Chapter CXLIV: A Cooled Head in a Crisis Part I

El Pip

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Chapter CXLIV: A Cooled Head in a Crisis Part I.

The Cooling Crisis is a convenient shorthand to describe the throng of concerns and long standing issues that all came to a head inside the Air Ministry in the Summer of 1937, before overflowing into the wider government. It must also be admitted that while the challenges of cooling high powered aero-engines were the notional cause of the crisis they were not the issues at the heart of the matter, if they were then the entire affair would probably never have become a crisis; Like any government department worth its salt the Air Ministry preferred to keep problems 'in house' and would doubtless have kept the matter from rising to the attention of the cabinet if that had been at all possible. That they failed to do so is due to the far reaching tendrils of the affair, dragging in the Foreign and Dominion Offices and touching on the ever contentious issues around industrial policy. The roots of the technical and political problems went back many years, but the specific trigger was the problems with the Arctic version of the Handley Page Hampden bomber. The standard Hampden in RAF service used Bristol Pegasus engines and was serving well, there was little wrong with the basic airframe, or at least little wrong that wasn't well known; it's nickname of 'The Flying Suitcase' was not exactly a sign of affection from the aircrew who had to squeeze into it. The Arctic version, which had been sold to Sweden and then selected by the Royal Canadian Air Force as an interim until the Wellington became available, came with Napier Dagger engines and was leading a far more troubled life. As one would guess from the chapter title the Dagger engine had severe problems with cooling, managing the impressive feat of over-heating on the ground then being over-cooled and seizing up while flying at altitude. While the full extent of the problem had been kept hidden from the Swedes and Canadians they had become aware there was an issue and were growing impatient with the lack of information. By the summer of 1937 the Foreign and Dominion Offices became involved as the queries had reached the diplomatic level, the Foreign Office was quick to warn of the strategic and diplomatic consequences should the Swedes drop the deal and instead turn to German suppliers, while the Dominion Office fretted about the Canadians turning to US engine suppliers or worse just buying an entirely American design, finally the Board of Trade were quick to complain about the prospect of losing either deal and the negative consequences for future sales to anybody else. None of this political pressure actually helped solve the problem, but it did ensure that the cabinet was taking a close interest in the Air Ministry's efforts, which was unfortunate for them given what was to follow.

f4KiMxQ.jpg

The Napier H-24 Dagger VIII engine, as used in the Arctic Hampden, viewed from the supercharger end, the distinctive 'tall and narrow' profile of the H-block layout is apparent. Designed by Frank Halford the key feature of the Dagger was not it's air-cooling or the H-block layout but it's small power stroke and very fast spinning camshaft. Where other designers had sought extra engine power by making cylinders larger or just adding more of them, Halford had instead sought to increase revs, the Dagger running at 4,200 rpm for take-off where the Pegasus barely hit 2,500 rpm. The result was that that the 17L displacement Dagger produced the same power as the near 29L Pegasus, resulting in a more compact engine with considerably better fuel efficiency. The Achilles Heel of the Dagger was cooling, the earlier lower powered marks had just about managed reliable performance but managing the extra heat from the 1,000hp Mk.VIII would prove to be a far more difficult problem. As Napier specified ever larger ducts and intakes to try and stop the engine over-heating on the ground, they only made the over-cooling problem at altitude worse.

Technically speaking there was a very easy solution, take out the Dagger and put in the Pegasus engine from the RAF's version of the Hampden, just in case this proved necessary a number of engines from the Bristol production line were earmarked for the purpose. While the loss of range would be noticeable it was felt it wouldn't be enough for either customer to cancel the deal and the Pegasus itself was still being developed, so there was a small hope it would 'catch up' the difference by the time it came to deliver the final aircraft. It would however be an embarrassing to have to admit that the Dagger did not work as promised and failing to live up to the sales pitch would make future foreign sales trickier, hence the preferred solution was for Napier and Handley Page to properly fix the original design. This was where the real problems started, because the Air Ministry technical section was starting to have grave doubts that Napier had the capacity or even ability to do so. The high revving, H-block design concept was not a new idea, the Dagger was a development of the earlier and smaller Rapier engine and this was not a promising starting point. The Rapier had seen limited use, partly due to concerns over it's novelty but mostly because it proved to have terrible problems with cooling. To make matters worse for Napier they had inadvertently damaged their position with their planned follow up to the Dagger, provisionally called the Sabre, which they proposed should retain the same H-block layout and hi-revving concept but would be water cooled. Many in the Air Ministry saw that choice as an admission that either the Dagger's air-cooled approach was fundamentally flawed in some way or that Napier did not know what they were doing with air cooling. Neither option appealed, nor did the possibility that both answers were correct.

UIHcOAL.jpg

The Fairey Seafox prototype undergoing trials, note the 'tall and narrow' profile of the nose which indicates the presence of a H-block engine, in this case the Napier Rapier. Developed as a spotter-reconnaissance floatplane for the Royal Navy's light cruisers the Seafox was one of the last Fleet Air Arm aircraft to result from an Air Ministry specification and selection. As the Seafox was the only production aircraft to use the Rapier it fell to the FAA to deal with the problems of that engine, not least it's chronic cooling problems and the lack of power compared to what had been promised. While the Fairey airframe proved robust and manoeuvrable the Fifth Sea Lord began to suspect the FAA had been sold a pup with the engine, which to a large extent they had been. Strictly speaking there was no need for the Seafox at all, the FAA could just have procured more of their standard float planes, but the Air Ministry had wished to 'spread the work around' to Fairey, and especially to Napier, so had pushed the design through. The Admiralty vigorously indicating their unwillingness to receive sub-standard machinery just to help the industrial planning requirements of the Air Ministry would be one of the spicier strands of the Crisis.

While officialdom losing faith in their ability was a serious problem for Napier, who were almost completely dependent on military contracts for their survival, it was also a serious embarrassment for the Air Ministry, because Napier was an 'approved firm' and a member of the Ring. The Ring was the Air Ministry's scheme for maintaining capacity in the aircraft industry, after a shake-out in the immediate post-Great War period the industry had stabilised around a few key firms that the Ministry wished to see stay in the business of military aircraft and was prepared to support with orders and contracts to ensure that they did. The Ring can be seen as similar to the various Admiralty schemes to mothball and retain capacity for armour plate and large calibre gun construction, like their naval counterparts the Air Ministry sought to retain both design and production capacity and to keep research and development progressing even if it was not justifiable on purely commercial grounds. It is interesting to note at this point that the Army had no such scheme for tank or armoured vehicle manufacturers, it was the private sector efforts of Vickers and a few other key firms that kept that industry alive, a striking example of the defence priorities of successive governments.

The Air Ministry Ring of Approved Engine Manufacturers
  • Armstrong Siddeley
  • Bristol
  • De Havilland
  • Napier
  • Rolls Royce
Notes;
(1) There was a separate Ring for airframe manufactures
(2) Some entities (Bristol, De Havilland and the Armstrong group) appeared on both lists, but significantly some did not.

Napier had earned their place in the Ring on the strength of the superlative Lion engine, a masterpiece of no-compromise design produced by one of the greatest engine designers of his generation, Arthur Rowledge. Boasting the bold choice of a W-12 configuration the Lion had incorporated countless advanced or innovative features and would find it's way into over 160 aircraft types, including dozens of RAF types, and would at various points power the Schneider Trophy winner and the World Land Speed and World Water Speed record holders. There were but two problems; firstly the Lion had been designed in 1917 so by the mid-1930s it was thoroughly obsolete and secondly Rowledge had long since left Napier to work for Rolls Royce, taking most of his design team with him. To be blunt it was dawning on the Air Ministry that Napier had designed a grand total of three engines since Rowledge had departed the firm in 1922 and none of them had actually worked properly. From a certain perspective this was not actually a problem, one of the justifications for the Ring was to provide the stability and support for engine manufacturers to develop new concepts without being afraid that failure would bankrupt them. As not every new idea would work out as hoped the Air Ministry would end up backing ideas that 'failed' and the manufacturer should not be punished for this. The counter-argument was that fifteen years support was surely enough time for Napier to have produced something valuable, even the incredibly complex sleeve valve project had only take Bristol five years to (mostly) get the hang of.

2oSBFfy.jpg

The racing power boat Miss Britain III being lowered into Poole Water prior to a race in 1933. At the heart of the aluminium clad hull sat a single Napier Lion VIID engine, the ultimate racing variant of the design and the last great hurrah of Sir Montague Napier before his death. Through supercharging and careful tuning the Napier engineers had coaxed 1,350hp out of the engine, a staggering figure when one considered the standard Lion in RAF service managed a shade under 500hp, though in fairness the engine could only manage such outputs briefly before needing an overhaul. While Miss Britain III would narrowly lose the Harmworth Trophy she would go on to win many races both in the UK and abroad, not least the prestigious Count Volpi Trophy in Venice, embarrassing Mussolini and the Regia Marina sponsored Italian entrants. These victories, and the many other triumphs for Lion powered craft on land, sea and air, had helped to mask the failure of Napier to successfully develop any sort of replacement engine. Alongside the troubled Dagger and Rapier they had also produced the mostly pointless Javelin, intended for the light aircraft market only a handful were sold as their intended customers chose the more powerful and more reliable Gypsy Six engine from De Havilland.

While this debate continued within the technical section of the Air Ministry the more urgent question of how to fix the Dagger was being considered. The Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough were asked to look at it, but the Air Ministry decided to bring in some industry expertise as well. With Rolls Royce and Bristol considered too busy on other vital projects the obvious choice from the Ring was Armstrong Siddeley Motors (ASM), the firm had experience of air cooled engines and as part of the Hakwer-Siddeley grouping had a wise range of other expertise they could draw on. Unfortunately for the Air Ministry this approach did not help with the Dagger problem, instead it brought to the surface the problems that ASM were having with their new engine designs which, with a grim sense of inevitability, it soon emerged were related to cooling. As mentioned ASM were thought to be knowledgeable about this matter, they owed their place in the Ring not to a single great engine but a large family of good ones, the 'big cat' air cooled radials. So large and successful was that family of engines that the designers ran out of actual big cat names to use, for instance the 5 cylinder Mongoose engine gave good service in the RAF's training aircraft and shared many details and parts with it's larger brethren, but a Mongoose is at best a cat-like creature. Names were not the only thing that the 'big cat' engine family was running out of however, far more seriously the basic design was also reaching the limit of it's development by the early 1930s, in particular the lack of a central bearing between the two rows of the larger engine was proving a major bottleneck to further increases in either cylinder volume or RPM, the two main methods of increasing an engines power.

Recognising this the company had started developing it's next generation of engines, the dog family, which for our purposes began with the Hyena. The Hyena's 15 cylinders were arranged in three rows of five, three rows not being unusual enough the designers had then arranged the cylinders of each row inline behind the first row. Conventionally in a two row engine the two rows were staggered, to maximise the possible air flow and ensure the first row did not block air flow to the second row. This was impractical for a three row engine so ASM made a virtue of necessity and adopted the in line approach, vastly simplifying the valve and cam arrangements and relying on careful ducting and baffling to achieve the required cooling. While the Hyena itself encountered serious problems during testing the basic concept was promising enough to get an Air Ministry development contract for an improved version, the 21 cylinder Deerhound, which was projected to be capable of 1,500hp. Work had started in late 1935 and the Air Ministry had the engine tagged as an alternative/backup for the Bristol Hercules as part of their portfolio approach to engine development which required that any important engine programme should always have at least one backup. By mid 1937 the Deerhound prototypes were running and encountering problems with cooling, the airflow over the rear most row of cylinders was far too low and they were over-heating. It was at this point that the Air Ministry approached ASM asking for help with the Dagger issue, prompting the panic in certain parts of the Ministry to rise another few notches as it appeared that another member of the Ring was also unable to properly cool their engines. Proper investigation would eventually reveal a subtly different problem, namely a disconnect between the engineers at ASM (who, based on the problems encountered with Hyena, wanted the Deerhound to be water cooled) and the management (who wanted it to be air cooled, because they knew that was the configuration the Air Ministry would prefer if the Deerhound was to be backup for the equally air cooled Bristol Hercules). That the Air Ministry technical section had not flagged this up prior to the Deerhound being approved became another concern to add to the pile, but in the short term the Ministry still had the Dagger issue to solve so turned to the next member of the Ring, De Havilland.

JxAyt8J.jpg

The only application of the Armstrong Siddeley Hyena engine, the Armstrong Whitworth A.W.16 fighter, the distinctive 'air holes' in the nose line up with the cylinders behind and were intended to channel the cooling air to where it was needed. It must be noted that the Hyena was only fitted as an experiment to trial the engine, the standard hyena had conventional Panther engines. The A.W.16 failed to find favour with the RAF and instead found it's niche in China, the Hong Kong based Far Eastern Aviation Company selling 16 of them to the Kwangsi Air Force in the early 1930s, Kwangsi perhaps being more commonly known as the Guangxi Clique. Keen biologists may note that the Hyena, despite appearances and reputation, is technically a member of the cat family and is classified as Feliformia or cat-like. Some have suggested this is deliberate by ASM, the name chosen to represent the transition between cat and dog. While this is an elegant suggestion there is the slight flaw that ASM's first dog engine was actually the Mastiff, a heavily modified Tiger engine used to test various metallurgical and design concepts and so would have very much suited the name Hyena. A more relevant parallel is perhaps the one between ASM's understanding of taxonomy and their understanding of air-cooled engines, in both cases they had a decent understanding of the basics but were unaware of all the details and that occasionally led them into error.

De Havilland's place in the engine Ring was a slightly odd one at first glance, at this point their most powerful engine was the then brand new 425hp V-12 Gipsy King which developed enough power for the new Albatross Airliner and other commercial aircraft, but was deeply inadequate for any fighter or bomber with pretensions of being competitive. The explanation was that De Havilland's engines were widely used by the utility, communication and above all training aircraft of the RAF, roles were power was relatively unimportant but reliability, ease of maintenance and low cost were crucial. Naturally this meant De Havilland engines were all air cooled, that being the cheap and low maintenance option, so there was a certain logic in the Air Ministry turning to them. This was not the only reason however, it is apparent there was considerable concern about how competent the firms of the Ring actually were, with doubts circling around both Napier and Armstrong Siddeley, so bringing in De Havilland was also a chance to find out how wide spread the problem was. It is instructive to note that at no stage were doubts about Bristol or Rolls Royce expressed, Bristol's extensive track record of sales and licensing of air cooled engines being an eloquent enough defence of their skills, while the technical expertise of Rolls Royce was so taken for granted that no-one even thought to ask. As the De Havilland team got to work they essentially ignored the engine itself and focused on the installation, taking the Arctic Hampden trial aircraft and adjusting the exhaust and cooling outtakes on the wings. To the considerable surprise of the representatives from the Air Ministry these seemingly small tweaks worked, while the Dagger-engined Hampdens would never break records for reliability they would be good enough and that was all that was required. The explanation from De Havilland was quite simple, in their view cooling was not a problem of trying to force air into the front of the engine but about keeping the air pressure low at the exit, provided that was done correctly it would pull through the required volume of air. This implied that Napier, who had been focused on trying to control how much air went into the engine, had been looking at the wrong end of the problem for about a decade. Damning as that was on Napier, the Air Ministry realised that they had also failed to spot this issue despite it apparently being well known in the wider industry.

tBZbQqV.jpg

The Armstrong Whitworth A.W.38 Whitely shown in 'level' flight, it's distinctive nose-down angle being a feature of the design. The chief designer of the Whitley had been entirely unaware of the possibility of fitting flaps to the wings, so had instead just angled the entire wing down by 8º to achieve the same aerodynamic effect. While this did ensure the aircraft had a safe landing speed and could fit on the standard RAF runway, it did result in the aircraft flying with the same 8º down angle line of flight. While flaps were added to the design after initial testing the wings were never adjusted and remained angled on the production aircraft. This failure did not just result in a mildly ridiculous looking aircraft, but one that had considerably more drag than it should and so a lower top speed and shorter range. As the Air Ministry grappled with questions of how to share knowledge throughout the industry the example of the Whitely served as a reminder that similar issues afflicted the airframe design side of the industry.

While the nominal issue had been solved and the Arctic Hampden would go on to give entirely adequate service, it had left behind a string of problems that had managed to rise to the political level. While most of the cabinet were happy to move on once the panic had been solved, the Treasury and the Minister for Defence Co-ordination remained interested in aviation affairs. The Treasury were concerned that the Ring had been a waste of money, funding firms for not obvious benefit, and wanted to make sure there was some reform of the scheme to stop that happening again, Defence Co-ordination merely spotted a chance to expand their influence and leapt on it. As mentioned previously the Admiralty were no longer willing to accept 'bad' aircraft because the Air Ministry needed to keep the Ring in business, yet there clearly was a need to keep valuable defence industries supported during the lean times. Who better than an independent ministry, like the MoDC, to mediate the demands of the Air Ministry and Fleet Air Arm and oversee a co-ordinated policy? While the Air Ministry civil servants started a strong counter-attack to prevent this bureaucratic land grab, finding temporary allies in the Fleet Air Arm who had no desire to lose the control they had only just gained, the Air Board grappled with the actual problems thrown up by the Crisis. As they saw it there were three issues that needed dealing with;
  1. Which firms should be in the Ring
  2. How to properly disseminate knowledge and research around the industry
  3. How to stop the Admiralty disrupting the Ring and duplicating their efforts
Notably absent from this list is any discussion on whether the entire Ring concept should be re-considered, the Air Ministry had very rapidly decided that the basic idea was correct and all that was required was some tweaking and not anything precipitate or dramatic. However they would soon discover that even these deliberately limited aims would throw up some unfortunate discoveries and tricky decisions.

---
Notes:
A few thousand words on engine design and British aero-industry industrial policy. I considered just ploughing on through to what the Air Ministry will do about the problem, but I decided this had got long enough so you have a Part 2 to look forward to. You may, or may not, have noticed a lot more pictures in this one, it is a slight tweak to the format so any comment on that would be appreciated, even if it is just to say you hadn't noticed anything different.

The actual engine problems are all OTL, but the crisis was not. The Dagger engined Hampden (or Hereford as it was called in OTL) did not work very well, but as it was only ever in RAF service, and only ordered in case of a shortfall in Pegasus engine production (which never occurred), they just cancelled the order and converted them across to standard Hampdens. In Butterfly I think I have explained why that is not an option and so when various non-technical people start looking around they do notice a great many engine companies seemingly struggling with engine cooling and over-react, as the Air Ministry often did. They were a bit highly strung and prone to panics, which probably made it a tense place to work but overall they were probably one of the better inter-war ministries, certainly compared to say the French or German air departments. The Ring was of course OTL and there are a few questionable aircraft and indeed engine decisions they made that only make sense once you know they were trying to keep certain firms in business, the Seafox being just one example of their use of the Fleet Air Arm as a handy dumping ground for such aircraft. This is no longer an option and that will cause problems, as we shall see.

Napier are an odd bunch, a bit more on them in Part 2 as they fight to stay in the Ring, but they appear to have not really recovered from Rowledge leaving the firm. Because Rowledge really was that good, at Rolls Royce he would do Kestrel, Buzzard, the 'R' racing engine and a great deal of work on the Merlin, we are just around the time when you start to need teams to do engine work so it was not all him, but as started he did take his team with him when he left Napier so it was a hell of a blow. They had enough left to continue to tweak the Lion engine and it was a record breaking monster, but they struggled with a replacement. I quite like the dock photo with Miss Britain III in it and power boat racing / world water speed records seemed to excite the public imagination a lot more in the 30s than now.

So we come to Armstrong Siddeley Motors and our discussion on taxonomy. Hyenas are indeed part of the cat family, or cat-like feliformia should one wish to be precise. Morphologically (that is bodily structures and appearance) wise they do definitely look like dogs, but phylogenetically (that is the actual DNA and evolutionary relationship) they are much closer to cats, they also have a great many behaviours around parenting, marking territory and so on which are more feline-esque. As noted it would therefore be absolutely ideal for ASM to have used that name for their experimental transitionary engine, the one in between the 'big cat' and the 'dog' engines and had traits of both, but alas the opportunity was missed. One the actual engines, ASM did good but not amazing designs, the larger ones mostly ended up in Armstrong Whitworth and Avro designs (because all three companies were part of the same group), but they also provided a great many small low power engines for trainers, etc. The problems with Deerhound are OTL and best I can tell the engineers knew they had a problem, but management was telling the Air Ministry what the civil servants wanted to hear to get the contract. I suspect it was a corporate infighting issue as well, right around the time Deerhound got the development contract the bigger Hawker merger/takeover was happening, so a nice big contract win would help convince Hawker management to keep the engine division going. No proof of that, but it seems plausible to me. In any event it has now gone wrong and the Air Ministry are staring at them asking awkward questions (because the Air Ministry is also being asked awkward questions in Whitehall and wants to share the pain around).

De Havilland's fix for the Dagger is actually OTL, because in OTL the Dagger also ended up in the Hawker Hector biplane and didn't work their either. Here Churchill killed the biplanes, so the Hector never happened so wasn't mentioned. When De Havilland got asked to look at the Dagger they focused on the out-takes, pulling air out not trying to force it in, certainly that approach makes sense to me - if the way out is constricted then the airflow is always going to be limited. That also allows for the intakes to be made a bit smaller and so also help the over cooling at height issue (over cooling is when the engine oil drops below minimum temperature and becomes too thick to flow properly, so the engine is no longer properly lubricated). I don't think it's enough to make the Dagger a wonder engine, but it will make it good enough that the deals can go through, after all by definition most engines will be average.

We've mentioned the Whitley before and frankly it is a bit ridiculous that no-one thought to fix the wing at some point. That said it was ordered in a mad hurry, one of the first 'off the drawing board' orders the RAF made, they had committed to buying 80 around a year before the first prototype had even flown. I imagine the RAF looked at the time required to change the wing, re-run the flight trials, change the jigs in the factory, and realised that if they wanted a 'modern' heavy bomber in service quickly it was this or nothing. However the general point stands, someone should have tapped the designer on the shoulder and told him that flaps in wings were a thing he could do. What the Air Ministry needs to do is work out how to do that, because no-one on their side had noticed it either when they were looking at the drawings.
 
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El Pip

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Kurtie is why we can't have nice things. But it would be unfair to punish everyone for his crimes, so here we are. Update below, comment response below,

Which impudent upstarts are impinging on such hallowed ground, and where may we find them that we may picket their offices and protest with vigorous chanting and drunken singing?
Frankly that is the only acceptable response and I am glad you are imposing it.
Unless there has been a funny mood overtaking the boards recently that I’m not aware of, I have a suspicion that Pip may be referring to my as-yet-unpublished forays into the heady world of socialist rice cultivation and its implications for Cold War diplomacy. In which case, picketing and singing may be directed towards the link in my signature.
That and trying to make a scandal involving Leyland buses relevant, which you openly admit is an attempt to transgress upon my turf.
I note that you politely decline the chanting, while arguably the least important facet of a protest it is still quite important and I insist on selling you the complete package before we strike a deal.
If you insist, I shall not object to receipt of the complete package.
Standards must be maintained.
DYAEiOu.gif

No update. Shame on your, sir.
We were waiting for the top of the page, as you should well know by now Kurtie. /glares/
I'm pretty sure it isn't me...this time. Probably one of the godless socialists then.
For once you are innocent. Or at least have managed to leave no evidence of your crimes, which is basically the same thing.
My first thought was 'OK, now you're exaggerating - I don't think that actually works'. Then I double-checked the definitions and once again El Pip's genius stands untarnished. Let this post stand as penance for my lack of faith.
Let us see if this reaction withstands you reading the update, hopefully it does.
Also, next post is the top of the page chaps. Let none save Pip tread this hallowed ground, lest we all be condemned to twenty more posts with no update.
This was a noble gesture and it was appreciated, till a certain long standing member ruined it. And for once it wasn't TBC, which was surprising.
My first thought was "darn it, El Pip has been abducted by sir Humphrey Appebly".
Sir H would never abduct someone who so respects his methods and philosophy.
As the word "impudent" includes the "pud" part in it, and it makes me remember of a Catalan word, "pudor" (that is, "bad smell"), and "dent", which in Catalan it's a word that means "tooth" and I'm having troubles today with some emission of winds from the lower and backwards part of my body due to some rotten thing I've eaten, and this twice use of Catalan words (being Catalan myself), I would guess that this could be a secret Pippian's way to refer to me, even if I wouldn't dare to hollow hallowed grounds because normally I have an odd tendency of getting silly ideas (out of their usual proportion, it must be added) while being there. Like this paragraph, that has not being conceived neither in hallowed grounds nor after a drinking excess, however.

Which makes me wonder if El Pip got wind of my stomachal winds (awful pun intended). If so, my apologies, Mr Pip, for any damage suffered by your nose. Blame the chef, not me.
Fortunately this did not happen, but I shall retain the apology for later use.
 
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DensleyBlair

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That and trying to make a scandal involving Leyland buses relevant, which you openly admit is an attempt to transgress upon my turf.
The (real-life historical) scandal involving Leyland buses is very relevant, but you may be satisfied to learn I have since changed it in nature so that Leyland are no longer involved. In any case, when you see the chapter I think you will realise just how tongue-in-cheek my claims of attempting to step on your patch were. :)

I will need a clearer head than I currently possess to digest this new update with anything like the attention it deserves, but I will say off the bat that the pictures look very nice indeed. If you hadn’t pointed out that there were more than usual, I probably would not have commented (or indeed realised that to be the case) but I am a fan of generous illustration of technical topics, so consider this a vote in favour of more pictures.
 
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The problem is that Paradox doesn't say "you are going to mess it, that's the end of the page". And I always forget to take a look after I post. Masterful pieces doesn't need revision.
 
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I for one liked having more pictures, I think it was helpful to have something to look at since what I know about engines could be written on a postcard. Bring on part two!
 
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For once you are innocent. Or at least have managed to leave no evidence of your crimes, which is basically the same thing.
Legally, and I suppose morally, that is correct.

This whole affair, it remainds me...

Of the nationalisation of the rail network

(Flees into the night)
 
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in the Summer of 1937,
I swear we are actually moving backward in time now. This is not a complaint rather an observation.

By the summer of 1937 the Foreign and Dominion Offices became involved as the queries had reached the diplomatic level, the Foreign Office was quick to warn of the strategic and diplomatic consequences should the Swedes drop the deal and instead turn to German suppliers,
Ah, yes, the diplomatic consequences of allowing the Swedes to purchase over-engineered, excessively-complicated planes built with an unclear sense of mission and an overwhelming desire to inflate a fat man's ego. In the long run one could argue that letting the Swedes turn to the Germans would be a diplomatic coup, really.

The Achilles Heel of the Dagger was cooling, the earlier lower powered marks had just about managed reliable performance but managing the extra heat from the 1,000hp Mk.VIII would prove to be a far more difficult problem.
A problem to be replicated by the computer chip industry several decades later. They really ought to emphasize cooling in the engineering schools and not so much this unimportant drivel about pleasing customers and optimizing profits.

It is interesting to note at this point that the Army had no such scheme for tank or armoured vehicle manufacturers, it was the private sector efforts of Vickers and a few other key firms that kept that industry alive, a striking example of the defence priorities of successive governments.
One observes that the manufacturers will keep up on their own provided that there is a profit to be made, clearly then the answer is to continually declare war on small countries in underdeveloped continents to inflate the demand for tanks. And other things too I suppose.

Unfortunately for the Air Ministry this approach did not help with the Dagger problem, instead it brought to the surface the problems that ASM were having with their new engine designs which, with a grim sense of inevitability, it soon emerged were related to cooling.
Consistent cooling problems sounds reminiscent of Hell, a comparison certain not to be lost on those of the Air Ministry with the wherewithal to draw the connection.

As the De Havilland team got to work they essentially ignored the engine itself and focused on the installation, taking the Arctic Hampden trial aircraft and adjusting the exhaust and cooling outtakes on the wings. To the considerable surprise of the representatives from the Air Ministry these seemingly small tweaks worked, while the Dagger-engined Hampdens would never break records for reliability they would be good enough and that was all that was required. The explanation from De Havilland was quite simple, in their view cooling was not a problem of trying to force air into the front of the engine but about keeping the air pressure low at the exit, provided that was done correctly it would pull through the required volume of air. This implied that Napier, who had been focused on trying to control how much air went into the engine, had been looking at the wrong end of the problem for about a decade. Damning as that was on Napier, the Air Ministry realised that they had also failed to spot this issue despite it apparently being well known in the wider industry.
This ought to have been obvious, this is engineering after all not Mary Poppins' handbag.

he chief designer of the Whitley had been entirely unaware of the possibility of fitting flaps to the wings, so had instead just angled the entire wing down by 8º to achieve the same aerodynamic effect.
This seems like the sort of thing a chief designer of aircraft ought to have been aware of, certainly wing flaps are not a new invention even in the heady days of the 1930s.

The Treasury were concerned that the Ring had been a waste of money, funding firms for not obvious benefit, and wanted to make sure there was some reform of the scheme to stop that happening again, Defence Co-ordination merely spotted a chance to expand their influence and leapt on it.
There are two kinds of government agencies. Tellingly, neither sort is known for its efficacy.

A few thousand words on engine design and British aero-industry industrial policy. I considered just ploughing on through to what the Air Ministry will do about the problem, but I decided this had got long enough so you have a Part 2 to look forward to. You may, or may not, have noticed a lot more pictures in this one, it is a slight tweak to the format so any comment on that would be appreciated, even if it is just to say you hadn't noticed anything different.
I had hardly noticed anything different until it was pointed out in the comments, although I will say the update felt a bit longer and wordier than usual but this is only to be expected on occasion. I will say that the overarching thread of narrative - not to be confused of course with plot - was perhaps a bit lost on occasion beneath the mounds of detail, though the end result was a suitable entry into the series all the same.

we are just around the time when you start to need teams to do engine work so it was not all him,
This is unfortunately always the way of the world. A handful of brilliant minds have the good fortune to be around at the right time to invent some exciting new field, then once they have figured out all of the basics everything else becomes bloody teamwork. Sadly, this is only bloody in the expletive rather than literal sense in far more cases than it ought to be.

What the Air Ministry needs to do is work out how to do that, because no-one on their side had noticed it either when they were looking at the drawings.
I might recommend glasses. More of the eye sort, and fewer of the whisky sort.
 
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I am glad that I waited to take that one in, because it was both very dense and very interesting. I can sort of see how it might be relevant to anything like a wider narrative arc, but I also know that is not a question that it is polite to bring up. So I will simply sit back and enjoy this nice write-up about planes.

While Miss Britain III would narrowly lose the Harmworth Trophy she would go on to win many races both in the UK and abroad, not least the prestigious Count Volpi Trophy in Venice
In my frame of reference, the Volpi Cup is something you win at the Venice Film Festival, so it is intriguing to learn that the count obviously had his fingers in many pies.

tBZbQqV.jpg

The Armstrong Whitworth A.W.38 Whitely shown in 'level' flight, it's distinctive nose-down angle being a feature of the design.
You know you have a bad (?) plane when even an idiot like me can look at it and think, that is one shonky looking machine.
 

Killerduck

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I'm too tired (and ignorant) to say something interesting, but I liked the update and pictures (which are pretty).

Other than that, after recent wiki binge reading on British prewar and early war planes I grew quite fond of Whitley and its weird tint while flying.
 
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As people may (or may not) have noticed real life has been most distracting and I've fallen behind with everything on this forum, not least responding to comments. I've managed to carve out a bit of time to start writing and Part II is going well, but I feel I should probably clear the decks and address the comments from Part I before everyone forgets what was in it.

The problem is that Paradox doesn't say "you are going to mess it, that's the end of the page". And I always forget to take a look after I post. Masterful pieces doesn't need revision.
This is just one of the many issues with the forum software. Not the most serious, but definitely a problem.

I for one liked having more pictures, I think it was helpful to have something to look at since what I know about engines could be written on a postcard. Bring on part two!
I think I shall definitely be going for more pictures going forward.

Legally, and I suppose morally, that is correct.

This whole affair, it remainds me...

Of the nationalisation of the rail network
That is quite the impressive leap. Though sadly we shall have to at least tangentially touch on such questions in Part II.

(Flees into the night)
<<He'll Be Back Meme.GIF>>

I swear we are actually moving backward in time now. This is not a complaint rather an observation.
Still floating around the long Summer of 1937.
Ah, yes, the diplomatic consequences of allowing the Swedes to purchase over-engineered, excessively-complicated planes built with an unclear sense of mission and an overwhelming desire to inflate a fat man's ego. In the long run one could argue that letting the Swedes turn to the Germans would be a diplomatic coup, really.
You say that, but a Hampden cost about £20,000 to the RAF and the Swedes wanted to buy at least 70. Even if they just go for licence production that is still a massive sack of cash and so worth a bit of extra work for the diplomats.

A problem to be replicated by the computer chip industry several decades later. They really ought to emphasize cooling in the engineering schools and not so much this unimportant drivel about pleasing customers and optimizing profits.
You will never get anywhere by pleasing customers it is true.
One observes that the manufacturers will keep up on their own provided that there is a profit to be made, clearly then the answer is to continually declare war on small countries in underdeveloped continents to inflate the demand for tanks. And other things too I suppose.
Alas the British had carried out a similar plan so successfully that weren't that many small under-developed countries left, certainly none that had good terrain for tanks in. But other than that, solid plan.

Consistent cooling problems sounds reminiscent of Hell, a comparison certain not to be lost on those of the Air Ministry with the wherewithal to draw the connection.
Well cooling was a dark art so the demonic connection is not unjustified.
This ought to have been obvious, this is engineering after all not Mary Poppins' handbag.
This is the bit I find least surprising, I have on occasion spend a bit too long wrestling with the details of a problem only to step back and realise I have in fact been looking at it from the wrong perspective. Or worse had someone else come along and point that out to me. Once you have found an engineering problem it can be far too easy to try and solve it without taking the time to check you are actually trying to solve the correct issue.
This seems like the sort of thing a chief designer of aircraft ought to have been aware of, certainly wing flaps are not a new invention even in the heady days of the 1930s.
This did surprise me a bit. He had done small aircraft with flaps, but I think the designer got a bit nervous about how they fitted onto a big metal monoplane wing and (knowing he had no time for prototypes as it was 'off the drawing board' design) played a bit safe. Would have been better if he hadn't and, in fairness, he did learn his lesson and add flaps later and to all his subsequent designs.
There are two kinds of government agencies. Tellingly, neither sort is known for its efficacy.
They would hardly be government agencies if they were.
I had hardly noticed anything different until it was pointed out in the comments, although I will say the update felt a bit longer and wordier than usual but this is only to be expected on occasion. I will say that the overarching thread of narrative - not to be confused of course with plot - was perhaps a bit lost on occasion beneath the mounds of detail, though the end result was a suitable entry into the series all the same.
I did cut out some chunks that had got overly self-indulgent on the detail and I suppose I could have cut out a bit more, it is a sad truth that editing to remove bits rarely makes a piece worse. Part II will have less technical detail and a bit more plot progress narrative coherence things actually changing, not just detail on what has happened and problems being set up. That at least is the hope.
This is unfortunately always the way of the world. A handful of brilliant minds have the good fortune to be around at the right time to invent some exciting new field, then once they have figured out all of the basics everything else becomes bloody teamwork. Sadly, this is only bloody in the expletive rather than literal sense in far more cases than it ought to be.
Truth.
I might recommend glasses. More of the eye sort, and fewer of the whisky sort.
This is dangerous talk and it is unlikely to catch on inside the Ministry.

I am glad that I waited to take that one in, because it was both very dense and very interesting. I can sort of see how it might be relevant to anything like a wider narrative arc, but I also know that is not a question that it is polite to bring up. So I will simply sit back and enjoy this nice write-up about planes.
Such linking to the wider arc is the meat of Part II. Sort of. Hopefully. Probably.
In my frame of reference, the Volpi Cup is something you win at the Venice Film Festival, so it is intriguing to learn that the count obviously had his fingers in many pies.
Indeed he did. The film festival and the motorboat racing contests were both ways to draw tourists to Venice where he had several large hotels and a casino. Here is a nice Pathe film of the Speedboat race, some interesting looking craft racing around Venice lagoon; Speed Boat race, 1937 Style

Or, if that is a bit rapid paced, a slightly gentler Gondola vs Punt race from the 1920s - Because it is terribly easy to lose far too much time looking at old Pathe newsreels.

You know you have a bad (?) plane when even an idiot like me can look at it and think, that is one shonky looking machine.
It was not the best plane the RAF ever had. Sometimes the bold choice to order from a drawing alone works and you get something amazing, and sometimes you really wish you had made a prototype to fix the horrible problems. This was definitely at the latter end of that scale.

I'm too tired (and ignorant) to say something interesting, but I liked the update and pictures (which are pretty).
This is all I can really ask for and thank you for making the time to comment. :)
Other than that, after recent wiki binge reading on British prewar and early war planes I grew quite fond of Whitley and its weird tint while flying.
There is a certain charm to it. Some of the photos give the impression that the aircraft is really quite tired but is trying really hard to keep going because it knows there is a war on. This may just be the effects of writing this too late at night as that's the only quiet time I get these days.
 
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That is quite the impressive leap. Though sadly we shall have to at least tangentially touch on such questions in Part II.
We continue the trend of me being oddly correct, albeit for entirely the wrong reasons.
<<He'll Be Back Meme.GIF>>
Naturally. Who else will provide the official summary of events of 1938 in...oo...about 5 years?
 
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So you're saying Sweden and Portugal weren't major producers of Tungsten? Let this be a reminder that quite a few HOI3 strategic resources are in the wrong place...

I'm pleased to return from my health-related hiatus to find not one but two updates to this AAR. Impressive. The whole debacle about Calcium-carbide is rather amusing, but in the end the conflicting interests of the banks and the industry lobby have secured not one but two sources of the stuff. One domestic, and one in Norway, but under British control. I'm sure there will be no worries about the wartime provisioning of CaC2.

On the issue of air-cooled aviation engines, I'm impressed at just how far they managed to go without introducing liquid cooling systems. Between the bodged vents to cool the Napier engine and the AW38's lack of flaps, I'm somewhat baffled by just how much the industry's understanding of aerodynamics and airflow evolved throughout the war. Of course, if the trailblazers who figured these things out had somehow been brought into contact with the compagnies who lagged behind before things started to go wrong. Well, hindsight is 20/20.

I do find the idea of the 'ring' rather interesting, even if quite dirigiste, it does guarantee the Air Ministry a choice between different domestic designs during peacetime (as long as the losers get some scraps), and during wartime, it means that there are more companies around to ramp up production. As we've seen OTL, British aeroplane production during the battle of Britain was impressive to say the least. If these pre-war protectionist measures had not been in place, one wonders whether sufficient trained workers and engineers would have been found for such a rapid ramp-up in production.
 
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One domestic, and one in Norway, but under British control. I'm sure there will be no worries about the wartime provisioning of CaC2.
I doubt it. We have, in a truly magnificent summary, seen that (in the game at least), the british at sea always win, have some destroyers damaged in exchange for damaging the whole of the other fleet, plus destroying the enemy flagship.

This happens in every battle without fail, so given the german propensity for naval warfare, we may have won the surface naval war by the middle of the first month of it begining.

Even passing over the game itself (which I suspect we will), Norway will...hopefully...be a bit better defended (that is to say, defended at all) by the allies come the war.
Hindsight is 20/20.

I do find the idea of the 'ring' rather interesting, even if quite dirigiste, it does guarantee the Air Ministry a choice between different domestic designs during peacetime (as long as the losers get some scraps), and during wartime, it means that there are more companies around to ramp up production. As we've seen OTL, British aeroplane production during the battle of Britain was impressive to say the least. If these pre-war protectionist measures had not been in place, one wonders whether sufficient trained workers and engineers would have been found for such a rapid ramp-up in production.
Well, it worked in its main aim, which was having loads and loads of factories to crank out aircraft, and thus making the entire process as cheap as it possibly could be. We are still talking a great deal of money but they did well enough economising it that a single spitfire was cheap enough that the general public could fund one through charitable donations.

Not that period of UK governance cared, but it was also a goldmine of aerospace industry goodness, that properly tended to, could have (should have?) dominated the western Market for a long time after the war too.
 
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El Pip

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We continue the trend of me being oddly correct, albeit for entirely the wrong reasons.

Naturally. Who else will provide the official summary of events of 1938 in...oo...about 5 years?
5 real time years to get to the end of 1938 you think? I like the optimism but 1938 will be a busy year so I wouldn't count on it.

So you're saying Sweden and Portugal weren't major producers of Tungsten? Let this be a reminder that quite a few HOI3 strategic resources are in the wrong place...
Such a failure of Paradox research is a shock I know. ;)
I'm pleased to return from my health-related hiatus to find not one but two updates to this AAR. Impressive. The whole debacle about Calcium-carbide is rather amusing, but in the end the conflicting interests of the banks and the industry lobby have secured not one but two sources of the stuff. One domestic, and one in Norway, but under British control. I'm sure there will be no worries about the wartime provisioning of CaC2.
There will be all new and different worries instead.
DYAEiOu.gif

On the issue of air-cooled aviation engines, I'm impressed at just how far they managed to go without introducing liquid cooling systems. Between the bodged vents to cool the Napier engine and the AW38's lack of flaps, I'm somewhat baffled by just how much the industry's understanding of aerodynamics and airflow evolved throughout the war. Of course, if the trailblazers who figured these things out had somehow been brought into contact with the compagnies who lagged behind before things started to go wrong. Well, hindsight is 20/20.
There are issues with the seemingly simple idea, as we shall discuss in Part 2.
I do find the idea of the 'ring' rather interesting, even if quite dirigiste, it does guarantee the Air Ministry a choice between different domestic designs during peacetime (as long as the losers get some scraps), and during wartime, it means that there are more companies around to ramp up production. As we've seen OTL, British aeroplane production during the battle of Britain was impressive to say the least. If these pre-war protectionist measures had not been in place, one wonders whether sufficient trained workers and engineers would have been found for such a rapid ramp-up in production.
Military industries whether Air, Land or Sea always have a degree of dirigisme about them, at least if you wish to have a strong domestic industry and not rely on foreign supplies.

The Air Ministry believed the 'Ring' was about design and engineering capability, the people who would design the engine, develop it when in service and get it ready for mass production. The massive wartime ramp-up was from the Shadow Factories, which were related but different. You could have had no 'Ring' and let a few firms go bankrupt, but if you kept the Shadow Factories Britain would still have had the industrial capacity. Of course what those factories would have produced is a different question.

I doubt it. We have, in a truly magnificent summary, seen that (in the game at least), the british at sea always win, have some destroyers damaged in exchange for damaging the whole of the other fleet, plus destroying the enemy flagship.

This happens in every battle without fail, so given the german propensity for naval warfare, we may have won the surface naval war by the middle of the first month of it begining.

Even passing over the game itself (which I suspect we will), Norway will...hopefully...be a bit better defended (that is to say, defended at all) by the allies come the war.
There is an assumption there that Norway is part of the war, whatever that future war may be.

Well, it worked in its main aim, which was having loads and loads of factories to crank out aircraft, and thus making the entire process as cheap as it possibly could be. We are still talking a great deal of money but they did well enough economising it that a single spitfire was cheap enough that the general public could fund one through charitable donations.
As above, the production was a different scheme from the design side. Sure in peacetime the original 'Ring' factories were enough for the limited RAF requirements, but it just was not feasible for even a 'Ring' firm to maintain large scale facilities.

Put it this way, in about 18 months Gloster built 700 odd Gladiators (for RAF, RN and export) by running their own factory flat out. The Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory, one of the big shadow factories, was on it's own building 320 Sptifires a month for most of the wartime years.
Not that period of UK governance cared, but it was also a goldmine of aerospace industry goodness, that properly tended to, could have (should have?) dominated the western Market for a long time after the war too.
Well quite, it was all looking good and then the post-war consensus happened and all turned to ash and misery.

There is probably a very positive and happy timeline in which the last of the V2s hits Parliament while it is in sessions and wipes out the entire political class in one go. There doubtless are a few innocents and people who would have done a better job, but frankly taking the whole lot out is the only way to be sure.
 
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Kurt_Steiner

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Today, I began to reread the beginning of this AAR just for the sake of recovering the old first words and the feeling that I had then when discovering this glorious madness. While I was doing that I remembered Draco Rexus' great AAR, and went to take a look in it, just for the sake of it... and while I was there, Allenby's magnificient Great War AAR came to my mind, alnd that he trained me (us) the different appreciation of time between the readers and the AARtist...

Those were the days...
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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Draco Rexus' great AAR
Can't remember whether it was this aar, king and Country or British empire in world war two that was my first. But those were the first three I read. Indeed, my first post on the forum is here somewhere back in...2016?
 
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Kurt_Steiner

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Can't remember whether it was this aar, king and Country or British empire in world war two that was my first. But those were the first three I read. Indeed, my first post on the forum is here somewhere back in...2016?
2005 mine...
 
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nuclearslurpee

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I think it is time we started pestering Pip for an update comrades!
If we all stop commenting right now, Pip can reply to comments and then immediately post an update at the top of the page before Wraith/TBC can ruin everything again.
 
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El Pip

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Today, I began to reread the beginning of this AAR just for the sake of recovering the old first words and the feeling that I had then when discovering this glorious madness. While I was doing that I remembered Draco Rexus' great AAR, and went to take a look in it, just for the sake of it... and while I was there, Allenby's magnificient Great War AAR came to my mind, alnd that he trained me (us) the different appreciation of time between the readers and the AARtist...

Those were the days...
Those were indeed the days my friend. I know Allenby's magnificent work continues to influence me to this day, certain stylistic elements I admired and copied, not least his masterful understanding of time.
Z3wSg01.gif


Can't remember whether it was this aar, king and Country or British empire in world war two that was my first. But those were the first three I read. Indeed, my first post on the forum is here somewhere back in...2016?
You started well, all excellent works. Though I remain surprised it is Butterfly that is the most likely to finish first, if only because it is the only one that at least has a chance to finish.
2005 mine...
An excellent vintage. :D

I think it is time we started pestering Pip for an update comrades!
Traditions must be upheld.

If we all stop commenting right now, Pip can reply to comments and then immediately post an update at the top of the page before Wraith/TBC can ruin everything again.
This is the kind of insightful comments, understanding of process and basic ability to count that saw you awarded the Golden Hip-flask (1st Class). I imagine these skills probably also helps you obtain more useful things in Real Life, but for now they have got you the next chapter of the Butterfly Effect.
 
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