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Air Defense of the Panama Canal, 1 JAN 1939- 7 DEC 1941

Air Defense of the Panama Canal, 1 JAN 1939- 7 DEC 1941

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~~1 Y A I R FOR C E S HIS TOR J CAL 5 T U DIE S! No 42

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1 January 1939 to 7 uecel.1ber 1941


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Frt~~ared by

J~t:;; .Historical Of'ficF.!

Ja'1.uarJ 1946

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FOR E ',J 0 r~ D

This stud;.r, prepared by '::iS5 .. K!1t~~'!!!!mn~ of the CO:J.bat Operatiol19.1 t[istory 'Division, 1tJ,J! Historical OfficeJ h~s the purpose of analyzing the rlaos and activities that were developed durinz the period before Pe?rl Harbor for air defe~se of the Pan~~ Canal. It should be read in conjunction ruth the Histor,y of the GiKth tir Force and other unit histories prerared in the theate1:'~ "hich continue the n~rr:l.tive for the period subsequent to 7 Decenber 1941.

Lik~ other :_~ I{istoric~ Studies~ the present na.rrative is subject to revision as additional n: .. terlals be~o~e avail~ble. ~eaders are enccurazed to sub~t info~ation or corrections on t~e perforated sheets incorporst ed at the end of' the study.

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C;'-::,t~ .. - ~2 D~~ 3:~~~, 19'39 • • • • • * • • • • • • • • .. • lJry season o0€:T'atio'1s." .. The rrance Field dilema ••• General {.mold' ';i visit to the fJanal Zone ••• The role of Ce.l"ibbe~n br- 3e9 in C1.nal ft.ir defense.". The beginn1n£ of eXj'i:i'1sion in the 19th .in!.': ••• Frecaution",ry measur-es ';tnd hurried reinfor~eme71ts ••• st.:1.tus of the 19th , lqg in Je9teruber ••• Air defense of Pe.cific appreaches •• oPl-9J'lS for 1 rw.ce Field •••. ~uxiliar.Y lafldine fields :.l:ld <:..il'cr,qft \')[;.mifl ~ sites ••• Oepartnental reorga"lization. ". 'J1re.in:.i nE




III FI1U..L !:C.;rl.!3 C:: 1';1:::. 19Tr! "I iG, 1 J:~:U:.::'Y-20 IT:JY'''::;']33n 1%0 ". 56 Re-evalual:.ion of CaM.} dir def'ens e ••• OreHoizA::tional

chan~es in the Fa~a~ Cenal uer~rt~ent ••• ftio Bata •••

Proeress i!l ail' defe'lne of Puerto alec ••• Trninine and operations of the 19th ,:i.ne ••• henewed precautions

asainst att:.ack •• ,,~~evision 01' ple.r15 for the 19th ,:ine •.• Au.x:U.iary qirfields .... The end of Ge"leral IJ3.reuet s

tour ••• R.evisio1. of [11. "lJ1S for ruerto J:<.lCA.!l avia.tion •••

Plans fet' other C&ribbe9n bases ••• '.rne 19th ,ine under

a new conmander

I"'J <1~13 l:~'~:~J~ C';:';.r-Li i.~-ll.Jt:l: ~;r ... ·u ,""' 1 Crl.Ci~ /~:D GA!-'ofI ~B~'~;

L:::X'''': :i;l'::', 20 T:V·.::::..2'::''"l. :t.940-S N.Y 1941 •••••••• a 0 •• 123 ,;t;ll units ••• General :1.r1o..rews' concept.con of Canal .:.ir

defense ••• Arrzy-::av;;" coordina,tion ••• B(-;.sic f,rirccilJ1cs of

air fa rce employm.8nt ••• Polic,l t.oward L:J.tin. : ..... mer-Lean

aviatio~ ••• traininr anl oreratiQn3 ••• Frotress of pla~s

for a Caribbean air forae ••• Revised pl&ns far Air Corps exr~~sion ••• G3rrison3 for Caribbean bases

v r:p~ G~SJ]3B.~~1 ,.'.3:.- F-:.:~G~, 8 '~!..Y-7 L=G~:..E'St 1941 ••••••• 17q Oreaniz?tion of the ]:lribbecm l..ir- Force ... Plans for

fossistance t'J i.:;}.tin \...~ieJ:'lc",-rt countries ••• Army-~\!avy res}:'onsibilities <HId relo.tions ••• Conc'rusdon

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• • • • .. • • • • • • • • • • • • • .. .. • • • 199 • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 200

:!~lft,.J ... ... • • • • • • • • • .. • • • • • • • 2~5

.. • • • • • • • • • " • • • • oJ • • • .. • • .. 226

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Oreanization of the 19th · .. ~ine within the Panama Cana.l Departma'1t, 16 FebruarJ 1940 ••••••

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Uap of tirline Distances in the Caribbean Area • • • • Frontispiece


Proposed Pl~ for Defense of Pana~a CAnal, October 1939 • • • • • • • • • • • • • *

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Organiz!i.tion of the Panama Canal DepqrtmeJlt Air Force • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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Orgaaiz~tion of the Caribbean Air Force,

26 ~y 1941 •••••••••••• • • • • • • • •• 185

hir Facilities in the Garibbp,an Are~,

7 lJecenber 19lrJ. • • • • • • • • ;, • • • • • • • • •• 195

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Chapter I


The Panama. Oanal, easily ra."lld.ng as the most stra.tegic vaterwazr

in the ';!esterl'l :!o !lisphere. from the date of ita coID?letion in 1914

has ola.1med Co sizal>le share ot U. S. defense forces. For some years

those torces were primarily ground and naval, but the deTelopment of

the airplene as a :ail! ta,,"Y' wea.pon prov1deil still another means of detense. It also prov.tded. My potential. enem1 with a. new means of attack1ng the Canal. Long before 1939, an air a.saul t on the locke and

other vi tel installations was cO:1I1dered in American mil! tar;r estimates

to be the most likely in! tisl tIOve oy an enemy in the 9.r6a. In 1939 the outbreak of war in Europe and the poss! bill ty of American invol'f'ement gave sudden emphasis to the neceseit1 of stronger Oanal protection and, more :,9arttcule.rly-, to the illq)ortanoe of air de!pnse. Spec1al pre-

cautionary meelUl"es were taken, and reinforcements were rushed from

the Un! ted Sta.tes.

The Secretary or War, reporting to the President at the end of

forces and our antle1rcra:tt al'tillery installations in the Panama Oanal



The Panama Oanal must be made 1l1l.9regnable. I Whether this goal

was reaohed. pr101" to 7 Decor.1~er 1941 mu.at r.c:udn. pl"oble~til3a.J., :for

no at~.ck was nli:I.da on the Oanal. :!hl.t t:lS alr arm of Zone Cletense3 did

experience ~ period of unprecede~t9d peao~time e~~sion and the

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conception of Oanal defense broadened to include the entire Oaribbean


Prior to 1939 the Air Oorps had maintained in the Zone as maJ'll' planes and flyers as its 11m! ted aporoprlations would allow. The equip..

ment, however. was generally outmoded and was of doubtful .,.slue in pro-

tecting the Oanal. Mill tary- aviation in the Zone had 1 ts beginning in March 191"1 with the arrivel of the 7th Aero Squadron, COJIW18D.ded by Oapt. lienry R. Arnold. The flyers first had to pronde themaelTee with quarter. and then assemble their Ourties and De Havilland aircraft. A

level 81 te WBS found near the Atlantio entranoe to the Canal, and hangars

were constructed on three aides ot a small b-'7 80 that both sea and land plNles could u.s8 the ssme hangarB. Mo.t of the aircraft were equippec1.

vi th tloa.ts, and by mid-1918 the bydropbnel were patroll1ng the water.

near the Atlantic entrance as well a8 ma.ld.ng e. number of "lone:--l'angetl a reconnaillS8llCe flights to the Perlas leland., 80me 80 miles 8.\rI8y.

An airfield, designated on 15 July 1918 as Frence Field.. was constructed 3

near the site of the "anation a~. H

Daring the twenties the addition of the 20th Pureu1t, 25th Bom-

bardllent, and 630. ServiC!8 Squadrons reaul ted in formation of the 6th Compod te Group, which in 1929 becE'me the maJor component of the 19th CampOli te Wing. Increased aerial aetivi ty and the paasing of :vear.

revealed severd undesirs.ble characteristics of France 3'1eld and pointed to the need for an airfield on the Pacific side o£ the Isthmus. fhe

greater rainfall Oll the Atlantic side made l'rance Field a lea of ad

for nine llIbnths of each year; the coral runway, only 2,700 feet in length and incflpable of extension, was not sui table for large or hean1y-loaded

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planes; and "NaTt aircraft, operating from the near-by station at Coco

Solo, frequently interfered w1 th operations of n1rcraft bFsed at Franee. A swampy site on the Pacific side of the Zone WOe selected for another fleld, and construction was begun in 1931. Though France :!leld con-

tlnued in opera.tion. the new .A1brook Field rapidly bee:>-me the oenter

of Air Oorps end commerelel air activities in the area.. Its location near Quarry Helghts made possible a. closer coordination of the 19th Wing

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wi th helldquarters of the Panama Os.na! Department.

A project for development of 9. number of emergency f1e1ds was

int tiated by Maj. Robert O. Candee in 1933 and was f'urthel' ad.nmce4 by Brig. Gen. George II. Brett in the years 1936 to 1938. Because ot the

I carel ty of tunds, maintenance of the landing grouna.. was pro'rided by local laborerB, who for a few dollars would fill di tws, ~w graBS, or

remoTe large stones. There were. in addition, a number ot mnn1c1pal

fields in the Republic of Pan.a.ma. such as ])s.n"" Psi till a Point, Aguadulce,

Bocas del 'loro, Santiago, PenonomB, end Oolobre. In lOme cases tho

grounds were treacherous tor lending; such areal were in every senee 5

ot the word emergency fields.

~ee organizational changes during the thirties affected the status of Air Oorps uni tIS in thp. O!'~al Zone. When in 1932 the Pana.ma Oanal Department was divided into threE" commands, the Atlantic and Pac1f1c

sectors and Department Troops, Army eir un1 ts were placed under the lat-

tar. ~\ofO years later the 19th Oomoosite Wing was organized witbtn the Panama Oanal Department. wi th wing headquarters end the 16th PurS1l1 t Group at Albrook Field and the 6th Compos! te Group a.t France Beld. In 193'1 the 19th OOllI9osi te Wing was reorganized as the 19th Wing, consisting

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of Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, the 6th. Bombardment Group.,

the 16th Pur8U1 t Group, the 15th and 16th Air Baee Squadrons. and the

Panama Air Depot, whose status in the command and loca.t1on in the , 6

depm-tment were matters ot some uncel"tatnt;r.

Since 1928 the air depot had been located at France Field. but in 1931 action was lni t:1a.ted to have the infltallation m:>ved to the Pacific

side of the Zone. where housing, ~~ly facilities. and Climate were

more favorable. Since it was eonsldered inadvisable a.t the time to re-

quest Congressional action anthorizlng the requi.lte transfer of ~propriatloD,s from France to Albrook, the matter was dropped. :sut in the summer of 1932 the Chief of tl:.e Air Oorps again pressed for trenatel'; the commanding general of the ~anaJJ18. Cenal Department concurred in the

recommendation., and in 1934 the Secretar;y 01: t:ar ap,rOTed the transfer. Funds were not imediately :f'orthcomin?, and three years later the com-

mander of the 19th Wing recommended that the depot reme,in at France F1eld. The Air Oorps determined to adhere to 1 ts plan for construction of the depot a.t Albrook 3'1e1d, but 1939 found the instaLlation st111 at France. For the first ei€:ht years of its enstence the depo t was under the

jurisdiction of the co~~ding officer of France Field. In 1936 1t became a separate command of the Panama Canal Department. ~.Ile 1937 re-

organi2:ntion of the 19th 1'J1ng seeJlli.llgly p19ced the depot under wing

supervision, but it continued;\) operate as a command ot the department.

Personnel of th9 de:!?ot orgtna11:r consisted ot approrlmate1;y 80 per cent m1l1taC'y and :'0 per cent ciVilian: 8. gradual replacement er military ~~th ciVili~n over a period of ten years resulted in a 50-50 ratio. The problems accompanying these trends and chenges in conllnnd and loeation


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7 were to oontinue during the e~anslon period o~ 1939-41.

The abUi ty of the 19th t'lins to provide effectlTe air de:tenae of


the Fenama. Oanal during the th1rties was, at best, questionable. Brig • Gen. George H. :Brett. who arrived on 20 August 1936 to assune corz-,=.nd

o£ the wing. found the air ,mi t in a "deplorable condi tron.1I In his

opln1on, the air force was flobsolete, antiquated and of practical17 no value in the defense of the Canal. Zone against modern, up-to-date

weapons, e1~er gronnd or eir." ~bi1e housing and messing f!Cl1itlea 'Were considered adequate and morale seemed tt') be high, the shortages

in oti'1cer personnel end. the obso'l.eacence ~..n,:'. lc.Jl: of eqUipment

seriously rednaed the effectiveness of the un1 t. Officers retu.rntng

to the Un! ted Statsl at the end of their tour of dutY' war., not being

replaced rapidly enoUght wi. th the 1'esul t the. t personnel r8lll.S.iDing in the Zone had to :Q8!."form a multtpliCj of duties. Except for a small number of 13-10:8' St all aircraft were outmoded and obTiouely had been sent to the OeneJ. Zone af'ter haTing been re;placed by modern aircraft

a in tc.ctical un1 te in the United States.

Pres1dent RooeeTel t in 1935 had evinced en Interest 1n sir defense

of tho O,l.~gl and had requested a re?Qrt from the Air COrpl explaining

why no modern planes were amlable in the Zone. The report revealed that a. Berious sborta.t:e of co:nk.t e.1roraft ext.ted throughout the Air Corp. because of a lack of sufficient a.ppropria.tions fer the fiscal ;years 1930 to 1935. The PaJ1alla OAnal Department had been given a high priori ty in the progre.m for sup,.,17ing new end re;,?looe:nent aircraft to foreign d6j?ar~£Lt:3. but new ylanes could not be sent to PEJlRm8. wi tbout





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C~:~:·~~ ~~~~~!.:nDEN1\f\l 6

extensive service teste in the United States to insure proper tunction-

1ng. Furthermore, it we.s the policy of the ~T.r!' Department to equip the newly formed GIll Air Force with the latest combat planes before 9 distributtng sueh materiel to overseas establiShments.

Ll ttle improvement in 19th \ring equipmen.t was noted 'by Maj. Gen.

Oscar We.tover. Ohief of 'the Air Corps. when he Tis! ted Panama during May 1938. !!!he presence of :8-10:816 had inoreased theeft1ciency of boD)oo

bardment ~ts. but General Westo'Yer considered it lmper&tl"18 that at lea.st three E-laA.' s be provided immediately 80 that train.ing could be comgleted belore the arrival of more :B-1SA's in the late fall. There was also need fo~ more cargo planes and amphibians. ThE! latter v.vpe plane was used tor rescue purposes during training missions, which

usue.l17 were over water. General Brett. who had flo'Wll o'V'er mo.t of

the United. State •• felt; that there were no conditione in the State.

which could "In 8llY way, eha!)e, or form" approach the flying MI81'd. 10

9%perienced :Ln Panama. on normal flights. :But planes for reecue pur-

poses, as well as for tactical !?urposes. were at a prelllium; and they

were likely to rema.in so for some time to eO"3.

The tour of inspection by General l'lestover was of primary importanca.

for he 11l1"o.;t!I_"7t:.. '1:_;' 3very phase of act! vi ty rela.ted to p,ir defense ot

the Oanal and many of hif3 conclusions and. recommendations bore lrui 11 during the Y'3aru 1939-41. He was convinced that ru.l un1 ts and lnstall~

tions should be concentrated. on the Paa1tic cide, with the exoO'.:_ltion of

one r~oonnaisse.n.oe squcdron which should relllBin at France Field. The

presenee of DrIlck underneath the five-foot cruet of earth at Fl'!'--nce 1n-

dies.ted the 1nadTiea"Oility of further construction there e,nd the 'Wi.dom

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of the earlier decision to relocate the air depot at AlbroQk Field.

The depot l"m.s to be chilianhed as rocn E.S jirc.o"iicablo a.!'~!)1· :1. til

transter. Sinoa th,.,rf' \'e'f: f. l1:dt to the expansion of Albrook, it was

recoI!l!lended, in aceordel1ce with General. Brett's suggestion, that a new

airfield be developed at :Bruja Point. approxlmately ho and one-half milea WEIst ot :Balboa. The land was govermnent-owned, but part of it had been set aside tor fl nav&l radio station. Inasmuch as no similar

alba e:d8ted in the OP.nel Zone, Generfl~ "estoTer' stronglY' urged that the lend be wi thdraWD. from allotment to the Navy and that the entire tract be made a:vdlable for construction ot e tield aut table for bom-

bardment aircra.1t. Becs-use a. number of years would. be req'l1ired to

complete the ~rojected construction on the Pacific side. funds were allotted for re:9air of the hangars at France Field., which as a rem t of settling were in a dangerous .tate. Addi tiona! funds were also mde anilable for cOm:Pletion of a. gannery and bombing range at Rio Batd.

Albrook Field was naturally B oenter of interest for' General Westo'\"er, and he made numerous obaervat10na relat:f.T8 to 1 ts development.

Be requested the wing commander to plan for an immediate construction project to relieve the housing shortage. The growth of the wlng was to be gee,red to the progress of the housing pl'ogr~'l:l, for it was agreed.

that no ado! tional A1r Oorps personnel should be sent to Panama until quarters had been provid.ed. Albrook Field was aleo in need of aa-

ditional ~ather service facilities. end General We~toTer propoled to

assign a meteorological officer to the field in order to undertake a

8~d7 of the problem. The ezpoBed nosltlon of ~Iolin. BtorRge facilities

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led the Ohief of the Air Corps to su.ggest that addt tiona.l storage

ahould be located in one of the hill.ides at .AJ.brook. which would tn-

sure gravity flow and aleo provide a natural bombproof shelter.

In add! tion to the permanent installations at Albrook and Fr2llce flelds and the field 'Oropoaed for 13ru.1a Point, a. network: ot emergency

fields in outlying areas of Panama was regarded as necessa.ry for both strategic and taoticAl purposes. General We~tover ~o1nted out to the War Department. that adequate funds should be proTided to maintain the fields in a condition suitable for operations byeny type of E.ircr8f't •


The 19th Wing had made occasional good-llill flights to Oen traJ.


and South Americsn oo".n.tries, and General Westo'f'er found the practice

extremell" valuable and worthy of re:pett tion. The flights not only gave tangible entlence of the llGood-Ne:l.ghbor Polic:!," but also prodded.

excellent training for c~ew members. SUch activities were destined to 11

become &l eYeD. greater part of 19th Wing functions.

Air defense forces in the Canal Zone were jult beginning to feel "growing pains' wen :Brig. Gen. Herbert A. ])argue arrived 1n October 1938 to assume cOm::Jand. of the 19th Wing. m, two-year tour of duty

came at a crt t1CBl period when the turn of a:!f81rs in Europe l'esul ted :tn a hurried strengthening of OnueJ. defenses end. when the entire Air

Corps WElS undergoing a strenuous program ot expansion. Neverthe1eu,

General Dar-gila We.ll well prepared tor his asrignment and was equal to

tbe diffiaulties which vere ill, store. He was a veteran airman, having

ploneered Army use of hydroplanes in 1913. He CElms to the Panama Canal Department after ser1'iDg tour years in a commend poet tion a\ the

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group. and. :prior to that. one yeer as a student at tb.e Naval War Oollege. In the winter of 1926-27 he led a night of Army!'lru».e. around South America. !-1aj. Gen. Henry H. Arnold, who became Olliei' of the Air Oorps in the faJ.l of 1938, described General Dergu.e as Iia keen student of stl'ateg9''' who recognized South America'. lmoortsnce in


hemisphere defense. m. t'lo!O ,-ears as commander of the 19th Wing were

to reveal that he was likewise keen17 Mert to the im:portsnce of air

de~ense of the Panama Canal •


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Chapter II

OANAL AlR D:Iili'ENSE, 1939

Adequate atr defense of the Panama Oenal was in 1939 a llatter of krowing concern to the Air Oorps as well as to commanders charged

directly wi th the responBi'b111 ty. The concern manifested it.elf' 1n

numerous studies of the problem, 1n officie~ tours of inspection. In new air be.les. and in an aceelera.ted program of construction snd re--

Inforcement. To pl8!Ulere h. W~sb!ngtont the relation of outlying

Caribbe~ bases to Oellal. defense was of particular interest. while GenerAl. Dargue and hie staff focused their ef'forta on the 19th WinS

and the more illDlledta te environs ot the Oanal.

The 19th WiDg, 1d.th an authorhed strength of 1,390 enlisted men and 75 otticers, was operating at reduced strength because of a lack ot replacements. Un1 to of the 'Wing vere still divided between Albrook and France fields. At Albrook were the Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron. the Base Headquarters and 15th Air Base Squadron, and the 16th Purauit Grou,!), which included its Headq_ua.rters end Headquarters

Squadron,1he 24th and 29th Pursuit Squadrons, the 44th Il.econne.i8sa.nce

Squadron, and the 74th Attack Squadron. At France Field were the Base Headquarters and 16th Air ,'Base Squadron. and the 6th :Bombardment GrOU:9. cO:m:!osed of its Headquarters and Head1J.uarters Squadron, the 25th Bombardment Squadron, and the 7th Reconnaissanoe Squadron. The;Panama

Air Depot with its 1st l)e;9ot Squadron was likewise at France Field, but it rema1ned separate from the .... 1.ng and directly under the juris- 1

diction ot the Panama Oanal Department.


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Albrook Field. though handicapped by short runways and somewhat

treacherous approaches, was being built int., a major air ba.se. Its fourth Mngsr was under construction and, lIOrk had begun in December

1938 on 8 4,700 x 25Cl-foot concrete runw~w. on another runtrrey ot

8mE.ller aimeneions, end on necessary- taxi stri'Ds. When the main run-

way was opened to traffic on 17 April 1939, the radio control tower 2

was also ~ut into use.

Nearly 40 emergency landing fields were scattered throughout Panama

and the Oanal Zone, For the most :oart, the grounds were badly in need of improvement. and few funds were available for the needed work. At

the end of Februar: ... only f'our outlying fieH.s. Jaqua, David, Pocrl,

and :Rio l':Ta to t were sui table for use by P-26 I S and :B-1 0' 8. Generel Dargue on 28 February requested $10,000 for impro'Yement ~d maintenance of 10 fields. Poen, La Mesa, La Ohorrers. Rio Bato, Pacora, Jaque. Garachine. lrand1nga, Perme, and Alm1rante; but the All' Corps, out of its 11mi ted funds, could allot only $5,000 for the project. !l!he 19th

nne; was scheduled to receive newer, het',vier aircraft whieh would be

unable to operate from mElny of the small. rough landing grounds. In ~ew of tl::is prospect, end in epi te of the extremely limited budi;et,

• ten tati ve I)lans were made fo r acquiring adcil. t1on~,1 8i teg and for re-

turning to use fields long e.bt'~doned and now cOTered wi th heavy foliage 3

and cement-like anthills.

At the beglnning of 1939 the 19th Wing \-Y1S equi'P:ged with approximatelY' 70 aircreft: ~8 33-10:8'13, 14 A-17' a. 24 P-26A.1s, lind a hanQful

of P_l::!Et B and Frs. The B-10'6 and P-121e were alreaifY' being prepared :tor return to the United states for replacement. On 26 January the

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first of three ferry flights le~t the Zone. fiying 10 :B-103' 8 to the


States end returning seea after with 10 :9-181•• By 12 JW1e a totaU. of

00 new :B-18's had been deliTered. ao to the 6th :Bombardment Group and

10 to the 16th PurlUit Group. ~e P-12' B were dismantled by the air depo t and shipped to the Un! ted States. to be rE'Placed later by P-36A' 8.

Deep! te their age, the P-12' s were reported to be in excellent condition,

and they were sent to Xel11" Field, Tex.. for use in the advanced filing 4

.. choo1.

Drz §.ea.on Ooera.tioRI

lJ!h.e earl;, months 0"£ 1939 were opera.tional1y actiTe for the 19th

Wing. General Dargu.e and hi s staff took e.dvan tage of the dl-y season.

wb1c.tl extended from December to Hay, to make survey fiigbtB for new

emergency fields snd to check airport facilities in Panama and neighboring countriee. Squadrons at Albrook and France fields carried out

routine flights, as well ae cooperE>.tive millsions with. Army ground forces

and Navy forces. mil! tary revie\'JS for vis1 ting officers from Guatemala

and Oolomb1a.~ and the U8\1al searches for £'.ircraft lost at soa or in

the jungle.

The passage of U. S. war vessels through the Oan31 gave lllli ts of the wing t?,n opportun! ty to test cODl!IlWlication facili ties and to provide

training in the use of codes in conjunotion \1i th th,- n.c.- v: l -mit;;. V:1.

the 25th 13ombe.rdmen t Squadron in! tlated a three-day mission in coopers.-

tion with Navy war9hi~s wbich ware en route to Caribbean waters for maneuvers. .Reconnnisal1nee planes reported the entr;r of the fleat into

the Gulf of Panama and covered the vessels as they made their way to


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from th.e 24th and 29th Pursuit Squadrons and the 74th Attack Squadron

took up the coverlne ni ;azion as the neat :pessed t;,"'Ougl'l the O~'Jlal. !llle

veS$ele '1I1)l',. sc.'I-ls';;;':.1:x1 ttl l"st'u?,in :?.t anc!:urt' in Limn ::9a.y on the Atlantic

coast until 19 Janu2ry, when the 6th :Bombardment IJroup at France Field 5

was to COTer the fleat to 100 miles at sea..

The 19th Wing was Dceasionall:r called upon to perform special missions wl1..ioa wero indirectly valua.ble for trhini"lg purposes Ol'ld for providing :flight infornation on Centr:11 r-tnd South American countries

over which the missions were carried out. On tbe night of as January two planes left France Field 1'01" a 3tOOD-mile flight to Santiago, Cbile,

carrying medical aid and sup)l1es to the earthq'llake-striC:!::{')1 araa..

Under the command of Oapt. Franklin C. Uoliet the flight was success-

fully coW]?leted over sn unfamiliar route, and tor 10 days the two planes

carried out "marcrj' m~.seioll.' in the territory, roturning to the C~al 6

Zone on 13 February.

From 13 to 213 March the winG participa.ted in the annuf'..l menetlvere of

the Panama. Onnal. Departnent. General Dargue, l1ospltall!Zed at the timet

was able to ma..t::e several trips to hi", post at Albrook in order to direct

was in che.rge of the maneuvers, wh11e Uaj. Gen. '13en Lear directed

activities in the Pacific Sector end :Brig. Gen. Richard C. Jl'lOore commanded

the Atlantic Sector. According to the problem, which differed 11 ttle

from. previous annual exercises, a "Bpeci~ servlee 9q_uadronll was reported

\'Ti th en clroraft car:rier leaving the Gelal'8g0s I131rmds, 3')0 miles away,

and a.dvancine to atta.ck the Canal. Land-based planes on 13 ~arch reported


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making contact with the "hostUe" :neet and IIbombingff the carrier 350 ?

miles at see •

Simule,ted atta.cks were made 'by lend, sea, and air on Balboa Harbor,

Miraflores and Gatun locks, and elcrf1eld.s in th,., Canal Zone. The 6th Eombardmen t Group, the 74th At tack Squadron, and the 44th Reconnai.sance

Squadron alternately represented a carrier-based force attacking the

Canal and ClI.rried out defensive patrols to a distance of 125 miles over the Gulf of Panama, while tl:.a 16th Purau1 t (ho0U:.l? made defensive patrol. along a l1ne 15 miles of'hhore. From Ooco Solo and the Perlas Islands. Patrol Wing Three operated longer-l'suge patrols wi th FBY' s. The maneuvers came to a clo se on 28 IMch wi th a final 01'1 tique 1n the Fort Clay-ton

8 theder.

In attempting to formulate an adeauate training program for the

19th Wing, General D81'gue ran iuto cDneiderable ditficul. ty on acCO\Ult of

the heaoyy demand for cooperative missions w1 th other arma ot the service.

The proposed number ot' missions to be f'lO\\'D. for the coast and field artil-

lery tor the next ttecal -rear seemed unree.sonable, and in Uay the wing

commsnder requested that the department set n limit of 500 hours for the

7ear'liI missions. The request was made because there was a:prarently no

lim! t on tl:.e number of calls that might be made for cooperative flignts.

GeneraJ. Dargne explained. that the "personnel who fly these mission. see no end to them. For most of the missions they- get no Air Oorps training.

t;lIney often fly hourI! at a time wi thont any app ar en t results being aecompliehed. TheY' stay on the alert for hours and then otten missione

are c~llcelled. ~h1s work often causes a d1sru:9t1on or" training. All of


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co \\!FlDEN1\J),l

this bas seriouuy reacted on the mo:oale of the '!Jersonnel required to

C.O t11e flr:.n_;. II General Dargue further explained that the ma.jorl ty of

new officers would be inooq>erienced in thia :::ind of flying end t:hat

req_uire a long time. The eonste.nt fi;ring, moreover. had :put a severe

strain on equi'Oment. rasul t1ng in frequent failures whic..lt eould not be

promptly repaired beecuee of the small size of t.':te air depot t..ud the 9

poverty of the civilian labor market.

The cooperatlYe missions included towing targets tor coast artil- 181'7 tracking, eOOl"chlight praotice, field artillery automatic rifle

-practicB, coast artillery and infantry macb!ne £:,"Un fire; flying for

8tereol!lcopic observers, observation of field artillery fire, and demon-

.tratiOUB; spotting seacoast artillery fire; -.:,rovidins :aa.Si :fEehts for

teats of cl.r'el'~ft we.rn1ns :'Ind intelligence service, nights for f'amiliar-

hing ground officers wi th the terrain of the Oena! Zone and surrounding

country. and flights tor simulated observation and attaok durin~ manau-

vers and field exercises. On C"lleh misBions the 19th ~."in::; :new M::noat

1,200 hours d:urlng the fiscpl year 1939, c,nd in General Dargue't estlm~ tion on1~ lO per cent could be credited as training for the air units. Attempt1ng to get some gauge on t'J.e number of hcura that reasonably should be devoted to cooperatiTe missions, General Dargue wrote to Lt. 001. Oarl Spaatz in the office of the Chief of the Air Oorpe. explaining the, "deplore.b1eR 11 tuatf.on in the OQ'lel Zone. The '>>ing commander fel t

th~t tho ta~ ftcoopernt1vc ill~ssionn was hardly the term to be used. for

the 19th Wing was doing all the flying t>s e. service to the othor branches.

General Dargue confessed that he was "running into considerable o9,Poaition

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on the pert 01 ground. commanders who have felt the Air Oorps 'Wae at 10

their beck and call."

In r~o_uejjting the depe.:-tJilent c:r::mander to 1;'t\t a. limit on the number

of hours :for cool'eratlTe missions. General Dar~e offered seTeral sug-

gestlone for alleviating the difficulty; to let the ground forces use

routine flights. conveniently reroutedt 8.S IItargets of oppol'tunity1f;

to let the ground forces arre.nge their schedules 80 that several be. tterles

might use ,9. single mission; and to enco'.ll"eSj; the ground forcos to make

cert~l.1n th9.t they would uaG a. mission before calling for one. General

Stone tried to be helpful. but he and his ste.ff' a.poarently never completely understood the problc.m. Pointing to a Lack of equipment as the

reason for the wing' a lnablli t~r to perf'OrIil all the miss10ns requested.

the department merely- sug;estecl that more :B-18t 3 with reel. should be

procured. ~he artillery, asking for more missions. ws even less help-

fUl, iDl21y1ng that the weather was the chief d.if£1cul t~ and. trot the

:tlyers s~u1d le3l"n to enoiurlJ 1. t it' they- could not control 1 t. General Dargue18 real problem \oms in getting commanders of other services in the Zone to realize tha.t the Air Corps was unde,.go:f.n~ e:zpansion, that trained fiyers could not be turned out in the stuDe length of time as officers ot the ground. arms, and. tha.t flying missions tor the artillerY' and :lnf'ent%7

U did not pro"l1de e.dequate training for crewmen.

!l'he fate of France Field was a subJect of much c1isO'.!.sai'ln CI.'.:tring

Washineton. A number of stu.dies had been made investigating the possibilityof improving the field or of building another on the Atlantic side,

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~;~~ *'f-~ ~ ... ? .-~_' -e. ___, -e ... ~ .... 't

J.AF1W-42 r: ~ : " ~t_~~ 17



bu t no detin! te plEillS were adopted. La te in 1938. hOW8Ter t when 1 t

seemed that a tull tbree-st}ue.dron bombardment group vas to be stationed t'here, General. De.:-gue lJ_ought for a pas! tive plan of action which 1ft)uld 61 ther replace the field or i~l'Ove it to fulfill modern apecif1estions.

On 19 JM.t1P.ry 1939. Lt. 001. William O. :Butler, base commander,

IUblli tted a proposal to retAin the e:r1at1ng 81 te of' F1"s.nce Field but

extend· the north .. south r11nVSY at least 1.?OO teet b~ diverting e. small rlver and to raise the level of the entire field from :four to 10 feet

above see ... leTel and pave the runway '\d. th asphal t on eoncrete. The entire

proJect, to coat approximately $2,500,000. met with "unanimous approftl" on the Iathmu.s. bu.t the reception 1n Washington was unfavorable. It

was .tUl belioTed in SOJlle quarters that nothing would :9revent the un"en settling of any :nat surface in the area of Fnnce Field. Becs.uae

of 1ts cost and uncertain success. the project vas not approved. Other tactors. however. influenced the decleion: a. change in pllUle contemplated

the removal of bombardment un1 ts from the field, Md def1ni te plan. were being made for a $17,000,000 base at !ruja Point, which wol,ld serve


somewhat to replace Fre.nce Fleld.

On 1 April, Genere.l Arnold lfl'ote General Derga.e ot his decision reogardins Frellce :Pield and ~re88ed his regret that he could not a&ree with the plfoll for improving the exleting site. ~he Ohief of the Air

Corps did. however, aee a :n1f1.ce for the field in Cena! defense and he stated that upon conmletion of the new base at EI'UJa Point and re-mo..,e1

ot the air denot at Albrook. France Field would be used as a.n auxil1ar7 base. kJ.y di881'!lolntment which G-enerE'J. Dargue Jlay hays felt 1"egarding

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the plene for France Field was OTerlJ~~~d "by the unexpected pleasure


ot receiving an authort ta.t:tve statement on future policY' for the Air Corps in the Paneme. Canal Department. He wrote GenereJ. Arnold that he vas udellghted" wi th the letter and that it was "the first real state-

ment of. policy in connec1;1on with the air expansion program for thi8

Department" that he had seen sinoe arriVing for duty in Panama. He sent copies of Genere~ Arnold's comnnmication to the commanders of Albrook and France fields and the air depot and aJ.so to General Stone.

who previously he.d. seen no thing that aawred of a decision in the a!r 13

expansion progr8lll for his command.

General Dergu.e was obviousl,. hampered by a lack of information in his attempt to make plans for the 19th Wing. He expressed to General. Arnold the hope that "the time will soon oome when def1nt te 1nformt1on wi th regard to uni ts. 10 ca t1on, construcUon, and mat tars of thi I sort may be furnished 80 that we may get behind the various projects. push


them, and act intelligently on them." !he problem. of France Field had.

been settled temporarily. but 1 t was to reappear in another form before the end of the year.

Lt. Col. Francis ~!. :BraCly arriTed in the Zone on 18 April to become

encutiTe and operations officer 01 the 19th Wing. thereby relieving

Generel Dergue of a nWDber of administrativE' details. Oolone1 BradT was

to become the nucleus of a wing staff' large enough and sufficientl7 ex-

perienced to guide the trBnsiormatlon o£ a sme,ll. :nee.cetime fl~ng uni t I

into a large air force oovering a vest section of the Wegtern Hemt~here •

General Dergue WE'S pleased 'Wi th 0010ne1 :Brady's sisignment to the Panama CUal Department. and he wrote General Arnold tllat he hoped to fare ae



r "_..b,-~_,.~

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who were tlchedul.ed for l'e8.uignment wi thin eo f9~1 months • General Arnold's Vi ,1 t jQ, the Ol."nal ZO!\_8

In a projected T.l.si t trom General Anold, GeJ1e'r8~ Dargue had the

prospect of receiving definl te ste,tements on the future ot the 19th Wing. !!he Tisl t had to be postponed twice a.nd General De.rgue was keenly d:f.eep-

pointed. for, ss he wote to the Chief of the Air Corps, one Ilghould flee 16

thi I place to really- under! taud 1 t. " From 29 to 3l MaY', General

Arnold succeeded in ctl,rrying through hia :nl~.nl for the "ridt end, in

between inspections and reviews. luncheons, receptions, and dinners. he

conferred with General Dm-g'I16 on the forIlIlllation of tentative plans for Air Corps e:ql&neion in the Paname. Oanal Department.

Some of the pl&l8 ca.11ed for immediate action, while others were long .. range and dependent upon War Department ap!lroTE1.. A feu of the

dech10ns were merely re.tatements of plena aJ.ready agreed upon. but

pel'sonE',l rei teration by thp. Chief of the Air Corps gtJ.TO new e~hasi. to

the ensting !tlona. ~he mR1n decisions were as :(ollDWS!

1. !!o increase the nU.D1ber of Air Oorps enlisted men in the department by 1,800, at the rate of 150 e month ~or the flsc~l yeer 1940, in

order to bring un! ts 11p to full strength; to make the 6th Bombardment and 16th Pur lUi t Groups three-squadron groups and to enlarge tX:.e 16th Air Base Squadron to 715 men.

2. To increase the enlisted strength by 2,000 men during the fiseel

year 1941 in order to ~rov1de a total of epnroximatelT 5,300 enlisted

m$Il, org<"nized lnto tlr'O bo-:-bardment groulls, two pureui t grot1.PS, two re-

C01lnainl",nce fla.uadrons, one corps p"nd obeervn tiol!. ~uadron., two air base

CONFlDENTiJ\( r~'j:~~:~'~~~~,-, ~~_l1

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squadrons (d.ouble), and a. 19th Wing headqu8l'tel's and headquarters squadron.

3. To increase the otficer strength to cp~l'oximately 600. as

l'apidlF as construction of Cl,uarters could be accomplished.

4. To pUrohase gro\1lld at Rio Hato for development of en outlying lancIing t1 eld with tee1li ties for teJll')orary housing and for training one group; and to purchase ground for a limited number of other sui t...

able outlying :fields.

5. To create a new base at :Bruja Point and. to further the remoTa! of the air de-pot from France Field to Albrook IIOmetime :In 1941. pending

receipt of sufficient funds for construction of necessary buildings.

6. To consider orgpnizatlon of a transport s~UBdron connected with

the air depot.

7. To decentralize construction activities in order to facili ta.te

completion of the building program. recommendBt1ons for whicht based on

funds a.vailable, were to be made by Headquarters 19th Wing.

8. To furll1Bh a1rcrai't and 0 ther equipment 1n line vi th the expansion enCl. organization of new unlts.17

This statement of polley p.nd program o:f' E'ction ga"le :t"eeogni tion to

the importanoe of air paller in defense of the Pana.ma. Canal. General

Dargue at last bad the definite information for which he had been wa1 ting,

and he bad in add.! tion the aseur~.nce ofeupport from Brig. Gen. George V.

Strong, Assistant Ohief of Staff, ~'le.r P1Ms Divi8ion, who accompanied General. Arnold on the 'risi t. :But two potential ob.tecles loomed in the w::r of the ~rogram; the?ane.ma Canal Department. which might be averse

to the e~ana1on of one of its components, end the problem of obtaining


b' ,

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daring peacetime the neces.erily large appropr1at1on~.

The !i2!! ,g! Oaribbe~'n ~ .!1!.Q!md !!!. Defente

General Arneld and bie party took off from Albrook Field on the morning of 31 May to continue tnt'lr tour 01' inspection in the Oaribbean area. The War Department had recently evinced an aotive interest in fortifying some of the Antilles islands on the outer fringe of the ap-

proaches to the Pansma Oanel., and Caribbean defense was rapidly cooing to be S~On1J1Ou8 wi tb Canal defense. Generel Arnold' a par by, which included Lt .. 001. Carl SpMb, ohief of the Air Corps Plans Section, and

Col. John O. R,. Lee ot the Corps of Engineers, pa.used on 1 June to survey

the defensive possibUities of Trinidad and then proceeded to Puerto 18 Rico for a. three-dey inspection before returning to 'fash1ngton.

In February 1939 the Air Corpa had. o:l:;?leted A. study' on the del1rabUi ty of en air base on Trinidad and had me.de recotmnendations to the Chief of Staff' on the basis of 'its findings. '!'he premise of the .t'.ldy'

~a the po8sibility of Nazi encroachment upon South Americ:1n countries,

particularly Brad-I. and the ccnsequeneea Qf such actil)n in relation to

SCC".lrl ty of the !;l~ Oanal. It was noted that the avowed policies of Nazi and Fascist states called for the control or annexation of terri-

tory belonging to other nations in order to meke room for surplus populations and to gain economic self-sufficiency. Should Brazil. for

Canal by operating from the northwestern part of ~ra!11.

'Wi th an air base on Trln1de,d, reasoned the Air Corps. the Un! ted

States would be able to conduct cdr opera.tions a~1nst en enemy in northern

Brazil, wbile without the base no sttcl1 ODerations could be ca.:r"'isi O'llt.

-~ ",,--- _ ........ - -= -....


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the Panama Of'..nal. for the threat of bombardment attacks ~~1nst the

Canal from bases in northern Bra.zil would be greatly rec1uced, 1£ not

entirely eliminated. T:ne Air Oorps therefore recommended to the Ohief

of' SWf that lIe9'ery ef'.ort be made to secure the use of a. baSI!! on

19 Trinidad, II the base to possess :fe.cil1 ties for fueling and bomb storage.

Uo 1mnedb.te .retion was teken on the Il13.tter. as fue stlldy vas held in

tier Plans D1 vision for con.sid.era.tion in connection wi th other studies pertaining to opera.tions in the 'Western Hemi sphere. 20

The necess:!. ty for rll air base on Puerto Rico was more generally

recogDi:zed end had long been advocated. by the Air Oorps as a logiCf'.l extQ::lslon of O:?.n~ delouses. In 1936 the C01llIll811dant of the Air Oorps

Tactical Sehool forwarded to the Ohief of th.,. Air COl'ps the results ot discussions end studies b~ members of tlt':l facu1 'by. pointing out tha.t Puerto Rico was "a. most valuable e.sset" of the Un! ted States insofar as

nationcl d?f'anse N'as coneermi &""'.d. tha.t an air base chould CG C'stc:.bliched

on th . iEl{!~J.. It \12.a fUrther notl?Jd that American naval policy, which

was bssed upon the strate;ic mobility of a single fleet, ready to

operate in e1 ther of tl-To widely separated oceans. had 8.S 1 ts flmdamental

tenet free movement through the Panama Canal and the Oarlbbean Sea.

Since both of these links in the line of communication lmlBt be kept open,

there ·sss obviQusly a need for an American ail' base which wuld dominate

the O&>ibbean end allo any hostile air base which might be placed vi thin

the radius of action of bombarCiment aircref't. !I.aps t;>.:n.d topo ~a:.')hic.:?l

swill of lalld loc!!ted along the northern shore of Puerto Rico that

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:-rrfi -..~-"'- ~-- ~~- ~:"--~


appeared to offer an excellent si 'be for an ai~ ba.se. and :1. twas recom-


mended by the oommandro.nt that an a.erial mosaic be made of the entire islend of Puerto EiCQ in order to facilitate an~ further consideration 2l

of the :llland as a. site for Air Corps dcvd01'l:1:n.t.

~e latter recommendation w?s not endQrsed by the co~ander of the

Glq Air Force, beonuse the sui tabili ty of maps and :1nformation alread1'

available to the War Departl!lent might me.ke it UlllleceSaary to provide an

aerie! mo sa1c of the '"'hole of Puel"t') ?.:. co. The remaining augges tions of

the Tactical School, however. met ~th the ap~rovDl of tAe GBQ Air Force

commander, who went even further fl.Ild stated that :1. t was considered

"essential. th~t post '.iv.) ':.'ction be taken, by the \far Department, to

es~ ... blish prlol' claim to lin eir base 1n Puerto Mco." Such an air base

was reg?rded as II essen tiel to the effective defense of the Panama. Canal, n

end beesuse such defense was the rOfJ!,lons1bility of the War Department.

1 t WRS the opinion of the a.1r force comander t1l.at every means should be

taken to insure the air detense control and development of {be Oaribbean arcs b:r the l/ar Department. 22

Administratively, Puerto Rico was $. p~rt of the Second. Oorps Area,

with headquarters at Governors Island, N. Y. The area comnander, Maj. Gen. :5'ran..1c R. McCoy. in July 1938 S1m"i'.n.rized the problems connected 'ri th

Puerto RiOi'll defense and outlined a plan for \far Department consideration.

Keeping an enemy out of Oarl bbecn waters was viewed as essen tiall;?' a

Nav, problem, but in GenE'rru 1!eOoy1 s opinion the Army could fllend substantial sU"9T.lort to the Navy!' by havinG aircraft based on Puerto Rico •

lIe suggested that a. sui ta.ble air base and landing fields 'be constructed

on the island but that Air Corps forces be l1rnL ted to the minimum required

~""'--~~ ..--.-"" ------- - _ ... -- ".--~,,"" 1F;

1 '. ., ~

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for maintenance End that proVision be made to send combat units there when and if the a1 tuation demandAd.23

The War Dep~tment still did not render ~ ~os1t1ve decision on establishment of a Fuerto Rican air baae, Gen.eral McCoy, however, had

already wi tten to tho governor of P'I1erto Rico that the Army was inter-

ested in Be~xr1ng a lauding field which wns then being constructed by

the illand govermnen t on Iala Grenda. nt>C'_'I" S".:l Juan. On.;' run"1'~;r WAS in

use by Pan A.meriC!'n A.irways. and it Wag reported that the Navy was inter-

sated in takin::;: over th'l second 1'".1,n:'11:.7. A naV?.J. board, hea.ded bY'Rear

Ad.m .. Arthur J .. Hepburn. was scl:leduled to ar'l"'ive on 14 September 1938 to inspect the field. Lt. 001. John W. Wright, eom."'2..!ldin~ oflicer ot Army

troops in Puerto Rico, informally warned the Office, Ohief of Staff, 34 that "The Army should get busY' or the Na.vy tdll aeoure this field."

When this information reached th!;; Air OOrp£h aoUon ¥~s again taken

to place the matter before the 'i':ar Department. Both !raining ana. Opera.tions Division and Plans Section of t!le Atr Oorps felt that lmmed ... of abe stepa should be t£..~en "to include the island of Puerto Rico in the

established aerial. defense of the Panruna. Onnal.lJ It was further aug..

geated that a study be made to detcrntne the faoilitieo existing ~~d

con telJl,Plated fer aircrei't on the i ~land t'..nd If co~rehensi va plans de-

veloped for 1 ts utili Z~ tion b; r the War Depar tmen t in c8.rry:tng out its 25

miesion of providing for the defense of the OSlWl Zone."

These recommendations were not sent to the War Department General

Staff I for Plans Section le&rned 1nform?lly on 11 October that no action

had 'been taken on similar recommene.e.tions which had been made b;y the com-

mender of the GHQ. Air Force more thFn two years before. Early in

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policy on the matter. The need for ~ landing field in Puerto Bieo wat!

regarded by the War Department as strictly a wartime need. In ease of

a war in which the Panama. Oanal ws threatened, the GIQ Air Force could

"use such :f'acilities eo t'lre in Puerto Rico re-gardless of who has built them. n lnaemuch as the :tIavy desi:red peacetime landing fac111 ties in

Puerto Rico and inasmuch as those faclliUes could be used by the Army

in wartime, the War Department saw no need for the Army to construct 26

a. landing field on tl:e island.

!.he Air CO~Bt howeTGr. did not consider the matter closed with

these broad tte9lll1IDtions. :further inv9stige.tlon revealed that the field on Isla Grande was not lexge enough to acconnmdete the units ltI'hich 1me Air Corps conteDrolated stationing in Puerto Rico.. On the balis of this

lnfo:rmatlon. the War D6!)srtment informed the commander of the Second

Oorp. Area. in Deoember 1938 that no objection wo·J.ld be offered to turn-

inc; Isla Grande over to tl:.e Uavy f or development, subject to reserv&-

tiona permitting adequate use of tl:.e facilities of the base by Air Oorps un! ts end the re-eBtablhhment of the U. S. Engineer Depot u!>on a sui tabl e si te on Islp, Grande wi tbou. t e.ddi tiona! expense to tl:.e War De-

27 :partment.

St111 ho'91ng to acquire sui table air base tacUl ties. and alao

hoping to avoid the sonewhe.t IDIlddled !>roceedings which marked the hla

GrE'.nde incident. the Air Corps recomended in December that sites for

such un! ts as tl;.e War Department might decide to place in Puerto Rico

be selected onlY' at'ter a cueful survey of all a1 tElS by a que.lified

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board of offi cera,

wuld be considered when a. decision weI!! reached es to stationil1€ Air 28

Corps unite on the island.

In January 1939 there were indic~tions that the Air Oorps might

soan succeed in extending the Panama Oanal air defenses 1,000 miles

eash'al'd to Puerto Rico. !!aj. George O. Kenney was sent to the island

to meke n preliminary snrvey of possible air b~se sites, and by 1 Febru~ry the Chief of the Air Corps had received his first renort. Other rep~rts and a number of aerie~ photographs followed shortly.29 Jour basic


e.sSll.Illptions guided Ma.jor Kenney's investigations: that the base would

be of sufficient she to accommodate n. bombardment group of three

tlquadrons, a r eecnned seance squadron. and tne nece88e.ry weat.ller service,

communications, and base troops; ttat barracks. qmlrters, and other

buildings would be constructed for at le&st 200 ofLicers and 1,500

enll"ted men; that at least three hard-surfaced runways, each 5.000 ,feet

in le~th, >mula. be relair<)J.; .k'1d that the forces stationed. at the ba.se

would be entirely of Amer1Cf.n troops. l~jor Kenney'lS final rej;lort reo-

vealed thn.t the whole of Puerto Rico, the near-b;! islands of V.ona. Oulebra., and Vieques, and three of the Virgin Islands (St. Thomas.

St. John, and St. Orpj x) had been observed and 10 cali ties sIlO'Tin,; rlll~r

the first fllt~ht ove~ t!10ae islcr..ds. l{ajor Kenney conoluded that the

Funto. :Borinqul?t:i. area. ~,!3.S the best loc''l,tion in I-"'Il.()rl:" Rico fo!' ~n air basa,

wi th less sui t2.'ble si tes existing in the vicln1. ties of Celb~, Ponce. and

Saut~ Ysabel. The Virgin Islandlo"l and. Oulebro., Vieques, and Mona had no

sites which could meet the air case re~~1reffient3. although $ever~ .mal1


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Following this prellminar;y survey the wt;\r Department em.oly in

March informed the com.":landerot the Second Oo!,!?s Area that it "'/38

d.efinl tely o)nte!ll_")latinc the c3t.ablishr:1.en.t of "'.:1 air baae in Fuarte>

~ieo. ...\c'3or5.in~ to tentativo ):)lMs, a board 01' ,)ineel's co1Itlosed of

repr€sen t~.ti van of the ~iar P1an3 D1 vision, the Office of the Ollier of

the Air OO~St and the Q,uartermaster General would be ap~ointed to proceed by ai~ to Pnert~ Rico in order to recomcand a final selection

authorities. The matter which four months earlier had been described

as strictly a wartime need WCtS now re~rded as so urgent that the War

Depa.rtment decided to h:?~dle t:'l9 question direotly rather tho.n proeeed- 31

lng through the Second Corps Area •

.4. board of officers ws pro!Dptly ap,oiuted and ordered to Puerto Bico for e t~ro~week survey of the sites located by Major Kenney. ~he

board \'las headed by 001. Rugo :s. Pi tz of t..l].e quartermast~r Oorps and

included Lt. Col. Josoph T. rrd-~r:.rne;,· 01' ";:..:ro l"J.ttt13 Division. 1<:aj. Karl S.

Axtater rer>rasen.tin~ -';b~ C!J.iof of tl:i.e ~Ur Oorps, and l-!ajor Kenney, who

WP.S then stationed at V~tchel Field, N. Y. The survey. whieh was

c0m:91eted on 15 A:Qrll. revealed that X·;ajor Kenney' B earlier findings 32

and recommendations were satisfactory.

Other official visits soon follo1!ed. lfaj. GPn .. Delos C. Emmons,


co~_andlng gener~~ of the G~ A1r Force. left Eoll1ng Field, D. C.t ~n 10 May in a ]-17 for a four-&a,. in~geot1on of the ~roposed sites • The plane. piloted by 001. Robert 01ds~ flew directly from Miami to San Jut\!!.. On 14 H3Y the USS Nashville ar~ived a.t San Juan, bringing

. e

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Gen. George c. l'ls~shall~ who was en route to Brazil. ~he Ohief of Staff

and his :party vent up in the :B-17 and inspected all the proposed 8i teB

from the eir •. Be was reported to be lI'particu1srl~ .. illt9ressed with the

desirability of the sites selected for thG main 1nst .... ~la-;;iOJl, as ,:311

('.a ~d tb the "Ootcntic.11 ties of the Isls:nd as a. whole from the standpoint of

available sites for au%iliary airdromes should the 8ituation demand re- 33

inforcemen t by bombardment units from the States. II

Having received officiul 3~etion of its plAnS for t.1:te Puerto Rican air b~set the Air Corps began to stutl;v" the desirab1l1 ty of an auxiliary

airdrome a.t Port-au.-Prince~ Hai ti. In JulY' 1939, Plans Seotion recommend.etl

to the Ohief of the Air Corps that lD1Dediate steps be taken to proTide

such Nl airdrome. General Arnold then presented the matter to War ;Plana Division, ex,plaining that the 93tabllshIaent of an air base in Puerto Rico would l'esul t in a considerable f'!I1Ount of traffic alOXlg the Puerto lUcen

route. It was recommended that suthorhation be proeured for the following: (1) use of the e::d.sttng ail'llort end establi.hment of Air Oorps

servicin~ fp.cllitles and a radio beacon, together with the necesear,r op.ra~ ing personnel. at Oamaguey, Cuba.; (2) aimiler prh11egea at Port-au-Prince.

E81tl, along with authorization for the lease or free use of additional

land in orda'" that the landinG area might b~ ~'!'l1arged to 8.CiJo:umoCl.E.te heF~~~

San P-Omm1a, Dominican. Republic, wi th permission to enlarge the area to M

accommodate heavy aircraft. 'nles. J;>ropOSal9, like thoBe for Trinidad,

were to encounter some delay- before resulting in. Bllyaction. J3a.t by mid-.

1939 the concept of far-flung air defense of the Pnnama. Oam.! had at least gained of~ict~~ r~c~gn1tlont end the Oaribbean islands were

gradual.ly emerging as potentially v1 tel COlli!louent~lf that defense.

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~l-:---r" , / ,¥ ~

w.. .. ,.--~ -~~ '__""COiIJFJDEiiJTIM.

!!:l! ~e,ginll~M of Exoansion in tlli! 19t11, .:£~

In thA summer of 1939 the 19th Wing beggn to see tangible results

of the expansion outlined by GenertU Arnold. in the late spring. BY'

12 JulY' the progl"<<J:l had been vpprovei by the t1ar Departl1lent, and the

waY' was cleared for impleman tation. There vas no indica.tion that the

Panama. Oanel Department would oppose the eJq)Bnaion 01 one of 1 to smaller

elements, for General Stone had already been conYer ted to the neceslit7

for ['ir defense of' the Q{.nal. Although he was a veteran of the infantry

an¢. 'r.'l.S soon to retire from active duty, the de:9artment cOlQlllaD.der seem-

lngly attempted to maintain an open miad and an active interest in the 35

air phase of his command.

Five months before General DUg'lle'. ardval in the Zone, General

Stone had bed e. study made by staff off'ieers :md maintens.nae engineers

of tl}<; F'·.noru. C{'''1,l In j! ,)~:tort to find answers to the following questions: (1) how 'VUlnerable to air attack are the installations of the Panama Canal Zonfl? (2) how much dSlllage 'Ti'l.:.lu. bo ~J'Ju?lt o;r hi~ ex-

the Oanal in terms of interru:.!ltlon of marine trF'.ff1c' and (3) how large a ho.tile force would be required to put the canal. out ot o:oe1'at1on1

Bombing operations were conducted at Rio Rata against a fUll-scale trac.

of one leTel of Mira:f'lores 100.1;:s, the b";.lbo ran'~:.n-= in aize from 300 to

2,000 pounds. The explosives were dropped at alt1~de. Tarying from 4,000 to l5.0,JO teet, depending upon weather condi tiona. No attempt va •


made to wei t for the most favorable weather as it was desired that the

ex,peri:nentei:au.le.te tl.ctual wer conditions insofar as "Oossible. lJ:he

points of impact of the various bombs were :plotted and a careful estinate

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~~~"44 '"w

~r"'~~""~--- . '.~

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I ... _ ..• ~~~' ,



'WaS made of the probable damage that would have been inflicted on the


Oanel, along Wi th an estimate of the time rectuil"ed for repair of the

!s a resul t of this study, it was concluded that:

(1) the iustnllatlons of the Panama. Oanal comprised many 't'i tal ele-

ments which were then extremely wlnerable t) air attaclq

(2) 8. relati'f'ely .mall air force, composed of as :rew ae 24 heaVY'

bombers. by o,perat1n.:;: [~ga1nst the most TIl111erable ot the Ti tal instal ...

lations could co~letely 8tO~ marine traffic through the Oanal for a

period va.r~r!ng £r')m a few da1'8 to several. months;

(3) since the dispatch ot an air force of this size va. wll within

the eapabili ties of seTeral foreign powers, 1 t wns obrlou. that the greatest threat to the security of the Canal was from the air;

(4) while moh could be done for proteotion of some of the v.l tal

instal.lations. the best insurance agq,inst destruction la.y in an adequate

air defense, sufficient to in8ure the destruction ot any hostile air force before 1 t could reach wi thin strikin.; d.1 stance ot the Canal Zone. 36

Oonvinced ot the Talidi ty of these findings, which he :torerded to the War ::Dop.artment in March 1939, General Stone naturally welcomed the 8.1;Paneion ot the 19th Wing. Despite his interest, however, he lacked

the technical trainin~ necessary tor perfect understanding of the prob-

leme of the growing organhation, and Genet"al Dargu.e' 8 reoommendations 37

did not a1waYI meet with departmental approval. The wing commander

began in June, for example, to urge a reorganization of Canal air detenses.

He pOinted out to Generl:'~ Stone that the 19th :iin.:; W!'!.9 charged ',d th air

defense of the Cen8.1, and the res:pondbili ty had been construed to mean

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~l--"'!~~z;;·""",,~~ ~ .... ~_...."

f - - ,,~

W'~~'~F\D[l\rni\llln~;, .i ,_~ ~:~<,-.~~


ont,. that pert of e.1r detense related to operation ot aircraft. IJ!vo

teotion: the e1rers1't '\famine service (which had not yet been established) and an tiaireraft uni ta. General ])argue fe1 t that these three

elements should form a coordinate43 cOJ:'ba,t te£!m directed, if prl\cticable.

from one hee.dq.uarters. and he recom.'llended to General Stone s. recon.ldera.-


tion of Oanal air deienses with this end in view. Be further reoommended

~tt in eonnection with the proposed construction program for the

Panama Oanal Department, a. building be erected on Diablo Hill at Albro ok F1eld to house the headquarters ot the 19th 'Wing, together with pch elements of the other principal components of the air defense sa mi£h,t

be coneidered desirable, and that the hillside building be made bombtroof

in order to enable the haafutuBrters to function throughout an attack on 38

the field.

~ee months later General ])argue made essentIally the 88me reo-

ommendations, but there was still no action tal::en to bring about a reorgeJlizntlon of the air defense forces. Later, in a modified form, the

auggestlons were to acbieve concrete resul. tSt although the department

seem.ed somewhat reluctant to make BUy drastic change in the organization 39.

of its co~onents.

GenerElJ. stone did appreciate the fact that the 19th Wing would aoon be engaged in a. greatly enlarged flying training program£ In June he itiitlated ectlon to si~lify ~rocednres for securing ~ermi.slon to conduct flights through~ut Oentral AmericEt. In order to determine the ob.tacles

that might be nlaced in the wa.v of such action, Generf!.l Stone arranged for Gener21 Dargu.e to fly to the se'Yeral capitals for disculsion ot the

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problem with American diplomatic reprelentatives. Accompanied by

his a1de-de-ceilllp, Lt. Sam Maddux, and by his executl"e, Colonel :Bra~~ the w.tng cOl3lll8nder took off from Albrook Field in a B-1S on 26 June,


flying first to San Jose, Ooeta. Biea.. During the lO-dey night. T.i s1 ts

were al BO made to Hanagua, 1~1earagn.a; Guatemala 01 ty, GIla. temala; San

Salvador, El 8Ellvador; and Tegt1oigeJ.pat lJonduras.

In each countrY' General. Dargue discussed with tt..e American minie· ter or member of his staff tt.e SIlbject ot blanket permission tor flights. He acquainted these officials with plans for Air Oorps expansion in the Cenal Zone and with the necessity for !UL~ng extended training flight. from the Zone to points vitllin e. radiue. 01 1,,000 miles. General Dargu.e

also pointed out that the f1ights would tend to foster Pan-Amer1c2~

ami ty in kee:r>1ng "rl. th the 'Colieies of the President end that the Oentral American countries might desire reciprocal :.oril'11eges for tbc1r military airoraft. In comnany with the American r~resentatives Gene~al Dsrgue then called on foreign of:ticiels and discussed pertinent points. In

all cases, the wing commander reported, So s:p:lri t of wholehesrted 00-

operation was Bhow and e" desire exoressed for the U. S. planes to T.l81 t 40

almost e.t tdoll.

~s acti.on of the department and. wing commander met with General Arno1d'e apuro"f8l.. lie informed General Dargue that he was well aware

of the benefit which tte Air Corps would deriTEI, "not only from accelerating the get-away of ferry flights between Panama end the State •• II but

sleo from improT1ng the training routine by flights to the vttr{.ou, Central American countriet. From a broader ~oint of view, the War De-

psrtment would. undoubtedly reeeive 9 great deel of intell1gence from

- -~ CC;f':FIDENTl/~l

.. -.


itt- ~~~ -'-,-i~r -- ~-~ "'''"-

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the flights. General Arnoldi. onlY' word of caution was in regard to

General Stone I s villingneM to srre.nge flight. on e. reoiproca.l bt.st.

and the !,ossibility of disclosure of military information to foreign

aviators. l!oweyer. tl:.e Air Corps chief felt that the balance of information gained would be considerably in favor of tte Un! ted State.

and that no disadvantage muld rew t :trom having the foreign airmen vte1t in the Canal Zone.. So emphatio was General. Arnold's approTal of the move that he was prepared to take action himself if General Stone's efforts crone to naught. He in:formed General Dargue tl:.at, if necessary,

he would reoommend that the War Department initiate the proper request to the various oOl1D.tries looking to an 9l'r:s..ngemen t whereby the Un! ted States, uocn inf'orlaal notification 72 hours in advance, could order

Army aircra£t on flights over these countries. with the privilege of


land1ng at tt.e usual airdromes. At this !>oint the matter beca.me

subject to State Department action. General Darguet a task had been eODl9leted with the lO-daY' tour of' Central AmeriCEln cE.pi tale. He could only 8lo.-e.1 t tl:.e outcollle of' diplomatic negotia.tions. bllt the delay ws no t injurious to the 'Wing training 'Program, for the rain1 season va. then well under way and would continue until Decembe1"~ curtailing muoh of the flyin~ to and from the Zone.

Because of tee unfavorable weather, tce constrouction program of the

19th Wing was progressing slowly. At J3ruja Point the work was primarilY'

in the draining and grading st~.ge. but a.t Albl'ook ba.rracks~ qUSl'ter.,

a hangar. various "Dost buildings, and the 'Oroject for the air de]';lot were


ell begun. At Albrt:lok, Frl'llCe, and liio Hato, tennorary housing received

high priori ty. fo," the expectE'd increase in yersoDl!el wee contingent upon completion of quarters.42


I _

co \\: f\ 0 EN11Al


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:Before the end of AugtlBt

partment 'Was informed that the increase in strength for- the 19th Wing

would be even greater thDn originnl1y !,l,1l1lled. !\mds for the Air COl'j_1S

expansion program had been apnropriated. and every effort was to be made

to insure its completion by 30 June 1941. Plans now cRlled for the 19th Wing to be augmented during the fiso~l year 1940 by 2.697 enlisted men,

at the rate of a.~rox:iootel;r 225 8 Jl);)nth. This incretnent wo'll.d raile

the authorized enlisted strength of Air Corps un! t9 in the Oane.l Zone to 4,087. !i!he 224 lIombardment Group (M) was scheduled to be formed in

the em. ted Stetes and moved to Pa:DNDa. after comtlletion of permanent construction at the Bruja Point air base. The enlisted strength of the

group would be 't'8S, which would me..'.te a totol strength of 4,673 enlisted

men in Pe.na.ma. To provide the necessary services for the enlarged 19th

Wing. the War Department contemplated sending 450 add! tiona! enlhted men during the fiscal years 1940 pnd 1941. No material inoreases in

officer strength co~d be made until 100re officers beCt'\me avaUable at

the Air Corps training center and until addi tlonal quarterB "rera constructed in the Zone.43

Information was not forwarded at this time as to the types of airplanes soheduled for the wing elld their do11",e1'7 dates, but the information on personnel gave General Darglle enough cause for concern. Il!he prolpect of acquiring large numbers of enlisted. men, the maJority of

them unt1"ained recrtLi ta, 1d. thout a corresJ}ond1ng increC'-.M in officers

was not a happy one, {'no. General Dargu.e communicated h1s concern to

Generel At-no1d. BY' this time, late August. the crisis in Europe was threa.tening to roaul t in war, and clJ!l.sideratlons of national deten ••

....- i," ~


~lrf I ' ~ ~~---~~.".....~~"'"~ -::.~~

, " F

.f). ~ -,

~J J" ~-=~~." .... --- _ .... "'- .... ~_,.,,_ ~-- *,";';

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d.mended that more attention be giYen to Panama CRnal force.. Gen.~al .Arnold agreed with General Dargu.e that hh officer strength was in a.

deplorable condi tlon. and immediate action was taken to rolieve a part

of the shortage. The Air Oorps chief explained that it was possible

toj toke the action only because of "the recent change in policy calling for immedia.te n~enta.tion of the gl'rrison in Panema." Prior to this

tine the A.ir Corps had. given first priority to the Materiel Division and the Training Oen tel'. but because of the new policy regarding Panama,

plan. were made to send 51 officers a.t once, 26 second Lieutenants to


fly P-36' a to the Oanel. Zone, and 25 adil.i tiona! oincol's to depart from New York on the tr2-nsport .§L MiMel on 13 Sep tember. General .&mold also informed General Dargue that he was tlhavlng other i tams besides

personnel checked, including equipment. plene. and supplies, to make wre

that your squadrons are put on a war foo ting. in line wi th the preBen t 44

approved plan. II

he~j.~ Meapres .!y l!u.rr;ieg Reipforcement,s

In the leveral days preceding the outbreak ot war in bope. all

forces in the Panama O(\nal Department took epecbl prec~utionary measures

against sp.botage and sudden attack. Hili tary guards vere placed on all ships going through the Csnal. In ad.d.i tion to tl:.e 51 Air Oorps o£ficerlS~ otl:.er forces which included antiairoreft detaehm.~nts and Air Corp! enlisted men were ordered to the ZOlle wi thout regard to the aTailabl1i ty of housing; tent. were to be used until te~or9.I'y barrack a could be

built. Secretary of ~:ar Woodring, commenting on the Bcceleration ot the Oanal program, .tated on 29 Aue,"U.st that in addition to the tre.ntlter of

troops, appropriate instruction had been issued which 'WOuld lessen the

cqNFIDENTIJ4l [~t~--= ::'~~~~:: - ..

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danger of sabotage, not only of the Oanel but of all installations 45

necess~ry to defense of tl:.e Oencl.

On 2 September the 19th Wine ordered Franoe end .A1brook field.. to be prepared 11 to place in readiness the maximum available force" to

search the ses. 1Mes sp:oroaching Panama. to escort Tessels within that

11m1 t, and to intercept any foreign planes flying OTer the Oanal Zone

without au.thoriza.tion. A combat crew roster was prepared. l~el'!lding eTery oft'leer in the 'Wing 'With the exception ot the commanding general

and the two be se commen6.ers, Lt. Col. Adlai 1I. Gilkeson of Albrook end

Maj. Edwin J. HoUle of :France Fleld. The 16th :£lursuit Group was ordered to be prepare d to operate pa trol or in terception missions wi th .b: planes. while the 6th :Bomberdment Grot1.p was to be IIprepued to operate on aearch or bombing mi.ss!one the maxilDUll1 nU1J1ber of :B-18 airplanes for which perBonnel ia available." At both AJ.brook and France fields light bombs,

newly inspected. were stored for iflllnediate use. Armement had already

been requiai tioned in Augu.st in an eneun t sufficient to sCI,uip wi th machine

guns ;;.11 :plenes in the Zone. including the obsolescent P-26A.' 8, and all 46

planes on order for the wing.

On 6 September, following the outbreak of wr in Earope. the Panama Canal Zone was :nlaeed under military control. At the request 01 the War Department, the Fresident issued an executive order giving Generel Stone

exclusiTe p.uthor1ty and jurisdiction oTerthe operation of the Ce.nal in order to insure the security of the instellat1on. Still more troops

were ordered to the Zone, Inoluding 2.700 officers and men of the 18th Infentry lIrige.de. l1he Air Oorps was unable to selld any addi tionE.l torce.

at the moment. but by this time the nromised P-36's bad begun to arriVe.


~~~'t[y~N~;:=r- ~..Wi;""'_~~

, : '!

i"."",,_~ ~~:L.'_ ~~~~ .'.":

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t?~ong with a few medium bombers and one cargo :plane.47 Stringent rega.-

lations for airoraft flights ovar the Zone were :put intlj effeot on

14 September, when an a::eeutive order cref!.tad the "OanAl Zone mil! tary ~r spc&ca reserva.tlo~l." The area. included. terri torlal waters vi thin

the three-mile 111111 t off both entrances of the watel"way. and the order

barred all flights ~es8 SDeclficell~ authorized by either the Oivil

- .

.Aerono:J.tic~ i-u t!:ori ty or the State Depa.rt~9nt. It dirocted the use of

certain prescribed routes l nd stipulated that all cameras must be

.eeled. Foreign planes were to 'be escorted by war planes st3.tioned in 48

tho O!'.nal Zone.

$1iU11er precautions H<:'!l'a being taken in Fuerto Ricot wioh reoent1y

had been me.de a separa.te mll1tary department. Only 866 Army troop., under th.e command ot :Brig. Gen. Edmtuld L. Daley. were sta.tioned on the

island; bu t duri'~G Set> tember and oar l:.~ 0 c to b3:t" the garrison was to be rainforoea. by- fip.,roxlmate1;y 1,500 officers and men. including antiair-

craft end coa.st defense troO!)s. No Army air un! ts could be sent immediately. a.l though the Navy requested that the Air Corps proV'i.Ie the

neceasa!1oy- reconneisaence for the island. 1'18118 had already been mad.

to include a roconnaissance squ.e..dron in the eventueJ. Air Oorps garrison

for Puerto Rico. and General .A:rnold directed that a study be made to

deterldne how soon the squadron could be organized end put into operation.

General Arnold felt th.'\t 1 t was highly de:£:irt".bln for the Air Corps to

take OTer t:te reconnaissance funotion as soon as possible, and the stud;v

therefore assuned that the ~ereonnel would be housed in tents. that

planes would be taken from existing units, and that no dependents of the

personnel would accompau;r the squadron. These assUJll!ltiona, of course.



,. ilL tf

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were to ap~ly only until there had been sfrfficlent time to construct

the neoessary qM.l'ters !"t the air base.49

While :prc)?~\.l"a.t1ons were being made in the United States to organize the 27th RecDnnaissance Squadron for shipment to Puerto Rico,

Generru. Daley and his air officer, 001. Follett 'Bra.dley, were me~d.nb

plans for reception of the unit end for construction of quarters. Despi te a Ugrave shortage of funds. It the decision was made to proceeli

on the be,sis of existing 1J1ans. 1<:1 th th-9 hope that &lY deficit might

be covered from the contingent fund.. Both General Arnold end Brig. Gen. :Barton K. Yount. Assistant Ohief' of the .Air Corps, had personally

check.t;l5. 9lans for the q_uarters and they agreed that while the plMS

were not all that could be desired, they were pdeCluate, and that 1 t

would be unwarranted to delay construction by!:. r(!\':taion of plans ct

"';h:l time. Wi th .Air '!l1"ps e.p!_)ro'Val, General Del.ey was elso seeking to

obte.ln rights to the use of Desecheo I sland. off the west coast of

Puerto Rico, as a. bo:nbing rnnge 1'or the eliPected air uni tJ. It ~"..l.S

oonnaissance Squadron to start bombing practice soon after ita a%'!'ival.

Early estimates plaoed the departuro date of tl1,~ squadron on or about

15 October, but the unit enoountered some delay, 80 that 1 t did not 60

arrive until 5 Deoe~ber. For the whole ot 1939, Pu.rto Bloo was

• .11 thout etfect1 ve air defense. end the Panama Canal was defended from

the air only b=r thoee un! ts wi thin its immediate environs.

Status of tl}.." 19th !ing iJl September


If' an enemy attaok had been made on the OanAl in September 1939, the 19th Wing would. have br;nn abl.e to provido H ttle opposi !lion. General

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Dargue reported to the department comme~der on the 5th of the month that the combat effectiveness of the wing was at lie very low ebb due

mainly to the lack of trained and eJgJcrlencea. conlmlssioned personnel."

Wi th the err! val of 51 officers from the Un!. ted States, the wing would

h.&ve e, commissioned strength. of 101. but this number tt;'aS less tb.e.n balf

of that required by the tt."O pur sui t, one bombardment, one attack, two

reconna1sS~-llce, and two air base saupdrone which made up the wing. The

Air Corps ex.p£lZ1sion !lrogrPJIl for these eRme l1Ilt tE' called for a.pproximately

290 officers and en inore9.se in aircrAft strength of spJ)ronmatel7 60

per cent. The six tactica.! squ&,orons in September had an average ot

only four officers each, Not a single squadron could perform tactical missions at more th~l). helf strength without "borl'ow.lnglf :pilots from other

un! ts. fhere was a a lm11e.r shortage of trained bombardiers ~nd ob-

servers, and there were no celestial navigators. The air depot had

only two officers assigned. A total ot 71 tactical aircraft were either

in commission or in storage at France and Ablrook fields: 33 B-181 It

14.A,...l7ta, and 24 p-2S's. The arrivaJ. of :31 additione.l pursuit planes 51

would raise the number of tactical. planes to 102.

Despi te the tremendous overhead of duties that had arisen in eoe-

nectloD with the expansion :orogram, as well as the regalar administrative

duties, tl~nb treinill8 ~.s being "carried on intensively in an effort

to correct present deficiencies." As for the enlisted personnel. there

was no serious shortage in numbers but their lack of experience and

training ~~s a decided handicay to the wing' 8 effect! ve.ness. ne.l1y

classes and :!'ractical work were being offered. but ~ln the program was

hamoered by the Ahortage of trained officers for instructional pu~oses.

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11~~"If~-=--"'_~-~~~ ~ ~~---~

liui ~ , ~

C 0 ~ ~ fl D Ep!TIAL -,.;~~~->,

In the matter of materiel. the wing WflS in 2 much better condition:

• eirere,ft, machine {;tills, bombsights, and stores of bombs were considered


sufficient for e%i.ting units. The la.ck of lon€,-range atrcre.f't, however,

.eriously handicapped the air defense forces. while tl:.e absence of an

Bireraft wrrning system had en adverse effect noon the ]_)uraui t defense.

In Stl.llllllRry, General Derglle rE"Ported. the eb: combat so_uadrons were

"almost wholly ineffective." The intensive tr~ining trould continue, and

it seemed reasonably certain to the wing commander that by Jannar.r 1940 two pursuit squadrons. ",fth a stroDgth of 18 aircraft eaoh. would be e£fecti\l'9 in defense of the Oanal. It was ho:.oed that by t1:.e same date

two reconna1sg~m.ce squadrons and one bomba.rdment squadron might be

slmilEl,rly effective. This constituted the immediate objective ot the 52


Acoomplishment of the objective was to depend entirely upon the training program, for no relief was in sight for the "arsonnel shortages. On 9 September Genere~ Arnold conferred with five of' bis staff ofiical's reESrding the strength of the 19th Wing, and hie decision wa.s lito main-

ta1n the status quo in Fane.me at this time. II l30tb personnel and air-

craft were to be provided on a re-placement basis. Ammni tion, bombs,

and other supJ)lies being me-de avrllable immediatel~ would be sent on 53

the bEl.sis of cor.ibet plenea then in PI'Ul.alIl8..

Regardless of' existing shortages and the unlikelihood of any

immediate inere~.se in aircraft for the 19th Wing. Genere.l Da..rgu.e con-


tinned to seek for more lui tabla aircraft. He was well aware of the

CfUlal.'s vulnerability from the Paoific a~:proaches. 8Dd on 19 September

r-;;~-"~ ~'":)'~ COHFIDENTlA(

lLI.ok....~ ~.~~_ •• """"',..~_~

- -

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he made a somewhat unu,sue1 request for a squadron of 13 aircreo.ft of

the naval patrol ty,pEI, cspsble of operating from wa,ter, for tt.e use

of the 19th "''ing in protecting the Pacl:f:1c side of the Oanal. In

explainins hi s reasons for the rsquest to the Chi at of the Air COl'PS,

General De.rgue sta.ted that C'cie1unte Oanal defense demanded that re-

connaiasanee and bombardment oircr~tt covet' an area s,t least 1,000

miles out to sea, nnil !,l'Ofel"'=l.b1yl,200 to 1,500 milea ou.t.. It W3.9 eon ..

ceivsole thc.t ....:.r~raft carriars might apl)roach fr':llll the Paoific end

a,1rc!'?..it co,'.ld lDf'.ke a aawn att;'j,c1:. In st,ch a case, it would be "exceed-

inf'ly difficul tit for !)ursui t :nlanes and antiaircraft armament to :protect the vi toJ. parte of the Canal. ~erefore, acoording to General Dargue, the aircraft carrier::; should be loc·tted and attackell during the

coC1plished. otlly bY' keop-in.::; t!l-;O '~ter area. frQ:ll s,l)'")ronmately the 500-mile cirole out to the l,200-mlle circle under thoro'.lgh surveillance. 54

For this p.urpose a tme of t'J.rcra£t ""hich could land on ,-'Ster was

regarded sa most sui table. SIloh :olanes, the mng cOIDl'9.ellder suggested. could "ba.ae ~,t the Gala,agos blonde c..."l.~ :QolJ'libly Oocos Isl!Ulds 'l~era

t!loy wo~d lnvc ~-m 1n1tl~ 'pJ.in:;l on the reconnai:<!s"'~ce to be made."

S:1nce no sui table s.m:phtbian t;ype was known to General D2l'g,xe, he reo-

omoended thnt the patrol type of ll'avy e,1rcratt be fUrnishedt as it had long re.nge and the c'"'pttci ty for carrying bombs. It Wt1.S b eli eved by the

wing CODrel?nder that ul time. tely a group of three SO,u9.drons shod.d consti-


tute a. part of the air defense forces, although only one s'1.ua.dron vas

needed for an 1m tia1 servict> test period. General Dargc.e rei tere-ted


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!t.! l ,_., t7(7·~

J.AFHSJ.-tONFID[~!TJAi.' 1liL~~____;___:..w.J

his hope that arrange!4en'ts might be made event't1.£11y for usa of the Galapagos and Cocos islands ae advanced bases of oper:l.tion. He further


went on record as believing that the IIArmy Air Forces :tor defense of the Panama Canal should be self-S'ltf:Licient ad not dependent upon naval

forces whioh ••• are subject to eal1 by the Oom;aander-1n-Chlet of the

Na.vy E'.:nd would be oe.11e(J. for tha Oa.nal. Zone i r a nc_7_:1 (,_liST ';:)lle:r so war- 55

I'M t '?i!. If

General Dorgu.e's position in this matter received strong support

from General Stone; who took the oecasion to eypress to the War De-

partment some of his Ot'iiIl fears end bel1efe regarding Oanal. air deten.e.

In his estimation, two of tee greatest potential threats against the

Oanal were, firstt an attack by l.and-based a.ircrs£t andt second, an

attack by cUr1er'-b~,sed e.ircrclt. The best gnard ~.in.t an a.saul. t

by land,,:,based planes was, of course, maintenance of good relations with the Latin American countries. :Because of the Good-l!eighbor Policy

GenerE'~ Stone sta.ted t~t he had no fear of ?~1 a.ttack: originating v.l. thin

1,000 miles of the Canal. As to carrier-bttsed a,1rcraf'tt he haa no oon-

cern for SUC!'l an a.ttack from the Oaribbean area becsuse of the natnral

barrier existing in tl:e chain of islandEl extending from Cuba through

Haiti. Puerto Rieo~ and the Lesser Antilles, dovn to Trinide.d. These

islands werE' only a potential deterrent, but General Stone e%!)ressed

his belief that the chsdn could ana would be matte into an effective 56 barrier against attack on the Oanal from the Atlantic Ocean.

Nature had not been so kind in th.e Pacific, [-Ind ene~r aircraft

carriers mifflt By-roach the Canal from this siae wi th only a slight

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chance of detection.


In GencrEtl Stone's opinion, the answer to the

problem W's to reach out. end attack BUell car::-i.-::..-,:; J.';lr1n~ ta.e aEy-

light hours--to Iidestroy the wasps in their nests before they ever 'begin to fly." ~h1s line of action called 1'01" long-range senpla.nus

e.nd for bases in the Oelapagos Islands. whioh would be the "tirat and primary (lefense of the ?an3ma. Canal." The second line of defense would

then be the :.oursui t and attack planes and antiaircraft ba.tteries. which

in geMral llould be some'l1hat handi09.pped by the prevailing clouda over

the Canal. Zone, "where weather alW"'tys favors the attacker rather than

t:o.s defeno.er. II 2ha one principle to be risidly maia tcln.e it aect)l"iir.,;

tJ <J.,.l:l~ral Stone. was that "we DlUet never let ~y enemy airora£t get 51

over the Canal :1 taelf. fI

':rhe interest 1n th~ Gala.pal:!Os Islands was not new. On 5 JamlAl."y

1939 General Stone ~,d recomt:lended to the War Department immedia.te

acquicition of these islnnds from :;!l<r..1a.c:.ol' r nd al.eo acqUisition oi" ';1~9

But the S1;fI,te DEl,!lartment refused to consider the request on the grounds tha.t sneh negotiation would not be Utn the public interest." It did

add, however, that any att~r:xpt by a non-American. power to acquire the

islands. for Pny use whatevcr~ ~~~ld Ja a matter ot grave eonc~rn. Three

months after the lIarch maneuvers. which had reve~ed more clearly than

ever the vuluarab111ty of the Canf)~, Generel. Stone ag'lin wrote the War Department. admi tUng that the two La.t1n Americpn countries might be

reluctant to sell the land but suggesting alternatively thAt a gOO-year

lease would. not enerol::.oh u20n ~'.ny national sovereignt;;-. '1.;: l'Epo~ltad his

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belief that acquisi ~ion 01 tll'3 bases 'JaS lIabsolutely es;:;o~tial for the

defenc>":l of the r'Ular;tot O' ,nru .. II »u.t again the 'ProposAl WItS rejected as

being contrary to na.tional Tlolicy. The Wer Department also reminded Genal's! Stone that in accordAnce wi t~ the Joint Defense Plan. Fanmna

(kmv., 193B, the lie;\r-Y '$:1.8 respondbln :for patrol of the coastal zone

and for location and attack of any forces therein. While Army air un! ts

in the Zone ,.rere to assist the liavy in aceo~lbhment of the mission,

the liar D€:_").>.rtZlent clid Mt deem operatin; e.irdromes on the Galapagos or Oocos islands to be essenti~~ for the purpose.58

As bFJth the wing commander sud the department commander :£':requentl)"

pointed out to the l;a:- Dspart:uent" however. the na.Tal forees vere aub-

ject to call elseHhere and they could not be co~letely depended Uryon to

carr;r out their mission in the Oanal Zone. This arrangement ~~gS desti.ned

to becot'l.e the subjeot of e. mild controversy before many more months.

Nor was the Galapagos-Ooco. aequis1tion ehelved by cOm:clanders in the

PaneJtl$\. Canal Department, although the ~~ar Department }Josi tion seemed to be unshakable.

On 9 October, General llargu.e 8t~a,in W1"ote to the Ohief of the Air

Corps, s~1z1ng the ~roblem of air defense of the Oanal's Pacific

approaches. ;11 tl'.o".t abandoning any of his previous contentions, the w1n~ commander made a strong case for long-range aircraft in the Oanal Zone. ~he neoes~ patrol of the area 1,200 to 1,500 milaB south and l(est of the Zone conld not be carried out bY' medium. bombers, w1 th which

the wing was then equipped. There was no aircraft w8.l'ning service as

yet, and. e:x:lstine plans for eueh I). servie,,, co'l."o:"oJ. the vater area.s for

an1;'l several hundred m11es from the Ofl.D.aJ.. Oommt1l1icat1on fac1li tie.

were meager and in many sections t'sbsolutely nil." Under the circumstanoes, ~1'-;!f,*-' ''r'''_-~

f ' """"'-~~::: _ ... ~ i

~l~~~ __ _:_~~~ CONFIDENT\Al

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air defense of the waterway ZJight be reCiuced to air comba.t against a force of unknown size and speed. rather than the more lopcal inter'" cept10n of an attacldng force man,. miles out to sea. General Darga. repeated his request for na:v-4 patrol bombers and for UBe ot the Galap-

agos and 00008 islands, but he added e, more urgent requ.est for tourengine bombers of the 1211d-basod t~e. Specifically, he recomnsnded that the 224 :Bombardment Grou'P. 'Which was to be formed in the United States and sent to Panama, be equipped vi th heaT7 bombers, "preterabl,.

59 the prod\1ct of the Oonsolidated Aircraft Corporation."

The Ohief of' the Air Corps. in reply, stated that the dea!rabili ty of sub." tu ting long-range for meQiU,tllooorange aircraft in the current expansion plans t-'!;)uld be :ttudied. ITo change in the et],uipment ot un! t.,

hoveTer, was recommended at that time and no recommendation could be

made until after appropriations for ~ddit1onal he~vy oo~bers had been obtained. The 19th Wing therefore had little bope of rece1Y1ng lone-range a1rcraft at 0311' time wi thin the near f'Ilture. The wine likewise

had 11 ttle hope of ever conlist1n& of more tb;':!n the barest force reo-

quirod for defense of the (JO!lcl. General Da.r~-lo 3lld his 8Ucc:--ssoriil

emplo;yment in hel11.sphere detens3 cnvl saged II the III81nteuance of the mlnt ..

mum aircra£t forces required for the defense of outly1n~ portion. and the utilization of the mobil! ty and flerlblli ty of the am .trildng 60

forces to reinforce ~~y area where a serious threat develops." Mach

difference of opinion aroae regarding th:f.s conoept as the 19th Wing rapidly approached a period when 1 t seemed that the theory might hflv. to be put into prEl,ct:lce. For the time being, howeTer, General Dargae

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let the matter rest, a.s he w.s faced w1 th a DlUl tipl1cl ty of other 61

pl'Oblems demending immediate ,. tten tlon.

Plan~ tor France FielS

:'he sub.1 ect of Frsnce :8'i eld again CaIne to the fore in the f all of 19399 this time w1 th the NaV7 entering the picture. Except for a :tew

officers' ~uarters. there was no construction at Prance during most of

the year. AI though the Ohief of the Air Corps had decided that the

bRse would remain in ule only as Rn aux11i~ry field upon completion

of the Brnja Point airfield, both General Dargo.e ~nd Major HO'l18e, com-

mander of the beset continued to consider various sites for a new France

Field.. The subject '\I1'aS revived in Wa.shington, e,nd in late AU6UlJt the Ohief of the AIr Corps recommended to the War Department that a new

62 J

field be developed northeast of the ex1stine; s1 te. A complete nev

atetion wou.ld have to be bu11 t, with in! tial eonstrnctlon requiring an estimated $1,000,000; gra.ding, drainage, end construction of two runways would require an estimated $1.250,000.63

l-!eanwbile General Dftrgu.e, aware of the prospects of at least one

now runway at Franoe, inatructed Major House to begin 3ungle clearance

of en area paralleling Rio Coco Solo in order to expedi te a survey.

The wing commander acknowledged at the S8JI1e time that the :_oroximi t1' of

the naVEl air station at Cooo Solo was a seriotts d!sadv~ntage. MAjor

BOuse siDl'lll taneously sought :permission to begin jungle clearance in

an area which he had selected. He informed Generd Ilargu.e tl:.at the

Na.vy was making inroads 1n the area of France Field which 1 t held under

revokable lease and that the structures were of R 'Perme.nent nature.

The Tlroposed new rtmWB.y for FMnee Field crossed part of tJ::ds leased


r-~--~~ ~~Q1W_~~~!IAb

~ • _I" ...J, )-, "j I

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believe ttat the Air Oorps had ~lan8 for the areR. On 28 October, Adm.

Harold R. Stark rectuested of tl:.e Secrete:ry of Uar tl:at a. considerable portlon of tl:e France Field reserv8,tion, northeast of the old runway

fI..nd adjacent to the navsl air station and ror::mu.nition depot, be granted

the N'avy D9,9artJnent by revokable permit flfor lnstallation of magazines

and gasoline tanks pending receipt of authority for a permanent trans ...

fer." The Secretary of War had already directed that $3,000,000 be epent on illl9roTements for France Field, but Admiral Stark's request WI

granted e.nd the lfi.nd in question was transferred to the Navy. Tni.

episode marked the beg1nD1ne of an extended stru.ggle, carried. on m~.inly

by Major House, to :91"eser.,e France Field as £en indispensable ')'l8rt of 64

Oanal defenses.

The aunliary landing t"ield project of the 19th Wing was faring

somewr.at better than hence Field. In September the wing commander

ma.de r n informal report to Genere~ Arnold., reve91ing the status of the

project and outlining further action considered essential to the expansion'"rogrnm wbieh eontelD'Olated an eventU8l strength of ap:nrorlmately 600 ofUcers, 5.000 enlisted men, A.nd 325 airerFd't. AuxiliarY' fields

the-n in the Re'J)Ublic of Panama fell into fotU" categorlee: trr..lning

base, au:iliary bases tor operation, dispersion fields, and emergency

landing fields. Bio Hato, wi th te~orary housing for apnroxtma.tely

100 men, woe bein3 used as a training b~.e. Additional temporary hOU8-

iug b1:'~8 being provided tor 'll 0 !.1~!1.~ and the depar t:nent "Tao f1na.ncin;;

C'J:1S~1".'I."tion of a number of recreational buildin;J:J ".1 the s1 tee The


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~-----.-~ ..

, "

... ~ .;. ~


the Air Oorps had authOl."lled conBtructlon of til.



tempor~1 hangar,

Ohief of

and other pls.ns called tor bwo more runways and fuel storage faeUi ties. making Rio Hate an auxiliary base fo~ operations as well as the princlop~

tztainin~ baae, A:nnlia.r~~ bases for o:nerations ~pra _<1.3') neede3. in the

Landing fields :for the purpose ot d1SJ)ersion were needed in the vicini wof La Ohorrera. end La J07a (on oppotJi te sidas of the Paoific entrl?nce

of tho O&nP"l) and. in one or ti"O simi1s.r '91R.cea on the A.t1antic stde.

~hese di~ersion fields would not require Ilsrmanent deta.ohments. and

they would be gui table for use by all tY!)6S of ai t'craf't. In add! tion to

the fields in these three categories. pl1 of which wollld be available

for 13i'WI'b'(':l.C- 1.~·'_n.11'lgs. Bevr,:r; .. ~ othe:.- la.ud1ne sroT.lll,:LS 1fel"6 ne~'ie5., In-

. 65

cludin~ Jaque, OhR .. 11.f'~ .~~)l!ld:Jl.CI~, La ~~e3"" <J.:.'l;i Las Lajas.

At the ti:ae of' General ~[:Ile' s rOJJort to General Arnold. the au.~lia_wy landing field projeot seemed t~ be in the air. Funds were

not available to the dep~'.t't:n9nt eom!'Ilander, nor we,s there any author! t;v

for the 19th Wing to proceed with the survey p~d acquisition of the 14 sites mentionod. It was lIa very difficult ::projecttt and General kgue

could. not foreee", its comoletlon in less than t'110 yearG. The informal

in t~!;': office of the Ohief of the Air Oorps and in divisions of the

War Departm.ent Generfll St:;!.ff. where it was studied "with muoh interest.tI

General Arnold informed General. Dargtle that officers on the General

Staff believed that the time was right for the ~roject to be ~~~~tted

officially '.'Ii t!1 the wing commander's recolllIllendat1ons end an estimate of 66

the cost.



" .

...J,,.,' __ -<_ ~ _~ __ . .._._"..:....., -J('

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This Page Declassified lAW E012958

0' ro


cl LU C!l o Io o

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-~u '~-':_-"c',' _- - -on, _. k'~~' 4'i~~ CONFlDENllP\l THIS PAGE Declassified lAW E012958

This Page Declassified lAW E012958

for acquiring aircraft warning s~~tion 8ite~. Ey 14 October a B~1dy

on fl equai tion of If'.nd in thp Re:oubl1c of Panel!Ia for this 'l)Ul'p080 had. received the 8I)"oroval of ;,ar Plans Division and other members ot: the General Staff and wns in the ofc'ice of' the Ohief of Steff, where it wae

believed the study would rece! va final 13.!>prov?l wi t."tout change, Ifhe paper cnlled tor a. 999-year lea.se of land at Jaque.. OCtpe Uala, Alm1rsnte,

Pt. AnrIle11e3, La Palma, Puerto Obaldia, rnd Coiba Island. Several of

these si teg were in olose ,.,ronmi ty to 2lrQ!)osed aurllif'J'~.r fields, a

f~ctor which would :faoilitate surveys of the t~~ projects. General

D.?rgu.e h~d already' begun in mid-September to push J'1.! aircraft warning project, as :fb.nds we:t'e avpilable no t only :for a.cquiei tion ot s1 tea but

also for e~enses incident to preliminary mrvey wor1t. The 19th Wing

lated. 81 tea. and as the work lJrogressed the wing commander yle..nned to

make lie. large number of flights oarrying both '1?ersonnel and equipment :for them.HG7

tfforts had been made severEl years earlier to este.bl1eh. an aircraft warning system in the Oanal Zone, but nothing tangible had resulted from the attemPts. In 1936 the department ap?lointed a board of

officers to study the problem and. me.'!::e specific recom.'1enda.tiona on &

five-year plan for ~rocurement and 1n8ta~lation. At its first meeting

the board decided that since an aircr~.ft warni~g service was of 8.1

wah concern to the lTavy fI.S to the J:rmy, a joint board should be formed

to consider the matte~. At a later meeting in 1937 the board recom-

mended that B net be established to 8erv~ as t~e basis for a. co~lete

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system whenever the ~roper equipment was ~erfected; that the service

be inat"llled and kept in repe.1r b'o.,r the Signal Oorps f'nd operated by

the Air Corps, with the antiaircraft e.rtillery providing a close-in

net; and that 12 specified sites be develoged over a three-year period.

Not until mld-1939. however, was nny real survey work undertElken preliminary to establhhment of the service. Des::>i te General Da.rgtle' a

belief that the service should be 'Dart of an integrated air defense

eonnn~d. 1 t W"I.9 :!>le.ced under the department signal officer wt th head.-

ment was procured. and inauguration of the service was 8ch.eduled for

11 December 1939, initial 0geration to be six hours a day tor teat and

training p1ll']loses. Onl;r!l fCN nt1.tions ¥ere ready for opere.tion and

lines of comrntUlicntion had been hastily and tellU?orarl1y set up, but

68 the foundation had been laid fo~ an efficient aircraft warni~g system.

Departmenta1 RAOrtmnilatio!! ~ n ~ ~

As a reaul t of the emphasis on air defense. military forces of the

Pa.nalD.? Oe.n&!l De::.>a:rtment under'.";[J.~ 8 reorganization on 16 Ootober 1939.

All antia.ircraft uni ts were welded in to one command, the Panama l'rovi-

sional Ooast Arti11er~ ~rigade, headed b? Brig. Gen. Sanderfor~ Jar~.

Sector. the Pacific Sector, the 19th Wing, the Panama Provisional Coast Artillery Brigade (M), and Department Troops. Removal. of the 19th

Wing from under the Department TrOO'OfI effected no ch!::".llge in responsibili ty

for the wing commander, as he was still under tee department coonmander.

Bu. t the reorgo,ni zs. tion d:11! place the wing on 8. part ty wi th the sector colDl!lSllda. a. pos! tion which it had never befors enjoyed, and gave of-

t1cla1 recognition to

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Untts wlthin the 19th Wing were not a£teoted by the change. The Panama. Air Depot, however~ and its 1.t Depot Squadron were assigned to

the wing for tecbnical surpervision. The depot, commanded b~ Col. Harold A. StrattBII. had apnrorlmataly BOO oivilian .mpl078e&, a 11m11ar

nuaiber of enlisted nen, and two a1r officers assigned to 1 t. In add1 t10n to storing and 1e3Uing all Air Corp. supplies and performing t!drd echelon maintenance end repair of all airoraft in the Panama Oanal

Department, tb.e depot was 81.0 acting at! local sup,.,l,.. and second echelon 70

of maintenance and repair tor l!'rsnce Field.

The expansion program of the 19th Wing was alreaq hs:ring its attect on the depot. which weB considerably undermanned. and ill-prepared to

%!teet the demands brought about by the 1ncrealed amount of flying in the Zone. The old warehouses at France Field were bulging vi th new .upp11el, end buildings had not yet been contltrueted at Albrook Field in prep&-

ration for the trNl8ter of the depot. The main supply warehoulJe was in danger of bein.~ flooded during heavy raiDS. and there was a hesitanoy about malting c08tly- repairs in view of' the impending moTe to Albrook. There wa. 80m. thing of a !BOrale problem. involved in t:'le tact that

enlisted men were working s1de by 8ide with civilian e~lo1ee. and wer. rece1vinG considerably lees :pa.y for the SAme work. C1T111an emplo1''''' alISO had a morale problem, tor they reeelved less ~::..;r tlJ.an other employees

in the Panama Oaaal Department. This latter inequall ty was remedied in

December 1939 when weges of the depot employees vere placed on the .s.m.e

scale as those of department employees. lJ!he trend toward eolDpleta


civ111am.zatlon of the d8J?ot was continuing, and. Genere.l Arnold had

.tated in June 1939 that the progra:n t'1Ou.1d b8 c.Jm.:!lc~(>J. t"'),1'i.;:: ~.,. thc~.l

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7ear 1941. '1l Air Oorps appropriations for 1940 included providon.

for 36 addlt10nel depot employees, but, like the move from Prence ~o

Albrcok, the program was to be del~a. Deap! te the combined effort. of the Air Corps, the 19th Wing, and the Fanama. Oanal Department to

alleviate some of' its problems, the depot was unable to funotion properly and to meet all the demands :olaoed upon 1 t during this crt tical period of 19th Wing expansion. 73


It was perheps fortunate tor the air denot that the 19th Wing wall unable to engage in all the flyiBg that it was celled upon to do. 91. War Department bad directed that all regular Arm:r un1tfJ engaged 1n a

pro~am of lnten.iTe training during November, December, and Januar7, but

becaule of the Short&ge of commissioned personnel end the demand tor

cooperative missions the 19th Wing was unable to go beyond formel. compliance. GrollUd forces in the department were still asking tor cooperative mtesloDs totaling approximately 2.000 hours for the tlece2 year

1940. According to Colanel :Brady, comgUance with the request would require an average of 300 houri :per month for the remainder of the 7eer--& minimum of four B-1S'., or 33 per cent of the reconnaiassnce-bomber strength ot t1:.e wing. flying a total of 15 hours da11y". :Beoause of tbe lack of sufficient flying per.onnel, the two bombardment Iquadrons and

tw reconlla.:besnce tlque drona could men only 13 :8-18 t s. wi th partially

73 trained crelis, in.tead of the 36 IUpulated in the table of organhaUon.

NeTerthelees. the wing still had to perform 8S many cooperatl~e Idssione

a.s 1 t eould menage. and i t8 own training program sutfered accordingly.

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headquarters orgp.J1.izationa with the minimm personnel to carry out their respective missions; to organize and train the maximum number

of maintenance crewe. nine bombE'.rament crews. nine reconnn1ssance crewi.

and 36 pursu1 t pilots; and to form from ex18ting squadrons the nuclei of units to be actiTated in th~ department on 1 l'ebrua17 1940. !lhe new un:l. ta included the 37th Pursu1 t (hooup (Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron. the 29th, 30th, end 3llt Pureul t Squadrons), the 43d Pureu1 t Squadron to augment the 16th Pursuit Group. the 3d :Bombardment Squadron

74 to augment the 6th :Bombardment Group, and the 39th Observation Squadron.

As a necessary prel1llin8.1'Y' to accomglishment of the objective, the wing va. establ1shing essential adminidratlve syatems and training instrllctors

for basic Bchools.

Wi th the rainy season nearing :I. ts c10.e. flying training ROUT1 ties

began to inorease in the latter part of N'oTember. Practical exerct.e. 75

were arranged bY' the two group commanders and by General Dargue. !the

nature of the climate and geography of Panama, hoveTer, made it iDlpore!.tive for the wing to seek exemotion from certain :phases of Air Oorps policy

and to take extra pl'ecau tiona in the training program. In December the .lir Corp. e:pproTed the wille'. reque.t for a waiTer on night flying 1'0- quiremenh, ao that the prescribed night flying might be accomplhhed


when and for such d1 stances 88 the seE:.sons 'Oermi tted. Generel Da.rga.e

then recommended that the 8!leciallzud training of"OUl'aui t pilot. be completed. in tl:;e United States. The tropice.l 'lEather. with 1ts sudden,

'Violent storms end frequent overcasts, the lack of safe emergencY'la.nd-

ins fieldl, Rnd the jung1e terrein all presented difficulties which did

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not exist for the inexperienced pilot In''the Un! ted Sta.tes.

It baa.

been neceS3ar~ for the 19th Wing to Resign all new and inexperienced

officers to B-18 units where, under t~e close guperv1sion of experieneed

personnel, they could become familiar with loo~l terrain and weather con-

dltions. Only after three months of this training were pUots assigned to pursu1 t un! ts. Bu.t if the 1n:flux of new pilots continued to increase

and the percen tags of 11 traineci and respons! ble officers wi th three or

more yeeI's of serve" continued to decrease, even this e:xpedient wou1d 77 have to be curtailed e..nd bo th sEI£ety end efficiency would be lowered.

Ae part of its training program, the wing r>artlclpated in a series of ble.ck:outs wbieh had be€'n lnst1 tuted on 10 October b~ the department

commander. Prec&utlonary measures ini tiated in September were still

being taken throughout the Zone, while the State Department was seeking

to bring about the elimination ot Germ..'m flyers from a commercial a1r-


line in Oolombia. Member. of the 19th Wing were not allowed. to 10S6

sieht of the :!,osstble denger to the Oan<;.l und of the importance of its defense. !l!he sudden growth of t~e wing and the influx of personnel served as a reminder of these facts. On 28 December the Secretary of War

announced the constitution of aeveral new.A:1r CornB un1 ts and the act! ..

vat10n of severel others -orevlously on the inactive list. The unit. inoluded the 22e1. :Bombardment GrOUl) (J.t). the 37th Purll-:rl.t Group (I), and the 43d Purauit Squadron (I), all to be stationed. in t1:.e Oanal Zone, and the 25th :Somberdment Grou!> (El), the 36th Pursuit Group (I); and the 24th

79 A1~ :Base Squadron. to be stationed in Puerto Rico •

. e

:a1 the end of' 1939 the 19th Wing had 104 flying officers, 35 of

them from the Air Reserve. an~ 15 additional officers from other branches

k!IT".- - T'7~::F:r-:::~'-~~=:f":. "ONF\DENT\~\l

i~.,,~~.. ~

~D",h_~";''-''·'-- "

_ ~ r _

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- ~~~-"-:Jl

[=_:.:_~ C~NflOEN111\'-

serving with t~e wing. The number of enlisted men exceeded 2.000. and


the number of aircratt had increased from 70 to more than 100. Definite

plMS for e:!tpG.nsion in Pml2.Ula had reoeived the apT.lrovnl of the dep8l"t-

ment. Uuch construction was under 1reY. :1.nclud1nr; preliminary work on

the :Braja Point air base whioh Oll 1 December had been named Howard 80

Field. Wing headquarters had acqulred a skeleton .taf!. and relatione

wi th the Panama Canal Department headquarters were on a cord1e~ and

81 '

oooperative besis. ~he year 1939 had been a bus~ one for Air Oorps

units in the Oanal Zone. but the sudden burst of a.ctivity pouee.ed

lnhere.nt dii1'1cultlest scme of which l"e.ma1ned dorment until the follow-

ing year •


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During the early months of 1940 the '[<thole problem of Oanal air

visi tors, incl'l'lll)~ .frQJiden t Roos6vel t. General Ua.rshall, Gener&1

Arnold, and congression~ co~tt~?Gt insv '~~9i Oanal Zone defenses,

1ndlo!?tine somewl"..a.t the degree of interest in :protection of the lnstaJ. ...

lation.. The interest Lncreased wi th the fall of France in June 1940

and wi th the heightened ~o9albUity of American E'nto.nglement in the

European confl1ct. l!or~ ger.,'al'OU(l [0 )roprlations soon enabled. the Air Oorps to revise its -alMS for expansion. Before the end of the 7ear

Puerto Ricnn a1r defenses had gro~m beyond the size or1g1nclly envisaged by t:'lf': Air Oorps, s.nd the 19th Wing had been transfonaed into an e.ir

foree. This final 'Period of the .. rIns'il erlatenae. however. ~'3.3 '7la.cked

by a struggle in almost ever:r pbnse of air act1vi ty and by friction in

relations with the Panama CM.Sl Department.

r.:he croation of a barrier between the de!)at'tmellt and the wing

tour of duty was cO::'lpleted dur1ne the first week .in JW1uary. end on

8 January a. cav~ilr;r of:;:'icer. ll.aj. Gen .. Deniel Van Voorhis, assumed com-

1'Il.'L'ld for a tl',o-ye~lr period. The interests of General Van Voorhi a seem

oo:n' e.n~\ea by l~" Gen. Ben Lear 8Ud :Brig. Gen. SMlderfol'd Jart1an" T'ne

Yl'oblemc tl.ceompanrtng the expansion of the 19th Wing dcma.nded. now more




, '

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than ever, close lia.1Bon w.J.th the department; but 11 tt1e attempt was 1

made in this direction.

One of the tasks awaiting General VEl!1 Voorhis when he took over

his ne~; command was to answer a War Department commun1cation of 3 Jan-

ue.ry which req,uested a thorough study of fllr defense reQ,uirements in the Panruna Oanal Department. BY' direction of Geners1 Ma.r!lhall an Air Def€nB~ :Board had been e;ppointed in the War Department to study and

make recoJ:lmendations on 1fthe que.tion of defense from attack by air.

including 8 cleps and defin1te determination of tee basic principles

snd~olicies to be followed by the War Department in tbe matter of its responaibilitias EI.nd requirements -ror Alr Defense.11 As a part of tl:is study, tl;.e commander of the Panama Cenal Department Wfla asked to submit his opinions and gup~orting evidence as to the following:

(1) The general problema of defense ag~inst ~ir attaek to be

solved by tre Pnnama. OanaJ. Department.

(3) The most effectlTe method of conducting air defense of' the

department. This question was to inclu.de consideration of' the reo-

epective roles of bombardment and yursui t aviation, antiaircr8f't ar-

tillery, airerBft warning service, and negative defensive measures.

and the proper organization for procuring t~elr coordineted e~loyment.

It WEtS to consider aleo tl:.e offensive t".nd defensive action of avia.tion

in extending, augmenting, or replacing II the 11m1 ted defensive CB9&biU tics of Emtieircre.ft wea1)ona."

(3) The :pro'Der tynes, strength. and orgp..nization of the agencies

required to e:z:ecu.te the tilir defense of the Panama Oanal Department.


, - (1'::- T'\ •

" _" t 111 lUEjl:77/~

~ ,~~., '~J...L_ .. ,_".., '0.1 •• .' J.f L

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.. , ,_.,.



COl': Fi DEi\~Tli\l

The Air Defeose Board considered it essentinl that the ~roblem

be ap~roachea from a realistic rather ttr~ ideElistie point of view. The letter to the depa:tment co~~der further uointed out that "We

eennot hope to 'Provide as§ured J2!.,oteetion for !J!!.,9r.z. imt'ortt'nt objective,

nor c~n we p£ford to disburse our limited means in an elfort to meet

all ~o8Sibl~ attBcks." The needs of the department were therefore to

be forl4Ulated. only after a cnreful evaluation of the inm,r"tance of the

C::mal, likelihood 0:£ attr-ck, 'Orob':!ble damar,e involved in a.n ~ttacJ.o:,

probA.ble developments ~r1or to ettE.cl~. nroper integration of defense

requirements with other nv.1nt1on require:nent~. and employment of reinforcement from the United St~tes.2

This request from tl:e War Department comprised a large order for a

comn::.e.nder who had head.ed the Panama Canel De:psl:"t:oent for only a few

days. end the burden of rer:lly natur.slly ff'll to General Dar.~J.e. Bi.

recommendations were comnleted in time for a.en~raJ. VeJl Voorhis to

discuss the' S'J.bject wi th General Marshall during hi s 'Visl t to tl:e Oa.u.e.l

Zone, 5 to 9 February. 1J1he department co~der ~s not contAnt, ho~

ever, to confine ~~s discussion merely to air defense re~u1rementB. He

inUic:?te that seme change had tween 1':Ilace in the est!me.te of tZlB si tuatlon. If suea were the Case, then a coord1n~."';~d study of all elements of de-

fense would be ne~ded. Gener~ Van Voorhis ther~fore ~nR1y~ed the

,., d ... ::nen t of tl.e 'Oro bll3::' ....

GEr.~)~:ll D".rguet s rocoil.:::.endRtions were sent to the depa:rtment com-

th,",y were repel;! ted 'by aeneral Van Voorh! s in his conferences 'Wi th

-..: r"'1 ,.. " ,


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" J ~ r t. '1'=1 "" lid ~

l "'~ , ... ~~

j~~ ~ ----'-~·~._.,_~'O N PI D (1\' TJAL 59

General MP-rsh"ll l'mt\ ~l so in the formal r~l:r to the Air Defense Board 4

on 1'3 'Fe'bruw-y. The 'nnG cOlll.'l1'lllder's est1.m8te of the situation and

his 8\Ull."!:ary of dl' defense problems represented one of' th~ most cOllI2?rehenslw et. t"._. ,'1",'1 made during bis tour of dutJ in the canal Zone. In

add! tion to answering some of the War Department queries, he r J.~o raised

e. nUlllber of im-:;lrtr>nt questions which could be ~nswered only by higher

, '_1. estimnte of the internatIonal

sl~a~tion and to determine the degree of ~~ger threatenine the Panama

Oenp~. Nevertheless, he atte~ted to Analyze the a1~tion on th~ basis

of the info1"r!lRtian i~e:l-1a.tely available. He first cc:n.sidered the

pos:sibili th's of land, sea., [.TId air attac',:s on t'1e Canal.

To General Da.rgue, it we h3rdl~r eonceiv2.ble that land warfal'e of

an;v cO:J.z1d· r:" ,1i~ J!JSllg1 tude would be brought to the Oanl!l area. It wae

~osalblef howevert for ~ nnv~ battle to take nlaca ne~~ the Oanal.

Wi th the incre!' Be in def'enMs around the Osri bbean snd. the vu.lnerabil1 ty

had no ring of defensiv~ islands, the situation was somewhat different.

Ja'9an was considered caoable of "\-'a!;ing a major naval battle in the

zz, .... ~ stre!lgth l':ould bave been wasted in a lOllg: line of communication. as to ma.1t.e her an eesy prey :tor Araet"iC'Jn n."'lV'31 units. General Dargu.e

was therefore inclined to dismiss c~neiderBtion of ny changes in the

strength and org~ization of th~ Zonels air defens~ forces which might

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be made neces3a~y by the

rnl\lFl DEI\,llH-\l

de..\l~:!- 'of navel surface attack upon the


Air ~ttackl!l, however, which might be independent of major surface forces, could be made from great distances, from land and sea bases.

An air ntt&c': 'l./t\S the one thing mollt feared in the defense of the CRUel

and the one thing, outside of sabotage, which was considered 1IIOst likely

to .llappen. Such an as saul t would 1'Jrobably be made by a large :£,orce of

bombers, uneu;r>norted b~ other aircre£t. at low altitude and under caver

of reduced visibility. :rhis force would probably tr1 to reach the objective at dusk or dawn (more likely at dawn) and dl"0i.l la!'ga bombs

or torpedoes directly in tIle water of the locks. The att&ck:lng force

would be pre.~ared to stand heavy lasses and even internment in Panama

or in a. neighboring CO'rult1"y. It seemed unLikely that an attack by a

large 8.11' force from lema. b' GI?,:) cJ~1l1 be org;'n1ZE'd {.n t!:ie -s~stern

hemisphere, within striking diBtance of the Oanal, witho'~t -prior knowledge

on the part of dei\:D.i1:n,; forces. A lar~.'\ £'31'08 co·.1ld hardly e;pproach

by water without being deteQted, e:x:c91'>t through some freak in the

weather or similar accident. On the other handl a single carrier or

two, a tendor -.f1 th a nu:nber of tf.l.t9r-based i?lG~'l~:;I, or a small force of land-based planes ("oseibly cO:IlI:lercial) might arrive seoretly at a

position w1th regard to the Oanal so as to launoh an effective air raid.

It seemed to General Jhl".;.tt8 tk:J.+' the !n:)st serious threat to the Panama

Oanal was a 8urprise air a.tta.ck by 50 to 200 planes, under cover ot reduced vi a1 bil! ty, at a time when the U. S. flee t was using or WI

about to use th., Canu to move froll1 one ocean to the other.

Specific missions of the Army and Navy, as well as the j:>lnt mt ....

sion, in the Panema Oan~ Department had been prescribed in Joint Board

:y fF"""7'-rc ~_.............._ ~.

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AAFBs..42 61

Report No. 325, 1:2 May 193? The joint mission was "protection of the

Panama Oanal in order that it lll8.y be mainta1ned in continuous operating

condition." obviously for :?c.s':st;c of thFl i1.e t. The Army mission was

to protect the CE'~ against sabotage end against attacks by- air, land,

and sea for~es. The Navy miaBion was to S'J.pnort the .Army forces in

protectinc tLe: C:;;"'1al and to protect shipping in the coastal :zones. A

later re:t)ort, Joint :Board, No. 349, made a :gel'tinsnt pronouncement,

which had been incorporated in Joint Action, stating in p;;;:.rt that "no restriotions will be placed upon the comnlete free40m of either .ervice to utUhe, against the enemy, the fu:n power of' all aircreft available

and any 8.nd ell fe-clUtte, that 11'10.7 b'(') neceSl5P.ry to ma.lte tlw.t :po'fer effect1ve.n Local defense plans charged the commending general o~ the

19th Wing with the a1r detenee of the Panama. Oanal. These :plane also

oti'!j~;'Ilated that nav.:.1 patrol :planes in the department would carry out dist!mt reconnaissance. patrolling. loca.ting, reporting, and tracking. 'Ella Armi/ air forae was to :9l"Ovide the o1'f'ensi va or striking force to

destroy enemy vessels encountered. The Arm"/' was ~~BO to provide the defensive force at the Oanal to meat any £1r attacks. T.his latter dnty was the concern of J)ursu1 t aviation. the aircraft warning service, and antiaircraft troops.

Before d1sCllssing the conduct of air detense. General Dargue made

some obseI"rn.tiono on t~E" S3neral problem un! on means a.vailable for se-

complishment. The most forceful of hie obS8nations concerned a matter


which he had brought to the attention of the War Department in 1939-the uncertain ty regarding the abUi ty of' naval. pa.trol equadrons in the Oanal

Zone to cp.rry out the1r minion.. At tha;h time :£latrol t;in::; Z£U'(,-:, c~:'!poc·:,e.



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Cr '1' e- - , I, L Ul.rlL'LL ~ lli\

at Coco Solo on the "\'tl~tio aide of thp O::m91. As a part of' the Air-

crat't Scout1n;g Force. the wing operated under direct orders ot the Commander in Ohief of' the U. S. Fleet, and not under the local Navy

distriot commandant. The squadrons were repeatedly "lent to ,tations at distant points fro:ll the Oanal for rela.tivelrlong periods of time prosumably to !\.ccollOlieh. cert:lin :ohaS!S Of their training !Jrogra.m."S

Lat. in 1939 this me.tte!" of ne.vol aircraft re!lponslbili ty had oome

to the tore as lie, ra.ther diatllrbing q_uestionfl in connection with the :.orospect1ve o!>eration of :Basic War :Plan, PaJl8lIla Onnal Department. On 22 November a. conference had been held in tlle Oanal Zone to reTiew the

joint :roS!lonaibilities of Ars~ and l!avy sir forces in the light of ex1.ting condi tiona. Rear Adm. F. R. SaaJ. er, commandant of the F1fteen th

NaVI~l District, revealed t:'l8.t he had. a :.olan :tor air patrol of the sea areas adjacent to the Canal, extend1ng out "a considerable dist:..:ncalt

into the Pacific. The commander of Patrol Wing Threet however. could

give no definite assurance that the aircraft \fOuld always be o.vd.lable to perform the allsign.ed patrols, lince the wing was subject to call el.ewhere at the discretion of the commander of the scouting ~orce and

of the cOlll!ll8nder in ch1ef of the fleet. i'I'hen this :lntormation reached

War Plans D1vls:but General Strong reviewed the 81 tuat10n for the director of the Navy War Plans DiT1sion. :oo1ntlng out that the defense of thA Oanal might be jeopard1:zed unle .. a definite number of lOll8-range

aircraft coul.d 'be depended ul;Ion to ea!'ry out the l~avy mission as sot

forth in t~e joint plan.

The Chief of Nt'lval Opera.tion. had immediately informed the Oh1et

of Staff that there ~s apparently "a misunderatanding somewhere do'IIID. the

't· --~- .. -...........,. --,. -- "" - -- ... ~ _


(l..:l'4-,:v ..... ~"._ ............ _..._ ...... MI4"Qo,~" __ .-'..~......_~ • ..rlo!...ttl

- -

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1" --,~,~ .-_.. - - ,- ~~ .... ''''1l!Il

AAFHS...42 ~~ 1_ .... .:. _,_,,;,._ __ -'.~--,-,~=~J 63


Une" regarding the B.Ta11e.b1l1 ty of the patrol plane •• tationed. in the

Canal Zone. In all Navy:ulans. he explained, this force was to be made immediately available in caae ot emergency to the local naval defense

commander for inner and outer :patrol pu.rposes. The Chief of lie:nl

Operations then took aoUon to clad£'1 the matter wi thin the N'aV3". lie

directed the com..TtSnder in cble! ot the fleet to make stU"e that the scout-

1ng forae issued no instructions which wo'll1d be counter to ellt,91opent

of the n ... 'r9l. "lenAs in their ASsigned .mission in the Canal. Zone. Q;uotlng froID the memorNldnm which he kept before him Clat all times." the Navy chief explained his ba.sic idea on joint operations of the AriA.,. and liavy:

It i8 the duty of the l:~ .... ¢- to intercept an eneoy approaching 'by sea. and to deteat the enemy force before it reaches the territory of the Un1 ted States.

It i8 the duty of the Army to prevent wi th :l tis coast defense iaaUi ties the landing of enelD3' forces on terri tory belonging to the Uni ted States. and to defeat on shore any enemy :torcel that should succeed in landing.

Under existing plans ~or joint action there 1. DO oceaa1on for the opera tioD. of J.rmy aircraft over the sea exeept 111 oonneetton wi th the eoad defense, and in lil? opinion 8!l7 use of Arm:! 81rplll1l88 at great d1strmcel from shore should be undertaken only when requested by the Navy, and onlY' under the direction and. control of the 'J!Tt;:vy command..

This sta.tement latS also paBsed dong to Admiral. Satller in the Canal

Zone, wi th instruction for him to It take apnroprls.te action to remove

eu.ch min.n4erstnndingll as might exist on W. 8'I1b.1ect among local !.nq and NB.'vy co:mnanders. The 36 patrol plaaes WGl'e considered a. II1nilll1Dl force, and the Na17 flplanned to leaTe theae planes with the Oommandan t for loo~~ ·defense !>Ul'pose8 unle.s replaced. tI On 2 Janua.ry 1940 Adm1ra1 Sadler forwarded to the coln'll5nding general. o:t the Panama CB..'l&l Depart-

men.t a CODY' of all correspondence which he had rece1'Yed on the subject

trom. the Ohief of liaru Operations. obT1ously feeling that he had taken the necesla!'1 action to ~ ..... tl1"-ai..uad.r.t~a~. 6

ii_ ';~,~ '~='- :_, ~~~:~~Ji.~ CO fl,! FI D ENTli\l

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Insofar 815 General Dargae was concerned, hovaTer. the matter vae

not clarified. H~ :;.lointl!'d out :->0 r;·Jner...l '10.."1 Voorhi. in hi. memorandum

of 25 J8l111a.17 that the two wora., "unless replaced.," typified the uncertainty aurroun.d1ng the aVt'l1ab111 t1 0'1 the naTal patrol planes for defense of the Oanal. It they were to be replaced, locel eomma.nc1er. needed to be informed as to what might be expected. There vt'1s the possibili 1;y that the naval aircraft might be taken awa.,. from t!l.e Oanal

Zone entlrely for use of the :fleet cnCl. replaced by other Iquadrons not

neeessarlly tra1ned 101' the specific maslon. encountered in Panama. General Dargue c:l1d :teel that 36 plane. would be an adequate number to

cerry o~t for a limited period of time the lo~range reconna1l,ance desired over the waters on either slde of the Oanal. A. implied in

Joint Action. howver, it might become desirable. as well as neee.cary ..

to augment this force with planes of the 19th Wing. It was bel1eved

that the two bombardment groups, two purlu1 t gl'OUJ)8. two l'eeonnaiseanc.

squ!ldronst and one obtervatlon squadron in the 1i1ng expansion program

would be sufficient to meet the ellergenciee e,nticipated, altllough General De.rgu.e etrongl,. urged tha.t the med1um-~.:nge bombardJrlent and reconnaissance aircraft be supplanted by long-range aircraft. He also

reco3llI:1ended that a trs.naport squadron 'be added to the program, as such


planes were needed to handle personnel and supplies in connection with operations trom outl;vine fields. In vie'" of the possibility of a sudden a.ir attack on the Canal. General Darglle felt that the princIple "should be e.tabliehed and firmly adhered to that all, of the troops neoessar,. for the defense of t~e Panama. Oanal. should be nTailable immediatel,. and

7 at all times.'

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In further analyzing the conduct of the air defen8e~ General Dargne

in his memorandum dre'i a. olee.r line of distinction between offeusi ve

and defensive forces. The former. composed of lona-range reconnaissance

and bombardment e.1rcraf"t, had tbe talk of seeking out and destro~Dg hostile surface and land targets. The air defense proper was conducted by the aircre.ft 'WaX'Jling service, pursuit airoraft, and antiaircraft

forces. lIecause of the great expanses of we.ter and the lack of com-

mun1cat1ons, it was imperative that a reliable aircraft warning sernee

be eate.bUshed. to alert, the pur.mt planes in order that they might intercept the a.ttackers. Parsui t a.viation of the 19t1:. Wing normallT

would remain ne!!r the Oanal and, more particularly, near two vi tal

points--the Gattm Locks and dam end the combined Mirafiores end Pedro

Miguel Loeks p.nd dam. There were elso many pasl:>ive measures in the defense of the Oanal. including camouflage, balloon barrages. smoke screens .. blackouts, radio control, and. the placing of objects BUch •• radio towers on probable lines of approach. While some ot these measures

had been lnTestigated, General Dargne felt th~t definite responsibility should be placed in the use of esen one and that an. air dei'enee com-


mander, direct11 under the department commander. should eontrol all

operations of this nature. Joint Action specified that coordination between oUmy and Navy forces would be secured e1 ther by JInltusl coopera-

tion or by uni ty of cOllman.d. Since the commanding gener!'~ of the

Psnama Osnru. Department was responsible for defense of the 08ll8l.. General Dargu.e believed that all navel r>lel1e of local. defense force should not only be ooordinated carefully with the department cOM!:l8nder but should ellO be subject to his e.pT)roval, and that in an emergency the control of

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r-"'--'-- ~ 66


air opere..tions would be exercised much better through uni t)" of command.


Steps vhich General Dargue OD 25 Jnnuery recommended for immediate

action were as follows:

(1) LeeTe the 19th Wing as orgr.nized end cherge the commanding general of the wing with administration and teohnical control of the Panama Air DeFot except as might be otherwise proTided (17 War Department

regula tion ••

(a) Dedgnate the department commander, in addition to hi. other duties. as air defen.e commander in order to coordinate the acttT1tle.

of the air, antiaircraft, und aircraft warnine service forces.

(S) Leave the aircraft warn1ne service sa or~ni~ed until t~e

technical. 8p!)aratus could be installed to mah-e the eervice effecti Te. (4) Place all coast artillery troop. (antiaircre.f't and harbor

defense) under one commander, in tee interests of economy of force.

(5) :&Ilim1nate the Atlantic and PacU'io seotor command.s.

(6) Place a mobile force. distrl'buted between the enb of the

Oanal, under one oommander ..

(7) Determine the relation of the Puerto Rican Department to the defense of the Panama (kmal.

(8) Determine the responsibility of tee eommanding general o£ the

POOmle. Oanal Department ~i th regard to the area comprised generally

within the limits of Oentral and South America and the West Indies.


(9) Secure from tho War Depsrtment an estimate of tl;.e s1 tua.tion which would define IlOre clearly the 'Clace of the .l?rname. Oanal Department in the scheme of nntioncl. defenee.8


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Voorhis, bu.t most of' them received :favorfl.ble action w1th1n a :few


months. In repl~ng on 12 February to the Air Defense Board com.-

munication, the department comnander 01 ted a pertinent sta.tement by the Secretary of War: "Assurance of the impregne..b111 ty of the inter-

oceanic waterways is absolutely- vi tal to the milt tary seauri tj" of the

United States--a nation which places its initial reliance upon its

nevpl forces." Genaral V~n Voorhis re,ented Generp~ Dar~e'8 estimate

of the si tuatlon. emphasizing tee d.f.n~r of an air att"lck on the Onnal

end the !,robable s~i.ftnes$ of such an e,tte.cli:. In his su.mmary of a:l.r

defense nroblems the department CO~~8nder discussed aircraft. ant1-

ru.rcre.ft tu"t1l1ery, the aircraft wnrnine sorvice, and passive measures

of defense as ~tated by the wing commander; but he went farther and

discussed the harbo~ defense, infantry, fiela artillery, chemical,

engineering. and reconnaissance troops. Establishment of the Puerto

Rican base in the Air Corps expansion program altered the .e~coa8t defense situation to tee extent that the necessity for an increase in

har~or defenae artillery ~£d been considerably reduced at the Atlantic

terminal of the Oenal. The existing strength of four infantry regiments

and. t~~ 11th Engineers Wi? s considered sufficient for the department,

but the one battalion of 1'ield. n:-t11.1.ary ,,~s not. A."'t arll1:)rad car

defense problems ¥os ~p~roeched from the realistio rat~ar than the



idealistic point of view end was based on the sudden and unexpected at-

tack which wo1ild yreclude t~e sGndin~ of re1n£orcement~ of ~7 kind

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CON 1=1 D tNTl!\l

The estimates ~nd rrcom:'!!.end'='tions of tne ~a~t Canal Depart..

!:lent did. not meet ",'1 th too favorable a reception in the Office of

the Chief of the Air Cor,pe. The basd c f1sf1Ut.t.'ltlon underljln~ '-11 of

General Arnold. \:ri tine; to ~1ar Plans Division on 5 March, the Air

Oorpe chief at::tted tha.t hi3 of:;:'ice did "not c()ncur in the :prlnei,:.11e

that 1'1.11 aircraft necessr.ry for the defense of the Panama Oanal mst

'be ava11&ble in the immediate 8l'Q& of the Canal Zone at all tilles. n

~nis prlnc1ple~ he declezedt was in direct o~os1tion to the ap,roved Air :Soard report ,,-Moh adhered to the doctrine tha.t bhe a.viation oomple-

ment of overseas garrisons sh~uld be held to the minimum required

bci'orc reinforCE!';l~n t ~);; air eould arri V6. ~!b!le it was agreed that ~..n

air reId on the Panf'.'D.q. Cn.n9.l might be the lIopen1nS; gun" of a wart from

a realistic :point of vie"; i t s6:~(;:;;l inconceivable to th3 Air Oorps chief

that an air atta.ck of such nro!,ol'tions as to be beyond the defensive

cupabili ti es of the nOl'lilal garr1 son could be launched ,11 thout the 48

hours' warn1~g re~uired to ;lermi t reinforcement b;r air. General Arnold

of thf! Pananlfl, Oa'lal and Puerto Rican depart:uen t3 bad been deterlilined on

e:l!;_l?6cted Lmi ".1.1. thg bHSis or early reinforcement to meet subsequent

thres,ts. Any other di$T)oSFU. of the means e,vr'ilable ilWuld jeopardize

lla.tional Defense fin a whole.1I In this connection. Gen.er8~ Arnold did

note tde fact that effective ~nd timely air reinforcement required suf-

f1c1ent pir base f:tcilities and quantities of su'!!"9lies to Mco~odate

the additional air units.!l

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unrel1s'bili ty of' ne-val :oa.trol :olanes in the Oan~ Zone. He vas satia ...

:t'ied wi th the assurance of the Ohief of liavl""l ~erations that t:le T'Jlanes

could be depended U110n to d1schP.rge the UavY' mission as set forth in

the joint 'DIan. If the A..""!Ily wero to as"Iu::na :full res'Oonsibili ty £01' patrollin.! adjacent waters of the l'ac1fl0 Oce:m and the Oaribbean Sea.

then of course th~ existing ~nd projected reconnaiss~ce aircraft co~

ponent of the Panama Cenal Department Wl"lld be 1nc.de,.:ro.l.~ t~. In vie~'i of

the ro.vy assurances, h"we7l'1', Gal'l3ral ArulJld recommended that "ne action

be taken9 for the prasan t. in the ma.tter of a.dd! tiona! reoonnaissance

un! ts for the Pe.nama Oanal Depart:nent."

For a nn~ber of reasons, the Air Co~s itd not fnvorub17 consider

aa21er;:~l DerfjJ.(1t::: recommendation th=.t ::.1~a.:tu.-n..-range bombardment and

l'econ..nn:1 SSPDce airoraft in the Paname. Canal Depar tment be roplaced wi th

long-re.nge aircraft. !Fhe a.P9roved Air Board repGrt stated as a. reo-

quirement for tl!c P~J~l:?. Ce.na! De,!lprtment. IIbomb.r.rdment aviation wi th

a 1.000-1I1ile tactical o:gerating radius E'Ild a. mininrum a.OOO-lmund bomb

load oapao! ty.fl !llhe r~ort plao prescr1bed, as generel oharacteristics

of meBJ.u:!l bomcr~d..'7.:E:n".i a1rcre,ft. a. minimum tactical operating radius of

1,000 miles p.nd a. m1niillUll1 bomb cfll)ac1t~ of 2.000 !>ounds. A few ple.n.es

possel:'Sine these olmracteristicB were provided in the current prQ;T.L.

bu t theY' "Tere needed by he;:).vy bo:nbardmen t un1 ts un til such time as

,heavy bombers co"1d be procured. In the meantime. the aircraft a.vail ..

able for assignment to lre d.1um bo;nbardment un! ts t,'Otud h3.ve a. tactical

operpting rad.1u~ of approximately S50 miles with a normal bomb load.

General Arnold adm1 tted that this performance fell short of the presoribed

;'~~~~~~'~~~W'~ CONFIDENTIAL

l.k.....i ..... t=4.- __ *-~ __ A.. .... ~~_"-~~_.....,.'jo'lo;~l

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AAFRS-42 Ak,,,,,,,,,,, ~J.. •• _'- __ ~""":~. 70

COj~ :(ID[dTl/-~L

bombardment aviation req_uiraments of the PanAmA. Canal Department, but,

as he noted, the same condition exiBte~ in ot~o~ strategic areas. A

lecond reason for rejecting General Dargne's proposal lay in the

1~:rQTCd air defense of the etstern Csr1bbean.. The Chief of the Air Oorps pointed out that p maJor function of the Puerto Rican air garrison was defense of the Pa.ns:ma Oanal. A hev;vy bOJJl.o':l.rdment group 'WOuld become 0. :part ot that garrison "in the near :future,1I and its aircraft could

cover a greater area elong the important nort2eJ'11 coast of SO'l.th .AIIenea.

~hen could the same aircraft stationed in Panama. In the third placet General Arnold stated that both the Panama and the Pu.erto T'ic.:tn air

garrisons lrould be reinforced :fl'.)Jn ap-gropriate units of the Gm Air

Force in the e ... ent of hoetill ties in which the threat to the l?r.n".m.e.

Oanal was grea.ter than the threat against other vi tal. are8.l.

A negat:l.ve answer was given also to General Del'gue' 8 reCJ.u.est for So

trans"Oort ~quadron. There \mS no tI'8nS!lOl't squadron set up in the ex-

pension !,rogrem for the PauMa Oanal Department and, while General Ar~:Jla recognized the eonTemence which such a uni t might afford. he did not

conslder the need in the department to be suftlclentlyur,ent to war-

rant divereion of personnel and ~ircra£t from other activities. In m1d...January t~e 19th Wing: had ~3 3-1i3ts un:!. one 0-29, and it 8p1)eared that these aircraft wo,lld have to continue to 'Oronde the neeessa~

transport service in t::J.E.1 OanBJ. Zone. No cargo :!'lanes were scheduled fo!" transfer to the :Panama Oanal De-oartment during the fiscal ;,year 1940.

AJ.l an.11able 0 .. 33'8 and 0-.39'8 had been allocated to transport squadrons in the Un! ted States, and even these 'Wli ts would be requ1red to till

ou t their quo ta. wi th B-1 B' 8. Since the War Depar tmen t had ap nroved an

c:o ~',! fl D~j\!TU\1

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ -~-~ -" ~ ~-..- - -- --~---,~.---~-~ "'~~,~

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maintained for the rest of the fisetil. :ramo. the 19th Wing had no pros-

Pf3cts of immediate relief in its air transportation problem •• 12


On 17 April 1940, War Plana Diriaion S'U.!Ilma.rised the Tuioue reao-

tions of headquarters off'icea to the defense recoJlllllenda.tions made byGeneral. Van Voorhis. The division agreed, in general, with tbe basic

assumption!: end conclu8ions of the comrna.nding general. of the Panama

Oanal De_partment, but 1 t also concurred w1 th the views of' the Ohie! of the .A11' Corpe, agreeing that no change should be made a.t that time in either the numbers or tY)?es of aircraft scheduled for the Canal. Zone.

tncrea.ess wero recommended, however, in antiaircraft materiel and field

ut1llery forces. and the pro.po.al to proTide an armored recomulissanee

company was Tiewed with favor. Thie latter un1 t and a bomllproot command

post ~~are t~ be made the subjects of' further stu.d.y before rmy action

was taken. On 20 April 1940 Gener81 Marshall approved the recommendations of Wat' Plans Division, thereby cloling the door to any imm.ed1ate chanGes in air defenae torcea for the Pansma Oanal Department .. 13

Air defense of the Oanal continued to be a. matter of intereat to

the War Department, and no lid was placed on specu1a.tiona e.nd auggeBtiouB

as to futu.re organization of the defending forcel. IUring his '9'1e1t to the Zone in February the Ohler of 3taff ga!ne5. o01"t:'.in lrapNsslDnB whiCh

were to be~.r frat t IllOre than a year later. Accompanied by :Brig. Gen.

George 11. :Brett, chief" of the Ail' Oorps Materiel Division, General

14 Marshall arrived at Albrook Field in a B-1? on the afternoon of 5 Februar:r.

Dn-lnff the r..e::£t four days the Ohief of Statf inap80ted Canal defense.,


epending mu.ch of his time in a J3.,..18. Anothe\" bomber. carl71ng General

Van Voorhis. and one carrying General :Brett were included on ell luIPect10n

[rr::~==J COr/FlDE!VmL

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~ 1~ '" _~ ~~h,-~

.lU1!S-42CONfIDEN1\I\L L; '~'''J':_"'' • ...;..,J ?3

tours, with General Dargu.e piloting one ot the planes. After conferring with Panama Oanal Department officialst General 14arshall 15

proceeded to Puerto Rico, 'f'1a. Maracaibo, Venelmela.. One of the moat

significant reiSUlts ot the tour was General. ~fer8hall'8 statement to General Brett that he felt "the air defense ot Puerto Rico and Panama

mar. probably, be a combined effort instead of a Joint effort." It appeered that the Air 001'])8 might be asked for a. reco:ll:iiandat1on on an;y jloaelbi11 ty of e. change in the &1r "Ian. for defense of" the Oaribbean

area, ancl G-enera1 Arnold directed Plans Division to pr81Jare a study

on the subject ioor aubmisl10n to him at the earliest possible date.

l3e1'ore the Puerto Rican Department had been created, a. proposal to include Puerto Rico in the Panama Canal Department was considered and then rejected. the chief reason for reject10n being commun!c.tiona d1fficulUea.16 A:f'ter General Mar.baUt• 'I'l.i'b, however, the subject ••

revived and it rece1 Ted muoh attention during the remaind.er ot 1940. It was primarily a zmtter of long-range pl8mling and a matter :tor War Department action in the :final analyeia. Air commanders in the Caribbean,

",hetl:.er i:~'\'8.ra of the trend or not, were more concerned w:l th the i ...

mediate Ii tuation.

Organlatjonal Ow,ges lJl ~ ~l'!m! OMll Departmeqt

lhring the earl;y months ot 1940 & number of organizational clwlges took ple.eo wi thin the 19th Wing end the Panama. Oanal Department. Ohanges in the former were results of tl:e Air Oorps ".Jq)ane1on program and had

been expected since m1a-1939. Changes in the d~artmentt however, were

lomete'hat sudden. though organhational .bitt. might logically have been

e%pected with the arrival bt e new commander.

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On 27 Jguar;r all Air Corps units in the Oanal Zone took on more exact designations, effective as of 6 December 1939. The 6th Bo~ 'bp~ament (boonp beoame the 6th :Sombardlle2lt Grou!J (M), and the 16th Purlui t Group became the 16 th Pursui t Group (I). Corresponding challgea were made in the squadrons of the two groupo. The 7th and 44th Reconnaissance So.~uadrons became the 7th and 44th Reconna1.sa.nee Squadron. (M/E). The 74th A.ttack. Squadron 1rl8.S redesignated as a med1um bombe.rement sq,nadron, and the two eir base squadrons added "(2-Gp)" to t!:eir designations.1?

On 1 Feb1'll.a%T 1940 tbe 43d Puraui t Squadron (I) ns const! tu.ted in. the Oanal Zone and assigned to the 16 th Pursui t Grouy. The 37th Pursuit Grou:p (I), composed ot Headq,tlarters and Headquartere Sctu.adron

and the 28th, 20th. and 31st Sctu.edrons. WE.B const! tuted and 8aslg1led to

Albrook Field. Act1 T8. t10n va. ordered for the 3d :Bombardment Squadron (II), to be assisned to the 6th :Bombardment GroU"9. and the 39th ObseM'a.tlon Squadron (O&D), both llllits to be stationed at France F1ela..18

Since no observation ~lanes ~~re available, the 39th squadron began it, operations w1 th A-17'., :pending the arr1 Tal of 0-47.11•• Personnel for the new unt ts were provided by- B<luadrone elreaclT in the Oanal Zone ..

Morale of the enliated men \reS reported to be e!'l:ce'Pt1onally high. inasmuch 19 a. m8n7 of tne men received increased grades or rat1~8 in the shift.

:87 mto.-Februar;r General Van Voorhis w:!'1S read". to order a reorganha-

t10n of tt.e en.tire Paruuaa O~'.nal De:putment. IJ!he re18t1onsh1p between the 9l1tiairor1l.tt bt'l~de whieh General Stone had oreated in October 1939


and the harbor defense a~peared to be un8ati8~actory to General Van Voorhis. Al though the separE'.te antiaircraft brigade ffunquestionab1T

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the harbor defense artl11er7 was still under sector commanders. This

urangemen t precluded the 8.8!ienment of' dual missions wi tbin the coast

artillery and ~8 hampered efforts toward economy of torce. On

16 February, therefore. :\11 artillery forces were merged into the

:Panama Separate Ooast Art1llery llrigede tprovisional) in order to tl1nsure

more closely &upeM'ised trainin8 esseutiE~ to the development ot technical and tactical el!lployment.,,20 Since the &lim1nation of these tore ••

from seotor control 'WOuld levve only mobile troops in the eector-s, the PNlMIa Mobile Foree (Provisional) was organized elld the two sector oom- 21

JIIends abolished. The mobile force was to be uled in guard1ng the

locks ~.nd other Yi tal in8t~lat1on8 and in meeting hostile land attacks.

~e t-eorgan1!:a.tlon folloved "the modern practice of functional lines," and successful operation was to deyeud on close coordination of

all elements of the gE'.rrison. 1/,e,j. Gen. :Ben Lear we placed in command of the mobile force, which included infantry. field artillery, chemical.

and suonly troops. Brig. Gen. Sanderford Jarman headed the coast

artillery brlgE:de~ which \rre.S reported to be the largeBt And lD08t heavily a.rme(l artillery orga.niz&tlon in tl:.e Arr:l'y.22 The 19th Wing and Department Troops (consisting of service unita. military poliee. and the like)

made up the remaining two COJilnlBllds in the PAnama Canal Department. The order of 16 Febrnar~ which effected the reor~nization also assigned

the Paname. Air D~ot to tl:e 19th Wing ano charged the commanding general of the "ting wi th If the conduct of MIllY' air operF tiona and in.tallatione for the defense of the PN18lI18 Oenel." The order. in add! tlon. designated

the w.lng commender as thfl tactice1 and. tecbnicf:! advisor to tl:.e department commander on tl:.e employment of mil 1 tary and naval aviation. 23

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16 FE 13 R U A R Y I 940

I HEADQII'. n[f;~ fMll1~lA
(:~,tP.L [II;P! .. I~THENT

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The latter asdgnment wP·s 1n kE:'e:ning with department tradi tion, but it was not e aet1sf(lcto:ry arrr~ngelllent. AI ea.rl;y 98 1918 the lenior Air Oorps officer ill the Oanal Zone had been designe.ted Department Air Officer to serve r.s advisor to t·"e department commander. The duty

remained a nomin$l function until June 1933, when an air office was opened at Quarry Heights, convenient to d~artment head~uarters. Four years later General ~rett Closed the office, for tee wing'e progresl

was almost 8trtic. there were few air matters which concerned h1guer

headquarters, and General Brett had to maintain duplicete files and di:ride his time between the offices at Q,uarry Heights and. at Albrook.

For tt.e neJt:t three years the department continu.ed to designate tl:.e wing

commander as Air Officert but the w~igbt of duties ule.ced u::pon tbe wing

comm.SlldeI' unCleI' the Air Corps emansion me.de it almost brm08sible for him to Ollerate in the du!!l function. General Dargu.e found a constant

conflict between the tact1cd and s.dlIlini stre.ti ve demands on his time.

In his opinion a wing c()XIU1snif.er \oreS !>U1"ely a tactictl eommander , while an air officer wee a technical Rdv1sor Bll.d administra.Uv,:, officer. J..

further d1:fflculty la.y in the fact that dEml?rtment headt!uarters and wing h.eadquarters \oTere in different locations. At this stage of 19th Wing

develoDment there was need for close contaet pnc coordination with tee

dEmartn:.ent; tbe arrivel of a new department comrnand.er in the Cane! Zone

who was unacquainted with the uroblems of an expanding air force made

the need still more urgent. But nothing ~s done to better the situation. 24 end the wing c::onseg_uen tly suffered in i h relations wi th the de'pertmen t ..

'J,'he controversY" surrounding Rio :Erato :provides R graphic 11lustr8~

t:l.on of tl:.e divergent Fllld i:rrecono11abl.e interests of the 19th Wing and

~='_:-:_,~':~ I _' ~~: :::~ CQNFlDENJ1.4L

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the PantllllR. Oellal Departme-nt. The conflict b:rougl;.t no CJl'edi t to ei ther orgeni?ation. although the ~1ng ultimately achieved victory. While

t~e de~artttent revealed more cle~rly thf~ ever before its f@ulty unders tanding of ""inC nee ds. the 'Wing II WfLS gull ty of di sre~.r dillg di reo t

commands and of an arrogl".nce little becominG to e. subordinate orgs,nitation.1I25

The Air Oorps did nut have "Dr1or interest in Rio 1Ia.to, foX' the

site c~'l:e ir..to use in 1916 as 13. disciplinar;r C8lI!p of the> Fsnama 08.ne1 Department. Itl 1924 the CfUll!J wes eruarge::d. BJld wi th the acquisi t10n of pernlMcnt troops 1 t beeeme an artillery rE'.nge.26 The 6th :Bombardlllent Group it:.. l~~.rch 1931. encf1raped. at Ril) Rata during its annual field exer-

cicest and. three yeers l"ter the wing 'beg<n to 1I1ook on the area. ",1. th

on acqni 91 t1 ve eye." V.aj. R. L. i,'d sh. tten COllllrP~ding tl:c 113th I'ur-

sui t Grou'O. recomwended to Lt. Col. v; C. McChordt wing comreander, that

the landing field nt Rio Bato be considered as a base of operations for

ground and aerial. g'IllUle"y and fQr f1 eld ma.neuver~. nte uee. bad. numerous

ad.VE:Lntages; it \olf'S :free from. melena! Jl].osq'litoes, it w~~s not heavily

weeded, f.nil. its l!'nd 'litE'S only slightly rolling. Loce:. ted just 65 miles

from Albrook :Field. 1 t had much less rl:in:fall than the Oenel Zone and

was accessible 'by Wl'ter and by the Panaaa National E1ghway. Further-

more, the owner of roost of t~e l~nd in the vic1nit~ offered the wing frca use of his pro'l'}erty.27

J.ne wing accepted tlJe offer of !:lOre le.nd ana in 19::4, with the

:oerm1 ~sion o r tl--e department. strrted b,y1n~ out bombing and gunnery

barracks ~nd storel:!ouser. As t1.'~ str0te~c iWl:)rtanee of ~io Hato

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bec~o ~orQ obvi~USt the wing be~Q to lease ~ore lr~d in the vielnit7.

al though 'b:'l' 1936 the ower of tl:.e uro!,6.cty was e8ld.n~ a high -oriee.

Dt1rbe the f'iscsl year 19::;8 the ",ring S}lBnt HrnrorlmatelY' 86.500 on

rout!ng maintenance. gravel W"lkth and lIIinor C(/:tstX'·.tetion a.t mo lIato--

ment exee-ot Frn.noe and. Albrook durin~ anyone year. By this tira.e Rio

llAto bad become virtuallY' essential to mil 1 tar~' e.1r operations in

P8.l:lalll3.. .Lhe 1939 tl1;l"Oropl"iations for td.ng con9t:'1.1ctlon incl'!lUEd )'35, ~.5J

for t0~;_··J;.r,-~l'Y coustx~ct';'Ul1 tl:lere, to be eCCO",! .. UsneJ bl' the 11th llng1neere

Other :tIl t':ro~.of;.s beg",n to be attracted to Bio He, to, and in early 1939

General. Stone pro:'losed thet studies be m~de fot' e department recreation

center ana Cfl!np adJacent to the landing £leld. Aa a ll1ember of a board

idee, but ru;j c,b,i>'oti.ons were overruled. as On 5 Ja.nuary 1940. only two

days before rcllnqu.1sh1nF: command of the Penama Crmal Departlllentt Gener81

Stone ordered Maj. Frederic F. Frech of the 3:n31neer!! to draw U'WJ im tlt.:1

:plu:,;; f,,· th.," C::'.>1'. T!'!e recrea.tion ce.,."ter was intended tc) be nothing

more than al ~djun.ct to the main. reservation. and Genel"ru Stone 8'?6c1fied: tilt will not interfer.o'~·1.th the Air Field in t'll~r tr'A.7J' and it d11 'be de-

veloped aa ~' sepe.rette entity." On the surface. the nroject seemed to enteil no difficulties for the 19th winB; and ~o a furthe~ assurance t~t

the field tTould be used 'Or1~ril;" :for Air Oorps 1')~o!1el!!t Rio Ba.to we made a sub·'J)ost of Albrook Iield ..

. e

?roblems of cO~Jand. however. erose soon pfte~ Major Frech departed

for Rio Hato. A b8ttel"Y of the 73d Coast Artillery, sent to :Rio Hato

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J_, (/~ II/It ".,,~ .. - - - _c_~


in Jant.o-:a:t'y- to 1Jrepare it :to!' training 'lJllr:poses ann constX"'lctlo:a.. soon


ran afoul of Air Corps troo:oe already there 9nd interfered in some

manner wi th the ",,"lng progl'.:1m to!' Rio Hato. On 3 Februar7 General Dargue

asked tb':t :'11.:' n:ew site be opcrat9d and adm1ni~t.1.!"11 by tb.e department

'but t!1at all plans be coordinated wi th the Albrook Field commander. who

was in chnl'ge of the 8ub-poet. General V:m Voorhis, holt/ever. had a

d1ffer€uo4; solution: on 19 April he severed Bio Ireto's of'f'ic:iel eonnee-

t10n w1 th the Air Corps and directed that 1 t 'be o'perated as a 9Ub-~OlJt

of Q.ua.rry Heights. This orde!" \,,_~s 1'oDowea by another which created

the Departmen t r;:rdnin~ Cen tE'l", enbrE'cing all nrens s.nd instv.llations at

Rio Hato. The new orgM.:hatioD., ooordinating the training of all braaches

of the dentlrtment. s'l.'Pposed1y wrs t'l effeet a 8ween1ng economy ot treiu-

ing facilities and adm1n18tr~t1ve perBonnel. But the 19th WiLg did not

Coroa offlc€rs were assigned to adm1nistrp.t1ve position$ at Rio Rata. Because tho original de"Vclo'9ment hl"d been aeco:nnli shed wi th Air Corps

land. the wine naturally expectecl to use a great~r l')f'!'t of the area.

Fur ther.core, the grounds had been leased with the unde~stand1ng that

the;?' would b~ ~J.saa for Air Corps purooses only. and t"e 1e8:.;or had reason

to comola1n when t~e coast art1l1er:r beg~n. to build an. enc~men.t near

hi 9 cl)mtlerciB.l e stebli slxnf'n '1;.

nnd Bometill1el1! unpleasant. ~he center was under the command of an in-

fp.Jltry officer, 001. Harry J. Keeley, whose al!ll'OVtll \~1:.s neCti!li,f'l7 :for

all matter~. Erlen those which co~eerned only wing ouerationl, const~~ct1ont

COl\! (I OEJfrUj1

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and personnel. While his a:.n"OroV"l~ W1:'S u8l1!'~17 eiven, the '9roc:edure was ~ source of dcl~y and an~oyance. ~e commander of t~~ training

center, moreover, ~'f..,E! in a !,>osi tion to issue orcers to winr: ofJ.~icers

and men who were also uncler J.Ur Corps orders. F1nally, wing personnel

were carryinc out al--ost t'll tbe maintenFnce fwetions at Rio Hato. General Dargue IDt'"?de a series of recommsntir:l.tlons to Otllonel Keeley, to

the end tlat Air Corqs ~ersonne~ fEcilit1~s, nnd ihstallat10ns mi~ht be used oy tr.e 19th viing. A~:.t close friend of tt.e wing comnander.

Colonel Keeley attemoted to co;:ttl')ly with mf'n.v of the reCl,ut'ste t-'nd wi th-

out depcrtmentp~ interference the sitnation lmnroved for the atr forces.

:But Oolont'l Keeley '*'s l'l)nroacbing the en(1 of his tour in ?;.JUtma,

E'nd Genere.l Dflrg-u,e 'I.'lndertook to have the status of Rio Rato fully

clarified f'Xtd f',ettleci beforE: a cl'>..ange of COm.."1Hlld w:!:dch might bring in

an officer lacking comlete underst~ ndine of ti:.e problem. Y.e renewEd for GenE:-%'al Vl\n Vool"his tee aeeompl1shlnents ;;no. difficuJ. ties of the

previous few months flld tl:p nl"oapects for the year Mead, ;md req_uested

tb'>t lIthe present status of thl) :O~artmellt ~rairdng Center be changed to

Rio JW.to Field ~s a sub-post of .n.lbrook :Field.!' ,d. th 001. Oharles:B.

Old.field cs cO!!L'UllldiI:~ officer. The recommend!'.tions ,,,erE' "not favorably

considered,ll ana General VHn Voorhis exore$~ed his displeasure at the

conduct of f':!'!alrs, stating his failure to undRrshnd why lImetters per-

ta.1nin:; to orgc.ni2ation and sdminist1'9tion of' that Post were not tE.ken u.TJ vi th tl".ese heF.dqu.arters."

Genpral Daro]e continued to ~royose me~sures designed to relieve


the 19th Wine of duties i~osed. by other brenches ot the service at

Rio Irato, but his recomme-ndations '!nero for the most '!Jut aisl"sg&1'ded

11' --

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by the deper toen t cOlIllUallder.

(- r \' ,I ; ',' Ij: \ ! -1-11\ L

,I I I I J I, ,-,

ObVious injustices were sometimes allowed

to oont:lnue dOS1'ite Air OOl"p!i! l')rotestg.. The 15th Air :Base Scuadron.

for exeraola. Wf S op(,1'r tint'; c meS5 for its otm '"Oer$~nnel stationed at

liio Bato, b~t it soon f~XDd itself fe~dinG many more troops from t~e

ground forces. ~lrtherreoret sntineer &no artillery organi~ationa

beff~ to mono~olize air trf~sport2tion from the Canal Zone, ~~thout

re~rd for tho needs of tJ:.e 19th Win€;. As for financial accounting, the Air Oorps lnevi ta'bl~ caas ou.t on tnt; 11 ttle end. vrhen 1 t became

neceSSel';r to build a doc~,;; to aCCO"I.W>date b;',l"ges sunc .. lying all troops

end instctlEtions, $25,0 X) W.?9 diverted from Air Corps :fun.d.c wnich haJ

'teen ':"E!.Jroprh"tco :['0"" construction of a tellYorc.rY' hang;:r. 170 satia-

factory e7pl£llation could be glven tor t1:.c cJqlend1 ttlre of ;P35,Z50 ap.

pro:pr1ated the : car before; and r r 1940 progressed, Air Oorps funds

deezeaaed without a correspondin;;_; inar_,,~:.e in A.ir Corps constru.ction.

Tt:e root of tht' trouble lay in the fact ti"..at General Van Voorhis

considered ~io Ek~to as ~ dSy~~t~ent9~ -undertaking pnd not ~s ~ projeot

in which the A.ir Corps hai mojo!" interest. It \-!as somethin~ of a S".U'-

~5?5tOOO which wes 40t to be used entirely tor pi~ force per20nLel at

Rio Rt~to. Gent'rYl. Van Voorhis inforliled the ::E'~ Dena.rbent that :alo Hnto

was not an independent Air 00rp9 station, but a center for the tr~ni~g

of al1 branches of t~e service. Ee inolc::.ted th::.t [;1 f :...r:';I'J.r~~ r'.(p.·'~""':'

l!?tll ~jinCt but he al.so stated thet "eel'tz'in other troops coulrl ::;nd would


utllhe in p!\.rf; these £ro:t~ities." :Be£oro t~10 end of' 1940 he again sub-

:31 tted bi3 reJuest for t:.e 8!~-'roJ.lr1atlon, "the source from which 1 t ccaee bei»s il:Ll3.teriLl'I to hiza 29

~ ~ - ,.

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'Ihrougi:::mt the extpne..ed con~roversy over Rio Hato the 19th ¥N'1ng

e.xhibi t~d ( r!l'Owi:q~ indcpende::l t u .. tti tude towaru the:. ';;'anam.9. Onnal

Derwrt!:<:,nt. J.;'):'i_,rdless of what :Rio Ibto m.gh<- 'be designated by the

depa.:rt::leat. the wing cont1.nued to ~liiaw 1 t RS r-n Air Corps 1nst.";tllat1 )U.

Generbl Dar~.le insisted that it 'be continued easea ti?lly- as a su'b-?oat

of Albrook Field, wi th r.n Air CIlMS "rficer in charge of Air Oorps

UAev~.r ttui t, n,r€; of t.ia :position, Whether 1 t "las acove, below. or

parallel to that of the cO;mJp.nd.ln~ officer of the Air OOJ."!)s troopsll

stationed at the trDin1n~ cCAtcr. A~point~ent o~ l.t. C,l. Calvin Z.

brought some relief. but thA measure merely "avoided the probler:t without

p\ent Trdnin€" Oentt'l" i; ... .,; ..l1:.1J::".:!'l,hl and the 19th Wing resumed control of' 30

Rio Eato.

~;othing com'9a!"fI,'ble to th';l de9artmen.tal dif:;'c'\ll tl~s of the 19th Wing

existed. in t:J.e Puerto R1ce.n ~partm.ent, for air defense of this Canal

outpost W""s in R llIllch more elementf!l'Y st&.~e. The 27th 1eeonn.aiMance

Sctuadrou, t',hicX:. hnd arrived in :Oeoe~ber 19:39. 'l 'S underg~hg tr"lnLng at

tl:.e new.Army ail' base, BorluQ.uen Field. DlIr1ng the last two weeke of

Januarjr 1940 the 8{},ua!lr;)n !lru'tlcinated in a maneuve..i' which included all

of Gener8.1 Harsb:ll' s two-dev ins1Jec tion on 13 :February, six :B-l,9B_' 8 of

. "


the 27th ,;;o,uadron !)l"Qv1ded escort for th.e general'l hop to lid. and • Tile sqIDldron then beg" n a("~i:c~ go.lIL"lery :oractice. with two B-laAI s tolNins

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cor! Fl DE1\} Ttp1

It ,or.;'s ¢onte.rnle.t;}o b;r General Daley, the Puerto R1c::>.n Department

conmandee, that Air Corns u.n! ts to be stationed on the hland wuld

"operate on inde!)e:ndent reconnaiss=moe a.'1.d bomb9rdlnent m.:ssiol!.~ to the

east1;ard over t~~ Atlantic, and on tas1:s against enemy e1r bp~es rmd 32

shl"s: in the C~rl'hbea.n area and in South Amedea." :By mid-February

ai tes for 6.'.lrlliar;r e.irdromes on Puert·;) ill. C~ had been t{,':i.tat~ 'V'Jly Ie-

lected. near :rsyagttoz, Arecib'J, Dorado, Caguas, Ceiba, Guayama, Ponce, 33

and the Puerto Rican General D9!'O t near San JuruJ.. Informal nego ...

!::.1::lt would a.cquire the necessru:oy land for these a.uxiliarY' airdromes,

grade th~ runw~ySt and tran8fe~ the title of the land to the federal

governm.ent without cost. le~~ .. in~ nr1mary control and surfacin~ of the

runways t? be undert~ken by the Wa~ D~artment. Permanent installations

were not 'l)ro_l)osed for ~ny of the aWd.l1ary airdrofllee ~:O::\::i?":: . t the gen-

ere]. de:oot. Only" surfHced runW;Y8, -oarking areas. end collltmmicat1on

facil1 ties ... rere contemplated at otheJ" fieldR, \'1 th the surro11 of' am-

nnmi tion. <!':.:;Olit"l.B, and oil to be accor r., ·pli!:lh~d by means of railroad. or

motor Tehiole. ~he airdrome at Oe1b~, easternmost o~ the sites, would

be sui table for :?urs1u. t pix-oraft only.

On 8 Febl'Wll"7 Gcn"rul Daley 1"eco:;,;;;(~:'.,.,.l th2.t the '.Tal" Department

est~bli~h an auxiliary airdrome on the island of St. Oroix, the eazte~

most ~o8spssio~ of the United Stetes. He pointed out three ~dv~ntages:

(1) th(' r •. ,;.iu3 of rcconnais'wnco t.r.c. bo::nbardment aTiation WI>'lld be ex-

tended 1'75 mUes to the eest from. !orlnrtuen :Field, the nenrest ogel'e.t-

tng bp,sct and 110 miles to thr C:l$t frorl ~~,.. gen~1',>l de'l'ot drfiPl·i at Sf'.n JUa::l.. the nearns t at..:d.l1ary airdrome on Puerto Rico; (2) sur-

ve111anee of the nassages to ~fhe Oaribbean thro~gh the barrier 131ands

""'} t::t_;,.. ~~

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(:.::) the limited. auxiliary airdrome Cctoecity ot the Puerto 1lic~n area 34-

would be pugmen ted. Tr.e Chief of the Air Corps ~#;l"ecd with. Gene:ral

!laJ..ey t:1.'?t j'n r:.irdl'u;:).e on Ct. 01'01:,,: !""O'.1l~l. grea.tly promote the defense

of the Oaribbean area, II but in view of the limited funds avdlable he

MtlJ.d not An...,,,.ove ell the fncili ties ana. inst"llations rceoran:ended by

the decartment comcander. ~ne $2,428,000 !ndic~ted in the estimates ~~s Hn£eded b~ the Air Oorns worse at otLer ~ermanent 1nsta11at!ons.n35

The aurll1ar;r ait'drcme projeot. however, WC',S still in tt.e making.

Also in :or821al"a.tion 'by General Jle..ley WP9 the entire Puerto Rier'n De--

fense :f'roject. The rela.tion of this ne'r.' de;,>f'!rtment of Army defense to th" P~,lltollW Oanal Departm.en t he.v no t yet been oleE:.I'ly de£ine1, e1 though

i t ..... ~'s gener~lly understood tt.pt t;'c€ t\tl,'O wer~ cOlll!Jlement~ry. turing

the first lfeE'k of [·1a.rch General OOey, acco::l!}le.nied by his air officer,

Colonel Bradley, and b~ r Maj. Eugene T. Conway, C.A. C •• :9eid a flying

vis! t to the OOlleJ. Zone in ordor to confer with General Van Voorhis "on U.e defense of the Canal end of the end bbean, "36 'l1he vi 151 t was

probpbly ma~e in an effort to co~rdinate t~e Puerto Rican Defe~se Pro-

jec't; li.th tl:at of t!:.c Panmr.a Oenf'..l. for it was noted b~' Plans Division

of the Air 001"'1')$ on 14 ~a"'ch tr..s.t the ,!,)l'OJ9Ct war; sUll. beir-£' drawn uo

by G-enerf'-l Daley. In mid-1939, when the War De:9p..rtment first directed

the develo'!')ment of a. Puerto mean defense projaot, t!':e Joint 13oard. had

not defineO tht' mission of Arm:;~ and navy forces \,lhicb were to be stationed

in the exe«, Pending action b;," t1:.f? Joint :Soara, the WeI' Department

direeted Generf.\l Dalo~' to base his 1')lanning noon the as~m.lli,)tion that

I:Japall. Germany, and Ital:· :'cH . .l1,:; in concer t 1s cons\dered the only

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Joint Plannine C~w~~ttee. The co~ttee recorr~ended that the Puerto

Rico-Virgin Islands area and its coastal zone be specifically delL~ted:

iiha.t the land area include "al.L of the isla.'1d poss'3ssions of the United

States pertaining to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands ann that the c08stal zone include the wate~ areas included between the 17th and 20th

parallels of latitude and between the eastern roeridian of longitude of

Anegada Passage, and the western meridian of longitude of l~ona Passage, exc'luedve of foreicn territori~l v..aters.n37

The recommended .Amy mission indicated that Puerto Rico, Gulebra,

Vie~ues, and the Virein Islfl..'Ilds should be held secure, e.t least against

attack by hostile raidine forces. But, as the r, :'3.r .lIepa.rtment informed

General Daley, it vms highly improbable that sufficient units could be

provided in ti.'!Ie of peace to ca.rr.f out the mission a.s stated. 1m Air

Board report on defense re~uirements of Puerto Fico had stated that

whil e the oreanio air elements of the peace garrison should contain It o.oly

those units essential to the operation of this base as a defense ale-

ment covering the rim of the Ca.ril)bean and assuring the retention of

Puerto Rico itself, the base should be so desiened as to permit its expansdon to serve as our :major outpost in air operations to the south.1I38

Such statements as these were euiding General D~ey and his subordinates

in for.matian of the Puerto Rican Defense Project. As for Pl~~s Division

af the .lir Corps , it was proceeding on the assUlllption that the nOl"'JIlll,l

Arm;r mission of' the Puerto w.can .iJe~artment garrison was as follows:

(1) The mssion of the ground forces and air "defense forcesll is -liI1ited to defense of' fuerto Rico and adjacent isle-.nds 3ge.inst seizure by belligerent po~~rs and the loc~ defense of bases thereat.

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r . -----~...-;;M

MPH$-I+<., 01 :FIL';[imlt' .,'. - __ - . __ oJ

(2) The r;rl.ssion of the air "striking forces!l is caneral in nature h.nd includes strategic defense of the continent~9United Sta.tes ~ as well as of' Puerto Pico and. the Panama Canal.


By the end of Barch the Puerto Bicnn Department air officer, 0010.1e1

Br3.dley, had nade several chenges in t.he aurllillr;y airfield project. He

also h~d suhnitted to the Air Corps a list of re~uirements considered

Itthe 'finimu:n lfhich will ena.ble the peace-tdrae air force already allo::ated

to Puerto Rioo, plus thl3 i'orce reco!ltmend~d 8.S aue:mentation in time of

war, to fulf'ill theit' wission.!1 General l.mold had sU2ze::;ted on J2 Va.reh

that a reductio~ ~~eht be rnede in the 702 acres planned for addition to

Bcrinquen Field. Colonel Bra.dley J however, aei:-l.in raco17lf\lended that the

entire plot be aceud.red, as it ';Vas to be used for the Puerto Rican Air

Depot, for a bOr:lbine and gunnery ra.nee by a r,ursult grot1p., and for a

firinc ranee by antiaircraft a~d other security forces. In addition to

bhe a.uxiliar,f fields previously r-ecommended for st. Croix an d i' ort L~iles, seven other si~es had been selected from about 100 possihle sites examined

frcn the ~ir and from 45 studied on the ground. The seven recommended

for approval and developltent ""'ere near ~ayaeuez, Arecibo, Dorado, Vega

Baja, Z3.linas, Sante Ysabel, and Juana Dio.z. Eech field would contain

about 53 acres and was to have a. sinz.le runway 4,00:> feet in leneth., with the exception of the Dorado rumro.y wInch would be oaly 3,O::n feet lO'1g. ~1l fields axcept Dorado could be a~ended to 5,000 or 6,000 feet.


Colonel Bradley had hopE:!d that the i1}sul~r government would acquire the

land for these fields, but it ~as a~able to d~ so. The total estimated

cost. of the land was approri.'J'I.ately ~::>l41,OOO, including the site near


rorado y;hich would be donated without cost and the one at JU"lna Diaz

which could be secured at low cost. All seven fields would rec:uire fencing,

CO~ r .-( 1-' ~ '--ll~l L.- L~I.:.i\H n_

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$1,51 0,000. Oolonel Eradley urged t~at the~e fields be developed dur-

letter livery ca.ref'-:.tlly wi t!l a. view of datermni'lZ whether we st-auld con.-:rd. t ourselves to th,~ extent of $1,500,000 when \o'e 1mO"1 of the CIl!'-

C.lJ 'Jell p,g '(U ture enee, II The Chid! 01' t!V~ Air OOr:'"Js wn:s convinced of

the necess1t;· fo1" lC'Il..uliar;r lflnding fields in Puerto laco, 'but he be-

1it'ved tlJ.Rt I. they should 'be ti::.1ed so thElj ldll n.eet v.1. th the least 41

09PO siti on. !I On 22 A'01"11, Plru::.s rl;'c:;:l:l,t'1,h:l. that the ;';100,000 ten tn-

t:!.y,.,l.~T set U1) fol' aeouisltilJn of lClnd at Re.11ilton Field, Calif., be

diverted to thp 'O~ehese of nuxi.liar:\· b.ndin;~ fields in Puerto Rico in th':l followtng orler of "ri"ri t.n !-rayagu.ez, Sal1nas. Juene. Dlaz, Dorado,

b~; t'_:l Jhl~f' of t:l{l. .Air COr:'l'O'l, nnd on 5 June the Ws:r Department notified

GenprE'.l DFJ.e:r t~t thfl seven t:iU:d1iar~v a1rdro:ue~ wera !lsp"')roTed tor inclu.sion ill th9 Fuer";o 'tiCM J)P·:['t>:tLZ 1 p,..)jaot.1I42 An :tmportant hurdle

had been clepred in the race to assure adequate bir defense of Puerto

Trainin~ ~ 1 .. :0 era tiona .2i ~ ~ ;Yiug

Under tto ~ressure of e7pa~~ioa the 19th Wing wag ~~~1ng into

rli;.lerou'3 dii'11cr:1lt1f:'s, snd Cenorel Dargu.e felt the need of a :oersonsl

cl)!lfer;:'!lC~ ~ . .ri th Generpl Arnold in order to !1 teJ:e u» ma.tter"! that demand attention.,,43 When p "roposed t!'io of the Ohief of th9 Air Corps to the

____ . ~_ C;OI \1 FIIJc.r~ TF'l

"-; , ' - - - _~ "I:."~ I \

~~~I.-IJt.""L ..... ~_------..-.-~, __ ...,."'~

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This Page Declassified lAW E012958


Oanal Z?ne had to be 'l1ostponed in Mlll"ch, General DRrg'll.e, accompanied

by his o:pern.tions ofl'lcer. Lt. 0.,1. ~:. S. Gravely. flew to Washington

and Wright Field. Sp1"ndinb t.1te :first two weelts of A!?ril in conference

wi th Air Oorns o:ffi eial s. 44 So vi ts.1 was the- issue of Canru. J'dr defense

and so ranid were the sMfts in .o\1r Corps 'Olan!3 that wi thin a month

Generel Arnold hal flown to P81uuna and Puerto Rico for further disaussions.

The T)roble~~ of 1ne::.roer:1er;.c_u. :')el'!:'onn.el. activation of new units. lack

of modern e(l.ui:oment. deleys in construction, end 111l\?ediroents in the train-

inc 'Orogram were undoubtedly i temf:; on the :'lgelld[> of these me: ~ings.. :ehe

di£fiC".uty exoer1enced in coo'PertltiTe :nissions during the "Orevious ;year

had ei ther disnnpea.red or, under pres~e fro:n General Y~n Voorhis, had

been silenced. Co. 1" A-?ril a. wing 0)) ere tions i.;t'.:!)Tandum ordered that

first 'l')1'10ri ty be givt>n b:T a.ll elements of tte 19th tiing. including the

Pana.."18 Air Dey,Jot, II to the successful. accomplhbment ot the to'tt1.ng misston:;j

for t1:e Panama 3e':ll:lrate Ooast Artillery J3rigl\de (Provisional.) scheduled 45

at p~o Eato for the remainder of the training yevr.H

lJ2here were numerous 0 ther deoand9 u~on t:he I'ircr.::t£t oS: -::'1.) 19th

Wing.. In addition to such rQutine missions 8.S freight f'nd nRssenger rung

to Rio Hato and other o~ltlyine sitee, ~hotogrLt"9hic flights, dellonstra-

of cros~-country fligl1ts. ~ri~s were made to Coeta Rica. N1cara~at

Honduras. TIl Sru.vador. G~a.ter.:aJ.t". Co lo~'!:I:i.n.. J!c'.!nd~ 1~, ? o:t".1, Vene!!:Uela,

P71erb :11 co t and Dominica.!!. Reuubl1c, lI'a1 t1t f'..nd Cu.ba. These £lights,

accomnlishecl b~r "th.e maximum !,o!!"Jible of officer ~nli en~isted !?erso nnel, tI

served to :f"~1;r;111ar:'ze ":h:- '~~~s~n'1el wi th t!1'" O::r1..bbesn area fI.n:5 ld th

> ~ • _.~ ~ r ~r~_

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the end of ~'t!Jn .. ccr ti:.f lC'tl-~

over four differ6:lt routes. The first 'r)roc~eded a.round. the Car1'bbe~11

in II countel'closkwise direction. with stops at :S!lxra.nqu.111~". L;l JaJ.a.ira,

~oricou~~ ~!~ldt Haiti, ~~b8, and Vdamd. ~he second took craws to

'Oo1nts in Colombia. 1ncludi ng Ce.rtegen~, 1<led"'111n, :Bogota. and Cali.

~i th stO'7)~ en route at Guay-aq_uil. Ta1sra, and Chicleyo. ~he fourth

cOTered t!lt> Centr; 1 Americ3n ermi tDls. ,1 t:~ ~: . .: ;';:·C<;'? !;ton 'Jf Mexico Ci ty.47

Tbese fliehts to Central Elnd South America revealed lithe general.

3') Hay 'br1u.ght tlJe tlati;er t:> the 8tte!ltian of the War Department. He

reported .f;het aircl."ai't of the 19th Wing had occasionally become mired;

c~_!t; there ~s no weather reporting service; almost no. communication

f~c~litie9 existed exceot those o~erated by oQ~~erc1Al airlines; and

eluded that if effeet1v~ operation of mil:ltar~7 drcratt was to be secured

e.1rdrcmes end fa cili t1 E"S throughout Cen tr;,l and Sou.th America. Jmlst be

i1'll!ll'oved. I' He; recomr-.endpd a ':horc..ugh invndig~tion and action to develop

suc~ facl1itie£l ,'is IJigbt be necessrry faT' helllis:ohere defense "to serve

as op~r~ting b~see or intermedint~ acrvicinr, ~o!nts and nerm1~ the ranid movement pno operation of U. S. mili tc.ry pircrp.i't .. ,,48 On 30 July, The

Ad.1utc.nt Generr.l informed the :Pa.tIF'...JllB O~1nel Denartment tl:..at the Wax and

_= ~ ~ ~ ~~ __ ~. __ ~L

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Cf'ntre~ puC! South .Al!lericp devE.lo'l')ed b;" Pan Amel'iclm AinM.Ys, Inc. No imnro't'ement of £,pcili tiefl. on tl:e west eo~st of Sot'tth America was eon-

te~lated at that time, but construction at other locations .~~ 49

~cheduled b 'be"'in in .9'Oproximatsly 2;' da~s.

While the Oentral and SouthAmeric~n fliehts were undert?~en largely

for traini~~ ~~oses. tc~~ were also designed to foster Latin American

good will. Ohile, Peru, and ><cuador sor.:etimes reQuested an l'1.ir mission

from tt~ OsnRl Zone in order to observ~ the lrtest develouments ~~l to

ask advice on their mili tanr evb,ti'>n. Since the outbreak of war in

Eoropc. tho influence of Italy fflld GermElIlY ill Latin Amer1cIm a.viation

r.atl been decreasin~ rapid1~, \d th P correSIJondin,:; ir.crease of 4::lerican

influence, so ti:at 1 t ;.:ts becotlil'lp, 'r;ossible fol" tee Uni ted States to

direct the growt'J of f'viation in t).€' S01.1th. Obviously, 1 t waR more

exoedient for the United States to wor~ through co~-ercial airlines t~an thrO'lgf' 1 ts 0' .. '11 m'li Wl";l forces. 50 The 19th Win€: had been encountering soma di.:f'fieul ty in ma..ld.ng f) i "hts to other COUll tries because of the neceSE'l ty ,,'f going ttrou~h d1"lolll8tic che~els. 3ut in June 1940 the

W'a...,. DeroB.l't14ent sucQf'cded. in a.rrBnging blan..'ret entx-anee for s'Peeified

numbers of nl~nes which wo~la leav~ the Zone et the same tl~e each month

and follot· nredeteTm1ned routee. Arrangements ¥ere later made !o~ the

Pans.roo CP.Itnl Department to deal direetl;v with the coun.tr:{ cor cerned for

cle~f..nce£. 'this steo, hcvever, was adv8.nt?geou<I O]'l~y for -peacet1me

trainin~ :f'li3hh; stiE rE'l'lpjll" I:l:; weB tl>=· ~uestion of obt.uning clearancae l1hich W01).15 f'«oil1 t8.tE. eIr.erb2llC;r o:gerationp.. til

'Itl.C 19th. ''';111€ Wl-tS oecf!.sir.mally ceJ.led unon co 'Oa.rticipate in special

of t1:c ?RUf.llf;l Q;mHl governor. Clore.nce S.

"" ,

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destructive nro~ertie5 of 1.lOC-pound demolition bQ~bSt but primarily

to tegt tb':" s";rength of (; roinforeec.-concrete str'l.1.cture "Orol'osed. for

:protection of vi.t:-.l 'Ooints of tb OeJuJ.. "1}_e go'rernor had. npt,ealed to

Air ComA IrccCl'1.t18.l'ters to"": id in ttf' nToject. HII.~ he succeeded in ha.v-

ing tl:c e~'r1mentGl B-15 sent to the Zone and also in having the 19th


V;inc's amr"UDi t1011 allowance 1r..creR.secl for thE' yea:r. General D/oirgue

seems to have had little enthusiasm for the idea, apnarently feeling

twt p Cirect hi t on a str.lctu.re 15 feet square W('lS unlikely fratl. a very

hteb eltitnde and that at most only three ~rews from the 19th Nl~r would

receive I'ny trr ining bend! t.

On 10 .t\,nril ::gj. Caleb V. Eeynes f'nci O:'pt. Curtl~ ~. LeMay piloted

thf' 'l3oein:; XB-15, the only nlane of its :dn{l in the Air Corps, froll!

LElngley Field. VP •• to Al'brook Field in 14 hours and 45 minutes with an

averf'e,e of four f:(';'['8 r. d£.y in bombin.; t1::e t~-rgE't. wing uer10ds ¥hen

19th ',';108: or e 12-17 wbic', baa be'>!)' sen + to th~ Zone in connection wi th

the project. Fly1n:' cond1 tiohr. ,!ere none too setisfpctol'Y, ~nd the crew

str.;r.1 "on tl;~ alert dtJ.ly fr.,::; OE,t;1 unt-il dark !>re"pared to tWce adv-antage

of e't'ery l .. ~'Vor~b' - brcc.': in the weather. II :O.;:c-oi tC' tr..ese condi tiona the

fiyers arnG.grd to sC'lr.. ttrzc d.lrE.ct hi t·~ from nl ti tuop.s of 4.000 to

10.000 i"opt. At the end of threE \~: ::.:1 t~: ::-15 ret..trnt1d. to the t'llited

~t: tes. Governor jlldl e:r. however. wc s no t entIrely sat! sfi ed wi th the

res'Jl tr. 'r.d :B-1SI s fre:., :::'ranae Field were I)rdared to cont~)"i·.lS the test-

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/1 -, I .

I I I,...,..,

1"\ r-:

f -,~

J l "I


210 fl11't~€l" hi to:! W61'2 obt&irlG']' r.nd te~~tin?, of t.1:.;J cO::lcrate st:ruot:J.lre


InsofAr E!S 'fle 10th ':in§; 'ok ~ ..;l:Jr..eel'l16\\ th~ 'ori,jaot b.~,;. r; ~':'1.. ';Jd merel;r 53

in ~Ia \r,este 0::' ;l'::;.~-:ic{- • :f'(.cil~t~ UiH :'l::..n'\~lP. '110 ubI u"l.d tine."

17 }r.a;J ~1!:;~11 the O:n.e£ of the Air Cor:_os informei General Dar;ue that II the

bend e'Ve};- effort tOW1U'd 1Illi:!edi8te tr, inln2" 0"'" : 11 l'le1'30n'lel i.n order

err'''' for ever;:" 'l')lnne. tr Jined :nel'<:::)nJ:d fo3' f<.ll gl'o'.1Jld activities, and 54

all units trr1ned for co~bat. Air Cl'ew tr~!Ding received soecidl

of c .. '.-1.1s made uoon the ti,ne of fiy1n/!' officers: base comanderE!! were

instr'J.cted not to s.sd_:n t~ such offioers any dut:r which would interfere

for a lengthy ~erlod ~~th their tacticpl trsining. General narg~e beGan

t:) th~> f'jll t.~~'; p09siblr '!:.:tC:1~.. Although these "roblems hcked the

SCO'ge 0'£ JoInt wme-a:vera snd exercises, they "Orov1ded tactical I'skull

:ore.cticelJ :for tho flyers FInd revealed c~nu:;wnd c!l;'lHtclltti es wI. thin the

~- '" "~-~~~,,_.__.,-~-~~~~~

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