Chapter IX
Bureau of Aeronautics


THIS BOOK is supposed to deal only with the history of the administration of the Navy Department during World War II. It has, however, been found desirable to cover briefly some of the background and early history of the Navy Department and its component elements, so as to give the reader a better understanding of why the various units developed as they did and functioned as they did during the war. This is particularly desirable in the case of the Bureau of Aeronautics because that Bureau was a comparative newcomer to the Bureau system and demonstrated as did no other previous organizational experience of the Navy Department the flexibility and adaptability of the system to changing conditions; a characteristic that proved so valuable to the efficient administration of the Navy Department during the war. The early history will, however, be confined largely to the technical development of aeronautics after the invention of the airplane, as the operations of Naval Aviation lie outside the scope of this work.

Background: The Navy's interest in aviation goes back to Professor Samuel Langley's "Aerodrome" on which he was working at the turn of the century. In 1898 the Navy Department assigned two officers as members of a "Joint Army-Navy Board to examine the Langley Flying Machine." The Board expressed the opinion that such machines could be developed for use in warfare. The Navy Department took an interest also in the dirigible airship invented by the Brazilian engineer, Alberto Santos-Dumont, which he offered to put through its paces for the Navy in 1904, but the demonstration did not come off because of an accident to the gas bag of the airship.

When on December 8, 1903, Langley's Flying Machine was wrecked, due to faulty launching gear, military aviation suffered a temporary setback, notwithstanding that the Wright Brothers made a successful flight


in a heaver-than-air machine at Kitty Hawk, N.C. nine days later. Admiral Dewey, President of the General Board, is reported to have expressed the Navy's policy with respect to aviation in these words: "We understand that you cannot capture or destroy a fleet with airships. Show us that you can fly higher than the crow's nest, and if you are on our side, we will use you. If you are on the enemy's side, we will shoot you down."1 Nevertheless, the interest of naval officers in aviation grew apace, especially among the younger officers after Wilbur Wright during the Hudson-Fulton celebration in New York Harbor in 1909 flew over the fleet at a height of 900 feet.

In September 1910, Captain Washington Irving Chambers, USN, as an assistant to the Aide for Material, and later as an assistant to the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, was detailed to take charge of aviation correspondence for the Secretary of the Navy. He was well suited for the duty, and became the Secretary's principal adviser on matters of naval aviation. In addition to his own views he synthesized for the Secretary the opinions on aviation of the General Board, the Bureau Chiefs, and of other high ranking officers in the Navy Department and in the fleet, as well as the views of the aviation enthusiasts among the young officers. He became the point of contact in the Navy Department for civilians interested in aviation and for the early airplane inventors and builders. His position gave him the opportunity to coordinate the work of the bureaus in technical, training, and operational matters. This coordinating function was however performed more effectively by his successor, Captain Mark L. Bristol, USN, later Admiral, one of the outstanding naval officers of his time, who relieved him in December 1913 and in 1914, was given the title of Director of Naval Aviation. These two officers were largely responsible for formulating for the Secretary of the Navy the policies that were followed during the infancy of Naval Aviation from about 1910 to 1915. After that the newly created Chief of Naval Operations became the Secretary's principal adviser in such matters.

The policy was adopted at the outset of using the existing Bureau system for handling the various aspects of aeronautical engineering,, aircraft procurement, the training of aviators and, until the establishment of CNO, the operational aspects of naval aviation. This policy resulted in stressing scientific methods in aeronautical design and in stimulating scientific research and development for improving the airplane. It was decided not to embark on a large procurement program in the beginning, because it was realized that the airplane was still in swaddling clothes and that


many improvements would have to be made in aircraft before they would become useful in naval warfare. Only enough airplanes were accordingly purchased to train some pilots and evaluate, with a view to their improvement, the technological and operational defects of the airplanes being currently produced.

In May 1911, the Navy Department made requisitions with broad specifications as to characteristics for its first airplanes: a Curtiss slow-flying land plane for training purposes; a Curtiss hydroplane equipped with a box sled type pontoon; and a Wright Model B land plane built of wood, bamboo, and canvas, to be capable of flying not less than 40 miles an hour. These three machines were delivered in July 1911, and were paid for under the Naval Appropriation Act for the fiscal year 1912, which contained an item of $25,000 for aviation. The description of these first airplanes purchased for the Navy makes clear that great advances had to be made in many sciences before the aircraft with which the Navy entered World War II thirty years later could be produced.

Naval aviation had in some respects more and in other respects fewer difficulties to overcome in getting started than land-based aviation. It was much more difficult to provide storage and maintenance facilities for airplanes on ships and to provide take-off and landing arrangements for them on ships than on land .It was also more difficult to design and produce seaplanes than the early land planes. In fact, naval aviation had to solve many problems that did not exist at all for shore-based aviation. Thus, exploration of the possibilities of carrying airplanes on ships and of developing seaplanes to land on and take off from the water, and capable of being hoisted on and off ships were among the earliest preoccupation of the Navy Department after it began to take aviation seriously.

Glenn H. Curtiss, one of the pioneer airplane builders and fliers, was particularly interested in the Navy's aviation problems, and offered to instruct an officer of the Navy to fly in exchange for his help in developing a practical seaplane and in getting airplanes on and off ships. On November 14, 1910, Eugene Ely, a Curtiss pilot, flew successfully from a platform constructed on the forward deck of the USS Birmingham, a small cruiser anchored in Hampton Roads. Lt. T.G. Ellyson, USN received orders on December 22, 1910 to report to the Curtiss winter camp at San Diego, California, where he learned to fly, becoming the Navy's first aviator. He demonstrated the practicability of landing on ships from the air by fitting hooks on the underside of the plane which engaged athwartship lines attached to sandbags, which on being dragged along the deck brought the plane to a quick stop. During this period Ellyson also assisted Glenn Curtiss in developing a seaplane for naval use. This period marked the beginning of continuous improvement in naval aircraft and in


the arrangements for basing them on ships, culminating in the aircraft and the aircraft carriers with which the Navy entered World War II.

On the technical side, naval aviation started with the great advantage of the Bureau system to see it on its way as a new engineering science. The Bureaus had, of course, no aeronautical engineers. There was in fact no such profession in the United States, and there were no schools teaching aeronautical engineering in 1911, when the Navy Department purchased its first airplanes. A handful of pioneers in the United States were in touch with the literature on flight coming out of Germany, France, and Russia. With the knowledge so gained and their own genius for research and invention they built the early flying machines.

The Bureaus did, however, have educated and experienced engineers in the many categories of the engineering sciences needed to build and equip ships; naval constructors, naval architects, marine engineers, mechanical engineers, etc. Many of the considerations involved in designing and building aircraft during the infancy of the art were the same as for ships: maximum strength of air frames on minimum weight, maximum reliable power with the lightest possible machinery and equipment, and space for the installation and maintenance of equipment and the problems of deterioration due to exposure to salt water and sea atmosphere were also never far from the minds of the Bureau engineers and were equally applicable to naval aircraft. The analogy between the design and construction of ships and the lighter-than-air type of dirigible was even closer. It was no mere happening that the first crossing of the Atlantic by air was accomplished by Navy seaplanes in 1919. These seaplanes and their operating personnel were the product of the Bureau system of the Navy Department.

Naval Constructor D.W Taylor, USN, later Rear Admiral and Chief of the Bureau of Construction and Repair, stood in the forefront of naval officers who made notable contributions to the advancement of aeronautical science during its infancy. He had an international reputation as a scientist and engineer in the field of fluid mechanics and devoted much thought to the problems of flight. For the study of aerodynamics, he built the first large wind tunnel in the United States, as an addition to the facilities of the Experimental Model Basin. In order to get American seaplanes into the fighting zone in Europe during World War I, he originated the plans for a seaplane, the NC design, that could be flown across the Atlantic as such aircraft were too large to be transported by ships. He recommended the establishment of a separate Bureau of Aeronautics, when in his opinion this became practicable. A number of other officers of the Construction Corps had a part in the early development of the


airplane; in the beginning on their own time in addition to their regular duties.2

Perhaps the greatest contribution made by the Navy Department to the progress of aviation during its early years was in the education and training of aeronautical engineers; a contribution which made it possible for the Bureau of Aeronautics, when it was established in 1921, to take on all the functions of a technical bureau without a lengthy interregnum for training its personnel. President Richard C. MacLaurin of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology had for several years been eager to start a course in Aeronautical Engineering, but could find no one qualified to teach the subject.

In 1909 Assistant Naval Constructor Jerome C. Hunsaker, USN was ordered to M.I.T. for postgraduate instruction in Naval Constructor, and began the study of Aeronautics, largely by himself, in addition to his regular program of studies. By the time he had completed the course in Naval Construction at the end of three years, M.I.T. recommended to the Navy Department that he be sent to Europe to study the status of aeronautics abroad, and that on his return he be loaned to M.I.T. to establish and teach a course in Aeronautical Engineering.

The plan was carried out and Hunsaker remained at M.I.T. until early in 1916. Aeronautical Engineering as part of the curriculum at M.I.T. had by that time become firmly established. In accordance with the practice which started at the turn of the century, Naval Academy graduates after a year or more at sea were, on their own application and after selection by the Navy Department, sent to M.I.T. for postgraduate instruction in naval construction. Aeronautical Engineering became an optional post-graduate study for such officers shortly after the course was established The course at M.I.T. was for many years the principal source of supply of aeronautical engineers for the Navy as well as for the Army. Some of the first students in Hunsaker's classes were actually officers of the Army Air Corps.

In 1916 Hunsaker could no longer be spared by the Navy Department, and was assigned to duty in the Bureau of Construction and Repair, to take charge of the aeronautical work coming under that Bureau's cognizance.


By the end of World War I he had built up an Aeronautics Division in the Bureau of over sixty people, more than half of whom were aeronautical engineers and technicians. He and his Division were transferred bodily to the Bureau of Aeronautics when that Bureau was established in 1921. Many of this group had been his students at M.I.T. Others were naval architects and mechanical engineers already in the Bureau of C. & R., whom he trained for aeronautical work.

In developing the Aircraft Division, Hunsaker had of course the full support of all personnel in the Bureau and the use of all C. & R. facilities. He established close liaison with the Bureau of Engineering where an Aeronautical Division had also been established.3 The engine problems of that time were, however, not so difficult as those involved in the design of the airplane itself, and in the development of suitable construction materials to replace wood and canvas, because the automotive industry was available for the solution of many of the early aircraft power plant problems. Engineers from the motor car industry developed the Liberty Engine of World War I, which powered most of the Navy's flying boats. Curtiss engines powered the early training planes.

World War I. With the outbreak of World War I in Europe in the summer of 1914, the interest in aeronautics and aviation became universal. In January 1914, actually before the war started, the Navy Department opened up the abandoned Navy Yard, Pensacola, Florida, as a flying school and as a research and testing station.

In 1915 the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics ["NACA", which would become "NASA" in 1958 when it was morphed into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration." --HyperWar] was appointed by the President "to supervise and direct the scientific study of the problems of flight with a view to their practical solution.  . . ." Its composition and the manner of its functioning are described in the chapter on "Research and Development." The creation of the committee was a cardinal step in bringing about effective cooperation between the government and industry in aeronautical research.

In the summer of 1916 Congress voted $3,500,000 for Naval Aviation, and authorized Naval Reserve aviation personnel. To accelerate production, overhaul and experimental work, the Naval Aircraft Factory was established at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in April 1917.

The Navy went to war in April 1917 with 48 pilots, 239 men with aviation training, and 54 planes. Over a period of 19 months, until the Armistice in November 1918, naval aviation experienced an almost unbelievable growth to 42,051 officers and men and 2,127 airplanes. In Europe the Navy had 1,147 aviation officers, 18,308 enlisted aviation personnel, 400 planes, 50 kite balloons and three dirigibles. Naval aviators made


22,000 flights and flew more than 800,000 nautical miles on patrol duty, experiencing only 19 casualties. The naval aviation shore establishment numbered 25 air stations overseas, 13 in the United States and possessions, two in Canada, and one in the Azores.4

This was a highly creditable record by any standard, especially from the point of view of aircraft produced and flying personnel trained. The Bureau system deserves the principal credit for these achievements. There are those who maintain that the record would have been even better if a Bureau of Aeronautics had been available to handle the work, presumably at least as early as 1914, when World War I broke out in Europe. It is difficult to see how such a bureau could have been started at the time or even a few years later, because of the lack of technical personnel necessary to man it. Aeronautical specialists became available only slowly; but in the meantime, the engineering personnel of the existing Bureaus were used on a part-time basis to get Naval Aviation under way. Naval Aeronautics was in fact in the early days financed largely by the appropriations of the existing bureaus.  It appears altogether likely that progress in naval aeronautics and naval aviation in general would have been greatly retarded if the Navy Department had not made use of the existing technical bureaus in the manner it did during the infancy of the new art.

The Mitchell Attack. With the end of World War I hostilities, marked differences of opinion reappeared in the command branch of the Navy as to the place of Naval Aviation in the administration of the Navy Department and as an element of the combatant forces of the Navy. Opinions ranged all the way from those who saw in Naval Aviation the future of sea power and believed that it should be so recognized in importance and in the expenditure of funds, to those who saw in the airplane only another naval weapon and that administratively it did not require a special place in the organization of the Navy Department. Following that line of thinking, the Division of Naval Aviation in CNO was in August 1919 downgraded to a Section of the Plans Division, with many of its former duties distributed to other parts of CNO and to the Board of Inspection and Survey. However, shortly thereafter a threat from the outside caused the hierarchy of the Navy Department to close ranks on the entire question. The threat was the campaign of Brigadier General William Mitchell, Assistant Chief of the Army Air Service, for a separate and independent Air Force.

He made Naval Aviation his particular target. Fear that a separate


Air Force would deprive the Navy of control over Naval Aviation caused the upper echelons in the Navy Department to bury their differences in matters of administration and to get behind the proposition for a separate Bureau of Aeronautics. As will be noted from a perusal of the hearings before Congress in 1921 on the Bill to set up such a Bureau, the existing bureaus made no objection to the establishment of such a bureau. Rear Admiral D.W. Taylor, the Chief of the Bureau of Construction and Repair, expressed himself definitely in favor of the new bureau. It should, however, be noted that when in the summer of 1919, Secretary of the Navy Daniels and the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral W.S. Benson, opposed the establishment of such a Bureau, they were loyally supported in their stand by the Bureau chiefs and the Director of Naval Aviation,5 but the Mitchell attacks changed the picture.

Establishment of the Bureau. A bill was introduced in 1920 to establish a Bureau of Aeronautics, but was caught in a legislative log jam that year. It was re-introduced in the 67th Congress as H.R. 273. Captain William A. Moffett relieved Captain T.T. Craven as Director of Naval Aviation early in 1921, and was authorized to carry on an active campaign for a separate Bureau. Hearings before a Subcommittee of the Naval Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives began on April 25, 1921. Captain Moffett, in describing the duties of the Director of Naval Aviation as turned over to him by Captain Craven said, "Whenever he wanted to do anything he would have to go to the Chief of Naval Operations and consult with him about it. If there was anything that he wanted to have done promptly, first his request had to be made through the regular official channels, or through the Chief of Naval Operations, and in that way a great deal of time was lost." In answer to the specific question from Congressman F.C. Hicks, the Chairman of the Subcommittee, "What are the chief drawbacks to the present system?" he replied, "I think the chief drawback is the great loss of time experienced in getting anything done. The other bureaus to whom we must apply for work in connection with our engines, planes, etc., have a great deal of other work to do, and if they do not have as much interest in our work as they may have in other work, we may be greatly delayed."6

The Bureau of Aeronautics was created by law on July 12, 1921. Captain Moffett was appointed its first Chief, with the rank of Rear Admiral, and served as such for twelve years until he lost his life in the


Akron disaster in 1933. General Order No. 65 of August 10, 1921, defined the duties of the Bureau as comprising "all that relates to designing, building, fitting out, and repairing Naval and Marine Corps aircraft" and "to furnish the information covering all aeronautic planning, operations, and administration that may be called for by the Chief of Naval Operations." The duties and cognizance of the other bureaus and of the Marine Corps were also spelled out in the General Order. The activities in the other bureaus dealing with aeronautics, together with their records, were transferred bodily to the new Bureau.

Thus, due to the flexibility of the Bureau system and the authority of the Secretary of the Navy to distribute the work of the Navy Department among the Bureaus in such manner as he considered appropriate, the addition of the Bureau of Aeronautics to the system caused no abrupt dislocation or disruption of the work in progress. In many respects the responsibilities and functions of the various bureaus remained as they were before, except that General Order No. 65 now required action to be taken and the work to be done "in accordance with requests of the Bureau of Aeronautics," "to the satisfaction of the Bureau of Aeronautics," "as recommended by the Bureau of Aeronautics," etc. There was, however, a vast field of activities in which the other bureaus were not involved: aviation policy-making and operations, dealings with the aircraft industry and other government departments, intensification of research and development work, etc. It was in these fields that the new Bureau did its most constructive work, and where the advantages of a separate bureau were outstanding.

Although the law creating the Bureau gave the Secretary of the Navy unlimited authority as to the matters with which the Bureau could be charged, and General Order No. 65 implementing the law was the result of months, even years, of study, it is not surprising that time and further experience were necessary to iron out the many problems that were to confront the new Bureau. The scope of its activities was for one thing much greater than that of any other Bureau, as it covered materiel, personnel, aviation shore establishments, and many phases of aviation operations. Boards were appointed from time to time during the next five years to advise the Secretary of the Navy and the President on aviation matters.

One of the most important was the Board appointed by President Coolidge, with Dwight W. Morrow as its Chairman. The Board made its report under date of November 30, 1925. The report was a monumental survey of the history of aviation and of its current ailments. The Board took a firm stand against the creation of a separate air force, and against any merger of the Army and Navy air forces, or of the consolidation of military and civilian aviation. The Board included among its recommendations


the appointment of an Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air, that the Naval Aircraft Factory be continued in operation for repair and experimental purposes but not for competitive production, that aviators be given the same opportunities for promotion as other officers, that in order to provide a career for such officers the command of carriers, tenders, and aviation schools be confined to naval aviators, and that representation be given to naval aviators in CNO and the Bureau of Navigation. Favorable action was taken on practically all of the recommendations of the Morrow Board except that naval aviators were still not given the voice in high level planning and policy-making that they considered their due. This question was not settled to the satisfaction of the aviators until the creation of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Air in 1943.

Within the Bureau there existed from the outset a difference in opinion as to the authority of the Plans and the Material Divisions, respectively. The engineers and technicians transferred to BuAer from other bureaus brought with them the concept that the materiel function should be left to the engineers and technicians without interference from purely operating aviators. While those who took this position recognized that determination of military characteristics of aircraft belongs to the users of aircraft just as the determination of the characteristics of ships belongs to the command branch of the Navy as represented by the General Board and CNO, they contended that the Material Division should have the dominant voice in design and procurement matters, particularly as most of the officers in that Division were also fliers.

This conflict is an old and a continuous one in military organizations. It has a parallel in industry in the struggle between the Sales Department on the one hand and the Engineering Department on the other for the final word in determining the company's production policies. Admiral Moffett, in general, supported the planners who were mostly combat aviators in giving them authority cutting across the entire administrative structure of the Bureau.

The Aeronautical Board, an outgrowth of a board originally formed in 1916 by the Secretaries of War and Navy, was by its 1924 precept required to study and report upon questions affecting jointly the Army Air Service and Naval Aviation. The Chief of BuAer, the head of the Bureau's Planning Division and an officer from the War Plans Division of CNO formed the Navy's representation on the Aeronautical Board. To prevent duplication and to secure coordination, virtually all aviation questions which concerned both the Army and Navy came before this Board. Design data, foreign intelligence, training facilities, etc., were exchanged inter-departmentally, and the complex problem of aircraft maintenance was attacked jointly.


The Aeronautical Board was reorganized and its functions re-defined in 1936. All Aeronautical Board recommendations affecting policies and plans for national security were considered by the Joint Army and Navy Board before submission to the Secretaries of War and Navy. Matters bearing on the procurement of material in wartime went to the Secretaries via the Army and Navy Munitions Board. On July 1, 1939, the Aeronautical Board was removed from the department level and placed directly under the President.

The Chief, BuAer represented the Navy Department on the Aircraft Committee of the Army ad Navy Munitions Board. This Committee formulated procurement plans for aeronautical munitions and made recommendations governing their use and distribution.

The Vinson-Trammell Act of 1934, previously mentioned in this work authorized additional naval aircraft. The first aviation program called for a ceiling of 1650 airplanes. By 1938 the international situation had deteriorated to the point where at President Roosevelt's urging, Congress passed an act calling for the number of useful naval aircraft to be not less than 3000.7 This expansion required commensurate shore facilities and increased personnel. Regular naval appropriations for air stations and bases were supplemented by allocations from the emergency Work Progress Administration and the Public Works Administration appropriations.

With the increase in aircraft the problem of providing more aviation personnel became pressing. On June 30, 1922, there were 314 naval aviators in the Regular Navy, and on June 30, 1938, when the Bureau was planning the 3000 plane program, the figure stood at 1,059 Regular Navy pilots.8 The need for building up the naval aviation reserve had been fully recognized, but scant progress was made during the 1920's, due to lack of money. In April 1935 Congress authorized the Aviation Cadet program, wherein reserves were given pilot training at Pensacola to be followed by three years of obligatory active duty.

BUAER in the Short-of-War Period 1939-1941

The United States had made some progress during the 1930's in improving its national defense position. The process was quickened after war once again broke out in Europe in September 1939. In rapid succession Congress authorized a naval aviation strength of 4,500 planes, then 10,000, and 15,000 planes--a 500 percent increase over the 1938 ceiling. As of June 30, 1940, the Navy had 2,172 aircraft on hand.9


Fig. 19--Organization of Bureau of Aeronautics (31 Jan. 1941)
Fig. 19--Organization of Bureau of Aeronautics (31 Jan. 1941)


The office of Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air was revived. Artemus L. Gates was appointed to the post, and served throughout the war. His experience as an aviator in World War I and his business and financial knowledge proved invaluable during the war.

To build 15,000 naval aircraft, a goal of theretofore unprecedented magnitude, BuAer was confronted with many complicated administrative problems. Not only did the details of a vast plane procurement program have to be worked out, but the Bureau had to initiate construction of new air stations and bases and expansion of existing facilities, based on the recommendation of the Hepburn Board Report. Plans for overhaul and maintenance of a large number of aircraft, and training of some 30,000 pilots and 125,000 enlisted technicians were also called for.

Figure 19 shows the organization of the Bureau of Aeronautics as of 31 January 1941.

In March 1941 the management engineering firm of Booz, Fry, Allen, and Hamilton began on exhaustive survey of BuAer's administrative structure and practices. They concluded that the leadership in planning was experienced and competent, but that the execution, control, and followthrough necessary to give effect to the plans left much to be desired. Three outstanding administrative weaknesses were pointed out: (1) lack of internal balance--specifically much attention was devoted to types, design, and specifications of airplanes, but relatively little to efficient and rapid procurement and maintenance of aircraft; (2) lack of cohesion and coordination between the elements of the organization; (3) need for standardization of methods and procedures. The Booz group made recommendations for simplifying and strengthening the organization with a view to improving the Bureau's business methods, handling of personnel, speeding up procurement, and revising maintenance policies. The summary of the report contained 133 specific recommendations.10 It stressed also the importance of reducing the number of people having direct access to the Chief of the Bureau, so as to conserve his time for long-range planning and other important work.

Following broadly the recommendations of the Booz report, Rear Admiral J.H. Towers, the Chief of BuAer, reorganized the Bureau as of October 7, 1941. The number of divisions, as shown on Figure 20, dated 22 Oct. 1941, was reduced to five. One of the objectives of the reorganization was to reduce the number of individuals having direct access to the Chief and to increase their responsibilities and authority. A number of Special Assistants were provided, reporting directly to the Chief. The Special Assistants functioned in an advisory capacity on such matters as labor


Fig. 20--Organization of Bureau of Aeronautics (22 Oct. 1941)
Fig. 20--Organization of Bureau of Aeronautics (22 Oct. 1941)


Rear Admiral John H. Towers (later Admiral)
Rear Admiral John H. Towers (later Admiral)
Chief of Bureau of Aeronautics, June 1939-Oct 1942;
COMAIRPAC, Deputy Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet
and Pacific Ocean Areas remainder of war.

and management relations, duty assignment of AEDO officers, financial and legislative matters, liaison with emergency agencies regarding raw materials, machine tools, etc.11

Some adjustments were made in Bureau structure after experience with the reorganization of October 7, 1941 indicated necessary changes. The Plans Division, with responsibilities cutting across all Bureau lines, was made a part of the office of the Assistant Chief of Bureau, and at the same time was given the additional duty of personnel planning. Wartime applications


of photography prompted elevation of the Flight Division's Photographic Section to separate division status in October 1942, and in July 1943 the Production, Engineering, and Procurement Branches of the Material Division were also made divisions. The experience of BuAer was the same as that of all bureaus and organizational components of the Navy Department during the war in the continuous pressure to increase the number of individuals having direct access to the Chief. However, no major alteration occurred in the organization of the Bureau until the creation of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air) in 1943.


With the rapid expansion and growing importance of Naval Aviation, planning became a crucial factor in preparing the country for war and in speeding up the tempo of aircraft production and personnel procurement and training. BuAer planning had to be coordinated closely with many other planning activities, both within and outside of the Navy Department, with the strategic plans of CNO during the short-of-war period and later with both CNO and Cominch; with the Bureau of Yards and Docks, in the vast expansion of Naval Air Stations at home and overseas; with the General Board and CNO in the determination of aircraft characteristics; with the civilian emergency agencies; with the Army Air Force; and with Congress in obtaining appropriations although after the outbreak of war in Europe Congress was ready to approve funds in almost any amount requested by the armed services.

The Defense Air Section of the Planning Division assisted in carrying out the provisions of the Lend-Lease Act so far as it affected the procurement of naval aircraft and equipment, and the training of naval aviators for the allied nations.

In all matters bearing on Lighter-than-air the Planning Division had administrative as well as planning responsibility. The cognizant Planning Division section acted in an advisory capacity to all other bureau divisions with regard to maintenance, procurement, personnel, finances, etc. for the LTA program.

Starting with operational personnel requirements based on aircraft complements approved by the Chief of Naval Operations, plus air station needs and adding personnel in training, and replacements to meet attrition, the Planning Division could arrive at an estimate of overall personnel requirements. On-hand aircraft, plus aircraft on existing procurement programs minus attrition allowances and estimates of obsolescence formed the basis for materiel planning. Among the many uncertainties confronting BuAer planners at the beginning of the war was the one of


estimating combat losses. Lacking any precedent or previous experience in such matters, the Planning Division could estimate this factor only roughly. For the first two years of the war, procurement policies were based on a very pessimistic view of probable losses. It was not until late 1943 that sufficient experience and data had accumulated to permit a reduction in production programs based on a more reasonable estimate of losses.

By an executive order of January 16, 1942, the Navy's authorized aircraft strength was increased from 15,000 to 27,500 planes. Included were a large number of multi-engined land bombers which would have to be allocated from Army Air Force production. This revived the Billy Mitchell arguments about the Navy's air mission. The Navy's position was that the land-based planes were needed for convoy escort and patrol duty which could not be accomplished by seaplanes, particularly in the northern latitudes during winter. The War Department countered that it did not have enough such planes to meet its own needs, and that the Navy could get the necessary service from Army-operated aircraft. The controversy lasted six months while the effectiveness of patrol operations suffered and the assignment of many planes was held up awaiting a decision on the issue. A compromise settlement was reached in July 1942 whereby the Navy received its multi-engine patrol planes, and gave up to the Army certain production capacity that had been assigned to the Navy.

It is surprising that this question arose at all, in view of British experience along similar lines. After World War I, all military aviation had been consolidated in Great Britain under the Royal Air Force, even to the extent of taking away from the Admiralty practically all authority for training and assigning aviators to naval duties. With the deterioration in the international situation in the late 30's the Admiralty succeeded in regaining a large measure of control and authority over naval aviation, but it took a year and a half of actual war experience to demonstrate that off-shore air patrolling from land bases to protect shipping against the depredations of enemy submarines could be carried out successfully only if controlled by the Navy and in coordination with the Operating Naval Forces. This experience resulted in establishing in February 1941, in Liverpool, the control center of the Western Approaches to the British Isles, under the command of Admiral Sir Percy Noble, R.N., and in April 1941, in placing under him also the operational control of the Coastal Air Command.12 This was not accomplished without considerable opposition from the Royal Air Force, but proved highly successful.


Business Machines

With the installation of IBM machines in the summer of 1942, a method was devised of keeping information on the current situation with respect to aircraft up to date and correlated with long range programs, thus providing a method of control over present and contemplated programs. The data were used also for the preparation of the "Summary of Objectives," a balance sheet giving estimates of requirements and availability. The first Summary was issued on August 31, 1942, and presented in tabular and graphic form the requirements of Naval Aviation (including personnel and shore facilities) in support of the Operating Force Plan. The Summary, revised from time to time, proved invaluable for planning as it provided periodic comparisons between "on-hand," requirements, and estimates of future availability.

Authority for changing, cancelling, or adding an element to the requirements set forth in the "Summary of Objectives" was the so-called "Planning Release." During the war 80 "Planning Releases" were issued after February 27, 1943, the date of the first Release. Each Release promulgated a change in basic requirements, e.g. aircraft needs and availability, personnel requirements and availability, complements of authorized units, aircraft carrier attrition rates, etc. The "Summary of Objectives" served its purpose as a foundation for production planning. It was discontinued in July 1945, because it was no longer needed.

BuAer's planning control procedures were in the main stabilized by the end of 1942, although subsequent refinements were made. During 1944 and 1945, after BuAer's planning responsibilities had been transferred to the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air), the planners' attention turned to cutting back production and disposing of surplus aircraft as necessary to stay within the Navy's legally authorized ceiling. Happily, combat losses and attrition generally had proven to be much below estimates. Thus in July 1944 the Navy was within 2,500 of its ceiling and aircraft acceptances were running at more than that figure each month.

Foreign Aviation Intelligence

The general functions of the Bureau of Aeronautics since 1921 had included compilation of production data and performance information on foreign aircraft, but such data were obtained largely from non-secret information published by all countries and from the reports of Assistant Naval Attachés for Air who made their reports to the Office of Naval Intelligence in CNO. Pearl Harbor underlined the need for more detailed information about the enemy's aircraft.


Late in December 1941 the Bureau's loosely knit intelligence activities were concentrated in the Planning Division. The Aviation Intelligence Branch was established in that Division the following month. The wartime functions of the Air Information Branch (name changed from Aviation Intelligence in December 1942) included the collection, analysis, and compilation of technical and operational aviation information. The Branch evaluated all forms of air intelligence and published various bulletins and summaries on the subject. Dissemination of technical aviation intelligence to units afloat and ashore, special tactical studies, liaison with the Office of Naval Intelligence, and assistance in selecting and training officers for such work became some of the other duties of the Air Information Branch.

Recognizing that few if any career officers would be available for aviation intelligence assignments prompted BuAer to initiate the training of naval reserve officers for this duty. Instruction began in February 1942 at the Naval Air Station, Quonset Point. In the course of the war, reserve officers so trained served on staffs and with all aviation fleet and shore-based units.

The Bureau's air intelligence responsibilities, except for one segment, were transferred with the Planning Division to DCNO(Air) in August 1943. Current performance data on Japanese planes was retained by BuAer's Engineering Division until the end of 1944 when that function was assumed by the Office of Naval Intelligence.

Aircraft Procurement

BuAer's primary wartime function was to provide a steady flow of the best possible naval aircraft and related equipment to the forces afloat and to the combat areas. As outlined in the foregoing pages, the Planning Division was charged with the responsibility of studying and formulating naval aviation requirements, including the characteristics of aircraft. The characteristics of aircraft, like the characteristics of naval ships and all military weapons for that matter, are always a compromise between the tactically desirable and the technically feasible. In order to determine technical feasibility, the Planning Division had to work closely with the Engineering Division. Both tactical desirability and technical feasibility were in a constant state of flux. A new enemy weapon or technique might increase tactical desirability to the point of necessity. The technical impossibility of today might become the technically feasible of tomorrow because of advances in the fields of science and technology. The engineers in the aircraft industry played in important part in getting out the designs of naval aircraft by working closely with the Engineering Division


of the Bureau. New types were in fact a joint effort of the two groups, making it difficult to say who contributed what to a new design.

After the planning and design stages had been completed, it became the business of the Procurement and Production Divisions to get the airplane built. The Engineering Division continued, however, to carry the main responsibility for seeing that the airplane conformed to the plans and specifications of the contract and met the technical requirements of the design.

The part that the Office of Procurement and Material of the Under Secretary played in the procurement of aircraft will be found in the chapter on "Industrial Mobilization and Material Procurement."

Aircraft production, like other war production, was dependent on the capacity for expansion of American industry and on the practicability of converting industry promptly and effectively from a peacetime to a wartime economy with due regard for civilian and allied nation needs. The basic problems in this connection and the methods used to solve them will be found in the chapters on "Naval Logistics" and "Industrial Mobilization and Material Procurement" and need not be repeated here. Suffice it to mention a few points particularly applicable to naval aircraft production, with which BuAer had to deal. As early as October 10, 1940, the War and Navy Departments agreed on the Department that would assume the responsibility for financing the expansion of the facilities of the respective airplane builders.

By the early months of 1942, the existing aircraft industry had expanded so far as normally possible, but additional production capacity was necessary to get out the vast aircraft programs that had been scheduled. Expansion was brought about in three ways: construction of entirely new plants, conversion to aircraft production of plants not engaged in war production, and resort to more subcontracting. Near the end of 1942 BuAer had under way virtually all of the major expansion projects eventually sponsored. BuAer's facility expansion commitments during the preparedness and war years exceeded $741 million, of which $608 million had been committed by the end of 1942.13

The Secretary of the Navy by a directive of December 13, 1942 authorized the technical bureaus "to negotiate, prepare, and execute their own contracts."14 Thereafter, BuAer procured directly major aeronautical items such as air frames and engines, and all procurement records were centralized in the Procurement Division. Spare parts and standard stock


items were still procured by the Aviation Supply Office or the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts.

Aircraft Production. Once a contract had been awarded, the manufacturer's major contact with BuAer was through the Production Division which, acting for the Chief of the Bureau, was charged with initiating and coordinating policies, directives, and procedures essential to the production of naval aircraft. The Production division's responsibilities covered a broad area including preparation of current aircraft production schedules and deliveries, day to day follow-up with the manufacturer on production and inspection from raw materials to finished airplane. Liaison on production matters was maintained with the Army, OPM, Joint Aircraft Committee, Munitions Board, Bureau of the Budget, Foreign Purchasing Commission, etc. The Division administered critical raw material and machine tool priorities to keep production necessities moving to BuAer contractors. Aircraft inspection, plant security, manpower utilization, incentive programs, and close coordination with the Office of the Assistant SecNav on labor relations and Selective Service problems, fell within the purview of BuAer's Production Division. Through the Division's management engineers constant effort was made to improve organization techniques, and procedures necessary for large scale production without jeopardizing the high quality of the finished product.15 Desirable changes in design in the interests of speeding up production were taken up with the Engineering Division.

Two days after Pearl Harbor, the Aircraft Production Board, a civilian agency, was created and given responsibility for scheduling Army and Navy aircraft production in order to minimize conflicting claims between the two services. The ability of the aircraft industry to meet production objectives was, as has been mentioned, dependent on great expansion of facilities, and a steady supply of construction materials. Through the War Production Board several critical material control plans were tried out. Among these the most successful was the Controlled Materials Plan (CMP) which was adopted as of July 1, 1943 and placed controls on three critical metals (copper, aluminum, and steel) by requiring claimant agencies to state quantities needed to meet approved production schedules. The Production Division handled CMP matters for the Bureau. The working of the plan is described in the chapter on "Industrial Mobilization and Material Procurement."

The complexity and magnitude of the aircraft production program was such that the closest cooperation between BuAer and the Army Air Force (AAF) was necessary. BuAer production officers were required to be familiar


Rear Admiral John S. McCain (later Admiral)
Rear Admiral John S. McCain (later Admiral)
Chief of Bureau of Aeronautics, Oct. 1942-Aug. 1943;
Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air), Aug. 1943-Aug. 1944;
Commander SECOND Carrier Task Force, Pacific Fleet, remainder of war.

fully with the functions of their "opposites" in the AAF. The Navy Department had representatives assigned to the Army Aircraft Scheduling Unit at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio. This was the agency which determined allotments and fixed schedules for the requirements of materials, components, and machine tools, for both BuAer and the AAF. However, BuAer could and did, act independently in matters of engineering, inspection, financing and other production problems not coming under the Aircraft Scheduling Unit. When faced with an urgent need for


material or equipment BuAer turned to AAF Procurement District Offices for assistance in locating the needed articles.

At the suggestion of BuAer, a Joint Army-Navy-War Production Board Materials Conservation Committee was formed late in 1942. The Committee issued joint material conservation directives to manufacturers. These directives went far toward eliminating confusion which had resulted from separate instructions going out from the three agencies.

Still another illustration of BuAer-AAF cooperation involving both engineering and production took the form of standardization of aeronautical equipment and materials. The process began before the war, and was continued and expanded during the war. The Army used Navy designed aircraft and vice versa; hundreds of joint Army-Navy specifications and aeronautical standard plans were prepared and used.

BuAer and BuShips shared jurisdiction over the ever more important airborne electronics equipment. A letter issued by both Bureaus with SecNav's approval on 3 December 1942 made BuAer responsible for the general characteristics and specifications of such equipment. BuShips undertook research, design development, detailed specifications, and production. However, all details had to be satisfactory to BuAer, which controlled allocation, distribution, installation, maintenance and repair of such equipment. From time to time, further amplifying agreements were reached with BuShips as the science was developing rapidly, but considerable difference and discussion continued on the subject into the post-war period. Much the same relationship existed between BuAer and BuOrd with respect to aircraft armament.

Aircraft Inspection. The philosophy and operation of the Navy's materiel inspection service, together with the changes made in its administration in World War II, are fully described in the chapter on "Industrial Mobilization and Material Procurement," and need not be repeated here, but certain aspects of this activity applying specifically to the work of the Bureau of Aeronautics will be reviewed briefly.

For naval aircraft inspection at the plants of manufacturers the country was divided into three districts, Eastern, Central, and Western, with a naval officer designated General Inspector of Naval Aircraft (GINA) heading each District. His jurisdiction extended beyond inspection to certain aspects of contract administration. The basic unit of the district organization at the plant level was the Inspector of Naval Aircraft (INA). The INA, a naval officer, reporting to the GINA of his district, was the official naval and BuAer representative at the contractor' plant. For certain administrative purposes he reported to the Office of Procurement and Material in the Under Secretary's office. In addition to his inspection and administrative duties, he was the liaison in design and engineering matters between the contractor and the Bureau.


In November 1943, the designation of the GINA and INA were changed to Bureau of Aeronautical General Representative and BuAer Representative, respectively, as more nearly descriptive of their duties.

From a beginning of 25 such field offices in December 1941 a total of 102 was reached during the war, employing during the peak period, in April 1944, 2,972 people (2,195 inspectors, 731 clerks and 48 engineers).16

The problem of obtaining competent naval aircraft inspection personnel was a serious one during World War II.  At the outset, the Navy had to compete at a disadvantage with industry and the Army Air Force for such personnel, as both paid their inspectors more than did the Navy Department. However, with the cooperation of the Civil Service Commission and the War Department this situation was corrected. Personnel turnover was also lowered by the Army-Navy policy of not hiring the other service's personnel without the approval of that service. Recruiting was given a boost when the Civil Service Commission relaxed its requirements and permitted the employment of women, handicapped persons and men more than 65 years old. BuAer recognized the importance of the problem as early as October 1940, when a school was started at the Naval Aircraft Factory, Philadelphia, to train 60 inspectors a month. During the three years of its operation, the school turned out some 800 trained inspectors.

BuAer's responsibility for certain aspects of airborne electronics equipment included inspection and installation. The need for more rigorous inspection led the Bureau to establish a radio inspection training school in November 1942, where 265 people were trained between that date and February 1944, when the school was no longer needed. To supplement instruction given in the school, extensive "on the job" training programs were conducted in the field organizations beginning in April 1942.

By working closely with the Army, Selective Service, and the War Manpower Commission, BuAer was able to keep its inspection service at an acceptable working level. About 10% were lost to military service during the war.

The "one inspection service per plant" policy arrived at by the War and Navy Departments worked satisfactorily. Inspection was the responsibility of the service having primary cognizance of the production of aircraft at the plant in question. BuAer worked out highly satisfactory inspection practises with the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian producers of U.S. aeronautical equipment.

Termination Procedures. Although certain material shortages and labor problems persisted throughout the war, and output was affected by design changes resulting from battle experience, production goals were reached


by 1944. The peak of production came in March of that year when the Navy accepted during that month 2,831 planes of all types. When the nation was driving toward maximum production in 1942 and 1943 BuAer's main effort was directed at supplying the fighting forces with aircraft as rapidly as possible, and justification for the size of the programs did not enter the picture. But during 1944, with the end in sight, cutbacks, disposal of surplus aircraft, and the cost of the programs began to become important. BuAer set up the Procurement-Production Review Section, Production Division, to furnish information to Congress and the emergency agencies on desirable contract cutbacks and contract termination policies.

BuAer, on 23 February 1944, set up the Contract Termination Division staffed by officers with legal backgrounds to supervise the termination of contracts and the disposition of property. On 1 November of that year representatives of the War and Navy Departments agreed on Joint Termination Regulations covering every phase of contract termination from the initial preparation for a cutback to final settlement and disposal of inventories. A Joint Termination Manual was prepared as a guide for contractors and subcontractors. BuAer contracting officers operating in the field negotiated tentative termination settlements with contractors, subject to review and approval boards in the Bureau and the Navy Department.

BuAer was authorized by SecNav on 7 June 1945 to sell government owned facilities, other than land or buildings, located at a contractor's plant and furnished to or acquired by him under a facilities contract.

Summary of Production Accomplishments. The World War II naval aircraft production record was phenomenal in many respects. The on-hand strength of naval aircraft grew from 1,741 planes on July 1, 1940 to more than 39,700 by mid-1945. Of the total of 80,300 planes accepted by the Navy in the five years after July 1940, Lend-Lease received 7,500 and the AAF more than 600. Naval planes lost in the Okinawa operations alone would have required eight months to replace in 1941, but those losses amounted to only 12 days output at the production rate of June 1, 1945. The Navy had no lighter-than-air craft in July 1940 but had a fleet of 165 blimps by war's end. Expenditures under the Bureau of Aeronautics from July 1, 1940 to June 30, 1945 came to approximately $15 billion, as compared to $29.5 billion and $19.8 billion spent respectively by the Bureau of Ships and the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts during the same period.17

Aviation Shore Establishment

A chapter is devoted in this work to the administration by the Navy Department of its "Shore Establishment." Included in the Shore Establishment


is the vast complex of air stations, training facilities, aircraft factory, and test centers needed to support naval aviation at the front. The chapter on the Bureau of Yards and Docks covers the aspects of the creation of these facilities so far as they were the responsibility of that Bureau. It is, however, desirable to cover in addition the part that BuAer played in planning, creating, and operating Aviation Shore facilities during World War II.

BuAer's responsibilities in such matters stemmed from General Order No. 65, of August 10, 1921, establishing that Bureau. Even when not charged outright by the General Order with the responsibility for planning, maintaining, and operating specific naval aeronautical shore facilities, such as the Aircraft Factory, all requirements in connection with the design and construction of all such facilities were by the General Order made subject to the approval of BuAer. This involved particularly close liaison with the Bureau of Yards and Docks.

The priority assigned to the expansion and improvement of the existing facilities and the creation of new aviation shore facilities was determined by the Shore Station Development Board, on which BuAer was represented. The working of that piece of administrative machinery has been described elsewhere in this volume.

Due to the keen competition for the limited funds made available by Congress for the improvement of the Navy and its shore establishments after World War I, much remained to be done in this field when war threatened. Expansion of the aviation shore establishment authorized by Congress in April 1939, based on the recommendations of the Hepburn Board, described in the chapter on "Naval Logistics," got underway promptly. The 1939 pace of construction was however still geared to peacetime concepts and procedures. In the interests of economy the early policy was to expand existing stations rather than to increase their number. This proved unwise when war needs rapidly overloaded existing stations As a result, new airfields and their facilities had to be built hastily. Likewise, the older stations, both within the continental limits and overseas, were designed primarily for handling patrol aircraft and required modifications to handle carrier-based planes and to train combat pilots.

A word as to the organization of BuAer for handling such matters is in order. The work was divided among three Divisions: Planning, Flight, and Maintenance. The reorganization order of August 26, 1942, mentioned previously, clarified the duties of these Divisions, as given below, with respect to Aviation Shore facilities, and eliminated certain overlapping functions:

Planning had cognizance over all matters of policy in the development of new and of existing facilities, and made recommendations to the Chief,


Avenger torpedo planes flown in perfect echelon by Navy PiIots.
Avenger torpedo planes flown in perfect echelon by Navy PiIots.


covering construction requirements. Through a Site Selection Board, it recommended the location of proposed aviation activities.

Flight obtained clearance for new sites from the Inter-departmental Air Traffic Control Board, so as to insure that no other aviation activity was located dangerously close to the proposed Naval Aviation establishment.

Maintenance, through its Shore Establishment Branch passed on the physical layout and technical requirements of air stations and other aviation facilities. The Division worked closely with the Bureau of Yards and Docks which built the stations, the relationship between the two being that of customer and contractor. That Bureau had the main responsibility for making the budget estimates and for preparing the justifications for projects and presenting them to the cognizant congressional committees both for authorization and appropriation. In all such work it had the assistance of the Maintenance Division.  That Division also set up the personnel complements needed to maintain and operate the Aviation Shore Establishment. The Shore Establishment Branch was the liaison link with the Civil Aeronautics Authority for technical matters concerning the airports leased from the CAA or built for the Navy with CAA funds.

Cost was the principal consideration in Air Station development before World War II, but when war came, cost was no longer a consideration. Plans and provisions to carry them out promptly and effectively now became the primary consideration. However, plans for the aviation shore establishment required for a full-scale war were lacking, and the ultimate needs for training personnel were not known. As in all other branches of the War and Navy Departments the logistics needed to fight a global war were underestimated. For example, as late as February, 1942, continental aviation shore establishment expansion plans envisioned that provision would have to be made for only 1500 more planes than called for by pre-hostility plans.18

The need for advanced bases, as visualized by the Hepburn Board, to support the Fleet and to stage strikes against the enemy, was recognized by CNO and BuAer in their planning, but not until February 1, 1942 was an Advanced Base Section established in BuAer's Maintenance Division to "coordinate all activities concerned in furnishing and assembling materials for advanced bases projects; and in cooperation with other sections within this Bureau and other bureaus, to formulate and execute plans necessary to carry out the Chief of Naval Operations directives concerning the aviation requirements for advanced bases."19


The Chief of Naval Operations issued a shore establishment expansion directive on May 11, 1942, calling for bases to support 27,500 naval aircraft. Striking aspects of the directive were the shift of emphasis from patrol to carrier plane accommodations, increases in training facilities, and emphasis on adding auxiliary airfields close to already or soon to be saturated bases. Expansion of lighter-than-air facilities, a new naval air test center, and establishment of Naval Air Transport Service (NATS) terminals were included in the CNO directive.

The circumstances and reasons that led to the addition of a Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Air to the organization of the Chief of Naval Operations are briefly reviewed later in this chapter. One of the reasons was the ineffective part, as it appeared to the aviators, that the Bureau of Aeronautics was playing at the highest level in Aviation Shore Establishment policy-making. With the establishment of the DCNO(Air) in August 1943, the Planning Division of BuAer was transferred to the new Office, and with it went the Base Facilities Section. Thereafter, it was the DCNO(Air) who made plans, outlined policies, and made aviation shore establishment decisions.  DCNO(Air) issued program directives to BuAer, giving the general mission of each establishment, the support it needed, allowable personnel complements, date of readiness, and if temporary, the estimated duration of use. With these data at hand, BuAer planned in detail the physical facilities needed and the estimated cost. Once approved, BuAer carried out the programs according to established policies. The Bureau likewise retained the responsibility for maintaining up to date and comprehensive records of all aviation shore facilities. Liaison with the War Department on aviation facility matters became a function of DCNO(Air). Numerous, but no major organizational changes, were made in BuAer as the Bureau adjusted to its restricted cognizance over its shore establishments. A joint BuAer-DCNO(Air) office order was issued in April 1944, which clarified the responsiblites of the two organizations in aviation shore establishment matters.20

A long recognized and serious deficiency in shore establishment administration was the lack of basic personnel and aircraft data in BuAer. The Bureau could never be certain about the number of planes or people at any given station or base. In February 1944 a simplified and more meaningful reporting procedure was inaugurated, and September saw the introduction of a successful business machine system for tabulating shore establishment information.

Although no new continental air stations were started in 1944, the shore establishment organization in BuAer was kept fully occupied. Some


LTA bases were converted to regular use, certain primary training bases were changed to fleet stations, runways were lengthened and strengthened to handle heavier aircraft, and rocket ranges and night fighter facilities were provided. Twenty-one outlying stations, mostly in Alaska and the Caribbean, were closed as the rollback began.21

Active high level Navy Department planning for cutback of the shore establishment began during the fall of 1944. BuAer weighed the suitability and desirability for retention of the individual activities, and submitted recommendations in the premises to CNO in February 1945. The mechanical tabulating and reporting system installed the year before provided quickly available data on communications, lighting, runways, real estate, etc. for use in making recommendations.

A few statistics are in order at this point to summarize the magnitude of Naval Aviation Shore Establishment expansion.

Summary of Aviation Shore Establishment Development. The Hepburn Board made its report to Congress under date of December 27, 1938, in which it recommended among other expansions the establishment of certain new air bases and the expansion of existing air bases to meet the strategic needs for naval defense of the United States. There were at the time thirty-one naval aviation shore establishments of various sizes, some no more than landing strips, in existence in the continental United States and overseas.22

The Hepburn Board recommended the immediate appropriation of $65 million for the expansion of the aviation shore facilities, to be spent over a period of three years: $19,250,000 in 1940, $24,750,000 in 1941 and $21 million in 1942. Outside of about $6 million and $15 million earmarked for Pensacola and Jacksonville respectively, the $65 million was to be spent on non-continental aeronautical facilities in the Pacific and at San Juan. With the outbreak of the war in Europe eight months later, the entire program was stepped up in speed of construction and in size. By December 31, 1945, more than $1,659 million had been authorized and obligated for the construction of aeronautical facilities. Of this amount, about $1,377 million went for continental construction and about $282 million for non-continental facilities. Included were such giant air bases as Corpus Christi capable of accommodating 23,000 officers and enlisted personnel and 400 airplanes.23

These figures do not however represent the complete cost of the air


bases as much of the non-continental construction was done by the Seabees whose work was not subject to cost accounting, they being naval personnel. Until the attack on Pearl Harbor the work in the Pacific was done by private contract, using civilian labor. After the attack the Seabees took over. Construction work was done by civilian labor under private contract on the bases in the continental United States, Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico and the Canal Zone. In Iceland the work was started by private contract but was finished by the Seabees.24

Aviation Personnel and Training

There were 58 officer billets authorized for BuAer at the time the President declared the National Emergency in September 1939. Steps were taken immediately to increase this number by called in duty reserve officers with technical backgrounds and by commissioning qualified civilian engineers, attorneys, industrial experts, and other specialists needed to fill the new billets that were created from time to time. One year after Pearl Harbor, there were 1,098 officers on duty in the Bureau. At its peak the number stood at over 2,300.25

The handling of the Bureau's military personnel was a function of the Personnel Division until the last day in 1942, when a Naval Personnel Section was established in the Administrative Division. This step was taken to relieve the Personnel Division of a task that rightfully belonged to the Administrative Division. The new Naval Personnel Section in the Administrative Division maintained liaison with BuPers and handled all matters, including justification procedures, pertaining to the administration of officers and enlisted personnel on duty in BuAer.

Growth in the Bureau's civilian staff paralleled that of the military personnel. Administrative functions pertaining to civilian employees were consolidated in the Administrative Division's Civilian Personnel Section which worked closely with the Civil Service Commission. Although numerically the number of civilians increased rapidly (some 1,877 by June 1943), the need always seemed to exceed the supply; in this respect the experience of BuAer was not unique. After August 1943, the Civilian Personnel Section serviced the office of the new DCNO(Air) as well as BuAer. It is of interest to note that during the war some two-thirds of all BuAer billets were filled by personnel in uniform, but that in the postwar period the ratio was reversed.26


SB2C's Returning to Carrier of TASK GROUP 58.1 from bombing missions over CHICHI-JIMA
SB2C's Returning to Carrier of TASK GROUP 58.1 from bombing missions over CHICHI-JIMA.


The truly formidable job facing BuAer and BuPers jointly was procuring and training the thousands of aviators and technicians needed to man the planes and naval aviation shore establishments during the war.

Navy Regulations charged the Bureau of Naval Personnel with the administration of all naval personnel throughout the naval establishment.  General Order No. 65, issued in 1921, stipulating the duties of the newly formed Bureau of Aeronautics, stated that the functions of the Bureau of Navigation (Personnel) with regard to aviation personnel would remain unchanged. Nevertheless, the same General Order added that: "The Bureau of Aeronautics shall make recommendations to the Bureau of Navigation for the detail of officers for duty in connection with aeronautics and shall make recommendations to that Bureau for the distribution in the various ratings of the enlisted personnel required for aeronautics activities." BuAer was also to make recommendations to BuNav "on all matters pertaining to aeronautic training."27

As actually practiced this advisory authority given BuAer to "recommend" on personnel matters resulted in virtually complete operational control by BuAer of both the procurement and training of aviation personnel. BuPers at times vigorously opposed this policy, but BuAer consistently maintained that the specialized nature of naval aviation demanded the handling of aviation personnel by naval aviators. The same argument applied to the recruitment and training of all naval officer specialists, such as doctors, dentists, naval constructors, marine engineers, civil engineers and others. By law, BuPers of course retained final responsibility in such matters.

As the aeronautical establishment increased in the pre-war years considerable thought was given to the subject. On October 3, 1941 the Chief, BuAer recommended to SecNav that as a solution BuAer be charged with responsibility for aviation training particularly as such a move would have legalized a de facto situation. BuPers voiced strong dissent from this recommendation as being contrary to the law and the principles of administration by which all naval personnel matters, medical corps training excepted, were concentrated in BuPers. The Secretary sustained BuPers position and no change in regulations was made. Instead, the Director of BuAer's Training Division was given additional duty in the Division of Fleet Training, Office of CNO, and in the Training Division of BuPers to coordinate "within the Navy Department all phases of naval aviation training." Aviation personnel procurement, training, and detail rested on rather tenuous BuAer-BuPers collaboration until August 1943, when the new DCNO(Air) absorbed BuAer's operational personnel responsibilities.


Wartime personnel expansion, which at one point brought the number of naval aviators to almost 50 thousand, had a modest beginning in 1939 as aviation cadet training was accelerated to meet the requirements of the 3,000-plane program. The tempo picked up as higher aircraft levels were authorized.28 Civilian candidates for flight training, after November 1940, were screened by Naval Reserve Flight Selection boards (later designated Naval Aviation Cadet Selection Boards) set up under the Naval District Commandants. When possible line officers assigned to the selection boards were naval aviators. Although formed at BuPers direction, the boards maintained the closest ties with BuAer which laid down most of the standards and operating ground rules for selecting candidates.

The primary sources of aviation cadets during the pre-Pearl Harbor period were recent college graduates and qualified students. Other flight trainees were procured from among young men who had completed the Civilian Aeronautics Authority's civil pilot training course, from general service naval reserve groups, and a quota from graduating classes at the Naval Academy. By the spring of 1941, the Army and Navy had worked out standardized aviation cadet requirements to avoid "cut-throat" competition for the supply of qualified youths.

Another move to strengthen naval aviation made during the short-of-war period was to call reserve pilots and enlisted ratings to active duty. Recall was voluntary until October 1940 when organized reservists and reserve aviation squadrons were outrightly placed in an active status. By the end of fiscal 1941 all units of the organized reserve and the majority of the members of other naval reserve components had been ordered to active duty. Procurement of aviation specialist officers directly from civilian life was also being pushed to BuAer to replace aviators in non-flying billets.

While the Navy had trained and used enlisted pilots for many years, BuAer did not press this program, choosing instead to place the greatest reliance on the aviation cadet system which produced officer pilots.

BuAer emphasis on pilot training during 1940-41 brought results. On December 1, 1941, there were 6,206 Naval and Marine Corps aviators on duty; an increase of more than 100 percent in two years.29 In addition, schools for training enlisted radiomen, aviation metalsmiths, aviation machinist mates, and other aviation ratings were in operation. The Chief, BuAer asserted that the training program was more satisfactory than the progress being made in aircraft production.


The Japanese attack shelved BuAer's long range planning and estimates geared to Congressional aircraft ceilings. The mass production of planes, the procurement of personnel, the development of the training organization required to transform thousands of individuals unskilled in aerial warfare into experts of many types, and the ways and means for the most effective distribution and utilization of the manpower available, were placed on a most urgent basis. Under date of December 16, 1941, the Secretary of the Navy increased the number of students allowed to enter flight training to 30,000 annually.

Procuring, assigning, and rotating aviation personnel, the primary duty of BuAer's Personnel Division, loomed ever more formidable with the expansion of naval aviation. The ability of the Division to carry out its work depended on the availability and use of complete statistical controls. These were rudimentary when war started. The simple card index system, one data card for each aviator, used since the 1930's was incomplete, inaccurate, and unworkable for an organization the size of the World War II naval aeronautical establishment. A Record Unit was established by the Personnel Division in March 1942, and an IBM system worked out which produced comprehensive personnel statistics and assisted the Personnel Division in accounting for and distributing aviation officers.

After Pearl Harbor, the Fleet Commanders could no longer undertake the operational training of new pilots. At the request of CNO, the Chief, BuAer reviewed this problem and set forth a plan in considerable detail. There emerged from this study a centralized Air Operational Training Command, established by SecNav on April 30, 1942, with headquarters at Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida.

The old issue of BuAer-BuPers authority and responsibilities in aviation training matters flared up anew in mid-1942. In a letter of June 3, the Vice Chief of Naval Operations noted that a number of bureaus and offices had taken on personnel functions which were properly the responsibility of the Bureau of Naval Personnel. He directed "that all such personnel functions now performed by other bureaus and offices of the Navy Department, except those that are the responsibilities of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, be transferred to the Bureau of Naval Personnel" in the interest of more effective service to the fleet and shore establishment.30 In reply the Chief, BuAer defended that Bureau's handling of aviation training, and countered with a re-statement of his October 1941 request that "responsibility for planning and carrying out aviation personnel and training policies be definitely lodged in the Bureau of Aeronautics." Testifying before the House Naval Affairs Committee, the Chief,


BuAer, in answer to a direct question, characterized the VCNO directive of June 3 as "little short of disastrous."31 VCNO cancelled his directive on June 10, 1942, and the tangled web of bureau authority continued for another year.

After the creation of the Air Operational Training Command, the Chief, BuAer recommended to CNO that a more efficient administration of the various aviation training activities could be achieved by the establishment of three functional training commands. CNO concurred in the recommendation, and on September 11, 1942 SecNav established the Air Technical Training, Air Primary Training, and Air Intermediate Training Command, were semi-autonomous insofar as they were not subject to the jurisdiction of any district commandant, but were responsible to and coordinated by the Navy Department.

A major flaw in the rapid expansion of Naval Aviation training was lack of standardized instructions or uniform provisions for measuring student achievement. BuAer's Training Division attacked this shortcoming by employing the services of Reserve officers who were test specialists in civilian life, and by the creation of a Central Examining Board under the Training Division. Beginning in Flight Preparatory Schools and expanding to the other phases of aviation training, the Central Examining Board provided a program of standardized examinations to ensure uniformity of instruction and as a yardstick for measuring student attainment. Such an achievement testing policy enabled BuAer to determine if the large number of civilian schools giving aviation instruction under contract were meeting the Navy's requirements.

Prior to the formation of the Air Technical Training Command, the technical training of non-pilot officers and enlisted men was conducted in a hit-and-miss fashion rather than in accordance with an established program. It was haphazard, and grew out of the ever increasing demands for new and highly specialized training, e.g. radar, air intelligence, photographic interpretation. The already overburdened district commandants could not administer the program properly, BuPers lacked the necessary technical staff, and BuAer's training Division was not large enough to handle the overwhelming growth in the field. From this background came the centralized Air Technical Training Command as recommended by the Chief, BuAer. The Air Technical Training Command undertook a thorough reorganization of the technical school and factory training programs. The other two functional commands, Air Primary Training and Air Intermediate Training, performed a similar service for flight training.


As early as 1940, BuAer was pioneering the development of special training devices which were capable of simulating conditions encountered in actual fight operations. Where a suitable training aid was available it was unnecessary to use critically needed operational equipment for training purposes. A highly skilled inventive staff working under the Training Division undertook literally hundreds of projects which paid handsome dividends in gunnery training, instrument flying, celestial navigation, and night fighter interceptions to name but a few of the applications. Two schools were conducted to train officers and men in the use and maintenance of special devices.

Special devices developed by the Navy were made available to the Army; five million dollars worth in 1943 alone. The significance of special devices in aviation training is reflected in its elevation to Division status within BuAer in August 1943 when the Training Division was transferred to DCNO(Air). For the 1944 fiscal year an appropriation of 351/2 million dollars was made to carry on the work.

BuAer's training functions, special devices excluded, were taken over by DCNO(Air) in August 1943. At the same time the BuAer's Personnel Division was similarly transferred. The scope of DCNO(Air) authority over aviation personnel was somewhat broader than BuAer's had been, and rested on a more secure legal basis. After the transfer, BuAer established liaison with the Personnel Division in DCNO(Air) concerning the detailing of officers to Bureau duty and the personnel requirements of activities under cognizance of BuAer.

Operating Activities. General Order No. 65 of August 10, 1921, establishing the Bureau of Aeronautics, directed that "The Bureau of Aeronautics shall make special provisions in its organization to enable it to furnish the information covering all aeronautical planning, operations, and administration that may be called for by the Chief of Naval Operations." Thus, in addition to its responsibilities as a materiel bureau, BuAer had broad responsibilities as an adviser to the Chief of Naval Operations for the operation of Naval Aviation. BuAer became more than an adviser in such fields as aerial photography, where it performed actual operating functions. Aerial photography had become an extremely important activity when reconnaissance by air, using aerial photography to map terrain and enemy installations, become a tool of warfare.

A SecNav directive of June 24, 1941, with minor exceptions, made BuAer responsible for all photographic activities of the Navy. This function was at first administered by the Flight Division, but a separate Photographic Division was established in October 1942 to take over these duties, including the special design and equipment of aircraft assigned to aerial photography, as well as the organization and training of personnel


Rear Admiral DeWitt C. Ramsey (later Admiral), Chief of Bureau of Aeronautics, Aug. 1943-June 1945.
Rear Admiral DeWitt C. Ramsey (later Admiral)
Chief of Bureau of Aeronautics, Aug. 1943-June 1945.

and of photographic air squadrons. Photographic units under the direction of BuAer provided complete service of this kind to the Navy. The Photographic Division and its responsibilities remained in BuAer after the establishment of DCNO(Air).

The Flight Division retained cognizance of the aerological services for which BuAer was responsible. It planned the complements and training of personnel subject to authorization by BuPers. In addition to its responsibilities for aerological equipment the Flight Division prepared directives covering aerological observations, weather forecasts, and general instructions to pilots on the use of the weather data furnished them. During the war, BuAer established weather stations and aerological units throughout


the world. The closest coordination and liaison were required with the Weather Bureau, the Army, Civil Aeronautics Authority, and other weather forecasting agencies. Unlike photography, BuAer's aerology planning, policy, and operational functions were transferred to DCNO(Air) when that office was created in August 1943. The Bureau retained, however, the responsibility for providing and developing aerological equipment.

The task of ferrying completed naval aircraft from the manufacturer's plant to their destination was a responsibility of the Flight Division. Beginning in August 1941, when the number of aircraft coming off the assembly lines began to increase rapidly, BuAer formed Aircraft Delivery Units (ADU) at various Naval Air Stations to facilitate the delivery of planes. ADU accepted delivery of new aircraft at the factories, installed government furnished material as necessary, worked with Inspectors of naval aircraft to eliminate faults, and ferried the aircraft to fleet units, or other points of delivery. The Flight Division shared administration of the ADUs with the Planning Division which determined allocation of aircraft to specific ADUs, and the Maintenance Division which concerned itself with material matters and supervised the operations of the ADU to a point where the plane was ready for ferrying. In 1943 the actual ferry-flying responsibilities went with the Flight Division to DCNO(Air).

Improvements in navigating devices and methods was a continuing preoccupation of the Flight Division. The BuAer Manual included flight and navigational instructions. Navigational equipment was under constant research and testing. Flight instruments and air navigation practices were adopted after agreement with the Army and the Civil Aeronautics Authority.

Closely linked with the Flight Division’s work in aerology and air navigation was the development of rules and precautions for flight safety.  The Division computed statistics, analyzed the causes of air accidents, and published the data along with safety suggestions through the media of newsletters and safety bulletins.

Relations With Other Activities

To resolve conflicting claims on available land and air space by military and civilian aviation, the President formed the Interdepartmental Air Traffic Control Board (IATCB) in 1941. The IATCB included representatives of the Army and Navy under the chairmanship of the Administrator of Civil Aeronautics. To avoid conflicting practises and to promote safety the Board acted as the wartime coordinator for the military and civilian use of navigable air space and aviation facilities.32 When a problem could


not be resolved by joint agreement of the disputants, the IATCB made the final decision. BuAer was represented on the Board by an officer from the Flight Division. The Director of the Flight Division, after determining in conjunction with the Planning and Maintenance Divisions that no other activities were located in dangerous proximity to a proposed BuAer aviation project, was responsible for obtaining IATCB clearance for the new site.

Most of the questions brought before the IATCB grew out of expanding military air programs coming into conflict with each other or with civil aviation. The statistical fact that from its establishment until October 1944 the IATCB considered over ten thousand cases vividly indicates the magnitude of the problem. The Chief, BuAer regarded the results achieved by the IATCB to be gratifying.33

Although the Bureau of Aeronautics had no direct responsibility for flight medical personnel, it was very much interested in all aspects of naval aviation medicine. The psychological and physiological effects of flying placed limitations on the characteristics that could be given to aircraft. Technical developments in aircraft design and capabilities would go for nothing if the human factor failed or was ignored. As early as the 1930's plane performance and human tolerances were approaching each other, and it was clear that special pilot equipment would be needed if speed and altitude performance were to be further increased.

On November 15, 1939, a Medical Research Section, to carry on research on all subjects relating to the health, comfort, and safety of naval aviators, was established as part of BuAer's Flight Division. At the same time the Chief of BuMed agreed to the assignment of a flight surgeon to BuAer as director of the work. The Medical Research section maintained liaison with government agencies and private organizations and institutions conducting medical research that might have a bearing on the physiological problems of flight.

Establishment of DCNO(Air) had its impact on the administration of aviation medicine much as it had on the other quasi-operational duties performed by BuAer. Research and development of equipment needed by aviation medicine was continued in BuAer through close liaison with both BuMed and DCNO(Air). By war's end BuAer's research had become a major factor in improving oxygen breathing equipment, night vision, anti-blackout clothing, etc., thus paving the way for the attainment of supersonic speeds after the war.

Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air). The reasons that impelled President Roosevelt, on the recommendation of the Secretary of the Navy and Admiral King, to authorize the addition of a Deputy Chief of Naval


Operations for Air to the administrative machinery of the Navy Department have been covered in the chapter on "CNO-COMINCH," but it is desirable to mention in this place the position of the Bureau of Aeronautics in the chain of events that led to this decision and the effect of the addition on the Bureau's organization and administrative responsibilities. The underlying reason for the establishment of a DCNO(Air) was, as previously described, the dissatisfaction of naval aviators at the highest operating levels with the small part they were playing in aviation policy-making, strategic planning, and aviation logistics. To be heard, they had to work largely through the Chief of BuAer, who was the principle adviser to SecNav, CNO and Cominch in all naval aviation matters, but whose control over operations was no more authoritative than that of the other bureaus for smiliar matters coming under their cognizance.

In May 1942, Admiral King added to CNO an Assistant Chief of Naval Operations (Air) "to deal with all appropriate and duly assigned matters relating to naval aviators." The ACNO(Air) was directly responsible to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations. The position was filled ex officio by the Chief, BuAer. Within a month it became evident that ACNO(Air) was no improvement over the previous arrangement, particularly because the Chief of BuAer held both offices concurrently, thus placing him in the position of approving his own acts. The office died of disuse and the subject was not pressed again until the spring and summer of 1943.

In a letter to the President, proposing the addition of a Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air), the Secretary of the Navy called attention to the difference between the responsibilities of BuAer and the other bureaus, and pointed out that no airmen were on duty in the CNO's office to handle policy and operational problems. The President approved the recommendation and SecNav issued a directive on August 18, 1943, establishing a Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air) "charged with the preparation, readiness, and logistic support of the naval aeronautic operating forces included within the several fleets, seagoing forces and sea frontier forces of the United States Navy, and with the coordination and direction of the effort to this end of the bureaus and offices of the Navy Department.34 Rear Admiral John S. McCain who had been Chief of BuAer was named DCNO(Air). On the same day, another SecNav directive transferred the Planning, Personnel, Training, and Flight Division, the Air Information branch, and appropriate Marine Corps aviation officers from BuAer to DCNO(Air).35


Rear Admiral Harold B. Sallada, Chief of Bureau of Aeronautics, June 1945-May 1947.
Rear Admiral Harold B. Sallada
Chief of Bureau of Aeronautics, June 1945-May 1947.

Effect on BuAer Administration. With the establishment of DCNO(Air), the Bureau of Aeronautics became a purely technical bureau, although it retained a few operational responsibilities such as those connected with air photography. Broadly speaking, naval aviation planning, training of flying personnel, logistics, planning and aviation operations were now responsibilities of DCNO(Air); BuAer was responsible for all that related to the aviation materiel of the Navy, including "designing, building, fitting out, and repairing Naval and Marine Corps aircraft, accessories, equipment, and devices, connected with aircraft."

BuAer carried out plans and policies formulated in DCNO(Air). Taking aviation shore establishments as an example, DCNO(Air) determined


the mission and title of each unit of the aviation shore establishment, the number and type of airplanes and airships to be handled by each station, and the personnel allowance of the units. From this information, in collaboration with the Bureau of Yards and Docks, BuAer determined in detail the nature and extent of overhaul and repair facilities, housing, schools, and other facilities needed, together with cost estimates. These data were submitted to DCNO(Air), and then to Assistant SecNav (Air) for approval. After acceptance, DCNO(Air) issued an action directive to BuAer. BuAer's relations with other bureaus followed similar lines; for example, with BuShips in the design of aircraft carriers. Where joint use of a facility was anticipated it was DCNO(Air) rather than BuAer that worked with the Army or other governmental agency in the matter.

In general, BuAer's working relations with the other bureaus and offices remained the same as before, except that the field was narrower. It recommended to each bureau the nature and priority of production and experimental development of aviation material. Close coordination continued with BuSandA and the Aviation Supply Office. Procurement and production requirements and rapid technological advances dictated organizational changes as necessitated by circumstances. The importance of synthetic training equipment for technical and pilot training led BuAer to form a Special Devices Division shortly after DCNO(Air) began functioning.

Although certain organizational changes were found necessary from time to time to mark more clearly the dividing line between DCNO(Air) and BuAer, no drastic reorganization of the Bureau was found necessary as the result of the establishment of DCNO(Air)/

Integrated Aeronautic Program (IAP)

Early in 1944 naval aircraft for the first time during World War II approached in numbers the authorized ceilings. This required decisions with regard to the utilization of the production capacity of the industry that might soon be in excess of requirements. A board was appointed on April 12, 1944, "for the general purpose of establishing a policy as to retirement of aircraft which are overage or otherwise outmoded and developing an integrated aeronautic maintenance, material, and supply program based upon such policy."36 Rear Admiral A.W. Radford, Assistant to DCNO(Air), was senior member of the board which included representatives of BuAer, DCNO(Air), the Marine Corps, BuSandA, and the Aviation Supply Office. From the deliberations and recommendations of


Fig. 21--Organization of Bureau of Aeronautics and DCNO(Air) (15 June 1944)
Fig. 21--Organization of Bureau of Aeronautics and DCNO(Air) (15 June 1944)


this so-called "First Radford Board" and the follow-up "Second Radford Board" emerged the "Integrated Aeronautic Program" (IAP).

The Radford Boards laid down general policies to govern replacement and retirement of airplanes. These served as guides to BuAer in planning its responsibilities in such matters. The importance was stressed for "general tightening up and improvement of records covering the location, condition, and quantity of aircraft and related materials," and for the development of statistical methods and means in the bureau offices, and commands for gathering and reporting the data needed to improve prevailing practises.

Figure 21 shows the organization of the Bureau of Aeronautics and of DCNO(Air) as of 15 June 1944.

A well planned maintenance policy was regarded by the Radford Boards as necessary to keep naval aircraft in good operating condition. In this respect the Boards were particularly critical of advance base maintenance units where "untrained maintenance personnel have been sent out to advance bases to operate equipment which they have never used before, and, to do types of work about which they have not the remotest knowledge.37 Closer control by DCNO(Air) and BuAer's Maintenance Division was urged.

Radford's group found a "lack of clear-cut understanding on the part of the ASO (Aviation Supply Office), the several Bureaus and field agencies thereof regarding ASO's mission, authority and responsibility in respect to procurement, storage, distribution and final disposition of materials flowing through the Aviation Supply System."38

The recommendations of the Radford Boards, referred to as the Integrated Aeronautic Program, were issued as DCNO(Air) directives in the spring and fall of 1944. The steps taken to make the plan effective included more comprehensive and more reliable aircraft reporting procedures. By February 1945, reports were being received by DCNO(Air) on over 95% of all aircraft in service.

A procedure for disposal of surplus naval aircraft had been worked out by the end of 1944. After determining what planes were in excess of naval needs, DCNO(Air) reported the surplus to the Munitions Assignment Board. If that Board found that the Army, Lend-Lease or others had no need for the aircraft DCNO(Air) was so informed and passed the information on to BuAer. The Supply Division of BuAer then ascertained through the Aviation Supply Office whether the surplus planes could be


utilized for maintenance purposes, and if not so reported to the Navy Material Redistribution and Disposal Administration of BuSandA, which then transmitted the information to Reconstruction Finance Corporation, the disposal agency. RFC, in collaboration with BuSandA, made the final decision on disposal.


The Naval Aviation war effort placed heavy administrative burdens on BuAer. After the general reorganization of the Bureau in October 1941, the structure was modified from time to time to meet new situations and conditions, but no major change was made until the creation of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air) in 1943. This was a bold step to take in the midst of war, but was accomplished with a minimum of confusion and lost motion. In DCNO(Air) naval aviation found the solution to a number of problems that had been growing in importance since the establishment of the Bureau in 1921.

It was not, however, until the creation of the Integrated Aeronautics Program in the spring of 1944, mentioned above, that effective management control over the assembly, storage, and distribution of the planes, equipment and parts flowing through the Aviation Supply System was achieved. A measure of the success of this management device and of the magnitude that naval air power had reached is furnished by the number of naval planes in service in the Pacific in mid-1945. The records show that some 11,000 planes , including planes in pools and in transit, were deployed in the Pacific in July 1945, as against 1,741 planes in the entire Navy on July 1, 1940. New combat planes were arriving off Okinawa within three months after leaving the factory. The average age of Navy fighters in the Pacific was cut in half during the twelve months ending with June 1945.39

The naval aircraft production record was phenomenal. Some 80,300 planes were accepted by the Navy in the five years beginning with July 1940. A huge supporting shore establishment of 177 air stations became a reality. Naval aviation personnel, including Marines, grew to three-quarters of a million persons. Pilots numbered 6,206 as of 1 December 1941 and 48,948 on 30 June 1945.

Naval aircraft sank more than half of the enemy submarines sent to the bottom by the U.S. Navy, and destroyed more than 17,000 Japanese planes. United States naval aircraft combat losses in the Pacific were in the ratio of less than 1 to 6 for the enemy.40


BuAer engineers in collaboration with the aircraft industry made major technical contributions to the development of new types of aircraft. Notable specific achievements included jet-assisted-takeoffs, successful application of rockets to aircraft, improvements in airborne radar, synthetic training devices, new equipment and techniques in air-sea rescue, and an aggressive role in the development of jet aircraft for carrier use.

Many factors combined to make possible these outstanding achievements, but they rested basically on the solid foundation of Navy Department administration implemented in the case of Naval Aviation by the Bureau of Aeronautics, the DCNO(Air) after the establishment in that office in 1943, and the Bureau system in general.



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1. Henry Woodhouse, "U.S. Naval Aeronautical Policies, 1904-42" in U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, February 1942, p. 163.

2. Assistant Naval Constructor H.C. Richardson, USN was a notable example. Richardson built a glider on his own time while on duty at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1911. Later, while on duty in the Bureau of Construction and Repair, he designed the first successful catapult for launching planes from ships, and improved the design of seaplanes by introducing a step in the float to reduce the power needed to get the seaplane off the water. He made aeronautical engineering his career in the Navy, and was also an accomplished flier and test pilot. He was a pilot in the NC-3 on the first trans-Atlantic crossing by air in 1919.

Assistant Naval Constructor William McEntee, USN, also made significant contributions to the scientific development of the airplane in papers presented in 1912 to the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers and the Society of Mechanical Engineers and later also as an assistant to D.W. Taylor at the Model Basin and Wind Tunnel of the Washington Navy Yard.

3. Commander A.K. Atkins, USN, and later Lieutenant Commander S.M. Kraus, USN headed the Division.

4. Bureau of Aeronautics Administrative First Narrative, in manuscript form. "Background" p. 23. Hereafter cited under the name of the section heading of the Narrative, e.g., "Background," "Procurement, Production and Contracts," with page numbers.

5. Statement of Congressman Frederick W. Hicks, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Aviation, hearings of Jan. 17, 1921, Committee on Naval Affairs, 66th Congress, 3rd Session, p. 278.

6. Hearings before the Committee on Naval Affairs, House of Representatives, April 25, 1921, pp. 88-89, Sundry Legislation Affecting the Naval Establishment 1921-1922, 67th Congress, 1st Session.

7. Public Law No. 528, 75th Congress, Chapter 243, 2nd Session.

8. "Background," p. 215.

9. U.S. Naval Administration in World War II, BuAer, Vol. II, "Organization and Administration."

10. Survey of Administration, Bureau of Aeronautics, by Booz, Fry, Allen, and Hamilton, dated August 1941.

11. BuAer Office Order No. 5-41 dtd November 19, 1941.

12. Sir Winston Churchill, The Second World War, Vol. III, p. 103. Cassell & Company, London.

13. U.S. Naval Administration in World War II, BuAer, Vol. VI, "Procurement, Production, and Contracts," p. 423.

14. Ibid., pp. 93-94.

15. U.S. Naval Administration in World War II, BuAer, Vol. VI, "Procurement, Production, and Contracts."

16. Background: "Naval Aviation Inspection," p. 32.

17. SecNav Annual Report, 1945.

18. U.S. Naval Administration in World War II, BuAer, Vol. XI, "Aviation Shore Establishment," p. 78.

19. Ibid, p. 81-82.

20. BuAer-DCNO (Air) Office Order 12-44.

21. U.S. Naval Administration in World War II, BuAer, Vol. XI, "Aviation Shore Establishment," p. 211.

22. Bureau of Yards and Docks, Data Book of 1938.

23. Building the Navy's Bases in World War II, History of the Bureau of Yards and Docks and the Civil Engineer Corps, 1941-1946, Vol I, Washington: GPO, 1947.

24. Memorandum A-365/HRF/jc of 19 November 1957, Helen R. Fairbanks, Historian, Bureau of Yards and Docks.

25. U.S. Naval Administration in World War II, BuAer, Vol. XII, "Aviation Personnel and Planning," pp. 4 and 9.

26. U.S. Naval Administration in World War II, BuAer, Vol. XII, "Aviation Personnel and Planning."

27. General Order No. 65, of 10 August 1921.

28. U.S. Naval Administration in World War II, BuAer, Chapter XII, Aviation Personnel and Training," p. 239. On July 1, 1945, naval aviators on duty numbered 48,948.

29. U.S. Naval Administration in World War II, BuAer, Chapter XII, Aviation Personnel and Training," p. 198.

30. U.S. Naval Administration in World War II, BuAer, Chapter XII, Aviation Personnel and Training," p. 289.

31. Ibid., p. 290.

32. U.S. Naval Administration in World War II, BuAer, Vol. III, "Operational Responsibilities," pp. 135-142.

33. Ibid., p. 142.

34. SecNav to All Bureaus and Offices of the Navy Department, Op-01-MD, Ser 71802, dtd 18 Aug. 1943.

35. SecNav to All Bureaus and Offices of the Navy Department, Op-01-MD, Ser 71902, dtd 18 Aug. 1943.

36. U.S. Naval Administration in World War II, BuAer, Vol. II, "Organization and Administration," p. 98.

37. U.S. Naval Administration in World War II, BuAer, Vol. II, "Organization and Administration," p. 104.

38. Aviation Supply Office had been established October 1, 1941 jointly by BuAer-BuSandA to control the purchase and issuance of regular aviation stock items.

39. SecNav Report 1045, p. A-43.

40. SecNav Report 1945, p. A-43.

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