Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Postblogging Technology, January, 1944, II: Best Wishes and Good Fortune in 1944!


My Dearest Reggie:

The dates have aligned, and I hope we shall have a most auspicious year. "Mrs. J. C."  returned from her specialist's appointment in San Francisco at the beginning of the week in a gay mood, and now there are to be two cribs in the new nursery at the carriage house. Even the endless sound of hammering and nailing in the back as boxes of oranges are sealed and as quickly sent off to Chinese groceries in time for the Lunar New Year celebrations did not affect her feelings.

The arrival of your wife in advance of our Robbie Burns Supper was not, as I feared, a greater test. She and Judith bore the Inspector-Generaltrix's visit with the most magnificent aplomb. All is in order, and "Mrs. J. C." was the most gracious host. We were honoured by "Cousin H. C." and by Cousin Bess, lured out of the sanctuary of her home by the prospect of family, and a chance to spoil her beloved (half-)nephew and niece. We were also honoured, I am pleased to report, by our film star-Signals Corp relative's wife, who attended at the sharp insistence of "Mrs. J.C." Less happily, he brought along a friend, a member of Admiral Halsey's official family, quite handsome, notwithstanding his unfortunate red hair, in naval whites. 

I say "unfortunate" because "Mrs. J.C" believes him to be a stalking horse for his friend's adventuring ways. This strikes me as taking her personal dislike for the young man rather into the realm of the paranoid, but one must make allowances for woman in her condition. And, that said, I have to admit that for all his avuncularity, our patriotic actor relation rather rubs me the wrong way, as you Colonials say.

For example, we had as our guest once again the Provost of Santa Clara University, a clever man, as you have often noted, even amongst the Jesuits, andof long years in these parts and deep understanding of the value of the Poor Clares to our family. He watched without comment as I gave the traditional gifts to the young folk. 

But when "Miss "V.C" opened up her copy of the red-leather bound volume  of the Immortal Poet of Ayrshire's verse, and found within a crisp, new, $100 bill, she was somewhat taken aback. The Provost, as is his wont in other circumstances (have you ever seen him do this at a lunch for the parents of prospective students?) pulled out his old, ivory dog whistle, and told the story of how his grandfather used to be a "redeemer," pursuing fugitive slaves on the shores of the Ohio, and how there was often a crush of redeemers after some well-remunerated refugee, and how, on those occasions, when his dogs found the scent, he would pull out that old whistle, retrieved from a Mound-Builder tomb. "For it is a curious property of this whistle that it can only be heard by mongrel dogs, and none other. Grandfather was careful to keep a mongrel kennel, whereas the other redeemers used the finest bloodhounds for this remunerative work. Thus, Grandfather could call in his dogs without alerting the other redeemers, and many a bounty he took that otherwise would have gone to another."

Then, of course, the Provost held that long pause of his, before adding, as he always does, "Grandfather was an evil, evil man. But he did establish the family fortune that way. A curious thing, though: he never took a fugitive but was dark as deepest Africa, though we all know that slaves come in many colours betwixt coal and milk coffee. Perhaps the mongrels of other species can hear Grandfather's dog whistle, too."  

When I saw our young relation's eyes rise, I saw that, once again, someone had heard the dog whistle. My problem is that there was a hint of malice in the smile he gave then. I do not always approve of the message that the Provost gives when he goes on to talk to parents about how congenial their children will find Santa Clara while fiddling with his whistle. There are many children, however thinly their final coat of white overlies a primer  of coal, or sage, or even vermilion, who would do well at Harvard or Yale, and whose parents do not need to be frightened into sending them to Santa Clara, instead. 

But that hint of malice suggests that quite another message entirely was being heard, and noted.       

Time, 17 January 1944


“The Test,” “the Case,” “Anatomy of a Feud.” Etc.

The reason that the Russians were so cutting to Mr. Wilkie about the status of the Baltic statelets is that they intend to build up a “cordon sanitaire” in eastern Europe to maintain their security while they demobilise and rebuild their economy. Perhaps the Poles will be upset about this, because, naturally, of Vladimir the Great, or perhaps Jagiello, Or, at a stretch, President Wilson and Lord Curzon. Meanwhile, Rumania and Finland stand idle in the field, conspicuously massaging their calves and intimating their readiness to be pulled from the line-up.

“Russia: No. 6.” On Christmas Day, the Iron City of Magnitogorsk, which sits where the Ural river cuts through the iron mountain of Magnitnaya, celebrated the first pour from its sixth blast furnace, the second built since the beginning of the war. The Russians claim that they “followed the methods of Henry Kaiser” in building it, so expect it to start cracking open the moment it hits a stiff sea…. Hard to imagine how much more profitable the Fontana plant would be if it sat between a navigable river and a mountain of 62% iron ore. No. 7 furnace, which will come into operation this year, may be the world’s largest. The question is, how much steel will Russia need after the war? Hopefully the Communist Utopia will not be tempted to keep excess capacity in operation just to avoid writing down the investment, but you never know.

“Great Britain: The Stately Coals of England” The Earl of [sic] Fitzwilliam is upset that the 450 acres of his estate at Wentworth Woodhouse, Yorkshire, has been spoliated by steam shovels taking 25,000 tons/week of outcrop coal. Time seems to think that His Grace is getting what he deserves for having such a nice house. The cause of making fun of the grievances of the grande noblesse  would have been better served, I think, by noting that the family also owns the 15,000 acres surrounding that 450. As for the story itself, the effort and waste implied by all of that stony outcrop coal is disheartening. It will certainly do the boilers no good.

“Italy: Gentleman of Verona” Also not sympathetic about Count Ciano, the paper is. Or perhaps the "not" goes at the end? Writing for Time is harder than it looks.

“Votes for Soldiers” The Christmas break was not kind to the legislators who voted against the “super-powerful Federal War Ballot.” Now assorted state legislatures are moving. Arkansas is even renewing a 1923 law abolishing the poll tax for soldiers.

“Facts” In a big Army-Navy “facts-of-life” rally held last week in Los Angeles, some 650 “West Coast big-wigs” were told that in two years of fighting, U.S. troops have captured 280,000 European prisoners but only 377 Japanese.  Thus, the Japanese fleet will eventually come out to fight a decisive battle, as this proves that they have fanatical courage. “Island hopping” will continue. The number of American aircraft carriers, now over 40, will be approximately doubled. Also doubled, cruisers, although building priority shifts to landing craft and submarines. I pointed out that "doubled" is not very specific, but your eldest points out that  cruiser plants work hard, and that the Navy can scarcely relenton cruiser building until it has enough ships that do not risk burning through their own steam plant. Admiral Halsey contributes that the only good Japanese is a dead Japanese. As much as I understand where the admiral is coming from, this does not, I believe, constitute a “fact” as that word is normally understood. It also rather undermines the simple logic of the first “fact” supplied.

“Lend-Lease: Swords into Ploughshares” I find it interesting that while Lend-Lease accounted for 38 out of every 100 tanks the U.S. produced, it only took up $9 of $100 of machine tools, 4 out of a 100 barrels of petroleum products, and 10% of food products, with much of the drain on “less critical” foods such as pork, eggs and dried fruit. The currant growers have done rather well out of Lend-Lease, while the world rejoices in America’s surplus of dried eggs and bacon.

“Rocket or Racket” More talk of German vengeance weapons. A Swiss expert (so presumably this is an unattributed rewrite of the Flight article) thinks that rocket-guns are bunkum, although in fact the Germans are building launching installations along the “so-called Invasion Coast of France,” and we are bombing them. The paper suggests that the Germans intend to use these giant “bazookas” against the invasion fleet, rather than in any “futuristic terror bombing of London.”

Assorted “Battlefronts” articles:Leese is in as new GOC, 8th Army; Ernie Pyle writes affectingly about the death of an army captain from Texas, Tito’s partisans are partisans, the latest landings in New Britain were unopposed, Chinese troops will fight well under General Stilwell’s leadership. General Stilwell is lucky that Grandfather is no longer able to follow the news, or a dacoit would soon be showing him just how well Chinese fight under their own leadership.

“Flying Teakettle” The paper is less impressed by jet planes than Flight, for some reason, though it does note, as Flight does not, rumours that the Italians and Germans are working on their own. Mr. Smith, of Flight, now has an American publisher for the latest edition of his book, so someone is making bank on this “jet turbine” thing.

“Fashion Note” The Army is tryingout its new field jacket in Alaska. In cold temperatures, perfect comfort will be achieved by wearing as much clothing underneath it as will fit. 

“Hobby’s Army”

The Women’s Army Corps in England has just been inspected by their Colonel-Commandant, “trim” Colonel Oveta Gulp Hobby. Of a woman of a certain age, “trim” says it all, does it not? And this is all about appearance. “She saw erect, well-dressed girls drawn up for parade." Well, appearance to a point.

 After "Mrs. J. C.'s reaction to the "Doughnut Dollies," my eyebrows rise. "In the clammy English dawn, she saw WACs in maroon bathrobes (with boy friends’ unit insignia sewn on their sleeves)… 

 Twenty million women working in American factories are being told about 63,000 “G.I. Janes” over in England, with their boyfriends' patches sewn on their bathrobes' sleeves.



“Voice from Main Street” The paper tells us that Main Street wants Mr. Wilkie to be the GOP 1944 nomination. No intimation of who the people standing on it want, but early indications are Governor Dewey.

“$134,000,000 Memo” The paper’s take on the Truman Committee’s outrage of the week, the failed attempt to supply Alaska with oil from the Canadian deposit at Norman Wells in the sub-Arctic north. Apparently a pipeline laid over open ground across the tundra, beside a wilderness road of hundreds of miles that winds its way through the worn-down mountain ranges of the eternal snows is not an economical proposition! Since this is not enough absurdity for a single article, the paper quotes a strategic review asserting that a refinery 150 miles from the coast of the Gulf of Alaska would be a “too-easy” target for enemy aircraft.

“Death of a Lady” The paper notices the death of Mrs. “Lou Henry Hoover” in her apartment in New York. She is survived by one son, and her husband, the former President. President Hoover, you will certainly not forget, Reggie, lives on the campus of his alma mater, founded a few miles to the north of us (as Americans reckon distance) and a considerable distance from New York. The paper notices “Lou’s” cosmopolitan tastes, the scientific interests that so complemented her husband’s, her athletic inclinations, and her involvement with the Girl Scouts. 

The paper only fails to notice her hair style in painting a compelling picture of her private life without actually saying anything.

Business --“The Toll” Strained by the record-breaking load of 7 billion passenger-miles monthly, the American rail-road system is falling apart. Accidents are up 32% since last year, breakdowns due to equipment failure 39%, due to improper maintenance 47%. 2,349 were killed in rail accidents in 1943.

Education  --“Mrs. Evans solves a Problem.” A four-room high school outside of Chicago with only 13 high school students also has only one teacher, a 1929 Bachelor of Music, Mrs. Evans, who also finds time to be principal, school superintendent, and district elementary school visitor. This is deemed to be an acceptable way of running a school because the parents of the children are strict Calvinists. One hopes for the childrens' sake that the postwar depression is not severe or long lasting, or they may suffer from the lack of education. Which, of course, is only a little more extreme than the general deficit of these times.

Radio; “Good Aftermoreevening” A radio show broadcast from London by shortwave is picked up by the NBC in New York and rebroadcast around the United States. Is it the future of broadcasting, the paper asks. No it is not, I suggest. It is short wave, as even the paper notes. Australians complain that American armed forces radio is better than British, causing Australians to lose precious British-ness in favour of American-ness. Frank Morgan is leaving the Maxwell House Hour.

Flight, 20 January 1944

The paper thinks that news is thin enough to lead off with some Flight Lieutenant’s talk about the future of air warfare on the BBC. Germany might be running out of fighters, and Spitfires are remarkable.

War in the Air

 The paper obliquely notes that the Allies possess a way to “see through clouds.” Sofia in Bulgaria has been bombed. Japanese planes have gotten better, but their pilots are deteriorating in skill. There will be no offensive in Burma before the monsoon. The attack on Brunswick was combined with a diversionary attack on Berlin, which accounts for the light casualties.

Here and There

Transport Lancasters have set a new Atlantic record of 11 hours 15 minutes, taking it away from the Consolidated B-24. Our Geoffrey Smith is a radio star now! The Rolls-Royce Aero-Instruction School’s annual enrollment just reached 5000. 10,000 trainees have passed through the school.
“The Hawker Typhoon” is surprisingly aerodynamic considering how ugly it its. I include a clipping showing the transition from a spaced-frame structure to a monocoque just to the rear of the main spar. Whatever else can be said about it, this is bravura engineering.

“Airfield Saturation” The country is reaching its limits as far as new airfields go. This is made worse by the fact that the average size of an airfield has increased from 200 to 600 acres, and by the reduction in the glide path from a 1 in 15 descent to a 1 in 50 due to increasing wing loadings.

“Avro York Transport” The Paper has not announced this plane lately, so here you are.

Time, 24 January 1944


Something about Poland, Russia, London, America?

“Asp from Spain:” You will have noticed the absence of The Economist in this roundup, Reggie. Fortunately, the paper covers the British beat well enough that I do not have to turn to the English press for coverage of this latest Fascist atrocity. Oranges being shipped from Spain to provide a  precious 2 pounds a week for British children through March have been infiltrated by orange bombs! Tiny bits of peel, carefully hollowed out by Spanish Nazi sympathisers and filled with ingenious time-bombs are now being ferreted out of the holds of ships by trained RAF bomb-disposal experts.  


“The Fuerher’s Guests” A German gentleman was interviewed In Stockholm on the subject of his large house in Berlin, which he abandoned, presumably in favour of Stockholm, to bombed-out families (the titular guests) because they were disrupting his routine. I do not imagine that the German Volk will miss him very much.

“Not Dead Yet” It is said by the Daily Telegraph that 8000 acres of Berlin have been devastated by bombing. This is an exaggeration. Only 8000 of Berlin’s 20,000 acres are built up at all, and, of these, 1360 acres have been significantly attacked by 9000 tons of bombs dropped in six raids. Although since this assessment, another 5000 tons have been delivered. Updated photo-reconnaissance results are awaited. The total tonnage needed to be delivered is estimated at 40,000, so we are  “about” half way to converting Belin into “Acres of Death.” This story goes nicely with an earlier one about an old Russian peasant woman braining a captured Nazi saboteur as he lay, pinioned and helpless.

 “Fathers, Go to War” To meet the Selective Service quota of 699,000 men by July, the service will have to take a “considerable proportion” of fathers, only 90,000 of whom have been drafted so far. Perhaps this will finally effect a reduction in the ever-increasing number of perambulators cluttering up the sidewalks!

“Retrenchment” The USAAF is closing 69 airfields and cutting back training.

New Star in the Sky” The Paper is bemused by the North American A-36 P-51 Apache Invader Mustang. I gather that its friends call it “Sinjan.” The paper notes its “laminar flow wing,” and its Packard-made two-speed, two-stage supercharger, but then spoils the effect of its brief excursion into actual technical facts by adding that this gives it “speed both upstairs and down.”

“Global War, Global Network.” I may or may not have been fair in mocking the paper’s coverage of aviation technology a moment ago, but I was inspired by the next story, which describes the creation of the Army Airways Communication System, apparently a global network of dedicated radio stations supporting Army Air Force Operations. The key here is a globe-wide network for reporting weather. One could very definitely stand for a description of how this is accomplished, but, apparently “radio did it” must suffice.

“Receptive Lion” “top-ranking U.S. political commentator” Ray Clapper went to Australia to interview General MacArthur, reports that he is “receptive” to a Presidential run in 1944. I hope his generalship is more closely moored to reality.

“Shock of Arms” The paper notes that 8th AF lost 60 bombers and 5 fighters in its raids on northwestern Germany this week, while Bomber Command lost 38 attacking Brunswick. This isexclusive of damaged ships, and it is small consolation that “despatches toneutral Sweden” claim that the city has “ceased to exist,” with citizens fleeing the burning city for the Harz Mountains. In other news, the paper likes General Bradley, as he is a “quiet operator.” Take that, General Patton!

“Death in Training” Before the war, the fatal accident rate for Army student pilots was 13 per thousand. It has now risen to 20. The paper thinks that this is just fine. Why does it mention it, then?


“Secret Weapons” We have jets, while the Germans have their “rocket-gun coast.” Now there is talk of Nazi rocket planes uncovered in Germany, and, of course, there is all that talk about “atom-busting . . .[which]. .. ha[s] been subject . . . of intense research by both United Nations and Axis scientists.” I distinguish “atom-busting” from the other entries in the above list because, unlike the paper, I haven’t heard talk about it in a very long time. The rest of the article has a remarkable listing of boy’s stuff ranging from Greek fire to Merrimac and Monitor to longbows and so on. Secret weapons are real!
“Blue Cross” The Blue Cross is making a tidy little profit these days, after very nearly going under during the 1930s. This news is attached to an odd human interest story about a released Japanese internee who was reimbursed by Blue Cross for his Shanghai medical bills.


“The Soldier’s President” It is suggested by some that the delayed implementation of National Service in the United States is tied to the President’s hope of winning a fourth term, as the labour shortage is over. Apparently. Some have brains with the suppleness of a belly dancer.

“$100,000,000,000 Guess” The new budget is a hundred-billion dollar guess, as no-one knows whether the war will last out the financial year. The President is asking for twice the national income of 1933, and the public debt will soar to $258 billion, ten times the highest level of the 1920s following the First World War. Once again, the President asked for more taxes, but income, rather than a national sales tax. Obviously I should prefer an income tax over a sales tax, and I notice that our tenants are of the opposite opinion. I wonder why the Luce papers are so congenial to my opinions, and not those Mrs. Murphy, Mrs. Wengler and Mr. McCrimmon? I joke, Reggie, I joke!

“Button, Button” The paper notes that Wendell Wilkie is a laughing stock at the Front. I imagine that this will matter in his run to the nomination almost as much as the fact that Dewey is going to win.

“Work Preferred” In 1943, 900,000 U.S. workers who had become eligible to retire under Social Security opted to keep on working, as the money was just too good.

“The Lobby Gets to Work” The American Legion is in Washington getting things ready for returning World War II veterans. I specifically notice talk of an increase in the mustering out bonus from $300 to $500, with even more possible, and of “loans for home building” amongst other things. This is for the Earl, of course. How plausible are $5000 homes when the returning serviceman will be able to muster the 10% down payment from his basic bonus alone?

“The Army’s Doctrine” The Army’s censorship authorities released new guidelines. The paper is dyspeptic, and especially notes the silly way that it kept jets “secret,” when  “its basic principles were expounded and diagrammed Sept 11. 1941 in the British aviation magazine Flight.”

Civilian Supply, Aviation, Renegotiation

“For Babies Only” The massive article that leads off the section and which by itself justifies three separate headings is about –brace yourself, Reggie—a release of steel to make perambulators, the WPB taking account of a “bumper crop “ of 2.7 million babies this year. I wonder if someone has studied the impact of this bumper crop on long term steel consumption? Will they not need tricycles, and then bicycles, and, finally, a flivver before settling into domestic life in a house filled with steel refrigerators, automatic washing machines, and even air conditioners?

“Aluminum: From Feast to Famine” On a more serious note (again), there is now an excess of aluminum production in America, as just about everyone except “Cousin H.C.” could have predicted. American plants that use coal-fired electricity are already being closed.

Railroads, Banking, Retail Trade

“Recovery” In the Depression, US railroads were the sickest of sick industries. Now, they are not, thanks to having retired $6 billion, ahlf their total debt, while lsalting away $1.6 billion for capital investment in equipment and roadbeds. Notably, they have done two-and-a-half times more business in 1943 than in 1928 with 250,000 fewer employees thanks to improved equipment and better technique.

Canada at War: “Jimmy Rides Again” Canadian Agriculture Minister James Gardner has apparently resolved the Anglo-Canadian bacon crisis by paying farmers more for hogs. No mention of the “coarse grain” shortage, though.


Louella Parsons has brought out her memoirs,  Jimmy Durante is funny, Jules Romain is prolific, the opera house in Naples is open again, Jackpot gets a bad review.
Flight, 27 January 1944


The Marquess of Londonderry finally extracted some details about the Government’s postwar civil aviation plans in the Lords this week. There was further talk about the Bristol Brabazon, and the revelation of a somewhat smaller and near-at-hand “Tudor,” a name with a striking similarity to “Lancaster” and “York.” The paper, of course, thinks that there should be a flying boat, too.  “Technical Training:” Talk of a British College of Aeronautics is all the rage, while others call for an expansion of basic engineering and other technical education on a “walk before you can fly” basis.

War in the Air

Aerial photographs show that more than a third of the great woolcombing factory at Leipzig was destroyed in the 3 December raid. “The deaths and sick casualties from cold in a campaign in Russia during the winter must in any case be high.” The paper is pleased by the landings at Anzio, long awaited by armchair strategists.

Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle” Is a plane of which you have probably heard on account of your being an RCAF officer in the thick of it. No-one else has, for the good reason that it is a sad and lonely failure that will be put to some undemanding use in the Invasion.

“Long Range Mustang: Credit for the Latest U.S. Fighter Goes to British Air Ministry,’ You will note, Reggie, that Time took a different tack. I think this will be quite a successful aircraft, if there is such a fight over its paternity! Certainly no-one is rushing forward to claim credit for the Albemarle.  Save for the subcontracting furniture makers who pioneered the use of “improved,” or “compregnated” wood products.

Air Transport
Discussion of the Government’s commercial aviation policy continues in the Lords. The “Brabazon” will be a very large plane, and will be flown by BOAC, in its capacity as a “national flag-bearer.”

Here and There

Fan mail and proposals continue to pour into the Flight offices, directed to our own Geoffrey Smith, who now candidly described by some as “British aeronautical engineering’s answer to Bing Crosby.” Also, this Group Captain Whittle fellow of whom you may have heard will be giving a talk to the Royal Aeronautical Society, or some such.

“Colour and Design in Civil Aviation” Something called the British Colour Council stands prepared to offer advice on tasteful colour schemes for airliners. If passengers can be persuaded not to fly in a déclassé aeroplane finished in last season’s hues, aeroplane output may not have to shrink at all!

Time, 31 January, 1944


“Spain: Wages of Appeasement” Hard on the heels of the “legerdemain” of the Blue Division and the orange-bomb fiasco (which turned out to be bombs in the crates, not actual orange-bombs), Franco signs a credit agreement with the Germans, probably to sell them tungsten. The paper is not amused.

“Death at Konstanz” The paper reviews a recent Swiss newspaper article reporting that the German city across the lake has reported 3,785 obituary notices for officers and men killed on the Russian Front since 22 June 1941. Forty-three percent were married, and 76 suicides are reported as well, “mostly wives and mothers of the dead soldiers.” Which seems like a morbid and unnecessary statistic for newspaper consumption. Not to mention uncalled-for, even in wartime.

“The Bear’s Way” The paper speculates that Pravda’s accusation this week that the British were in negotiations for a separate peace with Germany might have been intended to pre-emptively justify Russian talks with the Germans, or at least warn that two could play that game.

“Not Yet” The paper allows that the invasion of France might have to wait for the summer.

“Third Landing” The invasion at Anzio was a glorious success! And that is why Rome has already fallen! Wait a minute, Reggie….

“By Sea and Air” A great submarine-air battle has been fought by a convoy “250 miles off Portugal.” No Allied ships were sunk, and the British released details about the “Leigh-LightPlanes.”

“More of the Same” The Germans announce that “liquid-air rocket bombs,” a “rocket-booster mechanism” for interceptor fighters, and a “new kind of underwater arm” are all imminent.

“The Way to Tokyo” Another amphibious invasion of a Central Pacific island is imminent.

“Cradle Retaken” Leningrad’s siege is lifted, Novgorod, "cradle of Russia," falls, Russians launch new offensive into northern Finland.

“Superfortress” The paper notices that Flight has noticed the B-29 “Superfortress.” Of note are that it is a colossally large plane, and that its "side turrets" operated by remote control. Your son looks over my shoulder and shakes his head sadly. He is quite confident that General Electric has not solved the lag problem any more than anyone else has.

“Double Champ” The commander of a PT boat that has sunk several Japanese barges explains that he had no choice but to shoot twelve Japanese in the water.

“Reverses and Reserves” The paper hopes that the German efforts to build up a counter-invasion reserve, noted by Hitler in his New Year’s address, are failing, pointing to the absence of German troops on the Anzio beaches.

“Enter the Royal Navy” The existence of an Eastern Fleet is intimated. American submarines continue to sink Japanese merchant ships at a great clip.

“Respectable Floozie” The Martin B-26 Marauder, much criticised by the Truman Committee as a “Widow-Maker,” or woman of ill-repute, has had its reputation restored by the traditional expedient. "It separates the men from the boys," says Glenn L. Martin spokesman. The mothers of America must be so relieved.


“Labor”  The paper reviews the railway strike, accuses the Administration of honouring the letter of the Little Steel guidelenes for wage increases while “doing violence to its spirit.” There are still three thousand coal mines under Federal administration, but at least the strikes in the Akron rubber plants have been broken. On the other hand, an injunction against “maintenance of membership” in their plants sought by the chairman of U. S. Gypsum, Sewell Avery, also head of Montgomery Ward, is being evaded by the WLB.

“The Hopkins Letter” The scandal of the forged letter from Wendell Wilkie to Harry Hopkins continues
“Man of the West” Wilkie/Warren 1944!.. I mention this because Governor Warren is on this week’s cover. Of course, Jimmy Durante was on last week’s, so there you go.


“Much Ado About Nothing” Vacuum is being used in new ways in science nowadays! Mainly by Richard B. Morse of Massachusetts. Mr. Morse must be a major shareholder, is all that I can say.

Jahco continues its lonely battle against the excess-profits tax; Anaconda Wire& Cable’s long trial for deliberately shipping failed product to Russia comes to an end. American private exports are at the highest level since 1929. There is much talk of scandal over the Petroleum Reserve Corporation. Again.


“The Race Question” A 46 page booklet by Columbia anthropologists Ruth Benedict and Gene Weltfish, entitled The Races of Mankind, has been prepared for distribution to servicemen by the USO. But it contains “troublous facts and troubling doctrines” to the effect that there is no essential difference between races, which are all mixed up, anyway. The USO has therefore discontinued its distribution and has been criticised for it by the AFL, CIO, and “many Negro newspapers.” The remaining "Negro newspapers" think that racial inequality is fine with them!

“Yale Versus Harvard” The two old schools are agreed that government financial aid (in view for veterans, I gather) must not threaten their freedom to do just as they please. To wit, Yale will accommodate returned veterans at a special Institute of Collegiate Study, disdains vocation training, and will retain summer vacations, while Harvard will run all year around and will introduce vocational training, while its president dismisses the idea of teaching the humanities to “any considerable portion” of the 10,000,000 returning veterans, as they will “be in a hurry” to get on with their lives.

Fanny Hurst has a new book out, and Robert Duffus has published a memoir of his year at Stanford with Thorstein Veblen. Veblen does not sound like a Stanford man to me, Reggie. But I only know one Stanford man well, and not for the better.

And now for the monthlies. Or, in this case, bi-weeklies, as Aero-Digest now has enough material –and this notwithstanding losing Armed Forces accreditation—to publish every two weeks! (I was also not billed for the increase on my subscription, and shall gratefully pay special attention to the advertising content.)

Aero-Digest, 1 January 1944

“Pacific Strategy and the Bombing of Tokyp” The paper notes that since a serious bombing campaign against Tokyo will require on the order of 50 airfields, American “super-bombers” cannot be based in China. Range rules out their use from Hawaii or the Philippines, and weather from Alaska. That leaves Formosa, as it always does.

“Recreation for War Workers” Instructs factory managers in how to organise dances and parties. Hopefully no-one needs armoured bras!

H. O. Boyvey (Vultee), “Fatigue –The Forgotten Member of the Design Family.” Boyvey tells us that traditional engineering builds in a fatigue margin of strength. This is impossible in aircraft, where weight management rules. We are left to calculate safe usages from experimental data, and we do not have enough data about new materials. Fly in new planes (built to old designs?) only for the first decade or so after the war. Hopefully tastefully-decorated ones, though. More seriously, you will recall the alarming increase in fatal accident rates in Air Corps training. Mr. Boyvey points out that student pilots land hard, and testing of the strength of undercarriage forgings is not very good, especially when it is considered how “nicks, scratches and other blemishes” can affect their integrity. Vultee is building various equipment to test them.

J. A. Chamberlin (Noorduiyn-Montreal), “Parts Straightening Without Heat Treatment,” a judicious use of force can salvage banged up parts after a crash. What about safety, you ask? Here’s some very convincing math (with charts) to show that it is!

As a consolation, if German aircraft production totals are going up as quickly as they claim, fatigue testing sounds like something that they might be neglecting, and the German air force may well crash to Earth far more quickly than we expect.

Max Munk (Catholic University of America), “Computation of the Takeoff Run,” which I  notice because of the presence of an integral sign. This is not our generation of engineers. But, of course, he is an academic, and so must make a pretense that this “calculus” thing has uses.

Design Sketch: The P-51 “Mustang.” Other papers talk. Aero Digest delivers.

Although I gather that the fuselage-mounted guns indicate an earlier model than the one currently flying bomber-escort missions.

Edward Lodwig (Mobile Refrigeration, Ltd.) “Altitude Simulation,” If there really is a “cold war” in the postwar, with companies racing to bring new and improved refrigerators to American homes, the credit to wartime innovation will be even wider than I realised a moment ago. Mr. Lodewig describes the rigs his company built to test aeroplane components for high-altitude performance. Apparently, many of the same problems being faced by jet-turbine and aero-engine manufacturers were faced by builders of refrigerator compressors.

Bringing several themes together, here is a young lady testing "aircraft fabrics" in -40 degree conditions.

Washington In-Formation

This biweekly entry is mainly dedicated to the Baruch appointment, and its implications for the postwar liquidation of government-owned plant. I go into this further in my financial note below. However, I will note here that Senator Truman seems to be taking a soft line on the vexed question of valuations, and intimates that he should like to see war plant purchased at the “true value,” and not at prices reflecting inflated wartime construction costs. What I am not at clear about is the implications for us. “Cousin H.C’s”  steel plant may be sold to him for much less than we currently expect. Are we no longer expected to save his investment, in anticipation of postwar profits in a steel-hungry world, or are we expected to clamber on board the wagon with him, in anticipation of said profits? Again, my message to the Earl is that these profits are being heedlessly exaggerated, but the paper has little to say about the steel industry’s future. I shall talk about the ironmaker’s trade papers in the next section, but please do be at pains to remind the Earl that my joke about the lifetime steel needs of 1944's bumper crop of squalling infants was just that!

Digest of the News

The West Coast produced 2581 planes in November, vice 2496 in October. Labour turnover, with 20,000 workers leaving their jobs each month on the West Coast, is the main factor holding back production. Various numbers are shown to prove that this has cost the equivalent of 2035 B-17s in the last 11 months, a probably spuriously precise number building on an estimated cost of $200 to recruit, hire and train a new employee. “Cut turnover by 50% and most of the aircraft industry’s manpower problem will be solved,” says the representative of the employers. It is all the workers' fault.

In other news, “Tex” Rankin, founder and principal of the Rankin Aeronautical Academy, is shown pinning on his son’s wings. I suggest that you not send your son to the academy of a  man not bright enough to realise that one sends one's son to one's friend's academy.

“Stout Sees World Concept if Plane Development Left to Engineers” I would summarise this brief summary of ‘William B. (“Bill”) Stout’s’ talk to the Aviation Writers’ Association except that I still have no idea of how aircraft engineers will “give mankind a world concept in place of a national or local mentality.” What I am sure of is that jobs are going begging in the United States to the point where people who cannot read and write are doing the reading and writing.

“’Mars’ Breaks All Records” The Consolidated Mars is a very big aeroplane. The paper’s attitude reminds me of something a very vulgar Egg woman said to me once in her cups about her taste in men.

Aero Digest, 15 January 1944

“Civil Aviation In War” American airlines have planes! And they fly them to places where there is a war!

“The ‘Helldiver’ Meets South Pacific Battle Tests” The Curtiss Helldiver (Aero Digest’s style for aeroplane nicknames is all over the map) SB2C-1 has had 889 design changes since it was lambasted by the Truman Committee, and now is somewhat satisfactory.

Hon. Jennings B. Randolph, “Aviation Fuels for the Future” If you spend enough money on Virginia coal, you can turn it into high-test gasoline, just in time to produce an over-priced product for a market that is moving on to broad-cut jet fuels! Fortunately, the author is in the House of Representatives, where he can do no harm. As the paper notices, along with current jet’s high fuel consumption, a few pages later.

Washington In-Formation

More in contract wind-up, and talk of funding airports. Also, an even bigger “super-bomber” than the B-29 is on theway, intended for Pacific ranges.

Guest Editorial

J. C. Miller, “Electrical Industry’s Role in Refinement of Aircraft” General Electric’s Aviation Division Manager wants to remind us that it was his firm which was selected to develop the first American jet engine. Why? Because GE has been getting more and more involved in aircraft, ever since its amplidyne technology was chosen for the electrical power turrets on various American bombers. Chosen as lead contractor for various secret “super-bombers” of which details will be intimated here, GE went on to produce an electro-hydraulic automatic pilot, complete with electric pick-offs on the gyros. (Your eldest explains to me that this concerns the problem that measuring a gyro’s rate and direction of spin interferes with it and thus causes it to precess., Then he tells me about a mind-boggling thought experiment concerning a physicist’s cat, which I will relate to you in person, since it really takes a gin-and-tonic to go down properly.) GE also built the turbosupercharger of the P-47, although it has purely mechanical controls. They also built the high-altitude ignition system for that ‘plane. More to come at another date.

Following on are articles about light weight electrical systems for aircraft and a new, high-capacity heater for high-altitude flying.

Robert Taylor, Industrial Radiologist, “Alteration of X-ray Beams to Meet Inspection Requirements” Apparently, inspecting X-rays are not just x-ray machines. They also have filters to ensure that the beam is of consistent wavelength. Mr. (Doctor?) Taylor explains progress in this field.

Charles A. Mobley, “Essentials of Airplane Duct Design” It turns out that the air flowing through aircraft must be treated aerodynamically, as well as that flowing around them.  Proper engineering makes radiators work better.  I am increasingly amazed that the aircraft of a decade ago flew at all!

Digest of the News

The Army Air Force now has a strength of 2,385,000 officers and men.  85,946 planes were made in 1943, 8802 in December of 1943. Los Angeles has received $6 billion in aviation orders, first in the nation, ahead of Newark and Detroit. 

*Copyright Caroline Young 2014? Anyway, prints available here.
**Does anyone have any idea where "Wilson Johnnie" comes from?

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