22. Editorial Note

At the 247th meeting of the National Security Council, May 5, Allen Dulles began his oral briefing on “Significant World Developments Affecting United States Security” with the following comments:

“The Director of Central Intelligence informed the Council that the weather in Moscow on May Day had been so bad that the expected fly-bys of new aircraft had not materialized. Accordingly, we were now left with only such evidence on the numbers of the Type 37 jet heavy bomber as we had been able to collect during the period of rehearsals. We believe, continued Mr. Dulles, that at least eleven such Type 37 bombers had been in the air in Moscow in the rehearsal period. This information, together with evidence on certain other types of aircraft, was in the process of analysis by the Air Force and would be the subject of a report in the near future. Meanwhile Mr. Dulles expressed some anxiety as to the effect, particularly on members of Congress and the Congressional committees, of news about the appearance of a number of the Type 37 bombers.

“The President agreed, and said that it was quite possible that comments would be made on these developments by members of Congress in connection with the hearings on the Defense Department budget.

“Admiral Radford said that what particularly distressed him was that our intelligence estimates on these Soviet aircraft had proved again to be so badly off track. In point of fact, the Soviets had done just as good a job in the development of the Type 37 bomber as the United States had managed to do with its own counterpart, the B–52 bomber. He repeated that our intelligence was way off the beam.

“Secretary Wilson pointed out that we still did not know very much about the speed, performance, and durability of the Type 37 bomber. Admiral Radford replied that he believed that in these respects the Type 37 bomber compared very favorably with our own heavy bombers and, indeed, that it was indicated that the Soviets had outdistanced us in the jet engine field. Secretary Wilson added that the Soviet Type 37 had four larger jet engines instead of our six jet engines of a smaller size.

“Mr. Allen Dulles pointed out that we did not get our intelligence information with regard to these Soviet aircraft by clandestine methods. What we know we get by overt means as circumstances permit. The President said that it was precisely this fact which made him almost apoplectic when our Services published so much information about new weapons development.

“Admiral Radford said that in any case it was going to be very embarrassing for him when he went back to Capitol Hill to testify before the Congressional committees. He had got a very bad going over last year, owing to faulty intelligence estimates, and he anticipated a worse going over on the next occasion.” (Memorandum of discussion; Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records)