Saturday, May 16, 2015

Postblogging Technology, April, 1945, I: Of Robots and Men

Group Captain R_. C_., RCAFVR, DSO, DFC (Bar),
RAAF Richmond,

Dear Father:

As a first order of business, congratulations on your new "digs!" James' packet included the Kodaks that he took on his visit, and I detect a distinct "clubbiness." (At least, for Australia.)

Hopefully you will have time to enjoy it when not overseeing your ongoing organising for actual, productive work at some point. (Let us hope that the Americans have not bombed all the Japanese radars, laboratories, atomics and whatnot into flinders by the time that you are in a position to try to detect them!)  

As a second order, a packet containing the March number of Aircraft Engineering should be reaching you soon. It is an interlibrary loan from the University of Sydney, which a very nice young librarian at Santa Clara arranged for me by telegraph. Your son has been waiting for this for a very long time, and now things have gotten all sticky with his forward deployment to Port Seeadler. Please do extract it and forward your commentary to James at your earliest convenience, and return the pas current periodicals are not supposed to circulate, and I do not want to get anyone in trouble! The young lady is a Stanford graduate and Dr. Fisher has offered her a position assisting the curator of his proposed Chinese collection. Since I do not want to end this little brush portrait by sounding too mercenary about the advantages that might flow from this relationship with respect to keeping an eye on the Engineer's oh-so-intimate partnership with the Soongs, I should add that she is also a very polished Peking girl, too sweet to raise an eyebrow at my southern accent.

Source, Getty images apart

I know that you will probably kid me about taking yet another waif under my wing, but it really does seem unlikely that "Miss Ch." will be able to return home to her parents any time soon. 

Your youngest's orders for Michigan are cut for 1 May, just so that you know. I shall include pictures of your grandchildren in their birthday presents in the next surface packet. At your advice, I have taken Jimmy Ho on as a driver. He is not a big boy, certainly not as big as Wong Lee, whom I miss daily. Unfortunately, what with one thing and another, Wong Lee must be in the south. I worry that he will not have enough time to plan his "black bag" job for the bureau, but he assures me that it is no great matter. This is not the invincible Cheka that pulp fiction has prepared me for! (In fact, they are quite a different Cheka, as being associated with the Navy, and not either the army or the secret police.) 

Jimmy is solid, he quite reliable, and I should probably have him along if I am to plunge into county politics in a serious way. I am not sure how serious it has to be insofar as the nomination is concerned. The Governor needs to worry about some places in 1948, but certainly not Santa Clara County. Matters of land use, as you point out, are more likely to get nasty. He will also be handy for house security, as we do not want our guests disturbing Great Uncle and his nurses.  

On a more pleasant note, the contractors get steadily more optimistic about what can be accomplished at Arcadia. In a blazing rush, we have finished the floor in the ballroom, and lifted the canvas in the dining room. The Whale Man is intact, and the parquet almost so -a few strategic carpets will cover the damage. We shall have to bar the central staircase, as there are rotten spots in the floors in the upper stories, but it looks as though we can also take the covers off the balustrades.  Were it not that we are going to need its kitchen for the entertaining, I would be beginning to think that James and I should not have bothered to renovate the coach house at all! Perhaps we shall be able to secure a rental tenant? Great Uncle is still holding fair, as best as one might expect of a man his age, and my doctors say that my condition is developing normally. 

The anthropologist, by the way, will be staying with us, as the Bureau has called upon Professor K., either clumsily or threateningly, depending on much credit you grant Hoover's boys. I should be able to scrounge him up a driver, and, if not, he can always suffer the inter-urban for the few weeks that his business with the Conference is like to last.


Flight, 5 April 1945


“Over the Rhine” Twenty-First Army Group crossed the Rhine last week. Paratroopers wereinvolved.

“Exports” Let’s talk about talking about exports! And about the paper. That is, since the Brits are forming a new talk shop devoted to increasing exports, they are paying attention to Flight, and should pay more, because it is an excellent advertisement for British aviation exports, says Flight. 

War in the Air

The Rhine has been crossed. Aircraft and the Navy were involved, and paratroopers, and Americans, and German jet planes (were not there). 4000lb bombs are “small but good.” The loss of “machines” in the parachute assault was “less than 3%.” The German retreat is “beginning to resemble a rout.” Also in danger of rout, the German forces on the eastern front under attack from the “huge” Russian air fleets. “The carrier-borne squadrons of the Russian Baltic Fleet have frequently shown themselves to be full of energy and initiative, though their numbers cannot be large.” I am going to grant the writer some credit and imagine a translation error from a Russian press release. I am not sure what the editor’s excuse is, unless the Russians have slipped some aircraft carriers into service, and have chosen to use them in the Baltic Sea, which seems like a bad idea to me (don’t the Germans have submarines now?), but what do I know?

“Air Power and the Rhine Crossing”

John Yoxall was there! So were all of the Allied bombers. Behind the front, no-one bothered with helmets, and there were football matches in the street. On the banks of the Rhine, people were more respectful of German mortars, and tinfoil strips rained from the sky as the bombers foxed the German Radar. More than a thousand guns attempted to suppress the German AA. I am guessing here that Yoxall is quoting an Army Group release which counts only heavier guns and this is why the number of guns seems so disappointingly low compared with Russian attacks. Pathfinders marked a night attack on Wesel to support the Commandos making a night attack. That is, everyone really was involved. It is like when Palo Alto High is runing up the score against poor old San Jose, and everyone gets to carry the ball in the last quarter. Yoxall spent the night in a former German bomber base, with empty concrete bomb stores and the remains of “Tiffy rockets” everywhere. When the paratroopers were seen, they were dropping into a haze marked by the flash of light flak, which does not sound encouraging, considering that only light flak can really engage paratrooper carriers coming in at low altitude. “Six or seven fell in flames” before Yoxall’s eyes. This is not what the mothers of the world want to hear! He thinks that most of the crew managed to parachute safely, so that the paratrooper casualties must have been much lighter than the number of aircraft lost  would suggest. 

“Must,” he says. The Marine Corps is probably raising a parachute division as I write.

Here and There

Fl. Lt. W. R.D. Perkins is the new Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, replacing the last one, who was illedkay inay ay airplaneay ashcray. The Wellington has been “retired” in the Mediterranean Theatre, after an honourable career going back to 1940. (Five years is not a long time, except to children and aircraft.) Production of Sunderlands and Stirlings(!) is to be wound down at Short and Harland. Commando is again reported missing. Wreckage has been spotted, but no survivors have been found. Lost along with Commander Brabner were Air Marshal Drummond, Air Member for Training, Sir John Abraham, Deputy Under-Secretary at the Air Ministry and Mr. H. A. Jones, the publicist, official historian, and head of the Air Historical Branch at the Ministry. Sir Napier Shaw, the former director of the Meteorological Office, died last week at 91. The closing of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan occasioned a last “Wings” parade, attended by the Prime Minister of Canada and the Governor General. This is the event that Brabner awas flying to attend. I hope that he had other business, because otherwise this is just tragic.

William Cowen is retiring from Rolls-Royce, and W. O. Manning’s son is now engaged to Howard Flanders’ daughter. Together, they will launch many proposed children in numerous homes, who will then be abandoned as bad business. Excuse me, I meant to be flippant, and ended in tragedy. Perhaps one too many lives cut off by flying in late winter weather? Thank Heavens that my husband is doing his flying in the Pacific. Francis Joseph Fogarty and Harold Thomas Lydford have been advanced to Acting-Vice Air Marshal ranks. Fogarty, 47, enlisted in the RFC as an air mechanic in 1917 and received his commission the next year. Lydford, who joined the RFC in 1916, came out of Technical Training Command. 

This is a completely spurious Google Image hit for "William Oke Manning," but it is from a fun blog.

Boeing has developed a pneumatic bomb bay door opener that throws them open in 7/10 second and closes them in 3, replacing the former electric system which took 15 seconds to open the doors fully, and even longer to close them. “Pick-up” gliders are being used as ambulances on the far bank of the Rhine. B-24s are being converted into C-109 “flying tankers” at Glenn L. Martin in Baltimore. American air casualties are falling now that the Germans aren’t shooting planes down. The RAAF has announced the sale of 87 surplus aircraft. News! Sir PatrickHennessy has joined the board of Ford Motors, Dagenham, and E. Player, technical director of Birmid, has been appointed joint managing director of Birmid and of Birmingham Aluminum Casting Company along with Cyril C. Maudsley.

H. W. Perry, “A Curtiss Ascender” The Curtiss XP-55 pursuit fighter prototype is worth another article. At least this month, when there’s no news to speak of, apart from the end of World War II in Europe, air crashes, jet fighters and the firebombing of Japan. Various other American experimental planes show a determination to keep abreast of German experimental development. Though military occupation of the rubble that used to be their factories might work, too.

“Badra," “Relatively Safe Fuel: Fire Risks Not So Great as Thought: Flash Point the Limiting Temperature” “The subject of so-called safety fuel. . . “ the flashpoint is the temperature at which sufficient volatile distillate has formed a gaseous layer above a pool of fuel that will support ignition. It occurs at -30 Celsius in conventional 100 octane fuels, and at +45 for a safety fuel of decent antiknock performance, with boiling and spontaneous ignition temperatures in the same range (150 degrees, 450—500.) since all are below the temperature of a spark, safety fuels are no safer than regular! Also, flying is safe as houses, so we don’t need to bother.

Source: Travel for Aircraft

Privateer BB4Y-2” The new Liberator variant for the United States Navy is featured. “The Navy required an aircraft with greater search efficiency, more fuselage space to stow the added equipment necessary, and a different type of armament.” Two of the eleven crew are needed to man the special equipment. All-up weight is given as between 62,000 and 65,000lbs, maximum speed as “more than 250mph,” maximum range as over 3000 miles, bomb load as up to 6000lbs. The fuselage is extended by 7 feet, and the necessary empennage achieved by reverting to a single fin and rudder, with fabric covering  retained. All of Consolidated-Vultee’s experience in mass aircraft production is put to use in the shop, so that the Privateer will be the most efficiently produced aircraft in history. The  armament will consist of twelve .50 machine guns, six in power turrets. Gun blisters are retained, which the paper describes as “rather unusual.” If they had bothered to ask your son, they would have lerarned that these are good air search stations. More importantly to your son, squadrons and, hopefully, wings of Privateers will provide a stepping stone to flag rank which does not lead through shipboard billets that he's unlikely to be able to wrest from Annapolis brats --even ones like Lieutenant A_., who only spent five minutes there. The Fleet Air Arm, so far denied a taste of Coastal Command, will not be so lucky. (If you feel like teasing James, just ask him about why Coastal “must”be turned over to the Navy.)

Speaking of postwar employment prospects, Lord Swinton warns that only a few service pilots will find positions in commercial aviation after the war.

An Australian fighter wing has been formed in Europe to give Wing Commander George Andrews something to do. Or blow up V-weapon launch sites, or to give the Australians a sense that they are participating, or … I’m slightly at a loss. The Australians want a fighter wing, because they have three squadrons? That seems fair. Air Vice-Marshal D. C. T. Bennett, who has recently written a book on how world government can lead to world peace, is to stand for the West Middlesbrough constituency for the Liberals.

“An Aileron Servo Unit: New System of Hydraulic Servo Assistance Which Does Not Eliminate ‘Feel’” Lockheed wants us to know that it has developed a hydraulic servo with feedback “feel.” It is used in the C-69 Constellation, the P-38L, and now the P-80 (which, the paper is sure to remind us, is powered by a GE turbine developed from a de Havilland design). The servos basically give a sixfold step-up in power, rather than increasing the amplification with angle, which would be more useful in countering the increased forces experienced at extreme deflections, the problem that has James tearing his hair out with his antiaircraft gun director. So it is neither as complex nor as useful as that equipment, although likely to be a great deal more practical. It also  means that the apparatus can be basically a lever, even if operating through a hydraulic transmission. But hydraulic transmission means that your youngest cannot be called out all the time to tighten cables on “Miss V.C.’s” flivver! I shall miss his awkward attempts to flirt, wafting up the eavescots of a Sunday morning as he adjusted the cables on her ready-for-the-grass Cadillac, a new feature in our mechanical menagerie since Christmas which I may not have not mentioned. 

Though I would miss them anyway come two weeks, when he is off to Michigan. I do mean "awkard," by the way. It is hard to imagine him your son, or a pilot, but he makes a perfect engineer!
The Kawasaki Lilly is a plane the Japanese have. Hawker’s Design Staff had a supper on Monday, the 26th. Mr. Sydney Camm presided, Group Captain George Bulman was toastmaster. Group Captain Horniman replied for the guests.

“Airscrew Braking” The Escher Wyss Engineering Works, Ltd. Of Zurich, the Swiss firm of turbine specialists, has developed a type of controllable-pitch airscrew “which may serve as an aeroydynamic brake on landing.” Remember those earnest salesmen from Brown-Boveri, before the war, pressing their novel gas turbines on the British and German air industries? How embarrassing.  This is like that. Everyone knows that reversible pitch airscrews will allow heavier planes to land faster. The difference is that while American and British companies are only making them, Escher-Wyss has gone to the trouble of writing an article-length advertisement for its design, complete with charts and tables, and since the paper is short of staff, why not print it?

V. L. Gruberg, “BOAC Wartime Services” BOAC flew ever more ton-millions of miles every year. How much did this cost the taxpayers? That is a very unpatriotic question to ask, but it was less per ton-mile than the Americans, so there. (We know, and invite the “postwar researcher” to ferret the numbers out after everyone has ceased to care. So, in other words, it cost taxpayers a lot. We shall run into the President of TWA below. I decided not to mention his new 22,000 acre ranch, but this month's Aviation retrospective has financials from 1935 to give you an idea of just how much he was likely to be able to have saved against his cowboy-related hobbies before the war.)

“The Capetown Conference” Capetown is  a very nice place to talk about talking about civil aviation when it is cold and dismal in England. Also talking about talking about civil aviation is Senator Brewster, in the Senate. Senator McCarran suggests that a Pan-American overseas monopoly would fix things up nicely.


Douglas Deans thinks that it is very important to have more regulations governing pilot’s licenses. Perhaps there could be a rule about those hideous pictures? Or are they only on drivers’ licenses? I can’t even look at mine.

“George” thinks that the rule requiring two pilots on small transport aircraft will have to be relaxed to make them properly economical. S. H. W. Prince supposes that the reason that many engineers at the recent R.Ae.S. debate refused to take strong positions on speed versus comfort was that engineers have a special equanimity, having been trained to see both sides of the position, which is why designers and technicians have so little strong political feeling. (I hereby extend an invitation to S. H. W. Prince to discuss “The New Deal” before the Santa Cruz County Republican Party Committee.) 

B. H. Swinhope supposes that post war private aircraft will either have retractile undercarriages, or not, depending. “Personally, I am not particularly fussy. . .I should, however, like to read any other readers’ views on the subject. . .” Someone does not know how to write a letter to the editor.

The Economist, 7 April 1945


“War and Peace” The paper lets itself believe that the war is drawing to a close. What is there to worry about now? Russia! Specifically, Russia is not pro-Dumbarton Oaks enough. But also because “Russian and American ideas of how to secure peace in the world are fundamentally different. . .”The paper intimates that the Conference should be postponed! “No,” cry out the hostesses of the West as one! Also, the paper is insulted that Gromyko rather than Molotov will head the Russian delegation. Is he the nice one?

The Reid Report” “At last, there is a real report on coal.” Which is to say, here is a report which agrees with the paper. Output per manshift was higher in Britain than anywhere else in the world except the United States before the last war, but since,  it has risen by only 14% in Britain, compared with 118% in Holland, 81% in the Ruhr, 54% in Poland. This is due in part to lack of amalgamation, in part poor capital inflows due to political uncertainty, and not enough mining engineers, say this report by mining engineers. This is why for every haulage worker, 50 tons of coal procured in the United States, 20—5 are procured in Holland, and 5 in Britain. So mechanisation is also needed, mainly of haulage from the pits. 


Well, actually, the facts are the facts; the recommendations are also just what they say they are. A capital cost of investment of 10s 6d/ton is mentioned, leading to a calculated required investment of £120 million to bring the industry up to a state of “satisfactory” technical efficiency. But will it pay? Miners, it is admitted, are due fair compensation –but cannot get it until their productivity rises, and so must mend their backward ways and come to work. Only they claim that they are not backward, that their method of working reflects conditions in British coal pits. 

Mechanisation means that the mine work force must decline,from around 780,000 to 400,000 to 500,000. No-one wants more lifes spent in the pits, and labour is short, anyway. But what about the mining villages? Since more investment Is required than is likely to be provided by private capital, there must be public intervention. There are too many miners, and the Government should do something! But not “nationalisation” as it is normally understood, for then people like the Earl would be most wroth.

“Indian Initiative” The Viceroy has come to London. It has been put about that this is to discuss the “post-Germany” phase of the war, but it is clearly about independence. Should Britain take the lead in sorting out “Hindustan” and “Pakistan” and “All-India,” or follow the lead of some other parties whose leadership is not evident? This is the kind of situation the paper loves, where one wanders about in an un-signposted housing estate, unsure of where you are, or where you are going, and –oh, look let’s have a conference about that nice garden over there! At this rate the English will be in India forever.

“Budget Hopes” The last financial year saw the greatest numbers ever attained, and, hopefully, says the paper, the largest in a long time to come, because of the paramount importance of financial responsibility. Expenditure was over £6 billion, revenues over £3. With revenue up 200 millions more than expected, and expenditures up 264, the deficit over projections is £64, even if the proportion of the budget covered by revenue is up from 52 ½ to 53 ½%. The next budget, if the war could be counted upon to last out the year, would be a mere formality. But it cannot, and the Lord Chancellor must work with two unknowns: the date the war actually ends, and the amount of expenditure relief to be gained from the peace. If the war ends by next March, the paper supposes that an expenditure of 5 ½ billion might be required, while if it ends in September, it might be as low as 4 ½. Along with relief on the expenditure side will come changes in revenue. Servicemen in peacetime employment will have higher incomes, hence higher income tax receipts, but, on the other hand, there will be less work done, as the labour force falls, even at full employment, and overtime is reduced. A release of consumer goods will raise excise taxes, and there will be  a rush to license laid-up cars. But what of tax relief? Last March the paper says, it thought it unlikely. Now, with an election looming, a possibility arises. The paper goes on to salivate a bit. Cheaper cigarettes, beer, and a lower Excess Profits Tax! Financial responsibility? Never heard of it.  

Notes of the Week

“When?” Will the war end?

“Arab Union” The seven Arab states have formed a union. It’s very Dumbarton Oaks-like. What will it achieve? Possibly not unrelated, in advance of the conference, talk of “Territorial Trusteeship.” The Austrian Resistance wants South Tyrol back from Italy. Lord Swinton’s powers as Minister of Civil Aviation have been defined. Spain is not Fascist in any way whatsoever. The pretender to the Spanish throne has graciously volunteered to return and make it even less Fascist. The Independent Labour Party has agreed to rejoin the Labour Party, with conditions, and a minority dissenting. Czechslovaks, Greeks and Argentinians are excitable. The Lords debate on homeless and neglected children was not very productive. Lord Hudson has asked for volunteer labour to bring in this year’s harvest. He wants 300,000 adults and older children to report to harvest camps, as “quite a lot” of last year’s potatoes and beets have rotted in the fields. The charge for food and accommodation in the camps is to be reduced from 28s to 21s, while payment to volunteers is to be increased to 1s an hour. VE Day will be celebrated with three days of paid holidays. Road deaths are declining thanks to the end of the blackout, with 113 deaths this February compared with 232 last.

American Survey

“Before San Francisco” By Our Correspondent in Ohio 

OCO was selected on the basis that the Mid-West does not like the rest of the world, and is suspicious of it. It also dislikes San Francisco, of course, and, really everywhere the food is strange and people are a little too social for their own good. The Mid-West is an odd person, set in his ways, with very distinct tastes and strong opinions about things. These, fortunately, are divined, easily enough by standing somewhere in Ohio and keeping your ear to the ground. OHO keeps his position with the paper by being a very good contortionist, apparently. If you were wondering, the Mid-West is pro-Yalta, anti-border revisions, pro-Poland, anti-German, etc.

American Notes

“The President’s Assistant Goes” James F. Byrnes has unexpectedly resigned as Director of War Mobilisation and Reconstruction. His exacerbating role in the new food debate is thought to be the cause. Or perhaps his stand against too-early Reconstruction.

“The Battle of the Tariff” Congress is having a gay old time arguing over the Doughton Bill, but not so much the Bretton Woods bill, which is complicated, while scheduled bilateral tariff reductions are not. Talk of a Missouri Valley Authority continues, remarkably enough, since none of the Missouri vally states want one.


The World Overseas

“Communal Settlement in Palestine” From Our Jerusalem Correspondent

OJC tells us of the qibbutzim, communistic Jewish agricultural cooperatives which own and farm 100,000 acres in Palestine. They are quite successful, apparently.

“The Ethiopian Budget” is published for the first time in an official gazette. Revenue is estimated at 38 million Maria Theresa dollars, raised from two land taxes for a total of 11 ½ million, the 2.5 million tithe, 2.1 million market revenue, 7.5 million in Customs, 2.5 million income tax, 1.7 million salt and tax monopolies, 5 million from mining, mostly gold, bound for America. Expenditures are army 10 million, police 5 ½ million public works 3 ¼, provincial administration 2 ½, education 1.7 million, Ministry of Finance, 2 ½ million, Ministry of Justice, 1 ½ million. I copy it out at length in the thought that if you wanted to know what, say, the ancient Roman or Persian or even Han imperial budgets looked like, it would probably be much like this.

Business notes are overtaken in this number by the summary account of last year’s business. The Earl might want to pick up his own copy, as there’s rather a lot to summarise, and the only “new” news is that stocks are up with expectations of final victory. 

Flight, 12 April 1945


“The Price Paid” It seems as though all those aircraft shot down in flames actually caused some casualties. It should remind us that the peacetime RAF budget will have to be very large forever.

“Empire Air Training” The ongoing demobilisation of the Scheme has not led to the eathday of any more air dignitaries in air-ay accidents-ay.

“Air Transport Training” Let’s talk about talking about. . 
War in the Air

The entire Ruhr has been surrounded by American armies. Wiener Neustadt and Hamm, both familiar “targets for tonight,” have fallen. The Canadians are racing across northern Holland, incidentally clearing the V-weapon launch sites and relieving the starvation. Now only the air-launched V1s are a threat. The Dutch must be relieved, as about half the weapons launched fell within a few miles of the launching sites. Kiel is now being bombed again to keep down German submarine production. Losses on the return journey of the latest Russian convoy underline that the submarines are still out there. The Eder dam has been captured, and found to have been fully repaired. General Eisenhower supposes that the German armies will not formally surrender, but just melt away in mopping-up operations. The Japanese cabinet has fallen, with a general swing away from the Army towards the Navy. The Soviet government has denounced the Nonaggression Pact, as legally required, and as indicated by their refusal to renew it early last year. The Japanese Navy’s war has been a disaster of one defeat after another due to the weakness of their naval airpower, which could only manage to sink two of our battleships by actually bombing them. That is why the recent air attacks on American fleets lying off the islands around Japan have led to the loss of hundreds of machines “without doing any damage of consequence.” 

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Then, having lost all their planes, they sent out their last modern battleship, two light cruisers and six destroyers to attack Vice-Admiral Mitscher’s fast carrier force “60 miles south of the home island of Kyushu," They were al sunk. In other “Japanese naval disaster” news, the Japanese 15th Army has been “decisively defeated,” says Lord Mountbatten. The BBC announcer mispronounced “Shan,” and air transport support was credited with the victory. Berlin is now being bombed by Mosquitoes flying from bases on the continent. Neither of these last stories has anything to do with the header, but at least they involve British air power.

Here and There

The RAeS debate scheduled for Monday next has been postponed, but the ATC national boxing championships will go ahead as scheduled. There has been another Spanish glider soaring record. The first duties of the new French Air Force will be to be an air force, says minister Charles Terron, who went on to fire his translator. In regards to the new London Airport design, it is necessary to talk about talking about it. At the Vickers annual general meeting, it is allowed that they built 28,000 aircraft, repaired 9000, and built Illustrious, Victorious, and Indomitable. Mr. Blackburn says that the company may establish a Canadian branch. “Ten Thousand Good Japs” is the heartwarming title of a short bit reporting General Kenney’s claim that the Far Eastern Air Forces have destroyed 10,000 Japanese aircraft in the last period. The paper is probably not needed to tell you that Air Commodore D. J. Waghorn has died in a flying accident, but remarks, as you  have, that he was the younger brother of the Schneider Cup-winning Flt. Lt. H. R. D. Waghorn, who was also killed in an air accident a few years after his win. The boy would be sixteen, now?

Western Flying reports that a C-97 recently made a record trip from Seattle to Washington of 6 hr 3 min 50 sec (383mph) at 300,000ft with a payload of 20,000lbs. Recent pictures of the Grummans Avenger and Hellcat show a large bulge in the wing which “possibly houses some form of Radar.” Some Lockheed P-38s and Curtiss Warhawks are known to have ben fitted with “retracting skis.” Some of 8th Air Force P-38s have been fitted with a nose extension to carry a bombardier. Major C. M. Carrington, formerly of KLG, has joined Smith and Sons. Mr. R. Stammers, of Rotol, has relinquished his position.  The Bell XP-77 is announced.

John Yoxall, “Air and the Rhine Crossing”  Our War Correspondent can now report that the plan was for, first, all of our frontline troops to be withdrawn from the river bank under the cover of a continuous smokescreen which was held for days in the mild March weather, to be replaced by that enormous concentration of 1000 guns. At 5:30,  Bomber Command “blot[ted] out life” (charming!) in the vicinity of Wesel. Immediately after this raid ended, the barrage began, with a heavy proportion of air-burst shells to suppress German AA and kill boys horribly. At 9:30PM, the Commandoes crossed the Rhine and took up positions within 1200 yards of Wesel. At 10:30, Bomber Command returned with 400 Lancasters for another go. Directly on the heels of this raid, the Commandoes attacked and occupied Wesel. Other troops crossed at other points during the night, but they weren't dashing commandoes, so they don't count. At 10:30AM, the barrage ended along a corridor to allow the 6th British Airborne Division and 17th US Airborne Division to land on the high ground northeast of Wesel, with resupply flights immediately following before the German AA could rally. The two parachute assault streams came from airfields in France and the United Kingdom, and were merged in the air at Wavre, which sounds as though it were an impressive thing that people couldn't do in 1939, and which we now take for granted. “The capture of Wesel cost the army 90 casualties. Without air support it might easily have cost 3000 lives alone,” and this is due to all aspects of the British air arm, including Bomber Command, which destroyed German war production by severing its transportation and curtailing coal and ore deliveries.  Hawker Tempests were used in the ground support role for the first time. One air observer described the area of the parachute assault as “like a fantastic set-piece at a a Hendon display.” I only ever saw one Hendon display, but I’m impressed with the realism, especially with the flak and the “aircraft . . . going down on fire.”

G. Geoffrey Smith, “On Jets and Turbines” Uncle George’s sweetie is back to tell us about the Lockheed P-80 and Bell Airacomet. He also wants to argue with one Thomas N. Dalton, who thinks that jet turbines are much oversold due to their poor (actually, Dalton says, “horrid”) fuel efficiency. G. Geoffrey Smith thinks that this criticism is oversold. He also suggests that, in the future, there might be private jet planes, presumably for those with the need for speeds and ranges that will justify flying in the stratosphere. (I should like one. Breakfast in Hong Kong, lunch in London, dinner in San Francisco! I think my husband would consider that a bit of an extravagance, though.) Also, H. Hall Hibbard takes the time to fight the general misapprehension that jets work by “pressing against the outside air.” Sir Richard Fairey has asked to be allowed to resign from the British Air Commission in Washington, where he has been since 1941, on grounds of health. Mr. Petter, late of Westland, has joined English Electric, and has exciting aviation plans.

Mum's the word, chums! 

“The Miles M. 48 and M. 61” The first is a proposed postwar small private aircraft. The latter is a “military and civil freighter” with a possible all up weight of 24,000lbs and an American engine.

“The De HavillandDove: Modern Successor to the Dragon Rapid: 8 to 11 Passengers: Official Designation D.H. 104” This is more-or-less the announcement that the proposed DH104, whose details are still secret, will be called the “Dove.” 

“Blackburn Project: Flying Boat of More than 300,000lb Gross Weight: Six Engines and Pressure Cabin for Operation at 15,000ft” The paper points out that since inAmerica they are already developing a gigantic flying boat, Britain should, too, and Blackburn is somewhat interested in doing the same provided that the Government pays for it.  The paper points out that we would also need harbour icebreakers, but, really, why not? In summary, the paper really likes flying boats, and is at a loss why everyone else doesn’t. This reminds me of a ten year old interrupting the Roy Rogers fan club with a case for Gene Autry.  That is in case you were wondering what kind of conversations you overhear at the doctor’s office nowadays, and sort of a preparatory for your peacetime grandfatherly duties. 


P. A. Hearne is confused about Newtonian physics. “Sentek” thinks that part-time “B” rates of the Royal Observer Corps has been slighted on gratuities compared with “A” members. Leonard Bridgman points out that the Curtiss “Ascender” was nicknamed for “Rabelaisian” reasons. He further points out that some of the “X” fighters were just variants of existing planes. “Napper” thinks that “Realist’s” plea for a public relations campaign to “sell” air safety would be expensive, and that the money would be better used to reduce air fares. 

The Economist,  14 April 1945


“Odour of Dissolution” Is not coming from the German army, but from Parliament, where the Coalition is coming to an end. The paper can hardly wait to agonise endlessly over which party to support. 

“Russia and Japan” Russia has denounced the treaty, meaning that it comes to an end next year; but it has also accused Japan of rendering assistance to Germany, rendering the treaty null and void. Will Russia invade and recover the territories and concessions lost in the Treaty of Portsmouth. Will Russia take sides in China, supporting the Communists? Or will she simply bring diplomatic pressure to bear against Japan to gain its ends? Will the conditions of “unconditional surrender” be clarified? Will the new Japanese cabinet be able to make peace, and will it be moved to do so by anything less than a Russian declaration of war? So many things to talk about.

“French Economic Policy” M. Pleven is triumphant over Mendes-France, who resigns. The paper seems to prefer Mendes-France’s policies, which are more like the Belgian, which the paper likes, as they are more strongly anti-inflationary. I, on the other hand, like M. Pleven’s policies, which aim to crack down on tax evasion. Less internal tax evasion means more external! Perhaps I should only think that, not say it?

Notes of the Week

The Nazis have now lost half of Germany, although more than three times the area that is left remains under occupation in Scandinavia, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Italy and Jugoslavia. The remaining strip in Germany is only 120 miles wide! “Displaced Persons” are becoming an increasing concern. There are some 7 million now, but this excludes prisoners of war and civilian internees.  Some eight million foreign workers were in Germany, and even settling them down as they wander is proving hard, never mind repatriating the Poles and Russians. This will be a great test of the Allies and the UNRRA.

Local government bills, doings and acts are endlessly fascinating to all. Although at least the French municipal elections at the end of June will be a first poll of French opinion.

“House Repairs” The debate in the House focussed on Government exaggerations of the extent to which they have been done. Any suggestion that they are complete will bring a flood of evacuees flooding back to London. (Which evacuees, you ask? The ones who weren’t scared away by the ineffectual German rockets and guided bombs which had no useful effect.) Mr. Sandys states that although 800,000 homes are now “tolerably comfortable,” another 250,000 to 300,000 remain to be done, and 40,000 are so heavily damaged as to require more extensive repairs. By contrast, in the entire rest of the country, only 10,000 are in this category. The current repair force of 141,000 is considered the peak, and the police ae called upon to keep them working on high priority repairs instead of private internal decoration work.

The situation in Holland is difficult. Many new and repaired schools are needed to implement the Butler Act provisions raising the school leaving age to 15, etc, and only 50,000 workers are available to do it, which is unlikely to be enough. In other school news, the school meal charge will probably be 4d per dinner in primary and secondary schools and 3d for nursery schools. Two-thirds of a pint of milk will be provided daily, and regulations to avoid watery cabbage soup and stodgy puddings will be welcomed.

Argentines, Poles and Greeks are still excitable. But in a novel departure, so are Swedes!


Roy Lowenstein and G. L. Bruce write on “the problem of Germany.” J. E. Allen writes on tax relief and the financial minutiae of the budget documents published last week. Joan Robinson is doubtful of the paper’s plan for amalgamating the coal mining industry. Hermann Levy thinks that the reason that there are too many inefficient retailers is the prevalence of national brands, so that manufacturers have no-one to blame but themselves. C. H. Nathan of the National Society of Children’s Nurseries writes that postwar, the nation will need nurseries for all children under school age, and not just for those under 2, as the paper supposes, and adds that nursery school teachers should be better trained, better paid and more numerous, and mothers should not be criticised for availing themselves of nursery services.

American Survey

American Notes

“Another Lewis Victory” Soft coal operators have granted another increase of $1.50 a day. This makes $5000, as in, the cost of a $5000 house, in 12 years, as Uncle George would point out. Debt service would push this out into a lifetime, to be sure, but we are talking about the cost of a house in terms of a pay raise! Little Steel is thus broken, and more strikes may be expected. It is not clear how much leeway the new Director of Economic Stabilisation will give the operators to raise coal prices. It is clear that someone will be able to sell more houses.

“International Votes” The San Francisco Conference will not be postponed. The President supports Russia’s request for votes in the assembly for the Ukraine and White Russia. Senator Vandenberg wants a fight over Poland. Russia’s denunciation of the neutrality pact is very exciting.  Mr. Byrne’s final report promises new refrigerators, pots and pans very soon after VE Day, but warns of a continuation of price and wage controls, high tax rates, and mild unemployment. The manpower registration act fails some more. (It sits down in the powder room with the “Pan-American monopoly” bill and has a good cry.) Admiral King wants to keep a large navy, and many Pacific islands, in case the Pacific War happens again.

The Business World

“Art and Industry” The editor of Art and Industry says that industrial things should be artistic. Something to do with “designer fees?”

“A Pottery Plan” The National Society of Pottery Workers have a plan for the national reconstruction of the pottery industr. A page and a half !

Business Notes

Stocks are up. American surplus aircraft are being disposed of, and there might be as many as 8000 transports surplus to requirements, when only some 600 were in civilian use around the world before the war, but they won't last very long, even if they are not flown into German machine guns. Mining taxes are being discussed in the wake of Lord Geddes’ report on the industry. Wool production is already too high, and postwar meat shortages may push it up higher if people start voluntarily eating more mutton, so that more sheep are raised. . . Therefore more uses for wool are needed, and so we must have “Wool Research.”

“Comparative Food Consumption” A study of consumption in Canada, the United States and Great Britain shows that America has all the food. (Well, actually, Canada does, per capita, but there are hardly any Canadians.)  America had a supply of 155.4lbs of meat per head in 1944! This is compared with 208lbs of grain, so that with dairy and eggs included, Americans have more protective foods (fruit and vegetables excluded) than grain per head of population. The winter milk yield is up, as are stocks. The long saga of the Texas Land and Mortgage Company may be unwound at the London Stock Exchange this week. Equities are up again. The coal miners, it is hoped, will embrace full technical efficiency. In an ad, Ryvita promises to do its best to revitalise British world trade by exporting to places such as the Falkland Islands, Fiji, Luxembourg, the Argentine and Canada. (A partial list.)

Ryvita --All British since 1930! I did not know that.

Aviation,  April 1945

The Privateer makes the cover in an ad for its “reliable” Pratt & Whitney engines.

Down the Years in AVIATION’s Log

Twenty-five years ago, Cabot of Boston (where else?) “commences experiments in pick-up.” Air Service Engineering Division built its universal test engine, the Navy was making flotation bags for planes, and Monel metal was approved by the British for engine valves. Fifiteen years ago, Packard brought out its diesel aircraft engine, Douglas had $3,283,236 in assets, U.S. air exports totalled $600,000 in January, a Martin torpedo plane dived 5000ft with the first 1000lb bomb, Boeing delivered 37 P-12s to the Army, and United challenged the constitutionality of Wyoming and Montana's gas taxes. Ten years ago, Hitler announced the existence of the German air force, Consolidated reported a 1934 profit of $6,650, and the NAA called on the states to exempt airlines from gas taxes.


Line Editorial

James McGraw, Jr., believes that “America Wants Prosperity.” I don’t know. Sounds unlikely to me. Perhaps Mr. Gallup could do a poll? His point is that he just read Prosperity: We Can Have it if We Want It, by Messrs. Shields and Woodward. The book will attract both acclaim and dissent, McGraw thinks, by rejecting, as means of promoting prosperity, whatever their other merits, “programs for public works, slum clearances, subsidizing of small business, foreign loans, social insurance, deficit government spending, redistribution of income, the numerous formulae for monetary management, repeal of the anti-trust laws, or any of the loosely-phrased admonitions that government should do nothing and allow everything to take its course untrammeled by controls of any kind.”
Rather, under free enterprise, prosperity depends on a system for promoting capital investment, continuing improvement in productivity per man-hour of work, and enlarging markets by producing the goods that consumers want at lower prices, thereby increasing effective incomes. McGraw is upset that although everyone agrees that government action is a last resort, all the substantive discussion turns on when and how that action will be needed to prevent deflation. There is no talk of the kind of policies needed to promote prosperity at other times.
So: above all, we need full employment. This allows for “frictional unemployment,” which is to say, people between jobs, and not like Mrs. Murphy’s brother, either! But however defined, that residual cannot mean the 15 to 20 million unemployed in 1939. This is the end to which Senator Murray proposed his “Full Employment Bill." To reach, at last, something resembling a point, Junior doesn’t like the book, which dislikes the bill, or the bill, either. Junior does not like sweeping assertions and grand plans.


“Surplus –The Industry’s Sword of Damocles” Leslie E. Neville tells his story about the fellow who sold new planes in 1919, had his delivery pilots stop in a field, and substituted old war surplus engines for  the new ones. Again. The point is that we have to scrap all the war surplus.

James G. Ray, Vice-President, Southwest Airlines, “Measuring the Feederline Market: Part I of a Series” I do not know if you have any plans of going into the feederline business, sir. Let me know if you do, and I send you a copy; also, Howard W. Hartley, Aviation Editor, St. Petersburg Evening Independent, “Florida Coordinates Action on Aviation Legislation.”

“Tips and Techniques for Alaska-Bound Flyers” Flying the northern route between Montana and Alaska is quite dangerous, and safety depends on proper interpretation of poor meteorological information, good navigation and Boy Scout preparedness.

 Also, lots of black humour to remind you that most of the boys doing this are Tommy Wong’s age.

John D. Waugh, Propeller Division, Curtiss-Wright Corp., “Design Progress on Junkers Hydraulic Propellers” Junkers has its own line of propellers, which are installed mainly on the Jumo 211 engines used by only four German types (Ju 87, 88, -188, and Do 217).  So Junkers has been playing around in this little garden to see what works, and what doesn’t. Mr. Waugh is generally not impressed by the work, which is heavy and lacks detailed finish and often incorporates clearly undesireable features, but thinks that the experiments are interesting.

Charles H. Hurcamp, Head of Design Department, St. Louis Plant, Aircraft Division, Curtiss-Wright, “Why More than Two Engines?” Everyone else is building their big airliners with four engines. Everyone else is wrong. Buy the CW-20.

Harold E. Lemont, Jr. “Rotor-Craft Speeds are Due for a Doubling” Now that the experimental phase is over, high-speed helicogyros will rapidly follow. Some people think that rotary wing aircraft will get up to 600mph. They are wrong. Others think that the speed will be limited to 200mph. They are wrong, too. (The main argument here is about compressibility limits on rotor tip speeds.) Future helicogyros, which will have multiple engines geared to individual propellers, will have propellers in tractor as well as vertical positions (and engine cooling fans, because that wasn't enough gearing already), and thus achieve speeds comparable to “frozen-wing” aircraft. They will also require rolling takeoffs, which I thought was the thing that “rotor-craft” didn’t need?

D. R. Abrams, Chairman, Change Control, Georgia Div., Bell Aircraft Corp, “Modifying Superbombers on the Production Lines” The B-29 is ready for service right now because Bell was allowed to fiddle with the planes as they were made. This required a huge amount of organisation so as for planes to not just fall out of the skies, as that is Wright's job.

K. R. Jackman, Chief Test Engineer, Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corp., San Diego, “Aviation Laboratory Organisations Prewar andn Postwar, Part IV” All firms should have testing laboratories. some should have “practical” laboratories, fewer should have "theoretical” laboratories. Firms might look to independent laboratories, such as Arthur D. Little in Boston, or fund university fellowships, but “research monopolies” are bad. J. D. Bernal tells us that in Britain in 1939, four-fifths of independent research was going on at only 10 firms. Ten is too few. Diagrams of existing laboratory organisations at Lockheed and pictures of Chrysler labs show white coats and mysterious apparatus.

R. J. Considine, Engineering Development, Douglas Aircraft Corp, “See Promise in Papreg for Aircraft Structures” See editors not.

George H. Tweney, Consulting Aeronautical Engineer, “Is Airplane Stability Such a Mystery?” It’s easy to understand aircraft stability if they’re not going very fast, and you’re a whiz at solving differential equations.

“Five Shop-Method Improvements by Navy Mechanics” But do they have an ideal laboratory organisation?

E. F. Lindsley, “Trouble Shooting ‘The Elimination Way’” Lindsley walks us through the “trouble shooting” method of solving a ‘rough engine squawk” before it turns into a disaster.

Edward E. Thorp, Assistant Editor, Aviation, “New Air Position Indicator Checks Course Constantly” The internal workings of the new Eclipse-Pioneer air position indicator are a closely guarded secret (editor!), but here is how to read the dials. Actually, this is more interesting than it sounds. It is all very well to have a device that provides a navigator with an automatic track, but asking him to convert from spherical to plane geometry out on the lonely Pacific is just giving him an opportunity to make a tragic mistake. Eclipse (or someone, see below) tries to make this as simple as possible.

James B. Rea, Engineering Test Pilot and Design Specialist, Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corp., “How Engineering Can Simplify Cruise Control” Fuel consumption per hour is determined by altitude, throttle setting, engine rpm. These in turn affect utilisation of aircraft by month, most obviously by payload carried, but also by maintenance, I suppose. 

Raymond L. Hoadley, “’Level Off Looms for Airline Profits” Also under civil operations are articles about turning handy barns into hangars, and making more money off airport busses. And “Stabinol,” last heard of in connection with roads in Burma.

“Johnson Company tests New Rocket 185” Because what American needs is another cabin two-seater. (Skylark announces four designs, and Hughes wants to make a feederliner.)

“Douglas A-26 Invader Proves ‘Hottest’ Attack Bomber” A brief discussion of the Army’s latest bomber indicates progress in “laminar flow” wings, new flaps, and new rolling processes at the aluminum  mill. The main spars are “built up of unspliced spar caps with integral end fittings,” requiring that the rolled billet be  split diagonally. The skin, like that of the B-29, is unusually thick, thus do not wrinkle in wing deflection, preserving the laminar air flow.

John L. Kent, Staff Sergeant, ASF, “AAF Battlefront Engineers FIGHT to BUILD."

Aviation News

Debate continues on the McCarran Bill to make Pan-American the American overseas "air instrument" and allow railway companies to “integrate” airlines into their operations. Because monopolies are good, after all.

America at War: Aviation’s Communique No. 39

Considering that we are now attacking Germany with 8000 planes, some observers are disappointed that we had to have a land war, too. Ohers suggest that with all the planes that we’ll be bombing Japan with, this time we’ll win the war with bombing. General Arnold says that air power has replaced sea power as America’s first line of defence, which is why we must maintain research, production and training capabilities. Others wonder whether anyone is even trying with this feature, and not style similarities to.. . .
The Washington Windsock
“Gas turbine and propeller power plants will probably be tried in heavy military aircraft before the war is over.” Reciprocating engines might be used as jet engines. There is talk of a Secretary of Air in the postwar cabinet, instead of a Secretary of Transportation. Washington is hot, humid and crowded.  My termination is effective on V-J Day. I think I'm going to skim the headlines of the Times and have another drink.

Aviation Manufacturing

February aircraft output was 6,286, another 3% decline. The main reasons for this “fourth straight month of decline” (remember that the increase in June broke a seven month streak of declines) are design changes and labour shortages. The lag is entirely in “critical models,” which makes it more worrying.  On the bright side, the Lockheed Shooting Star contract reveals a large jet-power programme, and the Sikorksy R-6 helicopter programme is large, too. The paper at last admits that the Meteor was the first Allied jet plane in combat against the enemy, and notes that DeHavilland has a jet fighter in development, too. Consolidated-Vultee’s San Diego plant contract for Privateers is noted again. Willow Run, meanwhile, is still making B-24s. An electronic control device for automatic riveters is speeding production of Convair’s Dominators, about which no-one cares anymore. (Notice that they even have to use a different name for their company!)
Free association

Transport Aviation

Pan Am! Airlines need new transports. Martin is making 20 newer, bigger Mars JRM for the Naval Air Transport Service, as mentioned in Flight. Questions are raised about civil air in Alaska, such as whether Alaskan carriers will be allowed to “extend” into the United States, and about the Chinese and Russians, who will obviously want to make their point of entry into the hemisphere.

Aviation Abroad

The paper notices the kerfuffle about the “new” British spark plug, more than a year after the President mentioned it in his State of the Union speech. France’s giant Loire et Olivier SE-200 flying boat is reported to have been shot down in a test flight over the Mediterranean. The Germans are attacking Britain with anew, longer range model of robobomb. “Australia National Airways has bought 60 acres adjoining Parafield railway station in South Australia for postwar development. It is planned to convert a building figuring in deal for use as a modern air travel center.” This is a direct translation from the Australian, by the way. A new record in the Blue Riband of the Air has been set at 6 hr, 8 min, by a Canadian made Mosquito eastward bound. The Hermes, Tudor, Brabazon and Vickers VC-1 are all reported.

Side slips

Hilarity for thismonth leads off with “25,000 Japanese coming in at 8 feet,” baseball games on airfields, and the shortage of meat and cigarettes. Also, some A-26 pilots in training make “Side Slipper” very upset at Americans who like griping, slacking and strikes.

Fortune,  April 1945

The special  talking about talking about civil aviation issue! It will be like the one about “the west,” only with not as many nice pictures.

The Job Before Us

“Westward Look” The goddess of history will look down on San Francisco on 25 April. It will not, precisely, be a peace conference, but it will be something, because it will create a new and improved League of Nations, and we all remember how important that was.

“The Murray Bill: Employment for What?” The paper gives a clearer account of the bill than James McGraw can bring himself to produce, but is even more skeptical, disagreeing with Life, and promises a further explanation in its upcoming review of Dr. Alvin Hanson’s new book.

“Solvent Enterprise but no Fat Cats” Profits have been high, dividends low, and American business is sitting on healthy bank accounts. Should well-heeled companies invest to create new jobs, as the Engineer urged much less solvent companies to do a dozen years ago? Or will they just let the money sit, unable to see the way to effective investments?

“U.S. Meets U.S.S.R. in Manchuria” The Cairo Declaration announced that Manchuria would be returned to China and that Korea would become a free and independent nation after the war. But clearly Russia has its nationalistically-communistic eye on this rich and beautiful land, which is not at all a sub-Arctic wasteland, but rather a hundred million acres of rolling land yielding bounteous harvests of soybean, kaoliang and millet, 8 million tons of iron and 27 million tons of coal per year, with twice as much railway mileage and eight times as much road mileage as it had before the time when it didn't. “Manchuria became one of the biggest industrial areas in Asia.” Obviously Russian wants to keep it. Who doesn’t want to go to war with America, China and Japan at the same time?

Who will help Russia get Manchuria? The “anti-China party” of friends of the Communists, officers of the United States Army, Old China Hands, transient journalists, America-loving isolationists and Russia-approving internationalists. Pretty much everyone who believes the“Wild tales [that] circulate in Washington and Chungking,” and various people just do not understand Chinese ways, such as our ancient tradition of taking 5 percent off the top and reinvesting it in American real estate. What could possibly unite such a disparate group and motivate them to maliciously allege the incompetence of Chungking? Oh! I know the answer to that question. It was explained to me in painful detail by an invalided Marine colonel when I made the mistake of talking to him about the Governor's candidacy after the county party meeting last week. (Not to give away the ending, but it's the Jews. Says the colonel, not the paper. At least, not yet, thank Heavens.)

“War, Cash and Corporations” Total private business holdings in cash and government securities have reached 32 billions, equal to the whole US national income in 1932. Gross receipts of US corporations in 1929 were $159 billion, in 1941, $190, and in the last three years they have ranged upwards of $250 billion. Lower operating costs with increased volume have led net income to rise from $9 billion in 1929 to $22 billion before taxes in 1944. “Profits before taxes also represent profits after renegotiation,” and it is likely that renegotiations have missed many wartime profit increases. Still, renegotiations have taken back $8 billion in excess profits, of which only $6 billion would likely have gone as taxes. These are also profits after depreciation. A good example of how depreciation has worked out well for entrepeneurs is Fontana, where Uncle Henry, had the war ended last year, “could have done no worse than to let RFC foreclose,” and by the end of 1946 will have been able to charge off 80% of the cost of building (with money borrowed from the RFC), or to claim a tax refund “big enough to take care of most of the rest –provided he has enough income to rate a high tax.”
There are many other Economist-style this-but-on-the-other-hand-that’s on the way to the conclusion that American business has huge cash reserves equal to two years of maximum capital investment at a $170 billion gross national product without looking to the banks for external financing. You would think that this would mean that business is sitting pretty, but if you said that, you couldn't argue for tax reductions.

“General Mills of Minneapolis” General Mills is the company of Betty Crocker, and is America’s largest miller. It also sponsors the Lone Ranger, Jack Armstrong, All-American Boy and Valiant Lady. Of twenty-three General Mills flour mills across the country employing a total of 5000 people, Buffalo’s is the largest, though unless it is much the largest, processing the output of 5000 acres each day into enough flour for 6 million loaves of bread. Fourteen sets of rollers, in some processes, polish and nibble the water-tempered wheat berry before they are roasted and fired from guns(!) to make Wheaties, Kix and Cheerioats. Brands, advertising and breakfast cereal all combine to fight the trend to declining flour sales, which have dropped some 10% per capita in the last fifty years.

My point here, such as it is, is that in the last seventy years, somehow grain milling became a smaller business than newspapers, at least in terms of employment.

“The Pentagon: U.S. Army Headquarters Become the Powerhouse of the Nation” The first colour picture of the new home of the Army shows it to be an enormous, and truly strange building. The parking lot is pretty big, too. You’ve probably heard all the statistics, the 42 acres of ground space, 200 telephone operators, eight cafeterias serving 55,000 meals, the 32,500 men who work there.

I just want to call your attention to all the parking!

Let’s Talk about Talking About Civil Aviation

I take it back. There are some pictures, and a profile of TWA which isn’t repeating old details, but, basically. . . 

“Crusade for Truth” Kent Cooper of the Associated Press leads a worldwide campaign for freedom of the press. The paper balances between being skeptical and cynical, and hopeful. It is also very upset at the way that certain people on the left are criticising Cooper. Those leftists are far too pro-Russian.

“Cancer: Notes of Hope” I would not read this dreadful thing were I not promised hope. The hopes are: i) Science might eventually discover what causes cancer; ii) x-ray diagnosis and early treatment; iii) public awareness of common cancer signs, leading to early treatment; iv) improvements on existing treatments, which rely on the physical destruction of cancerous tissue, by means of better radiation therapy; v) more aggressive anti-cancer surgery thanks to plasma, sulfa drugs and penicillin; vi) identification of cancerigenic agents such as certain tars, organic dyes and arsenic, short-stemmed clay pipes, betel nut-chewing, yellow butter dye and radiation; vii) hormone treatment and castration; viii) enzyme treatment, or, more generally, with various chemical “bombs” which attack cancer cells via their fuel-transport mechanism; ix) “chemotherapy” with various chemicals which attack cancer cells.
More money for research into cancer treatments is crucial to further progress, and so fund-raising and foundation support is very important.

The Farm Column
A lean beef year is developing. Which is odd, because the live cattle population has hit 80 million.  Eventually, Ladd gets aroundn to partially eplaining why: half of current consumption is of uninspected beef, which cannot cross state lines, it is consumed in producing states like Texas, Nebraska and Colorado. Since the government takes half of beef slaughtered in Federally-inspected facilities, regions which depend on these are short of beef right now. These include New York and New Jersey, where the black market is flourishing, and buyers are flouting the price ceilings. Add in the shortage of transport, and this is pretty much the explanation.

Ladd goes on to explain that butchers are sure that OPA regulations are enriching ranchers; feedlot owners think that there is a conspiracy to push us to grass-fed beef; and ranchers think that the price ceilings are an attempt to push the herd population down. In short, in typical Ladd Haystead fashion, some horrid malaise of cycles of diminishing returns are spreading across the industry and will comprehensively dismantle it, leading to a critical shortage of beef in no time. then, Ladd being Ladd, he also needs to show just how much he knows about American beef, and get onto the subject of small grains, in the bargain. So he xplains that another problem is that the beef feeding industry has been in trouble during the war. The government, looking to maximise production, and in particular edible fats, encouraged a shift of feed grains to hogs, which produce more meat per pound of feed than do feedlot cattle. 

Ladd is then again Ladd, as he dismantles his own point by observing that an oversupply of hogs led to a call for a cull, which is why all that bacon ended up going to Britain last year. This year’s hog cro will be 29% below 1943’s, leading to more feed for cattle, and with supplies of corn and oats up 8% year over year on January 1, 5% more beef were on feed at that time than the year before. Besides, a huge proportion of the corn left in the fields was by this time too wet to be shelled and binned. A hundred million bushels are out there ready to be consumed by feeder cattle. As this does not sound like a crisis at all, Ladd adds that since  feeders no not see a chance at a profit, they not expand their herds, except to the extent that they have already done so. At no point in the column is the shortage of rail cars mentioned, because this would be an explanation for what is going on that did not imply that everyone in the industry is feeling the pinch of declining profits and about to abandon food production.

I suppose that it would be cavalier of me to blithely predict a beef surplus to to with last year's bacon surplus and the trains of bad eggs derailing on their way to open-pit mines, but it really does seem to me that the experts are trying to turn a coordination problem into another famine scare.

Books and Ideas

So Dr. Alvin Hanson, so well beloved of The Economist’s New York Correspondent, has a book out. No-one has been talking about it in the way that they have about Hayek and Beveridge, and no wonder, with a title like America’s Role in the World Economy.

You’ll see why I’m reminded when I turn to the review. If McGraw and the paper agree on anything this month, it is that they dislike the Murray Bill.  So why not take that a little further and intimate a problem with “full employment” itself? Having opened the case against full employment, the paper discovers this to be a problem with Hanson’s book. The “risks” of a full-employment policy are scarcely considered. Indeed, Hanson believes that with full employment at home, and the beneficient oversight of international institutions, the problem of world trade will settle itself. With full employment in mind, Hanson is criticised for not taking a strong enough stand against tariffs. He does not deem the Smoot-Hawley Tariff as a cause of the Depression.

I recognise this argument from one too many teas with the Engineer, who, by the way, cannot be gentled into considering the possibility that, as President, it was rather his job to veto the tariff if it were so pernicious. Now, even though I think that the Engineer's problem is that he is not nearly as smart as he thinks he is, at the same time, I will grant that he is not a stupid man. It seems to me that the reason that he did not veto the Smoot-Hawley Tariff when he could does not imply that he was indifferent to the Crash. It implies that in his heart of hearts, he knows that it was not the tariff that caused it. He just accepted the idea that only "socialism" could stop the Depression, and he didn't want socialism.

So, too, people who share the Engineer's way of thinking do not like socialism when it is bruited now. The paper is also appalled by the way that Dr. Hanson advocates exchange controls to limit the imports of consumer goods into backwards producer countries, as these controls will be like the first sip for a dipsomaniac, and must lead to “economic authoritarianism.” Dr. Hanson believes that the business cycle must be controlled domestically and internationally by budget measures. The paper agrees, but so long as it does not involve “spending,” and “he does not put primary emphasis on a competitive private market.” In short, most of what we can do to stabilise the business cycle will lead to socialism, and so cannot be done.

Also reviewed: China Among the Powers, by David Nelson, believes that China will continue to be weak for a generation yet, that its industrialisation prospects are distant, and that population growth is likely to outpace economic. Manya Gordon, How to Tell Progress from Reaction is actually a book by Mrs. Simeon Strunky, who relates the views of the fictitious Mr. Hopewell, Confused yet? The point is that Mr. Hopewell/Miss Gordon/Mrs. Strunky concludes that Communist Russia is an awful place, but this commonplace is immunised from the charge that it comes from a capitalist flunky by being put in the mouth of one fictional character, as related by a possibly semi-fictional persona. I hope no-one is regretting the dollar they dropped on this number.

Business at War

More talking about talking about civil aviation! In this case, Transportes Aereos Centro Americanos. Also, Cornell’s school of labour relations has many interesting suggestions about the future of business-labour relations in America.

Aircraft Engineering

Since you have a (library, so please be careful!) number in your hand, I thought I might catch you up with J. Lockwood Marsh’s Aircraft Engineering.

It's not that I am not interested, it is that I do not have a subscription, although I did arrange forthe university to take one. Between submarines and paper shortages, it has not always been available, or rewarding, and the 1945 numbers will just about fit into a letter envelope. Lieutenant-Colonel Marsh  is much my favourite editor. He has strong but well thought out, and certainly not obnoxious opinions. Unfortunately, it is a technical paper, and those opinions are not always terribly salient.

One that matters a very great deal, however, is the one expressed in the March number, that “British supremacy” is proven by the RAE automatic pilot and bombsight, the electric gun sight, the distant reading compass, air mileage unit and air position indicator, of which more later.
Looking back over the year's run, it is hard to stress just how exceptional this is. Failure of struts, an antiquarian inquiry into the tailless planes of the distant old days of the 1930s, a bit about electrical supplies and about flutter, “Negative Rake milling,” “geometry of geared tabs,” the stalling of airscrew blades, and magnetic detection of flaws. All these things get articles of fairly limited appeal.

Getting back to the March number, we finally have the “gen” on the Air Position Indicator. Just as James said, it is a British invention. I do not know how James' four year siege of RAE for pre-print details might have unfolded in the last few weeks, but here is what is fit to print, and it is a very great deal indeed. F. H.Scrimshaw and J. A. Wells provide, first, a historical account. The dead reckoning compass was under development at the beginning of the war, and first appeared in service in March of 1941, after earlier efforts failed, the API, developed alongside the AMU, appeared in a Pathfinder squadron in February 1943, and is credited with having a hand in the success of the dam raids and the Ploesti attack. Second, they provide as much as possible of an account of this device's key feature, automatically adjusting damping of excursions from stability. It's not much, but it might be more than James has been able to extract through official sources. 


  1. Someone has built a really nice website about RN carriers. Here's the first part of their discussion of how armoured carriers came about:

    one on logistics:

    another on HMS Unicorn:

    I note that as the airgroups got bigger, the aircraft got bigger, and the third generation armoured carriers like Indomitable and beyond added the second hangar back, a lot of the extra hangar space ended up being used as accommodation. In a real sense, the limiting factor wasn't the size of the ship - it was the size of the crew.

    Higher-performing (and heavier - say higher wing-loading), more complex aircraft needed both more hands to range them and a wider diversity of skills to keep them going. after a while, there was no point filling the hangar further because they needed the space for the extra technicians to eat and sleep.

    Now that's the sort of thing I expect you could make something of!

    Also, there's a crazy interesting substory in there about radar - airgroups started to grow fast once radar went to sea, but unlike the RAF the RN didn't have a fighter controller specialisation or an equivalent of the BoB-era sector control model. So one had to grow out of out-of-work actors who'd joined the RNVR in peacetime for the beer money (yes! really!). By 1943 Victorious was picked to be the US 5th Fleet's AAW coordinator because her fighter direction setup was better than anyone else's.

    By 1945, though, and I didn't know this, the RN had leapfrogged the USN CIC concept and started integrating the other ships in the task force into the Action Information Organisation air plot, giving the radar heads their own voice radio network. They didn't just pass tracks into Flag, either - the carrier AIO would delegate tasks and pass information back to other AIO-equipped ships, so Howe off Sakishima was responsible for blue force tracking, Uganda for AA fire control, and Indomitable for fighter interception and AIO system coordination. A mesh network of decentralised processing nodes.

  2. It's amazing that the radio nets could be that robust without the ships tipping over for all the antenna, cables and accommodation....

    And then you get things like lack of condensor capacity leading to a critical shortage of fresh water, not just for hotelling, but for cleaning the planes. (No problemo, just tip the planes over the side every couple months, because plenty more are coming from stateside!)

    And then's there accommodation. You'd think that pilot ratings would be a good idea in some abstract sense, but sometimes it came down to not having enough bunk space to put up all the pilot officers. If they don't have room to spread out their charts, they're not going to pass their exams!