Sunday, August 14, 2022

Postblogging Technology, May 1952, II: Turbo House

R_. C_.,

Dear Father:

After two-and-a-half years since my diphtheria quarantine, the Palo Alto post office has found out what has been happening to my subscriptions. Alas, the special access to Fortune that Uncle George somehow wrangled, has vanished long ago, and it is possible that our subscription to Engineering has lapsed, because I haven't received a current issue yet. However, Flight is back, just missing the special issue on the Comet, but in time for the special issue on tourist fares for trans-Atlantic flying, which the British are very excited about. What an easy way to earn some US dollars! I hope they put on a show for us.

(I mentioned this to Father, and all of a sudden we are going to England this summer, but don't feel like you have to match his generosity or anything, Ronnie says with a wink.)

Your Loving Daughter,


The Economist, 3 May 1952


"Food Without Thought" The Economist, with much stroking of chin and brandishing of pipe, concludes that poor Britons need to pay more for their food and organise its distribution less, or Britain will never be not poor and the Tories need to get on with it.  So far they aren't because they are too nice to farmers. 

"New Start With Japan" Japan is a country again so Britain should have relations with it, but also not make Australia jealous. Also also, Japan should join the sterling bloc. The more the merrier! Oh, look, it's a balance of trade crisis! 

"A Truce for the Saar" France is still occupying the Saar and still insists that the Saar separate from Germany, and this is even more important when the Saar ships so much coal to France. Germany doesn't like that idea at all, and so far there is no compromise on the issue, but that doesn't mean that you can't just get back to pretending that there will be a compromise, and proceed to care about something else for a change so that the European defence Community can go ahead. 

"Reforming the Certificate" Britain needs to fix the way it does high school in an Economist-approved way that The Economist will now explain.  Unusually for The Economist, it hauls itself up in mid-explanation with the realisation that this will read as complete gibberish to "Overseas Readers," and offers a American-style boxed explanation of phrases like "grammar school" and "Sixth Form," leading to an actual explanation of the story of the Leader that takes up only two paragraphs in the middle of the page. Hope that doesn't happen again, or the magazine won't have enough room for the ads! There's a Note below on the related subject of Britain needing to fix higher technical education, possibly in way of a French-style state-financed system of schools of apprenticeship or at least a Royal College of Technology like the colleges of medicine and architecture, which has such obvious benefits that they can't be explained. 

Notes of the Week

"Dalton Helps Moscow" Hugh Dalton's call for "talks with the Soviet Union" over German reunification will clearly lead to a "new German National-Communist Reich." "New Treaties in Danger" goes on to explain how a summit with the Soviet Union could cause the European Defence Community to collapse. 

"Ridgeway Succeeds Eisenhower" The Economist takes this as a compliment to Europe and notices that Ridgeway was in charge of cleaning up after MacArthur and takes this as evidence that America is turning over a new leaf in not letting internal politics get in the way of foreign affairs. Meanwhile in the real world we're waiting for Senators McCarran and McCarthy's fact-finding visit to SHAPE as chair and majority member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. And speaking of politics ending at water's edge, The Economist proceeds to go on for a page and a half about the drawbacks of Churchill's new "overlords" who are governing the country while Nurse feeds and changes the PM.

"Competition in Hypocrisy"  A very bad politician said a bad thing about rail fares in relation to the Transport Bill that they are debating now in Westminster. It is very important to be clear about this given the "anti-Tory drift at the forthcoming municipal elections." Also it is important to stop the drift to "economic stagnation" due to too much control or subsidies of Transport. 

"Deadlock in Korea" Much like a good Economist leader, the talks in Korea are going around in circles. Unlike an Economist article, there isn't a Thursday deadline to put it to bed. I will admit to being frustrated myself. I want this war done before Reggie's next rotation. Too many Fleet reconnaissance crew bodies have ended up floating in Vladivostok harbour for me! (Although flying new Martin ships is almost as dangerous.) This Note was so much fun that it gets an encore a bit below as "London Talks on Trieste" (which are "taking too long.")

"The Templer Touch" General Templer "has been giving the British community in Malaya some old-fashioned advice." You see, those planters with their notched revolvers have lost touch with the "Victorian" ways. Communists, you see, work, whereas British planters go to races and have cocktail parties, where they should be setting a good example for the lesser breeds. At least The Economist intends to mean "to whittle away at race and class barriers," and not other Victorian values, such as shooting sepoys out of the muzzles of cannons. Speaking of which, the Indian delegation to the Uno General Assembly reminded everyone that "Asian, African and Latin American" countries have rights, too, and if the Assembly doesn't pay attention to them, it will damage the institution and the Russians will be the winners. Expenditure on welfare have increased because rates have increased due to inflation, and will be  much higher in thirty-five years because there will be more retirees. 

The government's decision to have another conference before it rams the Central African Federation through has quelled the rising tensions that were probably going to lead to riots in the "copper belt," but the riots at Smiths and Sons due to the company wanting to fire 200 workers laid off due to Australia cancelling an order are probably still on, because the union suspects a scheme to force the men into the armaments industry. 

"Greeks, Turks and Thrace" If Bulgaria attacks Greek Thrace, Turkey and Jugoslavia should help, but might not, because of politics.

The Economist of 1852 has "Tax on Knowledge," which would be the excise tax on paper, which The Economist opposes for strictly public spirited and altruistic reasons. 


J. O. N. Perkins of St. Catharine's, Oxford, explains that Australia is more sinned against than sinning in the most recent balance of exchange crisis, while Leicester Webb of the Australian National University in Canberra explains that New Zealand's dairy scheme is not some Peronistic autarkic initiative doomed to end in tears. T. Balogh points out that the logic of The Economist's jeremiad against voluntary wage restraint is mass unemployment to "cure the evil of wage spiral," and The Economist should own up if that is what it means. (It says it doesn't.) J. Keith Killby, secretary of the Federal Union, explains that the pro-European federationists are the real realists. V. E. Robertson writes to dissect The Economist's statistics purporting to show that he output of beer is falling,  while Ludwik Rubel writes to defend the honour of the pre-war Republic of Poland against various allegations of it not being very democratic just because it was Fascist. 

American Survey

"How Corrupt is America?" If you are not tired of reading about corruption in the Truman Administration, do I have a page and a half for you! Nothing about corruption at Wright-Patterson, though, even though that might actually be important! Coincidentally, someone interviewed the enormously boring person who is Comptroller General of the General Accounting Office, and he pointed out that the situation has been brewing since 1940. You can't spend that much money for so long on an expedited basis with inadequate oversight and not end up with a lot of it sticking in the wrong places.  

"Taft Country" Taft is expected to win big in the Ohio Republican primaries, but maybe Stassen, running as the "Eisenhower candidate," will cut into his delegate count. Kefauver will probably do well on the Democratic side, John Bricker is going to be the Republican candidate for the open Senate seat. The contest for Republican nomination for governor might actually be interesting because it pits Taft's brother against Republicans who are not Tafts, and because Charles and Robert differ on politics. Some room being needed for ads, we do another half page looping around the facts. 

American Notes

We lead off by current developments in the steel crisis, which might or might not lead to the President being impeached, before heading over to Massachusetts, where Eisenhower's name was entered in the first primary since New Hampshire, and Eisenhower beat Taft like a drum, 246,000 voters to 106,000. Taft says that he won  more of the delegates the state party sends to the Convention, and that's more important than a mere popularity contest that probably depends on name recognition. Oh, don't discount the possibility that people recognise your name, Bob Taft!

"Riots and Reforms" Three prison riots in one week show that maybe the prisons need to be reformed somehow. The Jackson, Michigan riots occurred in a prison where 6000 convicts were imprisoned in space for 5000, and the $2 million they did in damages isn't going to help. The fact that the riot started with 171 prisoners in solitary, which is a lot to start with, and that their conditions were as bad as advertised, shows that, uhm, I guess here is where I repeat the opening sentence. Some day I will write for The Economist

The Senate got the foreign aid programme through with only a billion cut from the original $7.9 billion request, but mainly so the Foreign Relations Committee can get on to the much more entertaining business of hauling Averill Harriman up to be cross-examined on how he can be Mutual Security Director and run for President at the same time? Hunh? More politics got thrown in when Nelson Rockefeller demanded an economic administration to handle non-military foreign aid exclusively, and Justice Douglas said in a speech that Point Four should be more interested in fostering peasant revolts than in helping "feudal landlords in underdeveloped areas," which neither American investors nor "the governments of these areas" want to hear. 

"Sitdown Strike" The Economist reports that the convicted "staydowners" will not have to serve their sentences and that the other twelve will get administrative discharges, along with 35 others. After all, their concerns are based on what seems to be reasonable suspicions of the air force's "efficiency," given the high accident rate, and the fact that Strategic Air Command pilots were withheld from Korea in case of world war breaking out, while reservists were sent there and to the training fields. The Air Force was forced to be strict with reservists requesting non-flying duties because of falling applications to the aviation programmes at West Point and Annapolis and to air training programmes at colleges. "Flying seems to have lost its allure, even for the young, and the call of patriotism is unheard, when it is to an undeclared and apparently unending war in Korea." 

I had not  heard, meanwhile, that Senator Douglas has tried to reduce "all 'hazard' pay to a private's $30 a month," which, The Economist says, had "democracy and economy in its favour." The one thing we are apparently not going to even discuss here is the falling number of young men in the draft classes due to the low birth rate of the Thirties. Because who cares about facts when you can aim a broadside at the younger generation! 

"Housing Prospects"  More houses are being built because more houses are needed, although more loans to build houses are also a factor. This is good for business, and it will probably go on for a while, since the 1950 Census showed that three million existing buildings were "dilapidated."

The World Overseas

"Solvency Without Tears" The Economist explains why Antoine Pinay is the saviour of France who has single-handedly pulled it out of the age of decadence that began in 1934. It will be admitted that he hasn't actually done very much  yet and could be on his way out soon, and is already fighting with the farmers, but he has announced a tax amnesty to get French hoarders to put their dollars and gold on the market to buy his new bonds, and that's enough for this paper!

East Germans are saying bad things about West Germans. Also vice-versa. 

"Egypt's Economic Troubles" Egypt hasn't been able to sell this year's cotton harvest, and so is drawing on the "unblocked No. 1 account" to a tune of £500,000/day to pay for imports and  will probably exhaust it in about two months, and that will be bad, and also the Egyptians are being very rude to foreigners right now and the foreigners are going to avoid Egypt, and that will show them! For example, Our Correspondent is going to be flying in and out of the Middle East through Beirut's new airport instead of King Farouk, because they know how to treat a white Effendi in Lebanon.  "Only a strong united and courageous cabinet in Cairo can avert a dangerous economic crisis in Egypt . . . [and] amend existing laws to introduce new legislation by decree which could enormously benefit Egypt and the West." 

Tired of telling Egypt what to do? How about telling Jugoslaves what to do? (About Trieste.) The Jugoslavs mainly want the towns of the Dalmatian coast, and not Trieste, and since the locals have bad memories of the brutal Fascist occupation, there is probably some room for manoeuvre.

"The French in Algeria, II: The Pull of the East" Native Muslim Algerians are very "unfairly" anti-French, considering how "such prosperity as Algeria enjoys is owed to Frenchmen." Certain "economic and social influences" cause this ungracious behaviour, such as the Islamic schools and the fact that Algerians are still hungry, which is probably because they are so backward, and have too many mouths to feed and there is not and cannot be enough industry to employ all the new hands. Algerians are flocking to France, with its labour shortage, but for some obscure reason, Algerian migrants to France turn even more anti-French and send money home to support the independence movement. All would be well if the French just opened more French-language schools, liberalised government, and made some kind of gestures to the native Algerians without offending all the French inhabitants. Speaking of which, Israel is four years old and "Jews and Arabs are not perceptibly nearer to the peaceful coexistence which both need so badly." If only the Arabs would give up on their futile blockade and accept their future as suppliers of raw materials and buyers of Israeli goods!  On the other hand, if the only way to sell into China is to put up with Communists telling you what to do, The Economist's correspondent concludes that that is what is going to have to happen.

A special insert this week is the Spring Books 1952, which I am going to give a quick lookover, just so that in twenty years when someone pulls these letters out and they'll get exactly as much notice as they need of the kinds of books that got into a big book review at The Economist in 1952. And no more, cross my heart, hope to die! 

 The big story is "the retreat from social radicalism" which has happened since the war, as proved by the fact that Karl Popper and T. D. Weldon have books out. Popper you will  have heard about from Reggie, as he is quite the name amongst those MIT students who care about such things. Weldon may or may not be just as famous in twenty years, but  he sure isn't now. Jerome Buckley has the latest book on the Victorian mentality, based on reading Victorians' books, and books about Victorians who wrote books. Maybe some books about Victorians who read books? No, that sounds like it might be hard to research. Bosworth Monck (which is a real name!) explains how the civil service works, and John Gunther explains Ike, who is apparently quite right wing in his personal views but intent on not "turning the clock back on progress." Well, that's good to hear!  Lord Radcliffe meditates on the "problem of power" for 110pp, so at least a short read, while John Middleton Murry is on about community farms at more than twice the length, mainly making fun of them. Antoine Saint Exupery wrote two books (at least), it turns out. The one that's not about the Little Prince is apparently worth reading, too. Van Wyck Brooks (real name, etc) has a history of the postwar American South which is mainly about the important things, specifically, the race to write good literature in the South's race to modern times, which is fairly racing along. Did you catch my subtle message? Lawrence Earl's book about the battle of Baltinglass seems to be some kind of book-length joke that The Economist really, really wants to explain. Explaining jokes is the best part! Maurice Goreham has a history of broadcasting and television since 1900. The Economist really likes Jack Simmon's Parish and Empire because we need more histories of parishes and this book explains why. F. Zweig explains about Women, while B. B. Turkus and S. Feder do the same for Murder, Inc. (The two are only related when men get in our way!) A lot of authors led by Bernard Darwin do for the history of golf in Britain. A sporting try, old chaps! The Archbishop of York has issued forth a 318(!) page "meditation on society," while Arabist H. St. John Philby explains about Saudi Arabia. Wing Commander Yeo-Thomas was with the French Resistance, and tells how. Rupert Hart-Davis has a life of Walpole, the novelist and not any other Walpoles, sorry about the confusion, while Maurice Craig has a history of Dublin since 1660, Mario Pel takes a long view on language, and T. H. White's Scandalmonger digs up all the old scandals that deserve another go-round the room. C. P. Blacker has a life of eugenicist and nephew of Charles Darwin, Francis Galton, while Roderic Owen does the equally odious Tedder, Augustus John does Augustus John, and G. L. S. Shackle does a funny book about mathematics education, I think, because it is another explain-the-joke review. 

The Business World

"Profits Too Low" That's what it says here! "One of the main reasons for last year's balance of payments crisis was that industrial profits were too low. This is not a contentious political opinion. It is a sad statistical fact." Falling profits of roughly £331 million (while wages, salaries and force's pay rose by £881 million), you see, surely led to the £400 million fall in domestic savings, while domestic capital formation rose by £350 million, and the £750 million difference between domestic savings and investment could only be financed by borrowing abroad, and that is why the fall in the current payments account is of the same magnitude as the presumed foreign borrowing. How dare some politicians ignore this and not realise that falling corporate profits are the biggest problem facing Britain today!?! (Though we're still going to have to argue and move numbers around to prove that this fall in profits happened, The Economist is up to it.)

"Record Roundabout" EMI is going to start producing LPs next year, which means that LPs must be a good idea after all. The Economist had doubts, mainly having to do with inventory and the fact that not all of EMI's catalogue (unlike Decca's) was suitable for LPs. But now EMI is in the market, and it better step lively to make up the loss of two years on Decca and four on the Americans. Although there is a chance that EMI's LPs will be made of an improved product from American polyvinyl and the delay will turn out to have been a good idea.

Business Notes

"Borrower's Turn"  A successful new stock issue might show that British investors think that the balance of payments crisis is over. Distiller's Fund is issuing a new issue, bank advances are down, which is supposed to be good for inflation, which is the point of the "new monetary discipline;" Australia has made a withdrawal from the IMF to get some US dollars. The Finance Bill is proceeding through committee, the Commons debate on the purchase tax on textiles went nowhere, ICI's profits are up again, and the situation with the British film industry seems to be not that disastrous. 

"Best Face on Coal" Coal output this year is up 740,000t over the same period last year, but deep-mined coal is only up 435,000t. The National Coal Board points out that this can also be seen as an increase of a million tons obtained on the five day week, since Saturday output has fallen. This is good, because the miners won't continue working Saturdays forever, but it does mean that this year's increase won't be anywhere close to last year's 7 million. Part of this is because the work force has regained the September 1949 total of 713,600, but this is going to cut into production, because new workers are not as productive. Coal stocks are 13.5 million tons, up from 10 million last year due to good weather and industrial recession, with the hope that at this rate there will be no coal crisis next winter, and exports are 2.8 million tons compared with 1.6 million last year. 

"Exports Still Rising" British exports have reached  £718 million, up  
£138 million in the same period last year, which only looks impressive because of various dark clouds in the picture of exports to the dominions. Rubber and tin continue to play an important role. The other side of the coin, imports, is less hopeful, with 
£851 million. Rab Butler promises that the import reductions programme will reduce them, and falling commodity prices will help, as well as shifting grain imports to Soviet Russian and its satellites. 

The International Materials Conference is doing very worthy work indeed in Washington. Wool prices have recovered, the free market price of gold is weakening as the dollars which have "escaped" export controls have been mopped up, and the gold is coming back into sterling. Ha ha, gold producers, says The Economist. The premium market you fought so hard for has "destroy[ed] what [you] wanted to get"! International Nickel and Prudential Insurance both had annual meetings and returns announcements, and the first transatlantic tourist fares landed in London just after midnight on 1 May in a BOAC Constellation. The new era of the economic air traveller is on us! (Round trip New York to London is  £254, while tourist fare is  £173.) All seats are still selling, contrary to pessimistic predictions that tourist rates would cut into regular. Perhaps there is a lesson to other forms of transport, The Economist suggests? Sure, and maybe it is, "People would rather fly, and you're in trouble!" 

Shorter Notes checks in with Lord Radcliffe, who is, besides an author, a judge, and now is on the Royal Commission on Taxation; the Bank of Japan is negotiating repayment of prewar bonded debt, American base metal prices have fallen for the first time since the Korean War, Canada's western oil fields are still expanding, France has improved its position in the EPU, India's trade deficit last year was  £117 million.


"Thrusting Upwards" Flight points out that new models of the Avon and especially the Sapphire are even more powerful than old ones. Isn't Britain wonderful? No wonder Curtiss has accepted its place in the colonial order of things and licensed the Sapphire. It has nothing to do with Curtiss-Wright  flailing like a drowning man ever since it lost its "in" at Air Materiel Command. 

"Room for the Turboprop" But we're sadly disappointed by the turboprop. The Viscount, Mamba and Gannet are taking forever, has anyone heard what's happening with the Apollo, whatever happened to the Clyde, I wouldn't be so optimistic about the Wyvern, which the Navy is pushing through because it needs it so badly. On the other hand, look at the troubles the colonials are having with the Allison T40.

"A West-Country Call" Yeovil is in the West-Country, and that is where Flight is going to see how Westland is coming along with the Wyvern and those new helicopters they have, these days. It turns out that the Wyvern is a very modern plane being tested by very good test pilots, but naval strike fighters are hard to design and those new turboprops sure are new! 

"To Break a Bottleneck" Blade Research Development, a joint effort by GKN and Clifford Motors, has a new method of making turbine blades, no details given apart from what looks like the names of every single manager involved. The RAF names for the P2V2, Sabre, and B-29 are confirmed. The existence of multiple new Avon, Sapphire, Nomad, Derwent, and Ghost variants is confirmed. 

"Fatigue at Westminster" William Shepherd, a Conservative MP for Cheadle, has been making a nuisance of himself in the Commons by asking whether the news about metal fatigue problems in the Viking means that  testing for metal fatigue is inadequate and whether all new British types should be tested, in case light metal is not compatible with the designs being used. The Minister of Civil Aviation replied that everything is under control and that Shepherd shouldn't bother his pretty little head about it.  

From All Quarters

Sir Roy Dobson was very impressed with Canada during his visit, although he was shocked by how many Canadian science and engineering graduates emigrate to the United States. He is very impressed with Avro Canada and thinks that there is lots of room for CF100 and Orenda exports. Another report that Trans-Australia will buy five Viscounts. The latest Sapphire, the Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire 100, has been type tested at 8500lbs, making the most powerful known type-tested turbojet, ahead of the GE-licensed Tay. George Dowty is the new president of the Royal Aeronautical Society. J. A. J. Bennett, late of Fairey's helicopter division, is the latest British engineer or scientist to head off to America. 

Here and There

The USAAF is releasing its reserves and reforming on a "willingness to serve" basis. Eyewitnesses report flight tests of the F-84 as "parasites" on the B-36 at Fort Worth. Frank Hewartson has died. British Pathe is showing some home movies about old time aviation. Economy is important because the American airlines are financially strained again with low profits challenging operations and the end of the Korean War likely to cut into operations. While American jets may be near, it is less clear that American jet engines will match British in times between overhauls. Meanwhile, with the Defence Production Administration confirming that the 357 airliners now under construction can be completed, and with 82 new orders (44 American, 28 export) recently placed, the order books are full enough to carry the commercial side of American aviation building through to the jet age. In particular 29 turbocompound DC-7s are now on order, which will save perhaps 20% on fuel compared with regular piston engines. Another big buyer, loan-guaranteed by the Dutch government, is KLM, with 9 Super Connies, 7 DC-6Bs, 1 DC-6A and 6 Convair 340s on order. 

Our American Correspondent Reports

US observers think that the first American turbojet liners will go into service in 1956 and meanwhile the DC-6B, DC-7 and Super Connie will show economies that will keep them competitive with the Comet and perhaps even the Viscount. The same authority (R. C. Smith of American Airlines) thinks that turboprops will follow later, because conventional conversions to turbos will never work out 

"Modern Fuel Systems: Precis of a Paper Given For J. E. Walker to the Royal Aeronautical Society"

Leaving aside the question of what kind of fuel, which seems to me is just a rear guard action by idiots who think that fuel economy justifies flying with gasoline, which is just going to look more and more wrong after there is one disaster after another, there's plenty to talk about. Icing is a problem, and Shell is working on antifreeze for fuel. Fuel pumps need to be powerful and carefully designed, since they have to de-aerate the fuel while pumping it to the combustion chambers, which requires agitation. Fuel gauges don't work well enough yet, and neither do leak-proof seals and hoses. Neither do integral fuel tanks, always the design of tomorrow, never the standard operating practice of today. Those pressurised fuel valves from Flight Refuelling are pretty good. 

"Elizabethan in Service" That's the Short Brothers Memorial Extra Confusion Name for the Airspeed Ambassador, in case you were wondering. The last "DC-3" replacement is in service, and as unlikely to make money as any of the other replacements, including the Super DC-3. But it sure is a swell way to see France, Germany and Switzerland until the Viscount arrives! And they're even faster than BEA's swell new London Airport shuttle busses, which get almost as much coverage.

James Hay Stevens, "Canada's Aircraft Industry" Flight's intrepid correspondent tagged along with Sir Roy Dobson and saw the giant new factory in Toronto, Ontario. It's all too wonderful for just one article, so tune in next week when hopefully there will be some news that isn't old news.

"Comet Refuelling Valve" A clever gadget latches onto the valve and maintains a seal while the fuel is pumped aboard at high pressure, cutting out automatically if there is back pressure so that the fuel pump doesn't rupture a tank. It's the solution to refuelling the Comet very, very fast, which, like everything else about the Comet's turnaround from the moment it leaves cruising altitude to the moment it is climbing again, needs to be fast as blazes for the plane to make money. 

Flight briefly reviews Alexander Seversky's new Air Power: Key to Survival, and concludes that it is futurist hogwash except for the part about air power being the key to survival. Specifically, "long range fighters" carrying "baby atomic bombs," atomic flying boats, and "pilotless small planes" are more likely than armoured jet bombers and atomic-armed V-2s. You heard it here, first! 

The Industry reports that DH's annual report is in and it is doing well, lots of people are moving around at Handley-Page, Avics Equipment's stainless-steel flexible piping is the shiniest and most flexible piping you will ever put in the fuel systems of your average corrosive-fuel-burning rocket or water-methanol system. Daniel Smith, Ltd, of Wolverhampton's segmental sixing machine is actually a gas turbine ring stretcher, and just the think for when you need your ring stretched. 


Joan E. Playle .reminds us that some things haven't changed in the last two-and-a-half years, such as B. J. Hurren being an idiot.  D. L. Brown recalls some tandem-wing  planes from the old days, before the war. C. Rupert Moore remembers the old days, during the war. Peter Davie complains about the hats these days. Good to see that Flight readers haven't changed!

Civil Aviation reports that BOAC made a profit this year and Lord Douglas is already sketching ambitious schemes for the future. (Including, yes, a helicopter service for London Airport.) The prospects for Independents is looking good, and Panam confirms that it will buy Avon Comets if there is nothing American on the market by that time. 

Service Aviation reports on appointments, doings and movings at the higher ranks of the service. Lord Trenchard is still alive, and in Canada! Squadrons, individuals and who knows what else won trophies in intramural sports. New uniforms look dashing. The Chief of the Australian Air Staff  has just visited Korea. Why isn't he living in Korea? It's the only place Australians are fighting!

The Economist, 10 May 1952


"Transport Policy" The Economist is saddened and disappointed by the lack of a better transport policy in the new White Paper on Transport Policy. It certainly doesn't fix what the Prime Minister just messed up! It does denationalise road transport and meditates on doing something about rail, but not nearly enough. 

"One Question to Moscow" What were we talking about? Germany or something? Remind us. What did we say we wanted? We never agreed on anything. Well, then. Please don't carry on the way you're carrying on. Carry on differently. We may, too. We're not even sure what we're doing with Germany now!

"Chairman or Overlords?" We check in with the PM. Is he still senile and letting the party bosses run roughshod over their ministries while depriving them of the backing they need to get things done? Yes, yes, he is!  

"Colombo Plan's First Year" The very worthy plan to coordinate and develop and invest in all those places in the Commonwealth and out which havent' white people is now a year old. There have been locomotive works here and fertiliser plants there, the obligatory irrigation barrages and hydroelectric plants, and all very, very worthy. For "[t]ime is very short, and this effort to raise economic standards comes on top of the effort to fight the Communists with arms." Rising living standards is the only way you fight Communism and win, you see. 

The Economist of 1852 has "New Zealand's Constitution" Mark this one down for the history books, as I agree completely with The Economist of 1852 that drawing up a constitution of New Zealand in London for all the twelve or so actual British inhabitants of New Zealand in 1852 is a waste of time. Did  you know that the first New Zealand constitution was federal, and that one of the provinces is now a deserted island off the underpopulated (by New Zealand standards) South Island? That's what you get when you do your constitution like this. If you're wondering about all the details of New Zealand geography, I did look it up.


Notes of the Week

"Prisoners of Korea" It's time to explain about how the West has to violate the Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War because some of the POWs in our hands don't want to be Communists. The Ecocnomist guesses that the Reds will give up on the point eventually. 

"Admirals and Admiralissimos" The British are still pretending that their difficulty in getting the Americans to accept that the naval commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean should be British rather than American isn't really, really, digging at them. 

"Next Stage in Egypt" The next stage when the Egyptians give up and admit that the British were right all along is taking forever. Maybe there could be some kind of guarantee that an independent Sudan wouldn't fiddle with the flow of the Nile? The Economist reviews "The First [Cabinet] Shuffle."

"Constitution for Central Africa" So much for more talk before going ahead. The Economist sees trouble on the way. 

"The Young and the Old" There was no debate during the debate on the second reading of the Family Allowance and National Insurance Bill, because everyone supports old people and children. They're so tender and delicious!  I'm sorry. Mommy joke. There was also not enough discussion of spending ceilings on national health because of all those economic  we're always having. Speaking of booms and splats, the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation is officially seized of the matter of economic slumps and booms and would like to do something about them to secure the prized internal financial stability without deflation and unemployment. The OEEC wants a steady annual expansion of the European economy by 5% to maintain activity, but is worried that it canot find the demand to sustain it. The OEEC would like to repeat the American success, but isn't sure that steady American growth isn't down to luck. 

"Less Need for American Coal" It looks like Western Europe might be past the days of needing American coal. 

"Camouflaged Communists" One key aspect of Communist success in communising non-communist countries is "invisible" communists in non-communist countries. At least, one supposes. You can't be sure when they're secret! For example, the World Peace Council is a bunch of pinkos promoting the Moscow party line, so  you've got to guess that they're all secret communists, but, frustratingly, they don't come out and say so!  The safe thing to do is probably to figure that any leftist is probably an underground agent for the Cominterm. Speaking of, big report on "Academic Freedom and Accountability" concludes that there's nothing much to worry about, even if the engineering schools aren't getting enough money. 

"The Struggle in the Union" The Economist detects signs that Malan's government has overreached with its apartheid policy and that moderate opinion will soon force him to compromise. (De Valera, who has been in charge in Ireland since roughly the Stone Age, has just had his parliamentary majority reduced to a very small number, so long-time party bosses who speak for an aggrieved majority can fall-ish! Maybe. Soon. Or later.)

"Franco and Islam" General Franco's diplomatic offensive in the Islamic world continues. Maybe it is not such a bad thing? Franco has been acting in a much more progressive way in Spanish Morocco than the French have in theirs. Perhaps he'll set a good example. 

"Bulgaria's New Ambitions" The new Bulgarian iron and steel complex is the kind of thing Communists do. 

"Closed Shop Again" A fight over the closed shop in the professions has broken out again in Durham. The Economist has opinions. Which aren't favourable to unions for doctors, nurses or teachers.  

Sir Alan Anderson has died. 


H. D. Walston likes the new agricultural policy. "Surely our aim should be to pay the producer the price that he requires to enable him to produce what the country needs; and if it is then found that this price is higher than the consumer can afford, to give a direct subsidy to the consumer." Higher artificial fertiliser prices, he points out, will reduce imports of this expensive item in favour of domestic substitutes, and that's good for the industry because things like dried grass are agricultural products, too! J. K. Galbraith writes to qualify the idea that he is in favour of monopoly. He supports oligopoly. Martin Madden argues with the European federalists of last week that the real realists on European union are for European union now. It can't wait! H. W. Rothschild points out that since the dissolution of the International Refugee Organisation, there is no-one for refugees to turn to for redress of grievances, and he thinks that Britain should get to work  organising a new one. 


William Langer and Everett Gleason's Challenge to Isolation, 1937--1940 is a diplomatic history of America's, well, I guess it's pretty obvious. Anyway, the reviewer disagrees with conclusions and takes the occasion to attack the authors' methods. W. Medlicott's History of the Second World War, Volume I: The Economic Blockade, Volume I, is "the swan song of traditional blockade." It doesn't really overcome the problem of organisation the blockade presents, so it is "repetitive."  Salvador de Madariaga's Portrait of Europe is a "stimulating, interesting and amusing book" about how to be racist to other Europeans so that all the Europeans can be racist together and thereby achieve European union. Honestly, Schiller said it better even before he got Beethoven to write the libretto. 
Kenneth Walker's Commentary on Age is about getting old. It's the coming thing! Magnus Pyke's Townsman's Food is about how technology is changing food. Karl Gruber's Conditions of Full Employment  is a dumb book by one of those dumb "Austrian school" economists. Charles Galton Darwin was named by someone who was worried about evolution not leading to survival of the fittest without an assist from nepotism, but his The Next Million Years at least sounds original. Or not, because it's just Malthus. At least once we run out of oil, coal and uranium. 

American Survey

"Steel Puts the Question" Do you need weekly coverage of the steel seizure? No, you do not, because you have the dailies! (The oil strike is a related and newer story. Will it happen will the nation run out of gasoline? Now that would be the "machine stop[ping.]"

"No Limits On Productivity?" From A Correspondent in New York --I add the correspondent tag because of Uncle George's relationship with the Correspondent of 1939. (And I mean that literally, if Uncle George has never mentioned it. When Uncle George was in New York in 1936 and 1937 they had some --ahem-- my tender ears never heard the like. So, personal anecdotes aside, what has he to say? That American industrial productivity has been increasing at an average of 2% per year for the last fifty years, and increased by 5% in 1950--1. These figures have been closely watched by old time Wall Street brokers because of how much a variation in the rate of increase in productivity can affect projected stock price changes. 

You may remember that the old Correspondent's "white whale" was an economist named Alvin Hansen, who thought that the Depression of the 1930s was the new normal condition of the world's economy, and that one of the reasons for that was the end of the kind of innovation that might be thought to increase labour productivity. This of course ran in the face of the high rate of increase in labour productivity during the Depression, but that might be explained by high unemployment. Enough of then, you say, what of now? Well, he wants to gently suggest that it is not always possible to increase production by increasing productivity. "The inevitability of growth" is an American myth. Productivity actually fell in America in 1924--32 and in 1941--43. People are sensitive to this, and there have been efforts to increase productivity, and not just with "robots" in factories or appliances in homes. For example, there are the office machines that you cannot open up a magazine without seeing an ad for. There must be a need for them, or there wouldn't be a market! But, "[s]ome of the devices, like the electronic gadgets introduced to speed work for white-collar occupations are so far, economical for only large organisations." Electronic computers to calculate changes in the wholesale price index, or photographic printers are suitable for governments and large banks. Will they penetrate into smaller workplaces and give rise to the fully automatic factory beloved of the management thinker? Time will tell. But not really, because they won't. All this ever-rising productivity talk is bunk.  Says A Correspondent, anonymous to everyone but Uncle George, who claims he never name names. 

American Notes

Oh God the election. Florida is having a primary. Would it push Russell past Kefauver? Or would Ohio sink Russell over his opposition to fair employment? As it turns out, Russell didn't do as well as expected in Florida, which you might have taken as a message about Kefauver if you hadn't already decided he wasn't going to win the nomination. The two hundred (out of 1302) Republican national conventions from the South are only in it for the party patronage. Who can give them more? Taft! Which is why Eisenhower's camp has been sending "lily whites" to state conventions to beat out Taft's "black and tans" before "the astonished Negroes had realised what was happening." Also, Eisenhower actually won in Texas on the strength of "cool and noncommittal" words about coloured rights, which may hurt him in the North. 

"Closer Look at the Atom" The televising of the latest atomic tests at Yucca Flat was quite something. With journalists, state governors, and civil defence officials invited to observe just fifteen miles from Ground Zero at "News Nob, the country got to see what a bomb detonated "tactically," to support manoeuvring troops, would look like from the battlefield, and it seems that it is "less terrifying, on closer acquaintance, than they had been led to believe." I don't know about you, but I find that terrifying. The bomb was detonated at 3000ft as a trial to see just how low or high the bombs can be detonated and still allow troops to manoeuvre below without threat from lingering radioactivity, and the 3000ft burst did affect the prepared dugouts below, showing that bombs could be used with effect from that height. In exercise conditions,  it is pointed out. War is not likely to go so smoothly.

And speaking of not going smoothly, what about that prospect for civil atomic power that seems further away than ever?

"Hour for Religion" The Supreme Court says that students can be sent out of the classroom for prayer and religious instruction as long as no state-sponsored or employed teachers or facilities are used. Otherwise, freedom from religion starts to be a burden on religion. Justice Frankfurter disagreed vehemently, detecting coercion where the other justices saw "release."

The World Overseas

"Mr. Yoshida Raises a Storm" Leftist and labour rioting against the new Japanese anti-subversive legislation suggests that Japanese society might be a lot more liberal and amenable to "human rights" than The Economist suspected. Maybe all those conservative and de-purged old Japanese politicians should watch their step!

"Revolt in Bonn" Germans and German politicians are upset with being occupied by the occupying powers, who don't seem to realise that they are still acting like occupying powers. 

"Progress with the Soviet Great Projects" The navigation canal linking the Volga and Don below Stalingrad opened this week. The Economist doesn't believe the rest of the utopian grand projects will be anywhere near as quick to open, or produce the more ephemeral results ("building communism) promised by propaganda, as opposed to more irrigated land, more crops, fewer droughts, and, perhaps, enough food for the growing Soviet masses. 

"Election Vigil" The municipal elections in southern Italy will prove something or other Meanwhile, Kashmir has something to speak up about, which seems like it might have something to do with land reform. I would have read it, but my eyes started glazing, much like the next one, devoted to "The Church's Resistance in Poland." That's right, the Catholic church in, of all places, Poland, is against (Russian) Communism. Did  you know that in spite of the 1950 land reform, the Polish church still owns 400,000 acres, and has 18,000 theological students, plus 6300 priests working as paid instructors in Polish schools? 

"Presidential Race in Chile" They're having one! Pedro Enrique Alfonso is supported by the present government, Arturro Matte Larrain is running for the Liberal party, Salvador Allende, the weakest of the candidates, is running with Socialist support. Or some Socialists, there having been a split. He might also attract some Communist support, same not having had the good grace to go away when their party was banned in 1947. The real dark horse is General Carlos Ibanez del Campo, who was the "strong man" of the fascist-leaning 1927--41 era.

The Business World

"Opencast under the Coal Board" Since the numbers suggested that opencast was doing better than underground mining, let's have a look.  Opencast profits depend on getting the land to strip of overburden and mine of coal, and the Coal Board has struggled to do it at a profit, although it looks like more American equipment will finally deliver a profit this year. The article is quite long and detailed for such a tiny subject. Eleven million tons of coal a year is the yield, admittedly by 11,000 workers, so productivity is good, and 66,000 acres have been mined, which seems like a lot until converted into a square ten miles on a side. Okay, that is a lot in Britain, and the last third of the article is about the exciting giant mining equipment that does opencast mining, which the British have started to build. Now that'll get a boy's heart pounding!

Business Notes

 The chancellor says that even though the balance of payments crisis is over, the next one is coming, so Britain has to remain ever vigilant. Speaking of which, the British  have exhausted their EPU quota and are now paying their balance off in gold. Why, yes, it is the year of our Lord 1952.

"Productivity After the Teams" The Anglo-American Council on Productivity is to be replaced by the British Productivity Council, which will introduce a new era of all-British worrying about productivity.  The Notice of Vacancies Order seems to be getting some labour mobility going, and while it is not a "textiles year" at the British Industries Fair (which is more interested in the scale model of Mount Everest), textiles have quite a large presence. Sixty-six works employing 7000 workers have closed down, and there was a 9% fall in yarn prices this February over last, with a decline in production , largely due to lack of sulphur. Tire output is also falling, although nylon seems immune, and retail prices are up. 

"Stimulating the Private Investor" This seems to be a worldwide problem given that we're reporting on a report from the International Bank commissioned by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. The scheme would seem to consist of paying investors to invest? The Economist approves!

Rubber and lead are down, copper is sideways. 

"Butler on the Road System" We need more and better roads, says Christopher Brunner to the Town Planning Institute, while James Butler says we need higher entertainment taxes on cricket and (English) football, and no changes to the cinema duty, whatever the exhibitors say.  

"Cargo Liner Prospects" In spite of a more-technical sounding headline, this Note, which appears on the same page as the "Steel Finances," about the price of the various steel stocks that investors are holding ahead of their final compensation for the nationalisation that will soon be de-nationalised, is largely financial. The cargo lines are not doing as well as hoped, and it is because of import restrictions. Tanker rates are also down a bit, although not  nearly as much as during the winter of 1951, and the rates are up handsomely since 1950. No wonder everyone is building tankers! 

Lancashire, which is now free to buy cotton on its own without government supervision, is using its new powers to dither around the world telling cotton growers where they can get off. Which sounds even grimmer taking into account the Indian government cutting the export duty on jute in hope of recovering the market. 

Flight, 9 May 1952


"Normal and Special Services" Flight celebrates tourist fares this week. It is a milestone in aviation to rank with the Comet, we're told. 31 million people flew commercially in 1950, 39 million in 1951, and 1952 will show the same kind of increase. 340,000 flew the Atlantic last year, and probably double that this year. Low fares are "timely," but still high, at £96 one way, down from £141 last year. Some European airlines complain that they may not be able to make money in the new environment. while others fear that a slump is coming. Nonsense and rubbish, more, poorer people must fly, which means that "tourist" services must be considered the new normal, while more expensive services must be branded as luxuries, and not the standard way to fly. (I'm eliding a second Leader that notes the BOAC branding of its new Atlantic  "Mayflower" service, without saying whether it approves or not.)

"Marathons: Details of the RAF Crew Trainer: West African and Burmese Versions" Remember that "feeder airliner" stranded in the Miles Aircraft forced-bankruptcy-for-being-shady-promoters? The one that no-one wanted, with the engine even the manufacturer wasn't keen on? The one  they flogged off a few to the RAF as flying classrooms, and some others to rubes in the colonies? Definitely worth a two page article! 

From All Quarters reports that the Australian Viscount order has been confirmed, a Sabre visited the Hunter prototype and this is news, some people are encouraging other people to kill themselves with ultra-lights, Gloster has a new managing director, and Shorts has somehow sold some Sealands to India. 

"Comet on Schedule" The first scheduled BOAC Comet flight to Johnannesburg left London on schedule carrying the  hopes of a nation and some paying passengers, too. 

Here and There reports that the Dutch might buy the Swift or the Hunter. Duncan Sandys promises that super-priority for fighters will not cause delays in airliner deliveries. The A.W. 52 was seen over the West End on a "routine test flight" this week. The airship Bournemouth will finally fly in June. A French tailless type powered by a Turbomeca is rumoured, the Czechs will be building a jet fighter soon, Lady Whitten-Brown has died, and a summer school for programming automatic digital computing machines will be held at the University Mathematics Laboratory in Cambridge. Attendance details available from the Board of Extramural Studies, Stuart House, Cambridge. 

James Hay Stevens, "Canada's Aircraft Industry, Part 2" Canadair, formerly Canadian Vickers, has a very large airframe factory in Montreal, of which it is permissible to see the landing field, nicely contrasted against the snowy fields near Montreal (Canada!), and one of those shots of a bunch of planes being assembled on the factory floor, although we're told that it has good training programmes and lots of machine tools. It is looking into building twin-engine airliners in the future. 

"Fastest and Highest: A Record of a Man-Sized Job" The publicity department at Douglas tried to get this into Aviation Week but couldn't make the cut against all the good advertorials, and finally went to Flight to publish their experiences with the experimental speed-rocket that didn't start trials until long after the Bell X-planes, and which consequentially no-one cares about. Including here. The Skyrocket was designed as a straight-wing job, but then at the last minute in 1947 Douglas heard about these swept wings that are all the rage, and put one on the Skyrocket in high-grade 75ST alloy and pushed it off a B-29 in the stratosphere to find out if it could fly. Turns out that it almost couldn't, but the test pilot saved it, and then Douglas spent two years fiddling with the tail, and now it is pretty safe, and it is now ready to fly some completely redundant fly trials. The end. 

"Work of the NPL" The Aerodynamics Division of the NPL reports that it has been mucking around in its wind tunnels for another year, and also torturing metal bits to see if they creep, buckle, stretch or strain. Sometimes they also look for fatigue. The Engineering Division has been working on how fatigue cracks propagate, and has concluded that different cracks propagate different ways, which makes them hard to study, so they did what engineers do, which is build a very large machine to smash stuff and see what happens. The Metallurgical Division has been working on uranium alloys for the atomic boys and magnesium in case it is the coming thing. (Because the word is that titanium or beryllium might be.) The Physics Division is, for a change, the practical side. It is looking at aircraft noise with hopes of doing something about it before the villagers arrive with pitchforks and torches. 

C. B. Bailey-Watson, "The Quest for Power: Bristol Engine Division for Gas Turbine Research and Development" Flight's intrepid girl technical writer and reporter is off to Filton to look inside Bristol's blocky new engine testing building to see what's there besides noise. To judge from all the ads in this issue, it's a lot of testing equipment from many subcontractors. I'm not sure why they're advertising now when the building has been in operation since 1947, but maybe it is because they all want to be in the special issue on the House. There's actually quite a bit to be learned about how to increase the efficiency, and thus power, of a given turbine engine design, and the way in which the House is set up to test them is ingenious, if pretty wearing to read. 

"Speeding Up" Flight recommends that everyone who wants to speed material handing at their operation go down and see the Third Annual Mechanical Handling Exposition and Convention at Olympia. 

"Tapping a New Market: Eleven Airlines Open North Atlantic Tourist Service" They do! And like everyone else, Flight rides along in a Pan Am DC-6B, because they are the biggest and newest, although the seat arm-rests for the 86 passengers are painfully unsatisfactory. Engine noise is tolerable except mid-plane, and tail shaking is less noticeable than in earlier DC-6s. The engines opening up to their full 10,000hp is "remarkable." High density seating is hard on the flight attendants, and will make access to emergency exits and life rafts more difficult. 

"Stopping Them in Their Tracks" is a report on the new rail-mounted decelerator chairs at Northrop for training for ejection seat bail-outs, while "Rotol and the Future" features the Chairman of Rotol's speech to the troops about how the propeller has a bright future, and "Defending the Canberra" is a precis of an article from an "English Electric house organ" explaining that the Australian Canberras, which are to be used for test and observation purposes at the Woomera Rocket Range, have "secret radar equipment for defence against high-flying fighters" and a radar bomb sight for high speed attacks. 


Roger Baker agrees with Roger Moore about something to do with ugly  hats. Henry Harper remembers the DH18 in the old days, before the war, while E. Voss thinks that the new Delanne tandem monoplane looks a lot like the old Warren-Young design, only the English design is much better. 

Percy Muir Jones, "the first air draftsman," has died. 

Henry Morris' Commercial Air Comments has "The Great Fare Muddle," a full, dense column in why the American industry is convinced that it needs a fare increase to survive the slump that is sure to hit  just as all the new airliners arrive in 1954--55. Morris is not convinced that the slump scare should discourage the airlines and independents from expanding, particularly into low-tariff services that can reach new markets. 

Civil Aviation remembers the old days, before the war, and BOAC is having its silver anniversary, leading to discussion of the silver wings of the new "Elizabethans," and Silver City Airways' Isle of Man service. The IATA will be discussing landing procedures at an upcoming conference, and Ramsgate Airfield, operated before the war by Whitney Straight, is reopening. BEA reminds us that it has a Basle service, and Bristol will be beating up business by flying a Sycamore low over the city until  people buy a helicopter just to make the noise stop. The CAB is extending airline pilot proficiency requirements to nonsked pilots, while ALPA is pointing out that some 450 airliners currently being used on long over-water flights do not have readily accessible lifeboats. 

In a most boring of both worlds development, Parliament is debating a Flying Clubs Bill. 

Service Aviation reports that HMS Glory's second tour has ended, that the Middle East Air Force is having a small arms meet, the RNZAF is taking delivery of twelve reconditioned RAF Sunderlands, 82 Squadron is flying Lancasters in aerial mapping flights in Africa, HMS Perseus has completed the American steam catapult trials and has returned to Britain. Besides launches with the Perseus equipment, the Americans connected the hoses to the high pressure steam output of USS Greene and did another 140 trials at the higher pressure, completely satisfactorily. The Americans will install their first steam catapult into the Essex-class carrier Hancock, now completing a refit, and are investigating the possibility of putting one on Forrestal. They will be adapting the steam catapult for American manufacture, and ordering a small number from Britain to start. 

"Filling a Gap: Aircraft Sealants and Adhesives: Products of a Pioneering Firm" R.C. explains about "Bostik," the proprietary sealant/adhesive produced by the company that started out as Boston Blacking, Co., and which is now B. B. Chemicals, Co. Flight visited the company, which employs 560 across 7 acres to make many varieties of Bostik for everything from gluing treadways to sealing pressure fuselages. It even poked into proprietary matters like the ingredients of Bostik, which turn out to be rubber and other chemicals.  

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