American Know-how

Both before and during WW II, The Ford Motor Company produced the famed B-24 “Liberator” bomber for the US Army Air Corps. Although others said it couldn’t be done, Ford managed to churn out one of these extremely sturdy planes every 55 minutes!

Take a look at this old promotional film from Ford:

perfect timing for me. I was just watching the series “Crusade in the Pacific” on DVD.

I love those old “News Reels”.


When I think about the time period, the U.S. was a more agriculture nation. Many young men had worked with Model T or Model A Fords and internal combustion engines on farm equipment. Many fellows built and repaired radios. Training these young men to build and repair aircraft or to keep radar and communication systems operating wasn’t difficult. We had,a lot of young people with practical knowledge that didn’t have college degrees. Today, we have a lot of young people with college degrees and little practical knowledge.

Was that a fly by the seat of your pants airplane?

Largely. Navigation was limited to a flux valve based system (basically a magnetic compass) backed by a sextant with start charts. Longitude and latitude, critical components of navigation, were obtained from a reference book based upon the plane’s last known location adjusted for the plane’s airspeed, time, and known flight path… validated by periodic sextant readings… if the sky was clear. And remember that magnetic variation changed throughout the flight based upon location, and magnetic deviation was done manually based on manual references… no automatic compensation.

Altitude was via an aneroid altimeter, basically a sealed can attached to a needle that moved based upon changes in the difference between its internal pressure and ambient pressure. I don’t think they even had the luxury of localizer beams, or of glideslope. I could get into the difficulties of using a sextant and of tracking the plane’s flightpath (not to be confused with the plane’s heading), but I’ll spare everyone. And remember that in war radio silence is the order of the day, so they were on there own up there.

Few people are aware that during the invasion of Normandy our bombers lost track of their actual positions due to bad weather and actually bombed behind the enemies lines. They were supposed to take out the guns that ultimately killed so many of our invading troops.

Yeah, it was definitely “seat of the pants” flying. We have no idea how good we have it today.

Now how about the magnetic north pole is moving and tampa even had to make changes @the_same_mountainbike The airport has closed its primary runway until Jan. 13 to repaint the numeric designators at each end and change taxiway signage to account for the shift in location of the Earth’s magnetic north pole.

LOL, that’s true… and in a real sense amusing.
While much of today’s navigation is based on those wonderful geosynchronous satellites, I’m going to assume that aircraft still need the basic old-fashioned systems as backups. Those designators are used to calibrate the flux valves. If those are off, if the plane is positioned incorrectly when the valve is “swung”, that backup systems will send planes to Miami instead of Cuba.

Now, as much as I love my airplanes, how can we make this about cars… ???

Sure how about this? @the_same_mountainbike Driver Blames GPS For Driving On Railroad Tracks, Getting Hit By Train

Works for me!

I think that was the one Edsel himself made the commitment on. I believe the pilots called that the flying brick because of the way it handled and was in the book “Unbroken”.

I’m really not in a position to comment on the general skill levels of the new generations but we had one of the best vo-tec programs around at one time. The carpentry program was unequaled and the machinist students were hired before they graduated. Then the bottom fell out and they instead had two year programs in management, sales, leadership, accounting, etc. Like who except a shoe store will hire a manager or accountant with a two year degree? At any rate, now it is turning around again and they are adding the carpentry program again and focusing on CNC, etc.? Why? Kids can make good livings for one thing and businesses have not been able to hire qualified trades. That after all was the purpose of the vo tecs, to provide skilled labor for industry. So I’m encouraged.

The Detroit plant of Bud Wheel, which prior to WWII one one of the largest suppliers of wheels, wheel assemblies, brakes and brake assemblies for locomotives and rail cars and to a lesser extent to the auto industry, supplied parts to the Ford aircraft war production. One day when Ford engineers called Bud’s production department with spec changes on a part for the third time in less than an hour the production planner, whom no one at Bud had ever heard utter a single curse word, tossed down his pencil and said in frustration he didn’t know whether to shoot, s#!t or go blind. Bud’s production manager (my grandfather) called Ford and suggested they be certain of design spec changes before calling those in.

It was, bing, but that all changed. Programs heavy in lab are expensive to maintain, and capacities are limited by equipment and safety concerns, while a room full of gen-ed students can be 40 or more students at once with zero lab costs. Gen ed programs are much more profitable.

Realize too that historically vo-tech programs were designed to provide productive skills to the portion of high school graduates that were not university-bound. They were heavily supported by the states out of the general funds. The head of the system was a commissioner, who answered directly to the governor. When times were good, that model worked. These past few decades, as state budgets became ever more squeezed, the states no longer wanted them draining dollars from the general funds. Every dollar the colleges brought in used to go to the state coffers and every dollar they spent had to be appropriated. Every employee was a state employee, which also meant that every employee had a right to the state retirement plan… an eternal obligation of the state. Funding of retirement plans is a major concern of state G&C’s and the legislatures in these tough times.

In NH, the state colleges were expropriated from the state, made to separate out such that they had their own budgets, which meant reserve funds, a board of trustees, a chancellor, etc. The state only provides a granted subsidy every biennium, which is not guaranteed. The budget no longer has to be approved by the governor & council and the appropriations committees of the legislature.

Politics, demand by the feds for the state colleges to begin to better provide employable skills, along with pressure from the business community and grants being offered by the feds through the Department of Transportation, are what’s driving the modest change is program offerings to include more technical programs.

I retired from a state college… with a state pension. I spent most of my many years in the system as a member of the college’s administration, and spent countless long hours discussing and debating these issues in meetings, committees, etc. and endless business events. I’ve written countless requests for appropriations, state contracts submitted to the G&C, grant requests for both state and federal money, lunches with members of the appropriations committees, and on & on. It ruined my health.

You sir have my sympathy. We can pride ourselves with fighting the good fight for the good of the populace, but it can be unhealthy. I have to laugh but the democratic big wigs thought I was a republican and the republican big wigs thought I was a democrat so I figured I was doing something right.

Being a conservative in an academic institution is like being a square peg in a round hole.
Fortunately, on issues of personal liberty I’m pretty much a liberal. I believe that as long as someone isn’t hurting someone else, it’s nobody’s business how they run their lives, especially the government’s. It’s on economics, foreign affairs, and education that I’m a conservative. I’m also very much a constitutionalist on the functions, powers, and limits of the government. So I tried to limit my cafeteria discussions to personal liberty issues, except with very close friends and colleagues.

I should have stayed in the Air Force. I fit there.

TSM, your description of your beliefs makes you a libertarian. Welcome to the club, we don’t have name tags because that would infringe on our right to be left alone.

And those shouldn’t be “fightin’ words”, but to some, they are.

Being the skeptic that I am I insist on moving oblique to current trends and libertarianism is certainly a growing trend. Regardless which direction someone runs there is a cliff to run off.

Great clip! During WW II the US and Canada were called the “Arsenal of Democracy”. Canada built fighter aircraft, the Lancaster bomber, and many navy vessels. All auto manufacturing stopped and both countries built Jeeps, army trucks and armored equipment.

Canadian industry converted in late 1939 and 1940 cars (many called 1941 models) were the last ones produced. Even agricultural equipment manufacturers like Massey Ferguson produced war equipment. The mass produced Liberty ships (built by Kaiser) transported all this stuff to England.

Priceless, Marnet, priceless…;-]

Interesting that Putin is investing $700 billion in fighter jets, ships, and tanks to modernize his army. He’s trying to buy the ships from the French though and they are reconsidering the sale. I guess they would be better than Russian ships.

Also interesting the other night PBS had a special on the history of Milwaukee and the start of a lot of the heavy industries there in the late 1800’s. Hard working German and Polish who had an idea and worked hard to build a business and market.

Mustangman, I don’t know what I am. The problem with affiliating oneself with a specific group is that it constrains one’s thinking. I’ll readily admit that when I espouse my views they often come out sounding like some speech from some advocate somewhere, but I prefer to do my own thinking. I’ve read and studied our founding documents, studied the political and socioeconomic events and history that motivated them, and truly believe I understand them in depth, yet I’m constantly bewildered by what I see happening.

Just a small example: right now we’re in the Christmas season, and there are a number of new examples of individuals complaining about Christmas traditional celebratory items like nativity scenes and even Santa. Schools and municipal organizations are being forced to remove these items under threat of lawsuit. Yet what Article One actually says is that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” In short, the (at the time newly formed) federal government shall not establish an official “state” religion, but also the free expression of religion shall not be abridged. Forcing schools and/or municipalities is exactly what the prohibition against prohibiting the free exercise of religion was intended to prevent.

Self-proclaimed civil rights groups that claim to pursue intolerance force schools to ban Santa? That’s the height of INtolerance! It’s all screwed around backwards now.

But, this is a car forum, isn’t it?