The Caribbean theme is developed, a bit, below.
It seems to be a habit for me to open these letters with a "Thank you," as you are so infallibly good to me, and I can only wonder why. The brochures and applications are most interesting. Except for the one for the University of Chicago Law School, which seems to be someone's idea of a bad joke. I feel a little faint to be told that if I genuinely want to go to law school in 1949, I should be starting to make my plans now! It seemed so much safer and less frightening when it was just a lark and a dream!
Not a lark, and not a dream, is the fact that I am over the North Atlantic right now, just out of Idlewild and headed for Gander. I have a seatmate, after all, because of the DC-6 grounding, but I have firmly insisted on enough space for notes, writing paper, and cypher book. My seatmate is sleeping off what smells like more than a few brandies too many, so I don't need to explain anything to him, at least until we are well past the point of no return. I am hoping to be done by then, as while this project tends to drag on every week, I have used my train time to do something never seen before in these letters. I've read my magazines in advance, and know what the stories are about! That wahy, I don't have to read with one eye and write with the other, and revise halfway through when I realise that I don't know what the story is about.
We'll see if that saves any time! Not this time, but next, there'll be another deviation from past practice, as I follow The Economist through to the end of the month, for the simple reason that it doesn't get around to explaining l'Affaire Odeon until Christmas week, and future generations reading these letters won't otherwise have a clue as to why I am making this flight.
Okay, sure, if they have any sense, they'll probably guess why my Mother is making me make this flight (and agree with me that she's off her rocker); but they won't know the business story. Which is fair enough, as I hardly know the business story. Didn't we just buy an interest in that studio as a way of getting into the silver smuggling craze? Now that the financial authorities have cracked down on that business, can't we just cut them loose? Surely it can't be financially complicated, or no-one would think that I was the person who needed to be sent over!
Grr. Have I mentioned, Grr?
Flight, 4 December 1947
“Ministries, Corporations and Constructors” Flight is on about how it is too hard to organise the building of a new airliner, because of there being same. It points out that even when one corporation rejects a plane (the Tudor), another thinks that it is wonderful (BSAA), and that just shows . . .Well, obviously the Admiral says that it shows that since Don Bennett can’t be trusted to run an airline, the Tudor is awful, but Flight isn’t going to say that, up to the moment when “Greenie” Bennett takes a Tudor right through the front door at Heathrow, undercarriage up or down. Pretty soon, no-one will order a British airliner, because of ministries, corporations and constructors. Or, wait, no, that’s the risk of reading these things before you write, because actually it’s Carling, below, who is on about Bennett’s passion for the Tudor.
“Enterprise” Flight really likes the Sealand, because Short Brothers built it on their own with no Government, and because it lands on water.
“It Wasn’t a Long Trip”
A bit about the Meteor record speed flight from Edinburgh to London follows. It’s an imitation of the Hurricane flight in the fall of 1938, complete with the very high wind speeds over ground, but it took much less time, because Meteors are so much faster than Hurricanes.
Casual Commentary by Robert Carling
Carling points out that the reason that British airliners are terrible right now is that they are all interim types, and that has given the constructors permission to throw all sorts of stuff at the wall, and it is time to see if it sticks. Or, since he abuses different metaphors, that it is time for a “weeding.”
In shorter news, the RAF has been invited to the Cleveland Air Races but may not send a jet to enter the actual race. It may just be some crazy flying. Prestwick is having its seventh anniversary.
Here and There
Cloud-seeding has worked in the Dominican Republic, and will be tried through the winter in New York. Since some Americans are going to try to fly a Piper Super Cruiser around the world, Flight reminds everyone that Field Aircraft Services imports them and assembles them in Britain, apply Mr. A. J. Walter, Steps, Deepdene Drive, Dorking (which is a real name), Surrey. Some American students at the Northrop Aeronautical Institute are assembling a small plane as a class project, and it is international news because it is like something that de Havilland students did in 1934.
“Airspeed Ambassador” The Airspeed Ambassador is still a plane, just as it was last week, and photographs very well.
P. F. Atwood, “The ‘T-Scheme:’ A Low Pressure-Loss Combustion Chamber System for Gas Turbine Engines Sometimes, you want to reduce the pressure loss in a jet turbine’s combustion chamber. For that, you have to find a way to keep a flame in a fast-moving air stream without undue loss of energy. Since 1943, this group has been working on a baffled chamber “the “T” scheme), and now it has found one. Since the work has migrated to the National Gas Turbine Establishment, that is who is getting the credit.
Atwood doesn’t do a very good job of explaining why you want to reduce pressure loss in a turbine engine, and since I am flying across the Atlantic right now (which is why my calligraphy is so spidery), I can’t
just call Reggie and ask him. So let’s pretend that I know that it is too, oh, say, improve gas mileage. “Fuel economy.” That’s what we say. “Fuel economy.”
“Composite Powered Aircraft: Engine Characteristics and Cost: Search for ‘Overall’ Performance” Remember when Ryan Aviation made a splash with a fighter with a prop engine a tiny jet engine in the back? Ben Salmond, “former Chief Engineer, Ryan Aeronautical Corporation,” is on the lecture circuit explaining why it is a great idea and the future of aviation, and not a short-term expedient.
In shorter news, Grumman’s Nene-engined F9F Panther is flying. Flight is as giddy as a schoolgirl.
“The Short Sealand” The Short Sealand is still a plane that lands on land and water, just like last week. Everyone who has land or water should buy one for every day of the week.
“Power for Gliders: Some Suggestions and Details Concerning a Detachable Lightweight Power Unit” I don’t know? You take off in your (powered) glider, fly up to “Angels 5,” hit the quick-release button, and soar away, free as a bird, perhaps after yelling “Fore,” so the people on the ground will know to put on hard hats?
In shorter news, the Ontario Department of Lands and Forests are experimenting with a Norseman with a tank in its floats, so that it can draw up lake water and drop it on forest fires.
“Round the Rolls-Royce” Flight sent a photographer over to the R.R. works to take all those pictures of people looking very serious while wearing works clothes, looking into microscopes and fiddling with instruments wearing engineer-clothes, and hovering in the background wearing manager clothes. Everyone is glad to hear that engineers wear clothes, even if they are not very good clothes.
Civil Aviation News
ICAO is “talking about talking about civil aviation again,” BOAC is leaving its repair works at Filton, but hopes to be back as soon as the British voter throws Labour out. The bit about Fairey buying your hobbyhorse makes the news. There has been a fire at Khartoum Airport, destroying two planes. Airworks reminds everyone that its planes are flying about the world, flying people. Trans-Canadian made a loss in the third quarter. Mr. Whitney Straight is to be on the Air Registration Board. The Australian airlines are still fighting each other over whether the Australian constitution lets them fly services from one airport to another, something that the Australian constitution was very lazy about not spelling out in more detail. This is very bad for Australian National, Qantas, and future generations, example-wise, as you’ll see when I deal with The Economist this week!
The sixth Atlantic weather ship, the Canadian navy’s St. Stephen, sails this week. India has another airline, and Intercontinental Air Tours is flying immigrants from England to Australia, while Trans-Oceanic is moving the hundreds of Greeks who are trying to reach Australia, using Hudsons and Lodestars sold off by the War Disposals Commission. Planes over the Atlantic will soon be able to use their VHF sets to relay radio calls from one to another so that they can talk to the airports on the far shore during magnetic disturbances. World Air Freight recently took over its first Halifax, while two “tarmac stub runway ends” have been built at Croydon to extend takeoff runs and will be open to use in December. They cannot be used for landing due to cables, beacons, trees and houses. That seems like a shabby way to treat the people in those houses, but what do I know?
Ansett Airways just refused an order to raise its fares 20%, claiming the Constitution doesn’t give the Ministry the power. Various new services exist around the world, there have been proving flights, notably a flying boat run from Hong Kong to Tokyo; and the third and last BEA teleprinter switching centre has opened at Keyline House. Now, every printer in the BEA network can be connected with any other, allowing a “conversation” between Kirkwall and Paris to inaugurate the new era in typewriters talking to each other.
It is the week for old-timers to push back! F. S. Symondson says that women pilots really are inefficient. (They can’t read maps, and are chicken of a bit of bad weather. Well, male pilots won’t ask for directions, and are reckless. So there!) Frank Courtenay writes to point out that flying boats are safe as houses. “air Transport” says that there are flying boat bases everywhere, since there is water everywhere, but not giant airstrips, and therefore the future belongs to the flying boat, contrary to David Brice, which completely misses Brice’s point, if you ask me.
The Economist, 6 December 1947
“Britain in Europe” I mentioned at the head that I’m trying the radical experiment of reading my issues of The Economist before trying to summarise them. I was patting myself on the back up there, and now I turn to this article, which I read two days ago, on the train, a cup of hot, black coffee at my side, and ---Whatever! Well, the point is clear, which is that the sixteen western European nations that are receiving aid under the recently passed American Interim Aid Bill needto organise themselves, but are likely to disappoint the Americans, who arepushing for more coordination and organisation than is desirable, but it certainly should not be for Britain to lead that trend, because the days of “splendid isolation” are past. It’s just that I can write all that with my eyes closed, and there is a page and a half of text here, and it must say something important. Maybe that if the British are too high and mighty, they won’t get as much money as they need, as it will be given out to the other sixteen nations based on what they think they need?
“France in Confusion” Here, on the other hand, I could go on for pages. Since this isn’t the last time this will come up, perhaps a short summary will serve? The Communists have been trying to trigger a general strike while paralysing the Assembly to prevent action by Robert Schuman. The strikes are finding fertile ground thanks to the very high standard of living and steady decline of French purchasing power (mainly for food) below even wartime levels. However, the general strike failed to come off, and the Government has regained control of the Assembly, and now it is going to move some Emergency Laws to help sort things out. Meanwhile, people are worried that de Gaulle is about to turn into Louis Napoleon, and the French economy is improving quite quickly, which is more than you can say about Italy.
“Transport Next Year and After” Next year is when the British railways get nationalised. The Economist looks into its crystal ball and sees trouble ahead, but much of it has to do with administrative stuff, which I think all of us readers agree is something of a pointless Economist obsession, and we’ll wait to see if any of it comes true. More seriously, raid transport must go along with doing something about road transport, and since that side of things has 48,000 licensed operators with 140,000 vehicles, nationalisation seems like an absurd notion. The Government thinks that it can get along with nationalising 10,000 vehicles or so, in which case, The Economist asks, what is the point?
|Time, being helpful|
“Last Chance in Palestine” Certainly not the last chance to talk about it, though! The Economist continues to not like the Zionists very much and suggests that they are hiding behind the British skirt, although it is not sure how, given that the Zionists have the only organised military force in Palestine, and right now the “hiding” looks more like the British preventing harsher action against the Palestinian Arabs. It is somewhere along the lines of the British protecting the Zionists from their own worst impulses, which will be a problem when the British withdraw and leave the Zionists to carry out their own version of the Partition plan, which will be harsher than the UN Majority plan and much harsher than the Minority Plan. The Economist points out that the remaining Palestinian Arab territory will lack the economic basis to be anything more than a rump state and suggests elsewhere that King Abdullah of Transjordan should probably take it over. Meanwhile, Palestinian Arabs are not doing much to organise themselves, and the Zionists are putting together a post-withdrawal government, which will probably involve a coalition of the socialist and non-socialist left, so as not to alienate big American donors.
Notes of the Week
“Cutting the Coat?” That’s some kind of British expression. This is the lead bit about the White Paper on the capital cuts, which are covered elsewhere, and explains The Economist’s objections, which are that the cuts aren’t big enough, and should be more focused on cutting home building and other construction more than they are. It doesn’t really belong here except that it involves construction, but the “revised school programme” is out, and doesn’t build nearly enough school space to adequately house all the new students, who will therefore have to have 40 students to the class room next year. Furthermore, the next expected step, an expansion of the community colleges, will require still more construction. Overall, maybe The Economist is right to say that the only actual check on British construction is the real one, which is the global shortage of timber. (Good news for you!)
|The Liverpool Blitz --What we're choosing to go slow on repairing.|
“Mr. Molotov Has His Way” No-one can agree on a unified government for Germany. The idea that Mr. Molotov gets his way is based on eastern, Russian-controlled Germany being allowed to go its own way, while the four western zones, although not the Saarland, are drawing together. The Economist wonders if “good Germans” will turn friendlier to communism in order to achieve the unification of all four sectors. The fact that life is getting ever more difficult for non-socialist democrats in eastern Europe might discourage them. I’m going to throw in a mention of a later bit that discusses the fight between the central government in Czechoslovakia and the Slovakian government, since it involves communists fighting with social democrats. Socialists are, in general “on the tight rope,” says a later note, because of the strength of the Communists in many countries. Another bit says that the international federation of trade unions really needs to decide what it thinks of the Marshall Plan in its next, spring, session, having ducked the issue this time around.
“By-election Results” The By-elections were very disappointing for those who were hoping to sweep Labour from power next week Tuesday. The Economist takes a moment to point out that, no matter how much it loves the Liberal Party, and no matter how inevitable it is that good, progressive Britons will abandon the Labour Party with all its labour-iness, for the moment the best way to be a Liberal is to hold your nose and vote Tory. There’s also a short bit about the Justice Bill, which is in the news because of moves to end executions in Britain. Later there is a short bit about changes in the workplace Damages to Injury Bill, which I mention just to be a bit more complete.
“Another Greece” Things in Italy are difficult right now. I’ll just take a moment to interrupt and mention things that come up elsewhere to put it in perspective. The Italians can’t get the raw materials to run their industries and have also forbidden industry from firing workers. Industry cannot pay those workers, and the government has been dilatory about getting subsidies to them –I am going to have to discuss Einaudi’s deflation scheme elsewhere, as that would be just too much of a digression). As a result, they are coming out all communist, with riots and such, and now the Italians are worrying that Communist hordes are hovering about their northeastern frontier, ready to descend on Italy and launch a civil war as soon as Allied Occupation troops leave, which they will do this winter.
“Defence of India’s Frontier” That worked so well I will do it again! The word this week is that Pakistan has asked Sir Claude Auchinleck to step down as the commander-in-chief of the Pakistani army, which has led Auchinleck to resign entirely. The conflict is over Kashmir, the northern parts of which have recently been occupied by tribal levies from the Northwest Frontier Agency, which has been left to Pakistan. The Economist is worried that this fractious area can’t be policed adequately by Pakistan alone, and that the end of the joint commander-in-chief presages the end of Indian involvement on the frontier, and the rise of a “Pathanistan,” or the penetration of a certain, unnamed foreign power. I, personally, would have thought that the main problem is that Pakistan and India are on the verge of war in Kashmir, and that Pakistan is moving to annex the northern parts of the province, which the tribal levies already control; and that since they can’t pay the levies, nor subsidise the tribes, about all it can do is let them occupy Kashmir. As for the fact that Pakistan has taken over Chitral, which is just a tiny slice of Afghanistan away from Russia? While the question for The Economist might be just how much communism has changed the Russian bear; everyone else is wondering whether Britishers see bears who aren’t even there.
“Vacation” The Uno is ending its current session. Some delegates are not going to have very much fun, though, as they’re off to the Korean and Greek borders to look around for peace. Since the Russians won’t let them across the line, they won't find it, but it might lead to Korean elections in the south, soon. Back at New York, the Assembly has voted to create a “Little Assembly” to get around the great power veto, mainly to get nine new countries in, so that there will be more balance between the pro-Russian and pro-American blocs, both of which seem to vote a party line. This might be why the European countries are agitating to hold the next session in Europe, far from the “fogs of Flushing Meadows.” Overall, The Economist gives the palm for this last session to Russia, which proved to have better parliamentary tactics.
“Nuts and Potatoes” The Ministry of Food is moving to restrict nut supplies in the country at Christmas. This has caused some protest, since there was a bumper global nut harvest this year, but it is just a matter of conserving foreign exchange; nuts are not a necessity. There is, though, a concern that the Ministry of Food is making too much of a profit by buying low and selling high. Of more concern is the recent news that the Ministry won’t be able to provide even the 3lb/week potato ration out of domestic supply through the winter. We’ll hear more about British food purchases in Europe later, and that’s where the potatoes will come from. What matters here is that The Economist is unimpressed by the Ministry’s excuse for delaying so long in introducing the ration. It says that it was because there was no point in going on the ration in September because the new potatoes of the season don’t keep well.
|Actually, you can keep new potatoes forever. They'll just taste like paste.|
The Economist is not impressed, since not all potatoes sold in September are bad storing potatoes. There’s a similar story about the cutting of the gas ration, which has led the Regional Petroleum Office to forbid the use of stored gas for Christmas motoring, on the grounds that it will just cause envy by neighbours. There are also short bits about the new Treasury secretary office, and the end of the strike at the Savoy, and about Chuter Ede (which is a real name) deciding not to ban the Mosleyite rallies in the East End. The Economist says that the real problem is the Communist counter-demonstrations, since they are not letting the Fascists rallies “die a natural death.”
"Ignore them and they'll go away!" Or be normalised. Whatever.
P. M. Foster writes to point out that while cheap money doesn’t fight inflation, there is no way to raise interest rates high enough to stop inflation, without choking off bank lending entirely. Therefore, other means need to be found to fight inflation. W. A. Magowan writes to point out that while a reduction in government expenditure will be deflationary, and is a good idea, it is unlikely that reducing food subsidies will be deflationary, since it will lead to a rise in the price of food! F. J. Weale writes to point out an error in the tables showing Europe’s grain needs over the next two years. The price per ton for 1948—49 is far lower than the previous year’s. The Economist replies that it will be lower than last year, due to the cheaper Canadian wheat that will be available. Frank B. Powell writes to explain the history of Australian bank nationalisation, which has been an issue for years now. He’s against it.
From The Economist of 1847
A hundred years ago, The Economist was exasperated by all those who thought that “fixing the price of gold,” as was done in 1819 (that’s the old-time way of saying “going back on the gold standard”?) was a mistake that it makes sardonic fun of the way that they think that it has caused bank runs, rail bubbles, poor harvests, and war. (By virtue of forcing the British to make diplomatic openings to France and Russia, as these sinister foreign powers use their influence in the name of war and chaos.)
|So apparently a long-running debate about the gold standard in Regency Britain has become unhistory? I'd love to see the story about how the gold standard forced Britain to go "crawling" to Russia.|
James Warburg has a book out about Germany, which will either be Germany: Bridge or Battleground depending on whether capitalists and communists kiss and make up, or fight. SirJames Jeans’ last book of scientific popularisation, The Growth of Physical Science, is not as good as the earlier ones. E. Da Costa’s Indian Industry Today andTomorrow is also not very satisfactory, since it fails to reconcile the need for producing more investment capital and improving the consumption of the poverty-stricken masses with his hopes for a “vast capital expenditure and generous exports to other Eastern countries.”
“New Channels for Trade”
The Geneva talks have the Americans patting themselves on the back for reversing the course of increasing protectionism all the way back before the Underwood Tariff of 1913. The United States has therefore “recognised the implications of its creditor position,” which is that if it is going to lend all that money to get foreign trade going, it needs to open itself up to imports so that people can earn the US dollars to pay those loans back! Perhaps this is easier at a time when imports aren’t likely to amount to very much and will be a welcome way of soaking up some excess cash, if they do come. Meanwhile, exports, by leading to more money chasing even fewer goods, will lead to more inflation.
“Eccles versus Snyder” Inflation has the Americans in a tizzy, as several stories here and elsewhere underline. One aspect of this is the continuing gold inflows (Canada has even started subsidising its gold exports!), which is leading to inflationary pressure. There’s a lovely bit in the story that covers this, a little later, about the 1936 Republican election platform, which called for a return to the gold standard, and was against importing foreign gold! Marriner Eccles wants to use the powers he has to “sterilise” this inflow. He thinks that this is desperately needed, as gold imports may reach $3 billion for the year, before the Marshall Plan aid begins to flow in earnest. The idea is that gold imports create inflation in two ways –the newly “created” money (since banks can lend on the strength of gold in their vaults, or, in America, held for them at Fort Knox) is used to buy exports for foreign markets; and the remainder of the new money created on the back of the gold deposits is injected into the American economy as investment capital, seeking too little steel, lumber and so on. His sterilisation plan is simply to force the banks to hold their reserves in government bonds. The same scheme, aiming at bank cash reserves not the result of gold buying, can reduce the amount of money on the loose, and thereby bring down inflation. However, Snyder wants to get back to price controls. He thinks that price decontrol in 1946, notably in the housing construction sector, are the cause of much of the current problem. Meanwhile, the Administration is looking to heavy tax payments, due in January, and cuts in government spending, to get inflation under control. Since everyone disagrees, Congress can hardly be blamed for “refusing to be stampeded into action.” Also in inflation news, talk of yet another round of wage increases and strikes, although the AFL and CIO say that they would prefer price controls.
There’s also some tea-reading about the chances of General Eisenhower—I can’t go on, because I don’t want to end up with my head on Mr. Timm’s shoulder. He’s much too old for me, and I am engaged. Although his eyes showed a light of interest when it emerged that I’m not carrying a picture of my fiancé. I think I used it to mark a page in last year’s MIT Yearbook?
The World Overseas
“Austria: The Cost of Indecision” Austria, like Germany, is divided into occupation zones. Might it be partitioned between communist east and capitalist west? Possibly!
“Rumbling in Malaya” The Economist has sent a special correspondent to Malaya, who really needs to talk to Wong Lee. The details are established: Counting in the Straits settlement, there are more Chinese in Malaya than Malayans, which upsets the Malayans. Not counting Singapore, there are more Malayans, which makes “democracy” possible, in Malayan eyes. However, says our Special Correspondent, if they were given independence and democracy in the peninsula, they would promptly all join Indonesia, as pan-Malayan dreams are afire in every Malayan heart. Meanwhile, there are some communists up in the hills claiming to have formed a provisional government, but who cares about them except for all the RAF planes bombing them. As I said, Wong Lee warned me that this is turning into a civil war or communist insurgency, so it is odd that The Economist dances around the idea –Well, odd until you appreciate just how much the dollar balance depends on rubber!
“Politics on the Equator” The Economist is running a series on the “Latin American North,” and this week it is about Ecuador. I mention this to be complete, because the story is very much in the spirit of “Latins are excitable.” Although The Economist is more apt to acknowledge that the excitability has to do with the horrid class divide that keeps the poor, poor, and the rich looking over their shoulder at more progressive Venezuela.
“Stalled at Geneva” For a change, The Economist has better coverage of the stalled ICAO talks at Geneva, which are stalled over the higher-numbered air freedoms, which mainly have to do with the big-country airlines stealing the business of small countries, as far as I can tell.
The Business World
“The Capital Cuts” The Economist gets serious about discussing the swingeing capital cuts in new construction and new plant, but not in shipbuilding, despite American protests. I’ve already mentioned that The Economist isn’t satisfied that enough is being done to cut construction, so I won’t go over it again here, even though it has some new information about labour allocations –specifically, the way things are being done won’t release enough construction labour to the export industries. I will mention that while the full railway programme of 600 locomotives and 48,000 wagons will proceed, the building of coaching stock and overhaul of arrears of renewals (renovation in American talk) will be curtailed. Electricity generating installations will be speeded up this year, then cut back in subsequent years, with the machinery originally built for that expansion, turned over to exports.
“Future of the Sterling Area” As far as I can gather, this all being beyond my scarce ability to construe (let me explain The Wasteland instead!) the future of the Sterling Area is in doubt due to small concessions made to Eire, Iraq and Egypt, which are using them to the full, and large ones to South Africa, which has some leverage, in that it is South African gold that Britain is exporting to America. Fortunately, apart from the small countries, everyone else is doing their best to keep the Sterling Area afloat.
The title, as usual, mainly means finance news, of little interest to us. (Except that the rules for managing the sail of home rail stocks prior to nationalisation are out.) There’s more about the heavy gold sales, this time from the British side, and a bit about the “Odeon Affair.” As I’ve already said at the head, I am going to break our long-standing tradition around here and look at the end-of-month issues of The Economist, so I’ll leave the discussion of these rank matters (it’s a pun!) until then. Of far more importance is the news that the way is clear for coal exports, which might get Britain in the black and Europe back to work.
Now that's what I call family friendly British cinema
“Canada’s Import Ban” Canada is running a trade balance with the United States on the order of $800 million a year, which can’t continue. As far as the Brits are concerned, this has meant difficulties in getting Canadian food, due to the Canadian need to have half the payment in US dollars. Britain is baulking, and Canada is intimating that they won’t get all the wheat in the contracts if they don’t take the bacon. As far as America is concerned, there are already the restrictions on taking money out of the country, and now a variety of imports have been banned or put on quotas.
“Missing the Export Target” Exports are up, but not enough, and there’s not enough labour for textiles, meaning pay must go up, making exports less competitive, etc., again. Later, it points out that there is going to be a delay in the shift of production targets from capital investment to export, because the same goods aren’t needed for export. Rayon production, as an example of something, hit 20.1 million lobs, a new record, but went mainly to exports, and not to the home weaving, knitting and tyre industries. I say “but,” because as I understand it, higher-value added exports are better, so this is an example of where labour shortages are hurting British exports? I think?
“Disappointments in Rubber” The British are still fighting with the American synthetic industry to get more natural rubber into America. Some people think that the British negotiators aren’t up to the job.
“’Spivs’ and Currency” There is too much currency in circulation in Britain, and the popular press has decided that it is because “spivs” are using it to run the black market. The Economist says that it is more likely to be Europeans holding onto British currency. It is also concerned that the initial payment of war damages will inject even more money, and inflation, into the economy, although bank loan activity is falling with the rising interest rates.
Furness, Withy and Company, Ltd, Speaking of breaking precedent, we usually ignore the company statements at the back of The Economist, as they aren’t really news, but I thought I’d mention this one, as the ship owning company is quite disgruntled by the fact that it won’t see many of the 14 ships it has on order before 1950 due to various delays, that it is upset about rising costs, and it notes that Britain has, or will have, after the American returns next month, 14 million tons of shipping compared with 16 million tons in 1939, which is a considerable loss in invisible export earnings, and that the 1.5 million tons under construction won’t make up the lack, not even accounting for the need to replace obsolescent ships.
Flight, 11 December 1947
“Education or Specialisation?”
“Education or Specialisation?” Iron and Steel had an editorial about how the schools are getting too specialised and Flight wants to talk about this. My French Novels prof goes on about this, and I made the mistake of bringing it up with Uncle George at Thanksgiving and got the hundred-year-mystery-tour version of this debate about whether student engineers are not being taught enough engineering, or else too much. He did this thing where he put his hands up as though he were steering a car (which is a frightening thought as you must know, unless you’ve never let George drive), and pretended to swerve across the road. “Look out polytechnics!” He yelled. “Almost got you, red bricks!” Then, “I’m sorry, comprehensives!” At which point Grace said something about putting the brandy away, so we never got to the point of sideswiping the grammar schools and colliding head on with gymnasiums.
“Progress” The new Seagull won’t be used for spotter-reconnaissance duties, but only air-sea rescue, which reminds Flight that there was a Vickers-Supermarine Seagull twenty-five years ago, too, and it was very different from the new one, and that’s progress.
“Civil Aviation” They’ve reorganised the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
“Prestwick Progresses” Prestwick is an airport in Scotland. It is closer to America than London. That’s why planes used to land there. (It’s why I landed there. Maybe I will again, in a few hours. But not on purpose.) Planes don’t like landing there, because it is in the middle of nowhere. (aka "Scotland.") Prestwick doesn’t like that. Prestwick is owned by a consortium that includes the Duke of Hamilton and the Earl of Selkirk. They are very rich. Rich people tend to get what they want. That is why Prestwick is progressing towards something that is not “Being closed,” and why the Prestwick Pioneer gets a two-page story. They also overhaul and convert Dakotas, which sounds like real work, and have a contract to put a Nene in a Liberator. To test it some more, I guess. I don’t know why they couldn’t just use a Lancaster, and I’m not sure that I would if I could have been bothered to read the paragraph! It also has an instrument flying school, which also sounds like real work. In shorter news, but on the same page, the “FBI Register is out,” which is much less exciting when you remember that in Britain “FBI” is Federation of British Industries. One of those industries is Fibreglass, Limited, started by Chance Brothers, way back in 1930, but kept secret in the war years, when fibreglass was used to make filters and insulation. Hugh Chance got up at a cocktail party and mentioned that the company has also licensed Owens-Corning patents since 1938, when it started making fibreglass fabrics, and have an arrangement with Pilkington Brothers to pursue the textiles side of things. Reggie says that fibreglass is super, super itchy, but if the designs are nice, well, who knows? Fashion is a cruel mistress.
|They do not, in fact, make clothes out of fibreglas. Source (Pinterest), model not identified.|
Here and There
Britain exported £11 million in aircraft “from January to October, 1947.” That’s a big number and a stupid statistic!
|Who needs ten month statistics for anything?|
The Ambassador is much faster than Flight said last week. Flight regrets the error. Field-Marshal Montgomery was the guest star at the opening of Johannesburg Airport, because Lillian Gish wasn’t available. Leonard Newell, the 54-year-old development engineer at Percival, has died. Parliament is up in arms over the suggestion that some foreign countries (namely Russia) mount guards on their planes at Northolt, because it is un-British.
Australian National Airways has recently moved 254 sheep from the Outback to the National Sheep Show. If I were Australian, I’d be trying to hide under my seat right now. I think Flight printed this to get back at them for taking all the migrants. . . Aries II is off to South Africa to do science-flying with a new direct-reading compass. The Australian flying dentist recently had an air accident, when he was warned off Darwin because a Lancastrian was coming in. Since he only had an hour’s fuel, he landed in a swamp, and there was an air search, and he and his passenger is fine, but his plane is not, and I suspect that he is very, very mad. George Truman and Clifford V. Evans have just finished their round-the-world Piper flight with a leg from Canada to California.
The Prime Minister of Ulster has refused to intervene in the strike at Short and Harland. There is to be an aircraft’s instrument show in London.
American Newsletter, by “Kibitzer” “Progress Review of the ‘Heavies:’ Fourteen out of Sixteen Have Flown: Hughes’s Gesture of Defiance”
‘Kibitzer’ says that Americans are following the Brabazon I with great interest, because they have built many, many “Heavies” of over 115,000lbs auw, and think that the British are probably underestimating how hard it is to develop them. Americans are quite proud that the XF-12, B-32, B-29, B-50, DC7, Mars, B-19, Constitution, B-35, B-40, B-36, DC-99 and Hughes Hercules have all flown, that the B-47 soon will, and that the (Boeing) B-52 probably will, eventually.
|I think that's the first mention here of the Buff. I'm not linking to all those planes, by the way. It's too much work.|
There may also be a Lockheed six-engined jet transport of 140,000lbs, a Boeing commercial flying boat of150,00lb, a Consolidated cargo-cum-transport boat of 150,000lb, and a Martincommercial boat of 165,00lb, too. These would all be very big, but well short of the 200,000lb+ weight class of some of the biggest existing planes, and it might be that the new “heavies” will continue to be lighter until we have more experience with types like the Brabazon I and the Consolidated XC-99. Of the existing types, the F-12, DC-7, Mars and Constitution are all in very limited demand, mainly because either the plane itself, or the engines are too large and inefficient to make them economical. The B-36 bomber will be watched with interest, because the Air Force needs it, so it will fly in numbers and tell us something about 200,000lb+ airplanes. I have to wonder what “Kibitzer’s” been poppin’ to think that the Hercules has “flown,” but that’s a question we ask about Uncle Henry all the time! His point is that the Brewster Committee was terrible for trying to investigate it (Uncle Henry and Howard Hughes, shady? I’ve gone as white as Mother’s dreams!), and Howard is a hero for taking off in it. (That’s the “gesture of defiance.”) Not a wise hero, “Kibitzer” thinks, but a hero.
“Civil Air Operations: An Appreciation of the Long-term Problems to be Faced by Airline Operators and Aircraft Designers: Precis of a Talk Given by Mr. N. E. Rowe, given to the Royal Aeronautical Society” Airlines need to be more regular and safer. Future traffic has to be forecast accurately before new airliners are ordered. The number of airliners in service should be minimised. Various diagrams show how better instruments, better ground control facilities, and better airplanes interact to make services more regular in bad weather.
“Cymru yn Dangos y Ffordd: ‘Wales Shows the Way,’ with a Little Help from BOAC” BOAC’s new engine repair shop is in Wales. The way in which repair shops work is discussed at length. Do you want to know about how you economise with a degreasing machine by ensuring that the soaking basin is fully loaded with bolts and washers before it goes in to the hot bath? Then this is the article for you!
In shorter news, the RAeS threw a party for Mr. Leslie Irvin, and are hoping to have more, because parties are fun.
“Advanced Amphibian: Structural and Aerodynamic Features of the Most Recent Vickers-Supermarine Seagull” The Seagull is the one with the variable-incidence wing, which really is quite exciting. They’ve given it a speed range of 54mph-260mph, which is probably the widest range of any aircraft its size and is exactly what you want in a transport seaplane, providing that it can pay its way on economy. That, I think, will be the problem, because you not only need all the extra structural elements for the moving wings, but also the motors and drive mechanisms that move the wings. (It is an AC system with a BTH engine-driven alternator giving 8.5KW at 200 volts, 400 cycles, 3 phase, with an emergency system involving a battery and a convertor, in case the engine fails.) There are all sorts of loads on the wings, including the carriers for bombs, and a full-span Handley-page slotted flap that must vary in incidence along with the wing, and a jettisonable fuel tank. The engines are various makes of Griffon, with water-methanol injection to get it up to 2500hp, driving a six-bladed contra-rotating prop, which sounds, to me, awful “hot” for a glorified rescue plane!
“GAPAN and BALPA” If you can’t remember what the acronyms stand for, and, God knows, I can’t, they’re two different kinds of unions or associations for British pilots, and they recently had an Occasion, although not one Occasional enough for formal wear unfortunately, because there is nothing like a pilot in white tie and tails! Meow!
Civil Aviation News
BOAC recently sent a Short Solent so-called “Severn” soaring South Africa-ways, scouting soi-distant –I’m going to quit now, because now that I’ve translated it, you can’t even see what I was trying to do in the first place. The point is that BOAC is “proving” the Lakes route to South Africa. Again. Because it didn’t work the first time, and no-one wants flying boats any more, so why not . . . And now I’m just being silly again. BOAC is moving its Atlantic base from Dorval to Filton (that didn’t take long!) because of the dollar. Or Some other reason that doesn’t sound so desperate. (To use the giant Brabazon assembly hangar, maybe? But won’t that get in the way of building more Brabazons? Haha.) Lord Nathan has formed a Council of Advisors to Advise him on Civil Aviation. The preliminary results of the DC-6 accident investigations shows that gas caused the fires. Faulty arrangements allow gas being pumped from one fuel tank to another to run into the cabin heating system, which uses combustion heaters. Changes will have to be made before the DC-6 can return to service, ending “considerable upsetting of airline schedules” and “financial loss,” and me being squeezed into a window seat by a middle-aged American businessman who is very curious about where I “learned to write Chinese.” I told him that I am just doing a word game out of my copy of Water Margin, which is true as far as it goes. Belgian Air Transport A.S. has bought 10 Stirlings from war surplus stock and is having them overhauled by AirTech so that they can inflict them on people who are desperate to fly to Peking, which is how Flight says it, not having been told about the name change, or not willing to make changes for as long as the Koumintang are likely to last there. IATA is recommending that ICAO expedite the building of Consol radar beacons on Norway,Northern Ireland, Iceland, the Azores, Newfoundland and Bermuda, as already agreed at the Dublin meeting, as it is possible that the North-Eastern chain of LORAN beacons may have to be shut down in 1948, when channels are no longer available to them. BEA is continuing the staff cuts forced by the travel ban, with an estimated total of 1500 people to leave the Corporation’s service. This is not as bad as originally feared, due to traffic not being down as far as expected. Trans-Australia Airlines made a loss in the last quarter. The Croft Airfield scheme to provide a Continental service from Northeast England has been abandoned. Now that Qantas is using Constellations on its London-Sydney route, the Lancastrians are only for cargo. The Constellation service will be three flights a fortnight. BEA has been giving out cards to passengers to record their comments about the air service. Matson Navigating Company has been using DC-4s to fly a San Francisco-Hawaii service since UAL had to withdraw its DC-6s due to the grounding. Various new airlines, airports, and air services exist, and the Australians are going to look into testing their pilots to make sure they are keeping up their skills after the recent DC-3 crash.
F. S. Symondson and Arthur D. Johnson have opinions about older pilots. P. H. Pimblett thinks that the Vickers Viscount is a terrible idea that exists only to kill the Ambassador, and, by a simple extension of the logic (that’s code for “I have no idea what he’s on about”), the Avro Tudor, too. F. B. Clark thinks that large flying boats are the air-freight carriers of the future, and “Campanologist” thinks that it will be impossible to standardise flying aids and blind landing procedures until all the interim devices have been sorted out. H. R. Bunn, who ran an experimental establishment looking into parachutes in the last war, writes a long, long letter reminiscing about those days. “Ventilator” writes that there are too many vehicles running around London Airport, and that the Airport is trying to get it under control; and that the reason some wartime airmen aren’t employed is that they won’t apply for work that needs doing, such as organising all the vehicles running around the tarmac.
Carol of the Bells, because "campanologist."
The Economist, 13 December 1947
“Germany, the Real Issue” It’s communism. See last week. Also, there are two Leaders on this general tone, so I can skip a lot of words! I should mention, although it doesn’t come up until later, that the Germans have recently been kicking up a fuss about the way that Bizonia,is not remitting all the money received for selling German exports to German suppliers. The Economist ruefully admits that this is the case, and says that the Germans shouldn’t get upset, as the surplus cash accumulating in the Bizonia offices is not being disbursed for administrative reasons.
“Malthus at Manchester” Winston Churchill said last week at Manchester that Britain can’t feed 50 million people on domestic production, and can’t pay its way on exports, due to Socialism, so twelve million Britons must emigrate, and it is a shame. The Economist thinks that that is complete rubbish to think that people will emigrate from Britain, driven by hunger. It is certainly not happy with cheap money and housing drives, but the worst of that folly is behind us, and now we mainly have to worry about the “erosion of individual liberties,” (on which in further detail see this weeks archives for more details) and will Mr. Churchill get off his lazy rear end and supply something more than criticism.
“Food for Sterling” Britain needs more food, and the Europeans need more sales, and are willing to take Sterling. Everyone ought to be fine, except that the prices Europeans want are too high, and the British are in trouble, because they can’t be seen to turn down foreign eggs, cheese and bacon when commons are short in Britain. In the light of the breakdown of Danish talks and the disappointingly small Irish agreement, The Economist urges compromise and flexibility. By the way, the Ministry of Agriculture is going to take 30,000 Polish and Eastern European workers to cover the gap left by the repatriation of the last German prisoners of war.
Notes of the Weeks
“Congress Against Time” It may seem like Congress is acting slowly, but it is not.
“Priorities in Overseas Development” The Ministry of Food’s new Overseas Food Corporation is a mistake, because it gets another ministry involved, and it is doing dumb things. For example, putting money into the Ground Nuts Scheme to get mass ground nuts growing (“Peanuts!” Why can’t they just say “Peanuts!?”) in East Africa while starving West Africa of locomotives and cars and rails to get more of its peanuts to market. And perhaps East Africa would prefer to keep its labour for the jute mills, which earn more exports? It all seems like favouring the British consumer over East Africa. Say what you will about Socialists. It’s something to see them uniting the colonial masses and the colonial exploiter! (who don’t get all their own way, as the Malayan income tax is back.) By the way, in covering last week I unaccountably failed to mention the strikes in Trinidad and Uriah Butler. Now I have! As I’m on a roll with exploiting the masses and colonialism, I’ll mention a nine-day wonder over an “Eastern Cominterm” meeting in Vladivostok to promote the expansion of communism in East Asia.
Something a bit more contemporary.
At home, The Economist thinks that the 3 million acres to be reserved for the Armed Forces is not an unreasonable amount of land, but that more of it should be up in Scotland or somewhere, and that the Armed Forces are being unreasonable about it. It is also still insufferably pleased about last year’s decision to drop the 1951London World Exhibition, as it would be too extravagant to build a “worthy successor” to the Crystal Palace. The Economist is also pleased that the alien doctors and pharmacists who were allowed to practice in Britain during the war without “regularising” their status will be “regularised,” and hopes that the dentists will do the same. It is all very much an exception from all that “trade union” and “anti alien” sentiment that’s so common around and about.
Hartley Shawcross writes to say that the World Court could solve more of the world’s problems if countries would just submit their disputes to it. Gilbert Walker has technical criticisms of the article about transport next year and after that I’ve already put in my discussion. Oops!
From The Economist of 1847
The Economist used to be very snide about things. This time, it is about people going around and looking at sewers, drains and cesspits. First, it is horrid that aristocrats are doing it, because that leads middle class people to follow their example, and do it, too. Second, all this worrying about sewers is down to the cholera epidemic, and soon if everyone is trying to drain cesspits to fight cholera, people will get the idea that it is the Government’s job to fight cholera –and flu, too! Pretty soon, the Government will be everywhere, and people will lose the fundamental right to –I leave you to fill in the blank.
|Chinese officials distribute famine relief, 1847. Now that's how you troll an old-time Liberal. Also, am I reading this right? Is The Economist (1847) coming out against public sanitation?|
Usually, this feature is long. Usually, the books reviewed aren’t histories of the Times of London and a study of the Italian tax system. (If you want it, your local library or bookstore might find it if I tell you it is by Sergio Steve.)
“The Power to Investigate” We start with some constitutional vapourings about how the Constitution doesn’t say that endless investigative committees are the main power of Congress, and, yet, here we are with HUAC and the Brewster Committee. On the bright side, we now know that General Meyers is terrible. On the less bright side, we have, depending on where you stand, the fact that Richard Nixon is sponsoring some legislation about communism being bad, or that Helen Gallaghan Douglas is sponsoring some legislation giving witnesses called before the committees right of counsel and cross-examination, amongst other moves to restrict the work of the committees after the Brewster blow-up and the Hollywood hearings. Which is bad, The Economist thinks. The Economist thinks that voters can tell Congress it has gone too far at election time. Hmm.
“The Battle for Controls” The revived price control bill that Snyder was teasing last week has been placed before Congress. Whether it is a good bill or not, it wrong foots Taft something awful, so there’s that.
There’s two bits on business last year that show that the economy has been going great guns, one about the Attorney General’s list of organisations that civil servants can’t belong too without being fired unless the have a very good reason, and Averill Harriman’s attempt to take charge of civil aviation from CAB.
The World Overseas
“Deflation in Italy” I’ve already mentioned this, and I’ll say a bit more about it. Luigi Einaudi, the Vice Premier and the Governor of the Bank of Italy (but not at the same time, because that would be wrong), is pushing a deflationary scheme, the main tool of which are increased interest rates and reserve limits, with any excess of more than 40% of deposits over last year’s total to be used to purchase government bonds. People wonder whether the country can take the hardship caused when credit-starved industry underemploys even more people, and there is the farcical sight of the Communists backing shareholders. (The communist argument is that the crashing Italian stock market has been engineered by the di Gasperi government to give Americans a chance to buy up Italian industry on the cheap.) Unfortunately, the amount of money in circulation is still increasing. I wonder if Italy has spivs? Probably.
“Finland Works its Passage” Finland might be under the all-too-close scrutiny of Russia, but as long as it is delivering on its export obligations to Russia, the Russians aren’t very interested in promoting Finnish communism. The Finns are poor, but hard working, and their situation is improving quickly,
. . If this seems short, I’ve already dealt with the topics of two large features, on Uno’s second year and Palestine.
The Business World
“Britain’s Exchange Reserves” The last tranche of the American Loan will not be froze, in response to the suspension of convertability, after all. So where does that leave Britain’s reserves? The Americans have become much more understanding and cooperative since the loan was negotiated, and the current issue of the Monthly Digest of Statistics shows Britain’s reserves holding firm. Unfortunately, that has a lot to do with gold, as exports to the hard currency area declined in the third quarter. “Invisible” earnings (shipping, tourism, copyrights, banking services, what have you) might be increasing, as far as can be told, since the numbers don’t allow them to be disentangled from Britain’s foreign entanglements –in other words, the money that Britain pays for the privilege of oppressing Jews/Arabs/both/neither. Hopefully, once Britain stops doing that, things will get a great deal better. The Economist is also worried that the usual miscreants (India, Ireland) are spending too many of their Sterling-areas dollars on American things, and that this more than offsets the noble restraint of worthy Australia and New Zealand.
“Rubber and Geneva” This is more about the problem of getting natural rubber into America over the protective hurdles that have been set up around the synthetic rubber industry. It has a little more to say about the technical issues –the difference between G.S. artificial rubbers, which compete, not very well, against natural rubber; the special synthetic rubbers that can be used where natural rubbers cannot (right now, research may fix that); and recycled rubber, which actually isn’t rubber at all, but rather more-or-less bulk filler, due to all the contaminants that come back to the plant with it. The point of this digression is that recycled rubber shouldn’t count for as much against import quotas as it does.
I can’t believe this is still going on! The price of rubber is decontrolled, so the basic protection of the American industry is that the car tires are required by law to be made of a certain proportion of artificial and recycled rubber, and no-one wants those terrible tires. This isn’t like beet sugar versus cane sugar, where no-one can tell the difference except by price, and you can’t comparison shop and tell that you, the cake-and-candy-eating American, are any the worse off. This about your tires doing the little things that matter, like getting you around sharp corners and stopping you before the intersection!
I suspect that if I looked, I could find some pretty serious road carnage stuff from the late Forties. I don't think we appreciate just how dangerous the roads were in those days.
Once again, I find that I’ve already shared the interesting bits about the foofaraws over “home rails shares,” Canada’s trade policy and the American gold scare. There’s good, although boring news about improvements in the way that steel is being allocated in Britain. The Economist is upset that Greece, Italy and Poland have been allowed to devalue their currencies by stealthy schemes involving coupons, which get around the Bretton Woods Agreement. (The Italian scheme is explained in detail in a separate feature, if you’re curious about how it all works. God knows I’m not.) The Economist is also upset that several companies have made unexpected write-downs in their annual reports, and that there have been more wage claims. Although they are in industries that are short of labour and pay below the prevailing rate in competing industries, stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
“Oil Bunkering Crisis” Some more concrete –and frightening news is that American East Coast bunker oil suppliers are refusing to enter into extended contracts due to the increasing shortage of oil. Shipping companies that converted from coal to oil don’t look so smart now, do they? Asks The Economist. Uncle George says, “Yes, they still do.”
“The Jute Riddle” India and Pakistan (the eastern bit, specifically) are in a fight over jute, which is globally short. Indian textile mills are eager to get Pakistani jute, which seems to be getting in the way of Pakistan’s attempts to develop Chittigong as an export port (for jute) and India’s attempts to prevent same, at the same time. Somehow. Also, remember that story about nuts? People are saying that British official monopoly buyers are doing the same with copper, buying cheap on the global market, and selling dear at home.
|Jute (Molokhia) soup|
“Textile Shortage and Labour” I know, I know, you’ve heard about this so many times before. It’s still news, although it is not entirely clear why exports are falling. A much more interesting wrinkle is that one possible solution is to convert more semi-automatic looms to automatic working. To do this, the British industry will need many more automatic looms, and the talk is that some mass production factories for automatic looms should be set up in Britain (because they are mainly imported, I think?), which will then be supplied to the more “progressive” firms on easy terms.
|A Northrop Loom. By švabo - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5102137. Interesting to find a Northrop working with a Draper, although I suspect that only the Northrop is related to the later tech giant.|
And that’s it, since this time around the financial news has been pushed to the bottom of the page. As I’ve said, I’m going to return to The Economist next time, to follow the fate of the Odeon group –and also tedious stuff like global deflation.
Aero Digest, December 1947
N. F. Silsbee, and R. E. Saunders, “Cold Weather War” Since the Communists are poised to attack America across the wintery wastes of the north polar regions, it is time to head off to Alaska to find out how the USAF is getting ready for a “Cold War” that is not “Just a figure of speech.” Mainly, it is getting ready to defend America by attacking Soviet Russian industrial targets; the Russians are getting ready to do that, too. Neither side is ready, but the Russians are further ahead, except in minor areas like planes and bombs. To show how seriously the Air Force takes this, Nathan Twining has been sent from Wright Field to Alaska to look after the B-29s there, and five air groups tasked with experimental flying.
|Since we've pretty much given up on journalism here.|
Cy Caldwell, “Pan Am: Nine Day Wonder” Cy Caldwell is one of the great big-mouths of old time aviation, I’m told, and here he is, publishing articles in Aero Digest. Someone should be proud. (Grace would say, “Or short of liquor money.”) Since he’s famous, he doesn’t have to do real journalism, so instead here’s an article about what Cy remembers about Pan Am’s history.
Eddie Rickenbacker, “Air Power is Peace Power” If America had all the planes, it could blow up everybody, and everybody would know it, and there would be no war.
Talk of the Trade
Someone has a new airfield, some airlines bought planes, a guy has a new address, TWA gave its sucking-up award to Nathan Silsbee.
Washington Information with Richard E. Saunders
Fresh from thinking about Alaska for a minute, Richard develops the key point that the Marshall Plan means that America needs to buy more planes. Makes sense to me!
Reaction-Powered Planes and Missiles
“Lightweight Turboprops” Americans have developed a number of these, of 500 to 750 brake horsepower equivalent, including the Flader XT-33, Wright XT-35, Northrop-Hendy XT-37, Allison XT-39, and other units “still in development.” “As far as is known, in this class they easily lead the world.” That is because the big British turboprops, the Python, Proteus and Clyde, are much bigger, and the Theseus rather bigger. However, the British have developed smaller plants in the 500—1500 brake horsepower equivalent class, including the Bristol Janus, de Havilland H.3, Mamba, Dart and Naiad. These either can’t be very good engines because of the Americans leading the world, or else the 500—750hp class is different from the 500—1500hp class. The article then gives a few details of the British plants, all of which could have been taken from very old issues of Flight (no mention of the Viscount), before describing the “Flader turboprop,” of which I’ve never heard. It’s very promising, Aero Digest says. It then goes on to point out that after all the development work on all those bombers, only the North American B-45 seems ready for orders. Meanwhile, the Russians took several German jet bombers, and with their unlimited development money, are sure to field a new jet fighter any minute now. Also, the Douglas Skyrocket is nice, and GE has a turbine division.
|Journalism? Integrity? We don't do|
Frank Tichenor, “Sound Advice” If I had to guess the reason that there is an editorial down here, it is that the “Reaction-Powered Planes and Missiles” feature couldn’t be stretched to the bottom of the page, so Tichenor was tasked with coming up with an “editorial.” It consists of Tichenor telling us what his friend, Major C. C. Moseley, thinks. Major Moseley (he’s the president of the Cal-Aero Technical Institute) says that America needs more planes, not more tradespeople. So instead of training tradesmen, it should give subsidies to private schools that train tradesmen.
J. Austen King, Project Engineer of Compressors, Ranger Aircraft Engines, “Axial Flow Compressors Are Simple” I had no idea that Ranger had anything to do with compressors, axial or otherwise, but they do, and here is J. Austen to explain how they work, using the Westinghouse XB19 as an example. It looks like a solid article to me –by which I mean that it has equations!
“The B-D Computer” Minneapolis-Honeywell has developed a device that automatically calculates bearing or direction from an omnidirectional radio beacon few inputs.
Alexander Klemin, “Helicopters by Night” Alexander talked to his buddies about flying helicopters at night. It turns out that it is possible, but it helps to have lights.
Rotary Wing World
Frank Piasecki says that he’s ready to sell some helicopters. Kellett says that its helicopters will be swell. Kamen Helicopters has a contract to supply the Navy with an experimental type with automatically feathering rotors.
|The first Minneapolis-Honeywell computer! First you get the name, then, later, you get the technology. It's kind of like artificial intelligence.|
Mather M. Eakes, Jr., Aviation Editor, Daily Oklahoman, “Overhauling Jets for the Air Force” Eakes went down to Tinker Field to see how the Air Force overhauls jet turbines. They do it with care. I’m not being dismissive. There’s no information here! I know, I know, I'm never satisfied. First I'm complaining about being told about how you organise a degreasing heater, now I'm complaining that there aren't enough details. That's because I'm a woman, and I'm never, etc., etc. And if you nod along to that . . Grr!
Bo Lundberg, Acting Director, Aeronautical Research Institute of Sweden, “’Bear-up Requirements for Aircraft: ‘Fatigue Strength,’ the Engineers Call it, But Under any Name at all it Means Better, more Dependable Performance” Another rather mathematical, but very short article about an important subject.
What’s going Up
The monthly feature about stuff Aero Digest read about in its competition includes bits about the YB-40, FJ-1, the Ryan Navion, the Silvaire Sedan, the Heston A.2/45 AOP, winterised C-82s and L-13s, and the planes that showed up at Radlett.
Ira F. Angstadt, Technical Editor, “The Air Policy Commission Hears Them All” Angstadt briefly summarises the very wide range of testimony given to the President’s Air Policy Committee.
Takeoffs and Turns
Yet another page of short blurbs, of which the only interesting one is that Pan American’s Trans-Pacific Clippers are to get SCR 718 radars.
W. Nicholls, “Determination of Gross Weight,” Yet another very short technical article, this one on the difficulties of finding the gross, all up weight of commercial aircraft.
More blurbs, and not even any good pictures. No, strike that, the “close quarters hacksaw” made by inserting a hacksaw blade in a piece of tubing is—
--A great way of summarising the theme of this issue: We have no money, we’re not really trying, please tell the Government to buy lots of planes.
Fortune, December 1947
Fortune has decided to go the “humbug route” this Christmas, with a nice picture of Christmas gifts on the front cover –and an article about Thorstein Veblen inside. If you don’t get the joke, Veblen is an old-time thinker who was on about how American consumer habits are about building social status. So you buy expensive stuff to show how rich you are, only with more sociological jargon to make it sound impressive.
“The Return of the Banker” It’s a good thing that this isn’t a very useful article, because I dropped this issue in a puddle. I have no idea what this article is about but considering that I’m talking about the “Return of Money” next week, I don’t care, either, because it’s basically the same thing. Interest rates are going up, inflation is going, hopefully, down.
“A Tale of Two Committees” The President’s Civil Rights Committee was founded by Charles E. Wilson, President of GE, and if you think that’s odd, the Committee is committed to the idea that civil rights mean that Coloured Americans get better jobs, and can afford to buy more things, which is good for GE.
“The Beginning of Leadership” Now that it’s the American Century, the State Department has to lead the world, from its new headquarters at Foggy Bottom (which is a real name.) It also has to be very high-browed about it, which is why Fortune commissioned Henry Koerner to paint Europe. (Symbolically, if you were turning pages looking for your “Rape of Europa.”)
Okay, yes, that’s symbolic, too, but not as symbolic as two paths diverging in a burnt orange wood. As for the substance of the article, George Marshall is a man; so are George Kenna, Chip Bohlen, Robert Abercombie Lewis, Norman Armour, Charles Saltzman, Willard Thorp, Dean Rusk –and, oh, forget it, it looks like the article is going to have a head shot and three sentence biographies of everyone who works at the State Department, and we just cross the English coast.
“The World of Unilever” Didn’t we just talk about soap the other day? Unilever is a large and complicated world conglomerate dedicated to turning mainly tropical, edible fats into soap and sometimes margarine.
“K. F. Cashes In” Fortune checks in to find out how Uncle Henry and Mr. Frazier put in such an impressive performance in making up the enormous gap between car production and car demand this year. Fortune concludes that it is because Uncle Henry’s “expeditors” are loose on the country, finding him all the steel he needs, or, at least, more steel than the Big Three can find. Bearing what Uncle George has to say about the “expeditors,” I bet you can come up with an alternative explanation.
|Kaiser-Frazer: Non-stop party till the shareholders' money runs out!|
“Madison Ave NYC” A very nice spread about the New York advertising business.
“Eureka Williams” Another company history, this time of the oil burner and vacuum cleaner company that made good money back in the Twenties, when there was a vacuum cleaner salesman on every street,
Eureka Williams survived the Thirties, somehow, and is now trying to set itself apart from Hoover and Electrolux by getting into the whole “design” thing, in a novel departure.
“Let Europe Consider the Swiss”
The Swiss are like the Finns. Their economy isn’t collapsing, so they are “hard working,” and “economical.” Not like those excitable Latins! Also, cuckoo clocks, cows, giant bugles, mountains, mountain lakes.
|Swiss highways through the ages.|
“Business in Isotopes: Tagged Atoms from Oak Ridge Grow into a Business: Tracerlab of Boston Grows up with Them”
Tracerlab sells the radioactive isotopes produced in the reactors at Oak Ridge by putting a can of materials in a reactor for anywhere from a few days to a few months, at the end of which some of the material inside has been converted into variant, radioactive isotopes of the original. It is only two years old, surprise, surprise.
Co-founder Wendell Peacock invented the “Autoscaler,” a variation on the Geiger Counter that allows the operator to count the number of atomic decay events in a sample. It uses this to put radioactive elements into various compounds, which can then be “traced.” For example, the compound in the illustration above contains a radioactive phosphorus atom, inserted into it by Tracerlabs. The company that asked for the job wanted to know if phosphorus was an active element in its insecticide, and when no radioactive phosphorus showed up in the viscera of a bug killed its product, concluded that it wasn’t. No isotopes have been released for commercial use, yet, but, when they are, Tracerlab wants to build some nice devices, including a film-thickness control device (for depositing uniform thin-film coats on surfaces.)
Tracerlab started out as “the Industrial Electronics Laboratory,” staffed by four men just out of Radar Labs: John R. Niles, Homer S., Myers, W. Raymond Gustafson, and Ray Ghelardi. The problem was that they had a good name, but no work, until Peacock showed up. With the help of Bill Barbour, an Air Force man with Raytheon connections, they were able to turn Peacock’s ideas into a business. Barbour had money from a flyer on Raytheon stock, and connections, investing $26,000 in getting Tracerlabs underway. As you might expect, their main customers are still hospitals. They also make Autoscalers for customers like the Chalk River Labs.
Reading between the lines, I have a feeling that they’ve gone a bit huckster, selling a complete line of containers and holders and lead bricks to their customers. In the future, they imagine isotopes being used in all kinds of industrial processes. For example, they are trying to sell France on an isotope-based control for steel pouring. Add phosphorus, put a detector above the crucible: when the radioactivity falls to a certain point, enough phosphorus has been driven off the charge for the pour. They also think that isotopes might be used to make preserved food safer, by irradiating it and killing bacteria,
“CARE, Inc.” It is Christmas, so it is time to talk about the Committee for American Remittance to Europe, Inc., which is sending all those CARE packages to Europe this Christmas. The idea of the article is that CARE is a very American Century charity, because it has assembly lines.
Then it is on about Veblen, apparently the greatest thinker (about the sociology of money) of the Nineteenth Century after Marx. I won’t say much here, because I would probably not sound like a very nice young lady if I shared my frank opinions.
Shorts and Faces
“$2 Is $2 –Or is it?” US Steel is the first of several companies to make novel financial statements. US Steel is increasing its depreciation allowance over the established figure because of the advance of technology. Du Pont de Nemours is doing the same, characterising it as “accelerated depreciation” on new plant, not even installed. It is possible that Price Waterhouse will refuse to endorse US Steel’s 1947 statements until there is a new national standard for calculating depreciation, and everyone can follow it.
“Where Are the Fish” Francis Hughes, a “tall, blond and quaintly spectacular Englishman, who manufactures nautical instruments, safety-at-sea devices, and echo-sounding equipment,” has developed a fish-detecting echo-sounding equipment for finding shoals of fish in deep waters. It is the only way, he thinks, of countering the steady decline in the world’s fisheries which has taken place since 1913.
“They Call it Optional” Car manufacturers are increasingly making optional equipment effectively mandatory, and jacking up prices well above list.
“Need a Vice President” Handy Associates, of New York, specialises in finding $10,000+ men for industry, such as, of course, vice-presidents.
“Tuning in Profits” General Instruments, of New Jersey[?], makes 35% of the variable condensers that go into 90% of radios in this country. They have been in the business for twenty four years, are doing well, and are just about invisible, because who even knows what a variable condenser is. Considering that 24 radio manufacturers have gone bankrupt since the middle of the year, their record profits are especially good news for investors. It is spending half a million to research television components this year, and in 1945 bought F. W. Sickles, of Chicago, a manufacturer of permeability tuners and radio frequency and intermediate frequency coils. They go in televisions, maybe?
“For Immediate Delivery” The Shorts and Faces staff have tracked down one Lorne Pacey, who, it turns out, is a Canadian who buys construction materials in the United States at a high price, and then sells it in Toronto at an even higher price, as much as $12/keg of nails. He knows his way around the Foreign Exchange Control Board, has American partners, and seems to be as shady as the day is long.