Saturday, September 19, 2015

Postblogging Technology, August 1945, I:Polarising Moments

Group Captain R_. C_.,
OC Special Intelligence Interpretation Unit,
RAAF Richmond,
NSW, Australia. 

Venerated Fatherly Elder Brother:Greetings to you and the Brethren of Australia:

With apologies for my presumption, I have taken up the brush for Mrs. C. You will be pleased to hear that Doctor Rivers has had her transferred from Oakland to more suitable care in San Francisco. The good doctor is still on furlough, although there is now no chance of his being called back to the Corps, and he is able to give mother and daughter his full attention. He hopes that Mrs. C. will be discharged within the next two weeks, and says that our little Vickie will suffer no long term effects, although Mrs. C. will require minor surgery when she is well. and of course she is under strict instructions to rest for at least another week whle she recovers from her ordeal. The twins, luckily, are too young to understand what has happened, and seem content enough in Fanny's care. 

And that is the private business! Of course you will have heard of Hiroshima and of Nagasaki, only a few days later. My heart was, understandably, in my throat, until I heard from Admiral Stump through private channels that Fat Chow was hale and hearty and in Tokyo. I gather that your youngest had something to do with this, and that it will be an interesting story if it ever comes out, which the Admiral has promised it never, ever will. It seems a little reckless for an American plane to land in Japan hours after an atomic attack, but I gather it was decided that Mr. H. had to be in Tokyo that night. Admiral Stump did suggest that Eldest Brother might want to look into the decision to attack Nagasaki. I hadn't the heart (or perhaps the recklessness, since his reputation protects us) to tell him that Eldest Brother is fading quickly. I have, however, mentioned it to "Miss V.C." And who knows? Perhaps someone will mosy up to me while I am in Virginia next month and volunteer the information. 

I hope that my lack of technical education will not leave these letters entirely barren of interest, but if I have not cared much for technological news in the past, technology, it turns out, has cares for me. I also apologise for not having more details about the "atomic bomb," but none of the papers we have been following have recovered their wits enough to give an account, and the ones I have read in the papers make no sense to me at all. One has left me with the distinct impression that the Air Force must have dropped a swimming pool (full of "heavy" water, no less) on Hiroshima, 

 I have had Tommy Wong at my side, fortunately, and he has explained the confusion well enough, but then he screwed up his face and stressed very heavily that some of these details really were secret, all slips and revelations in the press aside, and now I am petrified of sharing them with you, even in the old code --not least because I would need a whole slew of words that do not appear in the Classic of Documents! Or the Romance of the Nine Kingdoms, which I actually have read now. 

Queenie, if you were wondering, had a most undramatic delivery, and will be home tomorrow, ending my precious week's freedom as a glamorous San Francisco single gal with her own flat and inaugurating my new career as associate volunteer aunt. 

I Remain Your Most Humble and Obedient Little Sister,

v. Q.

Flight, 2 August 1945


“Cutting out at Kure” Englishman says: Nelson, Drake, Altmark, etc. What this has to do with American naval aviation raiding the Japanese navy’s main base in the south I have no idea, and I am not sure that the paper does, either. (And it is far away from Fat Chow, I hope.)

“Okinawa pays its Way” B-29s dropped 4000lb bombs in various places, which they could not do when they flew from Saipan and Guam. Doesn’t the paper owe us an apology for implying that for some reason the B-29 could not drop very large bombs, and so the RAF would be needed to smash all the Japanese concrete?

“Quicker Results” Give the English public its due. It saw through the old drunk before the press, but the paper will not leave it alone, mentioning Churchill’s farewell message to the British people as oracular, on account of Churchill suggesting that only aircraft would be involved in the fall of Japan.
“Nationalisation” Speaking of the Great Mistake of last month, No!

War in the Air

“Since Alamein,” the paper begins, reminding everyone that Englishmen were in this war, too. Anyway, since Alamein, planes have been involved. Now, it is only planes. Mostly, well, there were battleships, and the submarines that sank Japan’s economy, and Admiral Vian, who is to command the Pacific Fleet, and who I understand from Mrs. C. is a complete shithead, and the paper is not far behind, suggesting that the war should be protracted long enough to allow British forces to drive the Japanese from Malaya and Hong Kong, as “prestige always counts for more in Asia,” a casually condescending remark of the kind I would expect of an Englishman. Perhaps the paper needs to meet an Asian? No, never mind, I just had a mental image of the paper and the kind of Asian bride it would pick out, after reading about how much good it would do the subject peoples of Asia to see the insolence of the “boastful and cruel” Japanese avenged. Meanwhile, it is suggested that if the war is continued for another year, Japan would receive more than three times the weight of bombs dropped on Germany. There are no words.

Here and There

Lady Duff Cooper hands over six ambulances with radio equipment, a gift from the RAF to the French Red Cross. I am a lady myself, and will therefore not comment on what else my cousin might have handed over to Lady Cooper, in spite of being twenty years younger. It is reported that more than 600 air crew were saved from “Hell’s Corner” in the waters between Dungeness and the Thames Estuary during the war by the RAF Air/Sea Rescue launches, which suffered a 50% casualty rate during the Dieppe raid. 

Aircraft factory workers are dismissed at Greenock and Belfast. The Daily Express reports that Wilys-Overland is gearing up to produce 25 million American V-1s at their Toledo, Ohio plant. Of course, the paper headlines this “Jap ‘War of Nerves.’” It would be a very nervous Japanese who believed this. Pilotless rocket planes aside, this means 10 million tonnes of explosives!

The paper is upset at gas rationing. A former USAAF air base is turned over to the RAF, which his obviously news given that by last month the whole of 8th Air Force had left Britain. Speaking of old news, the paper reports on Dr. Vannevar Bush’s proposals to aid American science with advisory boards and research councils with a budget of $50,00/year. Germans had a secret radar (not like the ones which everyone knows about at all!), which knew the speed, size and weight of all aircraft “as soon as they had taken off from Britain.”

A word to the wise: do not bring this up in conversation with Tommy Wong unless you want to hear about ionospheres, ground conduction, Doppler effects, and pulse delay measurement. 

Sqdn Ldr R. F. Turner has left the RAF and rejoined his firm, Cooper andTurner. Sir Arthur Harris flew over to Rio to take part in Brazilian victory celebrations in an Air Force Lancaster accompanied by two other Lancasters which were along for the ride and also there in case any Brazilian air marshals had the idea that they might want to buy some hardly-used bombers only ever flown by an old lady air force on Sunday bombing raids. 

No word on whether the Air Chief Marshal is making time for grinding Brazilian dolls under his booted foot and smashing porcelain on his visit.

B. J. Hurren, “Analysis of Results: Battleships as Anti-Aircraft Vessels: Near Misses and Direct Hits: Mechanised Air Warfare” This ought to be interesting, since half the work that the Captain Ritter C. has been up to is making vessels better antiaircraft vessels, but it isn’t. Hurren argues that England lost lots of battleships in the five months around December 1942, and some of this involved aircraft, while some it included Italian frogmen, and one involved a German submarine. The conclusion might be that the English are awfully slow learners. It is not. It is that battleships don’t necessarily matter that much. Also, Tirpitz took an awful beating while being beaten, and this means that “air supremacists,” by which Hurren means people who think land-based air is better than naval air, are wrong. In conclusion, battleships may or may not be a good idea, and we should build more aircraft carriers. The paper interjects to point out that Hurren can’t even get the extent of damage to Tirpitz right.

This didn't really happen. Okay, it kind of happened, but the RAF was cheating! Source.

“Meteor Undercarriage: Details of the Dowty Undercarriage of the Gloster Jet-Propelled Fighter” Mrs. C. highlighted the undercarriage as probably the most important technical matter involved in the Meteor, just because its engine is now as old. I clipped a picture of the massive-looking front wheel, because I’m not qualified to make sense of all the pieces that pivot and lie on each other and fold up side-to-side, or the importance of having a “shock absorbing unit under compression,” if I am rendering italics into characters right.

“Air Chief Marshal Courtney to Retire” I haven’t heard of Air Chief Marshal Courney? Has anyone heard of Air Chief Marshal Courtney? Apparently not. He has been the Member of the Air Council for Supply and Organisation for the last nearly six years of war, and was before that the Officer Commanding, Reserve Command, a member of Lord Chatfield’s commission in 1938, AOC Iraq for a single year of line command in 1937 after 8 years at the Air Ministry or as staff officer in Iraq. Perhaps he actually flew a plane back in the 1920s?

“Four-Seater for 5,000 Dollars” Consolidated Vultee will build five Stinson private owner types, achieving mass production economies in planes that cost as much as houses.

J. D. Miner, “A-C Electrical Systems: What the Development of High Voltage Systems Means to the Designer of Accessories” The USAAF has been experimenting with high-voltage AC for years now, with the XB-15 having a single-phase, 800 cycle system, and the XB-19 a 120 volt, 400-cycle, three phase system. From these experiments came a contract for a new high voltage AC system for aircraft, of which details are now becoming available. The new system has 208v at the generator, and operates a three-phase system at 400+/- 20 cycles per second. The basic generating units are the engines, giving 40kva at 75% power factor. (That is cruising speed, no?) If all four engines are connected through “suitable” speed-controlled drives, 440 amps of electrical current are available, using wiring rated at 440 amps. The point is reached when the author compares this with the 24v direct-current system, which requires wires that can carry ten times as many amperes of electrical current, meaning 17 times as much wire over long distances, or in large aircraft.
The author then goes on to qualify the argument. He has an arcane discussion of the effects if one or two of the lines of a three phase system, which requires three if I have properly read, are shot away. This leads to a discussion of damage through enemy action and through inherent unreliability. All of this wire, perhaps failing, is unnecessary if all services are not electrical. So then he must discuss hydraulic services, and suggest that USAAF experience of “all-electric” aircraft is that they are less vulnerable to damage than hydraulic ones. It is then noted that the B-29, regarded as the first all-electrical aircraft, has a 24-v DC system. He goes on to add that the claimed advantage of the AC system over DC has yet to be proven in service.

This is a frustrating article. It would only really make sense if the author forthrightly set forward the criticisms of AC systems and dealt with them, but he seems unwilling to do this. It seems as though the key question.As I understand it, AC has advantages when electrical power must be distributed over very long distances, and this is why the USAAC commissioned it in its two very large experimental bombers of the 1930s. As well, a 1941 paper by E. E. Minor pointed out that AC generating equipment is heavier than DC, and require good speed regulators so that the varying rotation of the engine crankshaft which generates the electricity does not produce varying AC cycle speeds, but that a variable-drive friction device would solve this problem. Now Doctor Miner must admit that this device was abandoned long ago, and research continues, now focussed on several “hydraulic devices.” American work accelerated in 1942 because American DC equipment was sparking at the brushes at high altitudes, rather a problem with their then-proposed high altitudde bombing campaign. but he cannot tell us about work done then, and does admit that  improvements in brushes has fixed this particular problem. He credits Dr. Howard Elsey, of Westinghouse, with solving this problem, but does not notice that we were taking high altitude pictures of England in 1941 from the Ju-86P, so this sounds like an American fix of an American problem. 

The Ju 86P and R production series are pretty obscure considering what they achieved. Also, high-altidue combat aviation diesels! Dumb idea, but credit for trying.

I suppose that at this point the question is whether the much-anticipated Consolidated Model 37 “Super B-29” will be an all-electric plane, and whether or not it uses the three phase AC system alluded to above. If the answer to the last, or, better yet, both, is “yes,” then companies wanting to sell to the USAAF should develop ancillary equipment to this specification. Why it has to be implied that this is a good idea, in a trade magazine, is lost on me. What will the USAAF say if the new aircraft turns out to be mostly hydraulic, and some salesman calls with a motor designed for three phase, 208v, 440 cycle AC? “Ho, ho! That was a good one”?

The paper reviews Eugene E. Wilson, Air Power for Peace,  a new monograph which the paper does not like because it claims that “radar is an American invention,” that Bomber Command played no part in D-Day, and something about the Bismarck. Other than that, the claim that lots of bomber, transport and fighters can bomb, transport and fight the world to peace is unexceptionable. The more planes, the more peace.

“A Symbol of Goodwill” Mrs. C. will rue the day that she had to take bed rest under doctor’s supervision, because she missed a chance to make fun of New Zealand! For the record, there was some kind of ceremony or celebration in New Zealand involving planes and air marshals. I am now supposed to suggest that the New Zealand contingent consisted of sheep dressed up as South Sea savages.

“Coastal Command Escorted Truman” And this story would be so much more fun if Coastal Command pilots were sheep. Dressed up as, oh, perhaps, buccaneers? The next story is about the Passing-Out Parade at Halton, and the one after about someone or something donating small planes to Canadian flying clubs.

At last, buried in the middle is “Some York Journeys.” Avro Yorks have flown many very long distance flights lately carrying very heavy cargo loads, at very good cruising speeds. 238mph London-Cairo carrying 6,700lb of mail, is mentioned. Then we are told what the York looks like, in case we missed all the other articles about it.

“A Record of Achievement” The wave of back-patting continues, and this time it reaches a company which actually mattered. Rolls-Royce employed only 8000 people in 1935 on 800,000 square feet. By 1944, this had reached 57,000 working in 7 ¼ million square feet. In 1939, the company made 100 complete power plants. In 1944, we produced 14,000. That cannot be right, can it? The “complete” must be misleading. 150,000 Merlins were produced by Rolls-Royce, Packards, and Ford Motor Company. 

Also, many spare parts were made. Engines got more powerful, and the Griffon was much bigger, but also not very much bigger at all. The Rolls-royce school has trained nearly 17,000 people. Nationalisation would be a disaster for the nation, because it would clearly lead to the company not developing the Merlin, which started as a private venture. The company is very proud of its time and effort-wasting diversions into ordnance design, reflecting on proposals for .50 machine guns and 30mm cannons, as well as the 40mm it was ultimately allowed to to go ahead with. 

Source.  As I understand it, Rolls Royce developed a 12.7mm and 14.5mm machine gun, and a 30mm and 40mm automatic cannon. Perhaps there were some engineers no-one over in the production sections wanted to work with?
This is much more important, or at least comes before, a discussion of Rotol, which shows how nationalisation is bad by proving that Bristol and Rolls-Royce could cooperate on something. The company notes that its wage bill for 1940—44 was £65 million, and its turn over in those four years six times greater than in the previous five. However, it is sad to note that 92% of profits were taxed away. In closing, Rolls-Royce is now designing jets, and the country should get on with making transport aircraft, in case New Zealand is invaded by ravening, sheep-eating wolves.

Indicator Discusses Topics of the Day: “More Space Watned: Making the Best use of Available Airfield Facilities: The Position of the Manufacturers: Location and Runway Length for Modern Production” I live in a three-room flat which has now to have a nursery until such time as Tommy is released. Where is my space?  “Indicator” is right to say that airfields which were settled upon in wartime have to be brought up to peacetime standards of safety. So why not use the nice airfields built for wartime factories, many of which need to be relocated or some such?

“Synthetic Training” Remember the old Link Trainer we used to talk about. Let’s talk about newer and better ones. It will use up a page or two.

“Reports and Memoranda” Speaking of filling up pages, the paper tries a new method of getting content. This is a summary of recent issues of “Reports and Memoranda,” as published through His Majesty’s Stationery Office. “Note on A.A.E. Annular Airflow Orifice” is available, but with no illustrations such as would delight Martin Luther.  I don’t notice that any of the other abstracts are about strain.

Civil Aviation News

New Services! The Martin Mars exists more! Australia is to nationalise its airlines more! The Convair Model 37 exists more! (No, it is not “all electric,” I gather.) Fifteen of them have been ordered by Pan-American, and 20 Mars by someone else. Mail service UK-Sydney is down to 63 hours. Spain is to have a commercial air service with America by the Fall. Spain. It’s just like the Riviera, only cheaper and withno Communists. Wasn’t there supposed to be a new edition of the brochure? Never mind, just cross out “Communist,” and write in “Fascist.”

 A survey of American holiday makers shows that the majority (56%) would prefer to make long trips by air, 33.5% by steamer, 8.5% by rail. After this summer, the poll will need a way of expressing negative numbers to capture the “prefer rail” vote. “People would rather die in a flaming crash than be caught inside a Pullman” is the short summary. There is to be a London-Moscow air service. Bute of Rothsay wants an airport. There is to be a Canada-France service, British interests are investing in a new Egyptian airline, Eire was not invited to a recent air safety conference, 163 DC-3s have now been reallocated to civilian use, although the Surplus Property Board is having some trouble finding takers. Catalinas still used to fly very long distances between Australia and Africa, back during the war, when India had to be avoided because of the Japanese. (“Still” means that this story has been reported before in this paper.)


“F.G.” thinks that BOAC has an advantage in the Atlantic service. The paper disagrees, because it thinks that there should be multiple British companies involved, because competition is better. “Zetetic” thinks that estimates of likely postwar international air travel are overblown unless we solve all international trade conflicts, first. Claude Albury detects a distinct lack of people and papers willing to say that British equipment is the best. “Shellback” thinks that flying boats are safer on ocean routes, and that everyone who says that it makes no difference simply do not see the world with his keen, inquiring mind. Little shit. 

The Economist, 4 August 1945

So I understand that my Esteemed Elder Brother –the other one!—added this paper because it is a general news outlet with a special interest in economics (some little fairy whispered that insight into my ear!) and the progress of it towards the misty vistas of the future brought to us by technology.
And not, say, because it was the liberal paper that everyone read at the Club. Now, for myself I know that our Prussian liberals drove the Catholics and the Social Democrats even madder than the actual conservatives, and from the results in the English election and from reading Mrs. C.’s notes, I am given to suppose that English liberals are much the same. We shall see, if I do not go cracked-brain from rendering English into characters first.
Hipster Field-Marshal!

“Mr. Attlee’s Government” The news here is that the paper is finding its way to ground from which it can be upset with Mr. Atlee. For example, he wants to be Defence Minister as well as Prime Minister so long as the war with Japan lasts, as Churchill was, and that is wrong, because he is not Churchill, and should hire on Field-Marshal Alexander. What a splendid idea! How well old Paul served the Fatherland is –was--  a subject much winded upon in the country houses of my youth. (Somehow I find no authorisation in the Classic of Literature for “winded,” but since it was one of the first words I looked up –Ah, I am too German.) Finally, the paper complains that Labour is “too conservative.” I am starting to doubt my English.

“Nat and Rat” And further to the above. Translated, Labour will give nationalisation a try. It will also try out something called “rationalisation,” which seems to  be the thing which Mrs. C. liked to ridicule as “full technical efficiency.” The old Prussian complaint was that the English like to pretend to be amateurs while being as bloody-minded and ruthless a set of professionals as you could find on land, or, especially, sea. So according to my prejudices, there is precious little ground to be made up, and we shall see which prejudices are right, mine or the paper's. The paper is suddenly converted to the virtues of business going its own way.

“Has Labour a Foreign Policy”  Russia believes in socialism, America in free enterprise. England is between them both on policy and in geography, therefore . . . Poland? I see why Mrs. C. sometimes summarises these so breezily.

“The Election Results” Labour’s vote increased by well over 3 million over 1935, while that of the Conservatives fell by 2.5 million. This means something, which the paper seeks to determine. For example, there are more Labour lawyers, fewer Labour trade union members, causing the new Labour party to be possibly different in the future.

“Bretton Woods, III: Debt Settlement” After seeing the colossal manuscript that constitutes Mrs. C.’s “brief explanation of Bretton Woods” in the file, I doubt I have anything to add.

Notes of the Week

Mr. Churchill was publicly offered a Knighthood of the Garter, and publicly refused it, and the paper thinks that all of this was for the good. A communique on the conclusions of the Potsdam Conference is expected imminently, and the paper hopes that the Russians will get away with nothing. On the one hand, the Conservatives have been comprehensively defeated, and, on the other, they might be  back in no time, as ancient history shows. Press endorsements had no impact on the election, the paper determines, by showing that most papers endorsed the Conservatives. The paper mainly listens to the BBC, anyway. Japan has not surrendered yet. The paper thinks that Soong’s departure from the Foreign Ministry is inexplicable. The paper does not know Queenie, because, if they did, she would explain without even being asked, and none too politely, either. There is trouble in France for De Gaulle, and it is suggested that the Russians will secure a major westward revision of the German-Polish border, about which I feel the same helpless rage that Queenie does over the Manchurian rail concessions and Port Arthur. The paper agrees, thinking that the Poles are not up to operating German industry, and, more importantly, that the 8 million Germans who actually live there remain to be accommodated. 

The Merlin was a private venture, and so was this. Source: NIMH. Licensed under Attribution via Commons -

The paper sternly warns against a railway strike. No matter how hard the war years were, these times are hard, too, and the railway unions would quickly lose public support. 4,500 arts and theology students in the Class B category have been released by the armed forces “none too soon,” as otherwise a national emergency of professors with nothing but time on their hands would ensue, with who knows what horrible results. It also occurs to the paper that it might be good if more doctors were released. Doctoring is almost as important as professing! The Austrian Chancellor is upset that Vienna is to be occupied. It’s almost like Berlin, except for not being levelled, and my tears flow --tht is sarcasm for the good Herr Chancellor, and real tears for my parents and so many other victims. 

Thirty years old at the time. That's old enough to know better.

I have taken a moment. Belgians, as it is the tradition of this newsletter to say, excitable. As also Jugoslavs. Something about the Staffordshire Police Court? The paper blows a kiss to the Eighth Army. Come up and see me sometine, soldier. The paper reports that German casualties are now known from secret German documents to have been 1.9 million killed, 1.4 million “missing” through November of 1944. And so my generation is given up to Baal the way my parents’ was, for nothing more than petty bourgeois resentment and Anti-Semitism.

American Survey

  “Election Astonishment;” and “The American Reaction” American Roosevelt-hates now hate Atlee, too. This so pleases the paper that it writes it twice.

“The Charter is Ratified; Congress Goes Home” Congress declines to entertain by having a stand-up fight over the United Nations Treaty.

“Food for Europe” Reports are being commissioned! The paper notes that despite the clarity and full technical efficiency to be achieved by more reports, there is still a problem. The American food supply this year is down 4% from last year, although it is still a third larger than the 1933—39 average. It is to be distributed so that Americans get 3050 calories/day, an 8% decrease, while “Greece, Albania, Norway, Nethelands and Belgium” will get 2600 calories. One might think that this leaves out some significant countries of Europe, but not much can be done until the Pacific War is over, as so much transport is needed to shift men and supplies there.

“Reconversion Trouble” Reconversion is suffering for lack of full technical efficiency, but Mr. John Snyder has been brought in to fix things.

The Business World

“The Technique of Cheap Money” I really do feel out of my depth commenting on this to you. I gather that “cheap money” is a term of art that everyone in business understands. I had to seek clarification. Michael says that it means low interest rates –people are charging you less to have their money. So far I think  I understand what the paper is on about, in spite of lunatic digressions into something called “liquidity” and an it-just-assumes-that-I-will-understand-the-connection digression into the old “gold standard.” As far as I understand the gibberish, interest rates will remain low because “the public” wants it that way.

“A Contrast in Cotton” Elder Brother has said that he will not invest a penny in cotton, so I suppose what the paper says here is irrelevant, but it is interesting to not that the problem is an excess of raw cotton and a shortage of manufacturing capacity. This is in large part because of the American government’s high price policy, which might limit the prospects of the synthetic textiles, in which he is open to investing. And then there is cotton milling machinery… In the long run, though, Japan must return to the market before everything comes up fair and square again.

Business Notes

 London reacted to Labour victory by putting its head under the blanket and uttering a muffled but very loud moan. Or by selling stocks, but that sounds less dramatic. The Wholesale Woollen Merchants have released a report showing that almost all foreigners have trade barriers on wool, and this should stop. It is thought by some that the Canadian dollar might rise to parity with the American. Denmark and Finland are putting their currencies on new footings; the Danes by issuing one, the Finns by devaluing what they have. Steel is to research more, while GEC says that the electrical engineering industry must have higher productivity through full technical efficiency. The paper thinks that full technical effieicncy is everyone’s business, and not just GEC’s. German bills are circulating well considering that Germany has now no financial sector and no-one to grapple the situation and bring one about. The paper, like Flight, goes to very boring movies, and in particular talks up Steel, which is about the increased efficienciesw achieved by pooling finance, equipment and technicians. Pooling sounds like it could be quite romantic!

Flight,  9 August 1945


“The Auxiliary Air Force” Now that the war is over, the Auxiliary Air Force is being re-auxiliarised. The paper is sad, and the next number suggests that it is “disturbing” that they will not be immediately re-equipped with combat aircraft, as morale will suffer at this serious matter in the course of their complete reorganisation, which will probably involve the resignation of most of the actual AAF pilots, who do not live in the towns to which the squadrons will be returned.

“Private Enterprise in Aircraft Production” Leave the industry alone, you terrible communist-socialist Labourites! For example, there was that time that Hawker made a thousand Hurricanes before receiving a contract, whereas on the other hand the French industry was nationalised, and look what happened to it. Just think of how much worse 1814 or 1870 would have been if France had been all socialist then!

War in the Air

We are blowing up Japan, to no effect  as this number goes to press. America’s promise that 11 towns are next on the list has been followed by attacks on six of them. The Chinese have taken an airfield in Kwangsi Province, but this is still “a long way from Hong Kong,” and it “is absolutely necessary for us British to recapture Hong Kong for every reason.” For example, the British must liberate British prisoners there. “Fortunately, most of the British women in Hong Kong were evacuated to Australia in good time.” The Japanese are using the monsoon cover to retreat in Burma.

“Super Trooper” The Consolidated Model 37 exists more! An electric hoist and conveyor system for moving cargo is interesting and “contrsts radically with the curious ‘observation cone’ in the extreme tail.” Isn’t that where a rear gun turret would go in a bomber?  

Here and There

The P-38J and P-51H exist more! 

The Air League of the British Empire adds a “Women’s Junior Air Corps.” The paper entitles this “Fillies Affiliated,” by the way. Bristol Aircraft has bought a position in A.F.N, the company behind the Frazer-Nash touring car. General Kenney says in a broadcast from Manila that the Japanese don’t like earthquakes, and we don’t like the Japanese, so we are going to give them earthquakes 14 hours a day until they quit!” The paper reveals that the B-32 is now in action against the Japanese. Americans have flown a Ju 290 to New York for a close examination, which is unlike the last war, when the Allies destroyed a Zeppelin Staaken machine because they hated science and Germans. “Not that there is likely much to be learned from the Ju. 290. . .” Australian-built Mustangs will soon be in action against the Japanese. The paper is pleased that, amongst “air-minded” MPs of the last parliament, Gandar Dower has been returned for Caithness and Sunderland to be a thorn in the Government’s side over nationalisation and more nationalisation. The Martin Mariner can now drop lifeboats. 2000 RAF personnel have now arrived in Sydney as the vanguard of Transport Command. RAF pilots have been cordially invited to transfer to the Fleet Air Arm, or whatever they’re calling it, now.

Gavin Casey, “Old Timer Flies Again: Record Breaking Globe Trotter of Seventeen Years Ago Comes Out of Museum to Star in Movies” For the past nine months, mechanics at RAAF Canberra, who have nothing better to do, have been working on the ancient wooden plane with three Wright Whirlwind that Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, “the greatest long distance flier of all” flew.  And then he died, but not in Southern Cross. Now it is ready to be in a movie about his life. As we keep being told.

“Back Into Civvies: The Avro Anson Becomes a Useful Feeder-line Aircraft as the Avro Nineteen” You can have Avro Nineteens now if you like, and they can carry 8 passengers at £8.43 at 155mph, or 13.06 pence per aircraft mile, or 1.63d per passenger mile, It has a toilet, but no mention of a powder room.

“Zeke 43 (Hamp)” This seems to be the same story as the Aviation report. It is followed by a tabular list of Japanese Operational Aircraft with their code names in alphabetical order. Perhaps this will help the editor not make the same mistake again? We wouldn’t want Flight to get repetitive!

Two pages of pictures of RAF men follow. Perhaps the editor should have called Mr. Shackleton again.

“Lockheed Shooting Star” The paper acknowledges it has nothing to say about the P-80 by putting two paragraphs underneath a half-page picture. Rounding out the page’s column is a bit on RCAF Research and Development. “Is it still cold out there?” “Yes.” “Did putting on another stocking cap help?” “No.” “Well, try another one, this time with a tassel on top!”

Maj F. A. de V. Robertson, V.D. “Is the Bomber Obsolescent?” I cannot summarise this article better than with one quote. “If Alfred’s fleet had not driven off Rollo the Norseman,Normandy might have been founded in England instead of in France.” If you don’t see the connection to the title, then you have had the effect of reading the article without the trouble, because most of it seems to be about the English Navy.

“Target Analysis: Tonnage of Bombs Dropped and Number of Sea Mines Laid by RAF Bomber Command Monthly from September 1939 to May, 1945” This can be done with a big chart with tiny print. 

“Civil Stirling” Surplus Stirlings, emptied out for seats or cargo nets, are available, says Short Brothers of Belfast, hopefully.

Civil Aviation covers “Canada’s International Programme.” It's going to be a friendly neighbour. 

Civil Aviation News

New services here and there; and “Landplanes will replace flying boats on the San Francisco-New Zealand service which Pan-American Airways hopes to resume in the near future.”


Rufus Carmody thinks that aircraft controls should be simplified. J. R. Bryan thinks that we need to find out what the private owner wants. Probably different things for different private owners. “Indicator” replies to “Technician” that, somehow, good test pilots and good designers are producing bad aircrart. Both edges of the sword need to be sharpener, and the test pilot’s side needs to be sharpened the most.

The Economist, 11 August 1945


“The German Settlement” See attached. The paper notices the irony of the settlement being published within 48 hours of the first atomic bomb. Perhaps it is no irony, that the impact on Tokyo was considered? Also, how is this unexpectedly merciful –the new boundaries of Prussia apart—bigger news than the atomic bomb? The paper is, however, worried that the reparations-through-transfer-of-manufacturing-capital could amount to the Morgenthau Plan in disguise if implemented in full.

“Old Wine in Old Bottles” Also more noteworthy than any silly old atomic bomb is the rest of the new Atlee cabinet. The paper is disappointed.

“The Mobilisation of Muscle: By a Correspondent” Also more important than the atomic bomb is this paper on the “Cyclo-Tractor.” The author 
If  you haven't followed the link, the Economist's correspondent is Geoffrey Pyke, inventor of Project Habbakuk. This illustration is from David Lampe's 1959 biography, Pyke, the Unknown Genius, but it is hosted by a Project Habbakuk researcher going by "Yersinia pestis,." (Not his real name.)

points out that this is not the machine age that it is sometimes made out to be. As recently as 1930, over half the 17 billion horsepower expended on American farms was muscle power, and it was not until the latter development of the diesel in the 1930s that humans developed a machine that was more efficient in turning calories into work than the human body. Now that we have reached the limit of available coal (I think; there’s some gobbledygook about the impossibility of “further elasticity of coal”)  we need –bicycle railway cars?? 

Oh. I get it. This is the paper pulling someone’s leg, and, if I had to guess, it is the censor, for striking an atomic bomb story. It is still interesting to read that, in theory, a man could move 45 gross ton-miles of cargo a day with a cycle car.

“US Employment Prospects” This is technically part of the Bretton Woods round-up, but interesting in its own right. The very rapid and vast expansion of American production of goods and services, which is measured by an increase in the GNP from a computed 88.6 billion in 1939 to 198.7 billion in 1944 shows that there were massive amounts of unemployed resources in the UInited States in 1939, far more than was realised. The problem in “194Q,” as Fortune would have it, is to use the resources, which means, to sell the products, which means that Americans must be prepared to live 50% better than they used to do. This does not sound like a problem to me, as a new American. But! The paper goes on to show that with $170 billion to spend, we have consumption of $114.1 billion, government spending of $25.4 billion, capital expenditures of $22 billion, $6 billion residential construction, $1 billion net increase in stocks, and $2 billion net export balance, or $161.5 billion, leaving $8.5 billion unspent, meaning factories closing, layoffs, declining tax revenues, Great Depression. Also, all the expenditure estimates are over-estimated, the actual gap is $15.1 billion, for an even Greater Depression. And even if Americans do eventually adjust to living better, all it will take is a lag of a few months to build up unsold inventory. One proposed remedy is a colossal public works programme, but this would mean spending on capital, or an increase in productive capacity, and this would only make the problem worse in the long run.
Now, having laid out the problem, the paper tries to make it sound as though this were not its habitual plessimism. It would be very wrong, it says, to conclude from this that there must be a severe unemployment problem in postwar America, because “a solution of the problem is possible.” That solution will likely be to dump exports. . . “This article reaches no definitive pessimistic conclusion. But even with te fullest allowance for American awareness of the problem and rfor American powers of improvisation, it is difficult to conclude that there is more than an even chance of the right action, on a sufficient scale, being taken in good time. But how can we finally accept the obligations of Bretton Woods on a chance that is at best fifty-fifty?”

So there you go. Because Americans cannot consume as much as we produce, and there must therefore be a terrible American depression, the English shouldn't sign the Bretton Woods agreement

Notes of the Week

“The Atomic Bomb” The paper hopes that the power of uraniu-splitting can also be harnessed for peace, but points out how hard it will be to design a piston and cylinder which could containn such a powerful explosion.

“Japan in Extremis” The Japanese might be prepared to concede defeat, the paper supposes.

“Russia Declares War” The buzz in Chinatown is apparently that Russia is acting to secure the Unequal Treaties; in the rest of the city, to Polonise Japan. Although this only goes so far, as Chinatown is effervescent with hopes of peace,Unequal Treaties aside. The paper thinks that they are reviving “Czarist” ambitions, a clever way to hint that the Soviet government isn’t really Socialist. Throw in secret Jewish or Catholic interests, and I know these Pappenheimers.

“Unrra Meets in London” It is supposed that the Mission has too high a headcount at headquarters and should send all those hangers on to the Front. It is also supposed that it is not getting enough money to do its job. The paper seems to be pining for the war. . .

“The University Vote” Several constituencies in Britain are formed from the universities? And they say Bismarck’s constitution was too complicated!

“Trade Unions and Government” The paper is sensibly suspicious of the petit bourgeois in government, and discerns hopeful signs that so is the Government, and even the leadership of the TUC.

Also in the news are talks of a pay raise for parliamentarians, less partisanship in foreign policy, a war crimes tribunal, the new constitution in France, and ongoing trouble in the Levant, notably the situation in Syria and the idea of an Egypt-Sudan union, not much liked in Sudan. A scandal over unpasteurised milk is roiling in Britain. They might be feeding schoolchildren tubercular milk! 
Speaking of world Jewry, the last true shame of Germany’s late madness is that it has driven all of our Jews to wish to leave for somewhere, anywhere other than Germany. Since the Allies have steadfastly refused to take them in, and the British to let them into Palestine, what can they do? 
Truly a shining moment in the history of diplomacy and immigration policy.

Well, they are Jews, but Germans, too, so they will look to their homeland, and do what they must to take it. The paper does not seem to have put two and two together as yet, but it does realise that the Arabs are upset about something. It just frames it in terms of the likely fate of Arabs within the new Jewish homeland, rather than as one in which Arabs outside that homeland being likely Schleswig-Holsteinised. (As my mother used to disrespectfully say, given the choice, they might have passed on the glories of German citizenship, but Bismarck's point was that they weren't to be given one.)  The paper's solution is "reasonable quotas" for all Allied countries, so that pressure on the Levant would be lifted.

Swedes and Manchesterites are excitable.

American Survey

“Mid-Passage” (By Our Washington Correspondent Recently in London)
OWC recently steamed to London. And, I suppose, back. On her way, she was with –perhaps escorted?—the American-raised children of such English families as could arrange to have their children out of the way in America. The formerly American youth-to-be of England are bringing American habits to their motherland, is her point. They include “the peculiar three-tone whistle” that indicates the passing of pretty girls, who for their part wear wearing denims rolled up to mid-calf and call them “out of this world.” They also say “swell,” “nuts,” “holy mackerel,” “gee.” She is also sad about their deep anxiety about the homeland they barely remember, and even their reception by the families which sent them away so long ago.
Queens of Vintage Tumblr

American Notes

Reconversion, the atomic bomb, and Truman’s upcoming tustle in the Senate with Senator Taft and New Dealers can all be wrapped together in one coherent thought, the paper thinks. I think that it is wrong. The Army is in trouble for refusing to cut its manpower requirement below 8.8 million in spite of only having one war to fight now. A reduction to 7 million, Senator Mead thinks, would help reconversion.

“Lend-Lease and All That” The American official report on Lend Lease exaggerates, the paper thinks. Meanwhile, it is still not clear what export credits Britain might receive, after a confusing statement fronm the Acting Secretary of State, Mr. Grew.

The World Overseas

Egypt and the Sudan” If notice of this wasn’t boring enough, here’s an entire story!

“Resettlement in West Africa” Britain apparently raised rather a lot of soldiers in West Africa, and now back they must go. Our Correspondent in Accra thinks this would be fine if they were all going back to the farm, but they are not. In a perfect world, they would all be held in the army until “productive capital” were available to keep them out of mischief, but things can’t wait, and the recent strike in Lagos shows that West Africa is in dire need. It is perhaps my suspicion of that English colonial breed that makes me raise my eyebrows at his notion that West Africa needs more colonial administrators as well as equipment, technicians and markets.


W. H. Thompson, an attorney in the odd recent libel litigation in which a female worker sued London’s workman’s insurance for releasing information suggesting that she was dirty, as opposed to suffering from workplace contact dermatitis, is outraged by the paper’s summary. This is an odd, odd story, but at least the paper manages not to imply that it has poor hygiene this time.

H. B. Bush thinks that the paper is also too-faint over the Labour victory, and two correspondents detect too much fainting over the ILO, while J. W. Roche, headmaster, Barnsley and District Grammar School, thinks that the paper’s ideas about school reform are unsound on the grounds that poor parents don’t know what they should want; as, due to an excess of democractic sentiment in rhetoric and a deficit in practice, they are not going to get the advantages the rich procure from public schools out of their grammar schools, try as they might.

The Business World

British Imports 1938-1944” In spite of our brave submariners, the English were able to use their wealth to draw all the resources of the world to them. But the efforts were not in vain, imports did decline, although the figures are bedevilled by problems of switching from measurements by weight to ones of value. Details are given in a table to bring poor eyes to despair.

Business Notes

Financial matters that I really have no business relating are followed by something of more than complete irrelevance. The Harvard Business School thinks that America has enormous amounts of merchant shipping, and that much of it should be laid up, so that the English can make enough money to buy American exports. The paper is also worried about the price of silver, “bonus shares,” whatever they are, the status of vocational training for army leavers, the prospects of emigration to Australia, a possible world oil production surplus which will not lead to a relaxation of controls in Britain due to the war with Japan and shortage of tankers, a possibility of long-term reductions in British timber imports, which cannot be good news for the Scandinavian countries.

Fortune, August 1945

Only days later, and a pre-Atomic Age issue of Fortune seems quaint, the voice of an age where war was possible. Or maybe it is the content of this issue, framed by a story about “China’s Race Against Time” and interviews with America’s “next business generation.” It has also a fashion story.
I like this one better than Fortune's chosen illustration. Sorry about the picture quality. Tech experiment that didn't work out.

The Job Before Us

“The British Position” The English spent all their money having a war, and now need the Americans to put them on their feet again. The paper is cautiously amenable to the idea –but God forgive if perfidious Albion crosses Chiang!

“Amend the Murray Bill” The paper wants the senator’s full employment bill amended, not scrapped; “the New Air Routes” are exciting; “Tarrifs and Subsidies” are bad; “Time for the Lights To Go Up” on Broadway. We cannot wait for the fall of Japan to have a night life along Broadway again. Also perhaps the rest of the country might benefit, if those country mice stay up past sunset.
This is the original Fortune illustration I was just dissing. What can I say? I like our highly skilled operator's skirt better.

“China’s Race Against Time” The race here is with famine and poverty, which the Nationalist government must alleviate quickly as it moves into place as the new national government. The “progressive elements” of the Chungking regime must also defeat the “backward” elements (which I think is an oblique reference to the battle between the Soong and Kung factions within Chiang’s court). It is also expected to absorb the Japanese puppet government, with a few show trials of the more obnoxious traitors. Various western intellectuals who support the Communists need to see a psychiatrist, and the Communists need to see the business end of a firing squad. Various actual Chinese expressions of discontent are acceptable insofar as they are to be seen as anti-Kung.
See? It's okay to criticise Chiang. Because free speech. Now stop doing it!

“Bethlehem Ship” The old steelcompany did a fine job of building enormous numbers of warships, freighters and landing vessels. Its San Francisco yard mostly did repairs.

“Clothes: Higher and Fewer” Due to the shortage of textiles, there is a shortage of civilian clothes. There may be relief early in 1946 as more woven fabrics become available.

Steam turbine locomotives: this does not seem to be a picture of the Baldwin S2, discussed in the article; or the Chesapeake and Ohio M1s, also built by Baldwin. (Note the possible origin of "going up to 11"!

“Steam Power: Rolling Along” Diesel-electric has done very well in America, thanks to the lack of pounding, to which American roadbeds are “unusually” susceptible. (The paper dances around the typically hasty and shoddy American standard of work.) However, steam turbines do not pound either, and are more efficient than diesel electric at higher speeds. Baldwin Locomotive Works has been developing steam turbine engines, which have been experimented with in Germany and England, but rejected there because it is apparently not feasible to put a condenser on a locomotive. Baldwin apparently thinks that it can do without. The Columbus & Ohio, meanwhile, was definite that it wanted electric drive, but hauls mostly coal, and so wanted coal-fired locomotives. The solution was a $1.5 million dollar effort to develop a turbo-electric with coal firing. Others continue to work on conventional steam locomotives, feeling that diesel’s advantages, pounding apart, can be overcome.

The Farm Column
Poor Ladd Haystead, who is the source of half of Mrs. C.’s “Saxon peasant” stories because he has to fill a column every month. He does himself no favours this time, though, with a column full of invention peddlers (“woodshed inventors.”) This practice of building automatic hop pickers and field vacuums to “suck up” the alfalfa gleanings is surprisingly common around San Francisco, it seems. I suppose I should not be surprised with the Holt works not too far down the road, but I thought that this was more of a Yankee thing. I mentioned this to Tommy Wong, and he pointed out that Bill and David started work in their car garage, not their woodshed.

Business Abroad

Although I can barely keep my eyes focussed to read the details, it turns out that numerous small loans (in the mere tens of millions of dollars) have been made to the liberated European countries, and their bonds are already being bought in New York. In more concrete and technological matters, Baldwin Locomotives has set up shop in Toronto, Canada, Citroën, now discovered to have been a leader in the French Resistance (of course they were), is in financial trouble, and the Faber pen is deemed to be a “miracle.” And something about India’s gold? I understand from the files that Mrs. C. and especially Elder Brother G are quite good at sniffing out opportunities to profit from smuggling bullion. I see “India” and “gold,” and hope very much that someone who grasps precious metals better than I has already directed our interests!

Business at War
More financials! This is so frustrating!   However, the paper makes up for it with a feature about the  “Polaroid” process for making instant photographs. I’ve seen this demonstated once at the Foreign Ministry, by my cousin, no less (I gather that there is a scandalous story attached), and it is very exciting to think that anordinary person could buy and use one.

The Fortune Survey

This month, it is postwar prospects. Over 70% of those surveyed expect inflation when government control of business is relaxed, and an equally large number think that this is a bad thing. (That it is not one hundred percent makes me despair of the country, but I America is a young and optimistic country.) Most people expect to be working about the same amount next year, but they are worried that they might be less well off. To alleviate any problems, slim majorities suggest a big Government building programme, reduced business regulation and lower business taxes.

Books and Ideas

The paper has finally read Lewis C. Ord's Secrets of Industry, which The Economist talked about several months ago. The paper is very pleased with Ord's proof that low English factory productivity, as well as being caused by all sorts of other bad things about England, is caused by England's rigid class structure. 

Far be it from me to suddenly turn into a Social Democrat, but I have to notice that Germany is compared favourably to England in this light. Germany. Take it from this Grafin; we have class in Germany, too!

Aviation, August 1945

If ever there was a paper just waiting for the atomic bomb, it has to be Aviation, which has already revealed its existence once, back in the fall of 1944, as Mrs. C. pointed out in our brief conversation at the hospital on Tuesday.

Down the Years in AVIATION’s Log recalls the cancellation of aircraft orders in 1930, with almost all the seven planes bought the previous month being foran air race. Ten years ago, it remembers, yet again, the Kellet autogiro landing on the Philadelphia Post Office roof, and the first flight of the B-17 prototype.

Line Editorial

“Freight Rates and Industry Location” James H. McGraw, Junior, comments on the recent Federal Transportation Commission order calling for the eventual establishment of a single rate for each of various classes of cargo carried in the United States. My ear having been bent on the subject more than once since I arrived in California, I can tell you that this is the system that used to prevent business from moving to California, and that the new order will somehow prevent it even more. Mr. McGraw is more optimistic.


I don’t even remember what this might have been.

Captain C. H. Schildhauer, USNR “Marine Airport Operators Hold All the Trumps” The idea here is that sea-airports are cheaper than land ones? If so, the fact that he then has a whole half-page on the subject of proper moorings for runway lights is something of a weak point for his argument. Now, I hold no brief here. I have flown exactly twice since I arrived in America, and both times, perhaps not coincidentally, it was in a floatplane, with Professor K., on visits to the northern coast. Landing on water seems like a perfectly fine way of doing aviation to me, but I am in a minority here, and Captain Schildhauer’s exaggeration does not help his case. No-one seems to be building “seadromes,” and that is the real trump card.

Blaine Stubblefield, “It’s No Child’s Play Arming and Fuelling Carrier Planes” Another of Mrs. C.’s least favourites went to sea on the Bonhomme Richard and returned with numerous photographs and stories. This one would be more interesting if it had more details about how a carrier services its planes at sea, but it does not.

Irving Stone, Editor, “DesignAnalysis of the Fairchild C-82 Packet” I have the impression that this plane’s day was done before it even appeared, and that is the excuse I will be going with in not covering the analysis in any detail.

Ralph H. Upson, “Designing the Personal Plane, Part III” The letter writer to Flight who suggested that there is a different ideal personal plane for every buyer gets an entire article on the subject. Part III in a series.

R. A. Rapplyea, “Analysis of Magnesium Applications in German Aircraft and Equipment” Rappleyea cannot be the most careful of writers, because he thinks that American and German technique is at the same level. Or, who knows, I might just be being blindly patriotic. I don’t care, as it seems that most magnesium applications consist of complex castings for low-stress applications in situations where light weight is a higher priority than the metal’s extreme susceptibility to corrosion. It is hard to imagine it having a bright future outside of aeronautical applications, and I gather that jet turbines are much simpler than internal combustion ones, so the future for complex castings may not be that bright there, either.

Roy Healy, “Aeronautical Supremacy Demands Jet and Rocket Research, Part II”

John H. Frederick, “Is CAB Regulation of Airline Securities Necessary?” Why, of course not, you silly goose. The industry can be trusted to regulate itself.

The B-32, P-38L and P-51H exist even still more!

The picture the editors are all using to pad out their page counts is the P-38L "drroop snoot." This isn't that picture, but it is a picture of a droop snoot variant, from Air Power Australia.

America’s War Communique Number 40

General Curtis LeMay thinks –and you may wish to seat your hat firmly, take a strong grasp of your paper, and sink back in your chair before you read on—that airpower alone might compel Japan to surrender!

Washington Windsock

Blaine Stubblefield has noticed that a lot of planes are claimed to be capable of 500mph. He thinks they should all race, just to put their money where their mouth is. He also thinks that the politicians will wrest control of government from the military soon, and that air transport is making the world smaller.

Digest of the News

The list of aircraft construction contract cancellations is growing longer, the July aircraft production was down to 5,462 (which reminds me of The Economist’s discovery that America’s economy was working at an unsustainably high rate at the  end of 1943), and notes that Mr. Hughes’ Hercules plane (excuse me, Mrs. C., Mr. Kaiser’s old plane) is under construction, and is very large. 

And with that I close this letter, clip it to the main dispatch, and send it off, so that I can turn to the more pleasant duty of writing to my beloved. 

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