Sunday, March 3, 2019

Postblogging Technology, December 1948, II: Transistor Dawn

R_. C_.,
Vancouver, Canada

Dear Father:

Not much of a note to cover, as chances is that the streetcar will deliver me in time to feed and tip the courier for you. Don't mind me! I love to play the host in your kitchen, and the boys that Wong Lee chooses for these errands are so sweet and polite! And I honestly can't wait to be in a house, a home, and one that I can think of as belonging to my family, if you will pardon my presumption. With people that I love, anyway. I'll have more to say about that soon, perhaps. Right now, I have only inside rumours that I will be living the student life for three years more. Official word comes down at the end of next month . . . 

Oh! The letter. I've written it anyway, out of a spirit of completeness. Besides, I received the most ridiculous threat the other day at the city archives, where I am following up on some loose ends in regards to the old Oregon scandal. If they do find my body floating in the Bay, at least the world will know my opinion of Jane Russell. (Except that I forgot to give it. Never mind, I don't speak ill of the dead, and every time I see her act . . . )

Also, yes, I know that the streetcar doesn't go past your door, and that your neighbours will look askance at a girl carrying a suitcase down your street, where only taxicabs are meant to go. On the other hand, before they can look askance, they'll have fight their way through their ornamental gardens to the point where they can see the road. Perhaps askanceness will be reported to them from the groundskeeper's men via the butler. 

You'll notice a story below where I try to claim credit for the soon-to-be-Alma Mater (x1) for a quite exciting story (inside word has the "semi-conductor" set bound for a very quick Nobel). Well, yes, Shockley did not go to Stanford, and his colleagues don't even know how to spell "California," but the Shockleys are Stanford people, and it is the Stanford campus where all the scientists and engineers are running around and saying that he deserves a Nobel. So there!  

Yours Sincerely,

In 1948, a twenty-year old house that has just seen the last of its children leave, was built in ---1928!

Flight, 16 December 1948


"Stormy Sunrise" Flight is deeply saddened and disappointed by EXERCISE SUNRISE, the joint RAF/Fleet exercise in which Bomber and Coastal Command could not effectively find and strike a navy task force due to not having the right equipment, the right men, or the right government, even if we're not allowed to say that as such, although Flight can point out that the RAF is wonderful, so it can't be the Service's fault. 

Also, the weather was bad. 

"The Credit Side" Meanwhile, the Airlift is going fine, while maybe in the end the Service will be blamed for SUNRISE, because Bomber Command didn't transfer any squadrons to coastal airfields. 

"Arctic Trials"The Navy is sending an aircraft carrier to the Arctic to carry out cold weather trials and perhaps do some Arctic exploring. 

Extremely bellicose Avro product, plus pickup football, I think
Retires 1950 with substantive rank of AVM.
"EXERCISE SUNRISE: Simulated Air/Sea Warfare as Seen from HG and Coastal and Bomber Bases" SUNRISE was the usual reception for the Home Fleet, returning from its autumn cruise to the West Indies under Vice-Admiral McGrigor, with a Red Fleet consisting of Duke of York, Illustrious, Theseus, Vengeance, Diadem, Sirius, Cleopatra  and 17 destroyers, while Admiral Sir Robert Burnett commanded Blue Fleet home forces tasked with intercepting him with 16 submarines, assisted by a combination of Bomber and Coastal squadrons under Air Vice-Marshal Hopps, AOC 19 Group Coastal Command with the Lancasters of 18 and 19 Groups Coastal, Bomber Command Lincolns of 1 and 3 Groups, and the Hornets of 12 Group of Fighter Command, plus 1 Carrier Air Group, augmented by some Sea Mosquitoes.

SUNRISE officially began with an "intelligence report" that Red Fleet had been seen in the Azores at midnight on Tuesday. At twelve hundred miles distance, Coastal Command Lancasters at St. Eval could not sortie, as even with long range tanks they could not carry out a search. An aircraft at Gibraltar, 1050 miles from the Azores, Lancaster F for Freddy, under F/L R. Wise, which had just ferried AOC Coastal, Air Marshal J. W. Baker, was sent out instead. It spent eleven hours in the air in extremely poor weather conditions and narrowed Red's period for observation-free manoeuvre from 24 hours to 13. The rest of Coastal did not do so well. Blue Fleet sent two "A" class submarines to intercept Red. Alliance had to put into Punta Delgada with weather damage, but Anchorite intercepted at 1516 hours, Tuesday, 7 December and maintained contact until Lancaster Z-Zebra came up at 1032 on Wednesday morning, at which time a 10 aircraft Lancaster strike was put in, a good idea considering that the weather was too bad for Red's carriers to fly off fighters. It was cancelled due to gale warnings, although Coastal's B for Bertie got through to relieve Z-Zebra on shadowing. A Lincoln strike next day was also scuppered, but a Coastal Lancaster found Agincourt of Red Fleet in spite of continuing terrible weather. On Friday, Bomber Command thought it got close enough to expend an atom bomb on Red Fleet, but the photo flash revealed no sign of warships. Coastal Command managed to keep shadowers up most of Friday, and Blue Fleet's submarine picket line found and attacked a "Battle-"class, but Bomber Command scrapped its last strike. Coastal put in an atom bomb "suicide strike" that apparently found Home Fleet. And, with that, SUNRISE was over.

Flight observers report that navigators found radar helpful for only the first hour or so, after which they were back on astronavigation. Weather reports were vague, but accurate enough; actual weather flying is much more frightening than thinking about bad weather flying in briefing rooms. Cruising for at least the first hour was at 1000ft, 150kn, understandable for a 16--17 hour sortie, with the Lancaster jam-packed with gas (two 400 gallon tanks in the bomb bay for an extra 4--5 hours endurance, wing tanks full up), and also three signallers, in lieu of gunners, to work the ASV Mk 7; radio-communications; and radar navigation aids. On spotting the fleet, Lancaster "Z for Zebra" dived from 800ft to 200ft to gain speed to evade fighter evasion, but this was pointless, since the weather ruled out flight deck operations. An observer also flew with the heavy bomber strike that wasted one of Britain's twelve precious, imaginary atom bombs. (Made from all the imaginary plutonium made at the imaginary reactor in a made-up county called Cumberland --oh, wait, that part's real!) Ten Lancasters "spearheaded" 254 Lincolns, because they are old enough to fiddle with, Reggie says. Also, they laid "Window" ahead of the attack, starting 15 miles out, then made an attack run with 1000lb bombs, so they were a real spearhead from that point of view. They carried F. 24 cameras to record the imaginary atom bombing, camera guns to record the air fighting that didn't happen due to weather, 2154 gallons of gas, enough for 10 1/2 hours endurance, and H2S to find the fleet at low  level.

Note imaginary armed guards for imaginary atom bombs
The actual strike was halved shortly after the crews turned out at 5am, as Upwood aircraft were withdrawn due to icing and cumulous and cumulous-nimbus clouds at 20,000ft, preventing the Lancasters from making their maximum range. Nine of eleven Lincolns from Wyton, fuelled up to 2850 gallons (20,520lbs) managed to stagger into the air, and one even seems to have found Red Fleet. That would have been the atom bomber, although, as noted above, photos from the shadowing Lancaster show no evidence of an imaginary atom bomb (actual photo flashbomb) in the vicinity. A much larger strike was laid on next day, but never got clearance to fly, the crews taking out their rage against the enemy by inflating balloons for the Christmas party and attacking the punch bowl.

C. Colin Cooper, "Power-Line Patrol: How Helicopters Save Time and Money in America: An Unpremediated Night-flight Emergency Landing" C. Colin was in California building up helicopter hours with "AF" Helicopter Company of Burbank when he was called out to fly on a powerline inspection flight in the San Bernadino and Angeles ranges, which seems like a very useful thing for helicopters to do, although you should probably make sure that your gas tanks doesn't run out, leaving you to land in the darkness on a water course that is the only clear area in a patch of "devil jungle" in a ravine just off the highway. In conclusion, helicopters are very safe, because the rotor didn't fail and they found a good spot to land in, and that is enough words to allow us to run this picture, I guess. 

Here and There

Pakistan has received its first dual-control Hawker Fury, which flew Blackbushe-Rome in a single 17 1/2 stage on overload tanks, with enough fuel left over on landing in Rome to make the next stage, Athens. A Morris Minor demonstration model was flown to Egypt, and some German motorcycles with sidecars were flown to Britain, because that is news. F. G. Miles, a new company involving F. G. Miles, has started up on the grounds vacated by F. G. Miles, and is open to any kind of research, development and design related to aviation and/or stock fraud. Dunlops is very chuffed about the 7ft high, 3 1/2 ft thick tire they made for a General Aircraft military transport, which is made of 224 miles of nylon cord, 3 hundredweight of natural rubber, 76lb of carbon black and 23lb of high tensile bead steel wire. Trans-Canada's Director of Publicity since 1937, Walter S. Thompson, has resigned. A Republic Rainbow on a transcontinental flight has filmed a 2700 mile strip of territory on 580 triple frames with enough detail that cars could be seen on the streets of New York City with a magnifying glass.

"Ways and Nenes: Illustrative of the Manner in Which British, French and American Designers Have Utilised a Rolls-Royce Nene" Air flow, exhaust flow and centre of gravity considerations all influence how a jet engine is installed. Various designers have made various choices and --you don't want to hear about it, you want to see some nice pictures, don't you?
I assume you do.
"Sea Vampires Exercise"

Speaking of pictures, Flight offers some of the Carrier Trials Unit carrying out deck landings with Vampires on HMS Illustrious.

Civil Aviation News

The American scheduled airlines are still fighting the unscheduled, and think that the CAB should do something, although they cannot agree what that might be, except that the DC-3 is overdue for replacement. CAB is also responsible for approving the merger of Pan-American and American Overseas Airlines. The Gypsy Queen 70's time between overhauls has been extended from 400 to 500 hours. Curtiss Wright's Propeller Division has had good results from tests of a reversible pitch airscrew suitable for multi-engined aircraft. Which is to say that they have shown that it can be used to make a very rapid descent. It's the usefulness of this, as against the risk of accidental pitch reversal in normal flight, that's the issue.

The United States Department of Commerce is going to spend 100 million dollars in the first year of a fifteen year research programme to develop an all-weather traffic system for commercial and military air operations. KLM's Ivan Smirnoff, who has flown 4 million miles and 28,000 hours since joining the Russian Army in WWI, and KLM in 1922, is retiring from flying. The French are proceeding with the N.C. 211 Cormoran in spite of losing the first on its maiden flight. It will be powered by four Gnome-Rhone 14Rs giving 1600hp, and, to be honest, I'm putting this in mainly because I had no idea that the fourteen cylinder Gnome-Rhones gave that kind of power. They would have been nice to have in 1940!  Cathay-Pacific will not be allowed to run the Hong Kong-Sydney service, as Australia is opposed to private companies competing with public on "flag" routes. BOAC will fly the service for Britain.

"Altimeter Settings: Arguments Favouring Introduction of Standard Settings: Abstract of a Paper by W/C Shelfoon, Assistant Director of Training (All-Weather)" It turns out that there are four competing altimeter settings. QFE is "prevailing station in millibars," which means that when it's at zero, you're at zero with respect to the station. If it's the airfield you're flying to, congratulations if you were trying to land! QFF is "station pressure" corrected to sea level by a formula that should allow the altimeter to give height-above-sea-level as a universal standard. QFE (Alt) is corrected for high altitudes, where the distance above sea level "swamps" the height difference you need to measure for blind landings. QFF is a regional version of QFE, and QNH is a universal mean sea level value by a standard ICAN formula correction. For various reasons, Shelfoon, which is a real name, thinks that QNH is best. He spends most of his time explaining how you can do away with QFE in a Rebecca-BABS approach, which does not project a glide path. Pilots are accustomed to creating their own glide path and find it easier with QFE for mathematical reasons. While carrying a table of corrections around might seem cumbersome, there are other factors that might be considered in those tables, so they are actually an improvement, and you are less likely to fly into the ground

"Powered Controls: Present Thoughts on Their Use in Various Types of Aircraft: Written Introduction to a Talk to be Given to the Royal Aeronautical Society and Institution of Civil Engineers This Evening" Some aircraft have, and need, power controls. Others have servo controls, which work just fine. The question is, when do you convert from servo to power? Much sooner than expected, because, once the need for manual reversion is taken into account, a doubled power control (for redundancy) is actually lighter than many servo installations, which need larger mass balances.


Simon Warrender is upset that the Royal Naval Volunteer Supplementary Reserve isn't getting any Tiger Moths. J. T. Thirsk thinks that if the RAF can't get any enlisted ground crews, it might try out civilians. "Twice Bitten" has ATC-hats-related opinions. I kid! I kid! It's a screed about how this or that Air Ministry policy is "killing the voluntary spirit." "Private Flyer" has some kind of complaint about how De Havilland doesn't make a small private plane any more.
You're welcome, Australia!
Tucked in after Service Aviation is the continuation of Flight's summary of G. R. Edwards' "Development of New Aircraft," given to the RAeS, which in this number talks about designing larger aircraft, and is mainly devoted to showing that there aren't enough educated staff in the development process, as against mere draftsmen, mould loft staff, inexperienced personnel, juniors, janitors, secretaries, small Indian men of indefinite employment, and, really, no-one who knows which end of a slide rule to hold. Mostly, I'm a little irritated that there is more reading tucked in after Service Aviation, and a lot irritated that Edwards wastes my time on windy platitudes about better coordiation and everyone working together. As far as facts go, I report that aerodynamicists might be only 4.5% of design staff, and that building two prototypes takes up 80% of the design budget.

Engineering, 17 December 1948

R. R. Mintrin, "Floating and Foundationless Breakwaters" You may recall that floating breakwaters were a huge part of the MULBERRY harbours at the Normandy Campaign. You may also recall, if you've talked to your eldest son about the 17, 24 and 31 December 1948 issues of Engineering, as I did in a very cloak-and-dagger way in Chinatown Saturday last (can't have Grace hearing that I am sneaking my way back into the good graces of Santa Clara by exploiting the weaknesses of the male sex!), that James thinks that floating breakwaters are utter rubbish. Mintrin does, too; but he also thinks that there is something to be said for sinking them, that is, for breakwaters without foundations. He is going to take up many pages of the next three issues with them, and in the name of the other demands on my time, I am enormously pleased to report that James thinks that they are a complete waste of time, too. So, no more timewasting! It is on to . . .


Professor Louis Brand has Vector and Tensor Analysis out. And here we have quite the division amongst my authorities. James believes careful attention to "vectors, tensors and quaternions" to be very important for the modern engineer. Reggie, who actually has to study them in class, thinks that they are an infernal distraction that only makes engineering mathematics harder than it has to be. Picking carefully through his half-brother's brash enthusiasms, James replies that formalisms keep you out of trouble, and, anyway, you can scarcely solve the really difficult electrical problems without them. It's all Greek to me! However! I move on to Professor Martin's Technical Optics, Volume I, where Engineering's reviewer delivers a blast against "Hamiltonian equations," in optics, asserting that everyday engineers just use "ray" optics, because they are easier. From the previous session, I know that "Hamiltonian"means "quaternion." One for Reggie!

"Brittle Fracture in Steel, Part III" As this series goes on through the 31st, there are a great many details to pick up, and far too many commentators to do other than glaze the eye. Also, this is something Uncle George is vastly interested in, as it seems as though half the brittle fractures anyone cares about, occurred in ships built, or, rather, welded, in the yards he supervised during the war. To summarise the themes and save on paper, it is suggested that brittle fractures occur almost exclusively in welded ships, although one commentator notes Admiralty discoveries of "notches," which are the defects that appear at the beginning of crack propagation, at least as I understand it, in unwelded steel plates. As to why they happen in welded steel plates, some commentators, including one brought in from the insurance industry with a particular interest in locomotive boilers, think it is because of "locked in stresses." In the extreme case, where the welded structure approaches the ideal of being a single piece, the crack can propagate right around the ship --or would if it didn't fall apart, first. However, late in the series, one heretic was heard to investigate whether the problem begins with additives or faults. Noting that, in another paper, the addition of manganese reduced cracking, he noted that American steelmakers were forced to cut manganese additions for lack of the metal and substitute more carbon, instead. Heat treating is also an issue, and so is corrosion, and the use of corrosion-inhibiting paints. One author has even done an interesting paper on the appearance of voltage differences across propagating cracks, which recalls to my mind a whole series of interventions from the chemistry side, and some particular work being done in Australia and over in Massachusetts (but, in spirit, right here in Palo Alto).

Getting back to steel, if you are wondering why there should be any controversy, many sessions, and many comments focus on the difficulty of finding appropriate pieces to study. It's hard to investigate cracks if you can't agree on what kind of test pieces produce useful information!
Engineers are still arguing about this. 

T. Howard Rogers, "Metallic Corrosion by Micro-Organisms" As if shipbuilders hadn't enough to worry about already! This "fortunately" applies mainly to copper and bronze rather than steel. If you were wondering, bacteria don't eat metals; they eat things that are tasty, but the by-product includes corrosive chemicals. By the way, that summarises another three parter.

"Manufacture of Ball and Roller Bearings" Engineering was invited over to the Hoffman plant in Chelmsford, to see this factory, which employs 5000 operatives, largely women, in the manufacture of these painfully precise components of literally every engine out there. This reminds me of the epic bombing raids on the German plant at Schweinfurt that was so vital to the war effort. It's not obvious to me from the article why it would be, since there is a distinct shortage of verbs showing how hard it is to make ball bearings, and how rare the machinery is. That being said, it does take a lot of factory, and it would certainly be time consuming and expensive to build one if your only existing one was blown up by the 8th Air Force. All the more reason to not have only one! Perhaps it is the work force that is the "strategic asset?"

"Bakelite Scales and Slide Rules" Messrs. Blundell Rules, Ltd, makes scales and slide rules out of bakelite; actually, they make the scales and slides out of industrial paper, which is then reduced onto Bakelite blanks and etched. Which I guess is the same thing, I just thought that aspect of the manufacturing process was more interesting than the painfully long description of the extremes of temperature and humidity they were put through by the National Physical Laboratory before being given their Royal Warrant for the Exclusive Use by the Royal Family, or whatever the point of the trials were. (I'm a bit upset by the waste of time, since of course the article wouldn't have appeared if the things hadn't passed!)

"S. S. Orcades: The Orient Steam Navigation Company, Ltd" The Orcades' road to the sea has been carefully watched by Engineering for months, and this article explains why. James found it by far the most interesting article in this month's issues. (Reggie has a very interesting alternative selection, that bit of physical chemistry out of San Jose that I mentioned.) Orcades has a triple expansion steam turbine power plant with Foster-Wheeler boilers with separate, controllable superheat producing steam at 550lb/sq in pressure and up to 850 degrees. This, James notes, is rather higher than the Admiralty assayed during the war, which has led to criticism from the American cousins, which proved premature, keeping James employed in the Pacific through the end of the war in Europe, and possibly scotching his chances of ascending to be Engineer Vice Admiral. Anyway, three years after peace is declared, British builders are willing to give it a go, showing that it wasn't British backwardness that kept them from doing it in the war. Says James. I'm not sure his logic is as foolproof as he thinks it is, but . . . More details, especially of the auxiliary machinery, are given, but seem less important.

Launches and Trial Trips

Motor vessels Mocambique and Athelaird, a mixed passenger-cargo and tanker, respectively; Steamships Silvestre and Stockham, a tanker and a trawler.

Regional Notes

This month's notes have completely abandoned their old pessimism. Steel production is up, coal production is at record levels, and the only fly in the ointment is that the record production can't keep up with consumer demand. (That, and the RATO rocket included in a shipment of German scrap steel that was ignited by a welder cutting it apart, to the excitement of everyone and the harm, fortunately, of no-one.) The Southwest is taken by its new cold strip rolling mill, the Northeast by deliveries of forged ingots, and Cleveland and the North Counties by export markets for coal ranging from Spain to New Zealand, but, as I say, optimism everywhere. If that's not a sign that everything is about to go to pot, I don't know what is!


"Prospects of Land and Marine Gas Turbines" Haynes Constant gave a talk to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers on the prospects of gas turbines out of aircraft. First, he believes that there is little potential for them to compete below 1500hp, so you can forget a turbine car. On locomotives, there is little hope that gas turbines based on aircraft practice to beat diesel electric. That follows from an earlier discussion about the limited future of the "open cycle" gas turbine, in which combustion gas drives the compressors and turbines directly. That's just asking for dust corrosion, Constant thinks. Rather, the future will belong to closed-cycle turbines.
Even Haynes Constant can't be right about everything. On the other hand, what the closed-cycle turbine lacks in practical applications, it makes up for in the coolness of actual applications. (ML-1 mobile nuclear reactor.)

Yeah, no.
That will require progress in heat exchangers, which are not yet good enough, and might require an entirely new principle that replaces nests of tubes with rotating wires. Once that is done, perhaps in the next generation or more, the prospects of gas turbines replacing steam turbines in electrical power generation are quite good; although this will not work with coal, in spite of premature American hopes, although producer gas might be the way to go. The reason that he expects gas turbines to take so long in land (and also marine) power applications is the lack of the "forcing" effect of wartime, government-funded research and development.

So Gaitskell basically brought Atlee's second
government down over user fees for dentures.
Can't make this stuff up.
"Fuel and Power Statistics" The British Electricity Board has reported some statistics to the Commons. Electrical power generation has grown less than hoped, only 9.7 million kW/h, against a hoped for 10.2. It's all down to industry not standardising, Mr. Gaitskell says, which is what you'd expect of a nationalisation-mad Labourite, thinks Engineering. Coal production is up, with deep-mined coal likely to exceed 198 million tons, and the highest monthly totals since 1940 achieved last month. Fortunately for pessimists, this is still below the target, although open-cast production will comfortably exceed its target, and we can no longer even hope to pretend that an emergency cut of exports is in the offing. Producer gas production is up substantially, while gasoline production by hydrogenation from coal continues. Electrical generation is still overwhelmingly by coal, but if you were interested in knowing how much petroleum is produced in Britain, it is 25.5 million gallons from shale and 12.2 million gallons from wells.


The lead note covers the beginnings of a reorganisation of the engineering departments of British Rail with a discussion of the motive power branch. Since the reorganisation of the electrical branch gets its own story later on, consider yourself informed of that, too. Other notes cover the opening of a coal fired 60 mW generating station at Chatalagzi, Turkey; also, the sheet and strip metal users have a Technical Association which is having a year's end party. Watch the punch bowl, because this'll be a jolly one! Also well-lubricated, the Imperial College of Science and Technology's Summer Work scheme, which is placing up to 800 students for summer work in industry, and making arrangements for 500 foreign students to study  here, and a like number of British students to study abroad, mainly in Switzerland and Sweden, which really has nothing to do with summer vacations, but still belongs here, I think. See? I don't only criticise the editors!

Separately under Labour Notes are some notices about the British trade unions feeling their oats, including a shot across the bows of the Anglo-American Joint Productivity Council, which stands accused of treating Britain as a "poor and backward cousin." In the 24th number, this whole section is taken up with prodigies of coal mining labour as production closes on 283 million tons with three weeks to go as of the latest statistics. It is thought that the coal miners will ask for a raise, and an electrical engineering company in Manchester also wants to give its workers a raise. The Economist must be told!

"Scientific Research in Australia" Ronnie screws down her mouth, crosses her eyes, stamps her feet and demands absolutely no sheep or kangaroo jokes! This is the 21st annual meeting of the Australian Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, and they have a full docket. Someone is working on high power x-ray generators for mass spectrometry and neutron-emission; Other physicists are working on measuring light emission and cold temperatures, which are related somehow. Someone else is doing lubricating films, which is an aspect of finding out how lubricants work, with the aim of improving them and extending machine life. There seem to be several workers on crystals, one of which is investigating graphite and manganese dioxide dry cells, with some curious sidelights into the electrical properties of crystals, especially luminescent ones, in which shining a light on them causes electrical activity. It's all well-known stuff, but very striking to me since Reggie can't tear himself away from the "transistor" story I've hyped enough already! Yet someone else is doing damping of vibrations in steel, while there is an active group investigating the atmospheric propagation of radar as part of the Australian Council's experimental radio range air navigation system.

Another group is working on cement, specifically corrosion due to incorporating amalgamate. Yet another is building a differential analyser, which is to say, one of those electrical consoles for solving differential equations numerically. The metrology division of the Australian Council solicits new work, as it is underemployed since the war. The Australians are doing some aircraft engineering and aerodynamics, looking into ways that boundary layer suction might improve Australian-made Lincolns, and the effects of Australian weather on wood construction.

Oh, and some people are doing work on the properties of . . . wool.

Also worth noting whenever the Internet gets
its knickers in a knot over the EMP apocalypse
"Lightning Protection of High-Voltage Overhead Systems" Electricity strikes on high voltage power transmission lines are an important matter, and there are all kinds of solutions in hand, as described by H. H. Lacey in a paper of the same title given to the Transmission Section of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. Much of the paper is devoted to conductors for grounding the actual lines, but I am struck by the "surge filters" that are the only real solution for grounded lines in power stations. Electricity flows in torrents down past these lines during lightning strikes, if I'm not stretching the analogy past its limits, and the only way to protect electrical machinery without causing blackouts is to have a "filter" that doesn't pass the "surges" that this flow induces. That's some interesting engineering, I think, so, paging Uncle George and all of that.

"25-Ton Testing Machine" Tangye Limited, of Cornwall Works, Smethwick, Birmingham exhibited a machine that looks vaguely like a drill press and which tests pieces with up to 25 tons of pressure per square inch, very accurately.

Harry Ricardo, "Diesel Engines for Road Transport" Britain's leading consultant on diesel engines for road transport surveys the exciting field of diesel engines for road transport, and finds that diesel engines for road transport have a bright future. Specifically, he is an enthusiast for four-stroke cycles, notwithstanding the advantages of two-stroke cycles, for fiddling with detonation chambers (which is where he maded his name, I'm told), and for the bright future of oil-cooled pistons, very much a going concern with aero-engines. Again, an advanced warning that I am trying to briefly summarise a multi-part series that goes on through the end of the month. I might have slighted Ricardo's summary in the process, but, in my defence, we're not invested in this field. Even Uncle Henry is staying out of it!

N. G. Holt and Captain (E) F. E. Clemitson, "The Performance of H.M. Ships in the War" Apart from having a good old engineering name, Holt is with the Director of Naval Construction. This paper tries to cover the whole field of things that went wrong in the navy in a very compact way, and probably its best virtue is that you get a sense of what was most alarming at the time. Specifically, the way a magnetic mine blew HMS Belfast's entire machinery right off their cast iron foundations in 1939, and the working of the rivets of HMS Kent while on Arctic duty. The first revealed a universal weakness (who knew that cast iron was brittle???) and demonstrated that it was a hard problem to fix. How do  you get into a ship and pick the machinery up and put new foundations under it? Belfast is the most extensively refit ship in the navy, and that's why! Related to that was the way that the machinery ran away with itself, which must have been frightening, which called for introducing a trip function that somewhat reduced normal high speed performance. Kent's failure was frightening, although less serious, because it was likely to be common in older ships and the Navy is now getting ready to fight Communists invading the North Pole. (There is some related discussion of high latitudes habitability). It is to be hoped that welded ships won't have the same problem, and also won't explode on immersion into cold water. At the other extreme, a great deal could be done to make HM Ships cooler and better-supplied with water in tropical conditions.

Time, 20 December 1948


Time mischaracterised Mary Hill Doolittle, cellist, as Mary Doolittle, wife of General Doolittle, and reproduced Sallman's Head of Christ without permission. It's still the only magazine with the moral authority to crown "Time's Man of the Year." Also, Roger Freeman of New York writes to point out that communism is awful. The Publisher's Letter describes how Time's Nanking correspondent caught a ride up to the Suchow battlefield in General Chou Chih-jou's personal airplane, then sent his family to Shanghai to prepare for evacuation, and gave away all his things. He hopes that the Communists will let him report on what's going on in Chinese-held areas, but the Communists seem  reluctant to accommodate Time. For some reason.

I don't know if you've heard, but Washington is having a do-over of the whole Hiss-Chambers thing. Time reminds everyone that, on the campaign trail, Truman said the whole thing was a red herring, which just goes to show that he is soft on communism. I may not like Chambers as a writer, but he sure makes it easy to summarise five pages in National Affairs!

Since it's so easy to dip into the "Madam Ten Percent" and "Chinese concubine" tropes with the Madam, let's look at the New York mansion she spent the last half of her life in, instead. This is not a narrative of Goumindang corruption. It's a narrative of GOP (and missionary community) corruption.
"Over the Teacups" Madam Chiang went to tea at the White House to ask for strategic aid to fight the Communists. The President gave her a sympathetic hearing, and, Time suspects, nothing more. As even Time notes, the loss of 236,000 rifles, 14,000 machine guns and 26,000 tommy guns "without a fight" is going to tell against her. I thought that guns weren't very useful without ammunition? Madam Chiang should know that! Oops. Why do I feel that you're going to read that the wrong way, wink, wink?

I'm going to be contrarian here and say that MacArthur
was pretty damn good at his job. 
"A Familiar Rumble" Time covers MacArthur's request for reinforcement with six additional divisions, "hundreds of aircraft," and "increased naval forces." In somewhat unrelated news, Marshall is expected to resign for health reasons on New Year's Eve.

"Eight Minutes to Search" A story about an Air Force C-54 that ditched east of Okinawa, carrying 98th Bombardment Group back to Spokane, where they would meet up with their wives and go househunting on a nice new subdivision. I can afford to be flippant, because they were very fortunately spotted by a Navy Privateer extending its search pattern for navigational reasons.

"One Law" Time is pleased to report three convictions in Southern courts for white men raping Coloured women. In somewhat related news, Robert Jackson gave a talk to some New York lawyers the other day where he said totalitarian regimes fail because they don't listen to critics and dissidents, which is probably true, because he is not a Communist.

Americana reports that the students of St. Patrick's school in Binghamton, New York, recently gathered 2000 comic books and burned them. (Yay! Chinese has a character for auto da fe!) In Macon, Georgia, the Klan initiated 300 new members in a public ceremony. Manhattan cafe society has thrown its first Bal de Tete, to keep up with Paris and London.


The lead article covers the agenda of the UN Assembly and the votes, and doesn't seem worth summarising.  The next one establishes that Berliners don't like communism, and that the Airlift brought in a record 6100 tons recently. Two stories about the prosecution of Japanese war criminals, timely because of Hirota vs. MacArthur, follow. Asiatics don't understand the "legal mumbo jumbo of the inscrutable Occidentals."

"Help Wanted" Spain is suffering from a drought that is parching the field, shutting down hydroelectric works, starving the peasants, and inspiring yet more debate over whether "the West" should help General Franco, who is not a Fascist, has never been a Fascist, and wouldn't know a Fascist if he saw one, which he does, daily. That's not me stealing Grace's joke. That's an accurate summary of the article. You don't believe me? the closing pull quote, from Time's Paris bureau chief, Andre Laguerre, which is really his name, suggests that the ragged children of a destitute family living in a former Nationalist pillbox was more vital, happier and healthier than French children, due to the "impression of stimulation, of intellectual and spiritual strength." Pardon me if I'm wearing out the trick of combining stories that comment on each other, but the one on Spain is followed by one about a public debate in Italy over the existence of God between Father Riccardo Lombardi and Communist Velio Spano. No-one in Cagliari was swayed, either way.  Meanwhile, in Hungary, the Communist government is taking aim a bit further up the chain, by having a fight with Cardinal Mindszenty.

Three more related stories on the World Struggle! In Britain, Stafford Cripps is in trouble for denying government charwoman their full, demanded pay increase, which is very harsh of him at Christmas, while in Jerusalem there is no fighting, because King Abdullah doesn't want it, although he might want to be the "King of all Palestine," and, in China, the Koumintang promises that once they are done losing the north bank, they will certainly defend the crossing of the Yangtze. Time seems optimistic about their chances, because all China is behind the Koumintang, except for the armies of cowardly traitors who keep surrendering and joining the Communist army.

In Latin America, Costa Rica is fighting a civil war between its recently disbanded army and the not-an-army-because-it-has-been-disbanded raised to stop the disbanded army from invading from Nicaragua. That's too much excitability even for me. Also, Argentina is silly about Peron and Mexico is silly about inherited wealth. Venezuela's exiled President Romulo Gallegos is alleging from Havana that the US Military Attache in Caracas instigated the army uprising that expelled him from power.


"Round the Horn" Businessmen are worried about "soft spots" showing up everywhere in industry. Prices are falling, shelves are piling up, retailers are still waiting for the Christmas rush. Even prices for oil and coal are falling, while employment has fallen below 60 million for the first time in five years, partly due to greater industrial efficiency, as Western Electric cuts its work force by 25,000, one of a series of layoffs so widespread that Mr. Luce's local government has called a conference to do something about it. (Speaking of, a story far below notes the spectacular drop of fur prices this year, and Preston Tuckers' car dealers firing him as --I didn't know there was anything to Tucker Automobiles besides Tucker!

"Explosive Question?" Everyone says that profits are high. Are they too high? Sumner Slichter says that they are, due to US businessmen not writing off wartime investments properly. Chase National's Joseph E. Pogue thinks that they are being inflated by high oil profits. General Foods' Clarence Francis says that they are, but it is a good thing, because this "costless capital" can be reinvested in the business; but Seymour Harris of Harvard points out that that just leads to more inflation . Labour economists Nelson Cruikshank and Stanley Ruttenberg agree, and point out that it will just lead to monopoly and a lack of economic democracy, since the corporations do not have to go to the stockholders. Speaking of, Time covers the AOA/Pan-Am merger in some detail. American Overseas needs it, because it is losing money without the retroactive air mail payout.

"Newest Inch" The Inch is that wartime oil pipeline that was modified to carry Texas natural gas to the Northeast. Now J. P. Morgan is going to fund another 1825 mile pipeline from Texas to Manhattan, this one to be built by Fish Engineering Corporation and Claude Williams; Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co.

The "Maggie and Jiggs" scandal has been laid to rest. The SEC decided that since Frederic Goldsmith was only getting investment advice from ghosts and reading the strip, he wasn't a proper investment advisor, and must never do that job again, which, considering that he is 83, might be thought to be a problem that was taking care of itself. I thought there was an issue as to whether there was actual "insider" information being transmitted by cartoonist George McManus, but I guess we don't have to worry about that, and Wall Street is still as straight as the day is long.

Science, Medicine, Education

 "For Hypersonics" The Guggenheim Foundation is making a $500,000 grant to Princeton and Caltech to found two institutes for aerodynamic research, to be headed by Goddard Professors. Dr. Hsue-shen Tsien will be Caltech's first Goddard Professor.

"Omnirange To Guide Them" The story about the Civil Air Arministration's new beacon-control system for airliners, which is the first step towards a future block control system, is descried better by Time than by Flight or Aviation Week, maybe because the readers of the journals already know the details. Omiranges are an improvement over old radio ranges because they don't just work within the beam. All the pilot has to do is sent out a coded transmission through the Distance Measuring Equipment, and, ta-da, instant "fix"!

"News from Lake Te Anau" The recent discovery of a living takahe, which is one of the flightless birds New Zealand used to be famous for back before there were people to make it famous, has inspired enthusiasts to scour the bush anew looking for moas and giant moas, in case anyone has been  overlooking a twelve-foot-tall flightless bird.

"Herded Like Cattle" Time exposes the horrifying conditions in our mental hospitals by reviewing crusader Dorothy Dix's The Shame of the States. Hospitals are understaffed, and the staff that does work with the patients is not well trained. Patients are too often treated as prisoners, and no wonder when they are so overcrowded. Lacking therapists, many patients lose any chance to be rehabilitated, and instead are "rendered hopeless by the nightmarish trials of state hospital life."

"Skeleton's First Calling Card" At the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in San Francisco, Britain's Dr. James Brailsford turned out for a California vacation and a chance to explain how X-rays can be used to spot various organic diseases by their effects on bones.

Continuing War" Otto Warburg, who arrived at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in September, gave his first report to his new colleagues, reporting that life in occupied Berlin was terrible, and that he had extended his longtime study of enzymes to exploring the relationship between zymohexase and cancer. Since zymohexase, which is implicated in fermentation, is present in tumours, it is possible that the growth of tumours is related to fermentation, and that an anti-zymohase could reverse their growth. In related news, Herbert Winegard, who has been studying ergothioneine, a compound found in abnormal amounts in the urine of cancer patients, has been trying to make it artificially by working with diazomethane, a deadly, odourless gas. This week, he died of pneumonia brought on by overexposure, at the age of 28.

"Now That I Have Operated" Dr. Theodore Herr, a German surgeon with no patience for patients' lack of patience, has recently dosed himself with novocaine and carried out an appendicitis on himself to . . . prove something. 

"Down in the Mouth" Sol J. Ewen, a research assistant at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Centre, beleives that he has proven that trench mouth and inflammation of the gums is a psychosomatic condition. Well, not psychosomatic in the sense that they are all in the head; but that is where they start out.

"Down to Earth" Sir Edward Appleton has been made Principal of the University of Edinburgh, while Houston's Fannin Elementary School and Southwestern Bell have teamed up to help bed-ridden fourteen-year-old Leadom Bell complete sixth grade with a "Teletalk," a combination of telephone, microphone and loudspeakers that allows Leadom to participate in teacher Fleda Cox's  classes.

Press, Radio and TV, Art, People

The lead story is the all-out battle between the newspapers and wire services to print the first picture of the Prince. Following on is a story about a new newspaper in Manhattan devoted to good news, the Good News Bulletin, started by Robert Jung,  Hans Steinitz and Mrs. Jung. The New York Herald Tribune points out that it isn't the press's fault that the world only has bad news.

H. L. Mencken gets half a page under Radio and TV to make fun of TV technical language, which might have been better if it had actually been funny. Is Mencken okay? I checked, and he is 68, so a few years yet if his heart doesn't fail.

Michelangelo was in his fifties when he finished his statue of David, but now he is in his five-hundreds, which makes him Time's idea of an artistic genius, so no wonder the statue's tour of America is the lead story ahead of a Courbet exhibit. Technically, Churchill isn't dead, so he can't be an artistic genius, but he is an artist, Time reminds us in relation to his paintings being seen in Washington recently. Much more important story than sad old Courbet!

Communists say awful things about General Eisenhower and Christopher Columbus. Psychiatrist Ludolf N. Bollmeier says that parents shouldn't lie about Santa Claus, because it might lead to juvenile delinquency. Billy Rose didn't like Light Up the Sky. Elliot Roosevelt's Christmas tree business is raising hackles amongst rival New York dealers. I didn't know that there was such a thing! Robert Walker, Errol Flynn and Lady Iris Mountbatten are all in trouble. Jean Sibellius isn't, but that might be because he is 83. Robert Hilton, who has applied for American citizenship, has half the age, and half the excuse. Tibet's Dalai Lama is 13, and might be expected to get into trouble at his age, but instead has written Poland's Polimex Corporation to order an iron bridge "for the benefit of my people." Such a conscientious young man! Unrepentant whit supremacist Senator Burnet Maybank has married. David Tough, Carlton K. Matson, Weston B. Hall, Robert Stephen Briffault, Sir Clarence Kennett Marten and Rosalie Hoerl have died. One newsman, one aviator-of-fortune, one novelist, one historian and the midwife who delivered Adolf Hitler.

 The New Pictures

In case you're keeping inventory of the number of stories I mention, this week's super-long cover story is under "Cinema," since it is about Olivia de Havilland [still alive in 2019!]. I thought it was fascinating, you won't, same old, same old. Actual new pictures are the same as for Newsweek, and I've talked enough about Jane Russell already. (Yes, this was done back to front. Blame the Post Office.)


The Year's end review is enormous. Dale Carnegie, Norman Mailer, Rabbit Joshua Loth Liebman, Ross Lockridge, Carl Sandburg, William Faulkner, Truman Capote, Thomas Mann, Graham Greene, Joyce Cary, I. Compton-Burnett and Robert Penn Warren were in the news. Hemingway and  Dos Passos were not, because they couldn't finish their books. Steinbeck and Caldwell's best is behind them, and so is Huxley's, although the descent is more gradual.

This is going on. Camus and Sartre are obviously gods among men, and Alan Patton's Cry the Beloved Country is a book about the open wound of our times. Fiction mostly avoided WWII, as authors warily circle the "great war novel," Mailer aside, but there is plenty of non-fiction about it; above all, Churchill's first volume. A literary turn on history is Morison's official history of the Navy in the Pacific, which hit its third volume last year. Time being Time, it can't help noticing Herbert Feiss' Spanish Story. Civil War, Lincoln, Roosevelt. . . In poetry, Ezra Pound is tragic, Archibald MacLeish published again. Lesser poets in some numbers, of whom I mention Edith Sewell in the name of my sex.

Flight, 23 December 1948


"A British Iron Curtain" Some people think that British aircraft should not be exported to some countries that might go Communist, and that licenses to build British engines should not be given to potential competitors who might go Communist. Ha! Ha! Flight scoffs.

"Dissemination of Knowledge" Some think that the technical press shouldn't be allowed to print  technical information about British aircraft. They are wrong. Uncle George thinks that this means that Flight has had a story "scotched."

"The Future of Air Transport: Some New Thoughts on Airline Operations: 'Environmentalism' as a World Force: Annual Average Speed the Criterion of Efficiency: Reduced Performance as a Function of Development Delay" Flight offers a paper in just the right tone for reading after the punch bowl has sunk too low to float the ladle. "Herr Spuffing" makes an arrival early on, and a modest proposal is made that an airline can best make money by renting out its aircraft and crews to charter lines. The theory of 'environmentalism,' whatever that is, is discussed, but not actually propounded, so I am not sure what it is.

British Aviation and the Tudor: A Story of Self-Ownage

Here and There

The flying boats have been taken off the Berlin Airlift due to the risk of icing on Havel Lake. The Jet-Tudor (Tudor VIII) was struck by lightning during a demonstration flight at Chadderton factory, but suffered only a singed tail. A memorial fund has been set up for the late Dorothy Spicer, killed in an aircraft accident in South America in December of 1946. Ryan wants everyone to know that it has built 500 Navions, because everyone loves it. "The new bar at Ringway Airport has been surfaced with Formica, a new laminated plastic product from De La Rue Insulation, Ltd." The first of 22 Canadair Fours to be built at Montreal for BOAC has finished assembly and begun fitting out. A report from Nanking has it that only 8 of the 240 Mosquitoes delivered to the Koumintang air force remain operational. Pilots flying over the Atomic Research Station, Harwell, are to fly at no lower than 1500ft when its red beacon light is flashing. General MacArthur has asked for reinforcements in the light of the Communist advance in China.

Civil Aviation News

The British airlines had a better half year. The cargo model that redundant Tudors will be converted into has been labelled the Avro Freighter, signifying considerable modifications, including being significantly shorter than the Tudor. The managing director of BEA, J. V. Wood, has been ordered on medical rest, and D'Erlanger will take on his duties as well as those of Director, until a replacement can be found in the New Year. Air France's cargo side is doing so well that some of its Languedocs will be converted to cargo. The prototype Drover has flown its first test flight. The Chief Inspector's report on the Sabena accident at London Airport on 2 March 1948, is out.  He concludes that the pilot lost control of the aircraft momentarily when lighting conditions changed due to passing out of the coverage of the runway's sodium lamps, which only lined the first 500ft of the runway, and again when he turned his landing lights on, and that as a result he inadvertently climbed from 40ft to 60ft, veered to the left, and stalled from 50ft. The accident was due to misjudgment while landing in conditions of extremely poor visibility (fog). BEA is cancelling its Berlin service over Christmas, as BEA Vikings do not carry Rebecca, and so cannot comply with the RAF Transport Service's latest requirement for very close positioning to the Berlin Eureka homing beacon. It may resume service with Rebecca-equipped DC-3s, borrowed from BOAC. Tasman Airlines may be dissolved on the withdrawal of BOAC, since the Australians are keen to run their own service, and the New Zealanders may also have plans. Glasgow is to get a proper airport soon. Australia may have a shortage of airline pilots soon.

"Seventy Years Airborne: A History of No. 1 Fighter Squadron and its Antecedents" Number 1 Fighter Squadron gets to say that it is descended from the gallant aerial ballooners of 1878, who took aerial photographs more than  generation before anyone decided to add bomb-dropping to the repertoire. They became 1 Squadron in 1912, operating airships, which they had to hand over to the Royal Navy in 1914 in favour of regular airplanes. They were commanded at first by Captain Maitland, who had reached the rank of Brigadier General by the time he died in the breakup of R38. It seems horrifyingly apropos that he died at the hands of the same deadend technology that held back his career. As it did, witness the fact that he was replaced at 1 Squadron by Philip Joubert
I don't trust myself to summarise the discussion of the three official inquiries over at Wiki, although the word "murder" comes to mind. By US Navy - U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph #: NH 69230; URL containing: [1]; URL image: [2]Source: english wikipedia, original upload 6 July 2004 by Taak, CC BY-SA 3.0,
They have Meteors now, which means that they went from balloons to jets in your lifetime.

Roger Livesay as Colonel Wynne-Candy
Philip Joubert, "Manning the RAF: The Service, the Nation and the Government" The Air Marshal's point appears to be that RAF officers aren't paid enough, that service on the Airlift is a bit of a strain, and, in general, things are not as they were in his day, as best he can recall. It would seem to be the Government's fault, and specifically all those "Socialist" MPs, except for Bevan, whom Joubert quite likes. Perhaps it is because they share a passion for shouting abuse at the younger set?

Short articles follow on a new glider winch, a standardised king fastener for aircraft cowlings, the Beechcraft 45 trainer, [Sic: T-34] and Solar Aircraft's new small auxiliary gas turbogenerator.

"Powered Controls: Exposition of Current Ideas on the Use of Powered Flying Controls of Various Types" This seems to be additional notes for D. J. Lyons' talk on "Present Thoughts on the Use of Powered Flying Controls for Aircraft," given to the Royal Aeronautical Society. Lyons is the Principal Scientific Officer,Aerodynamic Flight Section, at Farnborough. (There's a "Non-Aerodynamic Flight Section"? Are they in charge of the Fairey Barracuda?) As hinge force increases, pilots need some kind of assistance. Servo control is a fancy way of saying that they get some leverage. Powered flying control puts some kind of motor between pilot and device, which is much better, but brings in all of those difficulties of oscillation that have come up again and again with automatic control. Manual control is desperately needed, because even if you've given it enough damping for any possible contingency when it is working properly, aircraft do not always work properly. They also need to be able to "feel" the controls, which means some kind of feedback, which, I as I understand it, worsens the oscillation problem.

 Lyons endeavours to explain spring loadings and electric motors without math. In the discussion, E. W. Petter of English Electric said that powered controls could be done without on smaller aircraft, a point several subsequent discussants made again. Someone from the Registration Board worried about safety, and someone from Bristol pointed out that "feel" wasn't defined to everyone's satisfaction, with Mr. Woodford suggesting that a geared tab would improve feel. F. W. Meredith, the autopilot guru from Farnborough, asked how much "lag" was acceptable, and someone from Rotax asked about permissible backlash. A fellow from Saunders-Roe said that only electrical systems had the necessary flexibility for fully reversible control. (I gather that this is for when the action of flight surfaces "reverse" at extreme positions.)

Engineering, 24 December 1948

E. G. Stehland, "Partial Load Characteristics of Marine Gas-Turbine Cycles" In spite of the general title, this series begins with the assumption that existing single-stage compressors won't be satisfactory for marine turbine applications. Either a multi-stage axial type or a Lysholm constant-displacement compressor is to be preferred, and given that no-one has ever heard of the Lysholm compressor, no surprise that the "one or the other" framing breaks down, and that the Lysholm turns out to be the best thing since sliced bread. (Which isn't actually that good for compressing gas flows to power turbines, but whatever. It's my figure of speech.) This flip summary allows me to write off the rest of this paper and the next installment in the 31 December issue on the lazy assumption that if the Lysholm was so good, someone else would be working on it. That being said, Stehland produces a lot of math and data to show that it is a useful thing, so who knows?


Professor Steiner's Introduction to Chemical Thermodynamics is an attempt to break the study of thermodynamics away from the mechanical engineers and hand it over to the chemists, who use it, too. It's also a good textbook. The reviewer then points out some boo-boos to show that they really read it. H. H. Broughton's Electric Winders is the latest edition of a book on the coal elevators in coal mines that first came out in 1932, and is as worthy as the first edition. Sir Westcott Abell's The Shipwright's Trade is a historically-oriented treatment of the work of the shipwright through the ages. Engineering bathes in a bit of nostalgia, noting that this book quotes Russell's Modern System of Naval Architecture "more than once," and that it was the very first book reviewed by Engineering, 82 years ago.

"The Design of Radio Equipment for the Services" is a summary of C. F. Whitaker's "Considerations for the Design of Radio Equipment," given to the Institution of Electrical Engineers, and seems mainly about reliability and questions of supply of the necessary high-frequency power in primitive theatres of war.

"Twin-Screw Diesel-Electric Grab-Catcher" The mysterious Grab-Catcher turns out to be a dredging barge, and this one uses Metadyne electrical motors driven by the noted diesel engines, which is vaguely interesting in that the Metadyne features prominently in discussions of new frontiers of control engineering that is all the rage these days. I'll have to ask Uncle George what he thinks of getting into dredgers.

Launches and Trials

Motor vessels Borba, Staland, Fort Richepane, two single-screw cargo vessels, one banana boat; Steamships Armanistan, Woodland, Stina Dan, Poole Harbour; one cargo vessel, one lumber ship, one cargo liner, one collier.

British Standards Specifications Specifications for ball valves, creep testing and structural steel.


"Mathematics as a Tool" Why don't engineers make more use of mathematics? The fault lies everywhere. Mathematicians don't do enough to make it accessible; engineering professors don't teach it; students won't learn it. Some might say that engineering is for those too dumb to do mathematics, but they are clearly the sort who like to abuse dumb animals . . .

"Industrial Developments in Wales" There would be more industrial development in Wales if more skilled workers would just maroon themselves there to be taken advantage of. The article doesn't actually say that last bit, but . . .


Various meetings; Yet two more hydroelectric plants went into service in Scotland this month.


A batch of letters about a letter that Sir George Stephenson wrote to the Ministry of Transport in 1841. It's about improving locomotives and carriages. L. Hartshorn and A. T. Best have opinions about the metric system, which, they assure us, British engineers really do like.

"The Nuffield Universal Farm Tractor" Is a tractor. Also in departments of worthy but uninteresting, a new cable tunnel is being run under the Thames.

I wonder what Mr. Leonard Miller, 1411 Dominion Building, Vancouver, thought of this cover. 

Two letters from Alabama's Mobile Register are upset that Newsweek said that they didn't cover the rape trials (see Time) in their final editions. Newsweek points out that they didn't, unless the story somehow got into post-"Final"editions that no-one saw. Also from Alabama, specifically Wetumpka, Walter Graham, the Court Reporter (and a "native Bostonian," so he has standing, somehow) is upset at the allegation that oxcarts and mule carts still rattle through its streets. Newsweek defends it as editorial license.

The Periscope reports that Cyrus Ching hopes that the Taft-Hartley provision forbidding Communist union executives is lifted in the next Congress, and the Democrats are abandoning reforms to Committee procedures in the House that would have given liberals more control. General Bedell Smith wants to resign the ambassadorship to Moscow, and will be replaced by either George Kennan or Charles Bohlen. Republicans in New York and Pennsylvania are circling the friends of Dewey like sharks, blood in water, etc. Chester Bowles and Hubert Humphrey are being tapped as possible leaders of "liberal anticommunist" Americans for Democratic Action. (In case you were wondering exactly how you describe an organisation that tries to dump the President in favour of a general from Kansas at the Democratic convention.) Speaking of, Senator Murray is still trying to push through his "Columbia River Authority" bill, the hope being that once it passes, it will break the ice for other "TVAs of the West." Robert Stripling calls Hiss  the "$180,000 indictment," because that's how much money HUAC will ask for from the next Congress. One of the name bands to play the Inaugural will definitely be a "Negro outfit." People are saying that Marshal Tito's government is tottering due to his fight with Moscow, and that he desperately needs Western industrial equipment to keep his socialisation policy going. Speaking of attempted economic blackmail, the Austrian government has raised the ration to 2100 calories a day in the hopes that the ECA will feel forced to come through. It is reported that the Kremlin is worried that a Communist victory in China will just lead to a "Tito of the East." That's a lot of industrial equipment! The Mayor of Shanghai is trying to bring in a British or American garrison, probably as a last-ditch attempt to embroil them with the advancing Communists. People are comparing the Tanganyika Groundnuts Scheme to the Passamaquoddy boondoggle that I apparently should remember. (I don't.)
Montgomery has been "kicked upstairs" from CIGS to Western European defence chief. American propaganda spending in Southeast Asia will be increased to fight Communist influence. Americans will keep a 7500 strong armoured strike force in Korea after independence. The Russians are expected to protest. Budget cuts at the Veteran's Administration, Congressional pressure for better cooperation between the President's Council of Economic Advisers and the Congressional Committee on the Economic Report and a probe into pressure sales by auto dealers are all on the agenda of the new Democratic majority. GM says it might be able to increase production by 10 to 15% next year, but Ford and Chrysler expect defence priorities to cut production. Experts say that national income peaked in August and has been declining since. David Selznick's Uncle Tom's Cabin might be the biggest movie of 1949, or it could be Goldwyn Girls or Next Monday Morning[?]. There will be many movies about the Airlift. Cliff Fadiman may have a new radio show soon, and so may night club comics Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Margaret Kennedy's first book since 1938 will come out next year, and a new magazine, Family Bookshelf, promoted by Christian Herald as an antidote to smut. General Chennault's memoirs will have "surprising" things to say about the Chinese.
 (There's a video!)
Washington Trends reports that the Inaugural Address will be very inaugural, that a new Secretary of State will follow the old one, that Congress will give the ECA as much money as everyone said it would, after maybe complaining for a while. Defence will really for sure only get $15 billion, with Eisenhower and Marshall fronting for the President in Congress. The President will push for legislative authority to impose war controls on the economy (including on strikers) in an emergency.

National Affairs

"Paying Too Much For Our Bristle" The Federal Government is paying too much for stuff, including national defence, and so it is pushing for faster unification, better book-keeping (the Army cannot account for  9000 of its 25,000 tanks) and asking the College Man what to do.
Have I mentioned lately that Hoover graduated with a B.Sc. in geology, and not an engineering degree?
One of the spurs to the latest round of handwringing is the Eberstadt task force's report, which, among other things, highlights a lack of "strategic planning" in scientific research, and lack of preparation for psychological, biological, chemical and radiological warfare. So that's interesting for us! Unification of the naval air arms and Air Force remains . . . contentious, let's say. Meanwhile, one of the headings under the total $15 billion figure is $600 million for stockpiling strategic materials, which leads into a separate story on "the Scrap Scandal." Regional Notes will be sad that this isn't about rockets tucked away in loads of German steel, but rather that the ERP (which is in charge for some reason) is buying aluminum and lead at premium prices compared with what they are going for in Canada and Mexico. Because it is going to European countries under ERP? And some of it is scrap? As "first scandal of the second Truman Administration," this has a long way to to go to catch up with the Pumpkin Papers That Are Not A Red Herring.

Hoover thinks that executive turnover in Federal service
is unacceptably high.
The President is doing stuff, some of which is suspiciously low-class, like trying to get a pay raise for himself and other government executives.

And, way down at the bottom of the column, in reverse order of importance, it is revealed that the President's personal DC-6 is now considered "dowdy," compared with the Air Force's new "executive" C-121 Constellation, that rumours have swirled about this new "Congressional" plane for months, and, lastly, oh by the way, it "had been planned as an inaugural surprise present for 'President' Thomas E. Dewey." Mumble to yourself when you read that.

Speaking of Hiss, blah blah blah. (It's hard not to get bogged down in the prurient details --were they lovers, or not???-- as self-defence, I've decided to wait for the movie.) There's a bit that might be concrete here. For example, information shared with the Russians by Hiss might have led to the dismissal of Max Litvinoff, and the Truman Administration is toughening espionage laws, but it's all so tawdry that it's almost a relief to turn to a murder on the Navy reserve of Guam (which Congress would like to turn into a regular Territory). The boyfriend did it! I'm only saying . . . Just to really dig down into the barrel of squirming slimy things, we close with a story about Davis Knight, great grandson of the Newt Knight who seceded from Mississippi and declared the "Free State of Jones" during the Civil War, has been convicted of miscegenation for marrying a white woman and sentenced to five years in prison, the first sentence under the state's miscegenation statute. The Prosecution alleged that Knight's grandmother was at least an eighth Negro, while the Defence argued that her ginger complexion and curly dark-brown hair was inherited form Cherokee ancestors. It is up to the State Supreme Court whether his marriage will be voided.

 Washington Tides with Ernest K. Lindley makes "Notes on the Armed Forces" Eberstadt's unification plan would combine the Marines with the Army and the naval air arm with the Air Force. But what about all those special things that make the Marines an elite fighting force? And what about the possibility that carriers could launch atom bombers? It might be that you can't have Marines and daring naval aviators on $15 billion, in which case, who cares about running a budget surplus? America can't survive without Marines!

Foreign Affairs

In Japan, the Yoshida government is fighting with SCAP over the future of the Japanese economy, with neither side eager to take credit for anti-inflationary curbs on wage growth, and a blue book on the Program for a Self-Supporting Japanese Economy out in Washington for everyone to ignore.  Meanwhile, the Diet is convulsed by a "Sake crisis." Newsweek tells us that the Japanese have slight alcoholic resistance but love to drink, and after a recent sake party, Finance Minister Sanroku Izumiyana got fresh with female parliamentarian Mrs. Harue Yamashita, resulting in Izumiyana's resignation from Cabinet, showing that perhaps democracy is advancing in Japan, or that MacArthur is holding it back, one or the other. Also, in Newsweek's version of the story of the Dutch offensive in Indonesia, I learn one new thing, which is that the Dutch landed on the plateau amongst the verdant hills outside Jokjakarta, and on the flat beaches of the northern coast before advancing inland through the flooded paddies. Colourful!I'm still trying to make sense of the Dutch position, which is that if the Indonesians are granted independence, they will have the power to throw the Dutch out, which is too much independence, and they can only have enough independence as will not allow them to get rid of the Dutch.

"Report on Europe: Behind the Scenes in Three Countries" Newsweek's man in Europe got an earful about all the insults America has inflicted on France, and various suggestions that the French might rather have a Russian occupation than more American support for Germany. Then it is off to dirty, fly-blown Spain, a trip that leaves our Correspondent admitting something that would kill The Economist or Time to say: That French trains have superb food, modern equipment and cheerful service, while Spain is surly, suspicious, dirty and in poor maintenance. A later story even intimates that Paris has recovered enough to have a --gasp!-- normal Christmas, with Premier Bidault even able to take Christmas week off work to rest at the Palais Luxembourg. Recovering himself, he remembers to congratulate the Spanish on their "somber . . . toughness," and mention that American Army and Navy officers he met are unanimous about Spain being a more reliable anti-Communist ally than France. He also mentions that the French General Staff have been on the Spanish about getting permission to move their army through the country to North Africa in the event of war. In Britain, meanwhile, the "patient . . . has had a blood transfusion" and is starting to show colour. The British appreciate Marshall aid, and while they regard buying American as "moral turpitude" due to the exports imbalance, they are happy to see "their destiny linked to the United States."

I know that Ma'am will be interested in the scrap of story about the royal baby, and am bringing my copy of Newsweek, which comes complete with a picture of the "bonnie prince," but I'm not sure how much more I should say here. Also, Princess Margaret is quite the wild young thing! The tribunal on Labour corruption overseen by "contact man" Sidney Stanley is in its fifth week, Denmark marked a wedding between Nazi collaborators Anna Lund (armless after mutilation during her attempted flight at the end of the war, per Newsweek) and former Nazi-era chief of police Joergen Lorentzen. Both are in jail under sentence of death, but they were allowed to marry at Copenhagen police headquarters because the prison was too dismal. How romantic! Not romantic at all is Strachey's relentless pillorying because he can't get rid of rations at the Ministry of Food.
Almost as funny as squalid British upper class anti-Semitism!

In Canada, a worthy fight over margarine, pro and con, and a relaxation of Canadian austerity, as Canadians are allowed to buy various American imports again; although Finance Minister Jack Abbott has given business a pointed scolding about the continuing net outflow of capital investment from Canada to the United States.

Latin American excitability adds a new country (but not a real country) as El Salvador sees the army remove Salvador Casteneda Castro as President after three hours of street fighting in which one man was killed and eighteen wounded. Newsweek is also bemused by an "unidentified woman" flying to the front with the Costa Rican not-an-army, and by the Caribbean Legion's failure to accomplish anything in the field of dictator-removing.


"Accent on Caution" A meeting of 1000 bankers at the annual convention of the American Bankers Association in Chicago heard alarming words from the Credit Policy Commission. Loan repayments are slowing down. Last year's meeting was worried about inflation. This one is worried about deflation. Soon, they warn, business will become more competitive and the "unfit" will be weeded out. Therefore, they urge cautious lending. However, Mark Brown, of the Harris Savings and Trust in Chicago, says that caution shouldn't lead to restrictive credit. As long as the country remains committed to full production, maximum employment and high income, it will be impossible to reduce the amount of bank credit outstanding.

The story of Sam Wolchok losing his own New York department store union over Communist infiltration plays again here, along with some incomprehensible New Jersey politics over contracts with the Teamsters union. Some corruption might be involved. I know!

"Safer and Faster" Newsweek's version of the story about J. D. A. Morrow's Joy Manufacturing Company and its 16-ton "mechanical dragon" lacks a picture of the president in a snazzy leather jacket, but does have a sinister, insectile picture of the four-man Joy digging through the coal. Morrow claims to have 300 orders of $45,000 each, but Newsweek questions whether this is the right time to be trying to dig up even more coal, with the UMW even talking about a Christmas "vacation" to cut into surplusses.

For those who care about commuting into Manhattan, there is a suspiciously long story about the troubles of the Long Island Rail Road.

"Nearer the Seaway" Every President since Taft has plumped for a deep-sea waterway from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the Great Lakes, Newsweek tells us, with big dams and hydroelectric development along the way. It has never gotten anywhere, because utilities and railroads have always opposed the spending of public money on their competition, while coal interests feared undercutting by foreign competition and Atlantic ports similarly feared Great Lake ones. Governor Dewey has been pushing a New York-led scheme focussing on hydroelectric development, but the Truman Administration just killed it, fearing that breaking the Seaway project up into small parts will kill the whole. Eleven of the Senators who voted against it last time it got to committee are gone, and some hope that this might make a difference. Newsweek is skeptical, and expects that regional rivalries will continue to stand in the way.

"Idlewild Test Case" Idlewild is a massive, brand new airport of 4500 acres, but only 31 aircraft take off from it a day, while eleven airlines use La Guardia in spite of constant delays. It's a fight over the airlines' tenure rights, which have traditionally been long leases. The New York Port Authority, which took over Idlewild in mid-construction, after the leases had been negotiated, doesn't think that they are self-sustaining, and wants to change the rules. As Newsweek points out, this is the first time, at least in America, that a business-minded outfit like the Port Authority, has taken over an airport from one of those silly, feckless municipalities.

What's New reports that Minneapolis Mining and Manufacturing has a new Scotch-Top low-cost interior and exterior spray-on wall finish to replace plaster, paint and wallpaper. Peck and Hale, which is a real name, has an automatic tie-down system for cargo on trucks, ships and railcars, consisting of a 2-foot backing cable and clamp device. Electric Bowling, of New York, is working on an automatic alley that substitutes for a real one. A small ball is rolled at an illuminated screen, and the score is tallied by automatic devices and shown on a screen. The New Holland Metals Company has an aluminum clothes prop. Kay Geren of Chicago has a "crosswords-style" dice game in which players throw seven dice marked with the letters of the alphabet and match them up to words.

"Silent Night in Bingham" Kennecott Copper is being struck in Bingham, Utah by the union that represents the private railway that moves 957,000 tons of copper a day sixteen miles down to its mills near Salt Lake City. That is a lot of rock. It is hard to imagine moving it all, but that's the advantage of rails. Big cars and big locomotives mean that you can shift big weights without many men. Best of all from the point of view of both company and railway men, while everyone else (notably the state of Utah's treasury, which is missing royalties and on the hook for workers' relief), is a cut of 12% of global and 30% of U.S. production, which will push prices up.

Trends and Changes reports that Lincoln Electric of Cleveland has distributed a $3.8 million bonus amongst its thousand workers, the average bonus just about doubling the average employee's $3,485 wage, an observation that had Uncle George smirking as he pointed out what "average" might mean. (The President getting $3.8 million, everyone else getting nothing.) Sears Roebuck has lowered the price of washing machines, shirts and women's hosiery. The Federal Reserve says that money in circulation has dropped $46 million this Christmas. G. T. Baker, of National Airlines, has a cuckoo scheme in which the airlines become regional blocs, as in the old British railway system, or the way it is sometimes done over here. (The planes land at airports at the edge of the airline's territory and are taken over by crews from a "competitor.") Armour and Co reports a loss of $2 million on the back of strikes, the price break and high livestock prices. I wonder how A.'s family business is doing? Not that it matters. Mom wants me to marry for real estate, not canned mutton. Also reporting bad news, hotels. Schoenlank and Kirschner, of Chicago, are promoting an 8-acre "auto shopping centre" on the suburban North Side of the city to serve motorists. Drivers will be able to pick up packages, cash cheques, make phone calls and send telegrams without leaving their cars. Soft drink bottler Edward Walsh Mehren of Beverley Hills is promoting 2 1/2 and 7 1/2 cent coins. Gene Tunney and Jack Fry of General Aniline are on board!

Business Tides by Henry Hazlitt Comments "Are Profits Too High?" Henry takes his victory lap for suggesting a few years ago that profits only appear to be too high because of inflation. He presents the same argument about depreciation that we've heard before, and adds that profits have to be too high because companies have to finance their own capital, because not enough people are buying stocks, and that the excess profits tax promoted by unions and politicians would just make that worse and destroy business forever. I'm still not clear as to how inflation in the past effects depreciation, which is a way of dealing with future costs, but I'm just a girl. A girl who hates Henry Hazlitt SO MUCH that she just assumes that every word out of his typewriter is a lie.


A study of British housewives under austerity shows that they are eating too much starch, had some significant worries, had too few vacations and too little leisure, did not smoke, went to the movies only once a week or so, had a high incidence of conditions associated with standing around, anxiety, fatigue and mental strain.

"Dangerous Bleach" The discovery that Negro workers at a Southern synthetic rubber plant experienced skin bleaching (to "chalky white") after handling the monobenzyl ether of hydroquinine has attracted attention. On the one hand, several hundred workers brought suit and collected substantial damages on grounds of "loss of social position among their race." On the other, it is hypothesised that the chemical, which stops pigmentation processes, might  have dangerous consequences over the long run.

. . . I'll say. And that's all I'm saying.

"Vision by Vericon" Remington Rand Laboratories produced this system for monitoring pilotless, expendable aircraft that were launched against German V-2 sites. It consists of a camera, coaxial cable, and a "master viewer," and possibly multiple "slave" viewrs. Although I would imagine the one in the bomb-carrying "drones" wasn't spooling out a cable! They have enough trouble with LF trailing aerials! I'm having some trouble sorting this out from regular television, but I'm not arguing that it doesn't have many possible applications for people who want to watch something that doesn't bear close watching, such as dangerous manufacturing processes.

"France's Atoms" This story has been everywhere, since France's first atom pile is news, and the fact that the man running it, Frederic Joliot-Curie is a Communist, is also news. It is the first atom pile built outside the consortium of countries that worked on the Manhattan Project, was built on the cheap, uses heavy water as a moderator, and runs off cheap uranium dioxide rather than expensive, enriched uranium. It is hoped that it will lead to a heavy-water reactor capable of an output of 100 kW/h.

"The Next War's Gases" Forget mustard gas and Lewisite. The Army Chemical Corps put on an exhibition for the press at the Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland that featured "Green Ring" "psychological" poisons that might lead to "irresponsible behaviour" amongst the victims, and also kill them if a small amount is inhaled or comes in contact with the skin. The Corps also has the difficult task of finding a defence against German war gas Tabun, never used, but captured in quantities by the Russians. The rubberised, multi-layer suits needed would probably render the army immobile if they were actually worn.

"Aviation's Shrine" Newsweek is the latest to tell us that the Wright Flyer is back in America, although they have pictures, which is nice. The Smithsonian is also in the news for giving out the Collier Trophy to Lawrence D. Bell, Charles Yeager and John Stack for the X-1 and breaking the sound barrier; and for giving the Wright Brothers lectureship to Abe Silverstein, chief of the Wind Tunnel Division at the Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory of NACA.

Radio-Television, Press, People

"Heidt Ho" Horace Heidt's talent contest show is riding high on the strength of discovering Dick Contino. This is good news in a generally bad year for radio, not because of declining audiences, which have been stable, but because of declining revenue, as television takes a still-small bite out of ads, but a huge bite out of capital, as the sixteen stations now running can't make a profit, and the networks seem them as "devour[ing] money" on everything from broadcast equipment to expensive studios.

"On the Record" A group headed by former professor Luther Harr is trying to revive the Philadelphia Record, recently sold to the Evening Bulletin and promptly folded. The idea is that Philadelphia's current two-paper situation is too comfortable, and that it needs a new, liberal morning paper to counter the existing two Republican, family-owned operations. Also bringing in a political angle is another story on this page about the elections for the New York Newspapermen's Guild, in which the "right wing" administration easily kept contol. Headed by a veteran New York Times man. I told you so! Come back, PM! All is forgiven! In more personal news, Bob Ripley, of Ripley's Believe It Or Not, is celebrating thirty years in the business, and Anna Roosevelt Boettiger is launching a radio show to be co-hosted by her mother.

More paleo-conservative dirty laundry 
Joe Louis is playing Santa Claus this year, Elliott Roosevelt is still selling Christmas trees in New York, East Orange, New York, is paying overtime parking instead of issuing tickets, because of the season, Father Divine's congregation paid off the last installment of a $90,000 purchase of a five-story Newark building in small bills, the last remains of Sam Insull's business empire were sold off for scrap, Lois de Fee, the 6 foot, four inch stripper(!) wants a national commission to regulate how much burlesque dancers can take off(!!). Teresa Wright is upset at MGM for firing her. Speaking of, the studio has just been ordered to rehire Lester Cole at $1350/week and pay him $74,250 in back salary after he was fired for being named as an uncooperative witness by HUAC. Gladys Glad, former Follies Girl and widow of Mark Hellinger, has died, as has former Senator David A. Reed.  The Archbishop of Canterbury's son has married an artist named Felicity Sutton, a "practicing Catholic." His father did not attend. Elizabeth Duncan, sister of Isadora, has died at 77, and Robert Briffault at 72. Dorothea Brande, author of Wake Up and Live and husband of  the odious Seward Collins, is dead at 55.


The movie event of the week is Bob Hope and Jane Russell in Paleface, about which I'd prefer that the less said the better, except that, as Newsweek points out, "Buttons and Bows" snuck out into the world via the vehicle for Jane Russell's charms that also features Hope being funny. Columbia's The Dark Past is a "provocative psychological thriller" has William Hoden as a psychoanalyst talk-therapy-ing his way out of trouble. Newsweek suspects that psychoanalysis doesn't actually work this quickly.


In spite of slow sales, many, many books came out in the last year. Newsweek, unlike Time, doesn't feel compelled to list them all, when it has column space to fawn all over Ira Wolfert's An Act of Love, which is modestly compared with the best of Conrad.

Perspectives by Raymond Moley Still Has To Make Up Space for The Dewey Fluff Pieces It Intended to Run With "The Durable Joan," which is the Encyclopedia Britannica article about Joan of Arc. Because there's a movie out.

Flight, 30 December 1948


"1948 in Retrospect" The Berlin Airlift was an unbelievable success!!! Airlines lost money, the RAF can't get men (and women), because men (and women) are not to be had. The trans-Atlantic Vamire flight wasn't as amazing as the Airlift, but it was amazing. Philip Joubert implied that "the people" should vote against Labour so that something could be done about the RAF's manpower shortage. The official magazine of the Royal Aeronautical Society implied that it agreed with that.

"Technical Progress" British airplanes set several world records, and if that's not technical progress, Flight doesn't know what is. Certainly not breaking the sound barrier! (Did that happen in 1948? Maybe I should look up an aeronautical journal and find out!) Some very nice planes went to Farnborough, and helicopters delivered mail, which may or may not be something that helicopters are good at, but it just stands to reason that they are also getting better at whatever it is that helicopters do do do do do . . .

The Sinatra cover was released by Columbia in April, but it featured material from a fall 1949 radio show ahead of his winter tour

No-one knows what "creep" and other such words mean, but we all agree that the metallurgists have made wonderful progress on the things they do, and that they should keep on doing the things they do to make "creep" smaller, or larger, depending; and also making other things better, whether that involves making them larger, smaller, or, I don't know, more or less colourful. Speaking of the need for more colour . . .

"Discipline and Democracy" Since WWII was forever ago, it is time to muse un public about how democracy needs fewer Halton apprentices "slouch(ing) around in effeminate haircuts" and more young men snapping to attention with a "Yes Sir, No Sir." Also, the ATC is not getting enough nice hats or Spitfires.

"Review of 1948" Experimental jet airliners; new trainers; new flying boats; Vampires across the Atlantic; Vampires to Sweden and Norway; AW 54 Flying Wing; Orville Wright dies; helicopters do things; runway lighting improved with RAE cross-bar pattern lights; RAE Technical College opened; More air services went more places; Beryl, Naiad, Python, Theseus, Mamba and Dart competed with Nene, Derwent and Goblin for publicity; Bombardier in production; Air Horse in flight testing; Shackleton gets "finishing touches;" Hastings, Valetta, Chipmunk, Fairey Primer, Auster AOP, Ambassador, Gyrodyne; Viscount out of BOAC and BEA plans, but a "delightful" aircraft; Lucas' new combustion chamber allows engine relights at altitude; The turnaround in public perception of flying boats is even more imminent than it was last year at this time; The RAF budget was cut by almost 5% over 1947 even though it hardly shrank by more than a little with the removal of, for example, India from its list of responsibilities. Rumours of a faraway country called "America" where they fly quite fast, were not heard. Tudor VIIIs and Nene-Vikings were not just jet test beds, but rather enormously important things that have to be mentioned again and again. (Be glad that I've managed to confine myself to only two mentions.) Geoffrey Smith is not very bright. Well, the Review didn't actually say that. But!

Here and There

Tiltman Langley Laboratories had a bang-up banquet to celebrate their first year. Birmingham thinks that Birmingham's airport should be nicer. Chloride Electrical Storage, Inc., is turning out the office staff for 2 1/2 of overtime in the factories as a temporary measure. Have you heard about Ryan Navions lately? Now you have! An successful attempt to rescue the aircrew of a Dakota that crashed on the Greenland ice sheet at an altitude of 7000ft involved landing a glider and then hooking the tow. It got into the air, but the towline parted at 50ft. The Douglas XT-30 is an interesting demonstration of the engine-in-the-middle configuration.  BOAC handled a record 109 tons of air mail Christmas week. Rumours of the existence of the lost continent of "America" circulated after news that a carbon copy of the DH 108 was seen in its Californian province.

"Australia's First Carrier: Consolidation of Sea Power in the Pacific" Australia is a real country now, because it has Naval Aviation. HMAS Sydney will operate 20 Carrier Air Group, with Sea Furies and Firefly 5s of 865 and 816 Squadrons. The crew will include numerous Brits, which is good, because it takes 1100 men to keep this boat running, and I'm not sure that there even are 1100 Australians.

Sydney was too light to operate the Barracuda, much less the next generation of FAA attack aircraft (Wyvern, Gannet). This promoted the weird career of the Firefly ASW variant, although that particular aircraft never operated from Sydney, which instead spent its active service flying off fighter bombers and rescue helicopters.

"Tandem Trainers" The RAF has decided that it needs a tandem-seat primary trainer, and the Chipmunk is flying off against the Primer. I think the choice of foreign-built planes isn't raising outrage with Super Ace set because there is not the labour to make them in Britain. (Certainly there isn't the labour to make their engines! This leads to the theory that the main reason that the Super Ace and its ilk are still being made is that the people making them are square pegs who have found the only square round holes in Britain.)

Casual Commentary with Robert Carling Comments "The Closed Shop in the Helicopter World: Witchdoctor Tactics Amongst Experts: Designing for a Purpose: Impressions of an Outsider" It used to be that we pretended to believe that only the most unusual of men could fly planes. We no longer believe that, but Carling thinks that "the halo has shifted" to the helicopter pilots." Only supermen can fly them, on the one hand, but, on the other, "these miracles of out-of-balance engineering are a vitally important means of transport." I quote further at length, because old "Indicator" really is smart and funny, even when he seems to be making a point that is so obviously silly that even I have to raise my eyebrows:

Otherwise, while flapping merrily along in cruising trim (the only period during which I could be said to have been in sole charge) it seemed to behave like any normal flying machine with the tip of a propeller missing and a spongily overbalanced rudder. In spite of the runway-traction-engine noise I was really quite happy until my very temporary instructor shouted some remark about the unimportance of human life, and the natural unreliability of all engines. We were, it seems, flying along in the danger height-zone, between 30 and 300 feet and engine failure would have left us with no adequate means of immediate support. 
Helicopters are unreliable, have valuable special uses, need considerable development before they can be flown at night or bad weather, can be handled by anyone with the reflexes needed to deal with complicated mechanical devices, and are certainly not toys for beginners. It is past time for helicopters to be designed for the work they are to do, and put to that work by ordinary pilots.

Civil Aviation News

Fulhsbuttel Airfield in Hamburg has a brand new concrete runway, complete with approach lighting. Begun in April, before the Airlift, it was opened for Airlift operations on 15 December. The RAF has adopted QNH (corrected altitude from sea level) as standard altimeter setting, and will broadcast corrections for each Flight Information Region twice an hour on all air-ground W/T channels. New Zealand Air is making money, because it doesn't have to fuss with regular services and money-losing routes yet. Give it more airports and a few more passengers, and it can lose millions of pounds a year, too! Speaking of the Corporations, BSAA has joined BOAC and BEA in losing money due to the costs of converting to the Tudor, and the failure of new passengers to materialise to fly in the larger (longer, more swingy-at-takeoff) airliners. The good news is that at least the Tudor IV is back in service. Speaking of losing money on marginal routes, various Scottish worthies are lobbying for more, cheaper services, while Connecticut wants to build an airport just over the border from New York to serve as a third airport for the city. The Indian Government is to spend Rupee 540 millions on airports in its new programme. Scottish Airlines has dismissed twenty staff due to a seasonal decline in charter traffic, which sounds a bit fishy to me. Strange as it seems, I actually find myself feeling a bit misty for poor old Prestwick. Canadian Pacific will begin Canadair Four services to Sydney in July. People are grumpy about the fact that the services arrive in Sydney on Sunday and leave on Saturday, imposing a week's delay on airmail return, and various persons hope that a mid-week service will soon be added, and also that the airlines will soon stop costing public money. BSAA has named one of its Tudor IVs "Elizabeth of England."

"Favonius," "Windmills or Jets" "Favonius" points out that some people think that airscrew-equipped airliners might be practical at speeds of up to 550mph, and that the reversible-pitch airscrew has a bright future in flight operations, as well as for its current use, braking landings. Icing is well in hand.

"Turbine Travel: Airborne in the Vickers Viscount" Vickers-Armstrong finally got its Viscount off the ground for a demonstration flight with passengers on board on the third attempt last week. It was very fast, and quiet, but Flight's correspondent scrambles to excuse some vibrations that might be due to bumpy weather or low flying. Having done so, he calls it "exceptionally quiet and vibration free," with crash-proof tanks carrying high flash-point fuel and a cruising speed of 350mph. Vickers also thinks that the Dart will be at least as economical as a piston engine. Altogether, it is two to three years ahead of anything else. That's nice, but our correspondent is Harold King, make of that what you will.
At least this sales job conned the Commies. 

Shorter notes remind us that the 50,000th aircraft landed at Gatow on Christmas Day, that the US Secretary of Air was at Burtonwood, that there are rumours that the Swiss have licensed the Vampire.


"F/O, RAF" is a navigator who is trying to get into a pilot conversion training course, and can't.
B. C. Philips writes to point out that the reason that the RAF can't get men is because civil employment is tempting and that the RAF isn't very much fun, and that brass hats talking about "discipline" won't improve things any. De Havilland responds to "Private Flyer" by explaining that the reason it isn't making more Tiger Moths, or importing more Chipmunnks, is that no-one is buying them.

Engineering, 31 December 1948

Literature Engineering quite liked The Shipbuilding Business in America, which explains the American shipbuilding achievements in both wars at rather more length than Uncle George ("Lots of workers, lots of land, lots of money, cheap steel") and probably as accurately. H. J. Cooper's Scientific Instruments, Volume II, is a good book to make "stocking stuffer" and "vacation read" jokes about. It is also the volume that focusses on electrical equipment, so it could well be worthy!

"The 'Transistor' Amplifier" This is the article that Reggie finds so fascinating. Three workers at the Bell Telephone Laboratory at Murray Hill, New Jersey, have announced an electrical amplifier consisting of a geranium piece with surface engravings and plugs. The engravings conduct electricity preferentially through a  surface layer of treated germanium in such a way as to reliably amplify electric currents. The piece is much smaller than a vacuum tube amplifier and also less fragile. More interestingly, the workers, W. Shockley, J. Barden and W. H. Brittain, have a theory about how it works that applies to other "semi-conducting" properties. Even more interestingly, it draws on the "quantum mechanical" theory in fashion with the longest-haired of longhair physicists, and applies it to something that seems more chemical in nature, to produce a useful piece of electrical engineering. I won't detain you with the theory, which involves extrapolating from electrical current to "electron flows," and, what I find hardest to grasp, an equal and opposite flow of the "holes" left by the dislocation of the elections --which surely don't actually flow! Reggie thinks that this is the key to getting radar onto the pilot's control panel.

"Welches Dam Pumping Station" For many years, the British have been pumping out the Fens district to increase farming land. It is one of the interesting sidelights of this article that the current work involves improving existing canals that were built at an unknown date by unknown hands (although probably Seventeenth Century improvers and not Stone Age Picts and Druids). The success of the early improvers laid the seed of current problems, since the dried-out land sits on peat beds that have shrunk, bringing the level of the canals below their outlets, and threatening back-flooding. Thus, the dam, and associated electric pumps. I would give you a map, but Engineering thinks that a diagram of the works is more interesting than the least ideas of where the Great River Ouse might be!

The website on the Welches Dam is excellent, but the author, I assume Hugh Venables, neglects to sign it in an obvious way. 

Messrs. Holsun's Batteries have a new "Shednought" car battery. The British Standards Institution has standards for "cast iron rainwater goods" and asphalt for roads.


"London's Water Supplies" The Metropolitan Water Board has published two reports on progress in water supplies. I forgot to mention that one of the Electricity Board's most interesting statistics is that home coal is going to almost 50 million Britons, up from 46 million inhabitants of the crowned isle in 1939. Similarly, London needs more water. Complicating things is all the bomb damage, which required temporary mains to provide fire fighting water while damaging the facilities that already existed. Progress is therefore two steps forward, one step back as badly located hydrants are removed and damage gradually repaired.

"Research on Domestic Heating" Experts were allowed to do a thorough study on fifty homes of similar floor plan but quite different heating systems. I don't notice a definitive recommendation on what kind of heating is preferred, but I do notice the same old problem of convincing the people who live in the homes to prefer the same things that the experts like. People tend to like their fires too hot and their bedrooms too cold. Experts were officially confounded to find that houses are drafty enough (that is, plenty of fresh air is getting in and keeping the common sort invigorated and alert, so there must be an explanation other than oxygen deprivation for their disinclination to vote Tory) and that modern Egerton-standards insulation and weather flashing drastically reduces heat loss over night compared to research standard expectations. Progress!

Notes covers hydroelectric developments in North Wales, a new trunk road to improve services for industry in South Wales, and a tour by the Minister of Supply of engineering works in East Anglia, confounding the usual stereotypes of the area.

(I'm not British, so I may get this wrong.)

Letters continues with the metric system, while Obituary covers the death of Arthur Titley at the age of 95. The oldest member of the British Institution of Mechanical Engineers, he has been retired since 1932 and is therefore best known to modern engineers as an active engineering historian of the Newcomen Institute.

Sir Noel Ashbridge's "Developments in Broadcasting" is mainly devoted to the need for higher masts and more power, although he does take care to pour cold water on any premature hopes for colour television; Automotive Products of Leamington Spa is proud to announce a new vacuum-actuated hydraulic brake, which seems to differ from other ones mainly in that the volume under the piston is part of the auxiliary vacuum storage, reducing the need for a dedicated "vacuum tank," and because it is easier to operate as a conventional brake when the vacuum fails.

When the vacuum fails. Well, that's got me all encouraged to take the train!


Motor ships Jon Porlardson, Mazury, Thorstrand, Trelyon, British Prudence; trawler, four single-screw cargo vessels or liners, tanker; Steamships Virginia, Irish Pine, Mafalda, Swanella; three single screw cargo vessels and one trawler.

C. E. Ransley, "The Solubility of Hydrogen in Liquid and Solid Aluminum [pdf]" Ransley investigates. It is important because hydrogen bubbles can form at the edges of aluminum casts, or perhaps they can, and that might be an explanation for excess porosity there?
Columbine II was the Constellation that first used the Air Force One call-sign when it flew President Eisenhower to Korea. No comment on the earlier Constellation that someone bought as a present for President-elect Dewey . . . 

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