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Shell "Greenhouses" for the Boys "Upstairs"
March 23, 1942 Life Article

March 23, 1942 Life

March 23, 1942 Life Cover - RF Cafe[Table of Contents]

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early technology. See articles from Life, published 1883-1972 . All copyrights hereby acknowledged.

In the run-up to World War II and during the battle, a lot of plastics research and production was considered classified defense information. Poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), also know by the trade names of Plexiglas, Lucite, Crystallite, and others, was a crucial component for aircraft where the weight and brittleness of regular glass made it practically useless (and dangerous). A full-page ad by Shell Oil in this 1942 issue of Life magazine promoted plastic used in a bomber. When I see this, it reminds me of "It's a Wonderful Life," where Sam Wainwright offers George Bailey a position in his fledgling soybean-based plastic canopy factory in Buffalo, New York. Being primarily a petroleum product, plastic was promoted heavily by oil companies like Shell Oil, Standard Oil, American Oil, partially due to patriotism, but no doubt also for the profits. Those places, of course, were part of the "Military-Industrial Complex" identified by President Dwight Eisenhower. In fact, an Internet search turns up many claims that those same companies conspired to sell oil to Axis powers prior to America's official entry into WWII on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

Shell "Greenhouses" for the Boys "Upstairs"

Shell "Greenhouses" for the Boys "Upstairs", March 23, 1942 Life - RF CafeBlind spots are a combat flyer's nightmare. In World War I, his skill in "anticipating" and maneuvering was all that saved him.

Now he can see. Pilot, bombardier and gunners have "greenhouses" - that's what they call their shells of light, durable, transparent plastic - to protect their eyes from the wind and weather, yet let them look above, below and all around.

At the "University of Petroleum," Shell's research laboratories, where 1481 scientists and technicians are at work, a way was found to combine molecules from petroleum gases which makes possible the molding of these smooth, tough, transparent globes of open "daylight."

Horizons widen through Shell research. The increasing knowledge of petroleum molecules today is "coming home" to you in dozens of ways. Already it has led to better food, better clothing at lower cost, more effective drugs, "beauty aids," plastics with scores of uses ...

This scientific knowledge "carries over" to your motoring - in the Shell gasoline and motor oil you buy today



Posted April 21, 2022

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Kirt Blattenberger - RF Cafe Webmaster

Copyright: 1996 - 2024


    Kirt Blattenberger,


RF Cafe began life in 1996 as "RF Tools" in an AOL screen name web space totaling 2 MB. Its primary purpose was to provide me with ready access to commonly needed formulas and reference material while performing my work as an RF system and circuit design engineer. The World Wide Web (Internet) was largely an unknown entity at the time and bandwidth was a scarce commodity. Dial-up modems blazed along at 14.4 kbps while tying up your telephone line, and a nice lady's voice announced "You've Got Mail" when a new message arrived...

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