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Michael Emrys,

I know, but the main point is that there was a Thunderbird extant before the aerobatic team was even imagined.

Cold War Fans,

Did you know that we had guys sitting alert in tacnuke armed F-84s, F-100s and the like, poised for zero length launch (rocket-assisted takeoff), with orders for one way missions to deep Soviet targets? That curled my hair when I first learned of it.

Regards,

John Kettler

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I can remember the Cuban Missile crisis and even in this far-flung part of the British Isles I know people were extremely worried. As a child I didn't really understand the complexities of the situation but I suppose I was picking up from adult conversations how serious things were and I can remember being very frightened that my safe little world was about to come crashing down.

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The Brits send a....wait for it...a Nimrod (AKA **** in colloquial American English)! Now, I know the Bible well enough that "Nimrod was a mighty hunter," but these days...

Regards,

John Kettler

Apparently, you have Bugs Bunny to thank for that. In an episode where Elmer Fudd was hunting "wabbits", bugs referred to him as "poor little Nimrod" and the name then entered the lexicon as another word for harmless idiot.

Or the whole story could be apocryphal.

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But then whenever you read about ground operations you find the Yanks are prone to using a limited palette of macho call signs for their units or misison types. Tiger, cobra, viper, anaconda, eagle and the like.

No amusement in that.

There was of course a rough system of naming conventions for British aircraft in the first half of this century. Fighters had to be given names that "symbolise agression", heavy bombers were named after cathedral towns, torpedo aircraft after fish, maritime aircraft after sea birds and so on. But this system broke down pretty quickly especially with the influx of American aircraft and where aricraft developed for one role/service were deemed unsuitable and transferred to another.

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British name for Avenger: Tarpon (I kid you not - they changed it to Avenger I after a short time...)

Martlet vs Wildcat - the name Wildcat wasn't adopted by hte USN until October 41....the FAA had already had Martlets in action by then (first kill 25 December 1940), and although they changed the British name to the US one you'd have to say the Yanks were a bit slow on the uptake!!

FAA Hellcats were originally named "Gannet I", Hellcat being adopted early in 1943 when the Brits decided to adopt all US a/c names, and befoer this type was actually in FAA service.

Of course in some cases the British names were adopted by the US - the Mustang, the War- & Kittyhawks (although they were obviously plays on previous Curtis "Hawk" names)

So you'd have to say there's a fair bit of cross polination going in around the time of WW2.

since then it's been al downhill for the yanks tho!

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Apparently, you have Bugs Bunny to thank for that. In an episode where Elmer Fudd was hunting "wabbits", bugs referred to him as "poor little Nimrod" and the name then entered the lexicon as another word for harmless idiot.

Or the whole story could be apocryphal.

Those Warner Brothers boys were pretty wild, I wouldn't be surprise if it meant something crude then too.

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This discussion of renaming reminds me of something I came across a few months ago:

The military C-5 pushed back from the gate, the flight attendant gave the G.I.s the usual information regarding seat belts, parachutes, etc.

Finally, she said, 'Now sit back and enjoy your trip while your captain, Judith Campbell, and crew take you safely to Afghanistan'. An old M/Sgt. sitting in the eighth row thought to himself, 'Did I hear her right? Is the captain a woman?'

When the attendant came by he said 'Did I understand you right? Is the captain a woman?'

'Yes,' said the Attendant, 'In fact, this entire crew is female.'

'My God,' he said, 'I wish I had two double scotch and sodas. I don't know what to think with only women up there in the cockpit.'

'That's another thing Sarge,' said the attendant,

'We no longer call it the cock pit.'

'It is now called the Box Office'

:D :D :D

Michael

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It seems to me that in the selection of names for military hardware Americans leave a lot to be desired. Now we Brits are alleged to be the cold, dour, unemotional, stiff upper lip and downright dull people but damn it, at least if we intend to kill anyone with a machine we pay the victims the complement of giving it a 'proper' name. Think about it. Scimitars, Challengers, Sacerens the list is endless and all names that give off the 'clang' of history. But. I was watching Mark Ezra's excellent videos yesterday and this was the lead in to one.

' You have a LAV ATGM Section, a LAV 25 A2 Scout Platoon and your HQ LAV C2A2 with the XO's LAC 25 A2 in support.' This isn't even a recent phenonemon. In days past the Brits had Spitfires, Hurricanes and Lancasters. What did the Yanks have? P47s, P51s and B17s. Please!!!

Americans usually have decent names for aircraft. Naval ships, on the other hand, are terrible.

Interestingly enough though, and thanks in part to numerous Hollywood films, American efforts are seemingly more focused on utilizing disparaging labels for their enemies rather than cool designations for their gear - even if they weren't the origins of said labels. Injun, Krauts, Nips, Gooks, Dinks, Skinnies and Towelheads were terms used openly by many US Military personel out of earshot of the public press.

In that respect, the Brits can't hold a candle to their West Atlantic cousins.

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Interestingly enough though, and thanks in part to numerous Hollywood films, American efforts are seemingly more focused on utilizing disparaging labels for their enemies rather than cool designations for their gear - even if they weren't the origins of said labels. Injun, Krauts, Nips, Gooks, Dinks, Skinnies and Towelheads were terms used openly by many US Military personel out of earshot of the public press.

In that respect, the Brits can't hold a candle to their West Atlantic cousins.

I don't know about that. I reckon that with their Empire and waging war with damn near everyone at some point or another the Brits probably have a vast amount of derogatory names.

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Americans usually have decent names for aircraft. Naval ships, on the other hand, are terrible.

Eh? Up until the post-WW II era, we had a pretty good system, I thought. It might not for the most part have been very thrilling, but it was at least sensible and orderly. BBs were named after states; CAs after large cities; CLs after smaller cities; DDs and DEs after naval heroes; SSs after fish, CVs, CLs, and CEs mostly after important battles or historic naval ships with long traditions.

After the war though, things started getting mixed up and now it's often hard for a casual observer to be able to place a given ship within a class simply by its name, although DDs and FFs have SFAIK held true to the convention of being named after naval heroes.

But I will concede that the naming of carriers after politicians, let alone living politicians, is despicable.

Michael

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A lot is wrong here.

Eh? Up until the post-WW II era, we had a pretty good system, I thought. It might not for the most part have been very thrilling, but it was at least sensible and orderly. BBs were named after states;
After a brief interlude of naming ACRs after states, those 48 names were reserved for battleships, be they B's (gone before the AC's) or BB's.

CAs after large cities; CLs after smaller cities;
This should say that "most cruisers were named after cities." Yes, Marblehead isn't that big, but surely Cincinnati and Memphis are larger than Huron and Pueblo. And that only applies to most cruisers, because the Alaska class were named after then-territories. Of course, these were neither CA's or CL's, and I'll let you debate whether they should have been classified as BC's rather than CB's.

DDs and DEs after naval heroes;
True to an extent, but not in its entirety. Ships laid down after the initiation of hostilities certainly were, as the war created no shortage of posthumous namesakes. But the prewar destroyer classes were rife with ships named after generals, politicians, and even some other odds and ends, such as Filipino patriots.

SSs after fish
True, until they ran out of fish. Thus, not all subs were quite so fishy.

CVs, CLs, and CEs mostly after important battles or historic naval ships with long traditions.
I'm guessing the last two are supposed to by CVL and CVE. Your statement is true regarding the large and small carriers, but not entirely for the escorts. Many CVE's were originally named after bays, sounds, inlets, and islands, but quite a few had their names changed to WWII battles, though battles from other conflicts were included, as were other names that I can't really place in a category, such as Pybus and Core.
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I'm surprised nobody has mentioned this classic yet.

http://home.swipnet.se/~w-11578/model_links.htm

What's in a name?

Taken from a magazine article by James Richards, passed on by Danny Siggers.

"I NAME THIS SHIP........" Research, even into the most mundane subject, can sometimes bring unexpected rewards. Recently, for reasons too dull to explain, I was attempting to discover the names of battleships which served with the Royal Navy during the Second World War. The reference librarian hopefully provided me with a huge volume which listed the names of every British warship ever built, and as I leafed through the index, I was impressed by the quality of the names that the British have given their warships. HMS Relentless, HMS Repulse, HMS Resolution; fine names, names to gladden the heart of every true Brit and dismay any foreigners with a grasp of English. Names redolent of courage and firm-jawed determination - HMS Sceptre, HMS Scimitar, HMS Seadog, HMS Spanker - HMS Spanker ? it had to be a misprint, but when I looked at the relative page there it was, HMS Spanker, minesweeper.

I turned back to the index and soon discovered that HMS Spanker was not the only warship to bear a silly name. A quick check unearthed the destroyers HMS Fairy and HMS Frolic, the light cruiser, HMS Sappho and the corvette, HMS Pansy. My first assumption was that these names had been chosen by some fresh faced innocent unaware of their connotations, but a careful reading of the index suggested that the choice of such names was deliberate and malicious.

I have no proof for my theory, but I strongly suspect that they were the creations of an embittered clerk. He was a minor bureaucrat who had once dreamed of becoming a naval hero, a second Nelson or Benbow, but had been turned down for active service on the grounds of flat feet and myopia. The Sea Lords, kindly and foolishly, gave him an office job in the Admiralty. There, as he brooded upon the shattering of his ambitions, his envy of the jolly Jack Tars serving in His Majesty's ships turned to hatred and then into a desire to humiliate those who lived a life on the ocean wave.

His big break came when he got a job in the Ship's Names Department and he set to work with a will. Having started with HMS Pansy, HMS Fairy and HMS Spanker, he moved into sexually suggestive names - HMS Teaser, HMS Tickler, HMS Torrid, HMS Thruster and HMS Thrasher. Not content with the damage to morale that these names must have caused he followed up with HMS Inconstant, HMS Insolent, HMS Truant, HMS Dwarf and HMS Doris.

The man must have been twisted, but he was no mean amateur psychologist. Would an hard pressed admiral be cheered by the news that HMS Doris and HMS Dwarf (a cruiser and gunboat combination that sounds like an avant-garde cabaret act) were steaming to his aid? Could he be certain that HMS Truant would turn up? That HMS Inconstant wouldn't change sides, or that HMS Insolent wouldn't reply to his signals with a stream of abuse?

This evil minded functionary worked hard to destroy fighting spirit, carefully calculating the result of call a ship HMS Hazard. The cry, "Hazard to port!" must have disrupted countless naval exercises and I strongly suspect that he tried to name a destroyer HMS Mutiny, thinking of the chaos that would result from the signal "Mutiny in Portsmouth". Someone spotted this and changed his proposed name from the English Mutiny to the French Mutinè, hoping that the ship would stir up trouble on courtesy visits to French ports.

If my theory is correct, that someone was Clerk No.2 he worked in the same office as Clerk No.1, but his history and beliefs were very different. He had been invalided out of the Navy after a distinguished career and was a ferocious xenophobe who believed that the British had the right to intimidate and bully anyone who stood in their way. His existence is demonstrated by further study of the list of names.

Most people would consider names like HMS Conqueror, HMS Terror and HMS Vengeance adequate for the purpose of frightening Britain's enemies. Not Clerk No.2. He thought them namby-pamby and decided to rectify the situation. He wasn't as prolific as Clerk No.1, but he did his best christening such vessels as HMS Arrogant, HMS Imperialist, HMS Savage, HMS Spiteful, HMS Surly and HMS Tyrant. His finest hour came when he got the job of thinking up names beginning with V, he came up with HMS Vandal, HMS Venomous, HMS Vindictive and HMS Violent. He too was a good psychologist - nobody who had dared to challenge Britain could fail to be moved by the news that HMS Spiteful, HMS Violent and HMS Vindictive were turning up to sort them out.

In later years, as he sat writing letters to the Eastbourne Gazette demanding the introduction of public flogging for litter louts, he must have regretted not calling a ship HMS Vicious. However, he probably consoled himself with the thought that Clerk No.1 didn't get much of a look in on the V's. He would have christened the ships Vacuous, Vile, Verminous and Venereal. As it was he only managed HMS Vanity, which was presumably a sister ship of HMS Narcissus.

Though Clerk No.2 no doubt deplored the behaviour of his colleague, he, too, allowed the problems of day-to-day existence to intrude into his work, though only after rows with his wife, hence HMS Termagant, HMS Virago and HMS Tirade. I don't know for how many years they worked in the same office, but it must have been a fraught relationship. Each probably spent most of his time trying to trump the names of the other. Clerk No.1 christened HMS Pansy, No.2 responded with HMS Manly. No.1 - HMS Fairy, No.2 - HMS Virile. And so it went on until they retired and the ships they had named were either sunk or scrapped.

Now our ships have boringly correct names, which is a pity, for names could make a difference. A truly chauvinistic government would do well to study the names dreamed up by Clerk No.2. If we can no longer terrify opponents with the size of our navy, we could try to frighten them with aggressive nomenclature. A good start would be to retrieve the name HMS Violent and call sister ships HMS Psychopathic, HMS Blood Crazed and HMS Criminally Insane. The Vandal class could include HMS Ram Raider, HMS Headcase and HMS Terminator. Of course, a more progressive government might go for names which reflected the concerns of the Left - HMS Black Sections, HMS Stop Clause 28, HMS Unilateralist and HMS Binding Decision of the Party Conference. Perhaps not, the Daily Mail would have a field day if HMS Unilateralist was ever sunk.

In any event, the name of the ship doesn't appear to have affected its ability to fight, HMS Truant sank the Karlsruhe, HMS Wallflower and HMS Inconstant accounted for several U-boats and I've do doubt that other ships with ridiculous names had excellent war records. But it is hard not to imagine the crew of HMS Narcissus leaning over the side to admire their reflections in the water, or the crew of HMS Spanker being accosted by leather-clad masochists in dockside bars. The crews of such ships must have been relieved when security considerations temporarily ended the practice of having the ship's name emblazoned on the cap-band. Even so, the change didn't come quickly enough for the unfortunate University Naval Reserve Unit which, when the orders for mobilisation came, was sent en masse to join a battleship. As they walked up the gangway the regulars on deck burst into hysterical laughter. The full name of the unit was the Cambridge University Naval Training Squadron, which was, of course indicated by the initials on their caps.......... Then again, it might be apocryphal.

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Boeman,

The British called the Germans "Huns," in WW I, which was deliberately calculated to evoke horror and revulsion. I've seen some of the original war propaganda art along these lines, and it's both explicit and vile. By contrast, "Kraut," as in "eater of sauerkraut," is merely descriptive. I say this as a born American with more than half German blood. Italians wound up being called "Wops" because so many arrived at Ellis Island sans documents, thus wound up with a bureaucratic notation on their paperwork--W.O.P.--Without Papers.

The Romans had something similar but more explicit. When a boy whose father was unknown was enrolled in the legion, the enlistment record bore the notation "S.P." for "without a father." This led to such enlistees being called Spurius (one without a father), which is where we get the word "spurious."

The British did use such descriptive terms themselves, calling the French "Frogs," because they ate frog legs and "garlic eaters" for the same reason.

Communication brevity lies behind "Nip" and the plural thereof, being merely a shortened form of Nipponese, Nippon Go, being the proper name the country calls itself. Thus, "Jap" is merely the shortened form of what we called someone from the country we called Japan. While we're on this, I had a high school classmate who was the son of a black American serviceman and a Japanese mother. He called himself an Afro-Jap and wore the handle with pride. The girls LOVED him!

"Gook" comes to us from the Korean War and is yet another GI shortening of a longer, real word. "Hanguk" is simply a Korean man. It later got "ported" to the Vietnam War, which is where its use really took off.

You left out "slope," which is simply a visual description of an obvious Asian racial characteristic. Before you get all PC on me, please bear in mind the names some of these groups have for us: "Long Nose," "foreign devils," etc. These are the tame ones.

Another classic American descriptive for a Muslim male is the adjectival phrase "rag and fanbelt." Even if you don't know the culture, don't know what the proper terms are, the hearer immediately knows exactly what you're talking about.

None of the above American adaptations need automatically be racist, but where the train derails is when such names are deliberately combined by the authorities and the media, as in the Hun example, to depersonalize and dehumanize the person described.

There is, I think, a world of difference between "He's a Jap, but I'm an American" and, say, James Cagney portrayal in which he calls someone a "filthy, stinking Jap." It's the modifiers and the portrayal that tell the tale. For a real education on this, please dig up WW II Bugs Bunny cartoons with Japanese and Germans in them. Whereas the Germans

are portrayed as befuddled and are outmaneuvered by Bugs at every turn, the Japanese

are portrayed in a manner which would make Nazi propagandists envious: as stupid subhumans with terrible eyesight (bottle top glasses), worse dental care (bucktoothed)

and no personal hygiene (invariably shown as unkempt, unmilitary and dirty). The British, I recall, used to use the adjective "Jappo," whose origin is patently obvious.

Am not really up on the British colonial wars to any real degree, so shan't attempt to define the origin of some of the names presented, though I think Hottentot should be mentioned. Am fairly certain we got "Injun" from the curious British upper class pronunciation of India. Should also note that marvelous British catchall pejorative "savage." If the opposition consists of "savages," then anything goes, right? This is a trap, may I add, that we American fell headlong into ourselves! From what I can tell, the Americans developed no WW II slang for the Italians, but the British saved a syllable by taking an abbreviation, I think, and made it a word. Eyeties. Likewise, the British seem to have the "ger" sound in German and put a bit more zip into it by changing it to "Jerry." Our GIs, though, simply took a common German name, "Fritz," and made it useful in a number of ways. An equivalent would be the shorthand used for a Russian male or the entire Soviet Union as a military entity: Ivan.

Hope this clears a few things up.

Regards,

John Kettler

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So taking things in the direction of ' people labelling', in the UK we have labels for at least three of the nationalities here, 'Jocks' for the Scots, 'Taffs' for the Welsh and 'Paddies' for the Irish but people from various regions or cities are also labelled, 'Scousers', 'Geordies', 'Cockneys' etc. I can't recall hearing many such nicknames from the States except 'Hoosier' and 'Tarheel'.

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HMS Pansy you can kind of forgive, seeing how many Flower class corvettes were actually built. I think it's almost preferable to many of the bizarre sister ships of that class like HMS Polyanthus or HMS Sweetbriar. I note that one of the USN Flower class was called Saucy. A fine match up for Pansy in a Carry on Sailor film or something.

The sheer numbers of ships they had to name in those days boggles the mind. It's no wonder there were a few amusing ones.

Ships crests and mottoes were also a source of amusement. The great majority of ships received no crest or motto and it was up to the initiative of the individual captain to apply for the warrant and granting of the arms. Those skilled in Latin or French were sometimes able to pull the wool over the eys of their superiors and create some jolly public school amusment for their chums with smutty double entendres.

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The thread title is another good one. Yanks/Yankees was a derogatory term reserved for Dutch settlers around the New Amsterdam/York area. This on the assumption that they would be called Jan or Kees, two very common Dutch names. Funny how that term evolved to include every USian.

Southern gentlemen don't necessarily agree about that, Elmar, whether with a wildly bolding stature or not.

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Elmar Bijlsma,

Never knew that. Most interesting tidbit!

SSgt Viljuri,

Southern issues notwithstanding, I'm fairly sure that during the War British military usage, as in "you Yanks" simply meant "you Americans." Nor, I suspect, would most Southerners have expected the British to appreciate the distinction made in this country between Yankees and Southerners.

Regards,

John Kettler

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Other Means,

The Huns weren't Germanic, but were in fact Asiatic. Wiki says the Germanic tribes have long memories of the Hunnic conquest. I stand by my original statement. I was unaware, though, until today, of the Kaiser Wilhelm II speech regarding China. That may be a bit of an own goal on the the Kaiser's part, but my historical info is correct.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huns

Regards,

John Kettler

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So taking things in the direction of ' people labelling', in the UK we have labels for at least three of the nationalities here, 'Jocks' for the Scots, 'Taffs' for the Welsh and 'Paddies' for the Irish but people from various regions or cities are also labelled, 'Scousers', 'Geordies', 'Cockneys' etc. I can't recall hearing many such nicknames from the States except 'Hoosier' and 'Tarheel'.

I suppose these types of nicknames aren't all that common outside of national borders. As I haven't heard of 'Geordies' or 'Taffs,' you are clearly uneducated when it comes to state nicknames. A lot of times the official or unofficial state nickname(s) don't apply to the citizens of the state (you'd never call a North Dakotan a Flickertailer), or apply only to graduates of a college (all Michiganders aren't Wolverines, only grads of UM). However, some nicknames do carry over:

Connecticut-Nutmeggers

Alabama-Yellowhammers (btw, "yellowhammer" means an incestuous fellow as well)

Illinois-Suckers (after a fish, not a spate of gullibility)

Indiana-Hoosiers

Iowa-Hawkeyes

Ohio-Buckeyes

Missouri-Pukes

Tennessee-Volunteers

Kansas-Jayhawkers

Nebraska-Cornhuskers

North Carolina-Tarheels

South Carolina-Sand Lappers

Oklahoma-Sooners

West Virginia-Mountaineer

Massachusetts-Bay Stater

Maine-Down Easter

I'm sure there are more, but they wouldn't be ones that I have heard commonly used, and indeed some of the above aren't used very frequently at all.

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