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HistoryEdit

The rank was introduced to the RAF in January 1919, replacing the rank prefixes of "Air Mechanic", "Private" and "Clerk" that had been introduced under Air Memorandum No 1 in March 1918. There were three grades: Leading Aircraftman (LAC), Aircraftman 1st Class (AC1) and Aircraftman 2nd Class. A similar grading existed for junior ratings in the Royal Navy.[4]

The lowest grade was an AC2; also colloquially known as an "AC plonk".[5] With effect from 1 April 1964, the gradings of AC1 and AC2 were abolished, with "Aircraftman" becoming the entry rank.[6]

Royal Air ForceEdit

In RAF slang, aircraftmen are sometimes called "erks".[7]

Royal Canadian Air ForceEdit

In the Royal Canadian Air Force, the rank is also known by the French term of Aviateur. This was changed from private in spring 2015 when the RCAF changed the colour of its rank insignia from gold to pearl grey. It is the lowest rank in the RCAF. Prior to 1968 the rank of aircraftman was used in the RCAF as in other Commonwealth air forces.[8]

Royal Australian Air ForceEdit

The Royal Australian Air Force also uses both aircraftman and aircraftwoman.[9]

Royal New Zealand Air ForceEdit

In the Royal New Zealand Air Force, the rank is known as "aircraftman", regardless of the person's sex, in line with "seaman" in the Royal New Zealand Navy.[10]

FootnotesEdit

  1. ^ RAF Distinguishing Insignia
  2. ^ RAF website
  3. ^ The spellings "aircraftsman" and "aircraftswoman", despite being occasionally seen even in official documents, are incorrect in any air force.
  4. ^ Perkins, Dave. "Royal Navy Branches, Ranks and Ratings, 1918". www.pbenyon.plus.com. Retrieved 14 May 2017. 
  5. ^ Partridge, Eric (2000). A dictionary of slang and unconventional English : colloquialisms and catch phrases, fossilised jokes and puns, general nicknames, vulgarisms and such Americanisms as have been naturalised (8 ed.). London: Routledge. p. 1. ISBN 0-415-06568-2. 
  6. ^ Jefford, C.G. (2010). Observers and Navigators: And Other Non-Pilot Aircrew in the RFC, RNAS and RAF. London: Grub Street. p. 285. ISBN 978-1-909808-02-7. Air Ministry Order A.80/1963 of 6 March 1963 replaced the AC1 and AC2 with just 'Aircraftman' with effect from 1 April 1964 
  7. ^ MacGregor, Sue (9 August 2012). "Sue MacGregor finally lays flowers on her hero uncle's grave". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2 August 2017. 
  8. ^ "A Return to the Royal Canadian Aor Forec Ranks; a Historical Examination" (PDF). rcaf-arc.forces. 2014. p. 12. Retrieved 2 August 2017. 
  9. ^ "Air Force Ranks - Royal Australian Air Force". www.airforce.gov.au. Retrieved 2 August 2017. 
  10. ^ "RNZAF - RNZAF Ranks". www.airforce.mil.nz. Retrieved 2 August 2017. 

See alsoEdit