Glossary / Ranks / Abbreviations / Terms / Medals 


ABC – Airborne Cigar, the jamming of German fighter VHF radio communications

Abigail – bombing campaign against selected German towns, autumn 1940

Aldis lamp – British signal lamp manufactured by the Aldis Company

Amatol – highly explosive material, a mixture of TNT and ammonium nitrate, mixture ratios range from 80 percent ammonium nitrate/20 percent TNT, down to 50/50.

Apron – paved area surrounding a hanger

Argument – concentrated attack by RAF and USAAF on German aircraft production, Feb 1944


Barbarossa German attack on the USSR, June 1941

Benito German night fighter control system

Berlin Airborne Intercept radar

Berlin Method – policy of dropping both skymarkers and groundmarkers regardless of cloud conditions over the target

Big City – Berlin

Blood Wagon or Meat Wagon – Ambulance

Boozer – warning device to bomber Command crews of enemy radar tracking them. A yellow light illuminated if the bomber was being held in an AI beam and a red light if it was being held by a Wurzburg radar

Briar device to disrupt Egon

Bumerang German device used to detect Oboe transmissions

Bowser - a fuel truck


Carpet device used to jam Wurzburg GCI radar

Caterpillar Club – membership required an emergency parachute descent from an imperiled aircraft

Chastise – air attack on German dams. May 1943

Chop Rate – RAF slang for loss rate of aircraft on operations

Clarion – American operations to disrupt German communications and morale by wide spread bombing and fighter attacks, Feb 1945

Collect a Gong – be awarded a decoration

Commission - promotion to the rank of an Officer

Coned - when a master searchlight, often radar controlled, frequently described as having a bluish beam, picked up an aircraft, other searchlights in the area would swing onto the aircraft, thus coning it - then flak would be poured into the cone

Cookie - a barrel shaped 2000 or 4000 lb high capacity blast bomb

Corkscrew - evasive maneuver when attacked by night fighter - sharp diving turn to port followed by sharp climbing turn to starboard: one of the gunners, watching the attack, would order the pilot ”Corkscrew Go”

Corona counterfeit orders or commands transmitted by radio to German night fighters

Creepback – bomb impact drift back along the line of approach to the target

Crossbow - operational code name for Allied attacks on V-1 launch sites


Darky – RAF radio frequency for emergency calls from returning aircraft

Dartboard jamming measure used against German fighter communications

D-Day – 6 June 1944, beginning of Operation Overlord

Dickey Flight - a training flight where a pilot not experienced on operations or a senior officer returning to operations would go on an op with an experienced crew as a ”second dickey”

Dispersal - a frying pan shaped concrete or asphalt pad where bombers, were parked, armed and fueled.

Ditching – forced landing of an aircraft over water

Donnerkell device for detecting Oboe-equipped aircraft

Dragoon – invasion of southern France, summer 1944

Drem Lighting – system of outer markers and approach lights at many British airfields early war

Drumstick jamming of German fighter radio control channels

Dudelsack (Bagpipes) – device for jamming British radio and wireless transmissions

Duppel strips of metallic foil air-dropped to confuse enemy radar, Window to Allied forces


Eclipse – contingency plans for early German surrender. Not executed

Egon German radio navigation aid for night fighters

Elsan - a chemical toilet on board the aircraft

Erk - slang referred to ground crews

Exodus repatriation operation by air of Allied ex-POW’s


FIDO – Fog Investigation and Dispersal Operation. Fog dispersal for runways by using a double row of gasoline-fed burners

Fishpond – airborne radar for warning Bomber Command crews of nearby enemy aircraft

Flak German fleigerabwehrkanonen, or anti-aircraft artillery

Feldgrau - "Field Grey" - term used to describe the ordinary German soldier - from the colour of his tunic.

Flamme German device for homing on IFF and Mandrel transmissions

Flensburg (FuG 227) German electronic device to direct night fighters to Monica, Mandrel and Piperrack transmissions

Flight Louie – RAF slang for the rank of flight lieutenant

Flimsy list of “friendly” airfields in the war theatre with names, locations, signal letters and secret radio call signs changed every day. Written on rice paper , to be eaten by the navigator rather then fall into enemy hands.

Flip – a short flight in an aircraft

Freya German early warning radar

Freya-Halbe device to negate the effect of Mandrel on Freya

Fuselage - the body of an aircraft that houses the crew


Gardening - RAF code word for sea/coastal mine laying by aircraft

GEE - RAF navigational aid that could provide the navigator with a fix from pulses transmitted by three ground stations. Range approximately 300 miles.

George – automatic pilot. “Let George do it”

Gerhard German device for detecting Monica transmissions

Geschwader Luftwaffe organizational formation, roughly equivalent to an RAF group, usually composed of three Gruppen, or wings, usually made up of three Staffen or squadrons.

Gone for a Burton – slang referred to a missing airman or crew

GP – General Purpose bombs, manufactured in 250, 500, 1000, 4000 pound sizes

G-H – Allied blind bombing device. Oboe in reverse

Giant Wurzburg German early warning radar permitting fighter controllers to track night fighters and their targets.

Gisella – German attack on Bomber Command airfields, March 1945

Gomorrah – concentrated incendiary operations against Hamburg, July-August 1943

Goodwood – attack by second British Army southeast of Caen, July 1944

Grand Slam - A 22000lb high explosive bomb

Grocer another RAF device for jamming German AI radars

Gruppe - [plural: Gruppen]: Group


H2S - RAF bombing aid which produced a radar 'picture' of the terrain over which the aircraft was passing

H2X – American version of H2S

Halibag – s lang for Handley Page Halifax bomber

Happy Valley – slang for the Ruhr Valley, much bombed and very heavily defended

HC – High Capacity blast effect bombs, manufactured in 2000, 4000, 8000, and 12,000 pound sizes

Heinrich German device for jamming Gee transmissions

Helle Nachtjagd – German air defense system of searchlights to highlight enemy bombers for flak and night fighters

Himmelbett “Bedspring in the Heavens” German air defense system extending from Denmark to middle of France. It used radio communications to integrate early warning and interception radar facilities, searchlight and flak batteries, fighter control stations and fighter squadrons. Also known as the Kammhuber Line, after its founder.

Husky - Allied invasion of Sicily, July 1943

Hydra – Bomber Command attack on Peenemunde, August 1943


IFF – Identification Friend or Foe. Allied electronic target discrimination device

Incendiary – bomb designed to start and sustain fires. Manufactured by Allies in 4 pound size (MK. IV Thermite; Type E and Type X) and 30 pound size (Jet J and phosphorous)


Jagdschloss another German early warning radar

Jostle device to jam german radar transmissions, particularly AA barrage fire

Jubilee – amphibious raid on Dieppe, 19 august 1942


Kiel German infra-red detection device

Knickebein German navigation and bombing aid

Korfu radar homing device used against H2S

Kriegsmarine - The German Navy


Lanc – s lang for Avro Lancaster bomber

Laubfrosch German device for detecting H2S emissions

Lichenstein German Airborne Intercept radar

Lorrie - a heavy truck used on base

Luftwaffe - German Air Force


Mae West – life-saving waistcoat for sea survival, named after famous American actress

Main Spar - a structural element of an aircraft’s wing that runs through the fuselage

Mammut – German early warning radar

Mandrel - airborne radar jamming device operating in the 85-135 MHz wave band to counter the Freya early warning system, Airborne radio swamping of the German early warning system

Manna – air operation to supply starving Dutch, April-May 1945

MC – Medium-Capacity blast effect bomb. Manufactured in 250, 500, 1000, 4000, 12,0000 and 22,000 pound sizes

Met – weather report – meteorological conditions

Millennium – first 1,000 bomber raid, conducted against Cologne, May 1942

Monica - radar fitted in rear of Bomber Command aircraft to provide some early warning of night fighters; in July 1944 it was found that Monica was being detected as a homing signal for the Luftwaffe

Musical prefix added top marking techniques when Oboe Mosquitoes did primary marking


NAAFI - Navy, Army, Air Force Institute, a support organization that provided comforts to commonwealth troops

Naxburg German ground based radar used for tracking H2S emissions

Naxos German airborne radar for tracking H2S

Neptun another German AI radar, used later in the airwar

Newhaven technique for ground marking targets with flares or target markers, blind-dropped by H2S or Oboe, and confirmed by visual identification of target. Termed “H2S Newhaven” or Musical Newhaven” depending on target-finding aid used.

Nickeling – propaganda leaflet raids

Noball – code name for V1/V2 site


Oboe - ground-controlled radar system of blind bombing in which one station indicated track to be followed and another the bomb release point, used by Pathfinders for target marking

Obviate – Lancaster operation against the Tripitz, Oct 1944

Occult – system of beacons positioned along the British coast, with a secondary belt further inland, that flashed Morse code signals to approaching aircraft to help them fix their location.

OKL – Oberkommando der Luftwaffe Luftwaffe headquarters

OKW – Oberkommando der Wehrmacht – Armed Forces Headquarters

Operational – RAF slang for anything that works

Ops – combat operations or missions


Pancake – slang for crash-landing aircraft with landing gear retracted

Parametta – technique for ground marking targets with coloured Target Indicators (Tis) blind-dropped by H2S or Oboe. Called “H2S Parametta” or “Musical Parametta”, depending on target–finding aid used

Perfectos British electronic device that triggered German IFF equipment

PFF - Pathfinder Force - Small group of aircraft which, after finding the target, put down flares to guide the following bombers. No. 8 Group Bomber Command

Photoflash – 19 pound or 40 pound 4.5 inch bomb produced a photographic flash when a bomb was released, so camera on aircraft could photograph bomb release point

Pickwick – code name for instruction to Main Force from Pathfinders to bomb upwind edge of target smoke

Pink Pansy – 2700 pound red target marker

Piperack British airborne device for jamming German AI radars

Plunder – British 21st Army Group crossing of Rhine R., March 1945

Pointblank – bombing directive by Joint Chiefs of Staff for bombing priorities of Combined Bomber offensive, June 1943

Port - left side of a/c

Prang – slang for crash, destroy or damage an aircraft severely

Pundit – technique to identify friendly airfields to aircrews by flashing Morse signals



Ramrod/Circuses – code names for 1941 Fighter Command effort to lure Luftwaffe into battle by selective bombing of ground targets with a few heavily-escorted bombers

Red Blob – 250 pound red target marker

Reichstag - The German Parliament


Sagebock German electronic device for detecting IFF emissions from Allied aircraft

Scarecrow mythical German pyrotechnics designed to simulate destruction of a bomber in flight. In fact, all alleged Scarecrows were genuine mid-air explosions

Schrage Musik “Hot or Slanted jazz music” German term for upward firing 20mm cannons used in German night fighters

Scrubbed – RAF slang for operation cancelled

Second Dickey – RAF slang for a pilot or a new aircraft captain flying with an operationally-seasoned crew to gain experience prior to taking his own assigned crew out on their first operation

Serrate - RAF airborne radar used to home on the German night fighters' Liechtenstein bomber detection equipment

Serrate sortie - operation to locate and destroy enemy night fighters and combined with night bomber raids. Made use of airborne radar

Shaker – 1942 target identification technique employing incendiary bombs dropped by Gee-equipped marking aircraft

Shiver jamming device used against Wurzburg GCI radars

Shooting a line – slang for exaggerating one’s accomplishments. In the RAF, “Shooting a line” was considered bad form

Sledgehammer – plan (instigated by Americans) for limited invasion of France 1942

Smoke Puff – sky marker for day/night blind bombing, filled with red, green, blue, or yellow pigment, that left a persistent smoke stain in target area

SN 2 – German AI radar

Sky Marker Floater – 250 pound cluster projectile with 27 coloured parachute flares

Sortie - one aircraft doing one trip to target and back

Spanner early German infra-red airborne target detection device

Spoof – subsidiary attack to draw enemy night fighters away from the Main Force

Sprog – slang for inexperienced crew, or newcomers to operations

Spot Fire – 250 pound red, green or yellow target marker

Starboard - the right side of the a/c as seen from pilot's seat

Steinbock – German air attacks on London, 1940


Tail End Charlie - slang for a tail/rear gunner in a bomber, or pilot of rear aircraft in formation

Take to the silk – slang for bail out an aircraft

Tallboy – 12,000 pound high-velocity deep penetration bomb

Thunderclap – originally planned as a massive air attack on Berlin to hasten German surrender. First proposed August 1944 for spring 1945, but not executed in its planned form

TI – Target Indicator. A 250 pound bomb case packed with 60 9-inch green, red or yellow candles, or a 1000 pound bomb case packed with 200 candles

Tiger Force – RAF (and Dominion) component tasked to assist Americans in strategic bombing of Japan

Tinsel – jamming of German fighter radio communication and control channels

Torch – Allied invasion of northwest Africa, November 1942

Totalize – First Canadian Army attack toward Falaise, August 1944

Tractable – follow-up First Canadian Army attack to close Falaise gap, August 1944

Trailing Aerial - a cable like radio aerial that was extended and retracted during flight


Ultra – signals intelligence derived from penetration of German Enigma cipher machines

Undercarriage - Landing gear


V1 - The first of the operational German weapons of reprisal or "Vergeltungswaffen" - the V-1 was a pilotless flying bomb powered by a pulse-jet engine and carried a 850kg (1875lb) high-explosive warhead, and had a range of up to 200km

V2 - Also known as the successor to the V-1 was a long range rocket powered by liquid oxygen and alcohol, it had a 975kg (2150lb) high-explosive warhead and a range of 320km

V3 - Long-range smooth-bore gun designed to fire shells with up to 10kg (22lb) high-explosive warhead and a range of 93km - never very successful as most installations were destroyed by bombing before they could be used

VE-Day - Victory in Europe Day - 8th May 1945

Vegetable – air-dropped sea mine

Veritable – First Canadian Army attack on Rhineland, February- March 1945

Very Pistol - a flare gun used for signal

Village Inn British tail-mounted, rear-looking warning radar

VJ Day - Victory over Japan Day - 15th August 1945


Waffen SS - The branch of the S.S. which formed military fighting divisions

Wanganui – sky-marking targets with coloured flares markers blind-dropped by H2S or Oboe

Wasserman – German early-warning radar

Wehrmacht - German armed forces

Whitebait – code name for summer 1943 Bomber Command raids on Berlin

Wilde Sau – “Wild Boar” German “Freelance” night fighter

Wimpy – slang for Vickers Wellington bomber

Window - strips of metallic foil precisely cut to wavelength of enemy radar, air-dropped in bundles to confuse those radars with a saturation of false echoes. Also called “Chaff”

Wingco – slang for wing commander rank

Wizard – slang for first class, or deserving highest praise

Wurzburg German ground controlled interception radar



“Y” Aircraft – Bomber Command aircraft equipped with H2S

Ypsilon German night fighter control system


Zahme Sau “Tame Boar,” German controlled night fighter

Zephyrs – average winds aloft provided by selected crews and broadcast to all participating bombers on a raid


Non Commissioned

AC2 – Aircrafts man 2nd class

AC1 – Aircrafts man 1st class

LAC - Leading Aircrafts man

Cpl - Corporal

Sgt - Sergeant

F/Sgt - Flight Sergeant

W/O2 - Warrant Officer 2nd class (RCAF only)

W/O1 - Warrant Officer 1st class (RCAF only)

W/O - Warrant Officer

Commissioned Ranks

P/O - Pilot Officer

F/O - Flying Officer

F/Lt - Flight Lieutenant

S/L - Squadron Leader

Senior Commissioned Ranks

W/C - Wing Commander

G/C - Group Captain

A/C - Air Commodore

AM - Air Marshall

ACM - Air Chief Marshall

AVM - Air Vice Marshall

Allied Abbreviations  (*Glossary)

AASF – Advanced Air Striking Force

ABC – Airborne Cigar*

AEF - Air Experience Flight

AFDU – Air Fighting Development Unit

AFTS – Advanced Flying Training School

AFS – Advanced Flying School

AFU - Advanced Flying Unit

AGLT – Automatic Gun-Laying Turret

AGS - Air Gunnery School

AI – Airborne Intercept

ANS - Air Navigation School

AOC – Air Officer Commanding

AOC-in-C- Air Officer Commanding in Chief

AOS - Air Observsers School

AP - Aiming Point

API – Air Position Indicator

ASI - Air Speed Indicator

BCATP – British Commonwealth Air Training Plan

BCDU – Bomber Command Development Unit

B&GS - Bombing & Gunnery School

CAS – Chief of the Air Staff

CB – Companion of the Order of the Bath

CBE – Companion of the Order of the British Empire

CBO – Combined Bomber Offensive

CFS - Central flying school

C/O: Commanding Officer

EFTS - Elementary Flying Training School

ETO - European Theatre of Operations

F/E - Flight Engineer

FIDO – Fog Investigation and Dispersal Operation*

FIS - Flying Instructors School

FTR – Failed To Return

GP – General Purpose*

HC – High Capacity *

HCU - Heavy Conversion Unit

HE – High Explosive bomb

HF – High Frequency radio

HF/DF – High Frequency Direction Finding

IAS - Indicated Air Speed

IFF – Identification Friend or Foe*

LMF – Lack of Morale Fiber

M - Magnitude

M of C - Master Bomber (Master of Ceremonies)

MBE – Member of the Order of the British Empire

MC – Medium Capacity*

MEW – Ministry of Economic Warfare

NAAFI - Navy, Army, Air Force Institute*

N/CO - Non-Commissioned Officer

OBE – Officer of the British Empire

OCU – Operational Conversion Unit

ORB – Operational Record Book

ORS – Operational Research Section

OTU - Operational Training Unit

P/A - Primary Area

PFF - Path Finder Force*

POW – Prisoner Of War

PPI – Planned Position Indicator

RAAF - Royal Australian Air Force

RNZAF - Royal New Zealand Air Force

SASO – Senior Air Staff Officer

SFTS - Secondary Flight Training School

SHAEF – Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force

SOE – Special Operations Executive

SOSO – Senior Operations Staff Officer

TA - Target Area

TI - Target Indicator*

USAAF – United States America Air Force

VCAS – Vice-Chief of the Air Staff

VHF – Very High Frequency (radio)

WAAF - Women Auxiliary Air Force

WS - Wireless School


VC - Victoria Cross

GC – George Cross

OB - Order of Bath

DSO - Distinguished Service Order

DSC - Distinguished Service Cross

MC – Military Cross

DFC - Distinguished Flying Cross

AFC – Air Force Cross

RRC – Royal Red Cross

CGM – Conspicuous Gallantry Medal

GM – George Medal

DFM - Distinguished Flying Medal

AFM – Air Force Medal

BEM – British Empire Medal

OBE – Order of the British Empire

DFC – Distinguished Flying Cross

DFM – Distinguished Flying Medal

MiD – Mention in Despatches