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Memorandum for the Secretary of War
August 29, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
With reference to Mr. Roosevelt’s letter to you regarding the difficulty experienced in providing spare engines, spare parts, tools, and operating supplies, such as anti-freeze compounds for the planes being turned over to Russia,1 I suggest that the President be given the following information at the Cabinet meeting:
In the first place our entire Air Corps is suffering from a severe shortage in spare parts of all kinds. We have planes on the ground because we cannot repair them. As a matter of fact, we have been forced for the time being to take about one-fifth of the new planes to provide parts for the older planes that we are keeping in the air.
Mr. Oumansky and his Russian associates were informed of this situation. He stated that airplane spare parts were not a problem and that he would be satisfied if the Russians were given spare engines and engine spare parts. It appears that 20% spare engines are ample, and twelve spare engines have been forwarded to Amtorg Corporation to be included with the shipment of planes. Furthermore, a complement of engine spare parts, with the exception of generators and starters have been furnished.
With regard to tools, in addition to the spares which are normally furnished with planes and engines, a complement of miscellaneous tools went forward for shipment with the planes. With regard to fuels, lubricants, etc., the Amtorg Corporation was advised as to the situation, and is making direct procurement of these supplies. All of the facilities of the War Department were placed at their disposal to assist them in every way possible. As to the airplane spares, although Mr. Oumansky stated that airplane spares were not a matter of immediate concern, necessary action has been taken to insure that a full complement of airplane spares will be shipped within thirty days.
If any criticism is to be made in this matter, in my opinion it is that we have been too generous, to our own disadvantage, and I seriously question the advisability of our action in releasing the P-forties at this particular time; I question this even more when it only results in criticism, and I think the President should have it clearly pointed out to him that Mr. Oumansky will take everything we own if we submit to his criticisms. Please read their attitude toward our Attach