New Entries Released by the National Declassification Center

The NDC has released a listing of 94 entries that have completed declassification processing between January 3 and May 26, 2017, and are now available for researcher request. This release consists of records from both military and civilian agencies.

Highlights include:

  • Department of State, Records Relating to Cuba,
  • Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State, Indonesia, U.S. Embassy, Djakarta: Classified Files of Ambassador Francis J. Galbraith,
  • Joint Chiefs Of Staff, Office Of The Secretariat, Central Files,
  • Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Records Regarding the Monthly Summary of Naval Forces in Vietnam,
  • Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Naval History and Heritage Command, Submarine War Patrol Reports, 1946 – 1963,
  • Office of the Secretary of Defense, Subject and Decimal Files, and
  • Army Staff, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (Intelligence), Secret Project Decimal Files

Requests to access the newly released records or to order copies should be directed to Archives 2 Reference at 301-837-3510 or archives2reference@nara.gov. Please note that some series may contain other restrictions such as privacy or law enforcement and may require screening or a FOIA request prior to access.

(When making a request, please cite the HMS Entry and Series Title.)

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Joseph B. Kennedy and the Jet Speed Air Cushion Rail System

In the NDC’s last blog entry, readers discovered from the records of the United States Embassy Djakarta, how an embassy goes about its mission to protect American citizens living in a foreign country during times of trouble.  This entry will look at a different mission, one that tried to protect America’s overseas interests from….Americans.

Meet Joseph B. Kennedy

This story unfolds in the embassy’s 1967 files beginning with Djakarta’s Airgram A-404 dated March 3, 1967 from Ambassador Marshall Green and addressed to the Department of State.  Mr. Kennedy was introduced as president of International Sales and Services Unlimited Enterprises Ltd. (ISSUE).  ISSUE’s wide-ranging portfolio involved potential projects in exploitation and marketing of asphalt on Buton Island, exploitation of sulphur deposits on Java, food processing (a proposed process to create artificial rice from rice bran, sago, corn cobs, banana peel, and flour with other ingredients), marketing of rubber and other products of over 100 small estates in West Java, production of milk powder, fishing, forestry and road construction in Sulawesi, irrigation and flood control projects, and, finally, tourist facilities.  While ISSUE held no specific contracts for any of these projects, the company had understandings with the Indonesian government that ISSUE would have the first opportunity to initiate these projects.  A curious Ambassador queried the Department in A-404 whether the enterprise had the financial wherewithal to pull off any of the listed projects and whether the artificial rice process was viable.

The Department’s answer arrived more than a month later in its Airgram CA-8118 dated April 20.  In that response, the Department advised the Embassy that ISSUE was not an incorporated company in the state of California as had been stated.   Further investigation revealed that ISSUE did not have the financial resources required for any projects and that Kennedy’s background was in psychology–specifically in the field of marriage counseling.  The Airgram confirmed that ISSUE was involved in four Indonesian projects: an asphalt plant on Buton Island; the completion of the partly constructed 28-story Wisma Nusantara Building; an unspecified light industry project; and the P.T. Isma Company, a joint venture that would produce, process, and can beef, fruit, etc.  The Department also confirmed that the artificial rice concept was feasible and being done with other products.  The Department also requested that the Embassy would like to be kept informed as to the progress of ISSUE’s various ventures.

That there was trouble afoot with ISSUE became apparent in a letter dated April 20 from Francis Underhill, the Country Director for Indonesian Affairs back at Main State in Washington DC to the Embassy’s  Counselor for Economic Affairs, Paul McCusker.  Associates of Mr. Kennedy, Dr. Wayne Mann, the inventor of a high speed cushion rail transportation concept, and a Dr. Morris approached Underhill to discuss ISSUE’s financial difficulties.  The two visitors explained that ISSUE’s financial backers did not live up to their commitments, leaving ISSUE’s  Indonesian projects at risk of failing.  Mann and Morris claimed that Indonesia leader General Suharto approved the ISSUE projects, and with their failure, Suharto’s reputation would be in jeopardy.  Could the United States government help ISSUE financially? Underhill evidently had a busy day with the ISSUE representatives who did not understand that the US Government did not make investments with private companies for overseas adventures.  Underhill goes on to describe the situation as an international “Guys and Dolls” theatrical production with dire consequences for U.S. businesses wishing to work with the Indonesian government in the future if ISSUE’s poor project management were to be seen as an example of American business savvy.

As the summer of 1967 unfolded,  Joseph Kennedy shifted his Indonesian efforts to a new entity known as the Indonesian Development Company (IDC).  Key to Kennedy’s plans was the addition of a better-known associate, former California governor Edmund Brown, fresh off his defeat in the 1966 California gubernatorial election by Ronald Reagan .  Initially Kennedy claimed that he retained Governor Brown’s law firm as legal representation for ISSUE.  Djakarta’s Telegram 3087 of June 30, 1967 requested that the Department “…discreetly sound out Governor his awareness operations and background Joseph B. Kennedy.”  The telegram goes on to say:  “However sincere his intentions, Kennedy has consistently exaggerated his so far non-existent business accomplishments, has generated unfavorable local press comments, and has tarnished the American business image among leading Indonesians.”

The Kennedy Plan

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The pamphlet found in the Embassy folder on Kennedy was certainly an impressive read.  The publication’s opening lines reached out to grab the reader:

“A nation in transition attracts the problem solving mind.  Mr.  Joseph B. Kennedy, a man with such a mentality, an American citizen, a man with a purpose armed with the faith of a crusader has come forth with a system of endeavor, which, if effected, could profoundly influence the economic life of Indonesia.”

The pamphlet outlined six elements to Kennedy’s Plan: (capital letters in the original)

1.  The Indonesian Development Corporation–“This program is the heart of the Kennedy proposal.  It channels development so that the resources of the country are developed for the use and benefit of both the developer and the country.”

2. Consolidation of the Republic–“If the Republic is to be a truly consolidated nation, a single rapid transportation system and a highly refined communications complex are primary needs.”

3.  Bringing Tourists to Indonesia–“THE SEVEN MARVELS OF THE WORLD as a counterpart of the old “Seven Wonders of the World” with one of the new MARVELS located in Indonesia could be planned so when the new aircraft flying at speeds of 2000 mph carrying 500 passengers started operating, Indonesia would be in a position to benefit.”

4.  Bringing World Leaders to Indonesia–“This idea would entail having an organization of an international scope where SEVEN WORLD CONVENTION CENTERS would be established, the first one being located in Indonesia.  The leading companies of the world would sign up for 7 year contracts agreeing to hold their conventions AROUND THE WORLD.  Such a plan would bring INTERNATIONAL EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP to Indonesia on a continual basis where OPPORTUNITY BULLETINS could be published for wealthy visitors.’

5.  Natural Resources and Financing–“The INDONESIAN DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION shall see that the national reserves of resources of the nation be proven, and with the information plus operating facilities, the reserves can then be used as collateral for obtaining necessary funds for use by the government.”

6. Developing Harbor and Minerals–“A new unit, THE HELIDREDGE can be disassembled and flown to remote areas.  Having a capacity  of 100 yards per hour and costing much less than other dredges, it can be utilized for harbor work and in placer mining or irrigation projects.”

The pamphlet contained facsimiles of official documents complete with stamps and signatures of Indonesian Army Lieutenant General Hartono as well as Kennedy and Mann.  In addition to the paragraphs praising Kennedy and his ideas and the official documents, there was a two-page description of a concept called the Jet Speed Cushion Rail Trans-Water Transportation System, the patented invention of Dr. Mann.  There were few technical details given about this system. The impression one gets in reading about the concept is that this is was a hovercraft that could also ride on rails at speeds approaching contemporary jet airliners.  That the system was a key component of the Kennedy Plan is indicated by the presence of a small art work depicting the cushion rail vehicle on the cover of the pamphlet as well as an implied route map traced on an outline of the Indonesian archipelago.

Downfall

By September, Ambassador Green was meeting with visiting potential investors in the IDC actively discouraging them from pursuing any venture with Joseph Kennedy.  A September 13 memorandum for the files, written by Embassy Economic Counselor Joseph Harary, detailed a meeting between the Ambassador and several men led by Mr. R. D. Alexander of Santa Barbara, California.  The hour-long meeting detailed the current situation in Indonesia politically, economically, and sociologically before moving to the specifics of Mr. Kennedy’s projects. By the end of that hour, Mr. Alexander and his associates promised to steer well clear of ISSUE, IDC, and Kennedy.

Joseph Kennedy’s downfall proceeded very quickly after the Alexander meeting.  Djakarta’s Airgram A-147 of September 15 summarized Kennedy’s troubles.  While he had moved his family permanently to Djakarta to better coordinate his business deals, Kennedy was not able to demonstrate progress on the two surviving projects for which he had been given responsibility by the Indonesian government–the Buton Island asphalt works and the Wisma Nusantara high rise building project.  Governor Brown, having been warned about Kennedy’s activities and reputation, wisely steered clear of meeting the man during a state-sponsored trip to Djakarta in July, thus depriving IDC of credibility and furthering the downfall of Mr. Kennedy’s reputation.  Djakarta Airgram A-218 of October 11 pretty much sounded the death knell for ISSUE, IDC, and Kennedy’s aspirations.  In this document the Embassy’s Deputy in Charge of Mission (DCM) Lydman informed the Department that a local Indonesian newspaper published an announcement that the Indonesian Presidium circulated a letter that called on all Ministers, and heads of institutes and agencies, not to conclude any agreements with ISSUE.  This news was officially confirmed by the DCM when approached by the Mohamad Sadli, Chairman of the Foreign Investment Technical Committee.  However, the Indonesian government did not want to declare Kennedy persona non grata, hoping that the disgraced entrepreneur would take the hint and leave the country on his own.

The final mention of Kennedy in the Embassy’s 1967 files was in the Department’s Airgram  CA-3110 on October 24th to Djakarta.  The Airgram clarified IDC’s now legal California corporate status, which was verified.  However, the corporation did not have permission to issue stock.  One of IDC’s officers, one Richard Niles, the Executive Vice President, opened the IDC’s office in the World Trade Center in San Francisco.  The Airgram also mentioned that Niles was the only IDC officer known to be active in the San Francisco area.  He requested that the office be listed at the WTC as the Institute of Human Dynamics, but the WTC rejected Niles’ request as the organization name was not related to international trade.  It is at this point the that the documentary trail on Mr. Kennedy ends in the Embassy files in 1967.

The IDC situation played itself out over a span of only eight months.  As is readily seen from the existing State Department documentation, ISSUE, IDC, and Mr. Kennedy were out to get money from any possible source–private investors, the Indonesian government, and the US government–to fund projects that were quite fantastic and unrealistic in scope, while failing to succeed in near term projects that should have been much easier to complete.  Due diligence on the part of the Djakarta Embassy and the State Department ensured that potential American investors, such as Governor Brown and Mr. Alexander, steered clear of any entanglements with Kennedy, thus limiting the damage to the reputation of American business ventures in Indonesia.

 

 

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The Curious Case of Harold Lovestrand

Summers in Indonesia are notoriously hot, which is not really much of a surprise for a nation of islands that straddles the equator.  The summer of 1965 was much hotter if you were an American in Indonesia.  In August of that year, missionary Harold Lovestrand, his wife and four children discovered what it meant to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.  The Classified Central Subject Files of the United States Embassy in Djakarta from 1963-1966, a record series currently undergoing declassification processing, contains a pair of folders from 1965 and 1966 dedicated to the Lovestrand case, a poignant example of United States embassies’ role in assisting American citizens in trouble overseas.

To understand what happened to the Lovestrand family, one has to look at the broader picture of U.S. – Indonesia relations, especially as they stood in 1965.  Indonesia in that year was still a young country, only 16 years removed from its violent separation from its erstwhile colonial master, the Netherlands.  Indonesia’s population was extremely diverse, as one would expect for an archipelago nation that spreads over an area of nearly three-quarters of a million square miles and whose peoples speak more than 700 languages.  Indonesia’s initial attempts at parliamentary democracy in the late 1940s and 1950s failed as the many political parties founded in the wake of Indonesian independence could not govern the nation.

The Father of the Nation, Sukarno, had determined by the late 1950s that the country needed to follow a different path of governance.  With both a large Muslim population and an politically ambitious Army officer corps both looking for increased roles in government, Sukarno crafted a nationalist state dominated by a Sukarno cult of personality that began a leftward drift towards turning Indonesia into a full-blown communist state, forsaking the much admired non-aligned stance that Sukarno embraced after the Bandung Conference of 1955.  The country suffered much from local revolts, those in the west of the country caused by Muslim separatists being complimented by independence uprisings in West New Guinea (a territory later to be known as West Irian).

In foreign affairs, Sukarno was outraged by the creation of the Malay Federation in 1963, where the former British Crown Colonies of Malay, Singapore, North Borneo, and Sarawak were unified into a single country.  Sukarno condemned a United Nations survey that established the borders between the new nation and Indonesia, thus beginning Indonesia’s move to isolate itself from the world community that did not support its territorial ambitions.  The confrontation with Malaysia brought Indonesian armed forces into battle against British Commonwealth forces, a conflict that would span the next three years.

By the beginning of 1965, Indonesia was a witch’s brew of sectional tensions, inflationary economy, internal security threats, military action over Malaysia, and a government increasingly prone to paranoia.  The mood of both the government and the people grew increasingly anti-Western.  Sukarno moved to take Indonesia out of the United Nations early in 1965, followed shortly thereafter by departure from other international bodies such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.  Diplomatic establishments also suffered harassment–the British Embassy in Djakarta was virtually destroyed in 1963 during a riot over Malaysian independence.  This harassment extended to  American diplomatic posts as well, as U.S. support for Malaysia as well as the developing conflict in Vietnam made the U.S. a prime target for Sukarno’s and Indonesians’ anger .  The U.S. Consulates in Medan and Surabaya, as well as the Embassy in Djakarta were all subject to riots and protests, and the United States Information Service libraries in several locations were broken into and sacked by mobs.  Protesters displayed signs calling for a formal severance of relations between the U.S. and Indonesia right in front of the Embassy’s entrance.  It was in this environment that the case of the Harold Lovestrand family entered the world stage.

Reverend Lovestrand was a missionary from the Evangelical Alliance Church living with his wife and four children near the town of Manokwari, West Irian (on the bird’s heard shaped peninsula extending to the west of the large island of New Guinea).  West Irian was a hotbed of revolt against the Indonesian government after its United Nations-sanctioned incorporation into Indonesia in 1963.  When Sukarno’s regime made it clear that the UN-mandated plebiscite that was to be held to determine West Irian’s future would not be held as promised by the UN agreement with Indonesia, an armed revolt by the population was inevitable.  By August 1965, the Lovestrand family, caught in the middle of what was virtually a civil war, became unwilling witnesses to the conflict between elements of the Indonesian Army airlifted to the theater and the Papuan separatists of West Irian.  Ultimately the Indonesian Army prevailed; however, Indonesian troops found what they considered to be suspicious items around the Lovestrand mission, a location recently the scene of fierce fighting, and the family was taken into custody on the tentative charge of subversion on August 7.  By August 11, the Indonesian Army moved to the Lovestrands to the island of Java by slow boat, as the family did not reach their destination–Djakarta Army Prison, until August 27th or 28th.

The U.S. Embassy became aware of the Lovestrand’s plight only on August 21st, when news of the family’s detention appeared in an Indonesian news agency report.  That information was confirmed two days later at a press conference given by the Indonesian Army general charged with ruling West Irian.  After that day, the Embassy used all avenues of approach to gain access to the missionary family.  However, given the strained state of U.S.-Indonesia relations, U.S. Ambassador Marshall Green was unable to see the Lovestrands until the evening of September 13th, more than a month after the family was taken captive.

After the interview with the Lovestrand family, Ambassador Green continued his efforts with the Indonesian government to secure the release of the Americans.  Various reports coming into the Embassy confirmed the suspicions of the Embassy staff that the Indonesian government had no evidence of Reverend Lovestrand’s participation in sedition.  A positive development did take place on September 25th, when Indonesian authorities released Mrs. Lovestrand and her children, a full week after the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Subandrio, formally notified Ambassador Green that they would be set free.  Mrs. Lovestrand and the rest of the family moved into housing in the Djakarta area, where the children were allowed to attend school once again.  However, Reverend Lovestrand continued to be held by the Indonesian Army.

A complicating factor in the Lovestrand case was the attempted revolt within the Indonesian Army that led to the deaths of six senior generals on the night of September 30th/October 1st.  The revolt was influenced to some extent by Indonesia’s communist party (PKI), although recent scholarship disagrees as to the extent.  Regardless, the incident created chaos throughout the country that made it much more difficult for the Embassy to monitor the Lovestrand case.  Changes in the Indonesian government and constant shifts in power and influence of various officials overseeing the Lovestrand case prevented the Embassy from finding out even basic information concerning Lovestrand, much less being able to work for his release.

As the days in September unfolded, Indonesian authorities finally granted the Consul access on September 27th.  Embassy officials were told that they could visit the prisoner at two-week intervals, but the documents in the 1965 Lovestrand folder do not confirm visits on that schedule.  Similarly, available documents indicate that a medical visit was scheduled for November 22nd, again with no evidence in the folder that the visit actually took place.  The 1965 file does confirm that medical visits did take place on December 20th and 21st.  By this time Lovestrand faced significant medical issues that added more tension to the situation.  The Embassy’s final document in the Lovestrand folder for 1965 is a December 22nd telegram describing a conversation between an Embassy official and the wife of the Indonesian Armed Forces Chief of Staff, where once again the Embassy pressed for the release of Reverend Lovestrand.  As had happened with previous meetings with Indonesia’s power elite, promises to seek release were made, but the desired result still proved elusive.

By the time of an Embassy update back to the Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, on January 6th 1966, Lovestrand was showing great improvement to his health following a period of hospitalization.  The same telegram also showed Ambassador Green’s determination to push for the release of Lovestrand, both locally in Djakarta and through the Indonesian ambassador in Washington D.C..  A subsequent telex from the State Department to the Embassy recounted a January 14th meeting between Indonesian Ambassador Lambertus Palar and Samuel D. Berger, Assistant Deputy Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, where the Ambassador admitted that there were no charges against Lovestrand, that there was no incriminating evidence found against Lovestrand, and that the subversion investigation against the missionary was completed and, finally, he would be released soon. The major difficulty at this point was that the case was in Sukarno’s hands, as no lower-ranked Indonesian official would make the decision to release the captive American.

By late January, the Lovestrand case exerted significant pressure on U.S.-Indonesian relations.  Secretary Rusk telexed Ambassador Green on January 29th to pursue the matter closely with Foreign Minister Subandrio.  The resulting conversation did not take place until February 9th, during which Ambassador Green discovered from the Indonesian that the Indonesian Attorney General had a signed confession from Lovestrand stating that he failed to report evidence of a Papuan revolt.  Subandrio volunteered to press the case with the Attorney General in the hope of resolving the case.  Other intermediaries continued to press Sukarno for Lovestrand’s release–the Embassy realized that its continued pressure on Sukarno was creating more problems than progress.  Finally, on March 18th, the Embassy indicated in a telegram to Rusk that the Indonesian Attorney General began processing paperwork to deport Lovestrand.

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On March 22nd, the Embassy acknowledged receiving the deportation order, and the Lovestrand family was booked on a KLM flight leaving Djakarta on March 23rd.

Although the documents concerning the Lovestrand case fill only two slim folders out of the 31 boxes in the Djakarta Embassy’s Classified Central Subject Files series, they provide an prime example of the effort they put forth for American citizens in trouble in a foreign country, one of the oldest missions an embassy performs.  The 7 month 16 day ordeal of the Lovestrand family took place at a tumultuous time in Indonesian history, but the family was indeed fortunate in being able to overcome dire circumstances a long way from home.  Harold Lovestrand subsequently wrote about his Indonesian experience in the book Hostage in Djakarta, published by the Moody Press in 1967.

Posted in Indonesia, Special Projects | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Hollywood, Model Planes, and Atomic Bombs: Office of Naval Research Support for Vertical Envelopment

Lost amid a large 8,000 box series from the long disestablished Bureau of Aeronautics (Record Group 72 in National Archives-speak) in a classified stack at the National Archives in College Park lies a 500-page document whose ominous mushroom cloud cover artwork supported its Confidential classification marking. The light blue/green cover simply bore the words “Assault” and the official seal and title of the Office of Naval Research in Washington DC.  Once inside the cover, though, a reader will find the makings of an extraordinary tale.

In a story that has been retold many times, the U.S. Marine Corps viewed the results of the first nuclear weapons effects test, the July 1946 Operation CROSSROADS, with significant concern. Despite the Navy and Marine Corps’ proven formula of amphibious warfare success during the lately concluded Second World War, the outcome of the two nuclear weapons detonations in Bikini Atoll was that large groupings of amphibious shipping and their support warships that made victory possible in almost every theater of World War II were now frighteningly vulnerable to the new weapon of mass destruction.

The solution was dispersal, spreading shipping, landing craft, support warships, and Marines out along the target coast to defeat the nuclear threat. However, that solution simply caused another problem: how to bring enough Marines to the decisive point to defeat the defenders.  If the landing forces were dispersed, a well-disposed defender could annihilate the smaller Marine formations in detail before they could join inland to overwhelm the defenders or capture key terrain.

There were technological solutions seemingly close at hand—the helicopter and large flying boats. A special board appointed by the 20th Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr., looked at the dispersal problem in some detail.  The board members, Colonels Merrill Twining and Edward Dyer and Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Shaw examined various means of keeping amphibious assault forces out of atomic danger while quickly concentrating Marines to defeat a defending force.

General Shepherd’s special board surveyed this scene and recognized that current helicopter technology was not going to put a lot of Marines on the beach very quickly, and that the flying boat was a longer term option, if it ever was an option at all. They spoke with the helicopter manufacturers, especially with Igor Sikorsky and one Frank Piaseki of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Piaseki had some original ideas about large helicopters, and, together, the two men convinced the board members that a helicopter capable of a 5,000 pound payload was possible.

While the Navy’s Bureau of Aeronautics (BuAer) had the mandate to develop the large flying boat program, the Marines took upon themselves the task of sponsoring a large helicopter program through the same Bureau, as BuAer had the authority for the procurement of aircraft for the Marine Corps. As it turned out, the 5,000 pound payload helicopter was a bit ambitious for the technologies of the late 1940’s, so an interim capability of 3,500 pounds was sought for the Marine’s new assault helicopter.  A decade later the Marines ended up with the versatile Sikorsky HUS/UH-34 series as the 3,500 pound payload helicopter and the monstrous Sikorsky HR2S/CH-37 as the 5,000 pound payload helicopter. Both aircraft utilized piston engines, so their performances at higher weights and temperatures was always problematic.  It was not until the mid-1960’s that designers included compact gas turboshaft engines in their designs, finally manufacturing helicopters capable of consistently meeting Marine requirements first established in 1946.

It must have been sometime in 1947 that the Amphibious Branch of the Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR) became involved with the evolution of the new vertical envelopment doctrine that sought a way to overcome the limited payload capabilities of contemporary helicopters. Captured under the title: “A Study of a Third Dimensional Assault Techniques for Amphibious Operations”, this sizeable work was the product of contract N7-ONR-296 Task Order 1 awarded to the Radioplane Company.  The final bound report classified CONFIDENTIAL is dated 1 April 1948; however, a perusal of the pages show sections of the report that were completed as early as July 1947.

The Radioplane Company was an unusual choice for this particular contract. Founded in 1934 by British actor Reginald Denny (Anna Karenina, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House), the company’s experience up through 1947 was based upon the manufacture of expendable target drone aircraft that were essentially larger versions of hobbyists’ radio-controlled models the company sold during the prewar years.  Radioplane’s OQ-2/3 series of target drones were built in the company’s Van Nuys, California facility by the thousands, giving nascent antiaircraft gunners from all of the Armed Services an opportunity to learn key gunnery skills. Outside of the building of target drones, Radioplane’s major claim to fame in being the employer of a young Norma Jeane Dougherty, later known as Marilyn Monroe, who was discovered by an Army Air Forces photographer working in the Radioplane factory. Radioplane had never designed or built a manned aircraft prior to their receipt of the ONR contract.

The ONR study, given the short title of “Project ASSAULT”, sought to overcome the problems of projecting a ground force into an amphibious objective defended by atomic weapons. Radioplane proposed the use of radio-controlled aircraft, each carrying a single Marine above the radioactive contamination on the ground and into the objective. The study broke down into eight sections that dealt with the definition of the mission, flight paths, power plants, aerodynamics, stabilization and control, launching, deceleration and landing, and, finally, structures. There was also a final report that discussed the ASSAULT vehicle.

The study began with a foreword written by CAPT W. H. Leahy, the Assistant Chief for Research for ONR. Leahy was the son of Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, then Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, President Harry Truman. The foreword contained the six performance objectives that established the preliminary requirements for the study:

  1. A vehicle payload of 300 pounds
  2. Flight controlled by remote or forward position or ground remote station
  3. Adaptable for rapid launch from a ship or limited launching area
  4. Capable of rapid deceleration for safe landings in areas with natural obstacles such as forests and irregular terrain
  5. Flight range of 25 mile radius
  6. Vehicle can be used for logistics support with a payload of 300 pounds

The study then continues with five detailed sections that discussed the amphibious warfare mission, possible ASSAULT craft flight paths, possible power plants for ASSAULT craft, the aerodynamics of various ASSAULT craft, and, finally, stabilization and control of the proposed ASSAULT aircraft. The bottom line for the proposed ASSAULT vehicles became:

It can then be seen that the ideal situation would be one in which the Assault trooper could step into a vehicle which would then be launched to deliver him automatically to his destination.

The final report offered a range of technical concepts, each concept differing by its designed cruising speed, which ranged from 250 mph, to 400 mph, and finally to 550 mph. A fourth concept embraced the use of an assault pod to be launched by a parent aircraft. All of the proposed ASSAULT vehicles shared the characteristics of being easily controlled in flight, tough enough to make a rough landing while preserving the occupant, and cheap enough to be built in some quantity.
The proposed 250 mph aircraft resembled an up-scaled target drone, sized large enough to carry one Marine safely from ship to objective. The recommended power plant was air-cooled Continental E 185-1 opposed 6-cylinder engine of 250 hp, most famously used in the Beechcraft Bonanza general aviation aircraft and deemed capable of moving the proposed ASSAULT vehicle at 250 mph. The landing gear was two skids attached to the fuselage ahead of the straight 32-foot wings. The aircraft was to be catapult-launched, and, when reaching its objective, would have been slowed by a parachute-like controllable sleeve and an air-launched arresting gear—essentially a harpoon driven into the ground and attached to the airframe by a nylon rope.

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The proposed 400 mph aircraft was a bit more daring in design, being based upon a turbojet-powered airframe. The fuselage was of a high mid-wing type with a pod-and-boom layout for the twin endplate tail. The author identified the Flader Model XJ-55-FF-1 engine with 700 pounds of thrust as the power plant. The XJ-55 was proposed as the propulsion for a postwar drone aircraft called the XQ-2, so it seemed to be a natural fit in a small airframe designed by a company with radio-controlled aircraft experience. Landing a faster vehicle within tight space constraints required even more ingenuity than the 250 mph proposal, so wings contained split flaps and the fuselage sported skids underneath, a 28 foot airfoil parachute, and, finally, ten 2,000 pound thrust retro-rockets. After the flaps slowed the aircraft to an appropriate speed, the parachute would deploy, suspending the fuselage in a horizontal attitude below the canopy.   A proximity device would trigger the retrorockets, thus ensuring a relatively soft landing for the embarked Marine.

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Radioplane continued their report with a description of a 550 mph aircraft, showing what design compromises were necessary to produce a faster vehicle. To gain the desired speed, this third ASSAULT design depended upon rocket power; however, the specific type of rocket engine was not mentioned, unlike the engines on the 250 mph and 400 mph proposals. The final report of the study only mentioned the fact that the two engines would be bi-liquid propellant, one engine to be of 1,150 lbs thrust and the second to be of 500 lbs thrust, and would be similar to the type manufactured by Reaction Motors, Inc or of equivalent design and performance. For landing this high performance vehicle, split flaps on the narrow, tapered wings would again be needed. As in the 400 mph proposal vehicle, the aircraft would deploy a tail-mounted parachute. This time the aircraft would be lowered nose-first to the ground rather than using the complicated parachute suspension system on the 400 mph aircraft that kept the fuselage horizontal. The 550 mph ASSAULT vehicle would then use twelve retro-rockets fitted in the tail to slow the aircraft further. A hydraulically-buffered nose probe would take the remaining landing shock, the probe sticking into the ground to keep the airframe upright after landing.

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The final ASSAULT vehicle was a simple pod with no wings. However, deceleration and landing processes would be similar to the aircraft-configured ASSAULT vehicles—a parachute to initially slow down the vehicle, a retro-rocket to slow the pod completely, an air-launched arresting gear system, landing leg skids to take the impact of landing, and, finally, a fixed wooden skid to take the punishment of an emergency landing. The report included sketches of the pod as well as its carrier aircraft, in this case a Grumman F7F-1. The drawing suggests that the aircraft carry two pods, one on pylons under each wing. The study’s report made it clear that the preferred aircraft type for an ASSAULT pod mission was a fighter aircraft. The ASSAULT pod required none of the radio controls necessary for the other vehicles mentioned in the report, and it would require the services of an escort carrier (CVE) to base the fighter aircraft, the pods, and the Marines necessary to conduct the ASSAULT pod operation.

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While there were many unsolved problems with Radioplane’s concept for conducting vertical envelopment operations in the first decade after World War II, ideas generated by such unconventional thinking foreshadowed the great changes in aerospace and defense technology that took place over the next fifty years.  Indeed, in the world in which we live it is difficult to be unaware of drones and their impact on military operations, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR)operations, and even in commercial delivery services and popular culture.  However, all of this technology had to start someplace, and Radioplane is one of the places where it started.

 

 

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NDC Indexing Update

In August 2015 we announced a new program called “Indexing on Demand” which allows researchers to request records that have completed quality assurance review and are available for indexing and final withhold processing.  We provided pdf files that listed the acronym or name and number of the original record group; NARA HMS identification numbers; the record entry name for the series; dates of the records within the series (not always immediately available); and the size (possibly estimated) of the series itself.

Since the roll out, we have processed 268 requests totaling almost nine million pages with a release rate of 81%.  We have updated our lists to remove the series that have been processed and add newly available series for request.   The lists are divided into three groups: military records, civilian records, and records currently in process.

As before, you can correspond with us via our ndc@nara.gov email box or by replying to this blog post. You can also visit with our representative in the Archives II reference area, Stephanie Coon, who would be happy to address your questions and requests. She can offer you an estimate on the complexity of the final processing needed as well as a tentative timeline to completion.

iod_military                        iod_civilian                              iod_in process

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New Releases from the National Declassification Center

The NDC has released a listing of 228 entries that have completed declassification processing between January 2 and August 31, 2016 and are now available for researcher request. This release consists of records from both military and civilian agencies.

Highlights include:

  • Department of State, Program and Subject Files for North Vietnam,
  • Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State, U.S. Consulate General, Hong Kong: Classified Central Subject Files,
  • Joint Chiefs Of Staff, Office Of The Secretariat, Central Files,
  • Army Staff, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (Intelligence); Project Decimal Files, 1964,
  • Atomic Energy Commission, Classified Official Correspondence,
  • Office of the Secretary of Defense, Advanced Research Projects Agency; Orders, and
  • Bureau of Naval Weapons, Proposal Files For Aircraft, Helicopters, and Missiles(When making a request, please cite the HMS Entry and Series Title.)
  • Requests to access the newly released records or to order copies should be directed to Archives 2 Reference at 301-837-3510 or archives2reference@nara.gov. Please note that some series may contain other restrictions such as privacy or law enforcement and may require screening or a FOIA request prior to access.
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New Formerly Restricted Data Declassification Determination

 

Effective immediately, the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy jointly approved the recommendation of the DoD/DOE FRD Declassification Working Group (DWG) :

“The fact that any specified retired weapon was at a former (now closed) nuclear weapon storage location or former (now closed) operational location (e.g. Nike site, bomber bases, etc.) within the United States, its possessions and territories.”

The NDC made the case to the FRD DWG that this information should be declassified due to the repeated discoveries of this kind of FRD in numerous records that impeded the prompt declassification of many documents in the NDC declassification workflow.  We are grateful to both DoD and DOE to allow NDC participation in the FRD declassification process, and we look forward to work with these agencies again as we continue to work for the declassification of other types of FRD as found in our records.

mk7_mark-90-pic1

Mark 90 nuclear depth charge shape being tested on an F7F-3 Tigercat at a naval air station

 

 

 

 

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New Special Project Released by the NDC

The latest NDC special project “Treasures from World War II US Navy Command Files,” is now available on NARA’s website. All of the records, approximately 192,500 pages, were released in full. The records deal with Navy intelligence, combat operations, operational planning, mine warfare and submarine warfare during WWII, as well as the investigation into the Pearl Harbor attack. The lead archivist on this project, Steven Shafer, worked with other NDC staff and other NARA offices, including the Offices of Innovation and Research Services, to accomplish this. The series is available on NARA’s National Archives Catalog. The website to read the introduction to the special project and to find out more about it, can be viewed at:

http://www.archives.gov/research/military/navy/treasures-ww2.html

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Share Your Ideas for NARA’s Next Open Government Plan

Cropped Open GovThis week, we are kicking off the development of our next Open Government Plan for 2016-2018. We need your ideas, suggestions, and feedback to make it happen!

Submit your ideas by April 15, 2016:

How do you think we should increase the three pillars of open government —Transparency, Participation, and Collaboration — in the way we do our work at the National Archives in general and the National Declassification Center in particular?

We are looking for your ideas on how we can improve:

  • Communicating what the NDC can and cannot do
  • Transparency in the work processes of the NDC
  • Records or topics you would like to see processed for declassification
  • The mandatory declassification review (MDR) process
  • The availability of public access to declassified records
  • Explaining the difference between classification and other restrictions such as privacy or law enforcement

Take a look at our last Open Government Plan and Archives.gov/open for more information.  Is there something that you think we could be doing better?  Let us know!

We will carefully consider all ideas. In the past, we’ve received more than 100 suggestions and we report on these and respond in an appendix to the Plan. Even if you’ve shared an idea before, please share it again. We need your ideas on how we can better serve the public.

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New Entries Released by the National Declassification Center

The NDC has released a listing of 149 entries that have completed declassification processing between June 29, and December 31, 2015 and are now available for researcher request. This release consists of records from both military and civilian agencies.

Highlights include:

  • Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Naval Intelligence Reports,
  • Department of State, Human Rights Country and Subject Files,
  • Department of State, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports,
  • Department of State, Executive Secretariat, Records Relating to the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962-1963,
  • Office Surgeon General (Army), Central Decimal File,
  • Army Staff, Korean Conflict POW, MIA and Detainee Intelligence Files, and
  • Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), Director’s Classified Subject Files

Requests to access the newly released records or to order copies should be directed to Archives 2 Reference at 301-837-3510 or archives2reference@nara.gov. Please note that some series may contain other restrictions such as privacy or law enforcement and may require screening or a FOIA request prior to access.

(When making a request, please cite the HMS Entry and Series Title.)

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