Dreams of a colder war

Freedom has a new sound!

It is officially too darn hot today: 43° C. So naturally my thoughts turn to a colder time: the 1950s. The above image (which I found as part of x-ray delta one's wonderful Flickr stream; he also has a suitably breathless blog, ATOMIC-ANNIHILATION) would seem to be part of a public relations exercise from Convair, relating to its interceptor, the F-102A Delta Dagger. I'm not sure what year it's from exactly, but the Dagger entered service in 1956, so probably then or the following year. (So it could be an early effort from Don Draper.) Evidently there were a lot of complaints from the public about sonic booms from the Dagger, the USAF's first supersonic interceptor. The text is really something else; it almost circles right through brazen propaganda to become an honest argument that sonic booms really are good for you. Almost:

Freedom Has a New Sound!

ALL OVER AMERICA these days the blast of supersonic flight is shattering the old familiar sounds of city and countryside.

At U. S. Air Force bases strategically located near key cities our Airmen maintain their round the clock vigil, ready to take off on a moment's notice in jet aircraft like Convair's F-102A all-weather interceptor. Every flight has only one purpose -- your personal protection!

The next time jets thunder overhead, remember that the pilots who fly them are not willful disturbers of your peace; they are patriotic young Americans affirming your New Sound of Freedom!

Presumably the next panel would show the milkman clutching his ears and screaming in pain, and the one after that the homeowners sweeping up the bits of broken glass. That new sound of freedom wasn't free.

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8 thoughts on “Dreams of a colder war

  1. Erik Lund

    Mild and rainy. That's Vancouver for you ....but it is melting the snow on the lower venues. How will the freestyle snowboarders kill themselves if there's no snow?

  2. Don

    Windy & cool here in Wellington ... el Nino ... pah!

    Contemplating the the point of the ad, seems to be an apology [for the racket].

    Along those lines there was a trans-continental record breaking flight by a another Convair, the B-58 Hustler, that was, IIRC, well advertised to towns and people along the flight line ... so they could pop out and listen, and watch the streaking vapour trail. Very exciting. I've watched a youTube vid of it, probably still there.

    All the best Brett in 2010.

  3. Neil Datson

    All this weather sounds positively glorious compared with what we're currently 'enjoying' in Oxfordshire. Snow on the ground for the last week. Overnight temps down to 15 below (Celsius, admittedly) and day temps struggling to get above freezing.

    All very unusual for England. The only thing that can be relied on is the press furore: 'Why oh Why aren't we better prepared?' Like Sweden for example. Cos it only happens once every ten or fifteen years! Unlike Sweden, for example.

    Perhaps a few sonic booms would shake the weather up?

    Roll on spring.

  4. Post author

    Kia ora, Don! Long time no see.

    I wouldn't call what we had glorious; the overnight minimum was 30.6 degrees at a bit before 9 am -- equaling the record for Melbourne. And it's something we will have to get used to, unfortunately.

    To tie the weather and the sonic boom topics together, there was some public concern in the 1950s that 'scientists' were inadvertently changing the weather, through nuclear tests, supersonic jets, and so on. (The 1954 Washington windscreen pitting panic could be an extreme version of that.) Today we have chemtrails and (much more legitimately, of course) global warming. Plus ça change.

  5. Don

    Hi Brett

    Sorry about staying away ... had a very busy year that seemed to flit by in a flash (or a boom perhaps).

    Chemtrails! At Christmas a year ago (i.e. 2008) I was earbashed for ages about that ... by someone (f) I thought would know better.

    Ooooh ... maybe she does?

  6. I always liked that poster. But maybe the milk bottles were actually safe?

    If I understand the most entertaining Mythbusters tests with rifles and the Blue Angels programme correctly, sonic booms aren't usually the direct cause of broken glass, but the pressure wave actually distorts any chamber (such as a room) and flexes things like window frames, opens cupboards, moves objects with the occasional, but not inevitable, result of breaking glass as a secondary effect.

    Yes, I'm sure most people aren't interested in the distinction either.

    But then maybe this was a Convair and USAF pre-emptive strike to avoid the class action the US Government faced after playing with bangs in Operation Bongo II (you couldn't make it up) over Oklahoma city in 1964? That is a fascinating case study (involving century series fighters, but not F-102s) which addresses a number of questions raised in Brett's cool post.

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