Thursday, February 2, 2017

Postblogging Technology, December 1946, I: Waiting For Santa


R_. C_.,
Crown Point Hotel,
Trail, Canada.

Dear Father:

I do so hope that this package catches you in your hotel in a timely way --but that is only because I hope that you will not be there long, that you are, or shortly will be, on your way to Santa Clara. Christmas preparations are in full swing. This will be the first celebration under Arcadia's roof in almost twenty years, and I want to make it a "big house" Christmas to remember! Space is filling up quickly. Well, not "filling," unless thirty or forty relations find an excuse to come over, but you know what I mean. Your youngest has seemingly flown-by-land across the continent to be here in time to help "Miss V.C." swot for her examinations. They are reading a textbook together in front of the fire in that strange antechamber to the nursery as I write. 

It's an odd place to choose in such a large house, but I don't mind keeping my eye on them. The whole thing wouldn't be my choice of a way to spend my holidays, but your son obviously remains infatuated, while she is anticipating the arrival of "Mr.A." (For we can no longer call him "Lieutenant A."). Central Intelligence takes a break at Christmas, but not as long as the students of the Institute.

Speaking of the Chicago "Cs," while they will not stoop to stay at relations, they are engaging a house in San Jose for the holidays, instead of San Francisco, and we can expect to see more of them, and their daughter, of course. This, unfortunately, means less reason to travel to San Francisco for the rest of the household, although my appointments will call me up there, and if you have gifts for the younger set there --and you should, not to be a nag, notwithstanding that your wife has covered off the matter-- you can forward them here and I can carry them up, as I will be seeing Queenie and the former "Miss v. Q." on these occasions of the higher feminine mysteries. 


Flight, 5 December 1946


“Talking Safety” The paper is skeptical about the new Air Safety Board, which will probably just be a big talk shop. The paper thinks that the real problem is certain un-named new, fast aircraft with poor low speed handling, as they cannot properly use all the expensive new blind-landing equipment.

“Civilizing the Service” The Air Force should be nicer, and that means higher dress standards. Since it is hard to be nice while yelling at people over their turnout, there should also be nicer uniforms, so that warrant officers will have something to yell (nicely) about. Also, toffee-apples of different colours are not appealing???
“Fido and G.C.A.” It has recently been decided that an RAF station will revive FIDO experiments, and that an experimental Ground Controlled Approach radar is going to be tested at Heathrow. (Which is what we are calling London Airport today.) The paper offers a big, fat, “I told you so.”

Coincidentally, it's Aviation's annual maintenance issue, too. Here's some pictures to remind us of the importance of learning-amd-innovating-by-doing. Eh? Eh? Sigh. Forget it. Let's just keep on giving 30% of the population student loans they'll never repay, instead. 
“Background to Maintenance: A Visit to BOAC’s Experimental Factory: Developing Practical Time-Saving Equipment” The chairman of BOAC recently said that twenty-five percent of every ticket went to maintenance. That seems like a lot, so the paper is off to Brislington to investigate. There follows a two page article that skims the “Maintenance Shortcuts” pictorial in every number of Aviation. Maintenance requires specialised tools and equipment. Often, the equipment does not yet exist, and has to be invented. Here are some examples.

“Kibitzer,” “Cleveland Aero Show: Support Rather Disappointing: No Outstanding Products” Mr. George Bird’s Majorettes were there, but “People poured in in ones and twos,” as sarcastic reporters assigned to bad trade shows like to say. Some helicopters, the Navion, the Bonanza, and Northrop’s Turbodyne I were there, as well as a mockup of Lycoming’s new 5000hp engine. Are shareholders allowed to stone boards of directors to death? Because that seems to be what’s called for. However, there were lots of nice shows and demonstrations.
It's hard to over-stress just what a terrible idea and wastte of stockholders' money this was. Though at least Lycoming didn't do it mulptiple times, like Northrop.

Here and There

The paper notes that Group Captain A. F. Bandit’s proposed “aerial attack on Mt. Everest,” recently discussed on the radio, will take three years to organise. Group Captain Bandit is currently “attached” to Miles Aircraft and is flying off to Australia in a Gemini. 

Miles Gemini. By TSRL - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
The R.Ae.S. will hold a special meeting on December 20th to revise its bylaws. A Constellation flying LaGuardia-London Airport (that’s what Heathrow is called in this week’s Here and There), piloted by Captain Cameron Robertson, set a new record for the route of 10hr 12min. It is a mystery how Airship License No. 1, issued to the late Major G.H. Scott in 1921, came to be found by a schoolboy on the roadside near Cardington. Australia’s airborne anti-dingo drive continues. Boulton Paul has received a nice contract to convert wartime bomber aircraft into trainers. Northern Aluminum is to build a £2.5 million continuous rolling mill on a 100-acre site at Rogerstone, near Newport, Monmouthshire, it will have an annual production of 50,000 tons of sheet aluminum.
History check: The child that Captain Scott asked Ted Stupple to "look out for" when he embarked on R 101 for its India trip would have been 15 this year. Source:

Operation Sealion –A Flop: The German Invasion that Never Came Off: Thanks Largely to the RAF” In answer to questions on the subject in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister has provided a written reply, in which he explains that the Germans didn’t invade because they couldn’t win the Battle of Britain, first.

“American Newcomer: some Details of the Smallest of Three Cameron Light Aircraft Engines” Mr. E. S. Cameron, of America, has three new light aircraft engines, of which the 125hp, air-cooled Cameron C4-I-E1 flat four is described here.

“Airline Pilot: The Need for Standardized Qualifications: An Examination of the Present Requirements: Efficiency Essential for Prestige” Everyone is BUNGLING airline pilot hiring.

“Polar Report: An Official Record of Aries’ Arctic Flights has been Issued by E.A.N.S.” With armament removed and extra tankage added, Aries took off last May from Prestwick at 72,000lb auw, 3,944 gallons avgas aboard, with a calculated maximum range of 4,800 miles for a series of flights over the Arctic regions to test various navigational concerns. All paint and dope had been removed to reduce weight, and with the extra fuel stored in bomb bay tanks, various things had to be moved around, making centre of gravity problematic, especially as fuel was pumped around various tanks to maintain trim. Unexpected icing from a thicker-than-expected cloud layer cut initial speed by as much as 70 to 80mph, and after five hours the plane aborted back to Meeks Field, the long runway 25 miles away from Reykjavik, or two hours over Icelandic roads. The second flight required a series of diversions as far east as Jan Mayen Land to avoid cloud, but accomplished the goal of flying over the north coast of Greenland on the way to the North Pole, before returning. Lack of oxygen plant at Meeks Field meant that it had to be rationed, and the flight was very tiring. The third flight saw a series of electrical faults, beginning with a blown fuse in the H2S set that removed navigational radar, followed by the loss of the starboard generator. The port generator than reversed polarity, and had to be restarted. Once restarted, power supply was inadequate to keep the magnetic detector working, and the plane diverted to Goose Bay, fortunately enough, since the starboard engines began to vibrate on the approach to Goose Bay due to faulty plugs. The next flight, May 19th, had fewer weather problems (one narrow front two hours out from North Labrador caused some icing), which was good since this was the most scientifically interesting part of the operation, with a flight over the calculated location of the North Magnetic Pole showing that the Astronomer Royal was right, and the Canadians wrong. It also showed that the gyrostabilised compasses could be relied on in these latitudes, with reservations, while regular compasses were predictably useless, pointing due east for the entire orbit of the North Magnetic Pole. The plane then diverted to Montreal, and soon experienced an autopilot failure due to a damaged plate casing, so that Aries had to be flown by hand back to Dorval, then on to Whitehorse, and finally back to Shawbury “over the top.” Fully fueled for this 3710-mile flight, Aries unstuck at 130mph IAS, in spite of Whitehorse Airfield being located on a convenient plateau. A failure of the high-range radio altimeter approaching Greenland discouraged a “sounding flight,” but the weather opened up over Scoresby Sound and the Aries was able to fly over Greenland, confirming that claims of high ground reaching up to 20,000ft there, were incorrect. A radio blackout occurred between Iceland and England, and there was a weather front with some icing, but the remainder of the 18 ½ hour flight was uneventful.
Overall, engine performance was good, and fuel consumption was a calculated 50 ton-miles per gallon. There was no instance of irregular cooling, and icing sometimes affected the engines, but not the oil system.
You're supposed to read this while thinking about the role of "VLR aircraft" in the Battle of the Atlantic. 

Basil R. Clark, “Radio at Paris: British Firms Well Represented: High Standard of Equipment” The paper liked the new Pye/Marconi blind-approach guide, which employs a VHF beam with the usual marker beacons, and can fly within a few feet of the prescribed glide path. Uncle George can’t help pointing out that every major airport in the world will be under irresistible pressure to buy this, or an equivalent, and that it will break down all the time. It’s not the manufacturing that will make Marconi rich(er). It’s the service calls! We should definitely jump on the American rival, whenever it emerges.
Standard Telephone and Telegraph showed a nice new radio, and the VHF cathode-ray-tube direction finder it has developed for the Admiralty for aircraft carriers, which it cannot tell us anything about. Sadir Carpentier showed four pieces, including a VHF direction finding equipment with accuracy within 2.1%.

 “Power Installations: Future Aircraft Requirements Classified: Possible Propulsion Arrangements: Precis of a paper given to the R. Ae. S. by F. M. Owner[!]” Mr. Owner oversees turbine development at Bristol. He thinks that military aircraft will need more fuel-efficient engines long before they are atomic rockets. Military transports will continue to be low-speed and long range, and internal combustion and turboprop engines are the way to go there. A long range maritime patrol aircraft will need new internal combustion engines. For civil use on major airliners, better fuel efficiency is, once again, useful. Turboprops are the immediate future. He does not think that turbo-compounding engines have much of a future, due to their being complicated mechanical contrivances. Owner believes that “anti-icing” is still far from a settled problem. It occurs in turbine fuel injection systems. Air filtration is a large problem, and will be a larger one in axial compressors due to greater blade erosion.  Turboprops are being held back by the fact that the compressor must “accelerate” the airscrew. I think that’s a clumsy way of saying that the airscrew tends to stall the compressor. Except in the Theseus, with its free airscrew, which is why Bristol went to all that trouble.

Civil Aviation News

“Air Views in the Lords” The House of Lords debated nationalisation this week. The Minister announced the new Air Safety Board and also proposed a National Civil Aviation Consultative Council, to make up for the dangerous recent lack of talking about talking about civil aviation. He admitted that the Tudor II was overweight, and couldn’t fly south of Nairobi or east of Calcutta due to airport limits. He said that negotiations on buying the Marathon were ongoing, and Lord Swinton said that the Ministry should just get out of civil aircraft purchases, because it was too much bureaucracy and regulation.

Navigation Aids” The president of PICAO addressed the Radio Technical Division in Montreal recently. He said that there was no suitable universal short range navigation device yet, but that omni-directional VHF beacons and measurement devices should be installed on all international trunk routes as quickly as possible. Low-frequency Loran was the most nearly suitable long-distance navigation aid. PICAO wants full Loran station coverage of the North Atlantic by 1949, and the rest of the flying world by 1951. PICAO wants high-definition radar to solve the old problem of aircraft getting lost after they’ve landed due to it being dark and dim on runways at night. Perhaps foghorns would be cheaper? The United Kingdom delegation replied by saying that it was a wonderful speech, but that everyone should buy GEE.

In shorter news, the paper is pleased that Instone is back in flying, and reminds us that the Government BUNGLED private flying. British European Airways is buying five helicopters to experiment with “services.” The paper disapproves, then approves, and finally disapproves because five is too many, and 2 should have sufficed. Some American airlines are experimenting with GCA. Air India is now flying daily services with DC-3s. The Chislea Ace is still going to exist. The Constitution is amazingly large, and there must be plans for it to be fitted with more powerful engines in the future, because the company prospectus describes it as being able to fly.


"Bristol 142" takes advantage of the Alps rescue to point out that Admiral Nelson invented looking for things. Erik T. W. Addyman, the Hon. Sec. of the Aircraft Club, is upset at the way that regulators keep trying to prevent would-be ultra-light aircraft enthusiasts from committing suicide. T. N. Walker agrees. L. W. Crawford thinks that recent anonymous complaints about the state of maintenance are right. B. J. Hurren cannot back up the claims he made in his book about the Swordfish. A. E. Pettijean, of 2093 Squadron, Air Training Corps, thinks that it is the Government’s fault that 2093 Squadron has no cadets. Several writers are upset about medals and terms of service.

Foreign Service News

The Navy is experimenting with carrier deck trials with Lockheed P-80s with strengthened undercarriages. The Swiss are showing their wartime D-3802 fighter development, which combined French and German influences and featured a Saurer (Hispano licensee) 12Y engine driving an Escher-Wyss airscrew, giving a speed of 375mph. The new French SE 2400, previously reported as a bomber, is actually an attack type. New B-29s equipped with the Pratt and Whitney Wasp Major engines will be designated “B-50s.” The paper notices the Electropult.
By OwlCastle - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The Economist,  7 December 1946


The Transport Bill” The Government is going to nationalise the railroads. The paper doesn’t like the idea, but of course cannot come out and say so. It is especially upset about the new scheme of haulers’ licenses, which produce a “monopoly,” which I thought was the point of licensing road freighters? Also, all the railways will be merged, and this will create too much administration. Also, political interference is inevitable. The paper wants a scheme that “fully integrates” all forms of transportation and thereby achieve full technical efficiency.

There's a lot of good images in this month's Fortune, and I'm squeezing them in where I can.

“Progress at New York” Uno delegates like peace. Further bulletins as events warrant. No, that is not fair. The Uno has achieved an agreement on Trieste, and that is important. There are also preliminary talks about disarmament, which Uncle George confidently predicts will go nowhere. Easy for a man who has just bought options on Air Research shares to say. (I do not want to know how he arranged it, but I can’t disagree that it would be very nice to have some of the first Air Research shares when they do finally appear.)

“West of Honolulu” What’s west of Honolulu? The East, where a “quarter of the population of the globe lives.” On first glance, it appears to be undergoing the rapid end of colonialism, but, in reality, all the new states are weak, and America is strong, and Russia is also strong, and China is weak. So if America and Russia are strong and China is weak, and Japan is weak, then clearly something might happen.

Notes of the Week

“Departure from Indonesia” English troops are out of Indonesia. The paper congratulates them for not running amok during the occupation.

“Fusion of the Zones” The economic administration of the British and American zones have now been merged, and will be handed over to the Germans as soon as possible
Now who's up for a game of Power Grid?

“Coal Comfort” Mr. Morrison, urging the coal miners to work harder, etc., raised the prospect of “permanent austerity.” This is bad enough considering only heat and light, but if coal exports are not increased, imports cannot be. Shinwell’s Christmas address was even gloomier, says the paper. Considering that this was the announcement of the 2 ½% cut in coal supplies –that is, coal rationing, although no-one is willing to call it that-- to industries other than transport, I agree!

“The Professions and the Closed Shop” The paper detects a creeping closed shop policy in local government and is upset that professionals will be included.

“Civic Restaurants” The government wants to continue British Restaurants in peacetime? Tease me all you like about being the last Californian Progressive, but this is too communistic even for this bleeding-heart liberal!

“Indian Talks in London” There should be talking about talking about Indian independence in London, for a change.

“France Seeks a Government” “Wanted: Government. Must have at least a century and a half of experience in republican rule, good anti-Nazi credentials, three letters of reference . . . (Just to completely ruin my little joke, Uncle George tells me that after the Revolution settled down, for the next seventy or so years, France was run by an assortment of kings and emperors. Good to know!) The paper takes time out to gush about Mr. Monnet’s four year economic plan for industrial reconstruction.
Jean Monnet is The Economist's new boyfriend.

Persians,  Poles, Romanians and English divorcees are excitable.

“More Houses” The paper is pleased by the rapid increase in the number of houses built by local authorities.

In shorter notes, there is not to be an inquiry into the Services’ demand for manpower, the paper is pleased by the Severn Bridge, Jarrow Tunnel, and lower Thames tunnel and hopes that the Ministry of Transport starts work on them soon. 

In Parliament, a government answer about food subsidies revealed that their total cost is about one-third of the present standard rate of income tax. Sheffield University, which last year was proposing to double its size to 1500 students, has considered the Barlow report on scientific manpower and revised its plans to envision an increase to 3000 students over 10 years and to provide residential accommodation for 1500 of those. The paper is pleased. The paper is not pleased that the first batch of emigrants approved by Australia and South Africa are nearly all from the skilled building trades, as they are in short supply in England as well as the Dominions.


“Critic” of Dundee, proposes a scheme of “nationalisation stocks” so that private capital can invest in the nationalised transportation system. T. Balogh of Baliol College believes that international trade is being mishandled by “doctrinaire laissez faire economists,” and thinks that the Draft Charter of the ITO, if approved, will worsen the hard currency shortage. Peter J. Blake, of the United States Army at Frankfurt, defends the Nuremberg Tribunal’s decision to hand the acquitted war crime defendants over to German courts. F. H. Masters is upset that the New Towns scheme does not envision rail work, as his commute to the City is very slow already. (He is very specific. I think this is probably his train.)

American Survey (From Our Washington Correspondent)

No Coal” You were dying to hear more about John Lewis, the UWM, the CIO, communists, strikes, yellowlegs and injunctions, weren't you?

American Notes

The bipartisan consensus in American foreign policy is under stress due to disagreements between Byrne and Vandenberg. Surplus war property isn’t being liquidated fast enough, except for the plants which have been, which were liquidated too quickly. 260 American corporations own two-thirds of US manufacturing facilities and hold options on $9 billion in war plant, and this is obviously too much.

The World Overseas

“German Currency Reforms” Would be a good idea, the paper thinks. With prices rising and the black market out of control, something must be done. Productivity is collapsing, even though nominal employment is high. Prices will have to rise, and if a new balance between costs and prices can only be achieved in this way, than inflation is inevitable. If a “controlled and moderate inflation,” as the occupation authorities say, that is one thing, but demands for increased wages will doom this hope. Doom it! Everything is doomed! 

Australians are having a budget. The paper sees black clouds on the horizon!

“Ethiopian Development” By close examination of their history, the Ethiopians have discovered a historic claim to vast stretches of African territory that does not currently belong to them.  At home, various reforms are mooted. The paper sees black etc.

The Business World

“The Transport Bill Dissected” The leader had not nearly enough to say about the bill, which, to be fair, is something that the paper has to talk about at length. I don’t, however.

Scots are excitable, and far too many of them are unemployed. Some highlights of the story in no particular order: Everyone hopes that the hydroelectric projects in the Highlands will help by reversing the drift of population from the region. The exhaustion of the Lanarkshire coalfields is causing economic and social dislocation. The Forth Bridge will help with tourism. The Scots blame Westminster for all their problems.
The Forth Bridge under construction, July 1962. By Alan Findlay, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Business Notes

The paper is on about taps and bonds in its usual way of talking around the point that the Chancellor is reducing interest rates so that the rich will pay for the war, apart from those rich people who were clever enough to make alternate arrangements. There is also to be aid for the cotton spinning industry, railway dividends were impressively high this year, with the GWR paying 5%! Coal production is up, although consumption is up even more. Manpower has held almost steady, although some of the departures included Bevin boys and “incorrigibles,” which rather improved the statistics. The paper thinks that Eugene Meyer’s abrupt departure from the International Bank means that Bretton Woods is in trouble. This is because there is still no agreement about the nature of the securities it will issue, and, what is more, some American states are moving to pass legislation to prevent their banks from investing in them, which could become a problem. (For the record, the bank is thinking of 25 year shares. What do you think,? You were saying that we should have more securities in our portfolio.)
The cotton bill is debated in the House, the price of silver is fluctuating stably (I don't know, I just repeat what I read) around 55 ½ d per ounce, and arbitrage has all but removed the difference between the London and Bombay markets, where silver has been on a predictable tear. The British balance of payments continues to be strong in sterling areas, weak in hard currency ones. The paper does not think that the Australian pound will be revalued, and is concerned that controls on radio valve prices are unwarranted. Unilever plans to invest almost ten million pounds in Africa in the next three years, spendthrifts that they are. Christmas currency demands have led to an increase in £12 million in notes, although the total in circulation is still below the August peak. Black clouds, etc. The US Government is withholding its stock of base metals, and prices continue to rise. The President may waive the import tariff on copper and reduce the one on lead to alleviate the pressure. (Fortune has better coverage, if you need something to wave under people's noses at your meeting.)

Flight, 12 December 1946


“Aircraft Propulsion” Aircraft need propelling. In the past, they used internal combustion engines, some of which were liquid-cooled, and others air-cooled, and no-one could agree on which was better. In the future, they will have all sorts of jet-type engines, and perhaps we will never agree on which of those is better, either.
I've always wanted an excuse to post this.

“Anglo-American Collaboration” Anglo-American cooperation would go better if the American public would just accept that the English are right about everything.

“Research Reorganisation” Air research will go better now that one directorate has replaced the other committee, or possibly vice versa, and several people have been promoted.

“Bridging the Gap: The Work of the Empire Test Pilots’ School” Test pilots are very important people and the School trains very good ones, with very handsome moustaches that still do not measure up to the standard set by the Engineering Branch of the Royal Navy.
Google Search result for "Most RAF mustache ever." Source.

“Britain’s Test Pilots, No. 17: Wing Cdr. Reginald AlfredCharles Brie, A.F.Inst. A.E.S. (Amer.) “Reggie” is not technically a test pilot, as the Cierva autogiro is as tested as it will ever be. A good thing, too, as his moustache is decidedly sub-par. He has been trying to persuade someone, really, anyone, to buy autogiros for years now, but has now moved on to selling the kind of helicopters that are very nearly autogiros. 

Here and There

The Short Solent exists more. Group Captain Bandit is still on his way to Australia. There will be a jets exhibit at Charing Cross Underground Station on 3 January.  Lord Abercrombie, the Chairman of Westlands, gave a nice rundown of its research efforts in his speech to the annual company meeting. Dr. W.B. Lewis is to be Director of Scientific Research at the Chalk River atomic energy plant in Ontario. The paper milks another story out of Irish racehorses being flown to America. The last Halifax was just delivered to the Air Force, which will give it to Airborne Forces, because no-one else needs it.

It's not clear to me that Group Captain Bandit even made it back to Australia, or that his name was actually spelled "Bandit," but that doesn't mean that I'm going to let the country live Yahoo Serious down.

“’In My Opinion:’ Reginald G. Standerwick (GEC) and Geoffrey Smith (Flight) Compare Notes on Future Aircraft Design and Propulsion: A Two-Way Trans-Atlantic Broadcast”

Mr. Standerwick is an American, and begins by pointing out that the P-80 is the holder of the world’s long-distance record, and that the P-84’s still-secret top speed is even higher, and that the Army Air Force has even more jets in development, and that the “XZ-1” is expected to break the sound barrier and eventually reach 1700mph; and that another type in development can climb 20 miles high in one minute, and that, if the power is turned off, it will soar vertically another 20. America is amazing, and England is terrible.

Smith replies that all of this is “fantastic,” and cheating, since Standerwick is referring to rockets and implying that they are aircraft. Britain will not break the sound barrier for a year or two, because of controllability issues. The Meteor is really fast. Rockets are fast. Americans should admit that they’ve run out of steam with civil airliners.

Mr. Standerwick replies that all of those jet bombers will soon result in jet airliners. For example, a jet version of the Consolidated Vultee C-99 will carry 400 soldiers or a medium tank. Thin wings are the coming thing, and, before long, American planes will have five, ten, twenty or even fifty thousand pounds of thrust. The English should admit that they have nothing like this up their sleeves.

Mr. Smith responds that Britain has a jet flying boat and will be putting a jet engine in the Supermarine Spiteful soon. As for commercial aircraft, Americans are far too optimistic, especially about speed gains. Jet airliners will have to fly in the stratosphere, and they are nowhere near there yet. He points out that the English already have a jet engine in an airliner, the Nene-Lancastrian, and will have a four-jet Tudor liner next year. It will be followed by several turboprop airliners, including the gigantic Brabazon, a “Queen Elizabeth of the air.”  Americans will have to admit that English maintenance is better, and that they have nothing to compare with the prospective English 10,000lb thrustengine or diesel-compound, and so have no idea what the aircraft of the future will look like.
At least it got some use as an oil rig power plant.

Mr. Standerwick replies that the future is uncertain, but that those fifty-thousand pound thrust engines that are surely coming will power 400,000lb airliners which could reach 120mph in a twenty second run of half-a-mile or so. They will have sweptback wings of 350 to 400ft span, some kind of a tail, two ramjets to take over when speed is over 600mph. However, really quick service will be provided by rocket-jet aircraft soaring 100 miles above the Earth in order to make 3500 miles/hour. (Under four hours to Canton?) Also, there will be atomic planes, and, anyway, it is quite silly to be on about national rivalries when the future holds international cooperation for peaceful progress in the field of enormously big airplanes going absurdly fast.

The P-84 exists more.

“Aircraft Propulsion: Net Thrust Horsepower as a Basis: Progress in Power/Weight Ratio and Thermal Efficiency: The Discussion: Ceramic Materials Suggested for Turbines: Precis of a presentation made by Major F. M. Green and Mr. Wallington to a Joint Meeting of the R. Ae. S. and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers” Large military piston engines really are not that different from large piston engines developed for civil airliner use. Simply adjusting supercharger speeds will adapt the big military plants for civil use, although the day of the piston engine is over. Turboprops are the most efficient turbine engines up to a speed of 450mph, as everyone keeps saying, and ducted fans have potential for long-distance civil use. Ramjets are only practical at supersonic speeds. In the discussion, Dr. Ricardo, and later Air Commodore Banks, made a case for the turbo-compound again. Mr. Davis, of Bristol, made his for the heat-exchanger turboprop. Mr. Cheshire pointed out that even if jet engines remain more fuel-hungry than piston engines, they also have the advantage of being much lighter. He also thinks that the turboprop has no future due all of its complications. Mr. James Hodges pointed out that jet turbine engines were quieter and vibration free.

“Kibitzer,” “Cleveland Aero Show” The Navion, various helicopters, and models of the new Vought jet fighter for the navy were there.

“Short Solent: Exclusive Photographs of the Addition to BOAC’s Flying Boats” Not shown: angry, very cold woman being taken off in a motor boat.

Civil Aviation News

“Air Traffic Discussions” Because there cannot be enough discussing.

“Meteorological Services” PICAO thinks that they are important, and advises that national meteorological departments do a better job of collecting weather information from above 40,000ft before civil airliners go there.

“More About the Rainbow” It is even faster and more excellent than it used to be. It will cruise at 413mph at 40,000ft on 3000 mile trips carrying forty passengers, their baggage and 1000lbs of freight. Much of the speed comes from the “special exhaust arrangement.” It will not be delivered to civilian operators before 1948, and its all up weight will be 114,200lb.

In shorter news, British European is doing icing trials with the Viking, Stansted has been designated London’s freight airport, membership in the British Charter Association is up to 30, PICAO is talking about standardising wireless abbreviations, BEA is considering a version of the Handley Page Hermes, the Solent exists more, the Fairchild Packet is “unsatisfactory” due to loading difficulties, there is an Anglo-Swedish air services agreement, the Australians are fiddling with their licensing scheme, Australia and New Zealand have signed bilateral agreements with the United States on Pacific routes and there is to be a Scottish advisory committee on air-things. Various new services are announced in New Zealand, between New York and Santiago and Rolls Royce has introduced fixed ignition instead of variable timing on civil Merlins. The Standard Beam Approach equipment at GardermoenAirport in Oslo has broken down, so it will be another week before British European starts landing there.

F. M. Owner, “Power Installations: Part II of the Paper Given Before the Royal Aeronautical Society” For pressurisation and refrigeration, current arrangements are not very satisfactory when the compression ratio is in excess of 2 to 1. In other words, we have pressurised aircraft, but they’re not very pressurised at 40,000ft. Currently, a centrifugal compressor driven by an engine auxiliary does the work. A multi-gear change speed engine with super-charged two-speed clutches might work better. A four-speed system would be satisfactory at 40,000ft, where a compression ratio of at least 4.5-1 is desired. Turboprops operate best at full load and so will cruise within 2% of it. Turbine engines are not right now cheaper than piston engines, but it is often pointed out that they are simpler. However, the Theseus has been designed for a mere 1000h life between overhauls. The problem is that not enough work has been done on blade creep and other failures associated with extremely high rotational speeds. For peak fuel economy, either compression or inlet temperatures will have to rise even further. New materials and better compressor designs, especially for axial compressors, are wanted. Also, better bearings and seals. An enormous amount of research, design and especially development is needed before the turbine engine is in any way comparable to the internal combustion engine. Modern internal combustion engines have reached their potential and are highly reliable. This has taken 40 years, and the ”mature” turbine engine might be as far away.


P. Hurball wants more air shows. “474” thinks that British workers should see the Paris Air Show somehow, because all that competition would make them realise that they need to work harder. R. P. Denton thinks that “mixed” propeller and jet installations might be the way to go, at least for experimental development. Janet Ferguson calls for a new Civil Air Guard, which is silly, because they had awful hats.

The Economist, 14 December 1946


“Plans and Democracies” The paper complains that French politics are deadlocked, which is the democratic part, and that Mr. Monnet’s plan for the French economy is wonderful, which is the “plan” part. The paper wishes that England had one, too. It complains that finding enough capital expenditure to fund a substantial investment in production means high savings and low consumption, and, so far, the voters aren’t keen on this. The Russians have solved this problem by not having democracy. The Monnet plan proposes investing 23 to 25 percent of the gross national income in the four leading sectors of coal, steel, housing and transport, without making allowance for military capital expenditure on top of that. Since Britain invested only 14% of the gross national income on investment in 1938, this seems very challenging. A redistribution of workers into productive industries from distributive, for example, would seem to require substantial wage increases, thus prices, inflation, doom. Can any democracy achieve anything like this? Well, Britain achieved a 55/45% split of “consumption and civil government expenditure” to “productive effort” in 1943.   Is this possible in peacetime? Perhaps, with savings movements and tax concessions and budget surpluses. So, in conclusion, the Monnet Plan might be nice but impossible? Or does that only apply to a similar, British plan. (Which is what nationalisation is, the paper concludes, just if you were wondering where it was going. Labour, BUNGLING.)

“Peace Making: The First Round” Peace treaties have now been signed with Italy, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Finland. They’re not allowed to be bigoted any more, except against people against whom it is still acceptable, give up territory, and also sometimes money. Italy does not, however, have to give up Trieste. That’s to be dealt with at a later date. I wonder what Marshal Tito has done to so upset Marshal Stalin? Worn more medals to a party at the embassy?

“British and German Tanks” (by a Correspondent)

A Report of the Select Committee on National Expenditure on this subject appeared earlier this year, and the paper has found a Correspondent to take the issue on. I do recall this controversy two years ago, both from the press and from raging rumours, but it mainly focussed on American tanks, with people saying that the Sherman was useless and dangerous. To the extent that English tanks came up, it was along the lines of, “Well, of course English tanks are even worse!” James fills in the details, on the excuse that he is an engineer, although more that he is a man who was once a boy, and, well, tanks, boys. 

So now I know about Crusaders and Cromwells and Cavaliers and Shermans and Stuarts; about the difference between the 76mm high velocity gun and the 77mm High Velocity gun; and about the relationship of armour thickness and glacis slope. Anyway, the Select Committee finds that the English made quite enough tanks, and if they were short in 1939/40, it was because the Germans had already chosen their designs and were ready to begin flow production, while the English had delayed design much longer. This is why English tank production only overtook German in 1941. As to why it fell behind so decisively in 1944, the paper supposes that this was because of the introduction of new designs, such as the very exciting Centurion that James and your youngest subsequently discuss, loudly, in the excessively large anteroom that for some reason, leads into the nursery. Victorians.)

The paper notes that high German production was not because of standardised designs in “mass production,” since they were able to maintain high production when the new “Panther” and “Tiger” designs came in. It was because the German General Staff understood what was required of a tank: gun, then armour; then manoeuvre. Then, they had correct organisation for full technical efficiency, the paper is pleased to report. (Or make up the facts to meet its prejudices, whichever.) Dispersal was countered with ingenious single-purpose machine tools and organisation “[T]hus providing German troops with first-class vehicles in large numbers. Fortunately, it is not by tanks alone that even twentieth-century wars are won.”

Notes of the Week

“Paul Pry and Statistics” English business have decided that the Statistics of Trade Bill is a case of Government prying.

“Willesden on the Mat” Willesden Borough Council has given up on its resolution making trade union membership a condition of employment, and rescinded the dismissal notices sent to all the nurses and doctors who would not join one. In other freedom-related news, the BBC monopoly was debated in parliament. The paper is afraid that the BBC will favour politicians for good shows, and so ruin democracy, unless competition is allowed.

“Uno’s Busy Days” Uno delegates like to keep busy. Further bulletins as events warrant.

“Is Uno Intruding?” Uno delegateslike sticking their noses into South African business. Further bulletins as events warrant.

Dr. Schumacher’s Visit” German Social Democratic leadership visits England. Russia, France upset.
“Cross Purposes over the Sudan” Egypt and England are still fighting over the Sudan, and the paper reminds everyone that Egypt is, after India, the largest foreign sterling holder.
Kurt Schumacher at Nuremberg
“Anglo-Danish Price Argument” England is trying to buy food from Denmark, but is unwilling to meet Denmark’s price. The paper blames the “unsatisfactory state of the Danish economy.” The Danes need to import fodder, and are having inflation due to all those wartime wage increases, which has not yet been effectively checked. This is why food is more expensive in the Dominions, so that when England offers the same prices as it gives the Dominions, the Danes refuse. It’s all the Danes’ fault, you see. In other news, England is to have a Tourist Board, to better welcome foreigners.

Dockers –A Drastic Cure” The government recently punted the problem of dock labour organisation to Sir John Forster, who was to prepare a report. It is now out, and “puts two rather agile cats amongst the pigeons.” The first is that the dockers’ union should have equal representation on the committee that runs dock labour (good for labour); the second, that the Government should have the power of “directing” dockers from one port to the other. (Bad for labour.)

“Zionists in Conference” The annual World Zionist Council just re-elected Dr. Weismann as their head, with David Ben-Gurion, head of the socialist wing, coming in second.

“The Indian Constituent Assembly” The idea behind the Constituent Assembly is that it is going to write a new constitution for India. The Moslem League does not believe in this work, because it does not believe in India. They are not represented in the Assembly, which is expected to write a constitution that Moslem Leaguers will hate. The suggested compromise is that provincial assemblies meet first, write their constitutions, approve them by majority vote, and then go to the Assembly. In this case, the Assembly should not be meeting now, but it is. Whose fault is that, people are asking.
“—And the Chinese” The Chinese are having a Constituent Assembly that one large group is boycotting, too. The difference is that this group is the Communists, who are not separatists. The Americans are pressing for a more democratic constitution, and the Assembly is going along with this. It remains to be seen whether this will entice the Communists to Nanking.

“Between Albania and Corfu” The Royal Navy’s examination has ended with the conclusion that the Albanians laid the minefield that damaged Saumarez and Volage on the 22nd, and has demanded compensation.

“Milk Distribution” Currently, 10.5 million gallons of milk go to priority cases including, in order of amount distributed, hospitals and schools; invalids; expectant mothers; five-to-eighteen-year-olds; and under fives. 9.5 millions go to non-priority users It has been suggested that more milk go to some categories of invalids, and the suggestion is that this come from other priority users. The paper disagrees.

Austerity advertising. The one on the lower right is automating brain-work by the way. Can mass unemployment be long behind?

“Pressure for Larger Universities” The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee has just published a report that agrees with the paper and the “recommendations of the Barlow report.” Britain will need to increase its total number of scientists from 55,000 to 90,00 in 1955. The Committee thinks that this will require more than doubling the number of students, but thinks that this can be done without going on a spree paying for new teaching facilities, residences, and teachers. The paper disagrees, and thinks that the Government should spend like a drunken sailor.

Actually from the December 21st number, but I couldn't resist including it. 

In shorter notes, the paper notes that, in the wake of Mr. Strachey’s “very grave statement about future deliveries of grain and bacon last Friday,” there will be no statement at his Tuesday press conference. This might be because the coal stoppage in the United States has freed up railcars to deliver more bacon and grain to American ports. The paper is disappointed by the terms of the new Hendon Police College.


John Jewkes has harsh words for Mr. Balogh about “trade make believe.” R. P. Kahn, of King’s College, Cambridge, writing about “Exports and Manpower” takes issue with the idea that the best exports always involve the most added value of labour applied to imported raw materials, as some exports are inherently more valuable than others. He hopes policy is not too draconian, because it might damage some or another import/export industry. J. S. Tapsfield, of University House, Victoria Park, disagrees with the Rushcliffe Report’s revision of the Poor Persons Procedure. Walter T.Fisher, of Chicago, on the other hand, thinks that the problem is best resolved by law offices achieving full technical efficiency.

American Survey

“Discipline and Democracy –I”

So now the UMW is back at work, and “the country sighs in relief.” There will be coal at Christmas, but probably not at Easter, as 31 March is the new deadline. The new Senate Labour Committee Chair is likely to be Taft, who will take a harsh view of “labour monopolies.” Along these lines is the National Association of Manufacturer’s proposed “antitrust law for unions.” Mandatory arbitration for “work stoppages that jeopardise the national economy and safety” is also suggested, and, in general, a democracy requires its citizens to accept some level of discipline, further see next issue.

American Notes

“End of the Housing Drive” Wyatt is out, and there is no longer a Housing Expediter., or much of a housing programme. But do not mourn him. Mr. Wyatt extracted $400 million from Congress. He aimed for 1.2 million home starts in 1946, 700,000 completed, as compared to 937,000 in 1925, the all-time high for free enterprise, and 245,000 in 1945, 500,000 originally expected in 1946. The end of price controls washed away dreams of a $6000 home, and now the $10,000 home (and $80/month rental) ceiling is set to fall, the target for 250,000 pre-fabs is unlikely to be met, there will not be that $50 million loan to eleven new “pre-fab” concerns, but there will be more than 600,000  homes built. (The paper doesn't say so, but I thought that looking up the estimate at the library was easier than rewriting the sentence.)

“The CIO on Profits” The CIO wants wage increases paid for out of “staggering” corporate profits, but the paper does not believe that corporate profits are likely to turn out to be staggering, unlike in the 1920s; or, for that matter, 1936-9. Because profits were high in the late 1930s, whatever unemployment or production,

The World Overseas

“The Monnet Plan” Further details on the plan that will take France "from decadence to modernisation." 

The paper: “On the eve of World War II, almost a third of French productive capacity was not employed.” and “[t]he spirit of enterprise had been weakened to such a point that investments of capital barely covered the needs of replacement.” Productivity was below that in other countries in both industry and agriculture, the standard of living was low, and even that was partly met out of income from foreign investments. The war damaged much more of it. World War II was more destructive than WWI, with twice as many buildings destroyed or damaged (1.8 million versus 900,000.)   On the other hand, since 1942, the French birth-rate has been rising, and, in 1945, for the first time in half-a-century, exceeded replacement level. Does that look like good news? Of course it isn't! Dark clouds are gathering. If it continues, the working population will have to support both more old people, and more children. France has also to pay for the import of 25 million tons of coal, 8 million tons of oil, up to 98% of some of its base metals, 87% of wool, 60% of fats and 50% of wood pulp. 

A programme of modernisation  is needed, and Monnet's plan calls for restoring the 1938 level of production of coal, electricity, steel, cement, agricultural machinery, provision of transport and of power by the end of 1946, and reaching that of 1929 by the middle of 1948. 

Before the war, France consumed much less coal per head than its trading partners, but also imported about a third of its fuel: 198 tons of coal equivalent per head in England; 670 in the United States, 86.5 in France. The plan for 1950 calls for French consumption of 117.5 tons of coal equivalent per head in France.

Total Consumption (millions of tons)
Kg per head
USA (1937)
England (1937)
Germany (1937)
France (1937)
France (1950)

In agricultural machinery, there was 1 tractor for every 200 farm workers in France in 1937, 1 for 22 in England, and 1 for 43 in the United States, and most were made abroad.  17.4 million more tons of coal must be produced, and will require the immigration of 50,000 foreign miners. 178 billion francs will be invested in power generation, more than half in hydraulics. The construction labour force will have to be increased by 60,000. Fortunately, few prisoners of war are employed in construction in France. Cement will need 8000 more workers, rising to 20,000, even though it is hoped to almost double man-hour productivity. There are very detailed targets for increased agricultural production. The country will need to import power, coal, non-ferrous metals, and to do this will have to run a large balance of payments deficit, paid for by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which is considering a French required for 60 billion francs. To do the work will require 480,000 new workers by 1947, and an additional 220,00 by the end of 1950, plus 500,000 to replace prisoners of war. A “collective immigration” of 250,000 is envisioned, while 335,000 French, mostly women, must join the labour force. Paying for it will involve a substantial budget deficit.

The Business World

“The Companies Bill” “The Companies Bill gives full effect to the Cohen Report.”

“Silver Adjusts Itself” More on the world silver market.The upshot is that silver could be the new gold --a great way of transferring wealth out of countries with capital control. Or England. I might as well just say "England."

“The End of Window-Dressing” Is not the end of window dressing, really. The Earl will have to make his own decisions about money in English banks; However, Uncle George thinks that this might make them better risks.

Business Notes

Something about local bonds. Railways are protesting the new transport bill. Amazing! There is a Jewelry and Silverware Working Party, which is concerned with the cost of bullion, foreign competition, and such like things. 

This really is just a gorgeous issue of Fortune. The shared focus on jewelry probably has something to do with Christmas.

The paper urges full technical efficiency.  It is also concerned with errors in the new economic census returns, and is worried that steel output, which is up, might go down. The paper has read a nice survey of Latin American affairs by some experts that covers the new banking regulations in Argentina and the rapid industrial development in the republics over the war years. Textile yarn production is up, and the world sugar crop is expected to reach 26,615 thousand tons this year, compared with 22,148 last year, and 30,693 in 1939.   Mining costs are rising “alarmingly” in South Africa. Rhodesian copper earnings are up. American exports are up, but see Fortune. The Trepca Mines in Yugoslavia are to be  nationalised. English tourist traffic to Switzerland is to be controlled to reduce hard currency payments, but will be balanced against Swiss tourism in England.
How about that "rapid industrialisation during the war years"? It certainly tells us something about how the world works that import substitution didn't work in Latin America after the war. Anyway, the modern headquarters of the old Bank of London and South America is "One of the finest examples of Brutalism in Argentina." What an interesting sentence that is. By Dan DeLuca - originally posted to Flickr as banco_hipotecario, CC BY 2.0, 

December 1946

This should be pretty quick. the paper has drastically scaled back its editorial content. (Good news: Stubblefield and the "humour" column are gone; bad news, so is the "Down the Years" feature.) Fortunately, the hilarious”Maguire cartoons are still with us. 

Ha ha ha does anyone have a tip line number for Child Protective Services in 1947?


Leslie Neville points out that labour is more expensive in America than anywhere else on Earth, so Americans better increase their productivity, which is why this number is looking at tooling in maintenance. Leslie also takes a moment to remind the new Congress that American needs to buy more aircraft so as to “maintain dominant air power –not to wage war but to preserve the peace of the civilized world.”

Line Editorial: “Labour Monopoly” James H. McGraw, Jr., has seen the light and believes that American unions have too much monopoly power and need their own antitrust act.
I didn't bother with tmost of the article titles because they read like PR releases. Some interesting pictures, though.
Speaking of being in the pocket of big business, the big four airlines featured in the main section are TWA, WAL and two fly-by-nights. Who needs editorial content when you can just reprint public relations releases?

The good news is that Scholer Bangs has been promoted to Pacific Coast Editor. "Four years ago I couldn't even spell editor and now I are one[!]" 

Irving Stone, Assistant Editor, “Inspection Procedures for Turbojets” This is more like it. Not many people know what to do with a turbojet engine, and Stone went to General Electric to catch up with procedures for the I-40, which are probably generally applicable. I didn't even know that they used spark plugs!

Aviation News

“What From the 80th?” The 80th Congress has promised to cut expenditures. Senator Taft, who will be majority leader and chair of the Finance Committee, says that the Army and Navy should get only $10--$12 billions, but much will depend on the state of U.S.-Soviet relations, which probably sounds a lot more sinister to me than it does to the paper. Senator Brewster will probably head the War Investigation Committee, as well as the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee. He will turn the spotlight on NACA. Representative Charles Wolverton of New Jersey will take the chair of the House Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee. He is the man who defeated the Lea act in favour of the railway interests, and is expected to be a pressure front for railroads. John Hinshaw (the paper calls him "Carl") will fight to keep the airlines out of the ICC’s purview (“integration” of transportation), and defend non-scheduled operators against the airlines. The 80th will look at the RFC’s War Assets office, and surplus plants. CAA and CAB will meet with industry in hopes of making gains on safety.

“This Year and Next” The civilian market has made major gains on the military and now features 50% of sales volume. The nature of services procurement is worth noting, too. Navy and Air Force continue to spread contracts thin and evenly to keep all major manufacturers and business available for any emergency, and keeping them abreast of technological progress.

“Getting Squashy” The light plane market has “softened perceptibly, as expected.” Well, as the paper might have expected it privately, but Heaven forbid it say anything in print to discourage investors! The decline in orders “undoubtedly reflects some dissatisfaction with existing models.” No, it doesn’t. It reflects the actual number of people who want to fly private aircraft in this country. The appearance of “rotary wing and roadable types” is not going to change anything. Although it is fair news to report that people are trying very hard to make these markets work.

“On Our Side Now” Germany’s Kochel wind tunnels have been reinstalled at White Oak, Maryland by the Navy. They are powerful, but have a very short operating cycle.
Hypervelocity Wind Tunnel  [Number] 9 at the Naval Ordnance Laboratories, White Oak, Maryland. Erected in 1957 to replace the useless Kochel tunnels. Just pointing that out after reading yet another "Nazi scientists are our superiors" effort. 

In shorter business news, CAB is recommending 5400 miles of feeder airlines in Midwestern states, almost entirely under new operators, while non-scheduled operators Waterman and Pacific Overseas have contracts to fly into Shanghai for the UNRRA. CAB is tightening restrictions on uncertified operators in Alaska. The Post Office has intervened in CAB hearings against proposals to allow Pan American to fly trunk routes in the United States. CAB’s chairman pointed out that Washington is getting very frustrated with poor services and safety. Hearings on “freight forwarding” are coming to CAB, as a battle over freight rates looms. In Canada, the Department of Transport is installing radio instrument approach systems at major airports, including Montreal, Ottawa and Winnipeg, with Toronto, London, Calgary and Regina to get it next. My point: Not Vancouver!

Aviation Abroad

In the paper’s version of events, the English have claimed to have the first jet-powered airliner, have abandoned all piloted supersonic developments in favour of radio-controlled models, have recruited “many outstanding German scientists” to work on developing their rocket plane. English papers are calling for an investigation into why BOAC planes are carrying only six passengers on average from New York, while American lines have a three month waiting lists. De Havilland is reported to be continuing tests on the DH 108. Sweden is working on a world speed recordmachine based on German models, to be powered by a DH Ghost. 
Unfortunately, the Swedes did lots of boring "development" and "testing," and the Saab Tunnan didn't attempt the world record until 1955. By Gnolam - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

A threatened Scandinavian pilot’s strike have been averted. In Russia, work with German jet engine prototypes has been put on the back burner after they received 20 Rolls Royce Nene engines, which will be used as prototypes for a Russian copy. China has authorised the newly-formed Trans-Pacific Airlines to fly Honolulu-Shanghai, although this still needs CAB approval.

Ernest G. Stout, “Static Stability Analysis for Flying Boats and Seaplanes, Part I” Although technically a Part I, this is more on the lines of “The Same Subject, Continued.”

“Float Structure Redesign Simplifies Output and Maintenance” The Edo plant redesigns floatplane floats!

James J. Rodgers, Analysis Division, Air Technical Intelligence, U. S. Army Air Forces, “Design of German Supersonic DM-1” The DM-1 that the Americans captured was an unpiloted glider intended to test subsonic handing, but it would have been followed by one with Me-262 engines, and a third with Me-163 rocket engines, at which point 1215mph was said to be in reach, although the model shown here is a wood shell with conventional rigs, some thin stringer, a light nose spar, slotted elevons, and, in general, pretty much all the same features as any of Lippisch’s other flying wing models, which means that it won't fly in the air at more than 200mph, and will fly into the ground below it. 
"At the end of the war, even the DM-1 prototype test glider, the DM-1 had not been finished" . . . "Lippisch proposed that . . . [it] be powered by coal" . . ."Initially, it was proposed that a wire-mesh basket holding coal be mounted behind a nose air intake" The whole article is a treasure. 

J. H. Carpenter, Project Engineer, Lycoming Division, The Aviation Corporation, “5000hp Lycoming Revealed” The bizarre Lycoming shown off at the Cleveland Aero Show gets more attention.  

John E. McDonald, “Practical Engineering of Rotary Wing Aircraft, Part VI” Helicopters are unexpectedly hard to engineer.

“National Aircraft Show: Hits High in Size, Attendance: Opinions Divided on Ultimate Value of $1,000,00 Exhibit” The title contradicts “Kibitzer,” so I quoted the first bit of the subtitle, too. In addition to the exhibits that Kibitzer took in, there was a model of the Curtiss CW-32 four-engine cargo plane on exhibit, and the Sikorsky S-52 was a surprise exhibit, as well as the new Jacobs O-360L six-cylinder, 165hp liquid cooled opposed engine.

“Electrical Computor Solves Wing Flutter Problems: Based on Analogy Exiting Between Mechanical and Electrical Systems: New Electronic Instrument Reduces Time and Labour in Calculating Wing Flutter Velocities” You set up an oscillating electrical circuit with physical characteristics analogous to a wing, and off you go!

Recent Books

The paper received Col. R. H. Drake’s Aircraft Woodwork; [Actually Lieutenant-Colonel Drake was the editor; Ruth Spencer the author]; George J. B. Fishers’s Incendiary Warfare; Raymond W. Dull’s Mathematical Aids for Engineers [The Guardian takes the piss for you*]; The Illinois Institute of Technology’s Mexican-American Conference on Industrial Research; Richard W. Wetherill’s Management Techniques for Foremen; Eugene L. Grant’s StatisticalQuality Control; Richard F. Neuschel and Harry T. Johnson’s How to Take Physical Inventory; and Robert Thorner’s Aircraft Carburetion.

A guy named Dull who makes a living writing engineering textbooks is good, cheap fun; but the real story here is Weatherill, who seems to have been a first-class crank and inventor of "humanetics."Something in the water in the late Forties?

I am going to skip the “New Products” feature that shows up at the back. If you want publicity, at least spring for an article! Although I can't help noticing Televiso Products of Chicago’s new vacuum tube voltmeter. You have to do something until an actual television station comes along!

Fortune, December 1946

Leading Articles (No  Section Heading)

“Inflation Over” “Republican victories,” the paper says, “Usually presage smooth sailing for business.” Not this time, however. The paper’s seemingly outrageous conclusion in the aftermath of price decontrol is that inflation is essentially over, and this, it concludes, is a bad thing, because that inflation was solving everyone’s problems by allowing higher wages, higher prices, and so on. Prices may continue to go up, but with the cost of living up 45% since 1939, and wholesale prices by 57%, inflation is pretty much spent. What we now have is an economy working at “A high price, high cost, and high production level.” With the GNP running at $196 billion per year in the third quarter, with private capital formation at $33 billion, apparently this is a vulnerable economy. It is thought that as consumers ease off and capital equipment purchases are shelved, a sharp recession is likely, although certainly not a depression, given the strength of underlying demand for consumer durables and for housing.

Seems like a good visual for this.

“Paper and Papers” England has two, quite separate “papers” problems. The first is that the civil service feels that it is too overworked by the Labour Government’s demands for more planning. They have too much paperwork, you see. The other is that the English cannot import enough paper, and their newspapers have shrunk. Above and beyond shortage of hard currency to buy newsprint is a shortage of production, which has fallen from a prewar 8 million tons to an estimated 6.8 million tons due to the destruction of European plant (and forests.) The paper suggests that if the English would just take more entrepreneurial risks to build more pulp mills in Canada, it could solve its problems, but they are too choked by paper work. In a clever twist, it turns out that the two "paper" problems aren't separate at all!

“Productivity” Last week’s labour issue revealed that “productivity” is becoming a “fighting word.” Everyone agrees that it is important; no-one agrees on how to define it or distinguish between “productivity” and “worker effort.” Management is convinced that labour isn’t working very hard, and needs to buckle down and earn its pay, while labour the  “go-stop basis of production” due to lack of raw materials and parts. What is clear is that for decades, worker productivity has risen because of putting new tools in workers’ hands. The indiscriminate $25 billion  government  investment in plant and equipment has probably retarded productivity gains, but no-one is sure how much, or even how much of the new plant will be used in peacetime. What is certain is that once private capital investment begins to flow again, if it is allowed to flow, productivity will surely begin to rise again –perhaps at a “glacial pace,” but, nevertheless,  this is far more important than the question of whether or not men are loafing on the job in 1946.

“Trouble Behind the Curtain”

Speaking of the flowing or not flowing of private capital investment, the Russians are beginning to have trouble with black markets, corruption and even the baleful “supply of excess money.” Goods and food are in such supply that it is reported that Russian peasants are coming into the cities to buy bread. Stalin had promised that rationing would end in 1946, but that promise has been broken, and the Five Year Plan now promises the full reconstruction of the destroyed areas in 1952 or later. (Six Year Plan?) Some of the difficulties arise from the old truth, once again rediscovered, that expansion is expensive. A world weary of Soviet pretensions and aggression can only hope that current Russian behaviour, which probably has as much to do with Soviet awareness of Soviet weakness, will moderate. Some people who don’t hold aviation stocks.
 Soft drinks in the same aisle as coffee? Did the director think we wouldn't notice?

Fortune Survey

This month’s survey is a study of veteran opinions. Veterans have a higher opinion of the English and Germans for having met them, a lower one of the French and Italians. Veterans think that business did a good job of working for victory, that the unions did not; private businesses were also rated as giving better value to taxpayers than government-owned plant. (Soldiers from poor backgrounds disagree strongly with this.) Veterans feel that business executives are overpaid, especially the lower middle class. Poor veterans are dissatisfied with their postwar employment, especially Coloured veterans. Politically, if the veterans remain constant, Dewey is a walk-in favourite, and MacArthur might as well give up. On miscellaneous matters, prosperous respondents are more anti-union and opposed to inflation, poor respondents are more concerned with unemployment and the atomic bomb. The paper is surprised that the poor are not more afraid of inflation than atomic warfare.
Fortune is the magazine I look forward to recapping most, but no-one would accuse it of getting poor people.

“The Boom: A Second Look”

What’s happening with the boom? Is a recession around the corner? The paper thinks that the question is hard to answer in general.
Heard the one about how American consumers have everything they need, so demand is over, innovation can stop, time for a depression, lately?

 but that a look at the railroads, as a good example of the capital-goods field, might tell us something. The basic numbers are well-known: quarterly GNP is $185 billion (depending on page), income payments to individuals $170 billion, industrial production 77% above 1938. So why did the stock market just wipe $20 billion off? The paper proposes that it is because of all the production backlogs. It is easy to blame these on labour and suggest that a 25% decline in productivity is due to everyone slacking off now that the war is over, but the paper suggests that it has more to do with shortages of basic materials such as steel, copper, pig iron and lumber. It is hard to believe that steel is short. The war saw production increase from 48 to over 90 million tons! (I dearly hope that this shortage is solved before I get a letter from England about Fontana!) Theoretically, after the oldest furnaces were closed in 1946, national capacity is at 91,900,00 tons, down from 95,500,00 in 1944. Unfortunately, some of this development was unbalanced. The wartime electric steel furnace capacity has no practical peacetime market. (At least, Uncle George objects, until automakers catch up with munition makers in the use of specialty steels.) Wartime finishing focussed on heavy steel plates and shapes for armaments, where peacetime demand focusses on sheet and strip, for which there is inadequate capacity. The overall projected shortage is 6.5 million tons this strike-shortened year (eight million lost overall, but 1.5 million no longer needed), and, right now, we are five million short for next year.  Four-and-a-half million tons of the projected 1947 shortage is in sheet and strip, both hot and cold-rolled and galvanized; with even more acute shortages in nails, screws, bolts, nuts, bailing wire and seat springs. “The mills are rolling the kind of steel that gets their tonnage out at a faster rate.” Just to show that it is not The Economist, the paper ends by saying that production is increasing, that new facilities are coming on stream, that it would be folly to say that the steel shortage will last forever.

In pig-iron, the shortage is in gray and malleable castings. This is in part due to competition from the steel industry, which is buying pigs directly for the furnace, but is mainly due to the sheer scale of the government housing programme’s demand for cast-iron pipes and other fixtures.
Hamiltonian history lesson!

The NHA has a $12/ton premium to new producers, $8 to existing ones, and that makes it hard for “practically all” machinery and equipment industries that depend on castings. Commercial refrigeration and air-conditioning makers are below 60% of capacity due to lack of castings. Electrical equipment workers report a severe shortage, and so do machine-tool makers.

Copper shortages are due to strikes, and prices, both domestic and those set by government policy on world markets. Also, development work at the mines has been neglected during the war years, just as in coal, and imports have fallen drastically. During the war, the US imported 700,000 to 850,00 tons/year, mostly from South America. This year, the Metals Reserve Corporation’s offer of 15 ¾ cents is not going very far against a world market price of 16 ¼ cents. This year’s imports will not exceed 220,000 tons.

In lumber, the problem is said to be one of maldistribution than supply. The Emergency Housing Programme’s figures show a basic supply of 37 billion board feet against requirements of 42 billion in 1947. Most of the difference is in inventory supply, which has fallen from 12 billion board feet in lumber yards before the war to 3 billion this year. The housing programme only requires 11 billion board feet, and the industry claims that it could supply it, were it not for the OPA. The government, meanwhile, believes that if prices were allowed to rise, low-cost housing would suffer. At this point, “only the spot-cash black market” is the only market. 

But how, you may ask, can backlogs cause a depression? At this point, the paper turns into The Economist. Black clouds, etc., but after indulging itself for a second, it rises from the divan to suggest that an example might serve. Railroads! For, yes, the railroads are short of rolling stock, which is now on average twenty years old. There are 50,000 fewer cars this year than last, while peacetime traffic has proved to be more demanding than wartime, hauls being shorter, loads lighter, turn-around longer. Last October saw a record 942,257 car loadings a week, easily topping the war. The industry estimates that it needs 100,000 new cars a year for at least three years on a replacement basis. The industry also wants more passenger cars to meet the competition from automobiles, and diesels to replace steam locomotives. Aggregate working capital to meet these demands was $2 billion at the end of 1945, four times that of 1929.

Yet, in the face of this potential investment, and of these demands, industry orders have been surprisingly low, perhaps 10% of capacity. This spotty production shows up in costs. Pullman, which has a backlog of 1363 passenger cars on order, can produce 7  a day, but has only been able to produce at 2 per day. It has domestic and foreign orders for 22,500 freight cars, and normally only requires a 60 day lead time to produce one, and at its theoretical 162 car per day capacity, ought to be able to clean the books in six months, but in the first eight months of the year has not been able to clear 18 cars a day. At the rate that raw materials are flowing in right now, it will take fifteen or sixteen months for Pullman to work through its back order and take new jobs. Budd, which makes only stainless-steel passenger cars, increased its prewar capacity of 150 per year to something like 900 by leasing back the plant it built to make that awful stainless steel plane project. It has a backlog of 590 cars, has only been able to make 60 deliveries in the third quarter, and is, again, due to shortages.

Things are a bit better in locomotives. American Locomotive Co., is producing 30 diesel locomotives a month, but thinks that it could make 50.

Pullman likes to show visitors to its Chicago plant a line of fitting stalls with ninety-five cars, some held back for lack of generators, others for transformers, both cut off by strikes at the supplier’s factories.

Now, what of low orders? Part of it is a squeeze between regulated freight rates and rising costs. Part of it is concern that the current demand for an additional 30,000 cars per week might disappear in two years. Part of it is because a huge French order is absorbing capacity. Manufacturers can tool up for it and do it right by mass production, and domestic buyers are suffering.

Turning to the tool industry, the same story of shortages and backlogs could be told, but a unique problem is the recent decision of Ford and General Motors to defer plans for the production of low-priced cars. This has wiped out between 10 and 20% of the industry’s backlog.  Also, industrial capacity has been overestimated. It was thinned out in the Depression, and not replaced by the right kind of capacity during the war.

So the concern is that, one way or another, the backlogs will never be filled. Since the economy cannot count on these orders.

“The N├╝rnberg Confusion” I didn’t know that there was a character combination to denote that German accent with the double dots, either. I found it in a Jesuit book with a nice index. The paper thinks that the war crime trials were a mistake.

“Old Age” Americans are living longer, and there might be 6.9% of the population in 35 years.  This fact actually comes out of a later article, “The Aging Population.” This one discusses a very nice old age home in New York state, while the latter discusses the diseases of the last period of life, and how treating them might affect the economy in the far-off day of 1980.  

“The Myth of Uncle Sap: Neither Past Facts Nor Present Trends Support the Notion that the U.S. is Perpetually Giving Goods Away and Thereby Upsetting the World Economy” The idea is that America exports goods at whatever price it can get, and accepts payment only in “bad debts” and gold, rather than taking foreign exports. In 1919-1920, America had an export surplus of $3 billion, and during the whole peace, it was 58.1 (exports)-50.4 (imports). Now, it looks like those days are back. Back then, it was more than balanced by remittances from America. Now, it is accompanied by heavy borrowing on American capital to pay for development abroad, so that the trade balance is heavily in America’s favour. Surprisingly, in the 1930s, Smoot-Hawley aside, imports rose higher than exports from 1934 on, although imports plus net charge on services sometimes exceeded exports, which is the reason for the “dollar shortage” and the late-Thirties gold flow, at least through 1937.

I'm covering the Monnet Plan in a bit more length than the Ruhr rehabilitation because it is such an interesting example of one country's recovery from secular stagnation.

On the contrary, however, while it is thought that there is enough international demand to support a $10 billion export trade for “an indefinite number of years,” a combination of backlogs and domestic demand make this a “pretty optimistic figure.” “Every day, we are losing foreign rehabilitation business through inability to deliver. Meanwhile, Great Britain has doubled its exports in a single year.” Not an impression one would get from The Economist! Moreover, America is a “high-living, high-cost country,” where wages are already twice as high as in Great Britain and have been rising. Business may console itself with the thought that American technology makes its heavy industry unbeatable, but the British, French and Swiss do not see it that way. America is also the world’s greatest importer, and it must pay for its goods. Moreover, invisible imports are growing, as Americans plan Canadian, Mexican vacations in record numbers, with the Eastern Hemisphere coming rapidly into the picture. The temporary pre-eminence of the US merchant marine saves the country $500 million in charges, but I do not need the paper to tell me that that won’t last. A foreign charge of $10 billion, to be paid for with exported goods, looks likely once everything is “back to normal,” but it will only get back to normal of “the community of nations” reduces tariffs, eliminates controls, and frees investment opportunities internationally.

International trade: Always about to end in tears.

“The Ruhr: The Second Battle of Germany” A prostrate, disintegrating western Germany is costing Britain around $350 million/year, America about $200 million, so we need a second battle of Germany to restore the Ruhr’s industry. Otherwise, Germans might go communist, and anyway it is just plain immoral to keep Germany a “political, moral and physical slum.” Coal is needed, which means locomotives and hauling equipment, and pots and pans, bicycles and tableware for miners. Dutch and Belgian barge owners want coal hauling contracts. France needs Ruhr coal. Morgenthau’s plan to seal the Ruhr mines “never had a chance.” The Ruhr’s problems is that it has been bombed to rubble, and wages and prices are out of line. Also, they’re not feeding the miners, who are not working. “the 1500 calorie basic ration will never get Germany out of this mess.” These problems must be solved to get “the Pittsburgh of Europe” back on its feet. Also, the amount of steel that will be needed simply to rehabilitate the Ruhr makes the Potsdam “level of industry” agreement look absurd. If Churchill’s dream of a united Europe is to be achieved, German industry must be unleashed.

There's a lot about the Ruhr this month. I haven't given it much space, because we know how it turned out. The pictures, on the other hand. . . 

“Costume Jewelry” Costume jewelry is a surprisingly large industry with surprisingly modern methods. (No mention of achieving full technical efficiency here!) So the paper did a gorgeous spread about the industry.
The only quarrel I have with Fortune's art direction is that they tend to try too hard on the covers. This is an exception.

“Fred Crawford’s Company” Fred Crawford runs Thompson Products, which originally made valves for auto engines and now makes them for planes, as well. As a result, the company is doing well –very well. As the paper says, making valves that can resist the kind of temperatures and corrosion that you get in an aircraft engine is very hard, not to mention the complexity of recent valves, with nitrous oxide, water and methanol injection. These demanding processes prepare the company to work in any number of other field. Perhaps even electrical engineering! Although for the moment, it is air compressors, turbine wheels and diaphragms for jet turbines, albeit in workshop fashion, as there has not yet been an American series production run of jet turbines. Unfortunately, a spread in Fortune is only good for someone who wants to sell stock, not buy it.
TRW's corporate history is now dominated by its semi-conductor and ICBM guys, and the self-promoting Crawford is forgotten. Sad!

Erewhon Revisited” The paper is feeling nostalgic for Old New York, because the Murray Hill Hotel is closing. Old New Yorkers will understand why that is, and, apparently, they buy many, many copies of the paper. There are many, many pictures.


“Bikini: With Documentary Photographs, Abstract Paintings, and Meteorological Charts, Ralston Crawford here Depicts the New Scale of Destruction” I enclose a snapshot of the paper’s version of the “BAKER” pictures, which James will have shown you. You will see that I can’t quite get the “abstract painting” of USS Nevada out of the corner. This is one of several, and I’m a bit confused about what the paper might be trying to say with them, to be honest. As I understand it, abstract painting isn’t supposed to represent things literally? Well, an atomic bomb messing up an old battleship is pretty goddamn literal, excuse my French.
This makes its point, though.

“Seven Golden Houses” The paper investigates the South African gold mining industry, source of all that gold that is flowing into the United States and being buried underground in Kentucky.

Mitchell Siporin, “Endless Voyage” As if commissioning abstract paintings of the Bikini tests weren’t enough, Henry Luce simply puts a painting for this number. It is “social protest,” and not too abstract to guess the point.
Oh, those intolerant days of yore.

Margaret Mead, “What Women Want” Famous South Seas anthropologist makes obvious points that aren't obvious to oblivious men! (Jobs, respect, better home life, better child care. . . )

Shorts and Faces

The paper in this folio of our advance copy was folded while the ink was still wet, so I have no idea whose parties the paper wants invitations for, apart from the names Hull-Dobbs, Leo Pavelle and “Hilsch’s tube.” The spread does extend past the smearing, but by that point the paper is on about how fire insurance underwriters fear for the future due to a rise in fire damage, and the threat of federalisation if premiums rise too high.  

The Farm Column

It is Christmas, and Ladd is off to the Christmas tree farms. They are, we are told, an excellent use of land that will not grow crops or saw timber. Lawrence O’Neill’s thousand acre farm, near Kalispell, Montana, yields $8/acre, based on 2000 trees/acre, sold at 6 cents a tree, before cutting, skidding, baling, tying, loading and selling, with an estimated price of 20 cents a tree for a two-foot, 25 cents for a four-foot, 40 cents for a six-foot, up to $1.50 for a 12-foot. (We’ve been had! We paid $2 for the tree in the main hall!) In a diversified farm near Shaftsbury, Vermont, Marian Hardy raises dairy, fruit and truck, and Christmas trees on 275 acres. She started from seed in 1928 on a 3 acre piece of hill land that was too poor and too steep for other use. Her initial investment was $40 reckoned in her own and hired hands’ labour, and outside of taxes, she has no costs, and sold 800 trees on the local market in 1939, 3000 in 1945, at a price running from 40 to 90 cents per tree. Her profit has been excellent, but it has to be born in mind that the costs of the Christmas tree plantation are incorporated into her general operations. She needs to pay hired hands anyway, and the Christmas tree harvest comes at an otherwise quiet time of the year. This leads Ladd on to the idea of getting cash from land too poor for traditional crops by selling gift fruit. Harry and David Holmes, of Bear Creek Orchards, Medford, Oregon, got into the business with gift boxes of above-market pears, which the cool nights and volcanic soil near Crater Lake produces in abundance. Their customers, however, asked for variety, and you cannot grow grapes on the high table land, and certainly not citrus fruits. Even apples do not do well. This led them to subcontract the other fruit, to a “Fruit of the Month Club” with 80,000 members, and a diversified group of growers stretching from Texas to Washington state. Another “market” farm business is Mollie Leavitt’s “Poona cheese,” a New York-made cheese with the same quality as European Brie and Camembert, which requires special milk, fine quality control, and great skill. [pdf]. Another food-related gift idea is Max Blitzer’s Pinesbridge Farm smoked turkey. Ladd points out that while there is an idea that this kind of farming is restricted to the “city farmer” with a small farm, large capital, and good connections, even a dirt farmer can get into this business if he realises that it is “the housewife –not the commission man—[who] is his boss.”

Mail order smoked turkeys seems frankly a little scammy to me, which is probably why they used to advertise in National Review. *Cringes in embarrassment at knowing that*; Image source; good overview in Wall Street Journal, which knows something about scams directed at rich people. 

Business Abroad

The American merchant marine is not doing a good job of staying ahead of its rivals, and even after the strike, a considerable amount of tonnage is still tied up. Are subsidies next? The phosphate mines in French North Africa are thriving and will pay for some of French imports.

And that's a wrap. I would love to dwell over parting comments and throw in something about the exciting future, but we have Christmas to prepare for. Please, please wrap things up in Trail quickly and get down here! How much time does it take to decide about how much time does it take to persuade smelter executives to make room for black market lumber when they've already thrown in for smuggling migrants, anyway?

*"Raymond W Dull revelled, albeit quietly, in his problems. He had clock problems, profit problems, time problems and work problems. All of these he describes with a minimum of adjectives, despite whatever emotion he may have felt, putting pen to paper."

No comments:

Post a Comment