Saturday, September 17, 2016

Postblogging Technology, August 1946, I: Drones and Continuous Flow

Nakusp, Canada

My Dearest Reggie:

Well, your daughter-out-of-law is off to Hong-Kong, and you are stuck with me! Don't expect me to take this task up on a regular basis, though. Nor, I think, when I compare the volume of your replies to Grace's letters to mine, will you be disappointed to hear that.

I have your brief reply to my note about my own forthcoming trip, and I cannot imagine why you would be jealous of me! Remember those days around the fire, speculating about the joys and pleasures of the Leland Hotel, were we only allowed to be there, instead of blankets and saddles for pillows, out under the stars --when it was stars and not the rain? And now, just a few short years (give or take a half century) you are basking in its comforts, while I face the prospect of being crammed into a DC-4, on my way to Tokyo. Oh, I understand that you are bored with Nakusp and waiting for your final permission to return to Vancouver. But, believe me, flying across the Pacific is in no way a vacation. Even across continent is long enough that I've been tempted to ask the crew to bring a can opener to get me out of my seat on landing. Had I not been able to get such a good deal on those war-damaged C3s in the San Francisco auctions. . .

And now it is up to me to find an idle Pacific shipyard with the labour to get those horrid war-builds back into service. There is only one country we can turn to, and, of course, we can turn to it, though it shames me. So the admiral and Nanking and the memory of the kamikazes aside. . .  You know that I only do this for the good of the family. (I will at least make a detour to Seoul, but I am not hopeful.)

Hopefully, by the next letter, not only will James and Grace be back from their holiday, and free at last to make a home together, but Reggie will be in Santa Clara on furlough, and even some of our other far-flung clan. If you want to take a trip down, you can even stay on and attend Homecoming at the "junior college" as "Miss V.C.'s" escort! Wouldn't that have stuck in old Leland's craw? 

Flight, 1 August 1946
“That ‘Fifth Freedom’” America is withdrawing from the Chicago agreement version of cabotage at the end of the next year. Until then, there can be more talking about talking about civil aviation!

“The Scots Spanner” The paper doesn’t like the Civil Aviation Bill, but also doesn’t like the Earl of Selkirk’s [!] pro-Scotland amendment, which sent the bill back to the Commons.

“The Bill in the Commons” The paper doesn’t like the bill, doesn’t like the more left wing members of the Labour party, doesn’t like Scotland, but is warming to IvorThomas a bit.

“Speed and Height” British airplanes reaching new speeds and heights are good.

“World-Beaters at Home: Grooming and Proving the High-Speed Meteors: Background to the Record” The paper is quite excited. However, flying at high speeds at low altitudes is very dangerous, and the cockpit gets extremely hot. The high speed record will be set below 1200ft, even though the new Meteor IV can hit 53,000ft still climbing! (Pilots are waiting for fully pressurised cabins and a standardised pressure suit so that they can exploit this performance.)

“Coupled Twin: an Interesting French Design: Improved Single-Engined Performance” The Mathis light twin exists more.

Here and There

Supermarine’s new jet fighter, which has a wing similar to that of the Spiteful, had its first flight this week. The Americans have decided to celebrate the first as “Army Air Force Day,” with a mass demonstration of flying planes culminating with a massive air raid on the Fleet. (But don’t tell anyone. It will ruin the surprise!) The RAF has decided to get into the act by having a flypass for the new American ambassador, after which the pilots will try to satisfy his wife’s needs. too.

Spitfire, Spiteful, Attacker. . . (there's also a Vickers Virago). Uncle George isn't the only misogynist around here. Although, seriously. Pamela Harriman. (Btw.)

“Mechanised Migration” Qantas is experimenting with delivering live chicks from Australia to Singapore by air. Qantas is also contributing to an attempt to exterminate Queensland’s dingo population from the air.  

“Indicator,” “In the Air, XVII: Botha, Beaufort and Whirlwind: Three Widely Differing Twins: Two Coastal Types and an Advanced Fighter” These are some interesting and obscure aircraft. The Botha was, “one of the most criticised British aircraft of the war.” In ‘Indicator’s’ reading, this was because it was designed for the Bristol Taurus engine, which failed to become available in the requisite numbers, and this is why the Botha was overweight and could not achieve its operational range, and why it was turned over for training. In that capacity, it had further problems because of details of engine installation and the shroud and flap covers that caused further losses. (And a peculiarity of fuel supply, and it was hard to move around in the cabin, and the hydraulic system made bad smells and random bangs.) Given that, it had some virtues as a trainer, given that, as a torpedo aircraft is supposed to do, it flew very nicely low and level, and so was easy to land and takeoff in. It also had well arranged controls. The Beaufort was designed to a different specification than the Botha, we are told, even though it did the same work, and got Taurus engines, too –no favouritism there, I’m sure! The Beaufort had the same reputation as the Beaufighter for swinging at takeoff and for being unpleasant and unsafe during an engine failure, but this was a bit overstated. The Taurus, for part of its run, was not supposed to be operated in a certain rpm range, which apparently is a joke at best in the air. The Whirlwind was a ball of innovations, best remembered for “the peculiarities of its hydraulic system.” The Fowler-type lift flaps also operated, in part, as radiator flaps, which meant that to keep the radiators cool in the climb, the plane had to be flown with the flaps partly extended, and the cooling system in general would not have survived on a larger airfield, since, once started, the aircraft had to be flown off without delay, or the radiators would start to steam. On the other hand, it was a very nice plane to fly, and “just missed its way and was superseded before it could be developed further.”

Blackburn Botha

“Annular Combustion Chamber: Notes on Some B.M.W. Development Work” Currently, jet turbines have multiple small combustion chambers, although it is thought that once all the details are worked, out, they will use a single, large, annular chamber. An experimental BMW 003A tried out those details. In an attempt to create local eddy regions to prevent blow-out, the Germans inserted baffles, experimenting with three different designs before deciding that battle plates were not the way forward, and next experimented with different kinds of burners, the last of which, a kind of burner ring, may be the next developmental step, although it, too, had problems.

“Decca Navigator: Southern England Chain of Transmitters Now Operational” The chain gives accurate locations within yards for 300 miles around London, and is intended for Service and Government experiments. In other aviation electronics news, the Kollsman Instrument Division of American Square D Company has developed a self-correcting “automatic altimeter,” which works by having regular radio corrections beamed to it from a ground altimeter, thereby correcting for so long as the same barometric changes are affecting both plane and ground.

American Newsletter

“Kibitzer” notices the new CAB regulations on charter airlines, points out a recent survey which seems to show that the airlines have overestimated future passenger growth and bought too much space, and notices that American planes are setting many new records of the “highest altitude for aircraft carrying 1000kg of payload” type. He also notes that both Douglas and Bell are working on experimental types to beat the speed of sound.
Chicago Airport, Summer, 1946

H. F. King, “Jet Fighters: A Consideration of Technical and Operational Requirements” How funny was Grace’s reaction to Mr. King’s MBE? “At least it’s not a knighthood,” she sniffed. . .
Interestingly, he quotes Stanley Hooker as saying that the athodyd has no future as a jet fighter engine, notwithstanding the impressive Focke-Wulf design. He comments on a “controversy” as between axial and centrifugal turbines, so I suppose that’s an issue in the British establishment. Actually, Mr. King has quite a bit to say about wing forms, fuselage forms, engine installation, number of engines, power of engines, placement of empennage, and issues like the structural strength needed to fly at 600mph, never mind pull out of a dive at that speed, as well as armour and even the fact that helmets are now recommended for pilots as protection against “bumps. Autopilots may be installed, as they already are in the American twin-jet escort fighters, and work is going on to bring the cockpit covers back to the “bubble” visibility of the old ones that cannot withstand transonic speeds.

Civil Aviation News

The Civil Aviation Bill is back in the Lords so that there can be more talk about Scotland. Scandinavian airlines are expanding. British European Airways has a nice new head office, and expects to have 50 Vikings in service by 1 August. It is expected that by the time this number appears on the newsstands, the CAB will have published the modifications that must be done before the Constellation returns to service. (Last week’s panic over the CAB’s “Show cause” order as to whether or not the Constellation should be withdrawn from service turns out to have been overblown.) Argentina has ordered fifteen Bristol Freighters.  The Lockheed Saturn exists more. Scottish Airlines is starting a service to the Faeroe Islands soon, which should be quite the challenge as they have some of the worst weather in the world, and locally stationed RAF pilots will have fond memories of clouded cliffs arising sheer out of the sea.

“Assistance from Rockets: American JATO Units: Application to Civil Aircraft and Sailplanes” Civil aircraft and sailplanes can also use rocket-assisted takeoff. The article supplies several drawings of this happening. Pictures of rocket-assisted sailplanes are awaited.

“A Meteor Test Height” A Meteor IV with pressurised cockpit reached 46,600 ft last week, not quite the “over 47,000ft” recently achieved by a Bell YP-59A, but important because the RAF pilots were casual and blasé about it, unlike the paper, which is ready to go ga-ga.

“Williamson O.S.C.-1 Air Camera: Heated ‘Bubble Installation: Remote Control of Shutter Speeds Incorporated” Unlike the disguised catalogue entries that Grace likes to mock, this one starts out with a mention of the recent Williamson General Meeting, where this new solution in the field of modern air survey was announced.


Peter J. Crofts writes that, thanks to the paper publishing his letter, the Ministry of Civil Avaition has kindly lowered the minimum age of runway controllers from 25 to 23, and he can again do his job. “D.I.C.” thinks that the Constellation flap will be better served with some unsourced innuendo. A. Baron thinks that British airlines should have air hostesses, too. The argument about birds flying in “Vee” formations continues. A correspondent shares tips about how to get picked up while hitch-hiking.
  First hint: Don't hitch-hike. Second hint: Don't watch this movie. 
The Economist, 3 August 1946


“Britain, France and Germany” Britain and the United States have agreed to fuse their occupation zones. This has both political and economic implications. The direct economic implications may seem small –perhaps some movement of food from the American sector, but from a new and larger German economic unit, further consequences must flow. The French zone of occupation would seem to have to follow suit, but the French have differed greatly from the British on German policy. Now, one of the reasons for the fusion is that the British believe that they must curtail exports of coal to get out from under the no-coal-no-work-no-coal spiral, at least long enough to produce the steel needed to rebuild mine machinery. But France depends on Ruhr coal exports. French coal production is now at prewar levels, but to expand its industry in line with the Monet Plan, it must have coal. The paper therefore visualises an extension of the proposed Franco-British Customs Union and the Holland-Belgium-Luxembourg one to include the western zones, thereby incorporating Ruhr coal into a larger, Europe-wide industrial plan that will allow the western zones to stand on their own without access to their eastern hinterlands. 

“The Health Bill” British doctors are excitable.

“Final Settlement for Palestine?” The attack on the King David Hotel has concentrated the world’s attention, so naturally the Government has put forward a plan that tries to please “Islam and Jewry and Washington” while keeping Britain’s “clear right” to imperial security in the form of an Empire base in south Palestine. (Which it cannot have if it just declares enough of a bad job and withdraws.)

“Civil Aviation Progress” “Rineanna is becoming the Clapham Junction of the air.” Oh, not this rubbish again! Anyway, the paper can’t help a waggling finger and an I-told-you-so over the American notice that they are pulling out of the “Fifth Freedom” clause they won at Chicago. Meanwhile, in Britain some are upset about Prestwick and others about Aer Lingus.

“The Fourth Five Year Plan, III: Soviet Labour Policy” The paper thinks that the Bolsheviks clearly suffer from a great shortage of labour. It also notes that while the plan calls for 33.5 million workers in industry in 1950, whereas extending the 1940 targets forward gets you 40 million. This shows just how badly the war has affected the population. Even this target requires an unusually high proportion of female and juvenile workers, and imposes a seven-day week with eight hour days. Much labour force training will lead to rising productivity, and wages will be structured to provide incentives for training. Both rationing and compulsory direction of labour will be abandoned under the new plan, notwithstanding the recently announced deportation of the Ingush and ChechenTatars, which the paper sees as provoked more by the need for labour in other parts of the country than as punishment for collaboration, as the Bolsheviks explain it.

Notes of the Week

“Voting Procedure at Paris” They’re voting on the voting procedure at the foreign minister’s conference in Paris, or something of the sort.

“The Moslem League Bolts” Shares in Pakistan/Hindu Raj are up again this week. The paper makes grand pronouncements about Indian public opinion and Britain’s role in India. (It cannot quite get its mind around the idea that Britain’s role in India is to get out, even though this is another article in an endless series on exactly the process of Britain getting out.)

“German Assets in Austria” The Russians are upset that they’re not getting what they think is their proper share. (With an eye to what Grace might say, I have to concede that the paper seems to take the Austrian position.)

“Housing Debate” Now, where is that stencil Grace lent me? Ah! The Government is BUNGLING housing! It does make summarising these political articles so much faster.

“Canadian Wheat Agreement” Canada has guaranteed to supply between 140 and 160 million bushels for the next four years at a price $1.55 below the American, amounting to two-thirds of British imports, which will not have to be paid for out of the American loan. The paper says that this is only stabilising the market, and that the FAO and Americans cannot object, even though they are; and, anyway, if the rest of the world cannot come to a global wheat agreement, then all of the other buyers and sellers are to blame, and the British bread buyer will be grateful to have locked in these prices when the inevitable shortages reappear.

“By-election Analysis” The Conservatives may or may not come back in 1949.

“Unrra’s Last Council?” The Unrra needs more money from supporting governments if it is to continue its meteoric rise to the top of the world talk-shop standings. I’ll say. I haven’t heard about the atomic bomb blowing us back to the Stone Age in quite weeks! Though that may be because everyone has gone away to the cottage.

“The Greek Purge Goes On” The paper scolds Premier Tsaldaris for outlawing the Executive of the Confederation of Labour. It’s quite undemocratic!

“South Schleswig and the Danes” Danes are excitable.

“How to Build a Town” The paper finds this to be a daunting task, fit for “men and women of the highest calibre.” Around here, it just takes a huckster, a big farmer who wants out of the business, and perhaps a bribable county commissioner, but perhaps the British labour shortage has brought the higher calibres in sight of the lowest denominator. 

“Building the Green Belt” The paper sees this as a daunting task. I would throw in an “etc.,” here except that the next two bits are “Paid or Unpaid Counsellors” so the paper is going down that road on its own.  

“More Power for the UGC” The University Grants Committee should have more of a role in giving out grants, as “The Government is anxious to do as little as possible to infringe the independence of the universities” However, there should be Plans and Commitments so that the universities know what is to be expected of them, or they will duck inside their shells and all the prospective new students will bounce off their bony carapace, and there will be no (stencil, please!) Full Technical Efficiency. I sometimes think that Grace’s rather unfeminine mathematical precocity blinds her to the difficulties that mere mortals experience in absorbing a proper technical education, but watching the paper strain at discovering the dark consequences that must surely ensue for university enrollment if the universities are given more power and money is hilarious.

“The Place of ILO” International Labour Organisation, that is. That is, within the grand international bureaucracy that encompasses the Food and Agricultural Organisation and the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organisation and the Social and Economic Council and so on and so forth. The paper will not be happy until it can talk about the administrative implications of the organisational reforms of the planning process for the reallocation of allowances within the framework of policy on a global scale.

“South Tirol Debated” By the Commons, that is. Italy gets South Tirol, and the House is disgusted, because Vienna (Hitler’s first victim!) deserves it. Italians are swarthy, you see.

“British Administration in Germany” “The sub-committee’s impression of the British administration was not entirely favourable.” That’s the paper’s way of saying that the Government is BUNGLING Germany. But have no fear, for if “reforms are introduced at once,” all will be sunny.

Shorter Notes

“A minor but revolutionary change” (emphasis your humble correspondent) is to be made in British divorce law effective 6 August, having to do with the length of time that must elapse during the process. I wouldn’t mention it were the paper not being the paper. London City Council is introducing a kind of hostel for the accommodation of vagrants, since they do not keep situations if they are found work but not homes. The paper is interested in seeing what comes of it in terms of steadying the men.

Finally, “Statistics of births for the quarter April to June, 1946, show a birth-rate of 19.2 per 1000 of population, the highest recorded for any quarter since 1925. With the process of resettlement into civilian life these levels are likely to be maintained for some months longer. But the reaction will be all the sharper.” This is the kind of quote that Grace would read aloud to me, as showing how resistant the paper is to the idea that a generous social policy is a good family policy. No matter how many months the elevated birth rate continues, the paper persists in seeing it as an incomprehensible departure driven by transient causes, soon to collapse, rather than a natural outcome when the couples that deferred their families in the Thirties are able to earn enough to make them up. I mention this, of course, because I am reluctantly persuaded (and have told the Earl this.) Grace and James time the “reaction,” which will be only a reversion to the previous trend, and not depressed below it, to 1950/1. Though their actual dating seems a little like numerology to me! (James has turned to something called “Bayesian maths” to narrow down his prediction, which seems like adding astrology to the numerology, but what do I know?)

American Survey

“Some Like It Cold” (From a Correspondent in Iowa)

The paper’s correspondent must have been having a slow day, since he is recapitulating a Fortune article from two years ago. Birds-Eye and Honor Foods dominate the flash-frozen food markets, originally selling to institutions, but now increasingly to private consumers with freezing compartments in their refrigerators; meanwhile, the community frozen-locker idea has expanded from  100 North American plants in 1936 to 8000 today.
Is the drum thing a 1946 fad with no legs, or was Henry Luce the only guy who liked it?

American Notes

“Congressional Balance-Sheet” The 79th Congress is over. It was the last of the War Congresses. It was very dilatory, and it is all Mr. Truman’s fault.

“New Production Peaks” In a recent announcement, Mr. Henry Wallace said that American production has already regained an annual rate of $185 billion, compared with the 1945 peak rate of $205 billion. Private capital formation is running at an equivalent annual rate of $25 billion in the last quarter, against $19 billion in the first quarter and “quite exiguous rates in 1945.” The rate of increae in consumer spending is declining, however. Nevertheless, total employment has hit 56,740,000, well within range of the “sixty million jobs” “dramatized” by Mr. Wallace three years ago, and an acute labour shortage is predicted, though so is deflation, 8 million unemployed in the fall, though not recently. Also more however, labour strife might follow from labour shortages. That is, worse strife than we have now.

“Federal Stock-Piles” Congress wants to stock-pile some strategic materials such as rubber, and the President has agreed.

“Merchants of Death” The Mead Investigating Committee has found that some arms merchants were corrupt! (I know, the idea!) Of course, it is just reporting on the Garrsons and Representative May, again.

“Black Volunteers” The Army’s draft holiday is going better than expected, but still badly, and it is eager to get its slice of college graduates in the spring, in particular. However, it is also getting far more Coloured volunteers than it wants. The Army wants no more Coloured troops than the general population, and right now they represent 1 in 6 volunteers. This is only because of social prejudice against Coloured veterans. The Army is thinking of the plight of ex-soldiers. Though “a preponderance of Negroes in the Army would choke off White volunteers,” of course. Also, they just naturally cannot serve in the European Theatre of Operations, and they have been barred from enlisting in all but 48 specialist categories. President Truman is under some pressure to end this discrimination, with the elections coming up.

“New Credit Controls” The Senate is considering controls to prevent interest rates from going up, with consequences for the Federal budget which can only be imagined. Critics reply that even the most “easy money” side must admit that there is too much money about, so that interest rates must go up.

The World Overseas

“After Unrra?” The Unrra has shipped vast amounts of food, shoes and many other things about the world in the last year. Does that mean that it can be wound up? No, because the work of agricultural reconstruction has hardly even begun. Also, some countries still cannot pay for their food imports (Greece, Poland, Czechoslovakia) and Austria is expected to suffer famine next year. It is thought that if the Unrra’s full programme is carried through, the food shortage may be over by the spring of 1947, and at that point it can be wound up. But who will carry on the permanent work that is still needed?

“Middle East Currents” If you are not to write a bit about how there might be a “Palestine settlement,” I suppose that you have to choose a vague title like this, because what else is happening in the Middle East, really? Well, there is a resurgence of the “non-communist left,” and, in other stories with other titles, talk of changes in Egyptian politics, and the warning bugles call out that “British prestige [is] Waning.” This is because we haven’t sent a gunboat to shoot up Jerusalem over the King David hotel bombing, I imagine without reading the bit in any detail.

“The Greek Economy, III: Greece’s Balance of Payments” Greece has negligible exports, and a huge government debt to the Bank of Greece. The last such debt was wiped out by war and inflation, but for a more responsible policy, production levels and taxation must be restored. In the mean time, the Government (and Greeks) can just use gold instead of drachmas. It is, above all, a matter of replacing the German market, which once took so much of Greece’s tobacco, olives and wine.

The Internet says that this is the first Greek Liberty ship. Or "one of the first," but that's less dramatic.  98 Liberties, sold en masse to Greek shipowners at a mean price of $600,000 each, employing 4000 Greek seafarers. The  Greeks got an excellent deal, because most of their prewar fleet had been sunk in war service. 

The Business World

“Recovery in Exports” Trade is running well ahead of what was expected, but the North American market still disappoints, as does Australia and New Zealand, perhaps because of shipping limits, although South Africa remains Britain’s largest export market.

“Electrical Welding” Quite a reasonable and reasoned discussion in comparison to the “Welding equals America equals progress” nonsense that I expected. 

Business Notes

The paper would like an easy explanation for the “reaction” in stock prices, but can’t find one, and settles for dreamy metaphors of boats drifting. It thinks that the failure of the Birmingham bond conversion is a bad sign, thinks that the Government is BUNGLING steel and rail rates, discusses the use of the dollar loan so far –very interesting to us—has thoughts on the stock offers, admits that the harvest will be up in North America but holds out hope that it will be down in Europe in spite of dispiriting early signs of a bumper crop in the northwest and rapid recovery elsewhere outside of Iberia. The French are fiddling with their regulations on foreign investment, London Transport fares are set to rise, building workers and seamen want a pay-rise, and various earnings are up, down and sideways. Also, the Jugoslavs repatriated some of their gold, now that it is agreed that it is their gold.

Flight, 8 August 1946


“That Little More” The paper is upset that civil aircraft owners’ gasoline is being rationed.

“Back to Skids” Stowing undercarriages in the thin wings of jets is hard, so perhaps we need to go back to skids.

“Pressurisation Problems” Pressurising is hard. The paper publishes a story about Boscombe Down’s problems with it when it began to work on pressurised aircraft in 1940.
Vickers Wellington VI. (Source: does not attribute photograph.)

D. W. Lucke, “A Blown-Up ‘Wimpey:” Some Impressions of Early Experiments on Cabin Supercharging and High-altitude Flying” Well if this doesn’t beat it all. It turns out that you lads were working on a special, high-altitude Wellington bomber way back in September 1940? Were you keeping this from your cousin, Reg? Or did they give up on it as a bad job before you came on board? Hydraulics were afflicted with awful surging due to oil thickening with temperatures that fell as low as -73 on one occasion. Instrument flying had to be practiced above 20,000ft due to oil misting from the cabin blowers and frosting due to humidity. Various other ridiculous-sounding problems had emerged by 1942, but the author also refers to a later plane “very similar” to the Wellington VI.

Flt Lt. A. Mirsky, “Glider Training for Fighter Pilots: German Wartime Experiments: Initial Instruction on Towed Aircraft” I thought that we had decided that this didn’t work? Flt Lt. Mirsky likes sailplanes very much, and thinks that therefore they should be used for introductory flight training, even if they don’t work. Perhaps we could launch them from cadet training sailing ships, using army recruits with weighted boots!

Kenneth J. Key, AFRAeS, “Landing Gear for Jet Fighters: some Notes on Design Trends” As the paper says in the leading article, getting rid of the undercarriage would make jet fighters much lighter, so if it is feasible, it should be done, by all means.

“Portable Weighbridge” American Cox and Stevens company offers a briefcase-like portable strain-gauge measuring equipment, licensed in Britain by British Aviation Services.

“New York Terminals: Some Comments on Congestion, Costs, Problems and Politics: Idlewild and Islip” The paper gives its typically Pollyannish treatment of the same problems that enrage Fortune (see below), explaining how the American airlines will solve all the problems even though the City of New York is BUNGLING airline development.

“Ireland and Air Transport” The paper must be put out that it was the Economist that managed to get it into print first that Rineanna is destined to be the Clapham Junction of the air, and so gives the little Irish town where all transatlantic airliners must stop for breakfast an entire page.

Civil Aviation News

“Commons Rejects Lords’ Amendment” The paper covers developments in greater length than The Economist, but is perhaps more at sea with constitutional news. In shorter news, there is talk of a BOAC Central American service, while BOAC has carried out its own modifications to the Constellation fuel supply, which would be of more note had the Pennsylvania crash anything to do with fuel supply. There is talk of commercial helicopters again, the internationalisation of civil air, whatever that means, an Irish airline strategy, and more talk of the Caribbean.

“Speed-Record Preparations” Are ongoing.

The XA-41 exists more.


Christopher Clarkson corrects the paper. The Douglas XB-43 is a new design, and not a piston-engined machine converted to jet engines. The paper corrects Clarkson back, as he is just making things up. W.M.C.H. writes to say that the Wayfarer that recently ditched in the South Atlantic did not have a navigator.  “Stressman” writes to explain that the original P-51 was about 7% heavier, part-by-part, than the Spitfire IX due to design for production instead of performance. F. E. Young (Flight Engineer) writes in praise of “Joe ‘Erk,” and J. H. R. wants to know what private owners’ operating costs are.
People used to write idiotically wrong letters to the editor all the time before the Internet, but Clarkson might be thinking about the story that the "Mixmaster" was designed from the first for jets, because its engines are in the back. In any case, both long extension shafts and ducts are a bad idea in 1946.

“Reducing Aircraft Losses: Maclaren Anti-Strike Coolant Protection System: Automatic Isolation of Damaged Sections” Each section of the radiator is shielded by a wire mesh carrying a current. If the mesh is penetrated by a bullet, current is interrupted, a switch is thrown, and a fusible link is blown, causing irising valves in the coolant tubes to close, isolating the lost sections from the coolant circuit. Making the mesh was a challenge, with copper conducting strips electrolytic ally laid on a stencil, then moulded under pressure between bakelised linen sheets, and the valves were tricky engineering.

Here and There

The Australians are bringing back the Flying Doctors Service. Various foreign services are sending people to tour England. The Air Ministry is updating its list of missing airmen. U.S. National Airways has reduced the number of seats in its DC-4s on the Miami run from 58 to 46. A Lille-London service is starting. Howard Hughes’ accident is reported. Air Vice Marshal Sir Robert Stanley Aitken is to be director of the RadioTel group. The Hughes Hercules exists more.

The Economist, 10 August 1946


“First Twelve Months” The Government is BUNGING governing! It is good for a Labour government (not much to compare it to, though, is there?), but it is hampered by its “lack of top men.”
"We have top men working on it!" ["[A] house made of two converted railway carriages. . ."]

“Japan Under Control” The paper is quite pleased that a Japanese non-communist left has emerged, and that the Japanese have managed to have a national election, and seem tediously set on restoring their prosperity rather than having a dark and gloomy crisis of some kind.

“Industrial Relations, III: Personnel Management” The paper emits a word cloud, allowing it to end with some ruminations on whether or not it might be possible to have some demonstration companies where the unions get everything they ask for, just to see if the workers stop being lazy, as Grace would paraphrase.

“Union in the Low Countries” I gather that there are a score or so of old counties in the flat lands around the river mouths, that they have been more-or-less unified many times before, that now they are to try for something on the “more” side while still being three countries of a score or so counties. “The empire, long divided, must unite. . ..” It will be good for trade and iron and steel and such.

Notes of the Week

“Voting Quibbles” Did you know that there is a “Committee on Procedure of the Paris Conference”? There is! And it is quibbling!

“Palestine Plan Without the Americans?” Kick out the British, Jews and Arabs, too, and a settlement will be reached in no time! (Which might work if the actual Jews, Arabs, British and Americans are kicked out, too. Perhaps some Bugandans or Tais could be persuaded to settle there?)

“Law and Order in Persia” “The British Government put out a statement,” the paper begins, because the way forward to public order, well-proven in China, is for foreigners to stick their noses in. “Affronts to Persian pride are to be regretted,” the paper goes on. But, oh well, you can’t hit a native in the face with a truncheon without breaking some noses, as the saying goes. As far as substance goes, we’re on about the Persian communist party’s place in the government.
The anthem of the  Hezb-e Tudeh-ye Iran

“Family Allowances” Britain is introducing Family Allowances, apparently a social advance sought on the distaff side all the way back to 1795, with William Pitt contemplating it whe not dispatching secret agents all the way to Nootka Cove to start wars. The paper points out that a family allowance ample to the needs of poor children does not come close to public school fees, so in the interests of simple fairness, the income tax deduction for children should also be increased. 

“Higher Pensions for the Old” The paper seems to be arguing that since the idea that the old need more money is agreed by all, we can naturally move on to the quite separate question of providing for all of their other needs, as “cash benefits are not enough.” 

“The Regular Army” Is too large, and also too small. Also, it is not pleasant to be in. If they fixed that, perhaps it would get more recruits, and be large enough, and also too large.

“New Wage Scale in France” Up 20%, with some provision for women, too. This should end the ongoing labour strife ahead of the elections, it is hoped.

“Butter, Bacon and Eggs” An agreement with the Danes gets Britain breakfast at prices so low that the Danes must subsidise their producers, in return for getting desperately-needed foreign exchange.

“European Food Situation” The paper cites various reports, including that of the Unrra, to refute travellers’ tales to the effect that Europeans are getting more than enough food. On the contrary, they are living hand-to-mouth, except for farm dwellers and black marketeers, Stockpiles are inadequate, and the prospects are “gloomy indeed.”

“Food Control, 1939—1945” The paper tells the tale of those long-ago days when food control was effective, and it was shipping, and not foreign exchange, which limited it. In related news, there are changes in the way that milk is marketed and supplied. In not at all related news, but in no way deserving of a paragraph break, the end of the war has allowed the London police to make up their numbers.

Dutch, French, and the Southern Lands are excitable. [Vietnam, Dalat conference.] The paper even takes the time to explain the ethnic makeup of the whole Bach Viet. Its brush spreads the ink with grand strokes, speaking of Chams and Annamese, Mekong and Red River valleys.

A building in the hill station of Da Lat, Vietnam, in 1925, 26 years before the Da Lat conference. 

Letters to the Editor

R. R. Hobson, of 28 Princes Square has written some kind of parody in support of Grace's anti-anti-communism. Apparently the only way of preventing the “Russian masses” from launching WWIII is to threaten to launch WWIII. Frederick Smith, of the M. Inst. T., writes about road rates and carrying licenses. The paper sharply disagrees with him in an ed. Note.

American Survey

“Vacation, 1946” A Correspondent in Connecticut notices that Americans are all on vacation this month. Gas is plentiful and cheap, twenty-five million passenger cars still run (compared with 29 million before the war), and with a “don’t tread on me” opinion, the American bundles his family into his “old bus” and heads for the empty spaces –only to discover that all the inns were booked months ago. It’s a $10 billion holiday season, as, after ten months of waiting from the Japanese generals giving up their swords, Americans finally get their break. There is money, there are vacation weeks to take at increasingly-unionised work places, and the temperature in New York and Washington is at least ten degrees north of human (believe me!) The paper waves a scolding finger, pointing out that this means that there will be no-one to do the work. Summer vacation will doom America. I rubbed my eyes and read it again, but that's still what it said.

I'm cheating a little, in that Fortune runs the "Sunburn, poison ivy and seasickness will ruin America" article from which I take this next year, in August 1947. Still. 

American Notes

“Unbalanced Budget” The federal budget has quite a large deficit, and Congress thinks that the President’s plan to finance it by higher taxes is “quite unrealistic.”

“Veterans in Politics” Veterans can demand Congress give them stuff, such as a recent “terminal leave pay” bonus for leaves owed but not taken. The paper looks sourly ahead to decades of handouts to those ungrateful veterans, oblivious to how much they owe their country for the privilege of a four-uyear, all-expense paid vacation shooting Japanese, Germans, and less sensible Italians.
Something something Trump voter

“Tidelands Oil” The fight over oil lying between shoreline and three miles out, on since before the Teapot Dome, continues. The states want it, and the oil industry is lobbying for them in Washington. Also, housing has had various setbacks. After a creditable 475,000 starts in June, housing starts in July were at December 1945 levels. This is largely because of rollbacks in the prefabricated housing share. Also, the Wyatt Bill failed to pass, cutting subsidies for public and private housing, as well as for housing research and slum clearance. Mr. Wyatt blames the real estate lobby, but the paper thinks that this is dubious, since it would be short-sighted. Because who ever heard of a short-sighted property owner?

The World Overseas

“’Power Politics’ in Paris” Argle bargle Paris Conference. Which is actually the paper’s conclusion.
“The Argentine Economy” Argentina, having gone in ten years from being a debtor country almost too a creditor nation, looks forward to continuing domestic prosperity, in spite of not being run in a particularly businesslike way, with excessive deficits, over-low taxation and an increasingly inflationary situation.

“The Greek Economy, IV: The Way to Recovery” “The picturesque squalor and primitive condition of the Greek peasants and islanders” struck the visitor of the thirities, and would strike the traveller of today as even worse, if there were any. The paper councils sound government, internal economy, a solid currency, and industry for all. Instead, the Greeks are getting a settlement from the World Bank to head off inflation.
Maybe he's smoking Greek tobacco.

The Business World

“Measuring Inflation” Depending on how you measure inflation, inflation is higher or lower. By the paper’s preferred measure, the British have made more regular wage gains than Americans, who have made most of their war income from overtime. If this continues, inflation will surely break out in an uncontrollable way, as it has not yet.

“Shortage of Silver” The silver bloc’s machinations have created a shortage of industrial silver. At least it has alleviated hoarding in India and Saudi Arabia by special lend-lease shipments of bullion. Although once the lend-lease reaches its term and needs to be repaid the rest of the world will need to find three times the annual world production to repay the United States. A nickel coinage in India and other places might help, but it looks as though the silver shortage will be prolonged.

At least we can look forward to Senator McCarren's heartful apology for destabilising the world's silver standard nations.

Business Notes

The Coal Board has authorised a £164 million total coal compensation award. The Economic Journal has published the last work of Lord Keynes, which predicts that there will not be, contrary to widespread opinion, a dollar shortage. The oil duty is to go, trade recovered in the second quarter, British steel prices are still higher than American, the rubber market probably won’t support a large American synthetic rubber industry there has been progress in clearing the wool surplus, shellac is coming off control, while soap is still being rationed, with substitutes now being considered. The Germans used hydrogenation to make ersatz soap of solid fats so that vegetable products could be used, and petroleum based substitutes have some usefulness. Finally, the paper has a brief on the recent government ship sales. It thinks that British Government surplus merchant ship sales have been unexpectedly strong. Liberties are going for £150,000, and prewar C2s for £250,000. The United States, it says here, is to scrap 700 ships, and lay up the unsold surplus of 3500 in 1947. I have my own views (I don’t disagree, but I have caveats), and far more to say about developments. 
SS Donald McKay: half the size of a Liberty by DWT, nearly as efficient by cargo lift, and much faster.

Flight, 15 August 1946


“The Record Attempt” The speed record attempt will be made very soon.

“Cause and ‘Effect’” Mr. Coanda, the well-known aerial inventor, is on about something called the “Coanda Effect.” It may or may not be worth fussing about, the paper thinks.

“Safety First” London Airport, the Minister said in April, would be able to deal with 120 aircraft an hour in bad weather conditions, as the completed airport will have three runways in each direction. The fact that it has only one in use right now, will have at best three (total) next winter is BUNGLING. That Heathrow (the place’s name in the second paragraph) only currently deals with only 30 aircraft a day is no excuse, because the number is steadily increasing, and, before you say, ah-ha, Northolt, don’t forget that bad weather happens at Northolt, too, and its traffic might have to be diverted to Heathrow! Therefore, the paper has some suggestions about the approach system to be used at London Airport (the name used in the third and fourth paragraphs). It should have radio and radar, and it is imperative that several systems, completely independent, be made available. For example, some old hands do not like Ground Control Approach. Others like Lorenz and SBA. Let a hundred blossoms bloom! (At least then the Ministry cannot be accused of BUNGLING by virtue of neglecting one system or another.)

“Athodyds for Aircraft: Their Characteristics and Some Possible Applications” Dr. Hooker thinks that the athodyd (or “ramjet”) has no future as an aircraft engine. Mr. Relf thinks the aero-thermo-dynamic duct is a most interesting and fruitful field of research. Ben Lockspeiser confirms that research is ongoing in this country. This article explains what an athodyd is: a through-tube into which fuel is injected. Air, taken at supersonic speeds through the front inlet of the aircraft, is combusted in the fuel, and expelled as reaction mass through the rear. It is a rocket which uses air as oxidiser, in other words. Unfortunately, this means that it will lose power with altitude. The United States Navy is working on an athodyd missile called the Cobra, and the Germans, as they were wont to do, drew up a “paper aeroplane” ramjet fighter or two. The V-1, which had a “pulsing athodyd,” serves as being as close to a proof of concept as yet exists.
Nuclear-powered, yet!

The Fl. 282 used to almost exist more.

Here and There

The B-36 made a 38-minute maiden flight last week. It is “claimed to be,” the paper says, the world’s largest bomber.  If the RAF is working on something bigger, they'll need a very large drop-cloth. A BSAA Lancaster recently completed the last thousand miles of its flight from Chile to London with an engine feathered, but has an excuse: it was carrying a medical case. The Swedes have recently confirmed that radio-controlled rockets of unknown origin are crossing their territory. Perhaps as many as 200 flights have been made, although no rocket parts have been found. The Danes were very impressed with the Wayfarer recently. The paper makes fun of a young German pilot for applying to work for BOAC. Two crewless B-17s recently made a 2400-mile flight from Muroc, California, with a practice bombing run at sea. They were controlled from a mother aircraft flying in formation with them. We'll hear more about this below, but for now I want to point out that there are elements within the USAAF --and, more importantly for your boy, the Navy-- promoting pilotless aircraft. 

“Britain’s Test Pilots, No. 13: Eric Greenwood, OBE: Chief Test Pilot Gloster Aircraft Co., Ltd” Greenwood was an RAF SSC in the early 30s, leaving the service to be a barnstormer with Lord Douglas Hamilton’s flying circus, but perhaps finding that he was adding too much tone, left this exciting career for the Penang Flying Club, and from there to various adventures before getting on with Hawker Siddeley, where he enjoyed the attentions of the Tiger (“a test pilot’s nightmare”) in various airframes, and was finally liberated from that to the AST, where he test flew Allisons until finally being put in a Meteor.

L. F. Thompson, “Swordfish Across the States: From Nova Scotia to san Francisco in Four ‘Stringbags’: Some Samples of American Weather” Mr. Thompson had an adventure last summer.

“Commonwealth Aircraft: Some Australian Types and Their Plans and Capabilities” They makeaircraft in Australia, now. 
Another Australian original, and far too conceptually ambitious. 

“Record Technicalities: Airframes and Power Units: Course and Timing Arrangements” More coverage of the upcoming speed record attempt.

Civil Aviation News

BOAC and subsidiary airlines have appointed more directors. The Ministry is being reorganised. The first of six Vickers Vikings have been delivered to the Indian National Airways. There has been progress at Heathrow, otherwise known in the next sentence as London Airport. (QBH arrangements have been finalised, so at least one blind landing system is in place. Also, its weather office has some new gadgets. ) Denmark is buying the Decca system.

Captain David Brice, “Over the Andes: Planning the BSAA Buenos Aires-Santiago Extension” With its new Lancastrian, BSAA will be able to fly right over the mountains instead of weaving its way through them. Previously, a local service in DC-3s (ceiling: 10,500ft) flew through a gorge extending between Mendoza and Santiago, at one point flying under Cerro Aconcagua, 22,855ft high, a spectacular view, but hard to enjoy due to all the turbulence and 60 knot winds.

Chrislea Ace” Yet another private owner’s plane.

“International Model Contest”

“Augmented Flow: An Interesting Method of Fluid-Flow Augmentation with Attractive Possibilities” This is an extended article on the so-called Coanda effect. The question is whether it is a legitimate aerodynamic phenomenon, or more Roumanian boosterism.
Of course the best-known application of the Coanda effect is a flying saucer. 


J. Dubbury writes that laminar flow wings of thicker section ought to tolerate much greater deviations from perfect flatness than thin ones. (That is, might actually work.) EFTS politely suggests that “Indicator” is confabulating his wartime reminiscences, and “Ex-Whirlwind pilot” puts the point more plainly: the Whirlwind only needed to keep its flaps open to improve engine cooling on “operational” climbs, not regular ones. Also, "Indicator" forgot to mention that the Whirlwind was used for dive bombing. V. L. Dickinson thinks that all of the country’s countless thousands of pilots should be kept in training by leasing surplus service airfields to them and reviving the Civil Air Guard subsidy. Then they could even enjoy weekend flights to Ostend or Brugges to pick up bread and milk! Also, there are too many buildings in London these days. Why not tear down a few and put up some airfields in convenient tram distance of Piccadilly Circus?

Aviation, August 1946

Down the Years in AVIATION’s Log

Twenty five years ago, Admiral Moffett became the first “air admiral." In America, as old Reggie Phillimore would remind us. Army launched sham air raids on New York and other cities, the Chicago-Minneapolis air mail service was suspended for lack of funds, and Canada inaugurated aerial fire patrols in BC using HS-2L flying boats. Fifteen years ago, a Lockheed Altair with retractable landing gear flew 1300 miles from Vancouver to Mexico in 7hr, 48 min, breaking the old record by 1hr 26 min. Post and Gatty fly around the world in 8 days, 15 hours and 51 minutes. Akron took to the air, and Amelia Earheart flew an autogiro 11,000 miles in 150 hrs. Ten years ago, Delta Airlines reported less than 1% lost time, the Lockheed 12 went on sale, the French government offered a 10-million-franc award for the development of an aerial diesel engine capable of flying across the Atlantic, while Imperial and PAA announced New York-Bermuda services and a French line bought Sikorsky S-43s for a west African service. The Navy ordered 50 Consolidated flying boat patrol bombers, 191 dive bombers form Curtiss, Vought and Northrop, and 60 Consolidated XP3Y flying boats.

Between the Altair, Sirius, Vega and Electra, Lockheed managed to kill Charles Kingford Smith, Amelia Earheart, Wiley Post and Will Rogers. That's pretty impressive for a single company. 

No line editorial.

Aviation Editorial: “Bikini Lesson,” by Leslie Neville

Atomic bomb warfare will boil down to striking first and hardest with nuclear weapons carried by guided missiles and bombers with will be bigger, longer ranged, and which may or may not have pilots. Also, fighters will be bigger, longer ranged, and may or may not have pilots. We will also need prompt aerial and weather reconnaissance, and lots of money for planes and training.

Scholar Bangs, Aviation Corespondent Attached to Kwajalein air base, “Evaluating Operation Crossroads” The lessons include: the “complete obsolescence of the conventional airplane as a defense-attack weapon within 10 yr.” (I think I captured the near-complete illiteracy of this sentence in my translation. It’s a special art.)
Anyway, continuing, Mr. Bangs(!), who evidently was not allowed closer to Bikini than the Kwajalein's officer's club,  sees the interim replacement of all current bombers with radio-controlled very long range bombers within five years, and their replacement by very-long ranged manned bombers equipped to fire atomic bombs from a safe distane with guided missiles within 10. He sees limited production of existing piston engine fighters and jet fighters, mainly to keep production line sopen. There will be increased emphasis on instant readiness through maintenance, which I for one applaud. senior AAF technicians tasked with keeping drone B-36s and mother-ship B-36s, will work hard and need nice, quiet, relaxing homes for themselves and their families, on green, bucolic acres near the air base, but not too near, and certainly far from the madding crowds of downtown Spokane. 

Again, there will, of course, be a “complete re-evaluation of U.S, air forces and drastic revision of now-obsolete concepts of air defence and attack.” If you are wondering what all this means, Mr. Bangs stood drinks for General Lemay and Harv Alness, of whom you will have heard from your sons. Colonel Alness has been promoted from command of the robot-drone B-17s at Bikini to the Army’s “portentous 1st Guided Missiles Group,” and is keen on the ideda that  Bikini showed that “heavy bombers and fighters generally can be precision-flown through heavy turbulence by remote control as accurately as if operated by crews aboard the plane.” In the future, the radio, autopilot and television installation required to fly a B-17 might be as low as 500lbs, although right now it is closer to a ton. On the other hand, he is dismissive of the Navy’s Hellcat drones, which is a bit of a puzzler given the last sentence. The point is unexceptional: drone fighters cannot dogfight! Drone aircraft cannot be recovered from more than a 50 degree bank by current autopilots. On the other hand, a future winged, guided missile with a speed ranging up to 2000 or 3000mph would not have to dogfight. The loss of a single Navy drone might have been caused by the failure of any one of 150 vacuum tubes, which seems to show that such drones would actually have a high loss rate, given all the vacuum tubes, but actually proves the opposite, since this vulnerability will naturally lead to heavily armoured and robust installations. Another person that Bangs talked to wished that there had been P-80s at Bikini to fly through the atomic cloud at high speed taking pictures. Bangs supposes that they were omitted because of maintenance considerations.

"Scholar Bangs" is a terrible writer, but I think the point is that you don't want living aircrew dropping atomic bombs because the radiation will kill them, and piston-engined bombers aren't fast enough to get away in time. So the mothership stands off and controls the final approach. 

Philp Swan, Editor, Power, and McGraw-Hill Correspondent of Operation Crossroads, “A-bomb vs. Surface Ships “Atomic bombs are not magic, and are subject to the inverse-square law reducing their effect with distance. Navies are not obsolete due to atomic bombs, but atomic bombs are a real threat to ships. Radiation from atomic bombs might be even more dangerous than blast pressure and the radiation heating of the fireball; but we won’t know that until the animals that were aboard the affected ships die, if they die.

It would be unfair to what the paper is trying to do not to point out that its Sales and Service section has several articles today, but you do not want to hear about them.

“An Evaluation of Hyperbolic Radio Avigation” Several competing systems of master-slave beacon radio navigation methods exist. You readers don’t have to worry your silly heads about how they work, because Loran is best.

Raymond Hoadley, “Profits Balanced by Reconversion Costs, Part II” A parody of a Hoadley article would read, “this fragile industry which is in far too much trouble for higher taxes or defence appropriation cuts is a great investment because of all of the money it makes.” This article would be worth some attention for someone interested in current contracts –it has numbers—and also for the paragraph in which Donald Douglas toys with the idea that the civil airliner market might be oversold. He is also concerned, as is Boeing, with the rising cost of developing new airliners.

John K. Northrop, “The Northrop XB-35 Flying Wing Bomber” My flying wing bomber is the best airplane ever, and, contrary to the nay-sayers, it is super, super stable. It also has 100% hydraulic boost and a 220v electrical system, pusher-mounted contrarotating screws, and is also completely original, since the Germans imitated us, and not the other way around.
Just to catch up, the XB-35 has a terrible safety record due to Northrop simply ignoring the well-known stability issues of the flying wing concept. In his defence, he certainly hoped that elevons would be enough. Hoped real hard. 

“Radical Vought XF5U-1 Opens New Flying Wing Vistas” That Vought plane that looks like a pie plate still exists.

“British Flying Wings Prepare Way for J-P Airliners” The Armstrong-Whitworth flying plane glider and proposed follow-on test plane will prove that planes don’t need tailplanes and rudders just as soon as it actually flies. The DH Swallow will prove that the tailless DH106 will be the best airliner ever. All planes will be flying wing, presumably with radio-control, by next week sometime.

“Design Development of Horten Flying Wings” Nazi scientists are super-smart.

“Supersonic Flight Poses Many Design Hurdles” “Engineer Heinemann” of Douglas points out that aircraft speeds have increased at an average rate if 14mph/yr, and there has never been a level flight by a stripped-down aircraft that exceeded this frontier of advance. Vast engineering and development teams are now needed to continue this progress, and it will be really, really hard to design a wing that gives good performance at Mach 0.8, 1.1, 2 and 2+. The experimental data for designing these wings simply does not exist at the present time.
Douglas X-3 Stiletto. 

Ralph Upson’s article on “Simplifying Personal Plane Design” reaches its second part, where he discusses power plant choices. Choosing the plant, and airscrew that will give the best performance for a given weight requires a lot of math. Also, there are articles about the new Beech Bonanza four-seater and the Lockheed Saturn feederliner, which isn’t a private plane, strictly speaking, but doesn’t really justify another article.

Paul H. Stanley, Chief Engineer, Autogiro Company of America “Practical Engineering of Rotary Wing Aircraft, Part II,” Stanley discusses how the autogiro, especially with jet drive to the blades, will see off the challenge from these new-fangled “helicopters.”

K. R. Jackman, “Aircraft Acoustical Problems and Practical Solutions, Part II,” A case in point is the redesign of a PB4Y-2 plane, which actually showed fuselage buckling when a propeller swung past it on closest approach(!) Basically, it needed a wall redesign to accommodate all the insulation required. The prospect for the future is better quality insulation, which he goes on to discuss in the bulk of the article.

“Last-Ditch Jap Warplanes Undergo U.S. Scrutiny” Desperation is the mother of invention, it seems. Most of the Japanese late designs are pretty boring compared with the German ones.

On the other hand, worthwhile invention is often boring. (That’s my segue to this nice detail of the Lancaster main spar structure from the “For Better Design” feature.)


Some hilarity about heat-seeking missiles that would not be out of place in some parts of San Francisco, and a report from Blaine Stubblefield on the rusticating charms of the rusticated far Northwest.

Aviation News

The Bikini tests met everyone’s expectations and also were disappointing. It is supposed that the existence of the (no A)AF will continue to be fought by the battleship admirals, because that’s the way that battleship admirals are. The XF-11 doesn’t exist any more. Fairchild has received a contract to develop nuclear aircraft engines.

Kellett’s latest passenger helicopter may not exist yet, but that doesn’t stop someone from drawing it.

Washington Windsock The Navy is terrible on unification and V-2 tests. Those supersonic wind tunnels might turn out to be big boondoggles, given that we can just fly jet planes real fast and watch them fall out of the sky for science. Industry wants more money for research, and the existing foundation grant is likely to lapse. Very high angles of sweepback are likely in the future, and conventional rudder and tailplanes will likely disappear in favour of flying wing designs. Greyhound is looking into combined helicopter-bus services. The Gyrodyne, Dove, Brabazon III are announced again.

Worlddata by “Vista” repeats the basic brief on British charter (“non-scheduled”) airlines.
How long has it been since I last reminded everyone that "information technology" didn't start "increasing productivity" in the late 1990s, or for that matter, 1980s, 1970s, 1960s, 1950s, or, for that matter, 1940s? Too long, so here's another swing of the Hammer of Obliviousness Slaying!

Fortune, August 1946


The paper has long doubted that there is a relationship between gross national product and gross national manners. Now it wonders if things are going the other way, as the paper is getting more back talk from the help. Then the paper lays out the Baruch plan for the new atomic world, about which you will have heard, and with which the Russians will have nothing to do. Next it says “farewell to price control,” because this paper had to go to press between the veto and the compromise bill. “The idea that any nation can finance a great war through a vast expansion of its money supply without paying for doing so through some inflation was always an illusion.” The paper suggests higher taxes, no bond retirement, and higher reserve requirements to “control the price level” through a nice, healthy depression. (That last part not spelled out.)
Bill Nation: GM job, $59/week, five children, that house. Sure:let's have a recession and purge the rot!

Finally, it talks about a new Latin American policy, the “Good Neighbour policy,” as laid out in an article by that young Harvard man who wrote the book about President Jackson that allowed Grace to pretend that she knows nothing about American history a while back. Mr. Jackson’s idea of a good neighbour policy was fairly on the expansive and back-slapping (if not front-stabbing) side, but I am sure that our good neighbourliness of today will be more discrete and more effective in checking communism and Peronismo. Finally, the paper is quite upset that this month’s survey reveals that most Americans prefer job security over efficiency. Without efficiency, America cannot have its standard of living and productive power, after all. Immediately after is a sentence about “Communist Russia” that does not actually say that then the Bolsheviks will win WWIII, but a more responsible writer might have put a few more sentences in there if he did not want to be construed as saying so. (Even Communist Russia will lay off the less efficient older man and keep the younger, more efficient one.)

Fortune Survey

The questions that lead into this are about the “woman question,” and specifically the matter of employment. (Efficient women with husbands who can support them should be laid off before less efficient men who are sole breadwinners is the question, and so on we go to find out about what Americans think about "efficiency" at work.) 

“What’s Wrong with the Airlines” Now that there have been airlines for a month overall, and about five minutes since the end of the war, it is time to ask why they stink. Mr. Luce seems to have flown to Chicago recently, and his organ is quite straightforward about what a terrible experience it was. There was sleep deprivation, discomfort, lost luggage and a delay when planes are “stacked” due to weather. The answer would seem to be that the airlines are expanding at a rate normally reserved for plague germs, and that nothing can be done. But that doesn’t make for much of an article, and, anyway, the paper does have investigative journalists it can call on.

Some interesting points include: i) the shortage of telephone lines leads to an estimated 3000 busy signals a day, making it impossible of passengers to call in cancellations; this makes reservations and tickets a bit of a joke, so the airlines oversell their planes, complicated by bookkeeping errors that can lead to a passenger presenting at the gate with no record reaching the crew. At the ground, it can be hard to get to town from the airport –and it can be forty minutes each way, leading to limousine service, which can be bad, and for which the travelling public blames the airlines. Baggage disappears, and tipping can get excessive. (I am getting a mysterious feeling that I might know part of Mr. Luce's problem with airline service.) Boarding a new 50 seater can be a laborious process compared with the old DC-3s. Airports are terrible. Chicago’s handles 1.3 million people a year, and “it is a slum.” “To rest the thousands, there are exactly twenty-eight leather seats.”

And that’s at the up-to-standards airports. Airports such as Detroit and Phoenix lack long runways, and cannot get DC-4 service. So, while the airlines hope that the big 50-seaters will alleviate crowding, the paper points out that they will just mean more passengers, and put more pressure on the airports, even as passengers pile up at the smaller airports, which may be relegated to “feeder” status. New, larger airports are needed, but it will be at least two years before they are available. Congestion on the ground is not dangerous, however. The same cannot be said in the air, where it seems that mid-air collisions are inevitable. The CAA is installing instrument landing systems at 31 airports, with installations already working at 50. Nevertheless, there is controversy over which systems work best, with the CAA-approved version, a “glide-path” system, not liked by the ATA due to its lack of interim locator stations. On the west coast, the Navy is experimenting with the RAF’s FIDO system, which works, but is expensive. The CAA is also experimenting with radar at the Indianapolis airport, and there have also been experiments with radar on planes. The advantages of the latter are so great that eventually all airliners will have to carry radar, at a cost to the airlines of “millions of dollars.” Speaking of money, the airlines are all in the red even as they struggle with growth and re-equipment.

Willys-Overland” The company that struggled through the Depression trying to interest American in an economy car, entered 1940 with a mere 27,000 cars sold. Its head offices in Detroit had only two floors occupied, its only selling point the tough, four-cylinder motor it made for that car. Then the Army decided to put that engine in its G.P. light artillery tractor, and the rest was what history looked like if history kept flipping over when it went around a corner at anything above 20. Now, it is developing utility line based on the Jeep at its Toledo plant, including an all-steel, all-purpose station wagon, a sedan delivery truck, and a low-weight, medium-duty truck with combined two-wheel and four-wheel drive, all powered by an improved version of the Jeep engine and featuring the Jeep look of snubbed nose and squared fenders. The future of exports is bright, and economists foresee a future when high gasoline prices will finally make the economy car attractive. The article closes by dancing around the gossip about Sorensen’s brief tenure at the company.

Taylor Instrument: Eleven Miles of Instrument Panels at Oak Ridge Attest to the Virilityof a Corporate Oldster: Less Than Twenty Operators to the Mile Attest to anAmerican Contribution to Mass Production as Great as the Assembly Line: ItsName: Continuous Flow” Continuous flow is when a chemical product flows from a beginning vessel to a final one and is continuously chemically treated along the way.

One-way diaphragm motors and a set of instruments which can measure the amount, pressure, and flow of fluid. Taylor, Foxboro and Brown, a division of Minneapolis-Honeywell, competed to develop this technology, and it produces everything from enriched uranium to Seagram’s whiskey. Taylor, the biggest and oldest of the big instrument firms, is third in continuous-flow, and is investing heavily in catching up in this growing industrial market. I am sure that this is not unrelated to the decision to call in the paper. The paper goes on to describe a run-of-the-mill industrial accident in Knoxville in 1943, when a miss-set gauge led to good alcohol spilling into the sewers for thirty minutes due to a chain reaction of automatic valve controls in the system.

Much of this technology matured in the 1920s, but was only really mastered and used during the war. The Germans, who tried to import it in the late 30s, were unable to bring over a working system. Even the British, we are told, discouraged the Americans from using gaseous diffusion because of their failure to grasp this technology. It was the demand of the refineries for equipment for catalytic cracking of gasoline, which made the difference and enable the instrument companies to refine their technology –especially after aviation gasoline production rose from 30,000 a day before Pearl Harbor to 580,000 per day before Nagasaki; although by that time the problem of making large amounts of butadiene for synthetic rubber production had taxed the engineers, since there is only a 1.9 degree difference between the vapour temperature of butadiene and the useless waste product butadiene-L. Taylor also had quite a nice contract to make the bomb sights for the A-26 that I was briefly allowed to think had nothing to do with what I had just been talking about until James pulled out his mechanical pencil and started drawing sine curves for me.

That, says the paper, would have been that had the war ended at this point; but it did not, and the Manhattan Project was set on enriching uranium by diffusing uranium hexafluoride gas, and that called for process control. There won’t be any more contracts like that, one assumes, but Brown and Foxboro have developed electronic instrument-based systems and Taylor will probably follow suit. After all, once there are electronic systems to use temperatures generated by bimetallic thermometers, they can be used in all the “fabulous electronic and servo gun-laying mechanisms of the war, too expensive for moving control valves today but too attractive a method to be ignored forever.” And beyond that, all control from a single compact box or two. . .

“Joseph DiGiorgio: A Bounding Fruit Man’s Whirlwind Courtship of Free Enterprise: How He Lost Her to Banana Rustlers and Found Her Again Years Later in the Desert” DiGiorgio is the largest citrus producer in Florida. He is 72, so he has a colourful life story stretching back to his father’s little lemon farm in Sicily. (It’s always “little,” isn’t it? The story would be a lot more plausible if it were “large. . . “) Also, he is investing in California, where he has built the DiGiorgio farms at the head of the San Joaquin Valley. Also, he “probably wasn’t” the big fruit man for whom Yes, We Have No Bananas was written. That comes in the middle, where the colourful story of the “banana rustlers” of the 1920s is told. I don’t particularly find it colourful, but you might, if you care to buy a copy of your own and read it.

“Frozen Foods: An Interim Report”

I suppose that reading a precis of this article in The Economist is in way of warning that this is what the American business press is thinking about this August. In 1945, frozen fruit and vegetables for all purposes totalled 400,000 tons in the United States, compared with 15,750,000 fresh and 6,570,000 canned, and sales were $100 million, less than 1% of the grocery food category. This means that it is either a very small industry, or poised for “vertical” growth. There are skeptics, but the paper continues to believe that quick-frozen foods are “inevitably hell-bent for bigness,” even if it cannot see a market for frozen zucchini or cocktail appetisers. The paper goes on to describe various firms that might have a bright future in the industry.

“Prior Beer” The paper describes the approaches, techniques and business success of one of the country’s premium gourmet beers, Prior, made by Adam Scheidt Brewing Co., of Morristown, Pennsylvania, which emerged to take over the lost business of Pilsener Urquell beginning on 3 November 1939.

The paper follows with what Grace would call a “high brow” feature, this on an architect named Frank Wright, who makes impractical houses that look quite nice when situated in impractical places.
At least it's not another article about Falling Water. By I, Gobeirne, CC BY 2.5,

“Detroit Auto Worker: Fifty-Nine Dollars a Week From G.M. Supports the Nation Family of Seven”
You will recall last month’s feature, on the family of a middle-management man in Cincinnati. I suppose that it is to be the first in a series, and this week’s is on a man with more children and less money. Born of Serbian immigrant parents in Steelton, Pennsylvania, he has been working at GM since 1932, when he was twenty-four years old, having run away from home at the age of 10, “because his mother beat him.” Settling at GM Detroit, he worked at first ten to twelve hours a day, seven days a week, with pay including overtime bonus topping out at less than $20 a week. During the fourteen years since, he has had two long sick leaves and six short layoffs. In 1944, he made $3062, sometimes making as much as $90 a week with overtime, while in 1945 he only earned $1,765, between a long sick leave and a strike. The family cannot save money and cannot get out of its (small) debt, though, on the other hand, it is steadily paying off its FHA mortgage. Bill worries about the future. He has Social Security to look forward to, but not much else, and his sick spells continue, with no explanation from the doctors. He hopes to send his children to college.

 “Although he never went beyond fourth grade, Bill Nation has learned enough geometry, trigonometry and mathematics to inspect with instruments, and not by eye." Let that sink in for a while. Ran away from home at 10. Started work at GM at 24 in 1932. Taught himself trigonometry so that he could "work on an assembly line." (Note: has not spent the last twenty years tightening the caps on tubes of toothpaste!) 

I am too much the cynic not to suspect how a young Mr. Nation might have supported himself. There, but for being born into . .  But do never mind me, Reggie.

“Good Fences Make Good Neighbours” The young Mr. Schlesinger (29 this October!) has Deep Thoughts about our foreign policy in Latin America. “Bradenism” is dead, “Good Neighbourism” is in. (More.) For example, we tried to overthrow the governments in Bolivia and Argentina, but in a good neighbourly fashion. There was some disagreement, however, in just how good neighborly you could be in overthrowing foreign governments –nonrecognition, or seizure of assets and economic embargoes? It was eventually agreed that neither this nor ineffectual bluster worked (because they hadn’t worked), and in came Spruille Braden, who actually managed to negotiate something with Argentina. But then it fell apart, and Bradenism is out, because it could not stop “pseudo-radical fascism,” which might lead to (or be opposed to?) communism.

I honestly haven’t read anything so cocksure and incoherent since Mr. Janeway left the paper. This is perhaps because I haven’t followed the sentences through into paragraphs into pages of pivoting paradoxes –but I know when my time is being wasted. I'm sure that he is a very good historian, though.

Shorts and Faces

The paper notes that recent high dividends have less to do with corporate earnings than might be expected, and more to do with the Treasury’s dusting-off of Section 103, which is intended to discourage companies from holding back unreasonable amounts of earnings as savings, on the theory that they belong to shareholders, and, anyway, deserve to be taxed more at the high current dividend tax rate. “Not only can’t you take it with you, you can’t leave it there.” In a short bit entitled, “No Ceiling, No Floor,” the paper longs for the good old days of price wars for tires, dime cigarettes, refrigerators and gasoline, and hopes for their return with the end of the OPA. The paper says nice things about Mr. Garfinkel, of Brooks Brothers, John Bergen, of Gar Wood, Harwood Manufacturing, of Virginia (which makes pyjamas) is trying new “psychological” techniques of management. Bell is going to put radiotelephones into moving vehicles, subject to some FCC regulation. Soundscriber’s dictation equipment gets a brief blurb.

Business Abroad

The paper reports on the working paper prepared for Sir Stafford Cripps on the British cotton industry. The industry’s books are full, orders are unlimited, but the future is dark and cloudy in ways which no-one can agree on.
In conclusion, that's nice accessorising!

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