Sunday, December 31, 2017

Postblogging Technology, November 1947, I: Warmongering


Dear Sir:

You'll pardon me if I'm not my usual, chatty self, as I've just had the news that Mr. Rank's problems (which I notice are not in today's press, but will turn up next time) are somehow our problems. Or, my problems! And I am to fly across the Atlantic as soon as class is out to go up to Marleybone and rescue the money that we only spent in the first place because of the silver opportunity? It's just so silly. I'm not even sure it's the money so much as the legal rights to your grandfather's "story" (As interpreted by S.R.)
Is this offensive or camp?

I know you had nothing to do with this. I have it from my Dad, and even he is apologetic, so I can guess that my Mom is behind it, and the fact that it came out the day after we had our talk about me going back to Chicago for Christmas pretty much seals the deal. She was all on about how A. could stay at the house now that he was my fiancé and all, and it was all I could do to tell her that if she liked the man so much, she could marry him. (Except that she's so taken by the idea of having an admiral's grandson in the family that she probably would. I've tried to explain that he's a Texan, but he's learning to fake an "public school" accent with the best of them, and apparently that washes the Texan right off of you.)

I had so wanted to spend Christmas in Santa Clara with everyone, and now I get to spend it. . . Well, I can't fight my parents, so another holiday season down, another horrid flight across the Atlantic. I hve only one request from you, and it's a small thing. I don't want to fly British this time. Please, please, take an interest with whoever is arranging this, and see that I have a Pan Am booking, preferably a Constellation. I would talk to Uncle George, but then it would . . . Well, anyway, I'm looking to you to be my white knight in this, just as Mr. R. ended up being last year. 

Yrs in desperation,

The Economist,  1 November 1947

“Cripps, Construction and Control” The Economist has such a crush on Stafford Cripps. He’s everything they love in a politician. He’s smart, he’s “astringent,” he gives out a “cold douche,” which must be one of those places where English English means something different from American English, and don’t you start! The details of the cold shower (it must be) aren’t explained, and most of the leader is devoted to making the point that it isn’t big enough (Dalton says that the dollar deficit is £900 million, and that even with Cripps’ controls, it is only down to £250 million, and even that is conditional on the Geneva talks cutting the American tariff. The Economist goes on about how it cannot be more, since while harsher controls are possible from a dietary point of view, people won’t respect them. Then it explains that the fact that building lags when it is controlled, but surges ahead when it is not, shows that controls might be counterproductive, and finally it goes into a controversy about the capital programme. Cripps says that the construction programme is to be cut by £200 million, and Professor Lionel Robbins says that this is still far too high, and will starve exports, while Professor Jacob Viner says that it is far too low, and that America expanded all through the Nineteenth Century in spite of an adverse balance of trade; but the The Economist all false-modestly says that that was because the City of London was footing the bill, and that can’t happen any more because obviously. (That’s code for, “I don’t know why, and The Economist doesn’t explain, so it must be obvious.”) Anyway, it was awful ambitious of the British to think about building homes for everybody before some day in the far future, so the cuts are no big deal. Also, “the nation’s pretensions to a standard of living . . . above its achievements must be cut down.”
“New Deal for Germany” The way things are in Germany isn’t working, so it needs a “new deal,” except for the Soviet Occupation Zone, which can go hang, because Communism.
“Local Financial Reform” I have suddenly discovered that I have a headache which will last for exactly three pages.

“Patience --and Vodka” Roosevelt’s old Secretary of State, James Byrnes, whom I mainly know from listening to Grace go on about him and the “Coloured Question” after a glass of wine, has been out of office for what, a year, now? That wasn’t a lot of time to write Speaking Frankly, and, speaking frankly, it shows in some comments to the effect that it would be good to have WWIII out and over with. The Economist finds that appalling, but then down in the middle of the article quotes some old German about how diplomacy is war carried on by other means, which is an awful thing to say. The idea that The Economist takes into this long review is that it’s kind of the opposite in wartime, and things get back to normal in peacetime, and so all the trouble we’re having with the Communists is just like the trouble we used to have with the Russians, because the Communists are Russians, surprise, surprise, so what’s needed is patience and good negotiation tactics, and not “hustling,” of the kind Byrnes preferred.

Notes of the Week
If I have this right, this week, the House of Commons, which is half the British parliament, the other half being all the lazy old rich men, held a scheduled round of debates on the Address that the Government gives to set up the next session –which I think goes on for the year? Or are there more than one Address in a year? If I understand it, Mr. Cripps’ speech was part of the festivities, and so was a disappointing reply by Churchill, and part of the Government’s new programme is a change in Parliamentary procedures which has The Economist quite upset about socialist tyranny, and which it also points out will be hard to get through before the next election. I don’t propose to go into any more detail, because it’s not news for us until it actually happens!

“Pump Priming in Germany” With everything else going on in Parliament, the committees still have to grind on, and the Select Committee on Estimates has a report out on the Control Commission for Germany that makes up an “intelligent man’s guide to Germany.” The Committee is amazed, and so is The Economist, that there is still no “branch for checking expenditure in Germany,” which is something when you consider that the British taxpayer is paying out  £80 million a year on running Germany, and  £60 million on the occupying force. The Committee thinks that something needs to be done about “revising the German price structure and fixing a uniform rate of exchange for the mark.’ This is the last said about “pump priming,” which, as I understand it, is government spending that gets private spending flowing, and is what Lord Keynes was always calling for. The Economist doesn’t really explain what this pump priming might be, so I am wondering if it is the Control Commission spending it mentioned, or something that might result from currency reform. Your guess is as good as mine, because instead it wants to talk about how there are not the wagons to move Ruhr coal, so that 1.5 million tons must be left lying on the ground, and that German agriculture can only provide 1000 calories to every German, so that food aid from America is still vital, and is something to be born in mind when we worry that the Germans are about to raise the Fourth Reich flag and get back at it.
Now for some historical American advertising, because the Fortune pictorial would be overwhelming if I put it all down at the bottom. 

“The Marshall and Molotov Plan” Is Marshall Plan aid to Germany necessary to get the sixteen-nation European economy going again, or a Second Munich, giving up on dismantling the German arms industry and leading to the Fourth Reich, etc., etc. Opinion differs depending on whether you prefer Marshal or Molotov.

International Trade Agreement” The Trade Talks at Geneva have come to an end, the delegates are very pleased with themselves, and if there is “immediate” tariff relief it will lead to “immediate” dollar relief, and the British delegation will be free to pat themselves on the back.

“2.700 Calories a Day” Mr. Cripps’ cold shower includes a cut in the butter ration from 3oz a week to 2, and of the sugar ration to 8oz. It is reported that the Ministry of Food is going to start rationing potatoes, as the harvest is down from 10.5 million tons to 8, and the bread ration may be tightened up, unless the Australian wheat deal comes through. The reduction in the caloric value of the ration diet is from 2,870 to 2700, a 6% drop in consumption to a level lower than it was before the war. The Ministry does not believe that the numbers are strictly telling, given that they are averages, and that the calorie intake is maintained by more bread, fish and potatoes, which make “the British diet monotonous and unpalatable.” It seems that the British diet of 1948 is more likely to be four-fifths of that of 1938. The Economist also points out that food policy has gone wrong, somehow. Dollars cannot be accorded to import food from America; domestic food must be subsidised; the subsidies make food imports from soft currency areas too expensive. This has made the ration quantity of bacon, for example, “absurdly low,” so that The Economist suggests that it might be better to remove it from the ration and desubsidise it, because it can hardly be said to be starving the poor when the ration is so small, and The Economist is rich, and likes bacon.  
“Mixing-up the Classes” The cuts to the housing programme aren’t definitive, yet. The Economist is all for scaling it back and moving a quarter million workers to the export industries, and to the extent that they stick at being unemployed, who cares, as the unemployed are all useless spivs, anyway. It would be best to complete the 90,000 homes still under construction; what all of this is going to do for the Government’s future utopia in which people of many classes live together in new housing developments, no-one can say.

“Tumult in Kashmir” Old India was riddled through with “princely states” that weren’t included in the plans to partition the country between Muslim and Hindu-majority areas, with the rulers of those states (princes, I guess? Princesses?) having the right to decide whether to join India or Pakistan, which seems like it could get messy if it were actually allowed, which I gather the Indians aren’t doing, anyway. The exception is the state of Kashmir, which is between India and Pakistan, although sort of squeezed in there, as it is up in the Himalayas. It has a Hindu ruler, but the majority of Kashimirians are Muslims. The Maharajah of Kashmir has chosen to join India and give up his title, because every time he has to type it fast, the “a”s end up in the wrong place. Pakistan is not having this, India has flown in troops, while Hazara tribesmen have entered it from the Northwest Frontier Province to hold it for Pakistan. The Pakistanians are talking about invading, which will lead to war, which will be tricky for the British officers who still command both the Indian and Pakistanian armies. It seems likely that Kashmir will end up being partitioned, just like Germany.
“Italy Tackles Inflation” The Italian government is taking steps to ensure that banks won’t loan too much, even though many firms outside the favoured automotive industry cannot find the money to pay their workers, and the Left is very upset about things in general. Communists and trade unions are also being bad and inflationary and Communistic in Germany and in Britain, where wages are rising awfully.
HMS Superb, visiting Vancouver in 1955, photographed by Walter E. Frost. See also. And something that's not Wikipedia --actually, this might have to be a Technical Appendix.

The story is probably the enormous submarine and
ASW forces being run this winter by Home Fleet;
but that isn't a "recessional" story, so who cares?
“Service Strength” Lord Hall said this week that the Admiralty will have to face the fact that the Fleet is never going to exceed 147,000 men, and that it must be deployed with that limit in mind. The Home Fleet must be reduced to a cruiser and four destroyers, is the upshot. It is “disquieting” that the services haven’t been able to recruit their auxiliaries up to strength. The Economist points out that that doesn’t mean that the Communists should try anything, since the country is swimming with veterans who can be called up, but it will eventually be as important a problem as any.

“’Developing’ the Colonies” The Resources Development Bill is one of the first proposed bills published for this session. It lays out plans for theEast African Peanut Scheme (“Groundnuts,” because if you say “peanuts,” you are admitting that you lost the Revolution). The Overseas Food Corporation will be able to borrow up to £55 million to get its waving fields of east African peanuts going. This raises the more general question of “development,” versus development, since it is in line with British policy to confine African development to agriculture and the industries that directly support it, and not to support any industry that requires subsidies. Colonials, The Economist points out, might think that they are being exploited in the short term, and will be left in the long term facing low world food prices after the crisis ends, with no industry to fall back on, and even if that isn’t the plan, it sure looks like it is!
Speaking of Utopian schemes for Tanzanian agriculture, did you notice how hard it was to find good Mandarin oranges this season? Image: Orange vendor outside Dar es Salaam. Source.

“Right Revival in Norway” Right wing parties have made a come back in the Norwegian municipal elections. I didn’t even know that Norway had municipalities, and now it is the spark that will ignite the Fourth Reich in no time. It is the government’s fault for taxing too much and subsidising too little. I would never have guessed!


It used to be that The Economist published letters from distinguished economists, but this week’s could all have been written by my father, except one from “Refugee Worker,” who thinks that if Jewish refugees from central Europe were allowed to immigrate to Britain, they would blend in, assimilate and intermarry, which is definitely not what my father would say.
From The Economist of 1847

Speaking of one thing leading to another. . . 
The old-time Economist is upset about the action of the Government last week that “for ever” destroys confidence in the Bank Bill of 1844. I have no idea what any of this means, and I certainly shan’t go too lunch with some old Jesuits to pick their brains about it, but I do recognise all the familiar arguments. (The Bill has some restrictions about something or other, and than there were problems in 1847, and the Government relaxed them, and from now on until forever, no-one will believe that they won’t do it again, and so all the good things the Bill accomplished have been undone. It would be a pity to spoil my perfect understanding with any details!)

The World Overseas

“For and Against MacArthur” This is by “A Correspondent recently in Japan,” and I have a feeling that he is a Hong Kong man, because he starts, for some reason, with the latest Koumintang foul-up, which is not letting British refrigerator ships up the river to Shanghai, and suggests that with this kind of thing going on, it is no wonder that the army is all defecting to the Communists, and that the Americans, because they are anxious about the Russians in China, are “transferring their support” to Japan, and specifically to the Zaibatsu, which is how you say “Jews who  happen to be Japanese,” in Taipan-English. Having managed to move the setting of his story all the way from Shanghai to Japan, he moves on to point out that MacArthur has been doing a pretty good job of running Japan, although he has been favouring American over British interests, and has been “thrusting freedom” on the Japanese. That is, they have a nice, democratic constitution, and will be soon left alone to practice it, at which point the zaibatsu will take over and thrust their tentacles of influence into the vacuum left in the Pacific by the American retreat that will start very soon. Or possibly the Japanese will be motivated by nationalist reaction to malnutrition and poverty once the American occupation stops spending £80 million a year there, on food aid and pay for American soldiers who give out gum and chocolate bars. Either way, things bode ill, as they usually do, if you are “against MacArthur.”

There follows the next installment about “Socialist Strength in Europe,” for which any interested party may apply for urgent updates from my Dad.
“No Headway in Indonesia” Sjahrir is in London, where he is receiving various Dutch people unofficially or by accident, in his office as ex-Prime Minister of Indonesia-who-must-be-out-of-the-country-in-case-something-unforeseen-and-accidental-happens-to-him. So like half the foreigners in London! Over in Holland, the Prime Minister can’t shuffle the very conservative Dr. Jongemann out of the Colonial department, but he can effectively replace him, which he seems to be doing, and this might or might not lead to the “cat jumping,” if there is a “cat,” which seems like a very clever way of saying that the Dutch might launch another offensive, or might not.

American Survey
“Special Session” The Marshall Plan has swept through Congress, and the President is so invigorated that he is trying to recover some wartime powers to regulate prices, perhaps reintroduce rationing, and force the steel industry to expand. There is also a discussion of the new restrictions on commodity brokers which have Dad so upset.

“Low Prices for Shares” I’m sure that I don’t have to tell you that the price per share on the NYSE is at a historically low ratio of price to earnings, even though a comparison of earnings on stocks (dividends) to bonds (interest) is in favour of holding stocks. The Economist speculates that this might be the market pricing in the slump to come; or possibly a shortage of funds for equity investment due to a “badly warped savings-investment mechanism.” The highly progressive income tax, it is suggested, has sapped savings in the higher incomes, and these are traditionally the funds that have bought equities. Dad says everyone always says that, because it means that their taxes ought to go down. His explanation is that it is taxes, but the problem is that all the rich people have stuffed so much money into savings that it's just not worth putting in any more, considering how little they can buy with their additional income.
One Hundred Years of the Dow Jones. Heh. Bet you thought that "trickle down" started with Art Laffer!

American Notes

“New Monetary Controls” Marriner Eccles is very upset about the lack of direction in national economic policy, and about the failure of the Federal Reserve’s recent moves to check the expansion of money, or the influx of gold. The Economist doesn’t think that it will have to go so far as deflation, and that means that perhaps some gentle monetary controls will check the expansion as much as it needs to be expanded. A briefer bit about the AFL and CIO’s new political stance (against Taft-Hartley, not for communism, lukewarm on Wallace) leads into. . .

“How Red is My Movie?” This is The Economist’s take on the Hollywood hearings. It thinks that the sight of one star after another going to the chair to denounce long lists of alleged communists is “licensed slander on a grand scale.” The idea that the industry should redeem itself for promoting communist ideas –if it did, which The Economist thinks is a ridiculous notion—by making a fixed quota of anti-Communist movies is even more ridiculous. Of course, to my Dad and his generation, it is much easier to promote communism in a movie than The Economist thinks, because pretty much everything that has happened since 1890 is socialistic. It was a little disappointing that Mr. R. was up before the Committee, given what a Roosevelt man he is, but I guess that's how union bosses do things, these days.

“Construction Recovery” Since controls were abandoned and rent regulations relaxed, the number of construction contacts have ballooned, and this is why the economy is back in boom. It might be that the boom will soon end, in which case –and we’re on about the presidential election, because houses are boring. Unlike price/earning ratios.

The Business World

“Dollar Arithmetic” The question of how Britain comes to be spending almost a billion pounds in dollars more than it is making is important enough to discuss at exhausting length. Since I don’t want to ignore something important, but I don’t want to be exhausted, either, here’s a clipping!

“Should Electricity be Taxed” I guess they don’t tax electricity in Britain? Meanwhile, the amount of electricity generated and sold is going up and up, and this winter a record amount of load was shed, and to replace all the generating capacity and build enough new will cost £150 million when the total installed capital is only £750 million, so that’s a lot, and who knows where the money is going to come from, and it is just going to get worse, and maybe it is time to tax electricity I guess.

Business Notes

Bonds may be issued to finance the government that are gilt-edges for patriots, there is talk that the Marshall Plan will force governments to tax locally to make up for the plan which will have a deflationary effect and build up funds for development. Some details of the Australian bank nationalisation have been published, and gold mine fraud fusses fuss everyone. The “Control of Engagements Order” still hasn’t scared up enough workers for agriculture, coal, tinplate and textiles. There will be no coal soon at the rate the miners are retiring, but textiles are doing worst, being short 100,000 workers. Speaking of! The Working Party on the textiles industry has released a report on the light clothing industry, which employed 53,000 workers, one third of them in London in firms employing less than 50 people (Ah! The “sweatshop industry!”) It needs better tax allowances, better equipment maintenance, improved design, greater attention to training, better accounting, the usual. It should also have a Development Committee. The Economist is sad that the Report didn’t have a productivity comparison with 1939 to show how far the sweatshops are from “full technical efficiency.”
Reggie will be very pleased to hear that ordering workers about isn’t saving the “undermanned industries.” I will be very cross with him if he goes off and starts waving a red flag at a Wallace rally in his Navy blues!

There’s also some financial news about changes in stock exchange rules, the amount of money in circulation reaching a new high, the new influx of gold into New York, and the new regime of “hard money” in Italy that will set the country to right. I don’t know if news about disappointing profits at the Finance Corporation (or some such) and the completion of the Montevideo tramways sale counts as financial news or not. (Uruguay is taking advantage of the dollar crunch to get a nice deal from the Atlas, Electric and General Trust, which currently owns the capital city’s trams. Since the trams weren’t making the trust any money, any way, it is a win for both sides, and now Atlas, General and Electric might even start paying dividends!

Flight, 6 November 1947


“Parliamentary Preoccupations” The RAF can’t hire people for terrible jobs. Flight has the bright idea of making the jobs less terrible, but thinks that the Government’s attempts to improve hiring by making the jobs less terrible are stupid. It made sense when it came out of the typewriter!

“Defence Priorities” It’s good to cut the armed services right now, but they shouldn’t cut anything that’s important, and the new Minister of Defence likes boats too much.

“RAF per MCA” The Minister for Civil Aviation had to answer for the RAF in the House of Bored Rich Guys because no-one else could tell a centrifugal compressor from an axial impellor. Also, he said that the Americans are getting ahead of us, by not saying it and just letting it hang out there, just like we here at Flight like to let the fact that he’s Jewish just sort of hang there in the air.

“Club Flying” I. Don’t. Care. No-one. Cares.

“A New British Radio Compass: Standardised for the RAF and Available for Civil Aircraft” The GEC radio compass is “the first of its kind wholly designed and manufactured in this country,” so even though it is old news, Flight will run an authorless article about it that is completely not free advertising for GEC and free copy for Flight. It consists of a receiver, a loop aerial, sense aerial, twin control units, and a dial with a 360-degree pointer that shows where the signal is coming from. It has 21 valves (all of approved type!) and is “unit designed” into ten units. Flight is impressed because the loop is very small, and because you can tune it by turning a dial and not by, say, hitting it with a hammer, which is hard to swing in a cockpit. Many servos make sure that the loop, dial, and needle don’t just go any which way, but, rather, point in the direction that the signal is coming from, which is the coming thing in radio direction finding.

“For Safer Landing: new Anti-blowout Inner Tube by Goodyear” The article bout how wonderful the GEC radiocompass could only go on for so long without talking about how shiny and push-able its buttons are, so Flight put this one in about extraordinary new progress in inner tubes to fill out a page. The revolutionary innovations are Dual Seal, so-called because there is one tube inside another, and a “special” valve, which is no doubt not yet approved, but also not a “valve” like the “valves” in the last article, which are vacuum tubes. In shorter news, BEA is experimenting with using a helicopter to carry the mail from one place to another, because that is what you always do with a new ‘plane that you can’t think of anything else for it to do. (I know how it feels from that research job I did for my professor last fall. I spent a lot of time carrying mail around, too, before I convinced him that I really could sit and read a document for an hour without being distracted by boys, fashion or Frankie Sinatra.)

“’Functional’ Trainer” Fairchild has a new all-metal primary trainer which is very “functional.” That means that you can pull a lever to open the cockpit and that when you pull up on the undercarriage lever, the wheels lift up, instead of down, which would be confusing and lead to trainees being killed, especially because they couldn’t find room to hit the cockpit with the Cockpit-Opening Hammer, if it didn’t have a lever, instead. Also, it has a “standardised naval instrument panel,” which is better for training.
It has just been rejected by the USN, so Fairchild is trying to scare up business.

In shorter news, the Russians say that Nikolai Novikov has flown more miles than anyone, at 1,864,000 miles, while the British say that it is actually Captain E. S. J. Adcock, who has flown the most miles (three million) and that other BOAC pilots have more than two million. Croydon is to be for chartered flights only from 1 November. Northrop’s YB-49 jet flying wing is made of Nth Metal. (The official release says that it weights 88,100lbs empty and more than 200,000 loaded.) Miss R. M. Sharpe has joined W. S. Shackleton, Ltd, as a demonstration and ferry pilot.

Here and There

Boeing says that the wings of the XB-47 are designed to droop slightly when the machine is on the ground, rising in the air so that it has the “greatest wing flexibility ever designed into an aircraft of this size.”
As long as you limit airspeed to 425 knots, there is no chance of the wings coming off, and you only have to worry about dutch rolling into a mountain. Could have used a bit more time on the drawing board, I think.

Percival Prentices and Republic F-84s are now being delivered in quantity. The Royal Observers Corps is having an observing exercise, a de Havilland Dove recently flew to the source of the River Niger to make sure that it was where someone else with planes (those damn French, I guess) said it was.
The source of the Niger.
The Air Ministry has promised to crack down on low flying. ICAO is to have meetings in Geneva in November on the exchange of commercial rights for international air transport services. New Zealand has airplanes. For some reason it is still news that helicopters spray DDT on insects and that planes like the Bristol Freighter carry machinery to distant places. The first Canadian food parcels sent by TCA were unloaded at Heathrow recently. Oh, for God’s sake, “Heathrow” or “London,” make up your mind!
From CARE and not the kin in Canada, and also from the Telegraph
“Private Flying: Reports of Whitney Straight and Masefield Committees Published: Strong Recommendations for Government Support” Gah! Four pages of it!

“Looking to the East: Airports and Alighting Bases on the Empire Routes to Singapore” Right now, BOAC flies Yorks to Karachi and Calcutta, and between Colombo and Singapore; Hythe flying boats go via Bahrein, Karachi to Singapore; and from there onwards to Sydney. Flying boats fly to Hong Kong, and connect Singapore and Hong Kong. Lancastrians fly right through to Sydney, and Haltons to Cairo. Some airports and alighting places are nicer than others.

“Miles Aircraft Statement” After almost three years of kiting going back before VE Day (according to Uncle George, anyway), Miles has made a statement about its financial difficulties. Mr. S. H. Hoog was appointed director on 27 September. He says that the problem is recent, involving aircraft sold this year at a loss, and that he is negotiating with the principal creditors, Blackburn; Smiths; De La Rue Extrusions; and Sperry Gyroscope Company, but the negotiations must remain confidential. The company has stopped all payments effective 26 September for goods and services before that date, and Mr. Hogg requests that creditors stop all action until he reports in a month’s time.

Civil Aviation News

The lead article is about pilot’s salaries, which seem quite good, except for being paid in foreign funny money. The House being back and ready to talk about silly things, questions about the Tudor came up. The arrangements for billing airlines for lighting up FIDO at Manston have been published. Most flights controlled by towers at American airports are private. CAB is suspending all unscheduled airlines that don’t pay their tariffs, even if they comply with requirements otherwise. The new Zurich airport will have SBA equipment for the Instrument Landing System and high intensity lighting. Landings will begin there as soon as a runway is completed, next year, but the terminal buildings will not be finished for another year after that. TWA is transferring its staff from Cairo to Lydda Airport in Palestine, owing to the cholera outbreak. Pan American will be twenty years old this week. A South African interest is considering an airline connecting England, Palestine, South Africa and America. Qantas has received its fourth Constellation. POAC will have a London-Malta Dakota service from 26 October. An analysis of 3000 flying accidents in the United States shows that 47% occurred during takeoffs, 20,7% in flight, 12.7% while taxying.
Zurich-Kloten in the 1950s
“Aircraft and Airways: Outspoken Criticism in Commonwealth and Empire Lecture: Precis of the third British Empire and Commonwealth Lecture to the Royal Aeronautical Society by Mr. James T. Bain” Mr. Bain says that the postwar interim aircraft are understandable, but commercially successful aircraft need to be designed for the routes that they are going to fly, and redesigned wartime specifications don’t get you there. The worst problems for airlines were failures to maintain schedule; and the constant, embarrassing overweight of new designs, all the more critical when paying passenger might be the difference between turning a profit and making a loss. Speed is the most important thing an airline has to offer, especially on the shorter routes that have the most traffic. It also increases an aircraft’s profitability, since it can make more flights, and reduces weather delays due to inaccurate forecasts. Faster planes may even bring the day when reservations are no longer needed for single-stage journeys. Speed also reduces operating costs, because it reduces indirect costs like hangars by reducing the fleet size. Safety, which is almost synonymous with regularity, since there could be no regularity without safety, is a problem. Indifference to safety really has left the accident rate too high, and the barrage of defensive statistics released by airlines just convinces the flying public that the airlines have something to hide. Automatic control is the way forward. Air travellers are increasingly irritated at inconveniences such as having to pick up the ticket far ahead of time, the fuss over loading and claiming baggage; service, connection, loading, weather and mechanical delays; and cancelled flights and diversions. Traffic is increasing, but could increase still more if all the empty seats attributed to these irritations could be filled. From designers, Bain requests better cargo compartments, a wider latitude with Centre of gravity, two cabin doors, fuel and oil tanks that can be filled quickly, complete cabin air conditioning powered externally. The North Star is an example of the kind of aircraft airlines need. While it could not be designed to Trans-Canadian’s needs, it was adaptable. For example, the Rolls Royce 620 power plant could be given automatic cockpit controls, and the Hamilton Standard airscrews controlled by a single lever. Provision has been made for hooking the autopilot up with aircraft controls and the power plants. With the DC-4M, TCA can achieve 14 Atlantic flights a week with six aircraft, and the engine is approaching 1000 hours between overhauls. The airline is looking forward to the Avro jet airliner.
Or. . . Just saying.

“Operation ‘New Horizons’” The Ontario Government still plans to fly 7000 British immigrants to the province. The first flight left Northolt in August, carrying 40 passengers. Since, there have been four Skymaster flights a week from Northolt, recently increased to 43 flights a month, some leaving from Prestwick. “Nearly” four thousand will eat Christmas Dinner in Ontario. “All but less than 1 percent” have jobs in Canada. Transocean Airlines has a fleet of fourteen Skymasters and a modified, “luxury” B-17 for the service, and runs a biweekly service from Oakland to Calcutta, Bangkok and Shanghai. On the return flight, they carry cargo. They have also flown a hundred displaced Polish girls to the Dionne Mills in Canada, and 8000 labourers from the United States to Guam. The fact that these men had to be paid $800/month, including transit time, to work in Guam shows the advantages of air over sea travel. They have also done many other things, such as developmental flying at the Landing Aids Experimental Station in Arcata, California. It does disappoint emigrants that they are not flying in British or Canadian aircraft, but they get over it when they are served steak and eggs at Shannon, and eggs and bacon at Gander. That just seems cruel.  


L. Heather thinks that there shouldn’t be a female branch of the RAFVR when there are more than enough men who want to be in the RAFVR, and furthermore women have never invented one thing to do with airplanes, and there should never have been women in the IATA. Or women, period. Captain David Brice replies to his critics that flying boats really do have a basing problem. Airfields can be built for 200-ton planes, if they are needed; we do not know if an artificial flying boat base is even possible. E. P. Johnson, a former flying boat enthusiast, writes to praise Captain Brice and publicly recant his support of boats-that-fly. He goes on to discuss his experiences of ground handling of flying boats; and pointing out that passengers do not like flying boats, and they are slow, and that BOAC is getting ready to jettison them. Leonard Morgan, Director and General Manager of Smiths Aircraft Instruments, Ltd. writes to argue with “B-Licence Pilot” about the state of automatic control in Britain. Everything’s fine, and the SEP is the only good autopilot on the market.

The Economist, 9 November 1947


The lead leader is about the Parliament Bill, and I just do not care. “Who is for de Gaulle?” follows, and it is about the fuss that has blown up inFrance this week. Instead of reading some English paper, I curled up with the French dailies in the reading room for a few hours, so I probably know more about this now than The Economist’s entire staff put together. (Unless they did the same thing, which they probably did, so never mind, that’s just Ronnie’s swollen head, reminding you about how good her French is.) Anyway, my excuse for talking to you about this on the phone instead of here is that it’s not in The Economist. How’s that?

“The New Poor Law” The National Assistance Bill is a big deal for Labour, following on last year’s National Insurance Act. The Economist has concerns, but it is basically alright with the act.

“Criminal Justice” And this one is about the Criminal Justice Bill, and again I do not care.

Notes of the Week

“By-elections: Portent or Warning?” The by-elections went badly for Labour. This either predicts that they will be defeated in the general election, or warns them to pull their socks up. Either way.

“Good News from the Mine” Again, Reggie will be smirking like the cat in the cream as production is up beyond all expectations in Britain, the Ruhr and the Saar. German production is high enough to allow for exports, and the British have broken through the 4-million-ton target needed to keep Britain running, which means British coal exports might be possible, and since American coal is only available at ridiculous prices ranging from $21/ton for France to $23 for Sweden, better, cheaper British coal would be good news all around. “Ion five European countries, the impression is growing that it will be available soon.” That is, by the spring, if British production can be held above 3 ¾ million tons a week through the winter. Perhaps, and just perhaps, people will stop calling for a return to the six-day week? Even more fantastic would be hitting the Paris conference pledge of 6 million tons of exports by 1948, 21 million by 1950. “Mr. Bevin’s hands must be itching to hold the cards that this will give him.”

Then there are bits about inflation and the franc (inflation is everywhere, but more so in Latin countries), Irish trade and politics, and Parliament’s actions to punish two MPs, Allighan and Walkden, who have been very naughty parliamentarians. 

“Whose Chores in Palestine” This note leads off three about Palestine. The first makes it clear that the British will be withdrawing from their public security chores as they prepare for final withdrawal from the Palestine Mandate on 1 July 1948, and whoever takes it over might be tempted to turn “security” into “civil war,” at least as I read it. The Palestinians aren’t ready, for the Jews read my comments on civil war, and the Arab League has just tied itself in knots over a confrontation between the Syrian government and a highland tribe called the Druses, who might have been the spearhead of any action in Palestine if the government in Damascus weren’t bound and determined to go a round with them.
Tell Qeni (1803m),  summit of the Jabal al-Druze.

“Narrow Squeak on Basic” Mr. Boyd-Carpenter moved a private member’s bill to bring back the basic petrol ration that very nearly passed in the Commons because it had support from Labour, too. The Economist is all torn up about it because it hates Labour but loves the end of the basic petrol ration because it is a pointless irritant that saves a few dollars, so win, win and win! It is definitely bad news for the government.

There follows a bit about the Kashmir Crisis. It would deserve some space if there was anything new to say since last week; but there isn’t, because everything everyone expected to happen, is happening, and war is getting closer, although The Economist hopes there can be a plebiscite. Also in important notes that aren’t really notes, Churchill gave an awful speech about Burma in the commons, and the government gave a nice reply. The Economist thinks that the real problem is that the British retreated too fast in the face of Aung San’s private army, and that since it is “not difficult to raise terrorist groups in Asiatic countries,” it is likely thatwe’ll see the same in Malaya. But we are seeing the same in Malaya, aren’t we?
Officially, the Emergency starts next year.

“Dane meets Dane” Crisis in Copenhagen! It has something to do with South Schleswig, which is the bit that was in Germany, and might be back in Germany, which might be what people are upset about?
Flensburg in 2012. Maybe we'd have less toxic politics if people didn't speak languages?

More notes explain that Harold Wilson is in charge of handling red tape for the export trade and making sure that whatever exporters want to shovel out of Britain’s door, gets shovelled. No-one ever so bright and young is in charge of the “revised” housing programme, but “continuity is the word.”
. .. And you can already see exactly how we're going to get to the "unreliable British export" thing.

“War Damage” On Monday the War Damage Committee writes cheques for £100 million, the first batch of the “values payment,” in which people who had property destroyed by enemy action will receive the prewar value plus 45%. Another £70 million is being held back because the recipients cannot agree how to divvy it up, and cost of works repair might ultimately add up to £60 million. The Economist finishes up with one of its signature moves, in which it approves of the payments as the right thing to do, and then explains why they were the wrong thing to do, when you look at it the other way. (Inflation, I think?) In shorter notes, we hear that the Scandinavians are talking about a customs union, that the Government is glad that the shipping shortage means that it can still tolerate freedom of movement, because skilled labour can’t leave the country when there are no boats. 
RMS Caronia and an awful lot of Norwegian sky, 1956. By Oskar A. Johansen / Municipal Archives of Trondheim - Flickr: RMS Caronia (ca. 1956), CC BY 2.0,


J. R. Hicks writes about local financial reform, and R. W. Moon points out that the real moral of the story of the “Should Electricity be Taxed?” story is that utilities need better capital depreciation rules. W. Koenigsberger[?] writes that future Jewish immigrants to England won’t assimilate, because some lot who came over hundreds of years ago didn’t, stands to reason, and also thinks that the correspondent doesn’t understand how anti-Semitism works. 

From The Economist of 1847

Jean Fourastie coined "trente ans glorieux."
Par Jfourastié — Travail personnel,
CC BY-SA 4.0,
Roy Harrod has Are These Hardships Necessary? out. He says, “no,” and The Economist uses its review to explain why the answer is “yes.” It likes the book, and takes the point that some of the “capital programme” is more along the lines of last ditch maintenance of failing equipment than investment in shiny new, productivity-enhancing machinery, but his main argument is statistical, and the measurements are not as hopeful as Harrod thinks. (Or so I write after looking up “metrological” in the dictionary. And it has a translation! Glory be!) Ian Morrison’s biography of someone named Major Seagrim is about a British officer who stayed behind in Burma to organise guerilla resistance against the Japanese in the Karen Hill States. He was a hero, and all those brave, but simple hill folk looked up to him and called him “grandfather,” and then the Japanese caught him and shot him and it ought to be a crime to make a man’s life such a boring cliché! There’s a whole page of Worthy Monographs: British Fuel and Power Industries; Meet the Miner; and Money and Banking: A First Course. Also worthy, but a very different kind of book, is Jean Fourastie, “La civilisationde 1960,” one of the University Press of France’s enormous 1960 series. He is apparently too taken with someone named Colin Clark, but otherwise The Economist likes his economics.

Clark's model of an economy undergoing technological change.

American Survey

“Loyalty in Technicolour” Because the House Committee on Un-American Activities is investigating Hollywood, and Technicolour is a Hollywood term! It’s a hilarious joke, you see. Unlike the hearings, although The Economist gets into the swing of things by suggesting that this slow-motion express train crash is somehow partly the fault of the mean things Mr. Gromyko says. (His “vituperation” “puts pressure” on the “insanity.”) Of course, it isn’t just the HUAC or movies. It’s the State Department’s decision not to hire anyone who shows “weak character” in various ways, which, as Uncle George points out, just makes the obviously “weak,” (he snorts as he says this) hide their activities even better, and makes them even more vulnerable to blackmail. What if, he asks rhetorically, someone who is “weak” of character is accused by one of his former lovers? A man who has, say, entertained Henry Luce in the past? (At this point I begin to think that Uncle George has stopped talking hypothetically. Though that doesn’t meant that he isn’t taking some rumours he heard in some shady bower more seriously than they’re worth. I assume the lads gossip in “shady bowers.” They do everywhere else!)
Henry Luce hitting on Chambers does explain some things, you have to admit.
“CEA on Foreign Aid” The Committee of Economic Advisors has some opinions about how industry should be “readjusted” for this brave new era of saving the (capitalist) world with American money. Also, and I don’t know if you’ve heard this, but there’s to be an election next year, and Senator Taft is running for the Republican nomination, which means that he has opinions about the Marshall Plan. About which I do not care.

“Bankers on Trial” The Justice Department is so convinced that anti-trust action is a “panacea” for all that ails that it is making a move against “concentration of power” on Wall Street. The Attorney General thinks that it is odd and suspicious that 90% of the $10 billion in new securities registered by the SEC between 1934 and 1937 were by 5% of investment houses. He wants to dismantle the IBA and is thinking about “price fixing” action against, for example, Morgan Stanley and Drexel. Dad always says that everyone who has as much money as he does, is even more crooked, says the problem is that they'll be a bull in a china shop where everyone’s hidden the china.  There has also been quite a substantial report from the President’s Committee on Civil Liberties. It’s a long note about things that ought to be done, mainly to Mississippi, extended by some handwringing about how if you let civil liberties get away from you, you will soon have Communists and Fascists hiding behind the skirts of Lady Liberty. (That’s a metaphor. Lady Liberty wears a chiton.) Actual shorter notes include a bit about how the Chicago Exchange is ignoring the President’s request to be less speculative, and about Averell Harriman asking for an extension of export control powers.

The World Overseas

“Burma Prepares for Socialism” Burma exported huge amounts of rice, oil, lead, zinc and timber before the war, and hardly any of those exports have come back since, for lack of capital expenditure. Since the country is going socialist, restoring the Irrawaddy Fleet and the railways and so on will be up to the Union Parliament. Rice must be the first focus, because it is the export that can be revived with native Burmese technical resources, after which mining, oil and perhaps timber can be tackled. Vast areas lie fallow while the peasantry is largely displaced, a combination that seems easy to solve, the problem being one of not alienating the moneylenders, who are often Indian, and so have influence in Burma’s main market. The Burmese are confined enough, as they don’t really care, the basis of the old export industries being British interests, who the Burmese are just glad to see the back of, but when rice comes back, the Burmese will have the money to revive the other industries on their own terms. They hope.
A log boom on the Irrawaddy. Source.  Frankie singing "Road to Mandalay."

“Control Through Reparations” Hungary owes Romania and Jugoslavia for reparations. So much has been paid that the Hungarians needed Russian help, which is why the Russians have so much of an interest in Hungarian concerns.
“Second Thoughts in Sweden” The Swedes are unpleasantly surprised at just how bad the dollar crunch has become. It issued large trade credits to its major partners after the end of the war, its own “Marshall Plan,” as it were, and those kroner credits are running out with no sense that trade is coming back into balance, especially after the British suspended convertibility, although it might if coal started coming from Britain. As it is, the Swedes have had to retrench and introduce import controls, and have taken up worrying about the Russians.

The Business World

“Mr. Dalton’s Opportunity” The Chancellor has an opportunity to restore the financial system in one move with the right emergency budget. The Economist explains how: with huge increases on consumption taxes that hit the poor, and an “agreement” on wages that hurts them more. This will save England and lead to a Conservative victory in the next election. So sad, to be sure, but a real opportunity!

Don't worry. Everything will be fine.
“Is Cocoa Too Dear?” Britain buys cocoa from its colonies, who, since they’re not getting very much out of the deal, appreciate being paid well for cocoa. But is it too much? Cocoa is bought from peasant farmers by buyers, and because there are no large plantations, the prices are not very stable. Violent price changes cause social and economic strain, and the New York Futures market is too narrow to prevent this. (I can explain why, since I asked my Dad to explain, and he was very sweet and helpful and lucid and even digressed on the subject of why this sort of thing made other people anti-Semitic. He even said the solution was a Marketing Board, and made me swear not to tell his friends that he’d gone socialist!) The issue is that the industry is so de-centred that no-one is sure what is going on out on the farm. Is it “swollen shoot” disease that is causing production to drop off, or is the price of cocoa too low, or is it on the other hand too high, leading to peasant farmers being reluctant to root out their diseased trees? And will plantations come in and doom the peasant farmer?
Business Notes

“Before the Budget” For some reason, share prices are up ahead of a crushingly austere budget. Perhaps because a real export drive with teeth would be “infinitely more disturbing to equity share values” than the current drive-by-exhortation. Things could be worse, they say, and that makes them good. I’m glad I read existentialists, or that would make no sense at all!
Ads in The Economist tend to lack pizazz, but this is wacky

Out of all the financial news that mainly follows, I want to single out the implications of the Geneva talks for rubber, first. No tariffs on American rubber imports is bad news for the American synthetic rubber industry, good news for American drivers, good news for the British dollar account, and bad news for “terrorists” fighting for Chinese rights in the jungles of Malaya, unless they like getting bombed. Second, there are further talks on the ad valorem tax on American film imports, which is important to the Rank Organisation, which is important to my Christmas plans! Third, France’s new £50 million credit is good news for Britain, since the French will convert some of it into sterling to pay for sterling-area imports, although the French would like to pay for them with a tourism agreement, for which the British are not too keen, because the more British tourists are persuaded to go to windswept concentration camps on the Yorkshire coast, and the fewer to the Riviera, the more dollars will be saved. Gold flowing in various directions is also news, and, for a wonder, not all of it is going to America. Some is going to Sweden, but none, any more, to Belgium.
This is how it's done!

“Labour’s Reward” Average monthly wages in April 1947 were 103s 6d, almost double October 1938. Male wages are up between 79% and boys by 107%, women by 81%, girls by 117%.  There is still a wide gap between wage and earnings due to overtime, but working hours are down, in October to 45.8 compared with 50 at the peak of the war effort, and down to 45 in April, 41.5 for women.  Highest wages are still in printing and engineering, well ahead of textiles, 134s 8d and 134s 6d for men in the former, 113s 6d in the latter. (It looks even worse in female industries like light clothing, since women and girls are paid so much less.) The Ministry of Labour concludes that there is still a great deal to be done to address wage discrepancies between the various industries, which are due to trade unions’ successful battles to maintain the traditional differentials between grades of labour, and not the relative skills of various industries.
“Britain’s Dollar Stocks” The amount of dollar-denominated securities held by British residents is $58 million, not counting money smuggled out of the country as thin gold plates pressed in the flying togs of couriers making biweekly flights across the Atlantic. Some of those securities are “not readily marketable,” meaning that it is not a good idea for the Treasury to buy them and sell them in America, instead of gold. (The legal kind.)  
Rising Costs of Shipbuilding” Costs are rising, and may be rising too high. Orcades cost more than £6 million, and so must earn £300,000 a year to cover interest and depreciation, although luckily it should be able to make four runs a year instead of three. However, on the Clyde no order follows on the Caronia, and an empty birth tells the tale, for it cost £3.5 million, compared with £1.6 million for Mauretania, before the war. Uncle George just snorts, pointing out that a new order will not be in service before 1950, and that a twenty-five year career will take it to 1975, and how likely is it that people will be taking boats to Australia, four weeks each way, in 1975, when a London-Perth air trip will cruise at over 400mph and be two stops at the most. Uncle George is already looking at non-scheduled airlines, which are the kind of sneaky and discrete businesses he likes. That story about the workers being flown out to Guam was just his cup of joe.
“United Steel Companies Expansion” They want to spend £3 million on a new melting shop in Lincolnshire and new railway arrangements at another plant. Their steel production, of 1,708,000 tons last year, is a record and up 6.2%. Increased earnings are expected, and there has been a 4 ½% preferred share issue. Finally, in “another day, another gold mine” story, the LSE has decided that Ashanti-Obouasi was crooked, but there’s nothing that can be done about it now.

The BBC reports on the closing of Port Talbot.
Flight, 13 November 1947


“The Giants in a Fog” On 5 November, in the House of Zooters, Lord Balfour asked the Minister of Civil Aviation whether the Government was getting on with the Brabazon and Saunders-Roe Flying Building, and the Minister said maybe, maybe not, what’s it to you? Flight thinks that that is just as foggy as the weather, but the fact that the Minister dodged into the fog to start with is not a good sign for super-giant aer-eo-planes, as the British say.

“Engine-Off Landings” People say that the problem with helicopters is that they crash if their engines fail. Well, they crash faster and worse than airplanes without engines; A few months back, Flight published an article by Lt. Hosegood, which is a real name, to the effect that that doesn’t have to happen, because the rotor keeps on spinning for a while, and you have that while to get to the ground. Now it has a paper from America by Mr. Fitzwilliams, which is also a real name, which says the same, but uses less math, which makes it more convincing when it talks about “cyclic and collective pitch control from glide approaches.”

“Jets and Carriers” The fact that the Supermarine Attacker has just made a successful carrier landing is good news, Flight thinks, even though it is long past time for the Navy to meet the aircraft designer half way with a carrier that is easier to land on. Catapults that use the ship’s own power would be nice, and better arrestors, too.
Instead of the sad old Attacker, let's look at the world's first steam catapult-equipped aircraft carrier, instead!

“Meteors in Malaya” Mr. L. Bumstead (which is a real name) and Mr. H. Gerrard took some Meteors down to Malaya so that the RAF could play with them where it is warm and sunny. By the way, Gloster is keeping up the British “very silly name” side, while Rolls-Royce is letting us down with a “Gerrard.” Much fun was had, where the palm trees sway.
For the season.

Weird. A short bit says that a “hidden dump of arms has been brought to light as the result of dropping 10,000 leaflets over the Kuala Lumpur area of Malaya by RAF aircraft.” Who is dumping arms? Why are leaflets being dropped? Must ask someone. Oh. Asked someone. Specifically, asked Mr. Wong. Got an answer. Oh. In other “oh, my” news, Short and Harland, which is the joint Short and Harland and Wolf venture, is buying part of Short Brothers and letting the rest go into liquidation. There’s lots of funny business talk, but I guess that means they’re selling the factory near London, which is on valuable real estate, and keeping the one in Belfast, because what else are you going to do in Belfast?

“Attacker Lands On” The first deck trials of the Supermarine Attacker, discussed in more detail. It is a modified Attacker with a “long stroke” undercarriage and “lift control,” in the form of wing spoilers. Previous jets, lacking propellers, couldn’t control their rate of sink at low speeds. Spoilers do that, increasing the range of safe approach speeds. The trials also ”demonstrated the fallacy of the idea that a nosewheel undercarriage is essential for modern deck-landing aircraft.”

I’ve a feeling the boys around the NAS would have a good laugh at that one! It does sound like something someone at Vickers-Supermarine would say, if they were desperate for some sales. In shorter news, Farnborough hasn’t found any proof that “supersonic sickness” (which is sickness from supersonic vibrations from jet engines, which, comparing Merlins to turbines is just so stupid. KLM is sending another photo plane to Surinam to survey the northern half of the colony. BEA has taken over the RAF facilities at Hamburg airport. The RAF Regiment is recruiting many, many young Malays. That’s the second strange mention of Malaya, I think I’ll call ---Never mind.

Here and There

Flight makes fun of an illiterate report that the new wind tunnel at the “Technical Institute in California” will generate wind speeds of 3600mph. Mr. A. V. Cleaver, of theBritish Interplanetary Society will give a talk on interplanetary flight at the Royal Aeronautical Society next week. It will be in the library, and the talk will be given to the “Aircraft Recognition Society,” but it will be at the R Ae. S. I bet these guys have even better haircuts than the Film Club! A. V. Roe is going to show off a mockup of its Chinook axial-flow jet engine, the first 100% made-in-Canada jet engine. RAF Dakotas and Yorks continue to fly mercy evacuation missions in India and Pakistan. A Bristol Freighter recently flew ten passenger coaches from Melbourne to Launceston, Australia.

American Newsletter, by “Kibitzer,” “Progress of Jet Bombers and Fighters: The New Beechcraft Twin-Quad; Rocket Propulsion Research” The American press is full of irresponsible war talk and “free-and-easy” revelations about new American jets, due to the tension between publicity departments and secrecy. By this, “Kibitzer” means that the swept-wing XB-47 bomber and XP—86 are in the news. The XB-47 has a given range of 2000 miles, which means that its fuselage must be filled with fuel, since the swept wings are too thin to hold much tankage, and the engines stick out on struts for the same reason. Sweepback is 45 degrees, and since I’ve been told that this makes centre of gravity very hard to maintain, I should also mention that the front engines not only stick down, but out front, to balance the wings. It can carry a 20,000lb bomb, that is, an atomic bomb, and has a remote-control tail turret. With all this weight, it is no wonder that there is room for 18!! JATO rocket units. The undercarriage is the “bicycle” type again, because of the thin wings. Only a picture of the XP-86 has been released, but the Air Force hopes to win the speed record back from the Navy with it.
Photo-editing seems to be acting up, but you still see most of the XP-86, so I'm keeping it.

For the season, II.

Then, “Kibitzer” discusses the Beechcraft Model 34, a twin-engine type but with four Lycomings driving the two propellers through extension shafts, allowing the engines to be buried in the wings. A range of 1400 miles at a cruising speed of 180mph is claimed. The engine installation sounds very elaborate for a Beechcraft plane and a Lycoming engine! Further details of the Bell XS-1 rocket plane have been released. It is heavier than expected, and so will land at an even higher speed than 110mph. It was successfully launched from a B-29 bomb bay, which makes the possibility of large bombers carrying their own fighters more plausible, and it reached Mach 0.79 in tests, which is probably the machine’s limit due to “aileron buzz.” “Kibitzer” points out that the -1 came before the -2, so it has probably done its work, and will never achieve “supersonic” speeds, because that is not what it was ever designed for. Finally, “Kibitzer” tells the tale of a DC-4 on a California run, where a trainee pilot decided to activate the control locks while flying over the Rockies. One thing led to another with the plane going into a rapid climb, followed by one of those sliding turn-down things, which ended with the plane in an inverted dive. The second pilot managed to pull out into normal flight at 1000ft, and the curious trainee has been fired. I'm just trying to imagine what happened in the passenger cabin!
We seem to have hit the pivot to video.

A short book review of H. Donovan Ward, The Other Battle discusses the Birmingham Small Arm Company’s battle to produce Browning machine guns in World War II. It is such an exciting subject (it probably involves jigs, gauges and fixtures!) that the reviewer spends most of the review describing how the chairman of the company brilliantly predicted WWII when the Air Ministry was skeptical, etc., etc. (It turns out that everyone predicted WWII except anyone who could do anything about it.) 
Four Browning Mk IIs in a Lancaster tail turret. By Kogo - Own work, GFDL 1.2,
“America’s Jets: Diverse Military Applications: Two, Four, Six and Eight-Jet Bombers” The Americans have ordered scads of new jets. I wasn’t looking forward to explaining, again, all the places the jet are stuck from one plane to the next, and where they had to move the undercarriages to make room for them, and what the wings looked like, and so on and so on, all over again. But I don’t, because this is a “pictorial!” With lots of nice pictures! But since Flight prints on cheap paper in black and white, you can get ‘em better in Life.
“Engine-off Landings: First Thorough Examination of an Aspect of Helicopter Flight Hitherto Somewhat Neglected” You can land helicopters with stopped engines. It’s good to hear that you don’t have to die when a helicopter comes apart.

“Meeting in Italy” A British model aircraft club went to Italy!

“Landing Gear Developments: Synopsis of a Paper Read by Captain Rene Lucien, AFRAeS, Before the Royal Aeronautical Society” French designers like the freely castoring nosewheel, and the steerable wheel. He had a great deal to say about modern wheel brakes, which use the “disc” system and require thorough cooling arrangements. Shock absorbers are an important part of the undercarriage, and hydraulic systems seem to work best. Modern tricycle undercarriages need careful stress testing. German designs are very good, while the British and American drop testing doesn’t seem to be sufficiently realistic. French designers have traditionally championed the use of light alloy castings to make undercarriages, but these do not now seem practical for large aircraft. Steel seems to be preferable, and as between German ones built up from tubes with welding, and American castings with or without flash welding, the American ones seem better.

Civil Aviation News

The American Civil Aeronautics Board is considering introducing a new category of “Non-certificated indirect cargo carriers,” which would ship cargo using aircraft that don’t belong to them. Air cargo brokers? Or do shipping brokers have a more indirect role? I’m a little confused, and I’ve now used “indirect” in two opposite ways. I guess the point is that the CAB is making it easier for people to ship air cargo. It’s all so very private-club business that I’m sending this along to Uncle George.

West African Airways is getting closer to existing, which is good because they’ve ordered seven Doves, and de Havilland would like to have that money. In other news, the French will soon have a national air traffic control procedure, one third of visitors to Britain this year (350,000) will come by air, and spend an estimated £20 million. Next year, the number is expected to be 450,000, of whom 100,000 will be North American. The US Department of Commerce thinks that Americans will spend $1.4 billion on foreign travel next year. BOAC is upset that the Brabazon III (the turboprop airliner) [again with the Vickers Viscount] is slow in coming, and needs a four-engined airliner to carry 32 passengers and their luggage plus 2,750lbs of cargo, normally operating at 20,000ft and flying at a  cruising speed of 320mph, with a range sufficient to cover a stage length of 1354 miles, meaning a still-air range of 2500 miles. Iraq is building an airport near Baghdad. American Overseas Airline is building an “Airways House” at Frankfurt with 200 beds and an associated 400 room hotel. Barcelona Airport has completed a concrete runway and is building another one, 3000ft. British Guiana Consolidated Goldfields is building an airfield in the Guiana goldfields. The Hughes Hercules is still gigantic, and can fly, a bit.
This is obviously a clever comment on Howard Hughes' attention-seeking, and not random placement of some nice but irrelevant images. 

Robert Carling, “Casual Commentary: Interim Misunderstandings: Charter-type Replacement Needed: Formula-Cheating: Why Not Jato” Carling, who writes, Uncle George says, just like old “Indicator,” thinks that the criticism of the interim types has been a bit much, considering that they are interim, and the Americans have their own problems with prototypes and planes entering service before they’re ready, and everyone is having trouble with pressurisation. Carling thinks that the new ICAO safety regulations may kill the small, charter twin type needed to replace the Dragon Rapide, unless people “cheat” on the formula, with, for example, high lift devices, which would be a good idea, and JATO rockets, which would be a good safety feature in the event of engine failure, and while the passengers might be a little shocked by a rocket going off a few feet from the seat of their pants, given what they’re already putting up with from the pressurisation systems, they’d probably be good sports about it. Unless JATO units are still unreliable, in which case forget it.

Inflatable Exposure Suit: Features of the British ‘Quilted’ Design” These are suits for pilots, mainly carrier pilots, who have to ditch at sea. They need to be waterproof, light, not too bulky, and highly visible. The last part is easily fixed with some yellow paint (stylish!) but the rest is a bit of a challenge for the best rubber-suit-tailors. Since the suit could flood and drag the pilot down, it also must be easily removed, which it is, with “rip strips.” The suits are not to be worn, but stowed on the airplane, so first you crash in the water, then you put on your suit, then you jump out?  

“’B’ Licence Pilot” replies to the letter from the Director of Smiths Aircraft Instruments, replying to his letter. He asks whether the SEP allows fully automatic control of landing approaches, and whether it improves on the A-12’s automatic shut off if there are gyro malfunctions. R. J. Woodhams describes Air Service Training’s work building up a Spitfire repair service in France that the French now use. R. G. Markham, of Bristol, writes that it is true, as Robert Carling says, that “stacking” procedures will have to be greatly improved before turbine airliners come in, as they are not nearly as fuel efficient while stacked as internal combustion machines. However, turboprops can be quite efficient, so this is not a good argument for continuing piston engine developments, and there is nothing stopping pilots from letting the airfield know that they must land now. There are good reasons for continuing to improve piston engines, but improved time-between-maintenance is not one of them. The Hercules is constantly increasing its time between overhauls.

Aero Digest, November 1947

For a wonder, Frank Tichenor managed to send Uncle George the right issue. There’s even a note! (Uncle George didn’t open the envelope.) Mr. Tichenor is very grateful to his old friend for his patronage through the years, wants to offer Uncle George a lifetime subscription, and reminds him of Aero Digest’s exciting new weekly supplement, “Letters to Airmen.” It’s in one of those prints that looks like handwriting.


Frank Tichenor is like my Dad, only drunk, obsessed with planes instead of hogs, and a thousand times dumber. Wait. That’s not a title. Neither is, "I'm drunk all the time now, but it's my magazine." Here's my summary: “Roosevelt was bad. Give the Air Force all your money.”

Nathaniel F. Silsbee, Managing Editor, “First With the Seeing Eye” General Harold L. George and General Haywood Hansell have joined American International Airways, which have bought APS-10s for their DC-4s. APS-10s are 123lb simplifications of the 500lb Army/Navy APS-15. Major General Harold McClelland was “largely responsible” for its development. It is a “poor man’s radar,” and is useful mainly as a mapping radar, picking up major landforms on the cockpit PPI, but it can also receive “pings” back from beacons. (That’s Reggie’s jargon, not Silsbee’s. Silsbee says that this is “secondary radar.” Reggie says that it’s a goosed-up D/F. It’s definitely not collision-avoidance or good enough for automatic landings. The APS-42 [pdf], which will be available in 1948, will be closer.)

This is the perfect Aero Digest article: Cheap publicity for some ex-USAAF hustlers running a shady airline with second-hand equipment.

(Vice-Admiral) C. E. Rosendahl, “The Airship Belongs” People should spend money on airships again.
Admiral Rosendahl is trapped by his history, much in the same way that this Flight staffer looks trapped in a Vampire's microscopic cockpit. 

Ira F. Angstadt, Technical Editor, “The Industry Speaks –Plainly: General Echols Sounded Keynote of Finletter Commission Testimony When He Said, ‘The Time is Critical’” Reggie did this thing where he’d include the subtitle with the title and then skip the article if it was dumb. Well, this is dumb. General Echols is the president of some dumb ‘plane industry lobby group, and he says that Congress needs to spend more money on ‘planes. Maybe it does. Probably it does. All the crazy people overegging it doesn’t change the fact that Stalin is a dangerous man. But of course General Echolls says so!

Guest Editorial, by Earl F. Slick, “The Airfreight Situation”

. . Earl F. Slick. What does the “F.” stand for? “Fast Talker?”  Earl is a four-year USAAF veteran who has founded his own charter airline in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Air freight is the best thing ever, and Congress should spend lots of money to make it even better.
. . . Slicks. Finding oil on the family homestead can lead to an interesting family. 

Washington Information with Richard E. Saunders

Are we on the verge of another war? Could be, if those commies get ahead in Italy! But if they get ahead in France, we should just pull out of most of Europe and “convert the rest into an armed camp.” Maybe we should do that Marshall Plan thing. Maybe we should spend all our money on ‘planes. We’re not spending enough money on ‘planes. But Senator Taft says we’re spending enough money on ‘planes! Note: Washington Information does not actually contain any information, because no-one but grifters and General Echolls will talk to Aero Digest any more. 

Roy Healy, President, American Rocket Society, “Rocket Engine Developments: A Rocket Engineer Leaves it to the Others to Tell What They’re Shooting at While He Tells Us What They’re Shooting With” Healy explains that rockets shoot reaction mass out of their back end, making whatever they’re attached to, go forward. Some things that you make rocket fuel out of, are better than others. For example, one powered by liquid oxygen and liquid fluorine sure would be Gosh-darn exciting. So would liquid hydrogen, liquid ethylene, liquid ammonia, boron hydrides and methylamines. Reaction Motor’s engine, the same one you heard about months ago, is a pretty good rocket. JATOs are good for planes. They don’t use those exciting fuels. At this point, three pages in, Healy gets into some interesting technical stuff. He’s still talking about the Reaction Motors 1500N4C, so it is still old news, but it’s interesting to hear about how the geometry of the reaction chamber and chamber wall coatings and manufacturing material can improve cooling. Using ‘micro-porous’ metals to ‘sweat’ water (a combustion product of the fuel used in the 1500NC4) sounds clever. I wonder where else they do that? Probably not in engines that use liquid fluorine! Higher operating pressures will be more efficient; better nozzle designs are possible; propellant injectors need work. Turbine pumps are a good idea.

Robert Kraemer's book, linked above, says that the Rocketdyne guys actually tested most of these exotic fuels at the LA Municipal Airport. It's zoned industrial, so it's fine to spray it with hydrofluoric acid. And, besides, they called the Fire Department to let them know when they tested! (And, yes, they mentioned the HFl part.)
“Northrop Jet-Powered Flying Wing;” “North American Swept Wing Fighter” Aero Digest’s version of the story that’s appeared everywhere else, including Time. No mention of the Boeing XB-47, though. This really is a sad magazine.
“Reaction-Powered Planes and Missiles” An unauthored article. How curious! It’s about NACA Cleveland’s experiments with ramjet-powered unmanned drones.
General Electric’s TG-180” If you haven’t seen the publicity brochure for the TG-180, an underpowered axial turbojet with water injection and an after burner, here it is!
The J-35 in service. 
“Jets for the Fleet” The USN is working on the FD-1 Phantom. The Fireball and Banshee are old news. Chance Vought came out with the XF6U-1Pirate last year. In spite of being made of something called Metallite (an aluminum/balsam honeycomb), it wasn’t very impressive. Pilots like the North American FJ-1. Grumman, originally working on a plane powered by four Westinghouse 19XBs, have dumped that design in favour of one built around the Nene, and later one with the Allison Model 400 (J33-23 or Navy J-40). The British are working on the Goblin-powered Sea Vampire and a new Hawker jet fighter with a single Nene.
By Smudge 9000 from North Kent Coast, England - HAWKER SEA HAWK FGA.6 WV908, CC BY 2.0,

Helicopter Engineering with Alexander Klemin

This is probably the feature that left your son thinking that Frank Tichenor was deliberately wasting our time. Dr. Klemin is an aviation pioneer, but all he does in these columns is gas about his old buddies. In this one, he talks about Laurence Le Page, who, you may recall, is the latest guy to say to himself, “If the engines on the wings just rotated, you could turn a prop-plane into a helicopter!” This feature could be combined with the next one, Rotary Wing World, which is a commercial for the Bell XR-12, the new United Helicopter designs, and some stuff about a new helicopter landing platform in Los Angeles for filming the Pilgrim Bowl[???].

“High Spots in High Flight” Aero Digest sent a correspondent to an SAE symposium on high altitude flying, and brings back short precis of talks by R. L. Linforth on air conditioning andpressurisation, A. A. Soderquist, on pressure sealing; Colonel E. J. Kendricks on what the Air Force is up to; Colonel A. D. Tuttle on something called “comfortisation;”  Karl Martinez (of Boeing), on the performance of electrical and radio equipment at 40,000ft, where the insulating air gap is so much smaller; and another talk by Soderquist on lubrication.

“Flight Measurements by Television” Farnsworth Television is working on television cameras that monitor the instruments installed in aircraft during test flights. Which you’ve heard about.  

What’s Up and What’s Going Up

A new feature for short blurbs from Flight and Aviation, and maybe Time if the reporting staff gets cut again. The only thing that seems interesting is a bit about a “Parachute Cannon Delivery,” but that’s just the Army kicking a pack howitzer out of a C-82 at 5000ft to see what happens.
“Avoca Airport: New Wilkes-Barre-Scranton Installation is the Largest Port East of the Mississippi”

Takeoffs and Turns

United is installing radar altimeters in its planes; Coast and Geodetic Survey has a subscription service for instrument approach and landing charts; Mine Safety Appliances Co,. has a new monoxide and fire detector for planes; Boeing now supports the underwing system for refuelling; Two Consolidated Vultee engineers are combining to promote pneumatic systems; Fairchild Instruments and Camera has a new universal pickup for “practically any” type of industrial or aircraft instrument, using a magnetic couple between instrument and pickup. Continental is buying the Hughes terrain-clearance radar, and claims to be the first airline to install radios in all its planes. There is air mail service to Japan now. GE has airport lighting equipment available, ask for it by name. Work continues on seaplane and weather research.

New Books Let’s face it, if you read Aero Digest, it's because you live out in the sticks and you can't do better. Why not let Aero Digest go down to the bookstore, buy some books for you, and ship them out to you?

“Billy Mitchell Skyway” A Skyway is a beacon-guided air route for airliners. Number 17 should be named for General Mitchell, because he is an aviation hero.

“Engine Overhaul Service Expands” Schneck Engine Overhaul and Supply is expanding in the Chicago area! Get your primary mover overhauled the Schneck way!

Kelcy Kern, “Factory Control at a Glance” Kelcy has an index card that you can fill out to control your factory at a glance.

If you didn't follow that last link, Schneck Engine Overhaul was still around, and advertising, in 1984, long after Kern's dream of organising a factory with punch cards had given way to dreams of organising it with VisiCalc. 
There follows four more pages of those “feature” inserts: another book club, a list of aviation patents, and another one on aviation equipment.
And we’re done. 

Fortune, November 1947

Unlike past issues, there’s just a single leading article, so I’m going to be American about it and call it an “Editorial.” It’s entitled, “Making the Free Market Free,” and it’s kind of loosey-goosey, but not like The Economist. It starts out by explaining why this whole issue is devoted to “American selling,” that is, distribution and sales. Then it explains that salesmen are better than central planning. Then it points out why, which is that the American economy is going great guns. This is because, even with a Treasury surplus, there’s just so much pent up demand. Since there are also shortages, much of this demand is in the form of capital investment, which was at $29 billion last year, compared with $16 billion in 1929. This bears watching from the inflation stand point. For example, people are mad at the steel industry for not investing in increased production, but new steel plants take steel, so if they were built, there would be a worse steel shortage right now, and more inflation. Another area where the market isn’t free is in trusts and monopolies. Fortune doesn’t like the Sherman Act, but it’s the best we’ve got. It also doesn’t like the various Federal and state level laws that get in the way of competition, like the various Fair Trade Acts. Looking at the rest of the world, it is too bad that the IMF, which was supposed to replace the gold standard, the British loan, which was supposed to set the sterling area right, and the tariff talks, which were supposed to restore world trade, weren’t enough. That means America has to step up with aid to save capitalism in Europe, because starving people don’t care about free markets. Once that’s done, the American salesman can go to the whole world, and not just the 48 states.

See, The Economist? That’s how you circle back to your point! That’s how an American does it.

“Mass Production Equals Mass Market” The state of the American market in 1947 is pretty good. There are various ways of measuring how much money is out there. For example, “Gross National Product” in 1947 has reached $225 billion, national income has reached $199 billion, and total personal income was $177 billion in January, has advanced to $192 billion, and will pass $200 billion sometime next year. This is not the same as purchasing power in an age of “90 cent butter and $1-dollar steaks,” and that is actually down 5% from 1946, although 60% higher than in 1929. There are, however, $70 billion sloshing around looking for things to buy and vehicles for saving. It is now certain that this will continue into 1948, when there might be, at worst, a brief recession. The postwar slump that was expected to occur during reconversion did not happen due to the fact that so many industrial sectors are simultaneously investing and expanding, which reduces the impact of the normal business cycle. So soft goods took up the slack in 1946, for example. Larger trends indicate continuing expansion. The population is up 9% since 1940, compared with an increase of 7.5% over the previous decade; the move from the country, and agriculture, which has been going on since the Civil War, accelerated. The number of people on farms has declined by 10%, from 30 to 27 million, since 1940, and the number of city dwellers has risen 13%, to 84 million, while the suburbs have increased at 14.3% to 31 millions. Some areas, notably Florida and the District of Columbia, have been growing more quickly than others, such as Texas. The birth rate, which reached 21.5 per thousand in 1944, compared with 17.3 per thousand on average during the 30s, has now risen to 26.2 in 1947. This guarantees new, “special markets” in years to come, as well as “another boom in diaper services in 1970.” The one concern on the horizon is inflation.
The American birth rate was actually at a historic low in 1971 and still dropping, but credit were credit is due to Fortune for trying to predict the future. I just hope it wasn't urging anyone to go to graduate school, on account of there being university professoring jobs for all, starting in the mid-90s.

“The Ubiquitous Buick” Buick makes cars. It is down in the pack and has relatively few dealerships, but has lively advertising, which makes it a good subject for an entire issue about marketing. Not so much for a correspondent assigned to detect the earliest signs of a new engineering industry investment! An article about an advertising company called J. Walter Thompson is even less interesting, although the next one, which is about American advertising through the ages, has some very nice pictures of, well, American advertising through the ages. Then there are articles about national grocery chain, A&P, distributor Ely and Walker, Pepsi’s new president, Walter Mack, and Bendix’s automatic clothes washer business. That’s a new engineering product, well, not that new; but it is mainly about selling them, and not new advances in the fields of keeping colours bright and whites white. Some nice pictures, though. Finally, banker Paul Mazur asks whether “Distribution Costs Enough.” If I get the gist of it, the idea is that perhaps national distribution of mass produced goods is bad for the country. Well, guess what, it isn’t! Instead, it helps alleviate the deficit of demand that led to the “economic debacle of 1929—32” and its recurrence in 1937, and which will happen again. Anyway, America is best, rah-rah-rah. Even our cakes are made in factories and distributed nationally!

Shorts and Faces Today’s short bits cover the Los Angeles car dealership impresario, “Madman” Muntz, who is snapping up Kaiser-Frasier dealerships (because of course Uncle Henry. . .); another outbreak of madness are the product giveaways on game shows. Everyone who has an opinion thinks this is terrible, although they can’t agree on just why. Businessmen (people) named Smith Davis, George A. Tinnerman, and Dorothy Simpson, of Stanley Home Products, Maplewood, New Jersey, are good at sales! Einson-Freeman, of New York, is a good advertising company. William Waters Schwab is president of J. R. Woods, the largest wedding ring manufacturer in the country, and don’t they have an interesting business, which I shall have to remember to mention to my fiancé. Zareh Garabed Thomajon had an advertisement for his haberdashery that is disguised as a column in Boston newspapers that everyone likes because it is irreverent.

. . . And that’s it! When Fortune writes about the engineering industry, it is the best magazine to read of them all, because it is prettiest, and its editors tell the authors that they must make sense. But when it decides to talk about grocery chains and washing machine salesmen instead, what is there to say?
I doubt anyone not in the industry cares, but does a loading dock off the street count as "automation taking our jobs?"

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