View Full Version : WW2 Lancaster & B-17 Callsigns?

11th May 2019, 19:48
Evening All

Having looked on the internet for WW2 Lancaster & B-17 callsigns used in WW2, but could not find anything online. Does anyone know of the format used during that era.

Pontius Navigator
16th May 2019, 18:47
Try and find some contemporary film. ​​One of our aircraft is missing is 1942. Wellington aircraft but the tote board only has aircraft by letter, B-Bertie, T-Tommy, Q-Queenie and M-Mother.

There is also a Lancaster film shot in 1944. Target for today. I haven't had time to watch it again.
As far as the need for call signs; with several hundred bombers there is no way that each could be in contact with Command or even Group. At night they operated independently and probably radio silence or certainly minimise.

17th May 2019, 01:07
Lancaster PB187 was lost on a raid to Dortmund, radio callsign is listed as AR-E. This was one of thirteen 460 Sqd aircraft that carried the AR-E designation.


US practice here



18th May 2019, 08:54
Thanks All, I have read various books on the Lancaster during WW2 but they failed to mention it's callsign when on a mission, or when landing back at base. Will have to look at those films PN.

19th May 2019, 23:26
"No Moon Tonight" by Don Charlwood offers some clues. Don was a Lancaster navigator with 103 Sqd based at Elsham Wolds. Aerodrome control callsign was "Hazel". Perhaps this may have changed on a regular basis to prevent any eavesdropper being able to identify the real location.

Aircraft PM-L calling Elsham Wolds aerodrome control - "Hello Hazel control L London"
Calling another agency - "Hello XXXX Hazel L London"

20th May 2019, 16:11
Snaith Days by Keith S Ford (superb book if you can find it) has the following on pages 45-46:

Base and aircraft were allocated operational call signs for both R/T (voice) and C/W (morse) communications which were changed daily (June 1943): e,g. aircraft was 'Graceless, base was 'Agnola'. Aircraft of 51 squadron were designated mostly MH but some LK: e.g MH-A, LK-D. Apparently MH aircraft had different call signs to LK aircraft.

Near the end of the war some call signs were used for a longer period.

The phonetic alphabet is listed: Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog, Easy, Fox, George, How, Item, Jig or Johnny, King, Love, Mike, Nan, Oboe, Peter, Queen, Roger, Sugar, Tara, Uncle, Victor, William, X-Ray, Yoke, Zebra.

An example for 1944 landing at Snaith is given. The aircraft is MH-D with 75 minutes endurance being stacked and given a height to fly at:

A/c: 'Hello Agnola, this is Graceless D Dog 75, Over'

Flying Control: 'Hello Graceless D Dog, Agnola answering, height to fly 1,500, QFE 1,000 Over'. (QFE 1,000 meant set your altimeter to airfield barometric pressure of 1,000 millibars so that it would indicate zero altitude on landing).

The a/c would acknowledge by repeating height to fly, and join the circuit at 1,500 ft, having listened for the broadcast of the a/c ahead of it to ascertain its code letter and call sign so that the pilot could keep a check on its position whilst in circuit and when landing.

When an a/c had landed the next higher circuit would be called into land:

Flying Control: 'Hello Graceless D Dog, this is Agnola, prepare to land. Over'.

As D Dog continued its landing it would call at the various times 'Flaps', 'Wheels' and finally 'Funnels' just before final approach. This was to keep other a/c informed. After 'Funnels', if the runway was clear, Flying Control would say 'Pancake' (if the pilot couldn't land for some reason he would call 'Overshoot' and rejoin the circuit. Once landed and after clearing the runway he would call 'End Clear'.

21st May 2019, 05:12
WARNING:serious thread-drift.

The mention by megan,of the book 'No Moon Tonight' prompted a memory,so thought I would post it here.Apologies if it's the wrong place,but it may be of interest to readers.
I and some of my friends read this book in 1973(&I haven't read it since).Anyhow,the author told of an incident that occurred while he was training at RAF Lichfield,when,as I remember it,a Wellington got airborne and immediately suffered an engine failure,and came down beyond the runway.I believe the crew may have got out,but some hours later the aircraft exploded
At the time I was living in Lichfield ,and one cold February day,I and 3 of my friends,all in the local ATC squadron,decided to go to the airfield,which was now an industrial site,and follow the extended centreline,to see if there was anything remaining from the above incident.We didn't have to walk too far over the frosty fields before we came across a large,but fairly shallow depression in the ground,evidently caused by an explosion.Lying on the surface was lots of associated debris,including; a mangled pilots seat,semi-circular control yoke,rubber oxygen mask,2 oxygen bottles,remains of a steel helmet,and various sundry pieces of wreckage.We piled up the recognizable parts,and a day or two later I persuaded my father to collect them in his car,and transport them to our ATC squadron HQ,where we set-up a small museum.
Many years later,I heard that all these items had subsequently been thrown in a skip.