Thursday, July 21, 2016

Postblogging Technology, June 1946, I: Brick By Brick We Shall Build This Place

General Delivery,

Dear Father:

I am so very glad to hear that you are on the mend, and that you were able to take "Miss V.C." out to lunch in Nakusp. Obviously I am very pleased to hear about the ranch house there, with its fine vistas, good pasture, and inconspicuous pull out from the river road. Uncle George says that he would like to hear more about the neighbours before he signs off on the idea of having guests stay there for any length of time. He may visit in August, on his way to and from Prince Rupert. 

You ask about your sons, and I am afraid that I can't tell you very much. I doubt that the atom bombs will set the atmosphere on fire, or anything so drastic. Instead, their main concern seems to be playing with remote-controlled airplanes. 

It could be worse. They could be following Communists around in the muggy heat, waiting for them to whip a time bomb out from under their drooping jackets and blowing up America. At least, so I hear from Lieutenant A., who might finallly be showing signs of shuffing off growing up. Although he still tells me all about what the last very important person said to him. (He is quite tiring right now on the importance of voluntary food restrictions and the famine in Europe; because of course, he has been talking to the Engineer, and even the Engineer can only go on so long about the Commnist Menace before the subject turns to his latest cause. Given how much trouble the Lieutenant has got himself into in the past by listening to the Engineer, I want to shake him by the lapels. But what can I do? He has to learn for himself not to back straight into irreplaceable Ming vases, etc.) 

Speaking of the Engineer always managing to be wrong, you will have heard by now that there is to be a bumper harvest in America again this year, and that the concerns of the spring were overblown --again. No-one cares, however, because we are all focussed on houses. 

The bottom corner is cleared, and the old swinging tree gone, I'm sad to say. We will be building four houses there on half-acre lots: one for the Murphys and three for people you do not know. Construction will start in the summer, and use some of the crew off Arcadia, which will by then finally have an actual roof from one end to the other by the end of July, at which point the family will move over from the gatehouse, which we will let. (Though not on ten-year terms, I promise!)

As was pretty much expected, the Spokane lands will be about as far away from the air base as they are now, because the new air base will be the old air base. That does not mean that we can't put housing on it, unless the wool subsidy goes up to a million percent, in which case we'll let it again.

In other business matters, there might be something to report on the magnetic tape front next month; we'll see. Our friends in Virginia are apparently hearing more Russians ciphering at each other than they can keep up with, and are interested in a better recording method than the wax tubes they are using right now. I should say so!

And now I shall have to cut this short, as I have to go and take an unlady-like walk on the roof of Arcadia. (At least I shall be a hero to little James.) I wonder if San Jose will look any better from another storey higher up?  

The Economist, 1 June 1946


“Industry and Politics” There is another coal crisis coming on, therefore the Coal Bill is a failure, therefore nationalisation is a failure, therefore the Labour government is a failure.

“Wait and See” It sure looks as though our former Soviet allies are awful communists, out to ruin the whole world, but we should probably wait and see what the Ministers’ Conference produces before we move to the next star system over. (Because “not even Jupiter and Saturn can afford to be complacent about atomic missiles,” says the paper later in the month, after I stop prĂ©cising it for you.) Also, German unification.

“Frustration in Palestine –II” Palestinians of all religions are excitable. And Americans. Englishmen are just frustrated.

Notes of the Week

“Food Comings and Goings” The Chancellor was in Washington last week trying to get an American commitment to a compensation for the 200,000 tons of grain just released in Germany, to some extent. at the expense of India. ­­­No compensation seems to be on offer, and the paper is sad, not angry, at Mr.Morrison.
Morrison Shelter. Kinky.

“Two Year’s Conscription” England continues to talk about talking about National Service. Specifically, very long periods of national service.

“The Empire Ministers Disperse; Elections in Czechoslovakia” A story about international affairs and a meeting of international affairs ministers belong under the same header.

“Mr. Bevin on Egypt” Mr. Bevin points out that, given that the Egyptians really don’t want the English there, and the English are being kept there at the point of a gun, the Opposition’s position that England should stay there is unwise. Mr. Eden replies that in all his visits to Egypt, he had not the least inkling that the Egyptians were unhappy with the English occupation. The paper suggests that he remove his head from the place where he has apparently inserted it.

“Arab Kings and Mixed Motives” Did you know that eastern Libya has a king? The English want to restore him, and the Russians have angled for a UN trusteeship there, and one might argue that the choice is between monarchy and communism; or on the other hand that, well, motives are mixed.
"Senussi going to fight the British in Egypt, 1915"

“Scientific Manpower” The report on scientific manpower “turns out to be more like a report on University Expansion.” The paper is opposed, and takes up the cudgels for “liberal art professors,” who have featured before in its articles. (One of paper’s reasons for arguing that more university students need to be not drafted or let out early is that literature professors need more students to teach.) That is, if all of that money is given to universities to expand science, the liberal arts will suffer. The paper theorises that, for this reason, the universities might object to all that money. 

Spoiler alert: they won't. (Berkeley campus in 1946.)

I went out to lunch at the Faculty Club on the strength of this report and the very similar discussion in Fortune, and got more than an earful all round. The faculty points out that they will just ask for a sweetener for the liberal arts! After all, historians and literature professors are always sitting around in dusty archives and crumbling libraries, and they have ever so much to say about the lessons of hte past and thinking clearly! I think buns might have been thrown in the direction of philosphers, but by that time I had had my answers, and a little too much wine, so take that with a grain of salt.  

See how research funding benefits everyone, even silly ladies who only care about shopping and lunch?

“Awakening in the Lords” The Conservatives have a majority in the Lords, which they recently used. Is this an advanced warning of the end of the world? Probably not.

“New Fighting in Manchuria” The Chinese civil war is back on.

“Danubian Coup?” The American army seized the bulk of the Danubian shipping fleet near Regensubrg this week, a total of 372 craft. It is over a dispute with the Russians.

I found this at the Wiki article on the Danube Commission. CC BY-SA 3.0,

“Lease of Life for Franco” The Security Council has agreed to treat Franco like an entirely non-Fascist, and wait for the Spanish to get rid of him. In a speech to the Cortes, the Generalissimo responded by inviting the Spanish to get rid of him as soon as they felt they were ready in every respect, some day. In the future.

“Prison Camps in Germany” There is now enough evidence, from enough inquiries, to establish that the prisoner of war internment camps in Germany are awful. However, as the paper points out, when there is not enough food for German civilians or Displaced Persons, there is certainly not going to be enough food for Nazi prisoners of war!

“The Supply of Teachers” The paper is disappointed to report that the Ministry of Education seems to have resolved the crisis. It holds out faint hope that the crisis might come back later due to class sizes being too large after 1948 when the school-leaving age is raised to 15.

I'm thinking of the interview with the former teacher, but the rest of it is great, too.

“Houses in April” The paper is pleased to report that the housing crisis is back on, since housing starts were under target in April again, and we can’t blame the weather any more, and the labour force is up, which means that it is the government’s fault. Unless it is the brick shortage.

“Extended Benefit” Let us talk about talking about unemployment benefits!

In shorter news, “Colonial Service Recruitment” Is going well, the American occupation authorities cannot decide on whether Japanese school children should be taught Latin characters or Chinese, the Swiss are slowly unwinding American trade restraints, and the farmers of the world are meeting in London to form a Union.

American Survey

“Unions with Communists” Unions and communists are both left wing, or left wingish. Some unions have communists in them, and communists approve of some unions. It will all end badly.

American Notes

Strikes continue. It is thought that if the Administration cracks down too harshly, union members might take their revenge at the polls. There is also the question of whether strikes are holding back production, or preventing shortages from being even worse.

The World Overseas

“Italy’s Choice” was written ahead of the results of the 2 June referendum in the monarchy. You should probably put this letter down if you are waiting till last to hear about the outcome, which was to get rid of the monarchy and the “King of May.” ( In even shorter news there is talk of an alliance with France, which may or may not be a good idea, given that the French economy is weak, and its population of 40 millions is small and aging. Perhaps we are handcuffing ourselves to a corpse, and it is a bit silly that we are doing so in pursuit of our eastern-Libya policy. Arab kings, especially of the “Senussi,” are silly!
Major Hugh Grosvenor, Duke of Westminster, shoots Senussi from an "armoured car." Technology, etc. Source.

The Business World

“Steel and the Public Interest” Nationalising steel is not in the public interest. Not nationalising steel is in the public interest!

“The Cotton Report” A dying industry with a shortage of labour can only be saved by increased mechanisation, the majority of the commission says. We can’t afford that, because we are dying, says the minority. The paper cautions that wartime schemes to concentrate labour in a small number of more highly mechanised plants did not always pay off as well as expected, and given the scale of redundancies and re-equipments envisioned in the scheme, perhaps some caution is in order? Which is an interesting point, and I wouldn't mind hearing more about the background, but it is not to be,. Instead, there follows a precis of the report on the agonies of the dying industry which will be of interest to anyone in a dying industry. Well, Uncle George pesuaded the Duke to get out of English cotton and into Hong Kong back in 1921, and unless someone has slipped money back into it, we're still out of it.

Business Notes

I do not see much of interest here, although in the spirit of leading into later discussions, I will note that the floating debt is falling rapidly, and there are discrepancies in the national savings figures suggesting that small savers aren’t saving as much as they used to do, which is, of course, bad news. The Board of Trade says that building starts are disappointing, and there is talk about removing the Essential Work Order from coal mining. The Government hasn’t quite decided, and since there is also a new European Coal Crisis on, perhaps it isn’t all the miners’ fault. (Although the paper thinks it is. Later in the month, a story about Polish coal miners being imported into Wales will break.) The Government is making a handsome profit on marine war insurance, it is striking new coins.

Flight, 6 June 1946


“Wings of the Future” “During the war, fundamental research was reduced but did not cease entirely.” (More below!) Mr. E. R. Relf, principal of the new College of Aeronautics, gave the Royal Aeronautical Society a taste of that research in the 33rd Wilbur Wright Lecture last week. The first part of the lecture covered exciting developments in laminar-flow wings and boundary layer control, while the second covered transonic and supersonic speeds.
De Havilland DH 108. "All three prototypes were lost in fatal crashes."

“Boundary Layer Control” The problem with laminar flow is that even the minutest breaks in the smooth contour of the surface can cause laminar flow to break down. Dust and dirt were concerns before the war, and engine nacelles and air intakes will be, in the future. Boundary layer control, in which the boundary layer of air is pumped away with some kind of suction flap, to maintain laminar flow, has perhaps even greater potential, because it can be applied to very thick aerofoil sections, and not just thin ones, and can be used even where obtrusive bits such as nacelles ruin laminar flow ahead of the leading edge.

Boundary layer control. We'll get there. Give it another fifteen years or so.

“An Excellent Move” The French are going to buy some English aircraft materiel. The paper thinks that this is an excellent idea.

“Jets and Turbines” Now that we have an official statement that the RAF will focus on jets and turbines, perhaps RAF recruiting will pick up. Also, turbine-driven airscrews will need special gearing. What?

“The Auxiliary Air Force” Is going to be reformed.

“High Speed Research: The de Havilland 108 Announced: Experimental Basis for Later Types” The DH 108, a special type designed to test the control and stability issues of heavily-swept back wings, has been flying since 15 May. The connection with high speeds is that the sweepback reduces the relative speed difference between oncoming air and the leading edge, and so raises the speed of onset of transonic flight conditions. It is not a flying wing, but does lack tailplane and elevator, and uses elevons instead. It does, however, have tail fins and a rudder, and these are swept back, too.
The ad that played before the video for me was a back country helicopter paraglider talking about the importance of safety.

“Turbine Prospects: Policy and Programme Clarified: Three ‘Secret’ Civil Types Announced: Completing the Brabazon List” At the recent Ministry of Supply conference, the minister confirmed to the press that from now on all large airliners and all future RAF fighters and bombers will be powered by gas turbines powering either jets or airscrews, that Mond Nickel company has “succeeded in producing  a much improved alloy for turbine blades,” and the first mention of the Brabazon IIB, III and IV were made. These are the Bristol 167, Airspeed AS-57 Ambassador, which is new in the sense that it is to be re-engined with airscrew turbines; the Vickers VC-2, which is to be a turbine-airscrew replacement of the Viking, an un-named Avroreplacement for the Tudor, a 90,000lb transport with four turbines, 
Avro Ashton

and the de Havilland 106, a pure jet tailless transport with a cruising speed on the orderof 500mph. Also, the Miles Marathon and de Havilland Dove. But they are now officially as boring as stale toast.
"Vickers VC-2." By MilborneOne - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Also, the English are still hoping to sell jet engines to America.

Here and There

All private flying is banned on V-Day so that the RAF can put on a show. Mrs. Nancy Taylor-Young is in the news, because she has learned to fly, even though she is the mother of two children. The first in-flight test of the Martin-Baker pilot-ejector gear will have been carried out by Bernard Lynch before the paper goes to press. Air Vice-Marshal Sir Keith Park believes that the submersible aircraft carrier will be the Navy’s answer to atomic long-range missiles. A family in America lets its eight-year-old boy fly planes. Captain E. I. Short, lately in charge of works publicity at General Aircraft, Ltd, has “been forced to retire from business.” He is “in the Ashford County Hospital and would be pleased to hear from any of his friends.”

“British Amphibian: Short Brothers Twin-engined Five-passenger Boat for Charter and Feeder-line Work: Details of the Sealand” It is an amphibian flying boat, it is small, the paper likes it.

“Reading Garden Party” the Reading and District Branch of the Royal Aeronautical Society had a garden party. It was just like a regular garden party, except with planes dripping oil on the roses. The Miles Marathon was demonstrated.

Hermes/Hastings Prototype: Highly Successful Trials of Handley-page Transport: Cruising Speed 300mph: New Developments Announced” That’s right. Aeronautical science thinks that it has advanced to the point where it can breed a customer dumb enough to buy a Handley-Page civil job. The Hermes is a proposed pressurised Hastings with nicer fittings.
By Mike Freer - Touchdown-aviation - Gallery page, GFDL 1.2,


A. R. Forrest writes on the subject of bird flight. “Happy Takeoffs” thinks that the inspection panels in the leading edge of the Wayfarer’s wings is an accident waiting to happen. M.I.A.E. believes that the article on the Jameson engine was all hype. Several old fliers have opinions about “Indicator’s” opinion about Lockheed Hudsons.

Civil Aviation

“New York-London Service: London Airport Opens Officially to International Traffic” There were celebratory speakers, tents, Constellations, and London put on its best face, in that it was raining.  

London in May. I bet it was hot and muggy in New York. 

“Aircraft in the Flypast: A spread, with silhouettes, will help spectators of the V-Day flypast tell their Vampires from their Fireflies, Tempest IIs from Vs.

“Northholt Airport: London’s Airport for Continental Services: Converting a Maze of Hugs into an Air Terminal”

In shorter news, we cover the beginning of BOAC’s Constellation service, an airport for Glasgow, a New York-Vienna service, yet another BOAC overseas mission, to the Far East this time, and lower fares on the Atlantic service. Also, there is an Anglo-Argentine agreement. Arrangements for civil aviation in the West Indies are “muddled,” the Italy dispute may have been settled, Boeing is bringing forward a “scaled-down” version of the Stratocruiser. Basel is to have an international airport in Alsace, across the French border.

“Recent Aerodynamic Developments: Precis of a Lecture by E. F. Relf, C.B.E., F.R.S., F.R.Ae.S. English work on laminar flow wings, which began well before the war under the direction of Professor S. Goldstein ultimately bore fruit in various ways that do not involve the P-51. However, the limit to thin wing sections with low lift reduced the general application of reduced turbulence air flows, making boundary layersuction all the more exciting. The original idea is due to Dr. A. A. Griffith, and has been successfully tested in flight by the Armstrong Whitworth Company to avoid premature tip stalling on a swept-back wing. The lecture is interesting, and presented with diagrams and graphs rather than a wall of equations, as it easily could have been. It all sounds a bit science-fictional though. I wonder how well it will work in practice?

“Britain’s Test Pilots, No. 10: Jeffrey K. Quill, OBE, AFC, Chief Test Pilot of Supermarine Davison of Vickers-Armstrong, Ltd.”  A picture of Quill aloft in a Gloster Gauntlet with a Mercury engine takes us back to the old days of 1936, when Quill was with the Meteorological Flight on his short-service commission. From there he went to Martlesham Heath as a novice test pilot, and from there was hired away by Vickers Supermarine after the RAF offered him a permanent commission in 1936. He returned to the service to fly with 65 Squadron during the Battle of Britain, and also had a five month commission in the Fleet Air Arm in 1943 to get service deck landing experience. Apart from putting a Vickers Wellelsey into a spin by mistake, he has had an “uneventful” test flying career.

The Economist, 8 June 1946

“Right Incline in France” Right-wing parties make gains in the French national elections. Next week’s returns will not the same trend in Italy and Holland, with Catholic parties making gains in both countries.

“Conscription for Peace” The paper says that the maths make it obvious that peacetime conscription must be for at least eighteen months to maintain the armed forces at 750,000, given the population. The government has finally admitted that the paper is right, and the paper is not going to be fooled into being pleased by this! As the paper points out, the total labour force at work in the country in the 1950s may be 500,000 to 750,000 larger than in 1938. A requirement of 1.5 million for defence purposes will be an increase of about 300,000, and other Government purposes will require 200,000 more, and the export industries will require 750,000 more, and this implies a reduction of the home civil sphere of about three-quarters of a million, and the capital goods industries must be spared for obvious reasons. Therefore, conscription and for long periods.

“Germany’s Economic Unity” Germany may or may not be united politically in the future, but it needs to be united economically for full technical efficiency, and communists are awful.

“Colonial Publicity” Two. Pages. Two full pages on publicity work in the Colonial Office. What is it about this particular subject that provoked Our Editor into this flood of words? It’s not like the paper has many advertisements to keep apart!

Notes of the Week

“Mr. Bevin’s Survey” The Foreign Secretary took the Commons for a tour of the world, describing all the ways that communists are awful, here and there from the Red Sea to the Danube, and admitted that trying to run Europe in a time of “no war an no peace” was an “intolerable strain.” The paper points out that trying to run it without Russia would be an even bigger strain.

“Elections in Italy” Christian Democrats in, monarchy out.

“The Spirit of V-Day” It was fun, and not gloomy at all! (Except for the weather.) The paper is surprised. The paper was expecting gloom. The paper is disappointed that it wasn't disappointed.

“Mr. Morrison on Food” The 200,000 tons of grain, which briefly didn’t exist (it was a Combined Food Board allocation) now exists again, and is actually flowing to Germans, who can now maintain their current allocation until the harvest. The paper is now willing to admit that the Germans are starving in a non-catastrophic way, that private food reserves, the black market and foraging expeditions are keeping up the supply. India is to get a million tons, and there will probably be large scale starvation in India, “but there is now nothing more that Great Britain can do.” Britain might adopt bread rationing, though.

“Breach with Spain” The Security Council Sub-Committee has no recommended a diplomatic breach with Spain. The paper wasn’t expecting this, and covers up for having its knickers in knots by sternly advising the Government to Do Something.

“The New Japanese Government” The paper has one-line descriptions of some of the members of the new government, and helpfully shares them. Hiramo Wada, the new agriculture minister, is 43, and an energetic radical, which is why he is in charge of coaxing the peasantry to give up some of their food to the cities. (It turns out that they have a lot, inasmuch as the Allies did precisely nothing to cut the Japanese harvest, so all that stuff that was said about there being no food in Japan was just made up. The cities could still starve, though, and then the paper can take an I-told-you-so.

Argentines and Dutch are excitable.

“The Cost of Planning” Something about urban planning, especially of blitzed areas, being expensive, but it is not the story about how it is too expensive to do, even if it would be nice, but rather the one about how administrative reform will solve the problem.
“The Hill Farm Bill” The English need special bills for farms on hills.

“Employment and Unemployment” The latest Ministry of Labour figures show that the work force has continued to decline as women leave. Unemployment is meanwhile basically stable, and the lifting of Essential Work Orders in the engineering industry will probably provoke a larger exodus of women, since they are underpaid in that industry, and they need to do that lady stuff, like shopping and looking after the little ones, which is harder now because of all the war nurseries being closed down. (On! I know how to reverse this trend!)
I have far more images from Fortune's article on the boom in this month's issue than I have to say about the article, so here's one out of place. 

“The Franco-Siamese Conflict” France has decided that it doesn’t have enough enemies in Indo-China, so it has asked Siam if it would like a rematch.

Persian labour is excitable. The Labour front bench is excitable. (At Bournemouth.)

American Survey

“Business South of the Border” Americans are mad keen to invest more down where the Latins live.

American Notes

The question of the disposal of the War Shipping Administration surplus is headed for a “showdown,” while the British loan is doing its last laps in Washington. The American harvest is going to be big, and food will soon start flowing in large quantities –just after the crisis. (Well, by definition after the crisis, I’d think!) The paper thinks that this is “ironic.” I think that the paper is just being disappointed at not being disappointed again. Mr. Stettinus has resigned. The McMahon Bill has passed the Senate.

The World Overseas

“The Ruhr in Spring” (by a Correspondent recently in the Ruhr)

The Ruhr is very nice and green in the spring. Already, after a year of clearing, the ruin and rubble is much improved, and the people don’t look that badly off –until you look closer and notice that they are swaddled in heavy clothes against the chill, and that underneath the fat has melted away. These are the vigorous, the workers, and they are not that vigorous, given the low output. The sick, the old and the young are not nearly so well off.

Cypriots are excitable. (And the Greek ones want to be part of Greece. Or, at least, not part of the Empire.The author thinks that the Cypriots might actually secretly long to be part of the Empire.) Also excitable, Australians.

The Business World

“Reconversion Reviewed” “The experience of the first post-war year has been by no means reassuring.” Of course it wasn’t! Everything is awful! It’s in a handbag, off down and away! The facts that lead to this highly realistic gloom are: first, that lots of women have quit the jobs where they were underpaid and undervalued. Employment in manufacturing, which has a target of 7,00,000, or 40% of the workforce, actually began contracting before the end of the war due to a decline in Service orders. Since, employment in manufacturing for export markets has risen by 22%, while that for domestic markets has fallen by 10%, and for the Services, by 11%. This continued through the first three months of 1946, as employment stopped its fall and began to rise, slowly.

June 1939
June 1945
December 1945
March 1946
Metals, engineering and chemicals
All Other Industries
The paper concludes that the reason that other industries have not been able to recruit more women is that all the women who have remained in industry kept their old jobs. No-one wants to go to work in dying industries like cotton! This, of course, is a crisis, and since there doesn’t actually seem to be a solution to the crisis, we’re all doomed.

“The End of an Era” (by Our New York Correspondent)

Various evidence, including an actual statement from the Board of the Federal Reserve, is adduced that the “era of cheap money” is over.

“Steel Links” An article that shows that it is impossible to really nationalise steel, because steel goes into everything that is made of steel. Except iron, but that bit’s a little complicated for today.

“Business Notes”

“Cheaper Money Cavalcade” Meanwhile, in London, Mr. Dalton is still on about cheap money. Another short article about some Australian bond offerings seems to read as Australia “taking the lead” on cheap money, but as usual in this section, you have to know how to read the paper to understand it at all. Please, financial writers: fewer metaphors, more plain talk! At the very least, it makes it easier for those of us who have to translate it into Chinese!

“Second Thoughts on Cotton” Something something dying industry.

“Improvement in Bricks?” Recently, a fuss was made about the British brick supply, which was limiting house construction. There weren’t enough, there was a labour issue, it wasn’t fair that Essential Work Orders were being imposed (or lifted), or demobilisation was being hurried for brickmakers. Also, it turns out thatAmerican brickmakers were much more efficient than British, because of Full Technical Efficiency. (Remember Fortune getting into the act, and marvelling at the way that the American “refractory” industry was able to increase production without increasing labour?) Now it turns out that there isn’t going to be a brick famine at all. (Unless the Ministry is being incautiously optimistic, which it probably is, because everybody except the paper is incautiously optimistic.) This has a great deal to do with the manufacturers getting priority for re-equipment, it seems. Nevertheless, full technical efficiency is a long way away in Britain, and it is impossible to get there from here because there are not enough workers in the electrical, mechanical and metal industries. Plus, also, there are too many workers in same.

“Higher American Metal Prices” This, it will come out next week, also results in various oddities in American silver policy.

“Nickel Ousts Silver” Speaking of which, the Indian Government is issuing nickel coins, because Indians keep hoarding silver. (It is almost as though there is a civil war in China; but we do not care about Chinese silver any more than we care about the fate of Chinese tea exporters around here.)

“Wage Increases” The Mazy number of the Ministry of Labour Gazette shows a “considerable rise in wage rates during the first four months of the year. In all, 4,718,000 workers gained net increases in wage rates of £1,419,000/week, compared with £815,400 for 3,393,000 workers in the first four months of 1945.” The paper is concerned that slow progress in achieving Full Technical Efficiency means that productivity increases are not in line with wage increases.

“Outlook for Sugar” The world grain shortage diverts us from other shortages. It might seem as though the situation were improving, but, in reality, “it would be imprudent to judge the sugar position optimistically.” This year’s crop will “not exceed 24,583,000 tons,” which is 6 million tons under the last prewar harvest. Also, consumption has risen, and the biggest three surplus areas of the Pacific (Java, the Philippines and Formosa) have been “completely dislocated.” (I am not aware that kicking out the Japanese “dislocated” Formosa, but never mind.) It is supposed that the shortage will go on for several more years.

Flight, 13 June 1946


“A Great Truth” The great truth is that for the sake of the future, England must spend lots of money on aeronautical research forever. Politicians, crying for “retrenchment and reform,” will just ruin everything.
And when did everything start going bad? Hunh? Hunh? By Eduard Marmet -, CC BY-SA 3.0,

“Can Flying be Made Simpler” Some people think that flying will finally be for the everyman-and-woman if aircraft controls can only be made simpler. “Indicator,” on the other hand, is sane.

“The Price of Victory” The White Paper on Some Statistics Relating to the War Effort of the United Kingdom is out, and the paper tells us that of 5,896,000 persons who served in the Armed forces, 264,443 were killed, or 296,521 including the auxiliary services, Home Guard, Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleet, as well as 60,000 civilians. RAF casualties were 112,296, and were especially grievous because RAF recruits were the “cream of the nation” and also required about three times as much training. (The cream of the nation takes the paper. The paper says!)

“Prestwick Airport” If you haven’t heard enough about Prestwick yet, here is more about Prestwick! 
"Prestwick terminal and hotel." Okay, this is nice.

Mr. Fred Thaheld[!] continues to work on his 115hp flat-four dieselaero-engine. The RAF flew 58 million passenger miles in April and suffered one accident, with the loss of two crew and nine passengers, and injuries to three crew and one passenger. Cierva has received the return of four C.30 autogiros, after “six years’ ‘special operations’ with the RAF.” A Folland 43/37monoplane, specially developed as an engine testbed, is now testing an engine.

Gyrodynetics: Counteracting Single-Rotor Torque and an Intermediate State Between Gyroplane and Helicopter” The Cierva/Cunliffe-Owen helicopter project is now the “Weir Gyrodyne,” and is yet another attempt to add complications to helicopters to make them simpler. The Weirs are very successful in business, but. . .

“Victory Fly-Past: Full Programme Carried Out Despite Bad Visibility” Bad visibility. In London, you say!

“Turret Fighter: A Boulton Paul Project of 1939/40: Four 20mm Guns in Low-drag Turret” Well, Thank Heavens it was a low-drag turret! Otherwise, the whole thing might have been impractical! (PS It had Rolls Royce Vulture engines, in case the rest of it accidentally succeeded.)
Some planes just look right. Others don't. By The Flight magazine archive from Flightglobal, CC BY-SA 4.0,

“Easier Flying: The Need for ‘Operational Simplicity in Private-Owner Types: A Designer’s Views” I suppose that  designers are always going to look for new angles to get their entrance into the market. I just don’t think that this is the one.  (This is the Horden-Redmond proposal, if you were wondering.)

Here and There
Cierva Autogiro will be building a helicopter at Cunliffe-Owens. The USAAF has ordered 15 Northrop XB-35 flying wing bombers, some of which will be powered with turbine-jet and airscrew-jet units, with one powered by turbines developed bythe recently formed Northrop subsidiary, Northrop-Hendy, says American Aviation. India is allocating a  million pounds to its five-year aviation plan. The RAF might do peacetime flight training in Southern Rhodesia.
This story keeps getting weirder.

In shorter news, Gerald Oke Manning, son of English aviation pioneer W. O. Manning, was killed in a glider accident recently, and Handle Page’s secretary, Mr. Edmund Easy, has retired.

“’’Indicator’ discusses Topics of the Day: Not So Simple: Can Aircraft Control be Safely ‘Rationalized’?: Approaches More Difficult than Landings: Two Extremes: Pre-arranged Coordination”

“Meteor Climatic Trials: Standard Meteor IIIs Proven Suitable for Desert and Arctic Operation: Trouble Free Tests” I am not sure how pleased the citizens of Edmonton will be when their town is characterised as “Arctic,” but that is where the “Winterisation” trials were done.

Civil Aviation

Raining in London, but not in Prestwick!

There have been various agreements as a result of talking about talking about civil aviation, and there is another article about trying to find just the right patch of water in all the water around Southampton for a flying boat base. The RAF is working on a cathode-ray direction finder apparatus, so that ground controllers can bring civil pilots home by watching television, which is the coming thing.  A Croyden-Eindhoven service has been started by KLM. Marconi has built a light-weight radio set for the Dove. The AD.97/108/7092 weighs less than 100lbs, has R/F and W/T, high and medium frequency channels, and a radio direction finding feature in low channels.

“Recent Aerodynamic Developments: A Precis of a Lecture by E. F. Relf, Part II” Relf explains that because aerodynamic behaviour of aircraft is very different at supersonic speeds than at subsonic, it is hard to design supersonic planes, unless they only ever go at supersonic speeds, and how would you do that? Meanwhile, it is not at all clear how aircraft behave aerodynamically at transonic speeds. Wind tunnels do not really work between about Mach 0.85 and 1.2, because they ”choke” with shock waves. Even if you can get one to run while empty, introducing a model will create “choke.” “The size of the model that can be used shrinks to zero as the speed reaches the sonic speed, and then increases as the speed increases above that of sound.” The only way to investigate transonic flight is thus to do experimental flying. Relf offers various preliminary results and theories. One of those theories is that swept-back wings will work. A wing with a section with a critical Mach number of 0.8, swept back to 37 degrees will not encounter compressibility drag until it reaches Mach 1.0! The Germans did some testing, and found that the practical gains were only about half of what was predicted by theory, but sweepback is still well worth pursuing, even if tip stall will be a serious problem.

Another exciting prospect for the future is supersonic jet engines which do not need compressors, or have a greatly reduced need for compressors because of the “ram effect” of all that air piling into their inlets. A suitable engine might noteven really be an engine, just an inlet duct with a heat exchanger. Perhaps it could be launched by rocket? And once at speed, we would have a plane with an “almost negligible weight of propulsive agent” ! Never mind what I said about science fiction. Let’s do this! I am also going to retract my cynical comments about money-for-scientists. If this can be achieved, they deserve their research funds!
Technically it's an aircraft, and it has a ramjet, so. . . 


“Ex. S.D. ‘Type’” writes about the 22-hour Liberator missions his unit used to fly from “a jungle airstrip in Ceylon” to Malaya. G. H. Cumberbatch Willins writes to say that gyroplanes are wonderful. An ex-ATA instructor reminisces about the hats he used to wear in Lockheed Hudsons. Or about landing them. Also, I’m probably kidding the ATA about their uniforms when it is actually the ATC. “A Dutch Boy” writes to complain that civilian DC-4s shouldn’t be called Skymasters. R. Allen thinks that ultra-light aircraft have been grounded by official meddling when they are actually safe as houses. I would take this kind of thing more seriously if the claims of perfect safety weren’t coming from people who are obviously trying to kill themselves.

Aviation, June 1946

Down the Years with AVIATION’s Log

25 years ago, Ralph Upson won a balloon race, the navy bombed some warships as a test, Dornier built the DoCS-II, and there were 31 aircraft manufacturers nationwide, with a 250% increase in business over the previous year. Fifteen years ago, twenty-six airlines carried 11,504 passengers during the month. The French air budget was $88 million. Junkers offered a diesel aircraft engine, and the Navy ordered 30 Helldivers form Curtiss. Ten years go, Langley installed its first 500mph wind tunnel, the Navy experimented with oxygen for high flying pilots, and Congress passed a Navy appropriation for $27 million.

This, I think. By High Contrast - Own work, CC BY 3.0 de,

Line Editorial: “The Labour Crisis: It’s Up to Congress” James McGraw thinks that the unions are going too far, etc., etc.

Aviation Editorial: “Here’s an ‘Or Else’ For the Lightplane Business” Leslie Neville thinks that the industry has to look to the days after the boom is over and think about how they are going to keep all that business.

Herb Powell, Associate Editor, Aviation “’Crossroads’ Critique” 

Aviation’s “associate editor” is capable of writing a paragraph that reads (and, yes, I know you can't tell what I'm fussing about after translation, but still.): 

In any event, however, we should steer clear of the over-the-boundary type of future-thinking. There’s an analogy to the attempt to tie the ‘obsolescent’ tag to aircraft carriers. This kind of erroneous thinking might lead us astray with our aircraft-A-bomb combine which we may logically figure will continue.”

What I think that means is that the Navy is going to blow up some ships, or try to blow up some ships, with atom bombs, and that shouldn’t lead us to think that atomic bombs will be fired by globe-spanning missiles, or, on the contrary, battleship guns, any time soon. So don’t cancel our bomber or carrier plane contracts! Scientists, and the paper, hope that the navy hasn’t set the tests up to fail, which would lead to the conclusion that battleships aren’t “tied to the obsolescent tag." I guess that if the atom bomb doesn’t blow up the “target array,” it will be the Navy’s fault?

On a less General-Mitchell-Never-Died note, there are to be extensive arrangements to determine the secondary effects of an atomic explosion, in particular the electromagnetic sky and ground waves set up by the blast, which could affect the workings of electrics, up to and including knocking the drone planes from the sky, that being one of the reasons they are there. The bombings will also allow the Navy to test the radio reflectivity of the bomb blast, and the lingering effects of radiation on all asepcts of naval operations.

E. J. Tangerman, McGraw-Hill Representative at White Sands Rocket Tests, “Can We Catch Up in Rocket Research?” Who are we even racing? The Germans aren’t in the game any more, and, anyway, we have all the German scientists and their equipment!

Raymond Hoadley, “Sound Financial Status Braces Industry in Readjustment” So the same Hoadley article as every month.

Charles A. Parker, “What Does It ACTUALLY Cost to Fly Your Plane, Part V?” I am sure that this is just as interesting to some people as parts I-IV.

Edward E. Thorp, “Highest Seaplane Base Turns Away Business” There is a floatplane business on Lake Tahoe. It does a lot of business. It was started last year by a returning ATC pilot, Wes Stetson. It's crazy  that there's a seaplane business high up in the mountains!
This is how cold Grace was in that Catalina that had to sit out in the middle of San Francisco Bay for four hours due to fog. 

K. H. Holmgren, “Real Sales Clincher is the Follow-Up” If we don’t print more words on paper, the advertisings won’t be far enough apart!

New Techniques Nullify Static: Just Revealed, These Methods Developed by Military Services and Airlines Help Keep Aircraft Radio Interference-Free When Contact is Most Necessary” Precipitation static is a major cause of radio noise interference. To reduce it, wick dischargers and polyethylene covers for antennae were developed. (The other methods involved designing aircraft so that static does not build up near antenna.)

Ralph Upson, “Simplifying Personal Plane Design, Part I” So many engineers found Upson’s recent series so interesting, that here he is with a follow-up. The article isn’t about the actual designs, but rather the state of the science. So he discusses the theoretical side, the wind tunnel side, and even the simplifications used to solve drag (and presumably) structural equations. Approximating functions that cannot be solved analytically is a very big field of applied mathematics, and Upson explains things pretty clearlly, I think.

“Design and Flight Characteristics of Flettner Fl-282 Helicopter. In German air force paint and insignia, the Flettner looks very militant. 

John Foster, Jr. Managing Editor, Aviation, “Design Details of Metro-Vickers F/3 Turbojet” This is the 9 stage axial jet with two-stage turbine compressors with contrarotating blades, giving 4000lb thrust at a weight of 1650lb. And if you are thinking that you’ve read all this before in Flight, it is because you have!

Charles H. Colvin, Consulting Engineer, “Instrument Research Demands Unremitting Efforts” Colvin takes us through the “22 painful and costly steps” required between specification and delivery of an aircraft instrument.  He points out that even though Sperry has been building autopilots since 1912, the latest Sperry A-12 required 12,000 hours of in flight testing before it was ready for service. He thinks that this needs to be made clear, as while during the war, companies got to fold research into prodcution costs, in the post-war era, the testers and researchers needs to make their case for their money.
From this you might get the impression that no aircraft instruments were ever approved for production before 1945. The secret shortcut is to not care if they don't work! "Sperry" is the tip-off.

“Develop Potent Rocket Engines for Navy’s Supersonic Planes” Reaction Motors, of Pompton Plains, New Hersey, has developed a new launching rocket for aircraft, based on the one used in the German Me-`63, but much improved.

Carl H. Odell, “Liquid Mass Measurement Ups Fuel Gaging Accuracy” It is hard to measure the amount of fuel in an aircraft tank accurately, so the capacitance testing recently developed is very useful as well as very interesting, and Odell wants to describe the “Edison Liquid Gaging System” in  a way that doesn’t even mention that we’ve already heard about Simmonds’ version in Flight.

“Unit System of Ignition Aims at Better Performance” GE’s AC Spark Plugs division has brought out a complete unit ignition system that uses a low-tension magneto with a spark-gap tube.

“Instrument Shock Mount Adapted for Personal Planes”

James L. Dooley, “The Case for an All-Pneumatic System, Part II” As I said in summarising the first part of this series, I don’t think that the case can be made.

George Gerard, “Strain Analysis Quickly Finds Formability Limits, Part II,”. Here, Gerard talks about their use in joggling units.

“Controllable Lightplane Prop is Easily Installed and Serviced” Continental’s new Skypower Airscrew is the best!

“R. I. Firm Develops Two New Utility ‘Copters” Helicopter Engineering & Construction of Pawtucket Avenue, Providence, R. I., wants everyone to look at sketches of two helicopters that it will build if customers give them money. (I will build these helicopters if people give me money, but it will have to be a lot of money. Probably enough money that I will buy some dark and sullenly handsome Circassian slave-boys to build it for them, while I lounge upon my divan and eat peeled grapes while whipping them on with my goad. Why, yes, I do miss my husband. Why do you ask?)

Meyers Grooming Fast New Two-Pacer”

French S.O. -30RBellatrix is Swift New Airliner” The paper is impressed.

“Heavily Gunned XA-41 Was Groomed as Ground Strafer” The paper is impressed some more.

For Better Design

This month, the feature notices a rivet with an integral sealing ring and a quick-release cable attachment.

Sideslips has a hilarious story about Air Force men harassing a WAC assigned to a flight tower as an air controller.
It's hilarious because it is a topical reference!

Aviation News

Federal airport bill signed into law; Pogue to Picao; service merger still halted; most surplus aircraft have now been sold. A Navy version of the “Lockheed Constitution” I expected this summer, with four Pratt and Whitney R-4300 Wasp Majors powering an aircraft with an estimated 200ft wingspan and carrying 175 men in military transport configuration at 300mph. Midway can apparently turn “in a short radius” by firing up all the engines of aircraft on one side the deck. Various heroic stories of air freight include 3500ft of lumber flown in for an auction, a load of new Hallicrafter radios flown in to "meet demand," and some industrial silk flown across continent in 10 hours by a TWA Constellation.
Yet another "boom" photo montage. 

Washington Windsock

Blaine Stubblefied complains that the FAA is probably planning to start regulate sport parachute jumping, and notes that because of airport congestion, research into shortening landings and takeoffs is urgent. The new procurement bill visualises a “huge supersonic research centre.” Aeromatics has an eight-bladed airscrew suitable for 2500hp engines. 

The AIA reports that 256,915 military aircraft engines were produced in 1944 and 109,695 in 1945. The Guided Missiles Branch and the National Geographic Society are collaborating in B-29 cosmic ray research flights. The Senate Interstate Commerce Committee has voted 14-1 to investigate the legality of the Bermuda agreement. If the Senate committee decides that the agreement is a treaty, it will require a vote in the full Senate. The airline strike has gone to arbitration. The Sate department is talking to the Russians about talking about civil aviation.

World Data by Vista
Worlddata reads Flight.  So do we. 

Fortune, June 1946

Leading Articles

As usual, the paper heads off with editorials commenting on the major articles. Most important this month is a story about the way that the American Communist Party rapidly adapts to the Moscow line. Sinister! Less important, but still important, is the run-up to the 1947 international trade charter conference. On the one hand, American business wants unrestricted access to the world, on the other, the American jewelled-movement industry is upset that Swiss watches are being imported again, and wants a tariff. You can’t have it both ways, American business! Also, the paper has something to say about wool production subsidies, so shut up, paper, shut up! Finally, the paper’s editor, Gilbert Buck, is just back from flying all over Europe with the ATA, and reports that the American armed forces abroad are a bunch of young, oversexed, under stimulated young men. Did I mention that they’re young? He’s afraid that the rest of the world won’t notice that they’re young, and instead decide that Americans are awful.

The Fortune Survey Today’s topic is “Who Will Win the Election in 1948,” and the answer is, “Probably not Truman.” Of Republican candidates, Stassen came in first, followed by Dewey, then Bricker, Vandenberg, Taft, Macarthur, and “all others.” Things should turn around for the Governor after he is nominated at the convention, though.

“The Boom” So I guess the answer to the big question of 1943 is that “194Q” is on! “Slogan for 1946: Two families in every garage!” Fifteen thousand for a mink coat! A thousand for a man’s watch! Everyone has money, everything is short. People are eating more, for sure, and buying more, at least by count of money Everyone will be on vacation this summer, making up for the bone-deep exhaustion of the war years.

Massey-Harris: Gleaning Was a Lost Art. . , The Biggest Farm-Tool Builders in the Empire Mechanised It . . . IN Lean Years They Are Reaping the Reward” The story is that Joseph Tucker, Vice President of the American side of the big Canadian builder, went to the War Food Administration with a plan to “use 500 Massey-Harris self-propelled combines to harvest the 1944 US grain crop,” with the company pledging to lease the machines only to operators who promised to harvest at least 2000 acres –for a total of a million acres, and including not only wheat but crops ranging from rice to lettuce-seed. They agreed, Massey Harris got the production priorities, and the 500 combine harvesters were built. Now here is the story of the company from earliest times.

God Speed the Plough!
Massey-Harris is a very rich but small manufacturer of agricultural machinery, including the machinery that brough in all of that Canadian wheat in the old days of the 1890s or thereabouts that the target reader of the paper actually remembers. Thanks to its money, or their natural talents, various Masseys are very important in Canadian diplomacy, arts, etc. Canada is a small country and very cliqueish.

“The Great Science Debate”

During the war, the United States spent $10 billion to mobilise 15,000 scientists and technicians with 2500 research contracts with 500 institutions. Looking over its brand-new empire, the Office of Scientific and Research Development found many flaws and weaknesses in the way that industrial research and even basic since was done in America, but those flaws did not stand in the way of our great scientific victory. However, “The U.S. achievement is chiefly in development, and engineering, always monumental, and uncomfortably recalling the Roman Empire.” 

I think I mentioned above that I lunched out on this article before returning to it, as I had a hunch that the university faculty would have something to say about "Greeks" and "Romans." 

After lunch, or, actually, the next day (too much wine!), I returned to  it --only to wonder if the wine was still affecting me! Did you know that the Navy tried to find submarines by their magnetic fields during the war? It also used penicillin to treat various ailments, and “turned 15000 compounds inside out” in an unsuccessful search for new malaria treatments. The paper moves on to claim that a “small group in the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism” “worked out” the proximity fuze, because it turns out that everyone invented it. Plus there as the A-bomb, and the research department at the University of Chicago took over a thousand acres of buildings, or perhaps buildings and grounds? And the OSRD found surf boat operators to drive “ducks,” for some reason, but on the other hand General MacArthur wouldn’t even let the “Field Service” of the OSRD into his command, as he thought they were a bunch of half-baked snoops.
MAD detector installation on a JSDAF Lockheed  PC-3 Orion.

It turns out that the sheer randomness of all this wasn't the wine coming back on me. Actually, we have no idea how to write the history of the OSRD, because all of that money, all those insitutions, and all those scientists spun out of control. But this is a good thing! It proves that America needs more scientific administrators, and it also turns out that American science was far more effectively mobilised than German. This does not mean that there were no flaws in the process. Before the war, the American military made no effort to investigate atomic bombs at all, and that all the basic research was done abroad. This shows that there isn’t enough basic science being done in America, and the military is, while not exactly to blame, not the institution to look to to turn things around. Instead, the OSRD should be turned into some kind of general staff of science under “scientific administrators” like Vannevar Bush and Robert Oppenheimer. 

The "debate" is not over "Greeks and Romans," but over Congress, which is not keen on giving up the power of the purse to some “longhairs,” and the legislation is a “compromise’ between the two extremes of scientific control and Congressional.

I could be a great deal more cynical than I sound, here. The faculty lunch devolved into an impromptu college debate, because it turns out that the whole "Greeks versus Romans" is a standard topic. The criticism alluded to in the article is that, in the old days, Greeks did all of the "basic research," or science, and the Romans took it all over when they conquered the Greeks, and added nothing to it. This is, it turns out, highly contentious. At least when 50-year-old Jesuit fathers are in their cups and re-enacting their seminary days, it is! Be prepared, if ever invited to one of these shindigs, to hear a lot about agronomy and the "metalling" of roads, and, perhaps, to have your opinion of Napa Valley wines revised a bit. 

As for the article itself, the obvious answer is that Americans discovered plutonium during the war. How much more "basic" does the "research" have to be? The real question is (and this is why I can probably be accused of being too cynical) , who controls the money.

“White Collar Man” The paper supplies a pocket biography of Henry Ferdinand Hansjergen, currently a 36-year-old purchasing agent for Cincinnati Gas and Electric, making $76/week. He is married to Janelle, a high-school classmate, rents a six-room $50/month home on a ten-year lease, is a vestryman in his church, has two daughters (the youngest named for the mother, interestingly enough), and is proud of his new piano. He has worked since he left school at 17, and Janelle kept her job as a stenographer for several years after they married. His pay has risen from $45/week in 1939, although his living costs have also risen 30%. (But not his rent, because of the ten-year term. No wonder there’s a housing shortage!) He sold his care when gasoline was rationed, hasn’t taken his annual two-week holiday since the war started, and is a scoutmaster. The family likes southern-style cooking, not too heavily seasoned. Mr. Hansjergen is a Republican through and through, and wants to give back to the community, feels that voluntary food rationing won’t work, although on the other hand wants to see Americans fed before food goes abroad. He is the White Collar Worker of America.
Borg-Warner: A Company of Parts” Borg Warner makes car parts and venetian blinds and other things, too.

“Scotch Whiskey: What and Where” The paper helps its readers pay a lot more than they need to pay to get drunk.
Clearly this robot is about to take our whiskey-distilling jobs. 

“Chichi in Chicago” People in Chicago have parties, too.

“University of California: It Has 26,000 Students on Eight Campuses: Its Undergraduates are Sober, Its University Faculty are Rambunctious” 


At this point, a quartet of fresh-faced boys in straw boaters and striped jackets runs out and sings something in Latin. In other words, I am not convinced of the relevance, although I do like the nice watercolour of Berkeley.

Look at all the smart people who teach at Berkeley!

Shorts and Faces

The paper tells the story of the man at Commerce who ventured to suggest that the cap on executive salaries be raised, because you get what you pay for, and was personally slapped down by Henry Wallace himself. This is in way of introducing  a discussion of the new rules for taxing capital gains from stock options. The paper goes on to notice that Westinghouse has a plan for getting back into exports, that a Yale law graduate named Richard Kenna is wonderful, and that department store shares make good safe investments.

The Farm Column

Hurrah! Ladd Haystead is back! Now I can stop worrying about him and go back to making fun! Ladd has a look into the crop shortage. The cause, to the extent that there is a single cause, is that the American farming sector is horribly run down after years of under-investment. All the farm machinery is run down, cannibalised, jury-rigged, salvaged, reconditioned, and, in general, bucolic Frankenstein’s Monsters. Farm equipment was one of the first industries to get new priorities under reconversion, and at V-J Day, prospects for rapid re-equipment seemed rosy, but shortages and strikes, and the loss of POW labour, are undermining hopes for the harvest. Fortunately, the harvest is still a few months off, so the industry has time to get the equipment it needs.

Business Abroad

The paper covers Harrods’ attempts to “restore normalcy,” the end of expectations of a Russian cotton surplus, Sweden’s attempts to save coal, and Woolworth’s expansion into Germany on American bases. Even if the Eight Year Plan is fulfilled, Central Asia’s cotton production will provide only 11lb/person for the population of Soviet Russia, the same total as was achieved in 1940, and “far short of what Americans would find satisfactory.”

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