Sunday, March 15, 2020

Postblogging Technology,December 1949, II: Blue Christmas

(Swapped for "Blue Christmas" below, because I have a legit excuse to lead off with Lead Belly.)

R_. C_.,
Shaughnessy, Vancouver,

Dear Father:

Once again I find myself writing a Christmas letter that, given the terror of First Year Law final exams, I'm more likely to be handing to you at the door as I stumble through!

Be gentle, and say nothing about my hair. NOTHING.

. . . Or so I said at the head in the long-ago time before Contracts final. (It's okay. I did fine, down in the mush middle of the "As," a little short of the high flyers, but good enough to probably make moot court.) 

Ahem. Allow me to dig myself out of multiple digressions and back to where I am. I started writing this letter way back on the 16th, pending the arrival of my subscriptions. And Contracts, next day. I was feeling a little self-conscious about my hair, but all ended well when Uncle George paid for an appointment on the 20th. I know I say that I don't like to take family charity, but I make an exception for new cars and my hair. 

St. Botolph. Fascinating. No word on central heating.
To continue this convoluted chronology that only some learned medieval  monk could unravel, I am writing this now, and bringing you up to date, on the train on the 23rd. Allowing that I pull into Pacific Station on time, you will have it in your hands by 7. HOWEVER, one of my magazines is bringing out an issue on the 30th. 

It is, of course, Engineering, which exists solely to crush my soul. I am PROPOSING to give it whatever brief due it is worth on my return to campus. I will send that, as an addendum, to you, by the start of classes. You will be charged with assembling the whole, reading it, if you are so inclined, and then forwarding it to the Earl. 

And now that I've explained all of that, Reggie's in the Pullman, so Merry New Year,  Jolly Epiphany, or whatever's right by the time you read this. 

Yours Sincerely,

(And that's how you deal with a contagious case of mumps)
A very brief precis of Aviation Week for the Back Half of December 1949

Industry Observer reports that the F-84 has now been refuelled in the air successfully, that Aircooled Motors (Franklin) will be back in business shortly now that it has been disentangled from Tucker Motors' cold, dead corpse, that contra-rotating propeller systems are the coming thing, that a 105 seat coach version of the Stratoliner is the coming thing, that a revised version of the 2-0-2 is the coming thing, that a night fighter variant of the Canberra is the coming thing, that Pan-Am will give its 14 Lockheed Constellations a new Stratos cabin supercharger unit. News Digest reports on the Capital Airlines DC-3 crash because hardly anyone got killed, so it won't get yelled at by the industry for mentioning it. 

The final word on what aircraft the USAF will buy in 1950 is out. Forty-eight groups apparently means 32 modern groups, with new versions of the B-36 and F-86, and the F-93, a "penetration fighter" version of the F-86 included as new and modern planes. The Air Force's 1950 procurement plans are definitely not ready yet. 

Coach services continue to advance. The Navy has held onto its Constitutions long enough that it won't be embarrassed flogging them off to the commercial market. The small problem that no-one wants them and that they're not approved for civilian service can be safely set aside, because the CAB will probably be fine with a plane that can only take off with a useful load under JATO. The Navy is cutting back 20% on attack planes because it is only going to operate 8 attack carriers in '51. The 377 production run is almost finished. The Navy is doing some trials on what rain does to radar. (Not exactly news to me, but whatever. The interesting thing is that you can model rain cloud interference as a tiny little radio valve broadcasting back at the radar; but what if you did that artificially, the longhairs are asking? And I don't mean with chaff!) Chromium plating seems to affect metal fatigue life, which is an interesting result that underlines how much we have yet to learn about how metals work chemically. Pressure welding, the GEC-developed method licensed in America by Koldweld is "being studied." Aviation Week sticks by its Dutch-abandoning-Fokker story in the form of a story about the Dutch "reconsidering." The big technical article for the end of December is about the problem of airstream divergence in fast flight. 

A closing editorial takes aim at un-named competitors which have made unspecified claims of ethical lapses on the part of Aviation Week in the form of favourable press in return for corporate payola, which are too tedious to even bother refuting. 

Flight, 15 December 1949


"Clearer Air?" The Parliamentary tizzy over the Prestwick Affair is over after the Attorney General tells the House of Commons to simmer down. Everyone was partly right, and partly wrong, and there won't be some kind of independent accident-investigating Star Chamber, because there was a civil war over that stuff, and the King lost. 

"Honour to the Airlift" Now that the Berlin Airlift has been over for eleven months (except when Flight has to fill pages by announcing that is ending this week due to this-or-that service being curtailed), it is time to take a rosy and nostalgic look back at those distant times, complete with the Queen Mother inspecting ranks of tall, handsome airmen and an anonymous civil pilot reminiscing about bad weather, flying under BABS, getting up at 2:30 in the morning, and a Lancastrian "belonging to another company" showing up over Wunstorf on a dark and stormy night with radar u/s, no radar compass and the airfield's GCA out of action. Americans were very annoying with their poor radio discipline and no radar, but awfully funny on air. But everyone says you don't really need airborne radar, so what are you going to do about that?

Here and There

Venezuela just became the twelfth customer for the Vampire. Frederick Handley-Page is working on material for his act before going on the road, telling the American Chamber of Commerce this week that there's no point in flying so fast if you have to land fast, too. Speaking of, Dunlop is going to put twelve sets of the new American Hytrol anti-skid brakes on Canberras and Tudor IXs. Italy is going to have a radar chain, just like the one the Americans are going to pay for. Have I missed anything about the British radar chain, or is it still the same old WWII stuff? Flight offers the ridiculous theory that hardly anyone has heard of Chuck Yeager because he doesn't get enough publicity. Here's some, free! Ryan's Super Navion is in the news again.

"Ambassador Progress" No, not progress in selling the plane to anyone but poor BEA. Don't be silly!  They're testing the wing structure, which seems to me like something that should have been done before they started flying, and the pressurisation. The testing involved stressing some wingtips to failure, and involved the use of an Airspeed-developed electronic strain-gauging instrument called the "Polygraph," so maybe that's news? And the Bristol Centaurus engins are being developed some more. 

Civil Aviation News

The CAA has certified the Dehmel synthetic trainer. From now on, training on this electronic device "will form an important part" of the semi-annual crew checks for the Stratocruiser. Flight reviews all the American aviation industry figures who have called for state aid for developing a jetliner. "Necessarily free enterprise, but not necessarily free enterprise," or something like that. I say. Flight is a  little less happy about that, I think and settles for suggesting that Americans just didn't appreciate the value of jets early enough.

Speaking of, a Viscount went over to Ireland to show off. Five years ago, years of interminable talking about talking about civil aviation ended with the formation of the ICAO with the Chicago agreement. Five years later, it is an anniversary and a chance to talk about talking about talking about civil aviation. (Hat tip to Uncle George!) The Ministry of Civil Aviation's latest Information Circular (Number 138) scolds pilots for letting their IFR standards slip. Radar (see radar chains!) is showing them off their required heights by 500ft, not 200ft, and position fixes off by up to 5 miles. Big Brother is watching you! Since that doesn't make up the space requirements, Flight briefly review Number 137 (how big an airfield has to be before it has to file mandatory MCA reports) and Number 138 (reminding everyone that foreign airliners over Britain now have to show flashing navigation lights; which, until they come in for British planes, are not to cause confusion. You hear that, pilots? You may not become confused!)

"Assessing Operating Costs?" Ever heard the joke about the accountant who reveals their secret for super-accurate audits on their retiring day? They open their desk drawer and reveal  a helpful chart that says: "Black ink on the left, red ink on the right." Same same from SBAC, just a bit longer.

Turkish Airlines might buy some helicopters. Air Marshal Carr is retiring as MCA's Divisional Director for London and the Southeast. Glenn Martin insists that the 2-0-2 is cheaper to operate than the DC-3 so WHY WON'T ANYONE BUY OUR PLANES, PLEASE PLEASE PRETTY PLEASE. You'd think that running full tables and charts would satiate the readers' appetite for short bits about how much more business the airlines are doing, but, no, here's more about how many revenue passengers BOAC carried in the most recent period than the period before that.

The Empire Test Pilots School had a Christmas party, and even more people recalled that pioneer trip to Australia this morning when they woke up in someone's bed with a splitting hangover and panties on their head. Or something like that. Not that we college girls know anything about such goings on.

"Canberra: Design Analysis of Britain's First Jet Bomber" The promised very long article about the design of the Canberra. The Canberra is remarkable in recent practice for its combination of high speed and low wing loading, fighter-like aspect ratio, good low-speed handling and stall characteristics. high speed range. The wing profile, chosen from a modified German contour, gives a good Mach number without losing control characteristics. The entire lack of fairing fillets is remarkable, and the low aspect ratio of the tailplane was chosen to reduce pitch change. The very slim and continuous, circular fuselage is for low drag.

All of this is a lot easier to achieve when you put a mighty Avon engine in the wings, but since Flight can't talk about that, it doesn't. (Except to point out that it is "compact," which would be more meaningful if every British engine weren't "compact," in Flight lingo.)

Next there's talk of the undercarriage, nosewheel, ejector seat and some instruments, but let's get right to the good stuff, the giant DTD 683 "light alloy" forgings and extrusions that keep body and soul together.

When is the right time to talk about how postwar British governments can steer multiple bomber programmes to completion, unlike any other government after them? Is it really all down to the increasing cost of aircraft? 

"BOAC's Maintenance Organisation: Is There a Missing Link?" Some anonymous Flight writer thinks so. Good enough for me!

"Collecting the Stratocruiser, Part III: Seattle to New York: Impressions in the Air: A Change of Airscrews: The Flight Home. By THE EDITOR" Flight doesn't really understand how you cite and attribute, and I am going to play along because I hadn't noticed that the Smiths were off in America flying along in the Stratocruisers, which explains how this series reached its inflated state. Four pages to get the Stratocruiser from New York to London. Editors need editors, too!


Barrie Aldbury writes to absolve the radio industry of blame for the lack of radars. It is because the Treasury won't pay enough. E. Southern, of the Association of British Aero Clubs, has strong opinions about the "Hire or Reward" decision that decided just how far civil licenses allow pilots to run their own air taxis. I don't know and I don't care! H. B. D. Eaden writes to expand on 809 Squadron's history. J. H. Stevenson, of the Aeronautical Engineers' Association, is miffed that BOAC didn't come to it to talk about the BSA redundancies, and instead just talked to the TUC's National Joint Council for Civil Air Transport.
Engineering, 16 December 1949

"Experimental Steam Plant at Devonport College" With exam season coming on, Engineering helpfully provides the students at Devonport College with a cheat sheet that will also later be applicable at Teheran University, Farouk University and the RA Technical Establishment at Farnborough, where I didn't even know they had engineering students who needed to study steam plants. 


That's alarming. 
Cyril Fox's The Geology of Water Supply at first looks like such an important book that it needs a quarter page of graphs, but that turns out to be more about the new steam plant at Devonport. It turns out to be a book for farmers and town planners and such who might not know much geology or engineering but need to have opinions. One opinion is that it is okay to say "Hindustan" these days. It is not! Frederick Soddy's The Story of Atomic Energy is based on a series in Engineering in 1948. Professor Soddy is the last survivor of Rutherford's original working group, and this is a somewhat backwards looking book that starts with alchemists trying to turn lead into gold before moving (via the invention of atomic chemistry) to Rutherford's efforts to bang very small things into other very small things, leading to the discovery of the atomic structure, all of those subatomic beasties, and, eventually, of the energy-producing uranium fission chain reaction, just before the outbreak of the war, and we all know where that led. That brings us to the peaceful use of atomic energy, which, apart from blowing up mountains, would seem to involve atomic power plants. We don't know much about where that is going, apart from dark rumours about submarines upon which Stoddy touches not. So there we are, facing a future that involves either a new Stone Age or a new Steam Age, you pays your money, you takes your pick!

J. Blakey's University Mathematics: A Textbook for Technology and Engineering Students sounds awfully ambitious, or vague, or unhelpful, considering that Reggie's cinderblock bookshelves have an entire section devoted to his first year-level math courses. Of course, on the one hand, his "first year" was completely messed up by the war; on the other, he will get rid of those awful things and replace them with proper shelves before the wedding, or my name is not . . . excuse me, I have to look it up in the index! Which, in a seventeen chapter book covering the differential and integral calculus, linear algebra, modern geometry, as well as partial and ordinary differential equations, had better be very long and comprehensive. A book to press flowers by, I am saying. Jack Spaldish's Deep Mining is a very helpful book in an age when mines are being worked at 8000ft and contemplated at 12,000, with many mines that weren't originaly work at "deep" depths now tunnelling down. The reviewer notices an interesting section treating mines as "heat engines," and a discussion of the "complicated surges" experienced in the lengths of winding ropes under sudden accelerations. This is helpful for arranging that long winding ropes don't break, which I think we can all agree is for the best! 

To make sense of Senator Johnson's comment, you need science fiction,
not science. "Hydrogen bomb" only tells you so much!
"The Department for Scientific and Industrial Research" Remember that time a few months ago when someone quoted Lloyd George's promise of "twenty million for research" when he set up the DSIR back in whenever he set it up? (1920?) Shows what I know! I mention it because that makes the Department the Grand-daddy of all the alphabet agencies of scientific progress. This is a blurb about their thirty-third report, now published, the first to be released since 1938.

So, obviously the DSIR has expanded enormously. It has gone from about 600 staff when it started to 3000 or so today, and expenditure has kept pace at about £1000 per head, unless I wrote the same numbers over again in my notes, which I sometimes do. I'm not going to go check, because three pages of institutional blither in fine print is too much for me. As you might guess, most of this is institutional. Of course we're not going to be told if the DSIR has an underground lair where it uses a massive cyclotron to make exotic isotopes of plutonium or lithium that of which the Russians MUST NOT KNOW. Instead, being bureaucrats, it's about empire building. New laboratories, new departments, new divisions are what it is all about. I guess you probably don't want to hear about a mechanical engineering or hydraulics lab, but it is interesting that the DSIR is proud of a "fire" laboratory (for fireproofing or firefighting or both), a library in Scotland, and a permanent peacetime mission in America; or that it is behind a major effort to establish an international temperature scale for very cold things. It also wants to reassure everyone that it doesn't abduct individual inventors and throw their bodies into the North Sea in the dark of night; and it is very humble and willing to learn and progress and grow in the important field of helping industry.

Also, it has done some stuff with atom stuff, you can be sure, even if it can't tell you what.

"The Smithfield Show and Agricultural Machinery Exhibition" The Economist went to the Smithfield Show and talked about British beef. Which seems a lot more interesting than more tractors. I like steak, but I'm a bit tired of tractors. Grass dehydrators are a bit more interesting, in that you don't hear much about them. I guess Britain is so wet they need the help to make hay? Dried grass is hay, right? I'm not just confused? But clearly it is important to know that the oil heater in the dehydrator has a single valve. I'm sure plenty of farmers were going to skip the Ivo Engineering and Construction Company's dehydrator when they thought that it had a two-valve oil heater! That's sarcasm, by the way. I don't really think that, and I understand that Engineering has to say these things. I suspect that it is just reading the brochure, which I'm less forgiving of, but it's a big show, and there was steak. There's also a Silorators, Ltd, Silorator, which sounds pretty gruesome in that it is mainly a great big silage chopping machine and now I can't get the image of a person falling into it, out of my mind. And then it's on to tractors, tractors, more tractors.

"Improved Footplates for British Railway Locomotives" Now that all the operating regions/companies/fancy-acronyms-I-actually-recognise-from-a-million-articles-like-this are combined, it just makes sense that the best practice in locomotive footplate design be put into standard use right across British Rail. Because footplates are important, and not some boring technical feature of locomotives that not even most readers of Engineering care about. Well, actually, maybe they are, but everyone's too busy doing Christmas shopping to write a real article, and we have this publicity release from British Rail that we can summarise, so there.

"Inspection Pits for Public Service Vehicles" Oh, I get it. This is a competition. London Transport forwards an article about those pits that you drive busses over so that the inspector can look at their bottoms without being a Dirty Old Man. But they are more than shiny new pits --by which you can read the literal meaning, since they have oil-resistant ceramic tiles and cement surfaces-- they are also experimental. London Transport is going to see if installing "communicating trenches" between the pits and permanent jacks at the corners is a worthwhile thing to do before they dig pits like this at all of their service yards.

"Oxygen Cutting Torch" At this point you might be noticing that your oxygen is getting awfully thick. Well, here is the perfect article --No, my mistake, it is about a new departure in oxy-acetylene cutting torches from the Buckle Flame Cutter Company of Oldfield Lane, Greenford, Middlesex, which tries to keep oxygen consumption as low as possible. The key to this novel departure is a manually controlled valve that the operator opens and closes as the need for gas rises and falls. Ten paras.

Launches and Trial Trips

Steamships Golfito and Huldra are a banana boat and a single screw oil tanker, respectively; Motorship Spero is a general freight carrier with cabins for eight passengers.

Short notes mention that Chance Brothers has produced a giant glass lens for a Schmidt-style telescope for the University of Wisconsin, being made by Warner and Swasey and a very exciting film about "Armourplate" and "Armourlight," two new toughened glasses from Pilkington Bros.

British Standards Specifications  specify mild steel shackles and Engineering Drawing Room Practice, which reads like one of those comic lists where one thing is much more important than the other thing. This is actually No. 308, Part II in a series, and specifies "Dimensioning and Tolerance."It comes from an interservice committee on standardising tolerances for armaments manufacture, and deals with "units of measurement; screw threads; drawing symbols; limiting dimensions; geometric requirements and forms; clearance, transitional, and transference fits;  specially fitted assemblies; cones, tapers, countersinks and chamfers; angularity, parallelism and squareness; and profiles." The material being "difficult(!)" this is a draft version, and industry has until March to comment. The 23 December issue hears about Definitions and Symbols for Welding; Unified Screw Threads; Miniature Lubricating Nipples; and Asbestos-Cement Rain-Water Pipes. The latter is a revision of No. 569 covering 2" to 6" pipes and necessary fittings. However, heads are not required to be standardised, so that housebuilders are free to express their individuality.

Regional Notes

Scotland notes that melting furnaces are delivering more steel so that ingot production will be "comfortably" ahead of last year. Domestic and export markets want sheet, especially light, but the situation for large bars is not nearly as satisfactory. Coal production was down in the last week due to a series of small strikes, but remains well ahead of last year, with lower heating demands leading to record-high stocks going into the holidays and winter, and allowing for exports to Ireland, Holland and Denmark on a "high plane," although more graded coal for domestic consumption would be nice. The 23 December issue is more of the same.

The Southwest is doing "fine," "brisk," "well-maintained" trade in coal, export coal and tinplate steel in the third week of December. Next week, increases in export quotas are "foreshadowed."

South Yorkshire is likewise doing good business in steel and coal as factories run flat out to make up production ahead of the holidays for domestic and foreign markets, with exports to Canada a particularly bright spot! Next week, a theme beginning in the 16 December Note is developed, as our correspondent branches out from the region to describe overseas investments in steel plant in South Africa and Canada, the latter for railway and oilfield uses, with a new plant in Edmonton.

Cleveland and the Northern Counties are slightly less optimistic, looking to orders for "larger parcels," although the works are running at full capacity thanks to better supplies of scrap and hematite, which could also be available in said "larger parcels." I think Our Correspondent is doing his Christmas parcels! As with Wales, by the third week, increased export quotas are expected.


"Electricity Generation by Wind Power" Engineering has a nice report on the possibilities of wind power before it, by H. C. Putnam. It is very windy in Britain, especially in the Orkneys and in places in Wales, and on the basis of Danish and American experiments, it seems as though wind-generated electricity might be fed into the National Grid for as little as a quarter-pence the kw/hour, which seems as though it could be competitive with coal, not that I would know, since the Leader doesn't give comparisons.

"Production-Engineering Research" Engineering begins with a lengthy lament that modern engineers aren't always very handy, especially those head-in-cloud electrical engineers. It then moves on to notice that the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research has formed a Production Engineering Research Association with its own laboratory and works, at which point it is time to introduce the head of same, Dr. D. F. Galloway, who gave a presidential-style address to some honourable members for some reason at some point in the recent past at which he talked about how repainting one very large factory made the workers more productive, and also other research that the PERA of the DSIR has done.


The Institution of Mechanical Engineers received a nice new painting of "Bramah," and threw a party in its honour. I have helped the Institution and Engineering out by looking Mr. Bramah up in the DNB and discovering that his Christian name was "Joseph." No thanks are necessary. The Institution of Electrical Engineers heard the first report on the supply of engineers stemming from some 1941 Nosy-Parkering by Lord Hankey of the Cabinet Secretariat, who wanted to know how many engineers Britain had, and how many it needed. The report for electrical engineers is the first to be presented, and determines that Britain needs 1650 new EEs a year, and receives a bare pittance of but 1550. The Centenary of Messrs. Continental Express hears from the chairman, Admiral Audrey Smith, that they got into the business of parcel express delivery to the Continent a full decade before the General Post Office, those long years ago, and that they still dispatch parcels by steamers and such, which makes this a matter for Engineering and not Father Christmas! A report on how engineers are to give expert testimony in court is in; and the City and Guilds of London Institute, which has been around since 1878, pops by to explain the worthy things they do, which mainly include giving trades qualifying exams to up to 52,000 candidates, mainly in the armed forces, every year.

Letters is dedicated to J. W. Duncan's defence of his claim to discover new physical relationships via dimensional analysis.

"The Seventeenth International Navigation Conference, cont." In this week's installment, Engineering covers "Question 2" of Section II (Ocean Navigation), which is dedicated to loading and unloading oil tankers, either at ports or at oilfields. Seven papers were heard, of which the most detail by far is given for the British paper!

"Metallurgical Applications of the Electron Microscope, cont." A recent conference on same heard many papers, of which this is the second installment of very brief abstracts. It turns out to be hard to interpret what you "see" through an electron microscope, and most of the papers were devoted to experimental methods that allowed various researchers to draw some conclusions that they could actually ground on something besides what they thought they saw. One paper even went so far as to throw cold water on the whole notion that electron microscopes are useful for this research, at least right now. Not what you usually hear in these things! The final column of the page for this article is an announcement of an upcoming conference on electrical traction, complete with a conference agenda.

The new "atomic city" at Oakridge just had to go in here somewhere.
"25-kW Radio Frequency Furnace" If you're hard up for a Christmas present for that certain someone, Metrovick has just the thing for you, in three parcel sizes corresponding to 5, 10 and 25 kW electrical induction furnaces. It is particularly pleased by the last one! It will melt up to a 5lb, charge, and has an assortment of features for making sure that the furnace doesn't explode into smoky flames when it receives its 440v supply. On the same theme but completely different, Callender's Cables wants everyone to know about its new television camera cables, which are the latest thing in same.

Labour Notes

Much of the 16 December Notes is devoted to a leading article in the Railway Review by J. B. Figgins, General Secretary of the National Union of Railwaymen, who has had it up to here with wage restraint, the government, Sir Stafford Cripps, and the export drive. Room is, however, found to cover strikes at several power stations and a final report on turnover that finds that British industry is suffering annual 27% turnover in male employees and just over 40% in women.

S. H. MacArthur, "Tooth Contact Conditions in Spur and Helical Gears" It turns out that this is the precis of a paper given to the IME, something that passed me by (it's a very mathematical paper and well beyond my comprehension) until I ran head on into the discussion at the end. I do find it fascinating to discover that the equations for contact stress were first worked out by Heinrich Hertz, of radio fame, back in 1881. The Navy, it seems, is particularly interested in his work. James says it is because high stresses cause noise, which is "death" in modern undersea warfare.

A. Parker, "World Energy Resources and Their Utilisation,Continued" I seem to remember an earlier installment that concluded that by "world energy resources" one basically meant coal, because there is just that much of the stuff. That doesn't mean that you can ignore other resources. Here we come in halfway through oil shale, of which there is quite a lot, although its usefulness will depend on discovering how to use it. (It is sopped up in soaked shale rock. Another somewhat pie-in-the-sky possibility is oil locked up in sand, of which there is a lot in Canada and smaller amounts in Utah and Germany. Finally on the hydrocarbon front before moving on to wood, there is natural gas, which is quite the coming thing, Fortune says, although Mr. Parker doesn't seem quite au courant. Wood, Parker thinks, might yield the equivalent of 600 million tons of coal, about half of world coal consumption at most, and in practice the equivalent of 200 million tons of coal is burned for energy. Vegetable matter might yield more fuel if it were converted into methane and alcohol. Water power has the potential of giving 6 million kW/h, it is hard to estimate the potential of geothermal energy without more drilling, and solar power is practically limitless if we can just find a way to use it. To be continued!

"Customs Patrol Launch for Ceylon" Thorneycroft built it at its London yard, and Engineering is so desperate for material that it publishes the full publicity release.

New Books Notices Dr. Coton's Electrical Technology, now in its sixth edition, James Cassel's Stress Analysis and Design of Elementary Structures, now in a second edition, and "Duplex's" In the Workshop. The former  two are worthy textbooks, while the first is a summary of useful articles from The Model Engineer covering two world wars, either by a serving officer  or a journalist who wants to make himself look important by using a nickname.

Time, 19 December 1949


Various correspondents disagree about Time's "Thanksgiving Letter," are appalled that Frank Costello gets in the paper at all, and also that some atheist gets coverage. The Editor apologises for not making it clear that the pilots of the CNAC did not, in the end, defect to the Communists. A perfectly natural mistake that one might make in discussing people who break with the Koumintang, and, hopefully, not much harm done to their lives and reputations! Time's Man of the Year nominations are open. Readers offer James Forrestal, Harry Medina, Clement Atlee, Francisco Franco, Jean-Paul Sartre, Alben Barkely, Albert Schweitzer, Harry Truman, Louis Johnson, Ralph Bunche,  and then Judge Medina twice more.

National Affairs

"Around Right End" The new Commerce Secretary gets a fluff piece explaining that he's not a real Fair Dealer because he likes business, and the President gets one because he is down in Key West relaxing, and everyone like that. Someone named George Kennan is a noted expert on Soviet Communism because he wrote a letter and signed it "X." Also, he is very, very bald, although in quite a good-looking way. Time loves him because he opposes the "abandonment of Formosa," although on the other hand he is not a team player, which might be why he is leaving the State Department to concentrate on his writing. Did you know that when I say, "I need to go concentrate on my writing," what I mean is that Contracts is starting to swim before my eyes? (And then for a change I go read about British locomotive footplates. Sigh.) The Communists have kicked Angus Ward out of the country, while the Arizona got a nice ceremony in honour of the eighty anniversary of it being blown up by a Japanese sucker punch. Oscar Ewing said something silly over in London while investigating the NHS as a model for the Fair Deal's national health plan. America's bumper 1949 crop is a plague because there is too much food, and John L. Lewis is sad because there is too much coal.

"Wheezy Pinwheel" We join Time's coverage of the Racey Jordan thing in mid-stream. You'll rember Jordan as the reserve Air Force operator who spied on the Russians spying on America by snooping into cargoes leaving America for Siberia at Great Falls, Montana. When he roped in Harry Hopkins, General Groves made some trouble for himself by agreeing, which made the General look pretty bad. So this week, he gave testimony to HUAC this week in which he doused the fire when he implied that the late Harry Hopkins was a Russian spy. For good measure, he contradicted Fulton Lewis' implication that Henry Wallace was a Russian spy-sort-of. (Because it's not spying when you do it in the open.) Finally, everyone lined up to contradict Racey Jordan and his buddy, who "continued to throw off charges like a wheezy pinwheel." This stuff would be up Time's alley, except that Jordans a loose cannon, and backed by Styles Bridges, who is not on Henry Luce's Christmas list. As a result, Time is not afraid to point out that General Groves seems to be trying to dismiss Jordan and keep him around for "display purpose." (Also, the Hiss perjury trial is coming around to the idea that Hiss didn't steal the Pumpkin Papers, but was a Communist.)

"The Senator Rests" Robert Taft is doing a speaking tour of Ohio ahead of the Senatorial election next year in which he is practicing his "No More Me-Tooism" campaign for the Republican nomination in '52, against Eisenhower, who is (not-)campaigning nationally.

"Milfred Yant certainly led an interesting life."
"How Dry It Is" Time brings us the public effort to conserve water in New York. (No complimentary glass of water at restaurants; but nothing about leaky toilers, one of which might waste a million gallons of water a year. I asked Uncle George how that was possible, and he pointed out that water flows. ie, it isn't really drawing down a million gallon reservoir.) In related (well, New Jersey) news, Jackson Gillis has been relected major of Newburyport, which you should care about because he is very colourful. Also colourful is the Christmas light exhibit at Homer Snowden's house in Dallas, Texas. Even more colourful: Milfred Yant. (Which is a real name.)


"Moscow-Peking Axis" Should the world recognise Communist China, just because it rules China? Well, no. They're Communists. The Economist says so! (Well, except for the "not recognising" part.) It would be like taking all those squishy liberal trade union and peace activist conferences seriously.

"Troubled Shrine" Since there's no Soongs in sight, Time manages to rouse itself to something a little closer to objectivity in discussing Jerusalem. Its sketch map of Jerusalem is much nicer than The Economist's.

"Last Stand" When last we left the Koumintang rump, it had sent General Chiang packing and was trying to govern China from the last city before the southern frontier. (Or well beyond it, according to some.) That couldn't last, and neither could its Generalissimo-less status. With the fugitive government tarrying at Chengtu, Chiang was suddenly "calling a cabinet meeting" to discuss the alternatives of going underground, to Sikang or to Formosa. Premier Yen Hsi-shan, still a proponent of the western option, departed the next day for Yunnan, only to have the province go Communist while he was in the air, cutting off the Koumintang generals in Burma from Sikang. (Not that Time officially knows anything about opium warlords any more than it knows who the Panchen Lama might be.) That left Chiang able to carry the rest of the cabinet off to Formosa, in a completely unexpected development unless you read Time and can see the way the wind is blowing. At all.

"The Golden Age Express" Time is pleased to report that Labour is out in Australia, but not that Labour had the best of the by-election in Bradford, Yorkshire. It's also very pleased by Tate and Lyle's advertising campaign against Labour, which might be a violation of the laws against private partisan political campaigning, but is very fun and cheeky, which makes it okay. On the continent, French female novelists are too delicate because some of them write about sex while others don't want to write about writing about sex, German socialists might not be as terrible as Russian communists and more right wing Germans might be nicer than you think. In Italy, de Gasperi's ongoing land reform continues to march ever so slowly on, driven by the horrible situation in Calabria that no-one can ignore, although I think there's some suspicion that talking about talking counts as "ignoring."

A page of Communists fighting in Eastern Europe is about as interesting as the latest from Latin America. Or not, since about half of it is about Jose Mojica, the very handsome singing priest.


Christmas up, agricultural price subsidies down.Well, not literally, but Time is very unimpressed by the current cottonseed surplus, which has somehow turned into a shortage due to Government buying. (Which silliness is mainly driven by the endless battle to legalise margarine, but Time has its story, and it is sticking to it.)

'Low Bow" RCA Victor has acknowledge the competition by placing combination record players that can play 45s, 78s, and Columbia's new 33 1/3 standards.

"Youth Be Served" The North American Manufacturers' Association is tired of all those wet-blanket commie pinko young folk they have nowadays, and is doing something about it by inviting some college professors to talk to it and tell it how it can reach them, because who knows young folks like college professors? At this point, some skepticism crept in, and a few actual young people were brought in as a sort of steering committee. At some point a few Fair Dealers were roped in to tell the NAM that there's a difference between "socialism" and "social welfare." The NAM gave it all a bit of a chew and then put forward a program calling for removing all excise taxes, capping the 1951 budget, and returning to the gold standard. The student steering committee was sought out for an explanation, which turned out to be that the NAM was a bunch of fat-headed oldsters.

"Sad Santa" Since it is Christmas, naturally Santa has parachuted into power lines near Fort Lauderdale's Stranahan Field and the Ohio River. In both cases, the local Chamber of Commerce was involved, and Santa lived. Also living is the Santa who was caught in a snowball fight/riot at Soldier's Field, the one in Chicago with a fake time bomb in his beard, and the mechanical Santa in the Steinberg window in Asbury Park, New Jersey, who turned into a flame-throwing, cackling demon. So that's your Santa news!

"New Source" The Bureau of Mines' experimental plant shale oil plant near Rifle, Colorado is producing a thousand barrels a day by blowing up the shale, chewing it in a crusher, and then heating it in a retort. The process produces too much ash and uses too much water, but if those problems can be licked, it seems to have potential.

The airlines are fighting over the Rome route, and Nathan Cummings, chairman of Consolidated Grocers Corporation, thinks that the industry needs to get away from counters, dingy interiors, and do-nothing salesmen.

New Products reports that a Manhattan department store is offering left-handed corkscrews, fountain pens, watches, shears and checkbooks for Christmas; Vat-Craft Corporation is displaying a machine that uses radioactive material in its dye fabrics. The dye solution is run through a harmless uranium compound, then dipped into a photo-sensitive solution, then placed in a "light radiation chamber," where the dye is "developed," much like a photograph. Keen's English Chop House in Manhattan has a "Viand Visualiser," which is a menu with a stereoscope, which is better.

Science, Medicine, Education

"The Case of the Curious Sexton" Archaeologists have recently robbed the graves of assorted members of the twelfth century Spanish royalty, but it is alright because it is for science. And Timothy Snyder is America's best and most famous entomologist specialising in termites.

"The Healing Betatron" The University of Illinois' College of Medicine in Chicago is using its betatron to treat cancer, beginning with 72-year-old retired railwayman Fordyce Hotchkiss, whose egg-sized larynx tumour was shrunk enough by the healing blast of ionising radiation that he was pronounced "cured." Technically, you can't do that until the patient has been five years without a recurrence, but what are the odds of that, one way or another?

"Expensive Operation" The AMA's all out publicity campaign against the President's national health insurance program is same.  To fund it, the Association is levying its first ever dues, $25/year, from its members. "Let's face our battle of Armageddon," incoming President Elmer Henderson said to members. Whitaker and Baxter's has been retained at $100,000/year to fight the "virus of socialised medicine."  Some doctors, it turns out, have concerns.

"Preventable Deaths" In a paper given to the Radiological Society of North America conference in Cleveland last week, Doctor Carl Moyers points out that only one-tenth of all American cancer victims are operated on, and that up to half of the patients die from the operation. He finds these statistics unacceptable. For one thing, four-fifths of the country's gastric cancer victims are suitable cases for surgery. On the other hand, most of the country is not well served by its cancer surgeons.A few "islands," or in other words the top ten or so clinics, see a survival rate closer to nineteen out of twenty. In short, more surgeries are half the battle, and competent surgeries are the other half! Err, uhm.

Princeton University is having another fight over abolishing the campus eating clubs, while the Webster spelling books are twenty-five years old this week.

Radio and TV, Press, Art, People

"The Case Against Crime" As we'll hear below, Canada is ahead of us on this one, but Mrs. Clara Logan, of the Southern California Association for Better Radio and Television reports that hundreds of crimes are committed on radio and television every week, and it just has to be bad for public morality, which she explains in a letter to the FCC which finds general agreement across the nation. Everyone feels that there should be fewer, and more tasteful murders on radio and TV, especially between 4 and 9. Easy Acres has no murders, so it is time for it to go to TV, where Gene Autry is now earning part of his estimated two million a year with no murders at all. (He shoots the gun out of the bad guy's hand, instead.)

"Seven-Day Wonder" Time covers the course of the "Harry Hopkins was a spy" story with dripping contempt for Frank Waldrop of the Washington Time-Herald for promoting it in the first place. And from quaint and colourful Canada, Tory MP Davie Fulton of Kamloops-Upon-Supermare has seen his cherished bill to outlaw crime comics pass the House, protecting the impressionable youth of Canada from four-colour depictions of crime gruesomely not paying. And at Carleton College, Minneapolis Star and Tribune editor Gideon Seymour explained his two papers' star-studded cast of libelous, ill-intentioned, rabble-rousing columnists on the grounds that sometimes they break news, and other times they're just there. Which naturally brings me to the Chicago Herald-American's defence of its pictures three weeks ago of the electrocution of James Morelli. Outraged by the idea that its tasteless and gruesome photographs were, gasp, fakes, it explains exactly how they were obtained. If you can sneak a shoe-sole camera past the X-ray machine, it's not illegal.

Time went to a Christmas art showing and a medieval art auction as a way of leading up to a sumptuous article on modern church architecture over which I will pass as lightly as this. Also, Sir Alfred Munnings is the new president of Britain's Royal Academy, which is funny, because he doesn't like modern art.

Noel Coward is in New York, Andrei Vishinsky is out of it. Eugenie Anderson is still the first female ambassador in United States history, so on the one hand, congratulations to her; on the other, shame on the American male. Sir Laurence Olivier spoils the plot of A Streetcar Named Desire, probably because his wife is playing Blanche, and between Vivien Leigh and the entertainment press, well, you can guess how that goes. Or not, if you don't care. Speaking of, Shirley Temple says she hopes her next date is with J. Edgar Hoover. Ewww. Lana Turner promises to be a "home girl" from now on. Chuck Yeager and Charles Lindbergh are in the press, and Time still hates Paul Robeson. Governor Adlai Stevenson has had a Nevada divorce, Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter has died. So has George Rivet Van Namee, Rex Beach, Clifford Kennedy Berryman and Edmund Wade Fairchild.

In honour of Time's hysterical anti-communism, here's some Robeson. 
The New Pictures 

Dancing in the Dark is a "mild, almost listless backstage musical," although William Powell is good, and so is Betsy Drake, except in that she is not a good actress, dancer or singer, says Time. The Great Lover is "not the finest movie Bob Hope has made." Oh, You Beautiful Doll is sometimes almost saved when Gale Robbins and June Haver are allowed to sing and dance, which they are quite good at.


It goes on for four more pages.
I don't even know where to begin. There's been a lot of middlebrow in the last year that Time has to cover, and cover it, it does, mostly with name check reviews that it would take me forever to write up. So you know what? I won't See Books, 1949, infra. (Note to Flight: You can look these things up in style guides, you know.)

Flight, 22 December 1949


"Dollars for the Comet" Official numbers are out for the Comet, which can make 490mph cruising, has a still air range of 3540 miles with no payload and 2,645 miles with full (12,000lb) payload at an all-up weight of 105,000lbs, which is . . . rather high. It would be able to fly the Prestwick-Gander route with fifty percent reliability now, and this will increase as performance improves. The "dollars," one learns in assorted places that are not the Leader, is a Canadian Pacific order that was expected to go to the Avro Jetliner. I'm not sure why Flight can't be bothered to note the carrier that placed the order; it's not like it is an airliner accident, so they're allowed to report it!

A second Leader is about the British Aero Clubs, which are having a fine time of it. Along the same lines is the annual article about Cranwell's Passing-Out Parade, to which you may refer if you want to know which Cadet received the Sword of Honour, etc. (Good luck finding room to engrave "Edmonson-Jones" on the hilt!)

"Comet Assessment" The Comet, which will go into service in 1952/3, has a cruising speed of 490mph, an all up weight of 105,000lbs, a capacity payload of 12,000lbs, a maximum still air range of 3540 miles, corresponding to an operational maximum of 2,645 allowing for warming, taxying, take-off, climb and descent. It can fly 2645 mile routes with full payload, or 2140 miles with a 50mph headwind, 3000 mile routes with a 6000lb payload. These assume a 2175yd runway. The Comet is being produced with 36 seats, but a 48 passenger version with a 14,000lb payload is being prepared. Operating from a 2000yd runway, this 48 passenger variant would be limited to 101,000lbs all up and would be able to operate a 1750 mile route against a 50mph headwind, plus 200 mile diversion. "The aircraft is also economical down to stage lengths of less than 1000 miles." Since jets are particularly sensitive to temperature, the Comet will carry two Sprite rocket units for tropical operations. Improvements in the Ghost turbojet will also make "material improvements" in the plane's range, payload, and "other aspects of operational capability whilst the Comet is still in the early stages of its career." At present, the Comet could fly the Prestwick-Gander route (allowing for the 395 mile diversion to Goose Bay) with a payload of 5,800lbs on four days out of five.

Here and There

The Brabazon was seen over London the other day, which is nice, taxpayers' money and all that. The United States Far Eastern Air Force is now operating 200 Lockheed F-80s in Japan. Squadron Leader Graves of Westland "purposely went to certain death rather than the rest of the town should suffer by a more serious accident." I'm as sympathetic as the next girl, but I have to notice that he tried to land at Yeovil, bounced, and crashed into houses alongside the field. So as near as I can tell, the argument is that he would have lived if he had crashed into more houses. The British Interplanetary Society is showing some nice films at Kensington, including Operation Backfire, ,which shows the launching of a V-2, Faster Than Sound, which is about those Vickers supersonic rockets that keep getting lost when they're launched, and Atomic Physics, which is about the use of atomic energy for rocket propulsion. Now that's a rocket! "Claytonrite" self-sealing weatherstrip is used on a helicopter and is the subject of a nice brochure that Howard Clayton-Wright mailed Flight.

Daily Flight is Flight's annual Christmas comic insert.

Civil Aviation News

 The Canadian Pacific order is for two Comets, which will replace Canadairs on the Vancouver-Tokyo-Hong Kong service. Currently, the service stops at Anchorage, Shemya, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and the route time will be less than twenty hours. This is amazing!!! Canadian Pacific is also interested in the longer-fuselage Comet, which will operate on the Vancouver-Honolulu-Australia route. Possibly. Flight gets a bit marble-mouthed here. Flight is still trying to drum up a controversy over BOAC getting the former charter contract to fly out to Tanganyika. BOAC has received the first of its twenty-five Hermes, and confirmed that they will replace the Solents, so good bye to the flying boat. From the way Flight plays this down, I am going to make the AWFULLY cynical guess that the cheques from Short Brothers have been stopped. Mr. Strauss (Minister of Supply) told the Commons that the State has dropped four millions on the Comet, mainly the Ghost and the DH108 sort-of-kind-of prototype, and buying the first two actual prototypes to guarantee de Havilland a profit off the top. There is no accounting for the expenditure on wind tunnels and other aerodynamic research that assisted de Havilland. Governor Dewey of New York has declined to resume the War of 1812 over Colonial Airline's battle to retain the Ottawa-New York-Montreal routes. Various American senators are outraged. Super-bomb time! More than 17,000 passengers have flown on the Stratocruiser so far. Lebanon now has an airport that can take a four-engined plane.

"Short-Mayo 'Composite' Recalled" The recent French project involving launching test aircraft from an SE 161 Languedoc transport aircraft reminds Flight of the old Short-Mayo.

 Stanley H. Evans, "USAF Trainer Aircraft: A Design Review of the Post-war Tutorial Stable" The former "Favonius" is much less interesting when you know who he is. Either that or I don't care about the T-28 Texan, never mind the failed prototypes that competed against it. Or both!


A. H. Hammond writes from Australia that there should be an official SBAC Farnborough show film to watch, as otherwise there is nothing to do in Australia but watch didgeridoo-doos walkabout the kookaburra. Do I have that right? It's what my dictionaries give me! "Comet Enthusiast" thinks that someone should get some Comets down to Bermuda lickety-split to show the Americans what-for. And shave some time off the New York route, too. G. R. Wixon remembers the old days, during the war.

"Weight and Design: A Precis of a Lecture Given to the Roy. Aero. Soc. By  L. W. Rosenthal" Rosenthal looks at numerous recent airliner designs, extracts weight and performance information, and does some statistics on them to learn something a bit more substantial than "You should design airplanes to be light," which will help aircraft designers. We mere readers are going to be less interested in the fact that there is very little statistical scatter in the relationship between aircraft weight and number of seats.

"London Airport Progress" This is a huge civil engineering project. So far, 120 acres of gravel pits and ponds have been filled in, a hundred million gallons of water and 860 thousand cubic yards of silt removed and 680 thousand cubic yards of concrete laid in the process of completing 70% of Contract 2, as of September of 1949. Ninety-eight miles of lighting ducting has been laid and 700 acres of grass cultivated adjacent to the runways. Radio equipment includes ll the usual abbreviations and acronyms from VHFRT to EUREKA. The approach lighting system is now complete, with its unique remote control system installed in the tower.

The British Standard Association's announcement of B S 308 Part II (Dimensioning and Tolerancing) is repeated, because it is rather important. BSA also deems it important to remind Flight (but not Engineering) readers that B.S. 350:1944, Addendum No. 1, covering additional definitions, conversion factors, multiples and tables relating to "cubic measures, weights, pressures, force, concentration and traffic units" and so on at some length, is available via the BSA.

John L. Edwards, "Tailpipe Reheat: Specialised Research Program Reviewed: Potentialities Assessed" I thought we just had this article? We did! But Edwards just gave another version to the R. Ae. S., so Flight decided that we could hear about it again. The upshot is that, if you are an American, you just start dumping fuel in the tube and lighting it on fire, whereas if you work for de Havilland you measure the results and do heat-entropy charts until the cow comes home to find out if it works and if you burn too much fuel doing it.

D. E. Utley and A. M. Uttley gave a nice talk to the Aero about Navigational Systems and Instrument Aids, but they didn't go to school with Flight and so don't get their own precis article. Instead, Flight notices that it is chock-full of useful information and interesting speculation that some day the antenna might be part of the aircraft structure, perhaps as built-in slot aerials; and that some day there will be automatic airliners with no crew, although that day is likely to come sooner for freight planes, which would make everyone's lives easier by basically crashing on the runway, which doesn't seem like a good way of delivering parcels, as opposed to bombs, to me.

Engineering, 23 December 1949

"Sutton Coldfield Television Transmitting Station" The main feature of interest of the brand-new Sutton Coldfield station, which supplements the old Victoria Park one, is the mast, a veritable pagoda of electrical gear appropriate to broadcasting very powerful signals with no interference between channels, should British television eventually acquire more than one. Broadcasting equipment is by Marconi, generating equipment by Brush, testing equipment by the Electrical Department of the BBC. The station is linked to both Victoria Park and Birmingham by coaxial cables.


The first fifteen passengers and crew to the fuselage hole made it
out. The other 26 were burned alive. 
R. R. Minikin's Piling for Foundations and Structural Foundations are "complementary." You have to buy both, lest your pilings start in mid-air, or, on the contrary, your structural foundations rise no higher than a hole in the ground. Walter Ernest, Oil Hydraulic Power and Its Applications sounds like an illustration of what Reggie calls the "current American oilgear mania," building from an introductory chapter that recapitulates Physics 12 to a final chapter describing some of the elaborate hydraulic circuits ("logic" circuits, although the review doesn't call them that) now in use in the more advanced sorts of machine tools. The Institution of Electrical Engineers heard a call two years ago to get away from this stuff, because oil is too, well, oily (and, in Britain, costs scarce dollars). American's haven't heeded the call; but, as Reggie says, compared with jokes about "the smoke getting out" of electrical circuits, the reality of oil fires onboard is just a bit much. I should ask him if engineers are still allowed to play with elaborate high-pressure oilgears on the ground. E. K. Sandeman's Electrical Engineering is 1300 comprehensive pages in two volunes. The last chapter, on circuit analysis, has lots of math and will be hard to follow, but the reviewer promises that it is worth it.

Even successful women often have ephemeral careers. 
A. Smeaton Leah (which is a real name), "Ideal Efficiencies of Otto-Cycle Engines" Who else thinks that it is awfully convenient that "Otto-cycle" engines power autos? Honestly. Does the Camarilla think we're stupid? Anyway, Otto-cycle engines exist in the real world, where useful work is done in much more complicated ways than in "our beloved Stirling engines," as James says. Thus, this article is quite long and has several tables of experimental data along the way to coming to some kind of estimate of just how efficient a particular car engine will prove to be, all other things being equal.

Possibly Amy Smeaton Leah (b. 1916), a
Yorkshire woman and Anglo-
Canadian engineer
"The Aspatron Atomic Pile" The Asp Chemical Company is trundling around Robert Parker's mobile (but not very) atomic pile, which is said to be a convenient source of neutrons for various radiation applications. Unlike various particle accelerators that produce high energy electrons and even neutrons (by colliding said electrons with targets), this is an actual pile, with uranium, in the form of uranium oxide, and everything.  I'm a little at a loss as to how it works, since natural uranium doesn't undergo chain reactions. Engineering is a bit unclear, too; but the article says that it produces enough gamma radiation to be a useful source of same.

"Twin-Screw Motor Ferry Balmoral Launches and Trials can find its own bloody ships. Main editorial has a content problem, so it is going to bloody well run an article about the latest channel ferry. It has a nice new diesel engine. Technology. And page-filler. So there.

"The 'Joy' Continuous Mining Machine" The Joy 3-JCM of the Joy Manufacturing Company, Pittsburgh, is the kind of monstrous underground boring machine that had Fortune a-flutter not that long ago. Now they've shipped one over to Britain for the National Coal Board to contemplate, perhaps because they're not exactly selling like gangbusters over here. I don't know, not being in the trade, but I can look up an index with the best of them, and I don't find many references to them in the coal trade journals.

"The Nickel Industry in 1949" Nickel production was down this year compared to record production the year before, and the review Engineering is reading points out that the only new use for nickel in the last two years was nickel steels for oxygen equipment.

"Improved London Transportation Rolling Stock" London Transport is finally able to follow up on some prewar experiments into cars with, I don't know, bigger windows or something. My eyes are swimming from too much contracts, and that's more fine print than even my girlish eyes can take. How do grown-up engineers even read this stuff?


"Methods of Increasing Output" Engineering is the voice of the industry, and if one is not going to argue that Americans work harder than Britons, and it is not; and one is not going to say that British factories are less efficient than American, and it is not; what then? Engineering believes that Americans are more productive than Britons because they have more horsepower at hand and larger markets, allowing for mass production. That's not going to change, so how do we fill up three pages? Well, the O. Roskill Company does bang-up reports on this and that, and this "this" is about something called "production control," which seems to involve stalking the factory floor and determining that this machine or that is in the wrong place, that sort of thing.

"Coal-Mining Accidents" Now that Engineering mentions it, there has been quite a shortage of terrible pit accidents this year. The latest statistics, however, are for 1947, which saw a bit over 3000 deaths in the mines compared with almost 6000 in 1927, a huge improvement due more to better roofs than preventing the fires and explosions that come to mind at first. The third major cause is underground haulage accidents, and those have fallen, too. Electricity accidents are up, however.


The IME is hearing a paper on steel plant furnace design by S. F. Dorey. Dorman, Long is celebrating its centennary. Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, the chairman of the BBC, gave a speech outlining the future of BBC television at the opening of the Sutton Coldfield station this week.Five new stations were promised in five years, at which time 80% of the British population would have television coverage. New studios here and there. The Junior Institution of Engineers had its inaugural meeting of the 1949--50 session last week and gave out awards for papers previously covered in Engineering, so no need to go into them here when Engineering can spend a column namedropping. The Augustin Normand Shipyard in Normandy is re-opening after spending the last five years being blown up. The annual report on the research of the British Welding Association was received at a meeting of same with Director of Naval Construction Sir Stanley Goodall in the chair.

It is certainly an interesting fact that the official historian of the Royal Navy was a member of a whole family trade in productivity-gap literature

"The International Association for Hydraulic Structures Research, Concluded." The final installment of precis of papers from the Third Reunion follow. The theme is head charge and loss, and is the power of flowing water to be expected at various points in a "hydraulic structure" such as a pipe due to friction and such. It's interesting that expensive methods, like concrete-lined tunnels, are sometimes adopted just because it is too difficult to estimate what the head loss will be, in advance. So scientific progress can achieve the most unlikely economies! That only touches on the richness of the session, which considers everything from water loss in canals in the Punjab to the best location for a weir, but it is all linked by the problem of measuring or calculating head loss.

C. Timms, "Measurement of Progressive Errors in Machine Tools Using High Speed Photography" A methods paper concerned with locating the cameras and triggering methods, although there is some discussion of methods of results.

Dr. A. P. Thurston gave a presidential address to the Aero that even Flight thought was too much "years ago, before the war," but here it is, in Engineering. 

Labour Notes

This week's issues are ongoing cost-of-living talks, the problem of redundancies in the ship-repairing business, and the strikes at the power plants, which turn out to have been caused by trouble over night shift work.

Albert Portevin and Marc Dannemulller, "Segregation and Liquation in Alloys" Segregation is when the constituent metals in an alloy segregate during cooling, which can lead to blow holes and differing mechanical properties from portion to portion. I think maybe liquation is related to crystallisation? This is all very hard to study. In the old days, the saving grace was that faults were more likely to show up at the surface, where they could be machined away, and where strength was less important than at the centre. Nowadays, we design closer to the limit. Casting in centrifugal casts helps, but isn't always practical. And so we are on to the problem of measuring the phenomena, determining its scope, and finding methods of preventing it in various different kinds of alloys and castings.

I'm amazed the paper is as short as it is! but it does leave room for brief notices that BIOS reports are available through HMSO (if that doesn't mean that much to you, it seems like that's the general reaction to reports on German wartime industry by the British Intelligence etc.). The United States Navy has ordered a new blimp from Goodyear, and Engineering was invited to a nice session on aluminum in shipbuilding the other day.

"Improved Detector for Road-Traffic Signals" I didn't know there needed to be any such thing, but here is the "Autoflex" system of Siemens and General Electric Railway Signals Corporation. Oh, that explains it. Railways. Trains go over a plate, the plate goes down, the device activates a road-traffic signal. Company-with-a-very-long-name has some improvements. Got it.

Dr. Parker's "World Energy Resources and their Utilisation" wraps up with a summary. As foretold so long ago when the series started, it is mainly about coal, with solar power to come along in the distant future when the world's coal is at last exhausted. Britain is well off for coal (although not so much so as the United States) but will have its problems in the solar age.


Correspondents are divided on Charles Lindbergh. Andrew Fraley probably has the right of it when he says that "Your Special Report . . . will not pull the trick of bringing him back to popularity . . . He was deservedly pushed out of the limelight . . . " Clinton Rossiter, "Associate Professor of Government" at Cornell, is upset at Newsweek for characterising his plan for governing America from a bomb shelter by whoever survives the coming atomic war for as long as might be needed as a "constitutional dictatorship." Correspondents are also upset about Newsweek confusing doctors and dentists and time zones (with regards to the sinking of the Titanic, so keeping up with topical news). But who cares besides dentists, who want you to know that they really are doctors. Well, so was my first undergraduate history professor, and if you want to know why he's not teaching any more, all I can tell you is, "look to the brassiere." Okay, sure, actual doctors do that sort of thing, too, but they don't end up teaching in a mission school because of it, because they are real doctors. And now that I am led to the thought by a "fit of easy digression," EWWW.)

The Periscope reports that the Justice Department has a few more "kickback" investigations in the works, that Harold Bergson may resign soon, that it is not true that "even General Bradley doesn't know how many atom bombs the US has."  Talk from inside the Administration is that Truman will use the Hoover Report as ammunition against allegations that the Fair Deal is "welfare state" extravagance, and, anyway, the budget will be balanced by '52 thanks to rising revenues. The Air Force is upset that the radar screen is only getting $50 million when it needs $160 million when power plants, radio, telephone, and facility requirements are taken into account. Also, it needs the Navy's fleet of radar picket boats that was killed in a previous economy round. The President will propose federal student loans next year, Congress (or at least the committee) wants to increase the Post Office's budget, and the Reuther brothers travel with bodyguards these days.

It's said that Argentina will soon change currencies to push through further devaluation, and the Chinese Communists are running into problems with their land reform programme. Assorted European Communist parties are purging people or may be purging them soon. Radio Moscow is awful. Tito is nice for a communist. The US is reported to be talking to Britain and Canada about atomic things. The St. Lawrence Seaway is on again, because the steel companies want Labrador ore. Francis the Talking Mule will be the funniest movie of next year. Shelley Winters is the "latest blonde menace." Hedy Lamarr is in trouble for refusing to promote Samson and Delilah. The studio says that she is being recalcitrant because she is afraid that it will remind everyone of her notorious early European movie, Ecstacy. Wink wink. Mario Lanza is somehow still a "new musical discovery." Fred Allen is practically the only big talent to have said that he would definitely do TV as well as radio.

Washington Trends reports that Truman won't balance the budget because steep tax hikes are out, and so are spending cuts. The Administration doesn't expect higher steel prices to cause renewed inflation, although if it does, there will be a fight between the FRB and the Treasury as to who is really in charge of money stuff. Action on farm price supports, housing, unemployment insurance and Alaskan defence is expected. IN the last category, don't expect more troops for Alaska, although several divisions will be directed to do Arctic training; it will focus on air transport instead, to get troops to Alaska in an emergency.

National Affairs

"Tidings of Comfort and Joy" Lots of good Christmas spirit-type news shouldn't obscure the fact that communism is terrible.

"No More Me-Tooism" More on the GOP's discovery that the reason it is losing all the elections is that it isn't right wing enough, and that more robustly conservative politics will bring out the 46 million eligible voters who stayed home last year. Meanwhile, General Eisenhower's travelling "anti-welfare state" show is over-subscribed.

"Versus Harry Bridges" Harry Bridges' deportation hearings are hearing an assortment of  informants who say he is a Communist. Communists can't be American, you see, only Australian. Kangaroo boomerang koala, as they say Down Under. in unrelated but anti-communist news, the Hiss trial drags on, while Newsweek found picturesque, human-relations stories about how awful socialised medicine is. Handy when Ewing is still over in London learning about how not-awful actual "socialised medicine" is.  Next up, Herbert Hoover, smoozing up a storm.

Ernest K. Lindley's column this week is "Alms Versus Insurance." He is, I think, trying to talk the "No More Me-Tooism" crowd into some common sense about how much social insurance you need to have before you can beat back the "welfare state."

Well, that's a lot of serious news. Sure is a relief to get to a scandalous trial and a goulish sex murder! 

Foreign Affairs

How about something wholesome, like Swedish customs?
"It's Stalinmas Not Christmas" Just to review the material ahead of the final, communism is bad. Specifically, the Russians seem to have  a very creepy fixation on Comrade Stalin.  And have you heard about those trials and purges in Bulgaria? Here's an update!

"John Bull's Burden" Newsweek is super impressed that the same column in the a December number of The Daily Telegraph has headlines reading "Judge Shot in Sierra Leone," "Malay Police Burned Alive," and "Africa Troops in Kenya Disorder." And I have to ask, "What's the common denominator here?"

"The Balky British" It's the British who are keeping the United States of Europe this week. Hope this doesn't keep up! Substantially, they want more freedom to move guns out to the Empire, which impacts on the ERA, the Military Assistance Program and the politically controversial and "inflated" military budget.

"Fledgling Foundering" Chancellor Adenauer is upset that he had to agree to the new Ruhr coal and steel plan as a price for Marshall aid.

"Going to Jerusalem" The Israeli government has shown its deep respect for the General Assembly by moving its government to Jerusalem. While in Syria there has been another military change of government, although this time the victor refrained from executing the vanquished, and settled for exiling him. And in Japan, some unions are striking for higher pay and are being quite sharp about it.

Joseph Phillips' column this week is "The Chinese Reds Visit," and is about the Chinese delegation visiting Moscow without managing to say anything in particular.

"Whisky Wins the Dollars: A Look at a Scotch Distillery" The drink that tastes like cigarette ashes is definitely having its day in the Sun. It helps that it's an excuse for men to put on dresses. I know that the Scots don't have that reputation (which is overblown, because there are plenty of men --er, perhaps I'll just stop this train of thought right now before I expose myself as some kind of habitue of the demi-monde). Ahem. The industry is going to sell 5 million gallons into the United States (out of 11 million exported, only 2 million sold at home) this Christmas compared to 4 million before the war, which is a lot, but is only 8% of American consumption, so the key calculation for the industry is to keep Americans "Scotch conscious," in case they forget that they like getting drunk on cigarette-ash water. Which is sufficiently easy to forget that I'm surprised they haven't forgotten already. But they haven't, and you have to pretend to like it or you're not sophisticated . . .

In Latin America, Trujillo is said to be "uneasy,"Peru is said to be ready to make a greater effort to develop its oil wealth to make itself or maybe mainly Standard of New Jersey rich, and Washington is "profoundly shocked" that Panama is the latest Latin American republic to acquire its very own dictator. The Economist --that's right, the Economist-- in its coverage of the events, told "Washington" that if it wants this to stop happening, it has to stop encouraging it. But way down west in America, we know that it happens because Latins are a spirited bunch. (Newsweek skips the "Canadians are boring" page this week.)


"Wages Up, Steel Up, and On and On" And the American Farm Bureau is upset that the Brannan Plan helps farm incomes more than farm prices.  Inflation is coming soon probably. On the other hand, all those strikes cost America about $3 billion in wages.

"$50,000 Recipe"  Pillsbury's $50,000 recipe contest went to a grand bakeoff in the Waldorf Astoria ballroom last week. Winner: Mrs. Ralph Smafield of Detroit, for her "water-rising nut twist."

"Pie-Shaped Apartments" William Zeckendorf, a New York real-estate man, has decided that circular high rise apartment buildings with all utilities and mechanical installations in a central core, are just the thing for efficiency, but lead to pie-shaped apartments that he will rent out by the square foot instead of the room.

Trends and Changes reports that the most popular house model today, according tot he National Association of Real Estate Boards, has a combined dining and living area, small kitchen, plenty of closet space and no basement, and goes for $8000--10,000.  Pocahontas Coal, of Maine, is going into the oil business with a million dollar oil depot in Portland, Maine, because it is disgusted with the unreliability of the coal business.

In Detroit, the 1950 Chryslers will be distinguished from last year's mainly by styling, with squared-off rear ends. Oldsmobile is excited about its new factory, and while Dynaflow is set to arrive in more GM marques in the 1950 model year, Ford will have a torque converter by the summer.

Morton Downey gets a puff piece. He's a businessman now!

New Products reports that Gevaert Company's Diaversal photo-print paper will allow sepai prints from any size colour transparency. Lee-Edwards Inside Visor is an automobile visor that fits across the entire windshield. Yardeney Laboratories has the first silver-cell battery, which does the same job as lead and nickel batteriers, but is one-fifth the weight and half the bulk. Dr. Peter Schlumbohm of Chemex coffee maker fame now has a Pyrex kettle that heats water through an immersed electrical coil that will boil a quart of water in five minutes.

Henry Hazlitt's column is "Voices for Freedom," and is a call for more businesses to spend more money on propagandising free enterprise.

Science, Medicine

"Christmas Note" Australian foresters are out burning mistletoe with war surplus flame throwers, as it has been found to be a veritable vegetative rabbit. (Because rabbits were the last species to overrun Australia?)

"Red Hot Yardstick" The new Palomar telescope can register the colour of distant stars. This is related to their internal temperature, leading to a way of categorising stars by their internal temperature. Newsweek is fascinated by the calibrating method, which involves a tungsten lamp, which can be dialed to a precise temperature, and thus spectral colour. Should work, providing stars are made of tungsten!

"Thought for Food" DDT may be a wonder pesticide, but it is likely that it will be useless against the housefly soon thanks to the might of evolution. This race of poison against natural selection has science looking for more potent poisons, of which a new compound, "497" is currently the favourite. However, scientists are worried that spraying poison all over the landscape might be bad for our food supply, which is why they are open to some entomologists who suggest alternative approaches such as creating crops that insects won't eat. For example, cinch bugs avoid high-nitrogen crops. Einstein's autobiography is out, and takes up the rest of a pretty long Science section. I was wondering why it was stuck after Business this week!

"Dangerous Oils" A report to the AMA by a team of Washington, D.C. doctors led by Theodore Winship finds that the longterm consumption of oily nose drops and mineral oil laxatives is associated with a severe lung condition called lipoid pneumonia which can lead to asphyxiation.

"'I Will Not Go Mad'" It's a quote from an Ezra Pound poem! Ironic! New York psychiatrist Frederic Wertham is in the news this week for pointing out that Pound's insanity defence was completely absurd on multiple grounds.

"Identification Gadget" A new machine for taking fingerprints may eliminate the threat of hospital mixups. It's not very complicated, just a cabinet-mounted camera. Mother and baby press their fingers against the plate, a compressed air-powered shutter is thrown, and a photograph automatically associates the two.

Radio-Television, Press, People

"Red Letter" The State Department thinks that America should have more slick propaganda like Moscow puts out. Also, David Low is out at the Evening Standard, moving over to the Daily Herald and a biography of columnist Walter Lippman concludes that while he started out as a muckraker, he eventually turned into a "sometimes loftily foggy spokesman for the status quo." But he writes well, so he deserves to be in the paper forever.

"TV and the Kids" Charles Sheehan, principal of a grammar school in New Jersey, likes television but is very concerned that children are watching too much of it and getting tired out.

Fred Allen made a joke about the Massachusetts inheritance tax that was hilarious. George Bernarrd Shaw is helping to cast Caesar and Cleopatra. Groucho Marx made a hilarious joke about Bob Hope. Edwin Nourse likes to wear dresses. (He's an "old fashioned girl" who prefers balanced budgets.) Francis Cardinal Spellman played Santa at the New York Foundling Hospital Christmas Party, by which I unfortunately mean that he gave out toys, not that he parachuted into the East River.

The Shah of Iran is still in America buying friends. Judge Alger Williams of the New York Supreme Court has awarded custody of five-year-old Elizabeth Marshall to her grandparents, the Freitus family of Buffalo, taking her away from her "part-Negro father and white mother" on the grounds that she would have a more secure life with her grandparents. Perhaps not unrelated, a mental test for all government employees has been proposed by Representative Robert Rich to "weed out misfits." Specifically, people who have gone into government to "spend." And Field-Marshal von Manstein has been found guilty of war crimes and sent to prison for eighteen years. King George is 54, the grounds of the Stevenson divorce ("extreme mental cruelty") are revealed, Jackie Robinson and Herbert Hoover get medals. Ernest Bevin is confined to home by a severe cold.

New Films

"The Bicycle Thief" is an Italian movie from director Vittorio De Sica, which is Rosselini-esque, in that it is very realistic and is very middlebrow. Adam's Rib is another Hepburne/Tracy team up. Their "familiar antics" go with "practiced ease." Newsweek liked it as a "delightful indication of how the double standard can be discussed without any double-entendres." East Side, West Side is a "lethargic tale of cocktails and sudden death." The Story of Molly X is about how career criminal June Havoc, as Miss X, is compleetely reformed by the Institution for Women in Tehachapi. It does have that reputation!


Marghanita Laski is the niece of Harold Laski, the author already of Toasted English, and in possession of a very flattering publicity shot, so it is only fair that her second novel, Little Boy Lost, gets a moderate-to-good review. A corporate history of Northwestern lumber giant Pope and Talbot is somehow next up. Murielle del Wolle's book on Colorado ghost towns is sumptuously produced and super romantic. Other Books notices Quincy Howe's A World History of Our Own Times, which is "consistently interesting," Sudhin Ghose's And Gazelles Leaping, which is a memoir of childhood with  "owlish humour," and Paul Bowles' The Sheltering Sky, which is a modern novel with great prose, but unconvincing sex.

Raymond Moley's column is "Stultus Populus Quaerit Romam," which is a discussion of Lord Coke's joke that, instead of "Senate and People of Rome," it was now "Foolish people run to Rome." Look, I am not going to explain the Latin joke to you. Even I had to look these endings up, and I do not for a second believe that Moley could decline these sentences! (As for whether he realises that it is an anti-Catholic tag, I can only guess. It seems obvious, but even by Newsweek columnist standards, Moley isn't very bright. He might not even know who Lord Coke is.) What I am getting at here is that he wants to talk about someone named Sheldon Glueck, of the Law School at Harvard, who is very smart (Moley thinks) and has a cultural criticism of all that modernism and stuff and welfare states and like that and the "superstate" etcetera. I'm sure it is the deepest and most thoughtful thinking that anyone has done on the subject since Ezra Pound last week and a long lineup of official Fascist intellectuals the week before that. Also, summarising what Glueck told him leaves Moley with more time for Christmas shopping, and who doesn't need that if Santa is going to keep throwing himself in the river instead of bringing presents?

Engineering, 30 December 1949

I briefly insert this for the fullness of the historical record. I can't believe that Engineering bothered to publish on New Year's Eve, and, no surprise, it is a pretty thin number, with a a paper describing a "variable compression research engine" by R. Downs and V. H. Robinson; on "Moment-Angle Curves for Combined Web and Flange Cleat Connections" by L. A. Beaufoy, who lists no fewer than five degrees and affiliations after his or her name; an uncredited description, as is the tradition, of the unremarkable Amakura, previously in Launches and Trials; a description of W. G. Ragnall's new metre-gauge Pacific-type locomotive, complete with a two page two-tone diagram on quality paper;  the conclusion of the 17th Annual Navigation Conference, which in its last covered session was concerned with two more papers about oil tanks in harbours, although also appending some late communications on all sessions which are summaries of summaries; an account of Power Hoes, Ltd.'s Commando power-driven hoe; of the sound transmitter at Sutton Coldfield; and of Magnetic Crack Detection for Dark Surfaces (you can't see them, so you sprinkle some white, magnetisable powder on, and put it against a magnet); a paper on "Fuels and Lubricants for Petrol, Diesel and Gas Turbine Engines" by F. L. Garton that seems ridiculously general but which is determined to do justice to five years of work across a vast field in an admittedly lengthy-for-Engineering seven pages, and some articles also appearing in Flight, which I omit.

The Leader is concerned with "The Design and Propulsion of Large Aeroplanes" It is yet another revisit of the controversial Russell Wilbur Wright talk of last spring (or about then), and seems like it comes from another age now that we have the operating figures for the Comet.

In the Departments, Notes visits a discussion of heavy oil engine efficiency, the Comet and the Government's energy economy campaign. Letters brings out the Flight correspondence circle thanks to last week's "years ago, before the war" talk. Thanks, we all needed more vague stories about what flying was like before 1914! (Engineering's correspondents tend to blither less, so there's that.) H. M. Sayers and Henry Hooper are dead. Literature reviews W. R. Thomson on The Fundamentals of Gas Turbine Technology, Carl Samans' Engineering Metals and Their Alloys, Virgil Faire's Theory and Practice of Heat Engines, and Bradley Stoughton's History of the Tools Division, War Production Board. No-one is sure why there needs to be another gas turbine primer, Engineering included. Samans' book is too ambitious, but well produced. Faires has produced an elementary textbook. Stoughton's history is either odd, or has an odd reviewer. It has fifty pages of biographies of "The Women of the Tools Division," for example, which is in such sharp contrast to everyone else that it is almost an embarrassment of riches. It is interesting to be told that when American shipyards were turning out ships faster than machinery could be built, the Division arranged for heavy planers, boring mills and hobbing gear cutters to be sent out from Britain, as it is a useful corrective of the version of the story often told, but since it is framed in an internal history of people and institution, it is hard to know how some theoretical historian (if anything so technical should ever get a historian) would make of it. Uncle George probably knows all the stories already, so he's not the audience, either. The only thing I get out of Regional Notes is that the Yorkshire trade, in spite of being held up by a shortage of rail wagons, hit its highest production totals since Dunkirk. I think the other notes may  have been copied over from last week, although there are new statistics on export volumes from the Southwest, so maybe not. Launches saw an impressive five motorships and two steamers out of the yards ahead of the holidays. One steamship (Tanganistan --where is that?) is a cargo liner, the rest are all freighters and tankers.

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