- Gathering the Bones, 18: Hew Down the Bridge!
- Postblogging Technology, October, I: Forest for the Trees
- The Bishop's Sea, III: The Real Presence
- Postblogging Technology, November, 1943: Caesar's New Clothes
- Postblogging Technology, November 1950, II: Platypus Time
- Postblogging Technology, December 1950, II: Christmas Corps
- Postblogging Technology, March 1944, I: Pulling In the Horns
- A Techno-Pastoral Appendix to Postblogging Technology, October 1950: The Chestnut Plague
- Gathering the Bones, XXIII: Wyandotte Days
- I Would Run Away to the Air: The British Economy, Montgolfier to 727, Part 1
Sunday, March 27, 2022
Sunday, March 20, 2022
Your Loving Daughter,
Friday, March 11, 2022
In the course of a bit more than a century of aviation, the air has seen its share of the ancient tradition of deniable war. For example, the Condor Legion and Republican aircraft smugglers in Spain, the AVG in China, and the American volunteers of the Ethiopian air force. Probably the single most currently relevant example is one I have been postblogging: The clandestine participation of the Soviet 64th Fighter Aviation Corps in the Korean War. Clandestine, in that Soviet pilots flew aircraft with North Korean and Chinese insignia. Everyone knew what was going on. The secret existed only because it was in everyone's interest to pretend that it was secret. Although I do not find numbers for the personnel side of the Russian auxiliaries, the Wikipedia account says that there were 297 Sabres available in theatre facing 950 MiGs at the time of the 27 July 1953 ceasefire, flown by Chinese and North Korean as well as Soviet pilots.
So that's an occasion when the pilots of one nuclear power faced off against another under a convenient veil of ignorance and also with the pilots of one of the powers further insulated from the brute realities of great power politics by a collective action system in which there was some guarantee that, between a provoked American President and a final nuclear confrontation, there would interpose an angry Clement Attlee or avuncular Winston Churchill.
We have seen UN pilots playing the numbers game in the contemporary press, with a final claim of 792 MiG-15s shot down against 78 Sabres. A more recent estimate indicates a kill ratio closet to 1.3 to 1 in favour of American F-86s.This is, however, exclusive of other Allied jets and piston planes, and the point of the fighting was to drive off the B-29s bombing the Communist staging area on the Korean side of the Yalu around Sinanju, a name I cannot type without free associating.Which I probably should have repressed harder, since it turns out I was reminiscing about a yellowface performance..
It was the failure of the B-29, and not the F-86, which proved to be the crisis of the air war, since it was deemed necessary to maintain pressure on the airfields around Sinanju to prevent the Red Air Force from contesting air superiority over the battle front. The fact that the crisis did not eventuate does not change the fact that there was a bit of a "Fokker panic" going on in Korea in the fall of 1951. The USAF needed a new bomber, urgently. And while the aircraft in question was not ready in time for Korea, the USAF did get one, and that is the story on which this little technological appendix hangs.
Friday, March 4, 2022
Oops! Turns out that the Statute of Labourers was passed in the twenty-fourth year of Edward III. Although I was looking for a fashion-plate sort of image, and everyone knows that gay men are fabulous, right? Gaveston's gloves, at least, look like fine Moroccan leather.