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Memorandum for the Secretary Of War
August 1, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
Regarding the attached report of Colonel Faymonville, with the directions of the President for the provision of planes to Russia:1
P-40 Pursuit Planes—Our Air people have been working with the British since last evening to let delivery on the lot of 40 of these planes in the United States that the British have expressed a willingness to release to Russia. We are planning to transport in one way or another these planes to Fairbanks, Alaska, and there to make contact with the Russians who are to fly the planes. We are requesting the Russian Government to fly their pilots and mechanics by transport planes across Siberia to Nome, Alaska. The actual training of the Russian pilots and the handling of these planes and the mechanics and maintenance of the planes will first take place at Fairbanks. It is planned to start approximately one squadron of 30 planes by the Northern Siberian Airway to see if this is a practicable proposition. If it is not, the planes will probably have to be shipped across the Pacific to an agreed on port in western Siberia. There they must be set up by our mechanics and there we must have American pilots to instruct the Russians in the flying of the planes.
The direction of the President to take 160 planes from the units of the Army Air Corps, if other American sources are not available, reduces our pursuit planes in continental United States to 6 squadrons, planes of another type. At the present moment we have only approximately 90 P-40s in active commission, the remainder are under repair, the delay being due to the shortage in spare parts because the ground-looping tendency of the plane has been productive to unusual damage to wing-tips and propellers.
4-Engine Bombers—In the B-17 and B-24 type planes, the situation in continental United States is as follows:
There are 40 B-17s in service and 30 being modernized. Of these 40, 9 are earmarked for transfer to Hawaii to replace 9 there being sent to Manila. This would leave 31 B-17s in continental United States for the training of 150 crews now in ranks or reporting by the end of next month, 170 more crews coming in during the following three months.
We may have one B-24, but I do not think it has been delivered. In the matter of preparing a competent crew to fly these heavy planes, it took the British about two months after they had gotten their men over here, and it required a much longer time for the training of the mechanical crew. We can only guess at the Russian ability, but probably at least three months would be required for the pilots.
With regard to the next class of bombers—medium, B-25 or B-26, the following is our present situation:
There are 50 B-25s in service. Of the B-26 planes, we have 50 on hand, with only 12 in commission due to shortage of propellers and defective exhaust stacks. There is no indication at the present time of propeller deliveries for the B-26 planes that would release any large number of those now on the ground.
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Office of the Chief of Staff (OCS), 20141, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. On July 31, 1941, President Roosevelt had a forty-minute meeting with the Russian delegation made up of Soviet Ambassador Constantine A. Oumansky, Lieutenant General Filip I. Golikov, and Major General Alexander K. Repin. (Sherman Miles Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, August 1, 1941, NA/RG 165 [OCS, 20141].)
Colonel Philip R. Faymonville had met with President Roosevelt on August 1 “to confirm the report the Russian Mission had given him of their interview with the President the previous day.” Faymonville reported: “The President expressed his conviction that something positive must immediately be done in the matter of sending both pursuit planes and bombers to the Soviet Union; that he did not want any telegrams sent across the water to the effect that we are people who talk much and do little. On the question of pursuit planes, he stated that two hundred planes must be sent, and that he considered it impossible to withdraw from England any of the P-40 planes already shipped there. . . . The two hundred planes should be made up of the forty which are now awaiting shipment to Great Britain, and if other American sources are not immediately available, 160 must be taken from planes in the hands of active Army Air Corps units.”
“As to bombers,” Faymonville continued, “the President indicated that at least token shipments of bombers of the B-17 type and the B-24 type should be made immediately and should be repeated monthly as an indication of our intent to continue supply of planes of this type.” Shipment of ten bombing planes monthly should commence immediately—”five to be contributed by the United States and five by the United Kingdom. He added that this general plan had been discussed with Lord Halifax yesterday and had met with his concurrence.” (Faymonville Notes on Remarks of the President at Conference Held at 12:15 P.M., August 1, 1941, attached to the above Memorandum for the Secretary of War, August 1, 1941, NA/RG 165 [OCS, 20141].) For more information concerning Colonel Faymonville, see Memorandum for Mr. Hopkins, October 10, 1941, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-569 [2: 635-36].
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr. (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 581-583.