ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Herbert Lanese, who has directed McDonnell Douglas Corp.'s military business since March, was abruptly fired Friday over a difference in leadership styles with chief executive Harry Stonecipher.

In a three-paragraph statement, Stonecipher said it was ``obvious to me that these differences could not be reconciled.''

``Although Herb and I were in total agreement regarding business objectives and strategy, we had sharp differences involving management and leadership styles,'' he said.

Company spokesman Larry McCracken said Lanese's departure as president of McDonnell Douglas Aerospace was effective immediately. He said the company would not comment further.

The announcement was made after the stock market closed. McDonnell Douglas stock ended the day down 50 cents a share at $53.12 1/2 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Lanese was responsible for military aircraft, missile systems, military and commercial helicopters, and space and electronic systems. Stonecipher will oversee those operations until a successor is chosen.

Jack Modzelewski, an analyst with PaineWebber Inc., was surprised by the news. But he said Lanese was more suited to the financial side of the business than line management.

Modzelewski said he presumed Lanese's management during a 99-day strike by some 6,700 Machinists that ended Sept. 16 had something to do with the decision. ``His style is curt. He is a no-nonsense person.''

Mike Schoen, assistant director of Machinists District 837, said union workers held Lanese responsible for a lot of the bitter feelings from the strike and ``seem to be quite elated'' by his ouster.

In particular, Machinists remember Lanese being quoted in newspapers as saying convenience store clerks with two weeks training could do their jobs, he said.

``I think it will relieve a lot of the pressure on that shop floor,'' Schoen said. ``There's been a lot of animosity built up toward Herb Lanese and the company during the strike.''

Lanese joined McDonnell Douglas in 1989 as senior vice president of finance. He was deputy president of aerospace for about nine months before being promoted.

Before joining McDonnell Douglas, he was senior vice president and controller of Tenneco Inc.

Earlier this month, McDonnell Douglas reported slightly higher third-quarter earnings _ $195 million _ despite the Machinists strike. Military profits rose 6.7 percent and its commercial business turned last year's loss into a $23 million profit.