Memorandum by Mr. George O. Spencer of the Division of Special Inter-American Affairs to the Acting Chief of that Division (Dreier)
The attached letter57 from Ambassador Scotten to Henry Dearborn indicates that the Ecuadorans have been unable to obtain the planes in the interim program which they have paid for. I called General Wooten’s58 office to determine the reason for this and was informed that FLC has been after the War Department to get the planes delivered but has so far been unsuccessful. According to FLC, the delivery of planes is being made on a priority basis which means that some of the countries will get planes before others. I was informed that Ecuador was apparently low on the priority list.
I called Colonel Skeldon59 in the War Department and had a rather lengthy conversation regarding aircraft in the interim program in general. He stated frankly that he was very sorry that I had raised the question at all because the War Department cannot promise to deliver any of the undelivered aircraft to the other American republics until after January 1. I asked him if he could state approximately at what date after January 1 the planes would be delivered and after exacting from me a promise not to widely broadcast [Page 864] the information in the State Department, he stated that as things now stand the delivery of these planes will probably not be made before late 1947. He stated that his office now had the problem up for consideration at a high level in the War Department and suggested that I call Doug Eiseman for a final answer on whether the War Department would be able to do anything to get the planes delivered sooner. Colonel Skeldon stated that it requires 7500 man hours to take a C–47 from storage and get it into running shape and that a lack of manpower and funds had created the problem. Colonel Skeldon stated that what the War Department needs most at this time is the passage of the Military Cooperation Act. The implication was that under the Act the War Department would be able to obtain the necessary funds to go forward with the program. Colonel Skeldon stated finally, that if his office is not able to get the necessary authority from a higher War Department level to proceed more rapidly with the delivery of aircraft, it may be necessary to apply to aircraft the same procedure which Navy is applying to ships, namely, that the aircraft be sold on an “as is” basis, and the purchasing government put up the funds for the necessary reconditioning.
I suggest that on Thursday we obtain from Doug Eiseman the War Department’s final decision on what can be done to expedite these deliveries and if the decision is unfavorable that we then point out to General Wooten that no more checks should be taken from foreign governments and no more contracts signed without the purchasing government being clearly informed that no certainty exists as to when the planes purchased can be delivered. If you should discuss this problem with anyone in the War Department or FLC, I would appreciate your not revealing that you know that the planes will probably not be delivered until late 1947. Doug Eiseman will probably tell you this anyway if you raise the problem with him but Colonel Skeldon gave me the information on a strictly personal and confidential basis. I think that we should wait until Thursday before suggesting to Henry Dearborn a reply to Ambassador Scotten’s letter, at which time we should have the final decision of the War Department.
[A memorandum of conversation between representatives of the War Department, the Department of State, and the Office of Foreign Liquidation of January 20, 1947, indicated that some $530,000 worth of equipment had been delivered “about June 1946” and that Ecuador lacked the means to pay for the pending requisition (822.24/1–2047)].