Page images
PDF
EPUB

ARMY AIR CORPS STATIONS AND FRONTIER AIR

DEFENSE BASES

APRIL 24, 1935.-Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the state

of the Union and ordered to be printed

Mr. ROGERS of New Hampshire, from the Committee on Military

Affairs, submitted the following

REPORT

(To accompany H. R. 7022]

The Committee on Military Affairs, to whom was referred H. R. 7022, a bill to authorize the selection, construction, installation, and modification of permanent stations and depots for the Army Air Corps, and frontier air-defense bases generally, having considered the same, submit the following report thereon, with the recommendation that it do pass with the following amendment:

At the end of the sentence in line 3 on page 5, add the following: The Secretary of War is further authorized to acquire, by gift, purchase, lease, or otherwise, at such locations as may be desirable, such bombing and machine-gun ranges as may be required for the proper practice and training of tactical units.

REASONS FOR PROPOSED LEGISLATION

[ocr errors]

*

*

This bill, a substitute for and the result of extended hearings on H. R. 4130 and H. R. 6621, has the full approval of the War Department. Its early enactment is necessary to fill the need of this country for an adequate system of national defense. As well stated by Hon. J. Mark Wilcox, the author of the bill, at the first hearing thereon:

This country has reached a point in its development when it can no longer ignore the necessities for national defense. We are no longer isolated by oceans. Our inland cities are no longer secure from attack from enemy aircraft. We cannot close our eyes to the existence of this powerful engine of destruction. Heretofore, we have been able to prepare for war after we got into war, but that was before the art of warfare had been changed by the introduction of the flying machine.

The bill, as approved, authorizes and directs the Secretary of Warto determine in all strategic areas of the United States, including those of Alaska and our overseas possessions and holdings, the location of such additional permanent Air Corps stations and depots as he deems essential, in connection with the existing Air Corps stations and depots and the enlargement of the same when necessary, for the effective peace-time training of the General Headquarters Air Force and the Air Corps components of our overseas garrisons.

The bill further provides that in determining the locations of such new stations, consideration must be given to (i) the Atlantic Northeast, (2) the Atlantic Southeast and Caribbean areas, (3) the Southeastern States, (4) the Pacific Northwest, (5) Alaska, (6) the Rocky Mountain area, and (7) intermediate stations necessary for transcontinental movements in the maneuvers of the General Headquarters Air Force.

The committee is convinced that the maintenance of at least one station in each of the above-described areas is necessary for the following reasons:

First, it is difficult and impracticable to carry on substantial air maneuvers in an area which has no permanent Army station equipped to service aircraft and to provide offices and communications essential to setting up command posts, assembly rooms for conferences, messing facilities, hospitalization, and other similar requirements.

Second, to offer military air-force units full and adequate opportunity to operate in rotation in all parts of the Nation.

Third, the establishment and maintenance of close and permanent contact with civilian armies, including Reserve aviators, in order to make practical plans for the utilization of existing and the creation of new and suitable ground installations in the event of war.

Fourth, to give additional facilities for the training of Reserve aviators affording them an opportunity to train at intervals with combat units through visits to each area of the various units.

Fifth, to give each area an operating nucleus, capable of immediate expansion in the event of war, for the servicing of aircraft and the supply of aviation material and equipment.

The location of an air base in each of the strategic areas specified in the bill will also give proper training to pilots under all climatic conditions and, by rotation in changes from one field to another, all pilots will become thoroughly familiar with the section of the country they may be called upon to defend. In fact they will know the country far better than any possible enemy.

In the passage of this bill we will show the world that we are prepared to defend ourselves against air attack and thus so discourage attack as to render it practically certain there will be no such attack. It is impossible to depict in language the destruction of life and property that might result from an air attack against this Nation unless we are fully prepared to defend ourselves.

All great nations now have huge airplane carriers, which are in fact floating landing fields, to enable them to carry aerial warfare to enemy shores. They also have floating seaplanes and mother ships.

We are advised that only 30 tons of explosives were dropped on London in the World War, resulting in the loss of 1,800 lives, while today planes are being constructed, any one of which will be able to dro: 10 tons of explosives. This situation is well emphasized by Col. C. de F. Chandler, United States Army (retired), in an article in the November 1934 issue of the United States Air Services, where

he says:

German seaplanes of existing types now alight on the South Atlantic Ocean between Africa and South America to moor astern of a station ship (S.S. W'estphalian). This vessel is an ordinary merchant type, supplied with aviation fuel and other serving facilities. Fuel and oil are transferred to the seaplane on the water. Meager reports mention experiments with a canvas ramp astern on which the seaplane may be hauled; also trials of canvas shelters for protection during refueling operations. The military significance of this commercial "mother ship for seaplanes appears to have been ignored by our strategists. As seaplanes become larger, their ability to alight safely on the open ocean increases. Acknowledging only the existing sizes of seaplanes, it is rather startling to contemplate that small inexpensive merchant ships are capable of serving as ocean supply bases for transoceanic bombing planes.

Mr. Igar Sikorsky, the eminent builder of large seaplanes, informed the Federal Aviation Commission (Oct. 10, 1934) that seaplanes are now in course of design that can transport 10 tons for a nonstop flight of 2,000 miles. A single seaplane of that type—which is a prospect for the immediate future—then could drop 10 tons of bombs on any American coastal city simply by prearranging a rendezvous with a small servicing vessel at sea a thousand miles from the coast line.

These facts strongly emphasize that our Nation is no longer protected from air attacks because of the wide extent of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and we must govern ourselves accordingly if we are to maintain a "respectable defensive posture." Here we desire to emphasize the thought that plans of this committee contemplate only safe and sane defense for the United States of America.

SCOPE OF PROPOSED LEGISLATION

The enactment of this legislation is essential to achieve a full realization of the words of counsel uttered by our first President, George Washington, when he said, “We should maintain a respectable defensive posture.” It is now well recognized that air bases have the same relation to air power that naval bases have to naval power. In other words, an air force, in order to be efficient, must not only be ready to operate but it must have available bases from which it can operate. The realization of such bases is provided in this bill.

For the United States of America the development of air power because of its limited range is purely a weapon of defense but such development as proposed herein is necessary for adequate defense.

In the matter of national defense we frequently fail to recognize the relative protection afforded by an adequate Navy. We must remember that the hostile fleet is the main objective of the home fleet and that the location of the home fleet therefore depends largely on the action of the enemy. Since our fleet must be free to meet the enemy fleet we cannot predict what portion of our coast will be protected by our Navy or how long such protection may last. As a result of this important factor we must fully realize the necessity of an adequate air force in the maintenance of an effective national defense. This bill provides for air stations that will permit us to make the best and most effective use of our air force for the protection of continental United States and our overseas possessions. It not only provides for the construction of necessary new air bases but will permit the enlargement and extension of bases already in existence. The committee unanimously urges the enactment of this law so that work thereon may begin at the earliest possible date.

existing Air Corps stations and depots and the enlargement of the same when necessary, for the effective peace-time training of the General Headquarters Air Force and the Air Corps components of our overseas garrisons.

The bill further provides that in determining the locations of such new stations, consideration must be given to (i) the Atlantic Northeast, (2) the Atlantic Southeast and Caribbean areas, (3) the Southeastern States, (4) the Pacific Northwest, (5) Alaska, (o) the Rocky Mountain area, and (7) intermediate stations necessary for transcontinental movements in the maneuvers of the General Headquarters Air Force.

The committee is convinced that the maintenance of at least one station in each of the above-described areas is necessary for the following reasons:

First, it is difficult and impracticable to carry on substantial air maneuvers in an area which has no permanent Army station equipped to service aircraft and to provide offices and communications essential to setting up command posts, assembly rooms for conferences, messing facilities, hospitalization, and other similar requirements.

Second, to offer military air-force units full and adequate opportunity to operate in rotation in all parts of the Nation.

Third, the establishment and maintenance of close and permanent contact with civilian armies, including Reserve aviators, in order to make practical plans for the utilization of existing and the creation of new and suitable ground installations in the event of war.

Fourth, to give additional facilities for the training of Reserve aviators affording them an opportunity to train at intervals with combat units through visits to each area of the various units.

Fifth, to give each area an operating nucleus, capable of immediate expansion in the event of war, for the servicing of aircraft and the supply of aviation material and equipment.

The location of an air base in each of the strategic areas specified in the bill will also give proper training to pilots under all climatic conditions and, by rotation in changes from one field to another, all pilots will become thoroughly familiar with the section of the country they may be called upon to defend. In fact they will know the country far better than any possible enemy.

In the passage of this bill we will show the world that we are prepared to defend ourselves against air attack and thus so discourage attack as to render it practically certain there will be no such attack. It is impossible to depict in language the destruction of life and property that might result from an air attack against this Nation unless we are fully prepared to defend ourselves.

All great nations now have huge airplane carriers, which are in fact floating landing fields, to enable them to carry aerial warfare to enemy shores. They also have floating seaplanes and mother ships.

We are advised that only 30 tons of explosives were dropped on London in the World War, resulting in the loss of 1,800 lives, while today planes are being constructed, any one of which will be able to dror 10 tons of explosives. This situation is well emphasized by Col. C. de F. Chandler, United States Army (retired), in an article in the November 1934 issue of the United States Air Services, where

he says:

German seaplanes of existing types now alight on the South Atlantic Ocean between Africa and South America to moor astern of a station ship (S.S. Westphalian). This vessel is an ordinary merchant type, supplied with aviation fuel and other serving facilities. Fuel and oil are transferred to the seaplane on the water. Meager reports mention experiments with a canvas ramp astern on which the seaplane may be hauled; also trials of canvas shelters for protection during refueling operations. The military significance of this commercial “mother ship’ for seaplanes appears to have been ignored by our strategists. As seaplanes become larger, their ability to alight safely on the open ocean increases. Acknowledging only the existing sizes of seaplanes, it is rather startling to contemplate that small inexpensive merchant ships are capable of serving as ocean supply bases for transoceanic bombing planes.

Mr. Igar Sikorsky, the eminent builder of large seaplanes, informed the Federal Aviation Commission (Oct. 10, 1934) that seaplanes are now in course of design that can transport 10 tons for a nonstop flight of 2,000 miles. A single seaplane of that type-- which is a prospect for the immediate future—then could drop 10 tons of bombs on any American coastal city simply by prearranging a rendezvous with a small servicing vessel at sea a thousand miles from the coast

line.

These facts strongly emphasize that our Nation is no longer protected from air attacks because of the wide extent of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and we must govern ourselves accordingly if we are to maintain a "respectable defensive posture.” Here we desire

. to emphasize the thought that plans of this committee contemplate only safe and sane defense for the United States of America.

SCOPE OF PROPOSED LEGISLATION

[ocr errors]

The enactment of this legislation is essential to achieve a full realization of the words of counsel uttered by our first President, George Washington, when he said, “We should maintain a respectable defensive posture." It is now well recognized that air bases have the same relation to air power that naval bases have to naval power. In other words, an air force, in order to be efficient, must not only be ready to operate but it must have available bases from which it can operate. The realization of such bases is provided in this bill.

For the United States of America the development of air power because of its limited range is purely a weapon of defense but such development as proposed herein is necessary for adequate defense.

In the matter of national defense we frequently fail to recognize the relative protection afforded by an adequate Navy. We must remember that the hostile fleet is the main objective of the home fleet and that the location of the home fleet therefore depends largely on the action of the enemy. Since our fleet must be free to meet the enemy fleet we cannot predict what portion of our coast will be protected by our Navy or how long such protection may last. As a result of this important factor we must fully realize the necessity of an adequate air force in the maintenance of an effective national defense. This bill provides for air stations that will permit us to make the best and most effective use of our air force for the protection of continental United States and our overseas possessions. It not only provides for the construction of necessary new air bases but will permit the enlargement and extension of bases already in existence. The committee unanimously urges the enactment of this law so that work thereon may begin at the earliest possible date.

« PreviousContinue »