back to article Official: Turing's Bombe better than a Concorde plane

Alan Turing’s code-breaking Bombe machine has been voted engineers’ favourite artefact, beating out other engineering triumphs such as the Concorde plane and HMS Belfast. The Institution of Mechanical Engineers voted Turing’s World War II innovation as their favourite recipient of the Engineering Heritage Award, which has been …

  1. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Concorde ..

    Didn't engineers at NASA conclude Concorde was a bigger engineering challenge than Apollo ? Particularly having to slow the air intake from supersonic to still over 4 metres ?

    Anyway, well done everyone !

    1. Citizen99

      Re: Concorde ..

      The Concorde engine air intakes were variable geometry, controlled by electronics, to tailor characteristics as necessary over the wide gamut of speeds from take-off via trans-sonic to supersonic and in a regime that didn't compromise pasenger comfort. In some ways this was more demanding than a military application, in any case, the experience gained fed into the military applications.

  2. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Great stuff.

    Add my upvote to the tally. It's just a pity that these are artefacts from the 1940s and 50s. Yes, it's incredible to think that Concorde, which still looks like it arrived via a wormhole from the 23rd Century, was designed that long ago.

    Still, look on the bright side - the great minds of today have given us derivatives, credit default swaps, maximum fractional reserve banking...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Great stuff.

      It in incredible. I was looking around the one at RNAS Yeovilton the other day and couldn't help thinking how primitive the interior looks compared to a modern aircraft.

      In effect, it was trying to achieve too much for its time. Obviously that is how progress is made, but it's an example of the problem with British engineering - good at stuff needed in a crisis (magnetron, bombes), not good at choosing winners when it comes to mass production. The magnetron was commercialised by the Japanese as the microwave oven.

      1. deshepherd

        Re: Great stuff.

        Concorde at Yeovilton is one of the two preproduction prototypes and as such the "passengers" would be likely to be merely engineers hence no need for anything more than a primitive interior!

    2. TheOtherHobbes

      Re: Great stuff.

      And here. Concorde was astonishing. It was a passenger airliner that made it possible for a tube full of people to sit in shirtsleeves, travelling at speeds that could only be matched - barely - by top-line fighters with a pilot in a full environmental suit.

      And it was nearly a commercial success. The Yanks killed it by denying flying rights to the most commercial destinations. And there was a B variant on the drawing board that would have made it quieter and cheaper to run.

      It was also gorgeous. I don't think there has ever been a more beautiful aircraft.

      1. AbelSoul

        Re: I don't think there has ever been a more beautiful aircraft.

        I'd go along with that.

        Certainly, as far as civilian aircraft are concerned, nothing beats it.

        I remember seeing one fly overhead as a seven year old kid and thinking it looked incredible.

        </WipesNostalgicTearFromEye>

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          6pm weekdays

          for years was when Concorde flew over Hounslow about 1 minute before landing at Heathrow. And every day when I caught it, my spine tingled.

          I worked in a business with a lot of international clients, and too a person, they all admired the big bird, and were in awe of British know-how.

          1. proud2bgrumpy

            Re: 6pm weekdays

            I remember those days well - I was living/working in Wimbeldon at the time. When Concorde flew over, everything stopped - not just because it was so loud you couldn't hold a conversation, but because everyone knew that this damp little island had produced something truly magnificent and we were rightfully very proud of it. Everyone looked always up to watch it sail over. I don't remember anyone ever complaining about Concordes loudness as it announced its passing overhead - whereas an unsilenced scooter screams its puny passage to everyones annoyance.

      2. Kevin Reilly

        Re: Great stuff.

        My vote goes to the DC3 as it approaches it's centenary. Should still be flying in another hundred years. Wot metal fatigue PAH! Gooney Bird rules.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Great stuff.

        The Yanks killed it by denying flying rights to the most commercial destinations. And there was a B variant on the drawing board that would have made it quieter and cheaper to run.

        I think the real issue was spares. I'm not in the aircraft business, but if I understand correctly, a plane cannot really fly if there is nobody manufacturing replacement parts for it because there is a limited life to components.

        I liked Concorde - I watched it do the last fly-by from high up at MoD DPA in Bristol and I think everyone saw it, the whole facility turned out to watch. I hope some day something will replace it, but with more modern tech.

      4. Deryk Barker

        Re: Great stuff.

        The Birstol Britannia, hands down, was the most beautifuly commercial aircraft.

        BTW Concorde's big problem, according to my father who spent 40 years in the travel industry, was its range or lack of: Londo to New York, yes. Frankfurt to New York - too far.

      5. Time-to-wake-up

        Re: Great stuff.

        When I worked near Heathrow, the long term car parks was along runway 1 and the Northern Perimeter Rd. When I hand to park there, I always recall getting out of my car as Concorde was taking off.

        Jesus, the decibels and vibration as it went by physically shook you to the core and car alarms followed suit all along the runway. Unforgettable and fun :-). Pity they did not make a Concorde B variant.

        1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Re: Great stuff.

          There's something very stirring about hearing four Rolls-Royce Olympus turbojets at max chat. Same experience can be had if you go and see the Vulcan before they ground it, incidentally...

      6. Archie Woodnuts

        Re: Great stuff.

        Upvoted just because some kn*b downvoted your largely accurate comment - I personally like the English Electric Ligtning more, but that's just me.

    3. P. Lee Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Great stuff.

      >look on the bright side - the great minds of today have given us ...

      Twitter

    4. Lars Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Great stuff.

      I had to look at the history of the Concorde on the Wiki. Politics and relationships and rather amusing details like this.

      "Naming

      Reflecting the treaty between the British and French governments which led to Concorde's construction, the name Concorde is from the French word concorde (IPA: [kɔ̃kɔʁd]), which has an English equivalent, concord. Both words mean agreement, harmony or union. The name was officially changed to Concord by Harold Macmillan in response to a perceived slight by Charles de Gaulle. In 1967, at the French roll-out in Toulouse the British Government Minister for Technology, Tony Benn, announced that he would change the spelling back to Concorde.[26] This created a nationalist uproar that died down when Benn stated that the suffixed 'e' represented "Excellence, England, Europe and Entente (Cordiale)." In his memoirs, he recounts a tale of a letter from an irate Scotsman claiming: "[Y]ou talk about 'E' for England, but part of it is made in Scotland." Given Scotland’s contribution of providing the nose cone for the aircraft, Benn replied, "[I]t was also 'E' for 'Écosse' (the French name for Scotland) — and I might have added 'e' for extravagance and 'e' for escalation as well!"

  3. John Miles 1

    Bombes found the keys

    Small correction - the Bombes didn't decrypt the messages themselves, but rather found the Enigma settings used to encode just one sample message on a particular network, a process that might take an hour or more. Once the settings were known much simpler machines could be used to decode the messages themselves very quickly (different keys were used on different networks and the settings changed each day so a number of bombe runs would be needed).

    There is a good description of the bombe operation on http://www.ellsbury.com/enigmabombe.htm

  4. Amorous Cowherder
    Happy

    I can't think of Alan Turing without thinking of the radio series Hut 33!

    "Yes hello this is Bletchly Park I.T. No Alan, I'm I.T. No, Ian Turnbull! What's the problem Alan? Oh I see. Have you tried turning it off and on again Alan? Yes, the off switch. Is it working now? OK, bye Alan!"

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: I can't think of Alan Turing without thinking of the radio series Hut 33!

      Have you tried turning it off and on again Alan?

      "The engineers who came to install it and switched it on, told me not to switch it off until after the war."

      1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

        Re: I can't think of Alan Turing without thinking of the radio series Hut 33!

        The engineers who came to install it and switched it on, told me not to switch it off until after the war.

        Indeed. Values lasted much longer without being power cycled.

        (But I don't thing Amorous Cowherder was being serious, so up votes for both of you)

        1. Terry Barnes

          Re: I can't think of Alan Turing without thinking of the radio series Hut 33!

          "Indeed. Values lasted much longer without being power cycled."

          I don't think the original Bombes had valves, they were electro-mechanical. You might be thinking of Colossus.

          The later 'high-speed' bombes had valves, but they were built by the US.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    countless?

    “The 210 Bombes built by the British Tabulating Machine Company during World War Two played a crucial role in the Allied success in the war. Estimates suggest that they could have helped cut the war by as much as two years – saving countless lives,”

    Countless? Really? So someone bothered to estimate the extended time that the war would have raged on for if the Enigma had not been cracked, but not the lives that would have been lost during that period?

    How about - if it cut the war by 2 years, then take the losses so far, plot them on a chart (by month?) see if they were constant over a period, sloping or a bell curve or whatever, extrapolate for another 2 years (move the end data 2 years forward in time as obviously the end of the war wouldn't happen twice), correct for countries going out of the war early and skewing numbers (if unrelated to the enigma being cracked), correct for D day happening much later and the germans being able to concentrate their forces in the east, correct for the differences it would mean for the war in the pacific, correct for the knowledge and use of nuclear weapons from august 1945 onwards, report back number as an estimate. Or, you know, just go with 'countless', like my marble collection.

    Hypothetical question - after the nukes were dropped on japan, would germany really kept fighting for another 2 years? What if the 3rd nuke was dropped on berlin?

    Someone is obviously sitting somewhere calculating very selective estimate numbers.

    /Pedant rant.

    1. Steve 114

      Re: countless?

      Agreed. Not obvious either that Enigma etc. intel. was much affecting the Russian steamroller which would have crushed Berlin willy-nilly. Certainly saved lives in the Atlantic and many other theatres, but the war couldn't have run for two years more.

      1. hippiegunnut

        Re: countless?

        The Russians had the German plans for the Battle of Kursk in advance via Bletchley so I think it did make a difference on that front too.

        1. JamesPond
          Mushroom

          Re: countless?

          Actually I think you'll find that the Russian's had the Lucy spy ring passing on the Nazi plans for attack, whilst Ultra decoded field communications and unit displacement messages.

    2. johnnybee
      Stop

      Re: countless?

      Well I'll tell you what, you just pop off and do all that whilst we wait here, because then you'll have counted all the lives sa.... Waaaaiiit a minute - you won't have counted them at all! You'll just have estimated the number, based on probabilities.

      Oh well, never mind. At least you'll have shown up the article's claim that the numbers were 'inestimab...' Waaaaiiit a minute! They didn't claim that at all and the only thing you'll have proved is that you're none too hot at this pedantry lark.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: countless?

        "Well I'll tell you what, you just pop off and do all that whilst we wait here, because then you'll have counted all the lives sa.... Waaaaiiit a minute - you won't have counted them at all! You'll just have estimated the number, based on probabilities.

        Oh well, never mind. At least you'll have shown up the article's claim that the numbers were 'inestimab...' Waaaaiiit a minute! They didn't claim that at all and the only thing you'll have proved is that you're none too hot at this pedantry lark."

        -The orignal article mentioned that it was _estimated_ that the cracking of the enigma code shortened the war by 2 years. It also mentioned that this had apparently saved countless lives. So... aproximately countless/2 lives saved per year?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: countless? (AC Pedant Rant!)

      The actual day Germany surrendered on, is officially celebrated on VE day or May 8th 1945 (actually happened in late April). VJ day, (the day Japan surrendered) is August 15th 1945. Therefore there was no need of using nukes on Berlin as they surrendered BEFORE the Japanese did.

      There can be no "hypothetical" answer to your questions either. It could not have happened as you proposed.

      You should learn not to question history until you have learned it.

      I'm betting you're under 50 years old. I blame the school system and parents.

      1. Kevin Reilly

        Re: countless? (AC Pedant Rant!)

        I'm over fifty. We did a pretty good job on the Germans without Nukes. The other 9/11 (Darmstadt) in 1944 212 Lancasters & 14 Mosquitos killed between 3 to 4 times the numbers killed in the World Trade Centre. 10% of the towns population, hardly rated a mention back then. No CNN in them days. The bomber offensive also supposedly shortened the War by tying up a lot of assets defending the Fatherland.

        1. Deryk Barker

          Re: countless? (AC Pedant Rant!)

          "Supposedly" shortene the war.

          "Bomber" Harris was an insane empire-bulder who would not allow bombers to be used to help defend convoys bringing essential goods from N America.

          The bmbing campaign made a sort of sense during the period from Dunkirk to D-Day, because it have the British the impression they were doing something.

          If there's one thing reading WWII history has told me, it's that there was massive incompetence on both sides.

          Plus ca change.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: countless? (AC Pedant Rant!)

        Hi, OP here :)

        The germans surrendered in May 1945. The japanese held on longer and (depending on whos version of history you read) the only thing that managed to get them to surrender was the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

        Suppose the Enigma codes had not been cracked, and the war had continued for another 2 years (as estimated by 'Estimates suggest' people referred to in the article).

        The US would likely have developed their Nuclear capability at the same speed, meaning that in August 1945 with Germany 1 year and 9 months away from capitulating (no enigma cracking), the US would have been ready to deploy the worlds first nuclear weapon (the us may not have chosen to deploy their nuclear capability over japan in this version of history, as it might have been more pressing to drop it over germany in stead).

        This whole 'alternate version of history' is brought to us by the claim if the enigma codes hadn't been cracked in Poland/Blechley park then the Axis powers would have been able to hold out for 2 years longer than what they actually did. The claim is that the cracking of the code saved 2 years worth of world war 2 killing of soldiers (and presumably civillians). I was annoyed at them for estimating the years saved but not the number of casualties saved, and finally annoyed at 'them' for assuming that the axis powers would have been able to continue fighting for 1 year 9 months (I think I said 2 years) after the americans had nuked japan (or in stead opting to flatten berlin).

    4. Jonathan Richards 1
      FAIL

      History fail

      > after the nukes were dropped on japan, would germany really [have] kept fighting for another 2 years? What if the 3rd nuke was dropped on berlin?

      German forces in Berlin surrendered on 2 May 1945, and Field Marshall Montgomery received the surrender of the German forces in North-West Europe on the 4th. By the 7th, General Jodl signed an unconditional surrender of all German forces.

      This did not end the war in the Pacific. On 26th July 1945 the leaders of the USA, China and Great Britain issued the Potsdam Declaration, calling on Japan to surrender, or in the alternative suffer "prompt and utter destruction". The first atomic bomb test (Trinity) had successfully been undertaken on 16th July.

      Japan did not surrender, and atomic bombs were delivered against Hiroshima (Aug 6th) and Nagasaki (Aug 9th). On August 10th, through Swiss diplomatic channels, Japan sued for peace on the terms of the Potsdam declaration. Japan formally surrendered on 2nd September 1945.

      It would have been worse than pointless to drop a third atomic bomb on Berlin, because it had been under Allied control for over three months before the first one was dropped.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: History fail

        It would have been worse than pointless to drop a third atomic bomb on Berlin, because it had been under Allied control for over three months before the first one was dropped.

        ****

        If the enigma encryption had not been broken, and if the war in 1945 was still 2 years away from being won (hypothetical "no one broke the enigma code" scenario), then Berlin would probably not yet be under allied control?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: History fail

          To 'History Fail' commentators.

          You are all Mark Corrigan and I claim my GBP5.

    5. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: countless?

      "Hypothetical question - after the nukes were dropped on japan, would germany really kept fighting for another 2 years? What if the 3rd nuke was dropped on berlin?"

      If Germany hadn't surrendered, there wouldn't have been enough uranium available for the USA to make nukes for another couple of years - and a good chance the germans/japanese might have had a chance of developing their own nukes.

      See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_submarine_U-234

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: countless?

        Except that there was plenty of uranium ore in the US (Colorado) and Canada to make the required refined U-235 and by 1942 they had tons of purified Uranium.

        We did not even test the first bomb until July 16th 1945, since Germany surrendered 2 months before then; there was still no reason to bomb Berlin.

  6. smudge Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    all dismantled...

    "... the original Bombes built by the British Tabulating Machine Company were all dismantled after the war."

    Yeah right. Thus leaving GC&CS/GCHQ without a means of attacking messages from the many other countries which were still using Enigma or variations (pun intended) thereof. Including the countries to which the UK sold them.

    Did anyone ever believe the story the everything was destroyed?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: all dismantled...

      I guess this is the truth, but not the whole truth... According to wikipedia, Bombes were also made by NCR at Dayton in the US, so they might well have smashed up the knackered old BTM ones and replaced them with shiny new NCR ones. Evidently they kept 50 operating at Eastcote along with two Colossus machines after the war.

      I guess there is also a lot of history to be unearthed about post-war evolution of these machines. I wonder if there was ever a semiconductor Colossus, full of point-contact transistors?

  7. Kevin Pollock

    I'm not an expert on this, but weren't the original Bombes designed (and at least two built) by Polish cryptanalysts, and gifted to the Allies (at that time Britain and France) after Poland was invaded?

    I'm sure Turing and his colleagues significantly developed the design, but it seems a little bit unfair not to give credit to the people who designed and built the original models.

    Likewise the Americans developed the design still further with valves and other electronic components to replace the electro-mechanical elements..

    1. Steve Todd

      Yes and no

      The Poles came up with the original Bombe, but Turing et al came up with a different attack on the cipher and a revised Bombe to use it. Also Colosus was developed to break the Lorenz cypher, a teleprinter rotor cipher that was far more complicated than Enigma, requiring Colosus to run its input loop at 5000 characters per second to break it. This was the first use of valves in a (semi) programable machine.

      1. Deryk Barker

        Re: Yes and no

        Actually the Poles came up wth the Bomba, which was essentially six enigma machines hooked together and relied on the knowledge they had gained during the 1930s and the fact that the Nazis only used 3 wheels in the machine.

        When they upped that to - IIRC - three chosen from possible eight, the bomba approach no longer worked.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re gifted to

      No, mate, they were given

  8. Chris Miller

    It's not just for 20th century artefacts

    Our local windmill (c 1650) also has a heritage award. As the president told us when he presented it: in the 17th century this was the most advanced mechanical engineering on the planet - fully the equivalent of Concorde.

  9. A. Coatsworth
    Paris Hilton

    HMS Belfast

    Not being a naval buff, by any means, I need to ask: How does the Belfast measure against these other masterpieces?

    A visit to Wikipedia fails to shed any light on the issue... I can't find what makes it so special as to compete with Bombe or the Concorde.

    Feels like her, asking this question ----------------------------->

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: HMS Belfast

      I was going to ask the same question. Belfast was one of a subclass of the Town, or Southampton class of large light cruisers. The primary difference was that during the building of the ship, an extra 22 foot section was added between the forward superstructure and the forward funnel.

      The original intention was to allow the ships to carry more (16 vs. 12) six inch guns, but as the quadruple turrets were never built, they ended up with the same main armament as the original ships. They could cover a target with continuous fire, but were not really any better that the rest of the class.

      This left the two ships (Edinburgh and Belfast) longer than the so called heavy cruisers, and as long as the smaller battle ships (like the Royal Oak class), without significant armour or heavy guns.

      I also think that the extra section spoilt the very hansom lines of the 'towns, giving them an awkward, lop-sided silhouette, certainly nothing worthy of accolade.

      But I suppose that as there is little preserved of the glory days of the British Navy, that we should be glad we still have Belfast.

      I would have liked to see either Vanguard, the last British battleship, or the Audacious class Ark Royal (not the harrier carrier) preserved, but alas, they are gone.

      1. Nuke
        Holmes

        @Peter Gathercole - Re: HMS Belfast

        Wrote :- "

        The original intention was to allow the ships to carry more (16 vs. 12) six inch guns, but as the quadruple turrets were never built"

        Interesting, I did not know about the quadruple turret plan.

        However, I don't know why the Belfast was in the same running as Concorde and Turing's Bombe; it was a fairly conventional cruiser, bigger than most but in technical terms similar to hundreds of others in the British and foreign navies at the outbreak of WW2. Only the fact that is is preserved might make it seem special to people today - but in its time it was fairly ordinary, and a minnow compared with battleships such as the Hood and the Vangard, and the Ark Royal as you say.

        To nominate a warship I would say HMS Dreadnought, the 1906 battleship, so advanced for its day that made all others obsolete at a stoke. If only we still had the technological drive and confidence those guys had back then!

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: @Peter Gathercole - HMS Belfast

          If only we still had the technological drive and confidence those guys had back then!

          I can do without the technological drive and confidence that leads to an armement race about who can wave the biggest willy on the ocean to make sure the colonies stay appreciative. No.

        2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          @Nuke

          Look again at what was being celebrated. It is the best historical artefact, so unfortunately, it is limited to what actually still exists.

          I agree that HMS Dreadnought was clearly a revolutionary ship, and rendered the rest of the world's battleships obsolete almost overnight, but Dreadnought herself was rapidly overtaken by subsequent ships that introduced the 13.5" and then the 15" main gun, fuel oil in place of coal, superheated steam boilers and improved protection. Notable British Dreadnought follow-on ships included the Iron Duke class and then the Queen Elizabeth class, which was IMHO probably the peak of the British Super Dreadnoughts. Subsequent ships moved away from the classic Dreadnought layout, and culminated in the fast battleship that was built by various navies to counter ships like KMS Bismark and IMS Yamato.

          HMS Dreadnought herself only had a life of around 13 years, which is a very short time for a capital ship, and managed to miss Jutland, but does have the distinction of being the only battleship to have ever sunk a submarine!

        3. Citizen99

          Re: @Peter Gathercole - HMS Belfast

          Slightly pedantic topic swerve ;-) , The Hood was a battlecruiser, specified before the Admiralty had learned the downside of trading armour for speed (battle of Jutland), with, sadly, the inevitable result.

          1. Nuke
            Holmes

            Re: @Peter Gathercole - HMS Belfast

            Peter Gathercole wrote :- "

            [The competition] is the best historical artefact, so unfortunately, it is limited to what actually still exists"

            The Turbinia then, the first turbine vessel, now in a Newcastle museum.

            "but Dreadnought herself was rapidly overtaken by subsequent ships"

            So was the Bombe overtaken, and most other good inventions (not Concorde though)

            "the Queen Elizabeth class [battleships], which was IMHO probably the peak of the British Super Dreadnoughts. Subsequent ships ... culminated in the fast battleship"

            Indeed, the QEs was superb, but they were "fast battleships" as a type, the first of the type. At Jutland they were placed with the battlecruiser squadrons, having the speed for it.

            Citizen99 wrote :- "Slightly pedantic topic swerve ;-) , The Hood was a battlecruiser"

            Yes, but battlecruisers are generally regarded as a type of battleship rather than a type of cruiser. The Dreadnought type and the battlecruiser type were later merged into the single fast battleship type, mentioned by PG.

            Battlecruisers got a bad name because of the losses at Jutland, and of the Hood. However this is partly a consequence of their being in the forefront of the fleet; at Jutland they (and the QEs) took the brunt of the fighting and night fell before the main Dreadnought fleets got to grips with each other. The Hood was sent after the Bismark because it was one of the few available British "battleships" fast enough to stand a chance of catching it.

  10. unitron
    Coat

    So somebody really did...

    "The fully functional replica that’s on display at Bletchley Park was reconstructed by a group of enthusiasts over a period of 13 years."

    ...set us up the Bombe.

    Mine's the one with all your base in the pockets.

    1. WraithCadmus

      Re: So somebody really did...

      What you say ! !

      1. A K Stiles
        Coat

        Re: So somebody really did...

        I'm guessing this might be a popular music reference? Perhaps an example of "da R n' B" that seems so popular?

        (Mine's the brown and orange one, yes - with the 8 track cassette in the pocket!)

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: So somebody really did...

          I'm guessing this might be a popular music reference?

          GIYF. It's a meme from the idiosyncratic English translation of a Japanese video game. About 15 years old now (the meme, that is - the game in question came out in the early '90s). At one time it was bigger than Lolcats.

          There is, somewhere, a Flash music video based on AYB, and it was quite popular back in the day, so I supposed you could call it a popular music reference - but it's a stretch.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All this talk of nukes

    forgets that the Nazis were *also* trying to develop a nuclear weapon. And they had already had a programme to develop an intercontinental delivery system. If they could, they would have bombed the US (as well as the UK).

    Roosevelts surreptitious aid to the UK was really enlightened self interest. If the UK had lost, then the US would have nowhere to launch an invasion from, but more importantly, Hitler would have been able to go hell-for-broke for a nuke. With added British know-how.

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