The Ambassador in Mexico (Messersmith) to the Secretary of State
[Received December 18.]
Sir: I have the honor to make the following report on a visit of a number of planes of the United States Army Air Force to Mexico, comprising a so-called demonstration unit.
In the early part of November, I proceeded to Washington for a short period of consultation in the Department and as General Arnold, Commanding General of the United States Army Air Forces, was returning to the United States after an official visit to Mexico, he [Page 1132] invited me to return on the plane with him. During the trip to Washington, we were able to complete an exchange of views with regard to collaboration between the United States and Mexican Air Forces which it had been possible to initiate in Mexico City during General Arnold’s official visit on the invitation of the Mexican Government. During the course of our final conversations on this matter, General Arnold indicated that he thought it would be very helpful in many ways if a demonstration unit of the Army Air Force made a visit to Mexico City in the same manner as such units had made visits to various places in the United States in order that the President and high officials of the Mexican Government, and particularly of the Mexican Army, Air Force, and Navy, could become familiar with the types of combat aircraft which had been used by our Armed Forces in the European and the Pacific theaters of the war. The interest of the Mexican public in the air phases of the war had been constant and keen and had recently been accentuated because of the return to Mexico of Mexican Squadron 201 which participated in the Pacific theater of the war. General Arnold felt, and I agreed with him, that it would be very interesting for the Mexican officials and the Mexican public to see the B–29 which was the type of plane which the Mexican Squadron cooperated in protecting as well as various types of combat planes with which the Mexican Squadron collaborated.
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The whole visit was a success in the sense that it increased the prestige of our Government, undoubtedly aided in the development of good will and from the point of view of military collaboration it could not have been more desirable and more effective. On the evening of Saturday, December 8, I gave a reception in the Embassy for the officers and pilots in the exhibition unit and for some 60 officers of the Mexican Army Air Force and it was interesting to see the good feeling and association which has been established through the collaboration in recent years.
A limited number of units will be left, as agreed upon, and they are in the charge of the Military Attaché of this Embassy. It is important that we carry through the specific obligation which we have undertaken and which I expressed to the President of Mexico and to the Minister of National Defense and to the head of the Mexican Army Air Force that these aircraft we have left here will be declared surplus without value by the War Department and then turned over without cost to the Mexican Army Air Force. If it is necessary for purposes of accounting to place some transfer value on the planes, it should not be in excess of five dollars a plane for it was specifically stated by me in accord with the arrangements made for the visit, to the President [Page 1133] of Mexico and the others concerned, that the planes left here would be delivered to the Mexican Army Air Force without cost. The maximum transfer value, if any such value is placed on the planes, should be one dollar or five dollars per plane.
In this connection, I should like to emphasize that these planes do not have more value to our Government for the planes which have been left here are the types of planes in which there is great surplus and which instead of having a salvage value to our Government it will cost money to destroy. When we are engaged in a program of defense collaboration with so close a neighbor as Mexico and when these planes have such a definite value here for training purposes in the Mexican Army Air Force, we cannot ask them to pay for such planes when they know that the planes have no value to us in the United States but would otherwise be scrapped.
I will transmit with a following despatch32 a list of the planes which have been left here; the number of planes is from 12 to 14 and they are of the smaller combat type for the most part. I will appreciate a copy of this despatch being sent to the War Department for the particular attention of the Army Air Force. I would also appreciate a copy being sent to the Joint Mexican-United States Defense Commission, specifically to General Henry. I wish to express to General Arnold and to the Army Air Force and to the War Department my very deep appreciation of their having made this visit of the demonstration unit possible as I am convinced that it has served a very useful purpose in adding to our prestige, in aiding in the development of friendly relations between the two countries and in strengthening the collaboration in defense matters between the two countries.
- Despatch 27,794, December 26, 1945, not printed.↩