851.248/175: Telegram

The Ambassador in France ( Bullitt ) to the Secretary of State

707. For the President and the Secretary. Guy la Chambre, Minister for Air, called on me today and said that his conversations with the members of the British Government last week had convinced him that in case war should break out this spring there would be an immense shortage in airplane engines both in France and in England. He had discovered that the British Government was planning in case of war to place large orders for engines in America which, as a result of the investigations of the French Air Mission in the United States, he knew could not be filled.

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He went on to say that he hoped that the Pratt and Whitney and Curtiss Wright engine plants would increase their production greatly in the near future. He added that in his opinion the Allison motor would be far superior to the Wright and Pratt and Whitney motors. He felt that no single act could be of greater assistance to France and England than an immediate and great increase in production of Allison motors.

The Minister for Air asked me if I could not procure for him immediately one Allison motor to be shipped to France as soon as possible.

If the General Motors Corporation which controls the Allison motors should be willing to enter into large scale production of this motor he would be prepared to place a large French order for these motors as soon as the tests of the motor shipped to France should have been completed. He was certain that these motors would be needed by France in case of war and if the placing of an order for 500 Allison motors or more would be sufficient to persuade the General Motors Corporation to embark on large scale production he would not hesitate to place it. Speed was of the essence.

I replied to the Minister for Air that I was not sufficiently familiar with the status of the Allison motor to be able to make any reply to this request but promised him to communicate with you at once. I should be greatly obliged if you would indicate to me as soon as possible how you desire this business to be approached.

The Minister for Air said that the British production of planes during the past month had risen to 587 approximately 425 of which were war planes and the remainder training planes. The French production last month had been 106 war planes and 80 training planes. The French production this month would be approximately 140 war planes; next month 180 and in June 250; rising thence to 350 in September.