My Dear Dr. B_:
I am told that my father-in-law is a returning patient, and that you have strict rules about the kind of communication he is to have with the outside world until he is on the mend. You will be relieved to hear that my Uncle George shared them with me long ago, and that I follow them as well as I am able.
I am to downplay the press's inevitable cycle of crisis followed by imminent war/famine/plague/bust, as R_ tends towards the paranoid, and grasps on these as acceptable ways of indulging himself. I am to adopt Uncle George's rather cynical viewpoint both because Uncle George thinks it amuses his cousin, and because my father-in-law has been a man without a country since 1911, and needs to know that someone is "on his side." And, of course, I am to continue to update him on his cousin's relentless enthusiasm for investing in the next big thing. Especially when it actually works out!
And, of course, there is the language matter. Because of reasons of business secrecy, the document attached is in a code cipher based on Chinese, and so you will have to take my word, and my father-in-law's secretary's word, that the content would meet with your approval, for which I humbly apologise.
My Dear Father:
I hope this letter finds you settled in at your usual lodgings and resting comfortably. You need have no fears for your private matters. Your wife is understanding, and it has been arranged that your assailant attend Vassar College in America in the 1946/7 school year. It is quite a nice school --much nicer than her grades warrant, I understand. Uncle George is undertaking to settle the young lady's affairs on a more permanent basis, by arranging for her to room with a young woman with the right sort of young man for a brother/cousin/uncle/nephew, who will be strictly instructed to let nature take its course.
Uncle George says that he even has a likely candidate in mind, one who is not only inclined to a marriage of convenience by his personal inclinations, but who has given a hostage to fortune by involving himself in espionage for a foreign power while at Yale. A communist, I asked? Better yet, Uncle said: "A Fascist"! The real kind of Fascist, that is, it being some kind of matter of sending oil to Spain.
Speaking of old secrets, Fanny has been going through Great Uncle's American ledgers. It turns out that our hazy memories were accurate, and that Mr. Eric Johnston does have a defaulted debt to us, although it turns out that it was his mother, or, rather, his grandfather, who contracted it. Unfortunately, the old man died in 1928. and part of the arrangement was, yes, you guessed it, a "marriage of convenience." It would not be very gracious of us to go to Mr. Johnston and demand repayment after the husband we secured for his mother abandoned the family!
Your sons are gone as from yesterday, departing for the South Seas and the atomic testing. "Miss V.C." is in Chicago, visiting her parents, and will go from there to New Haven to visit "Lieutenant A.," who is probably Uncle George's source for the New Haven conspiracy. Fortunately, "Mrs. Fat Chow," in whom I have vastly more confidence, assures me that in this case the lieutenant is not being more enthusiastic than competent.
And so I am left rattling around the house with no-one to keep me company but three children and Fanny, waiting for everyone to return from their adventures. I have even made a few lunch dates with the University faculty. I have not the slightest notion that Jimmy Chow comes over when I am out to lunch, by the way.
Oh! That reminds me. Your eldest had his first board meeting just before he left, at Eimac, up in San Francisco. He is very excited about this, because it seems as though the company might be in the market for a tape-recorder! We shall see: transforming the thing from a shadowy promise for the future to an actual, marketable product would do wonders for the bottom line.
Flight, 4 April 1946
“Diminuendo” No, I have not gone all religious on you. That’s the translation in my dictionary. What it means here is that Transport Command is being reorganised. I’m sure that you’re excited to hear.
“Crescendo” As also. The air force reserves are being reorganised. Or put on a rocket and shot to Mars, for all I know, as one the initials “ATC” appear, I lose all focus.
“The Flying Boat, Again” The Brits have ordered three giant flying boats to go with their giant airliners.
|The Saro Princess at Farnborough in 1953, By RuthAS - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6080689|
“An Australian Fighter: Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation’s CA-15 Long-range Escort:Rolls-Royce Griffon 61 Engine” That new Australian fighter exists more.
“Britain’s Test Pilots, No. 3: Group Captain P. W.S. Bulman, CBE, MC, AFC.” “George” Bulman’s Christian name is “Paul,” and a hilarious story about how he came to be called “George” leads off the profile. It is not, actually, hilarious. On the contrary, it is all rather sad with its echoes of an old man reminiscing about long ago. If you ever want to feel old, you should read articles like these. “About 1924 there came into existence the R.A.E. Aero Club. . .” of which Bulman was the designated Grand Vizier and coat-checker. Or something.
Here and There
There will be a most interesting lecture and slideshow about helicopters at Manson House next week. BOAC will fly some guinea pigs to Sierra Leone, where they will be inoculated with sleeping sickness, and then flown back to the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and studied. This is worth mentioning because it has aircraft in it. In equally interesting medicine-in-the-air news, a shipment of yellow fever vaccine bound for India was kept cool by packing it in ice. Menasco Manufacturing, in America, will be making gas turbines of all kinds, from the largest down to motor car applications, says company president John C. Lee.
Three American B-29s and the new aircraft carrier Midway will coordinate with Canada’s “Operation Muskox” in the frozen wastes of Canada. (Which I will not mention are near Russia. Because why would I mention that? It’s quite irrelevant. Forget I said anything about the Red menace!)
|USS Midway, just before its launch.|
The Royal Geographical Society is having an exhibition of RAF photographs and equipment all next week. Drop in at lunch! The brilliant aurora of last week ruined radio reception and delayed transatlantic flights. The State of Victoria in Australia is investigating a purchase of the latest types of British helicopters to assist in bush fire-fighting and spraying. The total cost to Australia of its Avro Lincoln purchase will be £9.6 million, all plant, equipment, spare parts, engines and airscrews included. There is to be talking about talking about standardising “radio distance indicators” on aircraft.
Mr. W. D.T. Gairdner, former air superintendent of the southern division of Scottish Airways, is flying to Australia to take up a position there.
“Armstrong Siddeley Turbines: The Python I High-Powered Turbine/Airscrew Unit: A.S.X. Construction and Development: Axial-Flow Compressor and Two-stage Turbine” Armstrong Siddeley does cars, mostly, but “early in 1942,” it decided to get into gas turbines, and, unlike Whittle and Rolls-Royce and Halford at de Havilland, they went for an axial configuration, and the turbo-prop configuration. The ASX develops 2600lb thrust on a weight of 1900lb, which isn’t very impressive, but is viable, and there are many unusual aspects of the design that make it well worth the experiment.
Or so I say. Since Armstrong Siddeley also ignored the Lucas combustion chambers that trace their tortuous path back to James’ work back in ’38, he has thrust up his nose at them. They vaporise, rather than atomising the fuel, he sniffs, and without proper, metered injection pumps, how are you to achieve precisely fed-back control? It’s just a return to the carburetor, which, he says, was good enough in its day. Then we talk about 1939, and one thing leads to the other. Afterwards, I ask if if he wants to drop Eimac and take on a directorship at Uncle Henry’s car plant. He laughs.
However, Armstrong-Siddeley seems to have adopted the Lucas pump in the Python, which has full automatic control, with the motor fully controlled by two levers in the cockpit, and altitude and temperature compensated automatically. The only bit that is admittedly unimpressive is the very large and bulky reduction gear required to gear down the very high turbine rotation speed to something acceptable to an airscrew.
“Indicator,” “In the Air –XII: Whitley and Albermarle: Two Very Different Armstrong-Whitworth Types:First and Last Impressions: Structural Compromises” “Indicator” flew the Whitley many times, and his impression is that it was a docile aircraft that was very rarely under the pilot’s full control, and that it was made for grass runways and struggled on tarmacs. He also found flying between its Merlins in that version of the plane to be very irritating. There was, he thinks, a family resemblance between the two planes, but he hardly ever flew the Albermarle, so he can’t really say. It wasn’t very impressive, and, given the conditions of the contact, couldn’t be. “One day, it may be possible to tell the secret and mysterious history of quite a few types produced here or purchased from America during the bad years and never used.”
|It's not diving. This is the Whitley's normal flying attitude. Five years from this to the Lincoln. On the other hand, that's a radio direction finder above the cabin. . .|
“Science and the Services” Dr. Tizard gave a talk to the Royal United Services Institution. Dr. Tizard thinks that scientists are very smart, and know things, so they really should run the world, and get all the money, and you should agree, or be A-bombed.
“By Air to the Isles: The Resumption of Channel Islands Service: Commercial Aviation at its Best” You can now fly to Guernsey, Jersey and Alderney on Channel Islands Airways, and should. Frequently.
In shorter news, Vancouver is to stage a London-Vancouver Air Race in conjunction with its diamond jubilee celebrations this summer. Standard passenger aircraft are invited to take part. BOAC now has several Halifax C.VIII transports carrying out route tests in West Africa. They can carry ten passengers in “fair comfort.” Bell Aircraft has achieved a CAA Airworthiness certificate for its Model 47, making it the first “commercial” helicopter. BOAC is abandoning its Foynes (Shannon) flying boat base indefinitely. The issue of the four-and-a-half hour coach trip from Hurn to London was raised in the Commons this week. You could practically swim across the Atlantic in that time, it is suggested, so the sooner Heathrow is operational, the better.
|By Stefan Krause, Germany - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17233101|
“London Airport: Heathrow is Re-named: Future Development Plans: Parallel Runways and Central Administration” By paving everything other than London up to the Scottish border, London will finally have a proper “Empire” airport.
“Atlantic Air Conference Ends” Many things have been decided about airfield requirements, landing systems, weather stations, air-sea rescue, standard meteorological reports, ground controlled approach systems, etc., at the thirty designated airfields in the “North Atlantic area.”
In shorter news, more bilateral agreements establish air routes from Poland and Greece and the United States, and between Poland and Russia. BOAC has announced an IATA-ratified reduction of fares on European routes, to £7 London-Paris up to 41 10 to Athens. Experts on working on simplified forms to make international air travel faster and more convenient.
C. S. Redshaw, “Electrical Measurement of Strain: Examples of Modern Strain-Gauge Technique Interestingly Presented” Dr. Redshaw gave a paper at the Royal Aeronautical Society. He works for Boulton Paul, but has some insight into work at Rotol, which is obviously interested in strain gauges, as it is harder to imagine something under more strain, or less easily tested physically, than an airscrew. Apart from being an RAeS “salon” talk, it is hard to see why this has been reprinted.
Shorter news has Air Marshal Carr and Air Vice-Marshal Guest getting new appointments way out east, and the RAF column in the June Victory Parade set at 1700 participants. Air Chief Marshal Slessor is off on a world tour, far away from Tedder, making himself available for those far-flung air officers who might want to meet a potential CAS who is not an oily intriguer. Professor Sydney Goldstein will replace Sir Melvil Jones at the Aeronautical Research Council. Jones has had to retire due to ill health.
|He doesn't look like much more fun to be around, though.|
Charles Gardner, the BBC’s air correspondent, writes to correct “Adlatus.” He is just wrong that news reports “never” mention the engine of news-worthy aircraft. It would be more accurate to say “always.” “Boston Pilot” writes that “Indicator” was too harsh on the later marks of Boston. In particular, they had very nice hydraulics and good emergency equipment. “Anti-Picasso” thinks that D. Theobald’s aircraft design is ugly. “Pilot, F.A.A” notes that all this rubbish talk about pilot comfort is rubbish. Why, in his day, flying the Barracuda, they were uncomfortable, and they liked it that way, as it kept them awake.
The Economist, 6 April 1946
The paper is all crisis all the time this week, because that is what the paper does. Leading off our crises is—
“The World Food Shortage” That we have a world food shortage is not news. That there are such things as "Victory Gardens," and "black markets," apparently, is. And since I am not a journalist, I have no standing to notice that there might be food out there that the crisis isn't taking into account.
The fact that the public isn’t taking it on board is the fault of the Ministry of Food for not informing Englishmen harder. It is “bewildering.” It is “a psychological blunder.” The paper is especially appalled that an extra ration of food is to be issued to organisers of Victory Day parties. However, scolding aside, it has real matters of concern. This week‘s report on the wheat situation, for example. In a “normal prewar year,” the world trade in wheat came to 12 million tons, which came, overwhelmingly, from Canada, Australia, the United States, Argentina and went to a number of destinations, of which England was the largest. This present year, demand is much higher, and the dislocation of war ruined the “European harvest” so that Europe needs 15 million tons vice the normal 4; while cyclones, tidal wave and disastrous droughts have severely reduced crops in Africa and Asia, so that these countries need 11 million tons instead of the normal 2 ½ million. In all, the world needs 32 million tons instead of the normal 15, but only 24 million will be available. Canada and America will together export 21 million instead of their normal 6. It is suggested that even this year’s 8-million-ton deficit may be better than next year’s situation, since although Europe’s harvest will increase, people can only be held at starvation levels for so long. (Here, I think, the paper is reaching for bad news.) Who is to blame? Well, India, for one, for making too many babies. (That Indians work on farms for the most part might be taken as evidence of a horrible mishandling of Indian agriculture, but the paper, if such thoughts even cross its mind, knows who would be blamed for that.) So we shall blame the Government for good reasons to be discovered later, Americans for being gluttonous, Canada for being too solicitous of its farmers, and roll up the editorial sleeves in anticipation of much thundering to come.
|I'm sorry about the photo quality, but this seems like pretty much untrodden ground, historically speaking. What was actually happening in 1946-7?We have a monograph on food in WWII, but what about the postwar era?|
“Trade Unions and Production” The TUC had various suggestions for bringing up productivity that do not impinge on the 40-hour week, but the paper thinks that it is being “conciliatory” on the matter. However, it is not being “conciliatory” on the national wage policy. The TUC is mad and bad, will not embrace full technical efficiency, and is coddling all those lazy workers. If only employers could still sack them at will, then we would see a return to “the Dunkirk spirit.”
|Got your "Dunkirk spirit" right here, asshole.|
“New Towns” The New Towns Committee has things to say about the New Towns Bill, which Mr.Silkin, the new Minister of Town and Country Planning, means to introduce. Planning is even better than talking about talking or that best of all things, administrative reform.
“The Food White Paper” the paper summarises. Prewar, average bread grain production in Europe (excluding the USSR) was 59 million tons. This fell to 46 in 1944, and to 31 in 1946. The estimated import requirement is 15.7 million tons. Import requirements for India, China, French North Africa South Africa and “a few other deficit countries” is 10.7 against 2.4 prewar. There is also a rice crisis, with production the two principal exporters, Burma and Siam, at 4.9 million tons vice 8.4. The shortfall in China, Japan and the Philippines is 9.5 million tons. Droughts have cut production in French North Africa from 3.8 to 1.1, and in India by 7. Food production is up in England, America and the Middle East, but this is not necessarily available due to transportation shortages. India’s population is up. There follows an incomprehensible sentence which comes close to acknowledging that prices aren’t high enough to win more food from the farms in India. Livestock populations are down in Europe, but up by as much as 40% in America, and the world turns its hungry eyes on feed grains. (Not necessarily so eagerly if the world could see the actual small grains in question, but who am I to argue with the great and good?) Fat production is down, both tropical fats, European fats from livestock, and from whaling. The end is in sight of the sugar shortage, milling extraction rates are going up, and Australia and Canada have undertaken to plant more wheat next year, while ships and crew are being released for whaling, and the world is being scoured for rice, since not even this Committee of dunderheaded Englishmen can believe that its statistics capture the full world production and trade.
“The German Crisis: 1, The British Approach” We either let the Nazis get away with it, or ruin Germany. The paper proposes that we will do both, and thunders against “the British approach” on that score. Next week, I assume it will get on either the Americans or the Russians for the same. If only Germans were more like Englishmen!
“2. Ruhr Coal Decline” It turns out that German coal miners are lazy and lack full technical efficiency too! It’s really quite disillusioning. Also, the steel industry. Though it is also in part the fault that the miners are not actually being fed. But things can be improved with administrative reforms!
“3. The Reparations Plan” If we get rid of all possible German war production industries, the Germans won’t be able to export enough to pay for imports.
“4. The New Luddites” Luddites smashed machinery because it “appeared” to be causing them “misery.” Now we are smashing the “machinery” of the German economy, because WWII is like “misery.” The Reparations Plan, however, is the real misery-causer. The paper uses some arithmetic to show that it would reduce the German standard of living to the depths of the last depression. It is silly that Germany will be restricted to 5.8 million tons of steel when this was its domestic maintenance consumption before the war, for example!
“5. Policy for Germany” The paper calls for what it has already described as “the British approach,” but different in some way that I am not quite catching. I think that it might be different in the sense that it allows the paper to keep on calling the Government names. Or perhaps because the paper invents something called “Nazi-Communism.”
|I'll give Crowther this: you don't often see a writer decide to go for projection in the course of writing a two-page leading article.|
Notes of the Week
“Gromyko the Unready” The Russian foreign minister isn’t ready for the debate on Persia at the Uno, so we can’t have it.
Latins and Greeks and British political parties are excitable!
“A Ministry of Housing” Would be a good idea.
“Towards a Settlement in Java” The paper thinks that the “moderates” in the government in Java will reach a settlement with the Dutch before the Dutch buildup can reach a point where they can impose one, at which point Clark Kerr can withdraw from his completely ineffectual position without losing too much face.
“The National Income” The paper is pleased that the government continues to print the national income, barely notices that it has more than doubled since 1938.
“Trade Disputes Act” The paper is upset that the Government thinks that it has a “mandate” to pass this act just because it “won” the “election.” Also of arcane English note, some kind of squabble over London hospitals.
“Italian Industrial Revival” Is being held back by a failure to negotiate a final peace treaty that would allow the Italians to import raw materials.
Argentinians and west Indians are excitable.
“Technical education –Cinderella” There is not enough money or prestige in English technical education.
“Fish and Meat” Every hand should be out at sea catching everything with fins, because of the shortage of meat, and also because the paper is getting ready to worry about overfishing.
The Indian elections show gains for the Moslem League. Sandhurst and Woolwich are to be amalgamated. The paper notices that since the enabling act says that commissions will be reserved for graduates, and all applicants must be of “pure European descent,” colonial regiments can never have colonial officers, which even the paper thinks is a bit too bigoted. Arrangements are to be made to train more vets, the Dartmoor Borstal is to be closed, two hundred vacant houses in the Regent’s Park terraces are to be taken over as emergency Government offices, and the paper is desperate for a new London office.
L. J. Cadbury writes on the national wage policy. The reduction in taxes contemplated will significantly increase purchasing power. How will it be absorbed? Mr. Cadbury suggests reducing the subsidy on food, which will reduce pressure on retail margins, and perhaps allow wage increases there. John Hay thinks that the Government has set the purchase price of Malayan rubber too high, and that this will cut exports to America, which is the most vital concern of our colonial policy especially since the sooner we can undercut the American synthetic industry, the better. Herbert Holland is upset that the bulk cotton purchasing commission will lead to the Liverpool Exchange being closed indefinitely. The Exchange could do a much better job of marketing English cotton exports.
“Green Chairs in the Bronx” From A Correspondent in New York
The Uno meets in Hunter College in the Bronx. It has green chairs. Further bulletins as events warrant.
“Taming the Atom” Scientists and soldiers continue to fight over who gets to walk the atom bomb every day, and feed it, and clean up after it when it makes a mess. A new technical breakthrough, a way of “denaturing” plutonium so that it cannot be used for weapons without substantial reprocessing, may have cleared the way for some kind of agreement, because it removes some of the need for military oversight of industrial production and use.
“Coal Strike” A special mediator has been called in to forestall a “prolonged trial of strength.”
“Labour Leader: New Model?” Walter Reuther’s election as the new president of the UAW comes as “something of a surprise.”
“Progressives in Liquidation” The paper thinks that the dissolution of the Wisconsin Progressives marks the end of a “tradition of Western insurgency.” The paper also thinks that Philippine independence should be “delayed,” but admits that this is not politically possible; and that the Tydings Bill should be more generous, but this is not politically possible, either. So, as a compromise, the islands will be allowed independence, and, as a reward for being fought over so compliantly, will have their economy ruined.
“Pressure on Silver” Silver production is falling short of demand, leading to an increase in the price of imported silver by 45 cents to 71.11 cents an ounce.
The most detailed report on the final settlement of the Lend-Lease account yet available is now out, and people will no doubt pour over it with the closest attention and vastly revise their opinions of the late war and the British Loan. Mr. Carroll Reece is to be the new RNC chair. His first task will be to haul Harold Stassen into line. Pressure on the Treasury from Mr. Morgenthau has relaxed financial constraints on efforts to increase agricultural production and improve utilisation in various ways.
The World Overseas
“The New Russian Government” Is Marshal Stalin dead? No? Just checking.
Greeks are excitable (election special), Poles are hungry, French are excitable.
The Business World
“Taxes and Incentives”
Further tax relief, which might be an incentive to labour, but probably not much of one, since the workers aren’t working because they are lazy. ("Let down" by the end of the war.) Business, on the other hand, is just waiting for the EPT to go so that it can take off. Since it is a terrible tax, and yet no tax relief is really feasible due to the resulting inflationary pressure, a dividends tax is proposed to replace the EPT. A properly designed dividend tax would not raise much revenue, but would serve to keep inflation in check, so the paper is willing to accept one –for now.
“Steel Policy” The paper is getting ready to be upset about nationalisation, if it is on. On the other hand, it is all for “rationalisation” and reinvestment, perhaps even of public money. The paper knows a lot about the production of steel. Or thinks it does.
The Government is directing the interest rates on Government securities down from 3 to 2.25%. The paper is upset about the closing of the Liverpool Cotton Exchange and the way the Coal Board accounts are being handled. America is pressing for even more bad things under Bretton Woods. Efforts to get at German assets in Switzerland continue. Bullion is fetching good prices in Bombay, due to Government action imposing an import duty on gold. The speculation is “unreasonable,” because India is already effectively cut off from the world market. (And so, one might suppose, is the duty itself.) It’s charming the way the paper pretends not to know about bullion smuggling.
“Labour in the Mines” The coal industry may soon be excluded from the Essential Work Order. The paper thinks that this will lead to an increased “drifting” of labour from the mines, and notices plans to import Polish miners, as well as the continuing use of Pows. If the paper is reversing its position on slavery, it should probably come out and say so.
“Confusion in Metal Prices” Without a free market in metals, the prices are just confused. The paper cites various anomalous prices and demands that the Metal Exchange be reopened. It points out that the same trends are emerging in rubber.
“How Much is There to Buy?” Is the cause of current low productivity the lack of things to buy? No, says the paper. It's because workers are lazy. It then goes on to talk about food supplies. Crazy thought here: maybe digging your Victory Garden (or illegally repairing your flat) takes you away from your workplace?
The paper discusses Associated Electric’s expansion, the settlement of Canadian Eagle Oil’s tax case in Canada, and the negotiations for the nationalisation of the Adelaide Electric Supply ‘company.
Flight, 11 April 1946
“The ChannelAffair” A Board of Inquiry has returned a report on the embarrassing episode in February of 1942 when the German battlecruisers fled up the Channel to Germany and got through. It specifically notes that the flying speed of the Swordfish sent to intercept was about the stall speed of the escorting fighters, which is why they lost touch, besides the weather. “Had the Fleet Air Arm had better torpedo planes the story might have been very different.”
“The Air Estimates” Ten years ago, the gross value of the Air Estimates was £43,490,600. Now it is 276 million, but this is not all, because the old “Technical and Warlike Stores” is under the Ministry of Supply vote, as is research.
“The Minister Will be Empowered” The paper thinks that the Civil Aviation Bill gives too much power to the Minister of Civil Aviation, which the Minister will inevitably use to impose serfdom on private operators.
|Oh, George Orwell, you are so topical!|
“Airspeed Consul” The old Airspeed Oxford trainer has a new name now that it is being offered as a civil transport, so everyone should buy two! Since there were 8000 in RAF service at the end of the war, that would not be hard, except that you have to send your Oxford back to the shop to be upgraded to a Consul.
From All Quarters
I suppose we should be grateful that the old “Airisms from the Four Winds” title isn’t revived. Yes, I did take up a whole line to make fun of the paper’s quaint English.
“A Fairey Gyrodyne: Building of Helicopter Announced” Fairey is to build a helicopter, while Beechcraft is coming out with a buried-engine two-engine type, while the London Gliding Club has announced that it has a waiting list for members, and Mr. Frise has resigned as chief designer at Bristol due to ill-health. Seventy-one Lancasters and 17 Mosquitoes, each carrying a single 500lb bomb, took part in the bombing of Heligoland this weekend. It was a training exercise which was also meant to level the German naval installations on the island, in case World War II happens again.
“Air Estimates” As all of the technical spending is under the Ministry of Supply, this detailed report basically explains how much it costs to run a 272,000 man-and-woman air force. In other news, a Reserve Command of the RAF will be reformed in the near future.
Here and There
RAF Transport Command flew 5,667 British servicemen home from India, and few 4,308 out. Thirteen hundred men worth of Quitting India is better than nothing, I suppose. The US Professional Golfer’s Association will be flying a charter “golfer’s special” to Britain for the British Championships. Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan are making plans to compete. There’s an aviation show on at the Science Museum this week. The Los Angeles press reports that there are now 14 jet projects underway in southern California, of which only three have so far been publicised. New US fighters include a Northrop flying wing, the XP-79, and successors to the Ryan Fireball and Shooting Star.
“Croydon Airport: Continental Airline Traffic Continues to Use London’s Oldest Airport” And according to the pictures, flies Ansons, too.
“De-Icing for To-day: The T.K.S. Fluid System Described: Ingenious Distribution and Regulation Methods: Automatic Protection” The Teclamit, Kilfrost and Sheepbridge Stokes system is “the direct heir of the Dunlop systems, which was originally developed and tested by Farnborough.” In the Viking installation, it weighs 145lb, with an additional maximum of 160lb of de-icer fluid. “Automatic,” definitely the word of the month, if not decade, in this case means that the de-icer fluid begins to flow when ice forms in the pitot hole of a Smiths ice detector.
Civil Aviation News
The Indian National Airways has bought six Vickers Vikings. Newcastle is to have an airport for direct flights to the continent. BOAC, while continuing to operate flying boats from Poole Harbour, will be moving out of its wartime headquarters to allow a tile company to resume operations there. It will move to Hythe, and tickets will be sold at the yacht club. Douglas’ vice-president has just expressed the opinion that “giant” airliners are unlikely to be a paying proposition until we have all-weather flying. The new Douglas type will be a 25-35 passenger seater for shorter routes.
|Not exactly, as it turns out. By RuthAS - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5927956|
North American will build a light aircraft, the Navion. The Lancastrian service between Hurn and England opeated by Qantas and BOAC was re-routed this week to fly via Singapore and Karachi instead of the Indian Ocean route. Tis is because the Singapore airport is now suitable for heavy aircraft. Northwestern has ordered ten Boeing Stratocruisers, while the Rainbow has a “guaranteed” cruising speed of over 400mph. British South American Airways announced a speeded-up schedule this week, London to Rio in 31 hours, and has also cut its air mail rate. BOAC’s Empire flying boats have hit a twenty million miles flown milestone.
“Indicator,” “In the Air, XIII: Three Masters and a Martinet: Impressions of a British Intermediate Trainer: Modern Control Grouping” Indicator tells tales about the trainers everyone flew. Hopefully he says something controversial, so that there will be mail!
“The New Rolls-Royce Chief” Ernie Hives is just back from Egypt, where he was selling things, and is in England as master of all he sees, finally free to behead the vicious and reward the virtuous.
“Britain’s Test Pilots, No. 4: J. L. Lankester-Parker” Mr. L.P. flew something called a “Gnosspelius," and the prototype Sunderland in 1939. As with other profiles, this one spends a lot more time before 1914 than after 1930. He has retired from test piloting, and is now sales director.
|Flown twice, for a 50% kill rate. Not bad. By The Flight magazine archive from Flightglobal, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19068960|
In shorter news, the report of the RAF’s British Bombing Survey Unit is now expected. It seems to have been much more thorough than the American one.
Air Commodore F. R, Banks, “Power Units for Future Aircraft: Piston Engines: Fuel Choices: Plain and Airscrew Turbines” Air Commodore Banks thinks that the piston engine has about ten more years to run, and has all sorts of proposals for new and improved piston engines. He also notes the potential of a turbine with a ductedfan, which is a fan which supplements the compressor. Run from the engine, it supplements the jet itself by thrusting unheated air backwards. He thinks that axial turbines are the way of the future, but that centrifugals may have their place in smaller aircraft.
“The Civil Aviation Bill” It’s the airway to serfdom!
C. Francksen is the latest correspondent to point out that Prestwick is not “the alternative to Heathrow,” because it is in Scotland.
“Nostalgic” wants the Navy to turn over an obsolete aircraft carrier to be a naval air museum. It can’t be the Argus, though, unless they set up a giant fan in one end so that everyone can be frozen to proper nostalgia. (If it was cold cruising out of Hong Kong, I can just imagine it in the Atlantic.) B. E. J. Garmeson has opinions about commentators’ opinions about the Government’s opinions about matters aerial. Ex-Corporal hopes for an international agreement on thread gauges. Onlooker is upset at John Howard’s implication that RAF Transport Command cargo is loaded “haphazardly.” “A.T.A” asks “Indicator” to compare the Beaufighter and Mosquito. If circulation keeps trending down. . .
“Marflex Fuel Tanks: British Wartime Development Applied to Civil Aircraft” Flexible fabric fuel tanks have been used in British aircraft since 1941. They are now being used on civilian planes. They are a composite fabric consisting of layers of cotton and a plastic resin. Sqdn Leader H. A. Marsh, having commanded the only rotating-wing flight of the RAF during “the greater part of the war,” has been demobilised and is returning to his old firm, the Cierva Autogiro Co., Ltd, and will continue his efforts to get someone, somewhere, anyone really, to buy an autogiro. Heywood automatic cargo handling systems has been adopted in the Bristol Freighter.
|Not that funny, in retrospect.|
The Economist, 13 April 1946
“The Fiscal Prospect” The paper thinks that the Minister’s statement explaining the budget was terrible. It is pleased by the repeal of the EPT, but thinks that it was phrased ungraciously, so no credit there! It was also pleased by intimations that some aspects of social spending (the cost of living subsidy, mostly) will be cut, but supposes that it will not be enough to make up falls in revenue. It also thinks that the statement was just not thorough enough.
“France and the Ruhr” Latins are excitable.
“County Colleges” The Butler Act says that the County Colleges should be ready within three years of the raising of the compulsory school-leaving age to 15 to provide the mandated continuing education for one day a week until 18. That is, by 1950. Will they be ready? No, nor will the new nursery and secondary schools. And what if something like the “Geddes axe” falls in a few years’ time? What then? The paper thinks that it would have been better to start with the colleges and then move on to the schools, because there would be less construction, and because the better sort of separating ex-serviceman wants to be a teacher at a college, and not a nursery school, and they shall all be lost if there are no places for them. The colleges must all open at once, because the experience of the 1920s was that juveniles from districts where schools were not opened in time had an advantage in employment, because employers discriminated in their favour. The paper is all in for the colleges, so that we don’t lose all those potentially-educated minds. At least, it says, the fall in the birth rate has reduced pressure.
“Relics of Economic Warfare” Various companies are still forbidden from trading in Britain. They all belong to the various neutrals, since the armistice resolved matters for the enemy belligerents. One reason for keeping the lists is that the neutrals’ funds in America are still frozen. The slow pace of normalisation is due to the fact that the Allies are still after German holdings, especially in Switzerland.
Notes of the Week
“Towards an American Foreign Policy” This is amusing because America doesn’t really have a foreign policy, the paper is suggesting. Mr. Truman’s Chicago speech intimates that it might be time for this to change.
“Moscow on Uno’s Competence” Moscow has a low opinion of it, I hear. No, actually, this is about Persia. The Uno is not competent to take a position on Persia.
“Food: Scarcer and Scarcer” The paper hasn’t been alarmed about the food supply in this number yet, so it is time to notice that American wheat shipments have fallen behind schedule. More importantly, by putting this story in the lead, the impact of the news that the government has reduced English food from 6 million to 4 million tons, as demanded, is overshadowed. To further make the point that the Government is bad, the paper spends most of the next leading article explaining why the minister’s incompetence led to the government getting less publicity for this than it could have.
“Coal versus Oil” Some newspapers have interpreted Mr. Shinwell’s comments in the House as outlining a policy of shifting from dear coal to expensive oil. The paper reads his comments as saying that this is strictly temporary, that coal is still king.
“Civil Aviation Bill” Surprise! The paper doesn’t like it! The Minister has too much power, although it is pleased at the way that the Government is taking a hand to make sure that full technical efficiency, etc.
“Land Workers Wanted” Without raising wages, how are we to attract more agricultural workers? It really s a puzzle. Perhaps better housing? That might help in a generation or so. Before then, it's all a puzzler. Perhaps we can do without food?
“From Batavia to London” Three members of Dr. Sjahrir’s government have arrived in Europe with van Mook and Clark-Kerr, and are now meeting with members of the Dutch government in a hunting lodge in Gelderland in strict confidence. The paper looks forward optimistically to the complete rout of the Javans in the ensuring negotiations. They will, the paper thinks, have a republic within a larger Dutch empir-ish commonwealth sort of arrangement, while the Outer Islands remain under Dutch control. The paper is deeply attached to its illusions.
“Party Vortex in France” I have a stencil now that says “Latins are excitable.” Do you like it?
“Albania’s Foreign Policy” I also need one of eyes rolling. The idea is that Albania will have a vote in the Uno, and cast it for Russia.
“Mission at Work” The British Mission is tootling around Delhi trying to find the magic formula that will reconcile Jinnah and Nehru. The paper suggests not doing anything to irritate the Indians, as this would make a settlement harder. That’s it. I am cutting an “eye-roll” chop tomorrow.
“Cars for Everyone” If everyone is to have a car, as the motor industry would like, for some reason, then there should be more “motor subways” and “road widenings” to make it possible to actually drive in London.
Labourites are excitable.
“Ten Years of Civil Estimates” the Paper publishes a summary of the budget this week, but this bit seems to need a separate article, mainly so that the paper can complain that the vote headings are so vague that Parliament cannot exercise its power of the purse by looking into headings like “Public Buildings, Great Britain,” and strike out whatever government office is currently occupying the paper’s London office. For example.
“Mining Madness” The paper is in favour of coal, and in favour of open-cast mining in general, but when Mr. Shinwell proposes a works on the grounds of Wentworth-Woodhouse, it discovers coal mining it doesn’t like.
“Utility Furniture” The paper can’t find anything bad to say about the rapid increase in the amount of Utility Furniture being made. It is especially pleased with the new Cotswold and Chiltern lines.
Lord Chorley writes on professional incomes, noting that the paper identifies a range from 600 to 4500, and complains that this is too low for the responsibilities of public life which professionals must undertake. He points out that only the most senior university lecturer earn more than 600, never mind 4500, so what then? The paper points out that university lecturers don’t take the paper, so they aren’t really professionals. (It doesn’t actually say it that way, though.)
“Prodigal’s Progress” (By an American Labour Correspondent” Under your current circumstances, it is conceivable that you haven’t heard the latest about the coal strike. The latest is that there is still a coal strike, and that John L.Lewis is still awful, and that his attempt to organise chemical workers is not likely to stand. Our correspondent points out that each strike shrinks the number of miners, as oil and gas make inroads, and as mechanisation continues. It once seemed that Lewis would solve this by organising outside the mines, for example, in the chemical industry, but now that he is reducing his efforts in this area, he can make nice to the AFL, which is bad news for the CIO.
The British Loan has emerged from the Senate Banking Committee with a comfortable 14-5 vote. The paper is disappointed that the Loan’s prospects are improving in line with the deterioration of American-Russian relations, but there it is.
“Campaigning for Food” The defeat of the British proposal for bread rationing in both countries was probably inevitable given the difficulties of actually imposing it in America. Millers and brewers are already wailing about their industry targets. The Engineer’s weighty pronouncement that famine is inevitable in Europe in the next three months unless American grain exports are held to target has inspired more effort and more enthusiasm, but it must work its way into all corners of our national life, because the harvest must be faster, and the rail bottleneck busted.
“Security” This Week, General MacArthur called for the renunciation of war as an instrument of policy, while President Truman intervened in an attempt to keep the Army on a standing basis by extending Selective Service, unifying he armed forces, and extending peacetime training Probably only the first has a hope of passing Congress at the moment.
“Reporting Progress” John Snyder’s report on reconversion ins good news. Let’s move on?
“Back to the Machine” Carroll Reece’s appointment indicates a win for the party machine over the last remnants of the Willkieites. This means that the “Ohio machine” is back in the saddle.
The World Overseas
“Stock-Taking in Java” According to Dutch sources, who admittedly know nothing, but whom the paper’s correspondent prefers to talk to than to some greasy Javans, the entire agricultural economy of Java is in massive disarray, and the islands will produce little or nothing of anything for many years to come due to themismanagement of assorted coloured folk.
“Greek Impressions” Greeks are excitable. There follows an even more inane bit about Czechoslovakia’s economic recovery, which is all about the central planning and national administration and nationalisation.
The paper then prints a summary of the budget statement, followed by the usual Business World feature summarising that. I leave this to posterity and move on to—
“Export Targets –IV: Trade in Textiles” Of this I can only say that Uncle George’s organising principle in these letters was to find new industries into which to invest. I would very tentatively suggest that fashion might, at the leading edge, qualify as new, but it is not his sense of things, and, in any case, this bit is all about square yards of cloth, not new cuts and daring styles.
“Cheap Money Rationalised” The Government’s policy of cheap money needs to be rationalised, apparently. I should have thought that the enormous war debt would be explanation enough. The Jesuit fathers tell me that this happens after every war. But after previous wars it was not a Labour government, so there is that. (Much hurm-hurming and, “Of course, the consol,” and “the Hanoverians” follow). The paper also expects “dis-saving” as a result of there being more things to buy, resulting in no funds to invest, and the slow death of industry. The market rebound might suggest a favourable response to the budget, but the paper discerns evidence that the class treason was less treasonous. Base metal prices have been raised by the Government; aluminum prices have been reduced. Import controls are slightly relaxed, and a failure to sell or lease 122 Government-owned ships suggests that operators don’t particularly want wartime garbage. I am sorry, did I say “garbage?” I mean “unspecialised types.” A tentative agreement sends some US dollars to the Middle East to pay for imports. There is a paint shortage. The substance of the “cars for everyone” matter is that the industry thinks that rationalisation is needed to reach economies of scale which will allow everyone to have a car, which will produce the economies of scale that will support exports, which will allow everyone in the world to have a car, at which point we will have utopia, albeit with more divided ways than Peach Blossom Spring Land. There is a brick shortage. There is a lead shortage for housing, leading to more demand for copper.
|Needs more interstates. CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=507137|
Aviation, April 1946
Down the Years in AVIATION’s Log
Twenty-five years ago, the paper’s own Ralph Upson won the International Balloon Race, General Mitchell’s bomb tests were approved, Bert Hathaway of San Francisco became the first student to fly to class, and James Otis, also of San Francisco, made the first business air trip, to Caracas, Venezuela. Fifteen years ago, Junkers introduced the Ju-52 and aircraft sales for the year were $60 million. Ten years ago, TWA was the only transport into or out of flooded Pittsburgh, Braniff bought Lockheed Electras, the Air Corps asked for bids on 425 war planes, and a consortium of four airlines guaranteed Douglas $500,000 in experimental costs for and airliner that could carry 40 passengers at 20,000ft.
Line Editorial James McGraw supports the British loan.
|Ralph Upson through the years. The ZMC-2 metal zeppelin. . .|
|. . And the Boeing X-20 Dyna-Soar. Shooting a reconnaissance glider into orbit over Russia with a ballistic missile? What could possible go wrong?|
Aviation Editorial “Here’s a Vital Step to an Air Power Policy” Building a lot of planes is that important first step.
Eugene E. Wilson, “Action on that Air Policy is the No.1 Must” Eugene Wilson thinks that America should buy lots of warplanes. The paper agrees, and that is why it is printing this. It points out that building lots of war planes will mean that there are other planes available for other vital work, such as, the paper doesn’t know, maybe air mail? Also research and freedom of the air and stuff like that are good.
John H. Frederick, Professor of Transportation, University of Tennessee, “Rank Cargo Carriers on Their Own” Professor Frederick thinks that administrative reform would be good for the air cargo business.
L. B. Nelson, “Service Begins at the Factory” Companies that want to sell airplanes should make sure they don’t fall from the sky.
Charles A. Parker, “Know Where the Dollars Are” Excellent advice for running an aviation-related business.
“All-in-One Mapigator Simplifies that Flight Plot"
|Look! Automation replacing the brain-work of a white collar professional!|
Raymond L. Hoadley, “Investment Trusts See Worthy Future in Aviation Securities” Fifteen leading investment trusts have substantial positions in aviation. Yoou should, too.
E. H. Heinneman, “Skyraider’s High Performance Stems from Pin-Point Designing” The designer thinks that the new Douglas Skyraider is the best plane ever.
|He admittedly has good reason to be proud. There were about a million of these late-war carrier attack monsters, and this is the only one with a career.|
Robert B. Johnston and Hayden S. Gordon, Ryan, “Composite-Engine Aircraft –As a Basic Conception” In this paper, originally given at the turbine engineering conference sponsored by GE at Swampscott, Mass, a few months ago, two men from Ryan outlined the breathtaking concept of putting two different kinds of engines in the same plane: an obsolete one, and a non-obsolete one.
Robert J. Clark and Richard M. Adams, Staff Engineers, Pan American, "Detonation Measurements Key Engine Performance" Actual testing of detonation characteristics in service is possible with a neat gadget these two whipped up. It will improve on performance.
|Actually quite a clever set-up, even before you take into account the way that the input is brought across the firewall.|
Raymond N. Grief, “Wider Operationg Scope Attained by New Automatic Pilot” Grumman is very pleased with its new pneumatic autopilot, which has an elaborate anti-hunt action that Greif explains very well, and with hardly any math. James will explain the explanation, if asked. (My poor, dear husband stops, sheepish, in mid-sentence, whenever he realises that he is about to say "derivative." It's actually kind of cute.)
George Gerard, “Strain Analysis Quickly Finds Formability Limits” This article instalment is the first of several parts. Strain analysis is a big deal this month. I wonder if something has come up?
Gardner Clark, “Peacetime Cost Estimating Requires New Learning Curves”
|The longer the production run, the lower the man-hours per unit. It's almost like you could draw some kind of conclusion about consumer manufacturing sector employment and economies of scale. Almost.|
John Foster, “Comprehensive Chronology of British Turbojet Developments” A very close reading of Flight.
“Republic Unveils Speedy XP-84 Jetplane”
There are no less than six articles on new light planes, including Uncle Henrys latest.
Sideslips Makes fun of Uncle Henry. No go, paper. That’s my job!
Ladd Haystead is back this month over at Fortune, and I can’t say how relieved I am. Wherever he went, Stubblefield should go there, too. It is even more obvious than usual that Stubbliefield “writes” Sideslips, and his shorts are even worse. For the millionth time, he calls for all the world’s “fastest airplanes” to race off, and outdoes himself by noting that aircraft carrier operations in the Arctic will be limited to certain times of the year. Anyone can buy American surplus planes, he points out, except Argentinians. The Federal government has no power to regulate the air schools mushrooming to take advantage of the GI Bill, but the VA can steer veterans clear of ones that are found to be “of questionable origin and practices.” Some people think that atom bombs will end war. Others think we’ll be back in an arms race in a year or two.
Worlddata By “Vista”
Parliament is in an uproar over the Anglo-American air agreement, as the Government is at fault for not buying British, and also buying too British. BOAC is going to fly many routes around the world, and one aircraft it will use, “in a year or so,” is the Brabazon I.
In industry news, it is noted that American warplane procurement fell to a new postwar low this month, at barely over 100.
Fortune, April 1946
This month, the housing industry issue. The paper has thoughts about housing.
“The Promise of the Shortage” About fifteen years ago, the paper delivered itself of the opinion that the mass production of housing was the greatest commercial opportunity of the age. The current shortage will give the world a chance to test this notion. Housing expeditor Wilson Wyatt wants to ramp the industry up from $100 million in business now to $2.5 billion by the end of 1947, but is not lacking in critics. Jessie Sumner, Republican Congresswoman from Illinois, thinks that the results will be “glorified garbage cans,” while Nathan Strauss, former US Housing Administrator, thinks that the shortage is nothing but a plot by the real estate trade. The paper’s survey shows that the public backs Wyatt’s plan, and, in fact, wants even more drastic action. Wyatt, the paper points out, is concerned solely with providing housing for veterans. He is not interested in solving old housing problems, or in fitting the construction industry into the larger economy. Those are issues for days of leisure. There is no time to “fan a housing boom.” We just have to go out and build houses.
The problem is that this is much harder than building automobiles, for example. “Since houses are more complicated –functionally as well as emotionally—they will never be so cheap as automobiles.” The current inventory of US housing is 41 million units, just under one fifth of them on farms. Ten million are in such bad shape that the National Housing Agency would like to see them torn down, but most of these are in or near slums. There are three ways slum families could get better housing: direct subsidies, such as the 133,000 low rent units the federal government built before the war, through liberal tax arrangements, such as New York State provides to the slum-clearance projects of banks and insurance companies, or through some kind of technological revolution in the building industry.
These ten million families are not a secure housing market. It is unclear just how large that secure market is, because it arises out of normal growth, and that is uncertain. The number of American families is expected to rise by at least a half million a year for the next decade, but only about one half of these families are expected to buy or rent new housing. This leaves a residual of currently unhoused families. How large will it be if Mr. Wyatt’s programme hits its target? The current shortfall is estimated at 3 million; and the Wyatt plan envisions 2.7 million started by the beginning of 1948.
Is this likely? The federal government estimates that during the building boom of the 1920s, construction ran to $10 to 12 billion a year, with residential accounting for $4 to 5 of this. If the Wyatt plan is fulfilled, construction must be at $8.1 billion in 1946, of which $3.6 billion will be spent on residential. In 1947, the Wyatt plan will require an expenditure of $5 billion on new housing. Wyatt proposes to accomplish this by restricting commercial building, which will leave a shortfall to be made up in the late 40s, which I suppose is the paper’s thought in moving on to suggest that the government should control the building cycle by spending on public works when private building is low, and vice versa. (Mainly vice-versa, implying very little Federal spending on public building over the next five years. But what about schools?)
Also, what about the pent-up purchasing power of those not satisfied by the Wyatt plan –that 300,000-unit shortfall, plus people looking to move into larger homes? This might carry a housing boom on for two or three years beyond the Wyatt programme, but a billion-a-year production rate could not be carried very far into the 1950s without a radical transformation fo the building business. The paper thinks that this is overdue. The American industry has 31,000 contactors and 187,000 subcontractors, and this is obviously wildly anachronistic and inefficient, because these numbers are very much larger than other numbers, such as 8, or 10,000, and are obviously due to featherbedding. In the next article, the paper notes that building trade unions have rules against labour-saving machines such as power saws and paint sprayers, but that author does not think that this is a big deal, since labour can be relaxed bout such rules if some of the savings come back to labour. This writer does not seem so certain, and also takes on archaic building codes, such as Chicago’s notorious 600-page document. Professor Louis Wirth, of the University of Chicago, answers that all building codes could be boiled down to a single sentence: “All structures built in this city must be constructed under supervision of a licensed architect.”
I wonder where Professor Wirth lives?
“Mr. Wyatt’s Shortage” “In the first postwar spring, the masters of atomic energy are short of an absurdly commonplace commodity, the house.” The shortfall is also going to get worse. The Mayor of Los Angeles has twice gone on national radio and appealed to the nation to stay away from his city, where the fuselages of half-constructed bombers have now been repurposed as housing. The houses of derelict mining towns have been moved by trailer to Gallup, New Mexico. Around San Antonio, motor courts are no longer accepting transients, and in St. Louis, the old river packet, the Golden Eagle, has been suggested as a bachelor dormitory. The British movement of “vigilante” house occupiers hasn’t shown up in America, but then why would it? Houses are short, not abandoned! The Administration has been inspired by the fact that the shortage will peak about the time of the Congressional elections, which makes it a very political issue that Congress is dragging its feet on a $25 million proposal to convert barracks and Quonset huts to civilian use, though by December it was considering a $191 million bill to the same effect.
The President has appointed a Housing Expeditor to solve this problem, Wilson Wyatt. His plan is 1.2 million units in 1946, 2.5 million in 1947, about a third through prefabrication, the bulk of which will sell for $6000 or less. But what about the land, I ask? I suppose the answer must be smaller lots, which will mean building outside of cities, which is good news for us.
This will mean, to build and to sell, increased production of building materials; price-wage increases; use of surplus war plants; rapid tax amortization of newly built concerted or expanded plants producing new materials; government underwriting of rises in production of new materials; guarantied markets for manufacturers of prefabricated houses; restoration of the liberal financing terms that the FHA gave builders of war housing. Congress is understandably roiled by the various subsidy elements in the scheme.
So where did all the people come from?
Most, recently, have been married couples formerly living in their parents’ homes. In 1939, there were 29 million nonfarm families in the US. At the end of 1945, there were 35 million, although the country’s population has risen by only 8%. Aside from the wartime marriage boom, the main cause of housing shortages has been internal migration of war workers who are not moving back. For example, Los Angeles received 782,000 war workers, and only 15% are moving back where they came from. This trend will be tested by the heavy layoffs after V-J Day, which have not yet worked their way into the statistics. No need to move houses from derelict mining towns if people move back to do whatever it is they do in derelict mining towns. (Inbreed and start cults to prehistoric, demons, your youngest tells me. Sounds like there’ll be some hot times up in your neck of the woods this summer! )
How big is the shortage? The paper has cited Wyatt’s numbers, but the industry suggests that it is more like 1.5 million than 5. The Wyatt numbers suggest that 4.4 million nonfarm families will be doubled up by 1947; the National Housing Association says that it is all moonshine and rubbish conjured up to spook Congress, and that the number might be a completely tolerable 4 million(!) Again, costs are an issue. The rule of thumb is that a family should not spend more than 20% of their income on housing, so what if the “doublers” still stay doubled even once $4000 units become available?
What will the programme look like? 1.2 million units in 1947, including 240,000 prefab temporary units, of which 50,000 trailer houses have priority. If Congress will add another $250 million to the current $191 million proposal, 200,000 wartime temporary units can be repurposed. This will add nothing to the permanent housing supply, but puts little pressure on the supply of building materials., so, 950,000 permanent units,2.4 million over two years.
Nor have all the costs been fully accounted for.
“Bricks Without Straw” As alluded to in the leader, building materials are also in short supply. Only 17.5 billion board feet of lumber will be produced in 1946, 50% below the high of 1942, and only half will be available for housing construction; so to meet 1946 demand, we need 20.6 billion board feet from a supply that may be as low as 8 to 9 billion. Eastern and southern awmills complain that OPA price levels are too low and railroad freight rates too high, while western timber companies blame a labour shortage and strikes. With bricks, it is the same story. In 1941, enough were made to fill this year’s need, but during the war, nearly 40% of US brickyards closed for lack of manpower. Only a third of the shut harts have reopened since the end of the war, as the industry’s wage scale is the lowest in the field. Clay tile, sewer pipe, the list goes on.
“Boss Carpenter: Big Bill Hutcheson Rules All Those Who Work with Wood: His Brotherhood Dominates the Building Trades” I am not sure what to add to this, except that the included picture of the old carpenter’s home in Florida is quite something.
“Where is Prefabrication: The House: Good but not Great: The Industry: Alert, but Amorphous: Costs: Not Low Enough: Mass Output: Still a Future” In general, I trust the paper’s ability to tell the future a lot more than I do the Economist. (I think it has something to do with better pay attracting better writers!) However, when the paper proposes a spectrum between the “operator builder,” who is basically a largescale contractor building an entire “subdivision,” and Buckminster Fuller, he of the Dymaxion House, I see that we are being shown someone who is not in the “prefab” business at all, but simply enjoying some economies of scale; and a complete lunatic.
The paper also has a feature on planned towns such as Parkchester and Stuyvesant Town, around New York., which might involve apartment buildings, which can be nice, too.
Eric Hodgins, “Mr.Blandings Builds His Dream Home” Mr. Blanding, “in his slightly aggressive rural tweeds,” is an imaginary person with a very nice job and apartment in town, who sets out to build a “simple $15,000 home,” on the $11,550 acres of the “old Halleck house,” from which on a clear day you can see the Catskills, and ends up having so many wacky (but business-relevant) adventures that he crowds out the paper’s excruciating book section. So good on him!
“Big Dave Bohannon: Operative Builder by the California Method” Mr. Bohannon seems to be the sort of fellow you call if you have an orange orchard that you’ve decided to grow veterans on, instead. Unfortunately, our orchards are near sleepy Santa Clara (well, San Jose), and our rancheros are either long since dedicated to Uncle Henry or off in Spokane and such places. I imagine we would have been better off calling Mr. Bohannon back in 1942, but such is the price we paid to have our English cousins’ money to play with.
“Six Best Sellers” After just talking the paper up, I have to read this. It is the “six best sellers” that builders might be selling buyers. They include “south windows,” which are “solar heating.” (that’s one way of putting it!)
|New in home decor in 1946: barrels. Compare to the Utility Furniture show, above.|
Also, radiators, not previously favoured because they provide such dry heat; the “indoor station wagon,” which is the all-purpose family room, a built-in lazy Susan, so you never have to come out of your kitchen; and the garage, “which might need a new name” if it continues to serve as a junk depository. Actually, pardon my skepticism. The paper just shouldn’t have led off with those south-facing windows, and even there I suppose it might make more sense in Illinois or Ohio than in California!
(A gallery of American homes.)
“Fuller’s House” Buckminster Fuller is still crazy.
The Farm Column
Ladd is back! Now I can go back to poking fun at him! Although there is not actually much to make fun of, since his column consists this month of calling up “builders, planners and architects” from every state and giving each a sentence or two to say something building-relevant about farms. The only thing I take away is the need for more outbuildings.
The paper wants to be invited to the parties of: William Zockendorf, Arthur E. Allen, L. Douglas Meredrith and Jeffrey Mamur. In keeping with the paper’s theme, they are all either builders, architects, or concerned with home insurance at Metropolitan Life.
Britain has to build a lot of homes, and so does Canada. Some of their methods differ from American methods in ways that I would be better able to detail had little James not decided to have a mighty fall at just the moment Fanny was taking a constitutional. In the front yard. Where a certain Jimmy Chow might just have coincidentally pulled up. Not that her innocent mistress knows anything about that. She does now see that she smeared ink all over her notes for this number, and she is not going to the library today to redo them!
And since, as I’ve already said, there is no “Books and Ideas” section this week, that’s a wrap. (Except for the paper’s survey, which establishes that Americans want more homes now.)