Sunday, June 25, 2017

Postblogging Technology, May 1947, I: Chilled and Silly Springs

It was always colder when we were young. In 1947, Britons couldn't heat their homes from May to October.

R_. C_.,
Oriental Club,

Dear Father:

Well, if you won't leave London, I am going to leave this bed, and that will be the last you hear of me for a few months, as I shall have a fourth on hand to go with the three I've already produced. (Really, what was I thinking? Oh! That your son is so handsome and funny. Never  mind. . . It's a girl's weakness.) I am handing the letter over to Reggie, as the Navy is not keeping him that busy this summer. He will forward it to me from Hawaii, and I will act as final editor and perhaps comment on the particular delicates. (For example, it is not true that Fat Chow aimed for the eye. He used that compact parachutist's carbine we procured in '43, and the power of the rifle cartridge popped the man's eye out, he tells me. Although I suspect that he's not averse to it adding to its legend, and I am certainly not looking at monocles for the next time he drives me up to see the Engineer! 

So there we have it, a long-delayed message about the dangers of crossing our family, but unfortunately muddled, as we can hardly stop Italian men of respect from taking credit for it.) And speaking of long-delayed family business, I suppose I should mention that the Engineer's bastard is now the president of his union. He may not be able to make money doing the job, but I have a feeling that he will find a way to make a career out of representing those who can.


A reimagined Forties novelty song, in honour of this post's technological Next Big Thing --Silly Putty. I'm not sure I like the video. I'm working on the principle that I might as well give a living artist the exposure. If you want to hear something closer to the original "'m a lonely little petunia in an onion patch," go here.

Flight, 1 May 1947

“Proving the Turbines” Americans are terrible because they are always talking about their aircraft and power plants before proving them. But the English are doing the same with turbines, which may not be on commercial aircraft for several years yet. This may sound like criticism, but it’s not, or it’s not criticism of unnamed people who exaggerate unnamed things optimistically. Rather, it is the fact that there aren’t enough testbed planes for the new Bristol Theseus, says someone at Bristol.

Flight really, really has gone crazy on the subject
of flying boats. Note that this is a post-war
phenomena, contrary to Correlli, etc.
“Dollars and Sense” The English government says that it is not buying any more American civil planes. BOAC is disappointed. The paper points out that American planes cost dollars, and the English havent’ enough dollars, so it is just good sense. The paper points out that it is not impartial in the decision, but instead of going on to talk about how it gets all its advertising from plane-makers, it is on about, what else? flying boats.

“One More?” The paper thinks that the Government is BUNGLING statistics. Unlike The Economist, it thinks that “the totalitarian bosses” are collecting too many.

“High Performance Amphibian: TheSupermarine Seagull with Variable-incidence Wing: Griffon Engine and Contra-rotating Airscrew” The Seagull hasn’t actually flown yet, so the fact that it is off the secret list probably tells you how much the Admiralty actually cares about it, but it is some very nice engineering, although this is not described in any detail. (On top of the swinging, folding and flapping  arrangements in the wing, it also has retractile floats.)

“Rotor Testing: Spinning Tower at Filton the Largest in the World” Filton has a brand-new, 50ft spinning tower for testing airscrew blades (enough for rotors of up to 60ft diameter to be tested without “ground cushion” effects.) It is a steel mast attached to a spherical base by spring-loaded bolts, with six bracing guy ropes with adjustable slack. This allows the rotors to not only be spun, but also given lateral movements and resonances depending on how the bolts and ropes are adjusted.

“Check List,” “Bonanza or Navion: In-the-Air Characteristics of Two Leading American Aircraft” English distributors let “Check List” fly both planes. He doesn’t have a recommendation, but I think that he prefers the Navion. In shorter news, French enthusiasts are organising a running of the Montana Cup.

Here and There

A Meteor has flown Brussels-Copenhagen at 1000km/h (average speed of 630mph, “assisted, of course, by a stiff wind.”) Work continues on the Consolidated-Vultee XC-99, which will have a gross weight of 265,000lbs and be able to carry 400 troops or 100,000lbs cargo. The airline version will have a gross weight of 320,000lbs, require 6 5000hp engines and be designated the CV-37. Gloster test pilot, Lt. James Bridge, late of the FAA, has been killed test-flying a Meteor. The Institutions of Mechanical and Automobile Engineers have amalgamated. United Whalers factory ship Balaena is on its way home from Capetown after a very successful trip in which its Walrus amphibians logged many hours of flying [totally off topic, note tags]. This year’s Segrave Memorial Trophy went to Geoffrey de Havilland. Lockheed believes that it has defeated the “choking” problem in wind tunnels between Mach 0.9 and 1.2 1ith a well-positioned “hump.” A new company, under the name “British Messier,” has been formed to deal with Societe Messier products, with Bristol  taking an interest. Rolls Royce held its seventh annual ball this week.

“Vertigo,” “Stormy Weather: Are We Overlooking that Vital Link Between the Dashboard and the Controls –The Pilot?” I don’t want to be critical. This is a very nice piece of writing, and it is very illuminating about the experiences of pilots flying in bad weather, but it’s hard to find any concrete recommendations in it, apart from a suggestion that cockpits could be better arranged.

“The Prevention of Fire in Aircraft: A Comprehensive Analysis of Causes and Remedies: Precis of a Talk Given to the Royal Aeronautical Society by W. G. Glendinning and J. W. Drinkwater” The authors researched causes of fires onboard. Electrical fires, engine failiures, coolant failures, overheating in problem points like fire traps were all considered. Lacking anything more dramatic, most of the precis focusses on the authors’ failure to definitively establish whether air-cooled engines actually were more prone to fire, as some, it seems, claim. They did conclude that direct fuel injection is an improvement over natural-draft, not least because it allows the use of low-volatility safety fuels. They also recommend methyl-bromide fire extinguishers.

In shorter news, the paper mentions a civil version of the Vickers-Supermarine Sea-Otter, and an experimental, Nene-powered de Havilland Vampire, which apparently didn’t work very well –says the company, which predicts that a future Ghost-powered Vampire will be the best thing ever. Speaking of de Havilland, new production Hornets and Sea Hornets have been given an extended tail fin to improve directional swing; and J. v. and J. E. G. Eurich have a new fractional horsepower electrical motor, the “Electrotor,” “based on novel principles,” and manufactured by Revmotors, Ltd., of Knowsdley House, Bolton.
Google turns up nothing more. They might have gone back to Germany?

D. W. Weaver, “Congo-Bound: Story of a 10,000-mile Flight in an Auster: Some Light on ‘Darkest Africa’” Flight Lieutenant Weaver was hired to deliver a new Auster Autocrat (100hp Cirrus Minor engine, 730lbs luggage with spare fuel and spare parts, hitch-hiker included) to Leopoldville this winter. It was an adventure, and foreigners are excitable. The Congo is less exotic than expected.
"Dash it all, Biggles!"

“Airborne in the Theseus Lincoln: Flight Impressions of Bristol Airscrew-Turbine: New Technical Facts” The desperate, rear-guard action against “turboprop” continues. Flying on the outboard Theseus engines only, the Lincoln was very quiet and comfortable due to lack of vibrations. The Theseus-powered makes of the Handley-Page Hermes will be wonderful, when they are available. The Theseus engines used on the Lincoln did not have the heat-exchangers that have been such a prominent part of the engine’s publicity, but heat-exchanger-equipped Theseus engines will appear in due course. De Havilland has a new four-blade Hydromatic airscrew specifically for turboprops. Stressmeters show “abnormally low” stresses in the airscrew root, thanks to turboprops being so wonderful. Future turboprop airscrews will have thinner roots, and be even lighter, with lower drag.

Civil Aviation News

“Aircraft for British Airlines” The parliamentary statement that no more American aircraft will be bought for British airlines is expanded upon. The government does not intend to cancel the Tudor I. “Jupiters” (re-named Ju-52s) will continue to fly on domestic routes for the time being, because there has been a nice export order for the new production de Havilland Doves.

By RuthAS - Own work, CC BY 3.0,

In shorter news, the Ministry is discussing “soft spots” in airfield perimeters, where emergency vehicles can crash through to quickly reach accident sites outside the fences. Also, several organisations have sprung up to provide centralised booking for charter flights; the Air Registration Board has issued new requirements for de-icing installations; the Colonial Civil Air Service conference was a valuable opportunity to talk about talking about civil aviation; and the Lancashire Aircraft Corporation has bought some freighter versions of the Halton for charter. If you’re wondering, the “Halton” is a new name for the Halifax when it is not dropping bombs, because why should the Sunderland have all the good aliases? Various new services and increased service rates celebrate the coming of summer. The Wolverhampton Flying Club has bought a Miles Messenger.

Another approach to adding enough fuselage to one of the big bombers to create a transport: Handley Page Halton. source:

“Fairey Flying Club Opens: Low Rates for Employees: Display of Service Aircraft” This isn’t quite a full page article, because there is another long bit about Mr. J. M. Gwinn, Jr.,’s “Simplifying Aircraft for the Private Owner.” After you’ve bought a private plane is a great time to pick up the SAE’s new pamphlet on making flying simpler!


“A Belgian Reader” thinks that an easy way to make landings easier is to cover the entire runway with a good radar-reflecting material. Or how about putting it on wheels, so it can move to somewhere where the weather is good? That would work, too! Ned Dearborn, President of the National Safety Council, writes to correct M. Blondin’s comments about how the passenger-miles metric distorts aviation safety records. Dennis Powell is upset that the Percival Merganser is being held up by non-delivery of the latest D. H. Gipsy Queen engine, and says that English technical inefficiency should be remedied by importing some American engines.  The paper replies that it isn’t technical efficiency so much as lack of labour and coal that is holding things up.

The Economist,  3 May 1047

Mr. Marshall’s Round” The paper liked Mr. Marshall’s radio address, thinks that Henry Wallace is terrible, and has doubts about the “provocative and flamboyant” presentation of the Truman Doctrine. It also thinks that the Russians have a point about Germany, and so do the French; so “everything depends –at the next level on the more efficient organisation of the fused British and American zones,” since if the Germans can be got to working at full tilt, all the problems of Russia and eastern European rehabilitation and French coal supplies can be addressed.

“A Statute of Liberty?” The Government is BUNGLING not being totalitarian. Also, the Liberal Party (you may have heard of them) is right about stuff.

“The Birth Rate” 241,421[?] births were registered in the first quarter of 1947. This gives a birth rate of 22.8 per thousand, highest since the June quarter of 1921, and comparable to the average of 16.1 per thousand for the March quarters 1941—45. This means that the high birth rates of 1946 are continuing. The paper asks: Does this mean anything? Is it a short-term check to a steady trend, or the beginning of a change in the long-term trend? The paper points out that there was also a short upward tick in 1919, “Merely compensation for the abnormally large fall during the war,” and asks whether that is what is happening now.

I’ll break here and remind you that James and I did a slide rule estimate of the number of children “lost” to families like our tenants during the Great Depression, and what it might look like if they “realised their gains” from wartime income windfalls, and concluded that that pretty much explained the surging birth rate in America in 1944/45. We haven’t redone the numbers in two years, as who cares how many houses might sell when we're selling all the houses we can? Overall, the problem with any theory that says that the birth surge is because of the war has to deal with the fact that post-1945 does look different to post-1918. Is it because there were more "losses” in the Thirties to be made up? Our theory does, however, fall under the “short term check to a steady trend” category. does the paper think we need to throw this category out? On with the article!

Looking to other data, the paper sees changes in the marriage rate that suggest to it that “there is a real decline in celibacy.” Now, that is definitely not included in our slide rule estimate. We just didn't think of “Families that never were.” Any families that were formed earlier because of the war, however, are just borrowing children from the future –implying a lower birth rate in the future than otherwise. 

The paper goes on to add that we can calculate the reproduction rate, by taking births, deaths and marriage rates into account. This shows that births from 1933 were about 25% below a population-replacement rate, while in 1946 they were 10% above. This is a laborious way of climbing back to where we were at the start of the article –that if 1946 is typical of the new trend, then there is no population problem—but that’s how the paper likes to write its articles –climbing the same hill again and again, until we finally get to the little valley at the end where it hides its unsupportable (if probably correct) prediction: 1946 and 1947 are like 1920, and the population problem will be back.

1157 And All That” When Russia conquered Poland and Germany in 1944/45, it solved the border problems by shoving Poland west. All of White Russia now belongs to regular Russia (confusing!) and Poland gets the chunk of what used to be Germany that lies east of two rivers called the Oder and Neisse. That reminds the paper of something awful that happened in 1157. No, it doesn’t. The Poles are awful, and Germany needs the “food surplus” areas east of the rivers.

Notes of the Week

“Dollars” It is now officially to be expected that England will run out of dollars before the end of 1948, due to inflation, deflation, reflation, self-flation and nonflation. (Actually, it is mainly the rise in price of primary imports and lack of coal. I’m being facetious because the paper pronounces a worldwide slump in commodity prices as being England’s future salvation, when the country still has to sell its exports. Has the paper’s title changed? Nope, still, The Economist, and not The Not-Thinking-It-Throughist) The paper anticipates either mass unemployment or mass starvation as a result, and is very concerned for the Government and reminds it that it should publish an Official Plan to solve the crisis at the earliest possible moment.  Since, as the Earl explains, the plan is that the Government will devalue the pound, and even the paper must understand this, I think it is just being mischievous.

“The Transport Bill” The Government is BUNGLING democracy by BUNGLING transportation by “ramming” the nationalisation bill through the House of Commons. The paper hopes that the Conservatives in the House of Lords will get democracy right by holding the bill up.

Bad legislation is always being RAMMED through the legislature. 

“Reconstruction in Europe” The Economic Commission for Europe is a good thing, and should talk about talking about reconstruction. In related talking about talking about news, Geneva, tariffs.

“Industrial Delinquency” London stevedores and lightermen have gone out on strike in support of Glasgow dockers, and it is terrible.

“The Domestic Fuel Scheme” The summer fuel not-rationing rules are out. No space-heating with gas or electricity from 5 May to the end of September. (“Cast ne’er a clout until May is oot,” James shouts.) Industrial and commercial premises can’t heat their shops until Halloween. All domestic users are asked to restrict gas and electricity use by 25%, voluntarily. Households with babies or invalids may get an exemption from the heating restrictions with a doctor’s note. The paper discerns various ways in which this has been BUNGLED.

“Fair Compensation for Land” The 1944 Planning Act has been somewhat de-BUNGLED.

Report on Greece” Eleven very important countries appointed very serious people to report on Greek frontier incidents, but their report is taking longer than expected, as there is much to talk about talking about, and communism is terrible, and the civil war in Greece will probably go on as long as the one in Spain.

Palestinians of all religion, Jewish terrorists, Uno delegates, New York Jews and English civil servants are excitable.   American citizens will surely soon wake up to . . . uhm, let’s phrase this exactly, the paper thinks to itself, because while Jews are obviously not “clubbable,” saying that provokes peculiar reactions these days, what with Hitler and all, and so, uhm, something something –Wait, I know, communism is terrible! Czechs are also excitable about communism being terrible.

He's Jewish? I had no idea, and, of course, it's not important, anyway. What's important is that he's doomed us all.

The Bankside Station” The decision to build a power station on the Thames bank at Southwark has been BUNGLED.

“War Damage to Defective Property” There was a court case leading to a court order; there’s a commission, and an appeal. Obviously, this is important, but it is also beyond boring, and the paper is no help. A good rule of thumb: lead sentences should not begin “It had been generally hoped that. . . “

“The Viceroy’s Perplexities” Partition has been accepted as inevitable, and the Viceroy flew up to Peshawar to be yelled at by tribal leaders who are upset about being stuck in “Pakistan,” before flying down to Delhi to be yelled at by Indian Army officers who are upset about being stuck in the Indian Army.

“The Japanese Elections” Japan had an election, and the centre-left won over the far left, which was a surprise as the polls showed the Social Democrats gaining ground.
Those Japanese sure are strange!

“Wait until 1950” The debate on civil aviation was “muddled,” due to the Government’s scientific-technical crystal ball being broken. If only we had full technical efficiency, the Ministry would have a splendid crystal ball that would tell us exactly what planes would be flying in 1950, and they would all be English! The paper uses some interesting arguments to show that buying American planes might save dollars, because they would be more efficient than the planes in use now, which spend dollars in operations in various ways.


C. L. Wrenn[?], of the School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies (I’m told that this is part of the University of London, but the University of London has special protocols that mean that you never say anything so clearly; need I add that it is where the paper’s journalists go to learn to read and write?) says that just because they cooperate with the Polish government doesn’t mean that they are terrible communists. The paper replies that they are, in fact, terrible communists. H. A. John Green makes an obscure joke about a “Marshallian approach to the problem of cutting down consumption of cigarettes.” Harry Norris[?], of 26 North Circular Road, N. 13, writes to talk about the amount of national income required for capital replacement. It’s either less than the paper thinks, or possibly more. Stefan Roland, of the Polish embassy, writes to point out that the paper was too hard on the Russians in the matter of the European Coal Organisation., while R. C. Hazel, of 52 Long Acre, W.C. 2, thinks that the new Fire Service Bill is too expensive, and John Monroe, of 13 Old Square, Lincoln’s Inn, thinks that  the Government is BUNGLING profits taxes.

From the Economist of 1847 Something called “the voluntary system [in education]” has not been given a fair trial, and its critics are awful. I happened to mention this to Father Murphy in a telephone conversation the other morning, and it turns out that the paper is just making excuses for the inexcusable again. . At least the paper has made some progress in a century, from thinking that compulsory education is evil, to thinking that it is necessary to achieve full technical efficiency. (Just so long as the poor aren’t allowed to get ideas above their station and go to Oxford.)


The paper’s major book of the week is Oliver Franks’ Central Planning andControl in War and Peace. The paper likes it because Franks says that planning could be good, but the Government is BUNGLING it. Harold Wincott’s The Stock Exchange is just the book for people who like reading about stock exchanges.  A book in French about exchange controls is very interesting, and reviewing it shows that everyone concerned with writing and reading the paper is as fluent in French as you, and ever so much smarter than me, who can barely put my tongue around the languages of my childhood. Thomas Skinner’s The Bankers’ Almanac and Year Book for 1946—7 is for light reading in the bath.
Oliver Franks

American Survey

“The States and Labour” From a Correspondent in Iowa

While the Senate struggles to revise the Hartley Bill, many states are taking the lead in advancing anti-labour legislation, which is very popular among the core eastern Republican voters, “employers, black-coated workers, rural and small-town people.” The latter are particularly important, the paper points out, because of the way that representation is weighted in favour of rural districts.

“Prices on the Balance” Everyone is against rising prices, but no-one can agree on what is to be done, and strict measures are unlikely, because everyone is petrified of another depression.

“To Veto or Not” Whatever form the anti-labour bill takes, it will reach the White House shortly, along with Congress’ tax reduction bill, and the one banning “portal-to-portal” pay. The President must decide whether or not to veto them, especially in light of the “awkward appearance of a budget surplus” instead of the expected deficit.

Gagging the Voice of America” The Office of War Information did a good job of spreading the American official position, but now the Senate seems determined to eliminate its budget. The paper is upset, and thinks that General Marshall will be, too.

Also excitable, the Federal Trade Commission on big mergers, which it would like to slow down, for fear of monopoly, and wool farmers, who are determined to get a price support at 42 cents a pound (still too low for our tenants, alas), over and above the current 34 cents import tariff.

The World Overseas

“Russian Power Moves East” The Russians are on about moving all of their industry and power generation east of the Ural Mountains again, and the paper is once more reminded that Russian eastward interior colonisation is just like American interior westward colonisation. And it is! Montana is just as awful a place as central Siberia, and will probably end up with about the same population. Now, there is the tiny difference that at the end of America is California, which is quite nice (and the Oregon country, too), whereas at the end of Russia is Vladivostok, and if the war hasn’t improved on the town I saw in the spring of 1939, all I can do is pull the coverlet up over myself and shiver theatrically in a Santa Clara day that is far too hot for bedrest.
Look at all the virgin land that can be opened up!

“Northland of Canada, II: Oil, Gold and Uranium” Speaking of awful places with very small populations that are like to stay that way notwithstanding the boosters, now talking about “radical new techniques of soil heating in Arctic regions by atomic energy.” Though there does seem to be a prospect of an oil rush.
The story of  Canadian postwar oil and gas, as I understood it, was that someone just struck oil one February 1947 day in southern Alberta, so all this talk of a  Northwest Territories pre-rush is new to me. 

“China’s Check on Imports” Father says that the Koumintang has choked off Chinese imports and investment with runaway corruption. Which is also what the paper thinks. Although it does hold out the prospect of an American loan easing the problem –Never mind selling sheep farms for houses and house-trailer parks; if that goes through, we need to think about selling the Benevolent Association Hall! We could build something in the valley for the younger generation, and put in a covenant allowing for a senior’s centre on the main floor –our elders might be suspicious of all the rich immigrants in the tony new apartments, but I think they could be persuaded to go along with it. What do you think?

Great dexterity is needed to navigate the China scene.

Oh, wait, no, the American loan is supposed to be spent in China, not Chinatown. My mistake.

The Business World

“Prosperity for Wool” Demand for wool product continues to go up while the available labour remains 15% below the prewar level. The paper thinks that the only solution is to --somehow-- recruit the labour force back up to 200,000 workers.

Business Notes

“Nationalisation and Steel Policy” I skipped a story about food subsidies (the paper is against them, and thinks that they are driving up the cost of living), or I would have skipped this one, too. Which covers a new press controversy over the new strip roll mill in Wales. (Not enough, too-expensive steel, coddled workers, etc.)

Several stories on the Bank of England, lending rates, bond issues and the profit tax follow that make an intricate tapestry of a thousand careful knots if you are a City man, and an early nap if you are not, before the paper moves on to “Drawings on the loan,” which points out that last month’s £62 million draw on the line of credit was the largest ever, although pressure on the Canadian loan has relaxed somewhat. The paper concludes, again, that the loan will run out next summer. As for the relief on the Canadian loan, this probably has a great deal to do with the revaluation of the Canadian dollar to parity with the American last year; but growing strain on Canadian exchange is currently being addressed by strict exchange controls which are hard to reconcile with Bretton Woods, ITO, (and a three thousand mile open border.) The Canadians will probably run down their gold reserves, declare an emergency, and introduce import controls, rather than taking the radical step of devaluation. In other Imperial news, the English and Australians are negotiating a preliminary settlement of Australia’s sterling surplus before moving on to free exchange within the sterling area, and the rupee is under pressure due to massive Indian silver imports. Private import is now banned, the price of silver is rising on the Bombay exchange, and is touching on the “melting point,” where it is profitable to melt down the rupee. Because the rupee is now only 50% fine, it is much more difficult than in the previous crisis of 1920, when it was still 11/12ths fine, and when the price of the rupee advanced over 2s. Nowadays, the “melting point” will not be reached until the rupee hits 200 (to the ounce, I think?) Tis could happen, and the government’s reaction is to extend the use of nickel for silver into higher denomination coins; investors’ response has been to hoard high silver coins, with the result that the rupee is becoming more dear, making it harder to hit the “melting point,” but thanks to the ban on private imports. . .

I see why people are so jealous of bullion coinage. Once they understand what is going on, they are like members of a special priesthood who can tell you what a change in the alloy content of a coin on the other side of the world must mean for prices here; and presumably make a great deal of money on it.

Or not, for from the Texas City explosion aftermath comes word that this will be the largest disaster to hit the London insurance market since the San Francisco earthquake, due to the Monsanto plant not having adequate coverage against the possibility of being levelled by a single blast. Even the most painstaking calculations of the actuaries of London did not get that one right!

In business news, ICI’s annual returns have been hit by the profits tax, the London Rubber Exchange is far too cheerful considering that the world is facing a 200,000 ton shortfall this year, and the London Passenger Transport Board has had a swinging year due to everyone taking the bus again.

Flight, 8 May 1947

“Two More Records” English “aviation prestige rose again last week” When various English airplanes flew very fast to new places.

What does a Transport Command Mosquito transport, anyway?

“Time for Segregation?” The paper takes a victory lap over the presumed imminent arrival of the ShortS-NotGoingAnywhereFast on all Imperial routes due to the Government deciding not to buy any more American aircraft. However, it then worries, what about airmail? Air passengers all have a secret desire to take leisurely air-sea cruises to Australia, but letters don’t. The answer is specialised mailplanes, or “segregation.” Sure, it has never worked in the past. Sure, they would have to be designed, built, flight tested and put into service, by which time Short Brothers will have long since run out of new names beginning with “S” for the Sunderland.  But all these problems could be fixed in an alternate dimension, where The T’ai Ping Rebellion was just a bunch of grousers at the village tea shop, and the speed of light is 7 miles per hour. This time could be the charm!

“Dropping the Payload” BEA is following the Air Safety Board’s recommendation to reduce the takeoff weight limit for the Dakota. The paper congratulates it for taking a financial loss just so that some people can not die.

“Two London-Capetown Records” Two planes flew to Capetown very fast; more details.

Basil Jackson, AMIAeS, ARAeS, “Servicing and Maintenance: Planning for Practical Requirements: Meeting the needs of High Utilisation: The Importance of Comprehensive Manuals” Designers should take more care over maintenance.

D. W. Weaver, “Congo Bound, Part II: Flying in the Congo: A Visit to Lagos: Airfield Facilities, Lympne to Leopoldville, Summarised” Congo actually is quite exotic. D. W. Weaver flew 10,000 miles in the course of his trip. A sentence or two on each if the airfields he used, ends the story.

“Italian Transports: Useful Designs by S.I.A.I.-Marchetti” The former Savoia-Marchetti is marketing three transport variants with wooden wings and welded-steel tube construction. The largest is a four-engined type, the S.M. 95.

Get your vital air transport sector working again with the planes you have, instead of expensive imports. Makes sense, you'd think.

Here and There

The USAAF is building an airfield in Maine with 10,000ft runways, a Meteor is on show in Sweden, and BOAC is opening new sales offices in Chicago and New York. A ship’s engineer is flying from Glasgow to Sydney because the engineer died, and a ship cannot leave port without him. See? Flying to Australia (fast) is useful! Air Marshal Harris said in Montreal that the war could have ended in 1944 if only all the bombers had dropped bombs on Germany all the time instead of wasting their efforts on this and that diversion, such as D-Day.

G. H. Parkes, “Blind-Approach Presentation: Stereoscopic Range Indication Combined with Essential Flight Information” “Indicator” and “Vertigo” have both emphasised that the information available to pilots for blind landings could be presented to them in a more useful way, making landings safer and less stressful. As I understand it, a stereographic movie is taken of a perfect landing at a given airfield. This movie is then shown to the pilot making a blind landing, with the speed of the film and the moment it starts, chosen by the aircraft’s position in the navigation beam, speed and such. It’s all very elaborate, and the image of the pilot flying while staring into a little stereoscope is a bit ridiculous. The thing is that I’m not convinced that it could be implemented any faster than a good, light, aircraft radar. Maybe the stereoscope box could show a projection of the CRT in a corner, or something? In shorter news, the new Cessna has a nice undercarriage, one of the King’s Flight Vikings might be going to New Zealand, and a pilot is trying to fly a photoreconnaissance Spitfire from London to Buenos Aires (but not direct).

“Britain’s Test Pilots, No. 22: Captain H. A. Brown” Captain Brown fought in the World War, spent the Twenties as an air adventurer before getting on with Avro. He got a gong in 1946 for flying so many Lancasters in so many modifications, but probably deserved it for surviving crashing a prototype Avian in 1929 in spite of breaking every bone in his body. 
A surprisingly large number of test pilots in this series have had very serious crashes in the past, breaking more bones than people should break, for their own good. Also, they all retire early in 1947, basically the first chance they get after the war. I don't  think that it is a coincidence. By Brorsson - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

In shorter news, Boeing is experimenting with folding tails on the various B-29 developments such as theC-97, so that they will fit in standard airline hangars.

“DIM Types –And Their Habits: Some Backchat About the Backroom Boys in MAP Days” Some boffins the writer knew back in the day, were actually quite dim, and didn’t know things, and it is all hilarious now that you think about it.

In shorter news, the accident report on the September Renfrew Airport accident concludes that the captain of the crashed aircraft confused bearing instructions for another plane as being for his, and that blame is due all around for various lapses in radio manners.

“Private Enterprise: Scotland Welcomes Opening of New Renfrew Factory” The new King Aircraft Factory in Renfrew, Scotland, is a miracle of free enterprise.

Oh, I'm sorry. I thought it said, "Herald of free enterprise."

Civil Aviation News

“Air Traffic Control for Europe” Has been agreed upon by a conference that met quietly enough recently that this is the first I’ve heard of it.

“North Star Performance” The paper reminds us that the Canadair North Star might be a DC-6 in disguise, but it has English engines and runs fine, although it is very noisy.

“BEA Safety Standards” The paper covers the reduction in permissible takeoff weights at a slightly greater length.

In shorter news, Air Marshal Bowhill is wandering England, looking for a good flying boat base. Air Commodore C. S.Cadell has left the RAF to join International Aeradio.  

The United States is opposing holding open a seat on ICAO for the Russians on account of communism is awful, and the Russians don’t seem to want it, anyway. The Atlantic powers have agreed on who pays for the LORAN station in Iceland. BOAC is inaugurating a weekly service from England to the Trucial states   using “Plymouth-class” flying boats, which are a technical extension of Sunderlands from having “S” names to having “P” names. Mr. John Brancker, who coincidentally has the same name as a famous English air-person of a previous generation, has been promoted at BEA. A new medical insurance plan that pays the cost of dependents travelling abroad to take care of Merchant Navy persons falling ill in foreign ports, will pay for air tickets.


Martin Sharp, of de Havilland, thanks the paper for scolding Mr. Powell, last week. G. N. J. Robinson thinks that contra-rotation airscrews would be even more efficient with differential reduction gearing on top of the current pitch-changing gear on the constant speed unit, and servos that coordinate both “halves.” 
R. Mulders, of the Netherlands, remembers various fast mailplanes of the past, such as the Pander Panderjager. J. C. Correy has Theories about the defence implications of the air carriage of freight that involve an admiral named Mahan that I mainly bring up because I can’t resist teasing James. (James is of the opinion that he was “fatuously slight,” and “obsessed with coaling stations at the expense of diplomacy.” That being said, you will have heard Uncle George dilate on the “disaster of 1898,” ((you probably agree with him!)) and that may be where this is coming from.)

The Economist, 10 May 1947


“Is Britain Finished?” The paper asks whether England has ceased to be an imperial power, and, if it has, whether this means that it is no longer a great power. And if it is still a great power, does that mean that the Empire was always only a handicap, as some think? The paper concludes that Britain is great, that the Empire is great, and that the Government is BUNGLING and there is a lack of full technical efficiency. (The English are simply too self-indulgent and frivolous to save money and build up capital for reinvestment and increasing productivity, and the Government is ruining the spirit of free enterprise with all of its socialism.) Fortunately, once the postwar Depression is well on, the price of primary products will fall, and England will be in the clover.

“Planners Opportunity” Morphine is being taken off the market, alcohol is not nearly as effective as people say, and counting sheep doesn’t work at all. But there's still economic planning!

“Divided Dominion” South Africans used to be divided, but now the Nationalists have invented “apartheidto unify it. From now on, all White South Africans will be smashing non-White South Africans in the face with truncheons for looking funny, while non-White South Africans will be trying very hard not to look funny. The paper hopes that in this bright new future, they can at least remember that England is their best trading partner.

Notes of the Week

“The First Five Days” Miners have got off to a flying start on their new five day schedule, and even taken offence at the unofficial winders’ strike in the Nottinghamshire coal fields. The paper predicts that it won’t last.

The Government is BUNGLING National Service.

“Horse Sense in Lewisham” Herbert Morrison gave a very nice speech to his constituents in Lewisham. It wasn’t so much what he said, as the reasonable tone, which contrasts with the “class war catcalls” of Shinwell and Summerskill. Of course, the Opposition has been quite rude, too; but everyone can at least agree that it is worse when the Government is rude, because it is calling for national unity. (Whereas the Tories are calling for civil war, which is better? Is that what the paper means to imply?)

Latins and Arabs are excitable. Dockers are boring. (Glasgow dockers go back to work.) Talking about talking about tariffs and trade at Geneva is going well, as it talking about talking about civil aviation at ICAO, the former PICAO.

“Greater Syria” Iraq and Transjordan are ruled by princes of the same dynasty, and they have had a nice meeting and agreed to talk about talking. This has caused King ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia to blow a gasket, as he hates the Hashimites and has a plan for a “Greater Syria,” in which Syria would become a monarchy and be associated with his own kingdom, a scheme for which Syrians have no more time than Hashimites.
So the idea is to destabilise Syria to drive Iraq and Jordan apart. The problem is that Wahhabi firebreathers do not get on well with westernised Syrian moderates. Oh, well, I'm sure they'll work it out, somehow. 

“Automobile Vital Statistics” Given rising incomes and not-so-quickly rising car prices, it seems like that England will soon have 4.5 million cars, an advance of 500,000 over previous totals; and that since this cannot possibly be made up from new production, the fleet is going to continue to become more dangerous and also more expensive. (Because second-hand prices will remain high.)

“Half-Cooked Tripe” The paper objects to the idea of statutory closing hours for retail businesses on general principles, but is cautiously encouraged by the prospect of expanded hours. There are also notes on the problem of underemployment in the British Zone of occupied Germany, and on the future distribution of population within the greater London area. The paper concedes that Mr. Silkin’s defence of the Bankside Power Station was convincing, and claims for the family allowance are coming in at an increasing rate, with 4 million children now covered.


David Eccles has opinions about  profit taxes and bonus issues. Several people elaborate on John Green’s incomprehensible joke.  Edward Glendinning, of Tanfield Mills, Huddersfield, suggests that the wool industry might be able to cope with its own problems, although the paper’s helpful advice is always welcome. A. P. Ashford thinks that the Government BUNGLED the Italian settlement, especially compared with the “niggardly treatment” of Denmark; while John Horner, General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, writes to point out that R. C. Hazell has no idea what h e is talking about.

Did you know that Marriner Eccles was the son of a fabulously wealthy Anglo-American businessman, who also has a business school named after him? I assume that this David Eccles is another member of this clan of pure talent. (Seriously: check out the biography. That's one heck of a story.)

From The Economist of 1847

Apparently there was a bank panic in the spring of 1847? I couldn’t find out very much about it, but the paper is in the full swing of panic. I gather that there was also a harvest failure. The country is in an awful predicament; “a hundred millions of people which inhabit these islands and adjacent countries” cannot be fed; artisans cannot be eomployed; the public revenue cannot be maintained; the country must set aside party and all other considerations and [do something].
Since “a hundred million” people didn’t starve, I suppose that something was done, but as far as I can tell, it was just a matter of suspending payments in gold for a few months? 


Count Ciano’s diary has been published, and is apparently quite the read. N. Sinai, Odin W. Anderson and Melvin L. Dollar, Health Insurance in the Unnited States is probably equally entertaining. I’m not going to do that joke again for a new edition of a procedures book for the House of Commons. J. Hampden Jackson has published The Between-Wars World, which is a re-issue of a 1935 book and is at once far too leftist for the paper (at least there’s no allegation of “communism”) and too out of date. And speaking of books with no time for communism, the National Association of Manufacturers have brought out The American IndividualEnterprise System: Its Nature, Evolution and Future, through the McGraw-Hill publishing house. Even the paper thinks that it is a bit much.

American Survey

“Waging World Peace” Walter Lippman has explained General Marshal’s mind to the US Chamber of Commerce. Germans must eat to be good democrats, and therefore restrictions on German industry will be lifted. American forces will remain in Europe for the time being, in case Europeans lack the guts to fight Communism. For better fighting communism, there needs to be higher defence spending. So as not to actually have to fight communists, Congress has to approve the very high foreign aid spending proposed to it.

“Mechanisation in Coal Mining” Someone has been reading Fortune! More coal needs to be produced with less labour, therefore more mechanisation. The paper notes larger mine cars, more powerful locomotives, and a timber-setting machine, which is much less dramatic than Fortune’s imaginings.

American Notes

“The Truman Doctrine in Practice” Mr. Stassen’s tour of Europe explaining America was a smashing success; Congress’ cut to UNRRA relief spending from $350 million to $200 was not.

“Peace in Industry” With the second round of wage increases complete, strikes have all but stopped –because the telephone strike is “crumbling.” (The paper’s correspondents are not, I think, the talking sort of men.) Labour peace might be interrupted by a coal strike, and might not be. On the “not” side is increasing coordination between the AFL and CIO that might make things difficult for the UMW.

“Constructional Activity” Predictions of a business slowdown have come true, at least for building. The Department of Commerce has revised its estimate from $15 billion in 1947 to $13 billion due to rising cost of materials and shortages of key materials and skilled labour. Lumber prices are beginning to decline. However, the GNP for 1947 has been revised from $205 billion to $210, so it is not all bad news. Unless increasing inventories means that it is; and the costs of the Texas City explosion are likely to be staggering, and to lead to supply bottlenecks.

The World Overseas

“The Scramble for Power in India” The Prime Minister’s shocking statement that the English would be out of India by June 1948 has triggered a scramble for power in the last two months, not well-noticed in a thoroughly miserable England, or self-involved America. The main struggle is for provincial office, since if the English have to devolve power to the states, in the absence of a decided “India” and “Pakistan,” the boundaries may depend on who controls the provinces and princely states. In Punjab, no civilian ministry has been able to be formed, and there is virtual  civil war in Punjab. The violence has spreads to the Northwest Frontier, where the governing ministers are Muslim, but members of Congress. Nehru is cozying up to the princes, and there are  constant riots in Calcutta and Bengal.

Latins remain excitable. Germans, at least Ruhr miners, are also excitable.

The Business World

“Coal and Industry” The coal situation continues to improve. The summer coal budget is now 93 million tons, up from 89. “Planning” is for industrial consumption to be at the same level as last year from June to October, but the paper thinks that there has not been enough planning. And, anyway, there are more workers, doing more, so that still won’t be enough.

“Convertability Ahead” The paper reminds us that convertibility begins on 15 July, that it cannot possibly be maintained, and that therefore there will be some terrible, vague disaster next summer. The paper tentatively suggests not going to convertability at all, but that is not nearly complicated enough, so it goes on to talk about Americans and sterling balances.

Business Notes

“The Debtor Speaks Out” When you owe the bank $1000, you have a problem. When England owes the world umpti-illion pounds, the world has a problem, Mr. Dalton points out, “unambiguously” pointing out that sterling balance holders need to accept a “substantial scaling down of the sterling debts owed to them.” That is understood to specifically mean Indians and Egyptians, as well as the Brazilians Mr. Dalton was addressing.

“Light on the Profits Tax –And on Bonus Issues” So here is light –You know where to find it!

“Fuel Crisis Post-Mortem” We now have an idea about how much production England lost during the fuel crisis. It was quite a lot.

“Drive for Generating Plant” The English are now on a drive to increase diesel generating capacity by 200,000 kw by March and 300,000 kw by August, 1948. Subcontracting and standardisation will ease the manufacturing effort, and heavy plant is being sought in Germany. To reach the Central Electricity Board’s targets, new capacity must be installed at a rate of about 1 million kw a year for the next three years, or 1.5 million when industry is taken into account.

“Tea Prices and Supplies” The retail price of tea will be increased by 4d/lb, a minor shock to consumers but not enough to make up the shortage, and the Government is considering subsidies. Wool stocks are also lower than expected, but it is not quite the crisis expected, as manufacturers do turn out to know what they are doing. Also turning out to be not quite the expected crisis is the US lead supply, which is expanding even as substitutes are found in construction.  Sisal supplies are also down, and prices up. 

The setting up of the Steel Company of Wales, which has required the import of expensive American equipment for cold reduction (and so controversy) is going about as well as expected, and the regulations restricting emigrants’ access to their sterling-denominated savings have been slightly revised, but remain onerous.

Aviation, May 1947

 This is the paper’s engineering and production research issue. That means that there is a special insert on “aircraft fasteners.” You know the weight, space, wear or cost-saving alternatives to bolts and rivets they sometimes use on planes? There is a glossy paper insert on them.

Aviation Editorial

“Third Rate: That’s U.S.A.” John Foster, Jr., is a lower-cost editorial alternative to Leslie Neville. Just as dumb, but he’s twenty years younger, so his health insurance costs less. (I’m making this up, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were true.) Anyway, he starts off with the observation that, today, America has less air power than Britain or Soviet Russia, making it “third rate.” I think he means “third place,” as third rate means something completely different. I also think that he means that he is so nuts he belongs in colour cells with a talking bunny before the movie. What he means is that the air force needs the deficiency bill, I won’t quarrel with that. Unintentionally, he also means that, whatever you say about American air power, this paper looks third rate –and that’s comparing it to Flight’s smudgy austerity paper and stories about flying private planes to Darkest Africa.

“Simple, But Costly and Necessary” What does the air force need? It’s simple: it needs everything. It needs compound turbines for a “simple up and down job,” turboprops, turbojets, “airborne jets,” ramjets and rockets. Who knows what will turn out to be useful? The point is, all that money spent is the best guarantee of the nation’s security.

What’s New continues to be an embarrassment, with spots for a new chair, a 21 ½ lb battery, and a “radar altimeter switch,” which is only more sophisticated than it sounds because it is on a coaxial cable. There is an ad for a Federal Telephone and Telegraph selenium rectifier, which is neat, because I know from reading about them in Radio News and talking to Bill and Dave, who think that, given that turning direct current to alternating is basically just switching, you can do more with them. This particular rectifier is actually a stack of selenium plates arranged radiator style, with cooling by forced air at 200 ft per minute. The total assembly ways 17lbs, is 15”x4 ½”x6 ½”, and can output 240v 25 amp current from an input of 200 amps at 30v d.c.

It's important to remember that the Shockley group invented the semi-conducter transistor with pure SCIENCE in 1947, and that they in no way just developed long standing work with rectifiers, because rectifiers are boring and have nothing to do with Information Technology. 

Aviation News

General Eisenhower told the National Press Club that the air force must be ready, and it is disturbing that both the English and Russians have larger air forces than America. (Counted how!? This is like those old numbers of Flight where Romania has more aeroplanes than the RAF, isn’t it?) The paper adds that most builders haven’t large enough contracts to keep to heir skills up, which reminds me also of old newspapers where the English dockyards have to build more ships (whatever is in the Estimates), or the shipwrights will all emigrate to Australia. The Defence Department bill is still hanging fire. “Some” say that America has no air policy, and now there is to be a Congressional Committee to look in the closet to see if that’s true. American airlines aren’t dominating the world enough. Remember how America lost out on surface shipping? That could happen again, somehow! People are still talking about the “Chosen Instrument Bill,” although even Pan Am wants to get its merger with TWA through, first. Sperry is offering another blind approach system, It is centred on an electronic gyropilot that receives automatic bearing in formation from either ILS or GCA. It is also designed for microwave-frequency radar rather than the current VHF, since microwaves have more stability and sharpness. The ATA has published a plan for the future of air traffic control. Either more services will be granted on some routes due to not enough competition, or other services will be canceled on other routes due to excessive competition, or both. CAB and the airlines have agreed on a 10% fare increase. Light plane makers are cooperating with the CAA to build small fan propellers and casting undercarriage wheels, but did they wait too long, asks Blaine Stubblefield, who is either still with the paper, or has agreed to do this column freelance, which seems more likely. If, as I’ve heard someone say, Stubblefield has moved back to Idaho, that makes this column especially sad, since he’ll be compiling it out of the news wires.

Worlddata notices that Trans Canada is using DC-6s,that some people are talking about putting Centaurus engines on Constellations, that China is trying to get the CNAC running again, that Chile is planning a trans-South-Pacific servicevia Easter Island to Sydney, that Australia’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research has designed a line of automatic radar distance-meters for Trans-Australia’s Sydney-Melbourne route that is “superior to anything produced in other countries.”  

There follows the fastener feature.

Theodore P. Hall, Development Engineer, Consolidated Vultee, “Service-Provoing Certfired This Integral Tank” What Engineer Hall means is that the Convair 240 takes another swing at the integral tank concept previously proven in the Catalina.

“How New Douglas Skystreak Will Probe the Transonic” It’ll go fast without falling apart, which will allow the pilot to tell everyone what going fast is like, on account of him not being dead. Douglas did a terrific job of designing an aircraft that looks like it will go fast without falling apart. Unless it does fall apart, in which case it is all Fred’s fault. Fred is the one over there. You should go bother him. Again, I am probably being unfair in my facetiousness, but this is a silly article that describes the dimensions of the Skystreak and predicted overpressures on various parts of the plane.

A short article by some United Aircraft engineers (Wright, Curtiss-Wright) makes the case for model wind tunnels as saving time and money ahead of tests in full-size tunnels.

Ralph Upson ends his series on “Simplifying Personal Plane Design.” I would suppose that the next number of Aviation would be all ads, if this one weren’t already mostly excerpts of another McGraw-Hill publication this month, for which see below.

James H. McGraw, Jr., “World Leadership: Our Duty and Our Opportunity” America needs to spend money on aid and relief, and, more than that, send experts overseas to show the natives how to really screw things up. Germany needs “skilled supervisors,” for example(!!!) 

“North American Grooms XB-45 J-P Bomber” This is that strange North American jet bomber with the twin turbojets in the same nacelle. They are indicated to be the GE/Allison J35, a 4000lb axial engine.

“Novel Four-Place Satellite Readied in Britain” “Newly-formed Planet Aircraft” is going to produce an all-magnesium  private plane. the Satellite, with a pusher prop in the tail and butterfly empennage, powered by the Gipsy Queen 31, just as long as the laws of physics and chemistry have been repealed by a new government before they get funding.

So it turns out that Gordon's Gin is behind this? Seriously?

“Fleetwings Navy Bomber Revealed” The above is just some boys in England with a nice hand with the pencil and more enthusiasm than sense. This is filler, a discussion of Uncle Henryy’s hopeless XBTK-1, yet another of the late war dive bombers that were fine at dive bombing as long as they didn’t have to pull out, afterwards.

To be fair to Aviation, these pictures and details seem to be new. "NATC recommended replacement of the novel exhaust system with a more normal system. . . " Recommended.

“Searching Drag Studies Check Speed Impeders, Part 1” It turns out that someone at NACA Langley had the notion of putting aircraft in wind tunnels and measuring their drag. This part explains work on engine coverings. (This is one of the articles listed under the “Engineering and Production Research” label. My guess is that the paper wrote to Langley for some free science, and got this filler.)

“Cathode Tube Improves Compass” This is actually pretty neat. It’s Minneapolis Honeywell’s “Cathotron,” a cathode gun with a ray that is arranged to deflect in the Earth’s magnetic field, so that it illuminated a compass dial on the CRT with the direction. It is more reliable than a regular compass since there is no lag, no iron needle, which produces some distortion in regular compasses and no northerly turning error. It is also more precise, and can be used to control large coils to create a magnetic field-free space. (And to correct a gyrocompass, although it does hunt a bit.) The article goes into a little more detail on the way that Cathotrol correction on the gyrocompass corrects autopilot deviations, as you’d expect from Honeywell, but the basic concept is clear enough, and very neat.    

I’m not going to talk about Eastern Airline’s new battery hoist, which looks like every hoist ever, and is somehow the very cutting edge of full technical efficiency.

Either we get the Cold War going, or we're just going to have to give up on scientific progress.

Raynor F. Sturgis, “Factors in Helicopter Economics”

Note that America's population in 1960 will be 180.7 million,
not 155.
“USA: 1950—1960: Precis of a Report by the 20th Century Fund” The Century Fund published a very impressive forecast of America’s next decade and a bit, and editors across the land seized on it as free content. Fortune’s coverage is a series of very nice graphics, so I am going to rely on those. However, the summary says that there will be twice as many Americans in 1960 as in 1900 (155 million compared with 70); but three times as many families, as family size is falling. The population will have more older people, more city dwellers and slightly more small town residents, but fewer farmers.  The labour force will be more skilled, more women will be working, and farming will shrink at the expense of all the other slices in a pie graph. (That is, “manufacturing and construction,” “trade and services,” and “other” will all grow at the expense of farming, but the graphic doesn’t show how much. Perhaps the one in Fortune will. This is slightly important to people looking to build houses on farmland, so you’d wish for a bit more precision, but since it is all crystal-ball gazing anyway, I fear that more precise numbers will just lead to misplaced confidence.) Unemployment is expected to be about 5%; and that the average work week will continue to shrink, down to 38 hours a week in 1960 in non-farm employment. With vacations, absenteeism and sickness included, the US will put in 121 billion man hours of work in 1950 and 118 billion in 1960, compared with 105 billion in 1940 and 154 billion at the peak of the war. (No wonder we were all so tired and washed out!) How much will be produced? That depends on productivity. There was a five-fold increase in productivity, measured in value per hour, from 1860 to 1940. This is expected to continue, as the Fund predicts that energy consumption will rise from 289.4 billion horsepower-hours in 1940 to 489.8 billion in 1960, and more energy per man-hour means more productivity. The Fund also points out that this improvement in productivity will not lead to “technological unemployment.” Machines “Do not kill jobs,” or, at least, haven’t yet. (Although the example of trucks replacing horses isn’t entirely heartening, since they certainly killed horses’ jobs.) In constant dollar terms, the Fund predicts that productivity per person will rise from $1.22/hour in 1940 to $1.44/hour in 1950 and $1.70 in 1960. Living standards will rise, people will eat better and consume more,

taxes will have to remain high to cover war debt, and there will be a trend of decline in the ratio of investment to total output.  People will also travel more. “In 1916, the average person traveled 490 miles. By 1940 the average had grown to 2400 miles. The Fund predicts that this will continue to increase, but does not give a number. It does predict that there will be 36 million cars on the road and 100,000 private planes in the air in 1950, and that the auto industry will be able to sell 5 million hew cars a year after 1950; 4 million for replacement and a million for population growth. It also projects demand for capital goods, but this is less certain due to new industries producing goods not yet widely available but sure to have broad appeal, such as synthetic fibres.


Cost of government will also rise, as will the cost of increasingly scarce primary products.

America will not be a utopia in 1960, but it will be richer.

Fortune, May 1947

This will be an unusually brief entry, because the May number has major articles on Henry Ford II’s new management team at Ford; the holding company created by the infamous Mark Hanna, which owns a number of stodgy, gilt-edged, blue-chip stocks, and keeps a board of high Republican worthies barely in work in a very nice office building in Cincinnati; the Sylvania Electric division of GE; a large coal owner; and Royal Little’s “Textron” initiative in cotton. None of these are particularly interesting from a technical standpoint, notwithstanding that “Textron” sounds positively science-fictional, and Sylvania makes electronics. The paper took some nice pictures at Rouge River, but if I included every nice picture of the last two weeks, the envelope wouldn’t close!


“Can Prosperity Last?” The Economist is on board with an American business recession with its usual more-in-sorrow-than-in-Oh-Hell-We’re-Over-the-Moon-To-Report-Bad-News style. Fortune is less certain, thinking that the current “gloom” is just a Puritanical reaction to too much boom. The paper can’t help bringing up Henry Moore’s sunspot-cycle theory (when sunspots go away, the Sun cools down, harvests fail, and hard times follow), even to say, oh, pshaw, we don’t believe it, but there’s the numbers! I think the relevance is that sunspots are down? Even the paper thinks that rising inventories and falling consumer spending are more reliable tells of a business recession, and they are rising and falling a little bit, respectively. Consumers aren’t exactly spending less, but their purchasing power is falling with rising prices, and that is a concern. Savings are also falling, to 10% of income, and the usual sort of worrywarts think that this is too low to provide sufficient capital investment.

The Fortune Survey

This week’s survey is of factory workers, who mostly like their jobs, feel secure in their employment, but not necessarily respected by their management.  

“The Rebirth of Ford” Henry Ford II has quite the challenge ahead of him!
The River Rouge plant is huge, is the point.

“Hanna is as Hanna Does” What Hanna does, is own a great many stocks in a great many staid businesses –mostly banks, but also one each utility, iron, rayon, plastics and oil company as well. Owning stocks employs Carl N. Osborne, Joseph H. Thompson, James Predergrast, N. L. Ireland, and William Collins as well as the current Hanna scion. They all dress well, and spend many hours at the office watching their stocks go up and down and doing –something.  The company has $50,501,00 in investment, and produces an investment in come of $3,833,000.

It turns out that the Hearst press, as the voice of populist conservatism, didn't have much time for the business conservatives exemplified by Mark Hanna. It's like they were Republicans in terminology solely, or something like that.

“Mr. Young and his Company” Roger Ralph Young has combined a railroad and some coal mines into a very big company. It is doing well, so far.

This, on the other hand, is very interesting. As well, there are many possible plastics applications for which phenolics, vinyls and cellulose are not suitable. There are many modern lubrication applications where heats run too high for conventional oil lubricants. For example, a pioneering use of silicone plastics was in the gasket for Navy searchlights, which are not like a conventional flashlight in the sense that a conventional flashlight won’t cook a person standing in front of them. (Or the gasket that keeps water out of the filament). Silicon has the same chemical structure as carbon (although on further reading I find that that is a gross exaggeration, and that it took forty years of laboratory work to find silicones analogous to hydrocarbons), but a much higher molecular disassociation energy, which means that it can be used to make the same kinds of substances as hydrocarbon plastics and lubricants. (You could make gasoline out of it, too, but the combustion byproduct is sand, which is hard on engines.) A million pounds of silicone plastics were produced this year, mainly as hydraulic fluid. We are told that U.S. chemists Eugene Rochow and Winton L. Patnode “carried the silicones out of the laboratory,” but the story actually starts, not surprisingly, in England, were Dr. Frederick Stanley Kipping, of University College, Nottingham, England, did the most important work after 1900. (I say not surprisingly because, as James pointed out, the Admiralty got into extreme-condition hydraulics with the Hele-Shaw pumps on the new naval gun turrets at that time.) The US work, we are told, turned European science into practical engineering at Cornell, which needed new lubricants for making Fiberglas. GE also tried to get into silicone production, but the war ended before its factory was up and running.

Because the silicones have analogues to all organic (that is, carbon-based) molecules, the paper says, eventually there may be as many silicone plastics as regular ones. Given the bad news at the head, I’m not as convinced, but I am convinced that this is going to be a growing industry. Who knows what kind of things could be done with silicones?

“Sylvania Electric” Sylvania makes lightbulbs and fuzes. It made proximity fuses, which used to be impressive.

“The Airline Squeeze” The paper covers the fact that the airlines are over-extended and in trouble.

“Mr. Wilson at Work” General Electric’s President invited a correspondent to follow him around work for a few days. It turns out that he is a regular business tycoon.

“How Well Can Americans Live?” The paper covers the 20th Century Fund Report.


“Textron” Royal Little, of Textron, did very well out of making parachutes for the war effort.


“The Great Oil Deals” The paper covers the big oil deals signed by American oil companies in the Middle East recently at great length. This is far too important a subject for me to just dash off a facetious summary, so I’ve appended a separate report, below.
This is not the place for a potted history of American oil deals in the Middle East. But it is a nice map. 

Shorts and Faces This month’s people that the paper would really like to know better are Charles Willoughby, who runs a financialish company in New York, Olive Ann Beech, of Beechcraft, and Bing Crosby, as an example of the ongoing American music boom that everyone was expecting to be in retreat by now due to overproduction, unions, the Chicago  mob, bad sound quality and who knows what else.

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