Saturday, March 21, 2015

Postblogging Technology, February 1945, I: Steel Homes and Easy Flying

Group Captain R_C_., RCAFVR, DSO, DFC (Bar),
Ad Astral House,
London, U.K.

Dear Sir:

I understand that this letter is to reach you in London, where you are consulting about moving your unit to Sydney, and investigating Sir Eric's murder. I include a report from Uncle George on the subject of the doings of the London relatives and some encounters he had at the Admiralty in 1939. I confess that it was pure annoyance that led me to finger the Soongs. I was as surprised as you were to find that Du's axmen were in London. Now I wonder if I have the instincts of my father's daughter. 

But enough of such ugly matters --even if I return to the Spokane lands a few times below. You will be glad to know that your son will be taking some instrumentation courses, as planned. He will graduate in June and ship out for --wherever the Fleet is by that time, and I can't tell anyone who can't read a map and figure out what large island is right between Luzon and Japan, and within easy air range of Kyushu.) Miss V_. C_. has seen Lieutenant A_ several times. In an attempt to impress her, he reports that he has been called in to help the FBI along the docks. Apparently, the Army was in town looking for communists, made a hash of things, by trying to pick up foreign sailor girls, and in the meantime started enough actual investigations that the FBI had to step in. With bits involving boats, the FBI asked for some Navy men, and here he is. 

It's a measure of the boy's complete naivete that he not only fingers the subjects of the surveillance (the Russians, obviously), but gives away the real story, which is that the Army's "handpicked" men were cruising the docks. (I'm not sure if Miss V_C._ has picked up that the "agents" probably weren't interested in female sailors and doesn't want to talk about it with an old woman of 26 years, or that there are limits to her precocity. I rather hope the last, frankly. She's too young to trouble herself with such things.)  

Another interesting tidbit is the news that what takes him to Stanford, apart from buttering up the Engineer, is work at a lab there on some kind of infrared eye "motion detector" that picks up interference beats. Not really seeing the relevance, I asked James, who speculates that if it were sensitive enough, you could aim it at a wall and pick up sounds through the thermocouple detector. He is skeptical that it is actually practical, but an electronic eavesdropper of that kind would obviate the need to plant microphones.

Fat Chow was seen off with teary embraces from Miss v. Q. on the train to Portland, from whence he will hopefully follow the smugglers' route from Vladivostok to Nagasaki. It really does sound like the maddest thing he's done yet, and all for the sake of extracting the last few Hawaii dollars from our Satsuma friends. I am sure that the Earl has his reasons, though.

Miss v. Q. tries not to show her fears. She will definitely be teaching German at Berkeley starting next Fall, on the strength of Professor K_.'s kind recommendation, and in the mean time is hosting some private classes. (Those who have read the book are thrilled at the history of the flat!) Mrs. Wong, and how strange that is to say, is getting ready for the birth, and has found work keeping books for a local restaurant. There is now talk that the Navy might send Tommy for a doctorate after the war. They really must be hard up for men if they are willing to invest that much in a Chinese boy! 


PS I wrote the family letter part of this last, so things that are on my mind are still on my mind. I won't say anything more here than that I spent much of the newsletter more-or-less engaged with The Economist, which has come out in the last two weeks against Lord Swinton's plans for rehousing Britain. I confess to finding its arguments more than ordinarily disagreeable --I'm not entirely sure why. Because I am more on the side of Swinton's estimate of the likely future need for new home construction in Britain? Because I want to defend the economic value of homebuilding in America? Because I sense self-interest behind The Economist's position? I am sure that you are thinking that it is because my mind has turned to thoughts of nesting, as a woman's mind is wont to do in my condition. Am I brooding? I'm not sure. 

I suppose that what I am saying is that as soon as I understand my own mind. Or until these thoughts are driven away by the blessed event.

Flight, 1 February 1945


“Ledo Road” Everyone should be proud of opening up the Ledo Road, but this does not mean that the Hump air cargo route can be wound down, because the Ledo Road is useless. 

“The Widening Base” More people should talk about talking about civil aviation! And possibly actually do civil aviation, although there is not nearly so much room for that, and so the base must be widened by letting shipping, rail and whatever other sorts of firms as might be interested talk about talking, as well. 

 "From This Moment Henceforth" The Minister for Civil Aviation is in charge of talking about talking about civil aviation, but the Secretary of State for Air can do so, too. So can the Director of the Department of Civil Aviation. And since it is Sir Stafford Cripps saying so, he can, too! Oh, and Minister of Aircraft Production. And the Commonwealth countries. And what about Africa?

I don't understand why everyone can't talk about talking about civil aviation.

As the Seattle Times tells us, there's a place for everyone in the cabin of the Stratocruiser.

War in the Air 

The Germans are still retreating from the Ardennes, and aircraft are still involved. Clark Airfield is secured. It is very cold in England right now, so that aircraft are less involved. The Russians have air ascendancy in the East, but a German counterattack seems to be developing. A big push for Mandalay in Burma is imminent. 

Here And There 

Air Vice-Marshal R. Mansell, a member of the British Commission in America, has died in Washington after a heart attack. He was Controller of the Technical Services.

 Australian-made De Havilland Mosquitoes are in action against the Japanese. An exhibition of British air power photographs opened in Chungking, in way of letting the Chinese know that Britain has been involved in Pacific wars more recently than the Opium Wars. Also on the circuit is an exhibit on Britain’s “war effort” being shown in Turkey. The B-19 has been used as a "flying laboratory" since it was taken over by the U.S.A.A.F. We will hear more about this elsewhere, but word is that it has been re-powered with four of the new 24-cylinder Allison "W" engines, each developing 2,600 h.p Freaks for a freak! Turbo-superchargers have been fitted, and, more interestingly, a reversible-pitch airscrews, which shortens the landing run. The new British gyroscopic gunsight is now being used by U.S. fighter pilots. The Royal Aeronautical Society announces that the debate on civil aviation scheduled for February 8th has unavoidably been postponed, to the disappointment of all who thought they might finally have a chance to talk about talking about civil aviation. Air Marshal Sir Guy Garrod is now Allied Air C.-in-C. Southeast Asia. La Guardia airfield in New York is reported to be  dealing with the arrival and departure of between 20 and 30 trans-atlantic aircraft daily, in addition to some 200 domestic aircraft. Just before America was brought into the war, this airfield recorded its "peacetime" traffic peak with 248 flights a week. The longest photographic reconnaissance flight so far made in Southeast Asia—a flight of 2,350 miles—was made recently by a P.R. Mosquito from an Arakan base. "We were airborne for 8 hr. 20 min.," said the pilot, Wing Cdr. Michael Lowry

French Air Ace Lt. Col. Pouyade, commander of the French "Normalise" Air Squadron which is serving on the Russian front, recently returned to Paris. Mr. Arthur Drakeford, the Australian Air Minister says that the R.A.A.F. is now forty times stronger than it was in 1939, with 42,600 personnel trained or training. "The_ Australian W.A.A.F.," he added, "has now 18,543 members.” The new club of the Belfast Aeronautical Engineers at Ormeau Road and Howard Street South has a large billiards room with four full-size tables, card rooms, table tennis rooms and refreshment rooms. There is also office accommodation and a meeting hall where future gatherings of the association will be held. I presume there’s a reason that real estate is so cheap in Belfast. The Rev. Dr. John Flynn, O.B.E., is being remembered in Australia with the establishment of a fund in his memory. He was the founder of the Flying Doctor Service, which is very important and worthy thing in Australia, and not a cringeworthy stereotype at all, whatever I might have implied. 

“The Lancastrian” Avro has modified a Lancaster as a transport, producing an “interim” civil air transport. Roy Dobson says that we should not pay any attention to it. It’s the Avro Tudor that’s the real thing. (And the York? This is all getting confusing.) 

 By C. D. Soltz, “Safety Fuels: Their Relation to Engine Development a in Civil Aviation“ Aviation gasoline is extremely dangerous due to its vapour pressure and low flash point. Internal combustion turbines will eventually with it, but in the meantime a less volatile fuel might be hoped for. Soltz thinks that we should do something now. Diesel is less volatile, but diesel engines probably have no future in aviation, and we are left with “safety” gasolines. Two types of safety fuel exist, an aromatic and a paraffinic' blend. Both, with enough tetra-ethyl lead will give “around” 100 octane petrol at both weak and rich mixture strengths. The aromatic might give greater anti-knock performance under rich-mixture strengths, but its calorific value was inferior. All current results, however, are laboratory derived. An extremely expensive and rigorous series of full-scale experiments will need to be carried out to nail down the numbers. That said, it is possible for air crashes to be much safer if fuel volatility is reduced, and if we begin now, newer and safer fuels might be in general use by 1948. 

“Simpler Flying” The Ercoupe with tricycle undercarriage is the simplest plane to fly since the “Pou de Ciel” or perhaps the Westland Pterodactyl. 

The creator swears that it is less inclined to kill you, however. As we'll see next week, only stupid pilots have landing accidents, which are impossible. There are, apparently, a very many stupid pilots.

“Britain’s Secret Weapon” This week’s Wireless World breaks the news that Britain has radar, and explains its “essential facts.” Except for some, because they are still secret. 

“Motor Accident” Mr. Edward Dowty, George Dowty, and Roy Fedden were recently in a motor accident. Mr. Fedden and George Dowty were not seriously injured, but Edward Dowty was killed. This may be a horribly unfair thing to say, but nothing I have heard about Mr. Fedden makes me think of him as a man I should like to be in an accident with. 

“Shiprailair: Royal Aeronautical Society debates the Reasonableness of Shipping and Railways Taking Part in Development of Civil Aviation” Imagine that your own hilarious "paper rationiong" joke goes here.

 Civil Aviation News 

A U.S.-Iceland air agreement has been signed. Vickers is working on a Hercules-powered civil transport, the V.C. 1, capable of carrying 27 passengers with a range of 1850 miles, and a cruising speed of 200mph at 10,000ft at no more than 50% of takeoff power. 

American civil airlines net profit was down last year due to rising operating expenses. US. Canada, Australia and Ethiopia are all taking about talking about civil aviation right now. 


Mr. P. R. Payne and J. G. Robinson take aim at particularly silly letters and articles of recent months. Mr. Bartlett replies to criticism of his company’s Bristol Freighter’s proposed 130mph cruising speed. It is not too slow! It was fine in the 1930s, and, anyway, it only carries freight, and besides, it can get up to 170mph or more if it has to! J. A. Becker and L. Sykes take on the performance of the V2 (both letters take up full columns), taking on recent letters by Burgess and Gatland and showing that that the V-2’s performance is greatly overstated. Even with the largest practical “second stage,” the V-2 could not send any cargo to the Moon, even the smallest and most nominal. Sykes concludes by pointing out that both better rocket structures and better propellants are needed, and these will appear in the next few years. At this point, I confess that I had already read Ley’s article in this month’s Aviation ahead of these letters. 

I was reminded of Ley’s table of propellant efficiencies. At the time, I dismissed them, because I’ve already had the gist of it from your youngest. (My mind got a little stuck on the image of a rocket exhaust of floric acid. . .) I suppose, though, it all turns out to be crucial to the question of whether we can land a man on the Moon. Or a rat, cat, bag or flag. I'm not trying to be dismissive or anything, but it’s easy to see from the math that a Conestoga Wagon full of hardy pioneers implies a rocket the size of a skyscraper. I've been looking through the old papers about the Spokane lands

, so I've very much in mind the relative failure of the Oregon Trails as a Conestoga delivery mechanism. Giant rockets sound a lot less practical than the North Platte route, but I suppose that getting sheep to moon-pastures might be easier, if only because we don't have to mind them getting dysentery and the like.

  The Economist, 3 February 1945


“Before the Conference” Or, “Uncle George No Cynic.” (It probably ruins the joke to explain that the leader editorial in this number is actually, literally, about talking about talking about the postwar order.)

“How Many Houses?” From the ridiculous to the dreadfully important. The Earl must face the fact (I do hope that the two of you will take time out from your amateur sleuthing to consider the paper's latest bug-in-ear) that the money is not going to be in long-term rental leases on land. Even the Government's talk of agricultural price supports is not going to somehow repair the damage done by the Depression. If land can be got out from under crops, it ought be. Now, this may be the callow American in me talking, but it seems to me that if he can build something grand on the land, sell, and get it into equities, we will all be better off. M. de Tocqueville would add that the money ought to be liquid enough to go into a new cycle as development expands, but America is America, and Britain is Britain. As it is, it is entirely James' opinion that America's population might match Russia's (250 millions) in the far-off days of 1995 when current homebuilding matures. I find it very hard to imagine any such growth in Great Britain, even as I very concretely imagine my own family growing.

But enough of me –what of the paper’s assessment of Britain’s needs? The paper thinks that “it is complex and difficult to summarise,” amazingly enough. Honestly --is no-one reading this man's copy with a critical eye? Probably not; because, probably, this kind of formula signals that he is arguing in bad faith. Anyway, this leading article is inspired by the recent publication of the minister’s book on the subject (Sir Ernest Swinton, Rebuilding Britain: A Twenty-Five Year Plan), and what thepaper really wants to say is that it disagrees, even though this is "the only source for really comprehensive information," integrating the advice of 23 expert committees on every aspect of this vast problem.

The problem is that labour is not now available. It must be assembled, setting the size of the industry in the period of rebuilding. A commitment to avoiding long term unemployment implies setting the numbers now to the size of the industry later --for reasons not entirely clear to me. I mean, it is very admirable to steer these poor, benighted souls away from a future career change, but it is not as though we are taking the same cares for the vital export industries. Factories close, too! Mass production and centralised planning is needed if the building is not to “crippled state finances.” In other words, we have to build steel houses. The paper pretends to think that steel houses are suitable to the English climate. Or, really, any climate. Demand must be managed to prevent violent fluctuations, for, as the experience of Scotland between the wars shows, there may exist powerful demand for housing without it bringing into existence a proportionate supply. (No explanation is provided for this miraculous violation of the law of supply and demand, but if we can't remember reaching full employment in the summers of 1937 and 1939, we can hardly be expected to remember Alvin Hanson explaining it at the time. Only Our Correspondent in New York remembers "secular stagnation," and, frankly, I would not remember it either, if James hadn't been musing about it after I mentioned his byline reappearing in the paper a little below.

Housing must, of course, meet minumum standards, and slums must be cleared, but according to the government, one third of all housing in the country now qualifies as slums. This is absurd, says the paper, not because it has taken up part-time employment as a social worker, but because you can't let the replacement of 4 million homes to take precedence over all other aspects of economic policy. (Last week's number's first Leading article was encouragingly entitled "Export or Die.") The government estimates a cost of £240 millions/year, of which almost half must come from subsidies. The paper points out that all other forms of reinvestment in the British economy demand only £305 millions per year. Therefore, 240 millions must be too much, because it is too close to the other number!

In summary, Britain must choose either living in (giant) Nissen huts or an unfavourable balance of trade. 

“The Second Austrian Republic” Remember those cheering crowds welcoming Adolf Hitler into Vienna? Neither do I! Nor does the paper. But lest that lead it to think horrible, cheery thoughts, it grumbles that Socialists used to be in favour of Anschluss, and so will be again, because Anschluss is bad. Perhaps we should bring back the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the paper suggests, as a “customs union.”

Notes of the Week 

The Germans are retreating. Adolf Hitler is terrible. It is supposed that the Russian-backed Free German Generals Committee is preparing the way for a Prussian Conservative-Nationalist-Socialist-Militarist state. Because the paper has just read Homage to Catalonia. On the other hand, in Greece the paper is fine with a left wing government, because there, the Prime Minister is for it. The paper wants to talk about “civil air policy.” The paper reads White Paper Cmd 6589**, in which the Occupied Territories Authority congratulates itself on its administration of Somaliland, Eritrea, Cyrenaica and Tripolitania, and on how little is has cost the British taxpayer. Indirect rule through the existing tribal structure proved perfectly suitable, and the OTA would like to add Ethiopia to its portfolio, although, regrettably, the Abyssinians have been left to govern their own affairs. Judging from the fate of Canton Province over the last century, this is sure to work out well!

SS Great Eastern, also known as "Leviathan."

Speaking of, the colonies will be getting more money, up to £17.5 million per year, vice £5. The key change is that unspent monies will no longer being returned to the Treasury, encouraging investment, as oppose to buying promotions in the Civil Service with the money of dusky-hued folk who would just waste it on food. The paper casts a disapproving eye on Herbert Pell’s recent complaints about lack of vigour in persecuting German war crimes. Everything, the paper promises, will be well. The convicts won't even have the luxury of steel houses!  Jugoslavs and Newfoundlanders are excitable. There is to be a separate Industrial Health Service, of the need for which the paper is unconvinced. It will probably end up with factory owners being made to pay for things, I suppose. The International Labour Organisation is having a conference.

The winter was terrible. That was not the government’s fault, but the response to it was. The paper has another go at the lack of coal rationing in earlier years before moving on to this year's agony, which is that it is hard to deliver coal, so that savings on cost and labour bear on small customers. Large organisations get their coal, small ones do not. It is only because I've come to loath this writer so much that my mind immediately jumps to speculate about where housing flats versus detached homes fit into this scheme of his. More welcome is the government guidelines aiming for a 10% cut in gas and electricity. Great things are expected from the new reforms in Chungking, because they always are.  The one industry that the paper thinks should shrink is agriculture. Because it is always and will forever be 1846. Professor A. V. Hill thinks that India should have scientific research, too. Follows three paragraphs on the vital matter of  planning pub locations for blitzed areas.

Next, the paper corrects itself from last week. Under the heading of “Vital Statistics," the paper corrects the figure it gave for marriages in 1942 down from 191,426 to 95,713, but says that its argument still holds good. This is pretty remarkable, because when I go to last week's number, I find that the corrected story is about the wartime surge in births. The birth rate in 1944 was the highest since 1926, at 17.6 per thousand. One might, therefore, take the position that there is a fair bit of babymaking going on. Because, you know, that's what the numbers say! But not a bit of  it. In last week's number, the decline in marriages from nineteen thousands and etc to 85,000 was a leading indicator of an imminent collapse in the birth rate to the level of the 1930s. This week, the reduction of the reduction from an hundred thousands to ten means exactly the same thing! The future remains bleak!

What was happenining instead of marriages in every hospital ward in Britain in the third quarter of 1944


The ambassador of Iran explains that Iran something something Iranian oil. I have already used up your patience for sly asides about the dismissive treatment of dusky foreigners, so I will just point out that the oil is in Iran, and if we don't make some effort to make it in Iran's interest for us to exploit it, the Iranians will figure out how to keep it.

Elizabeth Neame says that one of the advantages of having done without servants in the war Is that after the war, mistresses will be better equipped to terrorise their domestic staff, when they exist again. Just a moment while I summon Fanny to write a full refutation, in the most elegant brushing. It may take the afternoon, but, after all, I can read a novel while I supervise! ”Surgeon” writes that the paper should not perpetuate old myths about “draughts” causing “colds.” A. Pakenham-Walsh writes to say that unconditional surrender is keeping the Germans fighting. Mr. Gamage, of that department store, is also upset about the new Hardware Trade Alliance, a sinister monopoly in embryo, if the paper, and Mr. Gamage, have ever seen one. Mr. Mallinson, of the pharmaceutical association, gives the other point of view on patent medicines, which is that everything is fine and that the public should trust the pharmaceutical association. Mine manager Harold Storey carefully explains that the paper has no idea what it is talking about when it compares the British with the American coal industry, and points out that the real problems are that miners are all spoiled children and there are too many safety regulations. 


American Survey 

“PMH Again –An American View,” By Our Correspondent in New England Americans tend to think that Britons are about half as productive as Americans because they are mismanaged by a hereditary class of Tories who are all incompetent on account of being to the manor born. This is as it used to be in New England, where all those old Lowells and Putnams and Cabots would hand about their Boston Clubs harrumphing until Southern competition forced them to innovate at last. Therefore before Lend-Lease is extended, all protections, trade areas, cartels and the like must be ended so that the bracing winds of free competition bring full technical efficiency to all.

 American Notes

“The American Mood” Sixteen American senators sent a letter supporting the President’s foreign policy, and Harry Hopkins told the Italians that there must be no return to Fascism, and therefore that is the American mood? That Fascism is bad?

 “Speedy Divorcement” If the President’s decision to appoint Mr. Wallace Secretary of Commerce was a rapprochement to the progressive elements of his coalition, the round rejection of his nomination by the Senate, and moves to separate the war financing agencies from that Department, together represent some kind of divorce of something from something. The point here is that Mr. Wallace will only be allowed to become Secretary if he no longer has the RFC, Export-Import Bank, and various rationing agencies under his power. Because then he will be too powerful, and this disappoints the paper, because it thinks that the Department should be very powerful. Only not under Wallace. Instead, it suggest that perhaps Uncle Henry should be Secretary. The paper is drunk. (And has not met Aunt Bessie. Not that anyone in Uncle Henry's public life has. Poor Aunt Bessie will never live down being called a "squaw" as a child.)

Also,national service won't pass. At Montgomery Ward, Mr. Sewell Avery has won another victory in his long battle to give his workers the freedom to not join unions. The Administration will continue to fight to give workers the freedom to join unions. so many kinds of freedom!

Thanks, Sewell! *

The Business World 

“Reallocation of Labour” Two eye-glazing pages sketch what a summary of a reallocation plan would look like. Or somethiung.

 “American Farm Prosperity” The promised reappearance of Our New York Correspondent! Now that the V3 reign of terror is to be expected in New York momentarily, it fits my mental picture of the man exactly that he would flee to the farm. The tone of the article, however, suggests that sitting beside the roaring, stone fireplace in his nicest dressing gown with a tumbler/snifter of something vivifying has put him quite out of himself. Harvests are up, profits are up, even though the work force is down. Incomes are up, farm debts are down, and food consumption is up, too.

But then he gives his head a shake and manages to return to form. After the war, production will be too high, and the economy, even at “full employment,” will not be able to absorb price-supported American production. (The "quotes" are another worrying sign that the paper would really like to dump "full employment.") Speaking of dumping, there will be, followed by subsidised crop prices, followed by national, or perhaps international bankruptcy.Oh, woe! (As always for the paper, expressed in an oddly ebullient tone.)

 Business Notes

Machine Tool Control will be relaxed beginning this week. Going forward, we should talk about talking about achieving full technical efficiency. And probably think about re-exporting the American machine tools we received under Lend-Lease. The paper is as constructive on Anglo-American relations as ever, I see. The paper is also worried about new arrangements for bank financing of industry, the government’s insouciant attitude towards postwar expansion of the British domestic oil refining industry, cartels in tinplate, the shortage of hard fibres, above all Manila hemp, the Northeast Development Area, excessive global rubber production, the low productivity of British dual-purpose cow breeds and the potato shortage. On the other hand, it is pleased by Austin’s large dividend, the new Herring Control Board, and the Exchequer’s new power to restrict the issue of large denomination bank notes. It reports without having an opinion on the new powers to control Alien property, the national debt in January, the statement on bank money holdings and labour negotiations in cotton spinning.

 Flight, 8 February 1945


“All-Weather Air War” We have made great strides in weather-proofing air war, and must make more.

 “Air Freight” Freight can be carried by air now! Perhaps in specially-designed air freighters with wing loadings of 20 to 26lb/sq ft and power loadings of 15 to 11.5 lb/hp, which the Bristol Freighter achieves.

 “Joining Hands” With the Three-Power Conference coming up, it is to be hoped that Western strategic air power can help out with the great German counterattack raging along the Oder. For the Germans, everything depends on being able to rail troops through major centres. The recent attack on Berlin must have helped. Now, where did we put the “retaliation” list of eastern German cities?

War in the Air

Zhukov’s offensive continues in the East. It might be aimed at Berlin, or at Stettin. Our aircraft helped by beating the Luftwaffe! German refugees from the East are clogging the roads, and the Allies are not machine-gunning them, unlike the beastly Hun in 1940, therefore all these desperate, fleeing old folk and childrern prove that we have the moral high ground. The French Air Force is being revived. The Yak 9F is in service in the East. B-29s have sunk the colossal, 50,000t floating dock at Singapore, for the second time, since it was scuttled when the fortress fell in 1942.

 The “Japanese Air Force” is surely the most incompetent major service in the world today, since it did not detect the Lingayen Gulf attack. (The paper has forgotten poor General Lumsden already. I suppose that it is his parent's fault for naming him "Herbert," and not "Freeman.")

“Rocket Mosquito” Mosquitoes have rockets now!

“Changes in Higher Command” Air Marshal Park replaces the late Trafford Leigh-Mallory. Again. Acting AOC SEAC AM Garrod will get a new alphabet soon. Air Vice-Marshal Medhurst replaces Park in the Middle East. Air Chief Marshal Bowhill is relinquishing the post of AOC Transport Command to AVM Cochrane. A very definite signal that air transport is no longer an already-retired-on-the-inside posting!

 “Good Staff Work” The paper attended the Fairey staff dinner at Frascatis Restaurant last Friday, and was struck by the camaraderie of the drawing room staff and the number of ladies present. Apparently, and who knew this, but the Barracuda is doing good work for the Silent Service! Balloon Command has been disbanded.

 Here and There 

Acting Air Marshal Coryton’s promotion is noted again. The Australian public has been notified not to send any more parcels to Canada, as almost all RAAF personnel there will be returning to Australia. OUt of the igloos and into the kraals! Or is that South Africa? You can see why I would get confused. Flight Refuelling, Ltd,, might be a thing, so it has brought in some professional management to guide Mr. Cobham’s enthusiasms. Exactly 111 of 13,500 RCAF airmen are interested in a postwar career with the Service. Group Captain Constantine is to be AVM at 36. The Society of Licensed Engineers will give a talk on the principals of hydromatic airscrews at Whitchurch Airport, Bristol. The Prime Minister has accepted an honourary membership in the RAeS. Blackburn’s Cirrus division is withdrawing support for its old Hermes engines.

 Wing Commander Cave-Brown-Cave is to give a talk on camouflaging factories to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers on the 14th. More than enough time to get back from the airscrew talk in Bristol, and it’s on Saint Valentine’s Day, hint, hint. Group Captain Morice has rejoined Dunlop Rubber. Newsweek says that American jet production has adcvanced so far past the Airacomet that production of it will be tapered off before it even sees service. Lord Reith will make an air tour of “the telecommunications of the British Commonwealth.” Surplus RAF pilots are to be offered to the Glider Pilots Regiment. General Aircraft has satisfied the Government that it can run its own affairs, and will be decontrolled, with Mr. Reid and Mr. Bonham Carter joining the board.

 W. S. Shackleton, “Cargo Aircraft: Features Which Make for Economy: High Cruising Speed Unnecessary: Large Cargo Hold and Loading Hatches Essential” I suppose… It is amazing to see that the Freighter’s proposed cruising horsepower is only 43% of takeoff power! That will certainly go to low operating costs. The question is whether short-range air cargo is that important.

 Lloyd Clarke (Former Air Correspondent of the Sydney Daily Telegraph) “Post-War Australian Boost” Australia will export things by air, and so needs many airports in unlikely, by which I mean to say, “strategic” places. They should be quite grand. Money is no object, at least as long as it has not been spent yet.

 “Simpler Flying, Part II” Mr. Weick’s four years of experience with the easy-to-fly Ercoupe are further described. It is the most wonderful invention ever, says Mr. Weick. Loading all sorts of gadgets onto a light plane with a tiny engine will certainly make it safer, as long as you fly it when there’s no weather, and, since it is built in Los Angeles, problem solved.

Civil Aviation News

The Vatican is studying the possibilities of a small airfield within its boundaries. Mr. Royce says that a single, international US airline would be a “disrupting influence,” which, obviously, is bad. PAA is cutting fares again. Lufthansa is reorganising its Lisbon service (Stuttgart-Madrid-Lisbon), which will use FW200s for the Stuttgart-Madrid leg, and “small, fast planes carrying two passengers” for the Lisbon leg. Our friends at Hawaiian Airlines are very efficient, they tell us. Spain has bought 3 surplus DC-3s and is looking at 25 more for a one-hundred-percent-Fascist-free national airline. More talk about air service to Australia and “railair.” An advertisement for the Avro Lancastrian claims “Montreal to Britain, 10 hours, 13 minutes.”

“The Eighth’s Third” It is the Eighth Air Force’s third anniversary. General Doolittle gave a radio speech on the subject, and the paper is very pleased about all the nice things he said about the RAF. I have friends like the paper. Of course that hat is flattering on you.


“Potential Owner” wonders if there is any good information about the likely overhead costs of a private plane. If you have to ask, etc, etc. Freeman Horn, of the British Aluminium Association, claims partial credit for the performance of British sparking plugs, which have alumina in them. N. V. Brittain defends the relative safety of bent metal airscrews against broken wooden ones. W. S. Shackleton suggests that Admiral Sueter is past it on the subject of surface cargo versus air cargo competition. S. H. Bostock points out another precociously modern aeroplane of 1915. T. Hamilton Adams supposes that liquid-gas rockets will do such horrific damage at such great distance that future war will be unthinkable. (with math.) Mr. J. H. Bruce of Cunliffe-Owen Aircraft writes to claim some credit for the airborne lifeboat.

 The Economist, 10 February 1945


“Economic Entente” The French are cold and starving, ships to bring North American largesse are short, and Britain and France are competitors for the same ships. French delegations are abroad negotiating for larger allocations of this and that, but the paper asks whether more generosity is possible. Could we spare food and raw material stocks? If more locomotives are out of the question, how about a few thousand trucks from the Army motor pool? Lord Beaverbrook might be put in charge. Also, we should talk about colonial empires, and, in general, talk. About talking.

 “Housing Subsidies” All the paragraphs last week were hardly enough. We need many more this week. 400,000 houses a year is far too many! And why does it have to be subsidised? Hundreds of thousands of homes were built in the 1930s without subsidy! The paper answers its own question.Unsubsidised building prewar was already falling away, for it coincided with the peak of births in 1903, with a lag of 30 years. Also, it reflected the desire of certain classes to use modern means of transport to live further from the city, and to a great rise in real wages and salaries due to the fall of prices for food and raw materials during the Great Depression, and to a fall in building costs and interest rates. (It is now, and will forever be, 1846.) All these things have now passed. In particular, salaries have risen much less than wages, and it goes without saying that no-one who takes an hourly wage will ever own a home. Except in America. So with the number of families deserving a home of their own probably at, or near, its peak, demand will never again reach its mid-1930s peak of 300,000 unsubsidised units per year. It follows, therefore, that if 400,000 units are to be built per year, the great majority of them will be subsidised so as to house the poor. And the subsidy will be large, because the government fancies building palaces for the poor people, who will be spending their own money on gin. Why, the old (late-WWI, “Homes fit for Heroes”) standard was a 750 square foot home, now overtaken by a 950 square feet, which the paper does not begrudge, as such, even if it raises the cost by 40%, not even taking account of what Professor Alfred Egerton on the subject of heat and ventilation. And so is the “subsidy agony piled on.” It is all likely to cost much more than the projected £100 millions per annum. The paper ends by calling for more talking about talking about housing subsidies.

“The Road to Berlin” The war in 1945 is quite like the Seven Years War, the paper notices without doing anything so tedious as research. (In all seriousness, I read that “Lublin was, apparently, in Saxony in those days,” and that General Seydlitz of the Free German Generals Council is "apparently" a descendant of the General Seydlitz of 1761.) The point of this article seems to be that the Russians are in the war, just like the last one, in which they made a separate peace.

 Notes of the Week 

General de Gaulle made a speech about how there should be an Anglo-French alliance. Belgians, Poles, Greeks and Canadians are excitable. The Liberal Party is embracing Mr. Beveridge. The World Trade Union Congress needs to be talked about more. Manila has fallen, making its harbour available for the next step, a landing on the coast of China, to be followed, perhaps, by a landing in Japan. The paper does not seem to be following Pacific strategy very closely. We are told that there are 1187 people working for the Government in public relations. The Bombay Plan for the development of India is discussed. Indian nationalists are all for public ownership of industry, the paper notes. It then ever so innocently calls for the equally-useful nationalisation of agricultural land, putting an end to the landlord system that presently exists. I do not know much about the composition of the Indian nationalist movement, but were I a cynical woman, I would suspect that they were from the landlord class. Tired of tilting lances for the Raj, they wish to run their own country, with factories and everything.

The Water Bill is set to pass. Poles and Czechs, now being independent, can argue about the Teschin Award again. The Land and War Works Bill is facing opposition in the Commons, as being unfair to owners (the worst kind of unfairness of all!) under its current wording. I feel my class interest conspiring against my sense of justice, I fear…

“Loans to Russia” Russia has approached Washington and London for Reconstruction loans, but while a good idea, the amount of money required is causing some concern.

“Sunday Cinemas and Children” The Surrey County Council’s new ban on the admission of children into Sunday cinema showings, is particularly ridiculous in the middle of a frigid winter, and the recent regulation in Manchester is not an example to be followed. Ah, Nonconformists.

 American Survey

“International Surrealism” If you are following along, I did read this. I regret it. 

“A Budget for Full Employment” Mr. Wallace is proposing one before the Senate. Various government actions are required to hit $170 billion and 60 million jobs, apparently. Not houses, cars and refrigerators for all? The National Service Bill is now to be held up in committee, because there is no time left for action before the midterm elections of 1946. Sigh. We love this country because most of our property is here. But, believe me, if there were anything worth doing in, say, New Zealand. . .

The cost of clothing is up too far due to “upgrading” under scarcity conditions.

The World Overseas 

“Republique du Silence” The French have decided to curtail their pure of collaborationists, but manage to be otherwise excitable.

“The German Rump” Germany will probably be overrun by the time the latest issue of nine week ration cards have run out, so the Reich can save on the cost of printing new ones!

 The Business World 

“The Bank’s Capital” The financial resources of the new Finance Corporation for Industry and Industrial and Commercial Finance Corporation are discussed at length. That may seem quite boring, but the paper's scientific scale of boring shows that it is not, so the article which follows discusses the Cohen Committee’s report.

 Business Notes

In an ominous development, British and French officials meet and agree to share tax information, and the US Government will extend the same, so as to pursue the collaborationists. Our friends, of course, were told that this would happen. Perhaps they will even come up with enough money to buy in San Francisco instead of bucolic Berkeley. Congress has decided that it is time to criticise Bretton Woods. The future of the diamond cartel continues to be in question. As are steel and cotton in Britain, and trade with Belgium.

 Aviation, February 1945

Down the Years in AVIATION’S Log

25 years ago, the first Paris Aeronautical Salon opened. Boeing shipped 11 flying boats to China.

Willam Allen Patterson

Anzani builds a 20 cylinder, 2-rowed water-cooled 200hp radial engine. Navy asks for $636,000 to build the biggest flying boat in the WORLD! Presumably compared with Zeppelin's new machine. Fifteen years ago, San Francisco was working on its first municipal airport, and Boeing Air Transport opened its Cheyenne, Wyoming headquarters. Ten years ago, Amelia Earhart flew solo from Honolulu to Oakland.

 Line Editorial Mr. McGraw calls for “Rededication: An Obligation to our Fighting Men” We have underestimated our likely munitions needs to finish the war. We will need to maintain our late 1944 production levels into 1945 to finish this war, and much of that production will be of new types, so labour must be shifted to making these. Meanwhile, armed forces manpower requirements far exceed this year class, so that there must be further drafts on war industry, and therefore more labour transferred to them. Once we are fighting Japan alone, the war budget calls for an expenditure of $70 billion, down from $89 billion, and an equivalent fall in production. Unfortunately, all of this means that our leeway for reconstruction is greatly reduced.

In summary, National Service will be desperately needed if the war continues into 1946. Which it won't, but we should really plan for it to do so, just like we presumably planned for it to not continue into 1945.

 Editorial Leslie Neville tells us that “America’s Policy Makers Need Our Industry’s Help” That is, the industry needs to remind everyone that the country needs more planes forever. For peace. And private enterprise. And more civil aviation.

Civil aviation is like your Mom and your Dad and your Sis and your wife and that cute little baby! Don't disappoint them!

 Eugene E. Wilson, “Air Power: The Key to our Peace and Prosperity, Part II” Midway down the page, my eyes fall on this: “Here is a pattern for relationship of government to the individual or organisation that is wholly within the spirit of the American concept of individual freedom under law.” Anyone who can write a sentence like that has to know what he’s talking about!

 Major General Kenneth B. Wolfe, “WE Must Retain Technological Supremacy” ‘Retains?” Your eldest snorts, eyebrow raised. Fortunately (not really!), I have a seat cushion handy at all times, and it is your boy's fault, so these days, and I have something to throw, and motivation!

"Foreign Markets: Part II In a Series” Mr. Hoadley's personal cartoonist explains.

The fellow on the right doesn't seem too bright. Perhaps he inherited the company? That would explain why he doesn't have Company President Hair.

K. R. Jackman, “The Place of Industrial Research Prewar and Postwar, Part II,” 203—07. In 1920, there were 500 industrial research laboratories; in 1938, 1,769, in 1940, 2,264, and while the number today is classified, they are spending about $250 millions. 500 scientists were doing pure research, about 30,000 applied. Half were attached to 45 large firms, the others to 1700 smaller ones. 150,000 manufacturing concerns lacked laboratories Over 40% were in chemical and petrochemical industries where there were 303 researchers to every 10,000 wage earners. For radio, phonographs, petroleum and rubber, the figures were 232, 207 and 173. While questions of definition dog the problem, it appears that 1% of wage earners in aviation were in research, compared with 5% in the above industries. In conclusion, if America was surging on towards full technical efficiency prewar, it was not on the strength of its vast scientific research effort.

 G. L. Shue, “Simplified Numerical Integration for Design Engineers” Another in a continuing series of “Engineers Can’t Do Calculus.”

 Willy Ley, “Evaluating the Vaunted V-2” As a weapon, the V-2 is ineffectual, as not cost-effective. Because war is so economically rational! But Ley is excited by its research possibiliites.

 E. F. Lindsey, “What Makes Expert Mechanics Expert?” Experience. Plus brains and good organisation.

 Philip Colman, “High Versus Low Air Transport, Part II” All other things being equal, more engines is better, and high power is needed for safe high altitude operations to achieve the necessary favourable excess of power over weight.

 “For Better Design: P-47 Dive Flaps Permit Quick and Safe Pullouts”

 Aviation News 

“Enemy Turned Back by Big Air Assaults” The air force won the Battle of the Bulge, apparently. Allied air attacks on Japan will intensify when we take bases close enough for B-17s and B-24s to use. Martin Marietta’s Georgia plant has 25,000 employees, mostly trained from scratch. A picture of the Avro Lancastrian appears. The military aircraft production programme for 1945 has been stepped up to over 78,000. Remember when it was down at 120,000? The C-46 is being tapered out of production. Allison will make jet engines. Most surplus military aircraft will end up being scrapped. Allison “Ws” make the B-19 even more not unable to fly!

 And that’s it… if the pickings seem slim, it is because this is the annual “directory issue,” and most of the pages were taken up by pictres of planes and tables of non-classified data. Also, the paper is getting steadily thinner. I would not buy a house on the strength of my Aero Digest salary!

Fortune, February 1945

Oh, Goody! The paper is devoting an entire number to “the Pacific Coast.” I can just imagine the paper’s editorial board sitting around their smoke-hung table at an hour when good folks on California Time have long since gone to bed. The Wall Street fellow in his top hat, the Broadway swell in his spats, the tough-talking Brooklynite with his heart of gold, the thin, anxious, Jewish intellectual, the red-headed senior editor whose face is a map of Ireland… I know, I know, tone. But, really. The first article is entitled "The Golden West," for Heaven's sake!

The Job Before Us

The paper explains why an entire number is required on the Pacific Coast. It’s because, you know, California. (You understand, because British Columbia is Canada’s California. . . Eyes roll, shoulders shrug)

Well, first off, it is because the West has industrialised. “Los Angeles, of all places, now has a smoke problem.” The paper suggests that the century-long trend of migration West is not going to miraculously reverse itself postwar. The only question is employment in industry, and whether, just because the West can make something, it should. Which leads to a sub-headline on “Terms for a Treaty with Western Steel.” The Utah plant, Uncle Henry, RFC writing down the purchase price, etc.

Then…”Predated Disaster –Unless” The massive scale of shipbuilding and aircraft employment on the West Coast means postwar unemployment. 1.6 million workers must be absorbed into an economy that supported a prewar unemployment insurance roll of only 1.9 million. “The people of the West are aware of dark days ahead even if they are not fully alive to their meaning.” Two-thirds of management expects substantial unemployment in their communities after the war in spite of the fact that nearly all those with an opinion on posdtwar employment in their firms expect to offer more jobs than before the war. There is not nearly enough pessimism on the West Coast, the paper concludes. If there were enough pessimism, careful planning would ensure that this “predated disaster” not occur.

Without further ado, our first article 
“The Golden West” “Its youth was gaudy, gay, and self-centred, but full of promise, now that its critical days are here, it has an opportunity to fulfill itself”

Bodie, California

Unlike the Deep South, the population of the West has not been desperate to industrialise itself. Thus, while the West Coast enjoys the world’s highest living standards, dark days probably lie ahead, if we can just get them to admit it.

Also, hurdy-gurdy girls! Development! 

Her dog is small and she's wearing a cropped neck. Harlot!

 Mad spiritual awakenings! Republican voters! Chinese! 

Mexicans! Negroes! 

(“A man on a horse,” a local says, will be needed to drive them all back where they came from when the war and the work ends. Thanks,  but General MacArthur preferstanks.) The San Joaquin Valley has one and a half million acres of arable land, but needs irrigation water, which might or might not be short from one year to the next.  San Francisco is wicked!

“Ports of the Pacific” The Pacific is a mighty ocean, with ports and foreign lands on the other side, which might buy things from us. One can imagine scenarios in which San Francisco loses its status as the largest West Coast port. Nothing will save Portland as a major port. Dr. Aguust Malfry of the Commerce Department crunches the “194Q” numbers to show, all other things being equal, another third of a billion of port business, mainly from increased commodity imports. Interestingly, the paper points out that the loss of Japanese business that would result if we actually succeeded in exterminating the Japanese from the air would be crippling. Nearly one third of the West Coast’s exports went to Japan before the war! Port Hueneme gets a page or two.

“Steel in the West” Uncle Henry! Uncle Henry! UNCLE HENRY! It’s true, and fair enough, that western interests have always thought that they overpaid for eastern steel, and Uncle Henry's men may well be right that the West will need 3.3 million tons a year after the war. And it’s true, and fair enough, that steel is seen as the basis of a modern industrial economy. But I'm as tired of rehearsing Uncle George's arguments as Uncle George probably is. The areas that are growing in Britain are th ones where the new industries are, not the old.  

“The Sinews of the West” The sinews are water, because metaphors must be stirred up like a crowd of ..rabid bats. I can do this,  too! I’m not being fair. The point is not to conjure up a silly analogy, but  to point out that of the 25 million potentially arable acres in the West Coast’s 207 million, 5  million that can be watered is not farmed now, and one third of the remainder is watered artificially, but there could be more use of the land if it were watered better. The Bureau of Reclamation has proposed a series of vast water diversion projects that would add “30,000 new farms” by 1960. In California, 9.5 million acres are now farmed, and 4.3 million are watered. Forty percent is watered by individual farmers, 50% by individual irrigation districts and farmer’s cooperatives, and only 10% by the Bureau of Reclamation’s projects, notably the All American Canal. The key aspects of the Bureau’s plans are the Shasta and Keswick dams, almost completed, and the Grand Coulee.

Here, for no particular reason, is one of those wonderful Fortune maps, commissioned for this number. 

Notice, by the way, that the Central Valley is usually reckoned at 22,500 square miles, or over 14 million acres. While obviously it is not all arable, I take the figures here with a grain of salt. There is a lot of arable land in California, and the limiting factor is quite clearly water, just like everyone has been saying since forever. There's so much land that no-one will build a city there. It wouldn't pay!

“The People” While America’s population is shown by the paper bending downwards at the 120 million mark in 1943, that of the West Coast continues sharply upwards, due to internal migration, meaning an older population on average.

“Dwindling Oil, Mounting Power” The wells are giving out, the dams are rising. All that electrical power has in the past been bespoke by the light metals industry, but the industry is not likely to stay on the Coast unless we give the power away, and why would we?

“The El Solyo Deal” FMC bought the 4400 acre El Solyo ranch near San Joaquin in 1944 because it could. Now it is used by executives and their wives, who like to play farmer. There is a picture taken at the Mexican labourer’s club house, showing them being impressed by new management.

“Hollywood’s Magic Mountain” Hollywood! Apparently, the talkies are big business. But it’s not a real business, because it’s the movies, so it’s amazing that the big producers look like businessmen. They probably pay everyone too much money, though.

“The Grandeur that is Home” My attitude to some of these articles has been, I confess, a bit dismissive, in that they reach for the easy cliché a bit too much. But I do not want to sell this number short. This photographic article is amazing. Not surprisingly when Mr. Luce is willing to foot the bill for photographs by Edward Weston and  Ansel Adams. (Not shown.)

“Decline of the Forests” Loggers are cutting down the last virgin stands, cut rates must decline soon to let growth catch up with destruction, etc. As an article about the business success of the Weyerhauser Company, this is quite good. James, however, just snorts at the header. The trees are always being depleted, the fish are being fished out, the soil is being exhausted, the last bit of coal is about to go, this is the last vacant housing lot left within x blocks of the centre of the city, and I do not know if we will still have this dress in your size tomorrow. 

Sure, the stories are usually more-or-less true. That doesn't mean that they don't rather obviously serve to talk up the valuation of companies that own the existing assets. 

The Forestry Service estimated the remaining stands of saw timber in the Pacific Northwest at 600 billion feet, plus 280 billion in the interior. The cut rate is at 15 billion feet per year. “On a strict arithmetic basis, the supply ought to last for 72 years," unless the cut rate increases. The problem is that the Forest Service estimates that the drain rate (or loss of marketable timber) is some absurd multiple of the rate of natural growth in all the forest areas. Apparently, the Pacific Slope is spontaneously deforesting itself at such a rate that all the trees will be gone, at the current cut rate,  in 18 years. This number makes a little more sense when it is noted that it applies only to “first growth.” All the second growth is coming along fine. (But, according to the Forestry Service, the theory that new growth forests grow faster than old growth forests is rubbish.) Moreover, the second growth can be ruled out as a resource because it will not be available until 60 to 100 years after first cut, and most of the logging in the area dates after 1900.

This is nottrue, and neither is it good math. (1945+18=1963!) Still, Chief Forester Lyle Watts is persuaded that the end will come, soon and disastrously. Apocalypse aside, the issue is that the Forestry Service has a “selective cut” plan for privately-harvested forests on public lands. This is irrelevant to me, and I am fine with the USFS there. My problem is that the Forestry Service needs to butt out of the one third of the Spokane land that is taxed as productive forest. (We won't talk about the Portland properties. I'm not sure that there is a better use of what we have left over from the sale to Uncle Henry other than forestry there.)

“After the Battle” There used to be more strikes. Harry Bridges is some kind of communist. Other unions are less offensive.

“Detour through Purgatory” The story about the upcoming unemployment disaster would be more convincing (not to say I’m unconvinced, but. . .) if it did not follow a story about how the logging industry has lost all of its labour to the airplane factories and the shipyards, and is keen to get it back so that it can build plants that can process smaller trees of new species. Cousin Edgar’s survey, which showed that his workforce wanted to stay, is quoted here not as an argument for selling all our Bay land for $5000 houses, but as evidence of the “detour” to come. Notice, by the way, that when the figures are broken out, the increase in people looking for work in the five major West Coast centres is up from 2.6 million to 3.16 million in “194Q.”

There is also a bit about Richmond’s desperate overcrowding,

 rough migrants, and high crime rate –which isn’t actually high at all, but easy clichés, etc.

The bottom of the Depression was fourteen years ago! Does the paper not understand what the rest of the world sees when it prints pictures of fat workers?
I don't know about 400,000 hoousing starts/year in Britain, but someone's got to make houses for these people, and it might as well be us, etc.

Fortune Management Poll

About a third of West Coast management expects serious postwar unemployment problems. About a fifth hope it will be dealt with Mussolini-style. Which, James says, is about the proportion of complete crackpots you find anywhere. 

*Wernher v. Braun as Dr. Strangelove is always funny, even though it was mostly Herman Kahn (found of the Hudson Institute --I did not know that!) being parodied.
**The link may seem more than normally random, but it's the first search item Google turned up when I cut-and-pasted into the search box. Irony!

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