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So I Found Myself Writing A Pulp


Lawnmower Boy

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In way of explanation: "Postblogging" is something that boring historians (guilty!) do on the Interwebs. Take you through the press, or selection of the press, during a Very Important Period of Our Past. Usually, we have a secret agenda. In this case, explaining how the Western Allies went from being willing to fold like a cheap thing that folds at Munich to being ready to have at 'em in September of 1939. As a historian of technology with an interest in economics, I thought that I had an explanation. All of the money invested in British aeroplanes over the last five years was coming due in the form of a flood of new technology. We tend to forget just how overwhelming it was in 1939 because our view is foreshadowed by the war.

 

Or that's the theory, anyway. I won't go any further, 'cuz you probably don't care. The point was that I wanted to gently lead the reader to my view without being some kind of omniscient prat. So I chose to write in the voice of a contemporary observer. Unfortunately, it sounded like crap. That's why this starts in February, not January. Because the January entry sounded like crap. Anyway, I shifted gears to a more conversational tone. Our unnamed correspondent is writing to his black sheep remittance man cousin in Vancouver. A remittance man who, strangely, still have an involvement in the family business. Which I didn't want to get into, because that wasn't the point of the blog series.

 

So there was a mystery. And, somehow, a plot began to fall out of it. A pulp plot. I won't say anything more about it than that, especially since it only really starts to get going in the next post.

 

 

 

My Dear Reggie:

 

 

 

Another month, another batch of engineering papers to review and digest. You will notice that I have found the club's copies of The Engineer and begin with a short summary of January news from the more interesting of London's queen technical newspapers. I imagine the links don't work

 

The Engineer

 

...Begins by covering industry and engineering New Years Honours.

 

January is the month of synthetic reviews of the previous year at The Engineer. Hector Bywater, a name of note in the last decade. (Were the 1920s really so long ago? I know that you don't remember them, my Dear Reggie, but we are not talking about Scotch here.) Apparently, as of January, Britain had 600,000 tons on the stocks, with America as our next nearest rival at 400,000. Japan, Germany and Italy were gamely trying to keep up, although the question had to be how they could possibly afford to do so. Bywater is not keen on all of this construction. The six British carriers on the stocks strike him as excessive, not because he is opposed to aircraft carriers, but because, displacing more than 20,000 tons each, they are much too expensive to operate, and will surely be vulnerable to all sorts of vaguely-glimpsed countermeasures considering the actual utility of a few extra squadrons of aeroplanes. Perhaps he would be more receptive to the recent sale of 20 motor torpedo boats to the Dutch, to be engined with a navalised version of the Rolls-Royce Merlin aeroengine?

 

"Roads, Bridges and Tunnels in 1938" notes that two Thames bridges and one tunnel are under construction this month, and another one is being planned. If you are wondering why I am taking such an interest in the future of the engineering industry at this moment, Reggie, you might contemplate the location of one of our townhouses and draw your own conclusions. . . .

 

"Aeronautics in 193*" notes how things have changed since Professor Jones discovered "streamlining" ten years ago. Now we are concerned with turbulence instead, and a threshold of performance for airscrew-propelled planes in the transsonic range, which I understand to be the region just around the speed of sound, or starting at roughly 500mph at useful altitudes. Gyroplanes are quite exciting, our correspondent thinks, and the future of long range aviation is in flying boats. The correspondent is underwhelmed by Vickers' "geodetic" construction, and, unsurprisingly, sees the future as lying with aluminium.

 

"Oil-Engined Rail Traction in 1938" apparently warrants its own section, mainly a mindnumbing review of new gadgets for domestic service and for South American exports, such as turbocharging, gears, reversible engines, novel transmissions, "torque converters," "electropneumatic and Extractor controls" and ever more compact and powerful oil engine plants, with 220hp, 350hp and 450hp machines all noted. The major markets are domestic (including the new Royal Ordnance Factories, which require quite substantial works locomotives) and in South America. It is elsewhere noted that the capital servicing costs of German and even American railways are approaching 100%, that is, that the international industry has no money for re-investment. With British charges at "only" 84%, concentrating on the domestic market actually makes a great deal of sense. It is clear that reinvestment can potentially deliver greatly improved and more economical service, at least if all of these newfangled gadgets live up to their promise.

 

I shan't comment on the South American situation.

 

"Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering in 1938" reviews a quite pessimistic outlook. It is likely that, once all contracts let last year are laid down, only a quarter of the country's 2 million tons of annual capacity will be in play this year, especially since only 18% of domestic berths are suitable for Admiralty work.

 

 

 

Flight 2 February 1939

 

 

 

 

 

Our editor is on about airports, then about American expert Paul Johnston’s “Box Score†article in Aviation that notoriously suggested that, inter alia of being behind Germany in technology and numbers of aircraft, the RAF's morale was "5" to the Luftwaffe's "10," or some such. We could all learn something about manners from moves like the one where Poulsen manages to take all of this unpleasantness and pull out some numbers in which Johnson (inadvertently?) notices that it is all going to be all right. (6000 German a/c produced in 1938, 3500 British; 8000/5000 in 1939.

 

 

 

Articles: i) Airports. Apparently, there are over 20 new airports under construction in Britain right now. That's a lot, I take it, considering that even ten years ago they were talking about how domestic air services could not compete with rail.

 

 

 

ii) The Secretary of State for Air, Sir Kingsley Wood, has flown off to Reading, where he is presiding over the opening of the new Phillips and Powis factory, and is photographed taking a flight in a new Magister trainer. Page over, and I think this does not count as a new article, the Cunliffe-Owen factory has opened at Southampton Airport.

 

 

 

iii) “Fighter Bombers for the Fleet:†This new Blackburn Skua is quite something, a two-seater for combating enemy aircraft during naval operations and for making low-flying attacks on ships upperworks, and for delivering dive-bombing attacks.

 

 

 

(iv): “Present Trends in Radio Services:†of particular note is a discussion of High-Frequency Developments. Currently HF is used for direction-finding receivers at airports. These include ground beacons emitting definite track signal, and ground beacons emitting “omni-directional signals,†comparable to, and sometimes actual radio stations. Glide path beacons might be developed from the first concept, using the existing VHF installation associated with the continental Lorenz or Telefunken direction finding systems. An editorial note indicates that the article on “Air Traffic Problems†is held over to a future issue by circumstances beyond our control.

 

 

 

Service Aviation is buried at the back and is short, only two pages. The picture features K.W. in a “four-gun turret†at the Parnall Works. Apparently, the minister has been out on the town a great deal this week.

 

The Engineer 3 February, 1939

 

"Structural Engineering at Norwich." Boulton Paul, the aeronautical firm, was born out of an older structural engineering firm, which still exists. It has moved to a new location, and is busy making huge chunks of steel into structural bits with very impressive special purpose tools. Apparently, they're the lads if you want a hangar for a very large aircraft erected quickly.

 

"The Alaska Highway." Apparently, Alaska is quite a ways from the rest of the United States, and Canada's maidenly virtue is on offers for enough of the Yankee dollar. So perhaps soon a very long, very expensive road will be built from one to the other through the third. (Hmm. I begin to appreciate why you're so ungrateful for your bank drafts, Reggie. We're sending them in the wrong currency.)

 

A. A. McMurdo, "Railways and the Quest for Speed," is a discussion of the Pacific locomotive, which, due to its reduced hammering, solved all structural problems on British railways forever! This is an odd article, and I am expecting a very large and loud other shoe to drop soon.

 

 

 

 

Engineering 27 January 1939

 

 

 

Article: Apparently, the paper likes being behind the times as well as boring. It has been a month since the first flight of the new De Havilland plane ended with its back being broken on landing, and here is an article about the Albatross. Apparently, it will be quite good, once the wrinkles have been worked out. Which is all very well, but it is hard to get worked up about a pure mail plane, exciting as the idea of business air mail between London and New York might be.

 

 

 

Editorial: (I've mentioned the paper's charming habit of putting these in the middle of the paper, so that bound volumes switch dates between one article and the next, haven't I?Splendidly convenient for the bibliographer. Anyway, content: the paper chooses to speculate about what Auckland Geddes called “the third phase†of a war emergency to come. The first, if you have been following the conversation, will have been by this point the evacuation of the cities by nonessentials, followed in the second step by the deployment of the Fleet. The third step, then, is “the kind of war we had before.â€) At this point, our editor finds his point hovering into view, hull-down, on the horizon, and begins a dilatory move towards it? Apparently, we engineers will build a great many civil defence-type structures. Well, good, then. I had hoped that we wouldn't stop pouring concrete at home, just because of some silly "war like the one we had before." God save us from that.

 

 

 

Flight 9 Feb 1939

 

 

 

Editorial: Flight is worried that the Army might not have enough air cooperation types in the event of war. The thought is raised by Group Captain Chapel, who, in a paper to RUSI points out that, ultimately, only the Cabinet can decide how many aircraft should accompany the army overseas. Only political rectitude, therefore, can assure that the army will have the air support that it needs. Flight therefore thinks that squadrons need to be specially designated, as well as specially trained, as some already are, for the army expeditionary force. All very well, but the sting in the tail is "above an beyond an adequate basis for home defence." Yes, quite, Flight thinks we need to buy more planes. For the army. Think of poor Tommy Atkins!

 

 

 

Articles

 

 

 

(i) “Spitfires for the Squadrons:†Just when you think that Vickers-Supermarine's little ship is last year's model, out comes one with a de Havilland three blade two-position propeller.

 

 

 

(ii) “The Air Minister Goes South.†No picture of the Secretary of State, just coverage of his visit to Supermarine last week. Which said coverage is awfully extended. Has the Prime Minister perhaps some point to make? I frankly begin to dread the foreign news, Reggie. Have I mentioned that your son has been gazetted Commander(E)? He really would like to meet you someday.

 

 

 

Service Aviation has pictures of the Boulton Paul Defiant and Hawker Hotspur with their turrets, but oddly censored. The turrets apparently carry a number of machine guns, but the precise total is suppressed in the photo. The implication that I come away with is that the Air Ministry is treating us like nursery-school children.

 

 

 

Engineering 3 Feb 1939

 

 

 

Article: “High Speed Chain Track Vehicles†Having successfully rooked the reader with a dry-as-dust title, this turns out to be article about how tanks are getting faster. Today’s “Engineering Outlook†article covers the aviation industry, presenting the unsurprising news that it is growing.

 

 

 

Engineering 10 February 1939

 

 

 

Article: “The Engineering Aspect of Air-Raid Precautions.†Well, at least the title of the article manages to say what it is about, for a change.

 

 

 

Flight 16 Feb 1939

 

 

 

Editorial: Comment on Fedden’s RAeS/IAE talk. Er. Which, apparently, cannot be covered here.

 

 

 

About that....

 

 

 

Jour. Roy. Aero. Soc. 43 (1939):

 

January:

 

F. R. C. Smith, “Mechanical Properties, Uses and Manipulations of Aluminum Alloys,†is a brief and condensed review of current developments.

 

P. H. Rayner, “Notes on Aero Engine Research,†is a student paper.

 

February

 

F. Entwhistle, “The Meteorological Problem of the North Atlantic.†A nice chart reveals just how dangerous it is to fly over the Atlantic in the winter, beginning, interestingly enough, in November, and relenting in March. I would have put the season at something more astronomically winterish, perhaps January--April. Perhaps some day this will actually be relevant, perhaps in understanding an air-sea "Battle of the North Atlantic?"

 

 

 

So no coverage of the Fedder talk here.

 

 

 

Continuing with Flight,

 

(no. 1573, Vol 35, 16 February 1939)

 

 

 

Our Editor continues with the observation that American research equipment is better than ours.

 

 

 

Articles

 

 

 

(i) De Havilland has another new airliner, if I hadn't already heard officially. This DH 95 Flamingo is splendid, and has the high wing format to make sure that everyone has a good downwards view. Hmm. If commercial aviation really does continue to get better and better, might people who do not like flying actually some day do it? I am not convinced that the high wing is such a selling feature, length of undercarriage stroke set aside.

 

 

 

(ii) Buried in the articles is a brief summary of aspects of the Fedden talk, specifically, sleeve valve development. Whatever their merits as engine components, they do sound like a metallurgical marvel.

 

 

 

Service Aviation has another picture of a Defiant with the guns whited out, and of the new Fokker fighter.

 

 

 

 

 

Industry has a visit to the Sheet Metal, Inc. factory. They make fuel tanks! For planes. I would never have predicted five years ago that this could be a business that would support a factory. Not, to be clear, that I read the article closely enough to be sure that this is the firm's only source of custom.

 

 

 

 

 

Engineering 17 Feb, 24 Feb

 

 

 

Our editor repents of his brief digression into the minimally interesting with two articles devoted to civil engineering projects. Which, I am sure, are interesting to bridge, dam and harbour work builders.

 

The Engineer, 17 February 1939

 

The Engineer Vice-Admiral of the Fleet, Sir George Preece, spoke to a local branch of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers recently, taking as text the theme that even though 25% of the Navy is in the Engineering Branch, still its hunger for brains is not satisfied, and in particular brains who have attended advanced studies at the navy's engineering college at Greenwich. Not that I am implying anything about your personal peccadillos, Reggie. Yet.

 

This week, a book review covers Stephen* T. Possony's book on To-morrow's War: Its Planning, Management, and Cost. Possony thinks that total war will prove too expensive to be fought, and that there shan't be any of that terror bombing of which people speak. Given just how wrong this line of argument proved in 1914, you may be assured that I will be out digging a bomb shelter in the back garden this afternoon! Ah, well, perhaps the good professor is a better educator than he is a prognosticator, and his name will be remembered for the brilliance of his students.

 

 

 

Flight 23 February 1939

 

 

 

Editorial: i) Empire air forces are growing but have a long way to go. Perhaps I am old and cynical, but this whole thing with plucky Canadians, bearded Indians, brash Australians, disaffected South Africans and, well, whatever-they-are New Zealanders grates a little, Certainly, they have planes, but is not the point rather that they need planes if they can do some good? The last war was one "Fokker panic" after another, and surely we don't want to send sturdy Dominion human material up in second-rate planes to be mowed down by the successors of the Albatros and Triplane?

 

 

 

(ii) The Defence estimates: 580 million pounds. Have I gone to sleep and woken in someAlice in Wonderlands dream world, Reggie? 580 million pounds? Well, no wonder the Empire air forces do have a long way to go. They can't put the twist on the City for that much money! Honestly, this is more than a tenth of the national income, leaving any supplementary estimates out of it. (And I hope I am not telling tales out of school when I say that certain old shipmates are extremely displeased by having to settle for two 28 knot battleships when near-new armaments taken off of Fisher's follies are left on the quay to rust away.) The Air Estimates, by the way, cover two hundred million of that. It’s being spent on new planes, and 37 new stations, and there’s the FAA, still partly funded out of the Air Estimates, the editor says, although elsewhere he seems more sensibly aware that that was always Admiralty money, and that the Navy really should have a say in it.

 

Never mind, Reggie, I am sure you are tired of that particular rant. And we have a new panic about anti-aircraft artillery, but, again, that is for the army. Our editor mentions a reversion to fixed undercarriages, and teases us with a “mystery plane†apparently revealed in the Aircraft Engineer supplement at the back. Will it be the one that jaunted over me as I was driving to the country last week? It would be nice, but I doubt it. I shall try to contain the suspense as I continue through the main content.

 

 

 

Articles

 

 

 

(i): “Air Forces of the Empire.†Our photographer has found Indian ground crews in turbans. Isn’t that picturesque? Do Scottish mechanics wear kilts? The Aussies have Demons and Ansons! And they have the nerve to complain that they cannot get hold of our best.

 

 

 

Service Aviation has no pictures, boring, especially when it mainly exists to reprintGazette information. And it interleaves yet another bit of material on Empire Air Forces. I’m not sure that this is effective layout, especially with another picture of an Australian Anson as illustration on the first page, although over we get a Gannet, Hudson and Wirraway. New Zealand foregrounds its scenery in its pictorial, even though we eventually get a picture of a Wellington. I am not sure how New Zealand gets our best bomber, whereas Australia cannot? Is it the scenery? Or is it because our industry does not wish to export its capabilities, only its products? I am sure it is the former, Reggie. Canada has float planes. Because it's an Arctic wilderness, you see. And biplanes. Oh, and Blenheims! South Africa has Westland Wapitis, and Airspeed Envoy Cheetahs, which are to regular RAF planes as European animals are to African. Which is to say that they are larger, and have spots and stripes? I am not sure, but, whatever be the case, they will surely be cause enough for the Dutch to forgive us the whole "concentration camp" unpleasantness.

 

On the same topic, I note that the author regards Egypt and Iraq as Empire Air Forces. And people task Dame Agatha for making her village policemen so utterly clueless! Having actually talked to some real Arabs on matters political, I do not hesitate to predict that neither country will rally round the Union flag in time of war.

 

 

 

Finally, as promised, The Aircraft Engineer. How have you controlled your anticipation, Reggie? The article is aboutâ€Inertia Starters," and the mystery plane, by the way, is a Bristol Bulldog being used to flight test an Alvis Leonides, an engine that has rather less chance of an Air Ministry contracts than my cleaning lady's son's "Really gigantic wound up rubber band" plan.

 

Now, if you have actually read all of this, you will be wondering what, at the end, I take away from it. My answer may be unexpected, but I do have some friends who did not throw their maths in the dustbin after Cambridge, and so "unexpected it is:"

 

"Three-bladed airscrews, Reggie." I was not present at the Fedden talk, and I cannot tell you why it seems to have been embargoed. What I can tell you is that the Rolls-Royce concern was able to increase the horsepower of their last engine, the Kestrel, from 500 to 700 horsepower during its lifetime. There is good reason why fast aeroplanes have two-bladed propellers. Words such as "balance" and "torque" come up, and "the conservation of angular momentum." There can only be one reason for going to three blades, and that is that increased airscrew area is needed to absorb increased engine power. A new Merlin is coming.

 

Yet, at the same time, the company is selling a navalised version. Remember that the power boat industry has been sourcing engines in all sorts of outlandish places. Italian engines, American engines, even the Napier Lion, the which appears to have turned from the very quintessence of modernity into a drab old workhorse in the blink of an eye. Certainly we never saw a "Sea Kestrel," and that is because Rolls-Royce had enough Air Ministry custom to absorb its production. Now, in spite of vast increases in aircraft production, we are seeing surplus Merlins turned over for export, at the same time that, I speculate shamelessly, new makes and models of the Merlin are under development.

 

It is not news, of course, that Rolls-Royce has built up a great deal of productive capacity in the last three years, with its new plant at Crewe, and the one proposed for Glasgow. I just wonder how much capacity the internal combustion engine industry will be able to absorb after this war scare ends. Whither the roads?

 

We shall see, Reggie. We shall see.

 

Yours, etc.

 

P.S. Your son was gazetted Commander(E) in the New Years list, and will be lecturing at Greenwich this spring, I am sure you have not heard, as no congratulations from Vancouver have been as yet forthcoming.

 

 

*Sic.

 

 

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My Dearest Reggie:

 

These packets keep getting thicker, don't they? It's not my fault. Blame Herr Hitler, and other matters that Spring brings with it. I gather that even the Canadian press has managed to notice the annexation of the Czech lands into the German Reich. Perhaps I should say, rather, "especially," since it seems to me that all the Hussites ended up in Canada. Or was that America? Or am I confusing my Bohemian heretics? Or, again, is the story of people going to America more complicated than I am given to understand? (Don't we know about such things!)

 

Speaking of things that shouldn't be mentioned in polite company, I would rather that the club didn't know that I am reading The Economist now, as next they will be suspecting me of having Non-Conformist leanings. The Nineteenth Century never dies around here. Or, rather, the whitewashed Nineteenth Century of their asinine imaginings. Which brings me to the clipping, which purports to show how the American economy has come adrift due to the decline in the number of millionaires since 1929(!) and the decline of investment funds due to Roosevelt's swingeing tax raises. The moral of the story might be that we should think long and hard about how British manufacturing will compete once the Americans finally twig to the idea of allowing investments to be deducted from income tax payments.

 

Or it might be that The Economist's American correspondent is making disingenuous arguments in favour of lower taxes on the wealthy, but I shan't call him out on that. On the contrary, I shall wish him every success, just so long as I do not have to be seen in public with him.

 

With that, on to the news of a tumultuous month.

 

Having quoted The Economist, I shall begin with it, a little out of my self-imposed monthly schedule, perhaps because I am thinking of domestic economies, and how they are facilitated when there are two to share the load. That's a hint, Reggie!

 

The Economist, 18 February 1939

 

The White Paper on the Service Estimates was discussed this week. It gives a “comprehensive statement of the aims and progress of the defence programme as a whole.†The borrowing limit for defence spending as a whole is to be raised to 800 millions, and that no less than 80 millions of that are to be spent this year, the whole of the Estimates rising to four fifths of discretionary spending. This is, in one sense, a source of satisfaction, deter the dictators and all that, as seemed to be the objective in the innocent days of late February. Yet the leader is also worried. The supplementary estimates now being voted show that defence production was higher last year than originally projected. The Leader thinks that the Army is under armed and that there are not enough “of the small naval vessels required for anti-submarine and convoying work†and that more needs to be spent on air raid precautions. So something for the shipyards and for the civil engineers. In the last war, we ended by building a good part of the escort force to mercantile standards of construction, something that we could bid on from Hong Kong, do you suppose?

 

It is, again, a reflection of last month's innocence that the dominant theme of the White Paper is the financial cost. Revenues are lower than expected, unemployment benefits higher. Only the income tax looks like it will meet expectations. The average volume of trade looks to be lower in 1939 than in 1938. The Leader calls for some defence spending to be financed from the floating debt, for which there is not enough product to supply the market, and some from an increase on revenues, in order to reduce reliance on the financial markets, which will be tested by so large an issue of debt as will be required to meet continuing defence expenditures.

 

Elsewhere in this issue: “[E]ven if the guns made in 1938 can be prevented from going off, the rearmament will at least have proven something that economists have long argued in vain, that government expenditure can affect the trade cycle.â€

 

 

Flight 2 March 1939

 

Again what a difference a few weeks make, as the Leader was on about international air control agreements. In peace, to be sure, the issue of controlling airliners crossing international frontiers becomes ever more pressing. In war, if we are to have it, other matters arise. Then there is some substance added to the bit about trousered undercarriages at last: specifically, one George Dowty writes to suggest that the recent problems with jamming undercarriages suggests that design of them be left to specialists. According to your son, this Dowty fellow is making quite a name for himself designing aircraft undercarriages. Who knew that such a thing could become a manufacturing specialisation? On his recommendation, I dropped a few hundred into shares. After all, where would we be if Pou-Pou had not persuaded Great-Grandfather that Burmah oil was a better bet than under-draining more of Kent?

 

Not to be diverted (any further) by better times long ago, I notice that two more of the De Havilland Albatrosses have been ordered for the Atlantic. There is not even a mail run across the Atlantic yet, and we are already expanding the fleet? Perhaps New York is going to revive! The Leader inquires as to whether more should be ordered to “relieve the strain†on the Ensigns? I don’t know. Do Ensigns break their backs when they land? Can Albatrosses take off in Mediterranean airs? I would recommend that we walk before we fly were it not so far beside the point.

 

Article: Francis Chichester, “Square Deal for the Navigator,†an airplane design really needs to allocate some space for the navigator to do his work. Remember trying to hold the charts down long enough to take a measurement back on old Rattlesnake? "….And Bristol Fashion,†is a history of “one of the oldest British aircraft firms and its products," with quite a lovely picture of a Blenheim suitable to be pinned up above a boy's bed. I enclose one, in case you do not receive Flight in faraway Vancouver.

 

Foreign Service News: Talk of shell guns; a quite remarkable new twin-engined Dutch fighter from Fokker and the entirely unremarkable JU87, one of the dive bombers of the Luftwaffe. The first aircraft works in North Africa is taking shape at Maison Blanche near Algiers. Perhaps the day is not far off when the corsairs of Barbary fly instead of sail? France, not content with corps d'elite that march quickly, ski, or ride bicycles or motorcycles, are now training equipes that will be dropped from aeroplanes --with parachutes, of course. Didn't that American madman, Christie, propose to deliver tanks that way a few years ago? I await the announcement of an air-droppable Big Bertha. China, regrettably, is buying an American fighter, the CW21.

 

Ah hah! Remember how I remarked on the mystery of Bristol's chief designer giving a public talk in London that Flight apparently could not cover? This number now has a very tight summary of a repeat performance given at the Rolls Royce works in Derby: “A Bristolian in Derby.â€A. H. R. Fedden had a much more hostile audience, and we are told, defended himself with fascinating results. Sleeve valves we are given to understand, survive almost all criticism. They are not more prone to failure, nor harder to maintain, a claim that strikes me as implausible, or at least special pleading. On the other hand, I am just an old steam hand, and Fedden is talking about 6.2 hp per square inch of piston as being "in no way the limit!" Fedden is quoted as admired the high-output short life policy seen in Rolls Royce racing engines, but adds that Bristol’s philosophy was reliability at all costs. Even I see the dagger that hides behind the smile there! Bristol is experimenting with more configurations, such as one, two, three and four row radials, as the Taurus is probably the most compact radial possible. No false modesty there! In a reference that seems aimed at Derby, Fedden notes that an “X†type engine, which might be thought of as a six-row, four-cylinder radial with the engines in a bank, and he allows that Derby might be working on 9 hp/ square inch, cylinders with 6" bores, and fuels of over 100 octane is in sight. This, another informant tells me, implies an aeroengine of as much as 2000hp, which I would dismiss as American bombast had he not given me a little eyebrow-raise to suggest that there is nothing hypothetical about it at all.

In this light, I note that The Industry has a short bit worthy of that little tell: Napier’s chairman refers to a ballon d’essai in his speech to shareholders. Something remarkable is coming from the Napier works soon.

 

Engineering 3 March 1939

“Research and Industrial development.†“The Iron and Steel Industry in the Armament Programme.†I summarise neither article here. Suffice it to say that research is important to industrial development, and that armaments use iron and steel.

 

 

The Economist, 4 March 1939

 

This week: Franco's government is recognized; the Estimates tabled; Pius XII is elected in conclave. He is thought to be anti-Nazi, opposing “racial persecution and totalitarianism;" Air raid precaution work is at last in full swing; there is a crisis in the Palestine Talks, which I do hope will be resolved soon, so that we can move on to more important matters, such as the terrible developments in Shanghai. The one small consolation of the denouement in Prague is that now that everyone else feels weighed down by an abstracted sense of gloom, I have an easier time concealing my own distress.

 

-The 48 hour week for shop’s assistants is still a dream. Of shop's assistants, I imagine. Employers, oddly, seem less enthusiastic, although I for one shouldn't mind being waited on by people who have time to sleep between work days!

-The BBC’s budget is up on licensing revenues, but it still needs its Treasury subvention due to the rapid expansion of domestic radio, international shortwave, and television services.

 

-India’s budget is balanced by increasing taxes and a fall in defence expenditure thanks to an increasing UK subvention. A doubling of the import duty on raw cotton defeats forecast budget deficits. “It is significant that the sharp increase of the import duty on the raw material of India’s primary manufacturing industry, with the effect of protecting the primary producer, seems to have been well received in Indian political circles.†Honestly, between Lancashire and the Indian landlord class, we will lose this Empire of ours in jig time!

-Speaking of which, Mr. Bose and Mr. Gandhi are squabbling.

-No sign of recovery in the US.

-In perhaps not-unrelated news, France is to be reformed by “plough and machines†not by government. All very well, then, says the Leader, but French industry doesn’t want to invest. There is too much uncertainty about the prospects for a recovery in domestic spending. “Ten milliards less in taxes would have meant ten milliards more in false money,†the finance minister says. Well, yes, but we're borrowing to make up for the shortfalls in your air force and, now, apparently, your army.

-Anglo-German talks continue on adjusting trade to both country’s interests. Also being adjusted, “uphill," so that is downhill both ways. Excellent news for bicyclists and locomotives! I should imagine that Herr Hitler's seizure of Prague's foreign reserves is the best indication of where these talks were going.

-Speaking of which, increased taxes in Germany, too. Especially on Jews. Go away, Jews! And pay more taxes. Am I the only one who sees a contradiction here? It's rather like socialists and rich people...

-I neglect to summarise the “Estonia in 1938†article, fascinating as it is.

-D. M. Moore writes to explain “Nazi Economics.†The Nazis invade people when they’re feeling pinched. Timely, Mr. Moore, timely.

-Articles: “Revival in Home Rails?†Railways are over-capitalised and steadily leaking traffic to the roads, but, somehow, some of the domestic rail stocks are undervalued and good investments. I shall stand for the ribbing later like a man, but, frankly, Reggie, I have been burned too often by railway schemers. “Tin Under Control'" Shipping in trouble, cocoa prices down; oat and barley subsidy to cover weaknesses; retail sales in January overall unchanged. That last is interesting, and so is the news that income tax receipts are up, I notice now, as my upset over Shanghai subsides. Remember how, just last week, they were to "disappoint?"

 

 

Flight 9 March 1939

 

Leader: Air Estimates higher than Naval Estimates! Note that in your diary, Reggie. Nor is it just the air force. The Fleet Air Arm is growing, too. The Leader is alarmed. Where will we get Jolly Jack Tar artificers? Not from industry, we are told. Not from the Air Force! So. Train your own! Well, yes, and then they're off to industry. I suppose that it is back to the days of Selborne and Fisher, then. Fisher, you will recall, scrapped the South China Station for his artificers, in the end. What will your son's generation sacrifice? Battleships? I shudder to think.

Article: “Bristol Fashion†II: the Rise of the Radial." The Civil Hercules, soon to be lofting us over the Atlantic, is a fine little engine. "Training Carrier:†Flight goes to sea on HMS Courageous. Better you than me, old man, although at least Fisher's Follies are better sea boats than old Argus! The Air Estimates are given a three page commentary.

Service Aviation has a picture of a Skua at sea and a Bristol Bombay being rolled out, only two years late.

Commercial Aviation shows a DC5, which looks astonishingly like the de Havilland DH 95. Are they running out of ideas in Burbank?

 

 

The Economist 11 March 1939

 

Leaders: “The Location of Industryâ€â€”companies move, in general from the North to the West Midlands, Greater London Area, and southwest. Someone should do something that doesn’t involve state intervention in the wrong way, but possibly in the right way. I paraphrase, to be sure.

Can Germany’s Jews be ransomed? “The World’s Navies:†Britain has 15 battleships to the Axis (Japan/Italy/Germany 18 (9/4/5); 7 carriers to 5; 64 cruisers to 66 (39/21/5); 174 DD to 200 (118/60/22); a massive inferiority in “torpedo boats,†excluding the small motor type. Now, as for new building, it is 9 capital ships building or authorized to 12 (4/4/4); 6 carriers to 4 (2/0/2). Notice, Reggie, that British aircraft carrier construction equals the entire world’s less the French (2) and the Soviet Union, with 3 authorised. In cruisers, it is 23 to 26 (5/12/9); in destroyers it is 40 to 25 (10/7/8); and in submarines it is 18 to 39 (8/20/11). Right now, it looks like it would be difficult to send many reinforcements to Singapore in the event that Britain and France face off against the entire Axis, but when the British building programme is finished, it will be much more practical.

Topics of the Week: the army is to be modernized as a mobile striking force. The 19 divisions mentioned elsewhere are to include 3 armoured and 3 motorised. Only 4 Regular divisions are to be fully armed on a modern basis for the moment, however. China, the Middle East, India, wage pressure in coal and rail not entirely to be resisted; there is a Belgian cabinet crisis, which I hope will be resolved soon so that we can pay attention to more pressing matters; there is no sign of economic recovery in the United States; but France will start recovering quite soon, helped along by cuts in administrative expenditures. There are some signs that this is so, for heavy industry is recovering nicely, although I cannot help but wonder if this has something more to do with defence expenditures than with sacking bureaucrats, and French consumer spending is pulling back. Herr Goebbels blames Britain for Germany’s inability to make trade deals abroad. The Dutch guilder is depreciating, and, in the wake of foreign trade wars, the Government sees it as necessary to stimulate domestic spending (on domestic goods) by increasing import duties; Profits in February were stable, and there was a sharp decline in unemployment. Steel production is up. Major purchases of scrap abroad will soon be necessary.

Flight 15 March 1939

 

Leader: Debating the Air Estimates. You might imagine, Reggie, that it would be impossible to debate a "candy for everybody" Estimate, but, apparently, one can. Kingsley Wood was asked about high frequency directional beacons, apparently the latest thing in air traffic control. How are they coming along, K.W.? The minister is forced to admit that they have only 3 of 19 in. Some Hon. Membs. "Oh. Oh!"; Mr. Hore-Belisha says that the army will send 19 divisions overseas. No more Limited Liability. Notice how this comes before the march on Prague?

Article: “Some Data on Foreign Aircraft Carriers.†Since you were wondering. Britain has 6, four building, 1 on order. America has lots of carriers now. Japan is breaking out of its treaty limits. Italy won’t build carriers. Now hold on for a minute, here. As angry as I am at the Japanese at the moment, I cannot help but notice that we're the ones building five aircraft carriers and fitting out one, but that it is the Japanese who are breaking out of the limitation treaties? There are not many times that I miss Jack Fisher's intemperate mouth, but this is one time.

Article: “Air Estimates Debated:†After my facetious first take above, I am compelled to observe, on a more serious note, that the crucial issue right now is the need for more production plant, as opposed to more aircraft.

Article: “QBI –and Why†Just in case you are not au courant with wireless shorthand, "QBI" is flying in non-visual conditions such as night and overcast. This is when air traffic control becomes especially important, but also especially difficult. Having said all that, the notice in this number is that the article is held over for reasons that we would quite understand, if Flight could only divulge them.

 

 

The Economist, 18 March 1939

Leaders: “Agony of the Czechs.†What more need be said?

Short topics: Australian political economy, Pacific defence, Palestine, India, rise of Japanese shipping at our expense. The United States is contemplating “recovery by spending.†France’s recovery is helped out by the fact that foreign currencies are inflating even faster than its. Though on the basis of wholesale price indexes, it is a mysterious, invisible inflation of which the Paris correspondent speaks. The British electric companies are doing surprisingly well. Looking back with a few weeks' distance, I cannot help notice the last. As after a long winter, the first green shoots. . . I think that at some point soon, at least granted that Herr Hitler gives it a chance, we shall see an honest-to-God boom in England again. If so, it will be an odd one, triggered by domestic consumption.

 

Flight 23 March 1939

Leader: The Air Ministry and War Office have agreed on how many fighter squadrons the BEF gets. It is finally admitted that Britain will be getting the shell gun, with a Royal Ordnance Factory to manufacture it in the UK. I am given to understand that it will be the Hispano, a veritable elephant gun amongst 1" aero-cannons. The RAF will also be getting a twin-engine fighter of more modern vintage than the Blenheim.

Article: the Parnall 382 Trainer is described. Summary of an article debating comparative merits of carburetor versus injection. Apparently the former is more efficient, while the latter allows for more vigorous aerobatics. The ROTOL company's variable-pitch airscrew is described. As is the Percival Trainer.

 

Engineering 24 March

 

The Leader has noticed that the Naval Estimates are huge. “It will be recalled that the estimates, now accepted, provide for the construction of two capital ships, one aircraft carrier, four cruisers, 16 destroyers and two flotilla leaders, 20 fast escort vessels and two of normal type, 10 minesweepers and 13 miscellaneous craft such as gunboats and hospital ships.†These are not pure additions to the fleet, which is seriously overage. We are not seriously challenged by Germany on the surface, but the Reich’s new submarine fleet is a menace, while Italy’s battleships may be thought of as a support for the massive light forces that will effectively control the central Med. Thus it is the destroyers and escorts that are the most important part of the Estimates. All very well, but what of "Main Fleet to Singapore?"

 

 

The Economist, March 25, 1939

 

Leader: “England Awakes.†“Business Not as Usual.†There will be conscription, but not just of young men for the services. “Conscription of national industry†is in sight.

Short Topics: The debate on the Naval Estimates has the Opposition calling for even more “light escorts.†In America, it is argued that Treasury borrowing is crowding out the private sector, so the Treasury’s decision that it “wants no new money†in the first half of 1939 is industry’s chance to show that it can absorb American capital.

Articles: “Armaments Profits.†Despite considerable increase in turnover, it is not clear that armaments firms are making large profits. The specialty steel firms are the exception.

Company reports: British Aluminium and Associated Electrical Industries did well last year, and so did British Insulated Cables, although their sales rose less than in previous years.

Flight 30 March 1939

 

Leader: Air Power in the current crisis. With war in the air, H. F. King gives us “Military Aircraft of the World.†The Bloch 151, Dewoitine 520, Bf 109, Caudron, and an outlandish contraption called the Payen Flechair, apparently not new, are remarked.

 

Commercial Aviation covers the first commercial crossing of the Atlantic, as the Americans, as expected by everyone, except, apparently, Imperial Airways, have wrong-footed us. Yankee Clipper, a gigantic Boeing(!) flying boat, carried several paying passengers.

 

Article: “Armament: Some Notes on Recent Developments: Large Bore Shell-guns; installations and Turrets.†Now that we are officially informed of a British Hispano, we are invited to meditate on aeroplane gun turrets large enough to carry them!

 

Engineering 31 March 1939

Article on Ark Royal and “the resistance of concrete to high explosives.†Editorial: we are beginning to think that the engineering industry did not suffer as heavily last year as was first thought. Employment in the sector rose slightly, reaching 592,913 versus 524,502 in 1928, with unemployed at 47,577 compared with 56,678 in 1928. Let us now stop and give mindful attention to the fact that employment in the engineering sector, notwithstanding the disastrous year that shipbuilding has been having, has risen 12%, in ten years, while registered unemployment in the industry has fallen 17% in the same time period.

 

In discussing the Estimates as much as I have in this letter, have I brought to mind a particular conversation that we had, one September, long ago, with Doveton Sturdee? If so, you may well understand one of the reasons that I shall be taking advantage of this modern age by flying to Hong Kong this week-end. There is another, which will be broached on a clear, bright day near Whampoa. More, quite possibly much more, next month.

 

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My Dearest Reggie:

 

So much, and of such importance to our family, has happened in the last month! It is almost incidental to confirm that it is possible to leave London on the turn of the month and be at Whampoa on 6 April. I in no way recommend it as an experience, but, by a miracle of our modern age, I swept the tomb of the Founder this last Qingming Day.

I am going to start, again, by breaking my self-imposed rule, and reporting something that hit the press at the end of March, instead of in April. In my defence, I missed some things in my hurried round of preparations for my trip, somewhere between Admiralty, Foreign Office and who knows where. Literally “who knows where,†by the way, as some swell with an acutely advanced case of melodrama actually led me into a darkened office in a blindfold. I am to infer that there is a concern that I shall send assassins after someone who knows Our Dreadful Secret. How charming! Remember that charming Scottish lass who told you that she was descended from the PanchenLama? She is the grandmother of a Peer now. There are far more family Dreadful Secrets in London than ten thousand dacoits will ever expunge. Still, it is nice to have a reputation. However much he may curse the name of Sax Rohmer aloud, I see a twinkle in Grandfather’s eye when he does so.

 

To wit: the 25 March 1938 number of The Engineer reported on Viscount Arcenwood’s address to the British Iron and Steel Federation. British production has reached 1 million tons a month, but in spite of a £30 million investment in capacity in the last five years, demand continues to exceed supply. In the last year, Britain imported 1 million tons of scrap 0.5 million tons of pig iron, 0.5 million tons finished steel. To highlight a point that I shall return to, everyone is making money off shipping except us.

 

So, beginning the month:

 

The Economist, 1 April 1939

Leaders: Mussolini, etc, etc; “Defence and Democracy†means new war powers for Air Raid Precautions and subsidies for private builders; “Nazi Economics:†Do German results prove Mr. Keynes’ theories, or is the decline in German unemployment an artefact of the return of conscription? The latter. Up to 1936, The Economist believes, German experience was the same as the American, that “public relief†helped in the early stages of a trading depression, but “got stuck†halfway up the recovery curve. The problem; is that Nazi policy has acted to defeat the multiplier by preventing workers from spending their increased wages from rearmament. A gigantic rearmament policy is just going to end with a labour shortage.

Short topics: The Territorial Field Force is to be doubled to 340,000 men (that is, exclusive of 100,000 in AA). The total British Field Force will now consist of 32 divisions, 6 regular, 26 Territorial, including 4 armoured, 6 motorised in the new, two-brigade mode. France is expanding its army, too, by 422 professional officers and 2500 NCOs. There will be 2600 ratings recruited for the Navy, and an increased African levy. Plus national defence mobilization, with the 40 hour week replaced with a 60.

 

Deserving a paragraph break notwithstanding being just another “short topic†is the paper’s notice of the aid to shipping bill: a 2.75 million operating subsidy for coastal shipping, a half million building grant, a ten million line of credit, and 2 million for a mothball-and-build. I am sure that Cousin Eng will have notified you under separate cover that we have our share out of the Secret Service Fund, and will build in Hong Kong this year, Whampoa late next.

 

I note an ad for the “Vauxhall 10-horse sense.†The 10hp Vauxhall is value for money! Dunlop ad on the back page. Bad news for the railways, and it becomes increasingly hard to understand what the delay is on the property. Imperial has actually broken ground for their plant, on the assumption that we will swing the railway access, but we have still not set ink to the land-lease. Perhaps the League For Humanitarian Treatment of Underemployed Cows has got to them.

“Industry and Trade†short topics: retail sales up slightly, although grocers complain of falling prices for commodities. As they will.

Company reports: British Insulated Cables: “satisfactory results in a year of falling prices;†Automatic Telephone and Electric Co., sales up, profits up, GPO’s vast expansion in the last 15 years to a sum of 200 million in capital invested is one of the few examples of state enterprises that our Chairman likes. Ericsson Telephone, the same.

 

Flight 6 April 1939

Editorial: Much concern, naturally, that the Germans have anew speed record. Flight doesnot think that it was established by a service fighter, as the German newspapers claim. Your son, I note, agrees. To the extent that he thinks of anything professional since I returned from Canton with Grandfather’s blessing and a personal impression, which was of a girl halfway between an English Rose and a Lotus of the Pearl, and more beautiful than either. Yes, I was quite affected, and it seems that she was quite affected by their meetings when your son was doing his diplomatic duty with the Pacific Fleet. It was “Cousin James†this and “Cousin James†that, all day. And while you, you old rake, may be suspicious, she even dropped a joke about vapourisers. Anyone besotted enough to actually listen when your son goes on about his beloved fuel sprayers is besotted indeed!

 

Flight also notes that the Empire Air Mail scheme is going seriously awry. It makes no difference to those of us who fly Dutch.

Article: Cobham on in-air refueling. In case you are imagining tanker aeroplanes rendezvousing over the broad Atlantic with liners, forget it. This is just a method of getting planes up to full fuel load after taking off. It could lead to mid-ocean refueling of aerial cruisers, I suppose, but that’s for the future.

Service Aviation: The RAF turns 20! Hardwicke be d*mn*d, we can find it a good girl!

Book Review: Francis Chichester reviews Nevil Shute’s It Can Happen, in which the super-navigational techniques of a continental power allow it to launch devastating night gas raids on British cities. I swear on the accumulated wisdom of 56 years that publishers have a blank manuscript that they simply paste the technical details into as they change. No doubt if I read it closely, I would find that the climactic air battle occurs over Dorking.

 

The Engineer 7 April

Another version of Goodall’s presentation on Ark Royal emphasizes that it is “not necessarily the first of a new class.†Captain Powers, commanding, observes that in her first week of working up, Ark Royal landed on about 1400 aircraft. He believes that he could handle 9 a/c in 11 minutes. The Engineer Vice-Admiral of the Fleet adds that the machinery is as “manoeuvrable as a destroyer’s!†I have it on good authority that your son was feted in the Greenwhich mess, after being ceremoniously ducked in the duckpond by his colleagues on charges of being a “swot.â€

On an altogether more ludicrous note, Captain Acworth (Ret), who certainly does not know who “Neon†might be, writes to suggest that the question of “coal versus oil†in the Navy question is not necessarily settled. Bernie even has a new friend. It is John Latta, of the “British Coal Campaign.†Prepare my fainting couch!

 

The Economist, 8 April 1939

8 April 1939

Leader: “Britain Girds Her Loins.†Churchill supports the PM in the Commons. We guarantee Poland; We warn Germany; We seek a Soviet alliance; Defence borrowing is to increase to over 400 from 350; Anti-inflationary sterilization will be needed. The Grid is making money on reduced costs and is about to place a major order for switchgear, transformers and other equipment for a war damage stock. Australia is introducing labour registry to complement any return to conscription. Other Dominions arm more tepidly. There is trouble in Iraq(!) The Post Office is continuing to experiment with “Wireless by telephone.†Radio broadcasts over fixed line might have more of a future in Canada than in Britain, I am told, but television might be another matter.

Overseas: No sign of an American recovery as yet.

Company Reports: Dunlop’s had a mixed bag of results. Rubber prices are down, but so was heavy vehicle production, both here and abroad, and this dragged company results down.

 

Flight 13 April 1939

Editorial: “The Danger of Silence:†French censorship is giving the dangerous impression that the Armee de l’Air is weak. Good advice, indeed, for the best secrets are hidden in plain sight. You will recall that Great-Grandfather agreed that your son would be permitted to hyphenate his wife’s name with his mother’s after his marriage? Now it turns out that Grandfather registered the girl at St. Clare’s School by the Founder’s mother’s name! The papers will say, for ever more, that the girl is a Californian named G-, and your son will, at least in church registers, sign himself by the name of the Founder. At first I thought this too clever by half, but, on reflection, it seems to me that the Founder has long since become a plaster saint, or, the equivalent in some parts of the world, a good meal. No-one even pauses to pass a skeptical or speculative eye over his origins, career, or posterity, much less look to correlations in the ministries of the Crown.

 

Australia is upset about various air schemes. Some gentleman writing in RAF Quarterly thinks that Bomber Command needs “scouts†to observe possible targets and take photos of them. I would be astonished if that were not already being done. It’s the kind of thing Grandfather would have a hand in, if he had a hand in aviation, which causes one to think furiously.

Article: The Boeing314 is announced. The shattering novelty of an American airliner that looks like the Armstrong-Whitworth “E†amazes all.

Service Aviation notes the launch of Illustrious, publishes new performance statistics for the “long-nosed†Blenheim. There are pictures of a Buffalo-made monstrosity called an Airacuda amongst other new American types, although it’s not clear to me that that’s still under Service Aviation. I suppose that it would be asking rather much of Flight if I tasked it with providing consistent section heads.

Article: “Diving Brakes.†The new Brewster dive bomber has them. I thought this no novelty? That being said, better ways of modifying aerofoil lift promises faster airliners. More on the ancillary power service talk.

Industry news: The Secretary of State for Air is back on the move, visiting Speke Aerodrome to see the new works of the Automatic Telephone and Electric Co., and the Rootes shadow factory. Someone dreams of being the first “Prime Minister for Air.â€

 

The Economist, 15 April 1939

Leaders: “The Week’s Aggression,†Albania; “Inflation Ahead?â€

Articles: “The German Air Force.†How huge is it? Big, but not as big as some (Americans) say.

Short Topics: Recruitment for the Territorial Army now in full swing.; “Summer air services,†are to be more impressive than last year.

Article: “Market Gardening,†There needs to be more, the Leader posits, and there’s a market. Bit of a puzzle, it says here. Well, considering that cheap agricultural labour has gone the way of pilgrims along Watling Street, I will propose an explanation. There is no-one to pick the lettuce!

 

Flight 20 April 1939

Editorial: The new Air Force List will have no information in it, lest it inadvertently reveal something. I say nothing, as it might reveal our Mystery Plane. Though since Our Mystery Plane, or rather several, has to make overhead flights as part of its proving process, one might be forgiven for thinking that it is not much of a mystery.

More usefully, pictures of the Short landplane appear. It’s big and shiny and featureless, rather like the new Air Force List, and not at all like the four-engined Mystery Plane that was seen over Rochester the other day. This, however, for good reason, for it is to be pressurized, so that no life-giving oxygen can escape. You may add your own jibe at the RAF to taste.

Article: Covers Heinkel’s one-upmanship over Messerschmitt in setting a new airspeed record. Was it accomplished with an He112 service fighter? Another article covers the history of Short Brothers

 

Engineering 21 April 1939

Editorial: “Professional Engineers and National Service†The Leader thinks that a tedious but necessary conversation is to be had about the mobilisation of the engineering profession for total war. The reader agrees with "tedious."

 

The Engineer, 21 April 1939

It is announced that Colonel Arthur S. Angwin will succeed Sir George Lee as Engineer-in-Chief of the Post Office on the latter’s retirement. P. J. Ridd will be Deputy E-in-Chief, while G. F. O’Dell will be Assistant. Angwin, educated at East London College and a Whitworth Scholar, served in the RE in the world war and is now a colonel in the Royal Corps of Signals. Ridd and O’Dell are both long-term telephone engineers.

Speaking at the Marconi Annual General Meeting, Chairman H. J. White informed the stockholders that Marconi ship-installed radio licenses had now reached 7725, compared to 6995 on 31 December 1937. There was also a 50% increase in short wave installation leases and R/T and trawler installations.

 

 

The Economist, 21 April 1939

 

Second Leader: “British Budgets,†Professor MacGregor tells us that from 1840 to 1922, British budgets were one greatcontinuity of “retrenchment and economy,†rooted in the gold standard and solid finance: a low income tax and a large Sinking Fund. The paper wistfully quotes one Althorp saying that “[t]he best way to relieve the burden of the labouring classes is to give them employment; and this can only be done by reducing the taxes which press most immediately upon productive industry.†In this decayed latter day, the paper concludes, we must accept a case for public spending to increase popular purchasing power, and Tuesday’s budget will see the latest apogee of this trend. Third Leader: Russia’s War Potential, which apparently is quite large.

 

Fourth, “Road Transport in War,†notes that there are 495,000 goods vehicles in Britain, a “claimed†500,000 in France, 400,000 in the Greater Reich, 86,000 in Italy, but without specifying the size of the vehicles, except to imply that Germany and Italy have made great strides by giving preferential tax treatment to 5 ton+ lorries. I doubt it, for the article goes on to note that in omnibuses and cars, Britain is well ahead. Where it is behind is in terms of road construction, with none of the new “clover leafs†even planned. Then, with a diffident and artless glance at the ground, the correspondent begins to scuffle dirt nervously as he oh-so casually drops mention of new plans by the Counties Association for 1000 miles of new roadway at a cost of 60 millions. Will vast amounts of concrete be bought from someone for all of this? Why, yes, it will, and what a mad coincidence it will prove, if . . .

 

Notes: The new Ministry of Supply has its work cut out for it, as we cannot equip the army we have, never mind the army we want. ARP talk is turning to deep shelters. . . . More concrete. Fleet exercises and redeployments are spoken of, with the Americans to build up their Atlantic Squadron, the Germans to cruise off Spain, the Mediterranean Fleet to concentrate at Malta . . . . We hear again of summer air services, which are proposed on a most ambitious scale, using the DH91 “Frobishers.†Five-seat airliners do not strike me as ambitious. Apparently the intended Armstrong Whitworth machines are still not available.

 

Article: “French Morale Stiffened:†the issue of debt to cover rearmament has placed highly desireable instruments in the hands of French investors. Reggie, you might write this off as a manifestation of interests that the paper may not share, but I have always thought of high French morale in terms of jaunty Gallic chasseurs stepping off to “Sambre et Meuse,†porting their fusils towards the high Ardennes, pantaloons rouge bunching and striding….

 

Article: “Italy Through the Albanian Crisis†Apparently, when one decides to invade Albania and political difficulties ensue, this counts as a crisis that happens to your country, as opposed, say, to something that you did. Such as invading Albania.

 

I would be remiss not to note the advertisement for KLM: “I’ll be there all right. I’m flying KLM.†Next issue mentions KLM when you have to get to Singapore. Too true. Unfortunately, mad Sikh taxicab drivers who dash you to your SGTA Hong Kong connection cannot afford to advertise in this paper.

 

The paper’s “Industrial Reports†section uses words like “firm,†“strong†and “active†for demand for coal, iron. Scarcity of scrap hurts the steel industry, which is “very heavily booked†in Glasgow. Everyone is making money off shipping except shipowners. As I have said. And lest you think this a mere illusion of the armaments boom, demand for cars, including luxury makes, is also up.

 

 

Flight 27 April 1939

 

Editorial: Now is the time for a Canada-Australia Pacific air route. Meanwhile, Imperial’sactual aeroplanes are having their problems. I am sure that all of the family wishes that we had Imperial's problems of rapidly expanding fleet and services. Notwithstanding, I have reservations about how well they are handling matters.

 

Service Aviation: The Blackburn Roc is announced. The "Roc" floatplane? Someone's tongue is planted firmly in cheek. On the other hand, its land equivalent is identified as the Defiant I, suggesting that the "II" is firmly in mind. This is perhaps in conformance with the new spring line in numeral nomenclature, for the Merlin III has appeared, the key improvements, I am told, being in the propeller shaft, which will now take these ingenious new self-adjusting airscrews.

 

 

Short Notice: the RAF will be out in force for this year’s RAeS Garden Party, 14 May. Unfortunately, Cousin Easton will not be their to give me informed aerial insights from an actual pilot.

 

There follows articles on airliners around the world, then airlines around the world, and then a vast catalogue of new equipment for airline operators.

 

Article: Frank Brent, “Towards 100 per Cent Regularity.†How airliners should be fitted out to navigate in all weather. Lots of radio gear of all kinds actually available in this country, provision for celestial navigation, dead reckoning, homing on “omni-directional beacons.â€

 

The Economist, 29 April 1939

 

Leader: “Of Money and Men:†taxes are up, borrowing is up, spending is way up. And Britain will have peacetime universal conscription for the first time ever. An excess profits tax will be put in place at the beginning of the emergency, rather than imposed at the end. “Education for Work:†there is a shortage of skilled labour, and the government should do something about it. The ambassador’s return to Berlin sends mixed messages. There is much toing-and-froing over alliances in Europe, but also perhaps with China, with approving notice of the Nationalists' recent offensive in the north.

 

“M. Reynaud’s New Plan" is to continue to spend on guns, but with less effort to expand the economy with spending cuts and deficit reduction. The new plan, the paper notes, adopts some of Mr. Keynes’ recommendations for the British economy. Appropriately, since Maynard supposes that spending cuts do not actually expand economies.

“American Hopes Deferred Again" because there is still no sign of an American recovery. This is apparently because of uncertainty over foreign events, while curbs the appetite for high risk securities even when the yield on government issue is so low. This in spite of a flow into the dollar.

 

Trade Supplement: the trend of business is up since the dip of 1937—8, not surprisingly. What is surprising is marked gains in the textiles sector, not one obviously associated with defence spending, which, the Treasury Secretary, is expected to make up for all but the most catastrophic decline in private expenditure over the next year. Now there is business confidence for you!

 

In closing, I remember again my flight of now four weeks ago, and not just because my legs still ache and my ears still ring. Amongst my long deferred readings was a re-acquaintance with Clowes on "Four Naval Campaigns." When I read the obligatory introductory section on the deficiencies of the Pacific Station in 1856, I wonder what how those same passages will read from the pen of the historians of the future? What preparations and exertions have been missed in our fanatical efforts to improve the RAF's night navigational abilities, or the effectiveness of the carrier arm? Where will our Achilles' Heel prove to be? Submarines, as our circles now worry? Or something completely out of left field, such as atomical warfare? Our own background makes me think of the subterranean struggles of the Black Chambers of the Great Powers, even if the to-ing and fro-ing of spies has rarely ever amounted to anything apart from a means of passing money into the hands of the consigners. Not that our family is ungrateful to the Secret Service. However little our assistance actually served the campaign against Russia, it certainly made us richer.

 

 

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Hmmm, looks great to swipe for a Golden Age campaign, though I'd saw it into smaller bits and credit you at the onset.
Well, obviously, it comes out of an eye-glazing blog about history-type stuff, so I didn't feel the need to be succinct, and it's not as though the format justifies spending a lot of text on the story proper.
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My Dear Reggie:

 

 

 

Another month has passed. The crisis of the age comes closer. Conscription and naval building that capture my attention at the exclusion of happier family news of the soon-to-be-happy-couple. In that regard, I must notify you that a cargo of particular discretion is to be expected in Vancouver shortly.Fat Chow will have charge of it until it is delivered to a private car, where Cousin Easton will take over. Grandfather asks that you make arrangements in the city. Oh, for those careless days of youth, classes and the perfume of the orchards of old Santa Clara, those golden days, soon to be entered into by your boy. I hope that the Poor Clares are as kind to him as they were to us, in California so long ago.

 

Now having said that, I do find my mind cast back to better days. It is the peril of old age, I am told. Or perhaps it is because war so signally interrupted our boyhood, to Tokyo's beating drums, not unheard today. Remember two twelve-year-old volunteers realising the truth behind the romance of naval battles, of shells bursting round one and nowhere to run, even if we could desert our admiral when he needed us? I think that if more people had experienced the flash of the QFs, they would be more reluctant in their rush to war, and certainly moderate their enthusiasm for sending men and boys out in ships that have no business at sea. Instead they should meditate on the boys who will not live to see weddings or their Grandfather's hundredth birthday.

 

 

 

Speaking of which, at the rate things are going, expect to put your chop to the deed when I see you in San Francisco next year.

 

 

 

Now here is the press. (As usual, my actual stock purchases are appended. Mostly makers of radio-related contraptions, not to get ahead of myself.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flight 4 May 1939

 

 

 

First Leader: Mid-air refueling is delayed getting going, and there are more intimations of problems with the Empire Air Mail scheme. Art for the leader is an exploded view of aHandley Page Hampden. Flight notes that the Hampden highlights one approach to solving production problems, but the paper calls for others. It is taking too long for new technology to reach the squadrons. Developmental flights are needed, and developmental types.

 

 

 

Article: The Handley Page Hampden is a remarkable plane. For Flight, every plane is remarkable. The end of the article suggests a reason for this, a page and a half listing the hundred or so sub-contractors involved in its production, all of whom advertise in Flight.

 

 

 

Service Aviation: The Long Range Flight gets its gongs; the Empire Air Day programme is released (a country wide air pageant, if you have not been paying attention, as I am afraid that I have not.) The Westland Lysander II is in service with the RAF; the Air Ministry buys DH 95 Flamingos for a new, Britain-based transport unit to supplement the one in the Middle East; A picture of the new Lord Rector of Aberdeen U, Air Vice-Marshal Sir David Munro, getting out of an Avro Anson. Family history....

 

 

 

Commercial Aviation: the first Short G boat is delivered.* I was not paying attention when this 5000hp, 60,000lb monster was announced. I understand that the RAF version will introduce 16" guns to the air service, and that Boeing is readying a response, the Paging-Doctor-Freud Clipper. I speak somewhat facetiously, but this leads into the observation that there have been even more Empire Air Mail mishaps. Yes, because people keep dropping fair size yachts into the water with 70 knots underway. "Flotsam and jetsam" is not just an easy line for a music-hall Jack Tar.

 

 

 

Article: Brent, on "QBI," continuing. You will recall that this is airman argot for night and low visibility flying, so that you can leave London at midnight and arrive in Brussels --a little past midnight, taking time change into account. Oh wonders of the age! This is a pretty technical discussion for a non-technical article on the methods available for radio direction finding a plane, seguing into “Ultra-Short-Wave Technique," whatever that might be. Though mere ignorance does not stop me from opening my chequebook. These are my favourite kinds of companies, the ones that make much-in-demand-bits that go into lots of things.

 

 

The Industry notes that the Tiger IXC, the type mounted on the Ensign, has been rerated at 775/805hp at 2375rpm at 6,250ft, maximum takeoff power is 900/935hp at 2375rpm at sea level. The Dagger III’s overhaul period has been lengthened. Of neither engine have I heard phrases such as "wonder of the age." It is hard to see where either firm could go from here. Armstrong in particular appears to have decisively lost the race on the aeroengine front, but I shall keep an open mind, if not an open wallet.

 

 

 

Engineering 5 May 1939

 

 

 

Article: the Lysander II. Petter is filibustering this new plane, and the Grey Lady of the technical press takes account of the heavy use of "extruded light alloy" to create simple and rugged structures, notably the fixed, sprung magnesium undercarriage of enormous strength. I gather that "extrusion" is a process whereby semi-molten metal is pushed through a nozzle under great pressure, thereby shaping it and, as we used to say, "forge hardening" it at the same time. I put quotation marks around the phrase, because apparently it is more complicated than that, with equations and X-rays and the like. The point here is that once the technique is successfully applied to steel, we might see significant improvements in turbine blades. Or, indeed, light alloys might come to be used.

 

 

 

The Engineer, 5 May 1939

 

 

 

Leader: "End of the Anglo-German Naval Agreement;" Hitler's denunciation serves "as further confirmation of the growing conviction that treaties negotiated with the present regime in Germany can only be regarded as scraps of paper, etc." So we should drop out of the London Treaty, too, (I imagine apoplexy in Tokyo, and my heart leaps for joy) and in particular out of the 8" cruiser holiday so that we can build equivalents of the new Hippers. And, in general, "build build build build build. . . ."

 

 

 

The Economist, 6 May 1939

 

 

 

 

Per the cover, the Leaders: €œIssues of Conscription, Full Employment,mThe Central Electricity Board, Bulgaria and the Balkans,€œBritain'€™s Exchange Clearings.â

 

 

 

Now, the paper's leaders do not always align with what is announced on the cover, which I can understand. But this week's inserted first leading article is something else, hopelessly misrepresented as “Small Change.†The claim is that Hitler’s supposed big speech to the Reichstag was, in fact, no change. The denunciations of the Anglo-German Naval Treaty and of the German-Polish Nonaggression Treaty of 1934 were expected, the overall effect is positive, because the Royal Sovereigns will not now be scrapped. This is a novel definition of "positive," of which I am unaware. Where is the Fleet to get the men for the "Rolling Ressies," much less for a permanent expansion of the battleline to 20 ships? Perhaps the paper has a more advanced position than I had ever suspected, and anticipates lascars returning to the Royal Navy. By means other than stealth and falsified baptismal certificates supposed long lost in the San Fanscisco earthquake, I mean. Wink, wink.

 

 

 

“Issues of Conscription:†Is the Military Training Bill the culmination of generations of demands on the Right for conscription? No, it is not, notwithstanding coming from the Conservative cabinet. Was it brought on by the lack of vision and foresight of the present Government? Yes, but that does not change its necessity now. Is it necessary? Yes.

 

 

 

It is true that “in April alone, some 88,000 men enlisted in the Territorial Army, leaving only another 122,000, six weeks supply at this rate of recruitmen . . . ." And a long and convoluted sentence follows, the point of which is that the Army is going to expand its role in proportion to the number of men it gets, so the more the merrier. The real limit is the current munitions supply.

 

 

 

Under the extra heading, Agenda for Preparedness, --II comes the promised second Leader on Full Employment.

 

 

 

“In the most widely accepted economic doctrines of the moment, the concept of “full employment is one of peculiar importance. Until “full employment†is reached, any increase in the monetary demand for goods has the effect, not of putting prices up so much as of attracting into employment resources of labour and capital that were previously standing idle. Until “full employment†is reached, so runs the theory, the creation of demand by expansion of credit cannot result in what is commonly called inflation; on the contrary, by increasing national income, gives rise to savings that offset the original creation of credit . . . . In the layman’s language, “full employment†is the point at which the financing of government deficits ceases to be “sound finance†and becomes “unsound finance.â€Â

 

 

 

So are we at full employment? Admittedly, the shortages of men and material that were so prominent in the spring of 1937 have not reappeared. There are still 1,727,000 men and women on the unemployment rolls, but many of these are unemployable. The residual is 817,000, much of which will be taken up by the expansion of the armed forces. We estimate an increase in the value of aircraft production over the next year of 45 millions. The total registered unemployed in the aircraft, automobile and railway vehicles sector is currently only 16,500. Current production per head is £612, which has perhaps already risen to £700. Similarly, the projected increase in arms and related manufactures is £24,200,000, and the gross available output for registered unemployed in the general and electrical engineering industries (ie, omitting constructional and marine engineering) is between £25 and £30 million.

 

 

 

Bottlenecks, therefore, will soon emerge throughout the manufacturing industries. What of global inputs? Current coal production is 228 million tons, 60 million tons below the 1913 peak. There will be no shortage there. Steel production, however, is theoretically 14.5 million tons, and 14 million is probably the practical limit, with 13 million already being produced and consumed. Given that the WWI peak was 9.72 million tons in 1917, there is a real possibility of shortages there. But labour is the key shortage. Full employment will be reached long before next spring and the completion of the current £350 million borrowing programme, and a new financial policy will be needed soon.

 

 

 

“Notes of the Week†opens with furious diplomatic activity in eastern Europe and continues by discussing the most obvious way of addressing “future financial difficulties:†swingeing tax increases. Japan is wavering in policy, and the British Medical Association thinks that current nutritional standards are too low. Our current food policy was established before the value of “protective foods†such as dairy, fruits and vegetables was known, and there is no possibility of bringing domestic production of these up to acceptable levels, so that imports are a vital aspect of any future war effort.

 

 

 

Our New York correspondent writes on “Seeking the Causes of U.S. Depression.†We can all agree that the current depression began in 1937, but the causes are not clear. Could they be an abrupt curtailment of Federal expenditure combined with a contraction of credit due to a reduction in excess bank reserves and the “sterilization of incoming gold, and, secondly, a punitive tax on undistributed corporate profits?†It is apparently not the policy of this correspondent to draw conclusions on policy, but that conclusions are to be drawn by the reader is apparently the policy of this correspondent.

 

 

 

“To produce a recovery, a programme of lavish deficit spending was authorized; excess reserves were multiplied by a reduction in required reserves; and by the monetarisation of the previously sterilized gold; and the tax on undistributed profits was reduced to a shadow.†A sharp rebound in production ensued, but before the competing claims to have caused this were decided, the recovery ran out of steam. Then it happened again in the second quarter of 1939. Perhaps when the increase in Federal spending is felt, this will be relieved. But the tenor of the discussion of the last twelve months, in which the whole explanation for the economy’s problems have been laid to the size (or lack of size) of the Federal deficit may have been misplaced."

 

 

 

“French Financial Problemsâ€Â

 

Tax receipts are up, but not nearly so much as the estimates require. The chief cause is international tension, which has dampened business. A sales tax has (the old wartime 1%) been introduced, and new bonds issued. An official campaign calling for “increased consumption†is hoped to push up demand. Production and investment are up. Our Paris correspondent continues to pinch his sous in expectation of the most frightful imminent inflation. You know what would "increase consumption?" Wage increases. Certainly my cleaning lady is sporting quite the nicest hat since I raised her weekly last month.

 

 

 

“The Central Electricity Boardâ€Â

 

 

 

The CEB’s report for 1938 was published on April 5. It is doing very well. How shall it spend its surplus? Not on additional capacity, since electricity demand is not subject to some law of perpetual increase. That is certainly something to know. I, mistakenly, might have inferred that it was.

 

 

 

ICI, Marks & Spencers had good years. Morris and Ford did not. There has been a rush of shipbuilding orders: 190 vessels (150 tramps, 40 liners) of 850,000 tons have been announced to the Board of Trade, of which 650,00 have already been ordered. 597,000 is on the stocks and capacity is 2 million per year, so pressure on steel and labour, but not yards, is foreseen. Unfortunately, the details of the aid to shipping include preferential treatment for coal-fired ships 11s/ton subsidy for coal-fired tramps versus 10 for oil-fired. Is the picturesque suffering of South Wales to stand in the way of Burmah oil profits forever?

 

 

 

Also in the news, a scheme, not to be regarded as a wartime measure, but for the long term improvement of the fertility of the soil, is announced of a £2/acre ploughing subsidy for pasture torn up and ploughed. Sir Reginald Dorman-Smith’s initiative is welcome to this paper, since much second-rate pasture could be greatly improved by being put under a regular rotation, including of fodder crops. It seems, however, unlikely that the five months between now and September will be enough to find the tractors, seed drills and skilled labour needed, so that the subsidy should be extended into next year. The Minister has, however, announced that reserves of fertilizer and tractors have been built up in the event of war.

 

 

 

 

There is an upwards trend in wholesale prices. Perhaps Our Paris Correspondent is right, and inflation is finally upon us?

 

 

 

Flight 11 May 1939

 

 

 

Leader: The Royal Visit has left for Canada. The FAA is formally transferred to the Admiralty; the paper is excited about the imminent RAF Garden Party, which apparently involves planes more than champagne.

 

 

 

Articles: Flight visits No. 16 (Army Cooperation) Squadron to take a look at Lysanders and also ground liaison equipment. Instrument makers Reid & Sigrist have entered the aircraft construction business, with an instrument trainer. Flight is obligatorily excited.

 

 

 

Service Aviation: The Taurus II, which is an improved version of the Taurus I, if you had not guessed, is in service. The Kestrel XXX is in service. Neither engine, it is pointed out to me, equips an aircraft on the RAF's Open List, although the Kestrel is to into a trainer, at least. The Americans have the very odd Bell XP-39. Did we not conclude that engines mounted behind the pilot were a bad idea in the last war? A new member of the Lockheed Electra family is anticipated. Wait? Is this still "Service Aviation?" I do not know. Neither, I suspect, does our editor. The Secretary of State for Air, Sir Kingsley Wood, opens an airport on Guernsey.That does not seem to be part of "Service Aviation," so I suppose the page has turned on that discussion. The Douglas DC5 is tested.

 

 

 

 

Article: Well, more of a picture, really. It isn't an underground factory. That would be impractical. It's just one that retracts into a bunker! I should just clip the picture out an send it to you for the humour of it.

 

 

 

The Engineer, 12 May 1939

 

 

 

The paper believes that if there is to be conscription, engineering students should be put on special registers, so as to be employed as engineers in the event of war.

 

 

 

The Economist, 13 May 1939

 

 

 

Leaders: “Diplomatic Manoeuvres:†Is Russia defecting from collective security?“Shelter and Exodus:†Will there be a knockout blow against London? No. Will there be heavy civilian casualties? Yes. Perhaps proposed evacuation schemes should be expanded until such time as the shelter programme is complete.“Conscription of Wealth:†It is supposed that in 1918 the Government spent half the national income. Currently, the national income is estimated at roughly £5,000 millions, and might rise as high as 6 in the event of full capacity. How can the Government find its way to spending £3000 millions? Taxes, forced loans, some inflation. Yes, well, it seems like some of that wealth might flee the country first. (Too late, my editorial friend. Try telling it someone who did not learn it on Grandfather's knee.) “The Refugee Problem,†there are currently 200,000 Central European refugees, mostly Jewish, of whom only some 20,000 have as yet been accepted into Great Britain. This is shameful. More should be let in. This paper really does have progressive views, Reggie. No, I speak too soon. That's if they are skilled labour. The rest can go to Rhodesia or British Guiana or the Philippines or such. That is closer to what I was expecting.

 

 

 

 

Notes[? See. It's not just Flight that forgets its section headers.] The American recovery is still pending, and business spending in particular lags. France, on the other hand, has now “Stable Government,†meaning that Daladier has been returned as premier, and there seems to be some willingness to accept inflation. (Apart, to be sure, from Our Paris Correspondent.) There are still bonds needing to be issued against the armaments programme, and the Socialists still want excess profits taxes on arms manufacturers and a check on the rise of prices, but the government is, overall, stable. Cunard White and Union Castle report a steep fall in annual profits. Bad cess to them, as the Scots would say, were it not that I had the same news. Employment is now only 22,000 below the all-time peak of 11,707,000 reached in September 1937.

 

There is a “Whale Oil Strategy.†It is, not, surprisingly enough, to send the Jews of central Europe to South Georgia to farm whales, or whatever it is they do there, but rather to buy out the Norwegian harvest in bulk to prevent Germany from making up its shortfall in edible fats, which cannot be made up by achieving Lebensraum in wheat producing countries. Germany's own 1937 catch was 90,000t, but it absorbed 107,000t of Norway’s production. Last year’s harvest was down, and Britain has bought the whole of the world supply to build up its essential food reserves. Might I interest you in some margarine?

 

 

ICI had a bad year on exports, but domestic consumption increases, especially defence related, made up for it in part. Perhaps this is the reason for the delay in closing the sale? Nylon is an increasingly important part of the company’s business.

 

In almost entirely unrelated family news, and with gratitude for your recent discretion in arranging a "rebirth" in the midnight darkness on the Dominion-Republic border, I report that the soon-to-be-nee-Miss G.C. made her London debute, in advance of which, I think, we visited every high street establishment in London, and we picked out a wonderful yellow dress and some nylon stockings. (See, my segue is not entirelly unmotivated.) She affected a Californian accent with the utmost aplomb, not that she has not had much practice, but a Cantonese intonation would have quite given the game away. And when it came time for her to enter the floor, the rival was swept away effortlessly, pipped out of a race that she was not even aware she was running.

 

That being said, her youth made Miss J. C.'s suitability for your son most questionable. I have suggested putting off the wedding to San Francisco next year, to honour Grandfather, but the League of Aunts has shot this down with much disdainful glaring. Apparently, tongues will wag, and our mighty family tower might fall. And, no, you may not jest about how I it is that I have avoided being enrolled in that puissant league myself, lest I rediscover my membership in the near-as-puissant-League-of-Assassins. Give Grandfather my best when you see him, by the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flight 18 May 1939

 

 

 

Editorial: Imperial still can’t get the Atlantic flying going. Gentlemen, if you have lost Flight . . .

 

 

 

Article: F. A. De. V. Robertson, “Powers of the Air Arm.†This correspondent has been sharing his surfeit of punctuation with Flight for many years, which is why he can pull an article like this out of his files on short notice. It is a history of the RAF, and while it is pretty fascinating stuff (who can ever hear enough of punitive campaigns in the Northwest Frontier Agency?), I have to wonder what was supposed to go in these pages. Article that's a Picture: the new 3.7†AA is appropriately menacing.

 

 

 

Pictorial: “Standard Aircraft of the RAF.†There are 42 types, if you have not been counting. Page over is a picture of enormous numbers of Spitfires being assembled in a very large hall. So not only are there many types of planes, there are a great many of them, too. .

 

 

 

I enclose a pin-up picture of a Lysander that follows for the boy. Tuition for the boy's first term went directly to the school, instead. I hope that you understand, and would urge you to reconsider the possibility of a midnight rebirth. American citizenship would not be the worst cross that the boy could bear. That would be bastardy.

 

 

 

Article: “The RAF Today: Fighters†We are allowed to note the Hurricane and Spitfire, built to the same general formula, of which the latter is capable of 362mph. Only a few weeks ago, the paper tells us, a French technical journal referred to a British twin-engined fighter fromWestland capable of 420, but we can’t say anything. Which, I think, is rather misleading. Did they not, after all, just say something? The Hurricane, as in service right now, is capable of 335mph at 17,500ft.* Both Spitfire and Hurricane are surprisingly easy to fly due to various innovations in flappers and such. They achieve their performance behind a production Merlin III capable of 1030hp at 3000rpm at 16,250ft at a boost pressure of +6.25lb. The Merlin, the paper notes, gives this performance on 87 octane. (I am rather passionately assured by the gentleman from ICI in regards that even the 100 octane so conspicuously not noticed here is by no means the last argument in octane rating. The Gauntlet and Gladiator, now in service for several years, are . . . serviceable. The Defiant is entering service. Some more. Armour is being fitted in response to the four-gun power turret, which it is assumed our fighters will face, greatly increasing their need for protection against rifle-calibre bullets. The Blenheim is being used as a twin-engined fighter in the role this periodical has envisaged. That is, as aâ€Âfighter trainer.†Is that an implicit suggestion that amulti-seat twin engined fighter is coming?

 

 

 

Article: “The RAF Today: The Bombers.†This is a much less informative article, although the barrage of bad news for Armstrong Siddeley continues, as the Whitley V is to have a Rolls Royce Merlin vice the Tiger.

 

 

The Economist, 20 May 1939

 

 

“Security and Peace:†There is to be conscription. Have I mentioned this? It's rather important. “No Change in Palestine,†“Collective Security for Trade;†blah blah Romania blah;

 

“Land Registration.†Now here is some meat in a leader. Should land be registered for national use? The dreaded moment of land registration in the County of London arrived in 1897, we will recall by the sound of Great-Grandfather's crockery flung against the wall. At that point, all land title transfers in the County became subject to a requirement for central registration, with the intention that the office would slowly be built up into a complete registry. H.M. Land Registry Office is a remarkable institution, and its expansion is inevitable, but it will never get rid of the lawyers and difficult conveyances. No comment, for "conveying" proves to be very difficult indeed.

 

 

“Notes of the Week:†The Anglo-Turkish Pact: there’s an Anglo-Turkish pact, but not an Anglo-Russian one. The pay of the conscripted militiamen is now raised from 1 to 1 6. Local boards will have to exercise great discretion to reduce social and industrial disruption as the actual call-ups begin this summer. No-one is clear about evacuation. “Rolls-Royce for Clydeside.†The ever-in-flight Secretary of State for Air was in Glasgow to run for prime minister announce same. France’s finances are “convalescing†under Reynaud. But French production is still low in comparison to peaks reached in previous years.

 

Imperial and British Airways to merge. The Government announces subsidies for sheep, barley and oats. Unlike the ploughing subsidy,the paper disapproves.

 

 

“Poland Under Arms:†Poland has no need for foreign troops (births per thousand: 26.2; deaths, 14.2). compare Germany 19.0/11.8; England and Wales, 14.8/12.1; France, 15/15.3; Italy 22.4/13.7; Rumania 31.5/19.8. It does need guns, for which it cannot pay. Oh, and our species is dwindling from the Earth. Except in Poland and Rumania.

 

 

“All-Round Economic Improvement in France.†Never mind production being down from previous peaks: there is record car production this quarter.

 

 

“Uncertainty in the United States:†American production has dipped in April compared with March. Gold is flowing into the United States. Why is not clear, and it has not all been monetized, but it is. Someone might be moving money into the US by this means. A lot of money. I affect the most innocent of smiles, and notice no reference to silver. Yet.

 

 

“Is Bank Rate Obsolete?†It is now 7 years since the Rate was reduced to 2%, and there are no signs of it being raised. Sir John Simon has repeatedly said that the Government’s policy of cheap money will continue. Since then, we have had the 1933—37 recovery, the 1937—38 recession, and what looks like another recovery in the beginning of 1939. It would be rash to conclude that because the rate has been steady through all of this that it will continue to be so through all future exigencies.

 

Obviously, if money rates are already so low as to be irreducible, that particular stimulus cannot be applied, and so it may be that if money were kept cheap at all stages of the trade cycle, we should be sacrificing some of the potential benefits of being able to manipulate the clearing interest rate in the first place.

 

 

 

 

 

Flight 25 May 1939

 

 

 

Leader: Empire Air Day is the event of the week, aviation-wise, but the paper is apparently too late to cover it adequately. The Bristol Beaufort exists. There is your service plane equipped with a Taurus.

 

 

 

Articles: A. Robert Edis, “Blind Approach Systems.†It’s a short-range triangulation system involving three radio broadcasters a few miles away from the airport. C. M. Poulsen, “Fuelling in the Air;†is another explanation of in-air refuelling. The New Cirrus Major, built by Blackburn is a splendid little engine.

 

 

 

 

Commercial Aviation: the first commercial flight across the Atlantic, all air mail per international agreement to do five air mail flights before the first passenger run, by the Yankee Clipper. Now that is just embarrassing, all excuses aside.

 

 

 

The Engineer, 26 May 1939

 

 

 

Article: "The Co-ordination of Transport;" apparently, if road transport will stop being horrible to the railways, we will be led into the sunny uplands of reliable cargo delivery. Perhaps if the railway companies could just learn where the Land Register is, it will be even before that! Though I should not complain, as one of the reasons why the negotiations still continue is that the proposal now extends to a pipeline. Apparently this hush-hush Imperial plant will be doing something to crude oil that is far more sophisticated than mere "refining." This is a bit of a surprise to me. I should think that our oil interests would have our ears to the ground on this one. Now I wonder if that gentleman at the Admiralty had some serious doubts about Grandfather's grandson's patriotism.

 

 

 

 

The Economist, 27 May 1939

 

Leaders: “Agreement in Sight:†An Anglo-Russian agreement is in sight. The “Square Deal†Report: relief for railways in their increasing competition with road transport is called for. “The Other India.†Holland’s record as a colonial power in Indonesia is at least no worse than any other’s. High praise indeed! But the problem of imperial defence, which has not raised its head in a century (actally, the Leader might wish to refer to its 1912--14 numbers for days when the Dutch were quite reasonably frightened by Japanese expansion), is abruptly a pressing matter.

 

Notes of the Week:

 

"Recovery and Policy:" we need a policy for the recovery that we now have to admit is going on. The Ministry of Supply is official. There is to be price insurance for sheep. Roads are important. Maynard Keynes said, in a “broadcast plea†last week, that “This is scarcely a time for economics in transport improvements.†The next time I go round to the lawyers, I shall take Maynard with me, to grab men by their lapels and persuade them that this particular transportation improvement, which is just a rail spur and a pipeline across a mile or so of admittedly bottomless going, should not be subject to "economics," or whatever is holding it up. The Minister of Transport Captain Euan Wallace continues to visualize a scheme to improve trunk roads, but the paper is not assured. That £15 million in works have been “put in hand†most definitely does not mean fifteen million in “spades in ground.†Only 517,000 is to be spent this year, which, considering that the total includes work on the St. Albans bypass, which will eventually cost 1.755 million, and the Barnett Bypass, which will require 347,000, is much too little, too late. The new-mechanised Household Cavalry will be kept from the Battle of Dorking by a fatal lack of "cloverleafs."

 

“Financial Omens of American Recovery?†I am now visualising Our New York Correspondent, bloody-armed to the elbow, examining the sacrificial livers. Of Californian Republicans, I suspect. At least, the older breed. Some pessimists, Our Correspondent adds, suppose that America has built up an immunity to stimulus. It is not the policy of our correspondent. . .

 

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My Dear Reggie:

 

 

 

Another month has passed. The crisis of the age comes closer. Conscription and naval building that capture my attention at the exclusion of happier family news of the soon-to-be-happy-couple. In that regard, I must notify you that a cargo of particular discretion is to be expected in Vancouver shortly.Fat Chow will have charge of it until it is delivered to a private car, where Cousin Easton will take over. Grandfather asks that you make arrangements in the city. Oh, for those careless days of youth, classes and the perfume of the orchards of old Santa Clara, those golden days, soon to be entered into by your boy. I hope that the Poor Clares are as kind to him as they were to us, in California so long ago.

 

Now having said that, I do find my mind cast back to better days. It is the peril of old age, I am told. Or perhaps it is because war so signally interrupted our boyhood, to Tokyo's beating drums, not unheard today. Remember two twelve-year-old volunteers realising the truth behind the romance of naval battles, of shells bursting round one and nowhere to run, even if we could desert our admiral when he needed us? I think that if more people had experienced the flash of the QFs, they would be more reluctant in their rush to war, and certainly moderate their enthusiasm for sending men and boys out in ships that have no business at sea. Instead they should meditate on the boys who will not live to see weddings or their Grandfather's hundredth birthday.

 

 

 

Speaking of which, at the rate things are going, expect to put your chop to the deed when I see you in San Francisco next year.

 

 

 

Now here is the press. (As usual, my actual stock purchases are appended. Mostly makers of radio-related contraptions, not to get ahead of myself.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flight 4 May 1939

 

 

 

First Leader: Mid-air refueling is delayed getting going, and there are more intimations of problems with the Empire Air Mail scheme. Art for the leader is an exploded view of aHandley Page Hampden. Flight notes that the Hampden highlights one approach to solving production problems, but the paper calls for others. It is taking too long for new technology to reach the squadrons. Developmental flights are needed, and developmental types.

 

 

 

Article: The Handley Page Hampden is a remarkable plane. For Flight, every plane is remarkable. The end of the article suggests a reason for this, a page and a half listing the hundred or so sub-contractors involved in its production, all of whom advertise in Flight.

 

 

 

Service Aviation: The Long Range Flight gets its gongs; the Empire Air Day programme is released (a country wide air pageant, if you have not been paying attention, as I am afraid that I have not.) The Westland Lysander II is in service with the RAF; the Air Ministry buys DH 95 Flamingos for a new, Britain-based transport unit to supplement the one in the Middle East; A picture of the new Lord Rector of Aberdeen U, Air Vice-Marshal Sir David Munro, getting out of an Avro Anson. Family history....

 

 

 

Commercial Aviation: the first Short G boat is delivered.* I was not paying attention when this 5000hp, 60,000lb monster was announced. I understand that the RAF version will introduce 16" guns to the air service, and that Boeing is readying a response, the Paging-Doctor-Freud Clipper. I speak somewhat facetiously, but this leads into the observation that there have been even more Empire Air Mail mishaps. Yes, because people keep dropping fair size yachts into the water with 70 knots underway. "Flotsam and jetsam" is not just an easy line for a music-hall Jack Tar.

 

 

 

Article: Brent, on "QBI," continuing. You will recall that this is airman argot for night and low visibility flying, so that you can leave London at midnight and arrive in Brussels --a little past midnight, taking time change into account. Oh wonders of the age! This is a pretty technical discussion for a non-technical article on the methods available for radio direction finding a plane, seguing into “Ultra-Short-Wave Technique," whatever that might be. Though mere ignorance does not stop me from opening my chequebook. These are my favourite kinds of companies, the ones that make much-in-demand-bits that go into lots of things.

 

 

The Industry notes that the Tiger IXC, the type mounted on the Ensign, has been rerated at 775/805hp at 2375rpm at 6,250ft, maximum takeoff power is 900/935hp at 2375rpm at sea level. The Dagger III’s overhaul period has been lengthened. Of neither engine have I heard phrases such as "wonder of the age." It is hard to see where either firm could go from here. Armstrong in particular appears to have decisively lost the race on the aeroengine front, but I shall keep an open mind, if not an open wallet.

 

 

 

Engineering 5 May 1939

 

 

 

Article: the Lysander II. Petter is filibustering this new plane, and the Grey Lady of the technical press takes account of the heavy use of "extruded light alloy" to create simple and rugged structures, notably the fixed, sprung magnesium undercarriage of enormous strength. I gather that "extrusion" is a process whereby semi-molten metal is pushed through a nozzle under great pressure, thereby shaping it and, as we used to say, "forge hardening" it at the same time. I put quotation marks around the phrase, because apparently it is more complicated than that, with equations and X-rays and the like. The point here is that once the technique is successfully applied to steel, we might see significant improvements in turbine blades. Or, indeed, light alloys might come to be used.

 

 

 

The Engineer, 5 May 1939

 

 

 

Leader: "End of the Anglo-German Naval Agreement;" Hitler's denunciation serves "as further confirmation of the growing conviction that treaties negotiated with the present regime in Germany can only be regarded as scraps of paper, etc." So we should drop out of the London Treaty, too, (I imagine apoplexy in Tokyo, and my heart leaps for joy) and in particular out of the 8" cruiser holiday so that we can build equivalents of the new Hippers. And, in general, "build build build build build. . . ."

 

 

 

The Economist, 6 May 1939

 

 

 

 

Per the cover, the Leaders: €œIssues of Conscription, Full Employment,mThe Central Electricity Board, Bulgaria and the Balkans,€œBritain'€™s Exchange Clearings.â

 

 

 

Now, the paper's leaders do not always align with what is announced on the cover, which I can understand. But this week's inserted first leading article is something else, hopelessly misrepresented as “Small Change.†The claim is that Hitler’s supposed big speech to the Reichstag was, in fact, no change. The denunciations of the Anglo-German Naval Treaty and of the German-Polish Nonaggression Treaty of 1934 were expected, the overall effect is positive, because the Royal Sovereigns will not now be scrapped. This is a novel definition of "positive," of which I am unaware. Where is the Fleet to get the men for the "Rolling Ressies," much less for a permanent expansion of the battleline to 20 ships? Perhaps the paper has a more advanced position than I had ever suspected, and anticipates lascars returning to the Royal Navy. By means other than stealth and falsified baptismal certificates supposed long lost in the San Fanscisco earthquake, I mean. Wink, wink.

 

 

 

“Issues of Conscription:†Is the Military Training Bill the culmination of generations of demands on the Right for conscription? No, it is not, notwithstanding coming from the Conservative cabinet. Was it brought on by the lack of vision and foresight of the present Government? Yes, but that does not change its necessity now. Is it necessary? Yes.

 

 

 

It is true that “in April alone, some 88,000 men enlisted in the Territorial Army, leaving only another 122,000, six weeks supply at this rate of recruitmen . . . ." And a long and convoluted sentence follows, the point of which is that the Army is going to expand its role in proportion to the number of men it gets, so the more the merrier. The real limit is the current munitions supply.

 

 

 

Under the extra heading, Agenda for Preparedness, --II comes the promised second Leader on Full Employment.

 

 

 

“In the most widely accepted economic doctrines of the moment, the concept of “full employment is one of peculiar importance. Until “full employment†is reached, any increase in the monetary demand for goods has the effect, not of putting prices up so much as of attracting into employment resources of labour and capital that were previously standing idle. Until “full employment†is reached, so runs the theory, the creation of demand by expansion of credit cannot result in what is commonly called inflation; on the contrary, by increasing national income, gives rise to savings that offset the original creation of credit . . . . In the layman’s language, “full employment†is the point at which the financing of government deficits ceases to be “sound finance†and becomes “unsound finance.â€Â

 

 

 

So are we at full employment? Admittedly, the shortages of men and material that were so prominent in the spring of 1937 have not reappeared. There are still 1,727,000 men and women on the unemployment rolls, but many of these are unemployable. The residual is 817,000, much of which will be taken up by the expansion of the armed forces. We estimate an increase in the value of aircraft production over the next year of 45 millions. The total registered unemployed in the aircraft, automobile and railway vehicles sector is currently only 16,500. Current production per head is £612, which has perhaps already risen to £700. Similarly, the projected increase in arms and related manufactures is £24,200,000, and the gross available output for registered unemployed in the general and electrical engineering industries (ie, omitting constructional and marine engineering) is between £25 and £30 million.

 

 

 

Bottlenecks, therefore, will soon emerge throughout the manufacturing industries. What of global inputs? Current coal production is 228 million tons, 60 million tons below the 1913 peak. There will be no shortage there. Steel production, however, is theoretically 14.5 million tons, and 14 million is probably the practical limit, with 13 million already being produced and consumed. Given that the WWI peak was 9.72 million tons in 1917, there is a real possibility of shortages there. But labour is the key shortage. Full employment will be reached long before next spring and the completion of the current £350 million borrowing programme, and a new financial policy will be needed soon.

 

 

 

“Notes of the Week†opens with furious diplomatic activity in eastern Europe and continues by discussing the most obvious way of addressing “future financial difficulties:†swingeing tax increases. Japan is wavering in policy, and the British Medical Association thinks that current nutritional standards are too low. Our current food policy was established before the value of “protective foods†such as dairy, fruits and vegetables was known, and there is no possibility of bringing domestic production of these up to acceptable levels, so that imports are a vital aspect of any future war effort.

 

 

 

Our New York correspondent writes on “Seeking the Causes of U.S. Depression.†We can all agree that the current depression began in 1937, but the causes are not clear. Could they be an abrupt curtailment of Federal expenditure combined with a contraction of credit due to a reduction in excess bank reserves and the “sterilization of incoming gold, and, secondly, a punitive tax on undistributed corporate profits?†It is apparently not the policy of this correspondent to draw conclusions on policy, but that conclusions are to be drawn by the reader is apparently the policy of this correspondent.

 

 

 

“To produce a recovery, a programme of lavish deficit spending was authorized; excess reserves were multiplied by a reduction in required reserves; and by the monetarisation of the previously sterilized gold; and the tax on undistributed profits was reduced to a shadow.†A sharp rebound in production ensued, but before the competing claims to have caused this were decided, the recovery ran out of steam. Then it happened again in the second quarter of 1939. Perhaps when the increase in Federal spending is felt, this will be relieved. But the tenor of the discussion of the last twelve months, in which the whole explanation for the economy’s problems have been laid to the size (or lack of size) of the Federal deficit may have been misplaced."

 

 

 

“French Financial Problemsâ€Â

 

Tax receipts are up, but not nearly so much as the estimates require. The chief cause is international tension, which has dampened business. A sales tax has (the old wartime 1%) been introduced, and new bonds issued. An official campaign calling for “increased consumption†is hoped to push up demand. Production and investment are up. Our Paris correspondent continues to pinch his sous in expectation of the most frightful imminent inflation. You know what would "increase consumption?" Wage increases. Certainly my cleaning lady is sporting quite the nicest hat since I raised her weekly last month.

 

 

 

“The Central Electricity Boardâ€Â

 

 

 

The CEB’s report for 1938 was published on April 5. It is doing very well. How shall it spend its surplus? Not on additional capacity, since electricity demand is not subject to some law of perpetual increase. That is certainly something to know. I, mistakenly, might have inferred that it was.

 

 

 

ICI, Marks & Spencers had good years. Morris and Ford did not. There has been a rush of shipbuilding orders: 190 vessels (150 tramps, 40 liners) of 850,000 tons have been announced to the Board of Trade, of which 650,00 have already been ordered. 597,000 is on the stocks and capacity is 2 million per year, so pressure on steel and labour, but not yards, is foreseen. Unfortunately, the details of the aid to shipping include preferential treatment for coal-fired ships 11s/ton subsidy for coal-fired tramps versus 10 for oil-fired. Is the picturesque suffering of South Wales to stand in the way of Burmah oil profits forever?

 

 

 

Also in the news, a scheme, not to be regarded as a wartime measure, but for the long term improvement of the fertility of the soil, is announced of a £2/acre ploughing subsidy for pasture torn up and ploughed. Sir Reginald Dorman-Smith’s initiative is welcome to this paper, since much second-rate pasture could be greatly improved by being put under a regular rotation, including of fodder crops. It seems, however, unlikely that the five months between now and September will be enough to find the tractors, seed drills and skilled labour needed, so that the subsidy should be extended into next year. The Minister has, however, announced that reserves of fertilizer and tractors have been built up in the event of war.

 

 

 

 

There is an upwards trend in wholesale prices. Perhaps Our Paris Correspondent is right, and inflation is finally upon us?

 

 

 

Flight 11 May 1939

 

 

 

Leader: The Royal Visit has left for Canada. The FAA is formally transferred to the Admiralty; the paper is excited about the imminent RAF Garden Party, which apparently involves planes more than champagne.

 

 

 

Articles: Flight visits No. 16 (Army Cooperation) Squadron to take a look at Lysanders and also ground liaison equipment. Instrument makers Reid & Sigrist have entered the aircraft construction business, with an instrument trainer. Flight is obligatorily excited.

 

 

 

Service Aviation: The Taurus II, which is an improved version of the Taurus I, if you had not guessed, is in service. The Kestrel XXX is in service. Neither engine, it is pointed out to me, equips an aircraft on the RAF's Open List, although the Kestrel is to into a trainer, at least. The Americans have the very odd Bell XP-39. Did we not conclude that engines mounted behind the pilot were a bad idea in the last war? A new member of the Lockheed Electra family is anticipated. Wait? Is this still "Service Aviation?" I do not know. Neither, I suspect, does our editor. The Secretary of State for Air, Sir Kingsley Wood, opens an airport on Guernsey.That does not seem to be part of "Service Aviation," so I suppose the page has turned on that discussion. The Douglas DC5 is tested.

 

 

 

 

Article: Well, more of a picture, really. It isn't an underground factory. That would be impractical. It's just one that retracts into a bunker! I should just clip the picture out an send it to you for the humour of it.

 

 

 

The Engineer, 12 May 1939

 

 

 

The paper believes that if there is to be conscription, engineering students should be put on special registers, so as to be employed as engineers in the event of war.

 

 

 

The Economist, 13 May 1939

 

 

 

Leaders: “Diplomatic Manoeuvres:†Is Russia defecting from collective security?“Shelter and Exodus:†Will there be a knockout blow against London? No. Will there be heavy civilian casualties? Yes. Perhaps proposed evacuation schemes should be expanded until such time as the shelter programme is complete.“Conscription of Wealth:†It is supposed that in 1918 the Government spent half the national income. Currently, the national income is estimated at roughly £5,000 millions, and might rise as high as 6 in the event of full capacity. How can the Government find its way to spending £3000 millions? Taxes, forced loans, some inflation. Yes, well, it seems like some of that wealth might flee the country first. (Too late, my editorial friend. Try telling it someone who did not learn it on Grandfather's knee.) “The Refugee Problem,†there are currently 200,000 Central European refugees, mostly Jewish, of whom only some 20,000 have as yet been accepted into Great Britain. This is shameful. More should be let in. This paper really does have progressive views, Reggie. No, I speak too soon. That's if they are skilled labour. The rest can go to Rhodesia or British Guiana or the Philippines or such. That is closer to what I was expecting.

 

 

 

 

Notes[? See. It's not just Flight that forgets its section headers.] The American recovery is still pending, and business spending in particular lags. France, on the other hand, has now “Stable Government,†meaning that Daladier has been returned as premier, and there seems to be some willingness to accept inflation. (Apart, to be sure, from Our Paris Correspondent.) There are still bonds needing to be issued against the armaments programme, and the Socialists still want excess profits taxes on arms manufacturers and a check on the rise of prices, but the government is, overall, stable. Cunard White and Union Castle report a steep fall in annual profits. Bad cess to them, as the Scots would say, were it not that I had the same news. Employment is now only 22,000 below the all-time peak of 11,707,000 reached in September 1937.

 

There is a “Whale Oil Strategy.†It is, not, surprisingly enough, to send the Jews of central Europe to South Georgia to farm whales, or whatever it is they do there, but rather to buy out the Norwegian harvest in bulk to prevent Germany from making up its shortfall in edible fats, which cannot be made up by achieving Lebensraum in wheat producing countries. Germany's own 1937 catch was 90,000t, but it absorbed 107,000t of Norway’s production. Last year’s harvest was down, and Britain has bought the whole of the world supply to build up its essential food reserves. Might I interest you in some margarine?

 

 

ICI had a bad year on exports, but domestic consumption increases, especially defence related, made up for it in part. Perhaps this is the reason for the delay in closing the sale? Nylon is an increasingly important part of the company’s business.

 

In almost entirely unrelated family news, and with gratitude for your recent discretion in arranging a "rebirth" in the midnight darkness on the Dominion-Republic border, I report that the soon-to-be-nee-Miss G.C. made her London debute, in advance of which, I think, we visited every high street establishment in London, and we picked out a wonderful yellow dress and some nylon stockings. (See, my segue is not entirelly unmotivated.) She affected a Californian accent with the utmost aplomb, not that she has not had much practice, but a Cantonese intonation would have quite given the game away. And when it came time for her to enter the floor, the rival was swept away effortlessly, pipped out of a race that she was not even aware she was running.

 

That being said, her youth made Miss J. C.'s suitability for your son most questionable. I have suggested putting off the wedding to San Francisco next year, to honour Grandfather, but the League of Aunts has shot this down with much disdainful glaring. Apparently, tongues will wag, and our mighty family tower might fall. And, no, you may not jest about how I it is that I have avoided being enrolled in that puissant league myself, lest I rediscover my membership in the near-as-puissant-League-of-Assassins. Give Grandfather my best when you see him, by the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flight 18 May 1939

 

 

 

Editorial: Imperial still can’t get the Atlantic flying going. Gentlemen, if you have lost Flight . . .

 

 

 

Article: F. A. De. V. Robertson, “Powers of the Air Arm.†This correspondent has been sharing his surfeit of punctuation with Flight for many years, which is why he can pull an article like this out of his files on short notice. It is a history of the RAF, and while it is pretty fascinating stuff (who can ever hear enough of punitive campaigns in the Northwest Frontier Agency?), I have to wonder what was supposed to go in these pages. Article that's a Picture: the new 3.7†AA is appropriately menacing.

 

 

 

Pictorial: “Standard Aircraft of the RAF.†There are 42 types, if you have not been counting. Page over is a picture of enormous numbers of Spitfires being assembled in a very large hall. So not only are there many types of planes, there are a great many of them, too. .

 

 

 

I enclose a pin-up picture of a Lysander that follows for the boy. Tuition for the boy's first term went directly to the school, instead. I hope that you understand, and would urge you to reconsider the possibility of a midnight rebirth. American citizenship would not be the worst cross that the boy could bear. That would be bastardy.

 

 

 

Article: “The RAF Today: Fighters†We are allowed to note the Hurricane and Spitfire, built to the same general formula, of which the latter is capable of 362mph. Only a few weeks ago, the paper tells us, a French technical journal referred to a British twin-engined fighter fromWestland capable of 420, but we can’t say anything. Which, I think, is rather misleading. Did they not, after all, just say something? The Hurricane, as in service right now, is capable of 335mph at 17,500ft.* Both Spitfire and Hurricane are surprisingly easy to fly due to various innovations in flappers and such. They achieve their performance behind a production Merlin III capable of 1030hp at 3000rpm at 16,250ft at a boost pressure of +6.25lb. The Merlin, the paper notes, gives this performance on 87 octane. (I am rather passionately assured by the gentleman from ICI in regards that even the 100 octane so conspicuously not noticed here is by no means the last argument in octane rating. The Gauntlet and Gladiator, now in service for several years, are . . . serviceable. The Defiant is entering service. Some more. Armour is being fitted in response to the four-gun power turret, which it is assumed our fighters will face, greatly increasing their need for protection against rifle-calibre bullets. The Blenheim is being used as a twin-engined fighter in the role this periodical has envisaged. That is, as aâ€Âfighter trainer.†Is that an implicit suggestion that amulti-seat twin engined fighter is coming?

 

 

 

Article: “The RAF Today: The Bombers.†This is a much less informative article, although the barrage of bad news for Armstrong Siddeley continues, as the Whitley V is to have a Rolls Royce Merlin vice the Tiger.

 

 

The Economist, 20 May 1939

 

 

“Security and Peace:†There is to be conscription. Have I mentioned this? It's rather important. “No Change in Palestine,†“Collective Security for Trade;†blah blah Romania blah;

 

“Land Registration.†Now here is some meat in a leader. Should land be registered for national use? The dreaded moment of land registration in the County of London arrived in 1897, we will recall by the sound of Great-Grandfather's crockery flung against the wall. At that point, all land title transfers in the County became subject to a requirement for central registration, with the intention that the office would slowly be built up into a complete registry. H.M. Land Registry Office is a remarkable institution, and its expansion is inevitable, but it will never get rid of the lawyers and difficult conveyances. No comment, for "conveying" proves to be very difficult indeed.

 

 

“Notes of the Week:†The Anglo-Turkish Pact: there’s an Anglo-Turkish pact, but not an Anglo-Russian one. The pay of the conscripted militiamen is now raised from 1 to 1 6. Local boards will have to exercise great discretion to reduce social and industrial disruption as the actual call-ups begin this summer. No-one is clear about evacuation. “Rolls-Royce for Clydeside.†The ever-in-flight Secretary of State for Air was in Glasgow to run for prime minister announce same. France’s finances are “convalescing†under Reynaud. But French production is still low in comparison to peaks reached in previous years.

 

Imperial and British Airways to merge. The Government announces subsidies for sheep, barley and oats. Unlike the ploughing subsidy,the paper disapproves.

 

 

“Poland Under Arms:†Poland has no need for foreign troops (births per thousand: 26.2; deaths, 14.2). compare Germany 19.0/11.8; England and Wales, 14.8/12.1; France, 15/15.3; Italy 22.4/13.7; Rumania 31.5/19.8. It does need guns, for which it cannot pay. Oh, and our species is dwindling from the Earth. Except in Poland and Rumania.

 

 

“All-Round Economic Improvement in France.†Never mind production being down from previous peaks: there is record car production this quarter.

 

 

“Uncertainty in the United States:†American production has dipped in April compared with March. Gold is flowing into the United States. Why is not clear, and it has not all been monetized, but it is. Someone might be moving money into the US by this means. A lot of money. I affect the most innocent of smiles, and notice no reference to silver. Yet.

 

 

“Is Bank Rate Obsolete?†It is now 7 years since the Rate was reduced to 2%, and there are no signs of it being raised. Sir John Simon has repeatedly said that the Government’s policy of cheap money will continue. Since then, we have had the 1933—37 recovery, the 1937—38 recession, and what looks like another recovery in the beginning of 1939. It would be rash to conclude that because the rate has been steady through all of this that it will continue to be so through all future exigencies.

 

Obviously, if money rates are already so low as to be irreducible, that particular stimulus cannot be applied, and so it may be that if money were kept cheap at all stages of the trade cycle, we should be sacrificing some of the potential benefits of being able to manipulate the clearing interest rate in the first place.

 

 

 

 

 

Flight 25 May 1939

 

 

 

Leader: Empire Air Day is the event of the week, aviation-wise, but the paper is apparently too late to cover it adequately. The Bristol Beaufort exists. There is your service plane equipped with a Taurus.

 

 

 

Articles: A. Robert Edis, “Blind Approach Systems.†It’s a short-range triangulation system involving three radio broadcasters a few miles away from the airport. C. M. Poulsen, “Fuelling in the Air;†is another explanation of in-air refuelling. The New Cirrus Major, built by Blackburn is a splendid little engine.

 

 

 

 

Commercial Aviation: the first commercial flight across the Atlantic, all air mail per international agreement to do five air mail flights before the first passenger run, by the Yankee Clipper. Now that is just embarrassing, all excuses aside.

 

 

 

The Engineer, 26 May 1939

 

 

 

Article: "The Co-ordination of Transport;" apparently, if road transport will stop being horrible to the railways, we will be led into the sunny uplands of reliable cargo delivery. Perhaps if the railway companies could just learn where the Land Register is, it will be even before that! Though I should not complain, as one of the reasons why the negotiations still continue is that the proposal now extends to a pipeline. Apparently this hush-hush Imperial plant will be doing something to crude oil that is far more sophisticated than mere "refining." This is a bit of a surprise to me. I should think that our oil interests would have our ears to the ground on this one. Now I wonder if that gentleman at the Admiralty had some serious doubts about Grandfather's grandson's patriotism.

 

 

 

 

The Economist, 27 May 1939

 

Leaders: “Agreement in Sight:†An Anglo-Russian agreement is in sight. The “Square Deal†Report: relief for railways in their increasing competition with road transport is called for. “The Other India.†Holland’s record as a colonial power in Indonesia is at least no worse than any other’s. High praise indeed! But the problem of imperial defence, which has not raised its head in a century (actally, the Leader might wish to refer to its 1912--14 numbers for days when the Dutch were quite reasonably frightened by Japanese expansion), is abruptly a pressing matter.

 

Notes of the Week:

 

"Recovery and Policy:" we need a policy for the recovery that we now have to admit is going on. The Ministry of Supply is official. There is to be price insurance for sheep. Roads are important. Maynard Keynes said, in a “broadcast plea†last week, that “This is scarcely a time for economics in transport improvements.†The next time I go round to the lawyers, I shall take Maynard with me, to grab men by their lapels and persuade them that this particular transportation improvement, which is just a rail spur and a pipeline across a mile or so of admittedly bottomless going, should not be subject to "economics," or whatever is holding it up. The Minister of Transport Captain Euan Wallace continues to visualize a scheme to improve trunk roads, but the paper is not assured. That £15 million in works have been “put in hand†most definitely does not mean fifteen million in “spades in ground.†Only 517,000 is to be spent this year, which, considering that the total includes work on the St. Albans bypass, which will eventually cost 1.755 million, and the Barnett Bypass, which will require 347,000, is much too little, too late. The new-mechanised Household Cavalry will be kept from the Battle of Dorking by a fatal lack of "cloverleafs."

 

“Financial Omens of American Recovery?†I am now visualising Our New York Correspondent, bloody-armed to the elbow, examining the sacrificial livers. Of Californian Republicans, I suspect. At least, the older breed. Some pessimists, Our Correspondent adds, suppose that America has built up an immunity to stimulus. It is not the policy of our correspondent. . .

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My Dearest "Mrs. C.:"

 

Dearest sister, I write to you to express my fullest satisfaction with your husband's recent decision to take the waters. His return from the lake will not be long delayed. Until then, I am at your disposal. Enclosed is Reggie's regular newsletter, and a photograph of the person who will meet your son's train in San Francisco.

 

I am afraid, however, that although Reggie is becoming more alert to his affliction, some of the concerns you relay must derive from incipient mania. You certainly have nothing to fear from the evil machinations of the peer mentioned. As a matter of fact, he has been dead for almost two hundred years! He may live on in family history as the man whose power in the ministry prevented the Founder's legitimation, but the Founder's father could only have married who he married, and provide for his son and his son's mother, in the way that he did. There was enough risk in securing the Founder his commission! It is only our good luck that the father was then able to secure his private and public posterity at Canton by the same adventurous means that he arranged his own. O U O S V A V V!

 

His illness goes, in my opinion, to the mysterious faces Reggie has seen lurking about, but Grandfather does not agree, and has sent his chop to Vancouver. You will be acquiring two cooks in the next week who are very good with knives.

 

 

 

[One Photograph and three enclosures]

 

My Dear Reggie:

 

Have no fears. Fat Chow has been tasked to protect your "wife."

 

Flight 1 June 1939

 

Leader: The actual Admiralty takeover of the FAA occurs in the same week that the press makes much of a De Havilland Queen Bee "target drone" which doodled unscathed for three hours in the vicinity of a Fleet antiaircraft live fire exercise. The times are changing, apparently. As they always are.

 

Commercial Aviation: Notices the Yankee Clipper. Again. SANA orders two Ju-90s. It is almost as though Brother Boer resents being dragged into our Empire. I can only suggest that they should have fought harder, although, remembering our days of dragging a 4.7" across the veldt, not too much harder. Or tried being a larger, richer nation that we could not simply bowl over. Anyways, a grand and ongoing triumph of progress and Christianity. A new blind landing system is under testing at Wright Field. There are various new domestic services to use all of the new airfields we are building and equipping with much electrical apparatus of this sort.

Article: “A New Multi-Gun Fighter.†I comment further on the Martin-Baker Fighter below.

 

“A Parliamentary Party:†And here is the meat of it. Remember all that talk of British reserve, not to mention backwardness compared with Germany and America? It must smart at someone, because last week, Members of the Commons and the Lords, Commissioners for the Dominions and Dominion Liaison Officers, plus officials from the Board of Admiralty, Army Council, etc were taken to Northolt to see “pehaps the most convincing display of service flying ever staged." They watched the “world’s finest service aircraft demonstrating their functions,†inspected an assortment of secret and semi-secret equipment, and saw a tantalizing fly-by by two unmentionable aircraft which are still secret. (Though I heard some grumbling about a much larger aircraft that might have attended had it not recently been quite avoidably indisposed.)

 

The machine park, first attraction after fourteen coaches had discharged their loads of legislators, contained three Hurricanes, three Spitfires, three Gladiators, a Hudson, three Hampdens, three Battles, and examples of the Henley, Harvard, Tutor, Oxford, Anson, Walrus, Beaufort, Defiant, Roc, Skua, and Master, but not of "every creature, clean and unclean." No Lysander was there, as perhaps Hiduminium extrusions remain on the "Intermittently Secret" list that the Air Ministry apparently maintains). Searchlights, anti-aircraft guns, a balloon, a Link trainer, and other equipment was available for inspection.

 

“While RAF officers were being plied with questions (any normal schoolboy would not have deigned to answer many of these, though some displayed encouraging intelligence) a wing of twenty-four Vickers Wellingtons boomed over at a menacing height to give the first massed demonstration of these substantial geodetic-built craft, which have a longer range than any other aircraft in the Service.Some minutes later the Wellingtons were followed by two fighter wings embodying six squadrons of Hurricanes and one of Spitfires, the first flying in wing formation, the second in diamond formation….†There were dive bombing demonstrations by a Battle to counter “foreign†claims to unique capabilities in this technique, Gladiator acrobatics, a high speed flypast by a Spitfire going “at least 380mph, having benefited from a shallow dive,†a flypast by 3 Sunderlands, squadron manoeuvres by Hurricanes, a flypast in succession of 10 other types, including a Powis trainer prototype. A Spitfire with the latest three blade variable-pitch airscrew was shown. A fast twin-engined type made an even more spectacular flypast in the “mystery machine†parade.

 

After all of this, it is rather anticlimactic to report that the main Article: summary of George Lewis’s Wright Lecture on progress with American wind tunnels.

“The Aircraft Engineer†covers ‘Elastic Stiffness of a Skin-Covered Framework,†and a discussion of “some airscrew considerations.â€

 

The Engineer, 2 June 1939

 

A writeup of the new Martin-Baker fighter. My own private instinct is to let the French have the field here with the Caudron. If it succeeds, we can buy some, as we did in the last war. The ingenuity, not to mention influence, of Messrs. Martin and Baker can be applied a little more creatively. But what do I know of aeronautics?

 

The Economist, 3 June 1939

 

Leader: “A Distorted Boom†on the last day of 1938, this paper forecast that recovery in Britain would be seen from the summer onwards. This was grossly pessimistic. It was not all due to defence –the lower price of steel that came into effect on 1 January also had its impact. However, defence is a big part of it, and there is likely to be an increasing distortion of the normal functioning of the British economy if this goes on, with painful structural changes after the end of rearmament. Second Leader:“Japan’s Choice:†more war in (south) china, apparently. Grandfather predicts that Japan will be at war with Britain and perhaps Russia by the summer. The Ministry in Tokyo, he says, finds hope of securing European allies, fear of the political cost of abandoning the China adventure.

 

“Notes of the Week:†Speaking of war in Europe, the Anglo-Russian deal is delayed again; “The New Army:†the 200,000 men of the National Militia will report for induction this week, with the first notices going out on 1 July. “Labour in Depression;†employment did not fall as far as expected in 1938.

 

“The World Overseas:†Germany’s railways in trouble.

 

Now here is something worth a paragraph break. An increase in American government spending is expected as“appeasement†of business in the United States is seen to have failed. I am appalled and amused at once that one reason that it is supposed that the American economy has faltered is that it is now a “mature economy.†The American population has ceased to grow, and America is no longer the land of youth. Thus, a savings glut naturally builds up. Hence, Government must borrow and activate these funds.

 

Flight 8 June 1939

 

Leader: Former Secretary of State for Air Sir Philip Sassoon has died.

 

Service Aviation: “Official†performance statistics are given for the Hurricane. It still has a peak speed of 330mph at 17,500ft (To which it climbs in 7.8 minutes).

 

Commercial Aviation: new airfield at Derby, new Baltic airline, new services in Africa, new Bloch airliner announced. Douglas is working on a DC6, which will fill the gap in airline procurement until such time as the DC4 becomes economical. Speaking of stratoliners, the second Boeing 307 is ready for trials, replacing the first, which crashed. I am perversely glad to hear that it is not only British airliners that crash or prove to be white elephants.

 

 

Industry: Rolls-Royce is breaking ground on its Glasgow site. Australia has bought lots of stuff preparatory to beginning Beaufort production.

 

The Engineer, 9 June, 1939

 

Leader: Purchases from the £2 fund that the government has set aside to purchase British-registered ships destined for premature scrapping are going ahead. All very well, it seems to me, unless they need scrapping. I had a most unfortunate visit from some gentlemen from the British Coal Association, who intimated that our little railway transaction might go more expeditiously if we scrapped plans for the associated pipeline, perhaps in favour of a coal wharf. I have heard nothing from Imperial to suggest that the new plant will use coal as a feedstock, and have asked our solicitor to inquire. Captain Acworth strikes me as a little unhinged. Following Leaders: The paper is interested in recent experiments in steam-powered aeroplanes. So were we all, in 1890. At least before we boarded the Rattler. Never a truer name....; HMS Thetis is tragically lost. Your son was downcast about this, although "Miss G.C." did much to cheer him up. A very large expansion of the Territorial Royal Army Ordnance Corps, of 150 officers and 5000 men, is announced. An Engineering Branch of the Royal Navy Supplementary Reserve is announced, with no peacetime obligation. A remarkably trouble-free way to wear the blue and impress the Bright Young Things, if you ask me.

 

Engineering, 9 June 1939

 

Leader: Loss of HM Submarine Thetis.

 

Article: Full description of the machinery of SS Mauretania, with diagrammes. Extraordinary!

 

The Economist, 10 June 1939

 

“An Imperial Policy†The paper sees many colonies, notably in the Caribbean and West Africa, as trapped in a vicious circle. Wages are too low to alleviate poverty, with here a harsh reminder that the bad old days are not gone in many parts of our Empire, where poverty means malnutrition and preventable disease. Taxes to alleviate these bear heavily on the economy, notably duties that impact the price of imported necessities of life. Fixed interest charges on infrastructure improvements further reduce the colonial administrations’ room to manoeuvre. The solution will be Marketing Boards to increase the price of sugar, cocoa and such.

 

“Food Production in War;†it isn’t enough.

 

 

“Notes of the Week:†the Thetis disaster. The King goes to Washington. “Organising Supply:†the powers of the Ministry of Supply are further laid out; “German Finance†a scheme in which German contractors are paid in part in IOUs is not entirely satisfactory. I, for one, am astonished.

 

“Japan and Great Britain;†outrage in Shanghai. I apologise for keeping you in suspense about the final destination of the special cargo. Easton will be have charge of the curios and bric-a-bracs, which are to proceed by rail to San Francisco. If you are able, you are to descend to the mouth of the Pend d'Oreille and should take charge of matters relating to the border.

 

“The Motorisation of Germany.†Germany is catching up with the UK. If you count motorcycles as equivalent to cars. “Cotton-Rayon Controversy;†in the new organization of the textiles sector, where does the new fabric balance the old?

 

Flight 15 June 1939

 

Leader Merger of British and Imperial to form BOAC is this week’s story.

 

 

Commercial Aviation:

 

Portuguese are to buy De Havilland Rapides for an Angolan service; Pan-American will carry booked(?) passengers on the Atlantic run starting June 28; France is getting ready for summer proving runs with an older Latecoere; Ensigns almost ready to return to service with Tiger IXCs with constant-speed props. How does the engine know how far to twist the screws? Your son tried to explain the mathematics, and then, when that failed, used analogies. It involved musical instruments and weights on springs. I could not make heads nor tails of it, even before he recited the dreaded words, "differential equations."

 

Engineering 16 June 1939.

 

Leader: Shouldn’t we be thinking about industrial dispersal? Yes, we certainly should.

 

The Engineer 16 June 1939

 

In the letters, J. G. B. Sams writes that the £2/acre plowing subsidy announced by the government for all acreage left "down to grass" for at least 7 years will be, as the government intends, an important contribution to war readniess if the government's goal of 250,000 acres reclaimed is reached. But can it? Let us talk traction. Horses are ruled out at the head. They will be too costly of manpower. Two horses can do an acre a day, but require 1 man for the work. Internal combustion tractors are too few to do the work and lack tractive force for operations such as "moling" ("creating subterranean drains by dragging a vertical bar 2 or 3 feet below the surface"). what is needed is steam plowing with tackle. But whereas in 1918, 600 rented [stationary steam plow sets] kept 12.6 million acres in operation, now owner/operators report only 125 sets available for rent.

 

Or one could conclude, as great grandfather concluded long ago, that if one needs to "mole" land to put it in corn, one should reconsider whether the land ought to be in corn, and invest instead in a strong navy to keep the sea lanes to the colonies open.

 

The Economist, 17 June 1939

 

The leaders revisit foreign policy (“Defence versus appeasement,â€) and Newfoundland; then move on to the first six months of the American Fair Wages and Hours Act.â€

 

“Notes of the Week:†The Blockade of the Tientsin Concession by the Japanese continues. (Grandfather relays his gratitude from 'Arcadia.') Talks in Moscow continue. Mr. Roosevelt may run for a third term in 1940.Forty thousand storm troopers from East Prussia just showed up in Danzig. Air Raid Precautions are developing; there will be a trade credit for Poland.

 

“Production and Prices in France:†there is continuing improvement, although the pace of it has slackened. Exports advance. Inflation is incipient, notwithstanding the fall in the index of wholesale prices to 685, against 693, 695 and 696 in previous weeks.

“No Real Change in American Business Outlook.†Were the livers wrong?

 

“Charter for Air Transport;†the BOAC Bill is introduced this week. If there’s going to be subsidies, there ought to be a Crown Corporation.

 

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My Dear Mrs. C.:

 

I am happy to write that I have separate confirmation that Reggie is on the mend, although I still have to ask you to forward Reggie's mail via channels. In the matter of being wary of being drawn into Reggie's paranoia, I am appropriately chastised. Of course you know your husband as well as I, and I have only exacerbated things. I apologise for failing to make clear the identity of the persons in the photograph that I sent your son. You are, of course, astute to notice from the society pages that the girl in the photograph is "Miss J. C.," and you are right that no cousin of ours' across the divide of 1824 is to be trusted in matters such as your son's imminent rebirth as an eminently legitimate American citizen. Fortunately, no such foolish step is contemplated. The young man pictured with her is not your, shall we say, stepson, but rather our Cousin Easton, who bears him a considerable likeness. It is Cousin Easton who will take charge of your son in San Francisco. He has been attending to Grandfather's arrangements discretely, but, that said, I share your concern with Easton's obvious familiarity with Miss J. C. in the news clippings you forward. Grandfather will put a stop to things before they go too far. In the meantime, I cannot say whether you are wise to send Fat Chow and his assistant with them.

 

Reggie:

 

Flight 22 June 1939

 

 

 

Leader: Air raid precautions are a real matter of concern for all.

 

 

Service Aviation:

 

The first tranche of 200 North American Harvards has completed delivery. Rumours of a new purchase of "Seversky Yales" to train pilots directly commissioned from the ranks are to be deprecated by the Ministry. Dewoitine has almost finished its “speed†530, intended for an attack on the world record, probably with an Hispano 12-4 giving 1800hp near the ground, or a special Rolls-Royce Merlin. Your son adds that "At least they left the H.P. slot off this one," and adds that, given that the Germans have put it on their fighters, if we can only arrange that our Allies do not Dr. Handley Page will have actually accomplished something towards winning the war. I asked him when a mechanical engineer began worrying about aerodynamics, and he gave me some blathercock about turbulent fluid flows through orifices. Make of that what you want, you old scoundrel.

 

The USN exhibits first deck-landing monoplane torpedo bomber, which has actually been in service for 18 months now.

 

 

Article: “Guidonia on show.†The Italian air force's research centre puts on a stellar show for Il Duce. Francis Chichester, “The Modern Aircraft Compass.†This matter of telling directions from an aircraft is as vexingly complicated as it turned out to be on ships. It seems as though this is something that ought to be worked out before we propose to crush Germany into obedience with massive waves of bombers.

 

“World’s Most Powerful Air-Cooled Engine:†the Wright Duplex Cyclone 18 cylinder, giving 2000hp+ is shown to the Press. Your son points out how hard it is to parse the technical news some times. He has it from sources in America that the Vought torpedo bomber has been in service since January of last year, yet scoffs openly at the idea of the Duplex Cyclone being ready to fly next year. I envy the historian who will be able to sort these things out. Although, to be fair, a history that sorts everything out will be too thick to be read, and too unflattering of some to be published.

 

To wit, an article on Handley Page's corporate history. For a change, I have insight from someone other than your son. Specifically, the club librarian, who seemed ready to have at me right there in the reading room until I agreed that the good doctor was a scoundrel and a bounder. Though rather than making off with his fiancee, it turns out that H.P.'s sins have more to do with arcane shenanigans over surplus spare parts after the last war. An appended mini-article on the automatic slot, not to beat a dead horse, is for those interested in gadgets that make good planes worse and bad planes better.

 

 

 

Engineering 23 June 1939

 

 

 

Article on Callendar-Hamilton modular bridges, which apparently can be quickly and conveniently set up anywhere. Your son is quite excited. Remember him playing with his Meccano sets? It's like that, but for adults. Alleged adults.

 

The Engineer, 23 June 1939

 

Leader: A French submarine has followed USS Squamus and HMS Thetis to disaster. It is a 1379t boat of the Redoutable-class called, le Phénix, of all things. Kingsley Wood says in Parliament that we are currently spending almost 2 million a week on armaments production. We await the summer supplementary estimates. But will they simply follow the original estimates and be an authorisation to spend even more? Is that even possible?

 

The Economist, 24 June 1939

 

Leaders: The paper turns 5000 (numbers, for it is only Engineering that reads as though it were older than Methusaleh) today! The big celebration is deferred to the centennial on 2 September, 1943, but it is worth celebrating all the same. Especially given that the crops will be in by that time, freeing the young men and horses of Europe for other duties.

 

“The Meaning of Tientsin†is that Japan means to humiliate Great Britain. Am I unpatriotic to hope that it tries, and that we will give them a thorough trashing? “The Armaments Profit Duty:†is introduced; “Reconstruction in Spain.â€

 

Notes of the Week:

 

Delays in Moscow; Supply Bill advances to the floor of the House; 230,000 men are now registered under the Militia Training Act, and those who supposed that a “serious lack of physique and good health†would be discovered are confounded, for only 2.3% were rejected on these grounds. The British working class proves disappointingly robust for some. They should have asked me, and, no, I will bear no ribbing about common tastes.

 

There are to be no film duties, upon which matter the paper is profoundly ambivalent, since while it is opposed to duties in general, it is also opposed to special favours for individual industries. In the tradition of the paper, I look for a third hand (perhaps that we are currying favour with advanced opinion in America?) but there is no space.

 

Again, under the heading of “He Only Does it to Annoy. . .†the paper speculates about Herr Hitler's latest (prospective) outrage. How long until the annexation of Danzig to the Reich is announced? Meanwhile, the annual August period of high tensions approaches, and the German manoeuvres will be on an “unprecedented scale in peacetime.†Which would be alarming if that is not how they were cast every year. But does he really only do it to annoy? Speaking of which, there is feverish work on East Prussian fortifications.

“Future Population:†the imminent decline of the British population needs to be addressed by extraordinary means. Well, there you go. Now, our family has rarely had problems in this matter. Searching back through our history, it seems to me that money is the key. Take a prize off the Carolinas, have a son. Take a Manila galleon, have a daughter. It is only when one speculates on advancing into higher offices that it all goes for naught.

 

So: money. Money is the key. Hmm. Let us see what the article has to say: well, it says that we need to . . . celebrate motherhood more. Yes, quite correct. That is exactly how they are doing it on the continent. More medals for fecund mothers will quite make up for having to raise ones' children in miserable poverty. Gentlemen, I think I see where the problem lies. Extending, I am not afraid to suggest, through the entire expanse that lies between one of those ears of yours and the next.

 

“Agricultural Development:†the ‘drift from the land’ is necessary to secure higher living standards for all, and those who call for increased subsidies to farmers to halt it are guilty of “muddled thinking.â€

 

“The United State’s Flood of Imported Gold—“ is a problem. Gold is entering the United States in various ways from abroad. For Our New York Correspondent, news of cheap gold for the Wall Street masses is, of course, the worst news ever. For Our New York Correspondent, everything is the worst news ever. Except, perhaps, the defeat of Mr. Roosevelt in 1940. Government security prices are up, labour unrest is up, the wheat crop forecast is down.It is all of a piece. Although I do not think that even Our New York Correspondent believes that an influx of gold is directly the cause of a poor wheat harvest.

 

“Germany’s Food Supplies.†Are inadequate.

 

“The Limits of French Resources:†unemployment is falling in a highly satisfactory way. Not only total unemployed going down, but hours worked going up… Our Paris Correspondent adds that monetary expansion has been avoided for fear of a dangerous rise in prices. France, we are told, is far closer than Great Britain to full employment. In this light, a chart purports to show that “French fortunes have paid the bill.†Rentier incomes have been hit much harder than weekly wages.

 

Let me just pause there, and not just because the next article gives me so much pain. We are told here, in tones of high dudgeon, that the rentier has born the burden of French rearmament, and that the working poor have come off relatively better. Now, as a rentier myself, and one sensitive to that status (founded, after all, on egregious fraud!), I am as eager as any to defend my class. But that does not mean that I cannot notice that Our Paris Correspondent is looking to those "working for weekly wages" for the rapid completion of the warlike armament that will secure his rents from the Hun!

 

And speaking of aching hearts: “Canton under Japanese Control,†(from our Hongkong correspondent). “Nearly eight months have elapsed since the occupation of the city,†and Japan has still no set policy for the city. Perhaps so, but the grip of the Kempetai gets firmer every passing week. Until, let us hope, Tokyo overreaches. Grandfather, as you will have heard turns from the optimist to the pessimist in this matter. If his sources in Moscow are right, there will be no alliance, and thus a war, unless the democracies give way. Still, never a menacing cloud without a silver lining. One that you may have seen at Waneta, if you were allowed onto the car.

 

 

 

Flight 29 June 1939

 

 

 

Leader: “Too Many Accidents.†The paper is disappointed with the Empire Boat's tendency to run into logs. And the recent shipwreck of Corsair in a Congo lake, at which words fail even me. First pictures of the Saro Lerwick appear. Apparently it solves all flying boat problems by going even faster. On water included. I am doomed to be the garrulous, ignored old man, with my Rattler anecdotes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Article: Robert C. Morrison, “Bigger and Bigger.†America has huge flying boats coming for Atlantic flying. And fast ones. And huge fast ones. It will be incredible. You will see. You will all see. The substance of the article is a drawing from Sikorsky and the Consolidated “speed†flying boat recently shown with two Wright Duplex Cyclones, while the phrasing comes from the mad scientist villain of a recent Republic serial showing I attended with the Cambridge aethestician, in part for reasons that I imagine you have no interest in hearing about, and in part as a smoke screen for when I invite him to see the next installment of Grandfather's "biography," coming from the same studio in a mere 10 months. I anticipate it eagerly, if only to hear of Grandfather's reaction. I keep telling him that now that we have lost our financial leverage over Mr. Rohmer, we can only be grateful that he remains a friend of the family, however odd the means by which he shows his friendship.

 

 

 

Engineering 30 June 1939

 

 

 

University Training of Engineers: the paper is in favour of anything likely to lead to more boring lectures.

 

 

The Engineer, 30 June 1939

 

Leader: The 1940 Machine Tool Exhibition at Olympia has been cancelled, because no-one will have any machines available to show(!)

 

 

 

M. H. Rungston writes in reply to Mr. J. G. B. Sams' letter on steam cable plowing that the real answer is the diesel plow. Powerful diesels, however, are necessarily fast diesels, and then one requires some kind of transmission that will take the load. Will it not? As an oil man, I am persuaded, however skeptical about the future of high-powered ploughing of more English fields! Which reminds me to mention that it turns out that Captain Acworth's scheme for a coal wharf on our land is entirely his own. Imperial has no intention of using hydrogenated coal oil as a feedstock at the new plant. Whatever rumours you may have heard about this are manufactured by the Captain and his friends.

 

 

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My Dearest Reggie:

 

 

I am heartily glad to hear by wire that this letter will find you home and healthy in Vancouver. This gives me an opportunity to share what I have learned this month, which is a great deal. I have learned this month that there are speeds for the old and speeds for the young, speeds for one political economy, and, more specifically, low-altitude speeds for an aeroengine supercharger or a wing flap-slat, and, with another gear or setting, a high-altitude speed as well. I rather poke fun below, and I am told that, had I been paying attention, I would know about the Rolls-Royce "two speed superchargers" by now. Even if the technology originates with Farman in France, the implications of the metallurgy of the new Farman-Rolls-Royce supercharger and of the Youngman Flap, is of a combustion-turbine airliner, perhaps while we are still young enough to fly. As for political economies, one is ever more pressed to ask whether or not this is a direct consequence of just how large a national defence loan the government is willing to take out. (Yes, I did see Maynard socially this month, but, rest assured that he did not lecture us. On the contrary, a copy of The Economist in hand, I drew him out for the enlightenment of my young Cambridge art historian friend.)

 

 

Speaking of speeds for the old --I shall leave you hanging for a bit about what I mean bythat, and well you deserve it, you scoundrel-- as much as we share those happy boyhood memories of summers by the Arrow Lake, we can also share memories of being summoned away to Grandfather's side in our first war. Another war is very clearly on the horizon. we can hope, and we can work towards the end of seeing it reverse the verdict of the first. It must have been frustrating to be rusticated in its earliest stages. It would be even more frustrating for me if you derail our family's efforts with your signature rashness

 

 

As you may have been informed, Grandfather called Cousin Easton down from San Francisco to Chi'a Ta-wan to upbrade him for his overly familiar relations with "Miss J.C." The rather obvious point was made that until such time as we can schedule earthquakes to our needs, we must beware that side of our family that will profit if secrets come to light. In his customarily indirect (or, to be literary, "insidious") fashion, Grandfather has scotched the romance by ordering Cousin Easton to Hongkong to take over operations as from the end of manoeuvres in Europe.

 

 

 

 

On another note, upon receipt of happy news that Mr. Grey's editorial tenure is coming to an end, we began talking The Aeroplane again this month.

 

 

 

The Economist, 1 July 1939

 

 

Leaders: “Defence or Encirclement;†the paper ventures the opinion that Dr. Goebbels is awful.

 

 

Second Leader, from which I cite at great length for its intrinsic interest:

 

 

“Laggard Recovery in America,â€

 

 

‘The course of American business activity never did run smooth. Nor has it ever run on orthodox lines. . . No completely satisfying explanation has ever been given, for instance, of the very sudden reversal of recovery in the autumn of 1937, long before it appeared to have reached its maturity. [until recently, the received explanation was of a temporary interruption]. This theory appeared to be confirmed by the resumption of recovery twelve months ago. But since the beginning of 1939, this new recovery –or “re-recovery,†as the Americans call it—has faltered and given ground, long before it had attained the peak levels of 1937, let alone those of 1929. It is true that in the last few weeks there have been signs of a new improvement –a re-re-recovery, as it were— but it is too early to say whether they are prophetic or deceptive. And in any case there is no assurance that 1939’s improvement will go much further than 1938’s. There is prima facie evidence for the belief that each new peak is lower than the last.â€

 

 

One is left, the paper infers, to fall back in despair on the doctrine that it is for Government to repair the deficiency in private investment in capital….[but] the justification for a permanent programme of public works can only be a permanent lack of private capital investment….The tell-tale usage of "despair" tips the hands of Our New York Correspondent as author in part, it seems to me.

 

 

Arguing with someone, I certainly cannot say whom, Our New York Correspondent very briefly summarises the case for 'permanent lack of private capital investment' according to the ‘mature economy’ theory.

 

 

“[but] If America is a “mature economy†because the growth of population is slowing down, how much more “mature†is Great Britain, where the growth of population has almost stopped?†That would be a good question, were it not for everything else I shall write about in this letter. Continuing with Our New York Correspondent's chain of thought, it is allowed that it would be much easier to accept the defeatist doctrine of a permanent insufficiency of private investment if any convincing attempt had been made to investigate and remove the barriers to profitability. Business complaints do not encourage this inquiry. Taxes are too high, “anti-business†attitude of the Administration, “lack of confidence.†These, it is to be conceded, are rubbish explanations. That the deficit has not occasioned high interest rates for bonds indicates that there is no crowding out.

 

 

To the outside observer, an interesting characterisation of Our New York Correspondent, the problem is the cost of investments. Specifically, wages are too high. As a consequence, payrolls are falling, for unemployment trumps increases. “The only remedy that has not been tried is a sustained attempt to lower the costs and encourage the expansion of the capital goods industry whose coma is, by common consent, the root cause of the laggardliness of the recovery.†Less money in the hands of buyers means more machine tools being produced to equip factories to supply buyers with the things they want. Of course. How silly of us not to see this. It rather strikes me, as I have coyly suggested, that the rest of the world, and Europe in particular, has very precisely fastened on an efficient means of encouraging the expansion of the capital goods industry, and it has not been by cutting wages.

 

 

“Social Services and the Family;†we started to offer family support services, back in 1928. We had no idea what would happen. so far, though, it does not appear to have promoted family breakdown, laziness, means test evasion and such. “Capitalism is not yet in any real danger of losing its efficiency because of its humanitarianism.â€

 

 

Notes of the Week: Negotiations continue in Moscow; trouble continues in Danzig. The German harvest is to be brought in earlier than usual. M. Daladier posits that“We stand at the beginning of a troubled and tormented summer.†The Motor Tax is retained. There is a limit to the Chancellor’s complaisance, and the horsepower-based tax will continue. A sign of backbone against interested lobbying is welcome, but this will surely lead to a generation of small British automobile engines, even though a brand-new Ford V-8 is just the thing for racing from the country house in Kent to the townhouse in Kensington. Talks continue about what the Armaments Profits Tax will look like.

 

 

British-Japanese Talks; the Japanese have relented on the Tientsin blockade and opened talks in Tokyo. Grandfather suggests that Tokyo is looking for a Munich style negotiated victory to go with one anticipated on the Manchurian battlefield, and that Tokyo is counting at least one victory too many. Yet he also points to the Moscow talks and suggests that when people talk so long, it is because they have nothing to say.

 

 

The Anglo-French Conference at Singapore. Of course, what Grandfather guesses, so can others. There is no way of avoiding the reality that the enemies of Japan will take serious losses in the Western Pacific in the first months of a war in the Pacific, as it will never occur otherwise than in the context of a war in Europe. The point is to contain their gains and then drive them back later. Singapore, as the Anglo-French citadel, will play a role of capital importance.

 

 

Other notes cover Civil Defence, The TUC on Workers’ Comp, French-Turkish Treaty, A New Balkan Agreement

 

 

The World Overseas

 

 

Indian Railway Finance is in need of “drastic reform.†See below for an engineer's perspective.

 

 

“Preparedness and Public Opinion in France;†the tax increases and working hour increases have been well-borne.

 

 

There is “Increased Confidence in Canada," due mostly to the prospect of a good harvest. So bucolic!

 

 

 

 

In general, business seems to be slackening in London, and there are warning signs here and there (New Zealand's debt troubles, Sheffield iron market), but then we move into the Building Society Supplement, which gives a synoptic treatment of “a decade of growth.†The synoptic review suggests “more houses for fewer people,†and asks is we have moved into a new era of housing. That is, there are cheap houses to buy, and cheap houses to let, because more builders are interested in rentals than sales to owners.

 

 

Aeroplane 5 July 1939

 

 

Editorial: Air mission to New Zealand; the paper heralds an expansion of British aviation material exports: last year’s total, 5.4 million, first five months of this year, 2.73 million. The paper describes the new airport at Grangemouth in Scotland.

 

 

News: official new Spitfire top speed with the new Rotol airscrew is 367mph at 18,400ft.

 

 

Article, C. G. Grey, “Visit to Italy.†Fascism, Grey believes, is a very good political system, and good for matters aeronautical. More to come on the Guidonia show.

 

 

P. E. Moreton, “An American View of Us.†This is an interesting authorial credit, as the gist would appear to be a long letter to The Aeroplane, into which Mr. Grey has interpolated responses, and then published the result as an article. Mr. Moreton is a young blood working at the Sperry plant in Long Island, which is to build a licensed model of the Dowty long-line carburettor, "the carburettor that thinks for itself." However, Mr. Moreton by no means confines himself to this subject, but, rather, ranges widely across the field of British aviation.

 

 

I gather that Mr. Moreton is unimpressed with the Cavalier accident (the Empire Boat forced down off Bermuda by carburetor icing), the Ensign, and the Albatross structural failure. He is also unimpressed with the Dowty carburetor that Sperry is producing under license. Apparently they had to redesign it to make it work. Considering that it works quite well in British and Italian production models, this seems to say more about Sperry than about Dowty. This thought might have provoked Mr. Moreton into writing in the first place, for he seems to be a young and passionate, a combination that leads to rash behaviour, as you, Reggie, might have considered late last month. As I reviewed the number for this letter, I found myself despising Mr. Grey for his use of the letter in this way, but perhaps this is because I so entirely despised him on many other grounds by the end of July.

 

 

I have purchased a newstand copy and forwarded the drawing of the “The VickersWellington†to your son in Santa Clara.

 

 

Flight 6 July 1939

 

 

Leaders: The Dictators are awful, but, as the Air Minister says, we’re spending two million pounds a week on aircraft, and that must send some kind of message; The DC-4 inspires “strange excitement†in the United States. 42 passengers and four engines? Poor old Heracles was managing that back in 1931! And the Ensigns will be back in service soon, and the Fairey FC-1 should be in service before the projected 1941 date for the DC-4. “So let us enjoy a momentary feeling of equality with, if not of superiority to, our American cousins –while praising all their technical achievements in the world of civil aircraft[;]†The tone is odd. Our new four-engined airliners disappoint. So do theirs, but we will have the Fairey, soon, and then all will be well. Perhaps it is precisely this view forward into the devices of the future that make our current aircraft, which, whatever their faults, mostly work? It is, after all, an excess of ambition over finance that has led to their pallid performance. Ah, well. At least finance will not be lacking in the next generation. The paper welcomes the return of the Woman's Auxiliary Air Force.

 

 

Article: F. de Vere Robertson , “Fleet Air Arm Visited: Lee-on-the-Solent, H.Q. Naval Air Station.â€

 

 

Rear Admiral R. Bell Davies, RNAS hero of flying exploits at Dunkirk and in Turkey, and his Chief Staff Officer, Captain L. D. Mackintosh, are very busy being name-dropped. The training carrier is Furious. Air Observers, formerly RN men who went to train under the RAF at the School of Naval Cooperation are now being trained by the FAA at Lee-on-Solent. Of course, given that Lee-on-Solent was a short time ago part of the School of Naval Cooperation, this is not quite as staggering a change as might be suggested. The observer course lasts 22 weeks and includes thorough training in dead reckoning navigation, which the RAF and the FAA, unlike apparently anyone else, appears to realise is a difficult but practicable enterprise.

 

 

Articles: “Geodetics on the Grand Scale:†the Vickers Wellington is impressive; SinceAeroplane visited Grangemouth airport, the paper visits “The New Birmingham Airport†instead.

 

 

“Here and There:†the first Consolidated Catalina, which the RAF may(?) buy for its long range capacity and to further increase its coastal aviation capability, is in Britain for evaluation; The Do 215 is reported. Trans-Canada Airways has added a service to Moncton; Pan-American is starting regular Atlantic commercial service. (How many times will I report this news? As many times as it is reported!) The three strengthened C-boats to be used in the Imperial Atlantic service are flying with the airline; Imperial and SANA have started new services in Africa.

 

 

Industry: If you are contemplating building a new factory, perhaps you wish to completely contract the matter to Commercial Structures Ltd of London. That such a business can exist is perhaps the best illustration of the mood of the moment that one can imagine.

 

 

The Economist, 8 July 1939

 

 

Leaders: “Marshalling Man Power:†On Sunday, the King and Queen reviewed a march past of twenty thousand representatives of the two million men and women who have volunteered for service in the nation’s home defences. On Monday, the Ministry of Labour's estimate had a record 12,810,000 million people working in employment and agriculture in Great Britain. And yet still we need more manpower! [TABLE]

[TR]

[TD]Table 1: The Armed Forces[/TD]

[TD] [/TD]

[TD] [/TD]

[TD] [/TD]

[TD] [/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD] [/TD]

[TD]Army*[/TD]

[TD]Navy[/TD]

[TD]Air Force[/TD]

[TD]Total[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD]Regulars[/TD]

[TD]204,000[/TD]

[TD]133,000[/TD]

[TD]118,000[/TD]

[TD]455,000[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD]Reserves and Auxiliaries[/TD]

[TD]584,000[/TD]

[TD]27,500[/TD]

[TD]104,000[/TD]

[TD]715,000[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD]Total[/TD]

[TD]788,000[/TD]

[TD]160,500[/TD]

[TD]222,000[/TD]

[TD]1,170,000[/TD]

[/TR]

[/TABLE]

*Excluding, as we like to do, “the army in India and Burma," another 45,000 or so.

 

 

So the army has by this count 204,000 regulars, 139,000 Regular Reserves, 35,000 Supplementary Reserves, and 410,000 Territorials, soon to be supplemented by 220,000 National Militia, to be called up in batches of 20,000 for six month’s training over the next twelve months. 170,000 Territorials have been recruited in the last two-and-a-half months.

 

 

 

 

Two Years of War in China –Japan’s basic aim is to spread disorder in China and prevent the development of a modern and powerful Chinese state. No further comment is required except that this is not Japan's policy only!

 

 

Notes of the Week

 

 

“A Cabinet of Confidence?†The odd thing is that, since March, the Cabinet has reversed course on all of its most cherished policies. Now it must take the further step of including Churchill and Eden, directs the paper, which may have confused itself with the King, as it does.

 

 

Food and Shipping; fear of German commerce raiders is real. Shipping must be preserved by protection and by a food policy. The Tientsin position continues to unwind.South Tyrol agreement between Germany and Italy. It turns out that Hitler is perfectly willing to sacrifice German living space so as to have his war. Never mind the unpleasantness of "Memel to the Meuse." No-one registered upset last month that Deutschland still stretched "

" save Signor Mussolini. Whose opinions of such matters, I propose, are to be taken with some small grain of salt. Or possibly even a small Balkan country's worth of salt Incomplete Plans for Transport: the paper wants more roads now! Germany’s Struggle is a titanic one to maintain the current level of armaments production. With agriculture looking to be down, there is no reason to think that it will succeed. Achievement is balanced by great strain. Speaking of….The Cost of Defence (in Britain)

 

[TABLE]

[TR]

[TD=colspan: 6]Defence Expenditures, Including Loans Acts[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD] [/TD]

[TD]1935—36[/TD]

[TD]1936—37[/TD]

[TD]1937—38[/TD]

[TD]1938—39[/TD]

[TD]1939—1940[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD]First Quarter[/TD]

[TD]27.3[/TD]

[TD]37.5[/TD]

[TD]46.3[/TD]

[TD]65.8[/TD]

[TD]123.9[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD]Second[/TD]

[TD]30.3[/TD]

[TD]41.2[/TD]

[TD]58.3[/TD]

[TD]86.4[/TD]

[TD] [/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD]Third[/TD]

[TD]37.3[/TD]

[TD]48.0[/TD]

[TD]68.3[/TD]

[TD]102.9[/TD]

[TD] [/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD]Fourth[/TD]

[TD]41.8[/TD]

[TD]59.4[/TD]

[TD]89.3[/TD]

[TD]127.5[/TD]

[TD] [/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD] [/TD]

[TD] [/TD]

[TD] [/TD]

[TD] [/TD]

[TD] [/TD]

[TD] [/TD]

[/TR]

[/TABLE]

 

Our present spending rate is nearly double that of a year ago, and yet in spite of the increase in the volume of Treasury Bills, there is probably room to cover the bulk of defence spending in the second quarter. The possibility and present state of the current offering will determine the extent of the next. There is some consolation of the problems of deficit finance from the fact that the Customs revenue has risen in the quarter from £53.718 million to £61.523 million, well above that projected.

 

 

“Financing the United States Debt:†one of the most common explanations of the 1937 slow down was the abrupt reduction in Federal spending. Our New York correspondent discovers this to be incorrect, and supposes other reasons, deep in the entrails of finance.

 

 

The New French Imperialism As the Empire develops, France will stand taller and stronger. Because Muslim Algerians will shortly be able to elect members to the National Assembly on equal terms with metropolitan Frenchmen, and I am Marie of Romania.

 

 

Reichs Finance and the Reichsbank Germany is in trouble. There are signs of inflation.

 

 

The Business World:

 

 

“United States Monetary Sabotage:†The Senate has been doing what it does best, which is attempt to destroy the American financial system in order to discredit the President. Remember that the United States went off the gold standard and devalued in 1933. Remember that by the Silver Act, the United States undertook to hold one third of its bullion reserve in silver, and that it set a reserve price well above the going rate to guarantee the rate received by mining interests in the silver states. Remember that by the Agricultural Adjustment Act, the President gained extraordinary powers to fix and vary the weight of the silver as well as gold dollar. Remember that the “Somers Bill,†extending the Administrations’ extraordinary money powers going back to 1933, had a severe reception in the Senate. This sets the background for the recent attempt by Republicans and conservative Democrats to strip the President of his “dictactorial†powers over the money. Silver state senators meanwhile wanted an even higher domestic price for silver, inasmuch as destabilising Far Eastern finance is seen as key to good relations with China. Through Senate inaction, for five days, the President lacked statutory power over the price of the gold dollar. Therefore, the world’s finances collapsed. Or did not, as various arguments were presented to extend the President's powers, and the world waited in weary resignation until good sense triumphed in the Senate, not unassisted by more pragmatic persuasions. Meanwhile, there were assorted operations on the silver market by the Treasury, and others capable of reading the Senate calendar and embarrassed by excesses of silver extracted from the more dangerous places of the world.

 

 

Speaking of which, I am told to reinforce the message that the funds now made available to you are to be spent only on the lands Grandfather identifies. We do not wish to be burdened with further ghost towns, however picturesque their setting, however much orcharding or zinc may or may not be the coming thing.

 

 

Home Rail Earnings Revenues are up nicely, up £5 million over last year and almost at the 1937 level.

 

 

There is a black market in New Zealand pounds due to the capital controls adopted in that country. Chinese Loan problems were received philosophically on the market.

 

 

Aeroplane, 12 July 1939

 

 

Editorial: the RAF Paris

flypast is in the news, leading Grey to comment that “A little imagination can visualize the participation a hundred years hence of Russian, or even German aircraft in a London fly-over to celebrate the sacking of Buckingham Palace –or maybe it might only be Wandsworth or Pentonville Gaol after all. But we assassinated our King Charles I and have raised monuments to his assassin, Oliver Cromwell. So our hands are none too clean, and we may as well be realists.â€

 

I believe that this is what is technically referred to as "sedition."

 

 

Articles: Brussels Air Show, “A Visit to Italy –II.†To explain. There have been two recent notable events on the aviation show circuit. One is the Brussels Air Show, of which more anon. The other, which superficially might seem less important, was the Italian air force exhibit at Guidonia. Do not be fooled, however, for Grey was a member of the very small and exclusive comitatus that attended upon Il Duce in a flight on board his private Savoia. Perhaps even our editorial writer suspects that this might not be the most compelling argument for the relevance of this year's Guidonia show, because he follows with: C. G. Grey, “From Fairey Giant to Jumping Giro.†While this is but an impressionistic review of “places I went,†he drops what I informed by your son is a very substantial piece of news.A Youngman Flap is currently flying on a Battle. The Battle is, of course, a Fairey plane, and Fairey builds mainly for the Navy. The Youngman flap's advantages in increasing aircraft speed range has obvious implications for both carrier aviation and the forthcomingFC-1.

 

 

Flight 13 July 1939

 

 

Editorial: The major display by the British industry at the Brussels Exhibition is “tangible propaganda." It has been a banner year for British commercial aviation. The extension through to Australia of all-up air mail was just under way this time last year. Now we have firm plans to extend it to New Zealand and Vancouver! Notwithstanding the paper's notorious proclivity for putting the best face forward, this is a strong point.

 

 

Exhibit Coverage: The Brussels Show: The “speed†Spitfire is shown, and the Vickers Wellington I. Belgium shows the Renard R-37. That is, an R-36 with a Gnome-Rhone 14N housed in a “daring†long-chord cowlings. The airframe has been tested with a Merlin and a Hispano-Suiza, but the cowling suggests that there might be a future for the fighter radial outside the Far East. The Hurricane is shown, with its current, fluctuating legend speed performance of 320mph; France shows the Bloch 151 C.1, and Fairey the P.4/34.

 

 

Just to remind you, this aircraft previously appeared as a light bomber and dive bomber, and then as a Danish naval cooperation export. Now it reappears in its Fall styles as a two-seat fighter, complete with one of the new Merlin M2Ms. I gather that I missed a chance to learn about these when I completely ignored the last Paris Air Salon, or whatever they are calling it now. In any event, it has a two-speed blower, giving two distinct peaks of performance in the air. It also sports a Rotol airscrew. Do the Danes really warrant what is apparently the last word in British military aeroengines? Are we seeing the fleet's replacement of the Hawker Osprey? Is Grandfather a wily Oriental gentleman?

 

Add still more questions, as, with the addition of the two-speed supercharger to the variable pitch airscrew on the now-standard geared shaft, and I am quite completely out of my depth in explaining this engine.

 

 

"Well, you see, gearing the shaft is like the gears on your automobile. Now I shall explain variable speed airscrews; they are like the gears in the transmission of your automobile. As for the gears in the supercharger, or, as the cognoscenti call it, the 'blower,' these are like the gears in the transmission of your automobile. I hope everything is now clear."

 

The French, meanwhile, exhibit a 3-speed supercharger to keep the engines of a twin bomber at full power at above 30,000 feet!

 

 

Continuing with the new Rolls-Royce, it has also the most efficient ducted radiator set-ups ever attached to a Rolls Royce engine. The French show the Hanriot N.C.600 two-seat fighter. A Ju87 is exhibited, as is the Do17. This is a disappointing turn from the mighty Lutwaffe! Britain cannot be too smug, given that a Blenheim is shown, and a Bombay only in model form. On the other hand, a model Beaufort model is also shown. The inference is that if the Do-215 is not available even in model form, it is not much of an improvement on the '17.

 

 

Articles: “Improving the Tail Wheel.†British Landing Gears, Ltd is improving tail wheels, which need improvement; “Preparing the FC1;†the Fairey FC-1 hasn’t even flown yet, but is already better than anything else, ever. Pardon me, Reggie. I am just practicing for my future career turning company news releases into "articles" for Flight. Facetioiusness aside, we dilate at great length on the extremely elaborate engineering arrangements for the extremely elaborate engine, and poor Flight ​obeys what I suppose is the Air Ministry dictum to say nothing of the Youngman flap, leaving the "scoop," as you North Americans would say, to its rival.

 

 

The Engineer, 14 July 1939

 

 

An unsigned article, speaking with the voice of the paper, explores the "Pacific" locomotive issue. Rather than being the kind of engine that used to pull us from San Francisco to Castlegar every June, this was the large 4-6-2 locomotive that was standardised in India some years ago because its large firebox could burn inferior grades of coal and gain economy. But the larger and heavier locomotive was implicated in a disastrous 1937 crash and more generally in higher permanent way costs. An inquiry into the issue has underlined the evident very great diversity of permanent way design in India that has given rise to trouble in some systems but not on others; diversity greater than in Europe or North America. The paper suggests that this is what should have been standardised before the locomotive!

 

 

Further on the subject of railroading, an article on 20 350hp oil-electric shunting locomotives built at Derby. Your nephew points out their similarity to the ones built in the United States under Navy Department subsidy as potential submarine power plants and speculates aloud on the possibility of a like class in the Royal Navy before adding that mechanical drive remains more reliable. He then sketches a diagramme of jagged and looping lines to show how one might go about preventing damage to condensors.

 

 

And on the subject of submarines, the paper praises the Americans for saving more of the crew of Squalus than the Navy raised from Thetis, but points out that the salvage of the latter is going more smoothly, and that the difference at each stage has more to do with weather than national capacity.

 

 

The Economist, 15 July 1939

 

 

Leaders: The State of Preparedness, only twelve months ago, it was the very fashion to declare Britain ready for defence or attack. Then came Munich, and now our potential allies want more than reassurances. Well, “something like a revolution†has come to pass here. Look at the Supplementary Estimates! Look at our loan guarantees! The British paychest is open, waiting only a new Frederick the Great, perhaps in Bolshevik guise. The paper believes that remains one desiderata: a National Government.

 

 

Defending Neutrality The Dutch and Belgians need more guns, especially the Dutch, and vice butter. That said, a guarantee from Russia to a country where the government is a confessional coalition must raise a shudder, almost as much so as the first, tentative suggestions that the Hague is preparing to actually open the sluices to inundate the fortified approaches to the province of Holland. This would be an unspeakably expensive necessity of war. One wonders if the Dutch will to resist will survive it.

 

 

Profits and the Boom Through June, profit returns have been a measure of the depth of the 1939 recession rather than of the extent of the boom, but profits there have been. However, there is a noticeable fall in profits so far reported by “second quarter companies.â€This is because they have been dominated by oil, rubber and shipping companies, exposed to bad world conditions. Home industrial profits are comparatively more healthy. And we expect a “multiplier effect†as money initially spent by heavy industry moves through the lighter industries that supply them. In spite of calls for a healthy corporate reserve, CEOs are loosing the purse strings. We should expect for various reasons gains in the consumer industries in the summer.

 

 

Progress in Sweden The country is rising out of Nordic poverty, and its policy of balancing the budget only over long periods, underbalancing it in years of depression and overbalancing during good years, is attracting worldwide attention. The problem of heavy taxation to pay for social services, which cuts into private savings, has not been addressed, however. (I asked Maynard's clarification of the Leader on the 'American re-re-recovery" which I quoted above, not this article, but his response has given me to think about this story as well.)

 

 

Notes of the Week

 

 

Danzig, credits for Romania and Greece; The Cost of Defence, the Supplementary Estimates allow for £148,250,000 for Army, Air Force, Civil Defence and Ministry of Supply. A separate Supplementary Estimate for the Navy is known to be forthcoming, even by people who do not know an engineer who was tasked to add an economiser to the machinery of a four-turret King George V. The Army is to get 79,106,000 the RAF to get 39,5, of which 14,1 is for aircraft and about 15 for buildings and land; Supply to get 29,644, as I read it mostly for ROFs. Civil Defence gets another 11,930, bringing it up to 15 million over an originally anticipated 5, with the earlier supplementary of 3.35 to cover ships and agricultural machinery allowed. Almost 7.9 is going to agriculture.

 

 

Overseas Airways the bill passes the house, not without controversy. It is noteworthy that we are to spend 3.5 millions on new commercial aircraft. The newspaper hopes that it is spent on the right aircraft in a timely way. If I am to understand Flight correctly on the subject of the FC-1, it will be.

 

 

Civil Defence; Helping Poland; Russia and Poland; The Anglo-Russian Serial (the paper is getting as tired of this as everyone else); Tientisn, Tokyo and Outer Mongolia(two Japanese armies are doing their best to involve Japan in a simultaneous war with two great powers as a way to celebrate the second anniversary of Japan’s war in China);American Neutrality; Stocks for War; Supply Powers (Ministry of Supply regulations);Germany and the Balkans; France and Syria; Re-armament in Australia; Nutrition and Milk…

 

 

The World Overseas

 

 

“The Shape of Things to Come in American Finance:†Our New York Correspondent is impressed with the New York Fair, but the World of Tomorrow has no prognostications on the future of American finance. Our New York Correspondent does manage to allow that deficits and nationalization of capital are in some way in the air.

 

 

“Gains and Forebodings in France;†The good news is that the current accounts are balanced and so is the budget. We certainly would not wish to see France go down the slippery path of borrowing money against some such unforeseeable future emergency as the emergence of a hostile power on its northeastern frontiert! However, Our Paris Correspondent cannot forebear to note how rising expenses are reducing the nation’s purchasing power in spite of increasing hours worked. This is why wages had to be raised earlier in the year. The vicious cycle of rising prices and rising wages is not actually apparent, as it was in the days of the Popular Front, but Our Paris Correspondent detects it, nevertheless. Perhaps someone carelessly left it on the back of the chaise, and it has slipped behind? Never mind. One is sure that it will turn up in the fall, and then the tone of French politics may change for the worse. Our Paris Correspondent then carelessly notes the contrast between the activity of the military sector and the stagnation of consumer industries. It is not impossible to venture an explanation for this which does not involve the spectre of hidden inflation.

 

 

“Earnings and Social Income in the United States:†thanks to the Social Security Act, America is obtaining for the first time in its history a detailed and scientific information about the material life of its people. The average insured industrial wage has been revealed to be £205 for men, £105 for women. This leaves out agricultural and domestic wages, not covered, and wages of over £600, not covered by employer. Yet it is striking just how low the average wage covered is. As many as a quarter received less than £60/year, one third between 60 and 200, and a fifth between 300 and 600. “It is a permissible surmise that, if a comparison could be made, British workpeople as a whole would be found to be no worse off than their opposite numbers in the States, and perhaps better off in the lowest wage group.†I find that my underscoring has ruined the page beneath, as perforce the family commits ever more heavily to North American real estate in these troubled times. Men cannot pay in rent what they do not have.

 

 

The Business World

 

 

“Refrigeration:†this industry is rapidly expanding, and the full use of it has scarcely been explored. The ingenuity of engineers has created a cold corridor extending from places as remote as New Zealand and California to Britain; the next step must be its extension into the home.

Aggregate net profits continue to show a disappointing trend, and, intriguingly, both the refrigeration companies reporting this month give disappointing results. On the other hand, there is a revival in shipbuilding, with 402,000 tons ordered in the second quarter compared with only 72,000 in the first. Steel production is up; the cotton agreement has broken down; the Government is intervening in the wool trade with an eye to uniforms; American cotton acreage is the lowest in 40 years; the wholesale price index is unchanged.

 

 

And now one final and more intimate note. Grandfather's attempt to quench Easton's passion seems to have misfired dramatically. His schedule gave Easton the time to travel via London, and he took it. Last night, he appeared at my townhouse, pouring out his heart and demanding my intercession with "Miss J.C.'s" father. He takes it as a hopeful sign that her father has intervened most drastically to prevent her from seeing him. Surprisingly naively for Grandfather's closest aide-de-camp, he imagines that I have but to call in a favour to secure her release. To see him plead his case, looking so like your son, ten years ago, fairly melted my heart. Unfortunately, I could do nothing for him, even had I wished.

 

 

I would leave this there but for two matters that arise from it. First, we have confirmation that "Miss J.C" was encouraged to direct her natural attentions at your son. Be on your guard! The enemy is moving. even as you suspected!

 

That, however, in no way excuses the fact that Easton appeared in company with Fat Chow and his apprentice. Who were intended to protect your household in Vancouver. We are not living in the world of some American adventure serial or pulp novel. Grandfather is not an ageless Qing aristocrat. We are pirates, not world conquerors. If "Miss J.C." is being held against her will, it is somewhere in a metropolis of ten million people. Three young men, of whom only one of whom is even fluent in English, are not going to find her. Are you, too, operating at a new speed?

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[h=3]Postblogging 1939, July, II: "A guy could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff"[/h]

 

IMG_0078+(2).JPG

 

My Dearest Reggie:

 

Secrets do sometimes travel fast. Or, sometimes, they take a year or more to emerge.

 

 

 

 

Aeroplane 19 July 1939

 

 

 

Leader: C. G. Grey hints at his imminent retirement.

 

 

 

News/Mr. Grey shares his opinions: The Japanese are horrid people. The Chinese have a dictatorship, and they’re horrid, too. As soon as this “artificial war scare†is over in Europe, we should send the RAF over and blow the lot of them up. For being horrid. And insufficiently obsequious. Seriously, Mr. Grey wants to bomb Oriental cities for having the temerity to exist, and contain Orientals. He also dislikes the French. Are we to bomb them, too? The Belgians are a bit of all right, though, as they buy British. It is good to know that we are not to bomb our customers, at least. Except our Chinese customers.

 

 

 

Flight 20 July 1939

 

 

 

Front cover: An ad for “Fremo Taper Pins.†In no way do I kid. Remember drawing sheared taper pins out of bolts on old Rattler? I think we both approve of good taper pins. I do, however, scratch my head at a world in which it is worth advertising them on the front cover of Flight.

 

 

 

Inside front cover advertising: “Trans-Canada†adds to its Lockheed fleet.†Lockheed Aircraft wants to tell us that since Trans-Canada inaugurated daily Vancouver—Montreal passenger service in April, it has added 20 Lockheed 14s to the high speed service. So that is a thing that we need to know. The Canadian national airline has just bought 20 new airliners. I assume that an ever-increasing number of the partners are bringing their furs down from the high country with them by air. The question is whether they dare to travel with their country wives?

 

 

 

Leader: RAF needs vast reserves. This is why no new squadrons have been raised this year, in spite of it acquiring so many aircraft. And personnel? Are they "reserves," too? The Calpurnia disaster report is out. It was not anyone’s fault, save that of the pilot, who, conveniently enough, did not survive. The eternal coroner's inquest obligation to speak ill of the dead being covered, the report moves on to recommend better radios (since Calpurniadid not pick up a weather report from Habbinya), and more accurate means of measuring distance from aircraft to ground, as the boat touched down prematurely and so at too high a speed. The Supplementary Air Estimates gives the RAF another 32,000. The small number occasions entrail-gazing with which I will not detain you. (It involves paying barrage balloon staff.) The Staff College is getting a building; the Consolidated Catalina is here. Flight is of the opinion that its impressive range characteristics could have been achieved in British aircraft had this been required by the Ministry at the time, and, in any case, the Sunderland can match it when taking off in an overload fuel condition, and, anyway, the Lerwick will be ever so much better. And such is Flight.

 

 

 

Commercial Aviation

 

 

 

The ICAN has released new standards for correcting altimeter readings by temperature. “Computors†(a fancy term for calibrated scales, which “compute†the actual correction, rather in the way that a ruler "computes" a distance) will need to be redesigned. The salience is that newer computors will be more accurate, and will therefore make aerial navigation more precise.

 

 

 

People continue to wander around Glasgow talking about where its new airport should be. This is, in my experience, more an indication of deadlock between property developers than an actual thing that concerns people. On the other hand, the issue of who is to be greased being no doubt resolved, the New Zealand Base of the trans-Tasman route is going ahead at full speed. The New Zealanders are no doubt thrilled to receive various horny-handed, heavy-set middle-aged men from Yorkshire who can put a black iron angle into a many-a-turnwheeled machine tool and pull out a new cam rod momentarily. Perhaps they will share their skills, and in good time the Right Sort of New Zealander will be able to send their sons to be aeroplane mechanics instead of sheep shearers, or whatever it is that they do in New Zealand. (Eat people? Or is that just Hawaii? Oh, sure, they will tell you that these things were only done in the old days, but our family has left piracy behind, has it not?)

 

 

 

Article: “Aircraft of the Axis Powers;†“the Flamingo in Service.†The DH95 is in airline service on the Guernsey route. Our correspondent was impressed with the way that the engine-constant-speed-airscrew combination delivered a cruising speed of 196mph at less than half engine power. The anticipated upgrade to the De Havilland Hydromatic airscrew will make it even better.

 

 

 

“The Biggest Short.†The Short “G†boat (civil Hercules) is enormous. Have I mentioned that? I have mentioned that. Flight proposes to mention it again, at length. Flight suggests that it might be described as an “Empire†boat expanded by 1.15, but the differences are greater than that. It might be supposed that it is for the Atlantic service, but this supposition is ill-founded. It is correct to say that it will be used on the North Atlantic in 1940, but 1939 is right out, for reasons that Flight feels cannot possibly concern you if you do not already know them so well as not to need them explained. The concept is simply that the E boat was quite big and used the old Pegasus. The newer boats are bigger, and use the Perseus. The G boat will be even bigger, because it will use four civil Hercules engines that will, together, give 5,250hp for takeoff and about 20mph more cruising speed. New structural methods will allow takeoff at much greater all up weights than the current 73,500lb limit, at some point in the near future when things are different in some unspecified way. For the sake of all that's holy, can someone just say "100 octane"?

 

 

 

I may here be taken to be supplying private insight into the facts of the matter. They might or might not come from a most strenuous discussion with the attorneys of Imperial, who stressed that our foot-dragging is endangering the nation. I pointed out that it was in no way our footdragging that was the issue. But, as you will see, I was wrong, for a sufficiently strenuous definition of "we" that includes all the pages of Debrett's under a certain heading.

 

 

 

J. M. Spaight, “Breadth and Depth in Air Strength: The Case for more Fighter Squadrons.†This is the article to which the Leader replied.

 

 

 

Article: “Our Growing Air Strength.†The new Rolls-Royce plant at Crewe is operational; “The New V.D.M. Spinner†is a German pointy thing that goes on the end of the airscrew and makes it better. It is being made in England, and has been installed on the Miles Master trainer.

 

 

 

A. Viator’s Croydon gossip column reports that six Americans who crossed the Atlantic on the Yankee Clipper are now to travel Europe on a chartered S.M. 79 seeing the aviation industry war-at-hand related sights. He is a great deal more interested in noting that they were wearing Stetsons while wandering around the London airport. He makes a forced joke about the volumetric capacity of "twelve gallon hats" versus Gladstones. Remember watering horses from our hats? It seems so long ago. Perhaps because it was. The last summer, after Dartmouth? In any event, Americans in Stetsons are inherently funny.

 

As, indeed, they are. Though there is nothing funny about aviation-travellers-about-Europe in this summer of 1939 feeling the need to advertise that they are Americans, and business-minded. For we know the kind of business they must feel it time to advertise.

 

 

 

Service Aviation

 

 

 

Flight takes the extraordinary step of chastising another paper’s optimism about British aviation. The Bristol Blenheim is not capable of 2900 miles range with full military load. Just under 2000 miles is possible, but not in military condition. And that assumes the use of 100 octane fuel for takeoff. Cousin Easton explained to me at lunch how higher-octane fuel produces higher speeds at takeoff with supercharger “boost.†Imperial to us, works in Kent, etc, etc.

 

 

 

I confess that in spite of my objections to your behaviour, I am glad at least that they brought Fat Chow back to London. I have not seen him since last year, when he attended on Cousin Easton at the King's Cup as mechanic. Today, he amused me by reading from the pages of “Situations Vacant†at the back of this number of Flight and inquired as to whether this meant that they were desperate enough to hire a Celestial. I countered by suggesting that he advertise as a dacoit under "Situations Wanted," but he countered with the observation that he already had such a situation, and was thinking of moving up in the world. Easton asked what better a way to do that than in an aeroplane? Such banter is worth more than hours of earnest practice in keeping up my Cantonese!

 

In any case, I offered my own solution. I hope you will not be offended if the result passes through your household in a discreetly sealed envelope. For depending on the Generalissimo's prowess as a bandit fighter and Chou's willingness to throw in with the Cominterm in deeds as well as words, my personal touch at Cambridge (eyebrow raised) may or may not pay off. Fat Chow's landless birth will make him an ideal intermediary in case things develop as Grandfather fears that they will. It is to be regretted that I may need to be "reborn" if we actually have occasion to use the negatives enclosed. Perhaps roseate memories of the perfumed orchards of Santa Clara have led me to put this in motion, and I should take care to dwell on those late spring days that hinted at the summers we never saw. Summers in Santa Clara versus a comfortable life in London? A consideration. Though only if it is in motion.

 

The Economist, 22 July 1939

 

Leaders: “Parliamentary Holidays.†Notwithstanding Danzig-Berlin-Warsaw, nothing, not even the raising of British projected defence spending this year to 750 millions, must interfere with the tradition of going away on 4 August and not coming back until October. It may be possible to get through the legislative agenda by then, but the Opposition’s proposal of provisions to recall the House early is a good one, even though we normally expect an election in the fall.

 

“Tapping Labour Reserves:†the unemployment insurance scheme does not exactly yield the clearest of data, but it is at least discernable that the remaining reserve of unemployed is distributed highly unequally between industries and in regions. As expected, the South has already reached labour stringency, while the North and in particular Northern Ireland has not. This is not just a case of depressed industries, either. Where the main employers are depressed, there are multiplier effects throughout the local economy, and so there are hidden reserves of unemployed labour waiting to be tapped in various regions in all industries, and they should factor into the distribution of armaments contracts. I am a little perplexed. This "multiplier" effect perhaps suggests that more money for, say, the steel mills of the North will promote more employment in the taper pin factories next door. But what if the Air Ministry places its contract with the taper pin factory directly? Will employment in taper-pin-making be more stable? Will the taper-pin factory buy its blanks next door, and cause the "multiplier" in reverse?

 

“Juvenile Needs,†perhaps never again in Britain’s history will there be as many youth as there are right now. Only an appallingly small number are in education, and not nearly enough in technical education. More should be done to see that they do not have to work, and to get them into schools, especially technical schools.

 

This is because our birth rate has fallen below replacement, the paper is so-subtly reminding you. I shall immediately go out and purchase something frilly and pink and small and present it to "Miss G.C.," and perhaps another for "Miss J.C.," if Fat Chow can find her. Then I can involve him in two blackmail schemes in the same month, albeit the last only of the emotional kind. And speaking of "emotional blackmail," one cannot help but notice the way that this enlightened concern for the youth of to-morrow converges with the employers' interest in keeping wages down, of which more anon and before.

 

Notes of the Week

 

“The Nation’s Burden:†the appalling scale of defence borrowing projected this year raises the spectre of inflation. From the projected 350 million of our 25 February column that described it as “borrowing to the hilt,†we have risen to borrowing 500! Inflation, like Achilles sulking in his tent, has so far remained impervious to the pleas of the Achaeans. Or, rather, each increase of the defence borrowing in the last four years has made its plea, and each has been ignored by the hero. Yet surely the latest Supplementary Estate will be as Patroclus facing Hector. As to who will represent holdings in the Sinking Funds, I will leave it to a first class classics scholar to to finish this analogy, which strains with ten other analogies to lift this boulder that one analogy would have lifted in the golden age of heroes.

 

You may detect a note of whimsy, but, after all, I have been reading the paper for long enough to grow weary of listening for the tread of dread Inflation behind me.

 

“Guarantees and Trade:†the 60 million credit for trade for friendly countries has elicited criticism from Germany and Italy, who feel that giving credits to prospective victims of aggression is an infringement of their right to aggress. “Aid for Shipping;†the proposals of 28 March at last formalized. Coal owners rejoice at the Government's willingness to prop up a dying industry. Not that I am going to refuse my monies on principle.

 

“The Index of Business Activity,†does not directly measure Government spending, but captures its indirect effects. Whether or not we are to imagine them as "indirect effects," consumer activity and exports are rising.

 

“The First Thirty Thousand;†the National Militia’s first call up is now arriving in depots and camps around the country. Vice Twenty in a week, I notice. The railways are preparing for war. The roads are not. Italy is upset at Turkey. The Dutch government has fallen. Talks over the Indian Federation are ongoing.

 

“The American Railway Deadlock,†continues.

 

“Increasing Production and Rising Prices in France.†The results of the Statistique Generale de la France do indeed show rising production. The rising prices, apart from some “metallurgical products,†require some elaboration by Our Paris Correspondent. Specifically, the national policy of buying up surplus corn on the market must raise its price in the fall, as it always does. This year, however, the annual rise in the price of necessities will be especially unpleasant, it is confidently predicted. In any event, Our Paris Correspondent is all for efficiency in business and against increased wages for civil servants. A national pension plan is mooted, as are proposed initiatives to raise the birth rate, presumably through persuading Bright Young Things to do their patriotic duty, anything so crass as a rising standard of living being right out of the question so long as rentiers bear their disproportionate burden.

 

“Stocks for War†are rising. The paper says. It is hard to believe a tale so contrary to one's intuition, but there it is.

 

 

 

The Engineer, 21 July 1939

 

 

 

 

 

The GPO orders a new, armed cable-laying ship(1,2, 3), the crew to be trained by the Admiralty.

 

 

 

 

 

Aeroplane 26 July 1939

 

 

 

Editorial: Grey announces his retirement, effective the end of August.

 

 

 

Flight, 27 July 1939

 

 

 

Leader: Liddell Hart’s s intervention in AA matters is either an idiot expressing an idiotic opinion, or really perceptive defence critic getting it half right. In the paper's tradition, we go with the latter.

 

 

 

Articles

 

 

 

The MilesMaster is as extraordinary as every British aircraft is. A great many prototypes were shown at the Brussels exhibition prototypes show, but many were quite old, and also mostly German. Included were the Ju. 86 oil-powered airliner/bomber. Heavy oil aeroengines were apparently quite the rage a year or so ago. I am not sure what happened to them, as they would seem to be ideally suited to inlet pressurisation via exhaust turbine, which would seem to defeat the rarefaction problem of high altitude flying. Perhaps it is the vibration problem. No good oil machine goes unpunished! The Ju 87 dive bomber was flown by the remarkable Hanna Reitsch, who did a fine job of illustrating what was described in an earlier article as “good technique near the ground.†It is interesting to see that it is a woman who exhibits how an aircraft can be used to drop into a neighbour's garden, which reminds me of an anecdote that I related to Cousin Easton concerning the 1938 King's Cup season, in a rather more charged session than our recent lunch with Fat Chow.

 

Youth in its full and exhuberant folly aside, Brussels moves on to the Klemm 35 trainer, also useful for "airs above ground." What would be really interesting, I think, is cavalry on aircraft. Perhaps this is what the French are thinking with their parachute pelotons? The Dutch show their . . . idiosyncratic Fokker D.23

 

Speaking of which, a short article relates that Vultee has a new twin-engined fighter on the drawing board. I gather it resulted from a United States Army Air Corps specification for an "unconventional" fighter. Goodness! As the Brussels entries tend to demonstrate, the last thing these firms need is someone encouraging them. Someone, perhaps it was Mr. Wells, who presumably like the Traveller of his novel, always has a novel turn of phrase, was talking the other day about "thinking outside the box." Someone, who may or may not be named Mr. Camm, suggested that what was needed was more encouragement to stay inside the box and make an effort to actually explore it. An 18-cylinder Pratt & Whitney has been sent to the Corps for proofing.

 

“A Modern Aircraft Gun;†The Vickers K Gun exists. This is simply a development of the Vickers-Berthier. What strikes me is the contrast a few years makes. Remember when a few hundred machine guns were enough for the entire BEF, until they were not, and a few hundred more were too much to ask of industry in a few short months? Remember the endless controversies, dragging to an end not five years ago now, over whether the army should have the Bren or the Vickers in place of the Lewis, or the air force the Browning over the tried and true? Long and exahusting debates over the virtues of one gun over another, and the expense of adopting them? Now the Air Ministry decides that it needs a new machine gun for the ever-smaller number of free gun defensive mountings, and, here it is, rolling off the production lines by the hundreds. Gold truly is the great solvent of all blockages in human affairs.

 

“From Eagle to Merlin, a History of Rolls-Royce;†The point of this article would appear to be that, given how much better the Kestrel got during its service years, one can only imagine what will happen with the Merlin. I am sure that Herr Hitler is a regular reader ofFlight, and will take this caution as read. The article highlights the Merlin X, which, with two-speed supercharger, gives 1145hp at 5,250ft and 1025hp at 17,750ft. Remember the Peregrine, shown at Paris? It would “obviously†be a splendid power unit for a twin-engine fighter. Foreign competitors, not hampered by “stringent official regulations,†have announced engines in the 1700hp—2000hp class. Rolls-Royce would, too, if it could.

 

 

Industry: Rollason is pleased to announce its new engine maintenance shop complex, complete with an electrics shop; Messier Undercarriages is a new enterprise but backed by some of the biggest names in British aviation; Williamson’s “Linatex†is rubber, only better.

 

 

 

"Another Blind Approach System:" The United States Navy Department is developing its own blind landing system. (Because naturally the Army and Navy need separate aeronautical research efforts. Does the Marine Corps have a Black Chamber of radio boffins? Has the Coast Guard a Gothic castle, lit by strobing lightning bolts, where wild-haired madmen experiment with the aetheric fluids?) It resembles the loops of armoured cable laid in New York harbour in 1930 to guide ships, although apparently the small voltage differences will "obviously" be too small to guide aircraft a thousand feet in the air, and these cables must be laid out much more carefully in a species of converging track. Does this not come back to the futility of designing ever-more elaborately informative foghorns to tell ships where they are on their charts, when a fraction of the effort will deliver a reliable depth sounder? I am told that the Bell company even has a radio depth sounder under development for aeroplanes.

 

An astonishingly juvenile advertisement, more suited to a French postcard than the "official journal of the Royal Aero Club" ends the number.

 

The Engineer, 28 July, 1939

 

The paper begins a multi-part "History of Rotary Engines and Pumps," in case you are interested in the many intriguing connections between the old Hele-Becham-Shawe pumps in the old dreadnought armaments, variable pitch screws, the Dowty "Live-Line" carburetor and the firm's new rotary pump for aircraft hydraulics, including the de Havilland Hydromatic c.p. airscrew, and perhaps other, more closely held of His Majesty's secrets.

 

The Economist, 29 July 1939

 

Leaders: “Drifting Towards Inflation;†for the fifth straight month there has been a rapid and widespread rise in the tempo of business activity in Great Britain. It is a stimulus that comes from industry, not commerce or finance. Indeed, it faces headwinds from these quarters. It is caused by defence expenditure. Now we face the prospects of full employment. The paper has explained that this will cause inflation before. This time it will surely emerge from its tent to slay Trojan pensioners by the hecatomb. You see? I finished my analogy for myself!

 

“The War of Nerves:†a triple entente may be expected imminently, if it is to happen. If not, I imagine that it will not be imminent!

 

The Tientsin crisis has been resolved, for now. And by "resolved," the paper means, "not at all resolved."

 

The controversial “affaire Hudson" is revealed, in which Herr Wohltat met with a Mr. Hudson and sketched a resolution of Germany’s difficulties in which it would receive a one hundred million to one billion pound credit guarantee to resume exports to the pound sterling sphere if it abandoned its belligerent practices. The Economist finds itself in the odd position of agreeing with Dr. Goebbels: the plan completely misreads Germany’s position. The country would not need a line of credit if it disarmed. The paper thinks that peace feelers at this juncture are hopelessly misguided. We need to be firm and unflinching and make it clear that we are ready to fight.

 

“Italy in the Mediterranean." How can a country so manifestly unwilling to invest in/trade with/settle in the Mediterranean littoral demand it as its sphere of influence?

 

Notes of the Week

 

Danzig is a concern. Tientsin is a concern, lest the preliminary settlement devolve into appeasement. A national pension scheme is on the table. So is a treaty with Moscow. Grandfather, of course, says not. Palestine’s future is debated this week. A resolution is, no doubt, at hand.

 

"Empire on the Cheap" is a summary of the report of something called the “Committee of the Economic Advisory Council on nutrition in the Colonial Empire. The Committee points out a serious state of malnutrition in many communities, resulting in economic inefficiency, general ill-health and early mortality. Part of this is down to natives being natives, but a “vigorous –and necessarily costly—campaign of scientific development would do much to remedy the scandal of the Empire’s slum parishes, and would be repaid a hundredfold in economic prosperity and human welfare.â€

 

Refugees need new homes. Spain needs a ministry that will not refight the Civil War amongst itself. There is a new government in Holland, with both Catholics and Socialists on the Opposition benches. Three figures who made their names in the East Indies are on the cabinet, and, as in 1914, a "business" direction somehow involves placing orders for capital ships at Willhemshaven, albeit battlecruisers this time. Notwithstanding the currentfashion, a questionable choice of spring styles, it seems to me, although at least it would give Germany's hypertrophied armaments industry something to do if Herr Hitler decides to turn to the path of peace. Jonkheer O. C. A. van Lidthe de Geude will continue as Minister of Waterways, with the likely and tragic duty of implementing Fortress Holland.

 

“Local Reserves of Labour:†unemployment still as high as 20.7% in Northern Ireland, 16.5% in Wales, 14.7% in the North. The total reserve of labour in the three special areas is 423,000, a large number, but 42% have been out of work for a year or more, and only 29% for less than three months, so that the numbers probably mask permanent losses from the labour forces, and it is likely that the reserves will be absorbed more quickly than expected. The Northwest has the largest reserve, the North and Wales the smallest due to ongoing migration of youth.

 

“Obscurities of Civil Aviation:†the BOAC Bill came up for third reading on Wednesday. The paper is not impressed by the appearance of cabal and restraint of trade, though it is pleased that the government is looking into the allocation of flights as between London’s current three airports and the two new ones coming into use.

 

“Europe, America, and the Refugees.†Perhaps 100,000 refugees are expected. Where will they go? America, having but 3 millions of square miles, can clearly not absorb so many. Leading candidates: Northern Rhodesia, San Domingo, the Philippines. New candidates in the running: Dutch Guiana and New Caledonia. Oh, brave new world! I think that if I were young, I should be a refugee, too! Both “Aryan Christians†and “Non-Aryan Christians†can hope for ready absorption into one of the existing nations of European origin in the overseas world (e.g. the British Dominions and the Latin-American republics). For the Jewish refugees who have not adopted any other religion, it is to be hoped that it may be found possible to arrange for the establishment of anew, compact, and homogenous communities overseas which might rank as annexes to the Jewish National Home…So, if I understand the paper correctly, once (Jewish) Palestine becomes a country (dominion, surely) full of Europeans, albeit of the Deutoronomic persuasion, it will naturally require its own allocation of colonies for elbow room.

 

I think that a more accomplished parodist than I could find some material in the apparently faultless weave of this argument.

 

“America’s Lack of Capitalâ€

 

Our New York Correspondent thinks that there’s just too much damn data about the American economy, and is especially concerned with the index of production, which may be obscuring the true state of affairs. The index suggests that the economy is stagnating, whereas Our New York Correspondent believes that it is getting worse. Back in the Twenties, when the national income was on the order of $80 billion, about 20% was put away in the form of savings (capital for investment.) For the last decade or so, since national income sank to $65b, or as low as $50 in 1932, there have been no such savings. In the earliest phases of recovery, it was natural to look to consumer spending to boost the recovery. But we should not look to consumers any further, but rather to investment. The lack of investment, which might have even led to a decline in net capital stock, is due to lack of capital, and is surely linked to “irreducible,†or “permanent†unemployment, as opposed to “cyclic.â€

 

Let me see if I can infer what Our New York Correspondent seeks to imply: reduce taxes on wealth, or the unemployed will be unemployed forever. Is that how you read this, Reggie? Well, there you go. Lower taxes will mean higher employment, thus higher rents, and there is no reason not to vote for the Party of Hoover. That thing in 1929? Merely something that happened.

 

German Steel

 

Under the stimulus of armaments, German steel production increased greatly in 1938, reaching 23 million tons, 18% over the 1937 figure and 25% above 1929. This is remarkable, but has not been accompanied by a rise in exports, not so much. The decline has been general, and is caused by the slump, foreign competition, the threat of war in the Far East, and probably the dog that used to eat your lines, in which Sister Maria so adamantly refused to believe. Pig iron and Swedish iron imports have been hurt by British competition in those markets.

 

“Glut of Wheat—“ self-explanatory, really.

 

“New Zealand’s Refunding—“ New Zealand has been refunded.

 

Silver Below Parity Again –The price of silver is falling as the US Treasury is still buying it at a below market price. Or above market. I’m not sure, and, Grandfather's manoeuvre being accomplished, have better things to attend to. There is demand for gold, although the American price premium is not enough to cover the additional war risk insurance for shipping it. Much of the demand for gold is stimulated by war fears, which lead to Continental banks &etc buying it as a hedge.

 

British Industrial Developments

 

Coal output has fallen less than it normally does in the summer. Daily steel production is up slightly, from 45,115 tons to 45,215, and the number of furnaces operating has risen to 356 from 335. Pig iron production is up even more markedly. Unemployment in the engineering sector fell from 6% to 5.4%. A year ago, it stood at 8. (But in September 1937, it was as low as 4.8%.) The industry may face serious labour shortages later in the year. Exports in the sector are down from 40,000 in May (valued at £4.83m) to 34,400 (£4.44m). Activity continued to expand in the electrical industry. Unemployment in the sector fell from 4% to 3.6% in electrical engineering, and from 6.3% to 5.4% in the case of cable, lamp and apparatus manufacture. Exports of electrical apparatus rose slightly, of electrical machinery fell sharply (1.028>1.076; 379,000>202,600). 28,268 new automobiles were licensed, up 15% year over year. Sales of commercial vehicles recovered on the same basis, but eight month production is still down year over year (69,218 built versus 73,519).Chemicals up, pottery, footwear stable, cotton up, hay harvest delayed, corn doing well, although straw is deficient due to spring drought, lambing satisfactory. Shipping still depressed. There is no demand for the July tonnage at the River Plate with little prospect of improvement through the fall. The St. Lawrence attracts some attention, but not as much as the North Pacific. Good show on that, Reggie!

 

Now, on the matter of secrets:

 

Commander Acworth, again, approached me with the suggestion that his coal dock proposal might cause the legal difficulties hanging over our sale to Imperial Chemicals to go away. I, not very patiently, explained that there was no way that ICI was going to adopt coal in lieu of petrol as the feedstock of their mysterious works. Commander Acworth is exhaustingly certain of the rightness of his own judgement, and of the malicious, conspiratorial mendaciousness of all who contradict him.

 

I am afraid that I shouted, but with the most fortunate outcome that Fat Chow took it upon himself to discreetly follow the Commander. I am embarrassed to admit that he thus uncovered what has eluded me. The Commander met with "Mr. J. C. senior," his now-ancient counsel, our bete-noire from 1905, if you will recall, a certain naval officer, and someone whom Fat Chow could not identify. They proceeded to have the most illuminating conversation.

 

The Commander deems himself to be in the driving seat. An unextinguished burden on the title has somehow been discovered, and ICI was prevented from divulging this to us by an application of the Official Secrets Act. "Mr. J.C." is willing for the moment to take Commander Acworth as his Dr. Petrie. As he should, given that the Commander supposes that he has discovered evidence that has evaded the cousins for a century! That said, it sits ill with my impression of the man that he has actually accomplished something substantive, and I imagine that he overestimates its value.

 

On the other hand, there is a fascinating story that made the rounds during the 1938 King's Cup, of a private aviator who noticed two aircraft in an enclosed park somewhere near one of the London airports, and descended to join the aeronautical soiree, as it were, only to be told that it was a private matter. The person who told the story has previously omitted a particularly indiscreet element that I elicited by direct charge this month.

 

The aviators, male and female, were accompanied by an Asiatic attendant. Needless to say, I broached this story with Easton, who, in his defence, tells me that he wrote to youabout it, and received assurances.

 

Honestly, Reggie, has your own exile taught you nothing? Giving youth their head in these matters can only lead to disgrace.

 

 

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[TD]Source: Originally from Air Enthusiast no. 124[/TD]

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My Dearest Reggie:

 

 

Thanks for yours of Friday last. With your purchases, that portion of the family bullion sent to America and so dedicated has now been turned fully invested, per Grandfather's instructions, into what strikes me as a prudent mix of real estate, stocks and private loans. The broad stroke of details on the American side are enclosed, as well as of what little use there is of my investments here in Britain, which continue to go slowly for lack of liquidity, much to the frustration of Imperial Chemical Industries, who now intimate to me that unless what they characterise as private family quarrels are resolved soon, they will miss the chance to do work beneath the water level until next summer, and miss the chance to supply the 1940 Atlantic season.

 

 

This does not strike me as much of an argument. The Atlantic will be bridged next year, with or without 100 octane fuel, and, in any case, it can be purchased from Houdry. We might be a little short if there is a war, but a war powers act will supersede the courts, albeit, unless Herr Hitler moves soon, of the chance of late summer construction this year, hence of plant operations next. But since the talk is that the "Big Push" will be deferred to 1942, I see no reason to be alarmed about a shortage of high octane fuel in the summer of 1940.

 

 

Meanwhile, in the American case, I should pre-emptively defend our decision to omit key details. In essence, Grandfather has taken my advice on the kind of firms in which we should invest, and made his own stipulation that a good portion of the investment should be close to home. I have explained to him that this means we are now, as a family, committed to a Pacific war. I believe that we should invest in radio and suchlike, and, obviously, there is hardly likely to be an electrical engineering industry springing up on its own amidst the orchards of Santa Clara! We depend upon the United States Navy as a patron, and in the mean time, our investing must be done with a light touch. Two gentlemen building an electronic sound generator in a automobile garage against the hope of moving-picture work are hardly likely to issue a stock prospectus! On the other hand, if their next contracts related to the needs of a fleet of war construction on an equal footing with the last war, one can see at once how the loan on a handshake of a paltry $538 might prove disproportionately profitable, and on the other hand why all concerned might prefer that there be no risk of the sheriffs appearing at the door.

 

 

Speaking of matters of war brings me naturally to love, especially in connection with plots set in motion by yourself, Easton has been out of town, making a lightning trip to Berlin. He flew back just two days ago, to mix and mingle with other entrants for the King's Cup, and thus missed an exciting episode, as Fat Chow's surveillance bore fruit here in London, only to be dashed, in events simultaneously exhilarating and distressing. I will fill in the details later, but for now will only add that your meddling seems to have guessed affairs of the heart aright. Your son and Fat Chow had to physically restrain Easton from dashing out to confront trouble. Fat Chow, however, can be an old woman to a surprising degree, urging rash heads to wait on "Miss G.C," of all people.

 

 

[Mildly NSFW]


 

 

 

IMG_0079+(2).JPG

 

 

 

Aeroplane 2 August 1939

 

 

 

 

Leader/C. G. Grey filling pages: Slavs are actually Tatars, who are actually Chinese, who are horrid. Therefore, we shouldn’t ally with Russia, but rather that nice Hitler chap. Because you have to ally with one or the other, or you don't get to drop bombs on people.

 

 

 

 

Service Aviation: The Skua (241mph at 6500ft), (but see below) Bombay (192 at 6500), Hudson, Long RangeWellesley, DH95 toop carrier, and Lockheed Hudson are “revealed,†which is to say, their service performance statistics are given.

 

.

Flight, 3 August 1939

 

 

 

 

Leader: An accident to the aircraft carrying the Secretary of State for Air to his latest photographic venue exasperates the paper. Flight also thinks that now that we have balloon barrages everywhere, we should have even more, and that by the new standards of the future when we shall have even more balloons, we have not nearly enough of them now! I remember this elastic logic from the last war, which culminated with us having 55 divisions at the front, and not enough miners to cut the winter coal. It is also no wonder all of the new bomber fashions feature high-altitude performance. Five years ago, one could stooge about over London at 5000ft. Now one will run into a bag of canvas filled with hydrogen, and, more importantly, the heavy cable that depends from it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Article: the Bristol Bombay is as superb an aircraft as it can be, considering that it is five years late. Once again, a Belfast manufacturer gets special considerations by holding the Union Flag hostage. Not sending money to Belfast is like kissing the Pope!

 

 

 

Foreign Service News:

 

 

The Potez 63 was at Brussels, as you may have heard. I include the page of photographs because of an interesting conversation with your son. The Morane-Saulnier is in “mass production.†Here is a picture of the new, vastly improved B-17 with its new turbo-supercharger installation.

 

 

Lunch at the club last week with your son took the usual technical turn. Our regular waiter, was hovering on hand with chart paper the moment that our almost-brand-new Commander (Engineering) drew out his mechanical pencil. I chanced to press your son on recent reports of Mr. Norden's bombsight, which apparently provides this new B-17 the werewithal to hit its targets from its chosen altitude of flight.

IMG_0082+(2).JPG

It was an interesting, if arcane discussion that appeared to digress randomly from the original subject to the same plane's turbosuperchargers, to its presumed "fleet control radio." At last, "Miss G.C." join us from the Land Registry, and with a few essentially feminine questions somehow drew your son into a most-unengineer-like level of abstraction. He cast the discussion, finally, in terms that this old reciprocating mind can understand. In consequence of the Administration's electrification plan, America has gone in for many new thermal power plants. GE has built many of these, and has exploited the new high-temperature, highi-pressure steam conditions to the utmost, clearly (here your son arches an eyebrow) solving recondite metallurgical problems. High energy exhaust calls for "regeneration," as we well know from dealing with triple-expansion. A screw in the exhaust stream is as ancient a solution to this as Watt, and, in a land installation, a straightforward engineering project.

 

 

 

 

 

So, when it is announced that the B-17 has a turbocharger, we have some indication that General Electric has done a better job of "selling" itself in Washington than the old aero-motor firms. The irony here is that it is precisely the aero-motor firms that are best positioned to install engines in aeroplanes. As we know from naval work, often the greatest problem in visionary schemes to get the most out of the steam is that re-introducing it into the works in changing conditions will cause wild oscillations in temperature, pressure, and piston speed. (As with the Blackburn "Roc," so with HMS Rattler. There is always someone at the Admiralty with a sense of humour.) Now your son produces those increasingly dog-eared numbers of The Engineer from last year and turns to the pages of the "Principles of Automatic Control" that cover the Sperry autopilot. For, he explains, the Norden bombsight is derived from the old Sperry autopilot, which firm, he points out, is now part of the Fisher interest best known for General Motors. That is rather a lot of generals, I noticed, and Miss "G.C." had the 'grace' to laugh.

 

 

 

 

Your son, however, bored on, quickly scribbling some trigonometric equations that apparently demonstrate that unless the Norden concern has made a major advance on the original Sperry patents, the claim of accurate bombing is as fallacious. The data is not "regenerated" properly. All of the rattling of old Rattler's engines is the same phenomena as the wild snaking of Invincible's automatic steering. Both are, your son concluded triumphantly, another aspect of the "problem of control." I am afraid that I, personally, rather lost the thread of the discussion when it reached the equations, although "Miss G. C." actually corrected a cosine for a sine at one point. What bemused me is the revelation that this top-secret American bombsight actually pilots the 'plane in order to achieve its miracles! Has anyone told the Guild of Pilots and Air Navigators of their imminent redundancies? Are they throwing their sabots into the gears and plotting Captain Swing riots?

 

 

 

Indicator’s column reports on his flight in a blind flying instruction course for the RAF. With so many pilots being added to the force, the burden of providing enough under-the-hood flying is enormous. Indicator describes how, when he did the new RAF blind, or instrument flying test under a hood in his own Tiger Moth, he ended up "twenty miles or so away from my objective" due to a meterological error (wind speed at 400 feet being 35mph from 90 degrees instead of 17mph from 80), and adds that he also cheated himself by relying on a pocket watch rather than investing in a good stopwatch. It is to be hoped that the Air Ministry will not economise on chronometers. Weather forecasts are another matter, for the Atlantic winter winds come howling in from Greenland, which is more Terra incognito then Darkest Africa --or faraway China. (Which slight irony coming from me leads to the playful suggesting that, somewhere in a London club, there is right now a cousin of a peer sitting with pen in hand and hinting playfully in private correspondence of his familial relationship with a prince of Congo, or chief of the Esquimaux.)

 

 

F. de Vere Robertson visits 4 Squadron, another Army-Cooperation shop. He notices the proud history of a squadron that crossed the Channel with the BEF in August, 1914, and gives a complete list of its officers, adding "that it is interesting to note the number of these officers who have achieved high rank in the RAF." Apparently the work of the observers trained at the School of Army Co-operation at Old Sarum is highly specialised, and many of them are now seconded army officers. The article is lavishly illustrated with pictures of Westland Lysanders in various poses and postures, but, unfortunately, none of them "buzzing" Stonehenge. 4 Squadron is specially attached to the 4th Division of the BEF, which I am sure will be no consolation to those convinced that the Air Staff is only waiting for its moment to seize everything that flies and fling it into a "knockout blow" of Germany. Or of insufficiently docile Asiatics.

 

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[TD]Your son and "Miss G.C" took me up in the establishment's 'ship, which they use to put the Perseus through its paces, and, at least in this case, for picnic lunches. "Miss G.C." took the controls, and demonstrated that this "low-flying" attack manoeuvre is a great deal less sedate when you are crammed into the back than it is when you are photographing it from a chase aeroplane. In retrospect, having seen her ride, I should not have been as surprised as I was.[/TD]

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Article: The British-built Taylorcraft is a fine plane.

 

 

Aeromarine shows a “46 knot†prototype MTB powered by 4 Lorraine engines. If only the Founder had had four Lorraine engines on his ship, so that he could have gone 46 knots. The Hawaiians would have had to sip his liver from a coco-nut shell!

 

 

 

“Aircraft Engineer†covers “Aerodynamic Numbers of Merit†with numbers graphed out for the visual thinkers amongst us.

 

 

 

 

 

Briefly noted: the service notes from The Aeroplane are reproduced, but also noticed is a new naval Torpedo/Search/Reconnaissance type, the Fairey Albacore. The paper apologises for it being a biplane. Blackburn's annual meeting was this month. The director mentions a new flying boat that he hopes will go into series production soon.

 

 

 

 

 

The Engineer, 4 August 1939

 

 

 

 

 

Leader: The RAF is to have a Technical Branch embracing Armaments, Signals and Engine specialists. Future recruiting will be of B.Sc. and BA.Sc. graduates, and pilot training will not be required.

 

 

 

 

 

Article: "Refuelling in Flight." In honour of the opening of Imperial's Atlantic season, the paper notices a subject that everyone else has been talking about for months.

 

 

Obituary: Sad news: "Look Away. . ." Dixie has died. Or as the paper puts it, Vice-Admiral (E) Sir Robert Dixon has died on a business trip to South Wales on 28 July. Dixie graduated at the head of his class at Greenwich in 1891, served at sea 1891--6, lectured at Greenwich 1896--7, was at sea in 1897, the Admiralty in 1898, Engineers Drawing Office, Chatham, 1899--1902, at sea 1902--04, Admiralty 1907--09, Chief Engineer of an HM dockyard from 1909, Engineer Vice-Admiral of the Fleet from 1922, retired 1928. Besides joining Babcock and Willcox in an executive capacity, he was made director on the boards of Broughton Copper, G. D. Peters, H. W. Kearns and Foster Wheeler, and, of course participated actively in the Institutions of Mechanical Engineers and Naval Architects. And he was quick on his feet. Remember his meeting with Grandfather, when he told the story of "the good Centurion," who promised to give the Saviour his "obedience unto death," and thus walks the world 'till judgement day in humble obscurity, spreading the good word, even, Dixie winked, to Canton and Nootka Sound?

 

 

I shall miss that old scamp.

 

 

The Economist, 5 August 1939

 

Leaders

“The Parliamentary Watchdog:"

 

 

 

 

Parliament should sit through the holidays. Baldwin used to say that democracy was inefficient, because the electorate was slow to seize on the need for new initiatives. That says more about Baldwin’s excuse mongering than the electorate, the paper thinks. It has been the Commons that has driven the response to the current world crisis, not the Ministry. The PM has angrily rejected the idea that he is just waiting for the House to rise to fly off and appease some more. The PM denies this, but a sitting Parliament would give him some backbone.

 

 

 

 

“France Under Decree:â€

 

 

 

 

"We still have unstable government. We still have profound divisions between Frenchmen. We still have shaken finances and a threatened currency. More than ever before we have a standstill economy, unworthy of a country so rich in resoiurces and the holder of a great empire.â€

 

 

 

 

So said M. Jules Romain ten months ago to the Anciens Combatants of Toulouse, and he was only saying what millions of French were thinking. Much has been done in the last 10 months to improve things along the lines set in motion by the economic reforms of November 1938, and the latest batch of decrees take the country further. Premier Reynaud has sought to meet the most immediate problems: to raise armaments production, support the franc, and relieve the Treasury of its constant search for funds. Now he looks forward to the question of raising the birth rate, and checking the flight from the land. Most striking is the plan to defer the next election from next year until 1942. On the left, M. Blum is ever less likely to take office as the peace faction within the Socialists take hold. On the Right as on the Left, a year of hammering French foreign policy has born bitter fruit due to the bellicosity of the Axis, and the tainted outcome of their Spanish crusade has caused many bien-pensants to cease to commend themselves on their conduct during the civil war.

 

 

 

 

“Refugees in Britain.†At least 140,000 Jews have left Germany since the Nazis took office. Perhaps a quarter million more are potential refugees. There are perhaps 5 and a half million Jews in Central Europe whose position might become precarious in the future. An optimist sees Britain receiving 250,000 over the next two years, a pessimist, 1.5 million, while the worst case is the resettlement of 7 millions. Those who have already “infiltrated†this country can probably take care of themselves, as they are rich and skilled and own property here. It is the poor and undesireable ones who will need to go to Guiana or New Caledonia or South Georgia or wherever.

 

 

 

 

Notes of the Week

 

 

 

 

Britain and Japan: the substance of the Tientsin agreement aside, the paper has finally noticed that what Japan really wants is the Chinese state silver reserve, held in that town and the banning of the Chinese dollar. Britain, the paper observes, is not giving it to them. Let that only be true.

 

 

 

 

“America and Japan:†the denunciation of the American-Japanese commercial treaty of 1911 had a bad effect on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Roosevelt’s action, coming on the heels of the Russian announcement of ongoing fighting in Nomonhan, damages the Japanese government’s standing at home and its argument that only British intransigence stands in the way of a final settlement of the China question.

 

 

 

 

“Checking the Estimates:†GPO, Agriculture, civil air expenditures all rising suspiciously fast.

 

 

 

 

“Cabinet Directorships:†Lord Runciman has resigned from the boards of LMS and six shipping companies per the PM’s conflict of interest guidelines. It’s not necessary, but it is good optics.

 

 

 

 

Moscow; Danzig; civil defence; Hitler. Honestly, Reggie, you or I could write these brief notes. The next few months will be critical, etc, etc.

 

 

The French Family Code has been announced. France is to have a family allowance, a scheme in which a species of bounty is paid, I think to the mother, for each tow-headed little dear. Conversely, there will be increased penalties for abortion. The brandishing of clubs and castor oil in the wake of the invocation of the happy peals of childish laughter probably give away the game. The imagination is beggared at the thought of hard-done-by French rentiers footing the bill for "family allowances" and "maternity services" on a sufficient scale to discourage abortions, and so the law makes its majestic appearance, clouting abortionists and reluctant mothers alike. This is all due, of course, to France’s population falling. The paper does not fail to remind us that Britain’s will soon begin to do the same. As so often, I am moved to wonder whether the country would be better off if we simply turned our back and let approximately 7 million pieces of forged paper enter the country. We should have difficulty explaining the sudden accession of population, but a country so fertile with family genealogists should be able to overcome the difficulty.

 

 

 

 

The Dutch government has fallen again after being in office only 3 days. New Zealand’s new budget sees a substantial increase in social service spending, plus defence, to be balanced by excise taxes on beer and petrol. “Unlimited†public works expenditure is over, and Government is transferring men to industry as quickly as possible. A state-owned iron and steel industry is contemplated. Only increased production will support the higher standard of living demanded in the Dominion, the Government admits.

 

 

 

 

Elsewhere, the Tientsin crisis continues. Uncertainty over the fate of Chinese silver hangs over the market, and the Continental demand for gold has led to some mischief on the London market. The question is, I suppose, which gold is spiriting the wealth of the best sort of people west on winged feet, and which is being used to pay for Swedish iron for German shells.

 

 

 

 

Industry and Trade

 

 

 

 

“Record Employment:†Employment in June exclusive of agriculture is estimated to have risen by 95,000 to 12,064,000, the highest ever recorded, beating the previous record set in August 1937 by 350,000, and the number for June of 1938 by 650,000. The fall of unemployment has been almost as marked in the consumer industries as in defence. The number of unemployed remained stable at 1.256 million, so in theory there is still considerable scope for increased production. In reality, we are probably closer to the limit than this suggests, and the Government will soon have to move to restrict consumer goods output to keep armaments increasing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0096+(2).JPG“Engineering Faces Labour Shortageâ€

 

Even in the North, general engineering unemployment is 8.2%, and in electrtcal engineering only 4.6%.

 

Also, British imports are up, as are railway wages; the French wheat glut is still an issue, oil prices are depressed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aeroplane 9 August

 

A certain prudishness has led me to be a little oblique about the content of the current Helliwell advertising campaign. It is a female model, nude from the waist up, and while Flight has been content to run it on the back pages, it appears on the front cover of this number of The Aeroplane. It is practically the only thing worth noting about this number, save for the unsurprising revelation that Mr. Grey’s was a welcome guest at the Frankfurt International Meeting and the first news that I ave seen about a variant of the Handley Page Hampden being built at the Belfast Short works with the Napier Dagger engine. The so-called Handley Page Hereford is “Belfast Production.†On the other hand, there is a long article, with an excellent cutaway sketch of the Skua. I gather from this that naval manufacturers are now using something called 'Alclad,' a sort of electrolytically-produced "sandwich" of corrosion-prone aluminium metal with aluminium oxide. Knowing the tricksy ways of saltwater corrosion, I arch an eyebrow, but will defer to the wisdom of the good and the great.

 

 

 

 

Flight 10 August 1939

 

 

Leader: The RAF has finally got its Technical Branch. Shades of Selbourne and Fisher. Literally. It is observed that Trenchard thought that the Force could get by without one, thereby avoiding the longstanding tempest-in-a-teapot over the Engineering Branch. But, (utterly unsurprisingly), it could not.

 

 

IMG_0098+(2).JPG Further speaking of piloting and technology and the like, the Leader asks for someone to make the cockpit dashboard easier to use. It has too many dials and needles these days. The Leader also jumps, as far as I can tell, unprompted, to the Air Ministry's defence. In yet another utterly unsurprising turn, the paper thinks that the suggestion that the Air Ministry has canceled a helicopter development contract is a base canard. I include a clip (or, rather, a page fluttering free of one my cleaning ladies' magazines) explaining what a "helicopter" is. Mind the bacon stain.

 

 

Articles: Yet more details of the Skua [TABLE=align: center]

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and of the Catalina.

 

 

 

 

 

The article on the Skua rather made my eyes glaze, but the word "hydraulics" that kept jumping out at me rather reminds me of just how more than simple structural engineering goes into these new ships. The undercarriage is retracted hydraulically, and the flaps that cover the well are closed hydraulically, and the locking nut that keeps the undercarriage retracted is operated hydraulically, and so are the dive brakes and, for that matter, the airscrew's pitch-changing mechanism. It is all quite complicated, and reminds your son forcefully of the Dowty "Live-Line" carburetor. Perhaps you want to hear more about "control"? The attached specification box reduces the speed of the Skua "with normal Service equipment" to 225mph at 6500ft. In this case, "normal service equipment" includes an inflatable life raft! Very ship-shape.

 

 

IMG_0092+(2).JPG

 

 

 

because the damn things are turning into ships.

 

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This monster, and I repeat myself, is built to touch down in the water at north of 60 knots.

 

The first Ju-90 just flew into Croydon. Of the regular columnists, Indicator does not like it, while A. Viator does. He suggests that it is one of the first “forty seaters†that might actually seat 40. Hore-Belisha had to fly to Paris on Air France because Imperial was booked up.

 

 

Zeppelin LZ. 130 was spotted off the Scottish coast last Wednesday. The German Air Ministry at first denied its presence, but, the paper notes, there is no reason that LZ.130 should not have been there.

 

 

 

Foreign News: A new Italian bomber is announced;

 

 

 

Article: the Jameson high-speed two-stroke diesel aeroengine. The mania for liquefied livers shows little sign of abating.

 

 

The Engineer, 11 August 1939

 

 

Leader: the paper notes that the First Lord announced to the Commons on 2 August that the Fleet was adding 107 minesweeping/anti-submarine trawlers to the 1939 programme. Twenty are to be built, and 87 purchased. This presumably takes priority in the announcement because it has been a bad fishing season? Or am I too cynical? In any case, also provided for are over the 56 whale-catcher type coastal escorts, 10 Fleet minesweepers, 6 Boom Defence Vessels, 1 cable layer and 5000t floating drydock. together, these add 11 millions to the Naval Estimates. Still no word on the much-winked at battleship project.

 

 

The Economist, 12 August 1939

 

 

 

Leaders

 

“Britain’s Underdeveloped Roads.†Nor is it just the roads. Every aspect of automobile travel seems underdeveloped, and not just the roads. Last last week I was inquiring into a traffic stop just outside of Chatham. The Metropolitan police force's vaunted radiocontrol net worked superbly. Fat Chow was just barely able to avoid the blockade. Unfortunately, it snared the vehicle he was following, and it is here that the issue of "underdevelopment" arose.

 

 

 

For when "Miss G.C." and I attended at the wardroom, we were told that there were no details of a traffic violations citation from the night before. A constable was summoned to the wardroom, and, under the influence of feminine wiles, eventually revealed that he had been persuaded that the vehicle in question was not racing down the Dover Road (for sport, as opposed to trying to escape implacable dacoits), but rather was responding to a medical emergency. Not a beat was skipped when the emergency in question was revealed to be a young woman in restraints, supposedly lest she bite clear through her own tongue. "Miss J.C.", of course. Heaven knows, of course, how much our whole family benefits from this kind of self-preservationary deference to famous names in Rolls-Royces,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

but this was a bitter pill to swallow for Cousin Easton, even if I am privately relieved.

 

 

 

"Strategy in the Mediterranean:†Italy is dangerous by virtue of its central position, and purely naval intervention will be inadequate. Once we have invaded Sicily and Libya, on the other hand, its strangulation will proceed briskly.

 

 

 

 

 

“Mobilising Overseas Investments:†how much can we buy in the U.S.? We’re looking to find out by surveying British holdings there and investments elsewhere that might be sold to American interests. I confess to be a little dispirited by how far ahead this is telegraphed. Although I suppose that it would be hard to avoid after the experience of the last war. And I suppose that if family fortunes are discretely shifted into American war production, scoundrelry may be the last refuge of patriotism. At least, this is how I assuage my conscience.

 

 

 

 

“Notes of the Week:â€

 

 

 

‘August 1914, and August, 1939.†The title says it all.

 

 

“The Mock War:†‘The war rehearsal has been proceeding during the past week at an increased tempo. The manning of a reserve fleet of 133 ships, the further expansion of the number of Territorial Army units in training, the commencement of RAF exercise on a larger scale than any previously undertaken, have produced, at least for the men taking part, something of the atmosphere of real warfare.â€

 

 

 

“Japanese Army Tactics:†the army is trying to manoeuvre the government into the Axis again. This is how to understand the provocations against Britain in China. The Prime Minister has indicated that he wants a settlement on general principles and in consultation with other interested powers, and, so far no sign of movement on money/silver.

 

 

 

“Imperial Airways in Difficulties.†Imperial is suspending passenger service because it has so damn much mail to carry. The Ebbw Vale development is in difficulties. It has been noted that development occurs in "ribbons" along roadways;

 

 

"Refugees in Britain;" The Economist apologises for saying last week that Jews are better than Englishmen, even thought that is not what it said. This is somewhere along the lines of ‘We’re sorry if you were offended by the thing that we said that is true.’

 

 

 

 

 

“The Liberals and Family Allowances.†The Liberal Party endorses same.

 

 

 

Danzig. The German summer manouevres continue, and Hitler’s timetable is obvious, with action expected after the King's Cup. I mean, his set piece speech at Nuremberg on 2 September. In other news, Germany is not mining enough coal due to steadily falling productivity in the mining sector. This happened in the Great War, too, if you will recall. Too much emphasis on production, not enough on development.

 

 

Expanding the French Air Force

 

 

 

This is a continuation of a 10 December 1938 article, by an expert observer of French aircraft production.

 

France has spent as much money on aircraft in the last year as in the previous 19 since the last war. Considerable progress has been made, but considerable progress needs to be made still. The main bottleneck is in engines, not airframes, and especially for engines giving over 1000hp. Orders have been placed abroad, and the Talbot concern has licensed Pratt and Whitney designs, SIGMA the Bristol Hercules. Ford is to build Rolls-Royce types.

 

 

 

There is a general acceleration in deliveries, especially of new types. In the gloom of 1939, production was only 53 planes/month. In December it was 73, and in January it had risen to 94. These figures only apply to fighters with a speed of at least 310mph and bombers of 265mph. In April and May, the numbers had risen to 113 and 160 respectively, rather less than official forecasts of 120 and 170, respectively. In June, the rise continued to 175 aircraft delivered, 110 of them chasseurs. These figures are projected to be maintained in July, but in August and September production will hit 200/month, and, after September, a sustained rate of 300 will be achieved. The overall plan is for a program of 4800 a/c and 12,000 engines completing in March 1940, giving a first line strength of 2,617 planes. Payment for this will require 18.5 milliards of francs, of which 11 million will come out of the Budget, and 7.5 from supplementaries. Labour problems have been relieved by the relaxation of the 40 hour week. Roughly 52,000 are working in the aviation industry: 40,000 in public factories; 12,000 in private (Gourdou, 800; Breguet, 3200; Levasseur, 300; Morane, 1400; Caudron, 2700; Amiot, 2400; Kelner, 600.) A notable example of a mass-produced fighter is the Dewoitine D. 520, which needs only 6000 man hours to produce, compared to 30,000 for the M.S. 406 in its initial run, although this is down to 14,000 currently. We are told that the end of the engine impasse is at hand, too. The Societe National de Construction de Moteurs at Argentuil has a 1600hp water-cooled engine in hand.

 

 

 

“Cars and Residential Building in the U.S.A.â€

 

 

 

The point in the business cycle at which this country now finds itself is a matter of some uncertainty. It might be that last autumn’s upturn might have been a flash-in-the-pan, or “soda-water rally.†Or it might be that we have seen a six month “consolidation,†prior to resumed upward motion. The balance of opinion is towards the latter, and Our New York Correspondent looks forward to the fall with something between hope and confidence.

 

 

The building index is up, showing that construction, which has been a laggard in this economy, is coming back. Remarkably, Our New York Correspondent analyses the case to reveal that this has been the President's fault. For the low financing available through the FHA has encouraged new building, which has held down the price of existing housing stock, which has reduced the capital on hand for investment, which has held back the recovery.

 

 

 

 

 

I tremble in anticipation as Our New York Correspondent gallops towards the fence. Will he attempt it, or shy away? Surely the next step is to argue that the lack of capital has depressed the building market, so that all of the new building has led to less new building. But, no, at the last he shies away, and canters off into the distance, giving the unmistakeable impression that he believes that he would have cleared the rail had he only tried.

 

 

 

 

 

On a slightly more sensible note, he adds that new building tends to be automobile oriented. With construction in suburbs, new houses are being located with respect to how many minutes it takes to drive to the commuter rail station.

 

 

 

Now here is a novelty for this number of the paper, one which we owe to Our New York Correspondent: a “Letters to the Editor†section.

 

 

Correspondent H. H. Abbati points out, contra ONYC, that the notion that America is short of investment capital is as fallacious in 1939 as when it was advanced in The Times by Malcolm McDonald in 1930. “There can be no shortage of capital when large quantities of unclaimed wealth exist in the form of abundant supplies of unemployed labour, unemployed capital equipment, and unemployed surplus stocks of goods. It is an undisputed fact that large quantities of such unclaimed wealth exist in the United States, and thus the trouble is not lack of capital, but rather the lack of incentive for the investment of capital in new capital equipment. . . . The symptoms of a shortage of capital due to insufficient voluntary saving are full employment, rising prices and currency depreciation, none of which are present to-day in America.â€

 

 

 

Correspondent M. F. W. Joseph makes the same point. “It seems to me that your New York correspondent has been unduly impressed by Mr. Keynes’ latest terminology. It is true that on his definitions, savings and investment are necessarily equal. The fact that there has been little or no net investment in the United states during the last ten years may also be expressed by saying that there has been little or no net savings. But to conclude from this that net investment would be encouraged by a reduction of individual consumption, as your correspondent appears to recommend, is to make completely fallacious use of the above definitional identity.

 

Such a suggestion follows indeed the orthodox tradition of classical economic teaching. But then classical economic teaching was based on the assumption of a constant national income and full employment. Under these conditions, an increase in investment could only be achieved by cutting down consumption.

 

In the United States, where, as your correspondent ponts out, the national income fell within three years from $80 milliards to $50 milliards, and unemployment increased by more than 11 millions, the classical assumptions seem rather out of place. . . . Your correspondent is perfectly justified in regarding the stagnation in investment as “the outstanding fact†in the United States economic situation. Any policies –monetary, fiscal, or other—which would stimulate investment would be highly desireable; but there seems little evidence that a curtailment of consumption could be included in this category.â€

 

 

This, it strikes me, is the salient point that relieves my concerns as I move to follow Grandfather's instructions. Whatever the wise and learned suppose or do not suppose about the extended swoon of the American economy, the coming of war will relieve it by substituting the purchasing power of the armed services for that of the consumer. The interesting question will be whether we will see some species of rebound on the consumer side, as has happened in Britain under the stimulus of rearmament.

 

 

 

 

 

In the latest news, entrants into the combined King's Cup and Wakefield challenge are now down to 26, as Easton, among others, has withdrawn. He allows to the aviation press that he is still fllying in anticipation of competing in the Coupe Deutsche de la Merthe, if it is flown this year, but that seems to me to be a (rather expensive excuse for lingering in London.

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of London, the much talked-of documents in the hands of the cousins proves to be a bit of a damp squib. It turns out that Great-Great-Grandfather decide to prepare his eldest son for greater responsibilities not by letting him deputise as JP or something that required substantive work, but as a near sinecure in the Worshipful Corporation of Drovers of Rainham. As such, he signed his hand to some documents pertaining to pasture rights in a coal forest in the Weald. (Now we can understand the Coal Association's involvement. They presumably brought the document to the cousin's attention.)

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Naturally, that signature is quite different from the one which he exhibited after his return from his time in Bantam and points east. Almost as though by a different, albeit illegitimately related hand ore familiar with the feel of the inkbrush and the curl of cedar from the chisel. Of course, such evidence would be laughed out of Chancery, so we are once again thrown back on the suggestion that the cousins are willing to expose the dirty laundry of one of the greatest families of England in a doomed court challenge. "But there is more," they say. "We have other documents in the same vein. Wait until you see them!"

 

 

 

 

 

I am still not seeing the connexion with the contested estate, but the Earl is agitated, and seeks a monetary resolution. The problem is that the negotiations promise to be drawn out, not least because of the difficulty of drawing Commander Acworth into some tangential relationship with the world as it is. You know who else is agitated? ICI. I have told him, and Grandfather, that we should simply push the sale through and see who, and what, turns up in court on the day. The worst that can happen is a summer's delay in the company's plans, and, perhaps, that of the Air Ministry behind them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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http://www.nature.com/physics/looking-back/meitner/index.html has some people at the university excited, scratching their heads about splitting atoms and uranium....
Oh, good Lord, man. Look at the paper. They're implying an explosive charge made of a purified atomic isotope! How are you going to isolate one isotope from the next with this level of purity? Batteries of centrifuges? Is the expense of doing this worth the effort? And what if intermediary products of the fission change stop the chain reaction? Chemical engineers will tell you all of the world's problems could be solved by swapping one molecule for another. The problem lies in finding a practicable route to synthesis.

 

Bombs full of radio-active isotopes would be more practical, but at this point I have to wonder why we do not just resort to phosgene.

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  • 2 weeks later...

[h=3]Postblogging 1939 Technology News, September, II: Crisis Long Deferred[/h]

 

 

 

Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-561-1130-39A,_Italien,_Flugzeuge_Ju_90_auf_Flugplatz.jpg

 

My Dearest Reggie:

 

Pardon my unseemly scrawl annotating your usual. No typist, no matter how well trusted, can be allowed to see this.

Catastrophe. Horror to the pit of our stomachs as we wait for the other shoe to drop. In Moscow, in Berlin, now at home. I have a phone call from Greenwich. Your son and his fiancee are overdue in the College's Lysander. I try to take hold of myself. The whole world faces crisis as we hold our breath, waiting for the Ministry to fold or for Berlin to act.

 

Aeroplane 16 August 1939

 

Leader: the Lufthansa Ju 90 intercepted last week in the prohibited area over the Isle of Thanet was not spying, because the nice Germans do not do such things.

 

 

 

The Japanese do such things. (A ludicrous story about supposed Japanese spies follows.) Yet Mr. Grey is not entirely mad, and follows up with the observation that British aircraft production capacity is certainly greater than Germany’s, at least potentially. Yet after all that he has said about the “artificial war scare,†who is going to listen to him? I ask Cousin Easton, who was aboard. He only smiles and points out that everyone aboard could take photos.

 

Article

 

The odious Noel Pemberton Billing, who, as you will recall, nearly did the same to me as was done to you, says that the Yankee Clipper is a quite extraordinary aeroplane. As with the leader, the choice of reporters almost makes me doubt the commonplace.

 

 

Flight 17 August 1940

 

Leader: “Crisis Long Deferred.†On 9 August, Imperial ceased to accept new bookings for Empire routes. It only has lift for air mail. The British system has broken down. Part of this has to do with the failure of the Ensigns and the Empire boat accidents, but it is mostly due to the weight of air mail, which has increased in weight by 50% in the last twelvemonth. The ideal load of mail for an Empire boat is 2200lbs, but the contract is forcing them to fly with as much as 5500lbs, squeezing out most paying passengers, something which the paper forcefully suggests could be readily foreseen. Desperate, they wish to buy American planes, but they also need more personnel.

 

Is there a remedy? The paper thinks so, because of course it does. The same outlandish scheme that, apparently, it has pressed for many years: a separation of the passenger and postal service. But this is already accomplished. Passengers fly KLM! The paper goes on to point out that by early next year, the Ensigns will be back in service, the ‘G†boats will be in service, and the first Flamingos may be arriving. But this will be just in time to face the Christmas mail loads. Meanwhile, Caribou and Cabot have made the first British commercial Atlantic crossings. Will there be air mail to Canada by next year? Meanwhile again, another “C†boat, Australia, has been damaged at Basra. Intended for the Tasman Sea service, it was on regular flights because of the crisis.

 

Now, look. I am only a part-owner of a shipping line, but I would be happy to be facing a "crisis" that involved my line having more cargo to carry than it could handle. I would charter my rivals, and deliver it all! The problem here is only that there are not the rivals to charter. And how is that a problem for a business?

 

Articles

 

“The Air Exercises." And with reason. Last year, 900 aircraft took part. This year, the number was 1300. I find it almost impossible to imagine such a staggering number of war planes. “Westland†had 800 machines, of which almost 500 were fighters, and the remainder mostly General Reconnaissance types, although “friendly†bombers were included to test intercepting pilots’ ability to distinguish friend from foe. Under the overall command of Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding, it also had control of numerous barrage balloon groups and antiaircraft units. “Eastland,†under Air Chief Marshal Edgar Ludlow-Hewitt, disposed of 500 bombers of modern types. The highlight of the exercise, for me, at least, was the blackout out of the London metropolitan area on Friday. The old girl was eerie in the dark, Reggie, and engines droned overhead all night, and far out into the sleeping countryside! Bombers were coming in at any height between 100 feet and 20,000, and fighters patrolled at all heights. The paper notes several successful interceptions, but offers specific details of only two, both featuring Fairey Battles, leading me to think that the firm might do better to focus on naval needs.

 

 

 

 

V.P. Hurricanes, on the other hand, were stirring sights, springing from the ground like Furies of old.

 

Francis Chichester, “Raiding by Celestial Navigation.†You will know Chichester from his series of books covering his solo flights to Sydney, Auckland and Tokyo, using his patent(?) kneeboard navigational technique to find and land at tiny Pacific islands along the way.

 

Chichester tells us that it is currently possible, with celestial navigation, to know the location of an aeroplane within 3 miles, or, in ideal conditions, 2. The author believes that in the near future it will be possible, with the right training, equipment and preparation for an aircraft to know its location within a mile. The implications of this is that a raid of 240 bombers, each dropping 25 250lb bombs at an interval of 50 yards square, will obliterate 4.5 square miles of a chosen target, and that any target of known location can be destroyed with “pin-prick†accuracy. The “pin-prick†in this case being the target and the four square miles surrounding it. This is rather a large pin. You know what else is larger than a pin? An aircraft that can lift 6,250lbs. The weight, although not precise details of armament, are barely within the remit of an Armstrong Whitworth Whitley, although it seems to fit well various rumoured replacements [1,2,3,4].

 

Our author proceeds to put into the mouth of a modern Simplicissimus the fairly obvious point that a ‘plane flying at 300mph(!) is travelling twelve miles a minute, which makes the whole matter of “within a mile†suspect. Not so! The author now stipulates a chosen plane carrying 8 trained navigators. This plane will guide another, loaded with bombs, on a truepinprick raid next week. That is, it will demolish only as much masonry as 6,000lbs of high explosive bombs can demolish. Which is still a lot of masonry.

 

Article: Latvia has an aeroplane, which exhibits Latvia’s much vaunted efficiency, which had previously escaped my attention. Though they are, after all, related to the Finns, and as you are always telling me, Reggie, Finns make good timber men.

 

Commercial Aviation

 

Apart from the first Imperial/soon-to-be BOAC’s two-way crossing of the Atlantic, by “Caribou,†and news of “Cabot’s†arrival in New York, preliminary word of a Pan-American loss of a Sikorsky S-42 at Rio de Janeiro and of a cabin fire in a British Airways/soon-also-to-be-BOAC Lockheed 14 on its way to Zurich. A bit of the old Schadenfreude is had by our domestic establishment, or at least this is the conclusion I draw from their appearance ahead of notice of hull damage to Empire Boat “Australia†at Basra, which takes another 5500lbs of air mail capacity out of service. The inauguration of a London-Buenos Aires service is put off to 1943. Which, considering that we are just now flying the Atlantic would seem to be a bit of optimistic news, but, on the contrary, the Air Ministry is to being accused of breach of promise by a consortium of British firms doing business in the Argentine.

 

Service Aviation

 

Further details of the Fairey Albacore Torpedo/Spotting/Reconnaissance type, a “shipplane†with a Bristol Taurus engine. Said details include physical dimensions, not the point at which an Italian fleet sortieing from Taranto can expect to see Albacores launched from a British fleet sortieing from Alexandria. I would propose that biplanes would be easy meat for fleet fighters, except that the Italian navy has announced that it has no need of fleet fighters.

 

Breda 88s, intimated in the last number now equip the Regia Aeronautica. They are said to be a new type of a “heavy fighter bomber,†the comparison being with the Breguet 690 now ordered for the army cooperation groupements of the Armee de l'Air, the Potez 690s, ordered as fighters and bombers, or the Bf110 "destroyers" of the Luftwaffe.

 

Breda_Ba88.jpg

 

 

The general impression is that the continental air forces have ordered these splendid aircraft, and are now trying to find uses for them. Almost more interesting is the picture following, as it presumably emanates from the German Air Ministry, and is captioned, “A New Bomber,†when, in fact, it shows a revised example of the Heinkel 111. The German stud seems to be foundering, although unfortunately it has produced plenty of horses already.

 

Short Notes

 

Western Airways has a record for commercial airlines by carrying 4,872 passengers in a single day, most of these on the Weston-Cardiff route, which has now 58 services a day. That cannot be right. Although it is the summer season, and every moment away from London in August is more precious than the next.

 

Unfortunately, my lawyers are here, and quite angry that I met with the cousin without them. Matters, however, became quite sensitive, and, in any case, he is morbidly suspicious of Grandfather's machinations. I had not the heart to tell him that the bete noire of his childhood is a 98 year old man who needs a blanket to sit out in his garden enjoying the California sunshine. More of the same, by the way. The records of the Worshipful Company of Drovers of Rainham were found at the town guildhall

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by "Miss G.C." I imagine that our cousin could have had them removed, and left them because they send the very clear message that more compelling evidence of Great-Grandfather's imposture is pending from documents long since removed. The news left me clutching, less sure than ever that we dare force the cousin's hands by trying to close the deal with Imperial. The Earl is convinced that we (and thus Imperial) must wait and negotiate. But "Miss G. C." contemplates something, but "better that we do not know," though, if we wish to, we can go to the Land Registry for ourselves. I am afraid that the Earl burst out in some most unsuitable language at that, but "Miss G. C." was not moved.

 

Industry News

 

Mr. Fedan of the Vega Aircraft Company of Burbank, California, leaves the firm for Everell, of Philadelphia, which I mainly note for its advertisement of the British distributor of the “Everell single-bladed propeller,†a thing which apparently exists. (It has a counterweight on the opposite side to the single blade. One cannot imagine the practical use of the thing, but, if wanted, it is available through W. O. Shackleton in this country.)

 

 

Advertisements

 

Various firms want engines, aeroplanes and applications for situations vacant.

 

The Economist, 19 August 1939

 

Leaders

“The State of Civil Defence†Last weekend’s air exercises and practice blackouts in the South and Midlands show that the knockout blow is oversold, but also that ARP precautions are inadequate and that it is all the fault of government. We need legislation.

 

“The Paradox of Prices†Under the armaments stimulus, British employment and industrial production has hit new records. However, while the recession of 1937—8 brought a downward movement in wholesale prices and with them the cost of living, so far the vigorous expansion of 1939 has brought no rise in prices. What is going on? Well, the 1935 Census of Production showed that the total value of British imports was £701 millions, while the value of industrial output of firms employing more than 10 people was £1,576 and that of agriculture 206 millions. These are certainly facts! They do not really explain the lack of inflation, however. The paper goes on. The size of Britain’s purchases abroad means that changes in prices abroad have a profound effect on price levels. When food prices fall, British consumers go on a buying spree, etc.

 

So, finally, the paper's explanation: the price of industrial primary products is held back by the American recession, that of foodstuffs by heavy wheat crops; and of stocks by the American recession. Therefore, there is no inflation. But, wait, there is more. British wage demands are moderate because wages have not fallen from the peaks attained in the last boom, while the cost of living has fallen. From this one would conclude that the boom goes on with no sign of inflation, and no need for action. Yet, the paper concludes, all will change soon unless the Govt acts to reduce duties on imports and curtail consumer demand with taxes. If this autumn sees demands for higher wages in Britain and an American recovery, we will see (finally) inflation.

 

And not a moment too soon! As fearful as the world has become, I cannot help a smirk. When one predicts something every week, the reader begins to suspect that what is predicted is not feared, but longed for, a divine scourge falling upon cherry red backsides. Ah, never mind, then, Reggie.

 

Notes of the Week

 

“The Chinese Prisoners:†The competent British authorities at Tientsin have agreed to turn over the four Chinese prisoners for trial at a local Chinese court. Now I am angry, instead, at this kowtowing to barbarians, for this amounts to turning four patriots over to the Japanese. Yet it has not appeased the Japanese, nor, in fact, has it actually been done yet. Two further pieces cover agonized vacillations in Tokyo between trade-friendly and conquest-friendly policy.

 

“Problems of Conscription:†a clerk at a shoe factory has sued his employers on the grounds that he was sacked because liable for conscription. The paper is sympathetic to the employers (quel surprise) but thinks that Something Must Be Done, and points approvingly to a decision to allow a boy to enlist early because he was a few weeks shy of 20 and would be hard put to find a job for the next year.

 

“The Presidential Campaign Opens.†Taft, Vanderbilt and Dewey look to be the horses to beat, “with the enigmatic figure of Mr.Hoover in the background.†Enigmatic he is, but only to those whose eyes see not. Oh, wait, no. The paper refers to his stance in the election, and not his fabled parentage and the source of his worldly good fortune. (Up by his own bootstraps, to be sure!) Never mind, then.

 

 

The Democrats will probably end up nominating Roosevelt. However the vice-presidency is very much open. "In short, for the next twelve months, during a crucial period of world history, the affairs of the most powerful country in the world will , as usual, be governed by the manoeuvres of a group of prima donnas rather than by considerations of policy.â€

 

The World Overseas

 

“New Trade Conditions in China†Are terrible.

 

“German Price Control:†The German economy is in rough shape.

 

“America’s Agricultural Problem†We have too many marginal farms occupied by stalwart sons and daughters of the soil who should just quit, but we will not take the basic step of getting out of the way and letting them do that. The predominant American agricultural holding is still a freehold of 1—200 acres, based on the old Homesteading Act, apparently.

 

“Production and the Bourse:†the French index of industrial production shows us back at 100 (1928=100), compared with 83 in October of last year. This has a great deal to do with rearmament, although just how much is not clear. The automobile industry is up, for example. The French cost of living remains low, and earnings from tourism are thus high. The mystery here is that production would be still higher if private capital got into the game. But it has not, and this is reflected in a quiescent bourse. To be sure, if private capital did swing into action, skilled labour shortages would develop due to the 41 hour effective week, but it is still interesting to see those two liberal institutions, Parliament and the Stock Exchange, each sunk into torpor. Perhaps their revival will see the revival of political liberalism.

 

“Unemployment and Defence Expenditure in Australia,†commodity prices have fallen, so you would expect a decline in business activity in Australia. But no! And the reason is the steady rise in secondary industry. An interesting indication of the way things are going is the recent placing of large orders for Australian steel by the United Kingdom. Manufacturing labour has gone up from 337,000 in 1931—32 to 559,000 in 1937—38. Three cheers for rearmament. Nevertheless, there has been an increase in unemployment in Australia. Apparently. We can’t actually measure it, though.

 

Finance and Banking

 

The sudden death of Dr. Fritz Mannheimer has led to the failure of the Mendelssohn banking house of Amsterdam. This is a major failure in international banking and could have serious consequences, but was not unexpected in London. Gold continues to flow out of London, while the price of silver is recovering. It has now recovered above its import price –ie it will pay to ship silver to New York and sell it to the Treasury at the Treasury’s fixed rate. This is because India regards gold as too dear and silver as too cheap at its current price. So how long can the Americans hold out at $35 oz for gold, 35 cents per oz silver last? Grandfather says long enough for one more Atlantic crossing, which is whySquirrel just docked in London, straight from Vancouver, bound for Los Angeles and then San Francisco on the turnaround. I was aboard yesterday, looking in at Grandfather's cabins, hidden down in the well deck. It left me rather melancholy. Grandfather will not sail aboard again, I think. What shall we do without his brain? What is left of the pirate spirit of our forefathers? I long for Santa Clara, but that is just longing to be out of this world. On a mad impulse, I have the household packed up. Even if I cannot be California bound, I might spend the fall in the country.

 

Aeroplane 23 August 1939

 

In addition to the forgettable leader, Grey offers an article on “Super-National Socialism.†Grey appears to quite like Hitler and Fascism, but is not sold on all of the incidental “government regulation†to which it leads. He objects to the commonplace that this is rather what national socialism is about, and finishes with the definitive point that, if it were, our roadway speed limits would be Fascism, and lead to Hitlerism. It honestly does the heart good to see this terrible old man reduced to filling out his editorial pages with puffery.

 

Article

 

“A Troop Carrying Exercise.†The RAF recently did a trooping exercise. Aeroplane's version of F. de Vere Robertson, C. M. McAleery, gives us a history of the long and noble history of trooping in the RAF. Apparently, it has been the fashion of recent years to send troops of the Chitral garrison by air.

 

 

 

Uncategorised notes: Japan has bought the DC-4. Hopefully they have more luck with it than Douglas.

 

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Flight, 24 August 1939

 

Editorial: The Air Exercises were an exercise, not a manoeuvre. One cannot draw conclusions about the success or lack of it by Eastland or Westland in defending or attacking. But Dowding, commander of the defence, did sound cautiously optimistic, and that’s a good thing in this day and age. He holds that, given the way in which the fighter proved its ascendancy over bombers that it could intercept, that better interception must lead to victory for the defence. Exactly how it was demonstrated that fighters were in the ascendant over bombers, the paper would like to know. The whole experience suggested the way that constant harrying by fighters and antiaircraft guns can lead to bombers dropping their loads on unimportant places, and thus, presumably, on unimportant people. The recent exercise using 6 Bombays to lift 120 troops fell ludicrously short of the mark. “Although we should not omit to mention the steel helmets and rifles which, the newspaper observers emphasized, were carried with them. Presumably the machine guns followed separately, by boat or by train.†We need to order more, newer, larger transport machines. The air mail weight issue is getting to the point where we might need to reconsider carrying air mail overland.

 

Article: the editor puts on his reportage cap to talk about the Asboth Helicopter. So it appears that both Flight and Aeroplane have had articles spiked this week.

 

Service Aviation

 

“Where the Baffins went.†A considerable number of the Fleet Air Arm’s Blackburn Baffins have been transferred to New Zealand, where they frequently fly by particularly picturesque mountains. It is good to know that the Empire has something in reserve if the Maoris start making trouble again.

 

Our newest aircraft carrier, Formidable, takes to the water.

 

Hms-formidable-r67.jpg

 

Articles

 

Miles Henow, “With a Queen Bee Flight.†The Queen Bee, as you may know, is the radio-guided, self-piloting target aircraft which is used to trained AA gunners. It is emphasized that in spite of the simplicity of the concept, the engineering of the Queen Bee’s radiocontrols was a work of twenty years, and the technology will likely be a British preserve for considerable time to come. This seems to me to sell Johnny Foreigner rather short, and I wondered aloud at lunch as to why such vehicles are not outfitted with facsimile transmitters to take over the army’s photographic reconnaissance work, which led your son to enlighten me on the subject of the radio spectrum at some length.

 

 

Francis Chichester, “Raiding by Celestial Navigation, II.†The 8 navigators in the specially-selected plane are guiding two mammoth bombers on this particular raid, which is to destroy a “castle†where the enemy high command has chosen to gather, presumably in the interest of playing fair with the RAF and giving its scientific navigators a refreshing workout. As we old naval men would expect, there is much here about dead-reckoning navigation, and the latest ‘computers’ that assist in this work, but the real horror here is literally pages of spherical trigonometry ensues. Chichester intends to allow that with very precise celestial navigation, it is, indeed, possible, for the RAF to dump 6 short tons of bombs on some isolated Alpine schloss where a certain Reichschancellor has gathered with a select group of his most intimate advisors to put the final details on their nefarious plans. Whether it is possible for a cohort of trained navigators to do a continuous series of exacting calculations and celestial observations while flying over the night-time sky of a Europe at war is entirely another matter. It was hard enough on the bridge of a destroyer, which, for all the monstrous machinations of Rattler's quadruple-expansion engines, was at least not suspended between two (four?) internal combustion engines doing their best to shake themselves to pieces.

 

I glance quickly through the numbers sometimes, so do not precisely recall a review, or some such, of a book about night bombing (of England, of course) in which the enemy, perhaps more plausibly, uses a Norden bombsight-type device to navigate his way to the target. Does that ring a bell?

 

"The new Chilton trainer" (which is not a trainer in the sense of having been ordered by the Air Ministry) has “fighter-like†performance. Are you paying attention, Air Commodore Buy-the-Lot?

 

A. Viator’s Croydon column reports that North-Eastern Airways is now flying fresh salmon down from Scotland for supper-time consumption. The inference being that there is someone in London this August who could afford air-mailed salmon. We really are in a world crisis. Also, a South African in London on business whose small daughter is suffering from whooping cough hires a de Havilland to take her up, because an hour at 10,000ft cures whooping cough now? I suppose that it will dry out the throat and nasal passages, and is so worth a try, but it reads a little oddly at first blush.

 

Commercial Aviation

 

The two designated Tasman boats are now working up in Auckland for the proposed 27 August opening of the air mail service between the two antipodean dominions. Speaking of our piratical ancestors. . . Although the Founder was not ostensibly in New Zealand on a pirate's mission. Extending the dominion of science and Enlightement, blather blather. No mention of certain cargoes of a Manila galleon that needed a generation's ripening. . . .

 

Another British Airways Lockheed, this a 10A, has been lost to a cabin fire. This was a rather more serious episode than the first, for the 4 passengers lost their lives, one of whom was A.C. Crossley, M.P.

 

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Many important persons are winging their way about Europe (and the world) this summer, for the usual reasons. And given the flap over the Lufthansa Ju90 and the Zeppelin last month, perhaps unusual ones, too.

 

The Isle of Scilly now has an aerodrome, whereas before, air tourists landed on the village green or the cricket pitch, or,as the locals used to like to explain to people from down east, "Sod off, none of your business" "

."

 

The “Challenger†Empire Boat accident in Mozambique is explained. The pilot tried to land short, and then to abort the landing, resulting in the ‘boat bouncing off the surface and coming to rest in shallow water. It was the fault of “gross error†on the part of the pilot. More quotation marks.

 

Indicator’s column is on the need for better radio D/F equipment and receivers for civilian planes, which will let them make full use of radionavigation aids and ground weather reports.

 

More Articles

 

“Baltic Training Station;†an odd article on the training station of the German coastal flying force. There are pictures of biplane Heinkel numbers, rather odd considering that German engineering is poised to drive all British industry into the sunset momentarily.

 

“Largest in the World: Air Minister inspects New Drop Hammer.†Made in Erie, Penn, it is being installed in the new High Duty Alloys shop at Redditch. Since as much as 70% of a modern aircraft may be made of light alloys, High Duty Alloys has vast responsibilities in rearming the RAF and forwarding the air age generally. Which it does with this American-made machine.

 

“Minimising Fire Risks.†The new Graviner methyl-bromide in-flight fire suppression system is Air Ministry approved and British-made. A very timely article given the British Airways tragedy. Needless to say, it is not on Lockheeds.

 

Short Notes

Captain Rickenbacker was photographed touring the Bristol engine works. Of course he was. Would Captain Rickenbacker even exist without the news photographers? Beard and Fitch has been cutting all types of gears for 58 years, and is now doing so from a brand-new London facility. This news story has been brought to you by Beard and Fitch, sponsors of Flight and other fine aviation industry advertising delivery systems, navigating their way to your purchasing office with pin-prick accuracy.

 

Situations Vacant

 

Many ads, over many pages, but I note in particular that the Air Inspectorate Division has vacancies for suitable candidates. Let me underline this. The Ministry of Aviation has an entire department charged with ensuring the safety of aviation-related equipment. Not unreasonably, the inspectors are experienced plant engineers, because this is what the task demands. If the AID is advertising for more, it is because inexperienced men are being left to do the work.

 

Now, I am not adverse to the idea of this insofar as military aircraft are concerned. Service pilots get their flight pay and Ministry life insurance on the pretext of the risks they are taking. And if there are risks, so too are there young men getting a look into a situation in life that they would otherwise not get. We were talking about the "Family Allowance" controversy at lunch just before I mused about this story, and “Miss G. C.†drew out the conclusion that I was ambling towards, quoting Miss Austen's famous line about every man possessed of a fortune being in want of a wife.

 

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What concerns me, in the wake of all the recent accidents, is the civilians entrusting themselves to the air on the assurance of the Air Ministry. It is, of course, the case that we have AID, whereas the United States, where Lockheed makes its planes, lacks even an Air Ministry, never mind an AID, but what difference if the AID's inspectors do not know their work?

 

The Economist, 26 August 1939

(I am glad I have left some space here to scribble. After recovering from the initial news from Greenwich, it finally occurred to me to wonder that your son had had the Lysanderprepared by removing the exhaust gas analysers removed. These are installed in detachable underwing containers intended to carry stretcher cases from aid stations back to the field hospitals. So I called at Cousin Easton's lodgings, only to find that both he and Fat Chow were unavailable. A palpable relief. But what are these children up to? Pardon my scratched writing. I am being driven down to Squirrel. We will sail on the tide. The Earl can handle Imperial.)

 

Leaders

 

“Double Cross Roads:†Stupid fucking Soviet communists. I paraphrase like a sailor, because the paper speaks for all of us. Either Chamberlain folds again, or there is to be war.

 

“Agenda for Preparedness –IX,†“Industrial Man Power.†The basic war time labour problem is to do more work with fewer men. We are going to absorb 6 million into the armed forces over two years. The paper assumes that there will be war, as Grandfather has warned. The rest will have to maintain war production and production for export and consumption. The unions will have to put up with dilution.

 

“The Panama Canal’s Jubilee." The Panama Canal exists. Because we are old, we remember when it did not. “Political Patchwork in Spain;†Spain will not join the Axis.

 

There will be no railway strike, and the paper objects to the idea, because it should be the worst paid union, not the best paid, which threatens to strike, however, there being no money in the business, neither railway union should strike, and the fact that they are not paid a living wage must be accepted as one of those regrettable eventualities of modern life. Which strikes me as a short-sighted perspective in the face of an emerging labour shortage. It is almost as though the pre-emptive measures that must be taken to defeat inflation in the future will depress wages now . One would almost imagine that there was someone, somewhere, with a certain influence at the editorial pages of The Economist,who might benefit from depressed wages. But whoever could that be?

 

Tokyo and the Nonagression Pact: Talks over money and Tientsin have been broken off, the the legal hold on the surrender of the four fugitive to “Chinese†justice has been dismissed. Tokyo is in pathetic, frantic retreat. Never mind, because like the pack of wild dogs that they are, they will regain their courage later, Grandfather says, and all of the money we have strewn about San Francisco Bay will come back to us in the form of Navy Department contracts.

 

There is a decline in housing starts, with the fall in private building so sharp that it has not been compensated by public housing starts. The paper discerns a rise in building for let in the London market, which might be thought of as a search for new markets, and notes that of the 4 million houses built in England and Wales (representing a 50% increase in the total) 2 million are occupied by their owners.

 

“The Flight of the Refugees†continues. For the one thing that Germany needs as it prepares itself for war is to rid itself of as many top flight people as it can.

 

The World Overseas

 

“Poland’s Monetary Problemsâ€

 

The economic life of Poland to-day is dictated by the needs of defence. I imagine so. The country lacks the reserves that richer countries have used to fund rearmament, and the country has resorted to the Air Defence Loan, which required coercion in spite of the enthusiasm with which it was met, and is limited in its effect by the fact that it can be used to pay taxes. It was with this monetary strain in mind that Poland sent an emissary to London to ask for the transfer of £5 million of gold. Some sense of the extent of the “monetary strain†is suggested by the rapid increase in the money circulation, from 1,417 million zlotys on 30 June 1937 to 2,328 on 30 June 1939. This, you would think, would lead to inflation, but in fact people have been hoarding bills for years, and recently started hoarding silver coins, with the result that there’s few bills and no small change in Warsaw. I humbly suggest that even in its direst straits, France was only afflicted with peasants hoarding bullion. When your citizens are hoarding bank notes. . . .

 

As our correspondent says. “There are also a number of factors that suggest that the production policy followed in Poland has not been as expansive as it might have been.†All the indices of prices and the cost of living have fallen since the end of 1937, and the index of production is only up to 126.8 (100 in 1928) in spite of enormous possibilities for development. Production is down at many domestic manufacturers, and unemployment, at 456,000 is not much changed from the depression period. (470,000 in 1937). In the state of the banking system, it has been impossible to develop new private industry in Poland. The State takes too much money, interest rates are distorted, and until almost the end of the great depression, Poland’s policy was explicitly deflationary, trying to get the zloty at the level fixed in 1927. And when this course was abandoned, it was not devalue, but to introduce exchange controls. Formal devaluation, it was thought, would just lead to the peasants abandoning the zloty. Poland may devalue in the Fall, though.

 

You know what? Sod the lot! We would not care about the sordid "everything for therentier" money politics of Poland were it not for the fact that Warsaw is our last remaining potential ally on the Eastern Front. Poland may devalue in the Fall. Much more likely, it will be at war in the Fall, and it will regret every bit of potential work left undone in the years of peace in the furtherance of those policies. Those are the years the locust ate. Think on that when the Boche come to call.

 

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[TD]Chasseurs polonais avant! Apologies.[/TD]

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“French Economic Strength:†Spectacular progress has been made in production of iron and steel, and of automobiles, too. This is down above all to the government’s turn to short-term instead of long-term borrowing markets. The national debt was 44,0000 million in June, an increase of 4,500 millions on 31 May and 23,500 millions on January 1st. In short, the workers are working overtime, the peasants are favoured by high agricultural prices, and those who can save have discovered new possibilities of building up their reserves. … the Treasury’s ready money was 16 thousand millions, and the calmness of the country has encouraged the current of returning gold and subscriptions to bonds.

 

“Hongkong’s Trade and the War:" Hong Kong is suffering from the Japanese noose, especially as compared with the glorious days of last year, when the Japanese blockaded the Yangzi and Hong Kong became the entrepot of central China via the Canton-Hankow railway. The occupation of Canton in 1938 ended that to an extent, but there were many holes in the blockade at first. Things are getting tighter, but Hong Kong consoles itself that in spite of Britain’s disgusting supineness, Japan is reaching the limits of its strength, and that “

.†I hope. . . .

 

Investment

 

The Bank of England discount rate has been doubled from 2 to 4%. This is not to say that the day of cheap money and the new British monetary system is over. The move was needed in the light of the current crisis.

 

British Industry

 

I note coverage of the annual Radialympics. The radio firms have had disappointing years, profit-wise. Where is the new growth to come from? Television, obviously, but commercialization is lagging and disappointing here. Receivers need to get significantly cheaper. Perhaps some large customer will make a large order, and drive the costs of production down.

 

Industry and Trade

 

 

What has been going on for the last year? Well, it turns out that purchasing power is up, and people have been buying. There is an agreement to do away with 60,000 redundant looms in cotton country. Eire’s wheat production is falling due to a sharp rise in in agricultural labour wages. The herring season in Scotland is off to a bad start. (Hah! Did I predict this, or not?) Tin stocks are down.

 

Aeroplane 30 August 1939

 

Leader: we need bombers. Especially if there’s going to be a war. Which there won’t. It’s all contrived by foreigners and the owners of the world’s gold, who are afraid that it won’t hold its value if war unleashes the power of credit. What?

 

Flight 31 August 1939

 

Leader: “What Stands if Freedom Falls?â€

 

Article: “Higher Commands of the Royal Air Force.†The men who will lead the RAF in war are announced. The Chief of the Air Staff is ACM Newall, an Indian Army man via the Royal Warwickshires, so I assume Sandhurst or even a militia promotion. Perhaps ambition will count for more than brains, and admittedly he is of the same breed as Trenchard. Fighter Command is under Dowding, a Royal Artillery man who passed out of Staff College in 1914. A Woolwich brain, then, though not quite of RE calibre. Bomber Command’s Ludlow-Hewitt is another infantry man, Royal Irish Rifles. Coastal Command’s Air Marshal Bowhill, on the other hand, is of a naval background, fleet, rather than the reservists who populated a large portion of the early Royal Naval Air Service. At Group we have Playfair, another RA man, Coningham, a New Zealander, and Calloway, an old navy man who has served aboard Furious, Saul, an old Army Service Corps man who has commanded the School of Army Co-operation, Breese, a fellow RN (E) man, Gossage, another gunner, Leigh-Mallory, yet another School of Army Co-operation head, and, recently, Thomson, killed in a ground accident just after war was declared. The commander of the air expeditionary force is not named.

 

Article:

 

Chichester, “Raiding by Celestial Navigation,†III. Remember the pages of spherical trigonometry from the last number? They have got us all the way to ‘Enemy Territory.’ Now we must find our target, with even more pages of mathematics. Frankly, if the Norden Bombsight wants to take this job away from me, I, for one, will not protest the loss of employment.

 

Commercial Aviation

 

: the New Zealand link is almost complete. By which is meant that the promised late-August service is postponed indefinitely due to fleet shortages, and KLM may soon receive a contract relating to the Christmas air mail to Australia. If there is to be a Christmas air mail, which I doubt. More likely, the only mail going by air will be in the form of microfiches of blueprints of war materiels. Pan American has sent a Yankee Clipper on a pathfinding flight to Auckland.

 

Service and Foreign News

 

Germany has a new machine gun, too! It’s the Knott-Bremse. Although the news is actually that K-B Tecknik’s unsuccessful gun has been bought in a modified form by the Swedes. I may be in a fay mood, but I read this as a reply to the recent article about the new Vickers gun. France gets its first Douglas DB-7.

“The Aircraft Engineer†covers “Airscrew Diameters and Gear Ratios."

 

Letters

 

An anonymous correspondent recently returned from a period in Berlin notes the aerial contrast. Whereas in Berlin it is hard at the moment to see any aircraft at all apart from a few elderly Ju52s at Templehof, the skies over the south of England are crowded with aeroplanes, with "mystery planes" whizzing about in all directions at every hour of the day. Very well, then. The runner who has saved his wind sees the finish line. But has he held on too long?

 

(Page over, please, Reggie)

 

Hove too at a certain place. Ciphered W/T with the Earl, who just had a visit from the Yard concerning a midnight altercation at a Thanet home on a longterm lease from his cousins.Now I remember that place, riding the drove path

 

 

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[TD]From Britain from the Air, the absolutely awesome online gallery of Aerofilm aerial photoraphs of Britain from before 1955[/TD]

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that pointed straight towards Tenterden.

 

 

 

 

No doubt it is still visible from the air. Was it leased even then?

 

Apparently, a party of lascars trespassed onto the premise, and there is a complaint from the landlord. Shots were heard, dogs barked, that a 'plane, even, was heard to take off. Some lascars! Papers are missing, and a girl. The Earl inquired as to whether it was seriously proposed that a peer of the realm was involved in white slavery? The Yard retreats in confusion, and the Earl writes to Imperial, offering to close to-morrow. I write as I wait for a boat, barely visible in the gloom, coming towards Squirrel.

 

If you receive this before you see me, you will know that all is well, for I entrust this letter into the hands of Fat Chow. I wish that you could have been there to see that little boat emerge from the murk, a yellow dress on an oar in lieu of an ensign, that I should know that I have now to pick up two passengers in need of a discreet lift to Hongkong, with a load of ledger books, antique legalities having to do with rotating sheep. Terribly tedious. I am doing any barrister so unfortunate as to attempt to discover them a favour by

 

 

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Postblogging Technological History: October, 1943: Labour at the Limit: Martha's Burden Is Lightened By Speed

 
Welcome to Yorkshire!
 
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My Dearest Wing Commander:
 
Congratulations on your promotion, Reggie! As you will suspect from the arrival of the familiar courier and the heft of the package, this correspondence is a response to the Earl's anxious inquiries. Resuming my practice from the spring of 1939, I provide commentary at the head before financials in the hopes that this will help him understand the choices we have made with the money he dare not own. 
 
As I look back at the older letters, I marvel at how much has changed in four short years. Then, you were lying low in Vancouver in disgrace. Now you are back in RCAF uniform in dear old Blighty, putting your experience to the benefit of Brittania. Or Canadia? It does not quite seem to roll off the tongue, and I remain in exile amongst the orange groves of Santa Clara County, under standing invitation from Scotland Yard to assist them in inquiries. 
 
Being that your son now wears his Captain's rings, and can expect his broad pennant in due time (although not, alas, the Vice-Admiralship, thanks in no small part to his just-ended South Pacific 'exile'), it stands to reason that the family that you disgraced so long ago is no longer inclined to press the issue.  Meanwhile, so long as our cousin refuses correspondence with his daughter, I stand suspect of the most lurid imaginable crimes. You will find enclosed, by the way, another package from Chungking with photographs of the grandchildren.  Now that you and he are near-colleagues in war billets, I can even dream of you somehow persuading him to look at them. If not, film footage might be more compelling. It is expected, although unfortunately not soon, for our courier has chosen to reach civilisation via the wilds of Central Asia. What the Red Fort and the NKVD do not know, cannot hurt us.  
 
Speaking of your son, he arrived on the West Coast at the beginning of the month. One may infer goings-on at Scapa Flow if his services are no longer required in New Caledonia. I will be his host while he pokes about some nooks and crannies for the Admiralty. Amusingly, your boy, who currently rejoices in his after-school status as a Navy dispatch rider, picked him up at the wharf. I was in Seattle at the time, and somehow, someone (and by this I mean Grandfather, who at 103 has not entirely lost his sense of humour) got the idea that a man who had just flown across the Pacific in a PBY might enjoy being harried through the streets of San Francisco like Dundee's bonnet by a seventeen year old on his monstrous American motorcyle. Although, diplomatically, "Captain (E)  J. C." only emphasises that he enjoyed his first opportunity to meet his half-brother.  Had he only been delayed another day, and I could probably have arranged for his wife to do so in something more closely approaching a satisfactory number of wheels, but she was on a train somewhere west of Denver due to bad flying weather in the Rockies. 

DSC_0018.JPG Borrowed from Bucksindian.com/Buck's_bikes

Having, at least obliquely, reintroduced our familiar cast from 1939 (yes, it is Fat Chow who is trying to move those documents from Kashgar to Kabul right now), I should close this ramble and get on with . . . Well, my only slightly more on-topic ramble. Forgive me, I am aging, and garrulous.
 
 
First, the context (and to show off that family channels are restored and that I can takeThe Economist currently, though ocean and submarines bar the way.)

The Economist,  2 October 1943
 
Leader: “A Time for Decision:” Blah blah inter-allied talks blah blah Russia Poland; “New Men, New Measures:” Minor cabinet shuffle due to Sir Kingsley Wood having  died. Foreign affairs need attention, particularly theh “dollar problem. “Scotland’s Future:” how is the congenital depression of the past interwar to be prevented in the next? More Science. (In heavy engineering, which is Scotland’s past and future.)
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Colour me skeptical that every corner of the world can get rich off of steel and ships. Although I would suggest that Scotland has a better chance than California. At least it hascoal. We are railing it in from Utah. 
 
“Notes of the Week:” The Russian steamroller –is rolling. “Corsica and Algiers.” The self-liberation of Corsica raises questions about France’s political future. “The Women;” a conference of 6000 female leaders was held in confidence with various members of the Cabinet. The leader finds hilarity. 6000 women keeping a secret! Unfortunately, this is a lead in to ”Womenpower Policy,” making it clear why the cabinet has to take time to explain everything to the little dears. I wonder if there will be the looks and quiet comments that sometimes make me so foolish in the midst of explaining something lengthy and complicated to the now-Mrs. "J. C." Fomerly "Miss G. C.," and hopefully you know what I am tallking about, Reggie, as I am almost as confused as any putative snoop reading this missive is supposed to be. “Recruitment and Replenishment:” to make up labour in the factories in the face of attrition. “Advance in Italy:” we’re advancing. “Self Redemption:” is happening. “A Positive Policy:” things are not as bad in coal, cotton, and iron as they could be. “Pendulum Turns;” whereas in three elections so far this year, the government of a Dominion has been returned with a triumphant majority, in New Zealand it has been returned with a minority, boding ill for the future perhaps? In any event, the next six months will be crucial.
 
“American Survey"
 
“Plot and Counter Plot:” last week’s alleged plot to get rid of General Marshall by kicking him upstairs give way to charges of an Administration scheme to replace him with Sommervell as a first step to grooming him as the Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee in 1944. The Chicago Tribune likes both theories. At the same time. Meanwhile, MacArthur’s surprising comments on the Mountbatten appointment, that he will do what he can with the resources that he is given, and that “island hopping” has proven a mistaken strategy, have allowed Pacific Firsters to resume the criticism. This is the likeliest line of attack against the President. Isolationists love the Pacific War, and MacArthur’s name has been bruited as the “anti-Roosevelt” candidate in 1944.
 
 
“Shipping in Economic Policy:” the Journal of Commerce reports on the Maritime Commission’s plan for a postwar fifty-fifty division of foreign trade between American and foreign ships. This is in line with Admiral Land’s vigorous campaign promoting American shipbuilding: 2,100 ships, 22 million DWT. Again I observe that unless Americans learn to make better, cheaper ships, this is unlikely to happen. But who am I to stand against pessimism on the Clyde, as while I am not saying that Americans will take their business,I am saying that. . . . Well, never mind. Walter Lippman suggests that America is getting ready to have “no ecomomic foreign policy.” Which I take to be an argument for American autarky. All of the war industries are staking their claim to be strategically vital –rubber, aviation, shipbuilding. What room is there for foreigners to make anything for sale to Americans?
 
“Bypassing WLB” The Los Angeles railwaymen strike is over after 2 days. A WLB decision striking down a wage increase (from 15 cents to 4) is now to be reviewed by a special Presidential panel. The suggestion is that the new wage will be accepted at the price of extending the workweek by 10—14 hours/week.
 
The World Overseas
“Bulgarian Tensions:” rats, ships, sinking; peasants and workers are resisting in various ways, although a bumper cereal crop has eased tensions. The way forward is seen in Sofia as the formation of a “totalitarian” state party to push totalitarian solutions. Far sighted, for look how Germany has marched from success to success! “Employment in Eire:” employment in Eire is down due to all the young people leaving for Britain. It looks like Great Britain has taken the whole of Ireland’s underemployment problem, that is, the whole labour surplus, and “perhaps more than the surplus.” But we see problems in the long run as Britain demobilises and they all come home. Good news now means bad news later! “Germany at War:” bread shortage; failure of New Order.
 
The Business World
 
“Inflation in India.” British procurement in India is met by direct spending, and the excess stirling coming into the country is not being mopped up, but rather escapes into the economy. The effect of the rise of prises has been to encourage subsistence farmers to withhold food from the market. More taxes, or a transition to defence financing by loans is needed. Hmm. Well, what is the worst possible outcome from encouraging farmers to withhold subsistence crops from the market?
 
Business Notes
 
Shipping firms taking on “the power to run airlines;” warring currencies in Italy; Coal position is bad, search for volunteers to work in the mines not going well; ‘optants,’ at, for example, the fully mechanised Bolsover Collier Company are going into training to work the new machinery instead of to the faces to cut coal. But that’s good, right?”New High Levels:” business expansion was solid, but less than optimists expected. “Engineering Wages Award.” The strike at Barrow-in-Furness continues as the award was less than the unions asked for. “Bombay Bullion restrictions:” Bombay bullion quotes have slumped with restrictions such as a limit of forward puts to 2 days. Even 4 days was too long to prevent a Bombay trader from doing an in-and-out with no money changing hands. We now have a situation where any bullion sold must go to actual “savers or hoarders.” Raw cotton production is weak; hard fibre production is being promoted; a/c production is up, as is hp/structure weight lb.
 
The Economist,  9th October 1943
 
Leader: “Military Approach;” Italian surrender not well handled. “The Upper Regions:” aviation needs a postwar organisation/settlement. “What Kind of Agriculture:” Agriculture needs a postwar organisation/settlement.  “The Means of War:” Chatfield, Field-Marshal Milne, Air Marshal Salmond, Lord Hankey and Lord Winter have just sent an open letter to the Times saying that munitions production needs a postwar organisation/settlement (but beginning now). The paper notes that at a time when labour is being shifted from munitions to a/c in response to higher political direction, it is a little silly to have the duties transferred from one office in MinSupply to another in MAP. Leaving it up to the Battle of Whitehall just means a continuation of the trend for Bomber Command to overbear Army Cooperation and the FAA. There should be more a/c for specialised use, but the bombers keep getting in the way. In summary, less MAP, more MinSup, more efficiency, centralisation, planning.
 
“Notes of the Week:” “New Sea Lord;” Pound steps down, is replaced by A B Cunningham. Well, that’ll end well, the paper says. Or implies. I think. At least with a destroyer man in charge there will be no shortage of bold moves. Such as dragging our aircraft carriers into Stuka range of land. “Italian Front.” Don’t say bogged down, say selectively advancing. “Goebbels at Home and Abroad;” Goebels' recent and putative moves are construed as a  ‘peace offensive’ abroad, intended to break up the Alliance. “Practical Demobilisation:” a plan is released. “Strikes and Strikers.” The strike at Barrow is over. Strikes are down year over year, and Parliamentary Labour’s anti-Trotskyitism is transparent. Hey, you on the Left! Fight all you like! “Finnish Tug-of-War: rats. Sinking. Ships. 
 
American Survey
 
“The Great Contradiction:” American isolationism is dead; and replaced by American nationalism. Admiral Vickery’s recent comment that America is now a great maritime nation and intends to stay that way whether foreigners like it or not, is Exhibition A. “Economic Foreign Policy:” America proposes to export everything and import nothing. Walter Lippman is quoted again. “the Practical Issue:” is that Americans do not realise how quickly the country has changed from being a net debtor to a net creditor, and anyway think that it could be easily reversed.
 
American Notes
 
“RE-birth of an Elephant” Wendell Wilkie demands that the Republican party change its spots and reclaim its status as the great American liberal party. Luce's Time, by the way, thinks that the Grand Old Party needs to be less captured by donations and more attentive to its progressive past. Wilkie has some salty things to say about people who talk free enterprise and practice monopoly and restriction. He is for more and better social security. He is vague on foreign policy, and afraid that mismanagement of the home front will extend the war. “the Senator’s Report:” the five senators who have been touring the war fronts are getting ready to present their report, instead of talking about it whenever a reporter is in earshot. Senator Lodge suggests that we will need Russian bases for the air war against Japan. 
 
"The Tax Programme: " Mr. Morgenthau has presented his new proposals to the House Ways and Means Committee. Mr. Doughton, the chairman, promptly attacked them as “more than the people can bear.” Congress, we predict, will authorise nothing like such increases, and the successes of the third war bond drive will be pointed to as an example of the success of voluntary loan measures, and a blind eye will be turned to the spending frenzy that has shops in the country open from morning till night. “Little Orphan Annie”has been getting in trouble. The famous comic strip heroine, beloved of the McCormick-Patterson press, has ventured too deep into politics, getting into a feud with the local Office of Price Administration director over gasoline rationing, which is hugely unpopular in the Mid-West.
 
The World Overseas
 
“Fascist Republic” the situation in Italy is ….confused. Also, Croatia. Somehow.
 
 
The Business World
 
Business Notes
 
Talk of  postwar financial order. Situation in Barrow reunsettled. “Women Trade Unionists:” Once the AEU opened its ranks to women, all of the TUC had to,and now they are working out women’s wages, especially that of women not “hired as men,” that is, to replace a male worker. And then there is the need for domestic accommodation. Without this, there is a risk that “industrial fatigue” and “confidence in the outcome of the war” will lead to increased absenteeism. The laundry industry is overburdened; “Skilled men for the services;” People should look at their Army Technical School as a place for careers for boys. This will make the Navy's recruitment work even more difficult, I would wager.
 
The Economist 16 October 1943
 
Leaders
 
“Pacific Command:” Lord Mountbatten has arrived in India. The ever-oily T. V. Soong has joined him in New Delhi. I am almost ready to root for the Reds just to get rid of the Soongs. With America exerting itself to its utmost in the Pacific, any increase in resources there and acceleration of the Pacific war will have to come out of British resources and thus from Europe. Will it happen, or will we continue to nibble at the peripheries of the Japanese position? “Coal Comfort:” can coal be nationalised” Not without an election, the PM said, so shut up about it. There will be no extension of powers to coerce labour. There needs to be more labour, and more coal per worker. American coal mines are more productive because of mechanisation. Ours have been kept going by low wages. This, the paper thinks, must change.
 
Notes of the Week
 
Pravda says that the discussions in the Moscow conference must be strictly military. There can be no more question about the postwar borders of the Soviet Union than about the frontiers of the United Sates or the status of California.” 
 
"The Great Surprise:" Remember how the Brusilov Offensive turned out to be Russia's last hurrah? The resumption of the Soviet offensive has shattered German hopes. The Azores open to an Allied base. “A New Phase?” The Germans have in the past been more militarily dashing than the Allies, so the midget submarine attack on Tirpitz is refreshing. We credit Cunningham, who apparently used his time machine to set it in motion while he was still in Washington. Follows a series of items on the “end of the political crisis” in Germany occasioned by the Italian surrender, which I was unaware of at time time, on the Conservative adoption of a number of reform measures in their traditional role as the “clothes  snatchers” who borrow Liberal clothes while the Liberals distract themselves at bathing; on domestic service, a sticking point in the recent Ministry of Labour decision to take women into the compulsory labour regristry; 
 
“As Others See Us:” apparently, Americans and British are inclined to see themselves as blundering amateurs, the other as Machiavellian schemers. The Vital statistics of the nation continue to be good, with live births in the last quarter at 180,691, giving a crude birth rate of 17.5/1000 versus an average of 15.7 for the same quarter over the last 5 years. The infant mortality rate is the lowest ever recorded, but an ominous sign for the future is a  fall in the marriage rate over the 5 year average. Death rate is also lower.
 
American Survey
 
Priorities in Labour: the grim prospect of labour rationing has been held up by an extension of the work week to 48 hours, by the summer student hiring boom, and by the recruitment of women, but the slack is gone. Unemployment is down to the limit of employability, 4 million more are envisioned to be called up for service or in the munitions industry, and production is  not forecast to plateau for another 4 months.
 
“Local Supply and Replenishment” The argument for the local control of labour is “built up from many angles.” There are (except on the West Coast) regions of employment shortage and surplus in every state. If the housing situation could only be remedied, these might resolve themselves. Meanwhile, there is the problem of labour hoarding, exacerbated by cost-plus contracts that have taken labour into the munitions industries where payrolls might still be padded, and there are particularly bad cases, such as the wage differential between Boeing-Seattle and the adjacent Kaiser yards. My mouth is closed. 
 
American Notes
 
The Five Senators are doing their hit, “British guile and Uncle Sam, the Sucker.” Or are they? What did they say, as opposed  to what the press said they said? “Political Warfare:” the President proposes to end the Chinese Exclusion Act to remove a weapon from the Japanese propaganda effort, and likewise to accelerate Philippine independence to 1946. Hurrah, I say. Perhaps in the next century or so Americans will be able to admit to themselves what was really behind the Exclusion Act. As you will have noticed yourself, there really is a most striking resemblance between your two sons. That last, however, is somewhat sinister, in that domestic sugar producers have always been eager to see Philippine independence sooner rather than later. “Shipping and Strategy:” the shipping situation is improving rapidly, and perhaps the war can be accelerated by sending an American army abroad faster than planned?
 
 
The  Business World
 
A World Capital Bank: should exist in the future. The Health Minister has concerns about housing; Admiral Vickery is still threatening to drive the white duster from the sea. Good luck with that on American wages! Nationalisation of transport; financial talk; an Italian loan; Bombay bullion prices now rising; liquidation of surpluses to be a post war issue; ‘Settling-in’ Grants to be increased to women who have to move to work in Britain.
 
The Economist, 23 October 1943
 
Leader: False Premises” Churchill should stop being such a wet blanket on reforming the coal sector. “Il faut en Finir.” Will the war be over in three months, in six, in twelve? We need more aeroplanes, and an invasion. 
 
Notes of the Week
 
Italian co-belligerency raises waves. Fresh Start in India:” Wavell replaces Linlithgow with the remit of fixing India’s war finance and ending the Bengal famine. “Democratic Planning:” Mr. F. J. Osborn, of the Town and Country Planning Association, deprecates too much emphasis on utopian city plans as opposed to what people really want –houses and gardens, for which they are willing to accept congestion, commutes, and ribbon development. As steward of a very large orange grove less than sixty miles from San Francisco and much closer to Oakland, I say no more. “Ukrainian Manganese,” the loss of Nikopol won’t cripple the German war effort.
 
: “Bombing and Ball Bearings:” The Flying Fortress raid on Schweinfurt on October 14 struck at the heart of German war production. Its objective was the destruction of the important ball and roller-bearing plants of Kugel Fischer AG and Vereinigte Kugellagerfabriken AG, the large German subsidiary of the Swedish SKF. Photos show that at least half the facilities were destroyed, and Brigadier General Anderson of the USAAF suggests that the plants had been knocked out of production, and that an eventual restoration of 25% of production is the most that one could hope for in the immediate future. The paper thinks that this is overstated, as is the idea that Germany has no more ball bearing production, since there are plenty of other export sources.
 
 “Stand  by Duties:” air raid warning work is getting harder for salaried civil servants to bear. “Fire Guard regulations” it used to be that many fire guards were paid a small, officially-set expense stipend, while some who were taken on before the national scheme was lput in place were paid more. Now all will be paid the same, low rate. Progress!
 
American Survey
 
The Senate is fine with a United Nations. “Common Grounds:” Wilkie and Sumner Wells think that, as well as  a two-way alliance, the United States should be in a Four Power alliance, so that everything is fair and open. Dewey seems to think that four-way instead of two-way is the way to go. The New York Daily News, organ of the isolationists, has very tepidly endorsed the Anglo-American alliance in an irresponsible way  that excludes Russia. 
 
“Coal Deadline:” last week’s strike in the Alabama and Indiana fields was a sharp reminder that this winter’s coal is in jeopardy, and the 31 October deadline of  the “labour truce announced by John L. Lewis last year is coming fast. The strike, although not called by Lewis, must not have been unwelcome to him, as it puts pressure on the WLB in considering the Illinois contract, which in draft form calls for a pay increase of $2/day and pay for time travelled underground. Approval by the WLB would be a bitter pill to swallow as it might increase general restlessness over wages and force the OPA to approve an increase in coal prices. It is on the Administration to reconcile justice for the miners, coal for the war, and inflation. 
 
The Business World
 
“Experiment in Price Control” price control is hard.
 
“Business Notes” Lord McGowan of ICI thinks that the British chemical industry is just fine; “The Future of Coal:” less to be produced at a higher price. “Research and Industry” “The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee” is all about scientific research. We only spend a tenth of what they do in the US and Russia, apparently, and that’s shameful. 
 
“New Rupee Loan:” the Government of India is getting the Victory Bond racket. The Red Fort is never afraid to be a mile long and a pound short! “ “Bread and Potatoes:” (British) people should eat more potatoes, less bread.  “Opencast coal” is something that we are experimenting with. And not for long, I expect. “Pulp and Paper supplies” are short. As someone who has committed to paging through literally hundreds of pages of advertising to find editorial copy, I can only thank my Maker. 
 
The Economist, 30 October 1943
 
Leaders
 
“Co-Belligerent Italy” Badolgio makes nice. “Hungry Millions.” Food is a thing. “Infant Mortality” is down in England and Wales. But it is still too high in the lower classes. Mainly because of communicable diseases, which is appalling.
 
Notes of the Week
 
The Moscow Conference is apparently going smoothly; so is “The Super-Battle” in the south. “The Nation’s Debt:” is to returning veterans. Who should be prevented from forming proto-Fascist organisations.  The paper pays tribute to Haig and the British Legion for preventing that after the last war.Luce's Time, meanwhile, covers the recent convention of the American Legion in Oklahoma City, recalling its first convention there twenty years ago, when telephone companies arranged busses to convey operators to work, as it was deemed unsafe for a woman to be in the streets at the same time as the randy convention-goers. Now, it marvels that Legionnaires bring their wives to the convention. One wonders if  Haig also prevented epidemics of "fanny pinching." Which, I swear, I am not making up. Time really said that. 
 
“Slogging Up Italy.” Slogging is a motion of a sort, at least. “The Demand for Teachers:” falls 70,000 short of the supply under the Government’s proposed educational reforms. “Exchange Control” is relaxed.
 
 
American Survey
 
“Political Trends in American Labour” are pro-Democratic and anti-Wilkie in spite of his liberalism. One mine leader who recalls speaking in 1940 of millions of shrunken bellies might note that there are not shrunken bellies any more. “the Rising Tide;” of wages; “the Cost of Living” is up; ‘”Taxes: Nobody’s Baby.” “the View from Mid-Continent (by our Ottawa correspondent) has it that Europeans should stop growing wheat.
 
Germany at War
 
“November Days,” the 25th anniversary of Germany’s sudden and unexpected collapse in 1918 is imminent. We all hope that it will happen again, and Germany’s leading Nazis are making sure that it won’t. 
 
Business Notes
 
 
"The Harvest” will be the largest ever, but, nevertheless, I read that biscuits have to be rationed,  as the output is down by half of prewar production. Now, instead of raising the point value of a biscuit ration even higher, the Ministry of Food is lowering the point value of “Spam” type canned meat to attract points away from biscuits. The fact that people can divert points to biscuits suggest that the overall food situation is good. The idea that people will substitute American meat-in-a-can for chocolate-covered biscuits is, I suggest, less realistic. Let me not look a gift horse (or in the case of our American operations, lamb) in the mouth, but the fact that our drafty little isles are flooded with Spam is not an argument that people will eat it readily. 
 
So that is The Economist. But what of a more congenially American view? Here to tide you over until Time begins its delivery to our little hacienda is 
 
Fortune October 1943
 
As always, I must leaf through a great number of ads, and I sometimes wonder at whom they are aimed. Now I do not claim to be an art historian --I just blackmail their handlers through them-- but I see the diaphonous white fabric through the luminous white light and I see the story that hides behind this factory worker checking the parachute that "Must Not Fail" some flyer overseas.
 
IMG_0102+(2).JPG
 
But "Diplodocus forgot to change his mind?" The point here is so strange that I put it in text. It is that “Puck, the Comic Weekly,” brings America the laughs of Donald Duck and Blondie, and that if your firm does not advertise in it, you will be as extinct as a dinosaur. Which could have avoided species extinction by advertising in a comic weekly to reach the American buying public.
 
Fortune Management Poll: Executives see prosperity at home, “but without the freedom they desire.” Abroad, they hope for world cooperation, and will throw in tariff cuts to make it so. 70.3% expect a general boom, 66.7% a boom in their particular industry.
 
 
London Cable
 
The English are confident of victory; anti-invasion preparations are quietly decaying; the sound of bombers overhead is constant. “England exudes air power.”
 
Letters: Canadians think that Americans are ignorant and vulgar; Coventry is interested in this American “city planning” talk; a new system of Standardised Aptitude Testing will going to change education for the better. Southerners are better African handlers than Northerners says this Southern factory owner, who thinks that while Africans make good servants and workers, they would be terrible foremen, if his firm ever employed them in that role, which it would not, since then they might have to supervise Whites. Which is obviously not on.
 
Trials and Errors
 
No-one likes Wilkie or Roosevelt, and we are looking forward to a “lesser of two evils” style campaign. Though the Republicans might nominate a “Know-Nothing” who would ‘resume the battle of 1931,’ in which case he would soon be envying Herbert Hoover his popularity. Though looking up the road from Santa Clara, I see precincts where Hoover has not lost his popularity. Somewhat discouragingly, my view across my crowded study takes me across the kind of English murder mystery where, when the cad is presented with evidence of his ill-deeds and a loaded revolver, he retires into the next room and shoots himself, as opposed to the next sound you hear (remember Subadar Haji Ali telling us this story?) being that of a feet laden by a waistcoat full of gold rupiahs hitting the verandah floor on the first step of their trip to, eventually, California. 
 
But enough of family stories. If Wilkie wins, southern Democrats, knowing that Roosevelt has stop “fighting for Negroes and for labor,” will turn on him with zest. The country is headed for a ‘historic social crisis,’ and the paper is thinking now of the election of 1856. Optimism reigns at the offices of Fortune!
 
Articles
 
“Soldiers, Jobs, and the Peace.” Demobilization will be a trial. The paper points out that the day that Mussolini ‘evaporated,’ the markets slumped. The country has not sweated Depression out of its system, and peace has a taste of apples sold on street corners. Canada has done a good job of preparing for demobilization with a Veteran’s Land Act. We should have something like that. One thing that could be done is give soldiers and sailors a pre-separation education, or certification of their service trades. This will help achieve full employment. What is full employment? 1943 saw a workforce of 51.4 million, 11 million in the armed forces, and 1 million unemployed. Moreover, the average number of hours worked was 10% over 1940 numbers. This is not sustainable in peace. In August, “more than” 4 million school-aged children (14—17) were working, and most should return to school in the fall. Almost 1.5 million in the 55—64 age range were working, and more than 500,000 in the 65+. 70% of women, in the August 1944 Fortune survey rated homemaking higher than “career,” so female employment rates will no doubt fall in peace. Meanwhile, our industrial capacity has “grown and grown,” with an increase of $18 billion in productive capacity. GNP will have leaped from 97 to 181 billion in the same time frame. Even allowing for inflation, raising the employment level by 15% over 1940 will require a permanent increase of one-third of GNP over 1940.
 
Carl Swanson, “Big Butter and Egg Man.” Mr. Swanson is selling four times as much processed food as he used to. This is in spite of the black market , which is not a problem, although the Fayetteville, Arkansas plant that used to ship 7 cars of poultry a week now is lucky to fill one, because the black market takes all of Arkansas’s chickens.
 
“Quality Control,” is something that Walter Shewhart of Bell Telephone Laboratories is awesome at. The anonymous author of the article, who knows a great deal about quality control at Bell Telephone laboratories,  notes.
 
“To One-Millionth of an Inch,” is how closely SKF industries mills.
 
“The Earth Movers, III: I come in at the third and last installment of this account of Henry J. Kaiser and the Six Companies. I provide more context in the second part of this report, so I will confine myself to pointing out that this is a real "hit" piece. (Fortunately, the reporter proved amenable to removing the most embarrassing bits.) 
 
Kaiser remains a construction contractor. Which makes it hard to explain why Kaiser tried to turn a cement plant over to making magnesium? Other than, before it was noticed that magnesium-making was actually hard, it looked like Kaiser was going to take business away from DowInstead, in the Six Companies consortium originally formed around CalShips, Bechtel has moved away from rubber --another thing that the Six Companies were going to do-- to plane making in Birmingham, Alabama, and an arctic oil venture called Canol, and also construction,  but with Bechtel leading the way, not Kaiser.
 
Also, Kaiser got into West Coast steel back in 1940. There is a steel plant at Fontana, California, 50 miles outside Los Angeles, coal mines in Utah, 807 miles away, ore in central southern California, shipyards at tidewater, and, well, frankly, it is a mess. Now, what of theWPB’s fines for tampering with material schedules, or accusations of labour hoarding at the Richmond yards, where monthly turnover amongst 94,000 workers had reached 24,000 by the spring, and where more than a quarter of the labour force is just rotating through training courses? What about massive kickbacks to the AFL for labor peace on construction sites, and deals with the same to make shipyards closed shops? What about his proposed giant cargo planes, for which he and Hughes hoovered up $18 million in real money. What about Kaiser carriers and medical insurance? Kaiser has a great deal to answer for, the Luce papers think.
 
 
 
“China’s Postwar Plans.” Apparently do not include not being taken over by the Reds. Let us see. We have puritanical reformers in Shaanxi Province, and corrupt southerners in Chungking. I see that the Luce organisation does not employ gentlemen literati. What can I say? Our ancestors stood by the Ming, and were rewarded by having to slip back in from the margins, and while I do not advocate abandoning the Koumintang, I do see history repeating itself, and contemplate ways of quickening the process. Which is why Fat Chow has been to the north.
 
Aviation,  October 1943 (42, 4)
 
McGraw-Hill line technical magazines enjoy the benefits of two editorials. The wisdom of the magazine's leader not being sufficient, James H. McGraw, Junior, share his, as well.
 
Line Editorial: Mr. McGraw thinks, as a man with the company name and a "junior" appended might well be disposed to so think,  that free enterprise is threatened by the rise of ideas about state planning. This being said, a long acquaintance with a certain variety of businessman leaves me slightly nonplussed when he pivots to discussing the crux of the issue, which, according to him, is Tunemployment. Let it rise too high, and there will be “widespread fear and lack of opportunity, which will drive labor unions, agricultural groups, and business interests to take self-protective measures. Such measures are certain to restrict production, stifle progress, and imperil our democratic way of life.” The Great Depression has made an impression, I think.
 
 
Aviation Editorial: Leslie reminds us that men make planes, and planes save manpower at the front. Military demands for more manpower have hit the aviation industry hard. It is a young man’s business. “Between 25 and 50 percent of the engineering personnel of the industry are in the 18 to 25-year-old range and many of these men are unmarried.” That is, they are subject to the draft. What will help? Not the “Buffalo Plan” and attempts by the United States Employment Service to extend it nationally, but rather amendments to the Selective Service regulations to protect key personnel. Oh, and an actual plan defining what we are to have, men or planes. On the one hand, McGraw is concerned about unemployment in the future. On the other, Leslie is concerned about a labour shortage right now. 
 
John Foster, Jr. “Which Will We Get: Men or Planes?” The new West Coast Manpower Program is not enough. It is just a makeshift. Today, the industry has 1.7 million hands, and to meet the schedules already authorised will require 2.2. On the basis of previous turnover, we will need to hire more than 1.5 million to achieve a net increase of 0.5. The number would be far higher did the industry not plan on a 40% increase in manpower utilisation. This seems unlikely, as the labour barrel has been sucked dry, and the labour coming into the plants now, mainly women, lack “factory sense.” The Buffalo Plan is supposed to address this (in Buffalo), but has not. Skilled labour that does not want to work where the Buffalo Plan will certify them to work can always choose to leave town in search of better housing conditions elsewhere. Instead, manufacturers want to import labour from “surplus” areas and use Selective Service to cut down on turnover. If we could only draft our work force, everything would be splendid! Is it just me, or does this recall certain halcyon days in the past of American business?
 
Raymond L. Hoadley, “You Can’t Write Profits in Red Ink.” All that “war profiteering” stuff is shown to be false by demonstrating that while sales have soared, earnings per share have not. Although profits are huge, they are being socked away to cover postwar demobilisation. Huge reserves are being set aside for “postwar and contingencies." Senator Truman's rude suggestion that huge and burgeoning bank accounts are evidence that aviation manufacturing outfits are making a great deal of money from government contracts are shocking and wrong.
 
Design Analysis: Fleetwings BT-12. All you could ever want to know about the Fleetwings basic trainer.
 
Jock Simpson, “Douglas Licks U-Boats Without Bombs.” How you are wondering? Because you cannot torpedo DC-3s. Planes fly over the water carrying cargo, while ships sail through it with cargo,rendering them eminently torpedoable! Given the level of analysis here, you will be at least happy to know that the main body of the article descrbies just how good Douglas is at making DC-3s.
 
Gerald E. Stedman, “Refrigerators to ‘Thunderbolt ‘ Wings,” (Photo of wing assembly in today’s photo file.) Servel made refrigerators before the war. Now it makes P-47 wings.
 
IMG_0058.JPG
 
Kenneth S. Jackman, “Super-Aluminum Alloys for Aircraft Strutures.” 24S alloys, some of them artificially aged, that is, baked till done, are really good for making planes, but corrosion issues remain to be resolved. At Consolidated Vultee’s Engineering Test Laboratories, we are doing that work.
 
Aviation News
General Arnold hints that our two new super-heavies will be in service in the near future and will dwarf the B-17. Canada will continue to increase production of the Lancaster, Mosquito and Helldiver. Resin-impregnated plywood is replacing duralumin in aircraft hatches. Cities look horrible when you enter them by train, so people should fly in instead, because airports are as attractive as they are convenient to the city beautiful. Speaking of which, architect Paul R. Williams predicts that the “decentralization” of cities will be one result of the war. Of the 3500 people hired for Convair’s new Nashville plant, 60% had never been in a factory before. Plastic needs to be “deglamorized.” Because it is, you know. Glamorous, that is.
 
Aviation Personalities I probably shan't continue to follow this feature, as it is discouraging to notice just how young so many prominent aviation men are at death in this fast-paced war of ours. But I am an old and cynical man. In any case, Richard DuPont(38) George E. Irvin (49), G. Willis Tyson (38) and Major Edward G. Schulz have lately died.
 
Aviation Manufacturing
 
-Manufacturers want better provisionss against contract terminations in the event of an early end to the war in Europe; Convair is to make the ‘Seawolf.’ Northrop is to make a plane. Manufacturers complain about new “renegotiation and recapture” legislation. Wright Engine’s Lockland plant’s production rate is recovering from the recent Truman-inspired changes. The Justice Department is suing, but a defence is being planned. Remarkably, the dip in aircraft production over the summer proves to be the Truman Committee's fault. August aircraft production was 7,612, up in numbers but still below schedule, which calls on the nation to hit 10,000/mo by year’s end. Though Donald W. Douglas says not even a miracle would be enough to achieve this without new labour.
 
Thomas Wolfe of Western Air Lines predicts a 40% increase in air traffic volumes in the first decade of peace, and Harold Crary of UAL says that war surplus planes won’t do for peacetime service. Which is to say, do not short your aviation stocks just yet.
 
IMG_0068.JPG
 
Which, besides suggesting that a little improvement will be needed before the little lady can drop you off up, quite remarkable hair unruffled, the Land of a Thousand Lakes for some manly sport, that B-17s will not make good airliners. I would personally be amazed if many of them were still flying, but perhaps I am unduly influenced by what I see going on down at the Oakland shipyards. Not to speak ill of a cousin but. . .
 
Aviation Finance: Curtiss Wright shows net profits of 13 million, or 1.45/share. Sales rose to 770 million over 373 million in the previous year, and renegotiation returned 175 million to the government, while a postwar tax refund of $1/share was set up. North American’s renegotiation reduced profits from 10.4 million (4.3% of sales) to 7.37, or 2.91% of sales.
 
I notice an ad from Hartzell Propeller Co. ad. No easing up‘till victory is won!
 
 
IMG_0072.JPG

 Then we get to slack like the dickens. Oh, I am sorry. I believe that I am only supposed to think that last part.
 
Aero Digest October, 1943
 
I cannot even pretend that Aero Digest covers aviation news at this point. It seems even more thoroughly locked out of the service's distribution list than Grey's Aeroplane at its worst, and for much the same reason, It does run good technical articles, however.
 
“Precision Bombing and the Automatic Pilot.” The Norden bombsight was invented years ago, but an electronically controlled autopilot was recently announced.
 
IMG_0063.JPG
 
“Our Aircraft the most Formidable in the Skies.” Out of context, this is an odd, almost hysterical article. In the context of the Army's late-October quasi-public inquest over the disastrous casualties of the Schweinfurt raid,  one can see where the defensive tone originates. 
 
If you are wondering, they are more formidable than, say, Lancasters because of .50 cals, and remote control. Also, cannons and local control. The B-17G has a chin turret! The P-47’s guns exert 96,000lb of pressure on a plate of armour. The 37mm cannon has an HE round! There is over 100lb of armour plate on one of our big bombers! This time in North Africa, a chap saw a plate of aeronautical-grade glass stop a 20mm shell! Our crews have body armour! Nathan Bedford Forrest said “Git that fustest with the mostest.”
 
The last, if you know Americans, and you do, is probably most telling of all. When they affect a Southern accent and quote General Forrest, they really do think that they are defending a lost cause. I am not myself convinced that such pessimism is warranted, but we shall see.
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BTW unless this is alternate history The surviving Royal Sovereign Class Battleships were all scrapped before 1920.

 

Ahh on further study, you were probably talking about the "Revenge" class which Succeeded the Queen Elizabeth Class. Sometimes that class was called the "Royal Sovereign" Class.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revenge-class_battleship.

 

It was probably a good thing that Britan scrapped the Pre WWI Royal Sovereign Class. They would have had their asses kicked with the more modern weaponry of WWII. Esp since they didn't have steel Deck Plating, which would have made dive bombers a real problem for the class.

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The whole "They were actually the <i>Revenge-class</i>" thing strikes me as Wikipedia pedantry. <i>The Engineer</i> thought that they were "Royal Sovereigns," and the whole "Rolling Ressies" thing implies "<i>Resolution</i>"-class, another alternative. 

 

As for scrapping pre-Dreadnoughts, warships are machines. They exist to be scrapped when they get too old to be repaired, or sunk, or become technologically obsolete. The issue is funding their replacements, so the <i>real</i> story of 1939 is that the British establishment is making the implicit decision to go from a 15 to a 20 battleship fleet, even if it hasn't admitted this to itself yet. (Notice that the Admiralty is in the middle of approving <i>Vanguard</i> right now. The Admiralty wants to push the annual class up from 2 to 3 in order to achieve the 20 ship fleet, giving a theoretical 1:1 ratio against the entire frigging Axis. Notice, though, that I say "theoretical.")

 

Now, I think it is pretty clear that the government would have recoiled from that decision once the manning implications became clear. So, at another level, the story is that too much money is letting people avoid hard decisions. But who knows? Maybe the hard decision would have been to allow the Royal Navy to enroll "lascars." Admiral of the Fleet Lord Wang of Kowloon, anyone?

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In my alternate history for my supers campaign, WW1 is referred to as The First Ten, aka the First Ten Year War.  The US never entered the war, the Mensheviks successfully repressed the Bolsheviks, the Brits withdrew from France in 1919 under immense public pressure, the French lost territory and were forced to make concessions to the exhausted Central Powers in an armistice deal.  The Ottoman Empire survived in a new form.  Corporal Adolf Hitler died from gas inhalation.  Cmdr. Goering was shot down over France. 

In the interwar period, The Russian Empire was taken over by a troika of Rasputin(an actual sorcerer with psychic powers and friends in dark places), Princess/Empress Anastasia Romanov, and upcoming General Georgi Zhukov.  Italy drifted toward fascism, and the movement later spread to Germany and Spain.  Japan, however, resisted the pull of militarism during the 20s and 30s, maintained a liberal stance, and softened their rule of Korea and Taiwan.  In the 1930s, the fascists won elections in Germany, and Manfred von Richtofen, "The Bloody Red Baron" became Chancellor.  The Chinese Nationalists, with support from the Russian Empire, took control of China and embraced Fascism.  In 1938, a secret pact was signed between Russia,Greater Germany(GrossDeutschland), Spain, China, Italy and the New Ottoman Dominion.  There was a second secret pact signed, but more on that later.

In France, following a long series of good will gestures from Germany, including the re-cession of captured territory, public sentiment was actually slightly favorable.  This contrasted with the French resentment towards the Brits for pulling out. 

When The Second Ten broke out, in early 1940, the UK sent the BEF to France.  Big mistake.  One morning the Brits woke up to find French bayonets and cannon pointed at them.  France declared war on Britain and allied with the Fascist Powers.  Virtually the entire BEF, including a sizable RAF contingent, was captured.  The Mediterranean was quickly cut off from British access.  The Battle of Britain turned out to be not much of one in this history, because, well, five air forces have a tendency to trump one.  Invasion followed in the spring of 1941, and by the end of the year the Isles were under Fascist domination.  Europe was unified, sort of, for the first time in history. 

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In my alternate history for my supers campaign, WW1 is referred to as The First Ten, aka the First Ten Year War.  The US never entered the war, the Mensheviks successfully repressed the Bolsheviks, the Brits withdrew from France in 1919 under immense public pressure, the French lost territory and were forced to make concessions to the exhausted Central Powers in an armistice deal.  The Ottoman Empire survived in a new form.  Corporal Adolf Hitler died from gas inhalation.  Cmdr. Goering was shot down over France. 

In the interwar period, The Russian Empire was taken over by a troika of Rasputin(an actual sorcerer with psychic powers and friends in dark places), Princess/Empress Anastasia Romanov, and upcoming General Georgi Zhukov.  Italy drifted toward fascism, and the movement later spread to Germany and Spain.  Japan, however, resisted the pull of militarism during the 20s and 30s, maintained a liberal stance, and softened their rule of Korea and Taiwan.  In the 1930s, the fascists won elections in Germany, and Manfred von Richtofen, "The Bloody Red Baron" became Chancellor.  The Chinese Nationalists, with support from the Russian Empire, took control of China and embraced Fascism.  In 1938, a secret pact was signed between Russia,Greater Germany(GrossDeutschland), Spain, China, Italy and the New Ottoman Dominion.  There was a second secret pact signed, but more on that later.

In France, following a long series of good will gestures from Germany, including the re-cession of captured territory, public sentiment was actually slightly favorable.  This contrasted with the French resentment towards the Brits for pulling out. 

When The Second Ten broke out, in early 1940, the UK sent the BEF to France.  Big mistake.  One morning the Brits woke up to find French bayonets and cannon pointed at them.  France declared war on Britain and allied with the Fascist Powers.  Virtually the entire BEF, including a sizable RAF contingent, was captured.  The Mediterranean was quickly cut off from British access.  The Battle of Britain turned out to be not much of one in this history, because, well, five air forces have a tendency to trump one.  Invasion followed in the spring of 1941, and by the end of the year the Isles were under Fascist domination.  Europe was unified, sort of, for the first time in history. 

 

That, uhm, that sounds like fun. Maybe needs Cthulhu being appeased by death camps or a bloated red sun hanging over a dying Earth, but otherwise I'm booking my vacation there right now!

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The whole "They were actually the <i>Revenge-class</i>" thing strikes me as Wikipedia pedantry. <i>The Engineer</i> thought that they were "Royal Sovereigns," and the whole "Rolling Ressies" thing implies "<i>Resolution</i>"-class, another alternative. 

 

As for scrapping pre-Dreadnoughts, warships are machines. They exist to be scrapped when they get too old to be repaired, or sunk, or become technologically obsolete. The issue is funding their replacements, so the <i>real</i> story of 1939 is that the British establishment is making the implicit decision to go from a 15 to a 20 battleship fleet, even if it hasn't admitted this to itself yet. (Notice that the Admiralty is in the middle of approving <i>Vanguard</i> right now. The Admiralty wants to push the annual class up from 2 to 3 in order to achieve the 20 ship fleet, giving a theoretical 1:1 ratio against the entire frigging Axis. Notice, though, that I say "theoretical.")

 

Now, I think it is pretty clear that the government would have recoiled from that decision once the manning implications became clear. So, at another level, the story is that too much money is letting people avoid hard decisions. But who knows? Maybe the hard decision would have been to allow the Royal Navy to enroll "lascars." Admiral of the Fleet Lord Wang of Kowloon, anyone?

The "didn't make it to WWI" Royal Sovereigns were the "Rolling Ressies". 2 made it to WWI, one was sunk and the other one was decomissioned in 1915. From what I read a good reason for decomissioning these older warships was the Need for Speed and the need for Bigger Guns. That coupled with new technologies to make torpedos less of a threat. So by 1936 those ships had been gone for such a long time that person in "The Engineer" would have been talking about another ship class. I thought that you would want to be plausable in your history. It doesn't really matter to me how you want to do things, but the link will send even a lay person like myself into wondering if they were talking about another class of ship entirely. YMMV

 

Hopefully this whole thing is just for you and the readers who actually are interested in such things. There's a lot of information and unless you are a history buff of the time period there isn't a lot that ties it all together. Perhaps pieces of your premise can come up in highly compressed form during the story. Just highlighting the differences that put your history on a different track. While this has been interesing. I got to the point where I just started to skim the whole thing. I think I comes down to "Show, don't tell". If you need this much exposition to set up your story then something is wrong.

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I picked "Rolling Ressies" up as a contemporary nickname for the R-class in the same number of The Engineer as announced that they were not going to be scrapped as the King George Vs came into service. I am fairly confident that it was a contemporary nickname for the five-ship 1915 class of 15" 20 knot battleships. 

 

You're perfectly correct that the entries tend to be long and the story buried. That's because they come from the "Techblogging" series at my professional blog. the framing story is already a pretty considerable indulgence. The techblogging is the point. The pulp story is buried in the details. The exercise here is "secret history," not "alternate history."

 

That being said, I appreciate the feedback. I am running on a bit. It's the danger of self-editing :winkgrin:

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I think I need to apologize about the tone of my last post. I think it may have been a bit more terse than I usually like to post. I think I was a bit cranky when I wrote it. I have been sick all week and I think some of that ugly feeling crept into my post.

I did enjoy the posts. I actually learned something (from exploring the Wikipedia links and the posts). I hope you keep posting them :D

Tasha

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