RAF radio alphabet
The RAF radiotelephony spelling alphabet was used by the British Royal Air Force (RAF) to aid communication after the take-up of radio, especially to spell out aircraft identification letters, e.g. "H-Harry", "G for George" etc. Several alphabets were used, before being superseded by the adoption of the NATO/ICAO radiotelephony alphabet. While sometimes referred to as the "RAF Phonetic Alphabet", it is a spelling alphabet rather than a true phonetic alphabet.
During World War I both British Army and British Navy had developed their own quite separate spelling alphabets. The Navy system was full alphabet, starting: Apples, Butter, Charlie, Duff, Edward, but the RAF alphabet was based on that of the "signalese" of the army signallers. This was not a full alphabet, but differentiated only the letters most frequently misunderstood: Ack (originally "Ak"), Beer (or Bar), C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, eMma, N, O, Pip, Q, R, eSses, Toc, U, Vic, W, X, Y, Z.
|1921 – 1942||1942–1956|
- 1 The choice of Nuts following Monkey is probably from "monkey nuts" = peanuts; likewise Orange and Pip can be similarly paired.
- 2 "Vic" subsequently entered the English language as the standard (Vee-shaped) flight pattern of three aircraft.