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Thread: RAF WWII Radio Communications

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    Default RAF WWII Radio Communications

    I am trying to get accurate understanding and examples of RAF WWII radio communications air-to-air and between Controllers and pilots....Format, terminology, slang, etc. I am specifically interested in such procedures/terminology durng Battle of Britain timeframe, '40-41

    My sense is that the RAF communication of that timeframe were much more 'conversational', lacking the brevity codes to which we are accustomed...For example, It's my understanding that responses to controllers would likely something like, "Message received, loud and clear", "Understood" (rather than 'Affirmative"), "Listening out" rather than "Over", NEVER "Roger Wilco" (until later in the War, with new phonetic alphabet and USAAF influence). Did they use the term "Copy" to mean they had received and understood a message??

    Any assistance will be greatly appreciated. Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    Thanked 7 Times in 7 Posts


    I would not expect fighter pilots in the Battle of Britain to use long, formal phrases in R/T communications! In fact Fighter Command devised a type of shorthand specifically for fighter pilots in about 1938/39, which included words such as "Scramble" (guess what that means?), "pancake" (opposite of scramble), "Angels" (altitude in thousands of feet, although later in Battle RAF learned that Germans were reading this information so introduced a deliberate "error" into R/T transmissions of this data so as to mislead unwanted ears!) I think "Tally Ho" was also introduced in this original system (means enemy formation sighted), as was "Bandits", but I will have to find a copy of the first official list of these codes to confirm. The result of these special codes gave the R/T language a distinctive brevity and style, and if you watch the "Battle of Britain" film I am sure you wiull get the hang of it pretty quickly - I bet you will find that it sounds somehow familiar! I would not be surprised to learn that the Americans also borrowed much of this "language" and no doubt the Germans, etc, also had equivalent dialects.
    David D

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