Skip to main content

Historical documents

160 Curtin to Evatt

Cablegram SW11 CANBERRA, 20 April 1943, 9 p.m.


Reference your E.11 [1] the following information was in course of
preparation for communication to you in regard to the last
paragraph of Dixon's S.69. [2] It is also being communicated to
General MacArthur with a request that he endorse our statement of
the case in order that any misunderstanding in Washington
attributed to Lieutenant General Kenney may be removed:

(a) Consequent upon the entry of Japan into the war, Government
approved plans early last year for the expansion of the R.A.A.F.

to 73 squadrons to be formed by the end of 1942, which target was
within the capacity of the R.A.A.F. and was only reduced to a
programme of progressive stages because the aircraft required
could not be made available. The present plan of development by
another 10 squadrons making a total of 45 by the end of 1943 has
been fixed at that figure to conform with aircraft allocated by
the Combined Chiefs of Staff and not on account of lack of
capacity of the R.A.A.F. to cope with further expansion.

(b) Training capacity of Empire Air Scheme is now fully developed
and 4-weeks output of air crews under various categories basically
trained in Australia approximates 780 of which 365 are retained in
Australia and 415 made available to the Royal Air Force. In
addition, air crew partially trained in Australia are sent to
Canada to complete their training at the rate of 224 every 4
weeks. In the recent extension of the Empire Air Scheme agreement
the United Kingdom Government expressly approved of the R.A.A.F.

retaining from the monthly outputs sufficient air crews [to] [3]
meet local requirements in accordance with the availability of
operational aircraft. It will therefore be seen that additional
415 air crew every 4 weeks could be made available to man
additional squadrons subject to due notice being given to the
United Kingdom Government of our intention to use them in this

(c) In regard to ground staff, technical training capacity was
stepped up last year in anticipation of the development to 73
squadrons that year, but was reduced to keep pace with aircraft

[Outputs] of trained ground staff can readily be increased to
double the present [output] so that additional technical personnel
will be available within 6 to 9 months from the date of increased
intake. Ground staff and other maintenance personnel are already
in training to meet the development to 45 squadrons by December
1943 and quotas are completing courses monthly to fit in with
anticipated deliveries of aircraft from local manufacture and
overseas assignments. Provided therefore that early advice is
given of increased allotments to be delivered this year,
recruiting and training arrangements can readily be adapted to
meet requirements. The same would also apply to allocations
earmarked for next year.

(d) There is no question of the ability of the Royal Australian
Air Force to develop and maintain the 73 squadrons originally
planned. The rate of development is dependent only upon due notice
[of] planned availability of aircraft. The question of allocation
of manpower can of course be adjusted here.

(e) It is desired to dispel any doubt that may exist as to the
operational use of aircraft made available to the R.A.A.F. Such
aircraft are assigned unreservedly for employment under the orders
of the Commander-in-Chief South-West Pacific Area. Further, the
development of the R.A.A.F. maintenance organization,
communications and operational base facilities, which are now
unreservedly placed at the disposal of the Allied Air Forces, is
capable of being adapted to any additional commitment caused by an
[increase] in the number of operational squadrons formed by the
Royal Australian Air Force. [4]


1 Document 159.

2 Dispatched 4 April. On file AA:A3300, 258. The last paragraph
read: 'U.S. Staff do not contemplate increasing the R.A.A.F.

allocation and state that Kenney's opinion is that it will be
difficult enough for the R.A.A.F. to man the 45 squadrons to be
developed this year without any further increase.'
3 Words in square brackets have been corrected/inserted from the
copy of this cablegram included in teleprinter message M1802 of 20
April in AA:A4764, 5.

4 On 21 April Curtin informed Evatt that 'General MacArthur has
advised that he unreservedly endorses statement of our case as
communicated to you yesterday'. See cablegram SW12 on file
AA:A4764, 6.

[AA:A3300, 258]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
Back to top