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View Full Version : Balls to the Wall? The Origin Is . . .



dugong
02-03-2004, 08:43 PM
From what I understand it means pushing the throttle forward as far as it can go. Throttles on multi-engine bombers in WWII had plastic/rubber balls on the ends for easy gripping. And when things got scary they would push them forward to the firewall/panel to spool up the throttles and get out of there quickly.

Anyone else hear this explanation? Or another? It sure is a useful phrase whatever it's origin.

dugong
02-03-2004, 08:43 PM
From what I understand it means pushing the throttle forward as far as it can go. Throttles on multi-engine bombers in WWII had plastic/rubber balls on the ends for easy gripping. And when things got scary they would push them forward to the firewall/panel to spool up the throttles and get out of there quickly.

Anyone else hear this explanation? Or another? It sure is a useful phrase whatever it's origin.

Sturmtrooper
02-03-2004, 09:22 PM
And all this time I thought it was just an ACCEPT song !
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SkyMonkey2
02-03-2004, 09:46 PM
I have heard that it came from the same, although I'm not sure if it was specificly bombers or not. Someone here will know the details.

Bearcat99
02-03-2004, 09:58 PM
I know the P-47s had balls...and so did some of the Mustangs...

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OberstWileyII
02-04-2004, 11:18 AM
From an etymology site:

Balls to the Wall
The phrase balls to the wall, meaning an all-out effort, sounds as if it is a reference to a part of the male anatomy, giving rise to some confusion as to what it originally meant. However, the original usage has nothing to do with anatomy, coming rather from the world of aviation.

On an airplane, the handles controlling the throttle and the fuel mixture are often topped with ball-shaped grips, referred to by pilots as (what else?) "balls." Pushing the balls forward, close to the front wall of the cockpit results in the most and richest mixture of fuel going to the engines and the highest possible speed.

The phrase dates to the early 1950s. Several veterans have written me noting their use of the term during the Korean War era. The earliest written citation is a bit later. The Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang contains a quote from 1966-67, in Harvey's Air War:

You know what happened on that first Doomsday Mission (as the boys call a big balls-to-the-wall raid) against Hanoi oil.

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TgD Thunderbolt56
02-04-2004, 11:31 AM
Thanks OberstWileyII. I'll definitely use that phrase more often in my colloqial dialogue now that I know the correct history.
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Old_Canuck
02-04-2004, 11:52 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Bearcat99:
I know the P-47s had balls...and so did some of the Mustangs...

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

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VonKlugermon
02-04-2004, 12:20 PM
"Balls to the wall" sounds similar to the phrase "balls out" which referred to the early RPM governers on steam engines. (You know, the two spinning-ball thingy!) As the engine revolutions increased, the balls would spin faster and centrifugal force would move the balls outward. The mass of the balls would reduce the RPM, much like a skater holding out their arms.

Hence, if you were moving really fast, you were "balls out".

Willy

michapma
02-04-2004, 01:30 PM
And here I thought it was a baseball analogy. http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

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dugong
02-04-2004, 03:59 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by OberstWileyII:
From an etymology site:

Balls to the Wall
The phrase balls to the wall, meaning an all-out effort, sounds as if it is a reference to a part of the male anatomy, giving rise to some confusion as to what it originally meant. However, the original usage has nothing to do with anatomy, coming rather from the world of aviation.. .. .

On an airplane, the handles controlling the throttle and the fuel mixture are often topped with ball-shaped grips, referred to by pilots as (what else?) "balls." Pushing the balls forward, close to the front wall of the cockpit results in the most and richest mixture of fuel going to the engines and the highest possible speed.

Thanks for the verification. I can't remember where I heard the origin. Pretty interesting stuff.
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

GoodKn1ght
02-04-2004, 04:01 PM
wow u learn something everyday here on the ubi boards. makes me wonder why im even paying for college.

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BM357_Raven
02-06-2004, 12:33 AM
I still like this thread and dont want it to go away http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/images/smiley/16x16_smiley-sad.gif

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BM357_Raven
02-06-2004, 12:36 AM
but one day.....................it will be gone
Along with so many others... Same ole song, just a drop of water in an endless sea, all we do is yadda dadda dadda though we refuse to see.. Dust in the wind.. All we are is dust in the wiiiiiiiiiyyyyyiiiiiiiiiyiiiiiiiyyyyiiiiiiind, now dadda dadadadaddadada --stayin' alive, stayin alive, yahdhahdhahdhadhahda Stayin aliiiiiyyyiiiiiiyiiiiiiyiiiive.. whoops. sorry not sure where that was heading. http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/images/smiley/16x16_smiley-tongue.gif

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BM357_Raven
02-06-2004, 12:38 AM
I should do my next movie with Stayin Alive... The question is would I get any hits on my download page? http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/images/smiley/blink.gif

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