Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Techblogging April 1944, II: He Is Risen

My Dearest Reggie:

We have official word. Your son will do naval preflight training at Berkeley as an engineering freshman, beginning this summer.  One way or another, he will have his own hands on a hot machine soon. He has been told to write you in his own hand, but this will reach you rather faster than V-mail.

And so we are between waiting and tenderness here in Santa Clara as April turns to May. We wait on news of finance (the matter of selling of Government-owned plant, and specifically the Fontana mill  is still unsettled), and of the war, both personal and public.

You may wonder what personal news we have this month, now that your youngest's fate is settled, as well as that of Wong Lee's boy. Well, first of all, your son has been abruptly ordered to Boston, whre there is some kind of tangle over a new kind of engineering-related top hamper that the Navy will shortly be inflicting on ships not already sufficiently inclined to turn over. Second, we have had a down-at-the-mouth report from Fat Chow, and so know as well as you that the attack on Berlin is ebbing, and that the spring air is letting some of the fug of powdered masonry and unwashed bodies out of the waiting rooms where he attends on Nazi madmen.

Not all mad, of course. He reports an encounter with a fellow who is forging Bank of England for the foreign service. Apparently a grand scheme to bring the British war economy down with massive inflation is devolving into profit-seeking. How surprising!

Fat Chow is attached to a much less impressive scheme. I have  referred to it rather ambiguously earlier, perhaps because refined allusion is better than the baldly-spelled out scheme to establish a  clandestine radio station in Lhasa to broadcast religious propaganda in Kazakh Turk. If the idea is "to set the East ablaze," this is much straining over wet tinder, it would seem.

That being said, it seems that the prime mover of the project is a member of the Japanese legation. Fat Chow therefore proposes that the point of the project is less to broadcast foment revolution in Central Asia than to get the distinguished Colonel home before the Twilight of the Gods. If this is the case, we wait, as everyone waits, on the invasion, whose success or lack of it will determine whether there is to be a Gotterdamerung after all.

Or, rather, who the Gotterdamerung is to be for.

On the tender side, we had a photo session with Grandfather, who, amazingly enough, seems on the mend from his pneumonia. With all the household in Sunday best and the twins cooing agreeably, we took a formal portrait or two across five generations. "Miss V.C.'s" suspicions that old "Doctor McKee" is not at all what he seems were further aroused when I accidentally got a little of his makeup on my thumb, and clumsily let it be seen.

I know that I shall catch Hell for this in Chicago, but the amusement is more than worth it, to see the gears spin under that pretty face. And I am not the only devising away, I suspect, as she balances her two would-be beaus against each other. She is playing a long game, is our girl, with bonds that are not to mature before their time.

I include a cutting, to show the not-so-subtle way that advertising these days seems to play to women's marriage madness. Even savings bonds are somehow about making the right match! "To have and to hold," indeed. Can we not have some fun, first?

I was a bit disappointed by the flagship Luce paper this month, Reggie. I want my business coverage with a good dose of absurdity, and this month’s Fortune spent its farce budget on “Eastern culture,” leaving me in need of some milk of magnesia. Hopefully I shall find more to amuse me in that small portion of a very large stack of Time magazines that I actually have time to digest. 

  Time, 17 April 1944


“Time to Back Up?” The paper notices that The Sunday Observer thinks that it is time to ditch “Unconditional Surrender,” because it is a folly. Inspired by the Civil War, when it was a fine idea, it is inappropriate to our modern, complex world, and is just encouraging the Germans in a “Dunkirk spirit.” I am not sure how we would even notice the new German “Dunkirk spirit” when the German troops actually in Dunkirk are enjoying sea-bathing and a dilatory introduction to the light construction trades whilst our bombers make post-demobilisation work for them at home. Perhaps once we have actually engaged them in the field, we will find out how “Unconditional Surrender” is affecting their moral?

 “While Big Ben Boomed” The paper notices that The Economist notices that Churchill and Eden are fighting. Honest to God, Reggie, this is like having your youngest moping around the house because his attempt to expose Lieutenant A for booking dates with both “Miss V.C.” and our housekeeper failed. I am not sure how the young man manages not to look like a cad, but he does. Is it his ridiculous car? His looks? The fact that he is an Academy graduate and can look down on a mere cadet from the eminence of his Lieutenant (j.g.) rank? It is not as though either matter, with the accelerated wartime course and a grandfather of flag rank.. But I show my partisanship, not unaffected by an excessive exposure to the lieutenant’s gangly, over-loud, clumsy presence. I can only hope that his admiral is sent to war before I am called upon to host his 21st birthday party. (The scene of a Palo Alto Homecoming being apparently too refined for such a celebration.) Oh, and there is something about Eden’s hope for the premiership and Beaverbrook being annoying. Even excitable. He is a foreigner after all –and the worst kind. Canadian!

Slovaks, Greeks, Latins, Manipuri, Mexicans, El Salvadoreans are excitable. I would add Poles and Mexicans, but a glance at this week’s story notes 140 underground papers, “underground courts,” and “ultrabrutal Gestapomen.” It would seem that the German police state in Poland is ineffectual except in applying indiscriminate violence. Meanwhile, 200 Jewish members of the Polish Army in exile went AWOL last week to protest the Army’s virulent anti-Semitism.

There are talks about civil aviation, oil, the Middle East. All will be resolved imminently.

The Commonwealth premiers, including Mackenzie King and John Curtin, are soon to gather in London to...I think I have placed too much reliance on my joke about Canadian affairs putting me to sleep, but, Good Lord, paper. Can we get to the point where this actually has an effect on preferential tariffs?

The paper has a humour column for international funnies! A British soldier and a U.S. soldier were standing in Piccadilly Circus when a dilapidated car drove up. Said the Yank: "What a wreck! Do you know what we would do if a car like that drove up in Times Square?" "Well," mused the Briton, "if you treated it as you treat everything else, you'd either drink it or kiss it."

 Four days running, Stalin looked out of the Kremlin windows and saw a comrade praying in Red Square. Finally Stalin called in the comrade, asked why he prayed.

The comrade replied: "I am praying for the second front." Stalin: "How much do they pay you?" The comrade: "Eleven rubles a week."

 Stalin said that he was underpaid. Said the prayerful Russian: "But you see, comrade, it's a permanent job."

I left out the less amusing ones.


"The Balance Sheet" It was announced today that, since the invasion of Poland, more Britons have been killed and injured in highway accidents than the United Kingdom's total of killed, wounded, missing and prisoners in the fighting services. Given that the Empire's total is 667,159, and of them 387,996 were Britons, this is something of a commentary on the slaughter on the roads: 588,742! America's casualty list, the paper notes, is even smaller: 173,238 in 27 months --in battle, not the roads, which are the safer for lack of blackout. Tyres are a concern, but you know that I have taken care of that. Except for the young Lieutenant, who has his own source. I suspect the Engineer on that score, Reggie. According to Manhattan's Tax Institute, by next year the war will have cost the Allied and Axis powers a trillion dollars (a thousand thousand million). The Allies are spending $150 billion/year, the Axis $40, although they get more for their money due to forced labour, currency manipulation and looting. But what of the invasion? "Holocaust" or "moderate casualties?" I fear that the advice that Wong Lee's son should provide himself with naval blues is an intimation that he and his craft will be on the scene.

"Casualty Forecasts" Lieutenant General Omar N. Bradley said today that he would not be surprised by casualties comparable to the Tunisian campaign, where we lost on average only 3 to 4 of a 1000 men. But the paper quotes "Assorted High Allied Military Authorities" predicting "several hundred thousand casualties." Eddie Rickenbacker says that "Sorrow will come to a million American homes."

"Whopper" The Office of War Information has announced that the Navy has reached a strength of 3.2 million men (not numbers borne, obviously), and will need another 400,000. The paper notices that this will be the largest navy in history by far. 750,000 will belong to the navy's air arm, and 35,850 will be aviators, including your youngest, it looks like, providing he contrives not to kill himself on the roads on two wheels or four. The services will need 200,000 new draftees monthly for the foreseeable future, but Selective Service is tacking and shifting about in its hunt for the manpower required.

"Glory for a Tin Can" Destroyer O'Bannon has received a Presidential Unit Citation after fighting in the Battles of Kolumbangara and Vella Lavella.


The President’s dog, Fala, celebrated a birthday this week! (See page 390, “Paper Shortage.”)

“Line Held” In a statement to the press, the President praised the War Labor Board and the Price Control Act for containing inflation, “long out of the news.” In other Presidential news, the President congratulated Iowa Senator Mark Gillette (D) for his decision to run for re-election. This is deemed to be an indirect announcement of the President’s intention to run for a fourth term, as he and Gillette detest one another, and Gillette seems unlikely to win re-election against Iowa Governor Bourke Blakemore Hickenlooper. It took me half-an-hour to find characters to render “Hickenlooper,” Reggie. So please be assured that I did not make the name up.

"The Clearing" Incredibly to anyone except everyone who has actually seen a poll, Willkie is out of the Presidential race. It is further asserted, straining all credulity, that Dewey might be in.

"Ban on Fruit" Bernard DeVoto has engineered a test case of the Massachusetts blue laws by buying a copy of Lillian Smith's banned-in-Boston Strange Fruit.

"Time Bomb" Various southern Democrats propose to run against the Supreme Court and for "white supremacy" in the fall.

"Eastern Fronts" Oh, sure, the Russians are advancing, but our bombers are helping by raiding behind the lines, delaying trains and "confusing the political situation" and causing the Balkan satellites to surrender more. (The only thing missing at this point is a suggestion that Turkey is sure to enter the war on our side soon if we just bomb a few more Bulgarian rail yards.) Our bombers could help even further if the Russians would just let them land and refuel. It is hard to imagine why the Russians would resist. After all, the Russians could just send some of their spare troops out to gather early fruit from the gasoline trees for the purpose. . .

"Almost None" Per the FBI, there has been almost no Axis espionage and sabotage this year. Director Hoover had no direct comment about the Red under your bed, except to say that the Red wouldn't be under there if you weren't up to something on top of it, and the FBI won't rest until it knows what that is, too. Apparently said Reds do not include Victor Kravchenko, who used to be interested in buying metals on behalf of Russia, and now wishes to be an American citizen.  In other news, Senator Clyde Reed of Kansas asks how "aging" Vivien Kellem's "violet-scented" private correspondence with "Count Frederick von Zedlitz, a Nazi engineer in Argentina" came to be extracted in Drew Pearson's column.

"Command Wanted" "Fierce-browed Admiral William Frederick Halsey, one of the Navy's fightingest admirals" has almost worked himself out of a job in the southwest Pacific. Clearly the "once famed Annapolis fullback (1903) needs another frontline assignment, along with his staff, which includes, the paper notes, one Lieutenant-Commander Harold Stassen. Because what the United States Navy needs right now is a man my age flying his flag afloat. Be it noted that Halsey is a year older than that over-promoted gasbag at the Admiralty.  Well, I am sure that someone of less accomplishment will make way for him.


"Bedroom and Bath" The John B. Pierce Foundation of Manhattan has carried out a study of 131 typical families (income: $2000 to $3000) to find out if they would like nicer houses after the war. Remarkably enough, they would. Notice, not to beat a dead horse (oh, I kid, Reggie. Take that, Dobbin! And that!), that a $5000 house would be between two and three year's income for these "typical" families. At that rate, it would be ridiculous for them not to borrow to buy a house as a rental, never mind a home!  

"Halfway to Bedlam" The population of U.S. mental hospitals is increasing rapidly due to increased use for patients previously cared for at home or in county institutions. Mental hospitals are unhealthy, understaffed, overcrowded, and some "do not use insulin or electric shock therapy because of staff "inertia."

"Pregnancy Test" Doctors Abner Irving Weisman and Christopher William Choates have discovered a new and superior means of detecting pregnancy involving frogs rather than the famed rabbit.

"Eye Giver" A blind man has received a successful cornea transplant from a live woman.

"Zenith Zooms" Zenith Radio Corporation's improved, inexpensive ($40 vice $75) hearing aid is selling well.

"Four Way Infusions" Frontline Marine surgeons are doing all sorts of remarkable things to improve the  life-saving effect of blood and plasma transfusions.

Press, etc.

Pravda is fighting with the Times over Hanson Baldwin, who is accused of impugning the honour of the Red Army, while the paper's editorial board has had its own fight with Vice-President Wallace, whose invited column, "Intolerance," was deemed itself intolerant. Fourteen newspaper correspondents have passed combat training and are now to be attached to US Army units at the battlefront, with more to follow, hopefully in time to see some actual combat.

"Peculiar Revolutionary" The paper's six pages of Easter coverage around the world takes the Archbishop of York's sermon as summing it all up.  His peculiar revolution, as I am sure you will have heard, living in the diocese as you do, is that there should be a European "cooperative commonwealth" after the war. I, for one, am happy to look forward to yet more press stories about "commonwealth premiers" meeting to talk about talking.

"Up Catto" The paper quotes Harold Laski as to how England has been conquered twice, in 1066 by William the Norman, and in 1931 by "Montagu the Norman." It does so in greeting the appointment of Thomas Catto as Governor of the Bank of England in place of Montagu Norman. It notes the close association of Catto and J. M. Keynes, now Baron Keynes. The paper hopes for a grand multilateral system of trade and investemnt that binds Sterling and Dollar together. There is one, I thought? Bullion smuggling? Oh. Never mind, a legal one. Well, good luck with that, oh acquaintance of an acquaintance.

"Bright Pattern" The War Department has spent $14 billion on war materials delivered, and cancelled $13 billion in contracts. The real news is not the whopping figure, but that it has paid off 13,000 of 19,000 contracts, average time for filing only 3-and-a-half months, paying out on average of 80% of dollar claims. I have to say that my instinctive personal reaction is disbelief, but I know how much statistics can contradict personal experience, and I am probably dwelling too much on particular defeats, notably the cost of extricating ourselves from Buffalo.

"Battles and Startled Geese" The paper covers n exhibition of 46 "War Pictures by Chinese Children." The thesis of the piece is that China is suffering, and I would feel better if I did not know through whom ran the conduit for the relief that this pathetic portrait in words will generate.

"NBC v. Boston" The City of Boston is offended that NBC is rebroadcasting "Assignment: U.S.A," on the grounds that it intolerantly portrays Boston as being intolerant of various groups and political positions on account of the inherent bigotry of Irish-Americans.

"College of Love" Latins, especially Mexicans who go on this new radio show, are excitable.

Flight, 20 April 1944


"Mine Laying" More than 13,000 minelaying sorties have been carried out by Bomber Command since April 13, 1940. It is noteworthy that this work has never been handed over to Coastal Command, since it has been more economical to use Bomber Command's resources for the work, leaving Coastal to more important naval cooperation work. "Preliminary Discussions" There have been talks about civil aviation!

War in the Air

The Russians are advancing. Aircraft are involved, the paper hypothesises. Air supply is in use in Burma. That is,we have not stopped doing it in the last week. (Slightly less stale is news of an "Air Commando" that might be involved.) The paper observes that the Fleet Air Arm is training Tamil inhabitants of Ceylon as ground crew. The paper points out that Tamils are "really" inhabitants of Madras, and Madras is where the old Madras Pioneer regiments and Corps of Sappers and Miners were raised, making Tamils racially well suited for military technical work. The fighter arm of the German air force continues to increase, first by 1000 aircraft, now by 250. This increased production has been achieved in spite of our air attacks, a considerable achievement, although the paper notes that any increase in front line strength "must" have been been accompanied by an equivalent increase in spares and reserves, or it is some kind of fraud. Ah, well, surely it is possible to see through such things.

"The Bomber Offensive" Continues, with long range fighters flying escorts in relays to provide continuous cover to day bombers for flights as far as Bavaria.

"H.Q. in Ceylon" A new Southeast Asia Command headquarters is announced at Candy in Ceylon. The paper reads the tea leaves and divines an amphibious invasion of lower Burma. Aircraft will be involved. And aircraft carriers!

"Spitfire Twelve: First Details of the R.A.F.'s Low-altitude fighter: Outstanding Performance with R.R. Griffon Engine and Cleaned-Up Airframe" Although flown in prototype form in 1941 and in service now "for some time," the paper is finally permitted to give details of this new type.  The airframe, as noted, is cleaned up, and the Griffon is a 2000hp engine on 36.7 litres compared with the Merlin's 27. It has a two-speed mechanical supercharger similar to that in the Merlin XX, but with a "remote" gear box that can also drive the auxiliaries. (Giving fixed speed operation, I would imagine.)

This is apparently as much as we are to know about the Spitfire XII this week, as page over we get

"The Fairey Barracuda: Chequered History of Unjustly Criticised Aircraft: Reasons for Delays Some Difficult Design Features Solved"

I am not sure what there is to criticise here, for if there were a single plane that I would choose to provide cover from an inconvenient rain squall, it would be the Barracuda. It has awnings in all directions! But, apparently, criticisms have been made. "Some undoubtedly originating from the enemy." The critics, awful, awful people the lot of them, have now been refuted in every imaginable way, and must humbly seek forgiveness by doing pilgrimage on hands and knees to the Fairey plant in Stockport.

A final paragraph notes that B. J. Hurren was the author of the foregoing article, and adds an appreciation of the Youngman flap, high wing, three-person-crew, and specialised low-altitude Merlin 32 engine, all of which Hurren somehow neglected to discuss. Altogether the oddest substitute for a byline that I have ever seen, and strange even for this paper.

Studies in Recognition

This week we learn to tell the Avro York, Douglas Skymaster, Lockheed Constellation, and a bizarre monster called the Me 323 apart.

Here and There

Air Vice-Marshal Kenny of the RCAF has died * while Colonel Isaac W. Ott of the USAAF has been promoted.

The CinC, Bomber Command has congratulated his crews for their work in March. I suppose that if the number of planes lost cannot be suppressed, there is not much point in trying to deny the disastrous outcome of the night air fighting...

The paper is impressed at a final total of 9,118 a/c built in the United States in March, enough to hit the 110,000 aircraft target.

British bombers for the first time dropped a lower weight of bombs than American in March.

"Mosquito Genetics" A potted history of the famed aeroplane. Not much that is technically new here, but there is a bit of a tension between the project of covering innovation and being interesting. Who cares about a "universal gear box" when you can see another picture of the Mosquito Fighter's four 20mm cannon armament?

"Auster IV: Artillery Spotting, Communications and Ambulance Work among Functions of Latest Taylorcraft: Lycoming Engine Now Fitted"


At risk of reading tea leaves, it seems that the spate of interesting correspondence truly is ebbing. There are two letters on the ATC dress code (and one by an ATC man on "round the clock bombing"), one on the flight of birds, to take the old-timers back to the day when the Aeronautical Journal could always count on making up its numbers and its sales with matters ornithological, a contribution by "Naviator" on the subject of the "backbone of the fleet," who rejects the idea of a multirole fleet type, and finally a letter by R. Shoham, B.Sc., showing that the ducted radiator really does produce net negative drag. It is probably as neat a comment on the pro-air cooled engine crowd that he compares the ducted radiator directly to the low-drag Townend ring, ancestor of the modern "negative drag" cowling.

Time, April 24 1944

Australians anxious for evidence that someone outside the continent (it is a continent, isn't it?) will be pleased to hear that their premier, John Curtin, is on the cover if this number of the paper. I hope he is not as boring as King!


"Man of Good Will" Edward Stettinius continues to See People in London! He brought Churchill a nice ham, lunched with Lord Catto, had "earnest talks" with Eden, saw Imperial Chemical's Lord McGowan, Production Minister Oliver Lyttelton, audienced with the King. In the wake of these talks, Sweden, Spain and Turkey were sternly warned against supplying Germany with ball-bearings, chromium and tungsten.

Belgium's government in exile has come up with a postwar plan: it will resign. From what I recall of those distant days of the prewar, it seems like a very Belgian solution to whatever problem it is meant to solve.

"Australia: Journey Into the World" Did you know that Australia has as many sheep as there are Americans, fewer people than has New York City, even though it is a very large place? Many other amusing and true facts abut Australia are shared on the way to discussing Mr. Curtin, who is socialistically atheistical, but has his eye on America.

"Africa for the Africans" Paul Robeson and Adolphe Felix Sylvestre Eboue intimate that the continent might conceivably be run by and for its inhabitants, as opposed to the beneficiaries God so clearly intended: washed-out would be Oxford men. The French similarly decline to be run by benevolent foreigners.

Finland is surrendering more.

Greeks and Latins (Italians, Chileans, Argentinians, this week) are excitable.

The paper is so upset by the Chinese controversy of the moment that it quotes Confucius on Tsai Yu. Then it quotes Dr. Sun Fo in its next story. I hope that the Generalissimo takes proper cognizance of the fact that the paper disapproves.

"Henry on Tour" Henry Wallace is going to take his self-embarrassing act on world tour this spring, and plans to be back in time to be dumped from the ticket in person on July 18.


"Next: Skyrocketing" The United States Navy in the Pacific is now very large, and the war will be over there sooner than expected due to the skyrocketing rate of its advance. The carrier fleet is a juggernaut that will steamroll all Japanese resistance, I paraphrase one Marine Corps general. Texans aboard one navy carrier have replaced the American ensign in some technical context with the Stars and Bars, which is amusing because the Civil War was but a frolic amongst cousins. The navy is so big that it needs two stories saying the same thing.

"A Sea Regained" The story would be more timely if the paper went to press after Sevastopol fell, but it pretty obviously was about to, and why waste a headline?

"When the Sea Shall Give Up Her Dead" A doctor at the front in the Pacific is upset about the senseless loss of life on the battlefield, and objects to strikes at home, Senators fostering racial prejudice, and the small mustering out pay of $300 currently authorised. (Who was it, Reggie, who dropped that comment about how, when someone says that it is not about the money, it always is?).

"Radio National" A would-be subversive German station that pretends to broadcast within Britain, talked aobut a new Nazi secret weapon consisting of a projectile loaded with a chemical that freezes everything within 500 yards to 332 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Your daughter-out-of-law casually announces that the fireball this would create 401 yards from impact would be far more damaging.

"Bong" Richard Bong is now America's Ace of Aces. Colonel Rickenbacker is following through with his promise of a case of whiskey to mark the occasion, and the paper notices that this has upset the Iowa Anti-Saloon League (predictably) and General MacArthur (less so.)

"Achtung Pokryshkin" Colonel Pokryshkin of the Red Air Force, meanwhile, has just won his 59th victory.

"Slugging Fifteenth" The paper is impressed by manly "Air Corpsman" General Nathan Twining. In other news, the RAF dropped 4000 tons of bombs on rail targets in France and Belgium one night last week.

"Congress Asks Questions" The latest Naval Appropriation Bill, of 32.6 billion, has passed the House, but it did not go entirely unquestioned. Congress learned that a radar set on a "destroyer escort" is $28,750. This confirms that radar is not secret this week. Matters are different with the new "loran," which, the paper assures us, is off the record. Torpedo gyros are now plentiful, but ball bearings are a bottleneck. Battle damage cost the Navy only 12 million in the first half of fiscal 1944, but other "heavy cases" have come in since January, raising the twelve month total to $100 million. A single 16" AP shell costs $1,252. The "hardest single thing facing Navy doctors" is filariasis. The Marshalls operation required 1.5 million barrels of fuel oil, and a single, damaging Japanese air raid cost us $2.5 million. Someone at the Navy Department approved a new football stadium at Annapolis out of the budget. who? Congress wants to know!

The paper notices that for the purposes of noticing how large the US fleet now is, the war will be over soon. For the purposes of not noticing how large the US Navy budget now is, the war will go on forever.

"Two Soldiers and a Marine" Major Gregory Boyington, Second Lieutenant Ernest Childers, of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and Captain Maurice L. ("Footsy") Britt, of Lonoke, Arkansas, and, more recently, the Detroit Lions, have won Medals of Honor, while Dwight Eisenhower has been given (honorary) KGB and Orders of Suvorov.


"Methodists and Businessmen" John Martin Vorys (D, Ohio) has opinions! 

"No Confidence" The press has lost confidence in the Administration's foreign policy, per the Twohey Analysis of Newspaper Opinion. 

"The MacArthur Candidacy" General MacArthur's continuing candidacy in the Illinois Primary has occasioned notice that the General is terminally indiscreet, which has apparently dampened the ardor of the 8% or so of GOP voters who prefer him to Dewey. I personally would prefer that a man appointed Army chief of staff by President Hoover not be President, and, given that 96% of Americans agree with me, it seems as though I will get my wish. It is even to be hoped, probably in vain, that at some point the press will accept this fact and cease to run "MacArthur for President" stories. "Eight percent of GOP Primary voters are lunatics" might be a story worth following up on, though. Will they shift their support to Bricker? I, for one, am excited about the prospect that we will talk and talk about anyone but Dewey until it is time for the Governor to sweep the New Deal away in the Fall. Nebraska Democrats, expected to nominate one no-hoper to challenge for the governorship, nominate another instead!

"Give Plants to Warriors" Harold Ickes had rather too much to drink at the Commonwealth Club this week. So did I, and then we went out to see some Gilbert and Sullivan. (The paper treats the alleged subject of the story with high seriousness. Perhaps it should  have taken in some comic opera, too.)

"The U.S.Shrinks" Howard Hughes set a new transcontinental record of six hours and 58 minutes on his personal Constellation last week.

"Thin Men" A demonstration at Great Meadows, N.J. forces "Farmer Ed Kowalick" to send away five Japanese "he had imported from an Arizona relocation center" to help out with his 600 acre farm. The paper takes this as a victory for prejudice. I am not going to dissent, only ask how much it was proposed to pay these men.


"Mr. Avery v. Mr. Roosevelt" Sewell Lee Avery, the 69-year-old chairman of Mongomery-Ward & Co., is trying to break his union again.

"Santa Claus Has Gone" War Mobilization Director James F. Byrnes spells out the harsh realities in a speech to the Academy of Political Science in Manhattan. In the next 20 months, war production will be cut back $16.75 billion. Another 1.4 billion will be struck from the spare parts programs. Plants no longer needed for the war effort will be closed. There will come the cry: "Woodman, spare that plant. But we must realise that Santa Claus has gone." Byrne rejects schemes for dismissal pay, but proposes a boost to state unemployment benefits, funded by the Government under a to-be-passed "federal demobilization bill." Such a scheme, Jimmy Byrnes hopes, "will give private enterprise an assurance that its efforts to expand after the war will not be frsutrated . . . by unemployment and falling purchasing power." On the subject of taxes, which many US businessmen consider the number one problem, Byrne expresses no opinion.

"The Trend" Bank profits are up more than "even the most optimistic bankers had dared predict." It is warned, however, that with huge deposits, the proportion of bank capital to deposit liabilities is falling to dangerous levels, with as little as 5 cents of bank money to every $1 deposited. This will make banks less willing to make high risk loans after the war.

Science and Medicine

"Methylolurea" Du Pont has invented impregnated wood! Well, not invented such a product so much as invented a new impregnating material. Well, not so much invented a new impregnating material as ...claimed credit for Forestry Service work with it? I think?

"Witchery in North Dakota" Teacher Pauline Rebel and her eight pupils at the Wild Plum School near Richardton, North Dakota demonstrate that America will not lack for future generations of farmers so long as it continues educating the children of current farmers like this. 

"Rape of the Laboratories" Not-at-all inflammatory story about Selective Service taking young scientists. The paper does not quote Vannevar Bush, who did not say anything. Which is a strange enough thing to do that I expect that ity was the good doctor who pushed the story, speaking off the record. It is rather eye-opening to note that "of 200 men in a key war-instrument laboratory, all but two are under 26." I am  not sure what that says about the circumstances of American science before the war, but probably nothing good. One wonders what happened to the scientists who were not hired in 1941 and before.

"Ten Years for Teeth" It is proposed to add fluorine to the water supply of several towns in upper New York state and Canada for ten years in order to see what happens to dental health in these cities.

"Popeyes Unpopped" The surgical treatment for relieving pressure on the eyes due to certain thyroid conditions and other ailments is further improved, reducing the chances of ...the eyes actually popping? That does not sound pleasant!

"When Bed is Bad" Doctor William Dock proposes that "absolute bed rest kills moer patients than anesthesia and all the drugs in the pharmacopoeia added together." The custom of making all victims of heart attacks stay in bed for six weeks is "almost as illogical as the bleedings and purgings of previous generations."

Press, Religion, Education, Arts

Wesbrook Pegler is out of the Chicago Sun.

"Televisionaries" The American Newspaper Publisher Association's annual convention will have sessions on FM (frequency modulation) radio and television, including a "newspaper television demonstration" by General Electric.

Paper finds Daily Express's "Beachcomber" hilarious, tries to explain why, fails.

The paper finds evidence of religious revival, commendable moral leadership from churchmen, notably Rector Ray of Manhattan's Little Church Around the Corner, who advises against hasty wartime marriages, noting that relationships should mature into marriage after reflection, as in the case of his daughter, socialite Kathryna Hoffman Ray, and her new husband, 27 year-old Air Force Lieutenant Courtlandt Nicoll. 

A gas coupon forging ring at a Denver high school has been broken up, and now students cannot afford to drive their "jalopies" to school any more, the number of students' cars in the lot falling from 120 to 40.

Bernard de Voto need no longer be upset that he is not in this week's paper. He had to throw together a collection of essays into a book to do it, but his streak continues. The book is on the theme of how awful Van Wyck Brooks is. I, for one, am glad to have that cleared up.

In closing:

Dog Food Department Swift & Co. Chicago
TIME interviewed no dogs, suggests that Dog Food Department Head Olson get in touch with the Independent Grocers Alliance of America, which disputes his statement.—ED.
Flight, 27 April 1944


"Transport Command and the Future" Transport Command has learned much about transporting things by air. The future will be bright. "Bombing, Strategic and Tactical" Bomber Command mounts ever heavier attacks. This past week came the 4000 tons dropped on rail targets in France and Belgium. German air resistance, against this and the American daylight attacks, was surprisingly weak. Hopefully this reflects the Combined Bomber Offensive's effort to reduce German fighter production by bombing and air combat.

Very briefly one of ours
War in the Air

The Crimea has almost fallen! Aircraft were involved! Admiral Somerville's aircraft carriers of the East Indies Fleet have attacked Sabang in Aceh. Two years and more of war in the Indian Ocean and we are barely on the verandah of Mecca. The paper notices that this week's bombing work in France is very similar to that which preceded the invasion of Sicily. A wink and a nudge, as it were. Although a reader of this paper would have to be insensate not to have reached this conclusion on his own.

Here and There

The RAF Atlantic Transport Group has celebrated its first anniversary, and its first annual lrecord of air mail sent, this week. Fifteen million letters, or 65 tons per month. And if the occasional aircraft has gone slightly more heavily laden than its manifest would suggest, well....

Some B-25 Mitchells are being built with 75mm cannons! (This must count as news, because it is in the paper.)

Sweden will no longer intern Allied prisoners escaping from Denmark, as Denmark is not technically a belligerent country. Also, Sweden is not technically giving Germany the high hand, but....

Hollywood film actor Jimmie Stewart is in Britain for a tour of duty with 8th Air Force and has already flown 11 missions. The draft dodger has thus avoided active duty service for two full years of the war while more patriotic actors have been risking life and limb by making instructional films in Burbank.

We have given the Americans various things under Reverse Lend-Lease, including 750 Spitfires.

"Even I Can Understand --19: Why does an engine convert less than a third of the fuel energy into useful work?" The paper offers a two page discussion of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

George H. Miles, "The Tandem Monoplane: Its Merits and Drawbacks Compared with Those of Tailless, Tail-first and All-wing Designs: 'Libellula' suggested as Name for Class" George H. Miles thinks that we should built a preposterous-looking aeroplane, as other preposterous planes have been built, and it would not be as bad as all that in practice, and, really, the taxpayer is made out of money, anyway.

"Future of Civil Aviation" Roy Fedden has a plan!

Major F. A. de V. Robertson, "Transport Command," The man of much punctuation bestirs himself to deliver a laborious single page treatment. Transport Command has administration! And it transports things! And the Major needs a drink!

Speaking of life's disappointments drowned with drink...

"Studies in Aircraft Recognition" coves the differences between the Boeing Sea Ranger, Consolidated-Vultee Coronado, BV 139 and Grumman Goose. It might do well to  notice their similarities, too. To wit, they are all fairly safe planes as long as they do not get too close to the water. Actually, that is probably unfair to Grumman, which, by sticking to its last, produced a fairly useful little plane.

Behind the Lines

The Spanish Blue Division is busily disengaging from the Eastern Front, no doubt to the bitter tears of its soldiers. If, by this time, there were any. Vichy France has a plan for postwar civil aviation! The much celebrated Major Rudel flies a Ju-87 armed with two 37mm antitank cannons. The paper notes that they are not effective in the ground antitank role, which strikes me as a rather unfair comparison, given that tanks are not, as I understand it, armoured so well against attack from above as they are from the same level. Rudel gives an extended discussion on the use of aircraft to counterattack and blunt Russian spearheads. No wonder the Germans have been so successful in stopping the Russian advance! "Fear of Allied Air Raids will mean less Amusement for the People of Tokyo" The police of Tokyo are to control crowds in the Ginza in the event of air raids. Hence "less amusement." Perhaps they should just borrow from Boston's practices and introduce blue laws?

C. B. Bailey-Watson, "Airpower Support: A Review of U.S. Air Service Command Operating in this Country: Comparison of Size and Detail" Various staggering numbers: 1200 USAAF engines, aggregating 1.5 million hp, are overhauled in Britain each month. This requires only as much labour as to produce 70 new engines each month! (I assume this neglects manufacture of parts.) "Literally thousands" of modifications have been made in British area depots. Various other components are serviced and rebuilt. "Acres of warehouse space" are required. More is being built. 'Literally, masses of aircraft pass through." A Statistical Control office of 400 statistical special officers accumulate statistics on, presumably, literally masses of special subjects.

This article is literally absent useful information.

Indicator, "Co-operation and Confidence" Pilots need to be taken more seriously by technical men on the ground, says the old pilot. Cue enraged letters from technical men denouncing Indicator as mistaken in thinking that they are not.

"Ceylonese Fleet Air Arm" The paper continues to find it worthy of comment that swarthy folk in palmy climes can learn how to hold wrenches, keep their whites clean, and march in formation.


"Literary Interlude" Frank M. Buss recommends various books in which aircraft are involved. "Heir O'Naught" and "Projet" write very slight epistles. "Renard" explains that any discussion of turbine compressors should really start with Benjamin Franklin. I humbly disagree. Surely we can get Elijah in!

Colin R. Barty writes in to say that of course British aircraft are better than American.

"M. I. Mar, E. Ex-Chief Engineer," replies to Major J. R. Gould's recently expressed regret that Napier did not follow up on the Jumo diesel with an extended discussion of what an development would look like: "A six-cylinder, liquid-cooled, in-line, opposed-piston, two-cycle engine with upper piston stroke half of that of the lwoer and a crankshaft with one throw and two eccentrics per cylinder. Mixture would be by the customary centrifugal superchargers, two-speed and/or two-stage as necessary. Since there is nothing new in this idea, and such engines have not not come to pass, there are obviously some serious 'snags.'" Will we ever see such a monstrosity?

Another writer supports George Mile's Thamesside airport.

Pure science fiction, if you ask me.
And now I turn to Aero Digest. 

Aero Digest, 1 April, 1944

General Arnold is "Confident of the Outcome."
-Charles M. Stanton believes that "Aviation is Everyone's Business." At the head of the article he offers a (to put it charitably) ridiculous forecast of 600,000 aircraft in operation in the United States in the near future, perhaps including helicopters, rocket ships and "roadable" aircraft. This does not seem the stuff of a head of the CAA. At least until he moves on to an estimate of the number of airfields that the CAA will need to administer in order to accommodate so many ships. His empire, it turns out, must grow great indeed. I should check with Cousin Bess to see if her husband's tairport-building scheme is still alive.
-Scott Aviation asks whether your plan to build up an aircraft accessory dealership network has a sales program.

-The most interesting technical articles cover the affects of altitude on electrical insulation and methods for calculating pressure drop in hydraulic tubing. As aircraft are called on to do more and more in the air, the question of transmitting these services become more important, and so do the practicalities of the alternatives.

Aero Digest, 15 April 1944

The cover advertises the "much heralded" B-17G. My information is that this is one of the more belated heraldings of an aircraft already in action over Germany.

-Franklin M. Knox, the paper's Detroit Editor, believes that "Shipping of Perishables by Air" will begin to be feasible when ton per mile costs fall to 15 cents. Rio Grande growers will ship early strawberries at this price, while at 5 cents, even green beans will pay. This strikes me as optimistic. A truck, "going like sixty," can be across the continent in less than three days, and it is hard to see this as less utopian than air shipping costs of 5 cents/ton mile.

-Clare Boothe Luce suggests that "When Peace Comes to Aviation," something about air stewardess uniforms, I think, or perhaps the Pledge or missions to China. I should have to read it to be sure, and that is more attention than I am inclined to give the bluestocking set.

You think I mock, just because Mrs. Luce is a woman, but you should see the other "news" articles in this number. No: I shall clip an ad, instead.

The Editorial expresses very strong opinions about the Lea-McCarran Act. The masthead quotes the "Mayflower Compact." The point here being that the proposed new civil aviation regulations are so un-American that they were un-American before there was an America.  And if you think that is over-egging the pudding, the last number quoted Herbert Hoover in the same place. In whatever heavenly fastness the paper dwells, there is a certain longing for the days of The Engineer, it seems.

Our Washington Correspondent manages to get one interesting nugget into three pages: the War Production Board is once again urging aircraft factories to aggressively dispose of surplus materials before cancellation. Which is to say, right now. With our building and renovation projects hanging fire, I am minded to approach the factories to see what might be on offer.

C. B. F. MacAuley reports that the "Bell Helicopter Achieves Stability." Perhaps talk of helicopter commuting is premature, after all.

S. H. Rolle, of the Powerplant Section of the CAA's Aircraft Engineering Division, reports that 1895 of 3305 documented air carrier power plant accidents he studied were due to ignition problems, mostly due to spark plugs, while in non-carrier operations, the leading cause of failure after structural (1132 of 2658) was carburertion, at 919. Air carriers had 792 structural failures out of 3305, the balance of the known causes of failure being lubrication and human error (118/3305; 136/2658).  Spark plugs! We have a great deal of progress to make in electrical engineering, Reggie. (Here I go after Dobbin from a differrent, but familiar angle.)

Messrs. Boice and Levoy return to "Electrical Systems for Large Aircraft" in this number, making the interesting point that aircraft systems are pioneering high-speed, low-weight components. Details of magnetic eddies in iron cores become more pressing as those cores become smaller, hence with larger surface areas to smaller volumes. A better understanding of this kind of electrical engineering could lead to smaller devices in terrestrial applications, too.

I. R. Goldsmith, "Weather Networks of the Future" discusses the need for more weather stations, more widely distributed. The current continental network includes 100 stations spread from Panama to Alaska, but this is hardly enough. The Army has hardly begun to train enough meteorologists, much less tackled the problem of sending them to the remote areas in which weather tends to brew. Therefore, Goldsmith proposes that, in the end, we must make do with "automatic weather stations." Can those be built by electrical engineering firms? Why, yes, I think they can!

-An article on "Fuel Systems" perhaps provides insight for those asking why it took so long (if it took so long, I suppose) for fighting aircraft to be equipped with "drop" tanks and "ferry" tanks. Aircraft fuel plumbing is, as usual, more difficult to engineer than it looks to be. Note that it is not just fuel draining out of the aircraft! Even intertank drainage can adversely affect trim.

Digest of the News

After seeing the figure of merit sink ever deeper in the press's news summary, we understandably head the late April number with the electrifying news of 9,118 a/c built in March. (Structure weight is also up, and more "tactical types" --not warplanes this month-- are being built, etc.) However, the story reminds us that one swallow does not make, etc. Production in April will be lower, and after that it will be hard to hit the schedule as the draft takes skilled workers.

Ford announces that 3000 B-24s have been made at Willow Run, albeit 1000 in knock-down form to be assembled elsewhere. It notes that this exceeds the Army quota, but not that the Army quota has been cut. (As I am sure you know by now, Reggie, the B-24 has been pulled from daylight operations over Germany.) Vultee's man in Detroit dryly admits that projections of 1000 a/c a day are never going to be met, because aircraft are not automobiles. In not unrelated news, the paper shines a positive light on the recent conversion of B-24s into photographic reconnaissance planes. It seems rather impractical to me, but any use for the things is better than no use. Another positive light is the type of installed camera, coyly referred to as the "super eye," which is likely to have peacetime applications.


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