RNZAF Slanguage
A look at the Slang Language of the wartime RNZAF




2TAF - Abbreviation for 2nd Tactical Air Force


AA - Anti Aircraft, referring to the artillery guns that were used to fire shells at aircraft, in the hope to destroy them

AACU - Anti Aircraft Co-Operation Unit

ABDA - Abbreviation for American British Dutch Australian Command

AC1 - A lowly rank in the RNZAF, Aircraftsman 1st Class (above AC2 and below LAC)- colloquially known as an Erk

AC2 - The lowest rank in the RNZAF, Aircraftsman 2nd Class - colloquially known as an Erk

ACH/GD - Abbreviation for the rank of Aircraft Hand/ General Duties. This was a rank held by both men and women, and this meant they were really in a tradeless profession – and could turn their hand to all sorts of duties around an RNZAF Station as general helpers. In the modern RNZAF the equivalent is a General Service Hand (GSH)

ACMB - Abbreviation for Aircrew Medical Board

ACSEA - Abbreviation for Air Commander South-east Asia

Adj - Abbreviation for Adjutant

Adjutant - An officer in a position of responsibility, mainly in an administrative capacity, such as Squadron Adjutant, or Station Adjutant (now known as Base Adjutant or Base Adj in the modern RNZAF) who was in charge of the Orderly Room

Adm - Abbreviation for admitted

Admin - An abbreviation for the Administrative Section

Admin, The - ‘The Admin' was a nickname for the Administrative Officer

ADU - Abbreviation for the Aerodrome Defence Unit. These units were set up to protect RNZAF Stations from attack and invading forces. They were made up from both Army and Air Force personnel, and they would camp on the perimeter of an airfield and would patrol its borders

AEAF - Abbreviation for Allied Expeditionary Air Forces

AES - Abbreviation for Air Electronics School

AFC - Air Force Cross, a medal award

AFM- Air Force Medal, a medal award

AFTS - Advanced Flying Training School

AGS - Air Gunners School

AGTS - Advanced Ground Training School

AGS - Abbreviation for Air Gunners School

AHQ - The abbreviation for Air Headquarters. In the early part of the war the name was changed in fact to the Air Department, but the nickname of AHQ remained

AHQ - Abbreviation for Allied Forces Headquarters

Airgraph - A system of sending bulk mail in the smallest possible space. An airgraph was mail that was photographed and shrunk onto microfilm. The microfilm was sent from, say, the UK to New Zealand, and then at the other end each was projected up and printed at the original size. These cost so much per word, like a telegram, and they had standard phrases you could buy like "Hello Mum and Dad", "Arrived safely", or "I am well", etc. Or you could also get them to write your own text if need be.

Angels - The RAF code for every 1000 feet in altitude. So "Angels 2-0" meant 20,000 feet, etc.

Angels Upwards - expression meaning to climb, gain height, in an aircraft

ANS - Abbreviation for Air Navigation School

AOC - Abbreviation for Air Officer Commanding

AOC-in-C - Abbreviation for Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief

AOP - Abbreviation for Air Observation Post

AOR - Abbreviation for At Own Request

AOS - Abbreviation for Air Observers School

A/P - Abbreviation for Airman Pilot. An airman pilot was a trainee pilot, who looked just like any other RNZAF pilot except for the strip of white in his cap, and a lack of Wings prior to qualifying

Apptd - Abbreviation for Appointed

Attd - Abbreviation for Attached

Armourer - The tradesmen who cared for guns, cannons, ammunition and bombs, and engaged in everything from maintenance of such to fitting them to aircraft

ARS - Abbreviation for Aircraft Repair Shop

ATA - Abbreviation for Air Transport Authority

ATC - Abbreviation for Air Training Corps, a body not unlike Boy Scouts but with a military aviation theme. The ATC were generally aged 15 to 18, and were groomed with the intention to join the RNZAF when they turned 18, and would thus have a lot of the necessary training already installed. This organisation continues to operate toady, and in the modern RNZAF they are known as Snotgobblers

ATS - Abbreviation for Air Training School

Aviate - To fly

Aviator - A pilot

AWOL - Military abbreviation for Absent Without Leave, a crime punishable with Court Martial


B&GS - Abbreviation for Bombing and Gunnery School

Barrack Warden - The member of the Supply trade responsible for barracks, and such items within as the sheets, blankets, soap, etc.

Base Wallahs - Airmen and WAAFs who worked permanently on a station as opposed to those passing through on training courses

BATF - Abbreviation for Blind Approach Training Flight

Battery Acid - RNZAF Pacific slang that according to RNZAF Contact magazine in May 1945, this was "a green, pasty liquid on tap at all meals known officially as 'lime juice.' A good substitute for caustic soda."

BC - Abbreviation for Bomber Command

BDRP - Abbreviation for Base Depot Reception Pool

Bend, Bent - Damage an aeroplane

BEM - Abbreviation for British Empire Medal

Binder - A person who annoys

Birdmen - A slang word for pilots and aircrew

Blaunching -

Blenburger - A nickname for the Bristol Blenheim fighter/bomber

Blue Orchids - A disdaining term used mainly by the Army to describe Air Force personnel. The Army felt that the RNZAF were pampered by the Government in comparison to their own lot. The term refers to how well a blue orchid flower would be treated if found, because it is so rare. The army had a chip on its shoulder, with reason, because the RNZAF men got sheets on their beds, where the army only had straw palliasses and blankets. Also the RNZAF food was much better quality than Army slop. And the thing that really rankled was when the Governor-General, Sir Cyril Newell (himself an Air Marshall in the RNZAF) made a broadcast on the wireless to the servicemen of New Zealand. He began his speech with the words, "Boys of the Navy, men of the Army and Gentlemen of the Air Force...". This was a huge gaff showing the differences in how the powers that be thought of the class differences in the services, and to this day the servicemen still remember it!

BOTU - Bomber Operational Training Unit sometimes written as (B) OTU

BR - Abbreviation for Bomber Reconnaissance, which was the role which crews of the Hudsons and Venturas fulfilled

Brolly - A colloquial term for a parachute

Browned Off - An Air Force term that is now in common usage, meaning not happy with the situation, bored or fed up

Bus- A nickname for a large aircraft such as a bomber or transport type



Cat-boat - Nickname for the Consolidated Catalina flying boats

CAS - Abbreviation for Chief of Air Staff

CB - Abbreviation for Confined to Barracks, a not-so-serious punishment for defaulters

where one cannot get leave to go off the Station

CC - Abbreviation for Coastal Command

CC - Abbreviation for Confined to Camp, a not-so-serious punishment for defaulters where one cannot get leave to go off the Station

CEO - Abbreviation for Chief Engineering Officer

CFI - Abbreviation for Chief Flying Instructor

CFO - Abbreviation for Central Flying Officer

CFS - Abbreviation for Central Flying School

CGI - Abbreviation for Chief Ground Instructor, the officer in charge of airman training to be pilots. The CGI was responsible for disciplinary training and regulations for parades.

CGM - Conspicuous Gallantry Medal

Chatterbox - slang for machine gun

Chuffs - I don't know if this equates to what the RNZAF WWII meaning was, but former 1950's RAF bod Peter Davies has submitted this as a possible meaning to Chuffs, "One was Chuffed when things were going well.  Also, as a National Service Airman, one kept on the side of  one's Big Locker a Chuff Chart, or Chuff Factor Graph.  These were, basically, variations on a graphic representation of Time Done v Time To Do.  The end of one's 2-yr stint was indicated by an increasing slope of the graph to either (a) Infinity, or (b) Unity - depending on which system you were using (and there were severe debates in the NAAFI as to which was the best!)."

CI - Abbreviation for Chief Instructor

C-in-C - Abbreviation for Commander-in-Chief

Circus - Term for

Clerk, General Duties - The men and women in the RNZAF and WAAF who carried out clerical and administrative duties

Clerk SA - a clerk of some sort, not sure what

Clerk SD - A clerk who was assigned to 'Special Duties', whichmeant they had clearance to view classified files

Clerk Signals - obviously a signals unit clerk


CMB - Abbreviation for Chief Medical Board

CME - Abbreviation for Chief Medical Establishment

CMF - Abbreviation for Central Mediterranean Force

CNI - Abbreviation for Chief Navigation Instructor

CO - Abbreviation for Commanding Officer

Coconut Bombers - RNZAF slang for Army personnel in the Pacific. Also a term applied to the transport squadrons or their aircraft who's C-47 Dakotas and other types air-dropped supplies to the troops on the ground, using either parachutes ir just reinforced bundles

COMAIRNORSOLS - Abbreviation for Commander, Air, North Solomons

COMAIRSOPAC - Abbreviation for Commander, Air, South Pacific

COMZEFAHTSAC - "A grossly libelous reference to the Air Force High Command in the Solomon Islands, and its alleged fondness for the siesta during the heat of the tropical day." Quoted from We'll Be Home For Christmas by Errol Braithwaite

COMZEAIRTAF - Abbreviation for Commander, New Zealand Air Task Force

Confetti - Slang word for ammunition

Contact - The command called by a pilot to the ground crew member of an aircraft who is to spin the propeller, starting the aircraft's engine. "Contact" is shouted to ensure the aircraft mechanic knows that the checks are complete and magnetos are switched on ready to start the engine

Contact - The national magazine of the RNZAF. The first issue was released at RNZAF Station Levin in March 1941, and by Feb 1942 they magazine had established an Office in Rotorua to publish its monthly magazine from. Each issue ran to around 80 pages, and was packed full of stories, anecdotes, poetry, photos and artwork. The original artist, LAC P. Renai, left in December 1941, and was replaced by LAC Maurice Conly, who would stay with the magazine till its demise and remain the official RNZAF artist till his death in 1995. The magazine also had regular contributions from cartoonist Oriwa Tahupotiki Haddon (known as ‘Oriwa'), and an anonymous WAAF who signed her service number W.2126, among others, and featured contributions from Kiwi airmen and women from all over the country and the world. Also incorporated was a section called “Compact”, the National Magazine of the WAAF

Craptogram - A slang term in the wartime RNZAF for a rumour that probably started in the toilet block (I like this one, I might use it more often)

Cse - Abbreviation for Course

Ctba - Abbreviation for Ceases to be Attached

CU - Abbreviation for Conversion Unit



DAF - Abbreviation for Desert Air Force

Daffy - A slang nickname used by aircrew for the Boulton Paul Defiant fighter

Danga - A Danga, also seen spelled as Dangar, and in full the name was Dangaroo, was according to RNZAF Contact magazine, an RNZAF word originating in the Pacific theatre, meaning "a new boy just arrived from home with news, information, speculations and wax matches." Also known as a Lid, probably because the new aircrew trainees wore a white flash on their caps

Dangar Hat - a light blue forage cap that began to be issued in 1945, to the new boys

DAF - Abbreviation for Desert Air Force

DCAS - Abbreviation for Deputy Chief of Air Staff

DFC - Abbreviation for Distinguished Flying Cross, a medal award

DFM - Abbreviation for Distinguished Flying Medal, a medal award

Dicey Do - An RAF initiated term, now in general use, for a close call with death or disaster, or a very narrow squeak

Dicing - This meant flying, and it derives from the perception that wartime flying was a gamble with death

D of AA - Abbreviation for Director of Air Armament

D of AT - Abbreviation for Directorate of Air Tactics

D of Ops - Abbreviation for Director of Operations

D of Policy - Abbreviation for Directorate of Policy

D of P - Abbreviation for Director of Personnel

DOT - Abbreviation for Director of Training

DRO's - Abbreviation for Daily Routine Orders, which were instructions and advice prepared daily and distributed to all sections and messes to be read by all

Drone - Air Gunner

DSO - Abbreviation for Distinguished Service Order, a medal award

DWAAF - Abbreviation for the Director of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force



e/a- Abbreviation for enemy aircraft (often used in combat reports, etc.)

E&W School (or E&WS ) - Abbreviation for the Electrical and Wireless School, which was at RNZAF Station Wigram. This later became No 2 Technical Training School (2TTS)

EANS - Abbreviation for Empire Air Navigation School

EATS - Abbreviation for Empire Air Training Scheme, which was the scheme set up in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Rhodesia and South Africa in order to train pilots and aircrews for the Royal Air Force. Britain supplied the aircraft, and the Empire countries supplied the men. Canada bore the brunt of the EATS scheme's work. Later the scheme's name was changed to the Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

EFTS - Abbreviation for Elementary Flying Training School. This was the first school attended by pilot airmen in their flying training, where ab Initio training was carried out on De Havilland DH60 Moths and DH82 Tiger Moths. There were four EFTS's in New Zealand as part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, No 1EFTS at Taieri, No 2EFTS at Bell Block, No 3EFTS at Harewood and No 4EFTS at Whenuapai

EGTS - Elementary Ground Training School, where future aircrew learned to (in Garry Blayney's words) "read a compass, make basic plots, how to pull a Browning .303 to bits and put it together again. It was rather more relaxed discipline, plus you learned a bit of basic airmanship. That was by day. Half the purpose of our being there was to be "guards", in inverted commas, over the aircraft by night." One of these EGTS's was situated at RNZAF Station Delta, near Blenheim and Garry says there was one on every service aerodrome

Equipment Assistant - An RNZAF trade that looked after ground equipment such as generators, etc

Erk- The general nickname for members of the RNZAF who held the ranks of AC1, AC2 or LAC. Basically all 'Other Ranks'. In the modern RNZAF the nickname Erk no longer is used, and has been replaced with the new slang name of Baggies

ERS - Abbreviation for Engine Repair Shop

Escort - Term for when a fighter or fighters fly alongside bombers or transports, etc., to protect them from attack from enemy fighters



FAA - Abbreviation for Fleet Air Arm

Fan - Slang for propeller

FAP - Abbreviation for For all Purposes

FB - Abbreviation for Fighter Bomber

F/B - Abbreviation for Flying Boat

Fifinella - A female Gremlin

FIS - Abbreviation for Flying Instructors School

Flak - Anti-aircraft fire, shells fired from the ground into the air, set to explode at a certain altitude, spreading shrapnel in all directions. Flak can work in two ways, either directly hitting the aircraft and exploding, or exploding first at the preset altitude and spraying it with deadly shrapnel. The word flak is an abbreviation of the German term Fliegerabwehrkanone (meaning aircraft defence cannon). Allied gun crews later added their own interpretation of the abbreviation with the words 'fondest love and kisses', a jokey term addressed from the gunners to the aircrew!

Flibberty-Gibbet - A young Fifinella

Flips - Aerobatics

F/Mech - Flight Mechanic, a trade in which men and women maintained and repaired aircraft

FOTU - Abbreviation for Fighter Operational Training Unit

FPMO - Abbreviation for Flying Personnel Medical Officer

FTC - Abbreviation for Flying Training Command

FTS - Abbreviation for Flying Training School

FTU - Abbreviation for Ferry Training Unit



Gen - This meant the full story, all the details. "Getting the Gen" was getting the information or the facts

Gentle Annie - A nickname for the Avro Anson

G.I.s - RNZAF term for all Americans, whether they were G.I.'s or not

GHQ - Abbreviation for General Headquarters

Go To The Movies - I believe this was slang for an op

Gone for a Burton - This term, now commonly used in the English language, which originally meant in the RAF a way to say an aircraft had gone missing or been shot down, without making direct reference to death. Burton was one of England's most popular brands of beers. So airmen simply thought of a missing comrade as having gone to the pub for a drink.

GR - Abbreviation for General Reconnaissance, which was the role which crews of the Hudsons fulfilled in the earlier stages of the Pacific campaign. The GR squadrons were later redesignated BR squadrons

Graunchings - Former 1950's RAF man Peter Davies has submitted this as the possible meaning to this wartime RNZAF term, and it seems highly feasible, "Unexplained contacts if two normally inanimate, and smoothly fitting, objects did not go together as planned.  One Graunched the Boss's Landrover if one struck the concrete markers around the Station Flagpole a glancing blow whilst ogling a passing WAAF.  An aircraft was severely graunched it the Drivers, Airframe, ea 1, forgot to lower the wheels on landing!"

Gremlins - An Air Force expression, now in common usage, to describe the mischievous spirit blamed for any unexplainable mishaps that occur mechanically on an aircraft. Gremlins take the form of a small impish type of character. Also see Fifinellas, Widgets, Flibberty- Gibbets and Woffledigets. A Gremlin is the fully- grown male variety

Grey Wolf- This was a collective term for airmen pilots who'd been grounded during training, ie failed their course or grounded on medical reasons. They even had their own crest emblem which appeared on a pennant flag (like the station or trade pennants) of a wolf's head surrounded by laurel leaves, topped by a crown and the scroll beneath with R.N.Z.A.F. on it. No doubt this was wholly unnoficial, much like the 717 Squadron Crests that have been seen in more recent years - if you were in '717 Squadron' it meant you'd filled in your Form 717 to apply for dischage from the RNZAF, and were awaiting the date to leave.


HF- Abbreviation for High Frequency

H/F- Abbreviation for High Flying

Hip Flask - Air Force slang for a revolver, a side arm pistol

Hit The Deck - Land on the ground, in an aircraft or by any other means. Apparently this term originated in the RAF (I would have assumed it was a Naval term)

HQ- Abbreviation for Head Quarters

Hurribomber- A nickname for the ground-attack version of the Hawker Hurricane

Hurribox - A nickname for the Hawker Hurricane fighter


ID - Abbreviation for Identification. This was introduced into the RNZAF in 1942 and all airmen and airwomen had to carry their ID card. The card carried a photograph of the individual, their vital statistics, hair colour, date of birth, trade within the RNZAF, eye colour, service number and the station of issue

IE - Abbreviation for Interior Economy, a task performed every Thursday afternoon/evening in both the workplace and barracks involving polishing the floors, windows, brass and anything cleanable in readiness for the CO's inspection on a Friday morning. Note: If you are a recruit undergoing initial training (called Basic Training in the modern RNZAF) IE is performed every day!

Irons - Your knife, fork and spoon, aka Eating Irons

ITW - Initial Training Wing


JABO - Just About Browned Off

Jankers - The military nickname for a punishment bestowed for breaking the rules. Jankers was usually Confined to Camp, and the defaulter would usually be required to report to the Guard House at specific times, day and night, in specific uniforms. Also menial work would be assigned to those on Jankers to fill their spare time, such as whitening curbing and weeding, etc. A defaulter on Jankers also had to wear a white webbing belt at all time in order to show others they had defaulted

Jink - Turn sharply or abruptly while in flight, to' jink left', etc

Joe's - The YMCA, where breaks would be spent over a cup of tea, etc. The YMCA being a Christian organisation, this nickname of Joe probably derived from the slang term of the "Holy Joes". Even today in the RNZAF a smoko break is referred to as Joe-time, and like in wartime the mobile wagon that distributes morning tea, etc is the Joe Wagon

Jump out of the Window - A slang expression for baling out of a bomber by means of parachute


Kite - A general Air Force nickname for an aircraft


LAC - A rank in the RNZAF, standing for Leading Aircraftsman - colloquially known as an Erk. A Leading Aircraftsman, if aircrew, meant they were still under training, or if groundcrew, meant you were an experienced tradesman

L/F- Abbreviation for Low Flying

Lid - see Dangar

Line Shooting - The Air Force term for exaggeration, or out and out bullshitting

Lizzie - The nickname for the Westland Lysander aircraft

L/L- Abbreviation for Leigh Light


Machine - Pilots and aircrew would often refer to an aircraft as "a machine", probably short for the early pioneering days term 'flying machine"

Mae West - the life-preserver jackets worn by Allied pilots in WWII, named after the buxom actress Mae West which these large-breasted jackets supposedly looked like

Maggie - A nickname for the Miles Magister

Mail-Kites - an RNZAF word for small mail-carrying aircraft

Mayfly, The - This was the roster of crews for the day's operations (RAF term)

MC - an abbreviation for Military Cross, a medal award

MM- an abbreviation for Military Medal, a medal award

MO - Abbreviation for Medical Officer. All doctors, dentists and matrons on an RNZAF station were members of the New Zealand Army

MOAO- Abbreviation for Missing On Air Operations

MOTU- Abbreviation for Maritime Operational Training Unit

Mouse-Trap - Air Force slang for submarine

MR- Abbreviation for Maritime Reconnaissance

MU - Abbreviation for Maintenance Unit

Mug-a-suds - a cup of 'Joe's' tea, from the YMCA. This was usually a 'Wog-brew' and invariably too strong


NCO - Abbreviation for Non-Commissioned Officer. This is a group of ranks Encompassing Corporal, Sergeant and Flight Sergeant

N/F- Abbreviation for Night Flying

NTU - Abbreviation for Navigation Training Unit

Nickel - dropping of propaganda leaflets by bombers


OAFU - Abbreviation for Observers Advanced Flying Unit

OC - An abbreviation for Officer Commanding

Old Faithful - A nickname for the Avro Anson

Oxbox - The nickname for the Airspeed Oxford twin engined trainer

OTU - an abbreviation for Operational Training Unit, which was usually the final stage of training that gave an airman experience of what operations would be like, yet still under the Training Command umbrella, before they moved onto an actual operational squadron or unit


PAFU - Abbreviation for Pilots Advanced Fling Unit

Patrol - An operational sortie intended to seek out or perhaps guard against the enemy

P.D. - stood for Port Depot but in slang terms really meant 'home'

Penguin - An aircrew derisory term for administrative staff. The term penguin was derived from the expression “bags of flap and no fly.”

PFF - Abbreviation for Pathfinders Force

Pick a Pin Point - Identify a specific landmark from the air, usually pointed out in the briefing before the flight by a pin on a map

Piece of Cake - RAF term meaning something that was easy to achieve

Pineapple Fusiliers - slang for RNZAF personnel in the Pacific

Poona Jobs - an RNZAF word originating in the Pacific theatre meaning the tropical pith helmets issued to Pacific-based airmen, which were usually only worn in the rainy season

POW - Abbreviation for Prisoner of War

Prang - An Air Force term for a crash, usually of an aircraft

Prop - Air Force slang for propeller

PT - Abbreviation for Physical Training, the exercise classes that are mandatory in the RNZAF

PTI - Physical Training Instructor

Put up a Black - Make a bad error or faux pas. An example given in Contact of what putting up a black would be was slapping a Group Captain on the back and calling him Admiral or Tich, thinking he was a Pilot Officer.


QFE - This was the barometric pressure at aerodrome level which was reset on the aeroplane's altimeter to establish height above the runway in making an approach to landing.

QFM - This was a bearing from a ground radio station to an aeroplane.


RAAF - abbreviation for the Royal Australian Air Force

RAF - abbreviation for the Royal Air Force

Raf - Nickname for the RAF, but said as a word rather than letters

RafTalk - Nickname for the language of the Air Force - e.g. the slang on this page

Ramrod - RAF code used in the European theatre for a bomber raid escorted by fighters aimed at destruction of a specific target in daylight

RCAF - abbreviation for the Royal Canadian Air Force

Rhubarb - RAF code used in the European theatre for a low-level strike operation mounted in cloudy conditions against enemy targets in Occupied Countries

Rocket - A reprimand

Rollerskates - Slang word for tank (the armoured vehicle type)

R/T- Abbreviation for Radio Telephone, the radios used in aircraft to contact each other and the ground

RTO - Abbreviation for Railway Transport Officer



Sack, The - a bunk or bed. RNZAF Contact in May 1945 reminds airmen that "the most important pastime in any locality is that of 'logging the sack hours' or 'hitting the sack' - an Airman's best friend is his sack."

Sack Hours - RNZAF Slang for sleep

Safety Equipment Worker - The men and women who maintained and packed parachutes and life rafts and their related equipment

SBD - Nickname for the Douglas Dauntless dive bombers operated by No 25 Squadron RNZAF. SBD was the official US Navy designation for the Dauntless, and the RNZAF operated three models of the aircraft, the SBD-4, SBD-5 and SBD-6

Score, The - RNZAF slang, the Score was correct information, reputedly "that which airmen have been seeking since the war began" according to RNZAF Contact magazine

Scramble - Get airborne in hurry or emergency, usually referring to fighters scrambling to get off the ground, gain height and meet enemy bombers heading their way

SFTS - abbreviation for Service Flying Training School

Shaky Do - A scary operation, or an action or event that nearly caused a serious accident or harm

Skiving - An Air Force term now in common usage, meaning to shirk off work, and find something better to do than your duty

Slapsie - a milder form of Troppo, diagnosed easily by the excessive twitching of the eyebrows

Slot, The - The Slot was the nickname for New Georgia Sound, the body of water between New Georgia and Santa Isabel islands in the Pacific. Regular RNZAF patrols were made up "The Slot" because it was a shipping supply route for the Japanese.

SMLE - Short Barrel Lee Enfield, the most commonly used rifle in the New Zealand military

Snafu - A word inherited from the US troops and airmen, SNAFU stood for Situation Normal - All Fucked Up

Snafuland - RNZAF slang for Station Headquarters

Snake Charmers - An Air Force Band

Sortie - The term for an operational flight (coming from RAF jargon)

Spit - Abbreviation for the Supermarine Spitfire fighter

Spout - A gun barrel

Sprog - A recruit

Sqdn - Abbreviation for Squadron

Sqn - Abbreviation for Squadron

St Elmo's Fire - A phenomenon seen by pilots flying in electrical storms, especially seen at night, where balls of blue light caused by static electricity charges build up and shoot around the aircraft

SU - abbreviation for Servicing Unit. This was a unit seperate from a squadron but that serviced the squadron's aircraft and worked directly with the squadron/s it was resposnible for. In the early part of the war a squadron's maintenance crew was an integral part of the squadron, but they were broken into Sqn's and SU's in 1943 so that aircrews could rotate back to New Zealand from the forward area more quickly in their tour of duty than the ground staff

Sweep- a systematic operation to flush out enemy targets in a given area, e.g. a fighter sweep

SWO - Abbreviation for the Station Warrant Officer, who was the chief disciplinarian on an RNZAF Station (in today's RNZAF now called the Base Warrant Officer). SWO is pronounced as a word, rather than letters, so rhymes with 'snow'



TBF - Nickname for the Grumman Avenger dive bombers operated by No's 30 and 31 Squadron RNZAF. TBF was the official US Navy designation for the Avenger

Tear off a Strip - Admonish or reprimand someone

Telly Ho- The term called over the r/t by fighter pilots when an enemy aircraft is spotted, derived from the British fox hunting fraternity, who would call the same thing when a fox is spotted

Ticketty Boo - Perfect

Tigerschmitt - This nickname was given to Tiger Moths that had been fitted with bomb racks during the invasion scare of 1942, the name sounding a little more aggressive and being derived from the famous Messerschmitt manufacturer name. In reality these aircraft, which were to be flown by volunteer instructor pilots from the various Elementary Flying Training Schools would have probably been suicide bombers. They were to fly under the FAFAI scheme as a last ditch effort to attack invasion ships and barges should the Japanese come to New Zealand shores, and no-one expected these Tigers to survive their attacks on shipping. Sobering to think about.

TOS - Abbreviation for Taken On Strength

Tour - A tour was a specified number of ops before an aircrew was rested from offensive operations.

Tra-La-La - an RNZAF word originating in the Pacific theatre, a Tra-La-La was, according to RNZAF Contact magazine, "the Fijian equivalent of a New Zealand night spot. Kava is drunk, songs are sung and natives dance side by side dressed in their best football jerseys. Smiling while dancing is not tolerated and throwing rocks at the orchestra definitely not cricket."

Troppo - Pacific slang that according to RNZAF Contact magazine in May 1945, this was "a state of suspended animation punctuated at brief intervals by all mail kites and meals. Symptoms, twitching eyebrows and itchy feet." Homesickness and battle wariness really.

TTS - abbreviation for Technical Training School


UHF - abbreviation for Ultra High Frequency

U/S - Air Force abbreviation for Unserviceable. Once an item was declared unserviceable it could no longer be used in any form (as opposed to other categories Repairable, or RTP, meaning Reduce to Produce).

USAAF - abbreviation for United States Army Air Force

USMC - abbreviation for United States Marine Corps

USN - abbreviation for United States Navy

u/t- Abbreviation for Under Training


VC - abbreviation for Victoria Cross, the highest medal awarded for valour

VHF - abbreviation for Very High Frequency

VLR- Abbreviation for Very Long Range


WAAF - Abbreviation for Women's Auxiliary Air Force, the female equivalent of the RNZAF that was set up in 1941. It continued as a separate but intertwined service till the 1970's when it was absorbed into the main RNZAF. Women are still often known colloquially as WAAF's in the modern RNZAF despite this

wef - Abbreviation for With Effect From

Widget - A young Gremlin

Wimpy - The nickname for the Vickers Wellington bomber, named after the Popeye comic strip character J. Wellington Wimpy

Wizard - Everything that was good or pleasing

Wizard Prang - A target well and truly hit

WMU - Abbreviation for Works Maintenance Unit, This unit consisted of World War One diggers who joined the RNZAF to help the war effort. They would provide such work as plumbing, painting, stoking boilers and laying drains

Wog-brew - RNZAF Pacific slang for locally brewed tea, which never tasted like tea at home and was invariably too strong for Kiwi taste buds

Wofflediget - An aged Gremlin that is said to feed upon Widgets

W/T- abbreviation for Wireless Telegraphy






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