Sunday, March 26, 2017

Postblogging Technology, February 1947, I: Dreaming Beneath th Bench Grass · Poste Snow


Dear Father:

You wanted to know at first word about Reggie's summer assignment. He will be attached to VP-M-1 at Barbers Point NAS in Hawaii, where he will be trying to wedge more radio receivers into Lockheed Neptunes than any airplane should have to carry. For "weather reconnaissance." "Weather reconnaissance" is in a bit of an ebb at the moment, but will probably come back in full force when the Russian famine is over and the 1948 election is a bit closer at hand. Who knows? Perhaps he will gather some "weather reconnaissance" that is useful to Mrs. C and her friends in Virginia.

"Miss V.C.'s" plans are in flux, but I expect that she will go east to be near "Mr. A." Perhaps she will try to pick up some hints in advance of her seniors' thesis research next year; she remains convinced that a sinister secret concerning the Oregon Scandal is hiding somewhere in the Junior College's archives.

Uncle George has telegraphed that his flight has arrived safely in Scotland. However, it looks like he will be detained by weather and will not be able to get to London in time for the World Shipping Conference, which is a pity. On the other hand, his friend's business partner is also detained, as he missed his berth on the Queen Mary. So it looks like not much advance business will be done before you arrive in England on the matter of, shall we say, securing industrially-necessary supplies of silver nitrate for any film or photography business we might involve ourselves in, over in England. 

In the absence of Uncle George, James has stepped in to arrange to put the good old Swallow on the Atlantic run. It will make its first berth in Liverpool on 7 April, if all goes according to plan, and James estimates that it has room for six tons of metal in Great-Uncle's old statesroom. Just to give you an idea of what you have to work with. 

In the mean time, I would be most grateful for any distractions you can find, as Dr. Rivers has put me on bed rest until the blessed event. I'm not completely isolated, as I have James and Fanny. Miss J has branched out in her work to assist Fanny, and has been very kind in bringing the twins to see me along with Vickie. I could wish that I saw the same spirit of care and solicitude from Miss M., but she is a fine physical therapist, and not devoid of human kindness. She has even taken to bringing me cookies in bed. Cookies that she baked herself --and I can say no more. At least they are not boring!


The Economist, 1 February 1947


“The Stalin Gambit” Mr. Bevin says that Britain isn’t tied to any foreign country, because the backbench says that, actually, it’s tied to America. So then Mr. Stalin says, “According to the 1942 Moscow agreement, actually you’re tied to us.” So then the paper says, England should totally cop to the mistake (because Mr. Bevin is dumb), and talk to the Russians –mainly about “You Russians stay on this side, and we’ll maybe stay on this side mostly.” 

“Second Thoughts on Planning” The paper likes the Town and Country Planning Bill and hates the Government, so it compromises by saying that the Government is doing the right thing, wrong. Once all the wrong things are fixed, either by Dalton’s last minute speech in support, or in committee, things might go wrong again later due to local authorities not being fully technically efficient, but that’s for later, as we won’t know exactly what is in the Bill until after it is passed. Which is a strange way of doing things, but apparently typical with large parliamentary bills. (Under Notes, it points out that the brewers have had to intervene to make sure that some garden city planners make room for licensed establishments.)

“The Housing Programme” In 1946, the programme focussed on getting as many housing starts as possible. Completions stalled out, so the 1947 programme is to finish the starts and not add too more starts than can be finished. Given the labour force, the new programme of 240,000 homes completed looks unlikely. It used to be that it took roughly one man-year to build a house; the Bevan homes are nicer, so this has risen to 1.25. Only 320,000 will be employed building new homes at the end of 1947, although there will be a million in total in the building business. This will only be enough –but only if materials and components are adequate.

The irrelevant series on the Danube basin continues with a discussion of “Danubian intellectuals.” Some are Marxists, but will probably turn to “Fascist, anti-Semitic, extreme Clerical or nationalist movement[s]” at the first chance.

Notes of the Week
“No New Treaty with Britain;” and “Sudanese Opinion” The new Egyptian government wants no part of a treaty with England until Sudan is settled; and English opinion holds that Sudanese opinion holds that Sudan should be independent of Egypt. The paper hopes that England will honour the  three-year evacuation schedule that was to be in the new treaty.
“The Talks on Burma” The paper thinks that England should get out of Burma with no bloodshed and no political ties to which Burmese nationalists might object, so that “special ties” can be maintained, by which is meant  BOC. The Burmese being apt to mistreat the hill states, a handwringing commission is envisioned. 

“Agreement Over Agriculture” Everyone agrees on the new policy (price supports; local communities intervening to remove farmers in case of severe inefficiency; the Land Commission only taking over land that cannot be farmed efficiently), so the Tory counters were weak. The paper is therefore forced to denounce the Government for being too weak, and not nationalising.

“The Need for Incentives” After finishing a rousing performance of the “Red Flag,” the paper gets serious for a moment, pointing out that price supports will probably just lead to inefficiency, though it hopes that the right “structure” of incentives will prevent this. (I thought that paying for crops –But what do I know?)
I'm not kidding. The Economist is criticising Labour for not nationalising land --although it also thinks that it's a bad idea, obviously. 

“A New Food Plan” The Food and Agriculture Organisation has reported on John Orr’s plan. It recommends scrapping it, and offers a “more modest and workable scheme.” It involves price supports, which are likely to lead to permanent surpluses, or “over production,” which will be alleviated by shipping the food to “needy nations” at subsidised prices. It strikes me that Chinese farmers would have strong opinions about competing with foreign food coming in at “subsidised prices,” so it is a good thing that they’re not heard at the FAO! Somehow the paper turns this around into a concern about the artificial inflation of food prices of “the one important non-needy food importer. “Which is England."

“Back to Palestine” The English have put forward a partition plan; Palestinian Arabs have rejected it. The English have had enough of such nonsense, and will go ahead with it. Bloodshed must be accepted. The remaining hope that it will be bloodshed along the lines of a desultory civil war, as opposed to a full-blown international conflict.  The idea is that unwilling neighbouring (Arab) states are much more interested in their internal problems, while many Palestinians (and Jews) are too eager for peace to fight very hard over the details. Nevertheless, the English would really like to dump the matter in the Uno’s lap. Unfortunately, that would mean waiting until the General Assembly meets in September.

“Liberating Austria” Germany is prostrate, so there is no problem “liberating” Austria. The problem is that liberated Austria is made wrong, as the country is too small, and Vienna is too large. The “underfed, over-controlled and apathetic Austrian people” will all just muddle along on foreign aid. Notably the 2 million tons of Ruhr coal they haven’t paid for yet. Hint, hint.

Original version 1952, so not completely anachronistic. 

“Plots and Purges in Hungary” “Fanatically nationalist and conservative” landowners, civil servants and army officers have been arrested for plotting a coup, and parliamentarians of the Small Farmers Party are now being purged from their place in the ruling coalition. It remains to be seen whether this will be enough to bring the Communists, Left or Centre to power in place of the current coalition.

“Road Hauliers’ Victory” The committee of inquiry into the road haulage dispute has ruled for the hauliers. They get a 44-hour week, some extra holiday time, and some details with regards to weekly scheduling, in spite of the industry’s argument that 44 hour weeks are impossible, so that it is really an agreement to pay enormous amounts of overtime. The committee found that this is complete tosh.

“Safety in the Air” “The first public enquiry into an air crash since the R 101 had barely started when there was another at Croydon, and the next day the eldest son of the Swedish Crown Prince was killed in a crash at Copenhagen.” The paper is willing to buy the idea that Dakotas are being overloaded, but points out that the brand new Viking fleet has been grounded over concerns over icing equipment, so it's not just that. The paper ends by calling for an internationally-agreed set of air navigation aids.
This seems to have just shown up at eBay. An accident caused by inaccurate fuel gauges, and not the last.

“British and American Car Prices” In the same week that Ford lowered prices, Austin raised its prices. English cars are too expensive because full technical efficiency.

Alexandra Palace” Why is English television so backwards? Because Alexandra House is not paying technicians, cameramen, engineers and script writers enough, and because not enough is being spent on it, because the BBC is unaccountably backwards. That is the criticism, anyway. The paper holds off agreeing long enough to point out that there are not enough studios due to building shortages, or televisions due to manufacturing shortages, and then comes around to agreeing with it. Americans are ahead on television.

"The birthplace of television."

“Tories Off the Air” The Conservative Central Office has complained that the BBC doesn’t give them enough air time. The paper points out that this would be irrelevant if there were a proper, competitive market. It hopes that this will convert the Conservatives to free-market broadcasting, “As the shades of the Socialist prison-house begin to close,” and as FM comes in.

“Party Spoils in Japan” The recent purge decrees in Japan seem excessive, and it might also seem amazing that they were carried through with a Right wing government in the Diet; but all is explained once you realise what a patronage opportunity this opens up to the right wing parties.

“Jugoslav Refugees” A Jugoslav consul visited the Chetniks in camp in Naples last week, and was promptly murdered. Belgrade is upset. The paper hopes that this spur the English to make arrangements so that “good” Jugoslavs  can make a home in exile, while “bad” ones are sent home, especially since allowing them to coexist just leads to accusations of “pro-Fascist activity” due to people like Pavelic being left free to wander around being pro-Fascist, with, Belgrade says, British and American protection. The paper says that this accusation, while obviously not true, is true, and that something should be done about it. (“This is doubtless untrue, but if formal and urgent orders were given from the highest quarter to all Allied security services, it would surely be possible to find him.”

English doctors and amateur renovators are excitable.

Letters to the Editor

Someone named A. Shonfield “takes the piss” in much-too-clever a way for me to actually understand it. (Yes, I am keeping the wrong company. Specifically, a professor and a Jesuit father. Worse (from your perspective), he got drunk enough to talk that way in front of a lady in my condition on three glasses of a New York claret, and, from my perspective, that he then went off to lecture young people about old books.) Philip Williams thinks that nationalisation is going too slowly, and W. H. Higgenbotham thinks that it is all wrong. G. R. Y. Radcliffe tries to be even more incomprehensible than Mr. Schonfield. J. S. Williams thinks that England is being horrible to Poland, where the Right is nice and the Left is horrible. Geo. B. Fielding of the Cotton Spinners and Manufacturers’ Association assures everyone that its opposition to the five-day week is based on the highest of principles and soundest of financial concerns. Someone named Eugene Forsey writes something boring, about Canada. R. G. Hawtrey writes to correct the paper’s misreading of his book;.He’s not for higher interest rates against American inflation; but, rather, for not fixing the pound to the dollar in a way that would lead to high interest rates when American prices are inflating.

Books and Publications

The paper launches into a “back matter” project (which is not at the back!) by reviewing D. C. Somervell’s 617 page “abridgement” of the first six volumes of Arnold Toynbee’s Study of History. The paper points out that the people of Great-Uncle’s generation believed in progress, that some German named Spengler believed the contrary, because of the World War, and said so at great length; and that Professor Toynbee decided that it wasn’t nearly enough length, and said it more, so it is very lucky for us that Mr. Somervell spent his time saying it less, even though he is wrong. Well! 

You can hardly have a book section with only one book (or you’d have to give it more than two paragraphs of review), so it is on to Maurice Dobbs’ Studies in theDevelopment of Capitalism, which is what Marxians think about economics now. Which is nothing much worth explaining, apparently. I gather he spends too much time on politics? T. S. Simey, writing on Welfare and Planning in the West Indies is just depressing. Everything that ever happened in the West Indies is wrong, and, if I’m reading the three paragraphs right, West Indians go hungry too much to care about other things. But since the paper can’t actually say that without sounding too critical, it instead goes in for a bit about how West Indians have a “Freudian complex” about food, which leads to “disintegrated and unstable” personalities.

From The Economist of 1847

Education is good for a nation, because its wealth comes from its labour, and educated labour is better; however, so are “wholesome and just laws” and “equal and good laws” and no “partial and excessive taxation” These thoughts are so radical that it needs to quote someone named Edmund Burke.  Next, the paper (of 1847) quotes a Dorsetshire Tenant-farmer who is upset about how much damage game does to his crops. This is apparently a “trap” routinely set for “new tenants . . . entering a game farm.” The past was so awful.

American Survey

“The Chances of Freer Trade” American industry representatives are meeting to hammer out the details of the renewed Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act, which will guide American delegates in Geneva. The general impression is that everything is too complicated for anything to be done. 

“California is not Depressed” A correspondent in San Francisco writes to point out that employment in California is holding at 3.55 million, just less than the wartime peak. The largest industry in southern California is aircraft manufacture, at 75,000 employees; unemployment is very low, at 260,000, but demand for unskilled labour is low, particularly Coloureds. The  ”big fact” is that California has not lost its 2.35 million population gain of the war years (although it is ridiculous that this number relies on traffic checks at the state borders!). Population is estimated at 9.225 millions must be estimated, second, behind New York, up from 21st in 1900. However, water supply might choke off the growth of Los Angeles, so the paper repeats all those Southern complaints about the Rio Grande treaty.

American Notes

American workers who aren't paid after arriving at work, are excitable. Steelworkers and the UAW are much less excitable.

“Congress Settles In” The GOP has its first victory, as the War Investigating Committee, ironically the old Truman Committee, is extended under Owen Brewster. The hope is that a few more heads can be added to the wall alongside Bilbo’s, and that the heads won’t include the service chiefs, because that would be embarrassing, and might impact the occupation of Germany. In shorter news, the fact that General Marshall is now the successor to the Presidency in place of a nonexistent Vice-President means that his name gets added to the 1948 lists, I'm not clear how, as President Truman will run again, no other Democrat wanting to take on such an obviously-losing cause, and the Republican race is already shaking out as Taft against Dewey. the Governor being thought too damaged by his refusal of the 1944 Vice-Presidential nomination. We shall see!

“Another Mission for Mr. Hoover” The President hears my feelings about having the Engineer for a neighbour, and sends him off to Europe to find out why Germany and Austria need yet another $300 million. The paper deems this "highly desirable bi-partisanship” before admitting that the Engineer is still terrible. And speaking of the Engineer’s late small failure in public life, it goes on to discuss the possible renewal of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, which is due to expire this summer.

Under shorter notes, the paper cites a Federal Reserve report showing that smaller businesses “which survived” fared better under war conditions than large ones. Another report, from the Edison Electric Institute, claims to show that TVA rates are “heavily subsidised.”

The World Overseas

Italian Economy in the Balance” Italy has nothing to buy, and too much money to buy it with. Forty percent of the national income is “missing” for lack of production! Inflation is  hurting the “salariat,” although landowners and peasants are doing well. Prescription: Monetary reforms would help, more English coal, American export credits.

Finns are excitable. [pdf]

“French Manpower Problems” France is short of workers. It needs 1.2 million more workers by 1950, 480,000 of them before the end of 1947, plus a further 500,000 through the end of 1948 to cover PoWs. Emigres, Algerians, and women are the potential sources of this new labour. Improved family allowances, crèches and nurseries, and equal pay for equal work are to be used to lure women into the workforce. Training schemes are to be extended, with union support, and collective bargaining is to be reintroduced.

The Business World

So, just to highlight it, that's The Economist hinting that England should welch on its Indian debt.
“The Debt to India” This seems like a terrible time to be negotiating with India, but to the contrary, as you will shortly see! First, it is thought that there is an informal deadline for unlocking India’s sterling balance by the anniversary of the American loan. Second, after dithering for a bit about exports and trade balances, asks: Why not just “write off the debt”? After all, it was mostly incurred “saving” India from Japan! Also, the prices were probably inflated, so those darn Indians took advantage. Also, India shouldn’t be allowed to import that much in the way of capital goods, anyway, because it will lead to inflation. Finally, after raising the idea, the paper moves on to the obvious point that “it will not be difficult to convince Indian negotiators” that they have a “mutuality of interests.” 

In what should be, but isn’t, shorter news, the paper discusses the new English “Development Councils” that unite business and industry.

Business Notes

After talking about “cheap and easy money,” (which is bad), the paper moves on to “Spending the Dollars,” where the various causes of the drain on the loan are discussed. The paper is particularlly upset that not enough is being spent on industrial re-equipment (11%) and ships (3%).
Crowther deprecates the huge "tobacco" figure, which is what everyone else fixates on.

“Progress of French Deflation” It turns out that it is going well, although its progress depends on delivering one blow after another to “keep the hoarders on the run.” So far, the main problem is that peasants are holding onto grain. This has been addressed by threats of American imports, leading to a collapse in the price of gold coins, which is thought to reflect hoarders disgorging their holdings in case farmers begin selling for bank notes again.
Trier Hoard: The hoard seems to have been buried in 167, recovered in 193, and then buried again in 197.

Also, the textiles industry is being affected by coal shortages, the English railways aren’t earning as little as expected, the World Bank is still without a president, rising wool prices are putting pressure on the “worsted utility scheme” to provide clothing “of reasonable quality at fixed prices,” there is as yet no relief from cheap money for trustees and beneficiaries, and the new rules requiring banks to hold 8% reserves are causing hardship to some banks. Associated British Picture and Warner Brothers have entered into an arrangement to produce more American-quality movies in England and distribute them in North America. Ceylon is talking about leaving the international allocation scheme and bringing back tea auctions, which will allow it to reduce the export tax on rubber and save the industry from resurgent Malayan competition. The question of whether English charters of American Liberties should lapse, is being argued in Washington.  In Malaya, tin production has not come back quickly enough to forestall growing competition from the Netherlands EastIndies, which is re-equipping with American dredgers, word to the wise, etc. The Burnley Business Society says that mortgages for house purchases are at an all time high. 
Utility wool outfit, 1942. The "worsted utility scheme" seems to be a new one on modern scholarship.
 Flight,  6 February 1947

“Tribute to Transport Command” The paper summarises its summary of Ralph Cochrane’s lecture to the Royal Aeronautical Society. Did you know that while Transport Command was moving 10,000 troops a month from India to the United Kingdom by air, the United States was moving 50,000 troops across the Atlantic? Much of this was done with Dakotas, which are now the most dangerous planes ever, but didn’t used to be, despite some new equipment from the Telecommunications Research Establishment, which warns about bad weather. (I hope this is explained in an article. I can warn about bad weather. In fact, I think I will do it. It is going to rain in Vancouver, soon. There, told you so.)
Neon signs; streetcar tracks, rain: Vancouver in the 50s

“Locked Controls” The question that has come up with the Copenhagen accident is how Geyssendorffer failed to test his controls before takeoff. The answer is that the Dakota’s control column will still move “a certain amount” with the elevator locks on. Elevator and flap locks save constant work in the control cables, which leads to stretching. Although cable runs are not that long, nowadays, the ideal solution would be  a lock in the control column; which, in the new Handley Page Hermes, also locks the throttles. The paper thinks that at least the control column locks should be mandatory.

“Royal Escort: Over HMS Vanguard in a Coastal Beaufighter” Fighter Command was grounded by bad weather, but Coastal Command came through with a four Beaufighter escort, thanks to all night snow clearing and salting efforts at Thorney Island, and ASV to detect the battleship in the mist. The Beaufighters circled for an hour at 190 knots, coming no closer than the mile-and-a-half exclusion zone, which meant that they couldn’t shoot down the press Dragon Rapides that buzzed the battleship until the captain “opened the gates” and sped off at 30 knots.
Vanguard: Could totally take Iowa.

“Science is Measurement: Sensitive Altimeters Ranged to 70,000ft: True Air Speed Indicators for Cabins” Lord Kelvin said that about measurement once. Now, Kelvin, Bottomley and Baird’smodel factory at Basingstoke is making altimeters ranged up to 70,000ft, within a tolerance error of one percent at -40 to +50 degrees C. They also do engine speed indicators (capable of registering up to 20,000 rpm) and airspeed indicators calibrated up to 700mph, accurate to within 3 to 5%, Air Mileage Units and radiosondes.

“Britain’s Test Pilots, No. 19: Arthur John Pegg, MBE” “Bill” Pegg had a distinguished RAF career (he was one of only two men given a permanent commission from the ranks in 1931, that is, from being a sergeant pilot to a P/O. He joined Bristol in 1934, and has been Cyril Uwin’s second ever since.

Here and There

 Artif-Ice, Inc., has a nice, compact cabin cooler. Air Marshal Sir Milne Robb thinks that we have reached our limit for speed in the air. The paper can’t believe he said anything so silly, but he did. The Brabazon’s interior is to be designed by Richard Lonsdale-Hands.
Lonsdale-Hands: painter and designer.
De Havilland has converted two boilers at Hatfield over to oil operation. The first one saved 23 tons of “black diamonds” in the first ten days of operation. The paper is upset that a major industrial company has to use imported fuel in a “land which is almost built on coal.” Titanine has adopted the five-day work week. A lumber company in central Louisiana has bought a Piper Cub, because its base of operations is two days from civilisation by boat. (I’m amazed that this counts as even end-of-column news; but also by the fact that any location in Louisiana is that isolated.)

The De Havilland Ghost (DGT/50)” a detailed technical account of the successor to the Goblin, which delivers 5000lb thrust at 10,000rpm. A centrifugal compressor design like the Goblin, it has cascade vanes to “turn the air in a substantially axial direction,” so that, at 53”, it is only 3” wider than the Goblin, although substantially heavier. The number of combustion chambers was reduced from 14 to ten, increasing their volume, and the outlets were rearranged to reduce the number of diffusor vanes. The design was also improved by a better distribution of the chambers, which allowed the engine to be truly circular, reducing stress on the casing. The fuel system is by Lucas, and the impeller disc is made of an unspecified “light, silicon-free alloy.” The Ghost combustion chambers are so well designed that there is only a 2.8lb/sq. inch pressure drop across the chamber (some turbulence is needed to induce rapid consumption, but impedance of mass flow reduces total combustion, so this is supposed to impress us as a good compromise.) A ferritic, rather than austenitic, steel was chosen for the turbine disc, “giving adequate mechanical strength, relatively good creep characteristics and is easier to forge.” The turbine blades are forged of the “now famous” Wiggins Nimonic 80 alloy, precision machined to fine limits in dimension and profile. Maximum oil consumption is 1.5 pints per hour, but jet fuel consumption remains high. (There is also a jettisoning pipe to get unburnt fuel out, since otherwise it tends to pool in the bottom of the engine –which I did not know.

RAFVR Developments” The Air Force has resumed recruiting for same.

“Air Transport During the War: AOC-in-C Transport Command Discusses Problems and Lessons: Precise of a Lecture Given to the RAeS” In the last 21 months of the war, Transport Command flew more passenger miles than all of British civil aviation in the 21 years before. A half-million troops and 200,000 tons of cargo were carried. 3000 pilots, more than three times the number of pre-war “B” licenses, were inducted into Transport Command. This required simplifying training, especially of flying and navigating in bad weather. Not just radars, but special maps were needed, and were provided by the Navigation Staff of Transport Command. Six aircraft were lost to turbulence, none to collision, and special CRTs were installed to warn of dangerous cumulo-nimbus clouds. Communication duties in support of Transport Command absorbed 21,000 men around the world(!) The all-weather service, set up as an experiment on 15 September 1945 between Blackbushe and Prestwick, managed to fly 666 of 668 services thanks to this highly regular communication system. FIDO was used at Blackbushe on five occasions. Experiments with parachute drops from 500ft showed that they were, on average, within 308 yards of a Eureka beacon and 250 yards out under visual conditions. Maintenance concerns focus on engines, and an engine with an effective life of 1000hrs is much wanted; as is a tyre that can stand 200 landings, vice 70, currently. The main problem with electrics and instruments was poor maintenance. The economic inefficiency of the low speed and short range of the Dakota could be shown by a comparison with the York: Yorks carried 65% more crew per head of personnel, and 35% more considering crew only.
This is the Dakota that crashed on the Swiss glacier, already covered. Still 16 more Dakota and Li-2 crashes to go in 1947!

Civil Aviation News

“Jet Transports” Various people have longed to see the Republic Rainbow equipped with Rolls Royce Nenes, because both are very advanced. Mr. C. R. Smith, chairman of American Airlines, has pointed out that this may take awhile, on account of it being impossible. (He doesn't mention that it would also be stupid on a transcontinental run.) The paper points out that there must be a reason forgoing to the trouble, and really hopes that someone discovers that reason. In the mean time, American will be experimenting with British jet turbines, says Smith. This leads the paper to conclude that an “all new jet transport” will appear in America in the next few years, and not just a “prop jet,” such as is proposed for the Martin 303. However, Mr. Hobbes of United Aircraft Corporation thinks it will take about ten years, and the paper runs to its bedroom, slams the door, and flings itself on its bed, sobbing.

In shorter, but actual news, Lord Nathan’s National Civil Aviation Constitutive Council has met for the first time. It talked about safety, and the need to constrain runway growth, lest England be completely paved. Mr. F. G. Milnes is showing a model of a Thames airport for flying boats. Others, slightly more realistically, it looks as though the flying boat base will be at Cliffe, not Langston Harbour. Bristol is sending the Freighter/Wayfarer off on another tour of Latin America, because rationing just won’t ever end sales. It is news again that BOAC will shortly replace the Boeing 314s it operates on the New York-Bermuda run, with Short Sunderlands unders some alias. The Short Sandringham is in the lead, but I still have hopes for the Solent, or perhaps the Ambleside-Upon-Tiddley Cove. The Montreal Gazette is quoted as showing that only 75 persons were killed in air accidents in America in 1943, compared with thousands in this or that other kind of accident, proving that flying is safe as houses.
Ruslip crash, December 1946. (From Hewitt's Pinterest)


“Aircrew” thinks that “Notices to Airmen” and other Air Ministry publications could be much more useful if they would just follow a standard format, give the same information, call things by their right names and come out regularly. Graeme Percival, a Link radio navigation trainer, thinks that radio beam flying could be much safer if there were more Link radio navigation training.  A. Cooke-Smith suggests investigating air accidents and publishing details of their causes. R. G. Preston, of the Employment Advice Bureau of the GAPAN, writes with advice to pilots who hold “B” licenses, since the Guild has only been able to place about half the 300 who have registered with it.

The Economist,  8 February 1947

“A Profits Policy?” People have been saying that the Government needs to have a policy for reducing corporate profits, which have become very large during the war years. The paper say that this isn’t true; and, anyway, profits are only up if you don’t take everything into account; and, anyway, high profits aren’t necessarily bad; and, anyway, other people (like unions) do horrible things, too. On the other hand, if it meant achieving full technical efficiency, a profits policy would be a good thing, because the current high level of profits is from monopolies and regulation, which are horrible.

--The paper apologises for a huge printing error right in the middle of last week's leading leader of last week, and puts the blame where it firmly belongs: the printers, who fell asleep for some reason.

“Defence in Two Worlds” The paper fixes the printing error problem by writing something no-one can read. First, it spends 37 lines talking about what Nazis and Soviet Communists might think of England’s relationship with Australia. Then, it recalls a wartime discussion of dispersing “essential war industries, skilled white manpower, research organisations, and raw material stocks throughout the Commonwealth in the last three lines of the second paragraph. This allows it to pivot to skilled labour emigration, and it points out that it is still a good idea, because while atom bombs might blow up valuable operatives and and boffins in England, because it is too small for atom bombs to miss, Australia is quite large, and so are atom bombs. After another few paragraphs, the leader says a reluctant good-bye to Australia, and previous stabs at a point, and arrives at the question of Africa supplying troops to the English army. If I were to summarise, I would probably go backwards, and say, African troops, because Africa owes it to England in return for all those white emigres it sends, just like it sends them to Australia, which Moscow doesn't understand.

In conclusion, Geoff Crowther is terrible, just like this cartoon. 

“The Smaller Powers and Germany” The German peace treaty will have to take the Poles, Jugoslavs and Czechs into account. Also, the Australians (again!) are in the mix, since they don’t want any border changes in Europe that might lead to future wars, and are against self-determination. The Poles want their border finalised, the Jugoslavs have some small demands, and the Czechs want it settled that the expelled Sudeten Germans can’t come back. Everyone except South Africa wants some machine tools; the Greeks want guaranteed tobacco exports to Germany for twenty years; the Jugoslavs want Danube barges; the Belgians want 6 million tons of coal, 750 million kwh, phosphates and salt for forty  years; the Dutch and Belgians want to control Rhine traffic to prevent German canal building to divert traffic from Belgian ports; the Dutch want to prevent German agricultural self-sufficiency; the Norwegians want control of German fishing fleets. The paper, concludes that the small powers have no say in the German peace, because that would make things too complicated.

“Whose Victory in Asia?” It was very embarrassing for the white powers to be beaten by the Japanese.

Notes of the Week

“No Respite for MPs” The House of Commons is upset at all the work it has to do these days to pass the government’s agenda. The paper thinks that all of this productivity is horrible. Also, maybe something terrible will happen on the electricity side due to all the time Mr. Shinwell must spend in Parliament, instead of running his department, and likewise other ministers. If only Mr. Shinwell was in his office, voters will say in 1950, we’d be done with austerity already!

State of Emergency in Palestine” Protesting wives and families of English officials in Palestine were flown home this week in an evacuation that came ahead of an “ultimatum” to the Jewish National Council and Jewish Agency to cooperate against Jewish terrorists. Martial law is expected, but a political solution is needed. Which will be partition, followed by English evacuation, as presaged by the withdrawal of half of the 16000 English troops in Greece this week.

Mr. Dalton and the Landowners” Mr. Dalton spoke last for the Government in debate, and offered a defence for extending the use of the 1939 prices for (some) land acquisition or use regulation under the bill through 1949. The paper thinks that is horrible.

“Incentives to Enterprise” The Bill will also reduce local assessments for blitzed or blighted areas by 60% as an incentive, etc.

Two notes on Germany mention, first, that strikes are spreading in the British Zone even as coal production is up, thanks to increased rations and points for consumer goods. The English hope for self-sufficiency within three years. A return of German prisoners of war might help, and the Americans are pressing this case ahead of the Moscow Conference. They intend to release all of their hundreds of thousands of prisoners by October; Britain will release its over two years; the Belgians begin their plan next May; the French will begin releasing 470,000 of 620,000 prisoners next October. Russia which seems to hold two to three millions, and Italy and the Balkans, where there are 300,000 to 400,00, have made no commitments.  The paper thinks that English commitments are fine, but that the current rate of release, 1500/month from England and 2500/month from the Middle East, is too low. Germany needs young men for “social stability as well as economic reconstruction.” I’m not sure what it means by that, but it goes on to mention that there are two German women for every man in the “middle aged group,” and that “there is too much dependency,” whatever that means. The main villains, surprisingly enough, are not the Russians, but the French.

Indians, Latins and Japanese are excitable. The Spanish Republican government (which still exists!) has had a reshuffle, in case General Franco spontaneously combusts from all the hostile glances hurled at him by the Uno.

“American Withdrawal from China” General Marshal has pushed this through, presumably because he thinks that the American troops were doing more harm than good, by painting the Koumintang as colonial collaborators.

Mrs. Snyder and Dalton are having a trans-Atlantic snit over the arrangement between England and Argentina, which is thought to violate the Anglo-American Agreement.

“Concerning Honesty” Lord Templewood made a new plea for the reformed penal system he nearly got through the last parliament, last weekend to the Department of Criminal Science of Cambridge University. Which is all very well, but he is not taking into account the fact that England’s juvenile delinquency problem is just a symptom of moral decline. “The plain truth is that from being the honestest people in the world, the English people are becoming completely dishonest.” It is not that they are committing more crimes, it is that they are evading all sorts of “ill-understood regulations,” and as soon as the Government stops trying to enforce them with undercover agents making examples . . . I have a feeling that someone with a name not unlike Geoffrey Crowther was caught making private arrangements with a tradesman the other day. . .
I seriously do not understand how the leader writer (who may not be Crowther) still has a job.

In shorter notes, Polish coal production (which used to be German coal production) is estimated at a little over half pre-war total, although exports are up.

Letters to the Editor

H. W. Singer [pdf], of the University of Glasgow, thinks that the leader on the Town and Country Bill was rubbish. “Your Former Polish Correspondent” points out that the paper is repeating scandalous misinformation from Polish emigres in regards to the new Polish President, [Boleslaw] Bierut. Jean Lequiller, of 26, Montpelier Way, London, thinks that the paper is much too kind to the Viet Minh, who are not nationalists, collaborated with the Japanese, and are very unpatriotic. S. C. Leslie, of the Council of Industrial Design, writes to point out that well-designed consumer goods are not some kind of frivolous luxury, since good design will help with exports.


Professor E. H. Carr has a book about The Soviet Impact on the WesternWorld out. This book is much more important than the abridgement of Professor Toynbee, so it gets two half-columns, which I have read, without getting the faintest idea about what the book might be about beyond that the paper disagrees with Professor Carr.

Harold Innes, Political Economy in the Modern State,” is a “ramble among the social sciences.” He is very erudite, brilliant, but also a bad writer and very disorganised, so this book has no point –unlike, I suppose, Professor Carr’s, where there is a point, but the paper can’t explain it. So it is a relief to turn to Frederick Muller, C. P. Scott, 1846—1932: The Making of the Manchester Guardian, since biographies have a point, by definition.

No-one knows what he was on about, but he taught at the U of T, so he must have been smart, for a Canadian

From The Economist of 1847

The man who started the Arrow War is wonderful, and everyone who says differently, is wrong. Also wrong, Charles Dickens, for the plot twist in his current serial.

American Survey

“Coming Labour Laws” All sorts of proposed new labour laws have been introduced in the Senate and House.

“Learned Society” American economists have just held all of their annual meetings. That is when old friends get together, papers are given and sometimes heard; and where new PhDs go on the “slave market” for jobs. Many papers were on teaching methods; almost as many on business prospects (1947 will be  a good year, but it can’t go on forever); somewhat fewer on the new field of using psychological surveys to find out what people were going to do, very few on foreign affairs. Sir Henry Clay dropped in to remind everyone that England was in sad shape, and that America really had to step up and be the world’s market of last resort. Finally, Drs. Nourse and Goldenweiser, gave Presidential addresses that told economists to “either put up or shut up.”

American Notes

As long as they carry through with their promise to repeal the New Deal.
“The Budgeteers’ Retreat” Coming in, the Republicans were all for cutting spending to fund tax cuts while making a start towards repaying the national debt. This turned out to be surprisingly hard, which is why these “Budgeteers” are retreating. “The Republicans’ first major encounter with Mr. Truman and responsibility has therefore not been a happy one. Perhaps it will teach them hereafter to prepare their case a little more studiously before shouting from the housetops.” There are still some insisting on principle on a cut in the budget from $35 billion to $25, but since they have no idea how, no-one is paying attention. With the predictable exception that someone has proposed cutting the statistical services, since “needless statistics” are needless. The paper thinks that no statistics are needless if you can print a pretty graph or table from them, but the “budgeteers” have to save face somewhere, and statisticians have no friends.

“Airways on the Spot” Due to low fares, in spite of the immense increase in traffic, average payload is said to be below the break even point, and net industry operating revenues have fallen from $43 million in 1945 to below $5 million(!) in 1946. TWA’s Constellation problems and strike troubles has led to a heavy loss; Pan American has had to borrow $40 million, TWA has been refinanced by the RFA, and other carriers are looking for temporary loans. A rise in rates from the current 4.5 cents per mile would also ease suspicions that management has been sacrificing safety to rates and traffic records.
The TWA Moonliner: By HarshLight from San Jose, CA, USA - Moonliner, CC BY 2.0,

“Crisis in the Schools” There are terrible disparities in the way students and teachers are treated. New York for example, spends $157 a year per pupil, while Mississippi spends $31. New York City teachers receive $4100, twice the national average, while Coloured teachers in the South may receive as little as $300/year. Since it would bankrupt Mississippi to spend as much per student as New York, the only solution is federal support. A long-pending Bill that would allocate $300 million for the task might now pass, because Taft backs it. Unfortunately, the states have resisted, because the Feds might go on about white supremacy and Darwinism. Senator Taft's solution is  to just give the money to the states.  In other news, the Republicans have managed to set up another investigatory committee over Democratic objections. The Small Business Committee will investigate now the New Deal brought communism to America by hampering small business. Rail rate “monopolies” are up before the ICC again. Unlike, say, trust busting or the RFA, this is the kind of monopoly-fighting that (some) Taftites can get behind, especially seeing how our new Secretary of Commerce is embarrassed.

The World Overseas

“Famine in Russia” Gosplan has now officially admitted that Russia is experiencing a famine. There is also a fat and sugar shortage due to failure of oil and beet crops and the shortage of livestock. The paper points out that this is a terrible time for Unrra relief to be wound down in Ukraine and Byelorussia, and that talk of “hard bargaining” with Russia over Western relief measures is terrifically wrong-headed. It also points out that private relief stepped in to the breach in 1921, in stark contrast to the sight of the Unrra packing up to leave as the famine hits its peak. And the Engineer led the way, as he reminds me when I tax him about "communists." (I fed them, he thinks, so I deserve not to be made fun of when I check for them under my bed. I'm not sure that he actually thinks that, but I've long since given up trying to get him to take me seriously.)  

“North of India” India’s frontiers are closed by irregular conquests, tribal and treaty states.. For example, the Afghans “see no reason why conquests made by the British or even by the Sikhs, should be inherited by Mr. Nehru,” and want Peshawar back at the minimum. Kashmir is ruled by a Hindu who wants to join it to India, but has a Moslem population that presumably wants to join Pakistan. The Afghans want Kashmir’s western dependences of Swat and Kunar, and Nehru has recently made a fuss over getting the whole for India. East from Kashmir there are Nepal, home of the Gurkhas, and Tibet. The paper expects China to reoccupy Tibet shortly, after which China may resume its claims to territory in the corner between Tibet, Yunnan, India and Burma. The paper is very sad that Indian nationalists are “blind” to all these issues.
Either The Economist doesn't have any insert maps that show where Swat is, or it can't be bothered to find it.

“Problems of Italian Reconstruction, IV: Crisis in Foreign Trade” Italy traditionally supported its population on a “meagre agriculture” and the re-export of imported raw materials as finished goods. This means that it needs to pay for coal, iron ore, pig iron, petrol, cotton and wool, and then sell the finished manufactured products abroad.  The war having cut Italian productivity to 665% of 1938, sunk five-sixths of its merchant marine of 3.7 million tons, it is in difficulties. It can sell anything it can export, but it mostly needs to pay for its imports with American dollars and other hard currencies, while its export markets are “soft.”

The Business World

“The Electricity Question” Mr. Shinwell is setting up a Central Authority and local Boards to manage England’s electricity supply, which the paper suspects is going to lead tonationalisation soon. At least the paper can agree with the minister that the industry is moribund and might need nationalisation to get to full technical efficiency!

Also requiring an in depth treatment, the question of properly taxing life assurance annuities.

Business Notes

“A Most Serious Situation” You wouldn’t think that a most serious situation would arise down in Business Notes, especially in an issue with the single worst Leader I've ever read. But, no, down here, at last, we get to the Ministry of Fuel and Power’s Wednesday announcement that “a most serious situation” has arisen in coal supplies. The winter has closed down transportation, and the Cripps plan already depended on hand-to-mouth delivery of currently produced stock. A crisis period lasting until spring is expected, and more factories are stopping or going part-time.  The paper now expects coal rationing, and warns that next year may be even worse.
From the Daily Mail.

“The Chancellor’s Weekend” The paper now officially hates the Chancellor for saying that there will be no financial crisis, that the coal owners are responsible for the low coal stocks, and for not paying enough compensation for nationalised transportation industry stocks.

Latins are excitable. [pdf]

“Argentine Wheat Deals” Lower than expected American deliveries last winter raised doubts about whether the English bread ration could be maintained; while it was maintained, it was at the expense of stocks, which had fallen to 800,000 tons by the time a half-million-ton wheat deal was reached with Argentina. It is said that the deal was sweetened by a preferential export of caustic soda and sodium carbonates, but the paper manfully maintains that that didn’t happen, because it would be wrong. The moral is that the country needs to produce more coal, so that it can export it or make heavy chemicals.

In shorter news, South Wales is getting three new cold reduction mills under the Government’s iron and steel plan and thanks to investments by Richard Thomas and Baldwins, with the takeover of several smaller concerns by the new Steel Company of Wales. The new plant will be oil-fired, and will require some new equipment from America, which the paper believes must be ordered as soon as possible. The silver market in London has been made “freer” –I have a note on this below, for obvious reasons. The London price is still moving with the Bombay price, since silver movement is allowed within the sterling area –for now. The International Shipping Conference is next week. Also, the Anglo-Danish food talks have gone well, and efforts to improve amenities in brickworks continue,full technical efficiency to follow.

“Polish Labour for Wool” The National Association of textile trade unions have agreed to the employment of Polish labour in the industry, as it will be paid union rates. The paper is pleased, but upset that the arrangement has finally been settled at just the moment when it looks like the industry might be shut down by coal shortages.

Resistance to Cheaper Money” The paper is just sure it sees it building.

Linseed Oil and Substitutes” With the sudden increase in linseed oil prices, it is interesting to hear Lewis Berger and Sons announcing that they have evolved a styrene co-polymer that can reduce the consumption of linseed oil by 40% or more. Unfortunately, styrenes are imported from the United States, so this would not be a solution even if it completely replaced linseed oil, which is produced in only a few countries, and mainly Argentina. The recent English purchase of 100,000 tons on behalf of the Emergency Food Council was probably at Argentina’s price, “Which bears little or no relation to the return allowed to flax producers in that country.” Production of linseed in 1946 is estimated at 132.3 million bushels compared with 136.8 million in 1946. The decline in Argentinian production, coincident with a reduction in the price paid to growers from 40 to 35 pesos/bushel (and in American and Indian production), has been partly made up for increased production in Canada and South America. The paper points out that Argentina’s policy of charging what the market will bear, is just going to accelerate research into substitutes.

Flight, 13 February 1947


“Justifying the American Purchases?” An Avro Tudor I returning from a development flight in Africa with a defect not mentioned here, has provoked a reaction in the press. Is it Avro’s fault? Is it the British airminded world, for overrating the Tudor? Is it England’s fault for being England? Anything is possible, although the key point is that the Tudor has disappointed the BOAC. The real thing to be upset about is that the Ministry has publicised these results, instead of keeping them top secret while Avro fixed the problem (which, anyway, should have been found out long ago), as this seems to justify the American purchases.
Stratocruiser over Alcatrez

“More Delay” Just to further, if only indirectly, clarify what the heck the paper is talking about, the Boscombe Down trials showed that the Tudor is unexpectedly unstable in flight, which will mean running the engine at higher power to maintain lateral stability, which will reduce its Air Miles Per Gallon, which means that it cannot be used in the Atlantic service.

Pulsating Jet for Helicopters?” The idea is to use pulsating jets, like the ones that propelled the V-1, in the little pods at the trip of helicopter rotor blades that some designers are thinking of as a better propellant system than an engine running them mechanically.

Publishers’ Announcement: “In consequence of the serious position with regard to coal, and in common with all weekly periodicals, it is unlikely that it will be possible to publish the next two issues of Flight. When power becomes available, publication will be resumed. The Editorial Office will remain open in order to deal with all enquiries and correspondence.”
I'll ad here that I have the 15 February number of The Economist in front of me. I won’t inflict it on you at any length, but it does cover the shut down at greater length. The news broke the day after The Economist appeared on the newsstands, and the paper is very upset at being included, although it has arranged for some Leaders and Notes to be published as an insert in the Financial Times.) It also thinks that it is all Mr. Shinwell’s fault for not introducing coal rationing. It is worried about the American loan, as perhaps half the labour force will be off work for two weeks, and about the budget, although it notes that the enormous Unemployment Fund surplus will carry the country, and thinks that it is nonsense to talk about the 40-hour week when everyone has to work as hard as possible and etc. Also, there must be more “efficiency” and less “social equity.” It also wants Shinwell and Dalton out. I hope that it’s not taxing your patience to notice that there are coal supply problems in Canada now, and that the Americans are getting more enthusiastic about atomic power.

“Universal Power Plants: Interchangeability of Engine Type and Position: Wartime Measure Applied to Civil Transports: Provision Against Climactic Extremes” People have talked about this for years, but it is not clear when it happens, or started happening, probably because the definitions are loose, so it is always just starting. Anyway, this article says that the first “UPP” was installed in an Avro Lincoln, and now they have gone into Tudors and DC-4Ms. I think the real point is that the DC-4M installation has just passed the more stringent American testing.There’s a somewhat backhanded discussion of the use of an aluminum radiator instead of the traditional honeycomb steel radiator, to save weight, which might seem like it was not a provision against “climactic extremes,” but everything is actually fine.

American Newsletter

“Kibitizer” notes that January saw some of the worst flying weather ever, and as a result there were many accidents, overshoots and forced landings. “Fortunately, . . . not all of them were fatal.” Various prophets who predicted this last summer having been ignored, the public is now demanding that GCA be installed at all major airports, and operated by the Army until new personnel become available. Meanwhile, the Army and Navy have been using GCA, and getting good results. “At the time of the fatal crash at Shanghai on Christmas Eve, the Navy is said to have talked-down two of their own transports and a commercial machine as well, under weather conditions identical to the ones that cause the other accidents.”

This crash in New York City has nothing to do with "China's Black Christmas;" but I haven't the stomach to sort through the Pinterest page it comes from. Anyway, I just wanted to point out that China National Airway Corporation had five crashes between 16 December 1946 and 28 January 1947.

“Kibitzer” notes the Douglas Cloudster, which is not news, and word of a Douglas supersonic design, the D. 558, to be powered by a T. C. 180 axial-jet designed to give 4000lb static thrust, which is also not news. Word of Boeing abandoning its 417 was “sandwiched” between announcements that Lockheed had not abandoned the Saturn, and then, that they had. This leaves a gap in the American market, the Beechcraft D. 18 and potential 34, aside. “Kibitizer” hopes that a British machine might fill it. Continental is restarting its engine plant, mainly to remanufacture aging engines.

“A Profitable Discussion: Air Marshal Sir Ralph Cochrane’s Paper Evokes Pointed Comment: A Precis of Comments on a Lecture by Air Marshal Cochrane” Attendees asked about load limits, icing, and cockpit drill and instruments. One old airman suggested that there were too many instruments in the cockpits, and that as many as possible should be eliminated to reduce crew fatigue. Replying to a question about load limits as directed specifically at the Dakota, Cochrane said that, in service, the C/47 had been loaded to 30,000lbs or so, and that no accidents were attributable to overloading, while engine failures were rare.

Here and There

Sir Malcolm Campbell is to put a Goblin in the latest Bluebird in pursuit of a new speed record. The Goblin II has 4000lb static thrust, compared with the 2200lb thrust developed by the engine in the latest record holder (141mph). RAF transport aircraft have been dropping provisions on towns and villages cut off by snowdrifts(!) Sir Ben Lockspeiser points out that helicopters are far too dangerous for the man-in-the-street, and the Air Force has created an enormous imitation Hornet by doubling up the Mustang to form the P-82 Double Mustang, which will soon (hopefully) fly non-stop from Honolulu to New York, 5000 miles, with the aid of 4 250 gallon drop-tanks.

“Emergency Equipment” The paper provides a full-page spread of the emergency equipment carried in RAF bombers against the possibility of a water ditching. I can’t help looking at the storm-protector covered dinghy and think that it looks very cozy. Other pictures show the dinghy flying its radio aerial on a box kite (or balloon, with a “hydrogen generator” included). This is what you get for putting boys on a problem with an unlimited budget.

Our New Jet-Fighter Boat” Speaking of boys. . .

Captain David Brice, A. R. Ae. S., “Airport Planning: Some Thoughts on Present-day Difficulties and Problems: Suggestions for To-morrow: ‘Square’ Plan Recommended” All existing airports are terrible. LaGuardia is sinking into the sea, Idlewild is a wilderness, London Airport at Heathrow is next to a highway (which is bad), all that talk of blind landing is so much bunk. Captain Brice has many suggestions for fixing these problems, and many criticisms of everyone else’s solutions. His own looks ridiculously impractical, but what do I know?

“Anticipation of Overspeeding: New De Havilland Pre-Setting Airscrew Governor”

A centrifugal governor finds it hard to cope with sudden increases in engine rpm, for example due to speeding up to make up for a missed landing. In an overshoot correction, there will be a period of overspeeding until the governor is fully charged with hydraulic fluid. The new preset equipment has an auxiliary oil accumulator, and a piston responsive to the airscrew pitch control mechanism, which plunges, pushing the contents of the accumulator into the governor.

“Polarised Screens: What They Are and How They Work: An 1818 Discovery in 20th Century Use” I guess some readers need an explanation for how light polarisation works, but the point of this article is that Vickers has put polarised screens, designed by Edwin H. Land, in the Vikings to be used in the Royal tour. The Polaroid layer has been put into a normal Vickers dry-air-sandwich window as an interlayer, with an additional layer that can be put on the windows at need. If put at a ninety degree angle, all light is excluded, for blissful cabin darkness in the glare of a South African day.

London Airport: Official Report of the Advisory Layout Panel: Reasons for Selecting Staggered Parallel Runway Pattern” In answer to Captain Brice, an explanation for the layout of London Airport. Al runways will be usable on an instrument-only basis, will be able to take aircraft at an all-up weight of 360,000lbs (!!!) and will be able to handle 240 movements an hour, or 60 landings an hour on three runways, if every approaching aircraft could control its speed within 15mph of an agreed datum of 125mph. In the final stage of development, the terminal will pass 4000 passengers an hour (! More!) As Captain Brice rather critically intimated, this will only be possible if the terminal is surrounded by runways, which means some kind of tunnel, or some such.
Heathrow from the air, 1955

Civil Aviation News

“The Tudor Position” BOAC will not be operating the Tudor for the foreseeable future due to the results of the African development flight, which revealed an excessive tail swing at an 80,000lb all up weight in hot climates, which takes it “beyond the limits of safety.” Avro thinks that this is due to air flow blanking the rudder; BOAC blames the tail wheel configuration. 

“PICAO Progress Report” Iceland needs a loan to operate a LORAN station, and Afghanistan and Ethiopia are interested in the same arrangement. “Q code” is accepted as an international standard of radiocommunication.

In shorter news, Trans-Canada’s DC-4Ms will be in Atlantic service soon. Air France and United have agreed on coordinating flights. Australia’s Department of Civil Aviation has made an appropriation of 5 ½ million pounds to cover airport construction this year. PICAO will have a special session to discuss air accidents. Father will be pleased to hear that the Straits Steamship Company is creating Malayan Airways, Ltd. American airlines are increasing fares. United blames it on carrying costs for operating the DC-6, but the paper is not convinced, and thinks that is because fare discounting has gone too far.


“An Instructor” points out that the reason that Training Command is short of instructors is that it has a reputation of being slow on promotions. R. H. Turlington thinks that single-seat fighter pilots have a pilot sense that is better than all the new-fangled “training” that multi-engine instructors have. S/L F. C. A. Cander and F/L R. A. Jeffrey cosign a letter saying that Dakotas are not dangerous. F. S. Symondson is worried that the recent spate of accidents is the result of airline administrations putting pressure on pilots to make their schedules.

Aviation, February 1947

Aviation Editorial

Leslie Neville demands that the industry “curb crashes now,” and delivers an Economist-worthy cloud of words about the Army-Navy- (Air Force) merger. At least he is not mealy-mouthed about what must be done about crashes. Instead of waiting on new experimental GCA installations, existing facilities must be used where available, and that means bringing pilots up to speed on GCA technique immediately, and “instructing them to use it when necessary.” “These steps must be taken regardless of who is hurt. Human lives and the future of an industry are at stake.”

The What’s New section is as frivolous as ever, although I was struck by a “one-sided thickness gauge” that uses a piezoelectric oscillator to measure the thickness of a section simply by being placed against it.

Line Editorial
James E. McGraw, Jr., “Industry-Wide Bargaining: Death Trap for Business, Suicide for Free Labour” The title seems to succinctly get across the point, which is that the sky is falling, and that we are all doomed. I miss the old Mr. McGraw, the one who wasn’t crazy. If I were pressed to come up with a theory to explain it, I would suggest that it is easier to be not-crazy when government cost-plus production contracts have a set-aside for advertising costs then when you are fighting for advertising and cheap editorial content.

Aviation News

The paper covers the merger agreement, notes that the Army Air Force budget for fiscal ’48 is up to $720 million, although naval BuAer is down from $308 to $261. NACA gets $36.4, up from $29.7 million last year, with emphasis on the Cleveland engine lab. Industry gross was $1 billion last year, four times that of 1939. 35,000 light planes, 36,000 transports, and 1400 military aircraft were sold last year. Sales are expected to go up by 2500 next year. The Navy has offered the CAA 30 surplus GCA sets, while the AAF has offered 130.

In shorter news, McCarren has reintroduced all of his pet bills, and also a new one, calling for anindependent civil aeronautics authority and safety board; CAA now plans to spend $33 million on new airfields: A. V. Roe has taken over Canada’s Turbo Engines, Ltd; the battle between public and private airlines in Australia is continuing; as is progress on the agreement to allow Chinese airlines to service Honolulu, San Francisco and New York; the all-India air communications network; and the expansion of SAS.

Carlos C. Wood, Chief, Preliminary Design Section, Douglas Aircraft Corporation, “Design Development of the Douglas XB-42” You may remember the XB-42, the plane with its engines in the middle of the fuselage, driving a contra-rotating pusher sticking out of the tail, which everyone agreed to pretend was viable despite the usual problems with landing, shaft weight, and engine cooling, last year? Well, here’s a discussion of how it came to be. As you might expect, it arose from an impossible specification, to which Douglas responded with a wildly unconventional design, because who can credibly judge pure science fiction? (Except Miss K., who has a surprisingly acerbic tone, although more about the symbolism of rocket ships than mass air flow!) In practice, they had intractable control and aft stability problems because of the novel installation of the airscrews until the prototype fell out of the sky with engine failure due to overheating. Although the Mr. Wood blames the cancellation of the programme on the end of the war in Europe, and hopes that the air force will let them put a jet engine in it.

John Stack, Chief Compressibility Research Division, National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, Langley Field, Virginia, “Transonic Hazards Reduced” Langley’s work on models in their new transonic wind tunnels has produced a few results, although they remain predictably mystified by all the things they can’t explain.

K. E. Stoeckly, Aircraft Gas Turbine Engineering Division, General Electric Co., “These Test Procedures Keyed Jet Engine Advance” GE’s destruct, loading and other tests on prototype jet turbine engines are discussed.

M. J. Wood,  Project Engineer, AiResearch “Air Conditioning Turbine-Propelled Aircraft, Part I” This is the company that Uncle George is eager to buy into as fast as he can. The basic issue is that the faster that aircraft go, the more friction heating they experience at the skin. Above about 500mph, cabin air conditioning is necessary. However, existing air conditioning plant is designed for piston engines. These have all had auxiliary power shafts driving reduction spurs suitable for powering auxiliary equipment for a while now, and that includes refrigeration plant. Turbines aren’t obviously adaptable to the same use, because they rotate their rotation speed is so much higher. AiResearch has a better idea, based off bleeding off hot air through expansion turbines, heat exchangers, and compressors. As with the earlier generation of auxiliaries, this will require getting right into the guts of the engine, allowing them to tap the revenue stream at the high-flow source. This is why companies like Rolls-Royce sometimes tried to take auxiliaries “in house,” but it didn’t work then, and hopefully won’t work now.

Armstrong Whitworth Jet PoweredFlying Wing” The paper copies Flight.  

Ernest G. Stout’s static stability analysis of flying boats and seaplanes, and John E. Macdonald’s “Practical Engineering of Rotary Wing Aircraft” continues this week. The latter covers unstable speed ranges and damping requirements at greater length, and has some nice diagrams showing the limits of stable and unstable states a great deal like the ones that James poured over trying to get his antiaircraft directors to work. Fascinating that the same approaches pop up in so many fields.
I'm fascinated by the way that stability diagrams migrated from mechanics to electronics (and statistics? They should be in statistics, but what do I know). It'd take a smarter person than me to explain what's so fascinating about it, though.

The For Better Design section continues to cover the very pretty cabinof the Grumman Mallard.

“Home-Made Roadable Readied by L. A. Inventors” Persons named Stanley D. Whitaker and Daniel D. Zuck have a planethat turns into a car! It is called the Plane-Mobile, and is just around the corner.

“Global Avigation System Projected by PICAO”

PICAO wants international standardisation on an Instrument Landing System and VHF omnidirectional radio ranges, with GEE as a European alternative and low-frequency LORAN for long-range avigation. As the Afghan and Ethiopian appeals show, however, international standardisation isn’t possible unless someone pays for the expensive equipment. Given what PICAO wants of the equipment, in particular that it not “saturate,” the price might be pretty steep, too. It should also be developable towards automatic operation, and provide output that automatic pilots can use. ILS, PICAO thinks, should operate on UHF frequencies, not VHF. It is not yet certain what kind of VHF sets will be carried on aircraft, but the loran specifications are set, and construction of the chains will begin in 1949. Surveillance radar is also coming along.

Articles follow on civil air reorganisation in Bolivia and Uruguay, and on how United plans for maintenance of new aircraft.

Fortune,  February 1947


“Freer Trade vs. Control” The paper comes out, daringly, for free trade. It is very pleased that John Orr’s plan for a global food reserve has been defeated, as it would have led to too much “control.”

Management Poll

Business expects 1947 to be a good year, isn’t worried about the stock market, and plans further investments, probably fewer price increases.
Future's so bright, I've got to wear shades!

“Pittsburgh’s New Powers: Tired of its Dirt and Congestion, Pittsburgh has a New Generation in Power, Bent Upon Rebuilding the City” The paper wants to go to parties in Pittsburgh, now.  Despite strikes and blackouts, Pittsburgh’s future has never been brighter because of etc.
Going for a past-present-future thing, here. This is the University of Pittsburgh Cathedral of Learning, by the way.

“In Russia’s Europe”

The Russians have occupied eastern Europe. (It’s where the Iron Curtain is.) What will happen next? Probably something awful.

Micromatic Hone: A Company and a Machine Tool is Uniquely Chipping Into the Productivity Problem” Kirke Connor is a Detroit “salesman, engineer, administrator and inventor.” His Micromatic Hone Corporation consists of “a group of fast-moving engineers,” a few hundred workers, a “reconverted streamlined chop-suey plant, 178 patents” and regular orders from every internal combustion engine company in America. The micromatic is a grinder, used to achieve acceptable tolerances in modern, high speed engines. Traditional grinding methods used “lapping,” in which an oiled abrasive is spread over the contact area; “honing” embeds the abrasive in a solid surface, and was introduced in the war for finishing gun bores. It is not really “honing,” but they had to have some word for it.  As with most automatic processes, control mechanisms are elaborate. Also, we learn a few paragraphs in that the history is gibberish, that the first person to build a honing machine in America was Frank Jeschke, who designed one for Hutto Engineering in 1923, that it built and sold honing machines all over the world, and that every auto company in America and England has a Hutto bore-honing machine except Austin, that it was Jeschke who founded Micromatic, back in 1929. The real problem was finding a way to measure success, which arrived with engineering research at the University of Michigan, funded by Timken, in 1932. Hutto went into receivership in 1937, and was taken over by Carborundum, which was paralysed by strikes, leaving Micromatic with a monopoly, which is nice. This is unusual in the automobile sector, since the car companies don’t like it, but Micromatic has been careful not to get too big for its britches. Besides, it has many other markets. Forty percent of its 1945 business went to refrigeration. Now Connor is hoping to make bigger inroads into the machine tool trade, so that when it comes time to sell his 38,000 shares, he recoups even more of his original $40,000 investment than the $34,000 annual salary he allows himself.

Connor sold out to Ex-Cell-O, in 1963. That firm closed the Detroit plant in 1971, and that was the end of "Micromatic." Honing still exists, but it has lost its history. 

“What Happened to the Dreamworld?”

Remember how, back two years ago or so, the postwar meant living in a plastic-and-aluminum home, bought in a department store, delivered in a van, radiant-heated, air-conditioned, fluorescent-lighted, soundproofed and germ-proofed by ultraviolet light, entirely cleanable with a damp cloth, with a bathroom sunlamp, an ultra-shortwave diathermic oven in the kitchen, automatic laundry, home television and refrigerator? When the man of the house was going to commute to work in a helicopter that any fool could fly, or in an ultralight plastic car whose transparent plastic nose excluded bothersome infrared rays and allowed in health-giving ultraviolet, with air-conditioning and headlights and windshields that killed bothersome glare, movable seats, automatic transmission, independent wheel suspension, rubber springs and high-octane, no-knock aviation gasoline? Stockings would never run, fabrics would never need to be washed, pants would never get soaked in the rain or shine, and, anyway, everyone would own several dozen synthetic suits that could be disposed of in an automatic garbage disposer; you would talk to the babysitter and work by radio.

“The unvarnished truth is that there is practically no consumer product on the market” that is really postwar, the ballpoint pen being the only obvious exception. Promoters looking for products like it have not found anything except “gewgaws.” Defenders of the “dreamworld” say that they are coming, just as soon as the production lines get going. Realists think that it was all a dream to distract us from Anzio. Practically, only automatic transmissions, cheap plastics, any maybe black and white television (for those living within 40 miles of a major centre) are coming any time soon. As for air crashes, RCA thinks that its "Teleran" is five years away.

What was it about? Publicity and self-promotion. A designer who sketched a nice Martian supersonic sleeper rocket might get a job designing an interurban bus on the strength of the work, and who cared that the public believed in the rocket ship? Artists “capitalised . . . shamelessly on the public appetite for incredible new goods.”

What was the miscalculation? We confused what could be done with what would be done. Uncle Sam can say, “never mind the price,” and pay for the computer that synchronised more than a dozen complicated processes employed to fire all five gun turrets of a B-29 at the same fleeting target, and there is no doubt that the same engineers can build an automatic laundry that can whip a soiled shirt off a man’s back, wash it, dry it, iron it and hand it back, with no pins; but people won't pay the $12,000 that computer cost for an automatic laundry!  and it will be very expensive when it arrives. Etc, etc. Past generations had big inventions, like the telephone, automobile and electricity. Our modern dreamworld peaked with the atomic bomb, which is no help at all around the kitchen. “There is a decreasing tendency to gawk at the minor miracles of science as they come along.”

“Perhaps the postwar dreamworld was a helpful wartime opiate. Perhaps it is by way of being a permanent American institution. At any rate, nobody appeasers incensed over its failure to materialise, and a few, indeed, many even be pleased at the indefinite postponement of the day when the skies are black with helicopters and no birds sing.”

Picture for educational use only.
“Body Building: Physical fitness is a Young Business with Three Million Paying Customers” Did you know that muscle-sculpting was a “business?” It is: various competitors, such as Charles Atlas are building new gyms and hiring physical trainers like, well, many other businesses. Is it important? Is it a worthwhile business opportunity? I think you will agree, when you see just one of the pictures I’ve clipped, that for a segment of the paper’s readers, that’s just not important! (Don’t worry, I’ve set aside a newsstand copy for Uncle George.)

“Mr. Hancock and the Bomb” John Hancock, who, we are repeatedly told, is a friend of Bernard Baruch, is the general manager of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations International Atomic Energy Commission. He has had a long and successful career in business, and the paper would really like to go to one of his parties, perhaps with a portfolio of photographs from the bodybuilding article, just in case.

“The Ingenious Taxpayer” Ahead of tax season, a long article on tax payment-mitigation, which I am not going to read, because I’ve had to sit through far too many sessions with our accountants.

“Chicago: A Camera Exploration of the Huge, Energetic Urban Sprawl of the Midlands” The paper’s photographers do up Chicago a treat. There’s some prose later on, but I’ll spare you the extended quotes of an overexcited fellow named Charles Adams.

It's a nice pictorial, but I think I've already done Pittsburgh.

“Experiment at Republic: Two Big Bets on Commercial Aircraft Run Into Trouble: But Military Planes Still Pay Off”

Republic has invested heavily in the very expensive, high-speed Rainbow airliner based on its Seabee and proposed photo-reconnaissance aircraft. (The ridiculous one that was as big as a B-29 but which couldn’t carry a bomb.) The Seabee was supposed to be the low-cost consumer airplane, based on the company’s wartime experience with rapid declines in unit production costs in long production runs of the P-47, while the Rainbow built on the P-47 experience in a different way, because whatever you think of that monster as a fighter, it was a marvel of thermodynamics! Peacetime drastically curtailed Republic’s revenues, but instead of contracting, it went in for new markets. (The article is a bit premature, since just before the paper went to press, Republic underwent a complete reorganisation. I know this because they sent me a separate facsimile, which I found bound into the newsstand copy as an insert.)

“Miss O’Reilly of Slocum” Winnifred O’Reilly teaches at the Slocum High School in the North end of Waterbury, Connecticut, which makes her one of Mr. Luce’s neighbours, which might be why this inspirational story about her appears in Fortune, of all places. Or it might be that it puts a face on the question of teacher’s pay. Mrs. Slocum earns $2000/year, lives a very spare lifestyle (in part because her money has all gone to her nephews and nieces), is 17 years away from retirement at 53, and will draw only $500 from the city pension system, as social security does not cover teachers, and she was advised not to join the state pension system when she came on with the school in 1917. The fact that it would pay $1800/year, making her retirement pay higher than her school income boggles me a bit. As does the fact that it would only take her $4000 to buy into it. I guess the calculation is that at 70, she is about ready to drop dead, anyway?

Shorts and Faces

The first profile is of Tom Jordan, the New Orleans cotton speculator who ran up $4000 into a $117 million holding in cotton on the commodities exchanges before losing it all; although he probably took some profits along the way and is ready to do it again. BobBender, President of leading US greeting card maker, Gartner and Bender,explains how he uses “Freudian psychology” to design his inventory. C. G. Suits is an atomic physicist and GE’s youngest V.P. His Schenectady lab has its own uranium pile, and he is eager to explore the business potential of both piles for power, and for making radioactive “tracers” for medical and industrial use. He is also interested in cloud-seeding. He points out that the energy involved in precipitating just 4 inches of snow over New York state is ten billion kilowatt-hours, and it is amazing that a few hundred pounds of dry ice pellets can unleash such events. “‘Some say,’ Dr. Suits points out, ‘That artificial snowfall may eventually be more important than atomic fission.’”

Flashed Out?” “Like the Supreme Court, patent law has been accused of following election returns.” In the 1800s, the paper points out, the courts were very liberal with patents. Then, in the 1900s, came agitation about how patents were being used as a device to choke off competition. During the 1930s, the reaction was so strong that the Supreme Court upheld only two patents in twelve New Deal years. Lately, the Supreme Court has relaxed on this.  Justice Douglas had the most famously rigorous New Deal skepticism about patents. He ruled against a patent application for a cigarette lighter because it lacked “a flash of genius,” which has brought out scientists, engineers, the Patent Office, Evan A., Evans of the Seventh Circuit and Felix Frankfurter in response. Pressure to change the way patents were awarded and adjudicated grew, and in a 1945 case, Justice Jackson ruled against Interchemical Corporation’squick-drying ink patent, but, in his opinion, set aside the “flash of genius.” Patents for everyone!
It's interesting that I never got this treatment of the history of American patent law in school. In the spirit of kicking back against hegemony, this ad that perhaps reveals too much about the way some managers do their business.

“1945 And After” The paper dissects the recent history of industrial profits, showing that it is really all in how you look at things. (Profits aren’t as high as they seem! Go away, taxman and union!)

“Letter from Brazil” The paper goes to Brazil, discovers that Latins are excitable.

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