Buying Aircraft - Materiel Procurement for the Army Air by I. Holley

By I. Holley

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375,000,000 Refrigerators (retail) . . . . . . . 328,000,000 Typewriters and office equipment . 153,000,000 Aircraft parts and engines . . . . . 86,000,000 Combining all these factors—low unit volume, low gross dollar volume, and lack of production tooling—the plight of the aircraft industry in the late nineteen For automobiles, value of product denotes value of automobiles only. thirties can be summarized as follows: low-priced airplanes waited upon the introduction of production techniques in the industry, but high-volume production could be justified only by a mass market, which waited upon low-priced airplanes.

58 Yet, despite the presence of excellent facilities in several universities, in 1939 only one-seventh of one percent of the Air Corps' research budget, or approximately $15,000, went directly to university research contracts. 59 Among the federal agencies concerned with aeronautical matters, one, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), stood pre-eminent in the field of fundamental research. This executive agency, established by Congress in 1915 to supervise and direct the scientific study of flight, had grown by 1938 into the nation's leading center of fundamental research.

5 percent as much traffic as Pullmans. In 1938 it was estimated that less than one-half of one percent of the population flew each year. Air Commerce Bulletin (October 15, 1938), p. 98. BUYING AIRCRAFT 16 The transition of the airlines to a primary interest in passenger traffic had a clearly discernible effect upon aircraft manufacturing in the United States. Many carriers bid on mail contracts at a loss rather than lose their routes, hoping to combine mail and passenger volume for a profit. Faced with almost certain loss unless costs could be pared, operators were more than ever anxious to procure aircraft with improved performance.

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