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Classic Wings Magazine WWII Naval Aviation Research Pacific Luftwaffe Resource Center
When Hollywood Ruled The Skies - Volumes 1 through 4 by Bruce Oriss


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2020 5:04 pm 
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We all know how the British ended up adopting American nicknames for their aircraft, but I only recently realized how extensive the problem of linguistic intermixing was and how it apparently rubbbed a number of people the wrong way.

First, I will note that a number of American wartime aircraft manuals actually have an "American to British glossary":
Attachment:
File comment: Structural Repair Instructions for A-36, P-51, F-6, and TF-51; T.O. No. 01-60-3, Page 506
01-60-3.png
01-60-3.png [ 932.79 KiB | Viewed 823 times ]

(Source: AirCorps Library)
Attachment:
File comment: Pilot's Flight Operating Instructions P-51B-1 Airplane, AN 01-60JD-1, Page 58
01-60JD-1.png
01-60JD-1.png [ 148.19 KiB | Viewed 823 times ]

(Source: AirCorps Library)

Furthermore, I recently came across this interesting opinion piece in the back of a wartime book:
R. A. Saville Sneath wrote:
The officially recommended term ‘propeller’ has been used in the present book. "Propeller," generally used in the early days of aviation, has for some years been replaced in Great Britain by "airscrew," which has the advantage of indicating the medium in which the screw operates. Further, the distinction between pusher and tractor airscrew is easily made, but to speak of a pusher propeller or a tractor propeller involves use of redundant or of mutually contradictory terms.

The recent adoption of the less precise term "propeller" by the Ministry of Aircraft Production and other official bodies is stated to be due to confusion arising between "aircrew" and "airscrew." Possibly a more cogent reason is the fact that "propeller" is generally used in the United States. In adopting common standard terms which would prevent confusion and avoid delay in the shipping of essential parts to battle zones, concessions have been made from time to time by both nations. These minor changes may be accepted with goodwill in the interests of Allied solidarity, but let them not ask us to exchange our indispensable British braces for transatlantic suspenders!

The official recommendation is not uniformly adopted, nor has it been recognized by any revision of the standard nomenclature of the British Standards Institution. An authoritative ruling appears to be desirable.

Source: R. A. Saville-Sneath, British Aircraft, First Annual, vol. One (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1944), 224.

This resentment may have been the result of the British having to adopt so many American aircraft since, as has been noted elsewhere, so many of the British naval aircraft were obsolete. It is also worth noting that we Americans commandeered their Chad as our Kilroy.

As George Bernard Shaw said, not coincidentally, in September 1942:
George Bernard Shaw wrote:
England and America are two countries separated by the same language!

(Source: Quote Investigator)

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2020 7:40 am 
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It was the Americans that copied the British in officially naming aircraft rather than the other way around. Prior to the Mustang, a manufacturer may have had an internal name or export name (all Curtiss fighters were "Hawks", and internally the NA-73 was the "Apache" for a while), but officially the US Army didn't use anything but the numerical designation at first.
No better example can be found than armo(u)red vehicles. The British doctrine of naming US made tanks after US Generals has stuck

Otherwise, the struggle is real. I developed an interest in the workings of automobiles later than most of my peers, and British ones at that, so I learned Automotive English before I learned Automotive American, and had to mentally translate for a while.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2020 1:45 pm 
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shrike wrote:
It was the Americans that copied the British in officially naming aircraft rather than the other way around.

You're right, I made a mistake in not thinking what I was writing through enough. It was kind of a weird back and forth. At the beginning, we Americans did copy British nicknames for aircraft. However, what I was trying to get at was that as the war went on and we started to develop and promote our own nicknames, American nicknames started to supersede British ones. For example, Wildcat replacing Martlet, Avenger instead of Tarpon, Hellcat instead of Gannet. Interestingly, these are all for naval aircraft, which is the connection I was making with the British having to adopt American aircraft.

What is interesting to me is that the two naming formats came together to form the modern way of referring to aircraft. The Americans used designations (e.g. P-51), but not nicknames and the British used nicknames (Mustang), but not designations. So, now, most aircraft use both (P-51 Mustang).

As to why Americans started adopting the British practice of using nicknames, I've seen it suggested in a limited number of places that it was motivated by secrecy. Apparently, the theory was that if we stuck to designations, the enemy could guess something about our airplane development from the sequence of the numbers. In other words, they could figure out that the P-51 was more advanced than the P-40 because it had a higher number, or that there were 10 pursuit plane models between the two. (See the German tank problem) So by only using nicknames publicly, it would deprive the enemy of such information.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2020 2:45 pm 
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Hmm. The only American fighter I can think of that didn't have a nickname was the P-35 - or did it?

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2020 9:04 am 
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Noha307 wrote:

As to why Americans started adopting the British practice of using nicknames, I've seen it suggested in a limited number of places that it was motivated by secrecy. Apparently, the theory was that if we stuck to designations, the enemy could guess something about our airplane development from the sequence of the numbers. In other words, they could figure out that the P-51 was more advanced than the P-40 because it had a higher number, or that there were 10 pursuit plane models between the two. (See the German tank problem) So by only using nicknames publicly, it would deprive the enemy of such information.


It's an interesting thought, but it would only work when 'new' designs were developed in secrecy >during< a conflict.
Just like bold markings on otherwise camouflaged vehicles, in operational practice knowing what your own stuff is is more important than depriving the enemy of that casual knowledge. (a good, albeit obscure example is the Polish Wz35 'Uruguay' an effective anti-tank rifle so shrouded in secrecy, that when they were needed, no one knew they existed)
Also, in peace time, commercial concerns arise. A manufacturer is more than happy to produce things for export where allowed, and marketing is required (TBH, marketing is required to get something adopted within a normal procurement. "Sexiness" and selling sometimes trump conventional or best practice, which is why the F-117 was black instead of splinter blue, and the F-35 isn't the F-24 like it should be

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2020 12:19 pm 
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Chris Brame wrote:
Hmm. The only American fighter I can think of that didn't have a nickname was the P-35 - or did it?


The North American P-64 never had a name attached to it

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2020 1:05 pm 
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and a sample of German Aviation lingo
.
Attachment:
German airborn lingo sample.JPG
German airborn lingo sample.JPG [ 454.77 KiB | Viewed 418 times ]


Attachment:
German airborn lingo sample 2.JPG
German airborn lingo sample 2.JPG [ 355.21 KiB | Viewed 413 times ]


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2020 3:43 pm 
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Lived in the UK for the first 31 years & the US for the next 29. Was hired to help resto a Spit in the US after a conversation that started with "Can you translate this manual into American English?"

I'm now fully bilingual

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2020 7:25 am 
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British manuals can be so much fun," Give the housing a hearty thump with a wicket", corrective action for a stuck impulse coupling on a Gipsy Major

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2020 9:03 am 
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Matt Gunsch wrote:
British manuals can be so much fun," Give the housing a hearty thump with a wicket", corrective action for a stuck impulse coupling on a Gipsy Major

...And make sure you loosen/tighten your knock off lugs on your auto with the proper lolly.....

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2020 7:58 pm 
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airnutz wrote:
Matt Gunsch wrote:
British manuals can be so much fun," Give the housing a hearty thump with a wicket", corrective action for a stuck impulse coupling on a Gipsy Major

...And make sure you loosen/tighten your knock off lugs on your auto with the proper lolly.....


UNDO

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2020 4:13 pm 
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I still consider one of my greatest achievements in my aviation career was when I convinced a British colleague that "torch" was a dumb name for a flashlight.

He wouldn't budge on anything else though, especially "aluminium".


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2020 11:41 pm 
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PropsRule wrote:
I still consider one of my greatest achievements in my aviation career was when I convinced a British colleague that "torch" was a dumb name for a flashlight.

He wouldn't budge on anything else though, especially "aluminium".


Try to convince him that Fag is a bad name for a cigarette


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2020 6:17 am 
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When building a british plane....Jig drill with xxxxxxxx part...
And fettling with lots of swearing about the handbuilt extra complication of British cottage industrial assemblies.... :axe:

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2020 11:12 pm 
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Spitty wrote:
When building a british plane....Jig drill with xxxxxxxx part...
And fettling with lots of swearing about the handbuilt extra complication of British cottage industrial assemblies.... :axe:


That's why we invented the elongated bolt hole. If Part A has a 1/8x1/2in hole on the X axis & Part B has the same size hole on the Y axis you now have a 1/2x1/2in area in which to get the bolt in the 1/8in *hole*. First came across this on a Spitfire, wouldn't at all surprise me to find the same thing on a new Typhoon...

And there's bigger versions, 3/16x3/4 & 1/4x1in spring to mind. 3/16x3/4 are VERY popular. If you ever get a chance to look inside a Spitfire fuselage behind the cockpit you'll be all "Holy sugar, he wasn't joking" :spit :drink3:

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