Franklin D. Roosevelt

Excerpts from the Press Conference for Business Paper Editors

June 09, 1944

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it's good to see you all again. I haven't thought of anything. I thought I could tell you a few things off the record.

Of course, well, for instance, Steve [Early] just came in to give me a thing that just arrived about our aircraft production. I think some of us real old people remember a day when I went up to Congress and said we need for national defense fifty thousand airplanes in a year. Well, there was the most awful howl all over the country—couldn't be done—just couldn't be done.

Well, we are now up to a hundred thousand a year, and we are keeping on going—keeping on making records. American industry has done a lot better than the non-business press. thought it could do. (Laughter)

The two-hundred-thousandth United States-financed airplane since July 1, 1940, was accepted on May 31 of this year, a year and three days after the acceptance of the one-hundred-thousandth- which is pretty good. The first hundred thousand, as they say, is the hardest. (Laughter) The first hundred thousand took 1431 days to build. The second hundred thousand took 369 days to build, approximately only a third as long. And in May, 8,851 were accepted. That was actually two percent in numbers below the March peak.

But a thing that the layman doesn't understand, which you will understand, is that the weight, 89 million pounds, is really the controlling factor; and that was one percent over March, which is again a new high.

The rest of the figures relate to different types, but just for example, just in one field of action, we have ten thousand American planes working. In another field of action, we have over five thousand American planes. Now, they are operating planes. Of course, the figures vary from day to day, but that is an awful lot of planes that we have got overseas. I haven't got the figures for some of the other areas, but that is just two out of three or four different areas where we are operating planes.

Of course, the whole thing is going along awfully well. I hope that you are in touch with the Departments, and with Leo Crowley, about places where either there is a jam or we want more things.

Now, of course, one thing we have realized, and that is that with the development of warfare we discover new things all the time- new construction. I don't suppose any one of us could have visioned three years ago the building of this vast number of landing craft, turning them out all over the place with all the things that go with landing craft. In the present operations in France, they have been badly bumped on the beaches. They sit down on top of a boulder, and the boulder comes through the bottom—that sort of thing. Quite a lot of them have been damaged on the railroad rails that the Germans stuck down on the beaches; and sometimes, when they have discharged their cargo on the beach and start to back up, they find they are sitting on the sharp end of a railroad rail. But, of course, a great many of them can be salvaged, but the last three days show that we have got to speed that particular construction up even some more. We thought we had speeded it up just as fast as we possibly could.

Things are going pretty well on the other side. The chief trouble is weather. The English Channel is not a pleasant place to cross. It's rough a great deal. As somebody remarked to me the other day, probably there has been more human suffering on the English Channel than any other place in the world. (Laughter)

And on the whole, things are going along pretty well. We have been doing awfully well north of Rome, since I spoke the other day. We are about 40 miles north of Rome. We have got the important seaport of Civitavecchia. Yet the whole operation- the English Channel, and the Mediterranean—Italy- all tie in together, as we have come to understand.

I think the greatest contribution—there is always a silver lining in every cloud that war makes—is teaching people geography. A lot of people in this country now know where Italy is. Now, that's quite an achievement. (Laughter)

And of course, on the whole, I really think that we can feel encouraged, but we mustn't be overoptimistic ....

Of course, we are trying to plan all we can on the reconversion of plants, which will be of interest to nearly all of you. I think the Executive end of things has done all it could. They have made various recommendations to Congress for legislation, and nothing has yet come out of the hopper. So the more that you do to encourage Congress to speed up a little on reconversion legislation, the better it is. We have done practically all that we can here. I don't know what will come out, but we would like to have something come out. So, if you can help on that, it's all to the good.

Industry has done a perfectly splendid job. And we are doing all we can to think not only about the rest of the war, but about the period after the war.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Excerpts from the Press Conference for Business Paper Editors Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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