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AAA Ground Recognition Signals

The following comments from the commander of the U.S. 5th Armored Division on the proper use of ground recognition signals were published in “Antiaircraft Artillery Notes,” No. 5, November 22, 1944.

Subject: Use of Ground Recognition Signals
Source: AA Section, Headquarters Twelfth Army Group

The following extract is taken from AAA Situation Report No. 98, First US Army:

*    *    *    *

“a. The following is quoted from a letter received at this headquarters from the Commanding General, 5th Armored Division:

“‘1. At approximately 1630, 2 November 1944, nine to twelve P-38s approached the CP of the 47th Armored Field Artillery Battalion located in a group of buildings about fifty (50) yards south of paved highway one mile southeast of ROETGEN (K-919273). After circling the CP twice, the three lead planes broke out of the circle and flew off in the direction of ROETGEN. The next three planes made a diving attack of the CP, dropping six bombs. ******* The 440th AAA thereupon fired six recognition flares, at which the remaining planes pulled out of dive without dropping bombs and dipped their wings and left the area.*******

“‘3 ******* AA did not fire on planes, other than recognition flares.’

“b. The AAA complied strictly with standing instructions, by firing flares and withholding fire of their weapons. The friendly A/C, recognizing the signal and the lack of fire from the ground, immediately ceased the attack. This exemplifies the manner in which such incidents must be handled.”


Buckingham I Aircraft Recognition

Buckingham I aircraft recognition from “Antiaircraft Artillery Notes,” No. 6, November 28, 1944.

Subject: Aircraft Recognition
Source: AA Section, Headquarters, Twelfth Army Group.

a. A new type medium bomber, the BUCKINGHAM I, is just becoming operational with the RAF. All AAA gunners in the Theater should be on the lookout for this aircraft.

b. The following information is available on the BUCKINGHAM I:

(1) Type: Twin-engine medium bomber (British).
(2) Manufacturer: Bristol.
(3) Engines: Two Bristol Centaurus.
(4) Wing span: 71′ 0″.
(5) Length: 46′ 6″.
(6) Armament: Forward – 4 x .303
                    Top – 4 x .303
                    Bottom – 2 x .303
(7) Description:

(a) Head on view – A flat mid-wing monoplane, with rectangular shaped fuselage. Two engines, underslung. Dual fin and rudder, outboard of engine nacelles.

(b) Plan view – Two engine nacelles extending almost as far forward as nose of aircraft. Nacelles protrude beyond trailing-edge of wing slightly. Wing is swept back and slightly tapered with rounded tips. Tailplane is long, straight, with square tips.

(c) Side view – Top and underside line of fuselage broken with gun blisters. Oval-shaped fin and rudder.

c. Silhouette views of BUCKINGHAM I are shown in Incl. 1.

Bristol Buckingham Aircraft


B-17E Recognition

U.S. War Department WWII Recognition Guide for the B-17E Flying Fortress:

B-17E Flying Fortress Recognition Drawing

DISTINGUISHING FEATURES: Four-engine, low-wing monoplane. Wings equally tapered with rounded tips and full dihedral. Long, narrow fuselage. Gun turret on top of fuselage just aft of pilot’s cockpit enclosure. Large ventral turret aft of wings. Tail has broad single fin and rudder with fin faired far forward into fuselage. Large stabilizer and elevator, similar in shape to the wing.

INTEREST: Designed for high altitude, daytime precision bombing of restricted targets, the B–17 was the first long-range American bomber. Intended primarily for long flights over the Pacific, great fuel capacity rather than tremendous bomb load was emphasized in the individual design. It now does effective work, however, for the Army Air Forces in raids at shorter range in Europe, North Africa, and in the Southwest Pacific. The relative lack of armament characterizing early models is now corrected so it is possible on some missions to operate under the protection of its own guns without fighter escort. The early models, B–17 to B–17D had a much smaller fin with straight leading edge intersecting the fuselage back of the L.E. of the stabilizer.

Identify when Approaching Allied Ships

Identify when Approaching Allied Ships

Note to Pilots: This could be YOU!
Identify when Approaching Allied Ships!

GO AHEAD! Fly over one of our ships without identifying. Test the crew’s quickness on recognition… if you want that plane you’re flying punctured like a hunk of swiss cheese! Then, should you live to add up the count–you undoubtably won’t!–you can flatter the AA crews on how accurate their lead is!

But it’s saner and safer, to identify. Remember, AA crews are plenty yough and trained to shoot. If you approach Allied ships and leave them doubtful as to whether you’re friend or foe, they won’t ask too many questions, wait too long…

Don’t expect crews to take chances. They’ve had ships blown from under them, seen shipmates machine-gunned to death because they were slow to act. And most of the unfortunate cases where friendly planes were shot out of the sky were the fault of pilots who failed to identify their planes as friendly.

So don’t you take chances. Ships will challenge, but don’t wait. It’s the pilot’s responsibility to identify first.

Ships will recognize, but don’t stake your social security on it. They may not be sure, there may be clouds, enemy planes…

In the final analysis, it’s that ship and its big complement against your plane and lonely little you. You’re valuable, but you know which counts more with the Fleet!

RECOMMENDED READING: (1) Recognition and Identification Sense, (2) Identify… or Else! reprint from Naval Aviation News.

Source: Naval Aviation News, August 1, 1944.

Learn to Recognize These Half-Tracks

Halftracks Recognition Poster

( Training Poster, U.S. Army Orientation Course )


WEFT Aircraft Recognition

WEFT (Wing, Engine, Fuselage, Tail) System for Aircraft Recognition — Training Poster.

WEFT, Wing Engine Fuselage Tail, WW2 Aircraft Recognition Poster

Tanks of the British Army

( U.S. War Department, Newsmap )


Macchi C.202 Folgore Italian Fighter

U.S. War Department WWII Recognition Guide for the Italian Macchi C.202 Folgore (“Thunderbolt”) fighter. The Folgore fighter aircraft was designed by Mario Castoldi and manufactured by Macchi Aeronautica. The Folgore served with the Italian Regia Aeronautica throughout WWII on all fronts. (The Folgore is also referred to as the MC.202.)

Macchi C.202 Folgore Italian Fighter WW2

Continue reading Macchi C.202 Folgore Italian Fighter

Trying to Capture an Intact Tiger in Tunisia

Brief note on British attempts to capture an intact German Tiger I tank in Tunisia from “The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in Action”, Military Review, Vol. 23. Presumably, this Tiger is #231 of sPzAbt. 501 which was initially captured by the British largely intact, but the Tiger was then destroyed. Reports differ as to whether the Tiger was destroyed by the Germans or the British.

The work of keeping the minefields clear of wreckage or of immobilized vehicles has already received considerable public notice; no less important nor less hazardous is the location and salvaging of damaged equipment in close proximity to the enemy, and many a tank and gun has been so snatched from under the very noses of the enemy. Sometimes much stalking and considerable planning has been rendered abortive by some adverse turn of fortune’s wheel, and amongst such abortive effects may be mentioned a plan, almost successfully completed, for taking intact one of the earliest German Mk. VI (Tiger) tanks to be knocked out in Tunisia. After a stalk occupying one night and a day’s lie-up awaiting darkness for the actual removal of the tank, the Light Aid Detachment party were denied their success during the last few hours of daylight through circumstances over which they had no control. More frequently, however, as is testified by the astonishing proportion (eighty-three percent) of tank casualties restored to their owners without evacuation during the difficult opening stages of the action at El Alamein, the stalking and the plans are alike successful.


British Aircraft

British Aircraft of World War 2 Poster

( Newsmap, U.S. War Department )