I apologise if this is the last you ever hear of me, but I really feel like I am pushing my luck with my fourth December air crossing of the Atlantic. You have done the best you could for me, booking me on Speedbird, but I am now up to three flights diverted to Prestwick. (Technically, my third flight isn't diverted, but the BOAC agent strongly advised me to catch it at Prestwick.) Hurrah for December train rides through the North of England! I'm told that it is much warmer this winter, but you wouldn't know it from the way they heat the cars!
All the tedious explanation is in way of saying that I am dropping this package off with a courier at Prestwick, so that you will have to wait to the next installment to hear of my ever-so exciting adventures in America. The reason for that is that the Earl wants to know what is going on with our new partners.
Here's the story. They want our money, so that they can break with Odeon, but you knew that. I guess they knew that they had no chance of that, so they decided to blackmail us. Make no mistake it really was blackmail. It's not just the calculated offence of making a movie out of President Fu Manchu. I don't know if you've read the book (God knows I haven't), but apparently it was a political thriller, "ripped from the headlines," and the script placed before me was an update. I don't know who is riding herd on Mr. R. these days, but the entire "scenario" was rewritten. A stand-in for Mr. Walllace replaces the disguised version of Huey Long in the original, and the "Devil Doctor's" preferred candidate is --A secret Eurasian from a San Francisco shipping family. It really could not be more obvious. I leave any sending of messages to the menfolk. For my part, I read enough film magazines to burst their balloon easily enough. Once they admitted that they were still casting (Basil Rathbone? Seriously!), it was obvious that it was all hot air. They'd never have it ready for American release before the election.
Things might have ended in an impasse there, but your friend was most helpful with the details of Odeon Group finances, and when I placed them on the table, our partners had to admit that they were in no danger of losing their sad little business making movies out of horrible radio dramas. I almost regret telling them that they couldn't make a "Fu Manchu" movie. They really do need better material.
Though I am sure that this is not why we arranged for them to have the rights. Nor did they impress me very much as business partners; but they do not have to, because they can go on with their affairs without our money.
So there you go. You can tell my Mother, if she asks, that I have been a good little trooper, and that I was in far too much of a hurry for a stop in Chicago.
|The real reason we're returning to The Economist instead of Henry Luce's organ is to talk more about capital cuts and deflationary programmes. Next week!|
Flight, 18 December 1947
“Self-contained Power Plants” It has been ten years since the Air Ministry started its current “power egg” effort, and Flight thinks that it’s the best thing since sliced (unrationed) bread, and finds it amazing that the DC-4M North Star has a self-contained power unit that is so automatic that it doesn’t even need a flight engineer, allowing it to carry one more passenger, and that it is even more amazing that after six months in service, the DC-4M has already made over 600 Atlantic crossings. Also, Flight is doing a precis of a lecture about the power egg later in the issue.
Merlins: Not quiet.
“Theory and Practice” Aircraft construction practice is often ahead of theory. For example, flying boat makers were working with stressed-skin long before there was a theory for it, and now helicopters are flying even though they are not fully understood. People say that that makes them dangerous and less economical than they could be; other people say those people are bunch of wet eggheads and should just go back to their blackboards, and there’s nothing wrong with a bit of burning to death in a crumpled wreck. Makes a man out of you.
“The Royal Auxiliary Air Force” Bored now.
M. A, Smith, “M-B V in the Air: Reflections on Flying the Marin-Baker Fighter: Rolls-Royce Engine with ‘Contraprop’” I’m not sure I get this. Martin and Baker have a very nice firm making those rocket-powered ejection seats. Way back in 1938 or so they started designing a fighter, and even though they didn’t have a factory to make one in, they made a nice fighter. They’ve kept on designing fighters in their spare time, and the V is the latest and best. No-one is going to build it, so it is completely irrelevant; except that people keep writing articles about it. Why? It is interesting to hear that the Griffon engine runs between 1800 and 3000 rpm, and that it gives a maximum of +12lb boost at 2750rpm with 100 octane, and that with higher octanes, it allowed +25lb boost, and that at that rating it gave 500hp more –even though the prop doesn’t feather, so there’s a bit of cheating going on. At 8000ft, at 5lb boost and 2250rpm, the MB V cruised at 315mph, “at least” 100mph below maximum at that altitude. Smith eventually got it up to 465mph IAS but doesn’t seem to have really put the plane through its paces. And so that is the story of what those brute late-war piston engines can do.
Here and There
The DH106 has been named the Comet, Lord Tedder is going to have a knee operation, a confidential report on the Tudor has been tendered to the Ministry of Supply, Mr. S. R. Worley, a director of Handley-Page since 1921, has died at 81[*]. Sir Hugo Cunliffe-Owen has died, of a heart attack, at 77. The Presidential Air Policy Commission has heard that the American industry requires at least £187,500,000 in orders each year, which will give between three and four thousand military aircraft a year. S/L E. G. Franklin is to be Armstrong Whitworth’s new chief test pilot after his success with the AW 52.
A helicopter carrying mail to USS Midway recently rescued a down pilot at sea off Malta, and now some Maltese are talking about a helicopter service to the island of Gozo. The Royal Geographical Society is putting on an “Air Routes Exhibit” at their place in Kensington, where people can see a working demonstration of a Mk II Gee receiver, an actual miniature (35lb) Mk IV Gee receiver by Cossor, and various representations of Consol, the SR 45, Gyrodyne, Hermes IV and various model airports. Production of the Nene has begun in Australia.
“Metropolitan Control Zone: Plans for Control of Air Traffic into London Airports: Shepherding Scheme to Avoid Collision Risk” The article is gibberish, but I think it sets “lanes” through which incoming airliners flying under Gee must reach a box around the London airports drawn by four MF radio beacons, allowing them to descend steadily from the beacon line to the airport. In shorter news, Flight went to a paper on helicopters by H. B. Squire, of the Royal Aircraft Establishment, which it couldn’t make out because of all the math. The Central Photographic Establishment is putting on an exhibit, and there’s a nice movie about atomic physics out from G-B Instructional, Ltd, a branch of the Rank Organisation.
|George Tomlinson. By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, |
“Cranfield on Show: Minister of Education Visits the College of Aeronautics: Board of Governors Present” George Tomlinson visited the new College of Aeronautics, had a nice lunch, heard the President, Air Marshal Ludlow-Herritt say that having scientists on your side is quite nice, and then heard criticisms of the fact that many of the instructional instruments were German made.
“The Air Radio Operator and the Future: New Courses Initiated by Air Service Training” Now that air radio operators have to be recertified every year, there is a need for instructional courses. AST’s course is the best, ever.
“The New Basic Trainer: Structural Analysis of the Percival Prentice: Simplicity, Inherent Strength and Ease of Production are Keynotes of Design” Oh, dear God. Show me the plane designed for complexity, flimsiness, and difficulty of production. I will spare you the structural drawing, because I also can’t imagine the RAF ordering a basic trainer that was structurally unsound.
“Power Plant Engineering: British Firms’ Self-contained Engine Installations: Precis of a Talk Given by Mr. Frank Nixon to the French Association of Aeronautical Engineers and Technicians, in Paris” Mr. Nixon says that the greatest single contribution made to safety by aircraft manufacturers in recent years is “Assuming responsibility for the engine installation as a whole.” The leader has already hit the main details, but Nixon goes on to explain that Trans-Canadian has adopted the (power egg) Merlin because it was worried about icing over the Atlantic and the Rockies without mentioning import restrictions. Is it lying if you just leave out things? Then he goes on to talk about the testing station at Hucknall, which is what Flight should have talked about. The whole “power egg” thing has been around forever, so talking about how it is a unique British invention that came along in 1937 just sounds chauvinistic. But! When you learn about all the expensive hangars and testing gear at the test airfield at Hucknall, you learn just how hard and expensive it is to make sure that the oil coolers cool oil; and since I was reading just last week about using radioactive isotopes to trace chemical processes (with more to come this week!), it is interesting to hear how Hucknall ended up using special dyes to trace minor leaks. I know about minor leaks from the way that grease spots tend to show up in strange spots on your clothes if you are mechanically inclined or spend any time around a certain Lincoln. Now I know that a leak can be impossible to find due to the oil being held in by the first drop to leak, until there is pressure behind it. Does that make sense? It makes sense in my head! Okay, so point is, having a power egg policy is one thing. Paying for the test centre is another!
“Test Pilots Together: Annual Dinner and Presentation at Farnborough” Test pilots have an association that has dinners, and regular courses for test pilots, which are needed, because they keep crashing.
The prototype Airspeed Ambassador has been repaired, and we now know why it happened. Some bolts failed, leaving a hydraulic jack free, opening the uplock, which caused the downlock to close while the leg was falling, which tore away a hydraulic line, which could have had serious consequences if the aircraft were not a shoulder-wing design, with a skilled test pilot. Everything is fine! Except for the part where shoulder-wing aircraft are very vulnerable to these things, says Reggie the B-24 pilot. The British love their shoulder wings, because of the great downward view they give passengers, but lots of passengers don’t like the view, so that’s a pretty iffy feature to be compromising the design over! GCA has been a great success at London Airport, where an RAF crew with Bendix equipment has been on hand since 7 February 1947. Ministry crews took over after completing their training on 1 July, and through December 1012 operational and practice landings have been carried out since the Ministry took over. Airline captains like it, even non-English speaking ones, and the airport has found that it prevents stacking and allows approaches in 200ft visibility with 200ft base. GCA approaches take 10 minutes, compared with 15 for ILS and 8 for SBA. GCA also allows for monitoring of aircraft using other approaches, and aircraft on safety courses nearby. GCA will be installed at Prestwick by the end of the month, and the runways there will be strengthened and lengthened by next autumn.
TWA is ordering 12 Constellation sleepers, with longer cabins allowing for bunk and party berthing. They will be used on the Atlantic service, with the older Constellations switched to continental services. US airline revenues rose last quarter year over year, but expenses rose faster, so income is down. SAS reports that it flew 2518 passengers in the first quarter of 1947 and operates 7 DC-4, and has 7 DC-6s and 4 Stratocruisers on order. The Australian airlines are still fighting. Greece’s pension fund is starting an airline, Hellenic. Scottish Aviation is helping to get it going. TKS (Aircraft De-Icing), Ltd, warns operators against using unauthorised de-icing fluids. The Martin 2-0-2 has passed CAA certification with water-injection, at a cross weight of 39,900lbs, needing 1173yds to take off. Without water injection, at the original gross weight of 38,000lbs, it would need a 1209yd runway. KLM began using Constellations on the Atlantic on 8 December, and India will start a London air service in May. A delegation of northeastern MPs has gone to the Ministry of Civil Aviation to press the case of West Boldon for a northeastern airport. American has reduced the sleeper fare New York-London by $25 to $100, which is a supplement to the ordinary fare of $375. Cable and Wireless reminds everyone that telegrams sent to passengers at airports should indicate that they are passengers. Swedish Airlines is still on strike. Planes are landing at Stockholm, but the busses to the city, four miles away, aren’t running.
Rosemary I. Gibbs, former ATA pilot, points out that it wasn’t that female ATA pilots were cowards, but that male ATA pilots were reckless. “B-Licence” replies to Mr. Meredith about the Sperry A-12 being better than the SEP1. The A12 has automatic altitude control with automatic elevator trim, and the SEP1 doesn’t, and therefore it is better. R. E. Green corrects E. T. House’s letter about how annual usage hours aren’t a good way for assessing airliner economy by pointing out his mistakes.
The Engineer, 19 December 1947
A Seven-Day Journal
The next Oriental Lines liner to be laid down at Vickers-Armstrong will be called the Oronsay. The last Orcades and Oronsay “went down, with colours flying, within a day of each other, on October 9 and 10, 1942.” I did not know that! Oronsay (1949?) will be a 30,000t ship with geared turbine machinery, 42,500hp, 23 ½ kn, and the increased speed will allow it to make four round voyages to Australia in the year.
It will cost £3 million, three times the cost of its predecessor, and will carry 800 first class and 780 tourist class passengers, and have a crew complement of 580.
The Admiralty has announced that the submarine Alliance has recently made an endurance trial on its trip from Freetown. It was testing some equipment of German design, including the “Snort,” an improvement of the German “Snorkel.” It was a very long endurance trial, which the crew of 65 completed in excellent health.
|Source: John Speller's Web Pages|
The engineering industry had a nice back-slapping at lunch in London the other day, where it agreed that it was great that engineering exports had almost tripled in the last year over 1938 (but “194%” sounds even better than “tripled”!) and that next year probably won’t be as good, because even 14 million tons of steel isn’t enough. Stafford Cripps was there in spirit while telling industry not to order any more equipment, because of capital cuts. Meanwhile, even without equipment, the Dover-Dunkerque train ferry service reopened on the 15th, with the Southern Rail Company, French National Railways and the International Sleeping Car Company putting an overnight train on the road from London to Paris, leaving Victoria Station at 8:30 in the evening, arriving Paris Nord at 9:30 in the morning. There are three sleeping cars on the weekday service, three first-class, twelve second-class in each, a fourth car on the weekends. The three train ferries on use on the service before the war have returned (Twickenham, Hampton and Shepperton Ferries). The ships have enlarged cabins, have been converted to oil firing from Kent coal, and have radar equipment, and can accommodate twelve sleeping cars or forty loaded goods wagons, and a steel garage above the train deck will hold twenty-five motor-cars, with additional space at the after end of the train deck for heavy lorries and motor coaches. On the upper deck are passenger accommodation, and public rooms including a dining room, a cocktail bar, a lounge and a smoking room. On the night ferry train, there is also a restaurant car and ordinary coaches with a Pullman car from London to Dover.
G. W. Tripp, “Survival of the Paddle Boat” Mr. Tripp wrote an article about paddle boats for The Engineer fifteen years ago, because he loves paddle boats, what with their low-speed, reciprocal steam engines direct driving the paddles with slow, rhythmic, relentless power. Hmm. I don’t ordinarily call Reggie about these historical articles, but I may make an exception for this one. Anyway, there are still some paddle boats about, mostly for service on Scottish lakes. (Did you know that Scots are so dumb they can’t spell “lake”? This won’t surprise anyone who has ever been stranded at Prestwick overnight –twice, going on three times, it turns out-- but I still thought I’d point it out.)
Professor C. A. Middleton, “Irrigation in the Far East” Professor Middleton is reminded of how, one time, when he said that one day all the peasants who work the irrigation canals of China by hand, would be relieved of the effort by mechanised power, and a literary friend asked how they would occupy their time when the work was gone. How silly, thought Professor Middleton, who is still steaming over the argument, and also over Dr. Joad recently telling BBC that the internal combustion engine was the “greatest calamity that has befallen mankind in our times.” Because it’s not, you know! (I’m only a junior in a California junior college –ha!—but I thought that “Nazism” might rank a bit higher, no matter how many times my Lincoln has stood me up.) Oh. What was I saying? What was Professor Middleton saying? Rice needs water. Asians eat rice. Water needs pumping and, in general, engineering. The river plains of East Asia are large; So must be that engineering. Also, the small areas can be helped. In general, there are two areas of East Asia that can be helped by irrigation: the area north of the Yangtze Valley, and the area south of it! Which is something that Professor Middleton said. Really, he did say it! The Wei Pei project, which was completed in 1936, is an example of something that Professor Middleton can talk about in detail, because he has some notes about it, and why would he do some research for the sake of a piddly The Engineer article? It replaced older, inefficient works that irrigated 5000 acres with better ones that irrigated 650,000 acres. It involved a masonry overflow dam of 215ft on a moderate-sized river, possibly in Shensi Province, and was quite cheap, since Chinese labourers will work for small change. It was so successful that then they began working on the Lo Ho project, which involved some tunnels and an aqueduct, and was completed in 1937. That led to the Saratsi project, which involves a 40-mile feeder canal with some laterals. I have a feeling I know why Professor Middleton’s friends like to get his goat.
“The Philips Air Engine, No. II” We join the Philips Physical Research Laboratory, under the direction of Ir. H. Rinia, in the middle of an effort to improve on something called the “Stirling air engine,” by putting in a regenerator, which I happen to know is a contraption for heating the stuff coming in the front door of an engine with the waste heat leaving by the back door, not that the article bothers to explain that. It is made of wire, and is so keen that the Laboratory decided to rename it the “Philip engine,” although since I think they also turned the original Stirling engine into a two-cylinder number, fair enough. So now we have a single-cycle, two-piston engine with an additional transfer piston to transfer the regenerated power. Then they did up a four-cylinder version, which was inefficient because the length of the engine made the regenerator impractically slow, and then they did a swash plate engine, which they optimistically think might go into trucks or boats.
“The ‘Absolute’ System of Electrical Units” The NPL and the Electricity Commission have decided to change the definition of all electrical units. The “international” ohm (the old standard) will be 1.00049 of the new, “Absolute” ohm, and so on. This is in connection with new electrical meters, but is not required for manufacturers until later; if equipment, for example, for export, has to be marked with “international” units, the date will be put on them so that you can tell.
“Expansion of the LPTB Central Line” London has a new subway line north of the Thames. It was supposed to have been finished in 1940, but the war. It is very nice, which I am sure the picture of the new station at Redbridge would show in the article, if The Engineer didn’t take very small pictures in black and white and print them on crepe paper.
E. A. Watson, “Fuel Systems for the Aero-Gas Turbine, No. II” the “Aero-Gas Turbine” is what everyone else calling the jet engine. With that out of the way, this is an article about atomisers that manages to take what the Admiral explains so vividly and enthusiastically, and make all murky and boring.
“Piston Temperatures in Internal Combustion Engines” G. B. Fox read a nice paper to the Diesel Engine Users Association in which he explained how the piston has always been the weak point in engines. From the gunpowder engine of Christiaan Huygens and the air pump of the “mechanically minded Burgermeisterof Magdeburg,” it has always been the piston that is most sensitive point. Heating them makes it worse, and, four hundred years later or so, we come to Mr. Fox, who is dealing with cylinder heads at 333 degrees, Celsius. He explains that increasing working pressure to increase engine power leads to higher temperatures, as does poor piston design and carbon forming and many other things.
“An Atomic Power Moratorium?” At the time that the Atomic Energy Commission of the United Nations began its work, it seemed that it would be easy enough to “denature” uranium or plutonium fuel for power-producing atomic plants by adding some isotopes that prevent atomic bombs from exploding. It has since become clear that it would be easy enough to remove those isotopes, and therefore the bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has joined other authorities in arguing for a moratorium on atomic power until an international treaty, agreed by the Soviet Union, gives the Atomic Energy Commission ownership of all atomic fuel. The Engineer does not agree, fearing that the moratorium would stifle the development work required before atomic power can be used. It thinks that the treaty should be promulgated and signed onto by interested powers, with the others to sign on, later. (I guess after the Russians manage to test their bomb?)
Obituary This week, WilliamJohn Talbot, chairman of the Talbot-Stead Tube Company, and the Chesterfield Tube Company, died at seventy-five. He was a Whitworth scholar in 1895 and had various engineering papers in his youth before becoming a rich and famous steel manufacturer. Also recently dead is Lord Rayleigh, the son of the third BaronRayleigh, discoverer of argon. Robert Arthur Strutt was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, went to the Cavendish Laboratory, was appointed Professor of Physics at Imperial in 1908, retired on the death of his father, was on the Advisory Council of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research from 1929 to 1934 and had various other distinguished appointments, and was keen amateur agronomist in his later life, with a prize milking herd.
E. Loewy is upset that the new London Transport Executive organisation makes engineers less in charge. R. H. Parsons is very excited about the “Stirling Engine renaissance,” which is imminent, and reminds everyone about a paper from 1884 that was very interesting.
“Spreading the Industrial Load” Remember that the Regional Boards for Industry were working on a plan to spread the industrial energy load this summer. A statement from the Ministry of Labour says that their scheme will prevent outages if the winter is mild and reduce the gap between demand and supply from 2 1/2 million kW to 1 ½ million. (Later, a report from the Electricity Commission says that electrical generation is up 3.4% over last year. Later still, the Central Electricity Board’s unfortunate new scheme to limit the extension of existing generating plant to 1.5 million more kW as from 1950 is laid out.)
The Minister of Works gave a talk to the Advisory Council on Building and Engineering Research in which he promised that research would continue even if building didn’t. Jack Krug, speaking to Iron Age, suggested that there might be coal shortages in parts of the United States this winter, due to transportation shortages that have reduced coal production by about 10%, while demand for natural gas is up 10%. The main problem area is east of the Mississippi. Whew! Hardly anyone important lives there!
Langley Morris, “Stepped Core Sections for Power Transformers” Power transformers need a “core” of iron, and recently they have been made of “grain oriented silicon iron,” which allows greater flux density and reduced iron losses. Given this, we might think about changing their proportions. The silicon iron is marketed under the trade names “hipersil” and “crystalloy,” is cold rolled, and cannot include a high proportion of scrap. It will probably not be supplied in strips as wide as 36”, and it seems more practical to produce cores of laminates proportional to the width of strips that can be rolled. Here is the math describing how the laminates should be bolted together.
“A Fabricated Press Brake” The Bronx Engineering Company, near Stourbridge, has developed a press that can bend mild steel plate up to 8ft wide and ¼ inch thick. It is all-welded steel, looks like a giant upright piano, and has various bits that buyers might be interested in hearing about. Also, in exciting product news, Tungum Sales Company has a repetition bending machine.
“The Freezing of Stresses” The Engineer provides abstracts of two papers on the “frozen stress” technique of three-dimensional stress analysis by photo-elasticity, given to the IME. Both are by airplane guys, R. B. Heywood of Rolls-Royce, and W. A. P. Fisher of the Royal Aircraft Establishment. Heywood even explains what this means. It turns out that, way back in the Nineteenth Century, someone noticed that Bakelite, the plastic they make telephone receivers out of, that’s so tough that even talking to your Mom on the phone doesn’t lead to you breaking it against your dorm wall, although sorry about the phone in Couer d’Alene, I guess that’s what happens when you grip it really, really hard one time too often, I –Anyway, enough about your son, I’ve got science to talk about! (What about you, Grace, can you read between the lines? Not that I’m not mad as Hell trying to book a train to Glasgow at 1AM, California time. Speedbird my English word that rhymes with “parse.”).
Uhm. They make horrible, but surprisingly strong coffee in King’s Cross Station. I didn’t even realise until my heart started skipping, which led me to reread the last paragraph, but I’m going to leave it in, anyway. Bakelite is made of two different kinds of plastic, one of which loses its rigidity at much lower heat than the other. So, if you make a model of the part you’re trying to stress-analyse out of Bakelite, and heat it to a hundred degrees, and put it under that stress, the low temperature plastic will distort along the lines of the stress. Then, if you cool it, the stress lines stay, and you can see them by photoluminescence, and that tells you about the geometry of the stresses in the piece you were modelling. So, if you have, say, a particular supercharger gear tooth that keeps chipping, you make the model of the gears grinding at each other, and now at least you know the three-dimensional lines the stress is working along. The rest of the two articles is spent on all the ways this technique can be used to investigate different kinds of stress, such as quenching.
It's stress and fatigue that's making Ronnie so indiscreet, not caffeine, but I'm pretty sure she didn't realise at the time.
“A Canadian Gas Plant” The British Columbia Electric Railway Company has just opened up a million dollar curburetted water gas plant that will make 4 ½ million cubic feet of gas every day, with 2500 gallons of tar for road-building as a useful by-product. [BC Electric Gas Plant False Creek: Buildings and Stories]
|Long since replaced by condos.|
South African Engineering Notes
Another industrial estate has been started in South Africa, at Daleside. It has an electrified railway and they are building several warehouses and buildings for any industry that wants to move in. The Union government is financing hardened runways at nine outlying airports at a cost of £1.5 million, while major airports are being pushed ahead at Capetown, Johannesburg and perhaps some place called Belleville. They will have long runways, giant hangars, and be able to cope with the “Springbok” Skymaster service.
“Aircraft Exports” Considering how the British are doing planes wrong, the British are exporting lots of aircraft, especially to Argentina.
“Operation Indian: Operational Side of the Greatest Air Evacuation: BOAC and Seven Charter Companies Operate Successfully under Field Conditions” Twenty-one aircraft, supported by 170 groundcrew, flew a very large number of people over five weeks. (Given the other details, I’m surprised that the article doesn’t say how many, but Westminster Airline’s two aircraft flew 4,363 passengers, so maybe 45,000 or so?)
Industrial and Labour Notes
The Prime Minister of Northern Ireland points out that if unemployed Northern Irish were employed making exports, there would be more exports. The first postwar FBI register, which is like a British industry Yellow Pages, is out. British steel production has reached an annual rate of 14,174,000 tons, slightly above target, but pig iron stocks are still being drawn down, so pig iron production needs to be increased, too. A separate bit seems to be saying that Britain can’t export as much finished steel as it would like, due to domestic demand for steel in exporting industries and for capital investment, for which see above about capital investment cuts. The price of coal is going up to cover the cost of extended hours at overtime rates. The Ministry of Labour says that the total working population in Britain in October was 20,434,000 an increase over the month of 70,000, including 19,000 men and 51,000 women, but a fall of an estimated 1,215,000 from June 1945. The total number in civil employment in October was 18,862,000, 95,000 above September. Of these, 7,229,000 were in manufacturing. Unemployment was at 267,000 registered workers, with 14,498 uninsured unemployed, including 1700 boys and girls under eighteen who had not yet entered industry.
The Economist, 20 December 1947
“Money’s Revenge” More like The Economist’s revenge! If President Truman’s appeal for the resumption of wartime price controls somehow helped Labour win the Gravesend by-election (boo!), Mr. Stalin will help the Tories by decreeing “as thorough a piece of price deflation as the world has even seen.” (Huzzah!) Also, what about Einaudi in Italy, with his deflation, or M. Gutt in Belgium, with his? Inflation is because of too much money chasing too few goods, and in wartime, we are very careless with money, so that there ends up being too much money out there. Remember when Mr. Chamberlain and his cabinet were converted to the idea that “money didn’t matter”? They were wrong! Lord Keynes was wrong! Everyone was wrong! Money does matter and is now having its revenge! The Economist thinks that domestic prices should be allowed to rise, and along with them, interest rates. This will “protect the purse,” and cut capital investment. Whereas continuing controls won’t work. Those who say that “protecting the purse” comes at the expense of “protecting the stomach,” and that interest rates have little to do with the rate of capital investment, are wrong. Only in America, where inflation and interest rates are being allowed to “let ‘er rip,” and the Soviet Union, with its harsh deflation, have “sound money policy.”
“What Next for Germany” The Economist supposes that the Soviets will soon create a German government in Berlin and announce that it is the national German government. It will, like a good puppet, accept the eastern borders and war reparations, and perhaps kick the Western Allies out of the eastern zone. What then? Some people think that the western occupation zones will continue as before. Others think that it is the Western Allies who are planning to create a separatist, “national” German government, in Frankfurt, ruling the western occupied zones. They are wrong, for the French would never agree to that. Except (western) Germany needs a centralised government to take over direction of the economy and act as a full member of “Western Europe,” as the Marshall Plan envisions. So the French will agree to that, in the end, and there will be two national German governments, and they will glare at each other across the border, just as “the West” and the Soviets do, now. Also, what about all the immigration from eastern Germany, which has led to the western zone being overpopulated?
|STEM shortage is forever.|
“Will Graduates be Unemployed?” University enrollment is up 53% in Britain. In the arts, enrollment is up 50%, while in the sciences and engineering, it has almost doubled. The proportion of arts students hasn’t changed very much, mainly because medicine hasn’t seen the same increase (since its enrollment did not fall during the war), but The Economist is very concerned that the country is producing too many arts students, who will not be able to find work. Arts students are also reluctant to go into business, as they are all socialists; also, their parents expect all the business graduates to be laid off in the next recession and would prefer them to get civil service jobs. The Economist thinks that this is horrid, that Britain will end up with too many unemployed arts graduates, while business is short of workers due to all the boys who used to go into business at sixteen and eighteen, going to university instead. Also, while all the science graduates can have three jobs each right now, perhaps there is overstaffing going on, and they will all be laid off, too.
“China’s Tepid War” The Chinese Civil War isn’t nearly devastating enough, due to the Communists not standing up and fighting, but just slipping away through the sorghum fields like guerillas, which they are. The Nationalists cannot hit them harder with American help, because they cannot accept American help with strings attached, because of nationalism, while the Americans will not give aid without strings. Nationalism gets in the way, as with the end of extra-territorial navigation of Chinese inland waters, which was abolished as one of the fruits of the “unequal treaties,” even though the Chinese haven’t the shipping to move all their goods to market. The Koumintang’s main goal right now is to hold on in Manchuria, lest the Communists take control of the whole area and create a viable state, effectively partitioning China north and south. If they can hold on long enough, The Economist suggests, the Koumintang can rebuild China from Canton going north.
Notes of the Week
The first three notes are either pretty silly (The Economist is of the opinion that the foreign ministers of the Sixteen western European nations should meet and be all coordinated and stuff so that Congress can see that everything is stuffed up, and get on with passing the aid bills), or blend into each other. That is, Russia has been doing trade deals with its export surplus of coarse grains. Britain is paying for it in machinery, on better terms than the Swedes got.
|Remember when the British shipped the Russians some Nenes and it was the ultimate treason against Western civilisation? Good times. CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=910206|
Czechoslovakia got a deal for 400,000 tons, covering half the 800,000-ton deficit caused by drought and the end of Unrra. It was a good deal, contingent on the Czechs refusing Marshall Plan aid, but the Russians have had a variety of difficulties supplying the grain, mostly hoarding at home, but also the differences in the two country’s rail gauges. In the United States, people are calling for a complete trade ban with Russia and think that the British are traitors to the capitalist/democratic cause.
In Britain, domestic politics have been roiled by the final report on the Walkden/Allighan scandal, which tried to impose penalties on journalists for disclosing confidential information provided by MPs, which doesn’t seem practical to The Economist or anyone else due to the journalists’ not necessarily knowing what is confidential. This is at least more substantive than a silly debate over granting Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip housekeeping money. There’s also some administrative stuff buried further down about the details of the National Assistance Bill and the Cinema Bill.
Please don’t get excited about that last. Parliament hasn’t come through with a way of getting us out of our film business fix. Quotas for British films in the “long” and “short” categories have been in place since the 1938 Act, and still only 127 British long films were made in 1946. The quotas are even linked to the success of the big chains: Odeon, Graumont and Associated British. Groups of more than 200 cinemas (there are 2000 in Britain) are “quota” theatres, and must show at least six British films as first features. It’s a bit silly that the films must be approved by the Board of Trade, which you’d think would have better things to do (like redefining what an “ampere” is) than being advanced reviewers of posh trash like Cleopatra. Or maybe the BoT is only in charge of certifying that they qualify as “British.” (If they have Clark Gable, they can’t have Lauren Bacall, and so on.) The long and the short of it is that those silly buggers in Marleybone have every opportunity to make money off a movie. All they have to do is make one that isn’t complete trash. Although considering they're making another Dick Barton movie, not much chance of that.
“Next Stage in France” The strike is over. The Communists cannot call another one, because it would probably fail and completely discredit them, which is just as well, as the country can’t take another one. Now the government must move against black markets and farmers to keep food prices stable, or there will be a revolution, a point reinforced by the next note, which is about how Claude Monnet and his working group have come up with a complete import/export budget for France which must be met, lest the government find itself imposing austerity up to, and including starvation, which will lead to revolution, again. The government, meanwhile, is going to reorganise the security police, which have been infiltrated with Communists, and keep some of the men called up into the army last month to deal with the strike in the country and send others overseas to knock brown heads. One note down is a story from Italy, which is just past the mobilise-the-police stage. The Communist riots have stopped, Einaudi’s deflation is leading to higher unemployment, the Chamber of Deputies is fine with this, and so far the Communists are not winning.
“Financing Bizonia” Bizonia, if you remember, is the combined British and American occupation zones. The problem of late has been that the Germans don’t export enough to pay for their imports, mainly of food, and the British are responsible for much of those imports, which are mainly only available from the dollar zone. Since the British are out of dollars, disaster loomed, and the Americans have had to take over the costs of German imports, with the caveats that the British will continue to provide such food as becomes available from the sterling zone, and also have a small residual obligation.
|Arab Legion, 1948|
“Palestine Bloodshed” Normally, when I run Notes of the Week together, it is because I am too lazy to write out a separate header. This time, it is The Economist running on from header to header. Let’s see if I can summarise: There are assorted massacres of Arab Palestinians, mainly, but also Jews. The biggest massacre of Jews was one involving something called the Arab Legion, which is a British-organised force, which makes it Britain’s fault, which is why Britain is handing it over to Transjordan, the moral being that that should have happened even earlier. Palestinian Arab violence is not approved by their leadership, but the leadership might lose control of it, as the Jewish government has already lost control of extremists like Irgun and the Stern Gang. Outside Palestine, the Arab governments are talking about invading Palestine after the British leave, at some point. In Washington, Zionists are looking for American armed support, and have achieved “the licensing of shipments of arms to the troubled areas,” which gives American donors something to spend money on. Armed Jewish volunteers are also said to be heading for “Israel.” Meanwhile, in Palestine, Russian support has turned the Stern Gang from a bunch of Fascists into a bunch of Communists, even though other people say that the Jewish militia is the “vanguard of the Anglo-Saxon forces” arrayed against world socialism; while the Egyptian foreign minister says that Russia is supporting the Jews so that after the British leave, they can send 300,000 Romanian Jews as a Communist fifth column.
I think that’s most of it, though if I could just somehow show a clip of a train wreck in slow motion, I wouldn't need all these words.
E. O. Jones writes a long letter, with algebra, to the effect that letting prices rise would probably end up for the best, due to a “less unfavourable balance in the employment of resources.” John C. Clews [*] disagrees with The Economist that Polish trade is going disproportionately to Russia because of communism, and in particular that Polish coal is helping Russia pay for import. He points out that, in fact, the proportion of Polish trade with Russia has fallen, and that with the Baltic countries, increased. K. Zweig writes that the cuts in capital investment are not “insufficient,” but, rather, far too large, and will result in Britain not achieving full technical efficiency. If increased, it will be “plain disaster.”
A. R. Sinclair writes to agree with The Economist that our constitution is set up to paralyse American government, which seems fair.
From The Economist of 1847 Why is it that everywhere else in the world, the Irish are willing workers and good citizens, while in Ireland they cling to their patches of land and resist social order? Probably because everywhere else in the world, there’s work for them, while in Ireland all they have is their land, which is why they are so turbulent when it looks like their hold on it is threatened.
Oswald Garrison Villard has a book about how free trade can save the world, which The Economist thinks pointless, since the problem with the world right now is that Europe can’t pay for American grain with any exports, since it can’t export nearly enough. The only tariff that matters right now is the American, and it only matters to the extent that it cuts into the dollars that Europe can earn. Ian Harvey’s Talk of Propaganda explains how to do propaganda. John Bowle’s Western Political Thought seems to be right for the moment. I’m certainly hearing enough of it around campus, and I would probably be all in for it were it not for my private lessons. (Not that learning how to write a Five-Legged essay isn’t turning me into a western chauvinist on its own!) Anyway, this book sounds extra-silly, since the review focuses on ancient Mesopotamia! Unless Mr. Bowle is a cuneiform specialist, in which case why is he writing about the rest of it? We already have two Durants too many! John Collier’s America’s Colonial Record is a smug British scolding of American mistakes. George Soule’s Prosperity Decade is a very sober and statistical economic history of the Twenties. Sir Stanley Unwin’s The Truth About Publishing is a good introduction, but of another era, when the modern “feverish conditions” in which anything can get published, did not apply.
“A Republican Foreign Policy?” There is going to be a Presidential election next year.
“Can the Midwest Feed Europe?” Grace is convinced that there’s a rule of journalism that a newspaper can’t let the winter go by without predicting famine next year. So far, all such predictions have been rendered ridiculously wrong by huge American harvests. But what about next year? Right now, American farmers are deciding how many hogs to slaughter, and how many to keep. This will determine if Europe gets 400 million bushels of wheat this winter, or 550 million bushels. “It would be pleasant if some miracle of breeding could save great quantities of grain from livestock feeding and make it possible for Americans to have their meat and Western Europe its grain, too.” The hybridisation ofcorn a decade ago made wartime food miracles possible, and super-efficient, fast-gaining hybrid livestock might do that in the future, hopes the Federal-State Agricultural Experimental Stations and State Agricultural Colleges. Animal breeding is much more expensive and slower than plant breeding, but the hybrid Hy-Line chickens produced by H. B. Wallace, Henry Wallace’s son, show what can be done. But in the mean time, it is up to American farmers, and they are not necessarily sympathetic. Americans have already given up on the idea of feeding “swarming India,” and with the world’s population rising, perhaps Europe will be next.
Congress is working hard to pass the Marshall aid acts, but not price re-control. It has also waived anti-trust laws for the duration, although the President is upset about that. Marriner Eccles is back before Congress to explain his “secondary reserve” scheme, under which banks would have to have a reserve of Treasury bonds as well as the current one of deposits against loans. This would, he thinks, prevent the interest rate on Treasury bonds from going up when the discount rate (which determines the commercial interest rate) goes up, as a deflationary measure. The Economist is skeptical. So, more seriously, is Snyder. Also on the move is another big name, John Lewis, who has pulled the Mineworkers from the AFL to protest its failure to join him in defiance of the Taft-Hartley Act. Meanwhile, the Department of Labour has told Remington-Rand to stop dealing with the United Electrical Workers, as it is a communist-dominated union, and so in violation of the Act. Remington-Rand is delighted, and can now try to beak the strike. Or the UEW can be raided by other unions, or the membership can even vote to dissolve it. Both seem like the kind of trouble that the Taft-Hartley Act was supposed to stop, The Economist thinks.
Shorter news covers the commodity exchanges pushing back against the Administration’s various attempts to limit commodity trading, with quotes from commodity brokers that remind me that my Dad is one of the sane ones. Another shorter note covers Henry Wallace news, which I won’t get into because I don’t want to hurt feelings, and what should be a shorter note, but isn’t, is about the President’s latest attempt to push “hemispheric defence” on Latin America. Defence against what, you ask, and the President just gestures at the Marines, loitering by the stage door in ill-fitting suits, cracking grossly swollen knuckles.
The World Overseas
“Stalin’s Switch in Social Policy” The Economist is so excited by this that it can barely stop to explain what’s going on, so thanks to Newsweek for explaining at the top! I get that the Russians issued a new ruble, valued at ten of the old ruble, and reset all prices to the new ruble. This deflates the economy by removing nine-tenths of the currency in circulation, and hits peasant hoarders hard. People who have their money in savings accounts, on the other hand, suffer no penalty on totals below 3000 rubles, and State loans are consolidated into new ones at three to one. This done, rationing was removed, and, as promised the shops are flowing with new goods –well, with food, anyway. The Economist points out that while the hard workers and peasant traders previously rewarded by the war system have been wiped out, they have every opportunity to work harder, longer, and gain back what they lost. “the system of incentive wages [will be] more, not less effective than it has been hitherto.” I am not sure I see how this is so.
“Persia’s New Government” Persia has a new premier, as the Shah didn’tlike the old one, who was a bad premier for the usual reasons.
“Politics and Trade in Singapore” The Economist’s correspondent in Singapore thinks that the one-day general strike was a great success for the colonial government because not everyone observed it, and thinks that as long as the price of rice doesn’t go up, everything will be fine, as the price of labour is already going down due to the influx of released servicemen and Indonesians. The immigrants are too sick to do heavy work but are getting better.
“Greater Transjordan” Giving Transjordan the Arab Legion seems to be a step towards giving Transjordan Arab Palestine, a solution that “Looks plausible, but is easier said than done.” Transjordan’s main economic activity is the “transit trade,” which goes nowhere near meeting its balance of trade, the rest accounted for by profits on smuggling. The Zionists agree that King Abdullah of Transjordan should get Arab Palestine, but no-one else does. The Palestinian Arabs prefer the Mufti of Jerusalem, and the other Arab countries, except Iraq, prefer anyone but Abdullah. So the question is, how is Britain to make the Arabs want Transjordan in charge? Making people want things is hard! (Outside of fashion, anyway.)
The Business World
“Home Rails and Market Prospects” What about British transport stocks ahead of nationalisation? Blah. More blah! Blah blah!
“The Odeon Affair” Arthur Rank is in trouble. He is trying to use the resources of Odeon Theatres to cover the losses of the General Cinema Finance Corporation. His original plan was to have the Odeon Theatre group acquire the capital of the GCFC, which is a bit dodgy considering that the capital balance is negative. The proposal will easily pass a shareholder’s vote, because Rank and his associates have a majority of voting shares. Preference shareholders, including our partners, have a different view. Rank argues that it is a highly desirable acquisition, given that the GCFC has a controlling interest in the Metropolis and Bradford Trust, which controls Gaumont British, and through it, Gainsborough Pictures, the capital of Eagle-Lion Distributors, shares in various film-producing companies (which will make our partners minority shareholders in themselves, which is apparently legal), and shares in Universal Pictures. These will then be consolidated and rationalised and simplified and so on. (There’s a diagram!)
Rank’s argument is that the American quota, so hard won from Parliament, requires far more production in Britain, and the only way of financing this production is through GCFC. Which is strange considering that GCFC is losing money and overdrawn at the bank. The argument then comes back that its losses are due to prestige films and establishing overseas distribution channels, and there are almost £6 million in films finished but not released, or almost finished, which are either a loss, or an excuse to print money, given the shortage of things to see in British cinemas, due to the quotas. The bankers do not see that so much as they see that two millions must be added to six to get those films in the theatres, and they want collateral from Odeon. And before minority shareholders will approve that, they want to poke around in the books,. The Economist ends with a general tut-tut at the whole system of preferential, non-voting shares.
I know it’s going to be awfully confusing that I report the financial details down here and my talks with our partners at the head, but not as confusing as if I talked about articles from the Christmas issue, instead of combining their discussions with this week’s, above.
“Coal Exports at Last” This is covered in The Engineer. The Economist adds the caution that the price of British coal in Europe will be 20 to 25s a ton below Polish, and so might have trouble selling in some markets. And speaking of things cover in The Engineer, next up is the unemployment report. Again, The Economist adds a bit, again about coal prices, which will go up with wages. Down towards the end of the Notes, it also does the power load story and the rise in the price of tin. It also has an interesting but less direct echo of The Engineer when it covers Brush Electrical’s trading loss of almost a million pounds in 1946, which it will finance in various ways that minority shareholders won’t like, and too bad for them.
|An old gold mine near Port Alice --there are a number of them.|
“Canadian Dollars and Food” The Canadian agreement was signed too late to go into this issue. What details are known is that the remainder of the Canadian loan will be frozen, Canada will be paid for food in offset Marshall dollars, in part, addressing its balance of trade problems with America, and Canada will take some payment in sterling, against a guarantee of an expansion of British exports, which will replace the American goods that Canada can’t afford. Britain will pay “feed” prices for grain, and take less beef,. Bacon and cheese than the targets. In other Canadian news, the IMF was very upset with the Canadian export subsidy on gold, but Canada has now agreed on a very complicated formula that makes it all too confusing to parse, while probably actually increasing the subsidy, and that’s fine.
“Steel for Cars” The auto industry is feuding with the Ministry, as it thinks that it will only get enough steel to produce 250,000 cars, against a capacity of 400,000, while the Ministry has ordered it to increase production to 312,00. Ministers and advisors are meeting to come to an understanding, and the upshot may be a temporary reduction of steel stocks to reach the industry’s capacity.
In small industries, the Cutlery Working Party has reported on achieving full technical efficiency in an industry of small employers, and there is also a Working Party report on “Rubber-proofed clothing.” The Economist thinks that this Working Party was a bit silly, since the industry could have been rolled up in the clothing industry generally, as many of the same problems apply. (How much mechanisation, how much craftsmanship in full technical efficiency. Which is the same conclusion as the Cutlery Working Party! But the Report is very interesting for those who like their rubber-lined clothing. (Ronnie arches a brow.)
As you might guess, I’ve skipped a whole bunch of finance stories, everything from bonds doing bond-things to financial separation in India and the strengthening of the lira, which I would love to talk about except that I have to run to catch my train now now now now!
Flight, 25 December 1947
“Ambassador and Viscount” BEA has announced that it is going to buy the Ambassador, as expected. The problem is that this might mean that the BEA order for the Viscount is canceled, putting that design at risk. Flight hopes that doesn’t happen, because it thinks that the Viscount is very new and shiny. A separate leader suggests that the British are ordering planes wrong.
Here and There
The USAF will wear blue-grey uniforms, same colour as the RAF but different material. The Ontario air emigration scheme has been halted for three weeks starting 15 December for reorganisation. 3,253 emigrants have been flown out, so far. Oakridge has begun work on atomic engines for planes. Because of the need for shielding, atomic airplanes would have to weigh more than 50 tonsand be as large as the Hercules. Four LORAN stations are to be built in the Canadian and American Arctic to support the “intensity” of polar meteorological and survey flights.
|Cochran's rival, Jacqueline Auriole|
Miles Aircraft’s bankruptcy hearings showed that the company lost £630,000 last year through October. Creditors with £5,837 outstanding (mainly Titanine, although that’s from Uncle George, not Flight) have petitioned that the company be put into receivership. Creditors owed another £62,000 support the petition, and creditors owed £200,000 oppose it. Mr. Hogg, who has been appointed to try to reorganise the company and save if from bankruptcy, has not been able to find new financing, so far. In the United States, although the number of air accident fatalities was the highest ever in 1947 at 216, the number of major accidents was down, at only five, compared with nine in 1946 and eight in 1945, and the number of passengers was up 8% at 13,181,014. A New York-Calcutta Constellation flight will carry photographic plates sensitised to pick up cosmic rays as an experiment by the University of Chicago’s Institute for Nuclear Physics. The plates will be carried on two round trips, then transferred to a New York-Johannesburg flight for two round trips, followed by two trips to London. It is reported that Jacqueline Cochran has set a closed circuit, 100km speed record for piston planes in a P-51 Mustang, at 469.5mph.
The first commercial aircraft to land using FIDO is a DC-3 cargo aircraft landing at Arcata. Flight then tersely notes that FIDO “has been determined not to be practical for commercial flights in this country.” What? When did this happen? Why wasn’t I told? Just because I like to put on my sneer face and say that I don’t care is no excuse for holding back the good gen!
“Reconnaissance Demonstration: Modern Aids to P.R. on Show: Radar for Air Survey” The Central Photographic Establishment at Benson put on a conference from 10 December to 19 December for all three services of the British Empire and any Allies who might want to visit the relations in Britain over Christmas and bring food parcels. The conference was about all the super giant cameras they have for planes now, and linked master/slave cameras that don’t miss images while the shutter is irising, and radars that track photosurvey planes so that the exact location of the photograph is known. Oh, wait, no, when I bother to read the article (yes, yes, back to bad habits!), I learn that it is actually an “Automatic Observer,” weighing 146lbs, consisting of a Gee-H radar with two cathode ray tubes giving simultaneous displays of the main and strobe time-base pictures, and a set of instruments showing time, height, airspeed, temperature and lateral and longitudinal tilt. An F24 camera at one end of the Observer is synchronised to photograph the instrument every time the survey camera makes an exposure. The one draw back, as I see it, is that it is the technician in the lab who must correct the final photographs from the “script” provided by the F24 roll. Wouldn’t it be so much nicer to do that automatically? The CPE is working on this equipment with the aim of doing a new air survey to completely recontour the United Kingdom, while a project to map the towns of Britain at 1:5000 is 40% complete, and another is doing the proposed sites for New Towns at 1:10,000 and 1:5000. That project is using acetate-based non-stretch film in survey cameras with between-lens shutters instead of focal-plane shutters, for maximum accuracy. The CPE now has twenty million aerial survey photographs of Britain. The RCAF sent a delegation, and I was tempted to clip the photo and send it to you to see if any of them were your boys, but you’d probably know, already, anyway. I also wonder what the Russians might think if they showed up in Flight, what with all the looking-for-German-atom-bombs your kids were up to in ’45.
Arthur Cooke-Smith writes to point out that a proposed scheme to train commercial pilots from scratch, which would cost £1000 and give them 250 hours of flying, most of it under instruction, is hopeless unrealistic. He has 855 operational flying hours, 700 as a ferry pilot, and has had to recognise that he has no hope of getting a job as a commercial pilot, as there are too many wartime pilots with far more experience than that. J. Lankester Parker, the Short Brothers test pilot, writes to say that Captain Brice is completely right that flying boat bases will have to be calm, inland stretches of water and that flying from those will be expensive and impractical; but, nevertheless, flying boats are a great idea because they can also land at sea, sometimes. S. O. Bradshaw and Stewart Keith-Jopp write to say that wartime female pilots were great pilots who did a great job.
“Transports Today and Tomorrow” a beautifully illustrated article about -well, transports today and tomorrow. Some are big, and some are small. The big ones are mostly just used for military purposes. Reggie says that that is because they were rejected by the airlines and the Air Force and Navy have had to take on a little band of misfits; but smart as he is, he reads “Kibitzer” just like I do, and he may just be trying on Flight’s American correspondent’s opinion for size. Everyone agrees, though. Building big airplanes is hard! He may be right, too, as Flight admits in passing that, to achieve its 5000-mile range, the Brabazon I may need refuelling in flight. That brings one to Air Vice Marshal Bennett’s continuing praise of the Avro Tudor as a better plane than the Constellation. Given the Admiral’s visceral loathing of the man (see all previous letters since forever), well, we shall see. Bristol and Handley Page both have “medium range Empires” coming in 1951, and the DH 106 (now to be known as the “Comet”) is the great “dark horse.” It looks as though a jet airliner, even though not very economical on fuel, might be more economical than a piston-engined plane because it can do more work –fly faster, in other words. Various British firms are working on freighter or “Universal” types that have odd layouts so that they are easier to load.
|It's not so much that Reggie got along better with Bennett than his son, as that Admiral Cook was on more even terms with him than his father.|
In America, the biggest planes, which might or might not be practical, all depend on the success of the big new American radials in civil service. The Constitution uses the Wasp Major, as will the Stratocruiser, and so are dogged by Wright’s less-than-glorious reputation. The smaller Constellation, now available in the “Gold Plate” variant, and the DC-6, can use a Pratt & Whitney. Aside from the American and British aircraft, Canada’s DC-4M Northstar, and the revived, prewar French and Italian liners are worth a mention.
“Airborne Wing: Inspection of the AW52 in Flight and on the Ground: First Public Appearance” The AW52 is the most advanced experimental aircraft in the world today, but no-one cares because it is not very dramatic, due to being built by the Hawker Siddeley group, and, more importantly, not very fast.
Civil Aviation News
The big news this week is the release of the Board of Trade figures of aircraft exports, which are very impressive. There are now 5300 landing fields in the United States, many built by the $500 million grant of the Federal Airport Act of 1946. Many are for smaller aircraft, but many are for commercial services, and the shortest runways under construction there are 1500 yards long, while the largest have 3000yd runways. There are more details of the Huntings Aerosurvey survey of Iraq for the Anglo-Iranian Oil Corporation, which will use a Bristol Freighter flying at 22,000ft, with oxygen and an extra fuel tank holding 350 gallons.
|By RuthAS - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41480647|
The camera will be a Williamson Ordnance Survey type with a 6” wide-angle lens that takes 500 exposures per spool of film, each measuring 9” square. The camera operator will lie prone in a Perspex observation pod, using an Aldis sight to aim the camera with a remote-control apparatus. In other words, nothing very new. The development of Fairlop field as London’s second air terminal has been shelved, and the 1000-acre site converted to grazing. It’s still news that the three remaining BOAC Boeing 314s on the Bermuda service will be withdrawn from service in January and replaced by Constellations. Guinea Airways has been compensated £20,000 for the loss of its Northern Territories routes, which were taken away from it and given to Australian airlines like Ansett, ANA and Qantas, because the Constitution says so. Twelve American airlines are now approved to use ILS at 43 airfields. Airliners must have radio altimeters to use ILS, and the Hughes modification of the military radar (“radio altimeter”) gives warnings at 2000, 1000, and 500ft altitude. CAB originally asked for £3,357,000 to install ILS and high intensity lights at 166 city airports and GCA at between 30 and 40 airports. It has only received £130,427, and only 99 airports are now to have ILS. Westinghouse has a new, twin-unit light for airfields with two-variable lights, the top one with a range of between 16 and 1600W, the lower one with five more steps between 1000 and 10,000W. Swissair now has 11 Dakotas, 4 DC-4s, and two fourteen-seater DC-2s and three 6-seater DH Rapides for local services. Four 40-seater Convairs will be delivered in the Spring of 1948. Douglas Aircraft will spend between £750,000 and a million to modify 86 DC-6s to prevent fuel from leaking into the combustion heaters. ANA is installing miniature speakers in the headrests of the passenger seats, so that passengers can listen to music “audible only to the listening passenger.” We need those in California. Now. Alaskan Airways will be flying groceries such as eggs and milk this winter. The Government of Siam has commissioned an airport at Bangkok.
“Cheetah Genealogy: Fifteen Years Development Have Led to the 475hp Mk. 25: Association with Training” Armstrong Siddeley began making a 7-cylinder Cheetah in 1932. It replaced an earlier 7-cylinder, the Lynx, and was the smallest member of a family of radial engines, including the Tiger, that succeeded the Lynx’s family, which included the Jaguar and Panther. All the others were sent off to the old-cat’s home, but the Cheetah was kept in service, mainly on the million-and-a-half Anson variants used for training. By the time the Mk. 25 rolled around, it had all the modern conveniences, such as reduction gearing and a constant speed airscrew. As I sit here, wondering why Armstrong Siddeley isn’t marketing it against the Leonides, I can certainly tell you that this article doesn’t say!
The Engineer, 26 December 1947
A Seven-Day Journal
The LMS generating station, which supplies power to their electrified rail lines, has been linked to the power grid, for full technical efficiency. The Advisory Committee on Scientific Policy is to be linked to a new Committee on Industrial Productivity, with Tizard, Stanier, Zuckerman and Alexander King, serving. I can just hear Claude Rains.
Sir Frederick Bain gave a speech to the American Chamber of Commerce about how Britain is not exhausted by the war and “industrial a back number,” and if people keep saying that, he will get mad and hold his breath until he turns blue. A speech was given on coastal trading to the trade association that affirmed that coastal shipping is simply the best, the London Transport Executive is being reformed still, and “two interesting ceremonies” welcomed new locomotives to the LMS. These included a 4-6-2 named for Bill Stanier, while in the other they received a diesel-electric named “No. 1000,”because diesel-electric is just not done.
G. W. Tripp, “Survival of the Paddle Boat” This is about those powerful, rhythmic power plants churning through the placid –I’m not even going to read the rest of it. Have you even tried phoning across the Atlantic?
“A 150-Ton Universal Structure Testing Machine” W. and T. Avery, Ltd, of Birmingham, have made this enormous thing for pounding and pushing and pressing structures for Short and Harland. It’s a particularly good universal structure testing machine, I’m sure. [Pounding Machine: Non-Aviation Gadgets]
“L.M.S. Main Line Diesel-Electric Locomotive” LMS is testing diesel-electric prior to general introduction by operating two 1600hp diesel-electrics which can be operated independently or joined back to back to create a 3200hp single locomotive. The first unit has been completed and will be put into regular fast passenger service between Derby and St. Pancreas. It has a sealed body below to prevent oil dripping, and exhaust turbo-chargers by British Brown-Boveri. Starting is by battery, and the electric motors are direct current, series-wound, reversible and force-ventilated. The engines sound very modern, with wet cylinder liners and aluminum pistons.
G. W. Hurst, “The Influence of Radial Pressure from a Press Fit” Press fit is stress due to something being pressed by something being fit on it, I gather, and this article is about analysing press fit with photoelasticity. That is, make a model, fluoresce it, photograph the lines, now you know where the stress acts, and what bits to make stronger. This helps engineers understand the relationship between fatigue, abrasion and corrosion-induced cracking.
“Thermal Conductivity of Aluminum” is something that you’d think would have been nailed down before they let people go up in aluminum planes, but, it turns out, no. Now the Bureau of Standards has done so. “Centrifugally Cast Steel” is something they do in America, which doesn’t surprise me, why not slosh molten iron in a big spinning barrel, but apparently, they do it in Europe and Britain, too, so it is not that ridiculous. Americans also do it with steel, and so did the Germans, during the war. The Americans made gun barrels out of it, which see, Americans being crazy. The Germans, on the other hand, did it because austenite steel is very hard to work, and sometimes centrifugal casting works better, and the British efforts along those lines had to do with sleeve valves, cylinder liners, and “various aircraft parts in high tensile steel.” The Americans went on from their experiments with gun-making to cast stainless steel pieces for the chemical industry, and (hollow for lightness) propeller shafts for some destroyer escorts and Coast Guard cutters. As they could only do them 20ft long, that meant welding sections. “The economic aspect is not dealt with,” the summary says!!! “Fatigue Failure of Press Fitted members” is another paper on the theme just developed, and this one is about crankpins, and reminds The Engineer from a paper back in May about all sorts of press fit failures in locomotive axles by Professor Timoshenko, because this week a paper from Australia disagrees with Timoshenko’s explanation for the failures, attributing it to fretting corrosion. “Molybdenum and Tungsten Coatings” is an article by Lander and Germer about how these useful coatings can be produced by dissociation from their carbonyl vapours. (I guess you put the piece in an atmosphere of tungsten/molybdenum carbonyl, and the metals distill out? It doesn’t work with chromium.) The article explains how to do it right –preparing the metal to be treated, the temperature that it must be done at, that sort of thing.
“On Giving” At Christmas, engineers should think about what they give to engineering. What?
“People at Work” The Engineer just heard that people like to work, because it gives their lives meaning. Therefore, it concludes, you can pay them less! What? Some more.
Benjamin Talbot, 81, who was the chairman and managing director of the South Durham steel and Iron Company, and the Cargo Fleet Iron Company, and the inventor of the continuous steelmaking process which bears his name, as well as of a mechanical gas producer and the Talbot hydrocarbon lining for the prevention of corrosion in cast iron and steel pipes, has died.
Sir E. Bertram Rowcroft, “Problems Encountered by the REME in the Field” Major-General Rowcroft was the commandant of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in the war and has many stories to tell. For example, the 6-pounder antitank gun was first delayed, and then hurried into production, so it was very upsetting when it was found that the tank version jammed after firing ten rounds, in August ’42. Wait! That’s three months before Alamein! That’s serious!! There were a variety of causes, but they boil down to very tight clearances and either substitute or new materials that were found to have internal stresses on manufacture that resulted in distortions. The solution was to test them, send out the 40% that passed inspection immediately, while the REME worked like Hell to fix the various problems in the 40% that could be fixed. In Sicily, the 5.5” gun-howitzer was found to be failing proof after only half the expected service life. The solution was to get in at the loose liner and rotate it 120 degrees at half-half-life, which was a very hard thing to do in forward shops. But most of the article is devoted to the wade-proofing done to all the vehicles that went to D-Day. None of this is terribly interesting. (Sealing and snorkels for the engines, mainly).
“A Diesel-Electric Shunting Locomotive” The Brush Electrical Engineering Company has delivered the first prototype built by the company to the London and North Eastern, and writes to The Engineer to explain all about it. It is the first two-stroke shunter in use in Britain and has compressed air starting instead of electrical. It has both an Auto-Klean and a Streamline filter, and a paraffin water heater for the radiators in case of winter. Brush is very proud of the smooth and continuous operator control of the electrical motors, and there are even more filter details, so I guess that’s very important in shunting yards. That makes sense!
H. Hurworth, “Oil Deterioration in Transformers and Switchgear” It turns out that the oil in transformers can get quite corrosive due to potassium hydroxide getting into it, and this is one of, but not the only cause of a variety of problems, including sludge coating everything. Electrical engineering must be very glamorous!
“A Pump Factory at Hillington” Mirrlees (Engineers) Ltd has a pump factory at Hillington in Glasgow. It makes pumps! (Fuel oil pumps for large engines and other things, I think, such as generators, maybe?)
Industrial and Labour Notes
British exports were down a bit in November versus October, which had two less working days than October, at £102,253,827. Machinery was sixteen million of that. British coal mined is up 7% on 1946 in the last quarter, with the labour force at 715,000 compared with 691,700 tat the same time last year. Open cast mining totals were up due to good weather. Consumption is up, too, but not as much as expected. Therefore, the amount allowed to be exported as coal bunkers would be up from 112,000 tons a week to 200,000 tons, three-fifths of that for the ships bunkering it, the remainder for exports. (If I understand this, the coal is put in ship’s bunkers, and when they get to their destination, three-fifths is kept, and the remainder unloaded to warm freezing Germans and employ striking Italians. Supplies to domestic consumers would be up 20,000 tons a week, and more coal will go to coal gas works, too. Tin prices are going up, and British buyers will no longer need licenses.
French Engineering News
The French will not suffer (worse) power outages, due to the rail strike ending before coal reserves were exhausted. French industry is suffering from lack of American machinery, cotton and copper due to the dollar shortage. Fives-Lille Company and the Electro-Mecanique Company will collaborate to build 35 1000hp electric locomotives for the SNCF’s southwest network.
|Probably this. Par Didier Duforest — Travail personnel, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2130366|
Notes and Memoranda
Mr. L. K. Silcox, Vice-President of the New York Air Brake Company, says that the USA needs 100,000 new box wagons and 200,000 freight wagons of other types. The Office of Defence Transportation is urging production at a rate of 10,000/month, which, if 7000 wagons are taken out of service each month, means that it will take eight years to make up the current lack of 300,000 wagons, which is too slow to allow railways to take old equipment out of service in a timely way. Belfast Airport is taking over RAF Bishopscourt as a diversionary airport. The Engineer reports the death of Messrs.. F. W. Wix and T. P. Headland. The Waste Paper Recovery Board scolds the railways for wasting 4000 tons of paper last year. VHF radios are being tried out on tugs. The Ministry of Fuel and Power is on about fuel efficiency again. The Association of Scientific Workers passes on some interesting information about civil service scientific worker salaries. The Steel Engineering Products, Ltd. uses a crane on a truck to install giant pipes as sewer outfalls. Automotive Products Company, Ltd, of Leamington Spa, has developed an extension of its Lockheed hydraulic servo braking system, with accumulator, to create a servo hand brake. It reduces driver fatigue and increases safety, and has a boost ratio of 3 to 1 to give a maximum effort of 3693 inch-pounds with the accumulator at 1000lb.
Newsweek, 29 December 1947
H. E. D. Walker, the business manager of Mary Hardin-Baylor College, doesn’t think that Jews are being discriminated against by American higher education, because more Jews are enrolled in college than in the general population. So there! Norman Miles, of Portland, Maine, asks the reviewer who made fun of the change of title from The Sin of Harold Diddlebrock to Mad Wednesday to please have mercy for the poor marque changer, out there on a ladder in the middle of a Portland winter, putting up a title like Our Vines Have Tender Grapes with Edward G. Robinson. Ex G.I. Robert J. Douglas remembers Paula Stoska performing “Kiss Me, Kiss Me Again” in a strapless white evening gown in Guadalcanal. V. M. Fenn, of Toronto, is not impressed with Hans Espeland crossing the Atlantic shoeless on a cruise, considering that he flew various wartime long hauls in sleepers, making him “the first man to cross Asia and the Mediterranean naked.” John R. Fox, of the Army Finance School, writes to correct Newsweek about savings bonds, which is nothing compared to the storm of criticism for incorrectly identifying a San Francisco funicular as a cable car. San Franciscans are enraged!
Various people have ideas about how to stop inflation that they might share very soon, from Bernard Baruch to the President, who will make it the topic of his State of the Union address. Senator O’Mahoney is being talked up as a Democratic candidate for Vice-President, and Senator Tobey has been tapped to head the Draft-Eisenhower campaign. Congress will not relax immigration laws next year, and the DPs can go hang. Republicans in Congress want an investigation of Attorney General Clark’s role in the Kansas City vote scandal. The Loyalty Review Board is working on a clear definition of loyalty that will be “surprisingly liberal.” The New York Grand Jury investigating the communist spy ring in Washington may issue indictments against four or six persons. Midwestern Congressmen are more likely to be against the Marshall Plan, as we cornfed, down-home, pig-butchering landlubbers are isolationists. (We can’t help it; we’re just not sure that Europe exists, because those East Coasters are always putting ones over on us.) Truman says that he has learned his lesson and will appoint more government career men and fewer cronies from now on. A vending machine in Washington National Airport will stock nylons in two colours and five sizes. King Ibn Saud is sticking up for America in the Middle East, and Romanian and Hungarian communists are supporting Greek communists. The merger of Bizonia and the French zone will soon be “an accomplished fact,” and the new Trizonia will take on more administrative burdens, although an independent Western Germany is still a distant prospect. De Gaulle will probably come to power in the spring. He will ban the communists, modernise plants, extend hours at the same rates of pay, introduce profit-sharing for labour, give the colonies “dominion status,” and limit the political role of unions.
US Intelligence says that the Soviets are short of oil since American deliveries of 2.5 million barrels a year have dried up under Congressional pressure, and with production declining in the Romanian, Hungarian and Baku fields. Not only is the American mission to Greece becoming pessimistic, there is infighting within it. Army radars have been tracking Rusian planes flying over northern Japan during overcast days, mapping the territory by radarscope.
The US Navy has turned 40 trawlers over to the Germans for fishing, so that they can help solve “the food problem.” The Army, meanwhile, has 250,000 Germans waiting for trial under the de-Nazification programme, down from 900,000 under more stringent definitions of what qualifies you to have been a Nazi. Pundits are saying that unless there is an effective anti-inflation policy, the parties should aim to lose in 1948, since the winning party will have to deal with a major depression. Utilities want a raise in power rates. Twentieth Century Fox will take a loss on Forever Amber, but make good money on Duel in the Sun. The Bishop’s Wife will take the Best Picture Oscar this year. We the People will be renewed. All the major broadcasters have put in a bid for Bob Hope after his rumoured break with Lever Brothers. Arlene Francis and Mickey Rooney will have new shows this year. Dell Publishing may be reviving Ballyhoo. Stravinsky and W. H. Auden are collaborating on a new opera based onHogarth’s “Rake’s Progress.” TV operators are negotiating for the release of twelve million feet of German film held by the Alien Property Office, hoping to dub it with English so that it will be suitable for video. Joseph Driscoll is returning to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as a roving correspondent, while Bennett Cerf has a new book coming out in the fall.
Price controls and tax relief may or may not be coming, as the Knutson Bill is in trouble in the Senate. Washington doesn’t care that the London Conference failed, and expect a “series” of Soviet-American crises in the next few years. The Marshall Plan will be revised upwards, but there is some concern that Congress might get bored and wander off. Republicans are pressing for some China aid. It will go with aid for Japan, Korea, Germany, Austria and Greece. There is also talk of more American aid for the Middle East, while there are requests for aid in the offing from India and Pakistan. Army recruiting is lagging, making the case for Universal Military Training stronger. There is still opposition in Congress, but a reversal of Western European anti-communist momentum would push it through in a heartbeat. The Wac-Wave Bill will probably go through next session. The parties are divided on whether to extend rent control for another year, no strings, or allow an across-the-board 15% increase. The Luckman save-on-food campaign is petering out, but the aid target remains 370 million bushels, unless the crop situation deteriorates further or more grain goes to livestock. Newsweek does not think much of Wallace.
Speaking of, Luckman’s decision to throw a Christmas dinner for his campaign volunteers that included stuffed celery, olives, pickles, carrot sticks, radishes, shrimp cocktail, fried oysters, seafood Newberg, sliced ham, sliced cold cuts, fried apple rings, pickled walnuts, mixed greens, potato salad, finger rolls, assorted ice cream, assorted ginger cookies and demitasse, with martinis, bourbon, Scotch and sherry before the meal, is the worst scandal ever. Truly a “Belshazzar Feast,” as Representative Leslie C. Arends puts it.
“Grave and Significant Decision” This is one of those stories that Uncle George used to parody as “Talking about talking about. . .” in this case, price controls. In fairness, there’s lots to talk about talking about, since the President has an opinion, and Congress has an opinion, and Presidential candidates have opinions, and Senator Taft is in the Senate, and is running for President. My summary is, “Taft is terrible,” but you’ll probably just say that I am rebelling against my parents.
“Stopgap Tennis” Before Marshall aid can go through, there must be stopgap aid, and it is fun (if your memory of American politics only goes back fifteen minutes) to see Congress and Senate bouncing the bill between them, cutting and boosting. In the end, a total stopgap aid package of $540,000,000 passed, including eighteen million for China. This is $75 million less than the President requested. Separately, Congress approved $340 million for Army occupation costs. Under Presidential news, gossip from Kansas. Russia’s new ambassador to Washington is Alexandre S. Paniushkin, and Newsweek really, really doesn’t like Wallace.
“Merry Christmas to Some” Progressive Citizens of America can’t “even say ‘Merry Christmas’ without stirring up some controversy.” Specifically, the Knights of Columbus are upset at the PCA’s Christmas cards, because one has a naked lady on it, and the other has a Coloured man.
“Postwar Plan” Erwin (Billie) Walker went to war a cheerful and ambitious young man, came back bitter and morose, in spite of a field commission. It turns out that he also came back a motor bandit, using stolen guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition to terrorise Los Angeles, killing a police officer in one incident and wounding several others. He has been found sane and sentenced to die in the gas chamber on 20 June, leading his father to take his own life. If that’s not enough tragedy for you, Newsweek was on hand for the arrival of 21-year-old Maria Formicola, of Naples, on Vulcania, coming to join her Jim, James McIntosh of Guerrant, Ky. Unluckily (Guerrant!?) for her, he died in a traffic accident while she was at sea.
Check out the Wiki biography of Walker. Wow.
“Tattle Time” Clinton P. Anderson apparently has a list of Administration insiders who have done well on the commodity exchanges, but won’t release it to the Republican members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which subpoenaed the Secretary to appear on 18 December, with the result that the lists are going to be published, and not examined in private, turning a political coup by the Republicans into a potential embarrassment.
“Night Club Pffft” Night club receipts are way down this year, although there is still hope if it is a solid New Year’s Eve.
“Brown Tiny Tims” Mulatto British babies born to British women and Coloured American GIs are having a very hard life in Britain. Not because of racism, because racism is only a very minor thing, and is on the verge of going out everywhere, don’t you know, but because their skin colour lets everyone know that they are illegitimate. Which is terrible in a good way, not like racism. Except that it is bad, since the babies suffer.
|I've spared you most of this campaign, but it is huge.|
Washington Tides with Ernest K. Lindley, “Christmas Comes to Washington” The long, long story of the Republicans’ attempt to cut the Interior Department’s budget for Western irrigation improvements in the name of cutting waste from the budget and delivering tax relief in 1947 (remember those days?) has come to a pathetic end as Congress restores almost the entire cut so as not to wipe out the GOP across the West and drive Earl Warren to an independent, Progressive bid. Which would make family conversations this New Years very exciting! Warren! Wallace! Truman! (Me: “Taft!” Eyes rolling, voice flat.)
“Awaiting the Battle of the Giants” The inhabitants of Berlin are waiting for the “battle” that will come when the Russians try to push the Western Allies out of the city (which is divided up into four occupation zones, just like Germany.)
“The Reich in Pieces” This article on Bizonia/Trizonia has it that the British and Americans are waiting on the French, who must be convinced that Trizonia would be “profitable” for France. This seems to mean integration of the Saar into the French economy, and a special international regime for the Ruhr. John Foster Dulles thinks that the French can be won over, but General Truscott sees German reluctance as a bigger issue, since any German politician who takes a lead in Trizonia in Frankfurt may be “tried as a war criminal” by the ultimate, united German government. There’s also a long article about the failure of the London Conference, but that was talking about talking about peace, and I will spare you.
“The Joy to Come” Britons are upset about the rationing of oatmeal; the shortage of trousers that has led Scotsmen to don kilts as daily wear instead of formal, which is apparently bad (? I think they’re cute!); and some are upset about Princess Elizabeth’s housekeeping money of £50,000/year. Sir Stafford Cripps says that Britain is making “substantial progress” in critical areas such as textiles, agricultural machinery, and other capital goods for export.
“Souvenirs of a Soldier” General Sir Ian Standish Monteith Hamilton has cleaned out his attic and given all his knick-knacks to people. Seriously. That’s a two-column story, with two photos, including a nice one of a Buddha he knicked from an “abandoned” Burmese temple.
“Soviet Anti-Jewish Policy” A Newsweek correspondent reports that some kind of anti-Jewish action seems on the horizon in Russia. Jews have flocked to join the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, and interest in the Jewish autonomous region in Siberia has revived, with 6000 Jews seeking to move there in recent months. This story about Soviet anti-Semitism is spread a box story about the leak of the existence of FEC-230, a proposed economic reform of Japan involving breaking up the cartels, that might or might not be as bad as the Morgenthau Plan.
“Ruble-Rousing” This is Newsweek’s briefer and more readable, but somewhat less complete version of the story of the Soviet ruble reform, which I’ve already discussed.
“The Workers’ Strength” In the wake of the failure of the general strike, French workers are flocking to an anti-communist trade union association. In shorter news, a man entered a “Lovely Legs” competition in Massachusetts, and won, and the new comet visible in the Southern Hemisphere is said to be “after the aborigines only valuable property, his dog,” leading to fearsome anti-comet dances.
Foreign Tides by Joseph B. Phillips, “Having Miserable Time” The French strike came to an end because otherwise it would have ruined Christmas. Britain, thanks to rationing, has already had Christmas ruined for it, despite the Minister of Food promising everyone another 6 pennies worth of meat at Christmas dinner, which is “about one mouthful per person at present prices.” (The correspondent will have a wife, daughter, and her family over.) As letters and postcards go out around the world, Europeans are sure to remind their friends and relations that this is the eighth consecutive Christmas of short rations and “great uncertainties.” Statesmen, reading these letters, should be “racing against time” to “find the way to recovery and better times.”
“the Gift of the Magi of Scio” Lou Reese’s Scio Pottery was uninsuredagainst fire, had a fire, and was levelled, but now all those small-townMidwesterners are taking time out of being suspicious of Britain and callousabout France to help him rebuild.
“Within Limits” Secretary Anderson hasn’t been able to sell American distillers on a voluntary reduction in grain consumption, so there is going to have be some kind of control, and the industry is bickering over what it is going to be. In other short news, George Urich’s self-serve gas stations in Los Angeles are throwing orthodox operators in a tizzy. They operate in the suburbs, where the Los Angeles Fire Department can’t shut them down, and has “five or six pretty girls in sweaters and slacks” roller-skating from island to island collecting payments, while a supervisor in a glass booth directs them by loudspeaker and yells at smokers.
|This is scraped from the Chester Liebs book I just linked to. I'm a naughty boy, but I couldn't resist. It's Stinker Cut Rate Gas, Salt Lake City, photographed in 1954.|
“The Chaos Killers” Dr. Paul Agnew resigned this week from the American Standards Association, after 30 years. He has been director almost since the ASA was founded, and Newsweek goes on to explain what it does, which I think I’ll spare the regular The Engineer reader.
“The Fur Man” Irving Joseph Fox died this week at 58. A New York furrier since 1919, although the third generation of his London furrier family, he is best known for his $25,000 silverblu mink, although most of his business was beaver-dyed moutons and muskrats selling at closer to $300. Also, he advertised.
“Millions Down a Hole” Standard Oil Co surrendered its 784,000 acre concession in Guarico State, Venezuela this week, after spending millions of dollars to drill ten dry holes.
In shorter notes, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics estimates that gross farm income is up 20% this year at $34 million. Some manufacturers spent as much as ten times more on research this year than in 1939, but research expenditures dropped from 1.8% to 1.6% of sales. Exports rose in October after a four month decline, and Glenn L. Martin, announcing an estimated loss of $36 million in 1947, dropped plans for its 3-0-3. The 2-0-2 will have to do. Goodyear Tires announced a new floor covering, as long-wearing and resilient as rubber, made of vinyl plastic and said to be stain, scar, and flame resistant. Socony-Vacuum will be equipping 1947 Cadillacs with a two-octane fuel system, with two tanks, pumps and carburettors supplying high-octane gas for starting and accelerating, and low octane gas for steady driving[?] Harwell, Inc., of St. Charles, Michigan, is making an aluminum toboggan that is light, faster, stronger.
Business Tides with Henry Hazlitt, “Inflation Has Two Faces” The Economist thinks that America has a sound money policy. Hazlitt doesn’t, and thinks that only checking income growth will stop inflation.
“Merchant Marine: How America Seeks to Stay in the Oceans” The war is over, and various European countries are rebuilding their merchant marines, but America isn’t. Even tough it currently has about half the world’s merchant tonnage, most of it is war-built Liberty, which are poor ships, and anyway will all expire in twenty years, so that any national shipbuilding strategy has to start soon. But will it? American costs have always been higher, and all projections of a larger American merchant marine are based on world trade increasing so much that the ships can carry American goods to American markets without interfering in the vital shipping interests of other trading nations. From the European building mania, it does not look as though that will happen. Also, America isn’t building enough liners.
“Flight by Suction” Newsweek goes to Sydney Goldman’s Wright Lecture and learns about boundary layer suction and in-wing jet engine nacelles, while the Air Force tests the XB-47 and a new radar with a range of 1000 miles against high-flying missiles.
“Radioactivity on the Farm” Do you remember the story about tracing photosynthesis with radioisotopes, or the other one about the Boston lab that is preparing isotopes for other chemical diagnostic work? This article starts with outlandish claims about how plants at Hiroshima have been flourishing in their bomb-contaminated soil, before moving on to David Lilienthal’s statement that isotopes have a bright future tracing the everyday chemistry of growing plants. At Auburn, Alabama, the Alabama Polytechnic Institute is working with the Oak Ridge Institute of Isotopes to trace the growth of cabbage with isotopes, while the Agricultural Research Department in Salt Lake City is taking a different approach, tracing radioactive sulphur through a variety of plants with “radio-autographs” to see how plants use this trace element. Another experiment is tracing cobalt, known to factor into soil fertility, but for unknown reasons.
“Homemade Aurora” A California physicist writes in the current issue of California Monthly that by projecting radio waves through the air, molecules can be made to glow in the same way as the Northern Lights, just as the Northern Lights are known to produce sounds in short wave radios, even when they are turned off.
“Doctors Under Socialism” British doctors will be salaried £300/year, plus a fee for each patient seen. With 4000 patients, a doctor can make as much as £3,333; doctors can still have private practices, but they cannot sell them, although they will be compensated for the loss of right of sale. The BMA is outraged. (By the way, in last week's Newsweek there's a long story about the shortage of pediatricians in America, so free enterprise isn't perfect, either.)
“Photographing the Virus” Bacteria are small, but visible in compound microscopes. Viruses, which can be as small as 10 millimicrons, are far too small for light microscopes, but now electron microscopes can see them, and Doctor R. W. G. Wyckoff, of the National Institute of Health, has published a nice photo of T-viruses eating a colon bacterium.
|Dr. Delfs does not seek to have a biography|
“Help for the Suffering” Injections of tetanus toxoid, made in combination with atabrine and chloroquine, are said by Dr. Eusebio Y. Garcia, a parasitologist at Binan, Laguna, Philippines, is said to reduce recurrences of Plasmodium falciparum. Parke, Davis and Co., Detroit, reports that Etamon chloride, a new drug, is effective against hardening of the arteries, thrombo-phlebitis (milk leg), shingles and Buergers’ Disease. Dr. D. P. Wheatley, an English doctor, reports success against chilblains, a painful and common complaint in Britain last year, with Vitamin K injections. Two Doctors Robinson, at the University of Maryland, report that benzyl benzoate is effective against a range of sores and itches. Dr. Eleanor Delfs, of Johns Hopkins, has had success with thyroid extract treatments for women who take this medicine, and who are prone to giving birth prematurely. Whereas previously out of 155 women, only twelve had living children, she has increased the number to 43. Also, the University of Maryland’s cancer check programme has found that men given precautionary checks have ten times the expected rate of cancer, and women, twice the expected rate. This works out to 8 cancers detected in men, and nine in women, from 336 men and 1,373 women examined.
Radio, Press, Art
“Hoopererror” In a hysterically funny (?) irony, during C. E. Hooper’s appearance on We, the People, he called someone to sample their listening habits, and learned that the person he phoned was listening to Amos and Andy. The main story, however, is Mary Howard, a recording engineer who left NBC in January of 1946 to open her own studio, which aims for “perfection,” and does Toscanini broadcasts. “Like every other red-eyed and benezedrined recording agent, Mrs. Howard put in a staggering 106-hour working week in the last recording days before New Year’s Eve.” Her studio is run like an “eighteenth century salon –where friendship, not social standing, was the rule, and Scotch and soda replaced more courtly drinks.”
In spite of the benzedrine and the alcohol, Howard was living in retirement in Connecticut in 1969.
“Hypodermic for Pageant” Harris Shevelson has been hired away from Coronet to save Pageant, and Paul Hunter to save Liberty, having proved himself at Madamoiselle. I used to read Madamoiselle! I will be very pleased, and surprised, if experience there carries over to Liberty! Dwight S. Perrin is going to the Syracuse Herald-Journal as a semi-retirement job. The New York local of the American Newspaper Guild has voted out several alleged communist board members, the anti-communist crusade bringing out nearly 5900 of the 6900 eligible to cast ballots.
This week’s art feature is on Japanese prints, which are becoming a big thing for collectors. If they happen to be American, and find business taking them to Japan, they will also learn that they were not a big thing in Japan in their glory days, so they can’t add much to their collection there. So sad.
Leaving out a torn corner, Dean Johnson has been rebuked by the Archbishop of Canterbury for being too Red, while Knut Hamsun has been fined for being too White. Dwight Eisenhower’s 1948 Presidential horoscope is “very favourable.” Elliott Roosevelt has set up a Christmas tree lot selling trees grown at Hyde Park. Kay Trevil, Miss Paris 1947, is marrying Ray Mack, an ex-GI she met in Paris, because American men are nicer. Louis Carrizales, 88, a thresher company salesman, has had a daughter, Juanita Louise, with his 23-year-old wife, Marie. Speaking of, General Chennault has divorced his wife of 23 years, who bore him six sons and two daughters, to marry Anna Chan, daughter of the former Chinese Consul-General of San Francisco. Mark Hellinger, 44-year-old newspaper columnist, author of six thousand columns, has died of a heart attack. Janet Coogan, the widowed wife of some rich guy, who fled society and lived a recluse in her mansion after high society snubbed her daughter’s debut, has died at 86, still nursing a grudge.
Newsweek really enjoyed Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast, because adults can take children to it and find something to enjoy. My parents would say, I’ve heard that one before! It did not like Captain Boycott, which was almost a fine film. the social and documentary content is overshadowed by some cockamamie swashbuckling by the male lead (Stewart Granger), and a listless romance with Kathleen Ryan.
Christmas means art books. Leading off is American Painting –First Flowers of the Wilderness, which has gorgeous plates by Copley, West, Pratt and others, and probably some kind of point in the words.
Somewhat on the same theme is Esther Forbes’ The Running of the Tide, in that it is a historical novel, and she is historical, and she is also now rich thanks to a $150,000 advance. Buried down in a mass onslaught of books are mini-reviews of Silver Kings, byOscar Lewis; The United States andRussia, by Vera Micheles Denn; Villard, again; New Letters of Abigail Adams, edited by Stewart Michell, America in Perspective, edited by Henry Steele Commager; The La Follettes [!] andthe Wisconsin Idea, By Edward Doan; EnergyUnlimited: The Electron and Atom in Everyday Life, by Harry M. Davis; and Far and Near, by Pearl S. Buck.
Perspective, with Raymond Moley, “Caretaker of Our Enemies,” America is really nice for putting the Marshall Plan together and deserves to pat itself on the back very hard. Also, it’s very nice that we didn’t have a depression this year. Maybe next year? Americans should be careful not to be self-righteous, and should continue to be an inspiration, teacher and provider to the world. “Broken nations must learn to help themselves by hard work, prudent economy and stabilised currencies.”