Commander Frank R. McCrary, Aviation Specialist, United States Navy, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters
4, Place d’Iena, Paris.
December 21, 1917.
To: Force Commander, U.S.Naval Forces Operating in European Waters.
Subject: Information re.aeronautics.
Reference: (a) Your letter No.Al.3527, Dec.5, 1917.1
1. The following are the questions listed in your letter of the above reference, together with answers to the same:
(a) Particulars of trials, designs, etc. of U.S. aircraft of all types used in the Naval Service.
(See Paragraph 22.)
2. There are at present in use in European waters no U.S.aircraft, all in our possession being of standard French construction. The only type of Naval aircraft which are being built in America for intended use in Europe are known as the HS-1 and H-16.2 All types of seaplanes heretofore built in the United States have been merely designed as schooling planes, some of the flying boat type, some on single central float and some on twin floats. These sea planes carried no military load, were motored with 100 H.P. Curtiss or similar motors and outside of their schooling uses cannot be considered as having any military value. No accurate data can be obtained here as to their characteristics.
3. Regarding the HS-1 type and H-16 type, we have as yet no record of their performances with the 330 H.P.motors with which they are to be powered, but the attached statement shows performance of single motored type with Curtiss V3 motor, rated at 225 H.P., also characteristics and theoretical performance of both types with U.S.motors rated at 330 H.P. This data was received by telegram and is subject to error. The weights of the HS-1 with 330 H.P. motor seems to be doubtful. The 330 H.P.motor is a 12-cylander V type; weight, empty, with propeller hub, 786 pounds. Compression ratio 5.0. We have recently cabled requesting information of latest actual performances of both the HS-1 and H-16 types of seaplanes. Upon receipt of this information we shall immediately advise you further in regard to this point.
(b) Statistics showing probable output of U.S.A. aircraft.
4. The latest information in reply to this inquiry is contained in the following cable, dated Dec.8, 1917:3
“Estimated total delivery in America HS-1 are as follows: By end of January 60, February 146, March 300, April 485, May 695, June 910. H-16 type, by the end of December 3, January 9, February 24, March 52, April 91, May 137, June 153. These figures do not meet schedule until about May 1918, but they are considered conservative and better delivery may be made. Engine delivery will apparently be in excess of_______ to meet seaplane delivery. It appears that delivery of seaplanes and engines after July 1st will easily meet requirements.”
(c) Progress of U.S.Naval Air Stations in Europe.
5. The general condition is that material, insofar as its amount and kind could be foreseen without detailed design, has been xxxxxxx contracted for in the United States, and is in process of delivery and transportation across the ocean; that the personnel of the Public Works Division is to a large extent present and organized, and that most of the stations have been visited and the general features of the layout at each determined.
6. The orders for material are in process of modification by increases. The details of design of a number of the stations are practically completed and the actual plans are in progress.
7. Existing work by English and by French forces is also in process of regulation, and will, in general, continue. It will be curtailed only where its use would delay final accomplishment.
8. BREST Seaplane Station (for 24 – H-16). French contractor is proceeding with erection of one double hangar and with barracks and other buildings estimated by the French to be sufficient for 500 men. Additional buildings for the U.S. will be installed to make up for the full equipment in accordance with American Standards. One slip way is under construction. The large suspended roof hangars designed by the French will probably not be built as wooden hagars [i.e., hangars] now on order can be erected sooner than the steel can be procured for the others.
9. FROMENTINE Seaplane Station (24 H-16). No work has been done on this station, awaiting materials from the United States.
10. ARCACHON Seaplane Station (24 H-16). Grading for the size of station originally planned by the French is nearly completed. The French contractor is starting to erect the buildings under his contract, having received a considerable quantity of materials. The additional buildings and all the hangars necessary to complete the station will be erected by enlisted men as soon as the materials are received.
11. TREGUIER Seaplane Station (16 to 24 HS-1). The construction of the buildings, as planned by the French who are now operating this station, is proceeding. The additional buildings necessary to equip this station fully will be provided from the last shipments of material from the United States.
ABERVRACH <L’Aber-Vrach> Seaplane Station (24 HS-1). No work has been done on this station, awaiting materials from the United States.
13. ILE TUDY Seaplane Station (24 HS-1). The work of the French contractor on the buildings planned by the French is proceeding with the assistance of our enlisted men. The rearrangement of the canning factory for offices, storerooms and temporary quarters is well along. The additional buildings necessary to provide according to American standards for the increased number of men, will be taken from the first shipment of buildings from the United States and will be erected by our enlisted men.
14. LE CROISIC Seaplane Station (24 HS-1). This station is in operation, the buildings for the first installation being nearly completed. The additional buildings to increase the station as required, will be taken from the second shipment of buildings from the United States and will be erected by the station force.
15. SAN TROJAN Seaplane Station (24 HS-1). The French contractor has nearly completed the necessary grading for the station of the size planned by the French, having built a temporary pier and barracks, and received a considerable quantity of materials. The additional buildings needed to increase this station will be supplied from the second shipment of buildings from the United States and will be erected by the enlisted men.
16. MOUTCHIC SCHOOL. The construction of the buildings by the French contractor is proceeding slowly and enlisted men are being used on this work to expedite completion. No additional buildings beyond those contracted for are necessary. Plans and surveys are being started for the range but no work has been started nor has the land been obtained.
17. BREST Dirigible Station (Guipavas). No construction work has been done. Steps are being taken to obtain the necessary land. Materials for one hangar from the United States are expected within a few xxxxxx days.
18. ROCHEFORT Dirigible Station. No construction work has been done. Steps are being taken to obtain the necessary land. Materials for one hangar and the necessary buildings to start the work will be supplied from the shipment now on route form the United States.
19. ARCACHON Dirigible Station (Gujan). No construction work has been done. Steps are being taken to obtain the necessary land. Materials for two hangars and the necessary buildings to start the work will be supplied from the shipment now en route from the United States.
20. PAUILLAC Base Assembling Plant. The laundry building has been arranged to quarter 350 men with offices, mess, etc. No other construction work has been begun, but 200 tons of rail and 2500 ties are being obtained, from the Army for the sidings needed to store the materials soon to arrive. Steps are being taken to obtain the necessary land. A considerable number of buildings from the first shipment will be erected at this point.
21. IRISH STATIONS. The latest information in regard to these stations is contained in a cable dated November 1st, from the United States, as follows:
“Plans formulated here for the construction of air craft stations of 2 hangars each 200 feet by 94 feet by 24 feet high timber. Construction in combustible heating two of these stations to be completed by Feb. 1. Foundation drawing and general assembly positions will be mailed this week. Mechanical equipment as specified by endorsed plan will be provided by U.S.Navy. Above is subject to transportation which is now being arranged. Construction personnel is now being organized to be sent abroad. It is understood camp sites will be clear and hangars foundation and slipway will be made by British Admiralty.”4
(d) Number of U.S.Naval Air Pilots and Observers trained and in training.
22. At the present time there are in Europe:
Number of Pilots trained............49
Number of Observers trained.........15
Number of Pilots in training........39
Number of Observers in training.....27
Information has been requested from the United States as to the number of Naval Aviators, and also trained observers that it is estimated will be sent monthly from the United States from now on. The information will be forwarded to you immediately upon its receipt.
(e) Number of enlisted personnel other than Pilots and Observers engaged in Aeronautical work.
23. The number of enlisted personnel in Europe other than the above engaged in aviation work is 1,052.
Signed for Commander Cone5
in his absence.
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.
Footnote 1: This letter has not been found.
Footnote 2: For images of these types of aircraft, see the November Illustrations page: https://www.history.navy.mil/research/publications/documentary-histories/wwi/november-1917/illustrations/curtiss-hs1.html and https://www.history.navy.mil/research/publications/documentary-histories/wwi/november-1917/illustrations/curtiss-h16.html.
Footnote 3: This cable has not been found.
Footnote 4: This cable has not been found.
Footnote 5: Capt. Hutchinson I. Cone, Commander, United States Naval Aviation Forces, Foreign Service.