More Woes for British Air Rearmament

Saturday 24th October 1936

A story in the American press that Britain was to place a very substantial order for 300 military aircraft from the US Boeing Company could not have come at a worse time. The Air Ministry was already embroiled in the acrimonious fall out of the closure of the Wolseley Aero Engine Company, which had sparked a protest from the near-megalomaniac Lord Nuffield at the conduct of the shadow factory programme. The hint that RAF orders were being placed abroad would inevitably alienate British manufacturers.

Nor did it much help Boeing’s standing with the US authorities, who looked askance on scarce industrial resources being devoted to anything but building up the exiguous US Army Air Corps. Perhaps for this reason, the stories had specified that the machines would be built at Boeing’s Canadian works. In the event, the report proved false but it was another drop in the steadily filling bucket of mistrust between the British aircraft industry and its main customer, the British government. When the RAF did procure the Boeing B-17 five years later, it proved a dismal failure.


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