48. Memorandum From the Assistant to the Regional Director, Far East (Evans) to the Regional Director, Far East (O’Donnell) in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs1



  • Aircraft for Viet-Nam

In view of the fact that the problem of replacing the squadron of F–8Fs in the Vietnamese Air Force has not yet been resolved, the following chronology of events may be useful.

The FY 1959 programs submission from MAAG Viet-Nam, as approved by CINCPAC, includes 30 T–28 propeller aircraft for the Vietnamese Air Force. On July 2 CINCPAC cabled2 that instead of T–28s, jet T/RT/33s be utilized. On July 3 ISA responded3 by querying as to whether AD-type aircraft might not be more suitable.

On August 5 U.S. Ambassador to Saigon informed State4 that he agreed that eventually jets would be advisable for Viet-Nam but that [Page 125] the ICC problem precluded immediate action and suggested that jet airfields suitable for the use of U.S. military aircraft in case of emergency could be constructed for commercial use. On the 26th CINCPAC informed OSD5 that it strongly recommended jets for Viet-Nam from the point of view of U.S. military requirement but agreed, from a purely country point of view, that ADs would be a good substitute.

On September 10 OSD forwarded to the Joint Chiefs of Staff request6 that the Joint Chiefs resolve the problem of jets vs propeller aircraft and recommended what type propeller aircraft should be utilized if the decision was for propellers. On the 12th ISA informed CINCPAC and Saigon that the problem of replacements for the F–8Fs had been referred to the JCS.

On October 30 General Maxwell D. Taylor on a visit to Saigon cabled7 that the F–8Fs could not be supported after FY 1960, that T–28s were unacceptable, and that if jets were politically infeasible due to the Geneva Accords, an AD–4 type should be programmed. He suggested the Department of the Army take this position in the JCS discussions of the problem.

On November 4 ISA informed CINCPAC and MAAG Viet-Nam that T–28s that had been programmed were being suspended pending the JCS recommendations. On November 24, a Mr. Smith from Air Force Mutual Security informed ISA informally of a personal telegram from Major General Hutchinson, Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Matériel, Air Force, then visiting Saigon with Mr. Shuff. Telegram said that F–8Fs should be retained and that those in Thailand could be utilized to keep the Vietnamese aircraft operational for a longer period.

On December 5 U.S. Ambassador to Viet-Nam cabled Department of State8 that Mr. Shuff desired to utilize the F–8Fs in Thailand to keep the Vietnamese F–8Fs operational. Ambassador non-concurred in the recommendation because he felt it politically unwise. On December 15 CINCPAC outlined in a lengthy telegram his views for the JCS on the replacement of F–8Fs, the substance being that AD–4s should start a 3-part program with jets phased in when feasible in terms of the Geneva Accords. On December 18 the JCS forwarded to OSD a paper9 recommending that prop aircraft be utilized for the time being in Viet-Nam instead of jets and recommending that a second airfield capable of handling jets be programmed by ICA at Cape St. Jacques. Paper concluded that F–8Fs from Thailand [Page 126] should not be utilized to support continued use of these aircraft by the Vietnamese. Mr. Shuff and Major General Hutchinson having returned to Washington on December 2, two memorandums were forwarded by General Hutchinson to Mr. Shuff on the 19th of December stating that the F–8Fs for Viet-Nam could be supported through 1962, that AD–4s not being programmed pending proof that the Vietnamese could maintain the present F–8Fs and that T–28 aircraft should be utilized as training vehicles. He informed Mr. Shuff that he was initiating action to get the Supply Support Team to Saigon to help get the Vietnamese on their feet. He informed Mr. Shuff that he did not want to cancel the T–28s and that he had not intended to use the Thai F–8Fs to replace Vietnamese aircraft but merely parts from them to keep the Vietnamese aircraft flying. On December 30 the JCS forwarded a paper to OSD10 recommending programming in 1959 of 30 AD–4s for Viet-Nam instead of T–28s. The JCS informed CINCPAC and Saigon by telegram of this recommendation. On December 31 the Department of State was requested by OSD11 to initiate action by ICA for the programming for commercial use of second jet airstrip at Cape St. Jacques in accordance with the December 18 JCS memorandum.

On January 2, Director, FER, forwarded the December 30 JCS memo recommending AD–4s, to OP&C, copy to Mr. Shuff, indicating Far East concurrence with JCS recommendations and recommending implementation. On January 5 Mr. Shuff informed representative, FER, that he did not approve AD–4s for Viet-Nam due to the possibility that the Geneva Accords could be obviated earlier then expected by State, that Vietnamese maintenance was at a low level at the present time, that maintenance of the AD–4s are more complicated than of the F–8Fs and that he sees no reason why parts from Thailand could not be utilized to keep the Vietnamese aircraft flying a while longer. He suggested further discussions of the problem.

On January 7 State staff officers who had continuously queried the status of the program were informed of the present impasse. At staff level it was considered that it might be useful for Mr. Shuff to discuss the Geneva Accords aspects with Mr. Parsons of State. Lt. General Picher, Director of the Joint Staff, is reported earlier to have conferred on this problem at the Department of State prior to the completion of the JCS paper.

It may be expected that CINCPAC will respond shortly to the JCS telegram reporting their recommendation of AD–4s with the request [Page 127] that they be programmed immediately. It is therefore recommended that in anticipation of this telegram Director, FER, discuss the problem with Mr. Shuff.

Robert F. Evans12
Colonel, Infantry
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD/ISA Files: FRC 63 A 1672, 452.1 Vietnam. Secret.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 22.
  3. See footnote 3, ibid.
  4. See Document 25.
  5. See footnote 6, ibid.
  6. See footnote 2, Document 44.
  7. See footnote 2, Document 38.
  8. Document 41.
  9. Document 44.
  10. Memorandum from JCS to the Secretary of Defense, December 30. (JCS Records, CCS 092 Asia (6–25–48)(2))
  11. Memorandum from Irwin to Robertson, December 30. (Washington National Records Center, OSD/ISA Files: FRC 63 A 1672, 686 Vietnam)
  12. Printed from a copy which bears this typed signature.