Saturday, November 12, 2016

Postblogging Technology, October 1946, I: Through Sacrifice, The Stars


Dear Father:

I hope that you will forgive a short note on this letter, as I have little to add on the telegram. I will be meeting with Dr. Rivers and Uncle Henry before visiting hours to discuss Vickie's condition. Uncle Henry has promised to take direct charge of the iron lungs. I want to tell him not to be so dramatic, but in my heart I want to take his bluster seriously this once.

It can be better.

Flight, 3 October 1946


“Killing the Goose” Fees are too high at “State-owned airfields,” and this is destroying private ownership, the civil aircraft industry, and civilisation.

“Too Many Accidents” The paper says this a lot, but in this case it refers obliquely to engines being overstressed these days, and for the possible need to derate them, even if this leads to the cancellation of high prestige services. .
NC 90905, Flagship New England's sister ship, on the ground in Stockholm in 1946. There do not appear to be any photographs from the top of Hare Mountain on the Internet, which is probably for the best, 

“The Price of Progress” Speaking of tragic accidents, the paper eulogises Geoffrey de Havilland, killed when the DH 108 he was flying broke up in mid air.

“Miles on Supersonic Flight: Background of M. 52 Development and Design Problems Analysed” This paper, by the Miles staff, does a nice job of laying out the difference between subsonic, supersonic, and transonic, since it bears repeating once again that we're not going to be able to design aircraft that can fly in the transonic except by either lots of trial and error, or by inventing steam-powered slide rules. Miles notes that the Germans discovered that wing sweepback retarded the speed at which shockwaves associated with transonic flight appeared on wings, and the paper helpfully adds a reference to “L. Reif in his Wright Memorial Lecture, “Recent Aerodynamic Developments,” but does not give a date. Since the English are always saying this without saying just when they had this revelation, I thought I would look it up, only to have it turn out that the undergraduate engineering students steal all the old aviation journal issues from the college library. The vagueness keeps me thinking that they're making excuses. 

The point towards which we were charging before I derailed us is that Miles knew about all that German stuff, but decided not to sweep back the wing, as that wouldn’t do anything for supersonic flight. But it did sweep back the tail, because that was a good idea. Also, supersonic flight is very dangerous, and the Americans already have radio control so that they can do it without risking the pilot, so let’s let them do it.

“National Air Races: Fast Flying by Ex-Service Aircraft: The Rapid-Rolling Lightning” Flight has some photos from the National Air Races, where no-one died. (Jack Woollams died in a practice run, and that doesn’t count.)

Fokker is working on a forked tail, high wing civil aircraft. I think it might be a pusher, too, but I would have to turn the page back over to be sure, and that would be more effort than anyone is going to spend on building it.
Actually, they did build 20 F25s, but couldn't sell them, because it was a dumb idea.

Here and There

A new model Gloster Meteor is out, so those who like models can assemble it. A new, plastic relief map of Europe is out with raised surfaces, so that blind people who like maps can read it. Two aircraft, one belonging to a striking union, the other to management, engaged in buzzing each other for half an hour over a factory in Canada, because some Canadians are not boring. KLM is to have an office in Singapore!

American Newsletter

“Kibitizer” is back from wherever he was to tell us about the “110-ton Consolidated,” which has had its first flight. He mentions that the Army has been very quiet about the details, and thinks that there is something interesting behind it, but doesn’t say what. (I suspect it is that it’s too underpowered to fly to Russia and back, which wouldn’t surprise anyone, as those big radials have been nothing but trouble, and because Russia is very, very far away. And by suspect, I mean, "James was told by a friend.") 
This is  your regular reminder that holy crap is the B-36 a big airplane!
Sure. Why not?

The Northrop XB-35 has completed its test flying routine successfully. The Bell XS-1 will soon do a powered flight with a pilot. There is yet more talk of an American speed record, perhaps to be set by a modified Lockheed P-80 with a new wing section. Lockheed might be about to try another distance record with a modified Neptune. The prototype Douglas C-74 has been lost in flight, after it shed both of its separable wing tips due to aileron flutter. The crew was able to abandon it safely. “Kibitzer” points out that there are now 1013 multi-engined airliners on order, and the fact that Boeing is bringing out the Stratofreighter proves that there must be a market for giant air freighters.

The Canadair North Star DC-4 with Rolls-Royce Merlins exists more, and the paper publishes the “Last photographs” of the D.H. 108 in which Geoffrey de Havilland was killed. Geoffrey de Havilland has now lost two of three sons in test flying accidents.

“Danish Weekend” Some English pilots and the paper’s correspondent flew over to Denmark and had a nice flying weekend, and probably brought some beer, bacon and butter home.

“Spinning Intake: Ingenious Napier Development of Sabre-Tempest Annular Radiator Installation” The annular radiator is a very neat improvement on the Sabre, even if the paper doesn’t deign to notice that Napier was imitating Focke-Wulf. The next natural step was to put a spinner in, and this meant extending the leading edge of the radiator almost all the way to the airscrew, and that meant spinning it, like a propeller spinner, which was done.

Civil Aviation

“The Status of Civil Aviation in 1946” Sir Henry Self, Permanent Secretary to the Minister of Civil Aviation, gave a speech on the state of the nation this week. Although the actual speech is a  potted history going all the way back to 1920 and up to 1939, although it takes the trip every time it introduces a new subject, just like the late Major Robertson used to do. The next part, which covers the actual status of civil aviation in 1946, hopefully, is coming next week.

Civil Aviation News

PICAO wants the countries of the North Atlantic to go in together for weather station ships which will give regular weather reports from the Atlantic. There is to be an Anglo-American liaison to be in charge of talking about talking about civil aviation, and also some talking about talking about civil aviation in Bermuda. There is to be a new airfield in Tyneside and PAWA is expanding its American services.
Weather ship wireless office, early '50s. Source

“DECCA Demonstration” More demonstrations of the DECCA system to PICAO delegates happened.

H. Marsden writes about a nice model of a P-51 he saw. “474” thinks that Lord Tedder ought to be pleased if there were to be an auxiliary air force squadron in every county. A writer explains that the reason so many aircrew left the service after the war was that force reductions brought rank and pay reductions. Also, young officers are unpleasant. H. A. Long wants the paper to do some math for him, and R. Clarke, ex of the RAF, is browned off that his gong was delayed so long, and that it wasn’t presented by the King. It’s a DFC, so I see his point.

The Economist, 5 October 1946


“Ends and Policies” With the new sitting of Parliament, the government should agree that nationalisation is wrong, except when it is right, and admit that it deserves to be defeated by the Conservatives, if not the Liberals, because it is socialistic and wrong, except about changing course on steel and promoting exports, and maybe all that social policy, because poor people make the paper sad, except when they are asking for more pay, nicer homes, or vacation weeks during the high season.

“The Nuremberg Judgment” It’s nice that the Nazi war criminals are going to get it for their crimes, but, in a larger sense, aren’t we all guilty? Especially the Soviets, but also us, a bit, with that area bombing? But mainly the Soviets. In the future, people will be upset that we didn't arrest the Soviet Union and arraign it for trial at Nuremberg. If there are any left after the Great Atomic War of Quite Soon.

“De Gaulle and the Constitution” De Gaulle is right that rule by the national assembly will muck things up, wrong to think that he is the solution.

“The Campaign of Liberation, 1944—45, II: Landing and Break-out” Ralph Ingersoll, of all people, has written a typically American book about the Normandy campaign. (All those Europeans were condescending and arrogant and stupid and dumb and wrong, and cowardly and effeminate, and probably could only play ball for Harvard. Fortunately, he-man Americans like Patton and Bradley sorted them out. There, all done, where’s my book contract?) The paper can’t really publish a nasty review, since it doesn’t do reviews, so instead it h as commissioned a “military expert” to write a multi-part history of the campaign to put him in his squalid, American place.

Ralph seems to have something to work out over the whole WWII thing.

Notes of the Week

“The Speedometer Falls” Early word is that the Government will do much less in the current session.

The Danube” The English, Russians and everyone with some vague claim of interest based solely on their inconvenient decision to live along it, continue to be very upset at the way that the Danube is flowing.

“Coal Crisis in the Ruhr” In breaking news, there is not enough coal to go around. Steel production in the Ruhr will be cut to 48,000 tons a month.

“German Socialists in Conference” German socialists run the British zone, and are disappointed that the British are not doing more to bring socialism there.

“New Towns Critics” The policy to surround London by “new town” developments; but the ones that the paper is upset at are the ones who want to go fast, and build 50,000 to 60,000 new houses, and, in order to achieve this quickly, build them “in quasi-satellites a reasonable distance from the centre of London.” The paper thinks that we should not go slow, that the peak rate of building in a new town should be 2000 houses a year, because otherwise they will turn into “mushroom towns,” and they should possibly be “too close” to London.

“The Miners’ Meat” Coal miners are demanding extra meat rations. The paper disapproves, and disapproves of the process (which bypassed the TUC), and is displeased that other industries are demanding the same.

“Poles in Agriculture” The decision to send 185,000 German POWs back to Germany means that there will be a shortage of agricultural labour, and now there is talk of bringing in Poles, and the National Union of Agricultural Workers is upset, because it suspects that bringing in Polish workers will hold down wages, notwithstanding the (supposed) shortage of English agricultural workers.

“Housing and Private Enterprise” Housing starts by private enterprise have begun to decline after a year of rapid growth. It’s the Government’s fault.

“Egyptian Negotiations Break Down” It is the Egyptians’ fault.

“The Sudanese View” Part of the issue in the Egyptian negotiations is that the Egyptians want to run the Sudan after the English get out, as under the former “condominium.” The English think that, insofar as they have actually asked any Sudanese, that the Sudanese are not too pleased with this idea, and continue to present the need for continuing English rule of the Sudan to comply with the “condominium” and in order to safeguard future Sudanese independence. The paper reiterates that Egyptians are awful. It's a good thing that Egyptians can't read the paper, or they might come into the negotiations in a cranky mood.

“Russian Anxieties About the Straits” The Russians do not trust the Turks to protect their “soft underbelly” by maintaining the neutrality of the Straits, and generously offer to protect this neutrality themselves with a large navy, perhaps headquartered at the Golden Horn, and maybe with a nice commissariat of proletarian morale in the Hagia Sophia. The Turks suspect a cunning plan.

“Rural Electricity” and “John Smith vs the Crown” cover off changes in rural England. The former is about electrifying farms, the latter about a legal trick that will allow lawsuits to recover damages from the Crown for wartime construction, minefields, etc.

“Indian Foreign Policy” Mr. Nehru is head of foreign affairs in the new Indian Interim Government, and has promised that India will not be so imperialist once it has got rid of the imperialists. He promises to get Indian troops out of Indonesia and to look kindly on the Moslem world in assorted matters. The paper believes that this will result in India, England, or both BUNGLING the Netherlands and Afghanistan.

Hungarians are excitable. It looks like there are no serious objections to a new suspensionbridge over the lower Severn that will bring south Wales 50 miles closer to Bristol, thereby facilitating mass escapes.
But it won't open until 1966, because it is expensive. By Bob Embleton, CC BY-SA 2.0,


“Farm Machinery” Mr. A. W. Thomas believes that the English farm machinery industry can only compete in exports after it has been reorganised for full technical efficiency. Right now, all the farm machines are too small, or too underpowered, or in various ways too English, and that this will continue until complete design teams of non-agiricultural engineers are brought in to show the firms that they are BUNGLING everything.
David Brown VAK-1. source:

“World Food Plans” F. C. Young is not impressed with the idea that there is anything mysteriously lacking in the countries that cannot feed  themselves. Give China political stability, and the Chinese will feed themselves. American “help” in this matter is not helping, any more than is Dutch help in Indonesia or British help in India. Hurrah, I cheer! Of course, he goes on to add that only “Russia’s methods” will bring this stability, so even Mr. Young is not ready to take the radical step of leaving Chinese, Indonesians and Indians to take care of their own affairs.

American Survey

The maximum prewar enrollment in American universities was 1.5 million. It looks like sustained enrollment over the next few years will be above 3 million. It has already proven difficult to house them, and the crush has led to pressures on the colleges to make sure that no-one is lollygagging about improving their minds with liberal arts when they could be learning their engineering and making their way out to make room for the next batch. Also, with all the veterans, there is no room for girls, except at the most remote and little-known teachers’ colleges.

Fort Camp, UBC. Condos now. 

American Notes

“Even Odds on November” Polls show voters divided fifty-fifty ahead of the mid-term elections, giving the paper an opportunity to meander on about whether the New Deal coalition will hold, and whether the Solid South will be solid. It points out, interestingly, that, as long as the Democrats can hold on to their big city edges, they can take New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, "and similar states," and win even if they lose the South. I’m not sure what the value of discussing a Presidential election is during an off-year, but I report this as making for interesting strategy. It underlines that, if, right now, the Democrats are the party of the big cities and the South, it could afford to be the party of the big cities, but not the South -at least in some elections.

“Loans for Europe?” Poland is still negotiating a loan. Moscow has given up, although it would come back to the table if there were some indication that it might succeed. Meanwhile, the World Bank has had applications from the French government and Czechoslovakia.

“Meatless Days” The Democrats are running on a dead president, and the Republicans are running on a dead issue –controls and the meat shortage. Of course, the meat shortage is not dead, but there is talk of a 60 day holiday from price controls on meat, which will end the shortage and carry through the election, hence “dead issue.” What happens after that is not clear, as farmers are, as usiual, holding out for the end of controls and price increases.

“Oil and Uno” The State Department wants a multilateral pact on oil production wintin the Uno, paving the way for extensive Middle Eastern oil imports in the United States, which will then be able to conserve it sdomestic supplies. Domestic suppliers are not happy about this, and Senator O’Mahoney points out that the United States has more than enough coal, oil and shale to avoid ever being embroiledin the Middle East. The State Department disagrees, and has an unusual ally in the Justice Department, which is investigating alleged widespread price-fixing and oppressive marketing practices in the American petroleum business. Cheap imports would do for that!

“Longer Life for the House?” “it is not altogether surprising that this year a Democrat would be struck by the defects of a system which provides a President with a new House of Rrepresentatives halfway through his term of office.” So Senator Hatch, (D.,N.M.), is proposing to extend the lifetime of each House from two to four years. The paper points out that in 37 Administrations, the President has only twice failed to carry the House when elected, but in 13 of those, the mid-terms have elected an opposition House, resulting in political deadlock for the last two years of the Administration.
Funny how it's only ever the losers who want to fix America's goofy constitution. 

“Lynch Law” Since V-J Day there have been 41 lynchings in the United States, culminating with the quadruple murder in Monroe, Georgia, in mid-July. The header might suggest that this was going to be a bit about another effort to create a federal anti-lynching law. It is, in fact, a scolding of “Mr. Robeson” for being so stridently left-wing about something. Specifically, I am thinking, the paper is taking a "lynchees threaten to lynch lynchers" line on his comments after his meeting with the President. Anyway, the drift is that when left wingers criticise lynchers, it just emboldens them. So we should all shut up until the problem goes away.

The World Overseas

“Can Turkey Stand It?” The question is whether Turkey can sustain all of that Soviet pressure. Naturally, the Turkish government has done the only thing it can do: make menacing gestures in the direction of the opposition and clamping down on the Kurds.

“Anglo-Irish Labour Movements” From Our Dublin Correspondent

During the war, 30 to 40,000 Irish applied for travel documents to go to work in England each year. This reflects the fact that there was a lot of work in England, especially in agriculture. Currently, emigration is less than natural population increase, which will lead to more Irish, and so more  unemployment, because as any good economist knows, there are only so many jobs.

The Business World

“Policy for Transport” Nationalisation, full technical efficiency, need for planning, capital allocation, too many modes of transportation between London and Birmingham shows that someone has BUNGLED.

“Golden Autumn” Between floods and frost, a brief moment for –no, not good weather, but, rather, taking on Mr. Dalton’s promise of a “golden autumn” last April. This golden autumn actually began in September, with the first family allowance cheques. In September, postwar credits were released to men over 65 and women over 60. This month, old age pensions go up and income tax withholdings from pay cheques goes down. So there is more purchasing power. However, the promise of more things to buy has been “only partially fulfilled.” But the real nip in the air is from the impending coal famine. If the winter is as cold as the summer was wet, the English will be “fighting for the right to shiver.”
Geoff Crowther manages to write an affecting phrase. Stop the presses!
Business Notes

“The Market’s Course” The London stock market is down, like New York. In other news, with Argentina’s sterling balance settled, negotiations can begin with India and Egypt. The effort to consolidate government bonds at 2.5% continues. The Treasury is following India’s lead in abandoning silver coinage, a major blow to silver, which has no-one to blame but itself. No hard news from Washington about the Governor’s board meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the Bank for Reconstruction and Development. America has agreed to buy 200,000 tons of Malaysian rubber nd 10,000 tons of Dutch at a 10% discount on the hoped for price of 1s 2d/lb. The recovery of the rubber trade in the course of a mere year is illustrative of something or other. Probably that a free trade in rubber would work fine –except for the part where England wedges in to make sure that payment is made in sterling.

“Building Wages Claims” The building trades want a wage increase; which, fair enough, except for the part where it ruins everything.

“A New Chemical Process” Petrocarbon, Ltd., a firm closely connected with Manchester Oil Refineries, is building a plant to exploit Dr. Weizmann’s “Caterole” process to produce olefins from naptha and gas oil, instead of from coal tar, as has been the traditional practice. In shorter news, the government is announcing a subsidy for fuel oil from coal and the elimination of the import duty on petroleum, which will assist business trying to convert from coal firing to oil.

“Rupee Parity” The Indian government is asking the advice of bankers before setting a parity rate for the rupee. Meanwhile, it is also using its solid capital position to buy machine tools in the United States, which impinges on the sterling area’s hard currency pool,  and is sure to lead to trouble.

“Six Months’ Revenue” Revenues are down with reductions in taxes, of course, but my eagle eyes spot a  failure to meet predicted revenues, so the opposite to the usual case during the war. In other news, the paper has a convoluted complaint about the reduction in price for Swedish pulpwood exports put through by the Swedish government in the wake of the revaluation of the krona. While intended to prevent price pressure in foreign markets, it is niggling and inconvenient, the paper suggests. I am sure that you are pleased to hear that the Swedes are price cutting! Certainly the Swedes would never consider the possibility that cutting prices for their pulp exports would reduce investment in pulpwood plants abroad! Also, personal deposits are up, showing the public’s increased preference for liquidity in a period of falling interest rates.

Also, the Statistical Digest has a report on stocks of building materials, showing that the situation is not as bleak as thought. Decasualisation of dock labour is going ahead, tin prices are up, the coal famine is looming, steel sheets are short, and a questionnaire has been sent around to 500 cotton spinning mills b the Cotton Marketing Board.

Flight, 10 October 1946


“Bad Weather Safety” The paper didn’t like the Ministry of Civil Aviation’s recent statement on the radio and air traffic control facilities at the London airport. It is too complacent about diversions, and could use GCA.

“Time to Ponder” The Skymaster crash in Newfoundland points to the possibility that attempts to reach higher cruising speeds are sacrificing wing loading, leading to aircraft that can’t clear obstacles. Perhaps there should be less speed, more safety.

“Combined Operations”  The paper approves of the new Ministry of Defence, although it thinks that some of the Permanent Under-Secretaries were badly chosen.

“Civil Sea Otter” The paper thinks that the new Sea Otter conversion is wonderful.

”The Good Ship Balaena” SS Balaena is the whale factory ship that carries the three Walrusses. It has a cordite charge catapult originally installed on HMS Pegasus, and will be the mother ship of ten whale-catchers. They’ve had a nice letter from Mr. John Grierson, who has to do with things aboard Balaena, who tells the paper that the trials have gone well and that they’re off to Antarctica soon. In other news, the search for the wreck of the DH108 continues.
Picture from Patrick Crean's Pictures On My Pillow: An Oceanographer's Exploration of the Symbols of Self-Transcendence, linked above.

“Theseus I: Further Details of the Bristol Turbine Airscrew Unit” The Bristol Theseus was first announced back in December, and now there are details of the engine, which sounds very clever. There is no mechanical linkage between the compressor and the airscrews, as air is channelled through the compressors and a heat exchanger into a separate combustion chamber, from which it is discharged through a turbine which is connected to the airscrew. This means that there must be a pitch governor on the airscrew to keep the two rotating-whirly things (of three in the engine) coordinated. To make more room for ingenuity, the airscrew is driven by the turbine through a reduction gearing.

Here and There

The Bristol Freighter is in Washington, flying around with people's cars inside.

The paper denounces the “Lying Jade,” by which it means The New York Times, which reported that atom-bomb capable B-29s were sent to Alaska and the Aleutians, and were prepared for dispatch to Europe as sabre-rattling over the Trieste incident. The paper explains that actually the B-29s going to Alaska are for routine cold-weather flying training, whilethe B-29s going to Europe are also routinely replacing war-weary B-17s. The wrecked Fairey Firefly left lying around somewhere in England for a weekend before either the Admiralty or Ad Astral could be bothered to send someone by to pick it up shows that the Services mind at work is a wonder to behold. The paper reports that British European Airways is rejecting “glamour girls” who apply to work as air stewardesses, preferring to hire only serious girls. (You can tell serious girls because they are brunettes, have glasses and wear flat heels, with their skirts to mid-calf. And, well, as silly as that is, it is better than asking them, which is how BEA proposes to proceed. Especially asking them after publishing the answers in the newspapers!)

“For High Speed Research: The new NACA Low-turbulence Pressure Wind Tunnel” The paper pulls out an article about the 177 inch tunnel at Moffett Field, California. It has fully controlled pressure (up to six atmospheres!) to produce any range of Reynold Numbers needed, fans capable of handling 25,000 cubic feet of air per minute,  and pin mountings with a single fixed point for the cylindrical shell components of the armour-steel wind tunnel tube itself to allow them to dynamically adjust with the changing pressure. Did I mention that I took a tour last week?

A brand new IBM 7090 at the Ames Research Centre, MoffattField, Santa Clara County (now with 100% more wind tunnel.) They're going to have to add a few data banks before it can run ArnimZola.exe

“Goodly Heritage: The Hawker Fury and Sea Fury: Last of a Great Line of Airscrew-Driven Fighters” “Indicator’s” recent article abouit flying the Hurricane made the paper nostalgic, so it sent someone down to Kingston to ask what made the Fury and Sea Fury so wonderful. And speaking of nostalgic, the paper points out that the Sea Fury is exactly twice as fast and has twice as high a rate of climb as the Fury biplane of only fifteen years ago, which is all the more amazing considering that the old Fury was an RAF interceptor, while the Sea Fury is a typically heavily-laden naval type.  If one wants, one can compare the Sea Fury to the old Nimrod, or you can be a USN type and sputter about how there is no reason that a plane designed to land in a back yard pitching fifty feet up needs to have inferior performance to a landplane. In other news, RAF Fighter Command’s planned interception of the B-29 Padusan Dreamboat over England on its way from Alaska to Egypt nearly turned into an incident due to poor communications.

Hawker Nimrod. Pre-colourised for its role in Sucker Punch II: Lobotomise Harder. 

John T. Henshaw, AFRAeS, “Repair of Stressed-Skin Airframes: The Importance of Stress Transfer: Danger of Potential Differences with Dissimilar Metals” This is sort of a general essay on considerations involved, if that’s not too vague. I get the impression that Mr. Henshaw has done a great many repairs on different parts of many aircraft, and he has many pearls of wisdom to impart, but it is difficult to organise them properly. The only thing I take away is the importance of replacing nearby formers when you replace a piece of stressed skin, and that repair crews will consider repairing a plane with a stress fracture in the wing spar at the root, which to me sounds like it calls more for scrapping the plane.

“Preparing for the Brabazon” Filton’s east-west runway is being extended to make the world safe for the Brabazon I.

“Hawker-Siddeley Resignation” H. K. Jones, who has been with Hawker-Siddeley since it was Sopwith, has retired from his directorship with no reason given.

“The New Long Distance Record: Lockheed P2V Naval Patrol Bomber Covers 11,236 Miles” The P2V truculent Turtle flew from Perth, Western Australia, to Columbus, Ohio. The aircraft took off with JATOs, but still needed a 4,650 yard run. It was carrying 8000 US gallons of fuel, and had an all up weight on takeoff of 85,500lbs, vice the normal loading of 60,000lbs for patrol flying on takeoff. The crew of four was accompanied by a baby kangaroo, a gift to the Washington Zoo, and in case someone missed the point that Perth is in Australia. An Australian stereotype, but such a cute stereotype.

Civil Aviation News

“Interesting Radio Developments” The stories about PICAO delegates looking at radars are so interesting that here is an other! At Farnborough they saw a new VHF rotating beacon, perfect for an area without “distinguishing landmarks.” I don't know if I'm more relieved or worried that Farnborough is taking care of all the airliner pilots who can't land if they don't recognise that mountain over there. Standard Telephone and Telegraph has a new lightweight VHF equipment with a CRT display for navigation by radio compass. A blind landing aid based on Fighter Command’s automatic interrogator/response unit was also shown, “Orb,” a homing device that can be set to a desired direction of approach, and the Optical Angulator, an apparatus for the Farnborough air traffic control tower’s plotting table, which automatically locates a plane on the table by means of three intersecting beams of light based on sighting reports from at least three different ground stations.

“Ministerial Statement” The Ministry wants everyone to know that London and Northolt Airports have the best air control radio equipment in the world, have experimental radar installations, and will be the first, or at least among the first, airports to have radars in regular use for controlling civil air traffic in the near future. I’ve already forgotten what upset the paper so much about this.

“The Status of Civil Aviation in 1946” Sir Henry Self continues to the part of his statement in which he talks about the actual 1946. In his Conclusion, he explains that research and development is going on as quickly as possible, that American transports are wonderful, and that the all-British fleet of 1950 will be even more wonderful, and that the financial arrangements and nationalisation and such are all necessary in the interest of world peace and the comity of man.

The paper seems to have lost a promised article, because a single page article on why there is no such thing as centrifugal force follows. I distinctly remember explaining this to a girlfriend when I was sixteen, and stifling a laugh so hard that I snorted, until her cool glare brought me around to sanity. 


“Let the People Fly” is upset about landing fees at public airfields. The paper is also upset, but not as upset as the writer, and explains that some fees are appropriate to subsidise the fields. Flying Officer D. N. Sharma suggests that radio navigation beacon aids could be simplified if there were only more beacons, “automatically providing the pilot with as much information as possible.” He has a suggestion, a pulse-modulated beacon. J. C. Elkins, late of the RAF, writes to question Vickers’ claim that the Spitfire 24 has an 850 mile range without drop-tanks. He points out that the Spitfire started out with 85 gallons of fuel, and that the Griffon-powered ones squeezed in an extra 12. At maximum weak-mixture cruising at 22,000ft, the 24 should be good for 380mph at a consumption of 93 gallons/hour, which seems to give a range of 550miles, which, he points out, is equal to the operational range of the Mark V with drop tanks. Vickers Armstrong replies that they have managed to squeeze 185 gallons into the Mk 24, ,and that this gives an operational range of 580 miles, allowing for the climb to 22000 ft and fifteen minutes at combat power.

The Economist, 12 October 1946

“The Machinery of Defence” The paper gives its opinion of the new Ministry of Defence. The new minister, A. V. Alexander, is fine, and so is the consolidation of some things that can naturally use consolidation, such as medical services, but also research and development. But there needs to be more capable staff hired, and more effort on civil defence.

“The Menace of Atomic War” Drew Pearson recently reported that the Americans have lent the English some atomic bombs,  which they are keeping at air bases in the north of England in case of an international emergency. The Russians are predictably upset at this intimation of an atomic Pearl Harbour, and making belligerent noises. The paper thinks that the Russians are not going to get into an atomic arms race, because Russians are dumb, and certainly do not want to compete in the field of advanced atomic physics. Rather, they will prefer to build a giant army and overawe the world that way. Perhaps they can be further encouraged to not build atomic bombs by a greater effort in the area of international atomic bomb inspection. Meanwhile, all power to the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission as it tries to work out how things atomic must be restricted if they are to promote the peaceful use of atomic power.

Every time I think that Crowther has done his reputation as much damage as he can, he gets worse. Take it to the bank, people: The Russians are too dumb to do atomical physics!

“Public or Private Service” If the English are to have more socialism, then high ranking civil servants must be paid more, as otherwise all the top men will go into private industry.

As indicated by the dreaded roman numerals, the article about the Campaign of Liberation continues. This one is kinder to Mr. Ingersoll. Patton’s headquarters might, indeed, have been right to think that they deserved the support given instead to Montgomery. We will never know, but we can all  agree that it was Eisenhower’s fault fordithering.

Notes of the Week

“The New Team” The cabinet shuffle was so boring that it has been pushed down out of the leading articles. 

“Conservatism Turns a Corner” Conservatives are excitable at Blackpool.

I, for one, am appalled that Boss Pendergast's machine is mobilising fake Irish votes. As opposed to fake Irishmen.

Neither the peace conference in Paris or the Palestinian talks in London have got much of anywhere. The former is hardly a big deal, since we actually have peace, and the point of the talks, apart from finding mummified sardines in desks,  was to have more peace. The Palestinian thing, is a different matter. Even the paper is eager not to “waste more British lives” in Palestine. The paper intimates that the English authorities should just unilaterally partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab areas and be done with it. It also goes so far as to suggest that maybe having a base in Gaza isn't worth the bother of being involved in the Palestine mess. 

“The Bar Has Fallen” The Government, at long last, has abolished the marriage bar in the civil service so that married woman can continue in employment. In shorter news, the LCC is going to expropriate the Hurlingham Grounds for housing development and for a public park. The paper thinks that the Council was awfully mean to the owners in the process, and the Government is not to proceed with the annexation of the princely states of Malaya, after all, and the paper is upset at the damage being done in Nottinghamshire by surface working of coal deposits.

Knowing about this controversy (which apparently ended badly for the LCC), gives a whole new level to "Upper Class Twit of the Year." I think.)

“Contempt of Court in German” The acquittals of Papen, Schacht and Fritze led to their prompt arrest by south German authorities and their remand to de-Nazification panels, which can impose up to ten years’ imprisonment. The question is whether this is German contempt for the Nuremberg court, or whether, more likely, they are acting with American encouragement.

“The Paratrooper’s Sentences” There has been widespread protest over the tough sentences handed down to the mutineers of the 12th ParachuteBattalion in Malaya. ON the one hand, bad conditions in camp do not condone mutiny. On the other hand, it was just a little mutiny so why make such a big deal of it? (Five years for eight ringleaders, two years for 243 men.)

Italians and Iranians are excitable. (In the Italian case, so much so that “A Weimar situation is developing.”)


G. E. Minnis writes to explain the Conservative Party’s new policy of partnership with labour in more detail. Mekin H. Onaran [pdf] writes from Ankara to defend the Turkish devaluation, and R. McGarslaw to defend small English farms and ostensibly not-fully-technically-efficient practices, although he agrees that English-made farm machinery is awful. Geoffrey Bracken, of Larchfield, Churt, Surrey, writes to say that India is a seething mass of communal tension under the surface appearance of harmony, just waiting to go off.

American Survey

“Foreign Trade Trends” by Our New York Correspondent

America is exporting more than ever before, but also worrying more about the conditions of trade. ONYC points out that with the insistent demands of American labour for higher wages and less productivity, American goods will  get less competitive, English and Canadian goods will seize the market, and it will all  end in tears.

American Notes

“Third Party Talk” Experts polled by Newsweek predict that the House will go Republican, while the Democrats will  retain the Senate by a slim margin. In 1948, there is increasing talk of a third party on the left of the Democrats. 

“Warfare Over the Atom” Mr. Wallace has accused the Administration of being too tough on the Russians over atomic inspection; Mr. Baruch replies that he has already explained the situation to Mr. Wallace. Mr. Wallace is therefore “confused,” and all of his supporters are reported to be recoiling, aghast. In shorter, and highly indirectly reported news, Congress is to have a Council of Advisers to explain economic matters to them; and Mr. Hoover is threatening, in so many words, to root out the Communists in the CIO if the CIO doesn’t do it for itself.

“Record Harvest” The pessimisits finally give up on this year. The largest wheat crop in history, and fruit, vegetables, oilseed and livestock are up, too. (Oilseeds were down in 1944 and 1945, so the increase there is relative to the decrease, and there is a shortage of lard, so hurrah for "not having enough to eat" in 1946 --finally!) And then I find that I spoke too soon: even a crop one third larger than prewar totals “does not spell abundance this year.” Population is up, appetites are up, exports are up, and prices are straining against the ceilings. In shorter news, the paper is upset at the strike at the Duquesne Light Company, which has blacked out Pittsburgh.

The World Overseas

Civil War in Greece” By A Correspondent Recently in Greece

Greece has asked for weapons from Britain so that they can arm civilian militias in the villages, which the paper treats as an “official declaration” of civil war. Our traveller reports that there is little sign of such a civil war in the countryside –until you notice the climate of hostility between Greek-speaking and Slav villagers. The Communists, the ostensible threat, might have 2000 men in the mountains, and with two British-equipped Greek divisions in the northern region, plus a British division which can intervene if authorised by Cabinet, there is little reason to think that the mountain bands will accomplish anything more than coming down to the villages to cheer as the invading Red Army marches through the squares. So it is possible to conclude what the weapons might be used for, and that it would be a good idea if the presentconflict were negotiated to an end before the spring.

Poles are socialistically excitable. Italian Tripolitanians are impotently excitable. Fortunately, the only domestic violence so far has been a pogrom. The Arabs left the Italians alone, even though they were as vulnerable as the Jews. It is heart warming to think that the Arabs of Tripolitania have so far forgotten the bad days of imperialism that they declined to even think of beating, lynching and burning Italians alongside Jews.

The Business World

“Economics of Oil Firing” The paper goes through the economics of converting to oil-firing in steam locomotives (a bad idea), and factories (sometimes a  good idea), and shows that it is only “first aid” right now.

“The Fusion of Transport” Nationalising rail would be complicated. The paper spends a page and a half showing just how complicated. I think this is more on the lines of how the Birmingham Shipping Canal never gave a proper return on investment.

Buisness Notes

“Despondency over Coal” The fall in the stock market is the fault of Mr. Shinwell’s announcement of a ten percent cut in industrial coal allocations. There is now a “virtual certainty of industrial disturbance on a grand scale.” The paper cannot contain its anger, and returns to the subject to abuse him some more a page over, perhaps because it is as bored writing about assorted efforts to talk about talking about international trade as I am bored with reading them. (The IMF is rapidly joining PICAO, the Uno and AEC in my list of oh-God-Please-No abbreviations. At least I do not have to hear about the CAO any more.) There will be between 184 million and 200 million tons of coal for 1947, says the Permanent Under-Secretary, but the paper doubts even that. After all,  colliery workers will decline from  696,000 at the beginning of 1946 to perhaps as few as 643,000 at the end of 1947, “a quite appalling prospect.” To compensate for this, an 8% increase in productivity per shift is predicted, which seems unlikely. Although I am not clear why the paper thinks that it is unlikely.  Anyway, coal available perhaps under 184 million tons. Industrial disruptions expected in the winter, but no chance of electricity rationing –yet.

“The Bottomless Purse” So far, the chancellor has been able to deal with any market baulking at the 2.5% conversion, but surely the bottomless purse has a bottom at some point.   

“Double Shift Working If—“ The TUC is bending on the subject of shift work in the textile industry. In other good news, individual deposits continue to rise, rubber control is ending, and dividend season is going well.

“Chinese Currency Chaos” In utterly predictable bad news, you will have already heard about the double devaluation, with a third rumoured. The paper reassures us that the IMF is bending all its brainpower to the problem of restoring stability to the Chinese currency market. Though even it is skeptical that it will help.

There is, finally, a Swedish-Soviet trade agreement, cocoa prices are up, coal bunker prices are up and “the owners of 7 million tons of British coal-fired shipping are disturbed,” and the electricity blackouts of the past few weeks are due to lack of generating capacitiy as well as dwindling coal stocks. Installed capacity is rising rapidly, with a base of 11.3 million kilowatts being increased by 400,000 kWs this year, and 4.6 million planned through 1949 but this is still not enough to meet the demands of reconverting industry and long-deferred maintenance. More blackouts are inevitable this winter, even if the miners solve the coal problem.

“Scope for Fuel Economy” A conference on “Fuel and the Future” was held in London this week to hear about scope for fuel economies in the age after cheap coal. Also, increasing demand for tin has led to higher tin prices.

Aviation, October 1946

Down the Years in AVIATION’s Log

Twenty-five years ago, USS Alabama was sunk in bombing tests, and Zeppelin built a 1000hp four engine transport seating 18. The Army dropped a 4300lb bomb from 4100 feet. The Army was reported to be considering parachutes for its pilots. “Kirsh, flying in a Nieuport-Delage, at 173mph, wins Deutsch Trophy,” as two other competitors had to withdraw due to fabric stripping.

John M. Larsen offered an $8000 prize for air safety. Fifteen years ago, England retired the Schneider trophy. Major James Doolittle flew a Wasp-engined Laird across tdhe continent in 11h 16min.

 The Do X flew 300 miles from Norfolk to N.Y. in 3h 15 minutes, carrying 70 passengers. Frank Hawks flew Chicago New York in 3 h 46 mins. The Air Corps bought 71 planes and 92 engines. The Dirigible Akron made a 3 ¾ hour flight with 113 on board.

Ten years ago, Fleetwings built a stainless steel Seabird amphibian. The Army bought the Severky XBT Wright trainer. CurtissWright’s P-36 was its first “mystery” fighter. Cartridge engine starting was invented by “Coffman.” The Dornier Do-18 flying boat Zephir flew 2390 miles across the Atlantic in 22 h after being launched from mother ship Schwabenland. Bendix started work on its million-dollar West Coast plant. Dick Merrills piloted Harry Richman to England in 18h 8 min, returning in 17h 24 min in a Wright Cyclone-powered Vultee, and Enterprise is launched.
Vultee V-1. By RuthAS - Own work, CC BY 3.0,

Line Editorial, James H. McGraw, ,Jr., “A Free Economy is Worth Fighting For” Junior savages business for failing to do its part to speed up decontrol by using the appeal process set up by Congress when it reauthorized the Office for Price Administration.

Editorial, Leslie E. Neville, “Peace Through Realism”

The Russians are “realists,” in the sense that they are trying to take over the world, as realists do. America should also be realistic, which does not mean trying to take over the world (that would be silly), but, rather, it should be ready to build as many planes as it did during the war, so that the Russians know that they can’t take over the world, and, realistically, won’t try.

George Tenney, Chairman, Aviation Committee, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, “Putting Your Community on the Airmap” Mr. Tenney is caught taking money for nothing from the good burghers of San Francisco, attempts to lay a smoke cloud's worth of words. If I catch the gist of it, local boosters should try to make sure that as many airlines as possible serve their airport, and, if they don’t, they should write stern letters of complaint to relevant parties.

Raymond L. Hoadley, “Selling In the Export Market, II” Ray shows the newcomer how to spurt words all over the paper. I think the point is that you should travel to export markets and try not be obnoxious while you’re there.

Colonel William Blanchard and Scholer Bangs, “Aircrew Evaluation Plan Means More Bomb Hits” You will recall your son complaining that the AAF’s crack pilot managed to drop its precious Able Test A-bomb at the wrong place from the wrong height. That has evidently inspired  Mr. Bangs, who is still not allowed off Kwajalein anywhere near Bikini, unlike the Ladies Home Companion and More Fun Comics, to interview the Colonel about his plan for reviewing aircrew bombing standards. An incredibly complex “scoring” system determines how good an aircrew is by how many bombs they get in the winning circle out of how many they dropped. (No word on whether some areas on the bombing range are double and triple score.) The method took into account all sorts of variables, such as “missing,” and “not missing,” and lots of abbreviations were multiplied by other abbreviations by outside expert Dr. Mark Eudey, of the University of California to determine that the aircrew that missed its target in a peacetime trial by over 700 yards was the best available. I know Scholer Bangs is bad at his job. I just don't know about Colonel Blanchard.

Still a few months away, but it's worth highlighting the fact that the UFO craze was very largely started by general officer-rank Air Force men who believed that actual UFOs were being flown by actual aliens.

R. R. Brine, “Oil Company Aid for the Airport Operator” It turns out that oil companies won’t give airports free money even if they ask politely.

“Engine Conversion Line is New Base Activity” Southwest Airline’s maintenance base can convert military engines for civilian use in as little as 3 days.

“Portable Electrical Test Insure Quick Airliner Checks” Pan American’s Atlantic Division maintenance school at LaGuardia has developed this keen new compact electrical tester for use on the Atlantic Clippers.

William Lawrence Lewis, Aeronautical Engineer, “Comfort Can be Compatible with Design Efficiency” It is hard to argue with the title until he is suddenly announcing that there must be “hydraulically actuated fully retractable landing gear,” wing flaps and door closers, all controlled automatically, “simplified flying controls” that replace food rudders with a wheel, automatic temperature regulation, and on and on. Debatable opinions (the obvious superiority of a high wing configuration, for example), are dogmatically asserted, and the design shown in the illustrations is a tailless swept-wing design. The paper must be really short of articles!

This nonsense reminds me of something.

Lee Worley, Fairchild Aircraft Division, Fairchild Engine and Aircraft Corporation, “Standardised Airframe Assembly Fixtures” The Germans used a standardised set of clamps, tubes and support fittings on planes ranging from fighters to 200,000lb flying boats. This seems less spectacular when it is realised that by “Germans” is meant the two or three Hamburg-based firms, including Focke-Wulf and Blohm und Voss. So it wasn’t some heroic, industry-wide standardisation –a standardisation that, as interesting as it is, is completely irrelevant to the postwar world, although perhaps General Electric could learn something from it –if it doesn’t already do exactly this.

Can't quite put my finger on it . . . .

M. F. Jones, Design Engineer, Transport and Generator Division, Westinghouse “Launching Aircraft Electrically,” the Navy made do with hydraulic catapults in the late war, and the Admiralty is now experimenting with using boiler steam (shh! It’s a secret!), but the Americans are apparently fiddling with electricity. This is the kind of thing that would have made sense with the giant electrical plant-warships before the war, but the article gives no hint that this is old work revived. It’s an AC linear induction engine, powered by a Pratt and Whitney Double Wasp running the electric drive. It has the usual problem of low “torque,” as the boys say, in that if the actual amount of energy required to launch a plane were generated in the few seconds required for the launch, you’d have the usual old-fashioned American electrical engineer problem of everyone on board getting an instant static-electric hairdo, if not arcing electric short circuits through their fingers and toes. So, instead, the engine is connected to the electrics which are connected to a big old flywheel in a design that aims to make Rube Goldberg’s column. But not too Rube Goldbergy, as no-one can design a direct engine-flywheel coupling to obviate the electric bit in between. After a launch, it takes about two minutes to get the flywheel back up to speed. Due to the mechanical coupling, acceleration is limited to 3 times gravity, which makes all of this sound even more impractical.

So. The Engineer's archives appeared on line this week, and this picture was snipped there. The thing that makes it worth a caption is the complete failure to mention either the flywheel or the 3g acceleration limit. It's like Westinghouse realised that no-one would give this work the time of the day if they realised that their engineers hadn't solved the peak power problem. Like they were . . . scamming or something. Shocked, etc. 

Nevertheless, our author ends by suggesting that his “electropult” will have the widest possible application to airliners, “floating airports,” “seadromes,” “mid-city airports,” (perhaps built on the levelled ruins of slums! But why not level even more slums, so you can have a full-sized runway? Aren’t we suppose to be levelling all the slums?) The author ends by pointing out that the growth of airliners may have to be held back to avoid outrunning the electropult design before the installation has paid for itself, but that seems like a small  price to pay.

Frederick S. Dever, Spotwelding Supervisor, Ryan Aeronautical Corp., “Spotwelding Technique For Primary Structures, Part 1” I'm at a loss, here.

K. R. Jackman, “Aircraft Acoustical Problems and Possible Solutions, Part IV” Worthy, important, mathematical. Convair’s big Liberators were much preferred as VIP transports, so Jackman and his team have an unusual amount of experience with ad hoc soundproofing efforts made during the war. The bigger the plane, it turns out, the more effective the sound reduction, since they have more hp to give up to carrying baffle material. Jackman is confident that the Convair 240 will be the most silent airliner on the market.

Paul H. Stanley, “Practical Engineering for Rotary Winged Aircraft, Part IV,” I’ve suggested before that this series is not very useful because Stanley’s experience is out of date and restriced to Cierva types. This article illustrates the criticism to a tee, being entirely about autogiros!

It's on the tip of my tongue!

“Electronic Control of Plane in Landing Approach: Techniques Considered as New Sperry A-12 Gyropilot Guides UAL DC-4 using VHF Blind Landing Beacons: CAA Installing Automatic Control-Approach Radio Beacons” To translate the extended subtitle, a recent set of trials at MacArthur Field, Sayville, a UAL DC-4 made repeated approaches and simulated landings under control of it’s a-12. The A-12 may be equipped to use SCS-51, which consists of two VHF radio transmitters providing localisation and glide path. As the “simulated landings” suggest, in practice the pilots will be landing the planes; the Gyropilot is only in charge of getting them down to 100ft.

Wellwood E. Beall, “Stratofreighter Cargo Hauler Designed by Boeing” The Stratocruiser will have a freighter variant.

“Four-Seat Waco Aristocraft is Novel Pusher” Someone at Waco is too drunk to imagine a tail down landing.

“Lockheed Unveils Constitution as Giant New Navy Transport” It is a “twin-decked 168 passenger and freight carrier.”

Aviation News

“Need for Important Legislative Action is Evidenced as Facing Incoming Congress” The last Congress was a do-nothing congress on aeronautics. The incoming Congress should do some things about the 5 cent airmail bill, a stamp honouring General Mitchell, price control in navy contracts, and give some money for air training at Annapolis, research at the National Research Foundation, and for airports here and there.

“Cosmic Ray Study Made” Preliminary results of cosmic ray studies made by high-altitude observatories and specially-modified B-29s still don’t tell us how “mesons might implement cracking of atoms other than uranium as source of power.” More work is needed. IN other technical news that we’ve been covering around here, the Navy’s telemetering trials continue, the missile programme continues to be unsettled between the services, and the CAB has issued new, tougher fireproofing rules.

Source.  It says something about the way that we do the history of atomic physics that the muon-catalyzed fusion craze came and went eight years before history reports the discovery of the phenomena

Washington Windsock

Blaine Stubblefield points out that people have been talking about the imminent shortage of airports for years. Now that it’s here, we can blame the people who were talking about it for not talking faster. (That counts as a joke in Idaho.) He also joshes the Army and Navy for one-upping each other, and tells us, perfectly seriously, that Stuart Symington is the “hardest working man in Washington.” He thinks that the new explosive ejection seat is a ridiculous Rube Goldberg design, and that the aircraft manufacturing companies that stayed out of the aluminum prefab home market will rue the day, since aircraft manufacturers can build houses cheaper than the construction industry will ever be able to do, and if aluminum houses catch on, etc, etc. I’m not sure that anyone will be able to afford houses, aluminum or not, if all the contractors go out of business together, but perhaps that is because I met Mr. Keynes once, and now fancy myself some kind of expert on the economy.
So let me get this straight. The new industry, which is the coming thing, will disrupt the large existing industry, and put all the inefficient, semi-skilled labourers out of work? I have heard this story recently! Source. This is another view of Nef's airform house, by the way, and the linked article is neat.

“U.S. Industry Preparedness Problem Seen: Billion-Dollar Output Seen This Year” If WWII happened all over again tomorrow, we would be in trouble. Notwithstanding the fact that the industry is looking at a billion-dollar year. Only 67 new military aircraft were accepted in July!
Probably as good as any a place to remind ourselves that late-war high performance aircraft didn't just happen, and that the state of the art isn't standing still.  At the same time, I invite questions on the theme of "What does it mean when technological progress is standing still?"

In civil news, bilateral negotiations with various countries that won’t let American planes land there without their planes, etc., continue. And the Constellations have been cleared to fly again.
The De Havilland Vampire and Miles M. 52 exist and, respectively, don’t exist more.

Worlddata By Vista “Vista” mocks the British for not having Atlantic airliners yet. The talk is that the Bristol plane won’t be ready until 1948, and the de Havilland flying wing not until 1951. Since the Tudor isn’t acceptable for Atlantic operations, the British have had to buy the Stratocruisers, etc.
Fifty-six Boeing 377s were built. Thirteen were accidental hull losses, resulting in 139 fatalities. This isn't a criticism of Boeing so much as a reminder of the stakes involved. 

Fortune, October 1946


“End of the Beginning” Fall was coming, back in September of 1946. Bearing in mind that American index of national production was 109 in 1939, 174 in 1946, that employment was 45 million with nine million unemployed in 1939, and 58 million with 2 million unemployed in 1946, and that the GNP had gone up from 88.6 billion to $185 billion, with private capital formation at over $25 billion, naturally something had to give. Because of strikes, and also because of shortages in the supply chain. For example, Ford’s mighty Rouge River plant might be stilled by a shortage of nuts and bolts, or cushion springs, or something. Then, when that was overcome, there was a shortage of “nails,” that is, of construction material. And when that was overcome, there was a shortage of labour! Also, profits were down.

And that is why, in the paper’s reading, there was a stock market rout. Was it just an interruption, or is the great Depression back? All signs point to interruption, but you can never be too panicked! The real problem remains one of dampening demand for consumer and capital goods so that we don’t have a “boom fed on overextended credit ending in a contraction or even a collapse five or ten years from now.”

The Management Poll

The paper polls managers on their work habits and finds that they are very impressed with how hard they work. 

Also, that their peak commuting times are 9-9:30 and after 4PM, and their reported length of lunch break is, on average, "between half an hour and an hour."  It's good to be king.

“Gold! A Startling Borehole Yield Gives South Africa a Wild Boom and New Hope of Staying on Top of World Production: Wall Street is Buying Some Chips” South Africa’s economy is essentially about gold. It produces about a third of the world’s supply, as much as Canada, the US and Russia combined. This adds up to 425 short tons a year, or $435 million at the going rate. In the last sixty years, the Rand has produced almost $15 billion in bullion, which is 40% of the world’s stockpile, estimated at $37.25 billion, or 24,000 cubic feet. Thanks to the Empire, Britain bought most of the gold for resale, and was able to export more than $165 million to South Africa a year, for South Africa could only balance the trade to the tune of $55 million in commodities other than gold.

Lots of nice pictures in this article. The point is that there are some gold mines around Johannesburg, and that by producing about as much gold as you could fit in a modern house over forty years, they basically made the Union of South Africa possible.

“In Memoriam: The British Coal Industry” I don’t know if you’ve been following it in The Economist, but the English coal mining industry is in trouble, although what the paper means is that it was nationalised.

“The Traffic Outrage: A Deadlock of Politics, Self-Interest and Personal Privilege Prolongs the Agony of New York’s Traffic Sufferers . . . Relief is Possible, But Those Who Could Will Not Pay the Price” The paper is not enjoying its commute to work since the end of the war. Solutions might include parking bans on high volume streets, off-street loading berths, night truck deliveries. The paper thinks that underground parking garages are silly, but they have their advocates, who want to tear up a park, over the screaming protests of Commissioner Moses, and put a 2800 stall garage underneath of it. Also a problem is the retirement of 30% of the traffic police since 1941. Also unrealistic is elevated roadways, “city of tomorrow” style. On the other hand, the paper keeps coming back to the off-street loading berths as a solution that would work, and points out that hiring the traffic cop force back up to strength is a vital first step. That it hasn’t been done underlines the fact that the political will is absent. Shop and store owners don’t want to discourage automobile traffic, and landlords don’t want to reduce density, which would reduce traffic.

“The Rise of Raytheon: In Boston’s Suburbs, a Prodigious War Baby Bets on A Profitable Maturity for Electronics and Itself”

Raytheon doesn’t like to think of itself as a war baby, but its peacetime business in the 20s and 30s consisted of fighting for scraps in the radio-parts market. It was a 50-cent stock in 1939; it has risen 180 times since, without ever paying a dividend.  (It turns out that this is important: The SEC is investigating.) It has bought out three rivals in the last eighteen months. Belmont, in Chicago, was making money in the consumer radio market when Raytheon was making it, and will hopefully spearhead the company’s move into the home market. Submarine Signal, of Boston, was working with the fishing fleet, and hopefully will bring Raytheon into the merchant marine. Russell Electric, of Chicago, makes fractional-horsepower electrical motors. Raytheon was originally the agent running the Navy’s magnetron plant. It had 16000 employees on the strength of that relationship at the peak of the war, and still has 12,000 on payroll. Prewar, the problem was that it was hard to impossible to make money making vacuum tubes. Postwar, it will be singling out the lines with potential from all the gadgets that might not make the cut. Will it be low frequency AM, high frequency FM, facsimile reproduction, television, radio and telegraph broadcasting, sound recording, hearing aids, commercial radar, dielectric heating of non-metallic materials, control of complex industrial processes, precipitation of smoke and dust, temperature control, night photography, diathermic treatment of disease, X-ray, sterilisation, dehydration of food, or even the wireless transmission of power? Probably, the paper eventually concludes, it will be microwave trunk communication. Also, it could use another war.

Laurence Marshall got into the business back in 1922 by trying to monetise a friend’s work on gaseous refrigerants, which came to nothing. (The friend, the paper says, is Charles G. Smith. I chance to mention this to James. "And Vannevar Bush," he snorts. I am so naive.) They then use what they had to get into a helum gas rectifier tube production, which made them some money for a few years until RCA intervened to force its new rectifier standard on the industry. After that, Raytheon made vacuum tubes for radio, and bore the brunt of steady price reductions and shakeouts that reduced the industry from 100 to 10. It was able to buy out a company that made amplifiers for hearing aids, a small but profitable market that bore up the vacuum tube business along with a residual market for rectifiers for car radios. It also invested as much as it could in high frequency research, figuring that the industry had to break eventually. Instead, there came war, and a British invention, the magnetron, of which the Navy needed as many, as quickly as it could.
Looking back in 1946, Lawrence Marshall remembers a desperate struggle to survive in an industry in which 90% of the companies that existed in 1929 had gone out of business by 1939. In Wikipedia's version of events, Raytheon "had grown into one of the largest vacuum tube producers in the world." Both versions are true, but the contrast between them tells two different stories of the electronics industry in the Thirties.

“Cape Cod Cranberries” Cranberries are harvested in September and October, eaten at Thanksgiving. There are nice pictures and colourful stories about the old days, because this is where the paper went on vacation.
"Yams with cranberry chutney."

“The Sunroc Refrigeration Co., Inc.” A Pennsylvania maker of water coolers gets the paper’s standard treatment. It looks like they’ve made a lot of money over the last twenty years or so selling office water coolers in Washington.

“Music for the Home: What’s What in the Radio-Phonograph Combination, Which Sometimes Approaches High /Fidelity; But More Often Does Not: The Industry’s Theme: The Public Isn’t Interested”

The paper doesn’t like its stereo, which chews up precious records, improvises its own additions to Toscanini, mostly involving loud static-y pops, but with skipping, snapping and crunching sounds for variety. Also, the quality of the music isn’t that good. So it wandered off to shop for another one. 

But! While FM promises a revolution in transmitted music quality, it will only go so far. Right now, there are “high fidelity” enthusiasts in the major recording/broadcasting companies (the paper interviews T. R. Kennedy of Columbia), who believe that it is possible to record music with “high fidelity” to the original, as it is heard by the concert goer, transmit it, reproduce it in proper equipment and share the joy that a “golden ear” engineer takes in pure trebles, unadulterated tone, and as full a range of frequency as the human ear hears in performed music.
"The high-fidelity movement gained impetus during the Second World War when U.S. Servicemen stationed in Europe became aware of the extent to which America lagged in record and phonograph technology."

(Just to put this in perspective, the range is 16 cycles to 16,000, testing the limits of electronics.) However, it would be expensive, and it does not look as though consumers actually want it. For those who do, right now high fidelity can be built by the mechanically inclined for about $1400, or bought in the $400--$1100 range at somewhat less high fidelity. Mass produced equipment goes in the range of $100 to 400. Finally, the paper surveys 19 high fidelity sets now on the market.

Benchgrass is here to  help you with your Christmas shopping.

“The Return of the West” The paper went to Western Europe and interviewed various statesmen who seem very sane, conservative, and sober. Instead of a social revolution, it looks like it will aim to achieve full technical efficiency instead. The paper especially likes Catholic conservatives, especially if they are left wing Catholic conservatives, however that works. (Georges Bidault, L’Esprit, L’Aube].

Shorts and Faces

The paper makes fun of atomic secrecy, and then talks about the way that the recent stock runup was a result of drawing in ignorant, small investors –again. Then it talks about Lem Foster, Macy’s new Director of Executive Placement and Review, who is worth noting, because he is a Coloured man in management, which shows that America doesn’t need anti-discrimination legislation. The paper also notices Air Products’ recent, bumptious entry into the American two-manufacturer oxygen cartel under Leonard Pool, and the Foreign Missions Conference’s efforts to get relief to China. Also, the secret of company called Blum’s Candies is to not sell to anyone, as that apparently creates a demand. (I see a flaw.)

The Farm Column

Ladd Haystead goes out to the woodlot to note that American farmers have 139 million out of 461 million acres of commercial forest land. They, along with half a million non-farming individuals who own almost as much more, are getting together in an association or something to “flourish under top capacity.” Technically, the rise of diesel skidders, trucks and tractors have reduced the yield in board feet per acre at which it is possible to make a profit from the old 30,000 to 40,000 to as low as 7000 to 8000. I don’t think that you need Ladd’s review of how the industry works, but he has some interesting points to make about tree nurseries, which is being de-emphasised in recent years. The new private owners’ association is particularly interested in promoting forest fire control, and new equipment is making it more efficient. It is also certifying “tree farms,” which are better than woodlots because they are certified.

Business Abroad

The paper quotes first the Polish Minister of Industry and Commerce, and then John Jewkes, on the perils of keeping production and stockpile figures secret, as governments are doing now to prevent speculation and because of the breakdown in money in some countries. Mainly because the paper likes quoting Professor Jewkes, I think. (And suggesting that the Labour Minister of Food is “like” a Polish minister.) Development is going on in Brazil, France is trying to get its steel industry restarted, and the Soviets are  complete hypocrites for seeking export loans, and British chemists may have dealt a death blow to the old plague of locusts with the synthesis and manufacture of Ganmexane.

Available in snippet view only at Google Books.

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