CFS-2 / IL-2 1946

IL-2 1946




AA Anti-Aircraft
AAA (Anti-Aircraft Artillery)
A/C aircraft
AAC (Army Air Corps) - name of the aviation branch of the U.S. Army until June 20, 1941 when it was changed to AAF
AAF (Army Air Force) name of the aviation branch of the U.S. Army June 20, 1941 on.
ABDA American-British-Dutch-Australian, Force
abort to break off or abandon a mission - mechanical problems were a major cause of aborts.
Abwehr intelligence and counter-espionage service of the German High Command.
Ace a pilot who has shot down five aircraft (scored five victories) see experte.
acceleration rate of change of velocity, sometimes the term deceleration is used when velocity is decreasing.
accelerometer a device that precisely measures changes in acceleration
ack-ack anti-aircraft fire
ADGB (Air Defense Great Britain), coherent defense of Great Britain, consisting of Fighter Command, Anti-Aircraft Command, Balloon Command and the Royal Observer Corps against the V-1 flying bomb offensive.
adjutant a staff officer in the army, air force, or marine corps who assists the commanding officer and is responsible especially for correspondence
aerial antenna
aerodrome (airdrome) airbase
Africa Korps Deutsches Afrika Korps (DAK)
AFV (Armored Fighting Vehicle)
Aggregate (rocket) (Aggregate 4) A-4 better known as the V-2 rocket
air raid a bombing attack by aircraft
airdrop the dropping of supplies by aircraft, typically canisters or crates which deploy parachutes.
airlift a sustained effort to move men and/or supplies via aircraft.
airfoil a shape such that air flows faster over one side than the other, generating lift - a wing is an airfoil.
AI (radar) (Airborne Interception) radar
ailerons interconnected flaps at the rear of the wings which move in opposite directions, allowing the plane to roll (bank).
airburst the detonation of a shell or bomb above the ground, this usually causes more damage to personnel.
airscrew propeller
aircraft carrier a dedicated ship which can launch and receive aircraft.
airframe the structure that supports the loads acting upon the airplane.
'all-or-nothing' armor scheme using thick armor over the magazines, turrets and vital spaces of a ship and no armor over the rest.
anti-personnel designed to primarly kill/wound people
anti-aircraft gun gun capable of high elevation and fairly rapid fire.
anti-tank rifle essentially a conventional shoulder-fired rifle firing heavy armor-piercing bullets
anti-tank gun high-velocity gun that fires armor-piercing shells on a flat trajectory.
'Anzio Annie'

K5(E) railway gun of 28cm caliber that shelled the Anzio beach head. In total, Germany had over 25 of these weapons.

Angle of Attack (AOA) the angle that a wing (airfoil) meets the oncoming airflow.
apogee the highest point in a trajectory.
armament the weapons that are part of a plane, ship, tank or other vehicle.
AP Armor-Piercing
APC Armor-Piercing (Capped)
APCBC (APC + Ballistic Cap)
APCR (Armor-Piercing Composite Rigid) 'arrow head' shell  Hartkernmunition (Pzgr.40)
APDS (Armor-Piercing Discarding Sabot)
Apron A defined area on an airfield intended to accommodate aircraft for purposes of loading or unloading passengers or cargo, refueling, parking, or maintenance.
'Amerikabomber' Messerschmitt Me 264
Amatol mixture of TNT and ammonium nitrate
amphibious ships specialized ships for amphibious landings and supporting troops on hostile beaches.
Anzac Australian and New Zealand Army Corps
area bombing to saturate an area of a city with bombs, rather than aiming for a specific target.
armistice suspension of hostilities by agreement between the opponents
armor any material used to deflect or absorb the energy from projectiles
armor plate two main types: homogenous and face-hardend or cemented armor.
armored car wheeled armored fighting vehicle
ASV (Air-Surface-Vessel) radar
ASW anti-submarine weapon / anti-submarine warfare
AT anti-tank
attitude the state of a vehicle's roll, pitch and yaw at a given moment.
attaché a technical expert on the diplomatic staff of his country at a foreign capital, military attaché
Atlantic wall extensive fortifications built along the coastline of Nazi Europe, not a single continuous barrier but rather pillboxes, coastal batteries, bunkers and minefields situated in areas suitable for a beach landing.
attrition to reduce the effectiveness of a force by destroying its materiel and personnel directly.
AWPD (Air War Plans Division)
Asdic British term for sonar
aspect ratio  
AVG American Volunteer Group - the 'Flying Tigers'
avgas aviation gasoline (aircraft petrol)
azimuth bearing or direction.
Azon (bomb) American radio guided bomb VB-1 (Azimuth Only


Bailey bridge prefabricated bridge developed for the British Army
Baka (bomb) 'foolish' or 'stupid' bomb, American name for the Japanese MXY-7 Ohka manned suicide rocket plane.
Bangalore torpedo a metal tube packed with high explosives, used by the Allies for cutting through barbed wire, blowing up railway tracks, detonating buried mines, and as an element in booby traps.
banzai attack a wild suicide charge conducted by Japanese troops
ballast weight, usually water or cargo, used to control the buoyancy of a ship or boat.
ballistic pendulum accurate device for measuring muzzle velocity.
barge a flat-bottomed boat used chiefly for the transport of goods on inland waterways and usually propelled by towing
barrage Fire which is designed to fill a volume of space or area rather than aimed specifically at a given target.
barrage balloon a tear-drop shaped balloon anchored close to the ground with steel cables as a deterrent to low-flying aircraft.
barometric fuse fuse that works through changes in air pressure.
battery the basic unit of artillery: 4, 6 or 8 guns of the same type grouped together.
BAR Browning Automatic Rifle.
barbette the armored mounting for a gun turret. also a remote control gun turret on aircraft.
barrel a strong metal tube - allows the expanding gases from the propellant charge to act on the projectile.
bail out to leave a damaged or out-of control aircraft via parachute
ballistic cap windshield, a covering for APC shells to provide a more streamlined shape
ballistic trajectory The trajectory traced after the propulsive force is terminated and the body is acted upon only by gravity and aerodynamic drag.
balloon bombs paper ballons of clever design that the Japanese sent aloft to be carried by winds to North America, each one with a payload of several small bombs, although over 9,000 were launched only a few hundred landed in North America causing minimal damage and only 6 deaths.
bandit enemy aircraft
barracks the dedicated living quarters for a group of soldiers.
battleship a large, heavily armored naval vessel armed with very large caliber guns.
battlecruiser similar to a battleship but sacrificing armor for speed.
bearing direction
Bat (missile) American anti-ship missile
bazooka hollow-charge weapon, 2.36 inch diameter
beacon a marker that emits light or radio signals for navigation purposes.
beam side
beached when a vessel's keel is resting against the sea bed, usually close in to shore.
beachhead during an amphibious invasion the area taken and secured by the invading troops
BEF British Expeditionary Force
B-Dienst (Beobachtungdienst) 'observation service' - German Navy cryptoanalytical service
blast the sudden, tremendous wave of air pressure created when a bomb or shell explodes; see fragmentation and shock.
blind bombing non-visual bombing aided by radar or radio systems
Blitz September 7 1940 to the end of March 1941, the sustained aerial bombing offensive against London and most large British cities by the Luftwaffe.
Block buster RAF 4,000 pound HC bomb
blitzkrieg combination of two German words: blitz meaning lightning and krieg meaning war, but blitzkrieg is not a German word.
blockade cutting off an enemy's supply of raw materials and keeping his warships confined to their harbors.
BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) - state airline of Britain, during the war aircraft of the BOAC ferried men and cargo usually on special missions.
Bofors Swedish gun manufacturer famous for their 40-mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun.
bogie unidentified aircraft
bomb an explosive device dropped by an aircraft. at first, little more than artillery shells with fins but steady improvements followed. Generally the amount of explosive making up the total weight of the bomb increased, the shape became more streamlined and they also became more specialized for the target and mission (cluster and incendiary bombs for example)
Bombe early computers used to assist in quickly decoding German Enigma communications
bombsight can be rudimentary, but often consisted of a device that could compensate for the major factors that affect the trajectory of falling bombs: altitude, airspeed, crosswinds, etc.
bomb shelter a place to stay during an air raid, can be improvised or purpose-built. Subway tunnels, ordinary basements and hardened concrete structures offer people shelter from the bombing
bomber an aircraft designed to carry and deliver a payload of bombs against enemy targets
bomber stream a tactical change in RAF bomber operations in 1942 where bombers would fly to the target in a narrow concentrated stream, giving ground-controlled night fighters less time to make an intercept and too many targets to engage.
bombing run the period from the initial point to 'bombs away' when a bomber had to fly straight and level. Depending upon the particular aircraft and target this could take 90 seconds or longer. It was here that a bomber was most vulnerable to flak.
bouncing bombs a series of bombs designed by the British for special missions, these bounced across the surface of any body of water for considerable distance.
bore inside diameter of the gun barrel
bow front end of a ship or boat
Bomber Command The bomber component of the Royal Air Force
booster (rocket) a high thrust rocket that quickly gets a vehicle up to speed.
bombardment shell  
broadside When all of the ship's main guns fire at the same target
Brandenburgers name given to German special forces and commando-style units
Bren gun highly successful gas-operated light machine gun .303in cal
breech the closed end of the barrel at the rear of the gun, where most guns are loaded.
brissance the ability to shatter steel, concrete and other hard substances - a key characteristic of high explosives.
bulkhead a partition that divides a ship or plane into compartments.
bulges underwater protection consisting of a protrusion beyond the hull of the ship.
bunker any fortified structure but primarily a buried or semi-buried structure that is highly resistant to blast and shock offering a high degree of protection from enemy attack. see reinforced concrete.
Burney gun British recoilless gun
burster the main explosive charge of a shell
Burp gun Soviet submachingun used in large quantities (PPSh M1941 7.62mm)


Cab Rank patrolling fighter-bombers on instant call for tactical attacks.
caliber The diameter of a shell measured in fractions of an inch or millimeters.
carbine similar to a rifle but with a shorter barrel, less range, and less stopping power.
CAM ship (Catapult Armed Merchantman) ship
cannon somewhat arbitrary, guns 20mm and larger firing shells containing a small explosive charge. see machine gun.
canted set at an angle to the main body.
casemate a fortified position or chamber or an armored enclosure from which guns are fired through embrasures (openings with sides flaring outward).
catalyst a substance that speeds up a chemical reaction but that does not change itself.
catapult a launch mechanism moved by high pressure gases or other method to quickly bring an aircraft up to speed for flight.
CAP (Combat Air Patrol) - a defensive screen of fighters over a ship or other asset.
canopy the transparent enclosure over an airplane cockpit
capital ship Battleships and battlecruisers
carpet bombing concentrated bombing of a small area, as in laying a carpet of bombs to shock and destroy enemy troops.
cartridge a metal tube containing a complete charge for a firearm and usually an initiating device (primer)
casualties military personnel lost through death, wounds, injury, sickness, internment, or capture or through being missing in action (MIA).
CBI (China-Burma-India) theater
ceiling the highest altitude a piece of artillery can throw a projectile. Also refers to the highest altitude an aircraft can reach and maintain flight
CEP (Circular Error, probable)
chemical energy (CE) using energy supplied by explosives to pierce armor (hollow charge, HEAT) rather than kinetic energy.
CIC (Combat Information Center)
CO (Commanding Officer)
Coastal Command  
cockpit a space or compartment in a airplane from which it is piloted
conning tower a raised structure on the deck of a submarine used especially for navigation and attack direction.
commandos generic term for an elite group of highly trained soldiers
commerce raiding using armed ships disguised as merchant vessels to sink enemy shipping. Warships could and did go after merchant ships but with no great or lasting success especially for the effort expended.
compressibility when airflow over the wings of a plane comes close to the speed of sound it generates such pressure on the ailerons the pilot can't control the plane.
Cookie nickname for British 4,000 pound HC bomb
coned bore gun an artillery piece in which the barrel caliber is sharply reduced at some point. achieves the same effect as a tapor bore gun but is easier and cheaper to manufacture.
counter-air air strikes to disrupt and destroy enemy aircraft on the ground usually involving low-level attacks on enemy airfields with para-frag bombs and lots of strafing.
convergence zone / point the point in front of a fighter plane where the bullets from its guns are set to converge.
convoys merchant vessels traveling together for mutual protection, accompanied by escorts.
cordite propellant
co-axial aligned on the same axis as the main gun, as in a co-axial machine gun on a tank.
charge / weight ratio a way of classifying bombs, the percentage of total weight made up by the bomb's explosive content. MC bombs % HC bombs %
Chief of Staff  
Combined Bomber Offensive  
contrarotating propellers propellers that spin in opposite directions.
counter-battery fire fire to disrupt/suppress the operation of enemy artillery.
corvette small anti-submarine vessel based on a whalecatcher design
CP (Command Post)
crew the men needed/assigned to a particular vehicle, gun, or other piece of ordnance.
CRT (cathode ray tube). electronic screen as in a television screen.
cruciform arranged in the form of a cross.
cwt hundredweight. 1 cwt = 112 pounds or 50.8 kg. British measurement.


D-Day June 6, 1944. The Allied invasion of occupied Europe at Normandy.
dam-busting bomb see bouncing bombs.
dead (deduced) reckoning navigation based on maps, headings, ground speed, wind and time
decoy something used to draw the enemy's attention and or fire
de-housed a cold euphemistic term for the destruction of dwellings in area bombing attacks
depot a place for the storage of military supplies
damage control the organized effort to contain fires, control flooding and repair damage on a vessel, often the single most important factor in terms of saving a ship.
destroyer (DD) the workhorse the Navy. Initially tasked with fending off attacks by torpedo boats, World War II saw their role and importance expand greatly - they did everything.
destroyer escort (DE) a small, austere destroyer optimized for the anti-submarine role
detonate explode
depression the extent that a gun barrel can be pointed down from the horizontal in degrees.
DD Sherman (Duplex-Drive) Sherman tank
deflagrate burn rapidly rather than explode (low explosive); often used as propellant
degaussing a process of rendering a ship less vulnerable to magnetic mines using electrical cables.
demolition bomb another name for a light case bomb with a very high proportion of explosive to total weight.
depth bomb depth charge
depth charge (DC) typically a drum-shaped cylinder packed with explosives. the depth that it will explode can be quickly set just before use.
depth charge rack device mounted on the stern of a ship, allowing depth charges to be released quickly.
depth charge thrower (DCT) a device that shoots a depth charge out away from the ship.
deterrence measures taken to deter an opponent from certain courses of action
DFS (Deutsches Forschungsinstitut für Segelflug) - glider research and development
ditch to try and make a controlled crash-landing on water, usually because of lack of fuel.
direct fire fire at targets the gunner can see.
director a station or position that directs the fire of a particular gun.
discipline military discipline is really control - a disciplined group of soldiers fights well, follows orders and shows cohesion, especially in combat
displacement warships are rated by the amount of water they displace; 35 cubic feet of sea water equals one displacement ton. this gives a rough indication of actual weight in long tons.
division A major administrative and tactical unit/formation which combines in itself the necessary arms and services required for sustained combat, larger than a regiment/brigade and smaller than a corps.
doctrine a set of principals that govern a particular activity, armed forces operate by doctrine.
dorsal relating to or situated near or on the back of as in a dorsal machine gun
DP (gun) Dual-purpose (gun). Capable of both low angle and high angle fire.
DP (bomb) (Deep-Penetration) 'earthquake' bomb. see Grand Slam and Tallboy
dreadnought traditional name for the battleship
driving band a soft copper ring on a projectile that engages the gun's rifling
drop tanks external fuel tanks
drop zone (DZ) designated area for paratroopers to jump
drag resistance of the air to the airplane's passage through it.
dry dock a dock that can be kept dry for use during the construction or repairing of ships
DUKW  'duck' (Duplex Universal Karrier, Wheeled) 2½ ton amphibious truck.
dud see UXB (unexploded bomb)
Dumbo friendly nickname for U.S. aircraft used for air-sea rescue


elevation the amount a gun can be moved vertically, also the angle a gun barrel must be at to hit a particular target.
elevators flaps on the back edge of an aircraft's tail plane that control pitch.
Enigma an intricate machine that was used to code and decode virtually all German high level communications. The Allies over time gained access to the workings of the device. see Ultra.
espionage spying, counter-espionage is concerned with trying to detect and interfere with the spying activities of the other side.
ETO (European Theater of Operations)
experte German pilot who's proven his skill in combat over time. plural is experten.


FAA (Fleet Air Arm) - British Naval Aviation
faired / fairing covered or shaped to be more streamlined and aerodynamic.
Fat Man second atomic bomb, dropped on Nagasaki.
feint military action designed to draw the enemy's attention away from the real point of attack.
ferry to relocate something, from one place to another, as in a ferry flight.
fighter aircraft whose main purpose is to destroy enemy aircraft.
fighter-bomber aircraft purpose-built but more often adapted to carry and launch bombs, rockets or other ordnance.
fin-stabilized projectile stabilized in flight by pop-out fins
Firefly Sherman tank fitted with a high-velocity 17-pdr gun
firepower A somewhat abstract assessment of the amount of fire which may be delivered by a position, unit, or weapon system.
Fido U.S. air-dropped homing torpedo (also called Mark 24 mine as a cover)
FIDO (Fog Investigation and Dispersal Operation)
firestorm when large numbers of incendiary bombs are dropped on a dense urban area the resulting fire can cause a column of hot air to rise drawing in cooler air from nearby. This incoming air eventually reaches hurricane strength and temperatures climb past 1400° F. (760° C.) as fires burn uncontrollably. Trees, people and anything else not underground or heavily constructed can be pulled into the inferno.
fire bombs fighter aircraft drop tanks filled with Napalm, Class C fire bombs
fire control  
flame thrower a weapon that projects and ignites a flammable liquid
flechette fin stabilized steel projectiles similar in appearance to arrows (little darts)
flank (speed) the absolute fastest speed a ship can be brought to
flying boat aircraft whose main body consists of a single hull, or boat, that permits take-off or landing on water.
Fighter Command Fighter component of the Royal Air Force
fire mission orders specifying how many guns to use against what target and how long they should maintain fire
Flagship the ship in a fleet that the highest ranking commanding officer chooses to command from accompanied by his staff
Flak Flugzeugabwehrkanone 'aircraft attack gun'
Flak jacket / suit heavy canvas vest with small overlapping metal plates, protects the wearer from flak splinters
Flak tower huge concrete towers located in many German cities. used as a platform for large Flak guns as well as shelter during air raids.
flame-out the sudden unplanned extinction of combustion in a jet engine
flaps hinged wing surfaces that are lowered to give more lift at low speeds
flying wing an aircraft design where the wing forms virtually the entire airplane.
forward observer (FO) soldier, in communication with HQ or a gun battery, helps direct gunfire onto targets.
formation an ordered arrangement of two or more aircraft proceeding together.
Foxer towed decoy used against German homing torpedoes.
fragmentation one of main effects of an exploding bomb or shell, the casing shatters and metal fragments fly in all directions. see blast and shock.
friendly fire weapon's fire from your side - not the enemy.
fuze/fuse Mechanical/electrical device for detonating a shell under very specific conditions. percussion (impact) fuse is the most common, impact with delay is crucial to armor piercing weapons. a time fuse is necessary for anti-aircraft fire. see proximity fuse.
Führer 'Leader' - 'der Führer' used only for the person of Adolf Hitler.
Führerbunker Hitler's last and most elaborate headquarters, constructed beneath the Reich Chancellery building in Berlin.


gallon U.S. gallon = 3.785 liters, British or Imperial gallon = 4.546 liters
Garand American M1 0.30in cal rifle
garrison A relatively small force of troops which occupy and fight from a city, fortification or other strategic site.
GB-1 (Glide Bomb)-1 American weapon 2,000-lb (907 kg) warhead.
GCI (Ground Control Interception)
GHQ General Headquarters
GI government issue, general issue; American soldiers
glider an airplane that is towed into the air then released. a glider has a pilot and control surfaces so it can be 'flown' during its descent.
GM-1 Nitrous oxide - used to temporarily boost engine horsepower and thus increase the speed of the aircraft
glycol aircraft engine coolant
GNAT (torpedo) (German Naval Acoustic Torpedo) Zaunkönig
GP (General Purpose) bomb; high explosive
Grand Slam (bomb) The largest conventional bomb used during the war. 22,000 pounds.
grenade a small bomb thrown by hand, ejected from a rifle, or fired by a special-purpose grenade launcher
'grease gun' American M3/M3A1 submachinegun
guidance the method of controlling the trajectory of a bomb, missile, or rocket. typically maintained by radio or signals sent through wires trailing behind the weapon (wire-guided).
gun artillery which fires shells on a relatively flat trajectory to long range. barrel length greater than 40 calibers
gun-howitzer compromise design between a gun and a howitzer. barrel length between 30 and 40 calibers
gyroscope a rapidly spinning ball or wheel (going at many thousands of RPMs) which maintains its alignment despite outside motion
gyroscopic precession The tendency for a spinning projectile to drift in the direction of spin as it travels.


half-track armored fighting vehicle that uses a combination of tracks and wheels.
hangar a large enclosure for aircraft.
hangar deck the deck below the flight deck where aircraft are stowed and made ready on an aircraft carrier.
HC (bomb) High Capacity bomb
HE high (detonating) explosive
HEAT high explosive anti-tank; Anti-tank projectile which works by a shaped-charge
HEI (HE+I) high explosive incendiary
howitzer artillery which lobes shells on a parabolic trajectory to plung down on targets. barrel length between 23 and 39 calibers
hollow-charge warhead with explosive packed around an inverted cone lined with metal. Upon impact the explosive 'focuses' the metal liner into a narrow high speed jet that cuts through armor.
HTP High Test Peroxide, near pure hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)
Hedgehog British designed anti-submarine weapon
High-pressure pump (V-3) Hochdruckpumpe - cover name for a multi-chamber gun to bombard London with. It was to have been the third vengeance weapon but the project never saw completion. Also known as the 'Busy Lizzie' or 'Millipede'
horsepower The rate of doing work. 1 horsepower = 550 foot pounds per second; shp = (shaft horsepower)
HF High-Frequency radio waves
HF/DF (Huff-Duff) High-Frequency/Direction Finding
H/A High-Angle (gun) capable of high elevation (use against aircraft)
Home Guard British Home Guard, Volksstrum ('People's Storm'); essentially civilians with minimal weapons and training used to defend the home front.
hunter-killer groups when enough warships became available later in the war small groups were formed to pursue German Uboats, independent of convoy duties.
hydraulic operated by the pressure or movement of a liquid.
hydrophone listening device for submarines, later called passive sonar.
hydrostatic fuse fuse that works through changes in water pressure.
hypergolic igniting spontaneously when two products are brought into contact.


IAS (Indicated Air Speed)
IFF (Identification, Friend or Foe) - electronic equipment onboard an aircraft that lets friendly forces know its identity.
immune zone  
indirect fire fire at targets hidden from the gunner's view.
inertia the resistance of an object to a change in velocity.
incendiary fire producing
incendiaries fire producing bombs
infantry gun (IG) an artillery piece that can be brought up to provide direct fire in support of ground troops.
interceptor a fighter designed to quickly climb and intercept incoming aircraft
interned confined, held; neutral countries usually interned combatants that landed in their country for the duration of the war
interdiction degrading and isolating an enemy force by cutting off its sources of supply, reinforcement, and lines of communication.
IP (Initial Point) a point several miles from the target where the bombing run actually begins.


jet (turbo-jet) an engine that produces a high speed jet of heated air, this exhaust pushes the aircraft forward.
jet stream  
Jabo (Jagdbomber) 'fighter-bomber'
JagdPz (Jagdpanzer) 'hunting tank' Jagdpanther Jagdtiger
jink / jinking short, violent movements made by a pilot to throw off the aim of enemy fire.


'K-gun' depth charge thrower
kamikaze 'divine or heavenly wind' - Japanese suicide pilots
Katyushka Soviet free-flight rockets. Also called 'Stalin's Organ'.
keel the main structural member of a ship or boat, running longitudinally along the center of the bottom of the hull from stem to stern.
kinetic energy energy of motion.
knots (kts) speed in nautical miles per hour.
Kriegsmarine German Navy 1935 on


laminar flow (wings) design where the thickest point of the wing is located near the middle of the wing rather than near the leading edge, allows the air to flow over it in laminations, numerous even layers, one on top of the other.
landing craft (LC) generic term, vessels that bring troops up to the shore during an amphibious landing.
Leigh light powerful airborne searchlight used against U-boats in conjuction with radar
liaison a person who conveys information between two different groups, liaison officer.
Liberty ship mass produced cargo ship
lift the upward acting force that counters a plane's weight.
Light gun (LG) leichte Geschütz - cover name for work on recoilless guns.
line of sight (LOS)  
Litter a device (as a stretcher) for carrying a sick or injured person
Little boy first atomic bomb, dropped on Hiroshima.
Littlejohn adaptor British device attached to the end of a gun which squeezes down special ammunition to raise muzzle velocity
LNSF (Light Night Striking Force)
Long Lance Japanese 24in diameter torpedo powered by an enriched oxygen motor. It outperformed other torpedoes by a wide margin in range, speed, and reliability.
logistics The science of planning and carrying out the movement and maintenance of forces.
Lox liquid oxygen, German designation A-Stoff
Luftwaffe German air force
Luftwaffefeldivisionen air force field divisions
Luger 'Parabellum' Model 1908 9-mm pistol
LUT (torpedo) (Langen Unabhängiger Torpedo). German pattern running (zig-zag) torpedo.
LST landing ship, tank
LVT landing vehicle, tracked  'Buffalo' amphibious tractor (amtrac)
LZ (landing zone) designated area for a glider landing


MAD (Magnetic Anomaly Detector) - mounted in low-flying aircraft can detect submerged submarines.
matériel resources
main armament the primary weapon(s) of a ship, plane or tank.
Mach the speed of sound defined.
machine gun (MG) a gun for sustained rapid fire that uses bullets
Machinengewehr MG42 one of the best machineguns ever made.
magazine a holder in or on a gun for cartridges to be fed into the gun chamber; also refers to a room in which powder and other explosives are kept in a fort or a ship
Maginot Line elaborate series of fortifications along the French-German border. bunkers, artillery in retracting turrets. The Germans went around the Maginot line except for a few key positions they took by glider borne assault.
Magic name for U.S. decoding of Japanese high level secret communications.
Manhattan project the American-led effort to develop the atomic bomb.
marshalling yard a place where trains are brought together and ordered in an effective way
MC (bomb) Medium Capacity bomb
mechanized (motorized) descriptive of any armed force that is sufficiently equipped with internal transport to be able to move rapidly and keep up with armored forces. sometimes called 'armored infantry'.
Mein Kampf 'My struggle' - title of Adolf Hitler's book published 1925
Merchant Marine U.S. maritime agency that carried cargo to all fronts during the war.
missile guided rocket or jet.
mil An angular measurement used in sighting and fire control. 6400 mils = 360°
Milch cow German submarines that could refuel and replenish U-boats at sea
Milk run a relatively safe combat mission
Molotov cocktail a bottle of flammable liquid with a rag at the neck for igniting just before throwing
morale the 'spirit' of the troops, morale is crucial to overall efficiency and combat effectiveness.
Motor torpedo boat (MTB) PT boats Schnellboote (E-boats)
Mousetrap anti-submarine weapon. see Hedgehog
mountain gun A rather specialized form of artillery which is ideally suited for fighting in mountainous terrain: highly mobile, lightweight howitzer that can be broken down and carried over rough terrain.
mortar simple and cheap form of artillery which fires shells called bombs on a steep trajectory to short ranges.
Mk. Mark
mm millimeter. There are 25.4 millimeters in one inch.
momentum The total energy of an object (mass times velocity).
MPI (Mean Point of Impact)
MTO Mediterranean Theater of Operations
muzzle the front, open end of the barrel
muzzle brake A design that allows some of the propellant gases to exit the barrel to either side - reducing gun recoil.
muzzle flash  
muzzle velocity velocity of a projectile as it leaves the muzzle of a gun. Also known as initial velocity.
MW50 methanol-water mixture used to temporarily boost engine horsepower and thus increase the speed of the aircraft


Napalm mixture of gasoline and a thickening agent. Aluminum salts of napathenic acid and palmitic acid used for this purpose gave us the term napalm. The thick jelly-like material burns at up to 1830° F. (1000° C.) and clings to anything it touches.
nautical mile (nm) 1 nm = 6080 feet (1852m); varies somewhat according to latitude.
NDSAP (Nazi) Nationalsozialistiche Deutsche Arbeiterpartei  National Socialist German Workers' party
nominal performing as expected, standard or usual.
Nebelwerfer 'smoke projector' - cover name for German rocket artillery. nicknamed 'moaning minnies' by allies.
NKVD (Narodnyy Komisariat Vnutrennikh Del) Soviet secret police, predecessor to the KGB.


oblique striking or looking at something from any angle except straight-on.
obsolete no longer useful or effective.
obsolescent aging; going out of use - becoming obsolete.
Odessa (Organization for SS members) - the most famous of the organizations set up to assist Nazis escape justice in the wake of the war.
Oerlikon Swiss gun-maker famous for developing 20-mm rapid fire cannon.
ogive the curved area making up the nose of a projectile.
Ohka 'Cherry blossom' Japanese MXY-7 manned suicide rocket plane.
optimum ideal, perfect
ordnance military supplies including weapons, ammunition, combat vehicles, and maintenance tools and equipment
OSS Office of Strategic Services, predecessor to the CIA.
oxidizer a substance that supplies oxygen so fuel can burn


QF quick-firing (gun)


PAC (parachute and cable) rocket
pack howitzer A 75mm howitzer which could be stripped down and carried by pack mules. Because of its light weight and mobility it was very useful in airborne and amphibious operations.
PAK (Panzer Abwehr Kanone) German anti-tank gun
panzer German word for armor
panzerblitz (rockets) 'tank lightning' air-to-ground anti-tank rockets
Panzerwerfer self-propelled Nebelwerfer rocket artillery launcher
panzerfaust 'armor fist' - anti-tank grenade launcher
panzerbuchse (PzB) anti-tank rifle
panzerschreck 'tank terror'  Raketenpanzerbüchse 43  RPzB 43  Ofenrohr 'stove pipe'  close copy of the American Bazooka.
parachute a high drag device made of silk, nylon or other strong, lightweight material used to slow the descent of a falling object/person to manageable speeds.
para-frag bombs fragmentation bombs fitted with small parachutes so they can be safely dropped by a low-flying aircraft.
para-demolition bomb demolition bomb fitted with a parachute.
paratroopers troops trained to 'jump' (parachute) from aircraft
partisans irregular forces which use guerrilla tactics when operating in enemy-occupied territory.
PBY Catalina patrol seaplane.
pendulum a weight that swings back and forth on a fixed string, wire, or rod.
PFF (Path Finder Force) RAF
photoflash (bomb) a pyrotechnic device used for night photography or night reconnaissance
photo reconnaissance (PR) reconnaissance conducted by camera equipped aircraft
PIAT (Projector, Infantry, Anti-Tank) - British hollow-charge weapon
plastic a synthetic material that can be easily shaped to form an object.
plunging fire high trajectory gun fire which plunges down on a target.
pocket battleship series of three ships built by Germany during the 1930's displacing 11,000 tons and armed with six 11-inch guns. The Germans called them panzerschiff 'armored ships'.
pom-pom Vickers designed 2-pound gun in a mutiple mounting with 8 or 4 barrels
penetration the thickness of homogenous armor that a projectile can pierce.
pdr (pounder) British rating of artillery by the weight of projectile it fires in pounds, as in a 17pdr gun.
pillbox a small low concrete emplacement for machine guns and antitank weapons
pilotage flying by reference to landmarks
PLUTO (Pipe Line Under The Ocean)
Pointblank directive  
POL petroleum, oils, and lubricants - the life blood of any army.
pontoon (bridge) a flat-bottomed boat or portable float used in building a floating temporary bridge
port to the left, on the left side.
pressurization the pressurization of an aircraft's cockpit and crew spaces, although technically challenging this allows the crew to work in much greater comfort without the constant need for oxygen masks and electrically heated suits. The only pressurized aircraft produced in large quantity during the war was the B-29 bomber.
propellant an explosive used to propel a projectile or other weapon.
prototype A model suitable for evaluation of design, performance, and production potential.
predictor mechanical/electrical device that calculates settings for a gun to fire on to hit a target, especially a moving target.
projectile the part of the shell that leaves the muzzle.
propeller (prop) airfoil that generates thrust
Peenemünde arrow shell Peenemünde Pfeilgeschoss, fin-stabilized dart-like projectile test fired from a K5 railway gun barrel bored out to 31cm to a range of 93 miles (150 km).
pneumatic operated by the force of compressed air.
predicted fire  
pre-registered (gun)  
prime mover vehicle for towing artillery
propaganda a sustained effort by an institution to manage public opinion, this can be accomplished through distributing flyers, dropping leaflets, radio broadcasts or other methods.
proximity fuse fuse that detonates a shell when it's in proximity (close to) a target.
putsch 'uprising, insurrection'  Beer Hall Putsch 1923, Hitler's abortive attempt to overthrow the German government.
psi pounds per square inch, a measure of pressure
PSP (Pierced-Steel-Plank) also known as Marston Mat - perforated steel planks used by the US military to surface airfields for rapid use
pyrotechnic illuminating
PzKpfw (Panzer Kampf Wagen) 'Armored Battle Vehicle'  German tank


radar (radio direction and ranging)
radar horizon the limit at which radar can be used because of the curvature of the earth.
radio telephony (R/T) voice communication, radio
RAF Royal Air Force
RAAF Royal Australian Air Force
RCAF Royal Canadian Air Force
RN Royal Navy
RNZAF Royal New Zealand Air Force
range distance
rangefinder two main types: coincidence and stereoscopic. the first splits the view into two separate pieces, usually one above the other, the two views are moved into alingment to get the range. sterescopic has two seperate images, one for each eye, that must be blended together to get the correct range.
RAP (Rocket Assisted Projectile) increasing the range of a gun by incorporating a rocket into the shell. Accuracy suffers somewhat when using RAPs.
RATO (Rocket Assisted Take-Off) units, rocket pods used to help aircraft take off
recoilless gun a gun that elimates recoil, propellant gases can accomplish this by being directed out of the rear of the weapon. a counter-shot of equal mass to the projectile can do the same thing.
recoil the rearward motion or kick of a gun upon firing
reconnaissance one of the most important activities of any armed force. Up-to-date reports on enemy strength and movement are key to success in offensive or defensive operations.
reverse slope the opposite side of a slope (the one hidden from your view)
revetment an area adjacent to a runway or taxiway, surrounded by a protective wall or mound of earth where aircraft may be dispersed for temporary shelter, refueling or rearming.
reinforced concrete Concrete made with iron reinforcing rods. Also called ferroconcrete and armored concrete.
RF Rapid Fire (gun); same as QF (quick fire)
RHA rolled homogeneous armor. steel armor of uniform strength and hardness
ricochet when a projectile deflects off a hard surface (armor) rather than breaking-up or penetrating.
rifling spiral grooves on the inside surface of a gun barrel. These impart spin to projectiles, greatly increasing the range and accuracy of the weapon.
RLM (Reichsluftfahrtministerium) German Air Mininstry
rocket propelled by thrust from the combustion of solid or liquid fuel incorporating its own oxidizer.
ROF (Rate of Fire). Maximum ROF can usually only be maintained for a short time vs sustained ROF which can be maintained indefinitely.
rocket artillery rockets used in the artillery role.
RP (Rocket Projectile)
RPM rounds per minute / revolutions per minute
rudder a large flap on the vertical stabilizer (tail fin) that controls yaw.


SA Sturm Abteilung 'storm battalion' brown shirts purged and disbanded 1934.
SAAF South African Air Force
sabot a lightweight sleeve of large diameter for a sub-caliber round, usually a dense narrow projectile.
sabotage destructive or obstructive action carried on by a civilian or enemy agent to hinder a nation's war effort
salvo a method of fire in which a number of weapons are fired at the same target simultaneously.
SAP semi-armor piercing (bomb or shell)
SAS (Special Air Service)
satchel charge a field-expedient demolition device consisting of a satchel bag filled with explosives.
SBC (Small Bomb Container) lightweight containers holding incendiaries
SBS (Special Boat Squadron)
schnorchel (snorkel) a tube-like device that allows a submarine to take in air while submerged and run its diesel engines.
scuttle to deliberately sink one's own ship.
SD Sicherheitsdienst 'security force' security arm of the SS established 1931.
secondary armament the secondary or back-up weapon(s) of a ship, plane or tank.
Seabees nickname for naval construction battalions (CBs)
seawall a revetment or wall erected to prevent wave erosion and the encroachment of seas.
seige gun a piece of artillery that can subject a fortification or other target to heavy fire for prolonged periods of time.
self-propelled (SP) gun field artillery, anti-tank gun, or anti-aircraft gun mounted on and fired from a tracked or wheeled vehicle.
self-sealing fuel tanks  
shock the blow transmitted through the ground, water, or structures in which a bomb or shell explodes; see blast and fragmentation
shock troops detachment of soldiers liberally supplied with grenades and automatic weapons.
shrapnel in modern usage, same as splinter
shuttle mission / bombing
schräge Musik 'jazz or slant music'  upwards firing cannon installed in many German night fighters.
shell often refers not just to the entire unit of ammunition but also to the actual projectile part of the unit.
SHAEF Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force
shaped-charge see hollow-charge
shot solid hardened steel projectile used to pierce armor, armor-piercing shells are similar but contain a small explosive charge.
skip bombing method of attacking ships, coming in very low and skipping a bomb into its side to explode.
skirting plate  Schützen flat metal sheets welded to the exterior of an armored fighting vehicle, offering some protection against Bazookas and other shaped-charge weapons.
smoke shell shell packed with white phosphorus that creates a thick cloud of white smoke upon impact.
smoothbore a gun barrel without rifling.
SNLF Japanese navy ground forces (Japanese marines)
sniper a highly trained solider who uses camouflage and a firearm with telescopic sight to selectively strike at the enemy but can refer to anyone firing from a concealed position.
spaced armor armor plate arranged in two layers with an air space in between, offers greater protection than a single plate of like thickness.
spall pieces of armor knocked off the inner surface of armor plate - caused by shock transferred from a major impact.
spin a dangerous situation for an aircraft when, after suffering a stall (loss of lift), one wing creates lift while the other is stalled - this causes the aircraft to rapidly spin and if not corrected results in a crash.
spin-stabilized projectile stabilized in flight by spin.
splinter fragments of a shell after detonation.
Split-S The Abschwung, the Half-Roll; widely used maneuver to disengage from a dogfight, rolling inverted, followed by a hard pull into a vertical dive and a low-level pull out in the opposite direction.
squeeze-bore see coned bore gun
stabilized platform isolated from external forces (movement), as in a stabilized gun on a vehicle.
strafe/strafing when an airplane uses machine guns and/or cannon to attack surface targets.
stern rear end of a ship or boat
Sturmgewehr 'assault rifle' StuG 44 Maschinepistole 44; a superb weapon, grandfather of all modern assault rifles: selectable rate of fire, 35 round magazine of intermediate size (larger than pistol, smaller than rifle) ammo.
StuG (Sturmgeschütz) 'Assault Gun'
star shell illumination shell
Stuka derived from Sturzkampfflungzeug which refers to any dive bomber.
starboard to the right, on the right side.
Sonar (Sound Navigation and Ranging)  principal method of detecting underwater objects such as submarines.
sortie one mission flown by one aircraft, standard measure of air power
SMERSH (Smert Shpionam) 'death to spies'
SOE (Special Operations Executive)
sloped armor By sloping armor at 50-60° to the angle of attack, protection can be doubled without increasing the actual weight or thickness of armor plate carried. This is why sloping armor is such a critical factor in tank design.
sonobuoy aircraft-laid hydrophones for detecting U-boats.
spoiler control surface in the form of a small plate presented more or less square-on to the airstream causing high drag and possible loss of lift.
Springfield American M1903A3 rifle
Squid British three-barrelled anti-submarine mortar firing ahead under sonar control
SS Schutz-Staffel 'protective squad' black shirts established 1925.
stall the sudden, abrupt loss of lift in an airplane.
Sten gun British developed cheap and simple submachinegun
strategic dealing with long term / large scale events and objectives.
strategic bombing bombing the industries and infrastructure that sustain the enemy on the battlefield
straddle when a salvo lands on each side or all around the target but no hits are scored.
Sturmovik / Shturmovik The Ilyushin IL-2, a highly effective Soviet armored ground attack aircraft.
subsonic below the speed of sound.
supercharger gear-driven air compresser powered by the airplane's engine. also called 'blower'
supersonic faster than the speed of sound.
sustainer (rocket) a rocket that takes over and maintains flight after a booster rocket has brought the vehicle up to speed.
submarine a naval vessel designed for underwater operations
submarine pens massive sheltered piers for the protection of U-boats. reinforced concrete roofing over 20 feet thick made these targets all but impervious to allied attack.
submachinegun a simple, lightweight automatic weapon which fires pistol cartridges.
surrender to give up into the power of another, unconditional surrender is to surrender with no assurances or guarantees about anything


tactical dealing with the immediate area or situation.
Tallboy (bomb) 12,000-lb (5400 kg) deep penetration bomb
tank a fully tracked, heavily armed armored fighting vehicle
tank trap / obstacle any obstacle intended to slow down, block or impede the movement of armored fighting vehicles
tank destroyer (TD) lightly armored vehicle mounting a tank gun usually in a fixed superstructure.
taper-bore an artillery piece in which the caliber reduces gradually from breech to muzzle 'squeezing' the round to create tremendous velocity and great armor penetration.
task force (TF) group of warships traveling together
task group (TG) portion of a task force
taxiway a strip usually paved for aircraft to taxi (move out) to the runway
Teller mine German anti-tank mine
terminal velocity a maximum speed (velocity) reached by a falling object due to air drag.
thermite a mixture of aluminum powder and iron oxide that burns at a very high temperature.
Third Reich Hitler proclaimed the birth of the Third Reich (kingdom) in 1933 and said it would last a thousand years. The First Reich being the Holy Roman empire, the second, the rise of Prussia and the unification of Germany.
thrust the force that pushes an aircraft forward in flight. static thrust is the usual measure of jet engine performance, giving the thrust when the engine is at rest
TI (Target Indicator) RAF pyrotechnic target marking bomb
'Tommy gun' American Thompson M1/M1A1 submachinegun
ton one metric ton (tonne) = 1000 kilograms (2,204.6 pounds), short ton = 2,000 pounds, long or imperial ton = 2,240 pounds.
torpedo a relatively sophisticated and deadly weapon, torpedoes can be launched from subs, surface ships or aircraft (aerial torpedoes).
torpedo tube (TT) launch tube for torpedoes.
Torpex torpedo explosive (37-41% TNT, 41-45% RDX, and 18% aluminium)
torque a turning or twisting force
tour of duty  
TOT time on target, a method of coordinating different artillery batteries to concentrate their fire on a single point.
towed artillery artillery that has to be towed into action.
turbosupercharger (turbocharger) some of the exhaust gases of an aircraft engine power a small turbine which compresses air.
trajectory the path of a projectile.
tracer (fire)  
Transportation plan  
transonic just below and just above the speed of sound, very important to understanding control and stability in high-speed aircraft.
traverse the amount a barrel can be moved horizontally
trench can be quite deep and elaborate to form an obstacle or part of a defensive line; a slit trench is a shallow trench a solider can lie in during an attack.
tricycle landing gear  
tungsten carbide extremely hard alloy used in some armor-piercing weapons.
turbine a motor in which a set of blades rotates when struck by a moving stream of liquid or gas.
turret a revolving armored structure that protects one or more guns mounted within.
twist rifling grooves make a spiral towards the gun muzzle. The length of the barrel necessary for the grooves to make one complete revolution is called "twist." This is usually expressed in calibers but sometimes appears in measurement units of inches or meters.


UDT Underwater Demolition Team(s), skilled US Navy divers that would defuse mines, mark underwater obstacles and scout ahead of the main landing force.
UXB unexploded bomb, a certain percentage of bombs and shells fail to explode properly due to improper angle of impact, faulty fuse or other problem. These weapons have to be dealt with by highly trained personnel.
U-Boat (Unterseeboot) 'underwater boat' - German submarine
Ultra name for decoding of German Enigma communications


V-1 With a crude pulse-jet and a 1/2 ton warhead the V-1 was the precursor of modern cruise missiles. The V-1 had many names;  'buzz-bomb'  'diver'  'doodlebug'  FZG-76  Fieseler Fi 103
V-2 Called the A-4, this ballistic missile was unstoppable once launched, striking at supersonic speeds.
V-E Day Victory in Europe - May 8, 1945
V-J Day Victory in Japan - August 15, 1945
velocity speed and direction of an object.
ventral relating to or situated near or on the bottom of as in a ventral machine gun
Vergeltungswaffe Vengeance weapon, as in V-1 and V-2.
Versuch 'test/research' vehicle, usually followed by a number as in V1, V2, V3, etc
VHF (Very High Frequency) radio waves
Venturi a nozzle with a constricted portion that increases gas velocity.
viaduct a long elevated roadway usually consisting of a series of short spans supported on arches, piers, or columns
victories number of aerial kills or victories over enemy aircraft, see ace.
Vierling quadruple mounting
VLR aircraft Very long range aircraft, closed the gap in the Atlantic where convoys had no air cover. B-24 or navy version of
VT fuse Variable Time Fuse (radar proximty fuse)


Waffen-SS fully militarized combat formations of the SS
wallbuster shell squash-head shell
war emergency power  
war weary ravaged by use, expendable.
warhead the payload (explosive charge) of a missile, rocket or bomb.
WASP (Women's Airforce Service Pilots)
waterline a line corresponding to the surface of the water when the vessel is afloat on an even keel; often painted on the hull of a ship
Wehrmacht the German armed forces
Weimar Republic weak and ineffectual government established in Germany in the wake of the Versailles treaty after World War One.
Window strips of metal foil released to jam radar. called Chaff by the Americans and Düppel by the Germans.
wireless telegraphy (W/T)  
Wolf's Lair (Wolfsschanze) Hitler's headquarters for most of the war, located at Rastenburg in East Prussia, it was here on July 20 1944 that an attempt was made on Hitler's life with a bomb.
wolf pack  
WP (White Phosphorus)
Wfr.Gr. Werfer-Granate 21-cm rocket propelled shell

Y'S and Z's

yaw the rotation of an aircraft or missile about its vertical axis
'Y-gun' depth charge thrower
zenith At the very top. The highest point.
Zero (Zeke) The famous Type 00, or Zero-Sen fighter had great agility and performance but sacrificed armor and self-sealing fuel tanks to achieve it.
Zerstörer 'destroyer' - twin-engine fighter with heavy firepower and long-range. The Messerschmitt Me 110 was the first of this type to see service.
Zwilling twin or coupled
Z batteries British anti-aircraft rocket batteries.