200 Chifley to Attlee

Cablegram 242 CANBERRA, 6 September 1947,12 noon


Dominions Office cablegram 102 of 24th May 1947.

We agree that the policy aspects of the lines of research contemplated in Dominions Office cablegram No. 102 should be discussed at the meeting of the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Defence Science in London in November next. As a result of these discussions, preliminary arrangements can then be made for subsequent visits by suitable experts to discuss in detail the projects which might be undertaken in Australia.

2. In the meantime, the following views are held here concerning the possibility of Australia undertaking work in the various fields proposed in cablegram 102:

(a) Accelerated Programme for the Development of Guided and Air Launched Weapons We consider tha[t] an expansion of research and development in Australia is essential to the successful prosecution of the project, and would welcome further discussions with your experts as soon as possible.

(b) Design of Small Unmanned Aircraft Capable of Sub-sonic Speeds and Eventually of Super-sonic Speeds We agree that Australia should accept this project in principle.

It will be necessary, however, first to obtain broad specifications from you, but it does not appear that there will be any inherent difficulties in undertaking the project. Further discussions between experts will be required to determine the manner in which the project could be implemented by us.

(c) Design of High Velocity and Short Range Rockets as Substitutes for Field Army Weapons We are aware that there is a considerable background to this project. At present, we could contribute to the development of a fuel, but could not yet undertake rocket design. We consider that this project might be discussed at the Commonwealth Scientific Advisory Conference on the basis of Australia undertaking it jointly with the United Kingdom.

(d) Development of Methods of Rapid Construction of Ships particularly of the Escort Vessel Type We consider that Australia could assist in this project, provided that the design of a suitable escort vessel could be obtained from you. However, further details will be necessary before work could be undertaken.

(e) Chemical and Medical Research into the Possibility of Reducing the Bulk of Essential Foods Considerable work in this field has been undertaken already in Australia, and we agree that such work could be continued here.

(f) Extra-Mural Research We consider that this question should be reserved for future discussion, as it is most unlikely at the present time that our over-burdened University staff could undertake much research.

(g) Cross-country Mobility of Vehicle We are extremely interested in this problem, but feel that, apart from contributing ideas and assisting with experimental and user trials, Australia could not undertake research in this field.

(h) Other Fields of Research Not Suggested by the united Kingdom We understand that, associated with research and development on guided missiles, an investigation of guidance by stellar observation is proceeding in the United Kingdom. We suggest that Australia might take part in this work, thus building up this new technique; personnel could then be interchanged with the United Kingdom. We would appreciate your views as to whether you consider a duplication of effort in this field would be useful. [1]

1 Attlee welcomed this response and agreed that the suggestion put forward in 2(h) should be explored further.

[AA : A1068 T4, DL47/7/1]