Arnold Papers

Memorandum by Lieutenant General Arnold

I. General Arnold was called to the White House by Mr. Hopkins.

Mr. Hopkins talked over organization of the Air Forces, replacement of Chief of the Air Corps in the organization due to the present status of General Brett, whether anything was interfering with or retarding the expansion of the Air Forces and what, if anything, was holding up the Navy Air Program. He was informed as follows:

That the Chief of Staff was in full accord with our 1 million man, 115 Group Program;

That the only thing that was holding it up was approval by the President;

That the War Department was for getting this program, together with the Army Program, to the President for approval at an early date;

That with this program we expected to have 34 groups of heavy bombers and reach a grand total of 115 groups by December 31, 1942;

That we proposed to have 800 heavy bombers in England by December. In addition to that, we expect to have 2 Pursuit Groups each in England, Ireland and North Africa;

That this is in addition to any aircraft required for test [task?] force or aid to the Far East;

That we expect to have in the Far East within the next couple of months:

2 Heavy Bombardment Groups —80 planes
4 Pursuit Groups —320 planes
2 Medium Bombardment Groups —114 planes
1 Dive Bomber Group —52 planes

That we believed these forces with the British in Singapore would be more than ample to gain air superiority in any area in which they were concentrated. This mainly because Portal had just told me that he was increasing his air strength in Singapore. Further, the Japs have a total of less than 1 thousand airplanes in that area and they are spread from “hell to breakfast” so that we can concentrate more air force in any area than the Japs can, and by using our long-range bombers against ships can deny that area to carriers;

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That the Japs must be using about 2 minimum or 4 maximum carriers in the area and as soon as we start working on those carriers they will be forced to withdraw back towards Japan.

He asked me about the air routes to the Far East and I explained how Natal was the critical point.

He further asked me whether I expected to run into any obstacles in meeting this program. I told him as far as training was concerned everything was getting along beautifully, although we would have to bring in a lot of administrative civilians to replace trained Army Air Corps men who would go out with tactical units. I further stated that if there were any obstacles in our path I would propose to ride them with the aid of the Secretary of War, the Under Secretary of War, the Assistant Secretary of War and the Chief of Staff.

Question arose about what was wrong with the Navy Air Force. I told him that was a question for Towers to answer and not for me.

We talked at length about priorities. I told him it was not a question of allocations, but of priorities themselves.

I further told him that there had been a general awakening throughout the whole United States; that the fact that we are at war had caused us to want to get maximum production. This has been indicated by the increase in numbers of airplanes as follows: First, by Curtiss—7 to 14 a day. Next, by Boeing—35 to 60 during the month of December, both after the Japs made their attacks on Pearl Harbor. He assured me that the President was determined to get a maximum production of 48,000 airplanes during the year of 1942 and a total of 100,000 during the year of 1943.

II. After this conference, he told me the President wanted to see me. Shortly thereafter, I went to the President’s Study and was with him alone for about 45 minutes. He asked me various questions about our aircraft setup and I went over them in detail the same as I did with Harry Hopkins. He was very much interested in the number of planes we were going to send to England, Ireland and North Africa. He was also interested in our Program and whether or not we thought we could reach it and what obstacles there might be in our path. I gave him the same assurance that I gave Hopkins.

He then discussed Natal Peninsula, went into details as to why Vargas (President of Brazil) could not leap into action and give us permission to put more troops on the Natal Peninsula. Vargas had to sort of feel his way and be sure of his ground. I assured him that the Natal Peninsula was absolutely essential to our successful Ferry Service across the South Atlantic. He said he realized that.

He asked me how I was getting along with Portal and I said “100 [Page 161] per cent.” I told him of the agreement I made with Portal that no airplanes of the fighting class should be held back waiting for something to happen; that as soon as possible all such airplanes should be sent across where they could fight. He agreed with me that that was an excellent thing to do.

He expressed himself as being in accord with the Aircraft Program as outlined in every respect.

III. Between my talks with Hopkins and my visit to the President I was taken in to see Mr. Churchill, the Prime Minister. He received me and talked to me for 15 or 20 minutes. He asked me various questions concerning how we were getting along, what we had given the British and what units we had sent over. I gave him the same information that I had given Hopkins and the President.

He seemed very pleased and asked when we would get the Staffs over there so that they could get acquainted with British methods of operations and procedures. I assured him that they could be gotten over very shortly, that it was a question of weeks rather than months. He expressed great pleasure at this and told me to be sure to get them over as quickly as we could.

He asked questions about British organization and personnel and told me of a change he was going to make in the British organizations but asked me not to divulge it.

I told him about my proposed trip with Portal. He told me to take the trip because “I will be out of town for about a week myself and this gives you a good chance to take [talk to?] Portal.”