Friday, January 30, 2015

Postblogging Technology, December 1944, II: With Thundering Engines

Wing Commander R_. C_., RCAFVR, DFC (Bar),
L_. House,
Isle of Axholme,
Lincs, U.K.

Dear Sir:

I am glad that I was able to wish you a Happy Christmas in my last, for I see that I have held on to this one until it is too late even to wish you a Happy Christian New Year. Like many other people, I have been in a mood at the recent German successess, and only their definitive reversal has allowed me to get back to things such as my correspondence.

As though that were not stress enough, we had alarming news Christmas Even, as Tommy Wong received abrupt orders cancelling his leave and recalling him to appear before a Board chaired by one Captain Herbert Gates. It was not until the 26th that we had word from Uncle George, who knows Captain Gates socially, as well as being his advisor on matters radio repair-related (more maths, Uncle George complains, than he has seen since Keyham). It turns out that Captain Gates has the Admiral before him on another matter, his second "fouled bottom" in two months, and this one so serious that Chester himself is flying out from Pearl. Captain Gates is not a man who expects future promotions, but that does not mean that he is insensible to his prospects, and the news that Tommy could only speak to the earlier mistake put him right out of the witness list. Then, just as I recovered from that, word that James was also to go to Uthili, as the schedule for the new fire control apparatus was accelerated by demands from the battlefront again.  

Nor was Tommy's recall was rescinded. Something else is going on. If I could finagle an audience with Chester, I might learn just what, but as far as I know, it is nothing bad.

So there you have it, little word of Christmas in Santa Cruz, perhaps not surprising with so much to worry us, and so many of the young people away, and myself indisposed, once more the object of more care and concern of the matriarchs of our clan than I particularly care for --you must not breathe a word of that to your wife!

Look to the next, when perhaps Tommy's fate will be decided, on the eve of the Lunar festival, and we will look to signs of an auspicious future.


P.S. Oh. And this little matter, from Time: “Murder at Honingham Hall”  Sir Eric Teichman, lord of the manor, shot in the woods, and it is agreed that it was by two American soldiers, who were poaching in his hunting preserve. Given the murder mystery setup, I can’t avoid noticing that his wife and her friend found the body. Though in a good novel, it would turn out to be related to his Central Asian adventures. At least I can safely say that Father liked him, and I am sure that no-one asked it of Fat Chow, who really does not like that kind of work. In case anyone was thinking of demanding it of him.

Time, 18 December 1944


“Not by Arithmetic”  The paper sees a stalemate on the Western Front and fears for the Allies’ morale. Can they continue  this grinding battle? Will the Canadians, now in the line below Arnhem, pass the inundations created by the opening of the Waal dykes? It is good news that the smelters of the Saar are in artillery range, but they only produce one-seventh the steel the Ruhr does. Which seems a little odd. One seventh is still a lot of steel. Can Germany really spare it?

“Pounding Compounded” Patton’s offensive in Lorraine has “almost ground to a halt” by the measure of ground gained, but “by any other measure, ‘Georgie’ Patton had a big week,” because he got his men across the Saar. In this story, one-tenth of Germany’s iron and steel producing capacity is under the fire of U.S. LongToms. Meanwhile, Patch’s Seventh Army Group took Hagenau, 16 miles above Strassbourg along the Rhine.

“Playing Fields Jülich” The Germans fight  hard for a sports arena in Jülich, which is “east of”Aachen. The maps we saw during Arnhem shows it at the head of the Rhine delta, which I had no idea was so far inland, and that seems more important information than its proximity to Aachen, though I suppose that is where the American push is coming from.

“Local Action” LIFE correspondent, George Silk, covers a “local action,”* the assault crossing of the Wessem Canal in the Roermond area. 

It’s interesting to turn the page over from the wrenching story of a sergeant, his legs blown off, being carried back from the front in Saarlautern, and telling a weeping major that, “We took our objective,” and get to this. It doesn’t sound like war is any less horrible near Roermonde, and I certainly wouldn’t want to make out that British troops have achieved fuller technical efficiency than American, which would be heresy here in the Santa Clara Valley, anyway. (Though if we were to talk about Marines…) What it does illustrate is how technology can make things easier when it works right. First, a 400 gun barrage that lasts 15 minutes, the first twelve minutes firing high-explosive, the last tree with smoke, to blind the enemy.
At that point, the assault battalion to which Silk is attached rises from highly effective concealment and heads to the top of the dyke. Sherman tanks (for antitank protection) and Crocodile tanks with flamethrowers give cover, while Bren gun carriers bring up kapok assault boats. The Germans, hiding from the flames in their trenches, surrender to the crossing Scots, who consolidate the position under “artificial moonlight,” created by searchlights playing on low clouds.
Now, the sergeant at Sauerlautern was wounded by a mine, and Silk only spent a  few moments with the engineers clearing the mines behind the Wessem position. I do not understand why “smoke” is sometimes indispensable and other times hardly mentioned, but I can see how wind would make it useless. "Artificial moonlight” won’t help a bit on a clear day. Finally, the fact that there’s another canal to be crossed in exactly the same way six miles on tells you something of why things are going so slowly. This is a lot to organise. (Not to pick on the Marines, but that’s the part where they fall down, or so one hears from mechanics from the FMC plant in town see too much of that side of the Marine beach assaults.)
Anyway –sometimes things are well-organised and go right, and sometimes they don’t. If the Army can just stay organised, they will roll the Germans back to Berlin in six mile humps eventually.

“Two at the Door” The Danube links Europe’s “north and south” and is one of the continent’s military keys. Last week, on both sides of the river, Russian armies “were turning this key.” On the west side, Marshal Feodor I. Tolbukhin was fighting through the hills towards Lake Balaton, a great lake, or an inland sea, depending on which seems more colourful in a given sentence. On the east side, Marshal Rodion Y. Malinovsky’s army was “wheeling on the pivot of Budapest,” swinging around the “great knee” of the Danube north of Hungary’s capital. Etc. etc. There’s a map, so it is not as opaque as it sounds, but it is still pretty hard to visualise. On my admittedly largescale map of Europe, the Danube runs east to west, with a tiny little jig around Budapest. I guess that it’s an important jig.

“Through Muddy Grapevines” General McCreery (sort-of local boy makes good!) pushes through the Emilian countryside to take Ravenna, Byron’s favourite Italian town “once an early Christian metropolis” –looks like the historians have been changing things around again—and captured it. It was just like old times, in that Eighth Army captured an Italian town. Meanwhile, Fifth Army, now to come under General Truscott after General Clark’s promotion, didn’t. Because it did not have the manpower, all of the men having been sent to France.

“U-boats Return” They might, you know. And the  new ones have “extensible intake and exhaust ducts,” which, I think, is old news. At least, I remember James giving a vivid account of their hidden drawbacks. Air being sucked out of your lungs by starved diesels does not sound like fun!

“Respite” The Japanese offensive, having taken the supply dump at Tushan, does not press on to Kweiyang, “filthy” capital of Kweichow Province. The paper’s correspondent is appalled by the state of the refugees on the road.

“End Run, Touchdown” Major General Andrew Bruce of the 77th Division leads his forces, including 30th Regiment, commanded by his son-in-law, Lieutenant-Colonel Aubrey D. Smith, into a landing at a place just south of Ormoc, separated from Leyte by the Gulfk, the Surigao Strait, and the Camotes Sea to land under the cover of Admiral Arthur Dewey Struble’s forces. Meanwhile, a reinforcing convoy of Japanese was attacked and destroyed by Army and Navy aircraft.

“The Desanters” A Japanese airborne attack against Leyte that did not go well for the Japanese is the subject of much hilarity. “All the airdrome of [blank] has been taken tonight by the Japanese Army. It is resistless, so you must surrender. Answer yes or no. All the Japanese Army has done great attack.” Language is a funny thing. So is killing young men by throwing them out of airplanes, parachute optionally included.

“The Earth Shook” Japanese propaganda is no doubt covering up the actual effects of the earthquake there last week, and a combination of B-29s and 108 Liberators “(both Army and Navy),” and so much for "patrol wings" for naval cooperation only, attacked the airfields of Sulphur Island in the Volcano Group, just east of Japan, followed up by a naval bombardment by cruisers and destroyers under Rear Admiral Allan E. Smith.

“That’s Different” Officers aboard mass-produced landing craft can’t tell their boats apart, go into manic rages, throw luggage overboard, threaten to shoot each other. Leaving the “pep pill” jokes to Uncle George (again!), I have to say that it’s really not. This war cannot end soon enough.

“Civil War” Greece is having a civil war, Britain is involved, not much to its credit. History lesson: Greece invented democracy! Thanks, paper.  General strike, snipers, street fighting, mass funerals, no food, not enough medical care. Churchill calls a vote of confidence over his policy to support one alphabetical subdivision of Greeks over the other, because it is less leftist, and therefore nicer.  The Prime Minister is clearly very tired of his Prime Ministering job.

Indians and Latins are excitable. The paper’s correspondent in Rome likes to quote Dante. There won’t be a winter flood in Paris, but it came close.

“Red on White” William White, who accompanied Eric Johnston on his incomprehensible tour of Russia last summer, has written an instant book that Pravda doesn’t like. Pravda is wrong, the paper thinks. How could Russians be offended by being compared unfavourably to convicts in Leavenworth? It boggles the mind.

“Checkmate” Iranians have funny names, especially when translated, and a hostility to foreign oil concessions that would be endearing were it not so upsetting to the Russians. Or does that make them more endearing? The paper pretends to be on the fence, on account of the Russians being our allies and everything.

“T.V.” “China” won against the Japanese by retreating from any objective the Japanese wanted. Chiang knows that China is “tired” and needs a pick-me-up, so he has promoted T. V. Soong! Soong thus gets his picture on the front cover of the magazine this week. The man must be a terrible bridge player. He  has no idea how to get rid of a bad hand.

The paper really doesn’t like Argentines, and Vice-President General Peron least of all. Other Latin Americans are excitable, too.

“Consistent Inconsistency” The paper thinks that America should be meddling more, and more consistently, in the internal affairs of all countries everywhere. Norman Armour (of the Philadelphia meat-packing fortune, make of that what you will), is going to Madrid to be the new ambassador, replacing Carlton Hayes, the historian and “front-rank Catholic layman,” who got on so well with General Franco.

"To the Fairest" was inscribed in golden letters on the ready-to-eat ham

“An Army Without Shells” Is there a shell shortage? (Father O’Brien nods his head knowingly and speaks cryptically of “shell scandals” and “Welsh wizards” at lunch.) The paper quotes “grey, intense Lieut. General Brehon Somervell,” an un-named lieutenant, and 27 soldiers on furlough to tour U.S. war plants. But, the paper says, there is no real worry. We have enough shells to last another six months; the current problem is “shortages in specific spots from lack of transport.” I wonder if “Europe” counts as a “specific spot”? The production drive is just to make sure that there won’t be an ammunition shortage in the future. You know, after the end of the war. Would that ever be embarrassing!

“Naval Officers Wanted” The Navy expects to be so big after the war that its 55,000 regular officers will not be enough to go around, and therefore needs to keep a substantial part of its 226,050 reserve officers. The Navy hopes that some of its young reservists are so ill-educated that they will conclude that the Navy is their only viable career. (I rephrase, but only slightly.) Whatever: the more maladroit the Navy Department, the better your youngest’s prospects. (We will really know that they are desperate when they promote Tommy Wong.)

“Murder at Honingham Hall” Probably enough said about this already. 

“News from Leyte” In liberated Leyte, various things are happening, including a black market in GI issue clothes, prostitution, and bootlegging. Various signs of the former Japanese presence include “very young children whose eyes snow a marked and curious slant.” The paper's idea of eye folds would do it credit in a nursery school.

“Two Butts for One” The American cigarette shortage hits Paris. Parisians respond with ingenuity, repulsive behaviour. Really, reading this article has done more to reinforce my decision to stop smoking than anything else, up to, and including “Strange Fruit” brand cigarettes.

“Unstable Score” Bong is up to 38, four ahead of McCampbell, who has been rotated Stateside.

“Super-Control” B-29s are bombing Japan without fighter cover but with “small loss” due to their remote fire-control system, which can “throw a multi-gunned punch instantly in any direction.”
Pardon me while I quote at length:
Gunners sitting inside plexiglass blisters sight the target through a small square of glass, track it to get speed, range and angle. A computer of complex and secret design sets electronic and mechanical elements in motion. The computer also makes corrections for such errors as might be caused by wind, the pull of gravity, parallax (i.e., the distance between the gunner's sighting position and the turret he is operating), and the speed of both target and firing planes. All-electric, from sight to firing pin, the guns respond to the most delicate adjustment. All a gunner has to do is press a switch to start them spitting at a rate of 800 rounds a minute.Control of the B-29's guns can be interchanged, passed around from gunner to gunner like a basketball and with split-second speed. Thirty different combinations of guns can be aimed and fired from different sighting stations. A gunner lets go control of his guns by simply dropping the firing switch. Another gunner can instantly pick up secondary control and bring his own and his colleague's guns to bear on a target.Other advantages of the remote-control system, developed by General Electric and Air Forces experts: turrets need be only large enough to house gun mounts, thus reducing the speed-killing drag which would be set up by turrets big enough to accommodate both guns and gunner; the job of aiming by hand in a rushing slipstream is taken over by powerful machinery ; the gunner can be warm and comfortable at his work inside the B-29's cabin, insulated from the shock and noise of his rattling armament.
I suppose I was not paying enough attention to earlier discussions, because I did not realise that most of the B-29 armament would not work without the remote fire-control at all. So if it fails, the B-29 fails as a self-defending bomber. (Although the idea did not work out very well in practice over Germany, so perhaps that part is not so far-fetched, technology aside.) GE has taken on a very heavy burden with this, and given that the design work was done back in 1941, they either have a very precocious lab, or those defensive guns are hunting, lagging and overshooting all over the place. On the bright side, if the B-29 daylight offensive is defeated, hopefully someone will take the maths seriously at last.

“Fluid Technique” “flying the lonely reaches of the Aleutians,” U.S Airman have to  be technically capable. For example, the crew of a twin-engined Navy Ventura bomber returning from Paramushiro with a hydraulic-system holed by flak topped up the reservoir with their supply of orange juice to lower the landing flaps. This implies that they had orange juice left over at the end of a long flight. (Of course, it also implies that Navy bombers from the Aleutians are bombing northern Japanese islands, which I did not know.) Would you be surprised to learn that not even the reverend fathers of the Santa Clara faculty are not above trying to make a lady’s ears burn by proposing an alternative to “orange juice”?


“Shouts and Whispers” Tales of new Administration appointments, and people leaving the Administration are being heard in Washington! Also, the President is having trouble getting some of his State Departmentish nominees through the Senate. Happy Chandler thinks that they’re too Wall Street. Another Armour shows up, or, rather, a marriage partner, Jimmy Dunn.
“The Lu-Lu System” Albany politics are corrupt, Governor Dewey has just noticed, which is, of course, why he is constituted a grand jury to investigate the corruption until 1948.

“A Sense of Urgency” It is hard to goose war production at this late date, when all the famous men said that the war in Europe would be over by now. (Specifically, Halsey, Arnold, Eisenhower and General Marshall said so, while Robert P. Paterson said it would be over "soon.")

“Irascible Critic” An unsigned editorial in the Army & Navy Journal last week accused the British and Russians of holding up the war with politics. The paper doesn’t agree, but is pleased that it was said, because the  more intransigent opinion, raised danders, and ill-will, the …. better?

“The New Line” Harry Bridge’s Longshoreman Union has signed a three-year no-strike deal with the warehouses of San Francisco. The paper gloats.

 “The Face in the Meringue” The oft-told tale of the well-dressed woman who boasts about how the war has made her rich, and that she hopes it will go on, and then receives an umbrella, handbag, or, in this case, a lemon meringue pie to the face makes the paper.

Canadians are the opposite of excitable, in a way that closes the circle and comes around again. Also, Gusterne De Steffany has discovered tantalum in he far Northwest Territories. It is superhard, non-corrosive, and used in radar, machine tools and surgery.

“Against What Nation?” General Marshall thinks that the United States should have a large and powerful army through conscription. Others disagree, for example, Yale’s “urbane, tolerant” President, Dr. Charles Seymour, doesn’t disagree, so is an example of dissent within academe, which does dissent. (The paper: “Me write good!”) Also a dis-example of this dissent is the President of Notre Dame, who is in favour of selective service training in universities and high schools, just as long as it does not get in the way of football. An example of the dissenters who does actually dissent is “hardworking” Senator Ed Johnson of Colorado, who used to be an isolationist. He asks who we are rearming against? Why, Communists, you silly! Except the Russians. They’re nice Communists. Well, not actually nice, but . . . Look, can we wait to have this conversation until after the surrender of Japan?

“Five Star Addition” My occasional lunch companions were in fine form on this one. Apparently, one of Napoleon’s marshals was quite upset that he was one of five. Or was it twelve? Twenty? Anyway, Roosevelt hands out batons to King, Leahy, Nimitz, Halsey, Marshal, Arnold, Eisenhower, MacArthur. Only they are Americans, and so will get “stars” rather than “batons.” (Although the Admirals get their broad pennants.)


“Bull Run” The market is up, led by rail stocks, followed by Sears, Roebuck, Loose-Wiles, and the movie stocks. GM and U.S. Steel lagged, but other war stocks have recovered at the prospects of a longer war and delayed reconversion. The paper proposes that the basic problem is that there is too much “idle money,” and that there was no place for it to go but the market. Curiously, The Economist's New York correspondent was just telling us last week was that the problem with idle money was that it wouldn't go to market. 

“War and Peace” The 3200 lucky members of the National Association of Manufacturers who attended the convention in New York last week got to hear from General Somervell on the subject of producing more guns and ammunition. The cost of ending the war is up to $71 billion, he told them. Then, all the speeches written before the current it’s-not-a-crisis-who-said-anything-about-a-crisis-now-please-panic were given. The NAM thinks that reconversion would be quick and easy, and that employment in manufacturing would be up 30% over 1939. 
Retiring President Robert M. Gaylord is more on Our New York Correspondent's page. He points out that in 1929, 48 million people worked a little more than 48 hours a week to produce a national income of $83 million. “Now there are predictions that 60 million people working 40 hours a week can produce $200 billion a year.” That is, 4% more hours than worked in 1929 can produce 240% more national income. He thinks that this is wishful thinking, at best. 
Though Aero Digest will be looking at the national achievement in aircraft production below for a somewhat different perspective. Interesting facts from Who's Who: Mr. Gaylord was born in 1888, and was married in 1915 to a woman named Mildred Ingersoll. In 1917, he returned to his hometown of Rockford, Illinois to take up a vice-presidency of a firm coincidentally called "Ingersoll Machine Tools." He ascended to its presidency in 1928,  Director Herman Steinkraus thinks that the working man trusts his union leadership more than his employer, and announced the launching of a $1 million advertising campaign to sell “N.A.M.’s brand of free enterprise.” The new President, Ira Mosher, will lead this effort.

“Bottom of the Bowl” The Office of Price Administration has finally noticed the sugar shortage and cut industrial rations. Apparently, it is because too many ration coupons were issued against home canning last summer, and since best intentions, etc., there are too many sugar coupons outstanding. Also, the War Shipping Administration could not release as many ships as promised to bring in the Cuban crop, the beet sugar harvest is down over the 1942 crop, although still up from last year, and some 900,000 tons of the Cuban crop was diverted to industrial alcohol. If the industrial cuts do not bring reserves up to adequate levels, the OPA may invalidate or discount outstanding rations.

“Dropping the Dole” The Secretary of Agriculture has suggested changing the cotton subsidy in such a way as to discourage cotton growing in favour of other crops, especially since American growers have priced themselves out of the world market, especially with rayon competition coming on strong.

“Something for Nothing” Juan Trippe has swung a no-underwriter’s fee finance deal for a Pan-American stock issue with his friend, Floyd B. Odlum, of risk-taking Atlas Corporation, which is eager to invest idle cash in airlines at, apparently, any price.  Nor is Mr. Odium alone, as a consortium of New York banks have assembled an investment fund which is just looking for airlines to invest in.

“The Fitzgeralds Go West”  The Fitzgerald brothers of Chicago run busses and streetcars in 31 cities. This week, they added another, Los Angeles, where they bought the $50,000,000 Los Angeles Railway Corporation from the estate of Henry E. Huntington, of whom, in the past, ad nauseum, etc. Total purchase price was $12.5 million. Why the Fitzgeralds wojld want to be in a city where 41 streetcar companies have gone broke in 70 years is not clear, but the paper notes that trolley companies in Los Angelese have been sidelinesfor real estage promoters, but that Huntington put a stop to that by buying uplines and developing them into an efficient interurban system, then unloadedeverything but the LA lines onto the Southern Pacific, only to find that it didnot pay, at least until the war years, when everything paid, and the LAR wasable to buy everybody else out. The Fitzgeralds have made their money mainly by scrapping the rails and the antiquated trolley cars and replacing them with busses, and this will probably be their play in LA, although it must wait until war’s end.

Science, Medicine, Etc.

“Kudzu” Ladd Haystead’s favourite Asian leguminous vine gets its due in the paper. Channing Cope and Cason Callaway are the “chief kudzu-cultists.” Apparently, it can be made intoa kind of ketchup, and is a fine cover crop. The one drawback is that it is frost-sensitive, but the Department of Agriculture is trying to breed a hardier variety, so that it can be spread across the country.

Source, with recipe. No kudzu, though.

“N.G.” Continuing tests of the common cold vaccine are not going well.

“Pregnandiol and Pregnancy” Pregnandiol is a female hormone, whose presence can be detected by a very simple chemical test, says Dr. Henry S. Guterman of Chicago, leading to a very cheap pregnancy test that does not sacrifice a rabbit.

“Blood from a Beet” Dr. Arne Tiselius of Sweden discovers that dextran, extracted from beets, is a substitute for blood plasma, and thinks that it will eventually have wide use in civilian first-aid kits. Meanwhile, the Red Cross recently introduced a system whereby donors could sign bottles for front line use. The Russians, “who have long used this system, report that many a front-line romance” has ensued.

Press, Education, Literature, Culture

“Half Legs” The top spot in the New York World-Telegram’s column of columns has been taken away from Westbrook Pegler, now that he is with Hearst, and has gone to Tom Stokes, temporarily replacing Ernie Pyles. Stokes tries to write like Raymond Clapper.  He gets around a lot, hence is half brain, half. . . 

“The War Effort of N. Gubbins” Nathaniel Gubbins’ wife is an averdupois redhead, and he has quite a bit of money,perhaps because his column has done so well for so long. He writes a column for Beaverbrook’s Sunday Express. His recent column making fun of Some Statistics Relating. . was so funny that it made the paper snort milk out of its nose.

“3,000,000 Words a Week” Is how much news copy comes through SHAEF, which is why the work of the censor is sometimes fumbled. Sometimes, though, we learn important facts, such as that Typhoons have rockets, now.

College for Everybody?” Sure, why not, but only if the Federal Government pays for it without asking for control, which would surely lead to the colleges being used for “political campaign purposes,” as the paper supposes that the National Bureau of Youth Service does in the high schools. (Textbooks are censored!) American college presidents are very clear that only money with no strings attached can save democracy while educating all worthy youth irrespective of parental income.

“Comic Culture?” Americans now buy nearly a quarter-billion comic books a year. One out every five adult Americans buys comics, and comics outsell LIFE, Reader’s Digest and the Saturday Evening Post ten to one, combined, at Army post exchanges. Eleanor Roosevelt is alarmed, and the Journal of Educational Sociology offers panicky parents some solid reassurance to the effect that comics will not necessarily bring about the downfall of our civilisation.

“The People’s Choice” Yasuo Kuniyoshi and John Rogers Cox won this year’s Carnegie Institute painting exhibition prizes.

“The Big Revue” “The Seven Lively Arts” is not what it was cracked up to be, and the paper is disappointed with impresario Billy Rose. It did like Farewell My Lovely, although it got too much Raymond Chandler in the Raymond Chandler, thought that the Man in the Half-Moon Street was a nicely polished thriller.

“The Year in Books” How do book stores and publishers handle this year’s buying rush? By getting out of customers’ way! The wartime book-buying boom that began in 1942 accelerated this year. “Almost every published book was sold[.]” Escape sold; sex sold; serious books earned rewards for their merits, for example, the latest volume of Lee’s Lieutenants gave due credit to the men who helped him achieve his greatness, while George Santayana’s autobiography did well, and Thomas Mann’s Joseph the Provider, and Van Wyck Brook’s World of Washington Irving, and Lippman’s U.S. War Aims, and Catherine Drinker Bowen’s biography of Chief Justice Holmes, and Margaret Landon’s Annaand the King of Siam. However, not all the good books of 1944 got the public they deserved. Friedrich Hayek’s Road to Serfdom, Hans Kohn’s Idea of Nationalism, and Gunnar Myrdal’s An American Dilemma won high praise but relatively few readers. Poetry was neglected for some reason, except for Russell Davenport’s My Country, which did an astonishing (for poetry) 30,00 copies. Will Durant and the Beards pressed on. (Because they’re more like printing presses than authors at this point! She waits for her laugh. . ..) D. W. Brogan produced “one of the most discerning studies of American life ever written by a foreigner.” Take that, de Tocqueville, you ancient French also-ran! John Dos Passos’ State of the Nation was brilliant, and people will be reading Wendell Willkie’s last, An American Program for . . Wait. He’s dead now, isn’t he. Can we throw this thing out now, or do we have to leave it on the coffee table for a few more months to show respect? Of many biographies, the “most significant for today was H. Chang’s massive, official Chang Kaishek.” Novels of religion also did well, such as the aforementioned Mann, The Robe, Razor’s Edge, The Green Years, Time Must Have a Stop. I could go on (it’s a four page story), but my hand is getting cramped. Suffice it to say that bored Americans would buy pretty much anything, drawing the line only at poems and “finely crafted short stories.”

Miscellany, Milestones, etc.

Whistling co-eds in Laramie, Wyoming, explained that they weren’t come-hithering the men, just keeping them off the grass. Louis Druzinsky, St. Lous Symphony violinist, pretended to be a street busker, collecting $5.98 in his tin cup 25 minutes, and concluded that he ought to quit the symphony, because he made more money this way. Jackie Cooper, 21-year-old star turned Seaman,married June Home. WilliamNorman Guthrie, the ”unorthodox” former rector of Manhattan’s Episcopal Church of st. mark’s has died at 76. Captain Mildred McAfee, “brisk, curly-haired head of the WAVES, ardent feminist” supports WAVE backyard pool parties, such as one where “everyone had a good time despite the fact some of the men were old enough to be the girls’ fathers.” I had a somewhat different impression of the WAVES, but it just goes to show how wrong I can be. In unrelated news, the publisher invites all Time and LIFE readers to drop in for a visit while in New York. The paper will attend on Fortune readers in their hotel lobbies at their convenience.

Currently tied for Man of the Year are Franklin Roosevelt, General Eisenhower, and Wendell Willkie, It is just like Willkie to die to get to the top of the ballot, since it is an important step on his road to doing whatever it is he means to do, which will be wonderful, when it is done.

Flight, 21 December 1944


“All-Time Highs” Eighth Air Force sent 1600 Fortresses and Liberators, covered by 800 Mustangs and Thunderbolts, to raid Giessen, Hanau and Frankfurt this week.  16,800 airmen were involved in dropping 4000 tons of bombs. The paper points out that the RAF used 8050 aircrew to drop 5600 tons of bobms in their raids on Julich, Düren and Hamburg the other day, with 1150 bombers. That is, indeed, fuller technical efficiency!

“Plugging” The paper is very pleased with President Roosevelt for pointing out that Eighth Air Force has been using British spark plugs since 1943. The paper praises private enterprise, in the form of KLG, Lodge, Napier and Rolls-Royce in developing these superior spark plugs. Bristol presumably stood in the road crying, “Hold, enough!” Actually, given what one hears about Roy Fedden. . .

War in the Air

Communism continued to be a problem in Athens. Aircraft were involved in sorting them out. About 100 Superfortresses raided Nagoya from Saipan. They attacked at 2—4000 feet under low clouds. Swordfish and Albacores are flying from a new Coastal Command base in Belgium against German E-boats and such in the Hook of Holland. You can sink shipswithout rockets and cannons and torpedoes, but it is not half so satisfying. The paper is out late enough to notice that the Germans are counterattacking.

Here and There

The RAeS has determined that there has not been nearly enough talking about talking about civil aviation, and has scheduled a gab fest for January 23rd next.Rear Admiral R. H. Portal, younger brother to the Chief of the Air Staff, has been made Flag Officer, Naval Air Stations, Australia, replacing Clement Moody, who has been promoted Vice-Admiral and made Flag Officer (Air) East Indies Station. A new record of five hours and 52 minutes has been set for the Tasman Sea crossing by an Empire Air Service Liberator. It does not sound as though the competition is particularly brisk, because the last record was set in 1951 by a flying boat. General Arnold reports that 5000 Cyclone engines have now been made at the Dodge plant in Chicago for B-29s. 
Judy Garland, brought to you by antihistamines! Can't make this stuff up.

 Avro Lancaster Aries, the Empire Air Navigation School liaison plane, is back from its world tour. Fifteen U.S. Catalinas have been transferred to Brazil. The Parliamentary Secretary of the Minister of Aircraft Production tells the Commons that particulars of all American bombsights have been delivered to Britain, and it has not been found necessary to produce any in Britain. The paper notices that these are lines to read behind, and includes a picture of the Norden bombsight. 

At what point are we to be allowed to point out that, like all the Sperry gyroscopic stuff produced before the war, the original Norden was a piece of hopelessly unscientific junk? Although the old lost-motion link was ingenious. A device called the Encephalograph, designed to “photograph”brain waves, is shown by Dr. C. A. Beevers of the University of Edinburgh. “Jato,” we are told, is the American slang for jet-assisted takeoff., replacing the Air Ministry’s preferred “Combustion-reactionative ascending device.”  Because the story isn't silly enough already, we are told that the “fuel” is a military secret, it being important not to tell the Germans what we are shooting at them.

“The Fairey Barracuda: A Brief Review of Design and Arrangement” I could be wrong, but haven’t we already had this story? Though there is quite a nice cutaway drawing. Apparently, it is unjustly deemed an ugly duckling by the ill-informed, for no better reason than that it is so ugly that only its mother could love it, and if that mother were the paper, not even then, because all love must be saved for flying boats, and the Barracuda only flies near the water.

“Curtiss Double Bubble”  Curtiss Aircraft wants us to know that the C-46 is now available for civil uses as the CW-20E.

“Emergency Runways” Bomber Command has three special runways for use by damaged aircraft only. John Yoxall tells tales of some of the more extraordinary landings, and lives saved.

John W. Morison, “Civil Aircraft Engines: Importance of Economic Aspect: Engine Designer Controls 50 per cent of All-up Weight of Transatlantic Aircraft” Which is to say that over “Empire distances,” engine plus oil make up 42 to 43% of the all up weight, so that a more weight-efficient engine is better! Also important is fuel economy! The author has the impression, from what study he has made of the subject, that this has been getting better. Also important is time between overhauls! The underpowered (for military purposes) American radials have a low engine speed, hence high reliability. There are no comparable British engines to the 1200ish hp engines used on American transports, because of the war, but an engine that might be compared to them, because one has to writte something, is the Bristol Aquila that fell dead from the drawing room a few years ago. Dr. Pobjoy’s invertedV-8 is also an engine that might be used in this class, if this class were tobe used. I do not think that Mr. Morison’s heart is behind this effort to find British engines comparable to the American types. Perhaps his editor has directed him to find some?

F. C. Sheffield, “The German Rocket a Notable Technical Achievement of Insignificant Military Value” The title sounds like whistling by the graveyard. It is merited whistling in that the rockets are very expensive to produce in proportion to their effect, but they are having their effect. Still, this is a much better article than I have seen elsewhere, going into the specific impulse of various fuels, and internal details such as the powerful rotary turbine fuel pumps that pressurises the oxygen fed to the ethyl alcohol in the combustion tanks. The combustion chamber is ingeniously cooled, and is, like the turbine pumps, not an easy or cheap manufacture. Radio controls and two gyros are included. This makes a little more sense when we are told that the gyro stabiliser is activated after an interval by a timer, barometer, or radio actuator. Maximum velocity is 3000mph, comfortably under escape or even lunar velocity, if anyone is asking. (and your youngest is. Apparently, hydrogen flouride is the most efficient rocket fuel possible. I could have done without the description of what it does to human flesh.) Launch to impact is about 5 minutes, and terminal velocity is 3700 ft/second, while apogee is 60 miles. Larger rockets with longer ranges mught be achieved by launching from mountains, as, for example, from Norway, the author theorises. (Better than talk of atomic bombs!)  

An obituary of Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory follows.

Studies in Aircraft Recognition

This week we cover the Army Type 2 “Tojo,” and Navy 99 “Val.” The Nakajima might be confused with an FW190, as they are both tubby radials with elliptical wings. The Val isjust a plane.

J. S. Pole thinks that tomorrow’s light airplane should look like a car, in case that confuses the public into buying them instead. “Rocket” needs to read Mr. Sheffield’s article. Architect Winston Walker thinks that the building trades can learn from aircraft manufacture. J. R. Palmer, the engine designer, thinks that C. A. H. Pollitt, author on the civil aeroengine of the future, is an idiot. And he is not much more polite than that!

Time, 25 December 1944


“Greece: Second Week” Etc.

Poles and Latins are excitable. H. G. Wells is appalled by the Prime Minister and Greece. Sir Samuel Hoare has been recalled as Minister to Madrid, on account of not being able to find any Nazis, in spite of having a very good idea what they look like. (A diplomatic reception involving Carlton Hayes, Samuel Hoare and General Franco must have been quite something!) Labour had a conference, where it agreed to do Labourish things if there were an election, and they won. Increasing strains in U.S.-British relations are detected in Churchill’s recent statement on the lack of American statements on the Russian statement on Poland. All are agreed that the statesmanlike thing the Administration should do is to state that they don’t want Polish votes, because Polish-Americans are icky. The paper reminds us of the holiday by printing the lyrics of “Adeste Fideles.”

“The First Class” The paper attends the first elementary class in French at a school in Strasbourg. Instead of mandatory German, mandatory French!

“Adolf –Where Are You” It is supposed that Hitler’s disappearance from public life might be some kind of informal house arrest so that he can no longer interfere with the higher direction of the war.

“Unexpected Arrests” After several provocations, including an attempted mob-style  assassination  of “Police Officer Lombilla, torture expert of the ‘Seccion Especial,’ the Argentinian authorities arrested various suspected communists ahead of the national election, including Antonio Santamarina, the Cominterm’s most deadly and diabolical double agent.

“Mute Survivors” Of “nearly” 70 French Canadians parachuted into France on secret service in the months before D-Day, nine have returned to Canada, honourably discharged, this month, while six others remain in service. Although no more can now be said, the rest are not known to be alive.

“Explosion” The Germans counterattack in the Ardennes evidently came at almost the last minute before the paper went to press, so that while I have a fair idea of the outcome --I could hardly have committed it all to paper until the outcome was clear, since my heart spent a well-ruined Christmas in my mouth waiting on it-- , the paper does not. That makes the paper’s notion of what is happening almost quaint, in a historical way. It begins its account with “General Hodges of the First Army” striking the match. That is, as the story begins to be typed, the Germans are counterattacking his attack at Monschau, trying to wipe out the American bridgehead on the Roer. Only in the second paragraph does Field Marshal von Rundstedt’s Order of the Day appear, as a grandiloquent introduction of a pressure-relieving counterattack. The third paragraph finally quotes the Order, and notes various signs of a well-prepared attack, including a massive artillery barrage and paratroopers landing behind Allied lines. (In spite of bad weather that grounds Allied planes!) “Buzz-bombs, rockets, and a new, undescribed v-weapon came over the lines.” In the fourth paragraph, the weather clears, and the German Air Force shows a “burst of offensive strength.” In the fifth, the Germans advance five miles into Belgium, and by the seventh, Bradley and Hodges have been surprised and caught off-balance, and further blows are expected before the “feverish explosion of enemy strength petered out,” with rising U.S. casualties “predicted.” Nonetheless, the paper hopes, the end result will be to hasten Allied victory in the West.

“Murder” On Sunday, a column of 15 to 20 Nazi Tiger tanks, spearheading the new German drive, cut off “a U.S. First Army unit,” overran it, took at least 143 prisoners, and massacred them, although a score survived to reach Allied positions and report the atrocity, unusual for German troops, who have generally be correct in their observation of the rules of war against U.S. and British fighting men.

“Mary Wedges” The Germans are not attacking on Devers’ front, but the advance is not going quickly.

“Triple-Edged Crisis” Budapest is two-thirds surrounded by the “plodding, artillery-heavy Red Army.” “Palestine-born, Hebrew speaking SS Obergruppenführer Karl Eichman” commands the city’s defenders. The paper really does not like him, suggesting that he grew rich from bribes from wealthy  Jews. It is suggested that General Guderian is sacrificing Budapest to hold Vienna.

“What it Means” The paper is so taken with the story about the Germans calling up the Volkssturm in the same week that the Home Guard was stood down that it repeats it in this number. Issued with “rfiles, carbines, tommy guns, automatic pistols, hand grenades and a simple antitank rifle called the Panzerfaust (“tank fist”), the oldsters train in their spare time, on Sundays and in the evenings, while the youngsters get intensive four-day courses in special camps.” A German Women’s Army is also announced, although it will not consist of “un-German amazons and everything will be done to prevent female nature and habits from being harmed.” Pool parties, perhaps?

“Bob Hopes” This is apparently a contraction of “Bob down and hope for the best,” which is the only way to cope with the new V-bombs, which have killed 716 civilians and injured 1,511. This week marked the 31st straight night of V-2 bombings. It is suggested that V-2s are aimed by “bouncing them” from side to side in a “radio cage” set up by wave transmitters spaced in a two-mile circle around the launching site.” This, it is suggested, would make it “practically impossible to intercept.”
A missile falling from the sky at 4000mph is impossible to intercept, period. The radio found in some V-2s is seen as a radio-controlled, automatic steering device, here? I see an analogy with “beam riding.”but unless they can find a parabolic beam....
“March and Countermarch” The Japanese are pulling back in China because they  have accomplished all of their objectives. Or, the paper says, because they have run out of supplies. “Optimists” think that the Japanese will not attack again, while “pessimists” expect that they will. Father points out that optimists and pessimists are equally silly. The Japanese have been spending the last seven years proving that they could hardly care less about Chungking. The offensive was probably inspired by the B-29 bombing, and now that the bombers are coming from the Marianas, and perhaps soon Luzon, Chiang and his lot are safe from anything except the fact that new dynasties begin in the north and overrun the south. 

“Bold Stroke” MacArthur’s idea of a bold stroke is to land on Mindoro and establish air fields there to dominate the South China Sea and cover a landing in Luzon. Fighting meanwhile continues on Leyte. Some Japanese surrender, others do not. Another speaks English. Japanese air raids are fierce.

“Search for Intimacy” It turns out that the 1500 miles from Saipan to Tokyo is a long way, even for B-29s. Careful preparation and a cut-down bomb load is needed. An amusing story about Lieutenant Robert Anderson’s crew mistakenly bombing a piano factory is told..

“Spare Parts” The Army  has shifted 80,000 men from the Air Force and the Services of Supply to the Ground Forces to replenish the replacement pool and allow longer attachments to units for casual replacements.

“Marauder to Mars” Those members of Merrill’s Marauders who aren’t wrapped in blankets and nursing gin and tonics Stateside have been formed into a new unit called the Mars Task Force and have been attached to General Lee Tao’s 22nd Division, which is pressing forward to capture more of north Burma, while the British involve some or another group of armies in a sideshow directed at the secondary objectives of Mandalay and Rangoon.

“Smuggling over the Hump” I am shocked, just shocked, to hear that such things are happening. Particularly surprising is the involvement of “miscellaneous U.S. and British technical and business representatives.” “Five hundred cartons of cigarettes were discovered under the floorboards of one plane. Another that crashed in the Burma jungle carried 35,000 rupees worth ($10,631) of drugs and gold.” 

I... never mind. I am not even going to defend the Casablanca reference. Humphrey Bogart is dreamy, if you do not mind hearing your daughter-in-law say it.

“Colonel Convicted” Colonel Canella, heard from previously in May, was convicted this week.

“Human Pickup” The story about routine AAF pickups via harnesses and tailhooks appears again. I guess I have to concede that the Air Force really is experimenting with this. I just cannot imagine who thinks that it is a good idea! I absolutely refuse to believe the bit about experimenters looking to use “high performance aircraft” next. That has got to be someone pulling the paper’s leg. Though perhaps not at above 100mph.

“Little Pearl” Guam is 4000 miles closer to the action than Hawaii, which is probably why an Australian radio station reports rumours that Chester is moving his headquarters there in January. Chester is moving his headquarters west for a while, of course, but not to Guam, and not because Guam is larger than one might think.

“Black Hero” A “coal-black” Fijian scout attached to American troops fighting on Bougainville has been awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for getting himself killed without a thought for the girl he left behind him. Americans are impressed that someone so dark could be brave. but he is Fijian noncombatant, so there's that.

“Restoration Period” Three thousand American servicemen, seconded to emergency construction  in London, began work this week.


“A Bouquet for Madam Secretary” Frances Perkin is out as Secretary of Labour. A columnist suggests that she has been the best Labour Secretary, and that the long campaign against her is probably due to her being a woman. I shall move on without further comment, the daughter-in-law lied glibly.

“Christmas, 1944” It’s Christmas! There’s a war on! The ships of the Navy will have Christmas trees flown west from Pearl Harbour, and Chester is to host a Seabee Santa Claus before flying west with a sack of coal.

“The Nisei Go Back” The Supreme Court has released Japanese-Americans from detention. Anti-Japanese demonstrations and episodes followed, and Secretary Harold Ickes had to promise that there would be no hasty return. The paper blames the Hearstpress for its “anti-Japanese screams.”

“And Then There Were None” The production quota of 330 billion cigarettes was reached in America last year. This was enough for 14 cigarettes per day per civilian, 23 per day for serviceman. Nevertheless, a huge shortage has emerged. Fingers are pointed at the armed services. Nervous, trembling, irritated, but not yellow-stained fingers.

“Guadeloupe” Lupe Velez, the Mexican spitfire, committed suicide last week, because Latins are excitable.

“Ordeal of a Bard” Archibald MacLeish, Librarian of Congress and one of Stettinus’ new assistants, was grilled in his nomination hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to be cross-examined by Bennett Champ Clark on charges of being liberal while librarianising. Or poetasting, but it turns out that I can’t neologise the last. Pooh! (And all that effort wasted when I render it into characters. I was as surprised as you probably will be that there are characters to render “neologise,” though “Poetast” is no surprise Of course some fine gentlemanof Peking found a way to translate that out of English.


“Where are the Tires?” The Army has hiked its quota from 16.4 million to 26.8 million, rsulting in the civilian sector’s quota being cut to 50% under the original bare minimum. Some 25 to a 100 million in new tire plants are now proposed, but they cannot be in production for another nine months. We may need a new war to use up all of the ammunition, fighters, bombers,jet engines and new tyres we shall have by next Fall, at this rate.

“The Farmer Takes a Town” The Fruit Growers Supply Co. of Los Angeles celebrated the 100th anniversary of the cooperative movement by buying the entire town of Westwood, California at a down payment of $4 million, and the 100,000 acres of timber rights that went with it, in order to supply packing cases for their citrus fruits. Private business fears that the co-op movement is going into timber next, and the Chicago National Tax Equality Association (formerly the League to Protect Free Enterprise) is pushing for changes in tax laws.
Image by Zeke Lunder

“The Shrink in Wool” The Army has pushed up its demand for wool, after severely underestimating its requirements –a familiar story, and good news for us sheep folk, although a drop in the bucket to our needs, I fear.

Mungs for Profit” In a story that makes me wonder if Ladd Haystead ever moonlights for the weekly, we are told that Oklahoma farmers are making a killing on mung beans, which are a staple of “chop suey” houses. In other words, these are the beans in bean sprouts, of which 80,000 acres are now planted in Oklahoma in a summer crop. (Though if they were to vanish from the world, I would miss red bean paste far more. Even if my husband call is "buggy whip paste," because, according to him, chocolate and bean paste are as to automobiles and buggys.) In other agricultural news, the new Secretary of Agriculture is talking down American prices, which are too high relative to Canadian and Argentine prices.

Science, Medicine, Education

“Male and Female” Metropolitan Life reports that American men are growing taller, and that American-born women are having more children than immigrant women, with an average birth rate of 50.7 per thousand women in 1940, compared with 49.5 per thousand for foreign—born American women.

“Automatic Flying Machine” Last week in St. Louis, someone or other previewed the postwar civilian aircraft, which can be controlled by a single steering wheel, and was even flown by a model in the demonstration. (Because girls are silly!) It did not, however, have an autopilot, and that brings the paper to Rear Admiral DeWitt C. Ramsay, chief of the Navy’s Bureau of Aeronautics, who unveiled the Navy’s idea of a “target aircraft” for the postwar civilian market. It will have a two-axis Gyroscopic Autopilot, and a radio landing system based on a full glide path, plus other automatic gear, such as a gyro flux gate compass, and an automatic control for the supercharger, plus electronic devices to open and close engine cowl flaps. “The Flying Fortress now has 323 instruments, of which five of the most important are automatic, gyro-operated controls. Does all this add up to postwar pilotless cargo planes?” Probably not. There will be a need for a pilot for the foreseeable future to occasionally intervene to gently correct machine mistakes.
 I am not quite sure what to make of this story. I suppose that Admiral Ramsay thought that explaining how gyroscopes actually work was too much heavy lifting for the press. (James says that as an aviator, he should understand how precession works. On the other hand, he is a pretty typical naval aviator, defined as someone who can look at a plane landing on a carrier deck and think that that is a fine idea. But James perhaps has some bruises from encounters with the man over Victorious.) Admiral Ramsay must be a very busy man, and I suppose that it only makes sense that the Navy and Army both have bureaus of aeronautics. Think of what efficiencies could be achieved if the Marines and Coast Guard had Bureaus, too!

“DDT Paint” The wonder insecticide, second only to penicillin as the biggest science news of 1944 (James helpfully points me to a missed mention of “the atomic bomb” in an editorial in the October 1944 number of Aviation when I mention this, make of that what you will) is now being incorporated in a paint. Spraying it on the walls of sharecroppers’ shacks has resulted in a 94% reduction in mosquitoes in the homes at a cost of 74 cents per shack, plus labour. A nationwide spraying programme will begin soon, to guard against infection by homecoming malarial servicemen. New shacks are apparently out of the question.

“Eve’s Hair” Short of thread fine enough to “stitch severed nerves together,” Lieutenant William Such, who used to repair watches for a living, hit on the idea of using his wife’s hairs, preserved in a locket, to thread needles for operations on four men with head wounds. Sanitary!

“Uncle Andrew and Uncle Sam” The Federal Government overtook the Carnegie Foundation as the largest supporter of American colleges and universities this year, footing almost half the bill for US higher education.

“Facts and Fancies” The National Education Association reported that 4% of Americans have never gone to school; 13% have not completed fourth grade; 56% have an eighth grade education or less; 75% have not finished high school, and that one third of all American adults hope to get more schooling after the war, with 50% preferring professional and cultural studies, only 34% vocational training.

Literature, Culture, Etc

The paper liked National Velvet, somewhat. The cast, especially young Elizabeth Taylor in the lead role, are good, but thought that the horse racing was unrealistic. Perhaps less time at the track might help the paper see things through a girl’s eyes. The paper also took Winged Victory and Jammin’ the Blues in stride.

Paper has run out on editions of Bob Hope’s I Never Left Home, Lillian Smith’s Strange Fruit, and Van Wyck Brook’s World of Washington Irving, as a result of its selection by the Book of the Month Club. Seeing the action, the University of Oklahoma Press brings out John Francis McDermott’s Western Journals of Washington Irving. The paper is awestruck by Irving’s picture of this land of “silent, primeval forest sleeping in sunshine” along the Ohio, and the bending orchards and flowering and fragrant prairies around St. Louis. Also in the news in the week of National Velvet is a re-issue of Marguerite Farlee Bayliss’s The Bolinvars,  the horsiest novel that ever horsed, and Frank O’Connor’s Irishiest irish novel that ever… Actually, it’s a short story collection, and I shouldn’t be repeating my jokes as though they were funny the first time.

Miscellany, Milestones, Etc

Babies  (they are on my mind right now) were had by Rita Hayworth (Orson Welles), Gypsy Rose Lee (Alexander Kirkland), Pfc Richard Julius Herman Krebs (Abigail Harris Krebbs), Grover Cleveland Bergdoll (Berta Frank Bergdoll). Earnest Hooton says that smoking is up because girls and boys are separated by the war. Although he expresses it in more colourful ways. Fred Allen is hilarious.

Flight, 28 December 1944


“Tails Well Up” This number is the annual review of technical developments. It is also a chance to talk about the resurgence of the German air force in Rundstedt’s late offensive.

“Steady Progress” We have had steady progress, up to about June, as developments since then are still censored, in case the Germans learn about jets or rockets. Through June, the paper is pleased to see the Rolls-Royce Griffon, Firefly and the Mosquito, including the one with the 4000lb bomb and the one with the 57mm cannon, because boys and toys.

‘March in December” The paper thinks that the Germans chose to attack in December because they knew that the weather would neutralise our air superiority. The “March” reference is to the Ludendorff offensive back in 1918. This is the last gasp German offensive, it was hoped, though I feel mean to be harping on this, as the paper turned out to be right, obviously!

War in the Air

The analogy with the Ludendorff Offensive is extended, much discussion of the particulars of the bad weather. Fine winter days may be bad for flying because of low fog, for example. Still, it is fine weather, finally, at the end of the attack, and the Germans have been suffering heavily. Silesia is a place in Germany with coal mines and such. We are bombing it, and the Russians are overrunning it, which may hurt the Germans even more than bombing. The Communists in Athens do not like the RAF, because it is bombing them, which sounds like an excellent way to do street fighting with no possible bad consequences. (Time has an interesting bit about how both sides use children as runners and go-betweens, because snipers will not shoot at children. Bombs are not nearly so considerate.) Anyway, an RAF headquarters outside of Athens was overrun by an ELAS column the other night.

“Light Night Striking Force” The LNSF is run by the Pathfinder Force, and has a pressurised cabin version. As usual, a pressure blower is run off the engines and coupled with a relief valve. Apertures are sealed, and an impractical and hard-to-use emergency release theoretically allows for bail out at elevation.

Here and There

Air Vice Marshal Bennett denied reports in Flight (from “semi-official sources”) that he was leaving the air force. Father Christmas has been seen at RAF stations around Britain this week. Victory Aircraft of Toronto rolled out its first York, while 23,391 aircraft were declared surplus by the US Army and Navy.

Major F. A. de V. Robertson, V. D., “Twelve Months of the Air War” Major Robertson brings Rip Van Winkle up to date.

“High Lights of Technical Developments in the Air-Year 1944” Jet-propulsion; JATO; the Albemarle, Baracuda, Firefly, Spitfire XI, XII, XIV, Rolls Royce Griffon, Hamilcar glider, B-29 (described here as having a “Davis-type wing” due to its high aspect ration),  Budd Conestoga all stainless-steel cargo plane, Hawker Tempest, P-63, Sperry Attitude Gyro, Beaufighter with rockets, Mosquito XVII with very large gun, gyro gun sight, radar. Radar was not actually invented this year, of course, but there are many kinds of radar devices that do all sorts of things, and if we could tell you about them, well, even then we proably wouldn’t, because it would take maths and stuff.

John W. Morrison, “Civil Aircraft Engines, II” Morrison continues to argue with Squadron Leader Potts, so never think that all letters to the editor are ignored. Morrison does not understand why the York uses a Merlin, when air-cooled radials are better for civilian power plants than liquid-cooled inlines, but it is not because the Bristol Hercules is not suitable for civilian use. Except that it is a sleeve valve, and is unsuitable, since the sleeve ring is made of very hard metal, and has to be reground every time the engine timing is overhauled, instead of replacing the poppet valves, or even simply shimmying them. 

(Thanks to your youngest for the gory details, by the way, as he now deems replacing his own valves so routine that he has been in the midst of the job for most of the holiday. It is apparently a laborious, days-long process in which a tarpaulin must be kept endlessly spread across the side lawn. Though this may be some adroit strategy to have a proper garage down here. I have resisted, since the one up at Arcadia will be back in commission just as soon as we redo the roof. The problem is that at the rate that work is going, the old pile really may fall down first.)

Back to Morrison: the Merlin must be on the York for good reasons, and the Griffon may perhaps follow, since this makes just as much sense, and it is a very compact installation. The improved DC-4s which will enter service in the United States in the next few months will have the two-row, 18-cylinder Pratt and Whitney Double-Wasp of c. 2000hop. In the distant future we may see a civilian Sabre (fat chance!), and the new double-Vee Alison 24-cylinder, forthcoming as soon as Allison loses its senses. The DC-7 will be the first civilian airliner with 3000hp engines. It is predicted to have 400mph at 40,000ft on the strength of exhaust turbos. A Consdolidated Vultee monster which will have all that and 400 passengers, too, will need even more than 3000hp per engine, and, due to wing loadings imposed by such engines, will proably be more than 300,000lb gross weight. A suitable engine might be a 28 cylinder multibank radial such as areputed BMW plant for a proposed twin-engined bomber and an actual Gnome-et-Rhone, which was surely a pure testbed machine, since it would need a crankshaft more than a yard long, proposed to have eight sections joined together by four Maneton and three Hirth joints. Or perhaps we can revert to a single-piece crankshaft using the “dynafocal” mountings experimented with on the Douglas B-19…

If all of this sounds like gibberish to you, it certainly does to me! I wish that I had Uncle George to explain this to me, as it sounds like old-fashioned engineering from the quadruple expansion days! At some point late in the article, Morrison refers to the “last and most complex” stage of radial engine development, and to the limits of engine life and speed, at which point you might think that a glimmer of reality might appear, but he then he goes on to describe a “hypothetical fighter” with two liquid-cooled 2500 to 3000hp engines recessed into the wing with 8ft extension shafts to allow a pusher configuration, because despite no pusher ever succeeding, ever, the next one will be the charm. It might have 550mph from ground level to 55,000ft, while a civilian passenger airliner with the same installation might carry 40 passengers at 500mph.

There is that brimming enthusiasm of youth to this article, but so misdirected to machines out of the 1890s. Young men today, the matron wrote, censoriously, ought to be talking about landing men on the Moon, not yard-long crankshafts.

Civil Aviation News

Parliament, various city councils, some railways, and Canada’s leading Piper Cub distributor are talking about talking about civil aviation. Pan American has launched a twice-monthly service between Miami and Leopoldville in the Belgian Congo, While South African Airlines is going to have a weekly service between Johannesburg and Salisbury, capital of Southern Rhodesia. The former Director of Air France has been convicted of .. . . collaboration! Fanny! Fetch my smelling salts. I feel a flush coming on! (In all seriousness, I have had to remind Judith several times that Fanny has been taken on as a nanny, not a maidservant. But to be fair, I am in .. . but say no more.)

Studies in Aircraft Recognition

We find time for the Mitsubishi Shintei, or Dinah II, which is somewhat like the Mosquito, and the Nakajima Oscar, which looks like various planes of ten years ago, or, in other words, positively ancient with its great NACA cowl, one step ahead of a Townend. As well to remember that it was still better than the Buffalos and clapped-out Hurricanes which it fought in Malaya and Burma.


“Inquirer” thinks that now would be a fine time to have another argument about whether the Air Force or the Navy should run the Fleet Air Arm. Russell Greenfell (Captain, RN.), agrees, but, to be sporting, wants to argue the opposite side. As there is not nearly enough talking about whether to open eggs from the big end or the little, MacViator fires a volley on one side or another of the great “Rails Versus (Of? By? With? For?) Civil Aviation” debate. And R. E. C. I. Ekanayaka of Ceylon gives another version of a jet efficiency equation. It omits a term for the reduction of mass due to fuel consumption in order to avoid the dreaded calculus, but is otherwise sound.

And now for the monthlies, or at least Aero Digest. I am not sure that the paper has the editorial content to support two issues a month any more. At least, not at their current length.
Aero Digest, 1 December 1944
This biweekly number leads off with –contract termination for surplus property disposal, the administrative details of. A guest editorial on “The Outlook in Aviation Finance” is the only thing imaginable that could drive excitement to a still higher pitch. Joseph P. Ripley, a 1912 Engineering graduate of Cornell, for many years at the National City Bank, and since then at Harriman Ripley, has long been on the board of United Air Lines and Cramp Shipbuilding. He points out that the capitalisation of the aircraft manufacturing firms is still in proportion to their prewar activities, and a tenfold reduction in business will have little impact on their demand for capital in the future, which will depend on the size of the postwar market. As to the size of this, that would be predicting the future, which was not on the curriculum of the Cornell School of Engineering in 1912. Suffice it to say that there are indications that stocks will be  offered. Honestly. Time does better than this simply by reporting on what is actually happening.

“The Industry’s Production Record in World War II” The industry made many aircraft at many factories, and employed many people –far more than actually needed, though not all at one time. Almost half of all aircraft, engine and propeller plant workers quit in 1944! Southern California, which had 32,000 airframe workers in 1940, went to 280,000 in 1944, 31% of the national total. Engine and propeller manufacture was concentrated in the East, however, engines moving from New Jersey and Connecticut to Michigan as the automobile industry got into the act, while Ohio dominated propellers. Average wages rose from 69 cents an hour in January of 1941 to $1/16 in August of 1944, an average weekly earnings from $27.85 to $54.15,  a more useful comparison with all of the overtime. Meanwhile, in manufacturing generally, the range was 66 to 1.02, or 24.56 to 45.85. As Uncle George would be sure to point out, that is a $5000 house in two years. We will see the other side of it below.

George Twining, “Lofting’s Role in Aircraft Production” So very, very important.
Designing Aircraft in America in 1944. Alert Correlli Barnett!

Editorial “4 Times 4 Equals…” Satan!  Beelzebub! Old Nick! Communism! Not actually in the Bible, but close enough. So, anyway, Roosevelt was reelected, and the world didn’t end. It probably will soon, though, especially if we don't get a single, unified Department of Defence.

Washington In-Formation

The President’s re-election was probably a popular mandate, or something like it. Except in areas where the paper is concerned. There, it was a repudiation. Somehow. A new Labour Secretary is called for, one who will yell and yell and yell at the unions until they realise their duty as Americans.

P. B. Crouse, “Production Performance Comparisons” Establishes that the labour cost per lb of airframe  is nearly 4.5 times greater for the first 100 planes as for the 5000th. This is pretty amazing as an example of how people learn by doing things, but the author’s point is that we should go easier on plants producing new types in our comparisons. He offers a statistical method showing how much work an aircraft lb “should” require depending on its place in the production series.

Warren Camplin's smile doesn't show his teeth. Any guesses what his Thirties were like? There are many Warren Camplins on social media today, though.

“The A-26 “Invader” Goes to War” The A-26 exists more. It is very pretty, very modern.

“The ‘Liberator’ B-24J,” continued.

C. StewartBrandt, “Incipient Vapor Lock in Fuel Systems –Cause and Means of its Elimination” “With automatic lean, the engine was operating very close to the optimum economy mixture condition, and very little, if any, fuel was eing used to cool the engine. Hence, the carburetor was called upon to accomplish its most effective metering to prevent detonation. But the air coming out of solution upset the characteristics to such an extent that he mixture was being supplied to the engine was alternately heavy and light. This slugging of the fuel-air ratios would tend to cause the engine to surge. (In fact, it is quite possible that the engine could have been operating in the detonation range in synchronisation with the mixture slugging.” Which is at least vaguely interesting to me in that it describes a running malfunction in a longrange cruise mode that would lead to excessive fuel consumption, and planes flying from San Francisco to Pearl Harbor –or even Guam—to be lost at sea. The methods incude de-aerating and refrigeration, so fuel handling is clearly important. Given the piles of jerricans at forward fields in France, one has to wonder how much confidence frontline pilots can have in their engines…

B. F. Raber and F. W. Hutchinson, “Efficiency of Panel-Type Systems in Airplane Cabin Heating” The question is how to achieve “comfort” without “raising cabin temperature.”

“Robombs for Wright Field” The difficulty is the gyro control unit, which has been subcontracted to Jack & Heintz. Well, that’s a problem solved, then! Though I choose to be pleased to know that Honeywell, Sperry and GE’s time are not being wasted.

S. J. Szabo, Chief Engineer, American Stove, “The Mass Production of P-47 Cowlings at American Stove” so this is why I cannot get a stove for the coach house, and have to eat down here! Well, I suppose that I could grin and bear it and use the wood stove. . .

T. E. Mecham, “Streamlined Machine Shop Control” Look! A figure of speech can be an article now! They  use a Kardex 

and a “Ditto” duplicator 

Professor Ralph T. Northrup, “Value of Production Illustration” It’s valuable!

C. R. Engelbry, Project Weight Engineer, Lockheed Aircraft, “Weight Allotments and Control” If you do nodt properly control wing weight allotments, the wing will flex, and the flaps won’t work.

Jack Andresen, “True Airspeed Indicator” A very elaborate device corrects the airspeed indicator for weather and altitude. It’s got a gyro, of course. No word on how the gyro is corrected.

Robert Taylor, Engineering Specialist, State College of Washington, “X-Ray Inspection by Flouroscope” You need photographic inspection with people because it is rude to just blast them with x-rays for hours at a time, but there’s no reason not to use  a fluoroscope for parts inspection instead.

“Develop New Printing Technique for Tooling Layouts” There is no reason to have to know how a “verb” works before you get a job at a newspaper. The title is a little obscure, but this is about how laying a white sheet across your whole lofting loft will allow you to draw the parts you’re about to loft, or something like that.

Digest of the News

Much talking about talking about civil aviation at Chicago! 232,403 planes produced since 1940, of which 74,500 are in use. ATC flies 3 million lbs a month across the Atlantic in 1200 trips. A new order for 1000 B-29s has been placed with Boeing. GM has received an order for jet engines, on top of the 60,000 Allison V-1740s so far produced in this war. Ryan Aeronauticall gets a $58 million fighter contract. October airplane output is 7,429, and is low due to the “superbomber” lag, due mainly to labour shortages. National Airlines buys $3.5 million of DC-4s. Westinghouse is organisaing an in-house school for training employees at Pittsburgh. Westinghouse has had $612 million in sales in the last twelve months (electrical engineering!), its strangest special order being an 18,000hp engine for the new Boeing wind tunnel.

Aero Digest, 15 December 1944
Airports! Not all as demented as this one.

Guest Editorial
James F. Lincoln, President, Lincoln Electric, “Incentive Programs Spur Business Progress” Seriously? Our time is valuable, you know. Pay workers more, and you get more. This is not calculus!

“NATS –The Navy’s Own Airline” It exists.


“It’s No Time to Quit” We should keep on fighting the war until it’s actually over. Also, the New Deal is, like socialism, bad.

Washingon In-Formation

Washington is excited about war production lags again, and contemplating an incentives programme.

Aviation Engineering

Sales, helicopters, sending all your money to Embry-Riddle, “Terminals for Air Leviathans,””’Aluminum Grommet Remover,” More about the DC-7 and the Stratocruiser, a “DF approach control computer” proposed for use at New York’s airport. Plus many, many wartime production shortcuts.

Digest of the News

Chicago! B-29s attack Tokyo! The Firefly has neat folding wings! V-2 is a ballistic rocket! Two airlines are ordering Constellations. More about the decision to order newfighters from Ryan Aeronautical, its first fighter, or, in fact,contract of this complexity. Thirty Chinese engineers are to be trained in the best way to not leave America at Lycoming. 



*Ten years after attacking across the Wessen Canal, George Silk took this, more famous, picture.

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