Tuesday, May 21, 2013

From Now On, No More Defeats: The Siege, 4: The Black Gang


In a different age, boys ran away to sea to become engineers. They learned quickly, they said in boozy, expansive addresses given before meetings of shipbuilding associations in the latter half of the 1930s, because of "spanner rash."

That's a joke about child abuse, hopefully a little less offensive when told by the men who suffered it. (It made men out of them! Except for the men who didn't get invited to give plenary addresses.) (Obligatory.) Like I said, a different age.

The thing about history is that it's long. You pretty much have to skip to the good bits, and that means a good bridging story. Like I said, a good bridging story. I guess that means that someone, someday, is going to have to do a list of good narrative tropes for grand historical heuristics. It could be like TVTropes, only it would make fun of tenured academics, instead of Joss Whedon and approximately a million anime people. Maybe a graduate student could put it together?

One grand trope says that everything's getting better. That's what you call the "Whig interpretation," and you might have noticed that I go for it a lot here. You might also have noticed that I went for the Reverend Thomas Malthus's throat last time. Which is odd, because if there was ever a Whig view of history. . . .

Here's the thing, though: we can't get away with skipping to the good bits when we want to talk about what's in the hole. The "Whig view of history" we talk about tends to mean people like Macaulay and Babbage (far more successful as a publicist than a computer engineer). That was the 1820s and 1830s, though, not the 1790s. What did it mean to be a Whig in the 1790s? It meant being a member of a faction of county political families that promoted the interests of certain bishops, who promoted the interests of certain reverends, who promoted the interests of their families. It is a grand circle of self-interest that naturally accretes self-justifying ideology. In Malthus, that ideology happened to be that society, by helping the poor, bred more of them, whereas the advance of theology (no, seriously) was just bearing fruit in the form of greater morality. It is a seductive argument against raising the Poor Rates that still resonates today. The brilliance of Malthus's argument was that he made it at a time when it remained to be demonstrated that the number of poor was rising, or, indeed, could rise at all, and that greater morality (ie, more, better paid Whig reverends) was the real solution to all of human problems.

And thus we get the idea of Malthusian growth, just at the moment that it was breaking down, and the road is opened for a new kind of Whiggism, in which scientific progress was key. But note that we're still talking about an advance in human knowledge. And if theology is a true study of a true thing, shouldn't better theology rebound on better science? That's not just an implicit argument in later Nineteenth Century Whiggism. It is right there in the prospectus. Seriously: the War of Science Against Religion guy argued that the reason that pagan Greek science passed on to the Arabs instead of the Byzantines was that the Arabs weren't idolators. (Actually, the Google Book search suggests that I understate: he was obsessed with the idea. Maybe Jared Diamond can steal that idea, too, after he's done with "fat continents versus tall continents.")

Why, we ask, did science unleash non-Malthusian growth, just at this time and at this place? Because, we're told in Lives of the Engineers, just at this point a bunch of Whiggish engineers started innovating. There was a great takeoff: Britain started making cheap cottons. Because of science. Which was unleashed by proper theology.

Of course, it isn't 1830, any more, and we don't (overtly) argue that if we can just stop thinking that the Trinity and consubstantiation are things, than, voila, our minds will be liberated to invent Bessemer steel and spinning jennies.

We believe in something else: the free market! (The following ideas were discovered by me, in a pure entrepeneurial effort out of  nothing, and have been copyrighted, or patented, or whatever the technical word is.)

 Rostow's Lund's 5 Stages [of ecomic growth]:
  • Traditional society
    • characterized by subsistence agriculture or hunting & gathering; almost wholly a "primary" sector economy
    • limited technology;
    • A static or 'rigid' society: lack of class or individual economic mobility, with stability prioritized and change seen negatively
  • Pre-conditions to "take-off"
    • external demand for raw materials initiates economic change;
    • development of more productive, commercial agriculture & cash crops not consumed by producers and/or largely exported
    • widespread and enhanced investment in changes to the physical environment to expand production (i.e. irrigation, canals, ports)
    • increasing spread of technology & advances in existing technologies
    • changing social structure, with previous social equilibrium now in flux
    • individual social mobility begins
    • development of national identity and shared economic interests
  • Take off
    • manufacturing begins to rationalize and scale increases in a few leading industries, as goods are made both for export and domestic consumption
    • the "secondary" (goods-producing) sector expands and ratio of secondary vs. primary sectors in the economy shifts quickly towards secondary
    • textiles & apparel are usually the first "take-off" industry, as happened in Great Britain's classic "Industrial Revolution

See that? Textiles are first.Iron founding? Steam engines? Mass brewing? Railways? Heavy chemical industry and the spread of bleach and soap? The timing is wrong. The number series shows our takeoff happening between 1798 and 1815.

Now, admittedly, that number series has been comprehensively discredited, but only in the kind of boring, technical monographs that use databases developed in the last generation (probate inventories, if you were wondering), and which say nice things about Karl Polanyi. If we took that kind of thing seriously, we might end up throwing away the whole takeoff thesis, and replacing it with a story of Boseruppian growth. And, yes, that's a dig at the Gregory Clark school of long run economic history. I'm sorry, I can't help myself.

If you're a regular reader, you know that I have my own explanation, and that I think that there is a hidden variable here: huge, deficit-expanding wars. Lots of spending, lots of spanner rash. (There's an unavoidable amount of death and destruction, but I prefer to avert my eyes from that.) It's the navy that buys the cast iron and the mass-produced beer and the uniforms and the sailcloth and on an on....

Whereas if  you're an occasional reader, you want payoff. What the fuck does this mean for the Battle of the Atlantic?

I'm glad you asked...

Here's poor John Jellicoe, answering Lloyd George as best he can in his Crisis of the Naval War:

.  . . . . 
When the Anti-Submarine Division started in December, 1916, the earlier devices to which attention was devoted were:
(1) The design and manufacture of howitzers firing shell fitted to explode some 40 to 60 feet under water with which to attack submarines when submerged.
(2) The introduction of a more suitable projectile for use against submarines than that supplied at the time to the guns of destroyers and patrol craft.
(3) The improvement of and great increase in the supply of smoke apparatus for the screening of merchant ships from submarines attacking by gunfire.
(4) A great increase in the number of depth charges supplied to destroyers and other small craft.
(5) The development of the hydrophone for anti-submarine work, both from ships and from shore stations.
(6) The introduction of the "Otter" for the protection of merchant ships against mines.
(7) A very great improvement in the rapidity of arming merchant ships defensively.
(8) The extended and organized use of air craft for anti-submarine work.
(9) A great development of the special service or decoy ship.
(10) The introduction of a form of net protection for merchant ships against torpedo fire.
Other devices followed . . . . Some of the new features were the development of depth-charge throwers, the manufacture and use of fast coastal motor-boats for anti-submarine work, the production of mines of an improved type for use especially against submarines, very considerable developments in the use of minefields, especially deep minefields. . . ..
. . . .
Taking these subjects in detail, it will be of interest to examine the progress made during the year.
The howitzer as a weapon for use against the submarine when submerged was almost non-existent at the beginning of 1917, only thirty bomb-throwers, on the lines of trench-mortars, being on order. By April of that year designs for seven different kinds of bomb-throwers and howitzers had been prepared and approved, and orders placed for 1,006 weapons, of which number the first 41 were due for delivery in May. By the end of May the number of bomb-throwers and howitzers on order had been increased to 2,056, of eight different patterns. Over 1,000 of these weapons fired a bomb or shell carrying a burster exceeding 90 lbs. in weight, and with a range varying between 1,200 and 2,600 yards. . . .
. . .

The earlier smoke apparatus for supply to merchant ships was designed towards the end of 1916.
One description of smoke apparatus consisted of an arrangement for burning phosphorus at the stern of a ship; in other cases firework composition and other chemicals were used. A dense smoke cloud was thus formed, and, with the wind in a suitable direction, a vessel could hide her movements from an enemy submarine or other vessel, and thus screen herself from accurate shell fire.
In another form the apparatus was thrown overboard and formed a smoke cloud on the water.
The rate of supply of sets of the smoke apparatus to ships is shown by the following figures:
     April 1, 1917     - 1,372 sets
     July 3, 1917      - 2,563 sets
     October 5, 1917   - 3,445 sets
     November 26, 1917 - 3,976 sets
Depth charges, as supplied to ships in 1917, were of two patterns: one, Type D, contained a charge of 300 lb. of T.N.T., and the other, Type D*, carried 120 lb. of T.N.T. At the commencement of 1917 the allowance to ships was two of Type D and two of Type D*, and the supply was insufficient at that time to keep up the stock required to maintain on board four per destroyer, the number for which they were fitted, or to supply all trawlers and other patrol craft with their allowance. The great value of the depth charge as a weapon against submarines, and the large number that were required for successful attack, became apparent early in 1917, and the allowance was increased. Difficulty was experienced throughout the year in maintaining adequate stocks owing to the shortage of labour and the many demands on our industries made by the war, but the improvement is shown [by numbers]
. . . .

The "Otter" system of defence of merchant ships against mines was devised by Lieutenant Dennis Burney, D.S.O., R.N. (a son of Admiral Sir Cecil Burney), and was on similar lines to his valuable invention for the protection of warships. The latter system had been introduced into the Grand Fleet in 1916, although for a long period considerable opposition existed against its general adoption, partly on account of the difficulties experienced in its early days of development, and partly owing to the extensive outlay involved in fitting all ships. However, this opposition was eventually overcome, and before the end of the war the system had very amply justified itself by saving a large number of warships from destruction by mines. It was computed that there were at least fifty cases during the war in which paravanes fitted to warships had cut the moorings of mines, thus possibly saving the ships. It must also be borne in mind that the cutting of the moorings of a mine and the bringing of it to the surface may disclose the presence of an hitherto unknown minefield, and thus save other ships.
Similarly, the "Otter" defence in its early stages was not introduced without opposition, but again all difficulties were overcome, and the rate of progress in its use is shown in the following statement giving the number of British merchant ships fitted with it at different periods of 1917:
  By July 1, 95 ships had been fitted.
  By September 1, 294 ships had been fitted.
  By December 1, 900 ships had been fitted.
The system was also extended to foreign merchant ships, and supplies of "Otters" were sent abroad for this purpose.
A considerable number of merchant ships were known to have been saved from destruction by mine by the use of this system.
The defensive arming of merchant ships was a matter which was pressed forward with great energy and rapidity during the year 1917. The matter was taken up with the Cabinet immediately on the formation of the Board of Admiralty presided over by Sir Edward Carson, and arrangements made for obtaining a considerable number of guns from the War Office, from Japan, and from France, besides surrendering some guns from the secondary and anti-torpedo boat armament of our own men-of-war, principally those of the older type, pending the manufacture of large numbers of guns for the purpose. Orders for some 4,200 guns were placed by Captain Dreyer, the Director of Naval Ordnance, with our own gun makers in March, April and May, 1917, in addition to nearly 3,000 guns already on order for this purpose; 400 90-m.m. guns were obtained from France, the mountings being made in England. Special arrangements were also made by Captain Dreyer for the rapid manufacture of all guns, including the provision of the material and of extra manufacturing plant.
These orders for 4,200 guns and the orders for 2,026 howitzers placed at the same time brought the total number of guns and howitzers under manufacture in England for naval and merchant service purposes in May, 1917, up to the high figure of 10,761.
At the end of the year 1916 the total number of merchant ships that had been armed since the commencement of the war (excluding those which were working under the White Ensign and which had received offensive armaments) was 1,420. Of this number, 83 had been lost.
During the first six months of 1917 armaments were provided for an additional 1,581 ships, and during the last six months of that year a further total of 1,406 ships were provided with guns, an aggregate number of 2,987 ships being thus furnished with armaments during the year. This total was exclusive of howitzers.
The progress of the work is shown by the following figures:
                                     Number or guns that had been
         Date.                       provided for British Merchant
                                     Ships excluding Howitzers.

  January 1, 1917                              1,420
  April 1, 1917                                2,181
  July 1, 1917                                 3,001
  October 1, 1917                              3,763
  January 1, 1918                              4,407
The figures given include the guns mounted in ships that were lost through enemy action or from marine risks.
It should be stated that the large majority of the guns manufactured during 1917 were 12-pounders or larger guns, as experience had shown that smaller weapons were usually outranged by those carried in submarines, and the projectiles of even the 12-pounder were smaller than was desirable. Of the 2,987 new guns mounted in merchant ships during the year 1917 only 190 were smaller than 12-pounders.

In the interests of making my point, I have omitted long sections on hydrophones and aircraft. I am trying to write about the long range, transformative impact of the Battle of the Atlantic and its role in bringing about modernity without talking about signal-processing, because I have already done that. Instead, I am going at the intersection of  ship armaments and machinery. So Jellicoe's account of his struggles to get guns on merchant ships, depth charges on destroyers, anti-mine booms for merchant ships, and forward-firing anti-submarine howitzers on anything is telling. 

Here are interesting numbers from 1939:

In February, 1939 2000 guns available to arm merchant shipping, and 1000 ships are fitted to receive them; 9000 officers of merchant navy have completed convoy and gunnery courses. Meanwhile, on 15 June, 1938, the UK mercantile marine is 159,000 crew, incl, 107,000 Br., 7000 foreign, 45,000 lascars plus an additional 25,000, 3000, and 6000 ashore.**

Well before the outbreak of war, the task that Jellicoe was trying to complete in the midst of the fighting had been completed. There are obvious differences. Jellicoe was competing with the army and the AA defences of London and of the BEF LOC for guns, in a balancing of priorities that would be a worthy subject of discussion for someone interested in showing that air power is not inherently strategic. In 1939, in contrast, the guns being made in such a hurry in 1917 for these competing causes were sitting in warehouses, ready to be installed. 

As for the training and installation that absorbed the efforts and attentions of such a large proportion of the global floating proletariat that staffed the British merchant marine, well, it was a slack time for shipping, so it was probably not as hard as it could have been. 

That being said, it is worth plunging under the numbers. Here's a look, collated, I think (sourcing your hand-scribbled notes is so bourgeois), from Conways' All the World's Fighting Ships, 1922--1946 at what the British shipbuilding industry was up to during the war:

Comparison of American and British WWII-Era Warship and other Production

563 DEs, of 1253 planned
234 FF
90 M/S
111 Corvettes
174 M/S and PCs
126 M/S
718 173 ft subchasers
121 footers(??) 33+1177 probably Fairmile B–Ds?
435 110 ft SCs
250 tonners 108
535 PCs/YMS
1164 MTB/MGB craft, almost all with American Packard engines

228+200 new built Trawlers

As you can see, the United States programme was dominated by a huge buy of destroyer escorts, a class basically invented to spare American steam plant producers for "real" warships. In striking comparison, the British lists are dominated by ships with triple-expansion engines, classes invented to spare British diesel and turbine-cutting firms to build . . . other stuff. It's a neat anatomy of differing national industries. And it shows that the British took ASW very seriously, very early. Not that anyone would believe differently if not for the distorted history of certain Daily Telegraph writers. That there could have been more ships, had the Admiralty thrown more money at the shipyards, is probably fair to say. 

But here is  J. M. Kirkby****  on Hedgehog, in an article extraordinary as much for what it leaves out (Squid and Limbo) as for what it discusses. Finally we learn what held up Jellicoe's brain storm (besides the need for a range-and-depth-finding sonar: an ahead-firing depth charge [launcher], firing to 350 yards, puts a force of 90 tons on the front deck. Wth the exception of a few conversions, this was out of the question and development went ahead with Hedgehog instead. Hedgehog, a 62lb projectile containing a 34lb Torpex charge.

Kirkby implies that Hedgehog worked just fine. It did not. Work continued on a howitzer, now renamed a mortar. This work culminated in Squid, which began to appear on new destroyers converted on the docks to give up a main armament mounting, on "River" class frigates, and even on ships with strong sterns, where the weapon was mounted to fire over the superstructure and into the water ahead of the ship. (The Admiralty's motto for the Squid was later stolen by an American theme park.)

So the story of fitting next-generation ASW weapons on the Atlantic escort fleet was the story of massive dockyard improvisation. The Admiralty did an excellent job of collating data about this, which was used in a JEH article of the 1950s that I failed to reference, and resurrected by David H. Brown, as part of his campaign to show that every branch of the Admiralty except the Constructor's Department failed during WWII:

Employment in the Yards#

Jun 40
Sept 43
Jun 45
Naval Vessels

Private Yards, New Work
Repair and Conversion.
Total Naval
Merchant Vessels

New work
Repair and Conv.
Total Merch.
Total New Work
Total Repair
Grand Total

(Marine engineering is not included.)

In some ways, the meat is in the notes. The  Admiralty workforce peaked at 918,000 in December 1943, and the balancec of skill changed considerably during the war as more and more craftsmen, particularly electricians, were taken on. By 1944 there were 12,000 electricians, "and this was still insufficient”....
“It was estimated that the balance of unskilled to skilled was 10/18 for warship work and 10/13 for merchant ships. This reflects the increased degaussing, radar, heating, ventilation, fire control, communications and air-conditioning.” The number of welders increased by 80% (179–80) a figure limited by the growth of plant.

So the Admiralty was a huge employer, was hungry for new electricians and other skilled trades, and a great deal of that hunger was driven by retrofits of various equipments, including ASW weapons. Not news.

Some of this data originated in an attempt to prove that American shipyards actually were not more efficient than British, during the brief period in the 1950s when it looked like the United States had a viable shipbuilding industry. That day has passed, and it seems like narrow partisanship to repeat them. On the other hand, they are telling about the actual investment in time and effort. So while US DE destroyer escorts took about 1 million man hours, falling to 600,000–700,000, “Rivers” absorbed 350–450,000 man-hours. The cost of the “Rivers” was £240,000, while US “Colonies [ie DEs for British service]” cost $2.25 million. “In submarine construction it was said that the US worker produced 3.8 tons in a year compared with 8.8 tons per year for the British worker.
The average cost of a Liberty ship was $1.78 million whilst a similar Empire ship built in the UK would cost about £180,000. The US ship would need 500,000–650,000 man-hours, the British 350,000.(181)

What accounts for the superior productivity of British shipyard workers? Here is another slice of the data:

Total Costs by Category Group £M
Hulls of ships building by contract
Propelling machinery
Auxiliary machinery
Hull and machinery total

Admiralty Supply Items must be added to the total
Gun mountings and air compressing plant
Guns and ordnance stores
Electrical and scientific apparatus
ASI Total

....By Ship type
Ship types
Cost (£ms)
Battleships, carriers, and cruisers
Mine ships, trawlers, boom defence vessels, etc
Total major warships
light coastal vessels
landing vessels
Building Times
Time (months)
DD “M”

I am missing the perfect breakout that says that the cheaper the hull, the bigger the proportionate burden on resources imposed by engines and machinery, although also reinforcement for gun locations.  But I think that it is implicit in the data, and this is a blog. 

So let's go with this: ASW is a war of cheap hulls, numbers and rapid construction/refit cycles. We are not talking about scientific instruments here, so the residual, the limiting factor that we are talking about here is naval machinery. That's the link between new ASW weapons and machinery. You can have all the ideas in the world: Jellicoe knew that he needed ahead-firing "howitzers." What matters is the ability to get boats to sea under power. For the British, this means, above all, steam machinery. And, gear-cutting and turbines aside, that means boilers, and boiler control. It is interesting to look at the Engineer Vice-Admiral of the Fleet's state of the art talks over the years leading up to WWII. For  Sir George Preece##, it is about speed and manoeuvrability, and 2) endurance. Preece pays special emphasis to manoeuvrability, equating it with “flexibility.” That is, it is not enough to have a tight turning circle: the ship must be capable of rapid acceleration and decceleration and adapt to rapid changes in power load. There must be accessibility for maintenance. Subdivision “is in conflict with a minimum number of personnel, and although automatic apparatus or controls operated from a central position would be of assistance .. To achieve economy with turbine engines at various speeds is difficult. One approach is a separate cruising turbine. For this to work, it is necessary to work the turbines from a clutch, either with a Vulcan type hydraulic clutch or by adaptation of the Syncromesh principle. Servocontrol “of the hunting type” is now used in boiler feed. 
His discussants, including a number of acolytes from the (E) branch, launch off after automatic control for feedwater supplies. 
A few years later, it is time for his successor-but-one, Sir John Kingcome, to tell the Institute what the Engineering Branch did during the war.### for Kingcome, ritual apology for Acheron apart, it is all about volumes of steam through boilers, and the rapidly falling weight of boilers. Lighter machinery means more weight for other stuff. 

And this brings me to my research hiatus: E. G. Bailey and  P. S. Dickey on “Boiler Control." 208–227.#####

This is a perfectly anodyne discussion of an intensely boring subject, until  R. C. Brierly (Principal Mechanical Engineer, Naval Boiler and Turbine Laboratory, US Navy Yard, Philadelphia, Penns.) opens his mouth. (223–5.)

I summarise, and apologise for the technobabble: Automatic control serves well in simple burner and boiler installations, but may be less satisfactory in more complex installations, unless themselves more complex. This applies in naval practice, where the non-integral superheat boiler is in use, with a separate furnace and a virtual double boiler. In this installation, steam heat is a function of the rates of the 2 sides. Control complications are “at least doubled.” (224) For fuel oil burners control complications are a function of rate of work. Power range in naval manouevres demand a wide range of burner rate, but the efficiency of a burner is proportional to rate with peak efficiency typically 3/4s of lower rates, some burners will have to be stopped, which is problematic with automatic control. Fuel oil burner efficiency range is often taken as a function of its atomisers, although register and diffuser are also involved. The present US Navy standard atomiser has a 1–1.3 range of pressure variation for satisfactory function, while the semi-wide range atomisers developed at the lab and now in wide use give 1:2. Extension of range by other devices is possible, but these have advantages and disadvantages. Fuel oil pumps acting from 75 to 1500lb/sq in would widen range to 1:3.5 or even 1:4, but we would still have to tolerate burner cut-out, which might be tricky. “Plunger” atomisers using spring-actuated pistons would also broaden range, but must be “designed in a relatively complicated manner.” “Return flow atomisers of the general type sold by Peabody Engineering Corporation and Todd Combustion Equipment, Inc render wide range practicable but at the cost of added weight and complexity. Moreover, this is a lot trickier with high capacity systems than with low. Registers present complex aerodynamic issues that cannot be solved mathematically. hence, auto-control comes down to cases. Automatic feedwaters regulators have proved their worth with the RN in battle, but as for these other gadgets...?

And there's the hiatus.  Peabody Engineering is today part of the Hamworthy Group, based in Devon. The corporate archivist promises a technical history of its "return flow atomisers," evidently developed prewar by/for the Admiralty to meet Preece's demands for greater "manoevrability" is promised. I am not holding my breath.

And there we end it. I know that I bang this drum a great deal, but the story of the devices that automatically control the flow of oil into boilers is a boring one. That is why it is lost to the history of technology. But it is an important one. This is an innovation that flowed, silently out of the Admiralty/Peabody labs into the power generation stations of the world in the quiet years between (I am guessing) 1945 and 1968. It is a technology that is buried in the plants of the ships that hunted and killed the submarines of spring 1943. And, if I had to guess what the mechanism of transmission would be, I would suggest that it was spanner rash. 

Okay, you say, but what about guns.  
*Spanner wrench, by Taizhou Debon Tools. Via.
**G.H. and R. Bennett, Survivors: British Merchant Seamen in the Second World War. London; Rio Grande, Oh.: Hambledon, 1999: 19--20.
**** “Some Mechanical Features in Anti-Submarine Weapons” Proc. Inst. Mech. Eng. 160 (1949): 33–49.
#From David K. Brown, Nelson to Vanguard: Warship Development, 1923–1945 ([London: Chatham, 2000), 178ff.  
## “Obituary of Engineer Vice-Admiral Sir George Preece, KCB (1884–1944),” Engineering, 1943,pagination is for losers; “Naval Machinery: Some Factors Influencing its Design:” 62-? pagination, year, and even journal name (although it is the Proceedings Inst. Mec. Eng.) are all for losers. Jeez. It has an index, look it up! 
***“Marine Engineering in the Royal Navy: A Review of Progress during the last Twenty-Five Years,” Proc. Inst. Mech. Eng. 160 (1949): 173–84
#####: E. G. Bailey and  P. S. Dickey, “Boiler Control,” Trans. Soc. Nav. Arch. Mar. Eng. 50 (1942): 208–227.


  1. Have you ever thought of pulling some of your datasets into charts?

  2. That sounds like it would involve learning to use some software. My brain hurts already.

    That being said, if I can learn how to play Puerto Rico, I can probably figure out a chart-making function.

  3. I thought hedgehogs worked pretty well. They didn't? Off to google.
    You like Through the Ages or Agricola? Just back from Kublacon.

  4. Hedgehog was the only ahead-firing weapon available for fitting on many ships to exploit "sword"-style range-and-depth reporting sonar equipments.

    That makes it "effective" in the key sense that it could go to sea on many escorts, and greatly enhanced their submarine-killing ability.

    The key question is whether those escorts were an effective use of human resources compared with alternate cases. That is, should you lay up or not complete ships that cannot carry Squid to free up sea-going and dockyard support for ships that can?

    By 1943, the incredible surge in early war escort production had put the Allies in a position where they had more hulls than means to field them. At this point, industrial strategy calls for a close evaluation of both the existing force and the future force, looking down alternate production paths into the future.

    In the United States, the yards are on track to build over 500 destroyer escorts, and plans to build a thousand. Is that still a good use of labour? If it is not, in strategic terms, is it still a good idea in political terms? Can the Administration get away with a major cut in ship production, or is it better, going into a Presidential election year, to keep hands in the yards and put the ships to the best use they can be put?

    In Britain, 151 "River" class frigates are set to be built. They can carry Hedgehog, but not "Squid." The follow on "Lochs" can carry "Squid," but are bigger (1435t SD vs 1370), and require 7 more personnel. There appears to have been a production delay. The first "Loch" class commissioned in April 1944, the last British "River" in February 1943.

    This is a general question across war production programmes, 70 years ago today (cue a "liveblogging 1943" series?). Produce for volume, or push ahead into new technologies, perhaps at the expense of giving up fighting power before the Axis is ready to stop fighting? The end of WWI saw a fatal failure to manage this transition. Production, often of complete crap, was under way at full volume at the close of hostilities, putting governments into an impossible situation as they tried to close out war industries without causing mass unemployment and screwing up demobilisation.

    This is one of the things that WWII planners were determined to do differently. As we now know, war industries emerged from the far side of the peace as consumer industries, often producing products that people had no idea would even be consumer goods in 1945. Microwaves, hi-fis, bean bag chairs. . . The question is, how was this transition managed?

    My theory going into the "liveblogging 1943" project is that we did not get the post-WWII consumer bloom as a windfall of the war effort. The Atlantic economies got there by a positive effort --although in part one driven from below. But we'll see.

  5. Oh, and I think that I've played Agricola but not Through the Ages. I'm out of the game collecting racket, and usually play what my more avid buddies bring out on Fridays. So, recently, Seven Wonders and Seven Sisters, both somewhat in the Puerto Rico "moments to learn, lifetime to master" spirit of making my brains hurt on a Friday night.

  6. Thanks for the in formation provided. I am searching for a similar product. And found it here Turbine Ventilator Manufacturer

  7. Per blog policy, spambots that advertise cool industrial machinery are allowed, and I, for one, welcome yada yada.