50-50 Split Gives Britain 26,375 Planes (11-9-40)

The Pittsburgh Press (November 9, 1940)

By July 1942 —

New Flying Fortresses Among Ships to be Sold For War Abroad
By John A. Reichmann, United Press Staff Writer

Washington, Nov. 9 –

Great Britain will receive approximately 26,375 American-made planes before July 1942, under the arrangement for a 50-50 split of American defense production between this country and Britain, informed officials said today.

American plane plants will be geared to produce more than 66,000 planes before that time, aeronautical sources indicated. The Army and Navy already have approximately 40,000 planes on order.

The 50-50 split with Britain means that England will get half the total output of Flying Fortresses,other fighting planes, arms and ammunition, about 5% more than it has received since the start of the United States rearmament program.

Britain is not expected to get any of the older model Flying Fortresses now in service in this country. Because the older models are not equipped with rear end machine guns, they are vulnerable to tail attacks and for this reason Britain is believed to be little interested in them.

950 a Month Now

President Roosevelt announced at his press conference yesterday that the 50-50 arrangement was strictly a rule-of-thumb arrangement and might be terminated at a moment’s notice should it work to the detriment of this country’s rearming efforts.

It was estimated that the British orders would total almost $2 billion. Orders on hand from Britain for 14,375 planes will cost about $1 billion. The additional 12,000 planes which the priorities board of the Defense Commission had authorized the British to negotiate for would cost about the same amount. They will include a larger proportion of expensive heavy bombers.

The Defense Commission announced the decision of the priorities board and said that deliveries would be arranged later. Officials said British deliveries would be staggered to utilize both present productive capacity and the facilities now being developed.

Just how fast British deliveries will be arranged remained unsettled. Fighter plane production was between 900 and 950 in September and October. Of these, the British were said to have received about 40%.

Big Increase Likely

The rate of increase in those two months was small, but aeronautical trade experts estimated that production would jump to between 1,000 and 1,500 planes monthly in January.

There are no figures on arms and ammunition production, making it impossible to determine how much of those supplies Britain is getting in this country. Total British defense orders here amount to about $2 billion. A little more than half is going for planes, the rest for arms and ammunition.

Arms and ammunition production capacities are regarded as secret information by the War and Navy Departments.