Sunday, September 23, 2018

Postblogging Technology, July 1948, II: Bearing Down

The Oriental Club,

Dear Father:

Well! Don't let me tell you that I am not cross with you! Instead of being off in the Lincoln to Arcata, I am sitting here in a rented Cadillac, Wong Lee keeping me safe, waiting for Fat Chow to escort Grace out of the terminal. Don't get me wrong! I'm glad to have Grace and James home and safe! My heart was in my mouth for the entire time they were in Hong Kong. I guess I should admit that I was wrong about Mssrs. Wu and Kwan. Now if only we can make good on the bullion.

I left myself some space so I could finish this letter, which, as you know, did not get off until we had seen James and Grace off to Santa Clara the next afternoon. That left me time to talk to Reggie on the phone. Except for a bit of heat over politics, I'll draw a veil over that, except to say that he is full of enthusiasm for the latest British developments in blind landing, and can't wait to pester his CO about it. I don't suppose it is news that he thinks that Arcata is wasting its time fiddling with lamps when it could be fiddling with cockpit radar --even if he admits that he can't figure out a way of using it.

Bill and David stopped by the apartment immediately that Miss K. left to be with her beau, so that I could pass on your package. I was very carefully not curious at all, although I couldn't help noticing that there is a story in Engineering about the little gadget I carried from London in my luggage. I have a feeling that it doesn't explain what makes it so important to Bill and David!

Also, received yours of last week, no longer cross. Thank you!  No just don't read this letter, change your mind, and send my application in to Hastings College, instead. (Sorry, joke. All will be understood if you read every word to the end, but since when do you do that?)

Yours Sincerely,

Flight, 15 July 1948


"Accidents and Fire" In a recent article in the Journal of the Royal Aeronautical Society, R. E. Hardingham shows that 90% of all air accidents are caused by operational conditions rather than airworthiness, and that 70 to 80% of fatalities are by burning. About 20 to 30% of those lost in fires were trapped in the wreckage. To reduce casualties, he recommends bag type fuel tanks in the wing, as far as possible from the fuselage, and automatic crash switches to activate fire-extinguishing systems. Batteries need to be isolated form heavy-duty circuits by as much wire as possible. Tanks, sumps, pumps, collector pans and fuel lines should be mounted on strong parts of the structure and not in "excrescences" below the aircraft.

"Crash Survival" Hardingham also recommends rear-facing seats, as these protect against sudden decelerations, and thinks that there should be doors on both sides of the main fuselage to improve evacuations. Some would say that this would cost too much and make the aircraft too heavy. Flight doesn't think that those are legitimate concerns.

"Long Range Airliners: Cabinet Decision" The Cabinet still hasn't made up its mind, so Flight throws in for using as many Tudor IVs, Tudor IIs (if the Courtenay report says so), and Hermes in the mid-range market. As these won't be enough, foreign aircraft must be bought, either the Constellation or the Canadair Four.

"Gust Hunting: Work of the BEA Gust Research Unit at Cranfield"  Clear air turbulence, or gusts, are dangerous, air "bumps" that occur between 30,000 and 35,000ft. They will be a serious problem for jet airliners, and no-one is sure exactly what causes them, so BEA has two second-hand photoreconnaissance Mosquitoes up looking for them. They are well-equipped with radio, navigation aids and instruments such as accelerometers, balance bridge thermometers, VG recorders and fuel flowmeters.  They have flown 120 hours, 84 on "useful flights" where gusts have been encountered, notably a flight to Inverness where gusts causing a 0.5g "bump" were encountered at 18,000--19,000ft over the Cairngorms, and three times on overseas flights, over the Brest Peninsula, off northern Spain, and near Copenhagen at heights of 25,000--35,000ft. where 0.3g gusts were recorded. It is all very difficult for the crew; the accelerometer is by Peravia of Switzerland, is driven by a clockwork good for 45 minutes, and produces a trace at 0.1s intervals on a waxed-paper film, driving at 2mm/second. The other accelerometer was designed by Mr. Barnes of the RAE, and is electrically driven, recording on film. 

Here and There

The Theseus "sealed" endurance test is continuing, and has reached 490 hours. The 54 Squadron Vampires that were going to cross the Atlantic are now crossing it, as head winds permit. To reassure the pilots, they are now being accompanied by an ASR Lancaster. The P-80 return visit has been delayed, and will not begin until the Vampires finally arrive in the Western Hemisphere. The ridiculous fight over whether or not Australian National Airways was committing a federal crime by serving beer on its flights has been dismissed by the court. Dunlop is very pleased with itself because its products are very popular. It has also invented a "self-marking" target tow, which sends off a radio result whenever it is hit, which can be sent back to the firing pilot. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Supply, Mr. J. Freeman, visited the Short and Harlands works, where he told workers that the flying boat does have a future, after all.

Civil Aviation News

Douglas has announced that it will soon be able to offer a freighter version of the DC-6 at £250,000. The headline figures are 15 tons of cargo at 2000 miles, about twice the Skymaster. Short Brothers is pleased to report that it moved some of its testing equipment to Belfast when it closed the Rochester works. Uncle George mentioned that I should specifically say that they moved a bunch of heat treatment devices, including a muffle furnace, salt bath and low-temperature oven. That's not because he knows what a "muffle furnace" is, either, but because it points up just how far the aircraft companies have come in doing their own heat treatment. Ten years ago, they were buying standard lengths of steel and bending and sawing them by hand, lest heating the steel, ruin it! Various services are expanding, except when they are contracting. The Minister responsible opened the European Meteorological Telecommunications Conference with a nice speech about how the weather office researches weather. Idlewild Airport is technically open to the public, although only Air France, Peru and Venezuela will fly from it for the next two months, because they were forced to move there from LaGuardia, and so will all the other foreign airlines, soon.  The United States has finally funded all seven of its Atlantic weather ships, although it will probably be a few months before the Coast Guard has the five new ships operating. BEA has now replaced its 6 seat Dragon Rapides with 21 seat Dakotas, which is why its passenger route miles flown is up in spite of dropping some routes. (This is the second article about BEA services being up in two pages.) United is pleased to report that its reliability is up to 96% from 92.5%. British Commonwealth Pacific Airways has coordinated its Sydney-Vancouver service with Trans-Canada's Montreal--Vancouver, allowing passengers to reach London from Sydney in six days. 

"Design in Logic: The Planet Satellite: Full Details of a New Concept in Aircraft Design and Construction" Flight wants everyone to know that the Planet Satellite is the best plane ever, that magnesium is the best material ever, that the NPL says that it is the strongest plane ever, more or less, that its aerodynamics are the best ever, that its constant speed pusher airscrew isn't a ridiculous affectation on such a small plane (because magnesium is just that good), and that the structure is neato-keen. Also, Flight got a nice big cheque. 
In fairness to Flight, the same article appears in other aviation magazines. Why Gordon's Gin thinks that this is a good idea is beyond me. 
"African Survey" Flight looks in at photographic survey now going on in Africa. Once again, it is amazing just how modern and accurate and careful the air navigation features have to be, and just how modern and scientific the ground work from the photographs are. And since we've heard it all before, it is a real struggle to make it interesting.

Erecting the portable antenna of the survey ground control. Air survey is a huge, unwritten chapter of the story if interwar air navigation and bomb aiming. 

"Power-Operated Controls: New Electro-Hydraulic System developed for the Saro S-45" In case you're having trouble keeping works numbers separate, the SR45 is the giant flying boat, not the flying boat jet fighter. Developed by Saunders-Roe and Boulton Paul together, it uses a 120v DC supply (actually, two, because there are two independent systems for redundancy) to drive a hydraulic variable-torque motor that, in turn, operates elevators, ailerons and rudder through independent circuits. It is a velocity control with a differential. The pilot's controls are conventional, and feel "quite orthodox," thanks to an adjustable "feel generator."

The Royal Aero Club flew over to Deauville and had a party. A helicopter joined the fun. 

"The Gyrodyne: Precis of a Paper Given to the Helicopter Association by Dr. A. J. Bennett of Fairey Aviation: D. R. Bennet Outlines its History and Describes its Special Features" Dr. Bennett explains that the Gyrodyne avoids torque reaction equipment and blade-tip stall. It is also faster than a regular helicopter, allowing the rotors to fly with a lower pitch, which is good.

Except that both of Bennett's innovative rotor gadgets killed their test pilots.  

Remember the Northolt accident? Of course not, because it was so long ago, and really nothing. Certainly, Flight doesn't. But it does have to register the fact that, among the very small number of people who might have been just a little bit killed, back in those far-off days of last week, was Douglas Rudolf Pobjoy, the designer of the famed Pobjoy engine, who later went to Rotol to work on a sleeve-valve engine for driving auxiliaries on large aircraft. When Rotol shut that line down, Pobjoy was left unemployed, and he was flying back from Finland, where he sold a new tractor design, when he had his little greet-and-meet with the ground. 

On the bright side, it looks as though Pobjoy's sleeve valve auxiliary engine set fire to the prototype Shetland, so, big "thank you" from the British taxpayer. If only he'd got the Princess and the Brabazon while he was at it. 

"Ambitious Air Pageant" The Daily Express put on an airshow at Gatwick last week.  City of London Squadron, which enjoys flying its Spitfires about air shows, flew its Spitfires there. There were also proctors, Fairey Juniors, Grumman Ducks, Meteors, Vampires, a Vikings, DC-6.  Tudor IV, Languedoc, York, Solent and Dove, plus a formation of 6 Lincolns in two tight "Vics," in a "grimly impressive" display. The Navy only sent Furies and Hornets, no freaks, and there were the usual lot of helicopters. 


F. C. Forster asks why two multi-engined airliners were allowed to "lurk" over Northolt for an hour and a half without being diverted. J. Westhead writes to find out if anyone knows anything about a set of rudimentary flying controls at the dorsal gunner's position in the old Boston. Is he remembering them incorrectly? And, if they did exist, what were they for? "Comparator" replies to "Imperator" on the undercarriage of the Convair XC-99 that the XC-99 will no doubt try out a multi-wheel bogie arrangement, because it is destined to be an experimental guinea pig, and not a production aircraft, with any kind of service undercarriage. But, if it were, it would no doubt have a B-36 style bogie wheel arrangement, since the single-wheel undercarriage doesn't work. E. Twickenham writes that parachutes would have saved the Northolt passengers, and someone (postal accident!) is on about small civilian engines again.

Engineering, 15 July 1948

D. Clayton and M. J. Wilkie, "Temperature Distribution in the Bush of a Journal Bearing" "Certain aero engine" manufacturers developed a healthy interest in the temperature distribution around a bearing, and the NPL set out to investigate, since locating the point of maximum temperature might shed light on causes of bearing failure. A bearing was set up in an oil bath and tortured at length in a series of trials that demonstrated that the main questions revolve around the oil, not the bearing.


K. St. G. Cartwright and W. P. K. Findlay have Decay of Timber and its Preservation out. Scientists at the Forest Products Research Laboratory at Princes Risborough, is mostly about fungal decay, and "the severely mycological chapters are beyond [engineers'] capacity to understand or utilise," but the parts that the reviewers did understand, were interesting. I hear you, Engineering reviewers!

L. H. Sparey's The Amateur's Lathe is an amateur's guide to lathe work, from screw cutting to honing to lapping to winding.

"Mechanical Handling Exhibition, Olympia" The first National Mechanical Handling Exhibition was organised by Mechanical Handling, which is like Engineering, only for mechanical handlers. 130 firms exhibited in the ground floor and gallery of the National Hall, showing off cranes, trucks, fork lifts and conveyors of all types.

Engineering was impressed with the Line-o-Matic[!], "portable lubricating appliances" by G. B. Ward and Company, BSA's "compact appliance for moving railway wagons," and Fisher and Ludlow's cantilever (I think that's the word; doesn't rest its weight on the "surrounding structure," anyway) overhead conveyor system. And many others, because the article is To Be Continued!

"The High Tension Electric Lines Conference in Paris" Engineering's correspondent went to 120 papers and took notes, but certain papers got more notes than others. For example, Mr. F. Busemann, of Sweden, has an article about High Voltage DC transmission lines that lays out the case that DC is still useful for some applications involving very high voltage lines. American Gas and Electric sent someone to talk about their 500 kV Testing Station, which is ideal for measuring line loss by coronal discharge in various conditions. (It depends on local factors such as soil type and fog.) S. B. Crary had a paper about the economics of long distance high voltage AC transmission that proved that with the right insulator design, remote hydroelectric projects could be connected with power users over vast distances with AC. The next paper talked about a 500kV testing station in France. The point here is that measuring coronal discharges brings AC closer to the point where it can displace DC. I think. The maths are very, very tedious, which is why the big wigs at MIT have been working on electronic calculators, says Reggie. Because it is Engineering, the Opening Session is covered last. It heard about gigantic hydroelectric dams, which the lads like.

"The Rosenblad Spiral Heat Exchanger" Ashmore, Benson, Pease and Company, Limited, of Parkfield Works, Stockton-on-Tees, in association with the Rosenblads Patent Company, of Stockholm, bring you an innovative design of heat exchanger that is superior in cases where there is little temperature drop and no condensation. (This heat exchanger consists of two fluids flowing through a casing in opposite direction, one hotter than the other, and heating the cooler one.) The makers hope that the spiral exchanger will be particularly useful in food processing plants.

"Work Carrier for Centreless Plunge Grinding" This is your weekly reminder that engineers have to care about boring things.

"The Post Office Experimental Station" In Britain the Government Post Office is in charge of telephones, so in some ways this place is like Bell Labs in America. The Station is particularly interested in the accurate transmission of speech, and is working on an invention called the Vocoder, which will allow human voice to be transmitted in a much narrower range of wavelengths than natural speech, cramming more talk into the same number of lines.

British Standards Specification publications this week cover copper-alloy ingots and castings, bringing preliminary publications in line with the code for inspecting copper-alloy sand castings.

Regional Notes is mainly about prices and availability of coal, iron ore, and finished iron and steel products in the regions. Everything is short, in part due to the beginning of summer holidays. Launches and Trials notes M.S. Anuncia, Jalta, Port Brisbane, British Security, Belas; and S.S. Salvia, Stevia, Otto Banck and Lincoln Ellsworth. 

A pictorial spread shows a variety of tractors exhibited at the annual Olympia Agricultural Machinery Show, which  have wandered in from another article somewhere else in the paper.


"Research Problems of Telecommunications" The Telecommunications Research Committee of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, under the chairmanship of Sir Stanley Angwin, has nine working parties coordinating the investigation of the propagation of waves of all frequencies through ground, troposphere and ionosphere; radio noise of terrestrial origin; propagation through open, partially closed and closed lines; extra-terrestrial radio noise; guided wave propagation; the possibilities of hitherto untried materials; thermionic valve design; cathode ray tube design specifically, with an eye to improving electron absorption and emission; the properties of magnetic, dielectric, piezo-electric and conducting materials and working with the Post Office at the bottom.

So this is ground zero of the history of Autotune? Get out!

"The Gas Turbine and Electrical Generation" At the current time, it seems that gas turbine use is restricted to supplementing peak loads, on standby in conjunction with traditional generating plant, since while gas turbines are not very fuel efficient, they can be started and stopped very quickly. Critics think it is very unlikely that the gas turbine get close enough to steam turbine thermal efficiency (especially when steam turbine exhaust steam is put through a proper heat exchanger) that it will even be useful for that, at least until materials are found that can resist the kind of temperatures encountered in gas turbines.


 Engineering reviews the National Coal Board report, emphasising that production is up, and that the losses incurred could probably have been prevented if uneconomical mines were closed, but that was impossible given the supply shortage. The Mechanical Handling Exhibition held a luncheon at which various figures were cited to show that the industry is responsible for about £20 million in exports in 1947, and that the future is bright. The construction of temporary bridges across the Thames in the event that the main ones were bombed, is something that happened during the war and which I am just hearing about now, as they are removed, which in some cases took enough engineering to be worth a note. The central span of a bridge that crossed near County Hall and Staines, in particular, was neatly removed last weekend and set aside for the Colony of Uganda. It was 140ft long, weighed 92 tons, and had a 20ft carriageway and two 5ft footpaths that were the only part actually used in the war. The Institute of Welding, Federation of Coated Macadam Industries and the College of Aeronautics have had glittering social occasions. The Macadam lads went to a lunch, where the speaker mentioned that the Federation would soon have a research laboratory. Also Lloyd's, but that notice isn't under Notes. 


W. Duckitt reminds the editor of various little known traction engines, such as the ones made by Taskers. H. H. Dawson, of Ransomes, Sims and Jefferies, reminds Engineering that it has been selling trolley busses to South America for years now. W. A. Tuplin disagrees with Mr Lennie about how to measure acceleration, preferring slugs to "gs."

"The Royal Agricultural Show at York" This seems to be the article that the pictures are attached to. I'll leave it at that, as tractors and attachments just don't seem that important nowadays, and neither does the regular Labour Notes section.

Donald Ross, "Hydrodynamic Design of 48-In Water Tunnel" Pennsylvania State College is building a variable pressure water tunnel for research into torpedo propellers. Because much of the data the tunnel gathers is acoustic, the pumps that circulate water in a circulating tunnel can be a problem. So are non-circulating tunnels. The author is very pleased with the silent pumps developed for the tunnel, and explains their hydrodynamics at great length, with some math, extending seamlessly into the 23 July issue.

Out of curiosity, I checked to see what the Royal Navy was up to in the way of torpedoes at the time and found this declassified paper.  Though I have no idea why it was classified in the first place, as it comes to a leaden conclusion in 1945, leaving the postwar phase shrouded in mystery. HTP, for sure, but what else?

Time, 19 July 1948


A book-of-the-month scam and a Great Books scam? That's cold.
 Most of the Letters pages are devoted to the cover story on the new movie version of Hamlet last week.  Since the same issue had a story about the Jesuits, the letters are middlebrow Shakespeare worship, anti-Catholic hysteria and an outbreak of Oxfordism, plus Jenny Brace, of Houston, Texas, telling us what she thinks of Lyndon Johnson. The letter from the publisher congratulates Time correspondent, Carl Mydans, for being on the spot of the Fukui earthquake so quickly, and American military governor, Lt. Colonel James Hyland, for being the "main rallying point for the crushed and stunned natives."

National Affairs

I don't know if you've heard, but there's going to be an election in America in the fall, and it turns out that the Democrats will be running Harry Truman, and not General Eisenhower, Justice Douglas, or Claude Pepper. Time compares the Democratic convention to the Republican 1932 convention, on the grounds that Truman is sure to lose and everyone hates him.  The Democrats are only for civil rights this much (Barkeley for VP), and not that much (Douglas for VP), are in favour of civilian control of atomic energy, Israel, federal housing and education programs, a tax cut, and debt reduction. They are against Communism, the GOP, inflation and Taft-Hartley.

"Are You A Red?" A two-column story about a congressional sub-committee asking executives of Local 65 of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union if they've ever been communists, and getting upset that they won't answer. The next story down explains that railway unions are greedy. It's a slight consolation that Time seems to be happy that Estes Kefauver won in Tennessee. On the one hand, the "ox-blood Communist of New York City," on the other, the Memphis Crump organisation. Which to choose, which to choose? . . . Then off to Hollywood for sordid-as-all-Hell funeral of Mary Ridste (Carole Landis). Thank God that a story about Joey Guerrero slipped in, or I'd be losing my faith in humanity about now.

Americana reports that the Reverend Louis W. West, of Boston's South Baptist Church, wants his parishioners to grow Dewey mustaches to show support. The summer rush saw June employment hit 61,296,000, up a million from the previous record of July 1947.

Why Communism will . . . lose?
That can't be it. There's gotta be something
better on the table.


Due to the Civil War, Tito being a heretic, Communism, the blockade of Berlin, and so on at length, the Olympic flame will be brought from Greece to Bari, Italy, in a British destroyer and run on from there. Germans are donating food and coal to support Berlin. The Russians will be conducting instrument flying manoeuvres in the Berlin air corridors to obstruct the airlift. So far, one C-47 has crashed with three deaths, and 20,000 tons have been flown into Berlin. At one point last week, 75(!) C-47s were caught in the "stack" over Tempelhof, while the British are now flying 10 Sunderlands into a lake near Gatow. I have no idea whether those are actual Sutherlands, or Plymouths, Hythes, Solents or what have you. Big Short Brothers flying boats. I wonder how many lakes there are in Berlin? Because this seems like an actual use for the contraptions. Also in Germany, the Social Democrats and Christian Democratic "delegates" are meeting without the Communists to agree on the government/bindlestaff advisory committee for the new German state/knitting circle, and the constitution/fertiliser requisition form that will govern/provide sarcastic commentary to the new country/implausible-euphemism-that-avoids-admitting-that-western Germany-is-going-to-be-a-new-(anti-communist)-member-of-the-Western-union. East of the Iron Curtain, the Cominterm is having difficulties finding allies within Yugoslavia, is finding allies outside Yugoslavia, is also seeing signs that some of those allies are plotting with Tito, too, also. Communism bad! Plotting bad! Communists plotting against Communism bad! In conclusion, the Tito thing is strange and confusing.

In Britain, people also seem to be going a bit cuckoo, since the "it" story is that everyone hates Aneurin Bevan, because he said that the Tories are "vermin," except the Tories, who think that it is a trick to strengthen Bevan with Labour voters. In France, it has been unseasonably cold, the price of wine has gone up, and some spectacular crime stories have boosted newspaper circulation. Three men stole $168,000 in gold being transferred by air to the Bank of Indo-China. (They drove up in a sedan, "grabbed a keg," and drove off. The movie should come in on budget! Also, "Crazy Pete" is on the loose again.)

It turns out that "Pierrot le Fou" was a French criminal and minor folk hero named Pierre Carrot, active a generation before the Goddard movie, and a year after the Tractions Avant Gang, with whom he is sometimes mistakenly associated. "Traction avant" at this blog.

  "'Terrible Risks'" Count Bernadotte has tried, in vain, to persuade the Jews and Arabs to extend the Middle East truce. The Jews have agreed, but the Arabs have rejected it as "unworkable and one-sided," leading the mediator to warn of the said terrible risks. The Jews are confident, as they have used the truce to prepare their army, while the Arabs are more diffident. So far, the fighting has been confined to some artillery and mortar exchanges at Jerusalem, and a successful night attack on Lydda Airport, part of an operation that gained the Jews, control of Lydda and Ramleh, opening the route to Jerusalem. The United States has hinted that it is going to ask the Security Council to lift the arms embargo against Israel, and for sanctions against the Arabs. Time points out that since Britain is still supporting (some) Arabs, the United States and Britain could drift into a proxy war, and that "the sole winner . . . would be Russia."

I suppose that at this point I should acknowledge that this week's Time has several stories about socialist party politics in Italy and France that I'd summarise if I could figure out what their point was, beyond Latins being excitable and Socialists and Communists being bad.

"Limited Victory" Koumintang troops have forestalled a Communist thrust to the banks of the Yang-tse.

"Majority of the Guns" I guess it's official. There is a "Moscow-inspired, Communist in origin" guerrilla revolt going on in Malaya, and it is "part of a worldwide attack against Great Britain," says Leonard David Gammans, MP. Twenty thousand Malay, Gurkha, and British troops are sweeping the provinces, while rocket-firing Spitfires and Navy ships patrol, and plans are advanced to drop incendiaries on the rice fields of upper Pahang State to starve the Communist rebels, who are, coincidentally, all Chinese, and relegated to second-class citizenship in the Malay Union.

Upper Pahang is literally "up," because the highest altitude region of  peninsular Malaya is majority Chinese. James Scott, call your office! By Will Ellis from Reading, England - Flickr, CC BY 2.0,

In Canada, someone who wants us to call him "Jimmy" is making a race of it against Louis St. Laurent. (For the Liberal leadership, if they don't take Canadian papers at your club. Don't say I didn't keep you up to date while you were in the land of rationing!)  In Mexico, a DC-3 crash killed 16 members of the anti-foot-and-mouth disease commission in a crash on Orizba Mountain that got the United States into trouble, because it sent armed troops to secure the crash site. Time is forced to admit that having "Texas mentality" paratroopers hold Mexican journalists overnight at gunpoint was kind of a bit naughty a little maybe. Although the real guilty parties are the Mexicans, for getting predictably upset. Basically, it's their fault, because Latins are excitable. Also excitable, Peruvians and Ecaudorians.

Science, Medicine, Education

"Two Million Suns" Nicholas Mayall, of the Lick Observatory, has discovered a supernova in NGC 6964, a "spiral nebula" (sometimes "galaxy") four million light years away. That's a long way, but it "exploded" with the light of two million suns, so you can see it with a good telescope. As to why it exploded, it might be that they get hot enough in the outer shell for electrons to fuse with protons, creating free neutrons that fall into the core of the star, releasing enormous energy, leaving a small, dense core of neutrons and a shell of flaming gas.

"Fossil Flight Plan" Birds like terns can migrate astonishing distances over oceans, finding small islands on the way, sometimes it is a very long way, as for example, the Arctic tern, which summers in North America, winters in the Antarctic regions of South America. In last week's Science, Northwestern's Albert Wolfson proposes that, since, according to a "well-established theory" of which this is the first I've heard, the continents move! Or, rather, I've been  hearing all my life that South America and Africa sort of fit together, and what do  you think about that. Well, it turns out that in the geological puzzle palace, not only South America and Africa, but Antarctica and Australia used to be connected into a gigantic continent called "Gondwana," while North America and Eurasia were joined in "Laurasia," at which time,  millions of years ago, the two super-continents were separated by only a shallow sea, so naturally the ancestors of the terns migrated from one to the other. But, over time, the light, granitic rocks of the continents, which float on "heavy, plastic basalt," well, floated apart. The terns didn't notice, because it was so gradual, until now they have to fly from one end of the Earth to the other.

I don't know about you, but I think Hastings College needs to get in touch --No, wait, I'm inserting this above the story about Hastings Law, and you haven't the foggiest what I'm talking about. Read on for a bit, and I think you'll agree that I am one funny girl!

"Sleeping Beauty" You know how James likes to draw diagrams of the Stirling Engine whenever someone asks him about why such and such an engine is just what the doctor ordered/can't possibly work? Well, the bug bit someone else, because the current Scientific American (much improved over the last year, I'm told), has an article about the Stirling Engine by Leonard Engels. It's the same story we've heard in the engineering press, but upgraded with some homely numbers. The "working" air is held at 50 atmospheres pressure, the engine weighs only 10 to 20lbs per horsepower, and is as fuel efficient as diesels, although as an external combustion rig, it will take any flammable fuel, from corn cobs to coal.

"Good Morning" Manhattan psychiatrist Jan Ehrenwald is studying "morning depression," which is when you don't feel like getting up, which is apparently a psychiatric phenomena called "dissociated waking," and not, as Judith used to tell me very firmly, what you get for going to sleep without your bedtime snack. He also suggests that if you really don't like going to bed and getting up early, you should either rearrange your work life, or stop taking heavy-duty sleeping pills.

Also in medicine, definitely a medical story but not scientific, is one about "bitter ender" British doctors resisting the NHS.

"Stay-at-Home U" The University of Louisville is offering an over-the-radio credit course (unsegregated! Negroes can write in for their course package just like White people!) called "Problems of Modern Society," which presumably includes unscrupulous universities offering junk courses. Time and I seem to agree that this is a sad little swindle, and, yes, I am a bit worried, too. Also, the National Educational Association Convention heard from overworked teachers and recommended that the President spend $10 billion on a school-building programme, and to fire 100,000 undertrained emergency elementary-school teachers. As in Britain, the very large crop of graduate teachers this year is far short of elementary-grade qualified graduates. (54,000 total, only 20,000 "nursery school" teachers.) There's also some pure-grade b.s. about a private school with an inspirational headmaster and universities hiring professors emeritus to make up their shortages. California's Hastings School of Law only hires retired professors. Yee haw! Sign me up. (Ronnie is not being serious. Please do not sign her up.)


"Producer to Purchaser" The FTC has ordered some heavy industry (cement) to drop its "basing point system of pricing" that produced identical prices in spite of freight distance. Industry is in a position to drop the scheme for fob without feeling any pain, but the consumer is not so lucky, US Steel has stopped fighting the order (which was not compulsory for the steel industry), which is a surprise, and so have the other steel companies. Between this and John L. Lewis's coal price increases (curse that man for wanting retired coal miners to eat!), the consumer must suffer, prices up, cost of living, it's all down to wage increases, etc., etc. You can tell that the consumer is almost at the breaking point, because movie houses are cutting ticket prices and people are sleeping in their cars overnight while touring Cape Cod. Also, someone named Matty Fox is the Indonesian Republic's American business agent, see him for rubber, tin, pepper, tapioca, etc., at prices that can't be bat, just as soon as the Dutch lift their blockade. This upsets the Dutch, who think he is going to sell tapioca for communism.

"As High as an Elephant's Eye" I know it's hard to believe, but predictions of a bad harvest this year haven't panned out, and now the corn crop is coming in 39% over last year's crop and 2% over the 1946 record at 3.3 billion bushels. The wheat harvest will be 1.2 billion bushels, second largest in history, with 4,758 cars of wheat leaving Kansas last week, 1000 more than in the previous record day of 1938. Right now the concern is to prevent the selling price from slipping. Thank God for starving Europeans! There's also a bit that feels related, about Ralph K. Davies' American Independent Oil Company signing an agreement that paired up ten US oil companies, providing $10 million in capital, with the Sheikh of Kuwait, joint owner with Saudi Arabia of the "Neutral Zone," which is that lozenge-shaped bit on the border of Saudi Arabia and Iraq where Independent owns the oil concessions. Independent now gets auctions so that it can buy the rights, in return for building a new oil pipeline to the Mediterranean. A story that doesn't feel related, but also doesn't deserve its own headline, covers Liberty Houses of Los Angeles "one-day sales trick" to drum up business. It sounds like hordes of desperate veterans and their wives storming a show room on a sunny afternoon, and it is, except completely not like that. (The boss reports "2 to 4 sales" an afternoon.) Whatever. Point is, people around LA want houses, and Liberty has some.

State of Business reports that for the first time since 1942, American privately held liquid cash holdings fell, by $4 billion, while securities holdings rose by $2.5 billion.  H. A. Bassert, of New York, has found a new trick for reducing ore to iron that reduces the cost to $21 from $26 per ton, and makes solid dry ice for sale, in the bargain. Western Union's new desktop fax machine might go into 3000 US business offices. The ECA is offering $300 million to private US investors in European countries against "arbitrary currency restrictions."

"Matters of Definition" The FTC has long insisted that all firms that make synthetic fabrics from cellulose to call their product "rayon," so as not to confuse the public with brand names. Tennessee Eastman is defying the order, as is the Book of the Month Club, the Literary Guild of America, and four other book publishers. Well, actually, they're defying a different rule, that says that they can't talk about "free" books. The industry has roped in the Better Business Bureau and Association of National Advertisers to argue that they should be allowed to go on suckering the rubes, on the grounds that it is all in the fine print.

Press, Radio, Art, People

"Goodbye, Now" Henry Wallace is out at The New Republic. Reggie was outraged, but fortunately I had the word in advance from a good friend who is working there as a summer assistant, so I could give him advanced word that Michael Straight (31), the new editor, was going to come out for William Douglas for President, at which point we stopped talking about Wallace on a party line, and moved on to whatever goes through people's heads at The New Republic.

 In other Inner-Manhattan related news, the New York Times has hired or promoted various people from Kansas and Mississippi, which should clear their problem with Mid-Atlantic parochialism right up. At the other end of the country, a new photo lab at the LA Times has people talking about the paper starting up an afternoon daily under Virgil Pinkley, he of "zoomo," "zippo," and "peppo,"the "It" words that are on everyone's  . . . lits. Making up "it" phrases is  harder than it looks, and then there's the back-translation. Good luck, Mr. Pinkley!

The St. Louis Post-Despatch is starting a daily colour comics page.

Time is amazed that a woman has been appointed to the FCC. Chairman Wayne Coy struck a blow for feminism by pointing out that Frieda Hancock got the job because she was pretty. Grr. Frieda got hers back by implying that all previous (male) FCC commissioners were confirmed bachelors. Bert Parke's new musical quiz show has knocked Fred Allen right out of the Hooper ratings.

Take a moment to enjoy someone who is good with images.

 Hector Poleo is alive, but a foreigner (Venezuelan), so he gets a New York show. Carl Milles is an American sculptor and alive, but he gets an exception from the usual not-famous-until-dead rule by sculpting graveside memorials. Seriously! Colonel McCormick is off to Europe on a global tour in a surplus B-17. Bette Davis says she's bored of Shakespeare. (Ronnie leans over, whispers, "So am I.") People gets the cover story this week, with Howard Hughes, allowing Time to put glam photos of Jane Russell and Jean Harlow up on the first page of a profile story that goes on for pages, covering all the expected "beats." Oil drills, movies, planes, the Brewster Committee, personal eccentricity, the RKO takeover. Incoming Senator Ives has remarried, while Chancellor Robert Maynard Hutchins of the University of Chicago, has divorced his wife, Maude Phelps, of 27 years and three children. Next week, we'll learn that he has remarried, to a volume of Newton's Principia that he swears is a better introduction to "natural philosophy" than Thompson and Tait, because it is a "Great Book." (There you go, two of my targets and one of Reggie's, all together in one wisecrack!) George Bernanos has died. I choose to read the Times obituary note as saying that he blamed cirrhosis on the bourgeoisie. Grace and Uncle George's pal from Dumbarton Oaks days, Admiral Wilson, has died, and so has Lady Cunard.

The New Pictures

Time catches up on The Emperor Waltz a three weeks behind Newsweek. Time liked the start, which is good news for Crosby, but thought that it sagged  going on. Uncle George says that Bing is talking this one up because he's hoping to break out of his "Road" and "St. Mary's" movies. The ways that the reviews are strung out in the papers makes me think that his publicity people are making a pitch, so the lukewarm praise is not a good sign. Lulu Belle, which is a remake of a "spicy" play featuring Leonore Ulric in the title role as a "coloured chippy." The remake "Aryanises" the heroine and gives the role to Dorothy Lamour, who graduates from a sarong to a feather boa. Time suggests that the play is long on Lamour (yowsa!), short on plot.


Britain is celebrating the long career of Walter De la Marre with the attention he apparently deserves, while Jon Godden's The House by the Sea is a "terrifying picture of the consequences of [the heroine's] loneliness." It is an "anguished lyric and a beautifully balanced tale of suspense." Now that's the kind of notice that Bing's agent wanted! I. Compton-Burnett's Bullivant at the Tea Table gets one of those "this is as good as all of her other books" reviews. It's not a left-handed compliment by the furthest stretch, so why do I feel like it is? Two good reviews is a bad sign for Robert Van Gelder's Important People, a "satire without spark." Time reminds us that when Van Gelder left the New York Times Book Review to write it, two years ago, he got a $20,000 advance, and proceeds to gloat at the terrible job he does of skewering New York's pseudo-intellectual arts scene. Hmm. Hmm. HMM. 

Your regular reminder that the Viscount eventually managed to be a major export success story for British industry. 

Your regular reminder that Fedden is going to spend most of his late career pissing into the wind about the much-unloved, 28 Pratt and Whitney R-4360, which delivered 4300hp to power exactly one airliner, the underwhelming Boeing Stratocruiser. "I could have done better!" I can hear Fedden saying. 

Maurice Smith, "Desford in the Air: Renewed Acquaintance with a Popular Basic Trainer Design" You may remember that instrument maker Reid and Sigrist got a bee in their bonnet and decided to build a twin engine, three seat trainer, mainly for instrument flying, and that it sank without a trace. I'd say something snide about Flight's use of filler, but I'm not the one trying to bulk out a magazine in summer.

Here and There

Avro is currently installing flight refuelling equipment on some BSAA Tudors with a 100 gallon-minute capacity, which is quite good. Some RAF officers billeted in the former Focke-Wulfe design offices in Germany, report finding a complete run of Flight through 1945, filed carefully away. Avro is sending a mission to Australia. HMS Implacable is holding an open house over the July-August long weekend. Radioactive iodine was recently flown from Baltimore to Bermuda, where it will be tested in pilot fish before being used in humans to treat thyroid cancer. Safe Flight Instrument Corporation's automatic stall indicator gets a blurb. HMS Nelson is being expended as a bombing target to learn more about the effects of underwater explosions, while the explosives are just being laid alongside Jervis and Ashanti before they to to the wreckers. A Westland Sikorsky recently landed on Implacable while it was steaming at speed, to deliver parts for a Wyvern undergoing trials. Two of Tasman Empire Airway's Hythes are being sold at Auckland. Buyers are looking at them as floating accommodation. A Balliol with a Merlin engine was recently taxied out at Boulton Paul.

"Five Hundred Hours: Remarkable Endurance Test of Bristol Theseus Turboprop"  The tests were very demanding, and the Theseus passed with flying colours. A similar short article covers off the Ghost civil trial. The Ghost will go into the Comet, and de Havilland is very pleased with the single-side impeller and direct entry. Combined with the absence of a plenum chamber, the design minimises icing risk, and allows the hot and cold sides of the turbojet to be separated by a firewall. 

"The Berlin Airlift"  Lord Tedder and the Air Minister, Arthur Henderson, have been to Berlin to see the air lift in action. Flight tells us about the new French airport at Fassburg and the extended, concrete runway at Gatow, "expected to be in operation by last weekend." Henderson told a press conference the exact number of loads lifted into the city, but not the number of aircraft involved, and said that servicing would be a problem. Reserve air and ground crews are being sent to Germany as they become available, but more were wanted, especially for the Yorks. All scheduled Transport Command flights to Palestine and the Far East have been cancelled, with BOAC taking over the load. The peak lift has not been reached, the airports have not been saturated, and the use of Bomber Command Lancasters and Lincolns has been suggested but not authorised. The Russians are talking about holding air exercises in the "corridors," and RAF fighter jets have been sent to Germany to escort the transports, if necessary. Sixty USAF Superfortresses were in Britain over the weekend, "ostensibly on a training flight." It has not been stated that they were going to join the airlift, but they, along with 30 already in Germany, would be a valuable addition. Seventy more Skymasters are going over to join the 60 already on the Airlift. Five hundred loads are reaching Berlin each day, 215 flown by the RAF, and 2250 tons. General Clay said that this would soon be increased to 5400 tons per day, and that this level would be maintained indefinitely.

The RAeS Garden Party will not be held this year. It's the SBAC's fault. 

"Comfort in the Air: Useful Range of Furnishing Items Now Standardised by Vickers: Electrically Operated Chairs: Food Container Units"  The Vickers Type IV chair has a mechanical adjustment and a tray on disappearing cantilever supports projecting from the armrests. The Type I has a reclining angle adjusted by a Miles electric actuator. Vickers developed these chairs for the Viking, because no adequate, manufactured chairs could be found from subcontractors. The Type IV weighs 30lbs, 34lbs in the "siesta version;" the Type III, fixed version, weighs 29lbs. From this you would think that the I was even smaller, but, on the contrary, it is the "most luxurious chair," and weighs 34.5lb. The fixed chairs for the 31/43 passenger Viscount are "not in the same class of luxury."  There are more details about the light weight and compactness of the galley equipment, the silent efficiency of the ventilation, and, for some reason, all the mod cons installed at Vickers' new building at South Marston. 

In the same-story-constantly-repeated, there's a bit about how helicopters land on roofs, now. 

"Nationalised Air France: A Summary of Postwar Operations and Present Constitution of the French National Airline" This is just to let you know that this article came next in the paper. I'm sure that Air France is a very nice airline, but whatever.

Maurice Smith, "Sweden's Air Defence" Geoff Smith's boy must have been in his hotel room scribbling out articles for his entire trip to Sweden last winter. That was awful mean of his Dad! Sweden is spending 125 million kroners on its Air Force, 45 million on the Army, 25 million on the Navy. It aims to have a 9 wing air force, mainly strike fighters, and mostly Vampires, for the moment. Seventy have been delivered, and more will be delivered, and equipped with Ghost engines, made in Sweden, which will help the Swedes develop the Ghost or newer, all Swedish, turbines for their J29 and J21R. Pilots will do their training on Harvards and Bucker Bestman, accumulating 200 hours over two years before moving on to the Vampire, and so much for a conscript air force, not that would be possible. The Swedes like the Vampire for its long(!) range, but talk about forced landings a lot. Their Goblins haven't failed yet, and there are plenty of frozen lakes (at least in the winter, as the Swedes seem to realise, as they also discuss ditching the Vampire, something that has never been done successfully. "There are no known reports of a pilot getting out of the Vampire . . . . A quick jab forward on the stick, having jettisoned the canopy and turned on one's back, would seem to be the most promising method."

Civil Aviation News

There have been 2,184 Ground Controlled Approach landings at London Airport in the last year, about half of them practice runs. A very long bit covers the new professional pilot's license to be introduced soon, which will replace the "B-license." Examinations will begin in October. The North Pacific Regional Air Navigation Conference is meeting in Seattle next week. The New York Port Authority is fighting with BOAC over a move to Idlewild. The Idlewild contract will allow the Port Authority to increase landing charges annually.  Sir Leonard Isitt, director of New Zealand National Airways, British Pacific Commonwealth Airlines, and Tasman Empire Airways, will be in Britain next month to "study developments in the British aircraft industry." I'm mentioning that because Tasman is the company that got rid of one junk bit of Short flying boat nonsense and bought another one. I guess it's excusable if they  have to use flying boats and all the other ones are worse, but Grace prefers to believe that Isitt is actually Satan walking the Earth. (Yes, we had a nice visit! Miss K. did a nice job of smoothing the waters, and her fellow only inspired comments about Satan on Earth just the littlest bit.)
By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use,
There will be a public Court Investigation into the Northolt disaster. BOAC carried 57,074 revenue passengers across the Atlantic last year, 28,562 from London to New York, the rest on the Bermuda run, which is cheating, because those passengers don't count! Dunlop's aviation division is running service stations for private planes at eight airports. Northolt will have GCA from 8 to 2AM starting 12 July. Glide angle will be 3 degrees, breakoff point 170ft. The Air Ministry is talking with three charter airlines about the Berlin airlift.

"How The Vampires Crossed: The Story of the First Transatlantic Flight by Jet Aircraft" Thomas Cochrane, the Air Ministry information officer who flew along in one of the accompanying Yorks, sends the story from Goose Bay. "In the last light of day, with squalls of rain driving along Goose Bay airfield, Labrador, the first crossing of the Atlantic by jet aircraft was completed at 9.25pm local time on Wednesday, July 14." The Vampires left Stornoway at 10.15am GMT on 12 July, and covered 2,202 miles of ocean in a flying time of 8hrs 18 minutes, 662 statute miles to Meek's Field, Iceland, in 2 hrs, 42 minutes, 757 miles to Bluie West Greenland, in 2h 41 minutes, 783 miles to Goose Bay in 2h 53 minutes. All cruising was done between 25,000 and 32,000ft, on hardly-charted tracks. The flight was delayed by ferocious headwinds estimated at 207mph, weather fronts towering to 40,000ft. the jets avoided those, but not the sudden fogs. Disaster nearly struck at Bluie West when a weather front was reported headed up the long fjord to the mountain-locked airfield after the Vampires were airborne, and the weather reconnaissance Mosquito turned up lame in one engine. Captain Dudley Scorgie, of one of the three accompanying Yorks, was game to lead the Vampires in directly over the 7000ft icecap. Conditions weren't very good at Goose Bay, either, but light was fading and the jets had to get down.

"The Gyrodyne: Mechanical Features of the Fairey Helicopter, Continued" Fairey is very proud of the patent flapping and drag articulation that avoids the need for pitch control at the rotor, although the Air Ministry is less impressed, and has insisted on an alternate arrangement with a cyclic pitch-control hub. The rest of the article describes the engine (Leonides), transmission, the driveshaft sticking out of the transmission and connecting with the hub, and the 52ft rotor blades.

"Component Research: Current Investigations at the Laboratories of the MIRA" The Motor Industry Research Association has had its annual open days. Most of their work has involved road vehicles, but some into engine components and operation is of general interest, particularly into the failure of cast crankshafts, oil sludging, filtration, the effects of leaded fuel on valves, the effects of alternative piston ring arrangements, of the bending fatigue strength of gears and the torsional fatigue of crankshafts.

"A Private Venture: Tiltman Langley Laboratories Launched" The laboratory is associated with the Chelsea College of Automotive Engineering, and has a modification of the Gipsy Major, some structural material testing, and director J. J. Gerritsen's infinitely variable gear on the go. Shorter news that happens to be on this page include word that the Swedes have bought some Fireflies as target tows, and that the Detroit section of the Society of Automotive Engineers heard a paper by Andrew Kilitinsky on atomic powered aircraft.


A. S. Bolton writes to say that the old Boston did have rudimentary flight controls at the gunner's position, which he was to use so that the pilot could leave his seat and bail out the back, followed by the gunner, who had less distance to cover. A. Bowbeer suggests that the threat of gusts, which might ruin high speed commercial flight for everyone, can be countered by shock-absorbing seats, which would be good for business. A correspondent who has suffered the anger of the Post Office tells us that the civil air weather report for the night of the Northolt disaster was out of date, and the one issued to the RAF side of the airport indicated gusting and moving fronts that would have put the RAF York's altimeter about 200ft out of calibration by the time of the accident, after two hours(!) stacking.  (After two hours circling in the dark between four Merlins, I might volunteer to crash.)

Engineering, 23 July 1948

Donald Ross, "Hydrodynamic Design of 48-In Water Tunnel," Conclusion. More of the same, to be sure.

C. O. Taylerson, "Testing Circular Division with Precision Polygons" The optical measuring table is used for precision angular measurements. An NPL analysis of calibration errors in these tables shows a sinusoidal pattern, and the precision polygon, which can be calibrated with ease and require the minimum number of measurements, is a solution to to this problem. It is made of very high quality steel, and uses a reflection sight for the measurements.

This is what that looks like.


Christopher E. Tibbs provides a textbook treatment of Frequency Modulation Engineering. FM is used for everything from facsimiles to the BBC's proposed high-fidelity broadcasting service. While sometimes too mathematical, and sometimes not mathematical enough, it is usually satisfactory in spite of being organised wrong and having too many misprints. Torger G. Thompson and Ross A. Peterson's Illustrated Jig-Tool Dictionary is much more than you'd imagine from the label "dictionary." It has 1000 2" perspective diagrams, one for each entry, and a few lines of letterpress to go with them. That seems like a good idea, but in reality most of the entries are useless, and a full third of the (very expensive) book is taken up with trigonometric tables and the like, which could be had anywhere. H. E. Desch, Timber: Its Structure and Properties, is a second edition of a classic. Engineering wants a sequel to bring it up to date. F. K. Richtmyer and R. H. Kennard's Introduction to Modern Physics is another entry into the freshman textbook market, or, rather, was, 20 years ago, when the first edition appeared. In spite of being the latest, fourth edition, a phrase at the end about it being an exciting day when the meson is first demonstrated in the laboratory, has already been overtaken by events, so fast is physics moving. A. L. Dickie's Production with Safety is a silly American book that mainly serves to sell the idea of a "safety engineer." Not as much harm was done as  might be, because it is very informative and a little bit entertaining.

"REME (TA) Camp at Shorncliffe" The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers had a summer camp for their Territorials at which they demonstrated their tricks for recovering tanks in the field.

"Mechanical Handling Exhibition, Olympia, Concluded" Hibberd and Company's "Planet" direct drive diesel locomotives were very impressive. Steel Engineering Products showed off their "Electric Eel" industrial truck, which is claimed to embody a new kind of steering called "Bodyweight," in which the operator steers with his body, keeping his hand free for other controls. This is particularly handy in crowded works aisles. Crompton Parkinson, Ltd.'s battery trucks are heavy duty, robust in design, and well suited for docks use. ITD has fork lifts, Stewart Gill and Company, Ltd. have a gas fired, infrared drying plant, Smallpeice, Ltd., has air hoists, pneumatic equipment, Ransomes, Sims and Jefferies has fork lifts.

"Calorimeter Building for Domestic-Heating Research"

Last summer, when I was doing this, we ran into a cozy little  house on the University of Indiana campus where a Japanese American engineer was doing research into domestic heating, especially forced air furnaces. This summer, now that it is hot enough to talk about heating, it's off to British research at the Fuel Research Station, Greenwich. Just from the name, you can tell it won't be a cozy little house. Instead, it turns out to be a big, ugly building. four stories, 3000sq ft, with testing units at every corner. Heat is produced, hot air is blown through various features, and very scientific measurements are taken in a well-equipped control room. I'm sure that it is much more accurate than the American approach, but it doesn't look like the kind of place where any undergraduate I know would like to live!

 Though I'd lock Miss K's beau in it in a flash.

Launches notes MS Clan McLeod, Mazury, Warora, Kosmo V and Pretoria Castle, and SS Oyo, Irish Cedar, Fred. Christensen. British Standards Specifications covers magnesium-oxychloride flooring, and foundations and substructures. Regional Notes  are the same as always. Various catalogues have been received, 3 of seven cover electrical engineering products, including a Marconi brochure covering its television broadcasting equipment.


"The Report of the National Coal Board" Engineering understands the difficulties the Board is operating under to the extent that it can tear itself away from denouncing nationalisation.

"Scientific Information" Engineering is to scientific information what The Economist is to statistics. There can never be enough, it can never be organised well enough, and vast and yet unguessable, shadowy and terrible things will happen if it is organised wrong. Therefore a report of the Royal Society on the dissemination of scientific information draws out a wall of text from which my eyes rebound. If this turns out to be important, I am so, so sorry.


 Engineering relegates the Pakenham Report to a Note, which summarises the report without editorialising. Another note covers RMS Pretoria Castle, a 28,000 ton mail steamer that I accidentally included as a motor vessel under launches, when it is actually a turbine steam ship. It has accommodation for 700, refrigerated and regular holds. The Vampire transatlantic flight gets the beginning of a note devoted to the development of the Ghost, which gets into Engineering because it is important, going into the De Havilland Comet. It is currently at 4,250lbs static thrust, 250 hours between overhauls.


P. W. Kiefer, the chief engineer in charge of locomotives and rolling stock for the New York Central, writes to explain the bits in his recent book that cover off the complaints in Engineering's review. The editor is not convinced. J. R. Finniecombe writes to point out that, in his letter of 9 July, Neil H. Turner neglected to mention his book on flow through orifice plates and venturi tubes, which is the last word on the subject, if not the first revelation of a new dispensation. Buy it today!


Ronnie exaggerates slightly.
Harry Brearly, of Brown's Steel Works (b. 1881), was an active steel metallurgist at Friths and then Browns from 1883. Lawford H. Fry (75) was a locomotive engineer. Canadian by birth, he had been since 1943 the director of the Steam Locomotive Research Institute of New York City. He was a good friend of Dr. W. H. Maw, a former editor of Engineering. Mr. D. B. Hoseason (49), who died 16 July from the effects of a motorcycle accident, was an electrical engineer at Brush Electrical Engineering and a director of studies at the recently established Administrative College, Henley-on-Thames. 
Coverage of "The Royal Agricultural Show at York" terminates with hay wagons.

"The High-Tension Electric Lines Conference in Paris, Concluded" Briefly reviewed papers include one on a French transmission line that was impressive in its time, circuit breaker design, which turns out to be very challenging in a large high-tension network, as they influence the properties of the network, require careful testing, powerful means of mechanical operation, cooling, and some application of servo theory if you're going to make them automatic.

Labour Notes discusses the resolution of several ongoing disputes in the collieries, which apparently can be solved. (Geoffrey Crowther has probably fainted dead away at the thought.)

I. Northcott, D. McLean, and Dr. G. R. J. Lee, "The Properties of Extruded Aluminum Bar" Extrusion is when hot aluminum is pushed through a nozzle, like toothpaste. The shape of the nozzle controls the shape of the extrusion, which is nice, and the process of squeezing hot metal has effects on the microscopic structure of the metal which may be good or bad. So, which is it? Let's find out! Unfortunately, it turns out to be nothing so simple as cutting up extruded bars and comparing them with non-extruded ones. Instead, the details of shapes, matter.

Once again, some pictures probably beat my epitome for clarity, and save some difficult and unrewarding reading. 
Extruded bar pushed through a single-hole nozzle has a higher circumferential tensile strength than bar pushed through multiple hole nozzles. This is probably because an unfavourable internal structure is set up.

Notes on New Books, which looks like filler (in a filler page, covers Professor C. A. Felker's Practical Workshop Mathematics Illustrated, which is a good textbook by a good teacher, and the Institution of Municipal Engineer's Special Committee on Mining Subsidence Report. Only in Britain would this be a pressing subject for municipal engineers. (Of whom I have just now heard.) The county towns and roads of England are collapsing into the Earth due to all of that coal mining, and also sometimes the pumping out of brine under pressure. 

The 30 July issue has a visit to the Atomic Energy Establishment, Harwell, that I really can't cover, or The Engineer will be jealous.

Newsweek, 26 July 1948
Radcliffe Valedictorian Can't Even
Get Into the Paper; Retired
General Gets Column, Because
He's Famous.

Isaac Kushner, of Los Angeles writes to say how happy he is to see the story of Betty Fitzgerald in Newsweek, because it's not in any other paper. Kathleen Aherne, of Portland, Oregon, is a Graham Greene fan. Speaking of of prejudice, Mr. and Mrs. Hornsbostel continue to fight for sympathy and understanding for lepers. The editor's letter says that James Caddigan, of the DuMont network, caught the image of white doves being released at the Democratic National Convention (carrying a last, desperate message to the General! Or Judge Douglas. Whichever.) And 22-year-old Anne Curtis makes me wonder what I've been doing with my life by winning 31 national swimming titles since 1943 and three world records, which is why she is off to London for the Olympics.

The memorial may or may not exist, but I can tell you
that it's not on any website I found.
The Periscope reports that after the election, many famous people will be in the Dewey Administration Cabinet, federal officials will get a big raise, Russia will get what-for when John Foster Dulles is made Secretary of State and the GOP will do something about the cost of living, which isn't so bad, anyway. On the Democratic side, the Party will be able to rebuild its finances, and the ex-President will shoot Alben Barkley down like a rabid dog. It is suggested that there should be a memorial to the aircrew shot down over Yugoslavia in August 1946 at their common Arlington grave. Meanwhile, the Yugoslavs have had second thoughts, and will patch things up with the Cominterm as soon as Moscow gives the word. H. L. Mencken described a Democratic woman politician at the Convention as a "tramp . . . " showing that he is still as insightful as ever. Maybe someone should remind him that women have the vote now. Italian agricultural experts want to fix the south of the country with roads, rural electrification and irrigation projects instead of land reform. It is reported that 18,000 ex-Japanese soldiers have joined the rebels in French Indo-China --"the Hundred Kingdoms of the South," per Reggie.  The President will table the Taft Report as part of his anti-inflation fight, which is ironic, you see. Blah blah closed shop John L. Lewis Taft-Hartley NLRB blah. The Navy's new XAJ-1 bomber will have turbines, reciprocating engines, three small but tasteful masts and a hitching post for the mule team.

The Navy's first designated, carrier-based atomic bomber was tasked with bombing Ukraine back into the Stone Age with low-altitude toss-bombing techniques. 
General Clay is reported to want to double his Skymaster force to 300 aircraft. The Post Office is cooling on helicopter postal delivery after noticing that helicopters do the same job as trucks, for ten times the money. Ford now thinks it won't reach its target of 3700 new cars a day until early next year, due to steel shortages. Bell and Howell's new microfilm camera for banks and businesses is the cat's meow, the Senate may soon repeal the oleomargarine tax, and the price of butter may go above  a dollar a pound by fall. Hollywood film production is at its lowest ebb "in many summers," although Orson Welles is doing a film in Europe to spend "frozen" dollars, and several studios are bidding for the life story of Eva Tanguay.

The surprise radio comedy hit of the summer is Lucille Ball in My Favourite Husband. William Faulkner's Intruder in the Dusthis first novel in several years, has been optioned by MGM for $50,000. George Fielding Elliot's book about his recent trip to the Middle East will be entitled, Hate, Hope and High Explosives. 

Washington Trends reports that the President's call for a special session of Congress to deal with the civil rights puts an entirely new face on the campaign. It "smashes" the Solid South but may lead to gains in the North. The Republicans are trying to decide if they will adjourn, or introduce their own legislation on civil rights and housing, as Dewey is expected to recommend. The danger is that southern Senators may fail to shut down any civil rights legislation by cloture. The argument being that advancing civil rights legislation is good politics, but passing it might be bad politics. America, sigh. Though there is also legislation on housing, education, minimum wages, price control, rationing, raw material allocations, labour control, reversal of the Republican tax cuts, a new TVA power plant, social security extension, and a new Displaced Persons Bill to consider.

National Affairs

The Boll Weevils' walkout from the Democratic National Convention finally takes the spotlight off challenges to the President from his left, or wherever it was that the Draft Eisenhower movement was coming from. (Mars. It was coming from Mars.) I'd go into more detail --Newsweek's story about the Convention is just a hair shorter than the Illiad, and a bit more dramatic-- but I won't, because I am a merciful, and also very busy epitomist with no time to spare.

Perspective by Raymond Moley, "Bad Faith Without Good Judgment" Moley says that the "Draft Eisenhower" gang settled on the General because they "were too stupid to find someone else." Thank you! Also stupid, and here I cannot follow, is President Truman, for alienating the Southern leadership with this whole civil-rights thing, when he could have "solicit[ed] their help in achieving more equality through cooperative action with the states." Because that is exactly what would happen.

Democrats in Disarray!
Washington Tides by Ernest K. Lindley, "The Democrats Make A Great Decision" Assuming the Republicans support cloture, Truman's special session will push civil rights through Congress and mark a decisive turn towards northern votes against Southern, it may save some seats in the Senate and House, and allow the Democrats to fight as the progressive party in 1952.

Business Tides by Henry Hazlitt, "Democratic Platform Economics"  The Democratic Platform calls for the "complete paternalistic state. Less and less are the people to do anything for themselves. More and more are the bureaucrats to do everything for them --insure their health, federalise their education, build their homes, boost their wages. . . " etc., etc. The minimum wage will be the death of us all. (It's better than next week, when he comes out against civil rights legislation because they are against the liberty to be a bigot.)

"Jets to Germany" The historic flight across the Atlantic by 16 P-80s, coincidental with the mass B-29 flights to Europe, "seemed more like a broad hint of America's renascent air power."

Foreign Affairs

"The Squeeze on the Corridors" Newsweek briefs America on the air corridors to Berlin. It reports that an "incident" is inevitable, and that a headline like "Reds Bring Down Two American Planes: 8 Dead, Retaliation Demanded" will put the B-29s in the air. Meanwhile, leave is cancelled for the 20 division Soviet garrison of Germany. Major General Donovan, formerly of the OSS, says that we should try to force an armed convoy through to Berlin, on the grounds that, if the Russians want a war, they will start it anyway, so why don't we start it, instead? Because it would be better to start fighting in Berlin than "500 miles back." But just because some general says so, doesn't mean that the Government has any intention of doing any such thing right now. The State Department thinks that the Russians do not want war, that they want to talk, and any delay in the talks will go in favour of the West. The Soviets will therefore talk faster and sooner to make things less delayed, culminating in a "direct appeal from President Truman to Stalin" that they will arrange . . . somehow. Meanwhile, we are arranging anti-Soviet measures around the world, such as bringing it up in the UN. Also in Berlin news, Curtis LeMay has been put in charge of the airlift, dog lovers are upset that the Russians have cut off the supply of dog food to Berlin and the crews of the 60 B-29s now in Britain are discouraged by British rations and have calculated from their permitted ration of six cartons of American cigarettes that they will be in Britain for 30 days.

After bedding their planes down for the night, American aircrew turned out at the gates of RAF Scampton to whistle at girl bicyclists and make fun of small English cars. Newsweek says it! I report, you decide!

"Flare-up in Italy" The attempted (as of today) assassination of Palmiro Togliatti shows who is to blame in Italy: The Communists for making such a big deal out of a jolly bit of horseplay just because it included some attempted murder.

"Echo in Japan" Inspired by events in Italy, Ichiro Koga, a 27-year-old coal miner, through a bottle bomb at Kyuichi Tokuda, secretary-general of the Japanese Communist Party during a party rally. Tokuda continued with his speech for twenty minutes before collapsing from the 58 pellets embedded in his body by the bomb. Doctors say that his condition is "pretty good," and the police have been watching for Communist riots. In Paris, a rich Portuguese named Antonio Luiz de Carvalho e Silva through a party, which is much more interesting than the latest strike over the cost of living.

"Another Truce" Count Bernadotte has persuaded the Security Council to call a truce in Palestine, which has been agreed by both parties for Jerusalem. For the rest of Palestine, the Jews have agreed, but the Arab League is dragging its feet while fighting continues.

"Country House at Twilight" An estate sale at Wentworth Woodhouse has liquidated the property of the last lord of the manor, Earl Fitzwilliam, who died in that plane crash in May in which Kathleen Kennedy Cavendish was also killed, causing tongues to wag and wags to give tongue. Wentworth Woodhouse is in Yorkshire, is three centuries old, has 365 rooms, 1000 windows and five miles of underground passages. The Earl's successor will retain 20 rooms for his own use and rent the rest out to a college for female physical education teachers. That lot shouldn't be too hard pressed by the surface coal mining, ongoing.
The issue is that the house was entailed and went to a cousin, while the Earl's £45 million estate and art collection went to his daughter, whose trustees liquidated on the grounds that phys ed teachers don't make the best conservationists. Death duties ruining the stately homes of England" sounds much more poetic.  CC BY-SA 2.0,

 "Murder, Bad and Worse" Churchill contributed to the debate over capital punishment in Britain by describing all the ways in which you will be able to murder your wife without facing the gallows under the new law. Should his wife be worried? In other British news, a sixteen-year-old girl chosen as Miss Socialism in an English county town has turned out to be a Young Tory, leading the Labour constituency association chair to promise that she will still get her prize, a permanent wave, from the party funds.

This seemed not inappropriate. 
  In China, 20-year-old peasant girl, Yang Mei, who supposedly lived without food for nine years while herding the cattle, after being thrown out of her father's home by her stepmother, turns out to have been eating on the sly, while in Japan, Tokuzo Akiyama, the Emperor's personal chef, has told the Diet that the Imperial Household needs a raise.

Foreign Tides, by Joseph B. Phillips, "Berlin: Possibilities for Action" Phillips thinks that the idea of pushing through an armed convoy is the "least apt" plan. He says that he is assuming that the French and British have a plan beyond provoking the Russians to see if they want a war. We don''t, apparently. Nor is putting on more pressure at random places in the globe, or even pressing on the Yugoslavia split. These might just turn out to be irritants that make the chances of a "debacle" the greater. Instead, there should be talks at the secretary of state level, at the United Nations, and, "as one last step, a direct approach by the President to Stalin."

At this point, I have to admit to being completely flummoxed. Is it the Russians who are working towards an appeal from the President to Stalin? Or is it us? Just as a matter of personal politics, I don't see how the President's re-election campaign could possibly survive him going cap in hand to the General Secretary. Reggie says that point of the Airlift is to push the date of any concessions past the election. It's awfully cynical, but I can see his point. I still think he's wrong, in that if the airlift manages to keep the city going on through November, it can keep it going indefinitely --provided that the Western Allies can keep up the pace of deliveries through the winter, and the thing about Berlin flying weather is that summer fogs make it as bad in high season as in February.
In the round-up of Western Hemisphere news, the campaign for the leadership of Canada's federal Liberal party is boring, and so is the Panamanian coup, at least by Latin American standards.


I don't know if you've heard, but the cost of living is up.  I'm sure you haven't heard, but New Orleans has a venue for international trade fairs, the International Trade Mart, which is filling up with exhibitors who will be able to view American goods without travelling any further in America than . . . New Orleans.

Trends and Changes reports that Frederic Dumaine has finally won control of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, ten years after beginning his challenge. The Agriculture Department says that Europe's harvest will be one third larger than last year, although still 13% below the peacetime average, requiring continuing imports. Germany might be open to foreign investment as soon as next month, having been closed since the war to prevent "carpetbaggers" and "economic colonisers." New York and Ontario have filed plans for a seven-year, $400 million St. Lawrence power project to generate the equivalent of 5 million tons of coal worth of power a year. The Senate rejected a more ambitious St. Lawrence Seaway proposal last spring. Ford-UAW negotiations are not going well.
I don't usually cover Music, but Kurt Weill's Down in the Valley premiered last week.

"Coal Facts in Britain" The report on the first year of the National Coal Board was "almost as bad as Conservatives had predicted." The mines showed a loss of $943 million, compared with profits of $125 million in the last year under private ownership. Tonnage was up to almost 199,700,000 tons, 8 million more than in 1946 and only 300,000t short of the government's original target.

"Glass Wax Bonanza" Harold Shafer, of Bismarck, North Dakota, has made Glass Wax a household word. It's not a wax, but it does clean windows. Based on wartime fighter-plane windshield-cleaning fluid, it does the job, so he started an advertising campaign, and now faces multiple rivals. Advertising Age thinks that it is sad that merchandising successes revolve around things like Glass Wax and Toni, and hopes that "Buck Rogers developments will be along in time."

What's New reports that the Air Force is testing a new life preserver to replace the Mae West, that the Kentucky Agricultural Station has developed a new tobacco with one third the nicotine content that tastes like ordinary smoke and leaves no stale smell. Tonno-Shield Corporation has developed a sliding plexiglas shield to protect the rear passengers in a convertible from wind and dust. J. Wiss and Sons, New Jersey, have a flower cutter for snipping hard-to-reach stems that holds the flower and cuts it at the same time.

Science, Medicine

"Polio Progress" The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis held its centennial convention in New York last week, where it heard that several polio epidemics are raging in the United States right now, with cases reported up to 12 July numbering 2881, compared with 1419 last year at this time. Texas had 745, California 447, and North Carolina, worst hit, 658. Where and when the next outbreak will hit is not known, but the Northeast hasn't had one for five years, and large numbers of people living there are not immune. Although normally seen as an infant's disease, more and more teen-agers and adults are being hit by polio, and fewer young children. Fully 25% of victims are now over 15. He believes that this is the result of temporary immunity conferred by a mild childhood infection, now fading away and leaving the age group vulnerable. Dr. E. T. Bell, of the University of Minnesota, told the convention that polio does its worst damage within a week after it strikes, and that new muscles are seldom involved after the first outbreak. Of those who died in the 1946 Minnesota outbreak, 44 died in the first week, and only about 17% lasted longer than a week. Survive five months, and you will survive indefinitely. Symptoms, which include headache, sore muscles, fatigue, digestive upset and throat pains, should be treated by putting the child to bed immediately. "Extreme physical activity is almost suicidal, and merely average activity is highly dangerous." Eleven experts joined on the podium (seven more than a barbershop quartet!) to warn against public swimming pools during polio season, and child psychologist, Edward A. Strecker, a real beam of light, like so many child psychologists, warned of the "major insult" (doctor lingo for injuries) of "pampering" the child, which will lead to psychological crippling. Drs. William T. Green and Thomas Gucker III, of Children's Hospital, Boston, made a typical surgeon's contribution, suggesting a procedure to check growth in one leg while a short leg catches up with it. You remove sections of the thigh and leg bone, which are then turned around and grafted back into place to "serve as a clamp, checking the bone's growth." It's not sanding down the thyroid gland, in case it helps, but it's not bad! The electrical engineers supply a electromyograph to "listen" to a paralysed muscle, and several devices for stimulating breathing or nerve growth. Oxythiamin, which may act by starving the virus of Vitamin B, seems to retard polio in mice. Dr. A. D. Baker has found the exact sites in the brain that control involuntary breathing, and believes that if "bulbar cases" can be kept alive for two to three weeks until their breathing centres recuperate, they will recover.

"Sleeping Pill Antidote" In the tradition of surgeons inflicting gratuitous torture comes Augustus C. Bakes and William L. Howell of the Georgetown University School of Medicine, with a new kind of tourniquet, inspired by the sphygmomanometer, which wraps around the chest and squeezes the heart to keep it breathing. It's not real torture if the patient is unconscious, but these details can surely be worked out!

Do not treat barbiturate overdose by wrapping the patient in an artificial boa constrictor. This does not actually work, and even if it did, breathing tubes, which already exist in 1948, work better. Heck, iron lungs work better! Here, nurses get to torture patients, too! Though low-level electrical stimulation may help, that is not what is going on here. What was wrong with these people?

Radio-Television, Press, Art, People

Television was at the DNC. George Allan, "friend and confidant of General Eisenhower," was invited to a nice studio with comfortable chairs and smoking privileges, where he sat around, smoked, and told people that the General would be open to running in 1952, while Andrew Biemiller and Hubert Humphrey yelled at each other over civil rights. I didn't see the Convention, and I can't say I missed it, but record high Hooper ratings suggest that lots of other people did see it, and enjoyed it.

"One Dozen Roses" The Rose family, who all work for the Philadelphia Bulletin, figure that the people of Philadelphia don't get enough of them in black and white, so they also do Shakespeare plays. Patriarch Don Rose has five books to his name, including one about the future of the autogiro. They're extra famous this week because the DNC was in Philadelphia. I'm sorry? Was that a news story? Another news not-story is that Edith Gwynn has been on the Hollywood gossip beat, and has been for a long time. Elizabeth Kenny, the controversial Australian physical therapist, was denied access to the First International Poliomyelitis Conference (which is the same as the tenth centennial conference of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, reported above), and had to go as a journalist, making this press news. She and her entourage made quite an impression, but not a nice one. Maybe if they'd brought some implements of torture?

Newsweek goes to see the "New Accessions USA" show, which is filled with paintings by artists who haven't died yet. In spite of this, some aren't half bad.

Pan-Am stewardesses, upset that appropriate behaviour isn't keeping male passengers in check, are now being issued Girl Scout knives(!)

Upton Sinclair has called on Henry Wallace to renounce his third party candidacy and return to the Democratic Party, which will have Reggie blue, as he's not ready to hear the same just yet. (January, I promise you. Air Force career and all!) General Meyer has been cashiered, and the will of McClelland Barclay, killed when the Japanese torpedoed his LST, leaves much of his $117,903 estate(!) to Marde Hoff Foster. Had Beryl Wallace not died in the same crash as Earl Carroll, she would have inherited his million dollar estate, but instead the money goes to a cancer-research clinic. Virginia Lee Wagner, 21, has married George Hunt Weyerhauser, 22, "uniting two of America's largest timber empires." Werner Fred Luck, the 11-year-old who went to Germany ten years ago to visit his grandmother and was caught by the war, has returned to New York to meet his mother. Andrei Gromyko left New York with his family in a major sulk. William Selig and General Pershing have died.


Newsweek is very impressed with Lauren Bacall in Key Largo. Raw Deal is "dubious." Coroner Creek is a sadistic action flick features Randolph Scott  fighting, shooting and stomping Forrest Tucker, and also right back. Marguerite Chapman is hemi-demi-semi beautiful, but girls get in the way of the he-man stuff.

"Hemi-demi-semi" is the phrase of the moment. Ronnie used it to show that she is with it, and got a shot from Grace when it came up in 1991. Apologies to the family of Marguerite Chapman.

Henrietta Nesbitt's memoirs are out. She was the White House housekeeper, and fed FDR strong coffee in the morning, Sanka at night, and fresh vegetables whether he wanted them or not. Newsweek didn't appreciate Robert Van Gelder's Important People any more than Time. A Treasury of Jewish Folklore has lots of folklore. Ralph Freedman's Divided is a powerful novel about the psychological impact of the end of the war. Joseph Shearing's Mignonette is about how a pretty young girl turns out to be a MONSTER!!

Flight, 29 July 1948



"One Fight Won" Flight is happy that the SR45 is not going to be cancelled, and takes the moment to rail against the dark and sinister forces of the anti-flying-boat-conspiracy, led by BOAC and pretty much everybody else.

"The New Charter" BOAC's new charter is probably a good idea, the decision to buy the DC-4M is still probably a good idea, and BOAC is still at fault for the Tudor over due to all of its picky specification changes. BOAC will probably never buy another British airliner again due to the way it tries to tell the builders what it wants, instead of taking what it is given.

"Large Power Plants" Flight is still arguing with Sir Roy Fedden about the possibility of a large British piston engine in the near future. It points out that even Feddden agrees that it will take years to develop one, so it isn't sure what they are arguing about.

"BOAC Plans and Reorganisation"  BOAC is reducing staff, launching an all-out competitive drive for dollars on the Atlantic route, and reorganising in divisions to make it easier to operate a landplane fleet that will comprise, in 1950, 6 Stratocruisers, 11 Constellations, 22 Canadairs, 25 Hermes IVs and 15 Tudor IVB freighters. Solents will continue on the Great Lakes run, and the Corporation places great hopes on the Comet, although it will be restricted in the airports it can use by the takeoff run and high wheel pressure. The Bristol 174 will be much more than a "Constellation six years late," and will supplement the Comet on Empire routes. "Providing suitable financial arrangements were made, BOAC would be glad to operate the Brabazon I." The first Bristol 167 should be available in 1953. Plymouths and Hythes will be retired and replaced by Hermes as soon as possible. Dakotas will be relegated to subsidiary companies and Middle East services. None will be based in the United Kingdom. The Haltons have been retired. Yorks, Lancastrians and Liberators will follow shortly. BOAC is the most efficient company on the Atlantic route.

"The Tudor Decision" Flight has received a statement from Frank Spencer Spriggs, of Avro, to the effect that the industry is shocked that the British government is spending dollars on Canadair planes, and predicts that it will be very bad for the industry, whereas if BOAC would just take what it were given, the Tudor II and IV would be first-class airliners. In shorter news on this page, the stripping of the 500 hour test Bristol Theseus shows that the engine performed well, but that the burner had produced local hot spots and burned parts of the stators of the first and second stage badly, due to having been faultily reassembled after a 450h cleaning. Chrislea Aircraft has met with its creditors, which have given it six months to finish six partially-completed aircraft and sell them before they seize the assets, in which case loan creditors might defer claims until after trade creditors received 10 shillings on the pound. Chrislea blames the Air Ministry for not letting them import twelve American engines, and some Spanish spivs for ordering six planes without money in hand to pay for them. What is going on with the Gipsy, anyway?

You can tell that aviation history is written by enthusiasts. The Wikipedia article doesn't even mention this little thing with the bankruptcy, although I guess it's implied. 

Here and There

Argentina is showing off a twin-Merlin fighter.

The FMIA Namcu heavy interceptor. 
Aero Digest said a nice thing about the Nene, so that's nice. The Bristol Housing Committee has promised to find homes for the BOAC men being transferred from Dorval to Filton under the dollar-saving scheme by the time the first men arrive in October. Triplex Safety Glass reminds everyone that they exist, have a factory in Birmingham, and that their windscreens are bullet and bird-proof.

Civil Aviation News

 Sir Frank Whittle has joined BOAC as an honorary advisor on the operation and development of jet turbines. BOAC hopes that the Springbok Solent service to South Africa can be resumed as soon as the wing-float problem is understood. Until then, they will use Skymasters on the service, and some un-retired Plymouths starting 26 July.  BOAC Dakota G-AGKN is reported overdue at Toulon from Malta. The Australian airlines are having a price war. The first Mexican aircraft to land at London Airport arrived 9 July with members of the Olympic team on board. The Copenhagen international air exhibition scheduled for October 15--24th has been cancelled for lack of dollars. Block grants to the British nationalised airlines will be £6.3 million to BOAC, £3.4 million to BEA and £26,000 to BSAA. 7500 supplementary seats Paris-London will be available from Air France during the Olympics, from 26 July to 16 August. The French prototype aircraft, the Cormoran 211, crashed on landing during its first test flight on 20 July. All five crew were lost. Figures published in Canada show 285 air accidents in 1947, up 101 over 1946.
The Solents being delivered to Tasman Airways in March will have a cruising speed of 230mph and a capacity of 44 passengers. Two more airfields will be operational in North Borneo, shortly. Air France is modifying its Latecoere 631 flying boats to carry more passengers at the expense of bunks. The Senate is going to throw a few millions at airships. Theodore Wright, former head of the CAA, and now "in charge of research at Cornell University," predicts that America will have 5000 airports, one million pilots and 400,000 aircraft by 1955, up from 3800, 100,000, and a half million now. More than 1 in 300 Americans is a pilot? Pardon me while I boggle. 

There's a long feature on the jet fighter flying boat from Saro next. Flight notes that while Britain doesn't need the plane, perhaps it can be flogged off on the Swedes or the Dutch, on the grounds that they have lots of water. This would be a more interesting article if the plane had done much actual flight testing, as there haven't been a lot of axial turbojet installations yet, and the twin engines mounted in the fuselage are quite unusual. Unfortunately, it hasn't been up much due to problems with tip stall, so most of the article is about the structure, with a bit about cockpit arrangements. 

"Of Noble Descent: First Photographs of the Hawker N.7/46 Nene-Powered Fighter" Pretty pictures.

If I dropped into Flight's offices with a picture of a plane, could I get a spread, too?

"The Sponson 'Tribian:' A Small Amphibian of Very Clean Design" Simon Warrender of Sponson Developments, Ltd, has dropped Flight a letter, with attached artist's impression of their concept, which will be designed for them in short order by Marcus Langley of Tiltman Laboratories, which will also produce a prototype. After that, an existing manufacturer will have to produce the plane. Sponson eagerly awaits applications. This is even more embarrassing than the Planet Satellite spread. At least that plane has financial backers!

After wearing out his first promotion ("Look! My name is in Debrrett's!"), Warrender flew a Percival Proctor to Australia, giving regular statements to the press, but that didn't work either, so he married an heiress and became an insurance broker in Melbourne. Here's some picturesque Proctors.  
The Arbroath Naval Air Display was enormous fun for everyone who showed up in spite of the rain squalls that cancelled most of the actual flying. 54 Squadron has been having even more enormous fun in Canada, going to the National Exhibition (cotton candy and frankfurters!) and flying dramatic flypasts. 

"Harwell: Activity at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment" The Atomic Energy Production Organisation is building a pile at Sellafield, Cumberland. and a uranium-refining plant at Springfield, near Preston. The Harwell laboratory completed its first pile, "Gleep," a low-energy, graphite moderated experimental unit, last year. The second pile, "Bepo," for "British experimental pile," recently started operation. It is designed to produce 6000 kW from uranium metal bars. Bepo consists of a lattice of uranium bars in a graphite structure, controlled by neutron-absorbing rods that can be moved in and out of the pile. 
One or the other of Engineering, The Engineer or Flight notes that the instruments in this control panel include dosimeters. Uh oh.

Cooling air is drawn into the concrete box that contains the pile via channels. Inactive elements can be placed in the pile for radioactive transmutation. Harwell also has a cyclotron and a huge Van de Graff electrostatic generator, which will be used to create and study new atomic nucleii. The Establishment is elaborately ventilated so that radioactive dust will not be caught in corners and accumulate. Taking the opportunity, Flight asked Professor Sir John Cockcroft about the atomic airplane proposal. He pointed out that something like 50 tons of radiation shielding would be required for a 10,000hp output. Atomic power has possibilities for ships and trains, but not aircraft. Lockheed claims that the new F-80C, with a more powerful Allison turbojet, can achieve 600mph, and has the greatest range of any operational fighter. 

"First Jet Transport: The Nene-Viking's debut and the Commemorative Flight to Paris" The Nene-Viking, which is not an operational transport, and which is limited to 409mph in clear air, and 338mph in rough air, due to the fact that the engines won't stay on the plane if it gets shaken up at a higher speed, commemorated Bleriot's crossing of the Channel by flying to Paris with some passengers. 

"U.S. Jets Across the Atlantic: Sixteen F.80As From Selfridge Field Land at Odiham" The P-80s flew the same route as the Vampires, in reverse: Goose Bay; Bluie West; Iceland; Stornoway, followed by the fight to Odiham the next day. The only navigational aids were VHF radio and radio compasses. The flight was under cloud the whole way, at an average height of 32,000ft. Wingtip long-range fuel tanks with a capacity of 137.5 Imperial gallons were carried, although these have to be jettisoned in rough weather, or the wings fall off, which sounds like a very exciting way to fly! The planes have since moved on to Germany. 

"Civil Aviation Policy: Lord Pakenham's First Statement to the House of Lords" Flight is chuffed that the three SR45s will be completed, and another four built, if all goes well, to give British South American a full flying boat service capability from 1953, with a 24 hour service to Buenos Aires. They will fly from Southampton and the Solent. The Tudor II will be abandoned, but the 16 aircraft Tudor IV fleet will be turned over to British South American because they will serve well on its routes. Twenty-two Canadair DC-4Ms, fully pressurised, air-conditioned and refrigerated, with a capacity of 46 passengers, will be used on Empire routes, and dollar payments for them will be released by delaying some debt service charges to Canada. Converting Tudor 2s to Tudlor IVs is not financially practical, especially considering that the Canadairs carry 46 passengers, as against 32 in the Tudor IV, reflecting a payload superiority of between 3000 and 3500lbs depending on route. To maintain employment at Avro, the Tudor IIs will be converted to Tudor IV freighters. Pressurised freighters are a new business concept, and installing large doors into a pressurised hull would raise many technical problems and might take some time to work out. Meanwhile, the first 10 Tudor II--Tudor IV Freighter conversions would be into unpressurised types. Altogether, about 100 new British civil aircraft were being ordered under this policy. The Minister looks forward to the British airlines losing far less money in the future, and reminds everyone that the bulk of the losses were in domestic flights. 

"The Tudor Story: Muddle Without Parallel in British Aviation" The Courtney Report has finally been published. It starts with the 1943 specification for a Tudor II plane with a payload of 8,275lbs at 2800 miles still air range, takeoff distance of 1200ft to clear 50ft against a 5mph wind, pressurised cabin, cruising altitude 25,000ft. All up weight wasn't specified, but 76,000lbs was envisioned. First flight was in March 1946, and the same aerodynamic troubles already experienced with the Tudor I were encountered, only less serious. Boscombe Down trials were ended early so that the prototype Tudor could return to the Avro works, where it promptly crashed and killed the project heads, who therefore weren't around for two "change orders" to lengthen the Tudor so that it could take, first, more sleeping cabins, and, second, even more Pullmans. That was so that people who bought through cabin/Pullman tickets to Australia could be carried on Tudors instead of Australian flying boats, which I think never ended up existing? So that it is the fault of the flying boat enthusiasts, not that you're going to hear Flight say that. In the event, the fuselage went from 10 3/4 feet diameter, 95ft length, to 11ft and 105 1/2ft, and tare weight from 44,810lbs to 55,417lbs, auw weight from 76,000lbs to 80,000. Which was too much. 


G. W. Wakeford, a Director at University College, Southampton, writes to say that public institutions will meet the need for a future generation of pilots. The two-year Air Cadet course at the School of Navigation at the University College, Southampton, will train them, to the extent necessary, at public expense. "Thus, without cost to industry, civil aviation will be provided with young men who, like other professional or technical graduates, will be properly trained and basically qualified, but lacking in practical experience," which is where the employer comes in. Roy Fedden writes a very long article about how it will take years for the turboprops that now sort-of exist to replace the "3000--4000hp internal combustion engines" that don't exist. Also, America is building military transports that will become airliners in the future, while the British are building a future turboprop airliner, I think, that is a far more grandiose and idealistic scheme, which is wrong? Flight is right. This makes no sense.

The Engineer, 30 July 1948

A Seven-Day Journal

The Coal Consumer's Councils have given their first annual reports to the Minister of Fuel. They understand that things are hard right now, but hope that they improve soon. Lloyd's Register of Shipbuilding has resumed publication. A blizzard of statistics follow. Britain is still building most of the world's ships. Sir Stafford Cripps has announced that an Anglo-American Council will be set up to improve the productivity of British industry. Full technical efficiency! (I like that this story follows hard on one acknowledging the complete collapse of the American shipbuilding industry that was going to drive the British from the seas with their mass production, welding, and lack of union demarcations.) Speaking of efficiency, the Fuel Efficiency Committee has held a conference, and the proceedings are out. Better coal, and better treated coal, are crucial.

H. W. Dickinson, "Water Supply of Greater London, IV, Continued." I refuse to believe that it is possible to get water to every person of such a large city in such a small country, and therefore all Londoners have died of thirst, QED. I would go on to amaze you with the engineering that makes it all possible, except that in No. IV of a continuing series, Dr. Dickinson has just now reached 1822, and his interest is in the water-powered lifts which have vanished from the Earth.

"Oxygen-enriched Air for Steel Production" People have been talking about this for years, and now the appearance of cheap, bulk oxygen makes it possible. The Americans and Russians have been forward in experimenting with it in crucible steel. The Russians have found that it reduces the life of their tuyeres, while the Americans see potential. The article goes on to describe successes at the British steel plant of Catton and Company at considerable length. The jury is still out on the economic feasibility of it, as oxygen prices are coming down.

"Mechanical Handling Exhibition, No. III" The 130 exhibitors mean that, between them, Engineering and The Engineer could burble on forever, especially when there is such a range of product. For example, Babcock and Wilcox exhibit a dust mixer, which is for handing ash and dust --at construction sites, perhaps? I don't know. No! Power stations! Butters Brothers offers cranes, and Douglas (Kingswood), scissor-lift, or "high lift" trucks.

"New Works of Bakelite, Ltd." Bakelite has new buildings! The Engineer visited, and saw the shiny new buildings, still barren of virtually any machine tools, so the article doesn't have to go on to spend excessive amounts of time on the thingies that make the urea and the formaldehyde into useful plastic things.

"Seventy-five Years of the Holland-America Line" It is time for a party!

Metallurgical Topics

It has been known for thirty years that stressed steel in hot, nitrate solutions, tends to crack. Smialkowski, E. Herzog and A. Portevin have investigated why this might be, and W. Andrews attributes it to attack on the grain boundary carbide. Now some authors present intracrystalline cracking as an explanation. And in the latest issue of the new magazine, Nucleonics, J. J. Harwood shows how to use radioactive tracer technique to solve metallurgical problems. Others are also in the field. In Australia, the Council on Scientific and Industrial Research has set up a section on Tribophysics, which is the study of bearing alloys. A number of papers by Australian researchers, particularly interested in the sliding of metals on each other, are mentioned.


"Civil Aviation Policy" The Tudor story makes The Engineer's blood boil, but it is willing to cut the Ministry of Civil Aviation some slack, due to the fact that British industry couldn't work on transports during the war, and is now behind. Before the war, the subsidy required at Imperial tended to fall continuously, and no doubt that will happen with BOAC, too. The question is whether the bill for new civil aircraft is to be paid.

"Locomotive Tolerances" They're improving, and locomotives are getting more efficient. This is one of those leaders that is effectively a book review, because The Engineer liked The Locomotive Manufacturers' Association book on tolerances so well.

This is William Maw, not Lawrence Fry. I'm just so glad to be able to put a face to the determinedly faceless Engineering.

Lawrence Howard Fry gets a good long write-up in The Engineer, too, because he was well liked.Sir Robert Richard Gales (84) was a great British civil engineer who began his career with the Indian State Railways before joining Rendel, Palmer and Triton in 1919. He finally retired in 1937, and spent his last 19 years still designing Indian railway bridges, but presumably making more money for doing it. Robert Ruthven Martindale was the Deputy Chief Engineer of the British Electricity Authority, and died of a heart attack at home at the age of 55.

"Atomic Energy Research Establishment, Part II" The same details, and the same pictures (so much for "Open Day!") as Engineering, and, for that matter, in Flight, just at a bit more length. Isotopes, Glepo, Beppo, the radiological "hot" laboratory, and the accelerators,  including the van de Graff generator, plus a table of organisation.

D. Tabor, "Frictional Properties of Lead-base and Tin-base Bearing Alloys: Role of the Matrix and Hard Particles" A microscopic anlysis of the alloys in question. Everyone is on about bearing wear this month!

"A Summer School in Engineering" Someone has an anonymous appreciation of the British Thompson Houston Summer School, which was so much fun, and so useful, that it ought to have been illegal. Sir John Cockcroft popped in to give an opening address, the sessions had access to very exciting equipment, and the dinners were to die for. (British cooking does that to you.)

Major-General Desmond Harrison, "Civil Engineering Problems of the East African Groundnuts Scheme" Problems? Problems? Uh-oh. So it turns out that clearing 3 million acres of virgin forest in the East African wilderness is hard. Only the skimpiest of records of annual rainfall exist, and obviously you can't ask the natives. Some of the black cotton soil is hard to work on, and some of it is muddy, and, really, someone should have looked into that before they decided to build a railway all the way there. Building a new port on an unsettled coast will be easy, but providing water reservoirs for the Scheme might be hard. It turns out that it is hard to run over giant trees with tanks, but everything will be worked out in the end.

"Olympic Torch" Did  you know that the Olympic torch is a scientific and engineering achievement? It is! The Fuel Research Organisation of the DSIR took a hand! Science! I know, I already said that.

Industrial and Labour Notes

The price of nickel is up. June exports continue their healthy increase, with 150,000 cars and trucks exported in the first six months of 1948, as well as healthy growth in other categories. Coal exports are over 400,000 tons a month. The Minister is looking into coal dust suppression. (So is Babcock and Wilcox!) The Chief Inspector of Factories has opinions about cleanliness of factories. In France, there is talk of labour strife. It is reported that French electrical power per head is a little more than tenth of the United States (1900 kW/h per person versus 15000). France lacks coal, and so wants to move away from coal-based thermal power, but lacks the hydroelectric reserves. An agreement with Iraq to take 7 million tons of oil a year may be the answer. The transformation of sawdust into wood panels has become a major French industry. In rail and road notes, Americans are increasingly concerned with level crossing accidents, which led to 1800 deaths in 1947. Britain's pioneering diesel-electric locomotive, No. 10,000, is doing fine. In air and water news, the de Havilland Dove has been ordered for the RAF as the "Devon." It will be used in a liaison squadron. .


  1. Lights, you say?

    1. It turns out that the legacy of the Navy's MOAR LIGHT approach to low visibility was blinding local commuters fifty years later.

    2. On the other hand:

      "The precision approach path indicator system was first devised in 1974 by Tony Smith and David Johnson at the Royal Aircraft Establishment in Bedford, England. It took them a further two years to fully develop the technology."