The Ambassador in France (Bullitt) to the Secretary of State
[Received 4:15 p.m.]
732. For the President and the Secretary. I communicated the substance of your rush 262, April 13, 7 p.m. to the Minister for Air today. He said that he had already telegraphed to the Air Attaché of the French Embassy in Washington asking him to procure at the earliest possible moment one Allison motor for immediate shipment to France. He added that he would telegraph again to the Air Attaché asking him to put this engine on the first boat.
The Minister for Air went on to say that he was not certain at what price the Allison engines would be offered to France; but that if they should not cost more than $10,000 per engine which in his opinion was a normal price he would be prepared, as soon as a test should [Page 511] have been made of the single Allison engine to be shipped to France, to order 800 of these motors at once.
The order for 800 Allison motors would of course be on the condition that General Motors should expand the Allison plant to begin to produce engines at the rate of 60 per month in approximately 3 months.
The Minister for Air asked two questions to which I could not give definite replies:
- If the Allison plant should begin to produce engines at the rate of 60 per month at the end of 3 months, at what rate would the plant be able to raise this production to a minimum of 300 motors per month? In commenting on this question the Minister for Air expressed the opinion that it was almost certain that France and England would be in war at the end of 3 months and added that France alone in case of war would desire to purchase 300 Allison motors per month.
- If the Allison plant should begin to produce engines at the rate of 60 per month at the end of approximately 3 months, what proportion of these engines would be turned over to the French Government and what proportion would be taken by the American Government.
I should be obliged also if you could inform me at approximately what price these motors can be obtained.
In conclusion, the Minister for Air said that he would not need any authorization from the Minister of Finance or anyone else to place this order as he could take the sum of $8,000,000 from his general fund for the purchase of airplane motors and use it in payment of Allison motors.
I trust therefore that you will do what is possible to see to it that an Allison motor should be shipped to France on the first available boat. The Minister for Air expressed in warm terms his deep gratitude for your prompt reply to his inquiry.