Thursday, October 16, 2014

Techblogging September, 1944, I: Cohorts Gleaming in Purple and Gold

Wing Commander R_.C_., RCAFVR, D.F.C. (Bar),
L_. House,
Isle of Axholme,

Dear Sir:

Your beloved cousin being on the high seas and on his way to resume his old warrior's business of fixing machinery alongside in the fleet anchorage, it falls on your only daughter-in-law to take up the brush again and bring you news, of my house and others, of engineering and of business and of whatever stories Uncle George is following in the press out of his jaded years of experience, plus a little Hollywood gossip to brighten up your days in dank but green Old England.

Congratulations on your recent honour. Your service to your King is as appreciated as that to your clan, who miss you dearly. Included are letters from your sons, and photographic negatives. These are the expense of the poor courier, who complains that he must lie on the packet for eleven hours on the Atlantic crossing. He seems to me to deserve some sweetener for the hardship as the winter weather closes in again. 

Uncle George was in Pearl Harbour long enough to package and forward Fat Chow's apparatus, carried by an unexpected and welcome guest, of whom more in a moment. He enjoyed looking up old friends, some of whom he has not seen since 1918, and met with Felix to describe our plan. He has agreed, with some modifications, notably that he wants our "conversion" attached to his force, and since LCMs have not the speed, it turns out that after all the manoeuvring to be allowed to refit an LCM at the front, Uncle will be working on a submarine chaser, and young Tommy Wong will have a well-deserved promotion. I have obtained facilities from the Fathers to continue work on your apparatus, even if the "invention" must be done at the Front --or in Germany, see below-- to satisfy anyone worrying about official secrets.

Speaking of secrets, "Miss V.C." is full of herself, mysteries looming in her eyes as she finds the sordid --or romantic, as tastes may vary-- secrets of her family past. I look forward to my briefing when she returns from ransacking the family papers in the Couer d'Alene home on a flying weekend trip. Since hearing from you that our friend does indeed recall his grandfather saying that he came over to work on the Central Pacific, I have begun to wonder about that fortuitous document discovered in Sacramento, and have put in to the archives to have it recalled for me again. There is something suspicious going on here.

Finally, you will have heard, urgently, of Fat Chow's friend, Miss v. Q. It is perhaps not surprising at this late date that a  Foreign Office employee might find herself more congenially employed in private business well away from Berlin, and her parents' death last winter frees her from any connection apart from a cousin  too wrapped up in the death-agonies of the Reich for safety's sake. So she was free, and wanted to see Ferghana, and, Fat Chow tells me apologetically, speaks Russian like a native, greatly improving his chances of passing through the NKVD cordon in northern Persia. Whether she knew how much further she would end up travelling than Kashgar, and with whom, is another matter. She shot her arrow in the air, and where it came down could hardly be her concern! That said, she adjusted well to the Nagasaki connection and did more than her share, I am told. Fat Chow's enthusiasm tells me much (not least that my sister is fated to be disappointed, and that I must smooth matters over with Father.)

As for the Miss, I am going to create a legend (German-Dutch, East Indies internee, escape, I think), and find her employment. College teaching seems obvious, but her connexion with Fat Chow would seem to call for a more Bohemian environ than Santa Clara or Palo Alto. The death-stink of bombs falling on the crumbling masonry of Europe will be washed away by the Berkeley rains.


The Economist, 2 September 1944


“Mr. Churchill’s Seven Points” The Prime Minister explains the rules for admission to the Democracy Club, mainly to the Italians, who seem dilatory in coming to the point.

“The Balkan Mosaic” Now that Rumania and Bulgaria have finished surrendering, we get to spell the former country’s name without the “o.” Also, the Russians, on account of doing all the fighting, will get to have the larger say in how the peninsula is reorganised.

“The Policy of Wealth, II” The paper has set the target of doubling the country’s national productivity within a generation, which is to say, an increase in per man (or woman) output per hour of 2.5% per year. (I take it from lunch conversations at the Faculty Club that British productivity is said to be half American. I am somewhat skeptical.) The chief means of this is to be by the formation of capital, to which subject the paper now turns. Is there, or is there not enough money capital? If there is, how is finance failing in bringing it to bear? If not, how is this to be addressed? It is easy to imagine, the paper says, a country not saving enough to supply sufficient capital, easy, because this is what has been happening during the war, There is, however, on the other hand, the spectre of a country which is saving too much, and thereby outrunning the employment of capital and creating unemployment in general. This has been the “preoccupation of economists,” the paper says, for some time now.
The supply of savings, then, is not the issue. Where are we losing as between savings and productivity? Perhaps it is that too much capital formation is not going to increase productivity. The paper points to house building, to which I have to strenuously object that this is obviously a man’s point of view, and does not consider how new homes save on domestic labour with their electricity and plumbing, and, in the future, washing machines and electric ranges. My parenthetical objection aside, the paper cites £210 million out of £305 million in investment in housing in 1938, including all building.  (The paper, for some reason, subtracts out investment abroad to get something that it cannot honestly call a gross total, but a total nonetheless, of £250 million, implying that building is over 80%, rather than under 70% of total investment capital allocated in the United Kingdom.) Why so little investment in productive means? Business, the paper says, anticipating the objection, points to taxation; but, the paper counters to this imaginary foe (who probably also holds quite retrograde ideas about air power) by pointing out that business worries about profit on investment, not the taxation on that profit. It is lack of expected profit that is at the core of the problem. Apart, then, from housing.

Notes of the Week

“Demobilisation” “Talk about talking about” demobilisation.

“The Need for Houses” The paper acknowledges that demobilised persons might want to live somewhere, so that this might be deemed a “war requirement,” and construction started now as an exception to the policy of no civilian production until the war is over. This seems to be a bid to have construction excluded from the production for civilian use that Britain is not supposed to be doing until after the end of Lend-Lease.

“Freedom in Paris” The paper notices that Paris is free, and that this de Gaulle person seems to be popular in France. The paper is disappointed that there is not yet any sign of French talking about talking about economic policy on which to report. The paper then goes on to report on how things are becoming more difficult in Belgium under German occupation –the perils of a weekly when things are unfolding so quickly. Properly Protestant countries such as Norway and Holland, on the other hand, are expected to show heroic Resistance on a large scale quite soon now. Talking about talking about European agriculture has fortunately resumed at the UNRRA.

“Mobility of Industry and Rural Scandal” On the one hand, talking about talking about factories moving in the formerly-known-as-Depressed-Areas in particular. On the other hand, a report by the Women’s Institutes on the deplorable state of water supplies in some rural districts. Two hundred out of 260 households in Hoghton, Lancashire, have only bucket lavatories. In Farley, Berkshire, where “householders have long paid water rates,” 80 of 100 have to carry their water a distance of up to half a mile. One town has had all of its wells condemned with no other water supply, another 5 of 7.

“Reparations” Russia seems to want money from the countries which surrender. This may well be a bad idea.

“Women Tories’ Peace Plan” I thought about making no comment at all, except that the housing issue is already at the fore this week. The paper seems unable to conceive of how women’s concerns could have any weight in this “rough and tumble” world of ours, at the same time that it fails to see the productivity-enhancing potential of a house with indoor plumbing. This leads me to suggest that the paper's vision of the future is not as far-sighted as it imagines. This, of course, goes to what James and I have been saying about the untapped profit potential of building in the United Kingdom in the postwar era.


The paper defends its editorial on the outlines of a lasting peace with Germany) that its opinions are to be considered the paper’s own, and not Revealed Truth. Given the chance to say this with a straight face, it proves necessary to frame it with two pages of letters from various correspondents on the subject of a German peace –harsh, moderate, or otherwise.

American Survey

“Boom Days on the Mississippi” Our Correspondent in St. Louis reports record inland waterways traffic in the Mississippi Valley in 1942, with figures for the next two years forecast to further improve on the total, but also reflect gradual and steady growth over many years, which is to be attributed to the Congressional appropriations for internal improvements inspired by the transportation crisis of the last war. Various schemes for use of the Army Corps of Engineers’ contribution to American civilisation are suggested for the postwar, when some uneconomic wartime cargoes are struck from the barges resulting in declining usage. They include, I notice, a “packet boat” scheme in which converted LSTs or LCTs carry loaded tractor-trailers, which then drive straight off the docks! James says it will be lucky of most of these survive their trip to the salvers, but he makes the sharp point that it is scarcely necessary to ship the tractors with the trailers, in which case the trailers could be carried as deck cargo by more seaworthy vessels and unloaded by cranes directly to trailers at quayside, or even onto trains! On a less fantastic note, “reefer” barges to transport frozen produce seem like a real opportunity for inland shipbuilders.

American Notes

The election being well on, we are treated to “Governor Dewey’s Opportunity,” and, for some reason, “Mr. Willkie’s Campaign.” The Administration is submitting the “Oil Agreement” to the Senate as a treaty, bringing clarity on this front even as it plays coy on “The Life of Lend-Lease.” As always, there is the fond hope shared by journalists and some politicians that policies which promise the maximum chaos and suffering will be the ones followed. (In this case, the early abandonment of Lend-Lease, hopefully without replacing them with export credits, and accompanied by stringent controls on domestic British production of “consumer goods for export.”) Chaos and suffering are ever so amusing when they happen to others, which, on the odds, they usually do.

“Hot Potatoes” Who is the ‘hot potato’ at the War Production Board? Mr. Nelson or Mr. Wilson?  All Washington wants to know, and the country might also express an interest, as it, too, is tangentially interested in the whole matter of “resuming a civilian economy.”

The World Overseas

“Stirrings in India” Our Correspondent in Calcutta, and I can just imagine the kind of person who might be the paper’s correspondent in Calcutta, has thoughts about this whole “Indian independence” matter. He is quite pleased that a particular Indian politician has been quoted as saying that “absolute independence is a mirage” until the whole Hindu-Muslim thing is sorted out to everyone’s satisfaction. I hope that OCC does not delay in packing his bags on the strength of this comment! Then he turns to matters less fantastic, to wit “sterling balance,” which is mainly a discussion of India’s position on Bretton Woods, of which I have already written at length, with a final note on the success of the government of India’s anti-inflation measures.

“The Canadian Confederation” Canada pays for these articles, I imagine, so that the world’s boredom at things Canadian can expand into a vast reserve of boredom which Canada can then draw upon to become the world’s reserve boredom issuer.

Germany at War

Pursuant to the above, it is clear that the paper buys its newsprint in Canada. “It may seem strange that, at this point of the war, Germany should have published some foreign trade figures for the period 1939 to 1943.” What is surprising is that the paper spends a page covering the matter. Although there might be a useful gist, which is that Germany will remain capable of meeting the manufacturing needs of Europe’s smaller states postwar, whatever the outcome of the war is to be. I may be na├»ve in this matter, but does not the CBO have something to say about this?

The Business World

“The Future of Inland Transport –I” It is a complex matter, but, again, a gist may be detected. Railways are necessary except in the longest possible of visionary terms, and must be kept efficient, which requires investment, which requires some kind of tariff adjustment in their favour against roads.

Business Notes

“Control of French Assets” For a change, the paper comes down on the side of not talking about talking about something for a very long time while complex ramifications are considered in the balance. We should just give French assets to the French as soon as we can decide who the French are, which should be very soon now. Italian assets, on the other hand, which have already languished in limbo for eighteen months, can perfectly well continue to languish, because everyone knows how Italians are.

Portal Houses or Motor Cars

Sir Miles Thomas, vice-chairman of the Nuffield Organisation, throws cold water on the Portal house scheme, suggesting that there will not be enough pressed steel for the houses and for motor cars. The paper proposes that this calls for a “system of priority.” It seems more likely that this is the death knell of homes made of pressed steel.

Unit Trust Control Council” A group of businessmen were sitting around and wondering what to name their organisation in order to ensure the longest and most boring coverage in the paper, and this is what they came up with. They control by council investment trusts, in case you were wondering. (And it might be relevant, as perhaps the Earl has money in unit trusts.) The paper supposes that their articles of incorporation might not guarantee sufficient trust, or perhaps unity,  or control, or council.

“U.S. Industrial Reconversion Loans” May I say here that, however much he is distracted by the damage wreaked by flying bombs, how grateful I am that the Earl is not pressing us on the matter of the Fontana mill? In any case, discussion continues on the terms of loans for converting plants from war to peace production.

Some financial news: Portland Cement does better than expected, in spite of being ostensibly disappointing. Coast Lines, the reverse. Sudan Plantations quite simply disappoints, and there are hopes for the large scale of gasification of coal underground to alleviate the British coal industry’s low productivity problem, but these hopes are overly optimistic according to Doctor Foxwell.

“Five Years War Finance” Rather than laboriously prepare an extract, I have simply taken a scissor to the poor paper, rather more trauma than the sad little mimeograph can stand, but this is a great deal of brushwork, as you can see. Of particular interest is the gain on income.

“Wardrobes and Rationing” A Board of Trade survey establishes that  “The average person possesses what is for practical purposes an adequate wardrobe.” The British –not yet naked as Hottentots, but check back next Spring!

Flight, 7 September 1944


“Prevention of Aggression” At Dumbarton Oaks, the Great Powers are meeting to “talk about talking about collective action,” as Uncle George would say, and as I am now saying, there not being time enough in the world to follow all the discussions going on in the world today and still have time for such conclusions are occasionally arrived at. The paper adds a little historical lesson about what we apparently all remember about “Clive” at the Battle of Plassey. To distract your youngest from his mooning, I ask him to unbox “his” encyclopedia (yes, you have lost your encyclopedia, at least for the duration) and discover what the wise men of the Britannica have to say, and discover that it was all a discreditable political episode in which there was much talking and hesitation, followed by bribes and deceit.  I think there might be a moral here, but not the one that the paper is drawing.

“The Instrument” International aggression might be deterred by the rapid intervention of some kind of international air force. The paper approves of this idea that it proposes, of bombing the world into civilisation.

“Private Ownership” “Indicator” thinks that for safety reasons, there will be relatively few private aircraft after the war. The paper agrees, although it thinks this disappointing.

War in the Air

The paper is pleased by the collapse of the Germans in France, talks, again, about a “typical Montgomery battle,” apparently oblivious to the outraged jealousy this will, of course, provoke on the American side, and moves blithely to note that Field-Marshal Montgomery (the promotion not requiring special comment, apparently, notwithstanding the apparent attempt to upstage General Eisenhower) will now be subject to Eisenhower as overall commander of land forces. Aircraft are somehow involved; having a supreme commander who is also land commander is a better arrangement for combining tactical air forces and the army. The Russians are advancing, and our aircraft supported them with a bombing raid on Koenigsberg in which the home of Kant was attacked by Lancasters that spent more than 10 hours in the air!

B. O. Morris celebrates the moment with a full-page ad for its “flexibits” featuring a picture of rather sinister kittens, who are either flexible, like flexibits, or dead and stuffed.

“Coastal’s Part”

21st Army Group is attacking the German-held Channel Ports, and this leads to Coastal Command aircraft attacking German small vessels. Since this involves a great many cannons blazing away, it almost makes Coastal Command interesting in a way that anti-submarine patrolling is not. (Your youngest has a full-wall poster spread of a “Beaufighter attack” on the wall of his room. James inspected it gravely on his return from Honolulu, and a long conversation about the relative merits of “sleeve” and “poppet” valves somehow turned into a fraternal moment under the orange trees as the two of them had the “head” of the Lincoln off.
I hope they can put it back on by themselves. The jury is still out, but they were still talking game when I stopped by from town with the shopping. I think that I may go sit with the babies on the porch and a lemonade,  and supervise for an hour or so.

Here and There

Mr. J. D. Beddows, B.Sc., has been appointed metallurgist and technical assistant to Dr. E. G. West of the WroughtLight Alloys Development Association. He graduated at Birmingham University in 1931. Three Hurricanes have been war correspondents despatches from Paris to London twice-daily since the Liberation. There is word of the German Me 262. 

A combination of Scandinavian airlines might want to fly a New York service via Iceland after the war. The paper is pleased that President Roosevelt has recognised that America uses various British inventions. If the paper imagines that anything out of President Roosevelt’s mouth is going to impress anyone who is likely to care. . . Piper Cub liaison planes have been flying off tank landing craft in the Mediterranean, Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal announced at a press conference, apparently attended by Blaine Stubblefield, as we shall see. Or perhaps he just read the press release. It is rather sad. I wonder if Mr. Stubblefield has family watching his decline? The paper criticises pointless press releases, and helps us distinguish useful information from useless. The latter is a statement about the recent increase in mine drops. The latter is the observation that Bomber Command flew 2 million miles in the period, compared, with one million in the previous.

“Sea Otter and Sea Fire” Pictures of the charmingly old-fashioned Sea Otter and of the “new” Seafire Mk. III, an adaptation of the Spitfire Mk. V might even be a gentle twitting of the Navy. I would imagine that Fleet Air Arm pilots would be a great deal happier about a Seafire based on the Spitfire XIV, as this is IX more than V.

Our Correspondent at SHAEF, “Mosquito Fighter-Bombers” Our Correspondent attends the mission planning sessions, giving a brief description that is actually quite interesting from an administrative perspective, complete with a short comment about the distribution of aerial reconnaissance photographs, in which you may still retain a professional interest, Service or business. Though I do not suppose that timber-cruising-by-aerial-photograph is quite so dependent on timely photograph processing! Then on to a remarkably complete description of the raid from the co-pilot’s seat.  The Mosquito takes off at 3000rpm, +9lbs boost, with flaps lowered to 15 degrees at 120mph indicated ASI, all information that would have been secret just a few years ago. Patrol cruising speed is 250mph ASI at 2400rpm, +4.5lb boost. Landing approach is at 150mph ASI, flaps at 30 degrees, 2850rpm, with touchdown at 115mph ASI. This is a night raid, and culminates with a diving attack against a suspected German tramping camp in a woods, under parachute flares. Did you know that parachute flares linger so long because hot air from the flares loft the parachute? Far more surprising is the matter of fact description of night takeoffs and landings at more than 100mph ASI. Aeronautical engineering has come a very long way in six years!
“A “Blackburn” Scholarship Robert Blackburn has established an annual £100 scholarship for the candidate who achieves the best result in the annual National Certificate exam for mechanical engineering from the aeronautics diploma at the University College, Hull. Tradesmen and apprentices at any of the company’s works are eligible. This award is evidence of the increasing interest if the industry in the training and education of the younger generation. Recently, de Havilland has announced a comprehensive educational scheme at its works, while Westland’s has a scheme that culminates in a university course at Cambridge., allowing Westland employees to look down their noses at grubby, provincial Blackburn men.

Studies in Aircraft Recognition

Today features the Fieseler Storch, Fairchild Argus and Stinson Reliant, as the Storch is quite a bit bigger than the typical Allied liaison plane, compensating with elaborate slots and flaps, rather like the Westland Lysander, or, for that matter, the Reliant.

“Indicator’s” column has already been summarised. The one additional point to note is that if individuals are unlikely to have the money to support an aircraft of their own, then there are big prospects for a full-scale aircraft hire system, which ought to be ramified and orgianised on a large scale, as Big Business or as Government-run (in the latter case to support refresher flying by reserve pilots.)

Behind the Lines

Japan has a new Army Air Force chief, Lieutenant General Sugawara. Lufthansa has been shut out of Lisbon. For a change, the feature actually names the Swedish traveller who reports that life in Berlin is difficult right now. He is Herman Maartensson, and he has a much more measured opinion than the more usual un-named travellers. He reports that the recent lack of night attacks is much appreciated, as now at least Berliners can sleep, an observation that hits home to me after meeting Miss v. Q.. An “Me 209” fighter is reported. Again.

Lord Ventry, “U.S. Naval Airships.” The author is described by the editor as “an airship enthusiast, probably almost the only one left in this country. His service career has been with the lighter-than-air side, and when he could not get airships he has been content with balloons. There is only one thing he prefers to hydrogen, and that is helium. That Lord Ventry’s enthusiasm is sincere was demonstrated some years ago when he started a little journal called “Airships.” It was a good little journal as such journals go, and as lighter-than-aircraft go it went. He must have had to dig fairly deeply into his pocket before he was finally compelled to give up. But he is still a great believer in airships. In this article he admits it.” Which is, I think, more interesting and more relevant than the Goodyear blimps that have been moseying along the California sealanes looking for submarines. As for the article, it is long on the drawbacks of blimps, some of which I had never given the least thought (did you know that their envelope fabrics decay rapidly in the sun?), and promising of partial solutions in the imminent future.


There is a query from R. H. Gardener about whether cross-winds affect propeller pitch settings, a request from Pilot Officer R. F. Millett for a Wireless Operator wardroom at RAF stations, an elaborate proposal for “test flight insurance” from Mr. Brailsford of the Royal Aeronautical Society, the suggestion that there are sordid motives behind the current scramble for the big transatlantic air terminal, which hardly seemed to me to be a point worth making, and a suggestion that the advantage is not all to injector versus down-draught carburettors, as the latter give more charge density for a given boost pressure.

Service Aviation Catches up victory in France with many honours,as you will know.

The Economist, 9 September 1944


“After the Blackout” “In a few days this summer, despair has been wiped from the face of Europe. Only the historian –and perhaps only Mr. Churchill himself—will be able to put words to the deeds of arms that have brought hope –and light—again or to their swiftness after years of struggle.” Tribute to faces wiped done, the paper turns to its old task of closing the shades to let gloom reign again. What of the peace? What of Mr. Keynes’ The Economic Consequences of the Peace, which we are all rereading with fearful apprehension, and certainly not lugubrious satisfaction at the promise of it all going wrong again. The paper shakes its head, and strongly recommends talking about talking about the shape of the peace. Only much talk about the complex and ramified matters of a peace settlement can head off action that might prove mistaken in the long run.

“French Crossroads” France is free, and everything is complex and ramified. One must balance this and that, and also the other thing. There are people to the Left, and people to the Right, and perhaps there will be nationalisation, or de Gaulle, or even both.

“A Policy for Wealth, IV: Industry and Capital” Last time the paper shambled to the conclusion that, to quote a paraphrase of a quote, ‘Manpower plus horsepower equals wealth.” That is, the more productive capital per worker, the more productivity per worker, and so the more national wealth. The shamble had reached the perplexing barrier of a distaste for investment in productive capital, and there turned in for the week. Now we are back on the hustings and ready for the jump. With its usual athletic syntax, the paper prepares by doing a muscular circles in place. Why, and what is to be done? Nationalisation? Consolidation? Rationalisation? Yes to all in their place, which place is as part of a larger “bold government policy” to ensure profits and investment while controlling costs and promoting improved means of production. “But profits depend on general prosperity, and that is the function of a Full Employment policy.” The jump is achieved by the new Put-It-Off-To-Next-Week-technique. A discussion that begins with ‘Industry and Capital’ ends with a segue towards ‘Labour.’

“The Coordination of Statistics” There should be more talking about talking about statistics. At some point the paper will allow a point to emerge, which is that it thinks that it is time for the government to start publishing a full range of economic statistics again, but there have been too many substantive points made in this number already and so this must wait until next week.

Notes of the Week

The Blackout is to end 17 September, the Home Guard is to be stood down, and we are clear to talk about the next National Election more than we have already. (With any luck, Britain can clear its trade balance in election talk with the United States from November.)

“The Unrepentant Satellite” Finland is done surrendering, and is not at all apologetic about going to war at the side of Germany.

“Liberation in the Low Countries” Belgium is now liberated, and the liberation of Holland can now not be long delayed. Says the paper. James points out that vaulting the Lower Rhine has always proven more difficult than invaders have supposed, which is why the Dutch were long independent, and the Belgians long subject to the Hapsburgs.

“The Size of the Arsenal” President Roosevelt’s sixth statement on Lend-Lease was full of impressive numbers which show the tremendous reserve productive capacity of the United States once unleashed. In the next number the paper proposes that various statistics on British war production, domestic sacrifice, and house-destroying ought to rule out a prompt end to Lend-Lease. Many Americans differ.

“Compensation for War Damage” For accounting purposes the Government’s predicted liability stands at £200 million, but the paper expects this to be exceeded, especially once permanent repairs begin on a large scale.

“Czechs and Slovaks” The Slovak national rising of last week raises the question of whether Czechoslovakia is to be knit together again at the end of the war.

“Pacific War” Britain is taking part!


German peace, etc.

American Survey

“Businessmen’s  Expectations,” by Our Correspondent in Boston. OCB summarises a survey of business views in the Harvard Business Review for us. American business thinks, in general, that the war will be over by the middle of 1945,that there will be a global organisation ensuring collective security, that America will remain the land of free enterprise, that the United States price level will be close to that of 1942, that America’s average national income will range between $115billion and $125 billion. The Federal government budget will be in the range of $20 billion, and that taxes will therefore remain much higher than they were before the war. OCB thinks that the “price level” is the issue here, since it implies that America will be unable to export comparatively high priced goods to a generally deflated world. I question his worldliness, because he ought to be aware of estimates that indicate that the average national income given will lead to an American depression, taking care of the deflationary aspect quite nicely. On the more likely prospect of American national income being almost half again as great, the numbers very strongly suggest, given that America needs to import some things, that American price levels will not be deflated by its need to export. OCB does not seem to understand what deflation means to most people, but then he may well not be most people.

American Notes

“The Farmer’s Future” The future is complex and ramified, but no doubt overall more grim than people suppose.

“Leakages” Drew Pearson has scandalously leaked some coded British telegrams about Indian matters and the recent resignation of William Phillips from Eisenhower’s staff. The paper declines to specify the contents. Senator Chandler has been more forthcoming.

“The Railroad Suit” Antitrust action against Western Railroads, the Western Association of Railway Eexutives, J. P. Morgan and Kuhn Loeb continues.

The Business World

“The International Bank” Since the paper’s opinion weighs heavily in these matters, I append some detailed comment. I actually have a great deal to say about the idea of “inflated” American prices in a “deflated” world in the course of the discussion.

“The Future of Inland Transport –II” Railroads must pay for their track, road transport does not. The existing solution, which fixes rail tariffs and restricts the supply of road haulage, cannot be continued. Replacement policies that involve price fixing are anathema to the paper, which  fortunately imagines a perfect technical solution, to be put forward next time.

Business Notes

The Battle of France is over, so now we can evaluate stock prices as “normal,” in which case the paper diagnoses a “setback.” The Paris Bourse has reopened, mainly so that French investors can unload “international” securities such as Canadian Pacific and buy South African gold mining shares. It is almost as though a large amount of money somewhere in the world is fleeing into gold, but as too much attention paid to that now would likely lead to embarrassing conversations about long-term tenants with German accents in twenty years' time, we had best prepare for those conversations by ignoring it in advance. 

“Currencies for Germany” Have been announced. An exchange rate has not, but the paper suggests 20 marks to the pound.

“The Price of Houses” Rent has been controlled since the outbreak of war, but the price of houses has not. They have, therefore, doubled and tripled in some areas. The paper proposes that given the success of Government intervention in other areas of the economy, perhaps there should now be Government control of house prices. I do not think that the paper has thought this through.

“Furniture’s Future” Should not be confined to wartime utility furniture, especially with progress in new materials. In a rare concession to domestic concerns, the paper even suggests that the country not be made to suffer “often hideous” second-hand furniture for years after the war, and that this should be taken account of in future production controls.

“Exports of Motor Cars” Given that production might ramp up more slowly than some expect, and that export earnings are desireable, perhaps we should control production for the domestic market more strictly than for export. So long as it has a boot large enough to take hideous furniture to the trash, it will serve!

“Diversion of Railway Traffic” From rails to road has been substantial during the war years.

“The Tinplate Scheme” South Walesmanufacturers are getting impatient with delays in implementing a scheme to subsidise the elimination of redundant plant.

“Free Gold and Silver” High prices for bullion in India occasion a move in the United States to permit the free export of newly mined bullion. The paper thinks that this ought not happen. Uncle George would be darkly sarcastic at this point, but the fact remains that bullion smuggling is a very dangerous way for the family to be making money.

Flight, 14 September 1944


“R.A.F. Mobility” It turns out that shifting squadrons from one airfield to another is hard, especially advanced airfields in France, and therefore the fact that 2nd TAAF has done it quite quickly by the standards of how quickly this is done is a matter of praise, taking not less than three paragraphs to impart.

“Brighter Nights” Blackout restrictions have been relaxed in Britain, as I scarcely need to tell you. The paper reminds us further that it was depressing, but not morale-crushing, and has the paper mentioned lately that we won the Battle of Britain? And who won the Battle of Britain but the RAF! And who bombed all the flying bomb sites but the RAF? And that they would have been resisted much more stoutly by the German Air Force were it not for their losing the Battle of Britain! I imagine the editor sinking back into his chair full of deep contentment at the imaginary rout of his imaginary disputant.

“Preparing for Peace” There has not been nearly enough talking about talking about preparing for peace. (In industry.) The paper is appalled, as are various people who agree with the paper.

War in the Air

The Fleet Air Arm has treated poor Tirpitz to another round of bombs as punishment for declining to come out and play a proper round of “sink the dago.” The Nazi leadership, as it turns out, will not be able to fly in a long-range aircraft to the Argentine, which has undertaken not to give sanctuary to war criminals. Or, as I am inclined to suspect after the way our relations with the Argentine have gone, has undertaken to hide them under the thinnest veneer which will permit the Argentines to be seen to be thumbing their noses at us while still permitting us to import their chilled beef and small grains.)The ever-improving performance of our night fighters is celebrated. Some are flying over enemy airspace, and on my inspection down in that little attic at the university, surrounded by Fat Chow’s apparatus and yours, I was given some sense of your part in this achievement.

It was, of all things, an artificial rendition of an orchestra-backed version of “Home on the Range.”  I thought it rather much, because there is no way that the jury rig they are using to synchronise the recordings to give "stereo" will stand up in a studio, but the plan was apparently to knock the socks off our friend's agent, and that was accomplished. It really was extraordinary to see all those spinning discs feeding strips of tape to each other to achieve such things, and whether or not it is true that our friend will be able to break his contract on good terms if he presents a new technique that undercuts his employer's objections, the important thing for the moment is that he is convinced. And from the sounds of things, he is more than convinced. He wants to invest! Keeping the family out of it, I have leaned on the university to provide us with an 'inventor of record," as it were. Which I have been remiss in mentioning to this point, because I am informed that he will be paying you a visit on his next leave! That said, it would be preferable to all if he returns to the United States with German rather than British spoils, if at all possible. Perhaps we will end by packing up the lab and sending it on to you, and Fat Chow's apparatus will make a complete circuit of the world!

We have overrun many V-weapon sites and the German retreat continues, seemingly unabated. The paper compares the aircraft harrying them (when they can fly) to “modern cavalry.” Balloon Command is congratulated for stopping 278 flying bombs on their great balloon cordon across Kent, which involved balloons from all over the country and even Scapa (James scowls and mutters about cords fouling the jungles of cable and antennas festooning the Fleet. Or at least so it was the last time he was there, in free competition with his classmates for their broad pennants (E). The Me262 is noticed again. The paper's handling suggests a measure of embarrassment.

Here and There

The postal air service between Paris and Toulon is resumed. A serviceman’s air mail to India is inaugurated. Another 20—30 air transports will be released by the US Army to the airlines in the next few months. The USAAF has dropped 677,000 tons of bombs since Pearl Harbour. Flights from the continental United States to New Guinea are 4 hours shorter now that they can stage through the Marshalls rather than Hawaii. RAF ground crew in France are being issued khaki in lieu of Air Force blue, which does not take dust well. The RAAF’s manpower intake is to be cut to release labour for Australian industry.

“The Supermarine Spitfire XIV” is the much-anticipated Griffon-engined high altitude Spitfire. This, then, marks the official debute of the two-speed, two-stage, supercharged Griffon, and the first clear intimation that Rolls-Royce has been able to repeat this little technological miracle on a second engine. (Bristol?) It may be assumed, the paper says, that the Griffon gives an hp/lb performance of less than 1.  The five(!)-blade Rotol airscrew, can, of course, absorb this more-than-2000hp achievement. It does so without fatal vibration due to careful shaping and many root-blade sections. The engine also has automatic governors to prevent it from overboosting at lower altitudes.

“World’s Longest Air Route: Qantas Empire Airway’s Indian Ocean Service: 3500 Miles Non-Stop with Payloads of 1000—2000lb.” And 16000lb of fuel! (auw of 35,000lbs.) All of that U-boat hunting experience comes into play with Australian Catalinas spanning the full width of the Indian Ocean between Ceylon and Perth with air mail loads. It is uneconomical, but necessary, like other Indian Ocean-to-Australia schemes. Unrelated but approximate by editorial fiat, BOAC celebrates 1000 Atlantic crossings this week.

“Reclaiming the D-Day Horsas” A pictorial article describes the work of the Heavy Glider Maintenance Unit, which is rehabilitating the glider fleet in Normandy. Should we really be advertising work to put our glider force back in action? Or is the point of publishing this precisely to distract the Germans into putting guards on every air-attackable point in the interior of Europe?

Behind the Lines

Goering’s nephew, Lt. Helmut Goering, has been killed in action in Normandy. The Germans are getting ready to face B-29s. I mentioned that I doubt they will suffer the fate of Sennacherib's cohorts. "Go, Huskies," replies James, and your namesake cracks up. I haven't a clue what they're talking about. 

The Germans have many new weapons to use, when the time is right, say the Germans. Germany’s super-total mobilisation, as declared by Dr. Goebbels, will be hard now that they do not have Rumanian oil, says the paper, which notices that German advertisements now tell industry that there are sufficient supplies of materials for the foreseeable future, and that they should not therefore hoard them. Germans are also exhorted not to let their gas masks get moldy, and to delay opening their parachutes when bailing out at high altitudes, a less useful household hint.

John Grierson, “The Arctic Air Route” Is still as likely to happen in the fairly new future as it has been for the last twenty years, given a definition of fairly near future that gives or takes twenty years. I do not doubt this for a second, but inasmuch as the article is a summary of twenty years of experimenting with the Arctic air route by an author who has been involved for the entire time, I can well imagine an old cynic like Uncle George reacting skeptically.

“Defeat of theV-1” A brief account of how we found out they were coming, kept the news secret, admitted it when they arrived, attacked the air bases, and built a vast belt of AA guns, balloons and the like to stop them, and then took the launching sites. Books can, and will be written, read, and consigned to obsolescence by new research and livelier prose long before the last affected house is repaired or replaced, I expect. That is, if I am right and the damage done to houses across the street from the detonation of half-a-ton of high explosives should turn out to be more than a few broken windows on closer inspection.

Studies in Recognition

Today features the B-29, which cannot really be confused with anything, unless your scale is off, in which case it can and will be confused with any other four-engined plane on Earth.

“Floating on Rubber” The new Goodyear rubber engine mounting is nothing novel, but it is excellent, and you should put it in your next design, says the Goodyear research department.

“Anti-Submarine V.C.” The citation for F/O John A. Cruikshank is published in the paper. Appended are very brief accounts of the Baltimore night bomberss of the Mediterranean Air Force and Australian ATC graduates in the RAF, because there is no other page to put them on.


A. G. Shore writes on plastics for aircraft engineers, C. H. Potts (again), pressing the notion that the overhaul life of American radial engines for civil aircraft is going to be much better than British because Potts will believe anything said about American engines over British.

The Economist, 16 September 1944

“Far Eastern Stake” The paper is upset that Americans keep saying that Britain is not, and will not pull its weight in the Far Eastern war. It says that it will, and then demonstrates its particular obtuseness by moving on to the restoration of the British, Dutch and French colonial empires, which, of course, tie the European allies to the Far East. Whereas of course, however ill-executed its preferences, it is to the end of these that American Far Eastern policy has always looked. The paper tries to meet American objections half way by supposing that the restored empires must vindicate themselves by promoting the local development of the colonies, failing as always to see what the point of colonies then is, an obtuseness that Americans --and any disinterested party--are likely to take for hypocrisy. That Britain is fighting to secure Malayan rubber and tin exports for the sterling area is too cynical to be spelled out, even if it is true.

“A Policy for Wealth –V: Labour and Wealth” Labour wants higher wages, which can only come from higher productivity, but is constantly tempted by Luddite fears of labour-saving technology. Labour pressure for higher wages  promotes higher productivity. Have we just gone in a circle?)Higher wages encourage the substitution of capital for labour. I think I can see myself from behind! So either higher wages promote higher productivity, or higher productivity leads to higher wages. It does not matter. Labour does a service to the nation by pressing for higher wages, a disservice when pressing for “feather bedding,” and stands neutral with regards to pressure for lower hours.

“Finances of the Church” A page and a half on the utterly vital matter of properly distributing the landed wealth of the Church of England amongst the curacy.

“Interregnum in France” General de Gaulle keeps behaving as though there is no need for much complex and ramified talking about talking, instead simply announcing new expedients and moving on. He is very definitely not to the paper’s taste.

Notes of the Week

“The Last Act” The war might be entering its last act, but this is no time to be reversing the advisory about evacuating London. Talk! Talk talk! I am sure that a firmly worded statement from Parliament will make all the difference to families cooped up in in-law's flats.

“State of Emergency” When Parliament meets, it is urgent that there be more talking about talking about peace.

“Belgium: The First Phase” The King must go.

There is to be talk about the Dominions and international labour. The Russians will soon reach the Turkish border. Rumours have it that they will then declare war on Turkey, because the Russians are not losing nearly enough native sons fighting just the Germans, and, of course, its allies will look benignly on. Seriously! This was all inspired by the Russian declaration of war on Bulgaria, since some friends of Bulgaria improbably hoped that this could be avoided. Also, there is talk of Greek unity.

At home, the paper deplores some retail associations’ “policy for restrictions,” calls for talking about talking about soldiers in business, the national fire service, and notes that comparing the effects of the policy of temperance in the last war compared with that of liberal drink rations in the current is not to the favour of official temperance. Alcohol consumption declined under the more liberal conditions of this war, and has been declining, in fact, ever since the last war. Given this, perhaps opening hours could be extended in the interests of tourism. There is to be a conference to talk about talking about international civil aviation.  And the Staple Inn has been destroyed by a flying bomb.


Not quite enough to fill two pages on the German peace, so the chairman of Callendar’s Cable and ConstructionCompany is allowed to write to correct the impression given in a recent article that he advocated removing all controls on production post war, as he only advocates removing some, for the sake of trade revival, the blushing cheeks of motherhood, and the roast beef of old England.

American Survey

“The Green Light” America now has a plan for reconversion and demobilisation. Not bad for a country that sometimes seems as though it has no government at all. The matter of disposal of Government plant, hence Fontana amongst all the others, is, however, punted to a special committee.

American Notes

Only half the space available is taken up by the Dewey campaign. We must also consider Senator Vandenberg’s anticipated opposition to whatever collective security organisation might emerge from Dumbarton Oaks, and the disposal of “surplus soldiers” with the end of the war in Europe, with the Navy still  needing more recruits to meet its 3.4 million man target, while the Army is planning demobilisation, though not, of course, at the expense of an army for the invasion of Japan.

World Overseas

“The German Conspiracy” The list of those executed proves to the paper’s anonymous correspondent that the bomb plot was a much bigger affair than was previously let on, as does the list of those not. For it seems that many more generals gave tacit assent to it than have been, or will be punished, inasmuch as if all the generals who are imagined to have silently rooted for the plotters are removed, the Germans would have no generals left.

Russia at War

“Reconstruction of the Donbas” The great industrial region in the east of the Ukraine is celebrating its first anniversary of liberation with an inevitably slow and hesitant reconstruction. Particularly difficult is the return of the many technicians and specialists who were evacuated into the interior of Russia at the German approach. It might also be that the Russian coal and steel industry is overbuilt. These things do happen. (Fontana!) 

The Business World

“The Future of Inland Transport –III” The paper promised a “technical” solution in the last number, which proves to be local transport boards allocating loads between road, rail and water with the vast and thoughtful detachment available to the deep thinkers of the world, all under the direction of the Minister of Transport. All that is missing to make it the plot of one of your youngest’s beloved pulps is a “giant mechanical brain.” Which is too bad, because at least the solution would then be “technical” as I understand “technical.”

Business Notes

“Production and Resources” Sees no opportunity for relaxing British rationing for some time after the end of the war. Europe’s coal needs emerge as a problem. The Dutch and Belgian occupation notes are announced this week. Antwerp will soon re-enter the diamond trade to alleviate high prices of the precious little stones –and, more importantly, industrial grade cutting diamonds. The stock market might be recovering. There is criticism of the “Film report.” The paper explains its dislike for the Federated Grocers’ postwar plans for restraining trade. The London Stock Exchange is talking about talking about governance reform. Municipal bonds are being converted, and the Harland and Wolff stock scheme is to be altered. Bullion prices in Bombay are mysteriously slumping a week after they surged. The paper suspects market sentiment. Retail trade dropped in London over the summer “as expected” due to the flying bombs. 

Aviation, September 1944

Line Editorial

Mr. McGraw reminds us that America’s “war-inflated industrial machine” cannot be allowed to drop back to prewar production levels without causing a “domestic crisis which we dare not permit.” Nor, because so much of the world is geared to the American industrial machine, can we have a purely domestic programme for absorbing this production, or an unplanned foreign trade, and there will be great dislocations in former trade patterns. The East Indies may find a smaller export market for their rubber; America may need to stop exporting cotton; Japan will need to find new markets, or substitutes, for its former silk exports; and Britain will need to find new ways to generate income to pay for imports. How will we rebuild the world economy? With rehabilitation loans in the short term, and freer trade in the long. This does not mean opposing attempts by staple exporting countries to diversify. That is a good thing. Above all, America needs to expand its proportion of foreign trade, that is, import more.

Editorial Leslie Neville thinks that “aircraft distribution” is entering a new era. That is, aircraft manufacturers need more salesmen.

J. Carlton Ward, Jr, President, Fairchild, “Airpower can Mean National Security” The sky is blue, J. Carlton Ward tells the readers of the paper. Blue, I say! The point here being that Congress needs to spend vast sums on air power in peace time in order to be prepared in war time. We want eight and we won’t wait!

Irving Stone, “And a Child Shall Fly Them” High school classes to teach teen-age boys and girls to fly aren’t a ridiculous extravagance at all.

Melvin H. Nuss, Manager, Municipal Airport, Reading, Pa., “Making the Airport a Business Center” The problem would seem to be one of reconciling the space and access needs of a busy airport with the allocation of commercial real estate close enough to the airport to benefit from its traffic. On this, Nuss offers very little concrete.

Blaine Stubblefield, “Grasshoppers go to War” The first article by Stubblefield that I can remember in my time reading the paper describes the use of the Piper Cub L-4 for artillery spotting and liaison duties. I have mentioned that I am worried about Mr. Stubblefield, and finding him passing a Navy news relief off as a news story does not make me fear for his well-being any the less.

Alfred E. Bennet, “Merchandising Goes Beyond the Sale” Given the small and high end market that private aviation has been in the past and is likely to continue to be, this emphasis on the art of salesmanship in aviation strikes me as hammering tacks with mauls, but I suppose one could make the case that such articles tell us something about the mentality of American business. (Specifically, that if you try hard enough, you can sell anything to anyone.)

For Better Design

“Transparent Sections Simplified” The feature is the new window sections of the Martin Mariner, which include a simple, inset escape hatch with rubber moulding, and the use of phenol plastic liners as seatings. Now here is technique that you might expect to see in a few years in automobile windshields and windows. And be struggling with a few years after that in home repairs. 

J. D. Miner, Westinghouse, “High Frequency ‘Ups’ Motor Performance” I suppose the case that Westinghouse wants to make is that the transition through low to high voltage DC systems and on to high voltage AC is inevitable in aircraft (and, of course, ships), and that in more specific terms the time might be right, right now, thanks to various splendid new miniaturised Westinghouse components. Write for your brochure today! Also likely to be replaced by electrical components is high-pressure hydraulic actuators. It must be conceded, however, that the AAF made two failed attempts to transition to high-frequency AC in the 1930s, with the XB-15 and XB-19. What goes unsaid here, James says with an exaggerated sigh, is that the contractor has a record. The dismal story of the navy’s failed transition to electric drive in the 1920s was very much one of Westinghouse and GE pressing for the premature adoption of a new technology for their own selfish reasons. Ultimately, James suggests that the delay in developing proper gearing led to the carburisation crisis that kept him on the West Coast long enough to become involved in the new AA director project. I am grateful enough for my husband's presence, however much you are deprived, sir, that I do not express my skepticism aloud. It seems to me more likely that the Naval Boiler Laboratory was led astray by a second GE/Westinghouse brainstorm.

None of this, of course, is not to say that AC is not on its way for aircraft electrical systems. Ther problem, the authors point out, is that of generating the power at the necessary frequency, and apparently the design of hydraulic transmissions to take off power at a steady 6000rpm from generating apparatus operating at “from 2100rpm to 8000” is well advanced. That said, there are all sorts of tricky technical details to be solved, such as slippage and friction. Nor have I heard of an airborne engine operating at 8000rpm, although I suppose the inference is that they exist. Turbojets? If we are already designing AC systems that use a gas turbine as a power source, how long before we see this in ground applications? 

“Machmeter Measures High Speed” A device measures air pressure to find the speed of the aircraft as expressed in proportion of the speed of sound, so as to indicate to the pilot the onset of speeds in the vicinity of that of sound, at which flaps and even wings and tails begin to operate in different and dangerous ways.

Ralph Upson, “Save Money by Spending it –On Flaps and Retractable Gear” Far from being expensive luxuries, the aforementioned can be useful performance or economy enhancers even on quite small and slow aircraft.

Ernest G. Stout, “Takeoff Analysis for Flying Boats and Seaplanes,” Part III. Math and graphs simplify something that no-one cares about any more.


Paul Wise, Chief Tool and Manufacturing Planning Engineer, Glenn L. Martin Co., “Automatic Riveting Realizes Manufacturing Economies” In spite of the title as given, the point here is that the use of automatic riveting machines must be carefully planned. By  planner such as Mr. Wise. Wise walks us through many of the practical difficulties which must be overcome in order to use riveters in given cases –mainly making sure that the assemblies that need to be riveted “clear the machine,” that is, fit into the work space and do so in such a way that they can be moved through quickly and without snagging.

Clinton L. Swift, Assistant Manager, Engineering and Research, Eutetic Welding Alloys Com “Low Temperature Welding Expedites Repairs” Low heat reduces potential deleterious effects of local heating dufring the welding process –warping and “dangerous stresses,” and the modern eutectic alloys have desireable mechanical properties.

James F. Carland, Industrial Control Specialist, GE, and P. R. Watson, Curtiss-Wright, “Development of Reduced Voltage Motor Controllers” The industry has moved from simple hand controls to elaborate, compact automatic devices that greatly reduce tedious detail work. The actual apparatus, the blower in a gasoline aircraft heating unit, is depressingly tedious, but the transition to an automatic unit seems so worthy of celebration that it needs two authors.

“Flange Rolling Improves Quality, Speeds Output: Thirty complete flanges an hour –and NO WASTE—is the result when tool designer and shop foreman pool brains and experience to solve this production problem at Curtiss-Wright.”

Lyle L. Pierce, Master Layout Supervisor,  Boeing Aircraft Co., “New Machine Assures Drawing Accuracy” A grid machine consisting of twelve scribing edges, carriage, guide beam, and squaring device all mounted on table as shown. Welded tubular carriage is mounted on rubber-tired wheels. Carriage travels on all bearings along straight edge…..movement . . . actuated by crank operated cable.”

The short biography of the author describes Pierce as the man who supervised the layout planning for the B-17 and went on to ensure that the drawings for the B-29 were produced on time. He did so with this "giant gang scribing machine," which quickly producing the drawings. The extraordinary speed and accuracy achieved by the precise grid layouts of the machines saved an estimated 10,000 engineering man-hours at Boeing.

“Hard Working Hydraulic Pumps Warrant Careful Service” Says Pesco in this helpful how-to article.

R. A. Livingston, President, Tubing Seal-Cap, Inc., “Aircraft Tubing Requires Careful Installation” The Pesco article implies that if you do not service your pump, you nave no-one to blame but yourself if it fails. Mr. Livingston wants us to understand that when a “million-dollar mill” turns out a “perfect piece of tubing,” it can still go wrong in many ways thanks to faulty installation. The tubing here described is used in hydraulic systems, and the rapid increase in operating pressures has led to the use of new alloy materials, and new problems. For example, a half-hard stainless steel tubing suitable for 3000psi+ is very strong, but not very thick. A scar will very quickly “concentrate” vibration and fail. Thus the techniques of cutting tubing to size and installing it, and even storing it, must be carefully considered. Special equipment, supplied by Livermore, may be needed.

Keith Edgar, Associate Editor, Canadian Aviation, “Confusion in Canada” Canadians are talking about talking about civil aviation wrong!

“Astralidade: For Fast Position Finding” A new aerial navigation device is so useful that it needs an article to itself in the paper. It appears to be a celestial globe on a gyroscopic stable element, which is certainly interesting.

Leo T. Parker, “His Honor Says” A digest of recent rulings from the bench on aviation law.

George H. Miles, “Shape of Things to Come” The owner and designer of Miles Aircraft, Ltd. Wants us to know that assorted peculiar aircraft designs that might seem to be mere publicity stunts are, in fact, the wave of the future. Will future aircraft be tailless ortail-forward? Who knows, just so long as they do not look boringly like theones made today.

Aviation News

There is progress on airport policy and aircraft disposal. The P-63 is splendid, as is the P-61. Various engineers at Borg-Warner’s supercharger division think that superchargers will be in wide use in civilian engines after the war. Just which kind of engines is unclear. It seems a little implausible to me unless civilian users are expected to bear the costs of distributing and using high-octane gasoline, but perhaps that comes of watching my men folk spending what could have been a lazy late summer Sunday tearing the Lincoln's engine apart looking for "lead attack." And talking about girls. Do I giggle, thinking about James as the authority on "girls?" Never!

“America at War” The war continued in August, and aircraft were involved. Details of radar are promised soon, and there is much self-congratulation over the discovery that fighters operating at short ranges can carry less fuel, hence more ammunition.

Washington Windsock

Stubblefield summarises the articles in this edition, although not the technical ones, as that would be more work than he is up for, apparently.

Aviation Manufacturing

“July Unit Production Down to 8000: War Department Orders New Emphasis on Large Aircraft” The reader of Aero Digest will by now have two week’s lead on news of the continuing decline of American aircraft output. What does the paper have to say about it? That it was caused by hot weather, summer vacations, and continuing manpower shortages! Output for August is scheduled for 8,274, a reduction of 3% on the programme. It is hoped that turnover has levelled off, and that green workers are getting more experienced. Reductions in smaller aircraft procurement help labour reallocations will involve the industry releasing 100,000 workers by the end of the year for other work. Hopefully, for example, labour freed up at Goodyear’s naval fighter plant in Akron will be turned over to tyre production, for example. There is pressure to move war production plants inland, away from possible enemy action again, and GE is to build a jet engine factory. Transport aircraft released by the services are being “niftied” up for civilian use. Various aircraft companies are doing quite well, and Curtiss-Wright is still trying to sell its airfields off. The SEC’s recent report exaggerated the financial health of the aircraft industry, says Raymond Hoadley, while promise of the first tax reduction in 15 years means that now is the time to buy aircraft stocks!

Aviation Abroad

The Swedes are converting their B-17s into air transports. Britain is warned of bigger V-1 “robots” with larger payloads and greater ranges. This may or may not mean the V-2, whose use is imminent, or the alleged reaction-propelled bomb with a great enough range to strike the United States. This may or may not actually be practical, but there are also ship-launched robot missiles, which the paper seems to be seriously suggesting are still a possibility. Perhaps from submarines? The occupied French, it is said, were working on a development of the M-323 with a 90 ton all-up weight and 6 1500hp engines. Hispano-Suiza was working on a double V-12 engine equivalent to the existing Daimler-Benz one, to equip French madeversions of the He 177 and “its commercial counterpart, the He 274.” The Hawker Tempest, still a secret in Britain, has a 2000hp Sabre engine and a speed “well over 400mph.”

Dowty has announced that its new undercarriage for the Lancaster is only 1.63% of its gross weight. Sighting reports of the Messerschmitt “Swallow” jet fighter. The “Shetland” flying boat should be flying soon. Uncle George will have a field day with that! London’s postwar Starnes Airport will have direct Underground service.


Hilariously, a pilot, who couldn’t resist making an off-colour comment when a female airport controller came on the radio for him for the first time, was called on the carpet despite his denials because it turned out that the conversation was being recorded. Transport aircraft are so huge today that a Curtiss C-46 Commando, loaded with a full 26 passengers, recently supported an amateur magician leaping in and out of rope tricks without the pilot even feeling the weight shifts. Pilot of a Hump aircraft that hit three native labourers and a tree on its way down the runway amusingly reported minor damage to the wing. America truly is the hope of the world's colonialised poor! The tragic thing is that it is those most likely to laugh at these who fear the coming of the communists the most.

Fortune, September 1944


A serviceman writes to suggest that a certain kind of Republican is going to need an attitude adjustment after the war, as returning servicemen are likely to have lost certain traditional values, such as deferential respect for property. Commander John C. B. Oren, C.G. now a postgraduate student at MIT but formerly at various naval arsenals, thinks that the nation needs a machine tool reserve, kept up to date, in design at least, by special Navy design sections of trained engineers.

The Job Before Us

Is America’s foreign policy in the Middle East a bit of a muddle? Quite possibly, and especially in the Palestinian Mandate, or “the Holy Land,” as the paper calls it.

The War Inventory “the biggest disposal job ever is up ahead. Prosperity will help. But there is no chance whatever for an easy solution.” This seems more like an Economist council of despair than Fortune. Pay people to dispose of surplus inventory, retaining the profit of resale.
There you go.

Laurence J. Babcock, The Explosive Middle East” An associate editor at the paper, Mr. Babcock has just spent eight months in the Middle East, which qualifies him to observe that it is full of inscrutable people with obscure agendas that will complicate our desire to get lots of oil from Saudi Arabia and do something deeply satisfying –what, we do not yet know—in the Holy Land.

“Postscript on Bretton Woods” Having already tendered my report, I hope that you will forgive my inability to see a need to go back over the ground.

“Greyound: Still Growing” The inter-city automobile bus business is still expanding across America. 
The company would, however, be pleased to get some new highways. The bus of tomorrow will be no longer, but much lower slung than current models, and will probably have two levels, for 88 seats and more baggage capacity than in the 41 seaters of today.

“The Birth of the Tickets” Eliot Janeway returns to the paper to write about how the conventions were “fixed,” just like in 1936. I can see how Mr. Janeway became the butt of Uncle George's jokes. He writes colourfully and with a smug certainty about his inside information. You can hardly forget that he was predicting an open Republican convention, and while reporters, I am told, always predict an open convention, it might seem that he has a reputation to restore, and is perfectly willing to write disingenuously to do so.  It does seem interesting, if true, that Roosevelt was so diffident about the choice of the vice-presidential nominee because he was trying to get Justice Douglas, but he is certainly wrong about the Engineer being insulted by the lack of recognition by Dewey, and being mollified by Bricker. The Engineer was, of course, insulted, as he always is, but since the state is permanent, even  he has learned to rest on more substantive matters. In this case, it was Dewey's refusal to campaign on either "Pacific First" or the President's health. He seems firmly convinced that both will become an issue before November. 

Oddly, when I chanced to point out the President's tactic of pointing out that he was younger than many of the senior commanders in the field, the Engineer's eye only gleamed.

“A Billion Across the Board” The horse-racing industry has become quite large, and is a fat target for taxation.

“Bill Bailey’s First National” A bank in Clarksville, Tennessee, is quite a good investment because its president, Mr. Bailey, is quite a good businessman. The main problem the bank currently faces is that it is hard for it to loan all the money it has on deposit. As Uncle George would no doubt point out, mortgages could be an answer to this problem in the medium term. In the longer, it is a case of the causes of this state of affairs, but as it seems easily explained by generous wartime  pay, it will probably not continue into peace.

“America and the Future: Who will Drop the Umbrella” The story is about high prices and the cost of living, and the analogy is with umbrella-carrying people passing in the street. I suppose I am to take it that price-slashing competitors are particularly polite people? I think that the paper needs better metaphors.

“A New Start for the Cities” Will slum clearance be possible for the cities on their own, or will federal help be needed? I include a land-use map showing the 23 square miles of blighted land in Chicago’s 212 square miles within city limits. It is an interesting question for our Chicago kin, who will face the problem of a shrinking stocklands over time. Better to –somehow—sell that land for luxury apartments than slum tenements! Apartments, however, the paper suggests, might be the wrong way to go, as high densities mean that “blighted areas” will be blighted forever. Better to ensure equal densities across the city, pushing development into the blighted zones. The problem will be one of financing construction in those zones, and this comes back to the difficulty of finding lenders to loan in the face of uncertain returns. After “generations of errors,” one can see the temptation to look to government to cut the knot. It certainly does seem incredible that America's future will be held hostage by the inability to clear a few slums!

Henry C. Simons, “The U.S. Holds The Cards” America will be able to dictate the terms of the liberal postwar world trade regime,  and must do so to ensure that “we can play the free-enterprise game at home.” It will certainly not be established, he points out, by going back on the gold standard. After all, the price of gold will be set by America, which holds it all, anyway! We sympathise with British skepticism over our ability to set sensible policy, but they will have to live with us. Really, American “conservatives and libertarians” have nothing to worry about, even though they are in hysterics right now, and “displayed little sense when unopposed.” “They demand smaller deficits during deflations and larger ones during wars.” Etc etc.

“What is ILO” The paper has already answered this question in these terms: revolution insurance. The long-planned International Labor Conference in Philadelphia last spring was key to forestalling a future international workers’ revolution.

The Farm Column

Ladd Haystead thinks that the idea that a significant number of returning veterans returning to the land is unlikely. Farms will get larger, more diversified, and the labour input will fall by comparison to capital in order to maintain farm incomes. Only about a third of the 4.5 million who left the farm in the last two and a half years will be able to return. The Thirty-Seventh Annual Convention of Agricultural Engineers, held this July, has some pointers for the future. More equipment, more electrification, new buildings, and new methods of storing food such as refrigeration, freezing and dehydration. The furor over Plowman’s Folly shows how much is to be learned yet about proper tillage methods.

while plant breeders and geneticists have accomplished miracles and promise more. Diversification in agricultural machinery would be a good thing. Instead of a few giant plants in Detroit, Haystead promises thousands scattered across the land meeting local needs.

Fortune Press Analysis

“Labour” This first in a new feature in the paper, using “content analysis” of a sector of the national press to reveal what is really on the minds of, in this case, the labour press. Essentially, the paper’s content analysts counted up the number of articles on various subjects, in the same way, we are told, that literary scholars have been doing “content analysis” of Shakespeare. It sounds all very modern and scientific, but also ratherr less than overwhelming in its results. The labour press, it turns out, is obsessed with Presidential politics right now. Welcome to America in the fall of a Presidential election year!

Business at War

American cigarette and cigar consumption declined before the war, but the war saw a reversal of that trend, and demand now greatly exceeds supply. This is good for the tobacco industry, but the question is whether peace will see a resumption of the trend to lower smoking rates. The fall in available labour and the supply of good wrapper leaf, especially the previously preferred Sumatran leaf, has led to an explosion of Cuban imports; good for Cuba, not so good for American domestic producers hoping to get back into the business with labour released from war production. Still, American production, unlike Cuban, is dominated by the complicated cigar-making machine, with which four people can make 560 cigars an hour, or perhaps 800 with further postwar improvements, restoring the good old days of the “good five cents cigar.” 

In other vice-laden industry news, the federal government has gotten into the anti-loansharking business. Currently nine states and the District of Columbia have such ineffective regulations that the “1000 percent” industry thrives in them. The proposed Uniform Small Loans Law will do much to alleviate this problem, and is critical considering that the war has caused a boom in the small-lending sector.

This seemed so outlandish to me that I renewed my concentration. Remember the story about how even pawnbrokers are having trouble lending out their money? But the story goes on to observe that with many more marriages and more babies than in previous years, plus far more moving about, all sorts of temporary embarrassments has led to a boom in under-$300 loans. That does ring true to me, and I suppose that I am one of the loansharkers under attack. I certainly do not charge 1000 percent to ladies in need, but I am very interested in selling them houses after the war, which more than makes up the difference to my mind.

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