The Arsenal of Democracy

The Arsenal of Democracy: Aircraft Supply and the Anglo-American Alliance, 1938-1942

Gavin J. Bailey
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    The Arsenal of Democracy
    Book Description:

    Aircraft were at the heart of British supply diplomacy with the United States in the Second World War and were at the forefront of the Roosevelt administration's policy of aiding the Anglo-French alliance against Germany. They were the largest item in British purchasing in the US in 1940, a key consideration in the Lend-Lease of 1941 and a major component of several wartime conferences between Churchill and Roosevelt. Through a series of case studies, Gavin J. Bailey reveals new details of how Britain used American aircraft and integrates this with broader British statecraft and strategy. He challenges conceptions that Britain was strategically reliant on the US and reveals a complicated, asymmetrical interdependency between the wartime allies.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-4973-0
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. viii-viii)
    Gavin J. Bailey
  5. Abbreviations and Glossary
    (pp. ix-xii)
  6. 1 The Anglo-American Relationship and the Need for Historical Reinterpretation
    (pp. 1-27)

    These two statements encapsulate our fundamental understanding of the historical relationship between Britain and the United States to the present. Morgenthau’s statement was made in support of the Lend-Lease Act in early 1941, a measure designed to relieve the exhausted British dollar exchange resources needed to purchase American supplies in World War II. The importance of that economic support is indicated by the critical dependence Morgenthau identified for it – without it, the British would be unable to continue their resistance to the Axis powers. This was a watershed moment, both in the history of the war and in the...

  7. 2 The Evolution of Transatlantic Aircraft Supply Diplomacy, 1938–40
    (pp. 28-63)

    This was the question posed by Sir John Simon, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as British rearmament policy took priority over normal trade in 1939. This development was long before the crisis of 1940 or the appearance of Lend-Lease in 1941, and indicates how concepts of the economic limitations on British military power stretch back into the pre-war period. The conundrum posed by Simon could be resolved only by national economic mobilisation on a scale beyond the Chamberlain government’s initial preferences and eventually by plans for American aid on an enormous scale.

    During the rearmament period between 1938 and 1940,...

  8. 3 The Diplomacy of Critical Dependency, 1940
    (pp. 64-99)

    As France fell before the German onslaught in the summer of 1940, the British would adopt a similar position in their diplomacy towards the criticality of American aid to their continuing resistance. In his correspondence with Roosevelt, Churchill would repeatedly raise the prospect of British defeat without American aid.² At one stage, this approach was characterised by a Foreign Office official as ‘… rather like blackmail, and not very good blackmail at that’.³ These assertions of critical dependency informed aircraft supply which remained at the forefront of the Anglo-American supply relationship through Roosevelt’s ‘all aid short of war’ support for...

  9. 4 Lend-Lease and the Politics of Supply, 1941
    (pp. 100-129)

    The end of 1940 and first half of 1941 saw the devolution of supply diplomacy to a series of transatlantic personal missions concerning the implementation of American aid to Britain. These began as Lend-Lease, evolved at the end of 1940, and then became law in March 1941 after a series of Congressional hearings and extensive public debate. This personal diplomacy began with the Slessor mission of November 1940–March 1941 which would evolve into the Anglo-American ‘ABC’ staff discussions on joint Anglo-American strategy. These discussions would also settle prospective aircraft supply allocations between the RAF and the USAAC for the...

  10. 5 The Limits of Dependency: American Aircraft in Action, 1940–2
    (pp. 130-168)

    These statements, made by the authoritative historian of Lend-Lease and the RAF C.-in-C. in the Middle East, respectively, point to the dichotomy that remains at the core of American supply to Britain. Kimball’s observation reflects the axiomatic understandings of conventional historiography, while Tedder’s statement reflects the frustrations he felt as the primary beneficiary of American aircraft supply to the RAF in 1941–2. Both these statements are true but require reconciliation, or at least some form of quantification, to learn the extent of contemporary British dependency upon American supplies.

    By the spring of 1941, the British had apparently achieved their...

  11. 6 Heavy Bomber Supply Diplomacy, 1941–2
    (pp. 169-197)

    The critical Allied defeats of 1940 had left the British geographically isolated and confined to a traditional strategy of naval blockade and peripheral ground campaigns, such as that developing in North Africa, designed to wear down a Continental enemy. By 1941, the aircraft involved in the 1940 purchase programme and the consequent ‘3,000 per month’ plans behind Lend-Lease had been clearly directed towards relieving British aircraft production from this peripheral commitment. Yet that commitment was becoming increasingly marginal to British plans for the future. The strategic bombing offensive waged against Germany now became central to British strategy, and obtaining the...

  12. 7 The Problem of Quality: the Fighter Supply Crisis of 1942
    (pp. 198-237)

    The problems experienced in the heavy bomber supply diplomacy of 1941 indicated that the British ability to overcome resistance from the USAAF to their supply objectives was already strongly limited before the American entry into the war. Another factor involved in that diplomacy was the dominant influence of quality in terms of aircraft performance by type and in their operational equipment. Both these features were to come together in an unexpected fashion in the fighter supply diplomacy of 1941–2 which culminated in the negotiations to conclude the second Arnold–Towers–Portal agreement of June 1942.

    Though the first ATP...

  13. 8 Collaboration and Interdependency
    (pp. 238-277)

    The seminal military theorist Clausewitz wrote before the evolution of air power and did not pay much attention to the dynamics of the kinds of economic and maritime war traditionally waged by the British state in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries that were echoed in the maritime blockade and peripheral campaigns of World War II. Nonetheless, some of his ideas can be successfully applied to the British experience in that conflict. This narrative has used a series of case studies to provide a more general reappraisal of the Anglo-American aircraft supply relationship in the first half of World War...

  14. Appendix RAF Strength by aircraft type on 3 September 1939, 1940, 1941 and 1942
    (pp. 278-285)
  15. Unpublished Sources Cited in Text
    (pp. 286-292)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 293-301)
  17. Index
    (pp. 302-308)