My American cousin is a nice lady who runs a very nice bookshop in Boisie. My American Cousin is a sweet little '80s Canadian movie about someone's American cousin driving up from California on Highway 97 to stay with her family in the Okanagan town of Penticton back in the 50s. He's glamorous and has a nice car, and there's much coming of age.
It's a distillation of an icon and an age, in other words. "The Fifties." Those were days when everyone wanted to be an Americano. Days when Canadians associated Americans with cars, the open road and glamouor. Oh, so much glamour. It's not a real age, being vaguely defined as starting some time before Korea and ending with the last pop song that played on the radio before the first Beatles song.
This paternity test on "the Fifties" points the finger elsewhere. First, from the Land of the Lost, the scenery of a forgotten land. No, seriously, it's a forgotten land. 300 kilometers and more up and around the Great Bend of the Columbia, tracing the route of the old Astoria fur brigades, past abandoned gold rush towns. No-one lives, or drives, here anymore.
|The Big Bend Highway, officially in use from 1940 to 1962, but drivable from at least 1932. The road follows the "big bend" of the Columbiaaround from Revelstoke to Golden, a more-than-300km diversion trhough basically howling wildernss. Clearly people took it, or there wouldn't be postcards on sale in Banff. but there can't have been that many. It's possible, given the route's importance to the old Astoria fur brigades, that the people who did take it had family connections rather than some insane desire to drive to Banff from the west. Who knows?|
|Ford "Flathead" 221 cubic inch V-8 (1932--53)|
So that's when your "Fifties" start.
|CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=174573|
|Smooth. Paint it pink and you get a gender-fluid hit.|
Given depression and war, the "Dominion Number 1" road in the Ford ad is probably a product of the 1920s, the last age of prosperity before 1946. Here's another product of that prosperity; more specifically, of the billions of dollars dropped on the aviation technology boom in the last three years of the 1920s.
|Scraped from the Flight archives.|
This is not actually the case. What doomed this white elephant is that it took ten months to lurch across the Atlantic. The Flight article that I'm borrowing from has more details on the plane's aerodynamics, which makes it fairly clear that this could have been predicted. Though, that being said, this was an era of once-sky high technological dreams making flop sweat, and at least the DoX didn't kill anyone. Even the twelve back-to-back engines would reappear in Dornier use, and produce the same, desperate belief in miraculous technological novelty. (That is, in comparison with the DoX. Everyone was doing back-to-back engines in seaplanes in those days.)
Here's the engine room. It's basically for adjusting the throttles to cylinder temperatures, but I want to talk about mixture control, which in these naturally-aspirated engines boils down to physically adjusting the fuel feeds.
So your Do. X engineer is a pretty busy person, monitoring twelve engines for temperature, listening for pings, perhaps using a remote analyser to sample the exhaust gas. With this information, throttles are adjusted, and any other controls fiddled with. It's all pretty preposterous, when you get down to it. It is hard to imagine now what Claude Dornier told his investors, or even who these chumps were, altough Mira Wilkins has turned up a GM-Dornier connection.
Instead of imagining or speculating, I'll turn to something actually in print. Flight notes the "auxiliary wing," the structure that you see joining the six engine mountings. Per the company's own information, this structure was designed to stiffen the six engine mountings under transverse loading, but apparently there were rumours that they were designed to provide a "slot effect." Without plunging back into the dead controversies of the 1920s at any length, I'm not really clear if the rumours were confused about where leading-edge slots should be, or whether they're referring to a more general idea that you could use slots, slats and flaps, adjutable or not, to alter a wing's aerodynamics in various ways that aerodynamics was not yet competent to describe. Obviously you can do exactly this. Blown flaps and boundary layer control are hugely important on modern aircraft, and it is quite likely that the visionaries of the 1920s could describe these desired outcomes without being very clear on the still science-fictional details.
Since, of course, they were science fictional. The DoX wallowed just as much as anyone could have predicted, and pretty much as you'd expect from a plane designed to take off at weights well into the B-29 range, but with only a fraction of the research and development.
That's another way of say that there was simply no way that a plane this big was practical especially so early. The Short Sarafand of 1932, with a much more conventional and conservative design, was designed for an operating all up weight of 70,000lbs --also far too high, but at least a bit more reasonable.
|Shift change at the Morris plant, Cowley, Oxford, 1946. Get it? They make cars, but they don't own them!|
The American open road; brought to you by the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough.