Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters to Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations
CABLEGRAM SENT 7th Aug., 1917
To Opnav, Washington Serial No. 214
Number two hundred and fourteen. The following is from Jackson, Marine, Paris1 (quote) The types of hydroplanes now in use for patrol by the French Navy are as follows: first, Donnet-Danhaut, second, Franco-British Aviation, third Tellier with motors of two hundred horse power; all are of equal value2 (stop) The desired type of characteristics for the High Seas Fleet bombing machines is as follows: pilot and observer one hundred and sixty kilogrammes; four bombs with thirty-five kilogrammes explosives two hundred and forty kilogrammes; fuel for five hours two hundred and sixty kilogrammes; oil for five hours, twenty kilogrammes; wireless thirty kilogrammes; machine gun and ammunition forty kilogrammes; insturments twenty kilogrammes; provisions, signals, and pigeons twenty five kilogrammes; rigging, bombs and launching apparel twenty-five kilogrammes; total eight hundred and twenty kilogrammes (stop) A three hundred and forty horse power motor will be required by this hydroplane (stop) No such motor is at present available (stop) The nine most important hydroplane stations in order of immediate importance for co-operation with French Government’s submarine campaign to be established and manned by American Navy, with at least two hundred officers and men and sixteen hydroplanes to each station, are as follows: Lacanau, American aviation finishing school on lake south of Gironde river; Saint Trojan protects all coasting convoys between Gironde river and La Pallice; Dunkerque, to attack submarines near their base at Zeebrugge; La Croisic, protects American convoys at the mouth of the Loire; Ile Tudy protects the coasting convoys from Brest to Saint Nazaire; Brest protects ocean trade in the Atlantic and the Channel; Arcachon, protects coasting convoys from Gironde river to Spanish coast; Cette protects the terminals of the commercial route, especially the Swiss; Antibes protects Nice and the approach to Toulon between La Provence and Corsica (stop) There are three more stations which are less important, making a total of twelve (stop) Personnel: immediate measures are desired to utilize the unit now in France for the protection of American transports (stop) Additional line officers to man the four stations as follows: nine pilots, ten observers and three motor experts, total twenty-two; they must be able to fly now (stop) send the following to naval aviation finishing school for mechanics at San Rafael: twenty carpenters, twenty sail makers and riggers, fifty mechanics and five radio men, making a total of ninety-five naval artificers (stop) the French instructors are prepared to take that number (stop) Send enlisted personnel two hundred men and for each of the four stations (stop) Thirty-two artificers of them must be specialized in aviation.
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. This cable is a follow-up to Sims’ cable to Benson on 3 August 1917, in which Sims provided the Chief of Naval Operations with information regarding the manner and extent of use of naval aviation. In this letter, Sims promised to provide additional details on aviation in France, among other topics raised in this initial cable. See: Sims to Benson, 3 August 1917.
Footnote 1: Capt. Richard H. Jackson, American Naval Representative to the Ministry of Marine.
Footnote 2: The Donnet-Danhaut (“DD”) flying boat was a biplane designed for the French Navy in 1915. Apart from service in the French Navy, DD flying boats were operated by the U.S. Navy, flying from bases at Île-Tudy and Dunkirk to protect convoys from submarine attacks. The U.S. Navy purchased and operated approximately 50 of these aircraft during the war. The flat-bottomed Franco-British Aviation boats were the most popular in French service at the time, whereas the Tellier flying boats appeared constructed like real boats, strongly made and extraordinarily seaworthy. Michael J. H. Taylor, Jane’s Encyclopedia of Aviation (London: Studio Editions, 1989), 326; Rosano, Stalking the U-Boat: 17.