Reading

Induction week and all its attendant paperwork is now a month past, and I’ve been getting down to my reading for the PhD. As part of my faculty progression requirements I have to produce a formal literature review by Christmas, and so for the next few months my energies need to be directed towards this.

As background my supervisor suggested that I try and get a feel for where Metrovicks fitted in to the electrical engineering sector, and to try and get an overview of the interwar economy more generally. The idea is to try and understand why a heavy plant manufacturer would be given a contract to build a jet engine. Due to a variety of reasons I’ve been making slow progress, and my first draft was rather cursory – and, as was pointed out, lacking in any discussion of the historiography.

So, as well as revising my first draft, I’ve now been set the task of looking at British interwar military procurement policy. I’ve got a reasonable sense of the RAF side of things, but am pretty much at sea  for the Naval and Army arrangements. Any advice would be much appreciated.

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5 Responses to “Reading”

  1. Ross Says:

    Jakob you are no doubt aware of Edgertons work. A possible area to look through ould be the Military, Air and Naval notes in RUSI. Usually a goldmine of information.

    Ross

  2. Ross Says:

    This one might be a useful starting point for the navy:

    G A H Gordon, British Seapower and Procurement between the Wars: A Reappraisal of Rearmament (Naval Institute Press, 1988)

  3. Jakob Says:

    Many thanks for that Ross – I’ll take a look at the Gordon. Edgerton’s work has been very useful, but from what I recall it’s more research- than production-focussed.

  4. Ross Says:

    True. Of course on the aircraft side there is Ritchies work but you might also want to have a look at Colin Sinnott’s work on Air Staff Requirements. I have got a copy of his PhD thesis if you need a copy.

  5. Terry Burnett Says:

    Jacob,
    I suppose I am the person who is responsible for MOSI collecting the MV archive and securing B10. I met/worked for all the main Gas Turbine players at MV though most by then were retired. I contributed to the Rolls Royce memorial lecture on behalf of Dr. David Smith held at the I mech e (1990). I worked in the turbine departments and spent 15 years at Barton test, I am now Technical Training Manager (Gas/steam turbo compressors) for Dresser-Rand. So credentials out of the way, I was supposed to meet you with Nick Forder however you did not make the meeting.

    I may be able to assist you as I have a mass of archive material and I hope as one who worked for the company a reasonable understanding of company history.
    A great deal has been spoken about how MV came to be involved in gas turbine development however it was really quite simple, in the latter half of 1930 Dr. Karl Baumann Chief Mechanical Director was becoming increasingly concerned as the company at that time did not have any steam turbine development contracts either external or internal. When approached by RAF Farnborough and the Ministry of Aircraft Production as to whether MV would be interested to take over the axial flow compressor development work (with a view to aircraft propulsion) from Constant & Griffiths Baumann confidently jumped at the opportunity being aware of the calibre of his staff not least the young Dr. David Smith (DMS) An order for development/manufacture was placed on MV by the RAE and the resulting collaboration between the two came into effect.

    At this point it is worth understanding the internal politics within MV.
    Henry Lewis Guy FRS was the Chief Engineer (mechanical) reporting to Engineering Director Dr. Karl Baumann. Guy was a very gifted engineer however he was a forceful powerful personality who guarded his position jealously (see obituary written by Dr. David Smith DMS)
    DMS reported to Guy and Guy would not allow any of his staff to speak to Baumann. Fortunately Guy retired and the collaboration between DMS and KB began.

    I do not wish to rattle on as I’m unsure which direction you are going, the management at professional engineering level I consider to be important in order to understand this complex company, I did ask Nick to give you a copy of the ‘Big House’ however this deals with shop floor politics and may not be appropriate, however, it does give the company’s view of Catholics who were mistrusted by the company as the Vatican church openly supported the labour party, in fact one very senior manager of the time (aged 90) remarked to Nick and I ‘Oh ‘A’ aisle that’s where we used to keep the Catholics’ he did not explain however due to labour party affiliations the company view was they could be troublemakers, an unfortunate remark but to me speaks volumes about management attitudes

    If I can be of any assistance please contact me.

    Terry

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