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The Secret Horsepower Race - book by Calum Douglas

edwest

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The author is going to publish a comprehensive book about European aircraft engines used during World War II. I just discovered his site. His background and sources listed indicates this book would answer some questions. Any word about a publication date?

 

steelpillow

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Definitely on my wishlist!
The more I study aero engines, the more I realise that at its heart, the history of the aeroplane is the history of its engines. Power =speed = aerodynamic form.
Wonder if there will be anything about the project to put a Bf 109 engine in a Spitfire, which they then flew in comparative trials, or the reverse project to put a Napier Sabre in a Bf 109, which never left the drawing board.
 

steelpillow

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Yes, very interested. Any idea on how/where to buy?
I am now following it on Facebook.
Appears not to be published yet, he is still reseraching final details.
I wonder if he has an agent or publisher lined up. That can be harder than writing the thing.
 

edwest

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I have sent the author a message. Hopefully he'll reply soon. Based on a review of his site, he seems to know how to get a book to print.
 

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WW2 Fighter Aircraft Piston Engines - How British Management Excellence Succeeded

This gentleman is giving the above titled talk on 2nd December at Hamilton Place. Perhaps that would be of interest to those considering his book. Of course you need to be in striking distance of London - but any title that includes "British management" and "excellence" in it is surely intriguing at least!
 

steelpillow

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Knowing so many people who live and work abroad and moan about their management, I have come to the conclusion that gross variability of management skills is nothing special to the UK. But good managers make bad headlines, we never get to hear about them...

...except on occasions such as 1940 when Lord Beaverbrook took the Ministry of Aircraft Production* to legendary heights and gave people like Rolls-Royce the head they needed, while effectively sidelining poor performers like Vickers-Supermarine.

*How times change, to a younger and untutored generation the "Ministry of Aircraft Production" must sound like the next one along from the Ministry of Funny Walks.
 
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newsdeskdan

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The Secret Horsepower Race by Calum Douglas is due out next year from Mortons Books' Tempest imprint and is shaping up to be the most authoritative account of British and German aero engine development during the Second World War ever written. Calum is an engine designer and engineer himself - so he knows and understands what he's writing about better than most. He has travelled to archives all over the UK, Europe and the US and drawn on thousands of different period sources in the course of researching his book to establish a clear picture of exactly what happened and why. And when I say thousands, I mean literally thousands - not just a few dozen or even a few hundred.
In the process, he's uncovered many previously unknown details about both nations' engine designs (there will be details of Japanese, American, Soviet and Italian engine development too - but the focus is on Britain and Germany). I was stunned, for example, when he showed me photos of the DB 628-powered Messerschmitt Me 409, clearly labelled as such, from the Daimler-Benz archive. Some of his other images have, I believe, appeared elsewhere on this forum.
For my part, I am editing The Secret Horsepower Race and it really is a very exciting project to be part of.
 
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edwest

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Off topic, but where did you find your material for the Luftwaffe Secret Projects series? Mostly overlooked or mostly recently declassified?
 

Calum Douglas

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The word you are after is 'oxymoronic'.

Chris

In engine design and manufacture, Britain was, and still is - very seldom surpassed in the field of high performance piston engines.

In many cases today - there are still essentially two types of world-class high performance piston engines,, those which everyone knows we build, and those which
we are paid to build and then given extra money to keep quiet about whilst others put their badge on. Mercedes knows a bit about that topic.

Very little is oxymoronic about management excellence, Britain and piston engines.

Feel free to come to London on 2nd Dec and argue your case.

 

CJGibson

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Please excuse my flippancy. My experience of British management and their excellence evidently differs from yours.

Unfortunately I can't make your lecture as I have an appointment with a pair of CT7-8As.

Chris
 

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I'm afraid this will be another British minded book. I hope to be wrong.
 

Calum Douglas

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I'm afraid this will be another British minded book. I hope to be wrong.

If you wish to have a full answer for that you will have to define VERY SPECIFICALLY what the phrase "british minded" means to you.

For example, if I were German and I critisised the British Air Ministry, would that be regarded as a "german minded" book,
even if I were correct in my point ?

Given that I speak German, used to live and work there (as a piston engine designer) and am on good personal terms with the son of the chief designer of Daimler-Benz, places
me in a difficult position, any compliments I make towards Germany can be regarded as trying to please Germans, and being British, any comments
I make lauding the achievements of Britain can be regarded as jingoism; and any critisism I make of Americans could be regarded as
trans-atlantic sour-grapes.

I can promise that the book exposes scullduggery, fraud, deception and incompetence in fairly equal measure between all nations,
but the key to who won, was how this was dealt with and at which positions of influence these problems manifested. That was the
deciding factor. (a rather horribly paraphrased answer, but the proper explanation is 220,000words long :) )

FYI, I am currently also preparing the technical memoirs of Professor Dr-Ing Karl Kollmann, dated 1947 for publication, this was given
to me personally by his son to translate to English. No other person in the world has this document in their posession, so I consider
myself, unapologetically, to be in a suitable position to point out errors in German policy and to explain why they occured.

The book contains scathing critisism for British pre-war technical policy, and delivers astonishingly candid views on American failings, written
by a very famous engineer in 1942 (again, never previously pubished). Never for the purpose of creating controversy gratuitously, but
because it is impossible to explain what happened and why, without understanding the errors made.
 
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edwest

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I look forward to your book. Although jealousies and rivalries have existed and will continue to exist, a sober, factual accounting is required. It matters little that feathers are ruffled here or there. I will add that I have been put off by a few books where the author adds too much editorial slant of his own. Where he attempts to make unsupported statements to appear to be factual. The author is at the service of the facts/documents and should have some skill in presenting them in a readable way. I have read complex works where the author seamlessly blends his material together.
 

Wurger

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I'm afraid this will be another British minded book. I hope to be wrong.

If you wish to have a full answer for that you will have to define VERY SPECIFICALLY what the phrase "british minded" means to you.

For example, if I were German and I critisised the British Air Ministry, would that be regarded as a "german minded" book,
even if I were correct in my point ?

Given that I speak German, used to live and work there and am on good personal terms with the son of the chief designer of Daimler-Benz, places
me in a difficult position, any compliments I make towards Germany can be regarded as trying to please Germans, and being British, any comments
I make lauding the achievements of Britain can be regarded as jingoism; and any critisism I make of Americans could be regarded as
trans-atlantic sour-grapes.

I can promise that the book exposes scullduggery, fraud, deception and incompetence in fairly equal measure between all nations,
but the key to who won, was how this was dealt with and at which positions of influence these problems manifested. That was the
deciding factor.
I'm afraid this will be another British minded book. I hope to be wrong.

If you wish to have a full answer for that you will have to define VERY SPECIFICALLY what the phrase "british minded" means to you.

For example, if I were German and I critisised the British Air Ministry, would that be regarded as a "german minded" book,
even if I were correct in my point ?

Given that I speak German, used to live and work there (as a piston engine designer) and am on good personal terms with the son of the chief designer of Daimler-Benz, places
me in a difficult position, any compliments I make towards Germany can be regarded as trying to please Germans, and being British, any comments
I make lauding the achievements of Britain can be regarded as jingoism; and any critisism I make of Americans could be regarded as
trans-atlantic sour-grapes.

I can promise that the book exposes scullduggery, fraud, deception and incompetence in fairly equal measure between all nations,
but the key to who won, was how this was dealt with and at which positions of influence these problems manifested. That was the
deciding factor. (a rather horribly paraphrased answer, but the proper explanation is 220,000words long :) )

FYI, I am currently also preparing the technical memoirs of Professor Dr-Ing Karl Kollmann, dated 1947 for publication, this was given
to me personally by his son to translate to English. No other person in the world has this document in their posession, so I consider
myself, unapologetically, to be in a suitable position to point out errors in German policy and to explain why they occured.

The book contains scathing critisism for British pre-war technical policy, and delivers astonishingly candid views on American failings, written
by a very famous engineer in 1942 (again, never previously pubished). Never for the purpose of creating controversy gratuitously, but
because it is impossible to explain what happened and why, without understanding the errors made.
Fair enough to me, I trust to see all these exposed when I buy your two books on the run. Do you have a timeline to the second one?
 

Calum Douglas

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Fair enough to me, I trust to see all these exposed when I buy your two books on the run. Do you have a timeline to the second one?

I am working with a compressor expert in America to turn it into something which is publishable, sadly Dan at Mortons cant really do it, because its a very technical scientific text, not a history book so it will likely be published by a University Press or an Engineering Journal. It will be a few months before this is determined, as most traditional publishers
are rather more tardy than Dan, who`s used to magazine time-schedules ! The target market will be university engineering students.

Having said that if Mortons looks into diversifying..... I could maybe turn it into a sort of "Not Much of an Engineer" but with all the maths included... lets see.

This is me interviewing Kollmanns son in Germany, you can watch the hour long interview on my website, you just have to register. (he was also an
engine designer at Daimler like his father - but in automotive engines in the 60`s 70 `s and 80`s.).

I have also interviewed Elly Hanitsch in Dessau, who is to my understanding the last surviving member of the WW2 Jumo engine drawing office,
she is now 92 and joined Jumo in 1942.

KOLLMANN.png

Kollmanns father was made chief engineer of Daimler-Benz Unterturkheim aero engine plant about September 1944. You can see here that the secretary made
a mistake here and the title "Prok" has been put in by hand afterwards. He is below he three directors, but above the "oberingenieurs" (O.I) Stump & Rothe.

KOllmann_2.png
 

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Nick Sumner

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The book contains scathing critisism for British pre-war technical policy, and delivers astonishingly candid views on American failings, written
by a very famous engineer in 1942 (again, never previously pubished). Never for the purpose of creating controversy gratuitously, but
because it is impossible to explain what happened and why, without understanding the errors made.

His name wouldn't start with an 'F' would it? ;)

Really looking forward to the book Calum Douglas!
 

Foo Fighter

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Is that first book available? Sorry if I have missed a reference somewhere.
 

edwest

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I would like to make mention of IG Farben, which produced synthetic fuel and lubricants. Not long ago, there were two visitors from Germany where I work. One spoke English well, the other did not. When I found out the non-English speaker was studying Chemistry at University, I brought up IG Farben. He shrugged his shoulders and said he'd never heard of it - translated by his friend. This was a bit of a shock to me as IG Farben [Interessengemeinschaft Farbenindustrie AG] was the world's largest chemical cartel in the 1930s. When I was at University and looked into taking Chemistry, I was informed that I would have to take a German language class since the best Chemistry books were written in German. Based on a contemporary illustration, the process for making Leuna-Benzin involved coal [braunkohle], hydrogen, a temperature of 450 C. and a pressure of 200 Atm. With some 'Leuna propan' during the distillation phase.
 
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Nick Sumner

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Please excuse my flippancy. My experience of British management and their excellence evidently differs from yours.

My inexpert impression is that looked at in the context of aircraft engines and WW2, both British management and government direction look a lot better than either German or American. That's ignoring obvious government missteps like giving Merlin and Derwent blueprints away royalty free.
 

Nick Sumner

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Is Secret Horsepower Race still on for April 2020?
 

Calum Douglas

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Is Secret Horsepower Race still on for April 2020?

No its been delayed until about July, mostly because I gave my poor editor Dan about 60,000 words more than he was expecting and also as the scale of the task to make sure its as good as we want it to be, meant that we decided to delay release to ensure its properly edited and refined (a luxury the writers several books I`ve bought recently didn`t have).

It is however available for pre-order below, which I (somewhat predictably) highly recommend. :)

Says 300 pages, but thats A4 size and its liable to be nearer 350+, so a veritable bargain.


I`m also an engineer, which means i`m bound by a duty of care to all clients of honesty and the ability to self-critique, so. (a book customer is in my view "a client" of mine as
this is a book about engineeing the customer is trusting to be accurate).

Yes/No guide to if you should buy it.

- I like modelling, should I buy this so I can get my models of XYZ plane just right? - Nope, this book wont help
- I want a book on Japanese and Russian engines, should I buy it ? - Nope I had to give up archival research in those nations for financial and logistical reasons.
- I want a huge textbook listing the parameters of every engine of WW2 - should I buy it? -Nope, is NOT filled with data-tables of bore/stroke etc.
- I want an academic textbook telling me how to do design mathematics - should I buy it ? -Nope, although some of it IS very technical.
- I want to know everything about the Allison V1710 - Go and buy "Vees for Victory" by Dan Whitney
- I want to know everything about the R2800 - Go and buy "R-2800: Pratt & Whitney's Dependable Masterpiece" by Graham White
- I want a complete history of the P47 & P38 engine development - I have not been able to get enough primary documents to do that yet
- I want to know about each and every cancelled project engine - I write about some of them, but only a small handful.

- I`m fed up with reading the same old stories about engine development on forums and want to know from primary sources what happened and why - Yes, buy it
- I want to know why the DB605 was REALLY de-rated in great detail - Yes, buy it
- I want to know why the Germans didnt manage to field a mass produced service engine which greatly surpassed the two-stage Merlin - Yes, buy it
- I want to read interrogations of the designers after the war to read why they said they lost - Yes, buy it
- I want to read letters the engineers wrote to eachother during the war about engines - Yes, buy it
- I want to read thousands of words of directly translated spoken conversations of German air minstry high level meetings about engines - Yes, buy it
- I want to know why Britain didnt use Direct Injection, if the could have, and who decided not to - Yes, buy it
- I want to read very technical quotes from actual engineering reports on important fighter engine problems - Yes, buy it
- I want to read a book and basically understand the broad picture of how WW2 fighter engines came about and were developed - Yes, buy it
- I want to read about technical intelligence work, how engines were captured and studied and by whom -Yes, buy it
- I want to know about German fuels, where they were made, where it was stored and distributed - Yes, buy it
- I want to see a complete graph from 1939>1945 of 100 octane vs German aviation fuel stocks, consumption and production - Yes, buy it
- I want to see original graphs showing how materials shortages crippled German designers, which exact components were impacted and why - yes, buy it.
 
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Foo Fighter

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Well, got the pre order sorted so thanks for the heads up. Despite registering I had not received notification before this. It would have been nice to have some kind of promo code but this is the first of yours I have acquired so to be expected. I believe the (face) value of the content we already have notification of is good enough imho. The wait will be more than worth it.
 

edwest

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Mortons is listing the release date as the end of May.
 

Wka23

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will try and get the book btw writing on difficult subjects.............
 

Calum Douglas

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Well, got the pre order sorted so thanks for the heads up. Despite registering I had not received notification before this. It would have been nice to have some kind of promo code but this is the first of yours I have acquired so to be expected. I believe the (face) value of the content we already have notification of is good enough imho. The wait will be more than worth it.

The publishers offices are shut and all workers scattered at home due to the virus thing, its chaos everwhere. Sadly this has prevented any
"bells and whistles". I only found out it had been listed yesterday.

Possibly before actual launch there will be something I can come up with for those who registered, but right now with this mess #1 priority is to
just get the thing done and on sale. As a self-employed person this situation is also extremely difficult, your patience is appreciated.
 

Foo Fighter

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Mate, this is a rough situation for everyone and frankly this book will possibly be one of those things that we use to get by the hours of isolation, depending how long it lasts. There is no blame or fault here, things are not perfect but not much is and we will still enjoy the book immensely. Far more important imvho is keeping each other going, you and the other writers of fine books do a lot for our entertainment/education and sanity so long may you continue. In the immortal words of Leonard Nimoy/Spock "Live long and prosper".
 

newsdeskdan

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Surprisingly, the offices of Mortons Books, publishers of The Secret Horsepower Race, are not shut. We have minimal staff on site to manage IT while the rest of the business remains fully functional via remote connection. I can also confirm that pre-orders for The Secret Horsepower Race have been VERY strong despite the listings only being up for a short while, which is most encouraging!
 

newsdeskdan

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Having had the privilege of reading The Secret Horsepower Race, and without wishing to spoil it for anyone, I would say that it contains ground-breaking new information about WW2 engine development - ALL of it backed up by solid archival evidence. Calum has told the story of WW2's most important engines in a quarter of a million words without (I think I'm right in saying) relying on a single tertiary source. Every twist and turn of the tale and every conclusion drawn is based on fully cited period documents. It's a staggering achievement. And it has photographs of the Me 409 fitted with a DB 628 in it - a stupendous find.
 

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Actally received an email notification from Callam after pre-ordering. All good. I hope you don't mind but I am going to post the front cover image since its an absolute classic:):

15057.jpg
 
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