835.20 Missions/7–248

The Chargé in Brazil (Key) to the Department of State

No. 787

The Chargé d’Affaires a.i. has the honor to report that the Rio de Janeiro press has recently carried accounts stating that eight Royal Air Force specialists in jet-propelled aircraft were in Rio de Janeiro, enroute to Argentina. These men are reportedly contracted by the Argentine Government to instruct Argentine aviators in the handling and maintenance of jet-propelled airplanes recently acquired in Great Britain by Argentina. The newspaper accounts state that close to one hundred jet planes were purchased, and that delivery in Argentina has been made of most or all of this number.

The Diário da Noite, of June 29, 1948, carried a front page account of the matter under the headline, “War-Like Preparation of Argentina”. The story stated that the eight RAF specialists were in Rio de Janeiro aboard the SS Andes. They refused to be interviewed by the [Page 324]press regarding their mission. The leader of the group, John Gray, is reported to have stated that the group expected to stay in Argentina at least two years, instructing Argentine aviators in jet-propelled aircraft recently acquired from Great Britain. The Diário da Noite account began by asserting:

“It is no longer a secret to the world, the interest which General Perón is manifesting in strengthening the armed forces of Argentina, duplicating under the peaceful skies of Latin America an authentic armament race on the pattern of those undertaken among the warlike peoples of Europe. This preoccupation of the Argentine President is being supported and given prestige by almost all of the high military authorities of the country. . . .”

The Diário da Noite asserts that Commodore John C. Roberts, British Air Attaché in Rio de Janeiro, when interviewed, stated that “all the jet-propelled craft acquired in Great Britain are now in Argentina, and the number of aircraft is in the neighborhood of a hundred”.

The same newspaper declares that the First Secretary of the Argentine Embassy in Rio de Janeiro, Rodolfo Boldt, when contacted, stated that he knew nothing of any RAF mission enroute to Buenos Aires, and added: “It is common for Argentine pilots to go to England to receive instruction, and after finishing their course, to return to their country …1 possibly the pilots which are here are actually Argentines returning to Buenos Aires”.

  1. Omission in the source text.