March 17, 2019

Blog All Dog-eared Pages: The Devil's Device by Edwyn Gray

Hardly any dog-eared pages for this book, The Devil's Device, but that belies how interesting a read it was. It's the story of Robert Whitehead and his invention, the torpedo.

Page 18

In addition [Robert Whitehead] had no social background and, even worse, he was a common engineer—and everyone knew that engineers were not exactly persona grata in polite circles. In fact, very sensibly, the Navy's own commissioned engineers had to mess separately and were not admitted to the wardrooms lest, so it was whispered, their oil- and coal-grimed hands should besmirch the spotless table linen. It was an attitude exemplified in its extreme by the remark of a young midshipman to an Engineer Lieutenant who had reminded him of the seniorities of rank: 'You may be senior to me, Brown—but my mother wouldn't invite your mother to tea!'

Page 67

Robert had been in business long enough to realize that sheer skill was not enough if one lacked access to the right ears and, even though his torpedo was not yet completely satisfactory, he snatched the opportunity to ensure that news of his weapon reached the most influential people.

Page 228

The German G-7e required only 1,255 man-hours for completion using semi-skilled labour. The equivalent thermal-engined weapon needed 1.707 man-hours with highly skilled operators. In terms of modern warfare the mathematics of production schedules can be as important as the tactical skill of the admirals.

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