Sunday, February 17, 2019

Postblogging Technology, December 1948, I: Bonnie Prince Charlie

R_. C_.,
The Savoy,

Dear Father:

The Savoy! I'm so jealous! Serves the Oriental Club right for not wanting to put Ma'am up! How did she take her flight, by the way? Not like going up the Coast in a Norseman, I bet!

I'm also more than a little in awe at the way that you propose to attend the Christening and still be back in Vancouver in time for Christmas. Not that I want to discourage you, mind! I'm worked to a lather with exams and Christmas shopping and a special delivery of some as might prefer America to Formosa, and I long, long for the comfort of the old house on Roxborough, where I plan to make up for the short time I shall have to rest this holiday season by resting very, very hard indeed from the 23rd to Christmas Eve, when Reggie is expected, if he hasn't told you, as I know he sometimes doesn't.

I swear that I remind him to write his Mother. 

You asked about Christmas presents. For myself, I leave it to Ma'am, and London, in the hopes that she will have some time. At least, staying at the Savoy means that you can have your shopping sent in, I think. Still? I will be firmer about Reggie, as I've seen something that he absolutely must have, and which I cannot afford. I've slyly mentioned it in the letter, but if your eyes glaze over, it is the most wonderful leather jacket in an almost bomber style, but lighter. Impractical in a Massachusetts winter, I know, but perfect for spring. The catalogues I could find are calling it a "motorcycle" jacket, and I enclose a picture, in case you can get it in London. Otherwise, I imagine it is a mail order item. 

Once again, I find myself bursting with holiday-season gossip that I cannot find time to write down, as the letter has taken up all my time. I shall drop a post immediate, just for the pleasure of addressing the Savoy Hotel, but must now head off to show that I can, in fact, read a French novel. (But, since it is for a graduation credit, I will be proving that I can read it harder.)

Yours Sincerely,

(Christmas '48 seems to have been quite the year for novelty hits.)

Flight, 2 December 1948


"Air Strength"The House of Lords was very upset to hear Viscouts Templewood (formerly Samuel Hoare) and Viscount Trenchard (formerly Marshal Trenchard) say that the Air Force was not "attract[ing] . . the right men in sufficient numbers." The government's response that it was giving this due consideration was deemed wet and weak. Clearly the Allies need 150 squadrons of long range bombers, 100 squadrons of short range fighters, 150 squadrons of long range bombers, and 150 squadrons of long range transports, or there will be war instant upon receipt of information via Hansards'. (So I assume you are reading this in the bomb shelter in the basement. I hope it is well stocked!) Only airpower can deter the unlimited Russian manpower, and it is said that the squadrons that actually exist might only be able to put up 6 aircraft out of 16 or so due to manpower.

"Manning the RAF" While the Government is deluded into thinking that National Service can make up the RAF's manpower, if it is extended to eighteen months, this is not so. Gone are the days when two men, one of them not highly trained, could look after an aircraft. What is needed is the "right sort of men," who know which end of a wrench to monkey. Perhaps better housing and higher pay will help, but the real problem is that people aren't talking the RAF up enough to public school boys and their parents. While everyone can do their part in this, it is too bad that the Air League of the British Empire is short of cash just at the moment. Hint, hint. Also, there is too much secrecy these days.

"'Plainfaire' Service: Activity at Transport Command Central Servicing Unit in Keeping the Berlin Air Lift at Full Serviceability" RAF Honington services Merlin T. 24/2s for Yorks, main and tail wheels and tyre assemblies for Yorks, Hastings and Dakotas, radio and radar equipment for Dakotas, and instruments and electrical gear for Yorks and Hastings. Since May, 1946, it has done 1700 power plants, 8000 wheels, 31,000 instruments and 240,000 spark plugs, and has a current rate of 125 power plants a month. Depending on circumstances, either part or plane is flown to Honington, which has it its own flight of Dakotas to pick up parts. "Plainfare" in a message indicates immediate priority. Because of the very high tempo of operations, in which Air Lift aircraft which are delayed more than 30 seconds, or fail to make a landing, must return to base, aircraft must operate with a 200% reserve fuel load and make a full-load landing at least every other touchdown, which may happen every other hour, compared with a more traditional every eight. This makes for more maintenance. Honington also has to handle lots of dispatching, so it is very busy.

"Dart Details: Rolls-Royce's Small Turboprop Described" The Dart was the first, or one of the first British turboprops developed, and people have been waiting for details for a long time. Rolls Royce wasn't particularly interested in giving them, because it had more exciting things on its mind, but the recent success of the Dart-powered Viscount has pushed the Dart up the agenda, and the company is now ready to talk about this 1000shp engine with 310lb thrust, which has been trialed with water/methanol injection cooling at 1300shp. It has a two-stage centrifugal compressor and two-stage turbine, with a toothed coupling providing a common axis for impellers and turbine wheels, which rotate as a single component, a design which is the direct outgrowth of Rolls-Royce's two-stage centrifugal compressors on piston engines. A three or four-bladed, reversible airscrew is driven by a double-reduction gearing with a ratio of 0.091:1. At maximum airflow, 18lbs/minute are compressed at 3.5:1. There are seven combustion chambers, with ignitors in two chambers and Nimonic 80 flame tubes. There are separate high and low pressure turbines, with construction, depending on the part, of Nimonic 80 (high speed turbine), Jessup 18B steel (high pressure blades), and S. 62 stainless steel (low pressure disc). Fuel is delivered at between 400 and 800 lb/sq in by a csu-regulated plunger-type swashplate pump limited to 15000 rpm. Only two cockpit controls are needed, and the auxiliary drives and oil pumps are driven in various ingenious ways. 
Legend top speed: Mach 0.88 at 40,000ft, or 580mph. What the Hell, Flight?

Here and There

Britain is sending Denmark 60 Vampires, and France  a French translation of G. Geoffrey's book. Blackburn is merging with General Aircraft, Sikorsky is giving out free tickets to see a helicopter show and Blackburn has bought a small share in Planet Satellite. Lord Henderson, in between roastings in the Lords, made sure to let them know that Britain is about to start production of a jet bomber that will be about twice as fast as the Lincoln. Since this might be taken as showing that Labour has managed to pull of a 600mph bomber, Flight lets us know that he probably only means the Lincoln's operational speed of 215mph. Arthur Balfour and Company have a gripping new film about tool steels out. It features DTD 306 in a starring role as the steel that the Centaurus crankshaft is made from. Hunting Aerosurvey is doing an "oil survey" of Iran. I am not sure what makes an "oil survey" special, since much of the expedition involves new photographic survey, and not any special magic for finding oil specifically. But, who knows, that could be involved. A transport York taking off for South Africa recently carried 1600lbs of newspapers and other literature, 1500lbs of automotive, aeronautical and other spare parts, 1350lbs of electrical and radio goods, 1100 lbs of clothes and fabric, 300lbs of toys, 160lbs of film and lantern slides, 140lbs instruments and tools, 70lbs drugs, 65lbs antiques, and so on down to 1lbs of bagpipe reeds. 

Civil Aviation News

IATA has a new agreement on fares, which are mainly unchanged. A tourist rate may be introduced in the summer of 1949. Various airports and services, etc. The second prototype Airspeed Ambassador was recently trialled at its new maximum all up weight of 52,000lbs in an elaborate series of tests, because it has no provision for jettisoning ballast. It did fine. Everything is fine. Aircraft imports last month amounted to £72,000, together with parts worth £524,000, compared with 81 complete aircraft exported for a value of a million pounds, with another half million in parts, mainly engines and tyres. The Italians are modifying the Piaggio P. 108 bomber for transport work.
Pretty --but there are at most 9 of the transport variant to be pressed into service. 

Yep. That's what Edward VIII's personal pilot
would look like. RAF  nickname: "Mouse."
"A King's Flight: Its Aircraft, Crews and Duties on a Royal Tour" The King's Flight is very disappointed that the Royal Tour of Australia and New Zealand has had to be postponed due to the King's health, so here's an article about it, instead. It was formed in 1936 under the command of Air Commodore E. H. Fielden, previously the Duke of Windsor's personal pilot. Oh, the stories he could tell! The Flight was to have added a fifth Viking and additional cleaners after the South African experience, and would have carried the Royal Family for about 30 flying hours. 

"Avro Tudor" An article about what did or didn't go wrong with the Tudor would be very nice to  have, especially if the Halton really is going the same way; but this article is about the experimental Tudor VIII, the one with the double-Nene installation in both wings. There is one experimental aircraft, which is in demand at all the institutes, ministries, units and so on, and additional ones have been ordered, although we don't know how many. Other engines might be specified. Because the Tudor is the first fully pressurised jet "testbed," and has lots of space for equipment and instruments, it will be used for all sorts of research at high altitudes. It will not be the first jet airliner, because it is not an airliner. That will be the Avro Canada Jetliner. 

"Supply and Relief" Flight shares some pictures of Indian Air Force Dakotas flying relief and resupply missions in to the mountains of Kashmir.

"Rest in Peace: But Ready in an Emergency: Cocooning Superforts" Some 2800 Superforts were produced, and all but eight hundred are surplus to peacetime requirements, but will be needed when WWIII breaks out Thursday next. In the meantime, 1500 are being sprayed with multiple layers of a variety of gunk to keep sun, heat and air out. 

"Discussing the Helicopter: The Cierva W. 11 'Air Horse' Described and Evaluated: The Advantages and Disadvantages of Three Rotors: Precis of a Paper Given to the Royal Aeronautical Society by Mr. Shapiro" Cierva thinks that it knows how to do multiple rotors better than anyone, but as of 1945 couldn't think of a use for its expertise. Then it occurred to the company that it should do heavy loads, and it soon sketched up a giant helicopter with an auw of 17,500lbs, powered by a Merlin (single stage, two speed). Three rotors means guaranteed stability. Steering is by clutching two rotors differentially (which might refer to the way the gears go around, but in this case is meant to describe how the "lift couple" is achieved by clutching one rotor more than the other. Or strike that. There's an extended discussion of the transmission clutches and the "distribution gears" that splot the power up between the three branches of transmission shafting. I can't make head or tail of it, but it sounds really, really complicated. And, quite frankly, a recipe for disaster. Reduction gearing, flexible shafting, the pitch control on three separate rotors, just a million things. Reggie says that helicopter pilots like to talk about a "Jesus nut," which is a way of saying that, ultimately, the rotor is held on by one nut, and, if it fails, only Jesus can help you. It's not actually just one nut, but the point is that the Air Horse has three of them, and any one of them failing will kill you. It also makes the Cierva more expensive than other helicopters, but Mr. Shapiro says that mass production would cut costs, and that it might save money because it needs less efficient rotors.

"'New Deal' For National Servicemen"Some National Servicemen will now qualify for pilot training or commissions in various ground branches of the RAF during their new eighteen month srvice periods. Shorter news mentions that Air France's fleet currently consists of 13 Constellations, 17 C-54s, 28 DC-3s, 27 Languedoc 167s, 2 Catalinas, 15 Ju-52s, 3 Dominos.

"Corporations Annual REport: BEA and BSAA Operations for the Year" How much the two corporations lost, and how they lost them.

"Accident Investigation: Lord Pakenham Refuses to Set Up Board Suggested by Newton Committee" Not that you'd know it from the title, but the Newton Committee, set up by Lord Nathan to investigate air accident investigations, had 20 separate recommendations, many of which were accepted in full or in part. The Committee was rejected because its suggested membership included too many people with "inside" interests, and because their power to make recommendations would diffuse responsibility for safety. The Ministry's answer goes on to lay out its own proposed new procedure for inquiries, Inspector's inquiries, which will be private from now on, and committee recommendations.

The Oxford University Auxiliary Squadron had a dinner. It was nice. Air Marshal Saunders spoke, and said that the RAF should have more planes and plane-related paraphernalia.


G. R. Barratt writes to explain how ram effect raises air temperature. L. Toulson writes to point out that since the B-36 carries vastly more gas than the B-35, the B-35 is unlikely to have greater range. "Favonius" replies at length to the effect that actually the B-35 has better range because it is just so very aerodynamic. J. O. Matthews thinks that airport firefighting vehicle fleets should include half-tracks for when aircraft crash in the grass.

The Economist, 4 December 1948


"South-east Asia" The Economist thinks that the situation in South-East Asia is dire, with "economic disintegration" and communism threatening. It's hard to argue with that. The question is whether The Economist represents more the solution, or the problem. So what does it think went wrong? "In general, no eastern version of a fully fledged western economy has grown up." Commerce and banking have been reserved to westerners, with at best a few Chinese and Japanese allowed a share. Society remains based on the peasant, with no strong middle class, no trade unions and no political participation. Can anything be done about it? The ongoing collapse of the Koumintang seems to show that one "typical" Eastern regime may be helpless to save itself, no matter how much help it is given. At the same time, Communism doesn't exactly seem to be on the march. It has no foothold in the Philippines or south China(!), and is on the defensive in Malaya and Indonesia. It is left to western governments to address the social failure by building up the peasantry and a truly domestic light industry based on strong trade unions.

"Left or Right --II" You know that article where The Economist admits that the Left used to have a point, and that in the future, the Right might not have a point, but, on balance, you should probably vote Tory? It's a shame that they have to rewrite it with new words every once in a while, because otherwise you could be out of the office and on the golf course in time for a quick eight before sunset on a sunny day in December.

"The Official Spokesman" The Government has people who are paid to say that everything is fine. This is not fine.

"The Price of Learning" Targets for the number of students to be enrolled in science and technology majors at British universities that seemed far too ambitious for the distant future of the 1950s when they were proposed, have been nearly exceeded already. (83,000 versus 88,000) this has meant the tripling of government spending on university grants. The University Grants Committee warns that this burden will not be relieved when the ex-servicemen now receiving grants have graduated, because there are not enough students with the private means to pay for scientific educations. Given the relationship between government and university that has sprung up in this age of technological progress and wonders, the spending bill will remain high, and increase. The Economist hopes that full technical efficiency will achieve some economies in reducing redundant departments and chairs, but does not expect it to make a real difference.

Notes of the Week

"Berlin --And Bonn" I am cheating and combining two notes, which combine  together to make a splendid little The Economist frown-piece about communism in Germany.

"A Bench of Neros?" Mr. Churchill turned the debate over the National Service Amendment Bill into a general debate over defence.  He thought in 1945, and still thinks, that the atom bomb could have been a reason to cut the services to a "foundation level," which could then be rebuilt. The Government replied that that had been regrettably impossible because of argle-bargle, and now the armed forces are overstrength (Churchill) while under-competence, hence the need for the eighteen month service amendment. Which even the Tories have now found their reason for going against. "Lord, give us a strong defence --but not now."

"European Plans and Trading Realities" Remember when I expected that this week would see wall-to-wall coverage of the bold new British Four-Year Plan? Nothing of the sort. The various plans of the ERA countries are running into "trading realities." The ERP area as a whole is set to have a deficit with the dollar bloc of $1.3 billion over four years, although the sterling area will have a surplus within the ERP area of $664 million. If the sterling surplus were convertible, The Economist says, this would cover most of the deficit. I don't know anything about this and I can see why it's stupid! "The ship is sinking, but we're making progress in baling the captain's cabin out into the hold! Short of selling a Rolls-Royce to buy a bushel of wheat, what's to be done?

In an equal-opportunity-offending to left-and-right spirit, two Notes excoriate the Chancellor for saying that the British Communist Party ought not be allowed to send in its membership dues to the Comin[Chlorin]form because property is sacred, and that the strike that delayed Queen Mary's departure before it was delayed another four days buy the fog is terrible, and reminds us that while the Right to Strike is a sacred right, it's not actually a real Right when it means that you can't trade flats with your Swiss friend for four days at penalty of law, the connection between the two being so obvious they hardly need to be spelled out to anyone in a position to have a December skiing holiday in Switzerland or cruise the Atlantic on a Cunard Queen.

Admiral Shi Lang with VOC officials
"Suspense in Nanking" This is the Note where we pretend that the Koumintang might hold on to the Southern Capital. Or pretend to pretend it, as even The Economist isn't buying, and the talk now is either Canton or Formosa for the families of the high and mighty of the Koumintang and such of the army as wants to leave the Middle Kingdom. Or not? I admit to not always paying close attention to family history, especially that not of my branch, but didn't The Lady's first husband eventually make obeisance to the Manchus for Formosa? Or was that his son in the legitimate line?

"Need Israel Compromise?" Uno is squabbling over a settlement to the Palestinian situation, which honestly seems as far away as it did the first time Uncle George set his pen to the theme back in 1939.

"Labour and the Retail Trade" The Economist thinks that Labour might campaign on a plan to "control and reform" the retail trade in food to reduce the cost of living. The Economist thinks that that is a splendid idea, because it thinks that the retailers have been allowed too generous a margin under price control.

"Anti-Communist International" The TUC has joined the AFL in its effort to drive Communists out of union leadership, which sets up a fight between it and the miners, electricians, engineers, fire brigades and foundry workers, all of whom have Communists high up in their union leadership. The CIO is meanwhile still stuck with some "trojan horse" unions, and membership in the Communist-controlled international trade union federation, from which both it and the TUC are expected to withdraw in the January meeting, after which they will set up their own international federation.

1940s racism c/o Flight
"Disintegrated Burma" The Economist offers a colourful account of all the factions competing for power in Burma, which seems naturally related to the next bit, which is about the continuing push to restore Italy's colonial territories, or, at least, most of them. The Economist concedes that this would be morally wrong, but it is what the Italians and French want, and the Russians are backing the Italians.

Follows three Notes about local government and local school boards, and one explaining that the latest crisis in Belgian politics is over, with Mr. Spaak back in power, because no-one else will do. Shorter notes celebrate a voluntary government initiative to support marriage counselling, the entry of "native Africans" into the governing council of Nyasaland, and something about devolution of local government in Wales. Everybody's for doing it some way that Labour isn't doing it.

From The Economist of 1848 People say that Britain can't keep free trade when the rest of the world practices "restriction." They are wrong! And stupid and ugly, and unfashionably dressed! Yes, I'm being silly, but so is the rest of the excerpt. It isn't silly quite on the one from 18 December that welcomes Louis Napoleon, but it's silly. Tariffs are a "moral evil."


T. Balogh writes to warn that the Four-Year Plan forecasts far too much growth in exports given an only 3% increase in productivity, and allows far too much increase in domestic consumption. He predicts "another 1947." David Carrington thinks that the Uno's failure in Palestine is due to the Arabs being simultaneously impotent on the battlefield and "stockpiling arms" to be a dangerous menace in the near future. J. Cech. Mitcheson is upset about the composition of the National Coal Board, for some reason I decline to discern. G. Findlay Shirras thinks that controls on German steel production should be lifted.

American Survey

"Words for Wisdom" There are too many books and magazines in America today to read, and consequently no-one reads anything, and public education is in danger, which will lead to something unspecified but terrible happening, unless it doesn't.

"America's Trade Balance" American exports are declining, although this is partially balanced by the failure of imports to match the rise in American incomes. However, falling shipping income and rising tourism "exports" are balanced by rising income from American investments abroad to, cumulatively, make for an uncertain but probably positive picture. (Since a lower American trade export surplus is a lower world trade deficit, which will lead to foreign governments being able to afford more American exports. I'm not 100% sure how this works, but I think the upshot is that fewer

American Notes is displeased by the settlement of the maritime strikes, and notes that America's share of world shipping has fallen below 50% for the first time since the war on the strength of high rates. Uncle George says that that's just reality asserting itself, and that it will be for the best if the American merchant marine shrinks to a size where it can only employ the men who want to work in it. I'm sure you agree.

"Labour's Reward" The AFL and CIO are having a victory parade, and are looking forward to 1950, when they hope to clean up stragglers like Senator Taft. Now that they are in the middle of American politics, they are pushing forward with anti-Communism, as see all previous entries, passim, and looking forward to replacing Taft-Hartley with the Wagner Act. Truman is expected to push ahead with Federal aid to housing and education, higher  minimum wages, floors under farm incomes, and an extension of social security benefits.

"The Forgiven and Forgotten" The Democrats who defected to Wallace and the Dixiecrats are being sometimes forgiven, sometimes forgotten. For example, Dixiecrat Maybank of South Carolina, having sworn loyalty to rent control, slum clearance and inflation curbs, but not civil rights, is being welcomed back to the effective chairmanship of the Senate Banking and Currency Committee, since the next man after him is Glen Taylor, who is emphatically not being forgiven to the extent of being allowed an effective Committee chairmanship, although he is also not being removed from committees, as that would be unfair to Idaho voters. The Senate is also contemplating action on filibusters, which would weaken the power of small, cohesive groups like the Dixiecrats.

"Un-American Activities" It looks as though HUAC is in trouble, as its chairman, J. Parnell Thomas, is indicted on nepotism charges. With three members gone: one elevated to the Senate, two defeated, the new HUAC will be dominated by Southern Democrats, with Rankin of Mississippi next up after Wood of Georgia for the chair. That would be a bit of a disaster, so the thinking is that the committee will be massively reformed.

Shorter Notes  records the first decline in the cost of living in seven months and the one-year anniversary of the Chicago printers' strike.

The World Overseas

"Nine Months of the ERP" Europe has mainly drawn agricultural products under ERA, although machinery is making an increasingly large appearance of late. Britain has managed to pay very little of its aid back as freight charges, but Europe is not so lucky, as much of the aid is carried in American bottoms. For most of the first eight months, enough of ERA purchases have been made in America to have an impact on the American cost of living, but now purchases are shifting elsewhere, including to other European countries, as western Europe's production power is up 10% overall on 1947, with much greater gains in steel, food and fertilisers.

"The Mind of Israel --II" A very silly and inconsequential note, except to worry me about British anti-Semitism.

"The Sudanese Elections" I didn't even know that Sudan was having elections? Various things could go wrong, it seems, and we need to keep one pole star in sight to guide us through the night: Egyptian opinion is wrong.

The Business World

"Report on Disinflation" The original hope was to hold home investment to £1.8 billion but the figure seems to have been £2 billion, which means that there has been inadequate disinflation. The Chancellor says everything is fine. Is he right, or is he Labour? Answer: He is Labour. He relies on statistics which are, first, low by £100 million, and, second,overestimate invisible exports that provide disinflationary relief; and while public revenues will hit targets, expenditures will be high due to the Berlin Airlift and additional costs for the National Health Service. Depreciation costs have been higher than expected, and private saving lower. In sum, there are continuing inflationary pressures, although much lower than in previous years. Disinflation has worked --to an extent. The question is whether the effort should be redoubled, perhaps leading to an increase in unemployment, or whether the Government should be satisfied with what it has achieved so far.

A major feature on the prospects of the Rhodesian copper industry seems of dubious interest, as it is mainly about likely stock gains.

"European Recovery, VI: Revival of European Transport" As we've heard on the engineering side, war's end saw 15% of European rolling stock destroyed, 40% damaged, between 55% and 100% of road and railway bridges destroyed by country, and "most" motor vehicles destroyed, and the canals have deteriorated. The Economist goes on to say that rehabilitation has been quick, without going into  numbers, except for a chart showing the recovery in rail traffic by country. European coordination has been necessary, not least because  the Germans seized all the wagons during the war, and some plan for giving them back had to be worked out. Naturally, The Economist ends with one of its trademark, fulsome apologies for repeatedly predicting that all of this irremediable damage would shortly lead to the disintegration of European civilisation. Just kidding! Seriously, who did they get to sit on Geoff Crowther? Or did he just turn nice after they got him to a dentist?

Business Notes

The first three notes cover the Stock Exchange, the latest Coal Bill, which is about compensating coal owners again, and the Italians bringing the lira into line with European agreements on exchange-cross rates for the dollar. The fourth note, which I tried to make more of because of local interest, is about the Anglo-Canadian Food Agreement, which boils down to The Economist noticing that Canada wants Britain to pay more, while Britain would like Canada to accept less, which is only a bit more interesting when the problem of sterling balances is considered. Then there's a bit about British coal exports to Europe and the recovery of European coal production, and a notice that the fall in import prices has improved the terms of trade, in spite of increases in the price paid for Australian and New Zealand meat and dairy. Then there's a long bit about how American farm prices have held firm in spite of the recent bumper crops. I'm pretty sure that Dad would say something about prices only look like they can defy gravity for so long, but I'm not a futures trader, and what do I know? Oh, and there's a dollar shortage in Latin America, water is still wet, and the Sun still rises in the east.

"Electricity: Spreading or Shedding" The winter fog brings news of an urgent requirement to cut consumption 20% in daytime in the London and South Eastern region to avert load-shedding. The country's generating capacity may have risen by a half million kilowatt hours, but consumption has risen just as quickly. The price of Scandinavian newsprint is up, which is bad news, because Britain is buying in Scandinavia instead of Canada to save on dollars, and the increasing draw on sterling is a problem all  its own. Cocoa is also down (although this might be related to a "Benin Railway disappointment" on earnings), although cheaper shipping is helping in the West Indies. Rubber production is up.

Flight,  9 December 1948

The worst part is when you crack the pots: Sir Philip Joubert

"Forthright Language" The RAF is not at full strength right now. You might think that that is because of full employment and low pay, but fortunately there is someone out there willing to lay the blame where it really belongs. Sir Philip Joubert says that it is because of the decline of discipline. "The Service will never become popular again . . until it has cleaned itself up top to bottom, morally, intellectually, and physically." Sounds like my Dad!

"Aircraft Costs" Mr. G. Edwards gave a talk to the Royal Aeronautical Society where he said that while civil aircraft are sold at £3 per lob of gross weight, they cost £40 or so to develop. Only in military aircraft orders of 400 to 500 aircraft does the money get made back. Meanwhile, operators are also losing money, which shows that someone is subsidising the industry. The taxpayers, he deduces! It's the second coming of Sherlock Holmes! He recommends two things. First, we should develop really good planes that will sell a mint, like the DH 106; second, we should think again about converting military to civil types. Surely the fact that we've finally succeeded in converting one bomber into a transport (the Hermes) shows that the new jet bombers will be convertible.

Philip Joubert, "Manning the RAF: Better Pay, Accommodation, and, Above All, Discipline the Key to the Solution" I am going to pass straight over the ridiculous notion that more discipline will solve the recruiting problem and move on to the fact that the RAF promoted a man who could write "key to the solution" all the way to Air Chief Marshal's rank.  Although at the end of his long screed, he says that the moral is that the Air Force will just have to put up with it as long as this "cold war" continues.

"Test Pilots Dine" Test pilots and constructors had a nice dinner at Boscombe Down. Various persons gave after dinner speeches. Everything is swell. (Except for National Servicemen walking around airfields with their hands in their pockets, shirt-tails loose, and hair uncombed.)

Here and There

Concession fees are becoming more widely available. KLM has received the 5 240s it ordered, and will be running them on the London-Amsterdam route. Various encouragements to air tourism are envisaged. BOAC's dollar-compensated staff will have fallen from 1500 to 600 by March as services continue to move over from North America.

Civil Aviation News

The Ministry of Civil Aviation will return Gatwick Airport to its original owners, Airports, Ltd, by September, as will the surrounding land taken over to enlarge Gatwick. Customs, radio and communication will be withdrawn. The charters are upset, as they don't think Gatwick will be able to operate as an airport afterwards, and that there will be congestion and the remaining fields. They think that more land should be bought to expand Gatwick, with hard surfaced runways, instead. Fog has cancelled many air services in the last week, with KLM hit particularly hard. FIDO was fired up for the first time since May, to guide an Airwork Viking bound in from the Gold Coast. It cost an estimated £1000. Nutts Corner has a new terminal building, same old name. BSAA is continuing to increase Tudor IV operations.

They really do look a bit of Dan Dare, don't they?

"Two Important Years: A Review of the Official Report on Civil Aviation During 1946 and 1947" The Report is quite excited about new planes like the Comet, Brabazon, Bristol 175, Ambassador and Marathon, but "quite surprisingly" describes the Hermes as an "interim type." Uh oh! Existing airfields are often taken over from the RAF, and are inconveniently located and unsuitably planned. The MCA continues to develop more suitable airports such as London, Prestwick, Belfast, Renfrew, Liverpool. Building up international civil aviation has een very expensive, but air charter is growing well, and there are 1400 registered aircraft currently airworthy.

"Night-Landing Helicopters" Worthy experiments continue with GEC-supplied low intensity approach light fittings. The Helicopter Experimental Unit of BEA is also testing blind-flying equipment on helicopters themselves.

Whatever else you can say about them, the British Light Carriers were fearsome-looking ships.

Roy Pearl, "Schiphol: The 'Airport of the Netherlands,' After Complete Destruction, has been Re-established as One of the Foremost in Europe" Schiphol lies in the northeast corner of the former Lake Harlem, which was formed in the fifteenth century when the Rhine and River Y overflowed their banks and broke them. It used to be 18 miles long, 9 miles wide, 14ft deep, and the northeast corner was where ships were blown ashore in storms, hence "Ship's hole." It was drained between 1840 and 1853, and a small fort built near where the airport is now. KLM began flying out of it in 1920, and the City of Amsterdam took it over in 1926. The Nazis destroyed it in 1944/45, because they were Nazis, but it is almost all fixed up now. The article describes its radio and D/F outfit at some length for Uncle George's sake. It's got BABS and GCA, and a local ground lighting arrangement, which I guess figures, considering that Phillips is in Holland, although the article doesn't say who built it. There's a full R/T and W/T set up in all frequencies, to European standards, and a teleprinter linkup to the rest of the world. Somehow, you'd think there'd be more at KLM's home station, but I'm not sure what it would be.

"Helicopter Problems: Discussion of Five Papers at R.Ae.S and H.A. All-day Meeting" I'm never going to get used to Flight's capitalisation rules, not that you care reading this in translation. The first group of commentators thought that helicopter safety was still an issue, that there were too many designs, and that stability in hovering flight was an issue. They were answered by someone else, who thought everything was fine, and that the main problem was a shortage of money. Another commentator took up that line, suggesting that since there was no military interest (I do not think that is true!), it was up to the paying customer to provide the money, and the paying customer wasn't yet aware of how much the paying customer wanted helicopters. At this point "Air Commodore Primrose" --it must take some doing to end the last war at Air Commodore rank!-- pointed out that there weren't any city landing grounds, since obviously the future of the helicopter is downtown-to-downtown ferry service. A navigation specialist points out that the problem of getting to and from these landing grounds by "devious routes" wasn't anywhere near being solved, which was why BEA was working on the fully automatic, helicopter-mounted navigational aid. Someone else said that never mind flying where you needed to go, stability in hovering flight was still an issue.

"Development of a New Aircraft" This might have been an interesting article if it weren't just windy comments on the costs of development, engine development, having a project office, and buying aerodynamic test equipment. We want numbers! And a chart showing that light civil aircraft are cheaper for a drawing office than big ones isn't a substitute or a surprise.


A. P. Culverwell thinks windmilling is terrific. I'm still not clear who is arguing for not windmilling? "Free-wheeling" devices between shaft and airscrew obviously add a possible point of failure, and maybe you could argue that it would be the tipping point to too much failure? I dfon't know. "A. N. Other" thinks that the striking BEA ground engineers have a point. B.D.H. is upset at the way he has been treated since he left the RAF to join private industry. A. R. Weyl and S. O. Bradshaw have learned antiquarians opinions about where the surviving Fokker D. VII specimen recently discovered by R. G. J. Nash might have been hiding for the last twenty five years. Several correspondents are idiots. The Cirrus Bombardier and Grenadier engines are progressing "satisfactorily" to the point where the Bombardier runs and the Grenadier may exist soon.

The Economist, 11 December 1948


"The Assembly Adjourns" The division between East and West is hampering the vital "committee work" of the Assembly.

I'm running out of time to summarise Aviation Week so here's some art to liven
up The Economist's grey pages.
"A Turn of the Screw" The Economist hastens to pre-emptively(?) defend the banks against the charge that easy lending is the main cause of the breakdown of the Government's disinflation and argue against the "set the people free" school who think that relief from all controls will increase the supply of goods and services in proportion to demand. People might be eager for an end to austerity, but they will like "admitted bankruptcy even less." Way down in Notes, there is a bit about how the Swedes are handling disinflation: Better.

"Germany and the Powers" Since we aren't worried about communism taking over in Germany or German economic collapse, we must be worried about the return of German predominance in Europe. The Economist's solution is for a clear statement of the Western Power's position in Europe. I'm not sure how a statement accomplishes anything --Isn't it all down to what it actually says? Fortunately, The Economist is up to dictating that, too: The western powers are not to revive Germany as a "military bulwark;" they are to express eagerness for German unity on some vague terms; they are to gallantly offer to share Ruhr steel and coal with western neighbours; they are to guarantee a joint European anti-Russian policy exclusive of Anglo-Saxon vapourings; they are t ensure that France and Germany don't have a falling out and stop inviting each other out to coffee. (Or fight another war; as that would be bad, too.)

"The Gospel of Work" "Human nature, it is often said, does not change." The Economist proceeds to prove that it is true, by complaining that people just don't  like to work any more, just like people like The Economist have been complaining since Adam thought that Eve sat around the Garden eating apples all day instead of dusting the Forbidden Tree. It then goes on for a bit, dragging in Christians and capitalist, Tawney and Veblen, before finally and abruptly ending on the observation (Not actually an observation!) that more domestic goods on the market absolutely won't increase people's work effort, because of Perfectly Good Reasons, and therefore need not even be tried.

Notes of the Week

"West Berlin Election" West Berliners are quite pleased with the Airlift. Everybody is pleased with the Airlift. The Economist feels a strange sensation in its stomach, a peculiar, lifting feeling at the corner of its mouth, an incomprehensible impulse to skip down the road, whistling. Sternly, it fights it down. Surely the moment when the world tires of the costs of the Airlift and demands  a concession, if not outright surrender over Berlin, is just around the corner. Why, Senator Connally chanced to say that it is expensive, and there's always a first swallow of spring, don't you know. Speaking of politics, the Cold War, creeping Communism and the war/revolution/economic collapse we've scheduled for Thursday next, Gasperi's cabinet is tottering because of party politics, and Greek negotiations over . . . something . . . (the civil war, I guess) are "deadlocked."

"Special Vote on Palestine" The General Assembly can't actually do anything about Palestine, so why not have a vote, instead? Various compromise initiatives were put forward, and all were defeated, as the Arab delegates don't feel that they can compromise.  The next note would be a very important note about the debate about the eighteen month service bill, if anyone could make head or tail of what the Government wants, or whether it will even pass the House. The Economist is also quite upset about the new Agricultural Marketing Bill, partly because it hates marketing boards, and partly for reasons I don't care about.

"'We Got Rhythm" The Fabian Society has released a series of papers that argue that nationalisation should be pushed on because it is a good idea, and then slips up by using a metaphor. The Government doesn't want to "break the rhythm," the Society says. Ha ha, replies The Economist. You are using a fatuous analogy for something very serious, which means you are bad. I suppose you can only publish so many devastating attacks on the Steel Plan. Oh, wait, that was Engineering. The Economist just does literary criticism. It also hates the Bizone Plan, which basically assumes that Germany can get back to convertibility by exporting more manufactured goods to the rest of Europe than it imports, which just puts off the problem, "stating it rather than solving it." Another problem more easily stated than solved is Korea, where there will probably be a Communist insurrection when the Americans leave, reducing Japan to a capitalist bulwark against a Communist Asia. Unless the Americans don't leave, or find a way to support the Korean government against the Communists effectually.

"Fresh Failure in Indonesia" There was a ceasefire in Java; then the Dutch broke it and launched a police action; then the Uno imposed a ceasefire and called for negotiations; now the negotiations have failed, and we expect a Dutch police action; If the Uno then imposes a ceasefire, it will be bad and be violating international law, says The Economist. 

"Highway to the Universities," " . . . And the Entrance" and "Teething Troubles" Three notes cover British social problems. Some people want to reform the way that tuition grants are made, now that many British university students will depend on them; the universities find it difficult to manage admissions, because local school systems have different standards; and dentists are earning too much because free dentistry under NHS is leading to too many patients.

"South Africa's Loss" Jan Hofmeyer, the successor to General Smuts at the head of the United Party, has died prematurely at 54. The Economist is sad, but also happy, because it figures that the Afrikaner Party will now defect from Malan's government and join the United Party in united opposition to the Nationalists' steady march back into the Dark Ages. Even though "the fear of the native which underlies Dr. Malan's policy is felt throughout South Africa . . " Yes, I am sure that it is "fear of the Native" that leads to discrimination against Asians.

Dead of leukemia at 35, as used to happen
"New Formula for Film Production" British studios cannot produce watchable movies cheaply enough. David Rawnsley, a consultant with the Rank Organisation, believes he has found a solution, which involves applying American-style full technical efficiency to film production. I look forward to seeing Anne Crawford sitting on a makeup chair on a conveyor belt as it is whisked from one robotic cosmetic-application station to the next. Also, the Ministry of Town and Country Planning has expanded the London region to include Bracknell, Berkshire, which has "agricultural interests" upset, and the UN Assembly has adopted the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

From The Economist of 1848 Things have been slow on the opinionating side, so the office dabbles in real news so as to have something to opinion about. The Londonderry, a steamer out of Sligo carrying 174 passengers in steerage, and a cargo of cattle and sheep bound for Liverpool, hit heavy weather coming around the north of Ireland, and the crew decided that they couldn't save the ship with all those people hanging about, so they forced them below. When the storm was over, 72 were dead of "stifling." The Economist takes this occasion to object to the idea of footling regulations on vents and spaces and passenger capacity, speaking up instead for the liberty to push awful Irish paupers into Black Hole of Calcutta rehearsals, on the grounds that regulations probably wouldn't help, anyway. 

Letters to the Editor

"A Buckinghamshire Landowner" complains that there is too much red tape these days. MGM's lawyer writes to say that no-one tried to get "Miss E. Arnett Robertson" fired as a critic for incompetence. They got her fired for another reason, which is okay.

Books and Publications

Paul Winterton's Russia as an Ally is a Moscow-line explanation for why there shouldn't be a Cold War. With friends like these. . . The Economist offers an unfriendly review, and believes that it helps its case to describe Winterton as being as bad as the prosecutors at Nuremberg. Frederick Schuman's Soviet Politics is also far too kind to Moscow. He gets compared to Henry Wallace. There's lots of awful things you can be compared to in The Economist! John Bowle's The Unity of European History appears to be an attack on various "special path" arguments about the uniqueness of the history of one part of Europe or another (for example, eastern versus western). It's a bit hard to tell, because the review is one of those "handsome binding, nice paper" jobs. Histoire du Socialisme Europeen is an addition of Halevy's lecture notes. Sometimes, when girls smile sweetly and say that something goes right over our heads, we're trying to change the subject and are very frustrated that we can't use rude language. Anyway, this goes right over my head. N. N. Franklin's Economics of South Africa is about how South Africa has nice rocks, but terrible farmers. After that, you can pick up Sir Ivor Jenning's The Economy of Ceylon. Less rocks, more economic theory, which is also my review of the review of Howard S. Ellis' A Survey of Contemporary Economics. Julius Braunthal's The Tragedy of Austria is about how Austria ended up being a Nazi country full of Nazis when it had no Nazis and didn't like Nazis. It's rich people's fault, he says. The Economist disagrees. It was not-rich people's fault! E. M. Hoover's The Location of Economic Activity [pdf] is about how factories end up in one place and not others, and is a terrible book in spite of being an excellent book because it only talks about America, and not important countries like England, Scotland and Wales. Frank Smothers' Report on Greece was paid for by the Twentieth Century Fund and is far too pro-Left, but is fine, that apart.

Documents and Materials Relating to the Eve of the Second World War, Volume II, Dirksen Papers, 1938--9 is the lastest selection of Russian documents defending Moscow as versus London.

American Survey
Actually from a World Overseas short  that pretty much says the same thing.

"The Good Creditor" A page and a bit dedicated to the idea that if America is going to export and invest, it needs to be less protectionist. I'm convinced, but I'd be more convinced it The Economist weren't on record thinking that free trade is the sovereign cure to gout, the common cold, and the nightmare of psoriasis. (Uncle George says that gout is not funny.)

American Notes

"How Much for Defence?" Someone named Dr. Nourse is suddenly in charge of anti-inflationary measures, and is sternly warning that more than $15 billion for defence will lead to "defeat by bankruptcy," as Russia buys up America at the bank auction; whilst the Defence Department wants $23 billion, lest the Russians, well, you know. The Defence Department is riven within itself over giant aircraft carriers versus 70 groups, and Secretary Forrestal wants to give between $1 and $3 billion worth of arms to the Europeans, which, Dr. Nourse says, will mean a return to wartime price controls. And speaking of, The Economist takes a vaguely skeptical stance on the latest developments in the Chambers/Hiss case. As you're in London, you might not have heard all the pumpkin patch" jokes, but I'm sure you've heard enough.

The World Overseas

"Russia's Economic Revival" This is the third year of the latest Russian Five Year Plan. Is it working? Who can say? Russian statistics might be cooked! Official statistics suggest that Russian industrial production is up 14% on 1940, but also that the 148% aimed for in 1950 will be very hard to achieve.  On the bright side, the textiles industry has expanded rapidly, so that there are anywhere from 50% to 100% more clothes and shoes available, depending on category, but meat and edible fats remain critically short.

"American Responsibility in Greece" America has sent lots of money and some troops to Greece. If that doesn't make it a colonialist, occupying power, it does mean that it is responsible for all of those critical economic and political-leadership-related reforms that have to happen there as soon as ---Oh, for God's sake! Communists in Italy, demonstrations in France, corruption in Greece, just stop it until you have news!

"Industrial Development in Pakistan" Pakistan is building up its iron ans steel industries in spite of not having any coal.  The textile industries are in a stronger position and growing, some new hydroelectric is in development, and private enterprise is being heartily encouraged.

 "The Challenge to Natural Rubber" Production of natural rubber might rise over world consumption in 1949. The current problem is that large potential markets, notably Russia, are short of sterling to make payments with, and so will continue to rely on domestically-made artificial rubber in spite of its inferiority. America also continues to make artificial rubber so as to retain the nucleus of an industry in peacetime, and not at all to curry votes in swing-state Ohio; but also, the statistics make clear, because natural rubber cannot meet the whole of world demand. America consumes about half the world's natural rubber production, at 630,000 tons per year, and makes 450,000 tons of artificial on top, although some of that is surplus and is going into strategic stockpiles. As natural rubber production increases, it might be expected to force some artificial capacity out of the market; much depends on getting Indonesia in order. Which is a bit of a whipsaw from the "oversupply" of the first para. Malaya has almost rehabilitated its production, with the current drive there being to bring more smallholders into the business, as much to improve social stability and develop that elusive domestic middle class as to increase rubber production, which may or may not or may again be bad. (I've missed one step of The Economist whiparound, the suggestion that the rest of the world could start consuming rubber at the American rate if it were just to get as car-mad as Americans.)

"European Recovery, VII: Who Supplies the Machines" Full technical efficiency requires more machine tools, which Germany used to make. In 1938, Germany made ten billion RM worth of machine tools, of which about a third were exported, while Britain made a half billion pounds of same. Is either statistic reliable? It's not clear. Is there any point to comparing totals by value in different currencies that did not trade against each other? Who can say? Last year, Germany produced 9 billion RM of machine tools, but only exported 1% of them. Planned exports for next year will be 35 million dollars, because it was boring only having two (three, because RM becomes DM) in the conversation. Or more, considering how much of German capacity was in the eastern zone.

A few paras down, it is allowed that German machine tool output in 1938 was 454,000 tons, "more than twice that of Britain and the United States together," that exports in 1937 were 100,000 tons, that this was 77% of the export requirement of all Europe excepting Britain and Russia, that British production is little over its prewar total by weight, although the productive capacity is greatly increased, that British machine tool exports have increased four times by value to sixteen millions in 1948. This is a small total considering total value produced, but this reflects the needs of industry, and since the textiles industry is almost fully re-equipped, this may change. German production, meanwhile, is mostly being taken up by German industry.

Business Notes

"Depreciation and Replacement of Capital" Inflation is bad for recapitalising because depreciation in expenditures in deflated currency of [some years ago] is not matched to expenditures in the inflated currency of now. Mr. S. P. Chambers, writing in Lloyds Bank Review, thinks that the remedy is a tax concession on undistributed profits, and maybe on depreciation allowances on fixed capital, but mainly, stop taxing our precious, precious profits!

The Economist notices that there are technical as well as stock-price related objections to the Steel Bill at last. The negotiated (high) price for exported coal has been called into question. This is alarming, because the cost of producing coal keeps going up, and profits on exports are the only thing holding back a price increase. At least increased costs have brought production close to target, with the estimate now in the range of 193 million tons. The Economist therefore raises the target for this year (that Britain will fall short of) to the stretch goal of 200 million. Otherwise, we'd be short seven million tons of coal and a coal crisis!

Various trade talks continue. Depressingly, there has been a settlement with Canada, so we can't talk about talking about that one, but there are Scandinavian, Russian and Jugoslav talks to talk about. The nation has hit the export target, which is such good news that it needs to be buried as the fifth Short Note, right below the foundation of the Jewelry and Silverware Development Council and a proposal for further standardisation in the British motor industry. Also, estimates for the American cotton crop are down, although it is still the second largest on record.

Business Roundup

These two white men sure were hilarious pretending to be
black men, so it's good to know that they established enormous
inherited fortunes that their descendants can put to good use.
Stocks are down, business is still optimistic about the Christmas shopping season, steel is at 99.5% of capacity, the utilities industry is pushing ahead with its plan to bring the share of privately generated electrical power to 80.9% by building more and campaigning against more Government-built hydroelectric, because it is Communism (almost). Business is still in the dumps about Dewey losing. Profits are up, but so are costs, and, in some cases earnings are down. The cost of living index remains mostly flat. Labour is restless, with strikes cutting into earnings --corporations say. There is steady borrowing for new investment, not so much stock issues, compared with the Twenties. Fortune, looking forward to a tightening of credit that would reduce inflation, thinks that this is a bad trend, especially once the Federal budget begins to show a deficit under the pressure of waging a cold (or even hot) war. Shell is going to spend a quarter-billion dollars on more production capacity here and there, but mainly the Caribbean. Jersey Standard and Socony-Vacuum have bought there way out of their Red Line agreement with Gulbenkian so that they can buy more Arabian oil. NBC and CBS are raiding each other for radio comic talent, with CBS paying $2 million to Freeman Gosden and Charles J. Correll to snatch Amos and Andy away in the hope that the payment will be treated as a capital gain, making the offer that much sweeter. NBC is making the same play for Jack Benny, and, of course, it was the Minute Maid deal with our own Bing Crosby (can I assert a family interest?) that set the whole trend in motion. RKO is selling off its theatre interest, surrendering on the SEC's antitrust case. The national stockpile of strategic materials is making good progress.

Housing developers are starting to have difficulties unloading houses, with anecdotes of a development near Atlanta that has sold only 2 of 35 houses, an ad in the New York Times advertising deep builder's cuts of $2700 on a $25,000 home, and another developer offering a free Crossley car with every home. Tighter credit --say goodbye to the 4% mortgage!-- and higher cash requirements are biting into the sales of  higher cost homes, with one new timber-and-stucco number in Westchester County being marked down $5000 to $35,000. So is the housing boom over? Probably not, as while housing starts have declined every month from May to July, the total number built will exceed the 1947 total of 849,000, and possibly the 1925 record of 937,000. With building costs coming into line with prices, there is every reason to think that the boom will continue. Railway building might not be so lucky. The freight car shortage is over, and while 110,000 cars are on order, almost 20,000 new cars were delivered in 1948 than retired. The new cars being bigger, worrying news of a loadings decline may conceal higher freight carriage, although the growth in barge and motor carriage (up 14%) shows the competition gaining.

New developments include a Du Pont adventure in titanium, a metal widely touted as a lightweight alternative to steel, which, best of all, is plentiful in central Florida, where the company is building a plant to extract titanium dioxide from ilmenite, which will also make up for the loss of exports from Travancore, where the state government has banned exports of the important paint pigment, which might also come from a Kennecott Copper-New Jersey Zinc joint venture at Lake Allard[1,2], Quebec. This is intended to smelt iron from ilmenite, leaving the titanium slag for paint makers. Lloyd Rudd and K. Cyprus Melikian are making $8 million in sales off the Kwik-Kafe automatic hot coffee vendor at a Philadelphia factory. They have a two-year backlog, prospective net profits of $200,000. Haloid, of Rochester, New York, has announced the development of "Xerography," which replaces conventional liquid chemical photochemistry with static electricity. It was invented by New York patent attorney(!), Chester Carlson and developed by Haloid and the Batelle Institute of Columbus, and can be used to "print" images on textiles, ceramics, wood and paper. An office machine for reproducing paper documents such as blueprints and letters is the first application. Prints can be  made in only sixty seconds. Right now, they aren't very good prints, but they're fast and they're cheap, and Haloid has high hopes.
The first actual Xerox machine appeared in 1959, with a heavy contribution from the Rank Organisation, of all things. (The lens, mainly.) Mr. Carlson sounds like an amiable scoundrel. He's a patent troll, of course; in this case, of a Hungarian original; but I am guessing that Dr. Serenyi's silence was well-sweetened at some point, and Mr. Carlson was evidently quite the philanthropist in later years, and for unusually worthy causes, like the NAACP. 
The "Colmol" is a gigantic mechanical coal miner invented by 37-year-old Clifford Snyder's Sunnyhill Coal Company[?]. They hope to be manufacturing in eight months. In the meantime, a gigantic, snarl-toothed prototype us under twenty-four hour armed guard at a lost mine in the Pennsylvania hills. Snyder thinks that the machine can multiply the productivity of the American miner by twenty times, unleashing a brand new era of cheaper power, synthetic fuels, and giving home coal heating a new lease on life. Snyder's machine is much better than a half-dozen other ones that aren't being sold by a handsome young company president in a very nice leather motorcyle jacket that I think someone (in the original English version, that read, "his father") should get Reggie for Christmas.

The Xerox machine will replace more American jobs than twenty Colmols --and better ones, too. Honestly! It replaced lawyers and engineers But no-one cares. The moral of the story is that Battel should have put some shovel teeth on it. 

And to Henry Luce! Just in case you vaguely
 assumed, like me, that James Dean invented this look.
Philip Morris is back in favour on Wall Street thanks to rapid growth at the expense of the Big Three, partly because of the success of its Philip Morris brand in K-rations. Speaking of the sin industries, Southern Comfort did $6 million this year, which, President Francis Fowler thinks, is just right, compared with the $26 million of 1945, when he brought home a fifth-highest US income of $376,000 (and probably needed a platoon of armed guards to take the pay envelope to his wife). Now that sales are off 80% or so, he is only paying himself $75,000, not counting dividends on the stock, all of which he owns along with a friend.

Another way of looking at that is that Southern Comfort is in a bit of trouble, so it's interesting to compare it with the New York Central, which has cancelled the Peacemaker and Commodore Vanderbilt amongst a total of 40 daily passenger services out of 1000 run. Ford, which somehow managed to lose money in 1945--46, and is now making up for it with back-to-back quarterly dividends in the $2.50 range.

Nice save, Henry! You're  a red-blooded American he-male
In brighter news, Admiral of Chicago is giving Philco a run for its money on television sets, with sales this year estimated at $65 million, and profits double 1939's $4 million.

So the Roundup launched last month as a jam-packed high pressure hose of reporting. Within a month, finding all those facts has apparently become so hard that, Uncle George says, Fortune has settled down to the kind of blither-blather that used to drive him crazy when Elliot Janeway was in charge of doing more-or-less the same thing. It hasn't hit the high lights of "What if there's a brokered Convention," or "Machine tools these days are too complicated," he says, but it is getting there.

I protested that it wasn't quite useless. There's real information about housing starts and railway car deliveries, for example, and by the time we hit the new products section at the bottom, it's exactly what we're looking for. New investment opportunities in engineering! Yes, Uncle George replies, to be sure. But that's what they are. They're prospectuses for investors, and you can be sure that by the time they hit Fortune, the smart money is spoken for. Look, he said, at the stories that get the most cover. The ones that appeal to Henry Luce's organ! (I think he's been missing making that joke for a long time.) There's multiple pictures from the "Colmol" story that almost skip over the six competitors and play up the publicity hound aspects of the story (which I then played up some more --it's "under guard," not "twenty-four hour armed guard"). But the Haloid story, if it plays out, could be as important as the invention of linotype! It'll be like those photographic reproduction machines, only without the inconvenience of a dark room. Speaking of engineering opportunities, one that is not included here is a new Goodyear electronic sliderule, or "computer," that fits in a 2ft by 6ft hole, and which can do up to twenty separate mathematical equations with a strictly electrical working. (The equations are modeled by electric circuits. It's in Aviation Week.)

The Fortune Survey

So, about Dewey versus Truman? The Survey has some explaining to do. First, it explains, it missed some things that it will definitely get right next time. For example, "40% of those claiming to back Dewey were Democrats or Independents." Second, Dewey was weak on housing and cost of living concerns, and these became more important as the campaign went on. Related, fears amongst the "40%" that a GOP win would threaten the New Deal. Third, everyone hated Dewey. Fourth, the young who grew up in the Depression, are deathly afraid of it happening again, and area lso worried about war.  Young people favour civil rights, but are otherwise more conservative than their seniors, preferring capitalism to communism, church-going to swinging. Men are more optimistic than women, everyone thinks that television is the industry with the brightest future, and the young want to live in suburbs, in a home with room for three kids.

Last month, Fortune's Wheel published an assortment of letters from business leaders who thought that the new format was the best thing since sliced bread. This week, a letter from Benjamin Kizer, of Graves, Kizer and Graves, of Spokane, points out that trade journals are boring journals, and boring journals aren't influential journals. Fortune admits that he has a point, and promises to be 100% opinion, analysis, criticism and debate, while at the same time being 100% business. Also, Joe Jones did the spectacular oil paintings of Labrador scenery in this issue, the State Department has been listening to Russian radio and reports that it is all anti-American propaganda, and they should know from propaganda, and  a defender of Cyrus Eaton writes to tell Fortune to stop taking its news from its advertisers, because Uncle Henry is wrong and Eaton is right. I'm shocked, too. Rounding off the column, an apology to Iron Age for stealing a chart.

"The Arms We Need" Fortune covers off what the $18 billion 1949--50 defence budget will pay for. A twelve-division regular army with a thirty-day National Guard ready force of 6 divisions, plus 46 divisions to be ready in between eighteen months and two years. The air force with seventy (total?) groups will have six super-heavy-bomber groups, twenty heavy bomber groups and a "logistical air force." This will be supported by a $4.5 billion aircraft procurement programme. The Navy will have 420 combatant ships spearheaded by 16 large aircraft carriers and a 480 ship logistical and supply force, backed up by a ship procurement budget of $300 million. New high speed transports and LSTs are proposed, and a new type anti-submarine destroyer capable of 40 knots. Various overseas bases will allow American forces to defend whatever bits of Asia get included in our commitment to defend "Asia" ("Yes," to Japan, "Maybe" to Formosa, "Who knows?" to Korea). Arms for Europe are like Lend-Lease, only different, because the Army is definitely going over if the Russians make trouble, so it is not giving them the tools to finish the job.

So what if the budget is cut to $14.4 billion? Three fewer mobile divisions, 51 groups versus 70, a fifty percent cut in aircraft procurement, which will hit the aircraft industry very hard, and a cut of 130 ships from the fleet,  cutting into anti-submarine screens in particular. Strategically, it is deemed to be a retreat from Europe to Britain and North Africa. Extending the current manpower standings means that the United States has only nine mobile divisions, of which 6 are in garrison in Germany, Japan and Korea. Leaving asidde aircraft and ships, of which the armed forces currently has more than enough, leaving the problem one of industry and future production, the Defence Department is most worried about tanks, because it does not appear that what it has in mothballs are actually usable, and the anti-submarine screen, since the Russians have 250 submarines, of which at least 20 are the new high-seed, long-range models based on the German Type XXI. They have also completed a single submarine based on the fabulous XXVI, which can do twenty-six knots submerged. Germany nearly won the Battle of the Atlantic with 51 submarines on station out of an active fleet of 175. The Russian Air Force seems less threatening in spite of large headline numbers, but the  real Russian weapon, a "vast horde" of men, "largely mounted on horses," fed with dry crusts of bread and raw vegetables carried in their backpacks, and on roofstraw, can march for as long as three weeks without a supply column. The Russians are so logistically inefficient that this vast force of 4 million men has never been demobilised, and is therefore ready to go at a moment's notice.

(War in the Atomic Age)

Clearly, this calls for a new age in tactics as well as strategy. Specifically, the American army sees the paratrooper as the basis for any future action, which is why it requires a full paratroop division in the mobile force. There also might not be enough atom bombs, but the Russians do not care about human life, which is all that atom bombs can destroy, so who cares about that?
First stirrings of the Pentomic Division?

"Our Labouristic President" Fortune explains that the President won because labour likes him, but that doesn't mean that he's gone communist.

"Welcome, Immigrants!" America is set to take dozens, if not hundreds of immigrants from Europe (to be fair, 205,000 DPs is a lot of DPs by American standards) who are white, who happen to be highly skilled and trained in things that do not involve having pale skins, although this is assumed. A very diverse group of immigrants is envisioned: Protestant, Catholic, or Jewish. As American xenophobia is too engrained to be even worth fighting, the country will not return to Nineteenth Century open immigration, and the job of integrating these immigrants is left to assorted bleeding heart Baptist congregations and the like.

And less I be accused of same on the grounds of my editorialising, well, I might not have been converted to Grace's Lady Bountiful style by my time down at the Benevolent Association, but I see where Uncle George's corrosive anger at the Crime of '82 comes from.

There follows yet another story about the international screw thread standardisation, with some interesting colour about the difficulties of subcontracting the Packard Merlin. It's all painfully confusing, not least because the problem is between the American Standard and British Whitworth threads, while both countries also manufacture to an international metric standard that isn't affected. Even today, while manufacturing might have converged, drawing room practice has not. I'm not sure why, and the article doesn't explain it, but perhaps it is because of all those geegaws that drawing rooms use. Rounding up stories that don't seem to deserve a paragraph break are ones about the "chaos" of corporate charity and the modern income tax, which upsets Fortune with its exemptions on income from public bonds and farms and by being too high for the good of the economy, probably, and its lack of exemptions for dividend income, and one about the May Store department store chain.

Paul Bareau, "Battle for British Steel" As if I weren't already convinced enough by the parade of experts in the British journals, here is Fortune to tell me why steel nationalisation is a bad idea, besides villains like Bevan, Dalton and Shinwell being for it. (I wasn't aware that Bevan and Shinwell were devils, although I know that Dalton is the worst man in all history, thanks to The Economist telling me so in that incomprehensible stock market language it used to like so much.) Steel used to be deemed an ideal case for nationalisation because it had enthusiastically cartelised in the Thirties in the face of oversupply, and it was deemed to be losing the battle for technological innovation to America and Germany. The problem is that it is expanding in all directions now, has a huge price advantage of almost 15% over quoted US prices and 8% over Belgian, and is up 34% in output per man over 1938, with the American advantage in output per man shrinking steadily and dramatically from perhaps 2:3 to 1; to 1.51 to 1. In other words, the pressing case is gone, and the Government has not replaced it with anything better than the idea of keeping up the"rhythm of  of nationalisation" that The Economist has mocked.

"A Spark in Steel" The American steel industry will make 90 million tons of steel out of 60 million tons of pig iron this year, the difference being that precious, precious scrap. Traditionally, in one person's view (Warren Kendall Lewis, of Massachusetts Tech), the steel industry never had time for any of that science and engineering stuff, preferring the traditional ancient ways invented fully twenty or more years ago, but these days it is more likely to listen to Warren Kendall Lewis and try out new things. For example, that Republic Steel blast furnace that Uncle Henry persuaded the government to hand over to him produces under a top pressure of twenty pounds per square inch, which makes steel more cheaply, even though the old steel companies used to scoff at such modern thinking. "Ha, ha," they would scoff. "That is not the way things were done back in the days of my slightly older brother, Andrew Carnegie. Why, I remember the day, with the snow drifts, not like you have today, and the respectable fashions with the slightly higher collar and the slightly narrower tie . . . "'
The article is very copiously illustrated with drawings like this

. . . These are all the things I want to say when Uncle Henry starts talking about everything from welding ships to group insurance, every single one of which is the greatest invention since ever. But I can't, because he says he might be able to rustle me up a car! Anyway, apparently there is a scientific dispute over something called "Gruner's Theorem," which holds that higher pressure promotes the creation of carbon monoxide over carbon dioxide in the smelting process, and that this more powerful reducing gas then, well, reduces the iron oxide better. Some say that pressure should be increased still further, to 35lb/sq in, and even wilder-eyed innovators want to enrich the air blast with additional oxygen. The person who is saying all these things about improving the chemical efficiency of blast furnaces is Julian Avery, of MIT, who thinks that he can reduce the amount of coke used per ton of steel by 300 to 400lbs, if the Gruner theorem is right. Before the war, the industry thought that he was wrong, and the patent that he had taken out while on sabbatical from Union Carbide, and shared with the Arthur D. Little Company, was useless. But when Arthur D. Little went to wartime Washington and lobbied Ed Stettinus, they were able to make some progress.

The critics claim that increasing pressure to improve chemical processes doesn't necessarily help, because blast furnaces already pressurise the charge --it's right there in the name. They do it in the name of increasing the air volume, though, and the experience of the Republic blast furnace is that the high pressure puts parts under increased mechanical strain --and chemical, in the case of the refractory linings. Fortune deems all of these criticisms answered, or ready to be answered, and cannot explain the resistance that remains in the steel industry.

It is also interested in shorter blast furnaces. The traditional 100ft height is based on the amount of ore that could be carried on the Connellsville coke that "was once the industry's exclusive menu." Now that high quality coke is running short, and so are the richest American iron ores. This leads to more benefiction of low-content ores, which has actually been going on for forty years, since the Menabi Range was new. Benefication involves crushing as well as flotation, and as the Menabi Range operations approach the limits of the deposit, they find that there is more junk in with the ore, and that crushing has to go further, resulting in a finer grade of dust, which previous blast furnaces couldn't really cope with, but which the new, high pressure Republic Steel furnaces can, so that the new high pressure technique might greatly extend the life of the Menabi Range, which, I would think, would mean trouble for the higher-concentration but more expensive Labrador ore, although as near as I can tell, Fortune doesn't see it that way.

Next in the survey is a discussion of steelmaking by "direct reduction." What this means is that existing steelmaking starts by "reducing" iron ore to molten iron by heating it on a bed of coke. This does turn iron oxide into molten iron, but introduces a great many impurities that then have to be removed in the open-hearth furnace, the inefficiency of which as a "heat engine" is right there in the  name. (It's open!) So why not directly reduce the iron ore by heating it with, say, natural gas? This is already done in electric steelmaking, but hasn't caught on with alternative fuels like low grade coke, because it produces a hot, powdered iron that is much harder to work with. If some way of heating and reducing the ore is found that uses natural gas or low grade oil, the iron industry might spread to all sorts of places that have iron ore but no coking coal, such as Venezuela, or Texas or the Dakotas, with their vast store of low grade coal.

Moving on to oxygen enrichment, Bethlehem Steel is experimenting with this, gingerly, given that industrial oxygen is still fairly expensive. It has increased the oxygen content of its "wind' from 21% to 23%, and thinks that it can increase it to 28% before the process hits diminishing returns. However, at $3/ton for 420 tons a day to give a $1260/day saving, it is not clear that Republic's pressurisation technique isn't a better bet.

This whole "pressurised furnace" thing seems to have come to nothing.

"The French Worker" What does the French worker want? Food, it seems. I'd already figured that out by looking at pictures of Parisian modeles de couture, but what do I know, I'm just a girl. No, seriously, it is hard to make a living on $27/week, Fortune discovers by actually interviewing one, specifically, Roger Buquet of the Societe des Ateliers Motobecane in Pantin, a northern suburb of Paris, who has a wife and three children, with a fourth on the way. (Which at least btains him some grants and vacations on a per child basis from his union.) He would like a car, but bicycles to work three miles, as, like all Frenchmen, he is bicycle-mad. (He also likes cheese, champagne and French bread.) He was laid off from a "rationalised" factory, Chausson, a year ago, and considers his new plant much better. He enjoys assembling his company's product, which is "the queen of the market." He does not enjoy being an involuntary vegetarian living on bread, butter, potato, vegetables and sausage and eggs perhaps once a week, with meat on Sundays. He likes his union, and is a Socialist.

Meanwhile, in America
"The Great Labrador Venture" Fortune digs into the big iron ore play up in the Ungava region of Labrador, a joint play of Hollinger Consolidated Gold Mines of Toronto, and M. A. Hanna of Cleveland. There's a great deal of colour about the problems of transportation across the vastness of the Canadian north, with airstrips here, jeeps there, and a special-purpose, 370 mile railway to carry the iron ore to the banks of the St. Lawrence. 

"The Explorers," by Joe Jones, slightly cropped because you don't want to see my thumb. Note the generational link between  Mark Hanna and Conrad Black. 
The smart home is just around the corner
"The Churches Speak to Business" This is actually a signed article, but I mislaid the author in my notes. That probably shows the extent of my respect for the article. Essentially, the World Assembly of Churches, like the Vatican before it, has some problems with untrammeled capitalism to which Fortune says "Pshaw!" (new candidate for best character ever) and even finds a Luthern Synod or Baptist Convention or Methodist Tuna Casserole that agrees with it. 

"Control by Invisible Light" Fortune discusses spectrochemistry, the latest frontier in rapid chemical analysis, and the stock in trade of exciting new company, Baird Associates, of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Spectrometers work by melting samples in a high temperature furnace until they give off light, and then using the light to detect elemental components. An article about Baird, which started out as a would-be manufacturer of X-ray tubes before lucking into spectrometry in the late Thirties as a subcontractor to Kellex, the M. W. Kellogg subsidiary that did up that Oak Ridge gaseous-diffusion plant that seems in the back of every chemical engineering story we do around here. Thank God for the miracles of modern living through chemistry and the atom bomb that made it possible. Baird Associates is hoping that the gas analyser, an older technology, will be used in future automatic control systems. I thought aeroengine makers had been tinkering with this for a while, but I can see why it might not  have worked out for them. Introducing the gas analyser brings up other instruments that Baird does, including one that  uses electrical resistance, and the part it played in figuring out the structure of hte penicillin molecule, which is nothing, but Fortune mentions it so that you will understand how spectrophotochemistry might be used in organic chemistry. Finally, it does ultraviolet, as mentioned above. 

The Law section has two stories. The first is about television and the law, mainly what broadcast and residual rights performers might have, and when, exactly, one becomes a performer. Cases before the court involve Blanche Mchaffey Collins, who was in a film televised without her permission, and Fabella Chavez, a boxer who claims compensation for a television broadcast made, again, without his permission.  Labour looks at what organised labour might do with its election win, and the steady rise of the Teamsters' David Beck. 

Books and Ideas

Fortune appreciates R. F. Harrod's Towards a Dynamic Economics, because he restores the idea of economic progress, abolishes "stagnation," and defends the American business cycle. He believes that the saving rates should be much lower than is currently envisioned in Europe --6% versus 20%-- because so much investment will lead to inflation now and depression later, and instead urges interest-free government borrowing during slumps, leading to the "euthanasia of the rentier," and a vast revival of individualism. Barbara Ward's The West at Bay is a very well reviewed and received "tract" calling for European economic union, but to Fortune it smacks too much of socialism. She at least calls for individual freedom to move, but ought also call for the end to tariffs, borders and regulations. Daniel Boorstin's Jefferson's Lost World is an intellectual history (which is a thing in history departments) of Thomas Jefferson, while Sir Theodore Gregory's "The Prospects of Backward Areas," in Lloyd's Bank Review, is an  article about how backward nations find it hard to develop because they find it hard to tax without enraging the populace with excises and inflation. Stella Margold's Let's Do Business with Russia is charmingly naive, and Joseph Stalin's Foundations of Leninism is embarrassing because Stalin seems to be disagreeing with Marx, gasp.  Peter Drucker's "A Key to American Politics," in Review of Politics, thinks that replacing the American two-party system with a more iedological system "misunderstands the nature and needs of our industrial society,"  which is designed to produce a legitimate national government that can reconcile regional differences. No ideological party can do that. In the spirit of reviewing short bits by interesting(?) people, the last two features in this column is one fellow's after dinner speech about what makes a good executive, and another one's about "puzzles in accounting," which, I guess, has puzzles. 

No comments:

Post a Comment