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Thread: Application of aircraft code letters

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  1. #1
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    Default Application of aircraft code letters

    Wondering if there were any regulations about when code letters had to be applied to an aircraft coming on strength with a unit. In particular, did they have to be applied as soon as an aircraft arrived or before it flew again? And who had the responsibility of assigning the individual code letters?

    TIA,

    Robert

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    Just a guess, but I imagine that the unit Engineer Officer would have the responsibility of ordering one of his "erks" (or more likely the NCO i/c of the aircraft finishing section, if such a sub-section existed) to paint on the aircraft's new identity. Such very minor details would be way below the commanding officer's pay scale. And if anyone has ever seen the "Ready Board" of an operational squadron, it is pretty obvious that a complete list of aircraft serial numbers and appropriate unit markings must have been held by the person responsible for chalking up the aircraft available at that precise time. I do not know of any actual regulation specifying exactly how quickly the unit identity should be painted on a replacement aircraft, but if there was, it would probably simply state "as soon as practical". In the RAF Equipment Manual there is a section dealing with marking up aircraft, but it was more concerned with the aircraft's (unique) serial number rather than unit markings.
    David D

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    Hi
    I recall reading somewhere that individual aircraft i/d letters, were divided up alphabetically by flights

    i.e. A flight had a/c letters starting with letter A
    B flight had a/c letters starting with letter I
    C flight had a/c letters ending with letter Z



    hopefully what i have typed makes sense


    i was told once that MU would put on the Sq code letters, if there was time before the a/c was despatched
    but i have been also told on forums this was not correct and only the Sq put i/d codes on

    cheers
    jerry

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    Hello Jerry,
    Happy Christmas.

    I would expect that the a/c on arrivals to a squadron would be checked over by the local mechanics and a lsquadron code appliede together with an a/c in squadron letter. The letter I propose would be the letter of the last a/c in squadron to have been lost or taken out of service. Thus the new arrival would then go to the flight that the earlier a/c had belonged to replace it.
    Also with local on field repairs an a/c being returned to service would also have either the original letter or a new letter to replace any loss or taken out of service a/c.
    Then again I could be completely wrong :)

    Alex

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    Hi

    The AMOs covering colours schemes, codes and serial numbers are on my website - https://rafweb.org/Squadrons/Sqn%20M.../sqn_codes.htm

    As Franek mentioned aircraft were brought up to operational standard at an MU before delivery but if modifications were needed after entering service, this was usually completed by teams sent out from the MU not by squadron personnel.

    Malcolm

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    Hi Franek - yes, but as you say ... 'officially' :) I'm going from comments in the 1 Group Summaries and admin insttructions about the process of forming new squadrons, generally by the transfer of 'C' Flight from an existing squadron. For eg 625 Squadron, the process is exacerbated because the station (Kelstern) is itself in the 'opening up' process. Looking at the Admin appendices in the BC ORB, the list of Mods at any one time could be considerable, many of them quite trivial and not worth sending out teams from MUs. Nor were factory-issued a/c fully up to date on Mods because of the impact on production. Hence policy was that new squadrons were issued with a/c which 'can only be described as shop-soiled' (quote from 1 Gp Summary for October 1943).

    Cheers,

    Richard
    Last edited by Richard; 28th December 2019 at 17:48.

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    Hi Richard
    I would expect the situation to be an exception rather than the rule. Obviously there were some backlogs in aircraft modification, and at times it was necesary to upgrade large numbers of aircraft in virtually no time.
    https://www.facebook.com/Franciszek-Grabowski-241360809684411/

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    I would expect new squadrons at this stage of the war to be issued with older aircraft simply to allow the crews to get flying hours and experience, and new aircraft to be issued before the unit was judged ready for operations. Older aircraft would be quite likely to be lacking more recent modifications, but unless they had specific operational value (and hence a relevance for training) I see no priority in getting them done.

    The other point is of course that modifications vary in size and complexity. Small ones would indeed be within the unit's capabilities.

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    Thanks for the feedback, gents.

    I would assume that codes had to at least be applied before any operation.

    David: You mentioned serials coverage in the RAF Equipment Manual. Would be interested to know the gist of the requirements.

    Robert

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    Three comments:

    Aircraft could fly on operations without code letters - there is a photo showing an BoB Spitfire with terminal damage to the rear fuselage but no code.
    One Hawker test pilot (Lucas?) took the prototype Mk.II when visiting a frontline unit (such visits were encouraged) only to find the unit's codes being painted on when he set out to return.
    Aircraft with very low rates of production (Sunderlands and maybe others?) could have the codes painted on before delivery as their destination was known in advance.

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