ARMED FORCES: Revolt of the Admirals

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"That's Sufficient." Chairman Carl Vinson peered at Radford over his glasses. Did the Navy officially endorse these views? No, said Radford, but "on the large issue involved, my feelings are shared by every senior officer, by practically every experienced officer." He began reeling off names: "Admiral Halsey, Nimitz, King, Leahy, Blandy, Conolly, Denfeld ..." "Now, that's sufficient," broke in Vinson.

It was. The list was too impressive to dismiss. Next day the Navy's top test pilot appeared to back up Radford's claims. Captain Frederick M. Trapnell, 47, commander of the Naval Air Test Center at Patuxent River, Md., has probably flown more types of planes than any other U.S. pilot. He testified that standard Navy radar had no trouble picking up small jet fighters at 40,000 ft., that Navy fighters had made interceptions at that altitude by day and by night. Said Trapnell: "If you were to ride as an observer in a B-36 at 40,000 ft. during joint exercises, you would see Banshees diving and zooming all around you and making repeated gunnery attacks with a speed advantage of over 100 miles per hour."

The Navy was obviously itching for a test of their jet fighters against the B-36. On the witness stand Radford had suggested it. A Congressman objected: "Someone testified that the test would have no value without live ammunition. It was either Kenney or Spaatz." Said Radford: "I don't believe Tooey Spaatz would make that statement."

From the press table (where he was sitting as Newsweek's military columnist), retired General Carl "Tooey" Spaatz, 58, former Air Force Chief of Staff, shouted: "Am I supposed to be a witness here?" He added: "If I didn't make that statement, I'm willing to make it now." Radford retorted mildly: "We haven't quite reached that stage. We have camera guns that do almost as well."

New Ally. Listening to Radford, old Carl Vinson, who used to call the nation's sea service "my Navy," grew sympathetic. He suddenly remembered that Louis Johnson, with whom he was feuding, had promised to cut $800 million from the current budget. Some $353 million, the largest cut given to any of the three services, was to come out of the Navy's appropriation.

"If Johnson adheres to the reductions, what effect would it have on the security of the country?" demanded Vinson. "It would very definitely impair it, in my opinion," confessed Navy Secretary Matthews, who until then had seemed to be opposing his own admirals. Snapped Vinson: "Johnson sets figures without the slightest idea of what effect they will have on national security."

Vinson also told the committee he "understood" that the Navy and Marine strength in .aircraft squadrons was to be cut almost in half in the 1951 budget, that "secret orders" had already been issued and that the Air Force was even advocating "that no large carriers or air groups should be kept in the Navy." Said Vinson: "So, I find it not too difficult to comprehend the concern of the air arm of the Navy and the Navy in general."

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