811.34553B/121a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Portugal ( Norweb )

1389. Following from War Department:

“The Combined Chiefs of Staff have not yet taken final action on the matter mentioned in War Department’s message to the Military Attaché of April 29,57 and although some form of favorable action is expected we cannot further delay on this account before successfully concluding negotiations for additional airfield.

The capacity of the single crowded Lagens Airport will be exceeded by War Department’s projected tremendously increased air loads. Projected operations of ATC58 alone (repeat alone) call for 1,350 landings monthly by September. This figure will have increased to more than 2,100 monthly by January, not including diversions from the southern route. Obviously such operations cannot be accommodated by the existing field. Furthermore, these figures do not include the expected substantial British operations.

A restriction on the Allied war effort would result from attempting to operate with one field only, and it is important to understand that it is extremely hazardous now and will continue to be so, to operate without a suitable weather alternate. Loss of equipment and life will be inevitable in moving tactical aircraft over that route, and this reason alone renders an additional airport absolutely essential.

Traffic already planned as above outlined plus diversions from Caribbean, South Atlantic, and Central African Wings of ATC can be adequately accommodated with the two fields. This is a further and pressing consideration. Upon completion of both airfields it will be possible to abandon these three Wings except for small housekeeping detachments enabling the War Department to reassign thousands of highly trained personnel. The abandonment of the long southern route will save millions of gallons of aviation gasoline and much critical war material, as well as thousands of pilot hours.

Should the war in Europe end by the time these fields are completed Azores operations will diminish little if any as long as the Asiatic theater continues to engage us. The shortest and fastest channel to the Far East will continue to be provided by the Central Atlantic route, and the best route westward for tactical aircraft and cargo [Page 24] from Europe will be provided by the same route destined for redeployment in the Pacific.

It is absolutely imperative that by June 15 the survey be in progress and actual construction should commence immediately following the survey if the new field is to be ready to handle winter traffic. By autumn there will be rough weather in the Azores and a further delay of as much as one month in approval of this program will postpone for another year the construction of the airfield.

Please seek an immediate interview with the Prime Minister on the subject of the additional airfield alone and insist upon approval, final and definite, for prompt survey of Santa Maria. Should you encounter further difficulty please advise at once and furnish your recommendations.”

The Department has asked the War Department whether you should furnish the foregoing information to Dr. Salazar and it has replied that the information is furnished for that specific purpose in order to strengthen your appeal to the Prime Minister, to be used by you in full or in part as you see fit. You are authorized to make the desired approach.

Hull
  1. Not found in Department files.
  2. Air Transport Command.