British Purchasing Commission

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The British Purchasing Commission was a United Kingdom organisation of the Second World War. Also known at some time as the "Anglo-French Purchasing Board", it was based in New York City, where it arranged the production and purchase of armaments from North American manufacturers. After the 1940 French Surrender it became the 'British Purchasing Commission'. The Commission was also responsible for taking over orders that had originally been placed by France, Belgium, and later by Norway, after the capitulation of those countries.

The Board was able to arrange purchases in spite of the Neutrality Acts via "Cash and Carry", paying for the materiel with Britain's gold reserves.

The Board had been established before the war buying aircraft such as the Lockheed Super Electra.

Facing an aeroplane shortage during the early stages of World War II, in January 1940, the British government established the British Direct Purchase Commission to purchase US planes that would help supplement domestic plane production. By December 1940 British cash orders for aircraft had exceeded $1,200,000,000 with deliveries of 300-350 per month and were expected to reach 500 per month by "early in 1941".[1] The aircraft were supplied unarmed.

The requests by the Board to US manufacturers stimulated production and design including the development and production of what would become the North American Mustang, which was designed for the Commission. Upon entry into Royal Air Force (RAF) or other Commonwealth service an Air Ministry service name was applied, thus the Consolidated 28-5 became the 'Consolidated Catalina'.

Aircraft purchased by the Commission first had to be moved across the border into Canada, due to the US' neutrality laws, it being illegal to transport 'war materials' direct from US ports. Sailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, smaller aircraft with insufficient range to make the journey across the Atlantic were delivered to the UK by ship as cargo, with the aircraft 'knocked down' into component sections and crated. Upon arrival in the UK crated aircraft were transported to RAF Speke where they were assembled and test flown. Larger aircraft were ferried directly across the Atlantic from RCAF Gander to RAF Prestwick, first by the Atlantic Ferry Organization ("Atfero"), and subsequently by RAF Ferry Command.

After the establishment of Lend-Lease, aircraft and other weapons could be supplied direct to the UK.

Aircraft bought by the Commission[edit]

Directors General[edit]

Other staff of note[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Engel, Leonard (5 December 1940), "Half of Everything", Flight, XXXVIII (1667): 472, retrieved 17 January 2015
  2. ^ "1941 | 1120 | Flight Archive". Archived from the original on 2016-08-04.
  3. ^ Brooks, Peter W. (23 December 1960). "The DC-3 is Twenty-five". Flight. Vol. 78, no. 2702. p. 984. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  4. ^ "American Production". Flight. Vol. XXXVIII, no. 1646. 11 July 1940. p. 24. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  5. ^ Engel, Leonard (11 April 1940). "Allied Purchases in USA". Flight. Vol. XXXVII, no. 1633. p. 329. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  6. ^ Mary Norton

Further reading[edit]

  • Bailey, Gavin J. (2013). The Arsenal of Democracy: Aircraft Supply and the Evolution of the Anglo-American Alliance, 1938-1942. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 9780748649730.

External links[edit]