Saturday, February 8, 2020

Postblogging Technology, November 1949, I: After the Atomic Monopoly

R_. C_.,
79 Av de Harmonia,

Dear Father:

I'm so glad that you were able to come to an arrangement with the Incarnate Deity and General Chennault, who probably thinks he is, too. Incarnate enlightened teacher. Whatever. I'm also glad to hear that all that gold they have up there in Tibet won't have to just reach the world through Pakistan anymore. And needless to say, the dacoits are going to very pleased with their red envelopes this year! 

Now, as for the matter of keeping Chennault and the Soongs apart, I can offer you no guarantees that will last even as long as it takes you to cruise all leisurely across the Pacific. Are you sure you can't fly? I understand that the air palls after the trip from Shigatse to Kai Tak. I can only imagine! But if Mrs. C. can fly, can't you? 

However you choose to make the crossing, we'll greet you warmly and show you the sights of our Bohemian city. Or, you know, tag along with your expense account. Reggie may not be a student anymore, but he is still a subaltern! 



A Brief Precis of What's Up in Aviation Week

In the News Digest for 7 November, Aviation Week somehow gets the scoop on the crash of the prototype Wyvern, a shutdown at Fokker, which is giving up on building Dutch transport aircraft, and a fight over American access to Gander, initiated by Colonial, which is trying to kick the others out. Industry Observer is high on the Allison T-38 and the Avro Jetliner and Orenda. Cierva is planning an even bigger version of the Air Horse using twin engines outboard on the fuselage. I'm not sure if that's safer than the original arrangement (less transmission),or the reverse! (Two engines to fail.)  The final resolution of the Defence budget is covered. Appropriations for most agencies and research is up, but the 70 group air force was voted down and the Administration slashed the money for it. Getting into the spirit of things, the Air Force has canceled the YB-35-to-YB-49 upgrade. The foreign gun money is going ahead. 

The Hindenburg solution is a close second, so we're probably
The feature technical article is on the NACA annual report, which covers some important and worthy but boring stuff related to getting jet engines working properly with afterburners, when flaming out at latitude and with variable fuel intake, turbine blade cooling, and also some agreeably wacky stuff related to the theoretical chemistry of rocketry that proves that the best kind of rockets burn flourine in hydrogen, which, as far as I can tell, and I'm only a law student, would produce hydroflouric acid as exhaust. I'm not sure I want to live next to the spaceport! They're also looking at exotic materials for turbojet engines, such as "cerametals," which are part pot, part metal, all crackpot. Sorry, couldn't help myself. Also, ramjets. 

There's some aircraft electronics, a scheme from Philadelphia airport involving a gangplank that extends from the terminal diectly to the loading door of future airliners, and an editorial desperately calling for air shows that don't involve souped-up fighters dive bombing residential areas. Aviation Week stoutly denies being "emotional" in calling for less dive bombing. 

It's like they're a bunch of women!

For the 14 November issue, we have news including the President "riding high" after staring the Navy down, the CAA offering Europe VHF omnirange to get the foreigners on board with American-style radio ranges, Arthur Henderson being diplomatically nice about the B-36, a Navy order for 15 more AJ-1 Savages, a possible turboprop version of the Martin 2-0-2, American skepticism about Redux's suitability for high altitude aircraft like the Comet and B-36, modifications to the tail structure of the Convair Liner, and a suggestion that turbojet airliners might have to fly above 38,000ft to get properly "above the weather." The investigation of the Washington Air Disaster will be the most intensive in history, the CAB promises. Ryan's new air-to-air missile is very big and manly. Beechcraft's Bonanza production line cut gets another mention, and Boeing says that it will get into jet transports in good time as soon as someone pays for it.  

Letters is mostly devoted to writers supporting Aviation Week in its "The Air Race is Crazy" stance, although Leonard Green of Safe Flight Instrument writes to remind everyone that stall warnings are good.  

Extensive technical articles cover air brakes for fighters, explaining their parameters, while the Avionics section gets a work out with an article on power conversions from one aircraft power system to the next. It actually goes into some pretty impressive detail in its specific examples of how you'd expect a system rated to perform at 28v DC is likely to change when it is being fed 115v AC, (external) adapters notwithstanding, but it all goes over my pretty little head.

Editorial has asked itself, "if we don't like the National Air Races, what do we like?" The answer is SBAC, and I agree. Farnborough is pretty neat.  

Flight, 3 November 1949

Who doesn't like a dashing aviator?
"For Future Generations" Flight is so excited by the presentation of two Whittle turbojets to some museums that it writes a fan letter to the Comet.

"Day Trip to Tripoli"  De Havilland just had to do a test flight to Castel Benito at 450mph-plus for purely scientific reasons. So put that in your pipe and smoke it, swarthy foreigners and Americans!

"Russia's Armed Forces" General Richard Hilton[*], formerly on His Majesty's Service at the Moscow embassy,wandering around looking for Dictaphones hidden in walls and trying to talk to regular Russian citizens, and also perhaps some ambassador-assisting, gave a talk to RUSI last week in which he allowed that Russian military parades have to be taken with a grain of salt. Good advice! Now, about that 450-mph Airliner  of Today  . . . . 

Here and There

Douglas is said to be working on a jet transport that will look like a DC-6 with sweptback wing and tail, high tailplane and two engines to a pod slung under the wing mid sections. The latest innovation in scarecrow replacement is a "superphonic" beam that Prestwick will start shooting at problem birds. It has the drawback of a mere quarter-mile's range, and so will required "relays" around the airport, and the other drawback that dogs hate it. Two Meteors ordered for the Egyptian air force flew there using  drop tanks, while also in the field of very interesting things there is Colin Cooper's home movies about helicopters, which he showed at Londonderry House last week. America is very pleased to have four planes that can break the sound barrier in level flight, the X-1, Skystreak, F-86 and now the XF-90., which has afterburning, giving up to 12,000lbs thrust. Shell of America has bought a B-26 with a jet engine in the fuselage for fuel testing. R. F. Barlow, for thirty years the superintendent of the AID, has died.  The young man who was sentenced to prison for smuggling himself aboard a Lancastrian has appealed and had his sentence commuted to a £50 fee. 

The Bristol Brabazon recently went up with some VIPs aboard, Boeing is excited about its new "boom" refuelling system, which allows fuel to be pumped into refuelling aircraft under pressure, and which is much better than Flight Refuelling's "probe and cone" method. British Wire Product's latest page turner is all about wire rope, and where to buy it. 

"First Turbojet for the Nation: And the WiX for the American Smithsonian Institute" The news about Power Jet, Ltd, donating two jet engines to museums is so exciting that it needs a story of its own. 

Civil Aviation News

The report on the Ground Nut Scheme is all over the news, so trust Flight to get to the nut. The British Overseas Food Corporation gave Hunting Air Travel a year's charter to serve the Ground nut scheme, but now it's up and BOAC has won it this year at a bid per head that Flight finds unsound, and which carries a bit of a sting in its tail for same, in that it looks as though the Solents are not carrying their weight WHICH JUST CAN'T BE TRUE. BEA has placed another six month helicopter night mail contract. KLM ran a profit this year, which I would feel much better about were it not for all the crashes. BOAC is moving forward with replacing Yorks, Skymasters and Lancastrians with Argonauts, saving 31 hours on the run to Colombo, most notably. There is now medium-frequency voice coverage on the five major Scottish air routes. The next area where existing M/F W/T coverage will be replaced is southern England. The frequencies freed up will be used for radio ranges. The Nord 2500 freighter has flown a test flight.

A history of 600 Squadron RAAF  takes up some space. 

"Glider Into Transport: And Back Again, Converted Powered Version of the Chase Avitruk" The Chase YCG-18A Avitruk and YC-122 are a glider and powered version of a plane that might carry paratroopers or freight, or, really, anything if you wanted to buy some, up to and including engines. Because at this end of the year there really isn't any aviation news. 

"Progress of the Princess" The first flight of the Saro Princess will be delayed a few months becacuse it has taken longer than expected to get its double-Proteus working. The summer of 1951, they hope. The powered controls are currently being tested on a Sunderland so that they can go into the Princess directly it has an engine, allowing the plane to fly Empire routes no later than originally promised. We are duly reminded that the Proteus is much, much more complicated than the old Whittle in order to achieve "the efficiency and low fuel consumption essential for commercial operation." 

Follows a piece about modifications for some Constellations ordered for All-India, giving a 5000lb increase in all up weight mainly by using the new Curtis Electric 830 propeller, which allows for a higher engine rpm. It also has a slightly cleaner profile due to the carburetor intakes coming inside the cowling, and the autopilot now maintains course with the ailerons instead of the rudder. 

W. A. Andrews, "Gas-Turbine Fuel Systems: Design and Operation of the Major Components" This would seem to be the second part of the article, but it would be tedious to put that in the title, so Flight explains in a sidebar, instead. I' m not sure why this article needed to be published. It explains why jets don't need fuel mixture, what a combustion chamber is, what a burner is, all old news. It notes that most British engines used vapourising burners, but some use demand valves. Maintaining pressure in the combustion chamber is tricky, so there are several choices for servos that open and close valves to maintain it, and goes into considerable detail about how the Lucas one works. It then goes on about rpm scheduling versus direct control, discussed last time, before explaining how Lucas engines use governors to prevent flame out, low idle speeds and excessive rpm. 

 There's some new illustrations, so maybe Flight asked Andrews to write an article around diagrams that were cut from his original article? Maybe?

The latest volume of the Air Force's official history is reviewed, under a bungled bibliographic header that drops the names of the editors (Wesley Craven and James Cate, if anyone asks). The book is a bit controversial right now because it covers the air war over Europe in 1942 and 1943 and compares 8th Air Force's air gunner claims from combat with German losses and finds the "numbers game" very much in favour of the Germans. The dreadful implication is that the 8th Air Force raids into Europe in the fall of 1943 were made on the assumption that they were fighting through a steadily declining German defence, when, on the contrary, it was steadily increasing. 

The Air France disaster barely makes into this week's number immediately below. The pilot was making his 89th Atlantic crossing as captain when he hit the top of Alvargia Peak on the island of San Miguel. 

Captain Jean de la Noue made a controlled flight into terrain as a result of inadequate navigation under VFR conditions, having failed to identify the airport, which he claimed to have in sight in his last radio transmission.

"Flight Refuelling Developments"  Navigating two planes together for refuelling is pretty tricky. Flight Refuelling has been using Rebecca and Eureka beacons, but wanted something a little more accurate and easy to use, and now has an automatic coding device with a 300 watt output at 200 mHz, and a range of 150 miles. It can be interrogated by 25-30 aircraft at a time. It also now has a double-Link trainer set-up to simulate tanker and receiver aircraft. 

A short note on Britain's aviation exports indicates that last year's £ is likely to be comfortably surpassed, largely on the strength of military exports, although the Devon also had good sales. 


G. Heilig writes to remind us about the Fouga Cyclone tiny jet engine. J. E. Doran-Webb has strong opinions about the communal ownership of aircraft by flying clubs. "Favonius" writes to defend a claim that was expressed in a recent American Notebook about how the Comet is going to need a new tailplane at some point, because, well, doesn't that nearly always happen? "Favonius" clarifies that if you read his column closely, perhaps cross-eyed while hanging upside down in the closet, you will find that he was only quoting various American designers he knew. Who, "Favonius" points out, surely have a point, since everyone knows that sometimes slide rule jockeys drop a millimeter or so here and there, and really in the end you just have to take it up and see if it falls out of the sky. 

The Economist, 5 November 1949


"Congress Expects" Paul Hoffman gave the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation a blistering speech on Monday, calling for more United States of Europe or maybe, Congress willing, no more Marshall Plan aid after 1950. The Economist heartily agrees that Marshall aid should stop unless Europe does what The Economist tells it to do, and since it wouldn't be fair to leave it at that, goes on to explain what Britain should do. Hoffman thinks that Europe needs more labour mobility to balance out labour surplusses in some regions and deficits in others. The Economist is fine with that to a point, which is that what is really needed is disinflation. I'm not sure how much we, as readers, are supposed to be in the know about "disinflation" being linked with "unemployment," so I'm going to guess we're supposed to read that as two unrelated thoughts. No, wait, it does lay its cards on the table. Disinflation means less credit, and "the creation of even a tiny excess of supply over demand can have almost magical effects, as Continental experience has demonstrated." That sounds like mass unemployment and the rise of Fascism is what The Economist is looking for, but it goes on to stoutly deny it. There is no need to be "bemused" by the Continental experience of mass unemployment. Britain is not in a state of "Malthusian over-population as is Italy," nor is its economy "dismantled and dismembered as the German." It need only "move from hyper-full employment to ful employment, reasonably defined." As for the rest of Europe, it can go hang. Except Italy, which should ship its workforce abroad. 

Did you know that Italy is larger than the United Kingdom and has a smaller population? I know that because I have a Funk and Wagonells. I should loan it to The Economist

"Tax Reduction" You know why budgetary disinflation has failed so far? Not enough tax relief! High taxes are "enervating" and inflationary! Walter Bagehot said so! (Insert quotation that says nothing of the sort, here.) Yes, it had a disinflationary effect in 1948, but it won't in 1949, because of reasons involving "demoralisation." Therefore, some tax cuts are essential to sound economic policy. The Economist makes a back-of-envelope calculation that a £600 million cut would be just right, and volunteers food subsidies for the block, followed by all "free" social services, which would be replaced by user-fee services. This leaves £150 million to come out of the £760 million Defence budget, which The Economist is convinced could be easily achieved because there's probably a jog lot of waste going on over there, and anyway who says a "Geddes Axe" is a bad thing besides everyone who has studied the first years of WWII?

Paying for the tax cuts out of the way, The Economist gets on to the infinitely more pleasant job of explaining what taxes need to be cut. Profit taxes and the income tax surcharge, it turns out. 

"A Costly Experiment" Now that the East African groundnut scheme is a bit of a bust, it is time to do the right thing, and fall on Mr. Strachey with a sword. The scheme has spent a lot of money with no clear idea what it was spent on, largely because it was launched with such haste, and without much idea of what the costs would be. Yes, that's what everyone agreed should be done at the time, but in retrospect it is all very shocking and the Minister should resign. 

"Dr. Malan and the Protectorates" The map of the southernmost bit of Africa has a great big country marked "Union of South Africa" on it, and a much larger one marked "Southwest Africa," which is run from Johannesburg. And then, speckled on it, are protectorates large and small, of which Bechuanaland is in the big category, and Swaziland and Basuto Land are in the small. These are not part of South Africa because the British colonial authorities have always had a lively sense that the South African whites couldn't be trusted to govern Africans.

But now that South Africa has a really, really bigoted government, and not the merely bigoted government of old, perhaps it is time to have another look at these paternalistic notions? That's what Dr. Malan says! After all, not only are the protectorates an unwelcome survival of colonial power, they might be the launch pads for a "Bantu revolt against white supremacy"! And the Blacks who live there are getting ideas above their station, what with all the Colonial Office vapourings about "self determination" and "democracy."  The Economist might not be the most progressive of papers, but even it can see that the whole idea is horrid, and since, it concludes, the only way that Malan is going to get his way is by declaring war on Britain, nothing is going to come of it, so why have we wasted all this time, exactly?

"London's New Towns" There are too many people in central London, which is why there should be an outer London of "garden cities." Everyone agrees on that, and "in this atomic age" it should be an even higher priority than it is, which is why now is a good time to have a long article about why it is taking so long and whose fault it is, and even, maybe, how things could be sped up. 

Notes of the Week

"Back to Titus Oates" The Economist is roundly upset that the government might pay rewards to people who inform about violations of the Exchange Control Act, since violating the Exchange Control Act isn't a real crime. Also, the Town Planning Act is very oppressive. Since this is an election year, which reminds The Economist that it is a liberal and Liberal paper (just not Liberal enough to vote Liberal), it is reminded that the Liberal Party has a Preservation of the Rights of the Subject Act, which The Economist quite fancies, since it imagines that it would allow The Economist to send jewelry, stamps, and tightly wrapped bundles of five pound notes out of the country, as is the right of every free subject. 

"Plus ca Change" There is a new French government after 24 days, depriving The Economist of the easy, standard paragraph or two on "the crisis in France," and it has to settle for making fun of the French for being so French and probably maybe messing up the upcoming division of Marshall money for 1950. But the French shouldn't be the only ones to be ashamed, since the boundary Commission is up for criticism in the Commons for getting messed up by Aneurin Bevan, who is awful and deserves to be defeated in the next election. Also, those restaurants in Britain that can't currently charge more than 2s 3d for a meal, will be allowed to in the future, which is part of the Ministry of Food's "withdrawal from 'refined' control" recently announced, at some saving in expense and manpower. Also finally in this run of short summaries of longer notes, the Dutch and Indonesians have come to an agreement, and The Economist has given up on being upset about it all. 

"Simmering Kettle in Korea" The UN is going to keep its commission in Korea in spite of the North Korean communists threatening to continue its "struggle" for the removal of the Commission and for "the final unificatipn of the country by its own forces." Korean Communists, The Economist thinks, have been emboldened by Soviet support, and believe that nothing will happen to them even if members of the commission are assassinated. But it could get even worse that that, The Economist thinks, since a shooting war is going on, even if the main armies of the rival governments are abstaining from joining the fray. A fullscale Communist invasion across the line of demarcation could come at any time, and its success would be a heavy blow for the United States and Uno. 

"Chewing Gum and the Cold War" American exports of chewing gum to the Philippines have come under fire by S. S. Nemtchina, the Soviet delegate to the United Nations Economic Commission on Asia and the Far East, who believes that, given the dollar shortage, the Philippines would be better served spending its scarce dollars on machinery. The Economist points out that the British have no standing to complain given that they won't cut Virginia tobacco out of their imports, and, in general, it goes to show the magnetic attractions of the American way of life. 
A final roundup of super-duper British notes covers Lord Bruce's unfortunate statement to some sort of very popular small savers' movement that you should spend all your money now, because of inflation; regulations about wrapping food that are either high time, or likely to be ineffectual because the British are slobs, I don't know, because it's not important enough to read; and, lastly a bill before the Lords that will prevent children from being made illegitimate retroactively by divorce. This means that another law, which prevented parents from testifying that the child wasn't their's, as grounds for divorce, can be repealed. (Since it was intended to protect children against being retroactive bastards.) It all sounds just a bit medieval. 

"Seven Arabs in Search of Security" The Arab League has decided to draw up a collective security pact to protect themselves against Israelis seeking "elbow room" (only The Economist uses the German, with the crass insensitivity you've come to expect from the British press in regards to Israel), or Russian aggression, or an Iraq-Syria pact that would pre-empt it. Also in foreign affairs, the Czech government is fighting with the Church some more, Ireland is moving towards its own Beveridge scheme, The Economist hopes that the lattest BOAC reorganisation will be the last and is pleased with BEA's profit, and it is watching the case of the women suing a cricket club for injuries inflicted by a ball out of bounds, and by the amendments to the National Health Services Act that would cover prescription drugs. 

From The Economist of 1849

Prince Albert declared National Coal Day, a day for celebrating coal, which is not so much "the source of our greatness," says the voice of the old Economist, as are the colliery workers who cut the coal in the first place. 

That's strange. It's being nice.  Keep it up! 


Let this be the launching pad of a revolution
against white supremacy.
By Source, Fair use,
W. Arthur Lewis' The Principles of Economic Planning is a "handbook for radicals" who want to defend planning. The Economist likes it very much, I think because Lewis isn't a very radical Radical. Frederick Lewes Allen's The Great Pierpont Morgan is a biography of the "emperor" of America that explains that he was actually a benevolent dictator, and the real problem is that his successors wouldn't have been so benevolent, which is why government institutions arose to replace him. J. H. Parry's new book on the expansion of Europe is a very good book. A.E. Buck's Financing Canadian Government is a very worthy book, even if it comes out of Chicago, not Canada. C. M. Whittaker's The Fibro Manual spins a veritable web of story about artificial fibre, and Mary Stocks' Eleanor Rathbone is a "vindication" of a "great woman." Unfortunately, the middle part, where Eleanor was alive, drags a bit. Though not as much as an entire book about rayon, I bet!

American Survey

"Half-Time in Congress" Two years into the term, The Economist looks back. The euphoria of 1948, when it was thought that the President would get his programme through in another Hundred Days, was completely unwarranted. Due to the essentially gerrymandered nature of the Senate, the Democratic majority there depends on Southern Democrats more likely to join up with Republican reactionaries than the President. Instead, it wasn't until a boiling hot summer that the President was able to get part of his programme through with a combination of patience and temper. On the House side, the many young and idealistic Democrats of 1948 have become more realistic. If the party is to win in 1952, it will have to hold its 1948 farm/labour coalition together, which many think is impossible. The Brannan Plan was central to that, and it will not get through Congress as a whole plan. What is left may not be enough to keep the farmers happy, and it may still be too much for labour. As for labour, the Democrats have promised Taft-Hartley repeal and a Civil Rights programme, and neither  have yet been achieved. There is also the budget, unbalanced by tax cuts, and Displaced Persons. The way in which the Act was shelved in the Senate, and the way it was crafted to discriminate against Catholics and Jews are very disillusioning for young idealists. Like the income tax cuts, this will be a fight for the next session, and Republicans may yet rue their obstructionism.

Or not. I bet not. Reggie hopes that '52 will be a repeat of '48, and the country will keep going at it until the GOP learns its lesson. I suspect that we're just going to get Eisenhower. 

There follows your latest guide to New York's elections for mayor and senator. 

Notice how there's no Louis Denfield-class?

"Admiral at the Yard-arm" Per The Economist, Admiral Denfield was a sacrifice to military unification, and his punishment gave the Navy a martyr, but was also an assertion of civilian control of the armed forces. It was also intentionally delayed until after Congress adjourned, so it couldn't raise a stink. He has also upset Congress by refusing the ten extra air groups Congress was willing to fund, but which the Defence Department doesn't really want. The Air Force does get the largest share of the defence budget, and won't have to fold any existing wings, whereas the navy will need to cut 54,000 men and 73 ships, including cruisers and aircraft carriers, while the army will reduce its strength by 26,000 men to 630,000 by releasing the current draft class early. Admiral Sherman, a naval aviation man, comes from the Mediterranean to take over as CNO, and the Administration ploughs ahead with a target defence budget of $13 billion next year. Congress is upset, but at least thanks to devaluation that's six(-ish) times the British defence budget and not four times.

Reggie disagrees with all of this. First, Denfield isn't a sacrifice to "unification." The Economist just thinks that because it was out of the office on a really long lunch break during the Revolt. Second, he's not really a "martyr." He's a Gun Club man, and his appointment was the Navy reluctantly appeasing Chester. He was the best man for the job, because he is smart as a whip, but replacing him with Sherman tells you everything you need to know about the floating navy, which has converted to aircraft carriers because they're the biggest boaties the Navy can get into its bathtub. Congress went for 10 extra air groups because there are enough Congressmen who will benefit from building the B-50, but the Air Force doesn't want yet another turbocompound disaster. It wants the B-52, and the last thing it wants is budget cuts when it is time to pay for the B-52, which it will get when the full bill comes due.  And for all the backscratching in the House, the representatives who were willing to back Oklahoma in the "10 Groups" move will melt away like snow in the sun during the break. There's nothing in it for them. 

"Hope in Steel" It looks like US Steel is going to give way on pensions. Can't say I like the way the article poses this as a question of whether the worker or the company will pay for the pension. It's compensation, whether it shows up as pennies per hour or not. 

"Buying to Sell" Speaking of obtuse, The Economist is on about how tariffs cause the dollar shortage. I know they don't help, but the issue is the exchange rate! 

"Printers Under Pressure" The NLRB has ordered the ITU to stop getting around the THA with its STCs. Or, to put it another way, the Truman National Labour Relations Board is fighting to enforce the Taft-Hartley bill that the Administration wants to get rid of, by preventing the typographers, who have just found a way around the ban on the closed shop in the Chicago strike, from continuing to use their new trick. 
Which is all very boring although very worthy and political, but is more-or-less an introduction to the real question, which is the way that the Chicago papers got around the long strike by using varitypers for photo-typesetting. Phototypesetting won't replace linotype because it is more expensive and not as good, but future phototypesetters that use taped film and which have a greater range of characters and the ability to set type vertically. The upshot is that varitypers will replace linotype eventually, and The Economist thinks that the typographers should surrender now and avoid the rush. 

Which was the position the employers took during the strike, when they were pretending that varitypers were cheaper than linotype. 

"Houses for the Middle Class" The housing boom is back, with 950,000 new units started in the last quarter, finally taking the numbers above the 1923 boom. This requires The Economist to notice that there's not enough housing being built for the middle class, when it is defined as earning $2000 to $4000 a year, because the Housing Bill was scuppered. That then leads us to the Lustron fiasco, which we're going to hear more about in Fortune. The conclusion is that the RFC can't be allowed to make easy mortgages available to veterans through cooperatives, because that would be socialism, but it ought to give away scads of money to a company that dreams of porcelain homes, because that is very scientific and technological, and that's the kind of thing the RFC should be doing. Colour me GOP red, but I'm with Congress  on this one. Shorter Notes covers the resolution of the Hawaiian longshoremens' strike, the National Social Welfare Assembly's new comic book about how you should stay in school, and the Presidential veto of the $88 million authorisation for spending on the Navajo and Hopi reservations on the grounds that a rider would have extended state authority to the reservations. He promises to find the money for various improvements another way. 

The World Overseas

"The French Economic Outlook" Since the French have unfortunately solved their cabinet crisis, and since de Gaulle and the communists have crawled back under their rocks, Our Special Correspondent can only justify his Paris shoppping trip with a story about how the French want to spend too much money on this and that, which will lead to inflation, which will lead to the collapse of western civilisation. 

"Anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union" We're not anti-Semitic. They're anti-Semitic! Gentlemen, gentlemen, it is rude to point fingers You're both anti-Semitic! Ahem. Specifically, some articles in the Literary Gazette pointed out the Jewish origins of a number of terrible people, which is quite a departure in the Soviet press, which previously did its best not to feed Russian antisemitism. The Economist does that thing where it predicts horrible consequences --in this case, pogroms-- without really predicting them. 

"Old Friends of New China" It turns out that the Russians are quite pleased by the new People's Republic, and are sending advisers. They are already being credited with the almost instantaneous Communist restoring of the rail system. The Economist grimly predicts that they will wear out their welcome quickly, after which all will depend on just how loyal the Chinese leadership is to world communism. Speaking of, the Bulgarians are off to another round of purges to get rid of all the Titoists. 

"New Phase for Benelux" The Belgium-Luxembourg-Holland economic union is going ahead. the Economist is sour about this, because it thinks that Belgium's trade surplus is due to its ability to play the European settlement system, but it can't find any sign that it isn't going swimmingly, and has to really struggle to avoid "over-optimism." Hmm. Belgians like lower taxes than the Dutch. They're doomed!

"The Strasbourg Proposals" Or, "The United States of Europe, what's keeping it?"  Today, it's worries over Germany and the chance that it's all going to end in tears due to unelected bureaucrats replacing ministers. 

The Business World


This is not a vacuum cleaner named after a famous Mexican painter. This is a scheme for the intraconvertibility of the French and Belgian francs, Italian lira and Dutch guilder. The exchange rates would be allowed to float, and they would be pegged to the US dollar by the Belgian franc, the hardest of them, and the one with the "closest affinity" to the dollar bloc. God bless Leopold I, that jolly old blood-thirsty maniac! Few other details are available, leaving The Economist to invent its own and come to cautious approval. 

"Markets for British Aircraft" Stop me if you've heard this one, but by 1952 all the world's airlines will be ready to replace their entire fleets, this time for sure, guaranteed, no more DC-3s.  The Economist estimates an ongoing market for 300 aircraft a year, all markets taken together. British firms were in universal agreement that they couldn't compete with the Americans on a wartime basis, and focussed on gas turbines, excepting the Tudor,Viking and Dove, hoping that they would come up with something so good even the Americans will have to buy it. Development also requires state support, with only the Comet being built with private venture capital, the engines apart. (And even then, it could hardly go ahead without an order from a state airline.) The Comet has no rivals, so whatever its likely sales, it will build up a big British advantage in the field of jet airliner operation, especially the high altitude flying required by jets. So that's good. Turboprops fly at more normal heights so the Viscount and Apollo have a more straightforward path to production, sale and service; but they don't have Corporation orders yet. The Comet will also require the complete reorganisation of ground control on crowded routes. In conclusion, the Ministry of Supply has lost valuable time by not ordering more Viscounts and Apollos faster. 

A long note that boils down to the arrangements for taking Cable and Wireless shares off the hands of investors now that Cable and Wireless doesn't exist any more. 

Business Notes

"What Next on Sterling Balance?" All those swarthy people in far off lands will have to wait for their money, because Britain doesn't have it right now, although it does have guns. Another, later, not entirely unrelated note goes into commodity clearances, which is basically the knots everyone is tying themselves into trying to get crops out of the field and onto the plate around the world without anyone paying too much or being paid too little. 

"Two Reports on Simplification" The Anglo-American Council on Productivity has a report on simplification and standardisation, and so does the Ministry of Supply. It's good. Americans do it. Britons should be more like Americans. 

"Electricity During the Winter" The Economist is enormously pleased by how early the first rolling brownouts were, as they suggest that the upcoming winter will be satisfactorily bleak. Yes, 800,000kwH were installed this year, but that's just how quickly demand is growing. Peak demand when the brownouts hit was about 9.2 million kW/h, and about 25% of plant was down for annual maintenance, which suggests that the situation isn't actually as pleasantly bleak as all that, but  here's hoping. 

Now if this were an actual article, we'd send it by the lads to "turn the smile upside down," but I think we all know how to read an article in The Economist by now. 

Something about simplification, and something else about progress on the nationalising road haulage front. The latest Lloyd's Register of Shipping shows that UK shipyards have increased their work on hand by 52,000t to 2.1 million t, just over 45% of the world's total excepting the countries that don't return. One of those is Japan, but other information indicates 137,000 tons under way there. Lots of this tonnage is tankers, with 45% of British tonnage being tankers. However, forward order books are very slim. Some builders have work for three years more, but after that, "activity will be threatened."

I'm going to skip right over the financial notes, which has the usual incomprehensible bit about bank deposits being either up or down, either being bad, depending, the sterling balance, the latest on divvying up the German war booty, and what looks like it might be a bit of "joy-in-another's-misfortune" (there's a word for it in German, but no character to render it) about Swiss gold problems, to notice that wool markets are firm, and that a group from Pye, Limited is off to Washington to show off a 625-line negative modulation television transmitter to prove that British equipment really ius technically superior to American. 

Flight, 10 November 1949


An early "Hiller Killer" dusts oranges. 
"Preparedness" Lord Trenchard gave a talk last week about how the Air Force has to be prepared for war, because if war starts it won't be a pretend war at first. Flight takes that very reasonable point and extends it. Everyone should be prepared for everything. Which means that the Brabazon and Princess are good ideas, because if Britain has them, it is prepared in case they turn out to be useful. 

C. Colin Cooper, "'Hands-Off Helicopter'" Colin Cooper is a helicopter test pilot, the same one who showed his home movies last week. In the middle of his busy schedule he went to Paris to fly the Hiller 360, which is being operated in France by Helicop-Air, which is run by Commander L. Boris and has Alan Bristow along for the ride. They are both very dynamic people who are up to all sorts of things, and Alan gave Colin a ride in a 360. It turns out that thanks to its Rotor-Matic control, the Hiller is very stable and Cooper liked it very much, and hopes that money can be found to buy one and bring it to Farnborough so that RAE can figure out a way to copy Rotor-Matic in a non-dollar draining way. It all has to do with the way that the control column is linked to rotor blade pitch.

Here and There

The Navy will begin developing a 1000kW gas turbine generator for ships with W. H. Allen and Sons, who will be collaborating with Bristol. It will be a two-stage turbine, with the second state running the generator. The Woomera rocket range is being expanded. Stratocruisers keep breaking the New York-London record.  The Royal Auxiliary AF will complete its transition to jet fighters in 1951. Right now, 4 of 20 RAAF squadrons have jet fighters, two each Meteors and Vampires, the rest Spitfires. It is reported that a flypast over Tel Aviv of a B-17, Dakota, and 30 Spitfires and Bf109s was a commemoration of the alleged second anniversary of the purported Israeli Air Force. Okay, maybe I exaggerate, but the coverage is ridiculous. The Australians are going to make a Hawker jet fighter, but haven't decided which one, yet.  The idea is that the Hawker P. 1052, although developed as a research aircraft, could be turned into a fighter, and would be better than the 1040. Sweden is buying 45 Mosquito night fighters, and Fairey is involved, overhauling them at Stockport before delivery. Fairey is also overhauling 124 Yorks for the RAF. Indonesia may be in the market for five fighter squadrons. "Kling" cellulose acetate lacquers are just the thing for protective finishes on electric cables, and Henry Hughes and Sons' G3 magnetic gyrocompasses are in service on many leading aircraft. 

L. G. Fairhurst, "Airscrews for Turbines: A Review of Current Progress: New Problems of Pitch-Control and Blade Design" Propellers for piston engines keep getting more complicated, with the constant speed, feathering, windmilling, and even reversible pitch. The same can't be said for turboprop blades, where designers have a whole set of new problems, including two basic design concepts, the direct connected and free turbine types. (There's also the intermediate "compounded" type, where each turbine stage is connected with a different compressor stage.) They also start by having to redesign existing propellers, because the hubs and spinners are smaller due to different air intakes. From there, the direct-turbines have the problem that they cannot generate enough power to start the engine in existing fine pitch, so need a special, even finer pitch for starting, and also a pitch-engine control connection, since if the rpm falls too low for a given engine power, the propeller will "overlead," and the engine will overheat and stall.  Constant speed control has to be over this entire range, whereas apparently it isn't in the old piston engines. I didn't know that! Also, there have to be lots of safety interlocks to prevent the propeller from settling into a pitch that overspeeds the engine. 
In free turbines like the Proteus, there is no need for a starting fine pitch, and windmilling after engine failure causes much less drag, but this makes overspeeding even more likely, leading to a requirement for yet another safety lock just below cruising pitch, so that the prop will only rotate so far, and then "sit" against the lock in the event of failure. It can also be set to allow the engine to be oversped just a tiny bit on takeoff, which is good for more thrust and for reducing noise. 

By this time the author has mentioned reversible pitch windmilling, which has been the promised Next Big Thing in the field of dive-bombing for years now. While hardly anyone cares about dive-bombing, the team designing the engine for the Westland Wyvern cares about it lots and lots, and I bet that's who Mr. Fairhurst works for, so it's on to a long discussion of that. It all adds up to seemingly a million different controls all packed into the hub, so he shows us that. If this "Wyvern" doesn't work out, maybe Mr.Fairhurst has a future in the "electronic brain" field? He also wanders off to meditate on the fertile fields of swept back prop-blades and noise control before returning to the rich and meaty subject of counter-rotating and coaxial props, where he apparently hasn't much to say except that you can turn one engine off and give it a rest. Then he talks about making the blades, plumping for sold duralumin, and hollow steel for the bigger ones, where you can also blow hot air down them for de-icing. Then he talks about "supersonic" airscrews before finally coming around to ducted fans --these are the ones where most of the air that goes through what looks like a regular jet turbine isn't actually heated, but instead is just pushed out by the compressor, which makes this kind of engine look almost like a propeller-in-a-tube.  I mention this in some detail because it is the obvious competitor with the turboprop, so take it with a grain of salt when Fairhurst says that it has no future. No Future! 

"Sea Hawk: Hawker N.7/46: Design Appraisal of Britain's Latest Naval Jet Fighter" Hawker began work on the Sea Hawk back in 1945, starting with the Nene engine and the Tempest. The Tempest had air intakes in the wing roots, so Hawker put the Nene's intakes there, sat the engine in the rear fuselage, took the air flow out through two jet pipes, and put a conventional tail on behind it. The wing is a bit thick at the roots, but there is plenty of room for fuel and the undercarriage can be tucked in under the conical Nene. The design starts out with an ejector seat, has a "bubble" camopy to start with, and a very neat engine mounting. It folds up very compactly for hangar storage, and Bailey-Watson does go on for a bit about the details of the structure, for those interested in how the Hawker shop builds its latest airplane. 

L. N. and M. Williams, "Philatelist's Airmail" An article for stamp collecting on collecting air stamps. I would skip over it without mentioning it instead of mentioning it and then skipping, except that the author's have an actual letter from that experimental rocket-mail-to-the-Outer-Hebrides that Uncle George likes to joke about. It actually happened! They tried to shoot the mail in a rocket! If the duPonts go ahead with that scheme for picking up hillbillies by attaching them to rubber bands dangling from airliners, my collection of crazy-ideas-of-the-air will be complete! The article trails out with half a page to go, leaving room for a review of Wings of the Phoenix: The Official Story of the Air War in Burma, which is about what you'd expect of a Flight review. It's a great book about a great episode in a great war that just keeps on getting better. 

"Britain's New Bombers" Lord Tedder, Sir Roy Dobson, and Philip Joubert de la Ferte were invited over to the Air Public Relations Association for a nice dinner. Sir Roy kidded Lord Tedder about the RAF buying American bombers, if BOAC was going to buy American airliners, and Lord Tedder said it was like that when he got there, and it wasn't his fault, so I guess the answer is "Yes," but then he pointed out that Sir Roy has a modern bomber "on the stocks," and that "another one was expected from the Avro stable." So the story is that there's a Vickers medium bomber and an Avro bomber on the way. 

Civil Aviation News

BEA has sixteen proposals for a Rapide replacement on hand, and if one is successful, will push ahead with an order for 15 straight from the drawing board. This doesn't sound like a way to make money, but on the other hand BEA did finally make a profit in the first three months of this year, so it has a bit of  a cushion. In Africa, BOAC is delaying the shift of its flying boat service to Lake Nyasa and Central African Airways is running its Vikings on a route so close to BOAC's that there's talk of the two companies "consulting." That's code for "cartelising," The Economist will say! British charter freight operators are suddenly upset that they don't have the perfect plane for long distance freighting. Lancastrians, Halifaxes and Haltons are all too expensive for the routes, and Constellations and DC-6s all  have more important things to do. Tudors have too high a maintenance cost, so really the problem is that the British industry didn't produce a plane that is not too small and not too expensive, but, rather, just right. 

I read a fairy story about that once.

 Meanwhile, Douglas is shopping a freighter version of the DC-6 around. Also, Eddie Rickenbacker gave a talk about how it was okay for America to "permit" Britain to take the lead in jet transport because jet transports require government subsidies, and who wants that? The Washington Air Disaster gets into Brevities, right below Air France's September flying hours by type and right above the Ministry of Civil Aviation's move to Ariel House. BOAC will service its charter contract with the Overseas Food Corporation by regular Solent service and not special flights. South African Airways will fly radioactive isotopes in special wing compartments now, because the lead boxes required when they flew in the cargo hold were too heavy. I guess that makes sense if you fly a lot of radioactive isotopes. 
"Field Service: 'Jury Rig' Gets a Damaged Viking Home for Repair" At the end of August, a BEA Viking had to make a wheels up landing at Le Bourget due to the undercarriage jim-jam coming out of its gestetner. Fortunately, Le Bourget airport isn't on the top of a hill or anything, so a wildly sliding Viking skidding across the tarmac, emergency landing strip and perimeter road only caused damage to the fuselage, props and oil cooler shrouds. So they dragged it into an undercarriage, jacked it up on cinderblocks, waited for a few months for it to get better, gave up and blocked out all the scraped-off bits with some lumber a Vickers crew happened to see sitting unattended at a building site, and flew it off to Tollerton airfield, at where everyone was so ashamed to be caught dead that repairs went jig-time. Or something like that!


E.B. Bilham writes from the Met Office to apologise for the poor fidelity of the "Airmet" signal, promising Hi-Fi quality at a future date, and reliable weather reports reasonably clearly transmitted in for the moment. Did you know that the Sing Tao runs stereo ads now? 
It's mildly amazing that anyone had time for a love ballad in China in 1949, but I guess you take your relief where you find it. 

R. F. F. writes to tell people that Harvards aren't actually as loud as all that, and people who live around airfields soon get used to the constant, hearing-abusing noise of heavy machinery overhead. What's that? I DIDN'T CATCH WHAT YOU SAID! Colin Richardson, Manager of the Aeronautical Department of the Sperry Gyroscope Company writes to tell us about the latest Sperry equipment. Ann Douglas read a letter about gliders long ago, before the war, and writes in to explain that it is now completely and entirely safe to fit a man with concrete galoshes and fire him into the English Channel from a cliff with a giant rubber band so long as he hits 1000ft alttiude first. Or some such. I'm not sure how she's out of jail after that glider race in Switzerland, and certainly don't plan to waste time listening to her.  

"Lord Tedder on Air Defence" Lord Tedder recently gave a talk on air defence to the Royal Loyal Empire Kingdom Club Society of Very Patriotic Britons of Old England, with his old buddy, Archie Sinclair in the chair. After a long quote from Shakespeare and another from Kipling, Lord Tedder stood with his foot in a galvanised tin and sang "Rule Britannia," followed by a detailed explanation of why the imminent decision to buy some B-29s for Bomber Command was the right choice, a good decision, and also a terrible mistake by Labour, all due to socialism.  He went on to explain that all those nasty Navy and Army men who complain about "strategic bombing" have their heads declined into the nether regions of the soul. At which Sir Frederick Handley Page, who happened to be on hand, stood up to explain that Lord Tedder was right, followed by Robert Watson-Watt, who explained that scientists these days weren't modest enough. He only invented radar because he was so modest, which goes to show that there will be no modern radar, which is why we want strategic bombers. Or I think that's what he meant to say, but he got distracted by a loose thread in his cuff and had to sit down. 

In conclusion, Lord Tedder is a treacherous schemer and Archie Sinclair is a stalking horse for Lombard Street. And Brits are just going to have to buy the B-29 and lump it, because it turns out that communism is bad. 

"State Competition in Air Charter: Views of the BACA" The British Air Charter Association is fit to be tied over BOAC snatching the Overseas Food Corporation's business out from under the air charter industry. The fact that the peanut plantations out over the hill and far away turn out not to need air charter is irrelevant. The BACA ends its statement by noting that BOAC is laying off 1000 employees in its latest reorganisation, and that if the air charter companies had just been nourished with generous state contracts in their time of need, the industry would be big enough to absorb the redundancies, and how about that?

The Economist, 12 November 1949


"Retreat by Moscow?" The Economist takes a bicycle tour of Soviet horizons on a bright and sunny Saturday afternoon. Sweaty, happy, hungry, it is about to settle in at a nice little inn for the local wine and a one star dinner, it occurs that it hasn't actually filed a story yet. Out comes the portable typewriter. "If the Western policy on Germany is a success, Soviet policy in German will be a defeat, and Russia will do a tactical retreat, and this is proven in last week's Malenkov speech that didn't actually seem to say anything at al." Bang bang, rip from the platen, to the office boy, two pages done.

"Economic Liberation" The Economist wants price controls gone now, and also disinflation. It therefore needs to spend a few pages explaining why price control relief that leads to price increases won't be inflation.

"Test Point in Malaya" For the last eighteen months Malaya has been weathering a Communist insurgency and the recession. The insurgency has cost £25,000 a day. I'm tempted to make a point about a recession being a good thing where it doesn't lead to a Communist insurgency, but that would just lead to a conclusion that would make Reggie's ears perk up. (A bad attitude for a man who makes his living fighting Communist insurgencies, but that's the thing about being brought up in a global crime conspiracy. It makes you flexible!) The Economist scoots even closer to the edge by linking the Malayan emergency to the recent riots in Calcutta by "Moscow-directed Asian Communists." Are the Communists winning? Possibly not, because devaluation has raised the price of rubber and relieved widespread economic distress. Now the British have to make sure everything remains fine by encouraging more young Britons to come out and take up planting while restricting Chinese immigration.

Unfortunately, that will mean that the Malayan population will rise, and British rule depends on the equal division of Malaya between Chinese and native Malayans. Meanwhile, the Americans continue to gently suggest that colonial imperialism is a bad thing. It has been mooted that the British can fix all of this by promising to leave in 10 (20? 30?) years, but The Economist sees gratifying signs that Washington is warming up to colonialism if the alternative is communism. Or just because Washington is coming to realise that Britain is right about everything. In conclusion, just thinking about Malaya gives The Economist malaria dreams.

Your secretary has no time for your bullshit. 
"The Professional Practitioner" Professionals, especially the ones who aren't really professionals, are doing fine right now but maybe won't do as well later. Therefore we should worry about some things that aren't really problems but might be in the future, because otherwise "genuine political and intellectual freedom" is at risk.

Do they celebrate Thanksgiving in Britain, too? Because it sure seems like there's no-one at the office! The last one makes a lot more sense if you think about junior journalists as "professional practitioners" and think of a newsroom full of people my age who are allowed to take The Economist out on a spin as long as they don't get a ticket and fill up the tank.

Notes of the Week

"Fortnight in Paris" Oh, Heaven. "Swift and spectacular results are not to be expected" from the latest meeting of assorted foreign ministers in Paris where they talked about the new government in east Germany, changing things in west Germany, and possibly maybe France doing something a bit differently in  Viet Nam like Nehru recently embarrassed himself for saying.

"Integration by Numbers" The United States of Europe is currently being kept back by --concerns that "Fritalux" sounds dumb and strange decisions to convene important committees in bad places. (Rome instead of London). From the title you might expect some concrete numbers. You would be mistaken.

"Rising Anxiety" Anxiety is rising because there aren't the thirty divisions needed to defend Europe from "the Alps to Arnhem," and various honourable gentlemen have given speeches on the subject and also other defence subjects, such as that the defence minister has too much power in Cabinet. Would five divisions plus a really powerful Defence Minister be enough? How about atom bombs? Would they work?

I guess no-one in Britain ever uprooted a tree before?
"A Time to Probe?" It is beginning to look just a tad like spending £8 million in the highlands of eastern Tanganyika to plant hundreds of thousands of acres of peanuts to make margarine using a combination of apparently unemployed locals supervised by the kind of Briton who could be persuaded to take a job in the highlands of eastern Tanganyika under full employment, and to have them use giant tractors made of tanks in lieu of actual farm equipment might have been a mistake. It is therefore time to unleash an inquiry to discover if any money was wasted while all that money was being wasted. It will likely turn out that it was the Labour Party's fault for trusting Lever Brothers to know what they were doing. Shame! Shame!

"The TUC Reverses Course" The Economist is pleased as punch to report that the TUC has decided not to be the ones in charge of imposing the Government's wage restraint. Because it shows that the TUC is irresponsible. I wish I saved some Shame from the last Note. 

"Prices Rise in East Germany" The "Pieck Republic" dropped food subsidies this wee, which will raise the prise of rationed goods "between six and thirty percent."   The Dutch are doing more or less the same thing, but because they are not Communists, it is a good thing, called "rationing by the purse," and is also necessary given Benelux, since the Belgians don't ration at all, plucky free enterprise capitalists that they are.

"Baying About the Bomb" Everyone agrees on banning the bomb, but no-one agrees on how. So talking about it is "baying at the moon." It's the Russians' fault.

Just in case anyone missed it, The Economist is a Liberal paper and supports all the efforts the Liberal Party is making to find good candidates to run for all the seats. It thinks many of them are first rate and a credit to the party. It also thinks that voting Liberal is as good as voting Labour, and so you shouldn't, unless it is in an area that Labour is bound to win, in which case you should.

The Economist supports the reduction in housing spending and deplores the lack of new housing. More of the new housing that won't be built should ought to have been built by private builders, and it is all too expensive, anyway. The Economist would blame Labour because of awful ministers like Shinwell, except that there are also nice ministers like Morrison. However some more, The Economist remembers that speech in 1945 when he promised that an "age of plenty" was ahead, which was very foolish and led to ineffectual policies. So he's bad, too.

The Economist supports a Japanese peace treaty, as long as American troops stay in Japan forever, so it doesn't go Communist, which it would, otherwise. Because. That's why. Speaking of swarthy people doing communistic things, a delegation of Nigerians has gone to Moscow to see if they can get Moscow direction for their Communists, too, now that they have them. The Economist reminds us that the new Nigerian constitution is the best thing ever, that all the right sort of Nigerians support it, and that the whole piffle in Nigeria will be over when the peanut harvest, comes in.  The Economist is upset about something to do with the ongoing talking about the United States of Europe that is going on in Strasbourg and also by a suggestion that the old age pension should be increased, since that would be "an extra burden on the taxpayer, placed just at a time when all policy should aim at reducing it." 

At this point, having still not even covered off the latest problem with Italian socialists, The Economist notices that it hasn't demonstrated that it is a "left of centre" paper recently, so it criticises the Jamaican press law. The one that has already been withdrawn due to the colonial government conceding to criticism. That's it! Take a stand!

Shorter Notes covers Dugdale's announcement in parliament that all British submarines have snorkels and are at least as fast as anyone else's submarines, before worrying that other people have snorkels, and there is fun in the Commons over the fact that Christmas cards are still price-controlled.

From The Economist of 1849

The Economist really liked that fresh new novel, Jane Eyre, so it was very excited to hear that the author, Currer Bell, had a new book out, Shirley. It would be too much work to actually review it, but The Economist can quote a review at length and then agree with it, and add its own deep thought, which is that the main character is a bad example for the youth today. And it's true, literature can be a bad influence on the young. For example, I can't read a copy of The Economist and not sound like I'm talking through marbles. Now pardon me while I go kick a grandma!

(The Economist is well aware that "Currer Bell" is actually Charlotte Bronte.)


Arthur Koestler writes to defend Promise and Fulfillment against the allegation that it is full of "palpable exaggerations and untruths." "Mackintosh of Halifax" also wants to defend his cause, the National Savings Committee. Eric Gamage of A. W. Gamage, R. Gillespie-Brown, of the Bespoke Tailors Guild, and "an English landowner" named R. P. Gibson have a wide variety of concerns about the climate of business today.


K. Zilliacus' I Choose Peace appears under the pretty bracing subtitle, "Sense and Nonsense?" Which is it? Nonsense, it turns out. Communist nonsense. Maxime Mourin's Les tentatives de paix dans la Seconde Guerre 1939--45 is a survey of attempts to make peace during the world war. It is a good summary as far as it goes, but the reviewer has no patience with the idea that "unconditional surrender" was an obstacle to peace when the Germans had no intention of accepting reasonable conditions. Two books, under "Socialism or Democracy?" are reviewed to demonstrate that "one of the most obvious facts of the postwar years has been the decline of socialism as the obvious credo of the progressive . . . "The books are Ivor Thomas' The Socialist Tragedy, and Francis Williams' Fifty Years March: The Rise of the Labour Party. Thomas' book demonstrated that conservatives don't like socialism (even The Economist is out of patience), while Williams' book shows that introductory histories of the Labour Party aren't "penetrating and reliable works." Okay-dokey! Harold Evans' Men in the Tropics isn't about how hot it is in the tropics,  because that wouldn't be much of a book. On the other hand, this isn't much of a review, so that's what it gets up to. Uno's Maintenance of Full Employment is about how the Economics department sent out a questionnaire to all the governments and then bundled up the replies and printed them. I'd read it, but I'm late for an appointment to have my eyes gouged out by a rusty grapefruit spoon.

American Survey 

"Steelworkers and Stalinites" Yes, only a cheap grapefruit spoon rusts, but I am a poor and hard-done by student, and it is the most disgusting condescension to think that just because I have to work for my tuition I don't deserve my eyes gouged out as much as the next rich-person's-daughter-who-hasn't-upset-her-parents! If I can't have my spoon, I'll have to read this!

Anyway, the gist of it is that Murray got a steel settlement while Lewis couldn't get a coal contract, which makes Murray looks like a big ma, which means that he can lean on the Communist unions.

"Super-Market" The Economist's American staff have gone to one of these new "super-markets."
Curb-side retail delivery chaos in 1947. Although ironically, I'm now working at a Safeway with curbside delivery. 
They have thoughts. American housewives have a "lamentable insistence on helping themselves," and what's the use of fighting it? Just package everything, put it out on shelves, and let the housewife pack it up in the convenient "baby buggy" and take it to the "checking-out desk," where the "two or three assistants that run these huge establishments stand beside intricate cash registers." Everyone is saved time and labour, and the housewife finds convenient parking and a social outlet. Driving in from her far-flung suburb, she lingers, listening to the canned music, putting cantaloupes back in the wrong place and gossiping, while baby glides along peacefully in the top of the buggy. The only question is whether they can grow from their current 39% share of the market.

American Notes

"Fair Deal Triumphant" Democrats won all sorts of elections here and there, including the closely watched New York ones, showing that the Fair Deal remains profitable. Meanwhile, Dulles' run as the champion of Republican intransigence is seen as a "guinea-pig" experiment to see whether the die-hards are right in thinking that criticism is better than "me-tooism," especially with Kemper's resignation on the pretext that the bipartisan foreign policy was killing the GOP. The party "Young Turks," who support a positive alternative to the Fair Deal, are seen as buoyed by the result. 

"Business since the Strikes" May or may not be coming back, but the refunds of veterans' mandatory life insurance payments that start in January should boost the economy. 

"Negro Education" Segregation is supposed to be separate but equal, so you get the problem of sending all of Arkansas' Negro students who qualify for medical school, which is only a small proportion of Arkansas students (what do  you get when you divide by zero?) to a segregated medical school. The latest solution is a South-wide set of professional schools that all the states will be required to send quotas of Negro students too, or the tuition money in lieu. The NAACP resists the plan, since it thinks that just standing back and letting economic logic take its course will end school segregation entirely. "The problem for the Negro is whether it is better to wait for a grudgingly conceded millennium or to accept a segregated plan . . . "

"Cold War in Trade" The Americans keep adding new things to the list of things that can't be shipped to Russia because they are strategic. At the same time, everything is on the table for Jugoslavia, because they are the good Communists, and can have strategic aircraft, grease and steel mills if they like. The Russians, meanwhile, are trying to use their manganese exports as leverage to get the bans eased, but unfortunately there is more manganese available in India, South Africa and the Gold Coast.  And where Americans are feeling charitable, they feel really charitable, as witness the success of the Community Chest campaign. 

The World Overseas

"The United States of Indonesia" The new country is official enough that it is almost time to start complaining that its policies are wrong and will lead to disaster. Unfortunately, it doesn't have policies yet (but if it embraces nationalisation, this will lead to disaster). The Economist compromises by worrying about Communism. A long feature follows to the effect that Brazil's coffee industry is doing well, although various clouds cloud the horizon. 

"French Fears in Indochina" It has been three years since the French and the Vietminh commenced to fight. The French have an army of 125,000 on the ground and are spending 90 billion francs a year. Since the French  have blown their chance at a peaceful resolution, and the Gaullists are campaigning for a full-on reconquest, the French have settled on a "both" solution, in which Indochina remains in the French Union with Vietnam an independent state within it. The key to this is to have the French army occupy the main towns and roads, enforce a cordon sanitaire on the Chinese border, and wait for the Vietnamese to start listening to Bao Dai. Since the only purchase Bao Dai has got is when he gives anti-French speeches, this doesn't seem promising, and is where Nehru got into trouble by speaking those sentiments out loud, where they are harder to ignore. The French remain bound not to withdraw by the interests of 90,000 colonists, some rubber plantations, and the hope that rice exports will revive. 

The Business World

"Films and the Future" The Odeon Group's annual statement shows that Arthur Rank and company have had a disastrous year. One possible explanation of this is the exchange rate and bad movies due to cost cutting combined with an overly ambitious quota for British films. Another is that everything is horrid and we're doomed. (If Britain stops making films, after all, it will have to import American movies, or give up movies, which even The Economist isn't willing to argue for.)

"Turn in the Tide?" Speaking of everything being horrid, trading profits are down, which probably shows that we're doomed.

"Pakistan at Par" Pakistan has a favourable trade balance, so didn't devalue, which has disrupted trade with India. Pakistan's logic is that its exports are probably inelastic, and that it needs capital goods for industrialisation.  The problem is that while this is true of cotton, hides and wool, it is not true of jute, which is exported to Indian mills and sold from there. At current world demand for jute at £116/ton it is theoretically possible that Pakistan could just export the entire East Pakistan crop through Chittagong, but the border is not impervious, and there is considerable trade with India, and there is already smuggling going on.  Pakistan holds part of its currency reserves in gold, which makes it effectively a hard currency, and the Pakistanis have stopped buying Indian rupees for that reason. If India accepts the new exchange rate of 144 Indian rupees to the Pakistani, Pakistan's trade balance will become even more positive. India doesn't want that, and is restricting trade in hopes of compelling a Pakistani devaluation. Jute growers are particularly upset, which is why Pakistan has bought the entire crop.  So it is economic war until the speculators determine the victor. 

Business Notes

I'm just going to skip the financial news, which, in spite of yet another deceptive appearance by the Cable stocks, has nothing of interest to us. I mean, at some point the dust will clear and we'll see how much deranged exchange rates might have contributed to the difference between British and American productivity, and that will bear on "technical efficiency," but until it's safely in the rear view mirror, all I can do is point out that trade talks with Argentina, Canada, Sweden and Portugal continue. Canada in particular declines to rejoin sterling, reminds British exporters that they have to sell things Canadians want, notably in the rags trade, and that they should try to hit a target where they are selling at lower than American but higher than Canadian prices, which is to say, the 10% room opened up by Canadian devaluation. 

"Coal Prices and Exports" The target is 19 million tons of exports to Europe, which will only be achieved if British output can be raised by 3 million tons a year. "Several million tons a year more could be sold if it were available." Output is up substantially, and so is output per manshift, but as the workforce has fallen to 709,100, 15,000 less than last year, it is unlikely that the 215 million tons target will be met. Absenteeism is still too high. In another potential export industry, the cotton industry is "holding back" on re-equipment, only taking up £60 million of the 280 million in credits available, largely because the industry seems to think that improving existing plant is better than "re-equipment on a vast scale." Also, the new local gas boards are raising the price of (coal) gas, and people are upset. Some people are also upset that some countries (significant glance at America) discriminate against various flags in trade. That's technical talk for the ECA requirement that half of American Marshall Plan aid ship in American bottoms. 

"British Cars in the United States" Devaluation hasn't cut the price of all British cars in the United States because the exporters were losing money, and are now profit-taking, although still losing money. We round off the week (up to Shorter Notes)with a review of world commodity prices, which are up or steady, depending. 

In same, it is noted that British steel production in October was 307,000 tons, equivalent to an annual rate of almost 16 million tons and a substantial increase over last year, while the "index of industrial production," where 1946 is 100, shows 115 in August and 127 in September. 

Business Roundup

Did you know there were steel and coal strikes? Fortune takes the high ground: These are defence industries, and, why, who has an atom bomb but the Russians? And everywhere factories are missing shifts to conserve steel. Well, until the steel strike was resolved, anyway. Meanwhile, the suspension of UMW pension payments is a black eye to John Lewis and bad pension administration. Fortune much prefers the Ford scheme, under which Ford runs the fund. Americans also don't care about devaluation, but may in February and March, when it will begin to actually affect exports. And film companies like Paramount, which took a $30 million hit on its blocked funds, and Allis and Chambers, which finds its foreign contract bids "completely out of line." And California wine growers. And oil drill machinery exporters. And foreigners. Fortune blames the fall of the French government on devaluation. On the other hand, Sir Stafford says that while British gold reserves have fallen to a new low of $1.4 billion, the loss is  $40 million less than in the previous quarter. And the trade deficit is lower, and British reserves actually increased £56 million in the week after devaluation as money came home. The price of gold is now effectively increased, and world gold production will probably increase by $200 million annually to compensate, the first sign of this being a $10 million US private bank loan to South Africa. In general commodity prices haven't risen to the full margin of devaluation, so that's a gain for Britain and a stroke in favour of "dollar overvalued" side I've been pushing. Overall, the British are urged to make hay while the sun shines. Although it is not 1931, and Britain will not be "exporting deflation," they may well be "importing inflation," for devaluation does not solve the problem of low productivity. (Which I single out because, unlike the sterling debt, trade controls and pressure for wage increases, I still have no idea where it comes from, and neither does anyone else, in spite of brave talk, since if they did, they would fix it.

After a quick tour around tariff reduction, it is back to the United States, where economic news continues to be good, especially on the housing front. Since we've heard all of this before, I am just going to skip along to a "New Products" side bar, which has to be new news. Well, except for it leads off with a new Budd stainless steel railcar powered by twin 275hp diesels, seating 90, and running by itself or by links to a train. I guess that's new. Newer are assorted rail-helping machinery including one that crushes 3 tons of ice a minute to feed to refrigerator cars, a powered ballast cleaner, Associated Building Movers' machine that uproots and replants houses at a one-a-day pace, the first plastic pipe used by the oil industry and an automatic brick layer that is just over twice as fast as an experienced man. 

There's a separate New Products section at the actual end of the roundup, which mentions Continental Can's new high speed pasteurisation method for canning fresh milk, Rockwell Manufacturing's new "Hypermatic" self-energising lubricant, which "stores up energy" under pressure to redistribute the liquid. American Structural Products has a rectangular television tube, and Admiral claims to be the largest television producer in America, which doesn't seem like it belongs under New Products. 

Since it wouldn't do to be all encouraging, it is off to Washington to take a gander at the rising CCC bill for maintaining farm prices, which is one of the main drivers of the growing deficit in the Federal budget. A particular sticky bit is the sugar crop, which the US is stoutly trying to hold to the 1938 level of 7,250,000 tons to make room for imports and relieve sugar millers who do not take kindly to paying the American price. Thanks to the Hawaiian dock strike, the Federal budget was spared the worst of it. 

On the financial side, the NYSE isn't showing any particular trends, and so is deemed to be insane --"schizophrenic." But Kaiser-Frazer is up, and no wonder thanks to that RFC loan, which everyone expects to fund a Kaiser invasion of the low-price car field in '51. Packard has had a reorganisation of its board. Charles Langs has got "unstuck" from his "Posees" adhesive brassiere, which collapsed into a marketing disaster after he sold 150,000 pairs in twelve weeks, leaving him to cash out to Textron for $70,000 in cash plus royalties. Allied Electrical products took out a six column ad in the New York Times to celebrate selling 50,000 $3 stocks without underwwriters. 
Du Mont has bought a plant in East Paterson, New Jersey that will be the world's largest television factory when they are done spending $1.35 million to refurbish it. The Commerce Department has approved a half-million dollar export of oil drilling rigs to Russia. Fortune notes that total exports to Russia are $28 million. 

Fortune's Wheel introduces us to Fortune technical writer Lawrence Lessing, author of "Electronics," (July 1943), "Asttrophysics" (January 1947), "The Scientists" (Octover 1948), and "Cosmic Rays" (February 1949). This month he brings us "The Freeze in Television."Lots of correspondence about the special article on "What's Wrong with American Salesmanship." 

The Fortune Survey this month explores the American businessman's continuing concern that the profit system isn't perfect. 

"Pensions: Not If But How" Fortune has already signalled its position, which is that pensions are fine if they are run by management. But that doesn't meant that you can't spin out an article about it!

"The Transportation Mess" Charles Dearing and Wilfred Owen have written a report on transportation for the Brookings Institute that Fortune quite liked. As near as I can tell, the "mess" is that it's not perfect, the solution includes a clarion call for "more clarity about Federal involvement," and the only reason you can tell that you're not reading The Economist is that the prose isn't leaden. 

The canned gold thing was weirder.
"Sterling Silver in Every Home: A Bunch of Hustlers Apply the Door-to-door Technique to Silver --and Find Gold" Everyone's in silver, so it's time for us to bail. Good thing they mine gold in Tibet! If we can just fight off the Pakistanis . . . The idea here is the usual one, which is to go door-to-door until you find a sucker, in this case, one willing to buy silver. 

"Britain's Most Influential Periodical" You know what's even better than reading articles in The Economist followed by the same article in Fortune? An article in Fortune about The Economist! At least it's funny. "The Economist is a 'little to the left of centre . . . " Oh, no, wait, they're serious. It must been an election year! (When you can tell that The Economist is liberal because it is reluctant to endorse the Tories.) Did you know that Geoff Crowther "is one of the deftest editorial writers alive?" Fortune also delicately hints that it might not like the Atlee government. 

"That Lustron Affair" I thought that we'd pretty much said everything we could say about the company that got the bit RFC loan to take over the Curtiss-Wright plant in Columbus (Is that the one that Tucker Motors had its eye on? I forget) to make porcelain homes on the model of the gleaming white gas stations it made for Standard Oil. Something about gas station toilets. Something disgusting! Lustron has 2200 workers using 23 acres of floor space in "one long rythmic flow," working "monstrous two-story presses stamping steel into exact shapes," etc etc assembly line talk. The result is a two story ranch-style, and I think we've heard about the various weirdnesses involved with  its toilet, kitchen and furnace all being grouped. The only problem is that not only are the houses not the $7000 promised, they're more expensive than conventional homes in Levittown, and he won't make his promised profits or sale prices until he can deliver homes in "big lots," and for that he needs even more working capital. The real villain, as far as Strandlund is concerned, is the government, for not pouring even more  money in faster. As far as everyone else is concerned, it's the fault of various Fair Dealers for being taken in. And Labour. It's totally Labour's fault. For looking like the RFC if you squint, and being on the same planet as Luston. Seriously. Fortune takes time out to blame Labour. 

As far as the business press that pushed and prodded for prefabricated homes far and wide, why, the birds do sing and the flags still fly over a sunny and silent scene. 

"The 'Guarantee' Idea" The idea is that the US should make guaranteed loans to foreign countries so that they will have dollars to spend on American exports. Because the rest of the world just isn't productive enough, you see. 
In case you're wondering, the article about the Rio Grande and Denver doesn't mention all the British investors who lost their shirt on assorted American rail stocks
"Enter the Road Builders" The US is spending $1.7 billion on new highway this year. Business is good for equipment makers and builders, but the rate of new highway construction is well behind what is needed. The US  population hit 150 million this year, says The Economist in an article I won't be covering, mainly because of the rapid fall in the death rate for both old and young. Car ownership is going up, but what's the point when cars are stuck in traffic jams and being worn down by bad roads? Some say it is the big trucks' fault --especially the railways, who think they are subsidising the competition. Existing US investment in highways is on the order of $35 billion, and that is money down the drain if the investment isn't maintained. Since "much of the most important mileage" was laid down in the twenties, the bill is coming due now. There are now eight million commercial vehicles with allowable loads up in the twenties of tons. During the war years, when maintenance was neglected, overloading was  a patriotic duty, and since the war the load limits have doubled. Cruising speed has risen from 50mph to 70. The Bureau of Public Roads estimates a need for $11 billion in investment to bring the road system up to minimum standards for 1948 traffic, while state-level deficiencies come to $20 billion, and the American Road Builder's Association estimates a total requirement of $60 billion.   But it could go even higher if we listen to people who want weather-proof, safe highways you can drive at 70mph. All sorts of things, from passing lanes to better grades, cost money.

There's an interesting technical discussion on the relationship between new equipment soil stabilisation and surfacing material. There's a bit of a war going on between asphalt and concrete, and a compromise faction that lays asphalt on concrete. Concrete isn't sitting still for that, mind you, and is coming up with better concrete surfaces. The upshot is that more research is needed, and the 1.5% of Federal highway aid that can be allocated to research is funding a boom in university road engineering research departments (civil engineering, in plain English!). Well, can't be oppose to that! Fortune ends with some recommendations. First, roadbuilding shouldn't be saved for recessions. It's too important. Second, highway building isn't about "defence," and shouldn't be treated as such. Third, it should be integrated with other modes of transport, and here Fortune skids off into talk that sounds like getting freight the heck off the roads and onto the rails. It likes tolls, because they are fairer than gas taxes, and can be used to fight congestion. It also thinks that cheaper and better cars translate into better and cheaper roads. While money saved on car maintenance can be spent on roads, I am not seeing how it wants to make the connection. 

Two skeches and some text. Either I'm very generous, or I'm
in a hurry to get this done so I can go out tonight. You choose.

"Negro Businessmen of New Orleans" It is nice to hear that people like James Lewis exist. 

"Muskrat Trapping" While we're down in the Big Easy, how about a trip out onto the bayou to meet the men who make a living trapping muskrats?It's colourful, and it was a much more interesting assignment for Fortune's art staff than bulldozers. 

"The Television Freeze" As you've heard, the FCC froze new television stations back in September of '48 while the matters of colour tv and UHF frequencies were resolved. Now it is holding hearings to find out if they've been resolved. Lessing explains at some length that it is all down to the band of frequencies that were originally assigned to television, which were divided up by a big chunk of FM radio-reserved space, which made it impossible to allot a "homogenous" television spectrum, which led to the station ban, which is what everyone is upset about. 

Meanwhile, the actual equipment for broadcasting in radio FM on a commercial peacetime basis was being developed, and with radio and tv rights owners often being one and the same, CBS and RCA were fighting over spectrum where their particular patents gave them advantages. Almost before they even existed, the power output of FM stations was limited so that geographically dispersed stations they couldn't compete for spectrum, freeing more frequency for television. Once television began commercial broadcasting,the predicted interference problems with other services allowed in the prewar bands began to show up. So. Move TV up to UHF? Shuffle services around? Tell FM radio to "pound sand"? What a conundrum! This seems like a good time to break into a "Continued on p." what-have-you, interrupting service in favour of a whole article about how Marshall Loans and guaranteed loans aren't enough, and that what is needed is One World Government. Or at least, says Charles de Vegh, an Anglo-American currency union. 

Ahem. That done with, it's time to consider the problem, which is a conduction channel in the  upper atmosphere called the troposphere, where air, ionically-charged by ultraviolet light (these details from the engineers in my life, not Fortune!), conducts ostensibly shorter-waved transmissions beyond the radio horizon. Supposedly this was a great mystery that no-one, not even Mr. Hoover himself, saw coming. On the other hand, some say that it was a perfectly well known problem that RCA preferred to ignore, and that people in Washington who might or might not have had friends at RCA chose to ignore with it. This resulted in television stations being sited (in frequency) perilously close to the troposphere hole, which would have made some stations completely useless, which led to the freeze.

What we're left with:

i) The existing twelve stations have to be retained, or all existing televisions will be useless.
ii) The UHF band must be opened up, or tv will have nowhere to expand into. 
iii) Existing TVs need two receivers to cover the two bands, and many present ones will need converters or adapters.
iv) Industry will be forced to begin prompt development of UHF instead of waiting for the situation to ripen in its own good time. 
v) TV will not, as planned in 1945, simply grow up the spectrum a few more mHz, or perhaps another 6 to allow colour television.
vi) Or maybe it will.   CBS has a colour television system that can deliver twelve stations in 6 mHz. But now it turns out, so does RCA, and its all-electronic system is scads better than CBS. 
"A Key to the Automatic Factory: The Computers that Direct Guns Might Also Direct Machines" The gap between the fantasy of an automatic factory and the reality is the gap between a regular factory and the machinery that targets guns and torpedoes. We talk about modern digital computers like ENIAC, BINAC, EDVAC and the rest, but they can't do it. Meanwhile, the Department of Defence buys analog computers from Sperry and its subsidiary, Ford Instrument, and the Arma Corporation, an "extremely reticent Brooklyn firm whose remarkable history is recounted for the first time" here, right after some helpful explanatory diagrams. 

Not exactly doing a lot with error. 
Arma, we find out, is the only American competitor for Sperry in the gyroscope field. They made the Navy's Torpedo Data Computer, which aimed submarine torpedoes. (Uncle George says "Someone had to invent 'garbage in, garbage out'"). Arthur Davis, the founder of Arma, and a protege of Elmer Sperry, is only 54, and while he is retired, he would really like to do something else. Arma actually started out making seachlights for the navy, also a Sperry sideline. According to the story, the Navy wanted an alternative supplier of gyroscopes to Sperry, so it dropped off some seized German patents that "cast at least a measure of doubt on the priority of Elmer Sperry's invention," which allowed Alma to give over the difficult job of competing with Sperry in favour of just copying it. Hurrah for free enterprise! Once it could afford to hire some engineers, it licensed all of the other Anschuetz patents and built complete fire control systems for the Lexington and Saratoga, which seems to me like setting the bar awfully low considering that they ended up as aircraft carriers! And anyway the computers contract was given to Ford Instruments instead. Davis and Arma were upset about that, and got involved in automatic position control. Since Arma couldn't be inclined to build a mockup that actually replicated a gun turret, the contract went to GE, which did. However, Arma did manage to sell a "stable vertical," which is a contraption that tells the gunnery computer what's up and what's down. (Only radar can tell you what's all around!) Then it was on to the TDC.

I can't say that's it, since Arma has had some Super Top Secret Eat Before Reading contracts since, Fortune implies. That isn't that impressive a list, but then if they were making much more than that, they would have had to move out of Brooklyn and they wouldn't be able to treat the folks down at the Navy Yard and the Naval Aircraft Factor any more. On the other hand, after that hint, Fortune  goes on to notice some work in naval AA Fire control that didn't really pan out, and a contract for fuze setters, which did.  This work suggests that both my "Don't move out of Brooklyn" and "make friends at the navy yard" theories work, and I get further confirmation reading that when Davis retired, Arma had 8000 employees and sales of $60 million. The new owner is Herbert Guterman, and he's the one pushing the analog-computers-for-industry angle. His big deal is advertising and marketing.

Hey, you know what would help with that? A nice profile in Fortune

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