The Chairman of the Munitions Assignments Board ( Hopkins ) to the Acting Secretary of State
My Dear Mr. Berle: Reference is made to your letter of March 2, 1943, in which you requested reconsideration by the Munitions Assignments Board of action of February 3, 1943 in disapproving the request made by China for the assignment of an additional five Douglas C–47 transport airplanes to the China National Aviation Corporation. As I understand it, these additional airplanes are desired for service between points within China, and are not intended for use on the Air Ferry Route from India to China.
The Chinese requirement for five additional C–47 airplanes has been reviewed, and I regret to inform you, that it has been found necessary to adhere to the original decision. There is an acute shortage of this type of aircraft in all theaters of operation and the available supply must be distributed equitably. Consideration of all the factors involved indicates that China has been relatively as well provided for as any other theater of operations.
The Munitions Assignments Board assigns two C–47 airplanes each month to China for the China National Aviation Corporation. These assignments will, by April 1943, achieve the original objective of 25 airplanes which was set up for that company. Assignment of two [Page 669] C–47 airplanes per month from April through June, as now tentatively planned, will provide one airplane to replace anticipated crash losses, and five additional airplanes which should raise the total in the hands of the China National Aviation Corporation to about 30 airplanes by the end of July 1943.
Whether the China National Aviation Corporation can use these airplanes on air routes located entirely within China, is a matter which must be determined by other agencies. It is my understanding that General Stilwell some months ago reached an agreement with China National Aviation Corporation for the operation of all or a portion of its airplanes on the Ferry Route between India and China. The details of this contract and the restrictions which it may impose upon the freedom of action of the China National Aviation Corporation in utilizing airplanes on air routes lying entirely within China are unknown to the Munitions Assignments Board. I think we must assume that if General Stilwell’s agreement results in undue restrictions upon the China National Aviation Corporation, the General will modify this contract if such action will best serve the common interest.
Action is now being taken to strengthen the Air Ferry route between China and India. From the Casablanca Conference, General Arnold proceeded to Kunming where on February 7, 1943, he made certain commitments to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek involving the provision of additional transport airplanes for the Chinese theater. These commitments were based upon a full appreciation of the need for air transportation in the Chinese theater, as compared with the needs in other theaters. General Arnold’s commitments did not, as I understand it, visualize any transport airplanes for use exclusively within the border of China. It was General Arnold’s impression that the Generalissimo accepted these commitments as satisfactory. Since returning from Kunming, General Arnold has taken further steps to increase the tonnage which can be hauled into China by air transportation. This is to be accomplished by the prompt dispatch to the Chinese theater of a number of our largest two-engined transports, the Curtiss C–46.
I regret that it has been necessary to again disapprove the request of the Chinese for additional transport airplanes.