Sunday, December 8, 2019

Postblogging Technology, September 1949, I: Viscount Ordered

R_. C_.,

Dear Father:

First week of law school, all that I hoped for! Reggie's getting a car! A Jeep, actually. I'm talking like a telegraph, because of a sudden we're helping Mrs. C. with the babies due to Fat Chow being called away to India and points beyond! (News from Lhasa re. Red Hats versus Yellow Hats Not Good.) Driving up to San Francisco for the weekend as soon as I mail this! Sally coming with to read me case files from the front seat of my luxurious new convertible, top down, beautiful Bay day, etc.  

Yours Sincerely,

Flight, 1 September 1949


"First Order for the Viscount" Flight pats itself on the back for promoting the Viscount two years ago, when "No-one else wanted it," according to Sir Hew Kilner. He's actually talking about the Ministry of Supply, which ordered two Viscounts after BEA turned it town. Flight expands a bit on the subject. BEA is stuck with a new aircraft and a new engine in the mid-Fifties, the Ambassador with its civil Centaurus engine. Reggie thinks that this is a terrible mistake, because sleeve valve engines are so hard to maintain, and that BEA must know this. On the other hand, easy or hard to maintain, the problem is the allowed time between overhauls, 300 hours for a new type. That reduces utilisation rate for the Ambassador and makes profitability that much harder to achieve, which is why, Flight thinks, the Rapide replacement should be a modified Rapide operating a version of the Queen. All of this seems like a bit of a wander around, but the Viscount introduces another new engine, the Dart. Is three new engines too many? 

"A Matter of Markings" The Viscount and Apollo will show up at Farnborough in the roundel and flashes, because they are Ministry of Supply-owned. Flight wants them transferred to civil registry and markings, as the Brabazon already has been transferred, because of the psychologically beneficial results. And not at all, as Reggie would argue, because it contradicts the whole "Government out of airliners" line. We'll see which sells more models: Viscount, Apollo or Brabazon. 

"Marking an Anniversary" BEA had a luncheon to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the London-Paris service, at which it announced the purchase of the Viscount 700 and its first quarterly profit. Usually I am a very bibliographically-proper young lady and write out the subtitle, unless it is one of those ridiculous ones in Fortune that is longer than the article. But! In this case the subtitle is on about "important announcements," rather than the details. First, it doesn't mention the quarterly profit at all. Second, about the "700" part. BEA didn't reject the Viscount on a lark, those long, long two years ago. It rejected it because it was too small, and now Vickers has made it bigger, which is why it has a new number! And why BEA is buying it now!

Third, outside the luncheon, on the tarmac, BEA had drawn up an Ambassador, Viscount and Marathon. Right now, BEA operates 41 Vikings, 20 Dakotas and 20 Rapides, all of which will be written off the books at the end of 1953. The Ambassador is deemed a fine aircraft for short, high-density routes, with its 49 passenger capacity, providing 90 million ton-route kilometers, leaving a gap of 47 million, which the Viscount will now fill, beginning in 1952. BEA is convinced that the Viscount can operate over longer, low density routes with 40 passengers, at the same fuel reserve margin as BEA services require today. "Presumably, at least as many Viscounts as Ambassadors" will be ordered, so at least 20. The Marathon's role is more opaque, but I am seeing some light through the distant windows. It has a Gipsy engine, and is the plane being pushed as the Rapide replacement. 

Here and There

The Royal Norwegian Air Force is borrowing some Lincolns and Lancasters for its annual summer exercises. Graviner's has a "device for suppressing incipient explosions in aircraft fuel tanks" to display at Farnborough. I don't know if it will work, but I will recite the line to Reggie just because I can! Sir Miles Thomas thinks that only time and development work by "two enterprising manufacturers" will tell if his "pipe dream" of a six-jet-engined flying boat for long distance Commonwealth routes is practical. The House Armed Services Committee has found that the B-36 contract was entirely above board. Fokker will build the Meteor for both the Dutch and the Belgians. 
a Canadian named Rene Charette, of Ottawa has a sketch of a "Charette Skychief 85" out that can be turned from a car to a plane at the push of a button, has "automatic flap control," and cruises at 140mph. (90mph as a car.) Several RAF flight instructors are going to parachute from 35,000ft over Salisbury plain just so the Commies don't keep the record for jumping out of planes onto plains, which they set in June. Some Navions in Idaho are trying out "wheat buzzing," which means making low passes over ripening wheat fields to disrupt the air to prevent frost forming.

Civil Aviation News

The Chief Inspector of Accidents has found that Consul G-AJGE of Pullman Airways, was lost due to "the irresponsible attitude" of the pilot, company managing director H. Deen. He took off from Benina in Cyrenaica and never reached Castel Benito, his destination, due to crashing into the sea, probably. It might have been because he couldn't see, or because his fuel was contaminated, or because the oil ran out, or because everyone was so tired due to Deen refusing to pack in for the night at Benghazi due to the cost of taxi for crew and passengers from airport to hotel. Flight wags a scolding finger. It looks bad on the charter business when charter planes fly their passengers into the sea because they won't spring for cab fare. Speaking of, it is possible that the charter business is picking up a bit. One company even recently flew an entire circus in five Dakotas. What? Elephants and all? Air France is opening a service to New Caledonia via Brisbane, which will be the first direct European connection to Brisbane. This is because, I'm told, it is Queensland, which is the Georgia of Australia. Several private pilots have been bad boys, says the Ministry, which is taking them to court for faking log books and carrying paying passengers without a license. Silver City Airways wants everyone to know that its car ferry service is a smashing success and that it would love to cut fares, but the Ministry charges too much for landing fees. Rolls Royce reminds everyone that its civil Merlins are being used in many airlines and have a wonderful safety record. Several Dakotas being converted by Scottish Aviation for Bharat Airways will have pressure cabins by Normalair. KLM continues to operate Catalinas in Indonesia. The Radiolympics will have a large model London Airport featuring model aircraft taking off and landing under controller instruction.

"Civil Centaurus: Advanced Power Plant for Ambassador" The Centaurus 661 is a two-speed supercharged, 18 cylinder engine with an economic cruising altitude of 20,000ft, running on 100/130 octane fuel, giving 2700hp at takeoff with the hope of a further increase from water/methane injection. Capacity is 53.6L, diameter 56.6", weight 3,330lbs. Weak mixture consumption figures are: low gear, 2400rpm, 1750bhp, 0.440 lb.bhp hr; high gear, 2400rpm, 1720hp, 0.465lb/bhp hr.

"Iceberg Corridor" Ferrying a Mosquito from the United Kingdom to a "West Indian republic," Flight's correspondent found the iceberg field in the sunny summer ocean east of Greenland amazing, which made him feel much better about not being able to pick up Bluie West Three, which is the radio range on an island just outside the entrance to the Bluie ford, which aircraft which do not know the terrain very, very well, must follow up to Bluie West airfield. Flying at 300ft and distinguishing the surface of the sea by the breaking whitecaps, the pilot had to slalom a bit to get through the icebergs (a Sunderland could have just meandered right through them, but a Mosquito can't fly that slow). Fortunately, he picked up Bluie West 3 and was able to climb back out of the low mist covering the seat outside the inlet. The moral of the story is that malfunctioning radios nearly lost President Ttrujillo his air force. The world truly is a tapestry, woven of long threads and tight knots. The kind of knots used to murder Trujillo's opponents, because it's not likely the Mosquitoes will be flying long in that kind of climate!

Robert Russell, "Putting Canada on the Map"  Pull up a chair while I tell you something amazing. Really amazing. And Canadian. It turns out that --no, really, are you sitting down?-- the RCA is mapping Canada from the air. Is this the same article you read last year, and the year before that, and the one before that, and so on back to 1923? No! The Photographic Branch has nice new digs in Rockcliffe and they're using Lancasters and a Canso with a MAD on a boom sticking out of the tail of a Canso. (Two things: First, Short Brothers isn't the only company to keep giving new names to the same flying boat. Second, MAD detectors aren't secret this week. Or maybe they're only secret when they look for submarines? Either way.). In conclusion, the "work has to continue at all costs" because it has "world importance." That means, Russell explains, without any inadvertent indelicacy, that atom bombers might fly over northern Canada and get confused by an island in the wrong place, and end up off course, so that instead of bombing Moscow, they blow up Pinsk.

Speaking of, a nice pictorial of the Canberra in the air. Which is great, although Flight then loses points for yet another Mamba Marathon pictorial. Two Mambas replace four Gipsy Queens, but that alone would have given up all that wonderful drag, so now the Marathon has a pointless nacelle outboard the engine. Followed, because that wasn't enough, by a Hermes-with-a-Theseus-pictorial. (That's the Hermes V, I think?)

"Varsity Trainer" The Vickers Varsity is a crew trainer. As the name implies, Flight says, it is for training crew.

What can I say? At least Flight puts the topic of the article in the first sentence, so I guess I can't complain. And the point it is stumbling towards is that you don't have to overhaul the Varsity to train navigators, bombardiers, pilots and "signallers." (I don't know why they aren't radio operators, anymore, either!) The Varsity is based on the Wellington, and shows up well when photographed by Flight. 

"Non-Skid Braking" Boeing has developed an anti-skid brake for the XV-47 and YC-97A Stratofreighter, and is now installing it in a Stratocruiser. It has licensed the device to Hydro-Air. It turns out that it is pretty much just a brake governor, with a rotating flywheel, electrical contacts and a slippage clutch. To all the pilots right now saying, "No way, no how," Hydro-Aire points out a failsafe unit that allows the pilot to override the governor.

J. W. Dunne has died, and there has been an air show committed at Cowes.

"B-50s in Britain: Arrival of Stratobomber and Superfortress-equipped 43rd Group" The B-36 will always get through, and that's why there are now B-50s in Britain. Not much of a vote of confidence in Mr. Odlum's bomber! Of which  some more, see below in the one magazine you can trust to bring you journalism instead of opinion and catalogue cutouts. (In other words, Fortune has something to say.) The B-50 has a name, now, "Stratobomber." Just to remind us, it also has the 3500hp R-4360 Wasp Major in place of the old Wright junk, a folding rudder to get the beast into hangars, and a 550lb saving in weight from a new wing design).
Some cheating, as this is from the 16 September number.; 

London University's summer flying camp gets a half-page article, bulked out by a notice that GE is so pleased at all the attention to its new method of cold-welding aluminum that it is bringing out a pamphlet. That fills up a half page, clearing the way for some nice pictures of experimental Meteors engined with a reheat Derwent and the new Avon, respectively.

"Proving the Prince: Full Story of Two Tropical Data-collecting Flights Organised by Percival Aircraft" Percival is hoping to sell some planes down in a tropical climate with the rum and coca-cola, and no-one wants them there, so it sent some Princes to Africa to show that it does just swell down where the palm trees sway and that's not all.

It went swell!


I can imagine the scene at the office as Flight realised that it was going to print without a stupid letter from B. J. or Geoff Dorman. So a postcard was dropped to A. L. Mayne, who replied by return mail that airports should keep mid-air refuelling tankers to keep Comets in the stack. A. P. Thurston, D. W. Shanahan, and W. E. James are all living in the past.

The Economist, 3 September 1949


"Prospects for Washington" There is going to be a conference in Washington. We know that because Sir Stafford is on a liner, heading there for a conference. The conference will devalue sterling. We know that, because the Americans have said so. But you can't say that in London, or the princess will prick her finger and fall asleep for a hundred years, so you don't. Rumpelstiltskin! Instead, you round on the government for being secretive, and then launch into an extended discussion of how all sorts of people in Britain are saying that the conference will have to defend the welfare state and the British way of life. We know that they will have to do that, because half a given issue of Fortune (including this one) is devoted to the idea that Britain can't afford the welfare state. The Economist, however, can deal with that in a sentence by pointing out that President Truman has disavowed Fortune magazine. As we say in California, "No shit!" What, exactly, British domestic spending has to do with the balance of trade isn't very clear, except for the connection between unemployment and low wages. The Economist can't say that it wants high unemployment to bring low wages, because every time it says that, it gets accused of trying to destroy the British welfare state. So it implies it a lot.

"Recipe for Yesterday" The TUC needs to get with the times. Hey, did you know that Britain has the "least resilient industrial economy?" I mean, America may be in a recession, Europe may still be crawling its way out of the abyss, Russia may be having famines, but Britain lacks "resilience." Because, you see, of the negative balance of trade with America that Britain shares with the entire rest of the world, which I write every week, and which The Economist knows, but, blah blah.

"Indonesia at the Hague" Now that Indonesia has promised not to be communist any more, if ever, Indonesian representatives are in the Hague to discuss the terms of liquidating the Dutch empire. The Economist admits that we can't go back to the old empire, so the negotiations have to bet as close to the old empire as possible. I think. It's hard to tell, because it is hard to see The Economist's position when it is running away from its old one so fast.
 "Soldiers of the Rhine" Britain's large occupation force in Germany is the destination of the National Servicemen, who are given just ten weeks of basic training in Britain before being sent over to Germany to learn to be soldiers. By and large, it seems to be going just fine and they are not spending all their time canoodling with German girls, as some warned they would.

Notes of the Week

"The Age of Anxiety" Oh, good, The Economist is doing Wharton novels now. Or, no, it's not. It's just wasting paper. In summary, it has been ten anxious years since the war began in Europe and if there is a moral, it is that Britain should do foreign affairs different now.

"The Assembly Asserts Itself" If there was a United States of Europe, it could devalue its Euro-dollar all together at the same time, but there isn't, so it can't. But there should be.

Bits follow about how the British are getting less under European Relief Aid next year than last, and are down about it, how hypocritical Russian coverage of the ten year anniversary of the start of the war is because they say they like peace and look at what they did in 1939 and that nasty note to Tito just now; and the Select Committee on Estimates report on the Ministry of Agriculture that shows that it is spending too much money on one thing and another, and particularly the 400,000 acres of under-used land it seized from private owners, which, it turns out, costs too much to farm, word to the wise.

"End of the Beginning in Ulster" Many of the Special Orders in effect in Ulster have been revoked by the Government of Northern Ireland "in the plenitude of its power and fortified by recent British legislation." I am not sure what that means, but The Economist is celebrating the end of abuses of civil rights, hoping for less Protestant supremacy, condemning the Dublin papers that are condemning the revocation, and looking forward to a multi-confessional future "Commonwealth or Imperial Party" that might replace the Unionists. That's because the "Nationalists" will all join in just as soon as the Protestant supremacy stops, Britain being so wonderful that way. Which all leaves me in such a complete mystery about what is going on that I have to turn to the Manchester Guardian for enlightenment. It turns out that it is all about creating a "Unionist veto"over Irish reunification."

"The BBC and the Unions" People disagree about how the BBC is to be unionised, and now the Association of Cinematograph and Allied Technicians have a wage claim in with the Ministry of Labour.

"Scotching the Finnish Strikes" Finnish unions have been striking since the Finnmark was devalued in July. It might seem like a Communist plot, given that strikes in the reparations industries that owe deliveries to Russia would give it a pretext to intervene in Finnish political affairs, but that is not how the strikes have developed, because even the Communists' hands were forced by public sentiment.

"Albania and 'Free Albania'" The Communist regime in Albania has closed the border, but rumours of internal strife are circulating, and now there is a "Free Albania" movement in Rome that might overthrow the Communists unless the Greeks are dumb enough to invade southern Albania and provoke an Albanian patriotic response.

"Studying Soviet Affairs" The academic study of Russian affairs is important, and there aren't enough students, departments and endowed chairs in the field, so people should desist from the temptation to witch-hunt the university departments that are doing it. And the academics should stop their one-sided attention on language and literature and get on with more important branches of Russia-studying.

"Growth of the Universities" The Economist is worried about the difficulties the poorer universities are having in paying faculty, but since, for a change, it doesn't seem to have a position, I can't take the easy way out and make fun of it.

"Shortage of Teachers"  Statistics bear out suspicions that there are not enough mathematics and science teachers, and not enough good sixth-form (Grade Twelve, maybe?) teachers.

""Cost of Postponement and Lausanne" The Economist can see the justice in the Arab nations' position on resettling Palestinian refugees, but since the Arabs are doing it wrong, doesn't think that anything actually needs to be done, which is why it is okay with yet another investigating committee, the Economic Survey Group. Speaking of groups with long names, The Economist is upset about the Economic And Social Council of the United Nations because it was hijacked by political bias at its recent Geneva meeting. Americans have promised too much aid to assorted swarthy foreigners, who have, in return, put forward dubious proposals, and the Russians are sniping from the sidelines. One or the other of these shows bias, and the rest is all rank extravagance, and it turns out to be President Truman and Trygve Lie's fault for making speeches. Bad speeches!

"Chaos Reaches the Milky Way" There is disagreement between the Ministry of Food and the National Dairyman's Association about when the milk ration needs to be cut due to the annual decline in milk production. The Economist reminds us that the free market would take care of this if it weren't for all those socialistic controls.  Another group afflicted by controls that The Economist feels sorry for? Bookmakers. Shorter notes deal with the fate of Ashridge College (what?) and the fact that the Arab boycott of the oil refinery at Haifa appears to be an actual boycott of the actual refinery, which probably needs to look for non-Arab oil.

"I'm a classical liberal!"
From The Economist of 1849 It seems (it's always hard to tell with a The Economist article!) that more people are dying in the 1849 cholera epidemic that is happening than in the 1831 cholera epidemic. The problem, as you have already guessed, is that there are too many national regulations about hygiene and such, all enforced by the draconian power of the Board of Health against all the various parish authorities that did such a fine job in 1831. If only there weren't a Board of Health, no doubt thousands, nay, hundreds of thousands, of zealous gentlemen would spring into action, instead of limply waiting on the "science of one or two gentlemen" at the Board of Health.


"Another Overseas Banker" focuses on the real problem afflicting South Africa right now. The government vacillating over the financing of karakul pelt exports to help the Nationalists in the upcoming Natal elections. A. A. Palis, the Greek Minister Plenipotentiary, writes to scold The Economist for accusing the Greek government of shooting political enemies under the excuse of war crimes. Lord Vansittart agrees, while the Greek Outlook and  Th. Doganis support The Economist.. G. J. Chandler has opinions about interest rates that probably make sense to other bankers, Donald Barber writes to correct mistakes in the article about the cut in Utility item costs, Richard Merton thinks that The Economist's coverage of the German elections was anti-German, and R. Palme Dutt writes to reiterate the Communist Party's warning that "the rise in production and profits, while wages are kept down, is speeding up the growth of unemployment in Britain."


Edgar Thomas' An Introduction to Agricultural Economics would be a good test of Reggie's opinion that this paper is a very lazy reviewer, if I cared to read about agricultural economics, which I don't. The review of Nina Epton's Journey Under the Crescent Moon has a subtitle: "A Superficial Observer," which subtly gets across the possibility of The Economist not liking the book very much. See? Girls can be sarcastic, too! Her silly, superficial (she doesn't speak Arabic) and wrong opinion is that native North Africans don't like the French and are about to embark on a full-scale rebellion, and The Economist knows better. William Hutchinson Rowe's The Maritime History of Maine is just the book for summer tourists on their way to Maine. David Hinshaw's Sweden: Champion of Peace is silly because it exaggerates how peaceful Sweden is, although it has nice illustrations and a good account of the last fifty years. Arthur Montgomery's Osland och var Politik is then reviewed to show that The Economist knows Swedish, and can judge. Mr. Montgomery, it turns out, writes foreign affairs columns in Swedish newspapers and this one is mainly about his view of Russia, which, apart from Communism being at least a little bad, isn't actually clear to me. The review of A. E. Moodie's Geography behind Politics is subtitled "Flat Geography," which I report because the review leaves me scratching my head. The book doesn't have enough in it about federations? Mabel Hartog's Philip Hartog is a biography of the great man (he was a professional university vice-chancellor) and is the sort of nice book a nice woman would write, unlike that awful Miss Epton.

 American Survey

"The Washington Background" "If the United States insists on producing more than it consumes, and investing less at home than it saves, then it should lend abroad until a higher level of consumption is attained at home. Investments through the Export-Import Bank and the World Bank, and by other American enterprises, assist foreign development; but these tied loans do not promote multilateral trade. What is needed are untied dollars which, ideally, would be borrowed by the rest of the world and spent in Europe." However, stabilisation loans are not on the short-term horizon, and such direct means as reviving the New York market for foreign bond issues are long term fixes. The only short term solution is a tied reduction of British consumption of American goods, and a revival of British exports. The United States prefers to see this accomplished by disinflation, devaluation and :non-discrimination." Devaluation is the best way to accomplish this, and the Treasury has said so, which is wrong and bad, because you are supposed to not say that you are going to devalue until you devalue. Americans think that the only reason Britain hasn't devalued yet is because it is using all of those tied, discriminatory trade deals to capture foreign markets. They are wrong, as Britain has a perfectly good reason, which is that you never do anything in August, which is grouse season.

"Power in the West" The US Government has field suit to assert the water rights needed for the Grand Lake-Big Thompson project. Private utilities are countering by challenging the government's power to distribute its electricity over government-owned lines. the Big Thompson plan is to divert 310,000 acre-feet of water from the Colorado basin to the Missouri via a tunnel that would take the water down 3000ft and generate 170,000kw (-hours, I guess) and irrigate a thousand acres. The Economist points out that this is one of those silly Thirties "semi-relief" schemes, and the cost has risen from $45 million to $144 million, and that the lawsuit is needed because the Government didn't bother to clear up the water rights until the tunnel was almost completed, which it is. The utilities position isn't that there's all this electricity, and that if they can capture the right to transmit it, they will make a lot of money; but rather something about competition and the Great Wide Open and possibly socialism. Perhaps the Supreme Court will stick its foot in and muck everything up.

American Notes

"Congress on Holiday" Congress has skipped town, leaving the Senate to sort out this and that, including at this point a $14.8 billion defence budget that promises a 70 group air force but can't possibly deliver. Secretary Johnson is committed to getting next years' defence budget under $13 billion, which Hoover says is possible(!), but the Senate won't cut anything that looks like it will hurt. It will not boost spending on sterling area-sourced strategic stockpiles, so that is bad news.

"Eating the White Paper?" "Sinegogues!" Hee. The State Department was hoping that the White Paper on China would finally stun the Koumintang's freinds in Congress into silence, but fat chance of that. The upshot is that American has to give Nationalist China $175 million if it is going to be allowed to give Europe anything. That puts the ball in the Gitmo's court, as he has to save at least enough of China from communism to pile up $175 million.

To be fair, bringing in a hundred o
Basque-Nevadans would double the
upstate population.
"Solution for the Nisei" Progress in squelching the wartime renunciations of American citizenship coerced out of the Nisei, efforts to secure American citizenship for the 60,000 odd Japanese who have lived in America for at least thirty years, and, in general, progress in doing something about anyone besides the Basque shepherds Senator McCarran needs for the Utah industry.

Shorter Notes mentions the theory that the record East Coast heatwave has been caused by a shift in the Gulf Stream and notes that the average annual income has hit a record $1,410, up 7% over 1947.

The World Overseas

"Politics in the Soviet Zone" In breaking news, Communism is bad.

"The Mood in Europe" The United States of Europe is closer than ever thanks to the Council of Europe putting out some nice statements. Also, the Uno is having trouble hiring staff. No word on whether it's because Senator McCarran thinks they're all communist infiltrators, or the high cost of living in New York.

"Prospects in China" The Communist offensive looks like the final sweep, with Lanchow falling and Canton expected to go within a month. High hopes are still held for the Muslim warlords of the west, who might be able to hold out in Chinghai and Ningshia, although Ma Pu-fang's forces have collapsed disappointingly quickly in the north. Formosa is the only province the Koumintang can count on, but it is not a very firm base considering how much the Formosans hate mainlanders. They may last, and that means that the British government should really do something about their blockade of Shanghai, hint hint. A Chinese communist republic will probably be proclaimed on 10 October, some trouble and dissatisfaction in the provinces notwithstanding.

The Business World

"The Sterling Balances" One of the biggest problems facing the British government as it tries to address the dollar problem is that all those swarthy foreigners (counting tanned Australians and New Zealanders) were allowed to keep all the money they earned from Britain in WWII. Or, at least, that they are being allowed to spend it. Considering how the money is flowing back to Britain to drive up prices, whilst encouraging the buying of British goods over American, it would practically be a favour to everyone if those accounts were cancelled or blocked or whatever.

"Television in a World Market" The Economist may be convinced that Britain can't afford to have television,  but when it comes to exporting television equipment to foreign places, The Economist is all onboard. The problem is that the Americans build 525-line, negative modulation equipment while the British build the older 405-line, positive modulation receiver, and if some foreigners come to perceive the British system as lacking full technical efficiency, it will be bad news for exports. The solution is probably some kind of international compromise, such as 625 line positive modulation, which won't actually be a compromise at all, since the modulation choice is much more important than the number of lines, but we don't have to tell the Americans that, and get a clever one over on them, ha ha. Did we say that in print? Oops! 405 line service will run on the coaxial cables laid in the Thirties, such as the London-Manchester cable built by the GPO, and would allow program sharing and greatly reduced cost. As cheap as American television receivers are becoming, it appears that British builders can undercut them except in the 12" tube market, where British demand has been too low to justify automatic blowing. In spite of which, it turns out that British domestic television service depends on getting a monopoly on foreign markets by persuading them to buy into the British system.

Business Notes

"Market Talks" The Economist Blah blah "gilts up," "industrials down," or the other way round. Speaking of opposites, "bank deposits showed a welcome, and quite abrupt, reverse of the rising trend of the previous few months." I thought that savings were good? Who even knows? Also, the British are giving up on wool control two years after we gave up on the business, nothing for it, good luck to Senator McCarran's shepherds. Follows three bits about wage demands, then a full discussion of the cut in Utility clothes, which, it turns out, is in some way related to wage cuts. Also.

"British Shipping Earnings" The General Council of British Shipping reports that the industry had a net foreign earnings of £60 million last year. The Economist considers it crucially important to disabuse the reader of the notion that this has anything to do with shipowners' profits. Something or other leading to the final figure probably being about £100 million and comparable to 1937 and 1938.

"American Film Agreement at Work" The Economist has been deeply disappointed with the British film industry's inability to sell tickets in America to cover the cost of importing American films, and the whole thing keeps on getting worse.

Under Finance and Investment is a roundup of developments in the bankruptcy proceedings in Spain of  Canadian firm, Barcelona Traction, delays over a settlement of the "Potash Loan" (don't ask) and talk of World Bank loans to some of the colonies that might be questionable when "utilisation of the work of indentured plantation labour is becoming increasingly difficult." G. The Northern Area Road Passenger Scheme is a technical agreement to parcel out passengers between trains and busses without forcing them. Lucky passengers! Cocoa and tin prices are falling, and there is a new trade pact with Germany.

Flight, 8 September 1949


"One Great Occasion," and "--and Another" The latest Farnborough show will be the best yet, even if it doesn't have a Brabazon along. Possibly not at Farnborough specifically, but the giant plane did make its maiden flight last week.

"An Abundant Yield" There will be a lot of planes at Farnborough this year. The Seagull, Supermarine 510, Vampire night fighter, Python-Wyvern, Canberra, Short Sturgeon, Comet, Hermes IV and V, Ambassador, Viscount, Apollo, Mamba-Marathon, Percival Prince, S. R. A/1, Chipmunk, and Skeeter will be there. The Ghost-Venom, a Vampire development, won't be, although Flight is allowed to mention it now.

Here and There

The National Air Races are on in Cleveland. Flight has the early news, and misses Bill Odom's crash. Air Marshal Sir Alan Lees is the new commandant of the RAFR. Flight regrets reversing the length and wingspan of the Canberra in a recent article. The Python has been licensed at 4000hp. The Navyv is modifying A-26s to carry the Martin KDM-1 ramjet-powered pilotless target aircraft, which is "capable of high subsonic speeds." Avro has had its Nene Tudor up to 40,00ft, Vickers is showing the Valetta abroad, in case Pakistan buys one.

"The Brabazon Flies" That's 210,000lbs of plane in the sky, including 4000 gallons of gas at 30,000lbs. Takeoff took some 600yds, but that's just showing off, if you're worried about all the taxpayer money spent on the super-long runway. Yes, the plane's still an empty shell, but it is filled with "1100 dials" worth of flight instruments recording the flight. More after Farnborough!

"Dart Turboprop" The Dart is the simplest and most straightforward of the three small British turboprops, which is why it has already accumulated 850h of flight trials, and approximately zero technical articles. Well, here's Flight to make up for that! The Dart has a simple air inlet, a compressor, combustion chambers borrowed from a Derwent, a two stage turbine shafted directly to the compressor blades and, via coaxial shafts splined together, the propeller reduction gearing. The last is a "compound plain and epicyclic" gear, with a helical high speed gear and a palan spur low speed. Input and drive shaft are forged into a sun-and-planet gear that, in turn, drives the propeller in a simple and rugged arrangement. Auxiliary drives are off the reduction gearing, but aside from that, the lubrication system is self-contained.  It will be either less fuel efficient than the Armstrong Siddeley and Bristol offerings, or more reliable, or both.

Sea Hawk by RuthAS
"The Colour of Speed" Flight's colour supplement (you'll have to pick up your own copy to see), continues with some nice pictures of the Canberra, Hawker P.1052 and Vickers Supermarine 510.

"Corporation Prototypes" More pictures of the Comet and Viscount.

A. P. Johnstone, "Exhaust Reheat for Turbojets: A Survey of Five Years' Development Work"

In a turbojet, the compressor delivers air greatly in excess of the amount that the fuel injected into the combustion chambers can burn. This keeps the chambers cool enough that they don't melt, but leaves an excess of air to be oxidised. By injecting fuel into the exhaust pipe and sparking it, you get more thrust, although in a very uneconomical way. The Americans have been quoting numbers for their ships that imply they will actually burn all of their fuel before achieving the "forty thousand feet in forty seconds," or whatever the actual number is. Probably more like eight minutes? What's been keeping Farnborough up at night since 1944 is that burning the air in the exhausts cuts the pressure and temperature at the turbine outlet, which is bad for the blades. Farnborough has been fiddling with the aerodynamics of the exhaust system to stop this while preventing shock waves in the pipes.  Various methods were tested, and as of the end of the article, we have reached late 19454, The V1, flight trials, and the conclusion that the "halo" reheat method doesn't work.

"The Ministries at Farnborough" Besides reheat, the Ministry of Supply static exhibit at Farnborough will feature the Type 1522 transmitter-receiver, various flight instruments, "lightweight plastic roller bearings," a high-energy ignition system and a magnetic fire detection system. The Ministry of Civil Aviation will be showing the Decca Navigator (complete with a display showing the Decca map of the Farnborough area), and various other navigational equipment. The display could show all sorts of secret stuff that Flight knows about, and you don't but then it wouldn't be secret, would it?
By Andy Dingley - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

"Sprite Rocket Motor" What with various grand schemes for launching unlikely planes from unlikely places by bolting rockets on to them, De Havilland has asked itself  if there is a more professional and efficient way of attaching a rocket to a plane, and maybe even giving it a name, which will make it look a lot less dubious.
What do you do when no-one is looking at you right? Reach for the peroxide! That's what de Havilland did. A pressurised tank of peroxide gets blown into a rocket motor where it burns in bottled oxygen. Unlike regular RATO units it can be controlled at the valve and shut off when no longer needed, and then parachuted from the plane. Nifty!

Unfortunately, some of us are a bit dark of complexion to go bleaching our hair willy-nilly. That's not a problem for airliners, but IT COULD BE!

Civil Aviation News

"Pilot's Pay" Blah. Blah blah blah. Blah some more. Also, Pan-American is opening a direct New York-Vienna service with DC-4s, replacing the overnight New York-London DC-4 followed by DC-3 connector service inaugurated in 1947. Canada-Far East to Hong Kong from Vancouver via the Aleutians and Tokyo starts next week. BOAC has sent some pilots to practice flying the Stratocruiser on the Dehmel electronic flight simulator at La Guardia. Australian National Airways is reported to be buying the Viscount instead of the Convair 240.
Adak Airfield, 1942

A huge insert has pictures and short blurbs about "British Aircraft: Military; Research and Development, Civil and Helicopters."  You're not supposed to see anything new in these pages, so while I am looking for something new (a rumoured Avro "delta-wing" flying scale model of their medium bomber), it isn't here. Maybe it will be at Farnborough, and we'll hear about it later in the month. It's got Reggie excited, if that's any excuse for ruining the suspense.

"Britain's Power Units" Again, this is a review of existing types, so if you want to be told all over again that the Centaurus is the coming thing, there's a picture and a blurb. If you want to be told that Blackburn really, surely, certainly is going to produce a bunch of new small engines for the civil market, well, here are some blurbs but no pictures.

Unlike with planes, there are stories here. The Alvis Leonides is an actual, real engine, unlike Blackburn's imaginary units, and Alvis wants to sell it, unlike de Havilland, which won't produce a Gipsy Queen without a bench warrant. Amongst all the newish engines we've heard so much is the Avon, which is the first British axial; but we don't really know anything about it except that it is flying on the Canberra.

There's also a long feature about services and ancillaries, then another about the industry, which makes room for every company that advertises at Farnborough. So that means David Brown is in the aviation industry, because it makes runway tractors, and ICI, because it makes windshields. (Or the Perspex they're made of. I don't really see a way of summarising a list that includes nosewheel makers, auxiliary power units, engine ignition timers, electric circuit timers and so on, so if you want to know who is advertising at Farnborough this year, get your own copy, I'm sorry.


H. E. Cox and E. C. Howes remember the old days. Geoffrey Dorman, having saved up all his stupid last week, gets lots of stupid all over the page by suggesting that London's water reservoirs be linked up into a big artificial lake that would make a great "marine airport." Geoff spares some mocking in advance for the "clueless" who will object that it will be bad for London's water supply.    "Sub-Junior Stressman" points out that calculating load factors is a lot more complicated than Squadron Leader Bloomfield's article makes it seem, and also that the article is out of date. Flight points out that the article was a simplification, and corrects an embarrassing misprint

The Economist, 10 September 1949


"Prescriptions for Unity" The United States of Europe should have a unified approach to the dollar problem, which is a European problem. The United States of Europe doesn't actually exist yet, but should, as long as it is a free trade area. If it isn't, there should be a United States of Sterling Countries, instead. In case you're wondering what the "prescription" is, it's a secret, and if you look up "secret" in the dictionary, you find a picture of devaluation.

"The Arab Opportunity" The Palestinian refugees must be resettled in places like the Orontes swamps, rainfed Jezira, "remote banks of the Khabur" and "upper Euphrates," where there are already people who aren't necessarily rich. So the resettlement should be part of a vast scheme of agrarian reform and development, which is your opportunity. It will all be easy providing that foreigners advise the Arabs really, really hard, and the Arabs actually listen. A very small amount of money might help, too. Admittedly, more money might help more, but, hey, it says The Economist on the masthead, not The Tax-and-Spender. 

"Profile of American Recession" The American recession has actually been quite slight, so Labour is talking through its hat when in it says that the dollar crisis has been brought on by the "chronic instability of American capitalism."

"Improving Justice" The Lord Chancellor's committee on making the courts better has issued a report.

Notes of the Week

"Babington and Bridlington" It's fun to criticse the Government for not saying that they are going to devalue! Also, you can accuse the Government of bringing on mass unemployment by not doing something, such as the thing that everyone knows that they are going to do, but can't say because it is secret. Cheaper than journalism!

"Loyalty and Ambiguity at the TUC" One of our correspondents went and slept through one of those TUC get togethers. We assume that they either called for wage increases or didn't oppose them enough. Before our lad fell asleep, he heard something about communism being bad, which checks out with what we hear around the office.

"Optimism and Caution in the Air" Both! At once! I was going to make a joke about Farnborough, but it turns out this is a bit about Farnborough, no kidding. The Brabazon has flown, so has the Comet, and two new fighters are off the secret list "just in the nick of time." No-one wants the Brabazon, The Economist points out, asking why "the obviously outstanding British lead in the construction of smaller and medium-sized planes"  isn't being reinforced. Because they can't fly across the Atlantic? Just guessing!

"First Days at Bonn" The cut-and-thrust of parliamentary politics in West Germany is shaping up to be just as exciting as in London. Not a patch on Paris, but you can't have everything.  There's also a short bit on the ongoing talks on the economic problems of Malta, where the Admiralty has dismissed 1300 dockworkers.

An Englishman's Food" Britain is now finding 37% of its calories in Britain, up from 31% before the war. This has come about thanks to the British eating more milk, fish, potatoes and grain, less meat, oils, fat, fruit and sugar. However, since 1942 there has been an increase in the individual consumption of all foods, indicating that the national averages are hiding less malnutrition. This increase has been in every category except cheese and potatoes, while the increase since 1942 has been in fish, fruit, vegetables, sugar and preserves, and cereal. Also, it is likely that food will continue to be more expensive due to a "shift towards the primary producers," and it is also likely to be a long time before Brits are eating lots of steaks again.

"Food and Housing" Two experts are having a pie-throwing contest. At the British Association. Dudley Stamp says that the New Towns are too spread out, that ten people per acre is far too high, and uses up too much agricultural land, while C. S. Orwin says that breathing space for working people is far more important than retaining a "few thousand acres" for farms. The Economist points out that whil everyone agrees that Dr. Orwin is a flake, the planning process has actually been very kind to farmland, and rural people need some jobs besides farming.

"MacArthur's Tribute in Japan" General MacArthur said this week, again, that the Japanese people have learned from their mistakes and are ready for self-government and a peace treaty, because his Occupation has been so wonderful. Well, that's MacArthur for you, doesn't mean he's wrong. And The Economist thinks he's wrong, so that's a point! The Economist expects the Communists and the reactionaries to come back and take over the moment the Americans leave. Both. At the same time. In conclusion, the Japanese are best kept under tutelage forever, just like the Indonesians.

"Warning from Yunnan" For a while it seemed like General Lu Huan, the warlord that Chiang has been jostling with in Yunnan, had taken the province out of Koumintang control, cutting "western China" off from the Koumintang rump in the south.  Now General Lu has flown to Chungking to consult on the best way to fight Communists, so everything is fine. The Economist thinks that President Truman's letter to Nehru about Kashmir was a good idea and will cause peace.

"Apartheid in the Universities" The Economist regrets that it is "clearly too late for an appeal ot reason, good faith or liberal principles," now that African students will be forbidden to mingle with European at the universities, that a universal identity card identifying race will be issued, and that the Cape franchise is to be abolished. The Economist is appalled by the first, the other two being just things that have happened. Only about 150 African students matriculate each year, but I suspect that they are The Economist's sort of people. Also, if it is "too late," what are we supposed to do about it?

So the Fezzan was resisting the Italian efforts to conquer
it so that the Italians could police it into existence. Got it!
"France and the Fezzan" Just to catch you up, back when Britain was trying to give western Libya back to the Italians, the French were angling for a trusteeship over the Fezzan, on the grounds that it "borders on no less than four French African territories." I am sure that that is a very good argument, but not the one about "warding off the western march of Arab independence," because I'm told the Arabs secretly don't want that. Anyway, the British, having given up on giving up to the Italians, now seem set to give up to the Libyans. Which, the French think, is a deliberate British attempt to undermine them overseas!!! Since Anglo-French relations are important, The Economist concludes that it is only sensible to let the French keep Fezzan. After all, it is a very remote place, and "its prosperity can be maintained only if it is well-policed," and "is on the way to nowhere." Really, concludes The Economist. Independence? For Arabs? It will just promote Arab xemophobia!

"Caribbean Cross-fire" "Guatemala ---a country which its neighbour, the Dominican Republic, has thought fit to brand the most dangerous Soviet nest in America" has sent some delegates to a trade-union sponsored "peace" conference in Mexico City. It will be recalled that "peace" needs quotation marks because Moscow is for it, now, which means that we have to be against it. Meanwhile, the American republics are having a meeting in Washington, where they will be encouraged to take action against the Caribbean Legion, which will otherwise bring "peace" by revolution to the countries of the Caribbean. They advance across the Guatemala-Dominican Republic border at dawn!

Turkey and Syria" Turkish public opinion is appalled at the violent end of the Zaim dictatorship, which, it was hoping, would be Ataturk-like. He was nice enough to abandon Syrian claims to the Sanjak of Alexandretta and invite Turkish military advisors. Which, you might think, is why he was shot in the first place. Ankara has sternly advised the new Syrian regime to be more pro-Turkish, and has received some indications that it will not.


Thomas Schlyter points out that while it might be unfair to blame Britain for the dollar gap, criticism has to be expected given that it is, after all, importing more than it exports to the hard currency area. I'm not sure why Schlyter thinks that is, but my impression was that it had to do with agriculture, and  he does spend some time on it. Lord Vansittart and S. L. Hourmouzios are not done yelling at The Economist four doubting the wisdom, mercy and sweetly hopeful justice of lining up alleged Greek communists in the village square and shooting them down. G. S. Phillpots reminds us that the peace-loving Germans sure end up in a lot of scraps. James Komensten points out that the Jugoslav oil refinery at Trieste wasn't blown up at all.

Several writers think that Britain shouldn't remove preference for Commonwealth Caribbean sugar until the United States removes preference for Hawaiian, Puerto Rican and Cuban sugar. The Economist continues to be for free trade. Various cranks round off. (A restaurant receives a twenty quid fine for getting around rationing by serving French asparagus as a separate dish instead of with chicken, mainly.)

From The Economist of 1849 "Peace, Retrenchment and Reform" is the headline of the day. If you've ever taken far too many courses in Nineteenth Century literature, you will remember your professor finding a way to work that title into a conversation about The Mill and the Floss. Or maybe that''s just me. Anyway, this isn't a semi-ironic  reference to an ancient slogan. It is the slogan, and, oh boy, is The Economist of 1849 unimpressed by the "reform" part.


Rita Hinden's Before and After is a look at how the British Empire can very gradually advance to the point where all the coloured colonies can advance to the same state that the white colonies achieved in the last century. Not nearly gradual enough, The Economist thinks! Also, we have Rene Maurier's The Sociology of Colonies, which is an attempt to "deduce general principles applicable to the colonial experience of all colonising nations from the ancient Greeks to the modern Russians."  the main one being that the "lesser breeds without the law" need a whole lot of law-ing. (Sally!) Herbert Frankel's The Concept of Colonisation is based on a lecture series by the first holder of an endowed Cambridge chair in Colonial Economic Affairs and is very philosophical. Two French books on economics, by Nogaro and Gruson, are next very briefly reviewed together. One is "archaeological," in that it is forty years out of date, the other is an "uncompromisingly" abstract look at Keynesianism. In conclusion, some French are like this, and some French are like that.

American Survey

"The Puzzle of Plenty" Blah blah farm bill blah blah. Cheap meat, high farm incomes, low taxes. We can so too have all three says the Administration. No, you can't, says The Economist, because it has to be right at least once an issue!

"Academic Freedom" The Sons of the American Revolution recently asked all schools and college to submit bibliographies of textbooks and supplementary materials taught in class in order to nip Communism in the bud. UAC and assorted state bodies have been doing their part by touring around looking for Communists on campus, and Maryland and New York have introduced loyalty investigations to discover and discharge communistic teachers, The Economist reports. Given that communists are all slaves to the party line, are ferreting out atomic secrets wherever they may hide, and are a dangerously formative influence on all of those seventeen year-olds out from their parents' homes for the first time at a dangerously impressionable age, this is all quite reasonable, The Economist thinks. Yes, some fuddy-duddies are talking about the Red Scare, but the investigators of today are much more adult than the ones of 1919, so everything is fine. Also, it turns out that there is going to be a Democrat running against John Foster Dulles in the New York senatorial election to fill the seat permanently. Really! He's a Jew, you know. Just pointing that out, noting to be taken away from it. And he took Mrs. Roosevelt's side against Cardinal Spellman! What was that about loyalty investigations? Also, the minimum wage has passed Congress and Dr. Samuel Green, of Georgia, has been raised to the rank of Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan in recognition of five years of work to revive the institution. Dr. Green has been dead since August, but I'm sure he's happy wherever he is now! Which is Hell. The bad Hell. Now that he's dead, there's two Georgia Klans, one led by Imperial Emperor Lycurgus Spinks, and one, not. Georgia, which hasn't joined the rush to ban masked organisations, seems like a particularly friendly place to the Klan, even compared to Alabama. It seems like it might be on the wane a bit.

"Beveridge --Pacific Style" The Economist gives its interpretation of the recent California "welfare state" plans, of which you've heard. The Economist seems to be against, on the grounds that it costs too much and coddles all those old folk who insist on eating and having roofs even when they're too old to work. Also, the new forty hour week on the American railroads will be very inconvenient to everyone. Either that or the railroads will have to hire some people, and everyone knows what a bother that is! Continuing on a theme, Ezra Pound has won a thousand-dollar prize from the Fellows of American Letters of the Library of Congress for a poem he wrote in an American POW camp. Congress has recommended that the Library not give out any more prizes.

The World Overseas

"Belgian Steel and Coal"  Belgium has had a recent round of good publicity because it is taking no backtalk from Britain  over Inter-European payments and the dollar gap. The Belgians have an export surplus, which is nice, but also high unemployment and a dollar deficit of $200 million, which isn't. Also, coal production is down, which means that the Belgians can't export as much coal. So that's the other side of the "plucky little Belgium" story.

"Tibet's New Role" "China's plight is always Tibet's opportunity." The Tibetans expelled the Chinese garrison in Lhasa in 1911, and have since been "independent" subject to "Chinese suzerainity," as Delhi used to put it back when Delhi was British. Independent India hasn't given two cents for something so remote. Recently, the Tibetans have been feeling their oats on account of the Koumintang not having any energy to spare for them, whilst there is every suggestion that the Communists are inclined to sweep away moribund theocracies, just as the Russians did in Outer Mongolia. Delhi is also recovering an interest in the near abroad and likes the idea of Tibet as a buffer against Communism. The Dalai Lama has recently expelled the Chinese Mission on charges of inclining towards communism of late, inspiring Ma Pu-fang's to revive the old Chinese alliance with the Panchen Lama. Whether the Communists approve of either the Panchen Lama or a Muslim warlord is another matter. On the other hand, an oracle has ruled that no foreigner may enter Tibet until 1951, not even to climb Mt. Everest. The Economist expects "the Buddhist Vatican" to put up a stiff fight against the Communists.

I don't know . . If Tibet is actually the "Buddhist Vatican," you wouldn't expect the Communists to just let it go!

(The Canto-Pop equivalent of recording the Ave Maria.

"Swedes without Dollars" You know who else is having trouble with dollars due to lack of full technical efficiency, high wages and socialism? Sweden! Nevertheless, Sweden is better off than Britain because it produces 80% of its own food, which is good if it happens in Sweden. Also, it has lower taxes. I think. "To some extent protected by particular measures of taxation against excesses of taxation as a whole." What does that even mean? The Swedish target was to increase exports to the dollar area from 13% to 14% of its exports and otherwise come into trade balance by exports mainly to a recovering Germany. This plan is now in jeopardy due to weak pulp exports, even though Swedish prices have been cut to Canadian levels. The problem, The Economist smugly concludes, is "too high costs." Do you guys even read what you're writing? Devaluation has been suggested, although obviously lower taxes and wage "stabilisation" is better.

"Socialist Troubles in New Zealand" So. They have socialists in New Zealand, too. Their new budget contains no election bait, except a slight increase in old age benefits. However, it only has a tiny little tax cut, in spite of the country running a budget surplus of some number or another. (The opposition is saying that it is larger than announced, which seems like strange politics to me, but tax cut!)  Labour would prefer to borrow some money in Canada or the United States to buy plant and machinery. Also, dollar deficit. Including with Canada, so you can feel proud of doing your part to ruin the entire world with trade deficits, way up there in the great white north. Honestly, what does Canada even export to New Zealand? There is some suggestion that New Zealand can deal with its dollar problem by switching its butter exports to America.

"Communist Youth at Budapest From a Student Observer" The World Festival of Youth and Students is being held in Budapest this year. Organised by the Communist World Federation of Democratic Youth and the International Union of Students, it is very communistic.

"Industrial Development in Brazil" Brazil's very worthy efforts to industrialise with foreign capital are discussed at length, featuring hydroelectric works that will replace the firewood that currently provides 84% of the energy used int he north-east.

The Business World

"British Transport's First Year" The British Transport Commission has returned an annual deficit of £1.7 million, which is less than a tenth of what was expected. The Economist thinks that's not nearly good enough. The next three pages is mainly an extended argument with the footnotes of the financial statement to the effect that there's trouble down the track.

Follows an equally long article on a species of financial instrument known as the "TDR."

Business Notes

We lead off with more commentary on what to expect from the Washington talks with a special emphasis on getting Americans to invest more abroad, followed by French efforts to attract same, Australia's disinclination to disinflate given the "hot" money fleeing there from Britain, the possibility of ERA recipients re-entering the IMF, the new Intra-European Payments Scheme, Argentina taking advantage of the trade agreement to "speculate in sterling," and the rising price of Japanese bonds as Japanese independence comes in sight, possibly.

That's a lot of financial news that isn't very relevant! A bit more relevant is "Export Competition in Coal," which is about Polish coal exports cutting into the British markets that the British have just been able to re-enter.

"Russia to Send Coarse Grain" Taking time out from menacing world communist revolution, Russia is rushing a million metric tons of grain to Britain, which should help with the dollar deficit, and also is also undercutting the Russian effort to incorporate the deliveries into a general trade agreement.  The Russians are probably eager to get it in ahead of the Washington talks, while the British are just glad to have some security of animal feed. Also, the price of rubber is stabilising.

"The New British Aircraft" "the rate of development of British aircraft may create some difficult questions for the operators," because BOAC and BEA are committed to the Stratocruiser and the Ambassador, and neither has actually been delivered yet. With the Comet and Viscount actually on show and purchases of the Viscount for both companies now final, modern technology is  hounding the heels of the old piston planes before they are even delivered. The Economist also counts on the Apollo and, questionably (according to Reggie, who hasn't really made his case to me!) the turbo-Hermes. The Sprite seems to solve the  main problem for turbojet commercial service, takeoff "under certain conditions." The Economist also fancies the possibilities of reheat in getting the Comet off the ground. The question is whether British planes can be sold to American airlines.

"Oil for Haifa" The Economist is impatient with Arab reluctance to let ancient grievances going all the way back to 1948, go. It's ancient history, and it is time for the Haifa refinery to earn some cash for its investors! In Britain!  Also, the price of textile machinery has been put up, and the cotton spiinners are upset. Fancy that! The Cement Makers' Federation is cutting the cost of cement because it has got a nice deal on kraft paper bags and because the current volume of production is allowing certain efficiencies. Coal output is up, but we are reminded that the total production lost to strikes is also up over last year. Switzerland is the only country Britain is exporting gold too right now, thanks to the Payments Scheme being in abeyance until it is signed by all the parties.

Business Roundup

Midterms mean window seats
at the library.
The recession is officially over, home building has come back now that mortgage rates are falling and inventories are coming back from the "hand-to-mouth" retailer orders of a few months ago. This is good news for, among others, base metal producers. There's also an idea out there that this was some sort of "salesman's slump" brought on by this new generation's unwillingness to get out there and SELL. Various retailers are now selling. For example, Rootes Motors is offering a rental sales plan to introduce Americans to the Hillman Mini,

and Safeway Stores is offering a $5000 prize for the best limerick about grocery shopping, I guess. That scheme where people put quarters in a box on their installment-paid refrigerator to keep it going, gets another mention.

Deflation, we conclude, must be over, if people are starting to worry about inflation again! A point that it turns out to take a full page to make, with the necessary reference to years ago, before the war to fit in. (Harding corruption stories came between post-WWI slump and Twenties boom, so the obvious parallel needs to be pointed out to everyone who either doesn't remember history.) Also, David Cushman Coyle is back in the news, and you all know what that means! I don't, so Fortune explains: as antitrust expands into areas where a few large companies naturally dominate production, it might be better to nationalise them and turn them into public utilities than to try and break them up. The example he puts forward is Metropolitan Life. Hopefully business will lobby Congress to squelch silly ideas like that! Also in the news is the expansion of mortgage terms to cover home furnishings. So far, it hasn't caused the end of the world, and might not cause it at all! Profits, meanwhile, are in a "state of flux:" machinery up, textiles down, electricity and soap up, synthetic rubber down, grocery wholesalers down, mortgages (RFC) up.

New Products

Over at the Hungry Horse dam on the Flathead River in Montana, the Bureau of Reclamation is saving the US $4.75 million by mixing pozzuolana into the concrete. It's fly ash,  and cuts the amount of cement needed in concrete while improving curing. Argentina may soon lose its horsehair export market thanks to the Rubberset Company of Newark's new Caslen, a synthetic rubber horsehair substitute made of casein.

Fortune's Wheel provides the background of Perrin Stryker and Felice Yahr's long story about labour relations at American Lead Pencil, which is an example of how to improve labour relations. There's also a nice letter from one of the "Million dollar salesman" (of insurance policies), who says that his mother has never been prouder of him, and a discussion of the long stories about auto production and the decline(?) of American salesmanship. Also, the October issue is going to be something else due to the ever more luxurious standard of printing down at Fortune. 

"What's the Matter with American Salesmanship" I hope this grows into the same kind of story as "full technical efficiency" in Britain, because it will mean that I never have to read an American business journal again. I just write, "Decline in salesmanship" with an eyebrow pencil on my bellybutton, and I'll be set for some navel gazing! In fact, it starts now, with another article three down on how "Salespeople Aren't Selling."

What the world needs now is higher
unemployment in foreign places..
"Dead End of Socialism: A U.S. That Believes in Great Britain Will Also Ask for Some Common Sense" Speak. Of. The. Devil. Look even Fortune has to recognise that British exports are up 50% by volume over 1938, and that its budget is, if anything, "over-balanced." While it is nationalising industry and "taxing savings out of existence," it is also re-investing as much as 20 to 25% of GNP compared with 17% in capitalist America, it is working 43 hours a week on average including overtime,  and has "super full-employment." What's left to be done? Even longer hours, and somehow moving labour into export industries without raising wages. At this point the article drifts off into the clouds, apparently. More conscription, rationing and exhortation are not on, so all that's left is a new "philosophy," rooted in "the liberalism of which Britain in every crisis in recent  history has been the political spokesman." Which means? I have no idea.

"Taxation Without Justification" Fortune goes hard against the great injustice of our day: luxury taxes.

Alfred Heidenrich, "Goethe and Enterprise" Goethe can go on for a bit, so what better tribute can Fortune pay to the great German than commission a person with a German name to lecture American business about what it can learn from Goethe?

"Those Unemployment Figures" Some people think they'be been cooked up and are too low.

"How the US Lost the ITO Conference" Crafty foreigners snookered America but good in the ITO talks. 

"Motors: They're Still High" Fortune is puzzled that auto stocks aren't doing better considering that the industry is setting sales records, recession or no. The answer is that the "buyer's market" is coming soon. That's the moment when America has enough cars to start being choosy. The industry proposes to build 4.5 million cars in the last half of 1949. Who is going to buy them? When the industry put away its carmaking tools in 1942, there were 29.5 million cars in America. When they picked them up at war's end, it was 25.7 million cars. How many cars was America short? No-one can agree as between a low of 8 and a high of 12 million, but that is the number that is the deficit to be made up. After it has passed, the industry will be meeting the current need, and that will depend on how long Americans are willing to go between cars. There will be 35 million cars on the road by the end of 1949, and the deficit will, probably, be made up. At that point it is all down to selling, and therefore the dealers. Also on the table is new design, with the low-slung models coming into sight.

So what about Uncle Henry and the other independents? So far, they've done well.  Studebaker is back from the brink by building a unique product, and that is also Packard's line. But Uncle Henry has been trying to build a Big Three-style lineup. Fortune says that he is building a "heavy, conventional, overpriced car," although they love my beautiful boy,
and Uncle Henry's engineers think that they can bring prices down and maybe even deliver the promised low-cost small car if they can just get the financing right.

I think that as stock recommendations go, this is a "hold."

"Mr. Odlum Gets the Business" When Floyd Odlum bought Consolidated Vultee in 1947, Wall Street thought he was nuts, that there was no way a financier could run an aircraft corporation. The success of the B-36 makes the finances of the purchase more sensible, since he stands to make a lot of money on it, but, on the other hand, the Convair 240 has been a disaster. Consolidated was taken over during the war via Vought by Victor Emmanuel Avco. It produced about 10,000 B-24s at San Diego and Forth Worth, had sales of $2.9 billion and net income of $71 million, emerging from the war with a reserve of $38 million and a working capital of $56 million. That was to go into producing the 240 at the San Diego plant to replace the DC-3, with a 100 plane order from American to start with and a total order book of $28.8 million. But, almost immediately, Convair began losing money. Victor Emanuel dropped some money in a railcar company and tried to sell out to Lockheed, but the SEC was having none of that. Odlum came along just in time, although the offer might not have been to Emanuel's liking. When he arrived, as far as he knew, the 178 plane Convair 240 order book was a "jackpot." Oops! Losses were far greater than he realised. While a good plane, the unit price was $235,000 against a profit-making price of $435,000. How had Convair gone so wrong, both on price and on delivery schedules, almost a year overdue? During the war, Convair San Diego's last order was for 200 PB4Y-2 Privateers, which absorbed 27,500 hours of inefficient late-war labour. Reasoning that a peacetime staff working on a "slightly more complicated commercial plane" would be rough wash, Convair budgeted on 30,000 hours for the 240. It turned out to be closer to 86,000, mainly because the assembly line developed to build the Privateer was ridiculously inefficient. Either incomplete planes were moved down the line to be fitted with missing parts out in the yard by crews who had to go into the complete plane to fit them, or the planes held up on the assembly stations waiting for the part. This being the only alternative, the process was streamlined and eventually Convair was down to 45,000 hours per plane.

As for the B-36, at a wingspan of 230ft, a length of 163ft and a tail that sticks 47ft above the ground, with a gross weight of 163 tons and a unit cost on delivery of $4.5 million, cut with experience to $3 million, it is the key to Convair's profitability , at $1.5 million per plane delivered. Odlum says that he was indifferent to the success of the plane, figuring that Fort Worth would get that B-49 contract if the B-36 fell through, and that one cost-plus contract was as good as the next.

As for the B-36, the air force now says that it has always said that the B-36 can carry 10,000lbs of bombs 9600 miles, which makes them truly intercontinental, and that it can operate from 56 air bases in North America at full load. It handles well at 40,000ft and is very hard to shoot down up there. That's not a claim that goes together with the range claim, though. The Navy says that its fighters can shoot the B-36 down at 40,000ft, and we're getting closer to admitting that the B-36 won't be bombing Moscow from 40,000ft, anyway. It can, however, get away by goosing those new jet engines.

As for the future of Convair, thanks to the B-52, it is not in bombers. It might be in flying boats, thanks to the XP5Y, or guided missiles, but Fortune is at pains to say that it is not saying that Convair can't be made to pay. Which sort of implies that it is. 

"Italian Farm Hand" Fortune goes to Italy to find out what's what in the country that the Communists are always on the verge of taking over.  It turns out to be because Italian farm hands have no money. Fortune's example works two-and-a-half acres, taking twenty five bushels of wheat, a year's supply of oats for one donkey, 460lbs of broad beans and "a few peppers, grapes and olives" off it.  He also gets five to six bushels of wheat for his work for the local agricultural cooperative. He hopes to place his children in trades, as the artisans of Spezzano go hungry less often than the farmers. Even Fortune thinks he would kind of have a point if he came out under the red banner.

"Labour Relations at Work" American Lead Pencil Company has it licked.

Sumner Schlichter, "The Businessman in a Labouristic Economy" Businessmen have to learn to live with labour having all the power.

"Production in High Vacuum: Empty Space is Yielding Remarkable Products: Frozen Orange Juice is Only One"

High vacuum engineering worked out some remarkable industrial techniques during the war, mainly for making vacuum tubes. After V-J Day, it seemed like the business was facing a bleak future. All the vacuum chambers needed for producing coated lenses and tubes were already build. Vacuum magnesium couldn't compete with sea-water magnesium. Penicillin was being made to capacity. Y-12, the gaseous diffusion plant at Oakridge, was put on standby as other methods proved more efficient. There was A and E vitamin, to be sure, and the new business in orange juice. And metallised sprays. But what else? Well, perhaps vacuum-cast metals?

The big firms in vacuum-pump technology are Distillation Products, Incorporated, and National Research Corporation of Cambridge, Mass. We've heard about NRC around here, as it is the company behind orange juice/penicillin/dried blood plasma. DPI was actually in the business earlier, and is well known for the flair of K. C. D. Hickman, who developed the high-vacuum oil distillation pumps that DPI used to produce A and E vitamin from fish liver and vegetable oils, and subsequently to pump out vacuum tubes and spray anti-reflection coatings on lenses. . Unfortunately, the British born salesman/chemist has moved on to Arthur Little and Kodak. What is there in the future? New food products, perhaps? Concentrated coffee and milk have been proposed, and spraying condensors. Cyclotrons need better vacuum pumps, and that has been some good work, as well as high-altitude test chambers, but they don't exactly have the same popularity as frozen orange juice. Hormone production, which we've heard is at a bottleneck, might be improved by vacuum freeze drying --but that's not where the bottleneck is. A "rich mixture of a half a dozen amino acids" might be a cheap substitute for blood plasma, and vacuum impregnation looks like a way to dye artificial fabrics.

The Fortune Survey is a swank insert covering higher education this month. That is, a survey of what American business thinks of higher education.

Truth to tell, actual businessmen seem a lot happier with college today than our middlebrow elite. There's a last page summary of the opinions of the academic experts that Fortune consulted, and it is a bit bonkers. Professors talk like The Economist when they're quoted in print. (They're a bit more approachable in real life. Honest!)

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