine if the paper actually
knew any Chinese history!
“Powder Keg” It turns out that
Chiang does not like Communists. Who knew? In all seriousness,, three stories
in a row suggests that the Luce press is starting to take the Communists very
seriously. I imagine that means that Soong and Chiang are finally convinced of
the threat. Given enough American guns and silver, I assume they think that
they can defeat the Communists in the field. The guns will probably be
forthcoming, the silver not so much. And even if it were, the problem with men
like Soong is that they are allergic to the feeling of it running through their fingers. I debated
mentioning a short notice about one of Dr. Sun’s grandsons’ marrying a San
Francisco Chinatown department store heir in last week’s number. Now it seems more
relevant. It’s not that silver spent in China arriving in San Francisco is news
so much as what the fact that of it failing to stay in China tells us about the
future of the Middle Kingdom.
“The Spinner” Gandhi and Jinnah fail
to talk about talking.
“Pan-Arabia” Middle Eastern
politicians talk about Arab unity. Next up, American politicians talk about
nonpartisanship, followed by British politicians discussing the importance of
seapower to an island nation.
Latin (Americans) are excitable.
“The End is in Sight” The paper went
to press too early to cover the fall of Paris, unfortunately for it. Or the
announcement of the closing of a “pocket” around Seventh Army, if that
happened. It does, however, have General Montgomery’s word that the “end is in
sight.” Never mind that: what line will
the Gemans hold? Because if they have the Pas de Calais…
“We Must Be Prepared” The paper
quotes the German press to suggest that the Germans contemplate withdrawing
from the whole of France, with Brereton’s Airborne Army as a hovering
menace if they fail to assume a position where they can adequately cover their
front and rear. The paper digresses
into a discussion of the advance of General Patch’s Seventh Army (he is this
week’s cover), which strikes me as a complete irrelevance, because the issue
here is whether the “whole of France” means that we will cross the Somme. If we
do, the flying bomb launch areas in the Pas de Calais are ours, and my
assumption that the fall will see a resumption of “Hundred Days” style fighting
will have been overtaken by events, and the question suddenly becomes one of
crossing the Rhine before the Fall flooding.
“Tactician’s Dream” Amphibious
invasions are easy when no-one resists them. I suppose the question is whether
the units of 7th Army would have been more useful somewhere where
there were Germans to fight, or clearing the southern half of France for future
“One Down, Three to Go” Colonel v.
Auloch has surrendered St. Malo. Now there are only St. Nazaire and Brest to
“No Reasonable Standards” The
Germans in Italy really ought to admit that they have been beaten, and run
away. But they haven’t! It is almost as though they expect to hold their
well-prepared positions against probing Allied attacks by weakened forces until
winter. One can hardly imagine how the Germans could have the effrontery, or
what we could possibly have done to avoid this situation arising in the first place….
“Stage Wait” The paper is upset that
the Russians have not opened their airfields to parachute resupply missions for
the Warsaw rising, quoting sources which imply that it is all politics. Which
it may well be, but there are logistical difficulties in undertaking such
things, and one might wish to hear that these have been overcome before
attributing it all to politics.
Especially as the Germans are counterattacking
in the Baltic.
“Deflation in the Marianas” Seventh
Air Force flyers and ground crew in the Marianas were finally issued their pay
last week. The problem was that there was nothing to spend it on. “The A.P.O.
did a land-office business, nearly ran out of money-order blanks.” And I say
onto you again, Reggie, that selling $5000 houses in this market is a pipe
dream. (And so are schemes for selling ice boxes to an untapped market of
people too poor for mechanical refrigerators. Also cheap cars, I suspect.)
“Two First Teams” Admiral Nimitz
finally tells us what he is going to do about having two commanders afloat. He
will have two fleets commanding the same ships! Admiral Halsey will be in
command of the invasion of the Philippines, but Admiral Spruance will retain a
headquarters, where he will plan future operations. Presumably, in time, when
Spruance is allowed to return to the sea, Admiral Halsey’s staff will be put in
charge of planning operations even further in the future. Meanwhile, Twentieth
Air Force launched a daylight attack on the steel mills at Yawata. An array of
adjectives and stock phrases that will be familiar to you from last summer fail
to obscure the loss of 4 B-29s out of an unspecified number taking
part. This does not bode well for unescorted daylight B-29 raids.
“Another Paris” The Japanese summer
offensive in China is approaching Kweilin, a major Fourteenth Air Force base in
Kwangsi Province. The paper reports questions about how hard the defending army
is likely to fight, and then segues to the campaign around Myitkyina, where
General Stilwell continues to use up his troops in a campaign that must surely,
eventually, give us the two-lane country road that will solve the logistical
problem of conducting a strategic air offensive against Japan from Chinese
“Test Pilot” Captain Gus Lindquist,
who two weeks ago flew a specially-modified Spitfire across the Atlantic ferry
route, was listed missing in action this week after wangling a combat sortie
out of IXth Air Force.
“The Debate Begins” Tom Dewey this,
Tom Dewey that, only two-and-a-half months to go!
“At Dumbarton Oaks” The World
Security Conference talks about talking about world security. Over “broiled
chicken, peach ice cream, California wines.” One could do better, but world
security would be nice, so let’s not carp.
“Roosevelt 286, Dewey 245?”
Two-and-a-half months, etc. Or, “Governor Dewey couldn’t beat a corpse in a
“Fairy Tale” The biggest sedition trial in
U.S. history is taking a two-week vacation, because the war with Nazi Germany
is almost over and no-one cares about the cranks and square pegs who used to
write about how wonderful the Nazis were. (Vierecke, Elizabeth Dilling,
“Shades of Opinion” Congressman the
Reverend Clayton Powell visits Martha’s Vinyard, points out the irony of rich
people sunbathing, colour barrier in American society. Reporter in attendance
points out that Powell is quite light skinned for a Negro, gets peeved answer
to the effect that skin colour is irrelevant to the racial divide. Words fail
me coming, going and in the middle. Perhaps I should take a gin and tonic?
“Peacetime Draft” America is
determined to have a peacetime draft, determined to sidle into it with no-one who counts ever actually
taking a definitive stance pro or con.
“The President’s Week” The President
gave several press conferences. Reporters were divided about just exactly how
dead he is, the general consensus being more-or-less dead. Donald Nelson
has been yanked out of the War Production Board and sent to China to consult on
urgent matters while his chief rival in the reconversion debate takes over as
his deputy, suggesting to the courtiers that he is on the outs. On the other
hand, Senator Truman drops by the White House to thank the President for
supporting his candidacy for Vice-President. Which, if I can recall the distant
events of two months ago, is something that did not actually happen then, but,
of course, is now something that happened. The President
also ordered the Navy to seize “99 San Francisco Bay shops in which 3000 A.F.
of L. machinists have refused, despite a WLB order in May, to work longer than
48 hours a week.” Bill and David have had to maneouvre this very carefully, with much time spent at the coach house plotting strategy.
“No Time to Die” Metropolitan Life
Insurance” reports an extraordinary drop in the self-murder rate, which it
attributes to prosperity.
“Sin in Paradise” Prostitutes in
Honolulu are so wealthy that they have bought proper houses. Other people are
so appalled that they have publicised this. Still others are so appalled that
they have demanded that the police oust the prostitutes from their homes. The
paper gives solid coverage, because it gets a little thrill when it typesets
“Brotherly Greed” Three Southern
Senators demand that America annex various islands in various places around the
world. The paper discreetly suggests that afternoon sessions of the Senate not
be taken that seriously.
“Steep Rock” A very large quantity
of iron ore discovered at Atikokan will mean virtually nothing to anyone
because there is a great deal of iron ore in the world. Although that is not what
the paper says.
“Invitation to Catastrophe” Senator
Truman is conducting hearings into the question of a united American department
of defence because the current arrangements are, see the title. Various fiascos
in which interservice coordination might have made a difference are adduced,
plus Canol, where the Senator seems to be stretching. The implication is that
an admiral might have told General Somervell that there was such a thing as
tankers, but insofar as the project was justified at all, it was by the claim
that the Japanese might have prevented tankers from reaching Alaska. Is the problem the Navy Department? That is what
Senator Truman says, although since he presents the case in terms of ancient
history (“advocates for the Navy succeeded in their effort” in 1798!)
“Patton Regilded” As the paper points out (noting General Bradley’s
promotion elsewhere) he has returned under the command of his former
subordinate, which speaks well of an ego
that has not been presented to me as capable of taking such a check. A
complicated man, one would suspect.
“Soldiers’ Rewards” General Lesley
McNair’s estate was listed at probate at $2,720. The paper opines that American
soldiers are veritable military monks, who have never been known for their
wealth. It is noted that brigadier generals receive a mere $8000/year. This rather leaves one with the impression that the General must have had considerable debts. Or that his estate has been manipulated to avoid the
estate tax, as I have heard is sometimes done. Who would believe that Grandfather would die poor?
“Last Dime” An admiral who declined
to be named suggested that there would be less distress amongst the dependents
of enlisted men if there were less pressure on them to buy war bonds.
“Better Mousetraps” Seabees in the
South Pacific are so bored that they are weaving and selling grass skirts to
the natives, allegedly making money because their skirts are better than the
“Worst Yet” Coloured troops in a stevedore
battalion in Seattle rioted last week under the perception that even Italian
POW labourers were being better treated than they.
“Taboo on Tips” Stockbrokers were
sternly warned against giving tips and rumormongering by the president of the
NYSE. That should fix the problem! (Incidentally, this follows up on last week’s
speculative boom in auto shares. So if
you were still thinking about getting in, it is probably too late now.)
“Peace Terms” Charles Bowles says
that the Office of Price Administration will deregulate gradually once peace
returns, as prices are quite distorted.
“Why Railroads Go Broke” The Erie
Railroad has started paying the 4% mortgage bonds it issued in 1847. When the
$2,482,000 in bonds issued have been redeemed with interest to maturity, they
will cost the company around $13 million.
“the Great Egg Scandal” the WFA has
a half billion eggs in cold storage, but at the same time has lifted the top
ceiling on egg prices by 8 cents a dozen over the last two weeks because the
egg-laying season is coming to an end. So, on the one hand, we have an egg
shortage, on the other, a surplus. Mayor La Guardia,
whose importance to the story is obvious to all, complained that consumers were the ones to gain no benefit from
this whole affair. Except in having eggs instead of no eggs?
Texa’s Gordon L. Harwell, and
Forrest E. Mars of Mars Candy have started building a $750,000 plant in Houston
that will produce 25 to 30 million lbs of “vitaminized, weevil-proof” rice for
the army each year. This “converted” rice will be quite a boon for the army in
the unlikely event that there are still troops in weevil-infested tropical
zones when the plant begins operating.
“Unfair Competition” A clause has
been inserted into cinema contracts allowing the studios to cancel any “razzle-dazzle”
openings that coincide with the sudden declaration of peace.
“Truck Terminal” There are too many
trucks in Manhattan, so the Port Authority has announced plans for a $2.5
million “Union Motor Truck Terminal,” to cover a solid city block near the
Manhattan end of the Holland Tunnel.
“Battle of the Giants” Our
recruiters have been in the Higgins Yards, as opposed to their recruiters being
in theirs’. Higgins huffs, Kaiser yields. “Giants?” Given what is going on in
the Victory Ship programme, I continue to think that our labour shortage is the
best thing that can happen to us.
“Kitchen Front” Some sort of
exhibition on the scientific future of the kitchen (perhaps an article in Women’s Home Companion?) leads us to
conclude that the future might include: a prefabricated glass kitchen,
including glass oven, refrigerator, cabinets; a “one-wall kitchen combination,”
including a refrigerator with separate drawers; refrigerators with revolving
shelves, sterilizing lamps to kill bacteria, ice-water taps, ice-cube ejectors,
food-freezing compartments; a “stainless-steel, heated food wagon, complete
with dish racks and thermos containers, which will enable a hostess to serve a
piping hot meal without rising from her seat”; recessed kitchen fluorescent lighting;
an electric garbage disposer which grinds the garbage up, flushes it away; a “hydraulic
dishwasher” that also dries the dishes; an electronic device that removes all
dust and smoke from kitchen air by electrifying it; an electric range with
built-in pressure cooker, broiler, toaster, each with electronic control; a
cordles electric iron; push-button window control; an electric clothes dryer; ceramic stoves in “any desired color;” unbreakable plastic dishes; a
kitchenless house in which “the food department, concealed in the living room”
would include a refrigerator in the rdio cabinet, oven in a desk drawer, and so
“Mumu” The exotic tropical disease
filariasis has struck down hundreds of Marines, has been checked in clinical
trials by daily injections of lithium antimony thiomalate. The doctor presenting
the treatment admits that it has some toxic effects, but these, he thinks are
less serious than the actual disease.
“Hypnoanalysis” In his new book, Rebel Without a Cause, 30-year-old penal
psychologist Robert Mitchell Lindner*# presents the results of his psychoanalytic
treatment of a young criminal, “Harold,” with the assistance of hypnosis. Apparently, he cured Harold of blinking by helping
him deal with a series of frightening episodes that happened when he was two. Can a cure of pathological criminality caused by ill-judged crib ornaments be far behind?
“Veterans on Campus” The vanguard of
veterans on American college campuses find fraternity hijinks, and mandatory
hygiene and gym classes to be childish diversions from their actual education.
U.S.C. President Rufus v. KleinSmid implies that the classes might be done
away with for veterans. No word on fraternities, though.
“Hard Knocks and Culture” For reasons
unknown to me or anyone else, the University of Chicago gives four two-hour
examinations in the full range of undergraduate classes to members of a special
class for executives in the University’s School of Business. Which they pass!
As the President of the university observes, it must be because they have
learned all they need to know about “the humanities, and the social, physical
and biological sciences” in the hard-knock school of life.
Andres Gerard’s The Gravediggers of France reveals that the prewar French press was
horrible. Various veteran American reporters are now reporting from Rome,
because it is very important, and not because it is cheap and gay.
“Be a Composer” Music teacher Louis
Ruben has invented an automatic composing machine consisting of an 18” by 7”
cardboard rectangle with 16 twirling dials arranged in two rows. Anyone with
elementary knowledge of musical notation can use this to produce a melody.
“’Ware the Reds” Veteran socialists
and labour lawyer Louis Waldman warns that the greatest threat to the American
working class is Communists taking over the CIO.
“The First Historian” The paper
likes Russel Nye’s life of George Bancroft. If only Grandfather’s stories of
racing the other Bancroft to the paper troves of the West could be printed. Now that would be a story.
It offends all common sensibilities to hear one of the most amazing products of human invention of all time, the mathematical robot (TIME, Aug. 14),
complacently referred to as a "gadget." I think TIME's writers should
roll such words on their tongues just a mite longer to see if they really
intend the connotation that is there. . . .
Flight, 31 August 1944
General Montgomery has been able to announce a definitive, complete and
decisive victory over the German 7th Army this week, and even note
that aircraft were involved.
Price of Air Supremacy” The paper briefly notes the Prime Minister’s statement
in the House about Air Force flying casualties far exceeding those of other
combat arms before moving on uncomfortably to enemy air loss claims, before
finally acknowledging the loss of 738 Bomber Command machines and 1041 Eighth
Air Force during the Battle of Normandy. (total aircraft losses, but not personnel are
given elsewhere, at 2059.)
in Victory” The paper proposes that aircraft have replaced cavalry in the work
of pursuit, which will certainly be the case when aircraft can seize
fortresses, passes, fleeing Presidents, etc.
War in the Air
Paris is liberated, the Axis is
crumbling, we have blown up all the Seine bridges and now need to pass it, and
the RAF has dropped a record number of mines. The paper supposes that aircraft
must have been involved in the liberation somehow. Rumania and Bulgaria
surrender all the way. The paper is disappointed that so much of 7thArmy got away, but is hopeful that victory is imminent.
The latest Australian-made Beaufort
cost £44,000, against estimates in 1939 of £39,000. Martin Mariners now have an
operational range of 5100 miles; that is, out and back. More C-54s have been
ordered from Douglas. The Americans have been experimenting with powered
gliders. The latest edition of Wilkinson’s Aircraft
Engines of the World notes the 18 cylinder Bristol Centaurus,
from the Hercules, a 49.7L, 2000hp radial engine. Altitude is not given. Has
Bristol mastered the Rolls-Royce style two stage supercharger? Time will tell.
The Society of Engineers Is publishing as a pamphlet R. H. Bound’s talk on aircraft
German ace Erich Hartman is the leading Axis scorer, at 272
victories, mostly won over the Eastern Front. The German press reveals details
of the He 177 Griffon, “Terror of the British ports.” The German party press
claims that Germany’s true reserves are their secret weapons, born of German
science, skill and ingenuity. A squadron of the German air force’s reconnaissance
branch has photographed 11 million square kilometers in its service over
Russia. German super-total mobilisation continues.
War correspondent spends twelve hours aloft in a Sunderland buzzing
freighters in the Western Approaches in case they are submarines in disguise.
Sunderlands are now operated well under the early war maximum all up weight
thanks to the availability of VLR aircraft, but this is still a bit of a
“Indicator” talks about “Artificial
Gravity,” by which he means downward acceleration which sometimes produces “negative
g” leading to controls warping.
“Five Years” An uncredited article
celebrates the British aviation industry’s record over five years of blitzes
and dispersal. Evrything is bigger and better and more numerous, and the
closest I can come to an interesting fact (apart from 27,273 new British
aircraft built in the last twelve months, plus 60,000 engines and 18,00 a/c
repaired and returned to service by nearly two million operatives in 15,000
firms) is that the complicated and specialised businesses of making gun turrets
and airscrews have become great industries. Since both involve automatic
control, both involve the use of your eldest’s beloved “stability.” Because he
sees those partial differential equations and head-splitting mathematical and
arithmetical problems everywhere.
“Helicipters in Production” Sikorsky
and Nash-Kelvinator have new models in production.
Henry F. Schippel writes on “Pre-Rotationof U/C Wheels” This is a proposed innovation involving rotating the wheels of
aircraft undercarriages up to speed before
they touch the ground, which, it is proposed, confers various benefits.
Several writers respond to Squadron
Leader Potts and Roy Fedden on the subject of postwar civil aeronautical
engines suggesting that diesel and perhaps opposed-piston engines might be
looked at. Why not both? If there is anything a civil airline wants, it is a
complicated new power plant on its planes!
Digest, 1 August 1944
Roosevelt stopped the B-17 until it wasn’t, thereby causing America to not
win World War II as much. Three possible explanations for this ludicrous screed
come to mind. (The main subject is a Congressional vote in 1939. There are
better ways to attack the Administration, even in an aviation paper.) The first
is that the paper has farmed out its editorial writing to a has-been who is
living in the back of the office with a bottle of whiskey to keep him company.
The second is that it is a clever plant by the Democratic campaign to discredit
Roosevelt-haters. The third, depressingly more likely possibility is that it is
expected to appeal to the kind of young man who reads Aero Digest.
“Northrop’s Vocational Programme”
Northrop has a vocational programme to help injured workers re-enter the work
In-Formation The Army is resisting premature reconversion and warning of a
resumed strategic air offensive against Germany.
A paper on the “ordered flow of
materials at Willow Run,” a new aileron design, the importance of film
processing to X-ray inspection
A guest editorial on why engineering
design should be financed and promoted in all possible ways (and incidentally
claiming that flying bombs and radar were invented in the United States);
another paper on tooling docks; on rubber mountings; on proper use of
operations manuals(!); the “comfortization features of the Consolidated 39” are
discussed in a paper that notes how an unnamed executive who saved two days by
flying coast to coast in 1930 then had recover for two; on weight control in
light airplanes; testing aircraft electrical equipment (tree papers); and the “gaging
of taper pipe threads.” The details of modern aviation engineering are pretty
complicated. I wonder whether it is possible for anyone to fully grasp them?
Digest, 15 August 1944
No, seriously, the paper hates
President Roosevelt. For example, he gave an awful speech in North Dakota in
1932, and then there was an 8 year “Roosevelt Depression.” And everyone was
General Articles: The AAF Material
Command Production Coordination Miracle, continued; a proposed livery for our
airways (heraldry!); legal liability for aircraft damage, which is actually a
pretty creditable effort, but far too much for a single article to bite off;
and articles about the achievements of AAF command (which trained 75,000
mechanics) and the RAF Air-Sea Rescue Service.
In-Formation suggests that the Army is quite upset that some people are
saying that the war is almost over. I can perhaps be forgiven for letting my
eye roam over to a full page text ad from the Cone Automatic Machine company,
which assures us that “Good Things Lie Ahead.” For example, a 7000hp electric
motor has been developed; also a new resin dip that protects metal, feels like
skin, and can be stripped by hand; also a new invention consisting of a plate
that hangs over a bed and is a source of “radiant energy,” such that a two-hour
rest beneath it is as refreshing as an eight-hour sleep; that plastics will be
used in many things, such as “baby carriages, auto tops, furniture, bus seats,
shoe tips, raincoats, luggage, shower curtains and handbags.” High pressure
cylinders for holding compressed gases can now be made much more easily! The
national producer’s council hopes to make homes 20% cheaper by promoting more
modern building codes and labour regulations; the byproducts of sawdust are becoming
so useful that sawmills are using coal for fuel! A synthetic shellac made from
corn may replace the natural shellac, from India. A farm machinery manufacturer
will produce refrigerators after the war, a French auto company will enter the
American market with a cheap, small car, and a maker of paper parachutes for
supply drops expects to continue into the postwar era as demand for light
parcel express drops develops. And” a prominent scientist states that it may
take twenty years to utilize fully the scientific discoveries made since Pearl
Fueling systems for airports;
soundproofing problems; saving weight by adding
wires; “safety glass” (actually plastics) for aeroplanes; yet more on
aircraft hydraulic systems; “New Silicon Fluids.”
The news digest notes that GE will
be making jet turbines; that E. E. Lothrop, formerly of Sperry, has resigned
from the Research and Statistics Division of the Aeronautical Chamber of
Commerce; that bonds have been issued to cover the building of Idlewild; and
that, oh yes, perhaps of interest to some collectors of aeronautical trivia,
aircraft production in July fell below 8000, and 400 below the target of 8274.
Even 7000 aircraft a month is an enormous total, of course. The question is
whether it is enormous enough.