Memorandum for General Marshall:
I wish you would ask General Arnold to submit to you his judgment of the number of combat aircraft by types which should be produced for the Army and our Allies in this country in 1943 in order to have complete air ascendency over the enemy.
This report should be prepared without consideration for existing schedules or production possibilities or any other competing military requirements. I am asking for this because I would like to know what the theoretical requirements are to get complete control and domination of the air.
I realize fully, however, that there are limiting factors to the creation of air power, such as the availability of pilots, high octane gas, transportation and the competition of other essential critical munitions of war. Hence, I would like you and Admiral King to submit a second schedule based on these realities and the proper relationship of air power to the Navy and our ground forces.
/s/FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT
September 9, 1942
Memorandum for the Chief of Staff:
Subject: Combat Aircraft Which Should be Produced in the United States in 1943.
(p.253) 1. Pursuant to the instruction from the President in his memorandum for you, dated August 24, 1942, an estimate has been made of the number of combat aircraft by type which should be produced, for the Army, the Navy, and our Allies, in this country in 1943 in order to secure complete air ascendancy over the enemy.
2. The requirements have been based upon the following air operation in 1943 and early 1944:
a. An air offensive against Europe to deplete the German Air Force, destroy the sources of German submarine construction and undermine the German war-making capacity.
b. Air support of a land offensive in Northwest Africa.
c. Air Support of United Nations land operations to retain the Middle East.
d. Air support of surface operations in the Japanese Theater to regain base areas for a final offensive against Japan Proper, including:
(1) Land operations from India through China, reopening the Burma Road.
(2) Amphibious operations from the South and Southwest Pacific toward the Philippine Islands.
e. Hemisphere Defense, including anti-submarine patrol.
3. To implement these air operations, the following airplanes should be produced in the United States in 1943:
Air Transport Command, long range transports
5. Personnel requirements—Strength of the A.A.F. by January, 1944.
Army Air Corps
6. Logistical requirements, Army Air Forces.
Bombs 1,140,363 tons
Gasoline 4,888,941,000 gallons
Shipping 17,421,507 ship tons, total during 1943.
7. Details concerning these requirements are contained in the body of the report and in the Annexes.
H. H. ARNOLD, Lieut. General, U.S.A.
Commanding General, Army Air Forces.
Determine the number of combat aircraft by type which should be produced in this country in 1943 in order to have complete air ascendency over the enemy (extract from a letter from the President to General Marshall, August 24, 1942).
Air ascendency: the conditions of air strength, both of ourselves and of the enemy, under which it will be possible for our several armed forces to complete the defeat of our enemies.
Under this definition it will be observed that: (1) the enemy air strength must be so depleted as to render him incapable of frustrating the operations of our air, land, and sea forces; and (2) our own air strength must be so developed as to permit us to carry out the roles of our air force, in conjunction with our land and sea forces and also independently thereof, which are necessary for the defeat of our enemies.
3. Strategic situation and concept.
By the time that the air forces contemplated in this study are ready for employment, it is likely that large Axis ground forces will be released from the Russian front for employment elsewhere. Under these circumstances the ground forces of the United Nations will be numerically inferior to the Axis ground forces in Europe. If our ground forces, which are numerically inferior, are to defeat the seasoned troops of the Axis in Europe, then circumstances must be created which will make this possible. Our numerically superior air forces must deplete the air forces of the enemy and undermine the structure which supports his surface forces. Fortunately a base, England, is available to us which is capable of sustaining our increasingly superior air power, and is within striking distance of the sources of German air power and the vitals of the German war economy.
Our armed forces in the Far Eastern theater are not within effective striking distance of the vital sources of Japanese military policy. Unless the Russian Maritime Provinces can be made available—and retained—as bases of operation, we will be unable initially to wage a (p.256) sustained air offensive against Japan. This condition cannot be relied upon. Hence our land and sea forces, supported by our air forces, must recover lost areas which are suitable as offensive bases against Japan proper. When these bases have been recovered, then our air power can be brought to bear against the highly vulnerable structure of Japan. Hence from the standpoint of air requirements, the Far Eastern operations may be divided into two phases:
(1) Air operations in support of our land and sea forces to regain bases within striking distance of Japan. This involves support of amphibious forces driving northwest from Australia as a base area, and of land forces driving northeast from India as a base area.
(2) Air operations against Japan proper to destroy her war making capacity. This operation may be undertaken fairly promptly if it is possible to retain the Russian Maritime provinces as a base area.
Sequence of Operations in 1943 and early 1944.
(1) The German air force must be depleted and the German war economy must be undermined before a successful invasion of the European continent can be undertaken; and
(2) Base areas for an air offensive must be secured before a decisive attack can be launched against Japan; and
(3) Each of these undertakings will involve large forces and will require considerable time for accomplishment.
It appears that the air operations which can be carried out simultaneously in 1943 and early 1944 may be listed as follows:
(1) An Air offensive against Germany to deplete the German Air Forces and submarine force and undermine German war economy.
(2) Air support of operations in North Africa.
(3) Air support of operations in Middle East.
(4) Air operations in Far East. Support of surface forces in regaining bases and operations against enemy lines of communication and installations from available bases.
(5) Air operations in Hemisphere Defense.
(6) Air operations in support of a Combined Offensive against Germany.
(7) An air offensive against Japan.
4. Description of air operations.
a. AIR OFFENSIVE AGAINST GERMANY.
The air offensive against Germany is a combined effort by the U.S. Army Air Force and the R.A.F. The U.S. Army Air Force will concentrate its efforts upon the systematic destruction of selected vital elements of the German military and industrial machine through precision bombing in daylight. The R.A.F. will concentrate upon mass air attacks of industrial areas at night, to break down morale. In view of the acute shortage of skilled labor in Germany this effort of the R.A.F. should have a pronounced effect upon production.
Systems of objectives to be destroyed and priorities are as follows:
First Priority: Destruction of the German Air Force.
Targets: 11 fighter factories; 15 bomber factories; 17 airplane engine plants.
Destruction: Complete—with repeated attacks at two month intervals.
Results: Almost complete destruction of the sources of German air power, with consequent depletion of the German air force through combat attrition caused by these—and other—bombing raids.
Bomber force: 22,374 bomber sorties.
Bombs: 44,748 tons (100 times the tonnage dropped on Renault)
Second Priority: Submarine building yards.
Targets: 20 building yards.
Destruction: Complete—one attack each.
Results: Germany’s submarine shipbuilding program completely disrupted. This offensive cure to the submarine menace, at its source, is the only conclusive solution. Other types of antisubmarine operations are defensive and inconclusive.
Bomber force: 10,332 bomber sorties.
Third Priority: Transportation
Targets: 38 (locomotive building shops; locomotive repair shops; marshaling yards; inland waterways).
Results: Breakdown of a vital link in the German military and industrial structure—one which is at present taxed to its maximum capacity and has become very sensitive to disruption.
Bomber force: 9,348 sorties.
Bombs: 18,696 tons.
Fourth Priority: Electric Power
Targets: 37 major electric power plants.
Destruction: Of targets selected—complete.
Results: Virtual paralysis of the major manufacturing centers. Germany is now working her extensive power system to the limit. Loss of such a tremendous source of energy would have immediate and wide-spread effect. However, harassing raids must be repeated in order to keep these areas isolated from other sources of electric power.
Force Required: 13,447 bomber sorties.
Bombs: 26,894 tons.
Fifth Priority: Oil.
Targets: 23 plants.
Results: Reduction of 47% of Germany’s refined oil products.
Force required: 8,322 bomber sorties.
Bombs: 16,644 tons.
Sixth Priority: Alumina.
Targets: 14 plants.
Results: Loss of practically all aluminum production in Germany and occupied countries. This would be a severe blow, since aluminum is now extensively used as a replacement for copper, of which there is an acute shortage.
Force required: 1,932 bomber sorties.
Bombs: 3,864 tons.
Targets: 2 synthetic (Buna) plants.
Results: The loss of approximately 48% of rubber supply, to Germany. Immediate effect upon all forms of the armed services.
Force required: 288 bomber sorties.
Bombs: 576 tons.
Force required: 66,045 bomber sorties.
Bombs: 132,090 tons of bombs.
Results: Decimation of the German Air Force.
Depletion of the German Submarine Force.
Disruption of German war economy.
b. AIR SUPPORT OF OPERATIONS IN NORTH AFRICA, with partial opening of the Mediterranean and a base of operations against Italy.
c. AIR SUPPORT OF OPERATIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST, to hold the Middle East and drive the Axis forces out of Africa.
d. AIR OPERATIONS IN THE JAPANESE THEATER. Support of a land offensive to reopen the Burma road and gain operating bases in China.
Support of an amphibious offensive to regain the Philippines.
Support of land forces holding Siberia, if possible.
e. AIR OPERATIONS IN HEMISPHERE DEFENSE. Primarily the defense of the American Republics against carrier attacks, and the defense of shipping by air operations against submarines.
f. AIR OPERATIONS IN SUPPORT OF A COMBINED OFFENSIVE AGAINST GERMANY. This involves the provision of additional fighters, light and dive bombers, observation, and transports for the close support of a land invasion of Europe from the British Isles. This operation must be subsequent to a successful air offensive.
g. AN AIR OFFENSIVE AGAINST JAPAN. Considering the great distances involved, it is apparent that the majority of our bombing effort must be carried out by long-range bombers (B-29 type). Those will not be available in quantity until late in 1944. The following table indicates the system of targets selected and the effect of destruction (p.260) of each. The total force required for this offensive is 51,480 bomber sorties.
Table A3.4. Targets
System of Targets
Number of Targets
Percentage of total Production Represented by Targets
Aircraft and Engine
Naval and Commercial Bases
99.2 (Naval); 92.7 (Commercial)
Alumina and aluminum
100 (Alumina); 77.1 (Aluminum)
Iron and Steel
100 (Iron); 94.3 (Steel)
Total Number of Targets
5. Factors Involved in conducting those air operations.
a. Destructive effect of bombing. Direct hits by bombs will destroy all the targets selected. In some cases repeat-raids must be conducted to prevent rebuilding. Forces have been provided to meet this requirement.
b. Feasibility of conducting accurate bombing. Experience has shown that it is perfectly feasible to conduct accurate, high level, daylight bombing under combat conditions, in the face of enemy antiaircraft and fighter opposition.
c. Feasibility of penetrating fighter and AA defense without excessive losses. With our present types of well armed and armored bombers, and through skillful employment of great masses, it is possible to penetrate the known and projected defenses of Europe and the Far East without reaching a loss-rate which would prevent our waging a sustained offensive.
d. Rate of operations, and weather. Studies of the European and Japanese Theaters indicate that the following rates of operation of bomber (p.261) units may be anticipated: Europe—5 to 6 operations a month. Far East—10 operations per month.
6. Air Forces Required to carry out the operations listed above in 1943 and early 1944.
281 Groups, to carry out operations 1 to 5 incl., Program A. The size force required to fully complete this task cannot be provided in the theaters shown until January 1944. However, during the period of build-up—in 1942—the available forces can be partially completing the selected operations. It is anticipated that they can complete about one-third of the tasks required for the air offensive in 1943. Hence, it is expected that the air offensive against Germany, requiring six months of operations of the complete force, at the rates of operations expected, can be one-third accomplished in 1943, thus requiring four months of operations in 1944. This operation should be complete by May 1944, and the Combined Offensive should follow immediately thereafter.
336 Groups, to carry out operations 1 to 7 incl., Program B.
7. Recapitulation of Combat Aircraft Required.
To carry out operations 1 to 5 incl., (Program “A”), the U.S. Army Air Forces will require 63,068 tactical aircraft in 1943.
To carry out operations 1 to 7 incl., (Program “B”), the U.S. Army Air Forces will require 74,944 tactical type aircraft in 1943.
8. Air Bases.
There will be ample air bases in the United Kingdom to accommodate the air forces set up for the European Theater.
In the Japanese Theater there are at present insufficient air bases to accommodate the land based air forces which are deployed in this study. It will be necessary to construct:
24 new bases in the Central Pacific.
20 new bases in the South Pacific.
It is believed that the deployment shown in this study represents virtual saturation of the Japanese Theater, and that larger air forces cannot be accommodated without an extensive air-base building program.
Table A3.5. Total Aircraft Required
In accordance with the established policy in such matters, it is anticipated that the requirements of the U.S. Army Air Forces for Army Type aircraft will be given first priority in allocation of U.S. production, within the capacity of the U.S. Army Air Forces to man and employ such aircraft.
Spare parts for the maintenance of these aircraft are not included in the total listed above, and adequate provision must be added to these requirements.
10. Total Personnel Requirements to meet this program in 1943.
Summary of Personnel Requirements to meet Programs A and B by January 1, 1944: (Including present on hand, and estimated attrition)
Given the necessary priorities, these requirements can be met and trained. Of the 150,000 annual rate of aviation cadets estimated available, the A.A.F. will require 120,000 leaving 30,000 for the Navy.
17,421,507 ship tons
19,804,041 ship tons
Maximum number of 11,000 ton vessels required to be in use in any one month (average turn-around 2.81 months)
The Air Force requirements for shipping imposed by either program can be met, if the Navy requirements increase on a straight line basis applied against 1942 requirements, and if no other increase is made in Army strengths overseas beyond that attained by January 1, 1943.
The total gasoline requirement, is close to the maximum output that can be attained in the United Sates, using all productive facilities and without regard to any United States Navy or British requirements, if all the gasoline is 100 octane. The fact that a great deal of this gasoline can be 91 octane, for trainers, alleviates this situation to some extent.
12. Air Transport Command Requirements.
2,217 Transports are required, of which two-thirds should be long range, four engine.
13. Rates of Attrition.
It is likely that initial operations in the air offensives will be attended by an abnormally high rate of attrition. This may be expected as a result of losses in shipping caused by submarine operations before the air attack on submarine bases has taken effect, losses at bases before the attack of enemy bomber factories has taken effect, and losses from combat before the attack of fighter factories and attrition from air combat has reduced the enemy fighter forces. However, these loss (p.264) rates should drop rapidly as our operations progress. It is believed that the rate of attrition of 20% per month from all causes in active combat zones will be fairly average. This is based upon British long-term experience.
14. Rates of Commitment.
In order to reach the increased goal of combat units by January 1944, it will probably be necessary to reduce the expected rate of commitment of units to combat theaters in early 1943, to increase the training establishments.
a. Both Germany and Japan are vulnerable to air attack.
b. A successful air offensive against Germany can be carried out and is a necessary preliminary to ultimate victory over Germany.
c. Base areas are now available in the United Kingdom, capable of sustaining the necessary air forces to accomplish this purpose.
d. It is possible to conduct precision daylight bombing in the face of known and projected defenses of Western Europe.
e. It is possible to conduct such an air offensive against Germany without prohibitive losses.
f. Air support is essential to the conduct of all our other campaigns in 1943.
g. It is possible to meet the logistic and personnel requirements for the air force necessary to gain victory over our enemy.
h. It is believed possible to provide and deploy the necessary air forces in 1943 provided this requirement is given priority over all others including the allocation of necessary shipping, for an air offensive against Germany and support of land and sea forces in all other theaters.
i. It is not believed possible to provide and deploy the necessary air forces in 1943 for simultaneous air offensives against Germany and Japan and air support of other essential operations.