The Second Secretary of Embassy in China (Penfield) to the Secretary of State 66

No. 44

Sir: I have the honor to report that, as mentioned in my report no. 5 to the Embassy of August 2, 1944, the Central Air Transport Company has for the past month been maintaining a rather irregular service between Chengtu and Kunming. The story of the equipment being used for this service provides an interesting illustration of the use which is being made of American military lend-lease aid to China. Although the dates and figures given below are only approximate, my informant is an American who has first hand knowledge of the facts and it is believed that his story is substantially accurate.

Approximately a year and a half ago the United States sent to China on lend-lease a group of over 30 A–29’s (Lockheed Hudsons) of which some 20 reached China safely and were turned over to the Chinese Air Force. It is understood that although these planes are not suitable for heavy combat they are satisfactory for, and are being extensively used by the British for certain types of bombing and patrol missions. Although these planes have been grounded most of the time since their arrival in China and the Chinese have flown only two or three missions with them, there are now only twelve remaining. Of these twelve, five have been converted into transport planes and three of the five have been turned over to the CATC. The Company is finding it difficult to keep the planes in operation, however, as the [Page 156] Air Force refused to turn over any maintenance equipment or spare parts with the planes. It is also understood that before being turned over the original radio equipment was removed from the planes and replaced by inferior equipment.

It thus appears that, whatever the reasons may be, the receipt of some 20 planes by the Chinese well over a year ago has resulted in no appreciable contribution to the war effort, and that the usefulness of the three planes which have finally been turned over for commercial use is largely vitiated by the absence of necessary maintenance equipment.

Respectfully yours,

J. K. Penfield
  1. Approved by the Ambassador for transmission to the Department.