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"German Recognition Signals" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following U.S. military report on German military recognition signals was published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 34, September 23, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


In the accompanying sketches are shown one of the few sets of German recognition signals that have fallen into American hands. There are two sheets of these instructions (1) the aircraft signals, which are changed daily; (2) signals subject to infrequent change. Unfortunately, it is not possible to reproduce the colors in which the originals were printed.

a. Signals Changed Daily -- Air Corps

These are shown in figure 1. This sheet is kept posted in the sentry post. The word Muster (sample) printed across the face indicates that this particular sheet was not used for actual operation -- it may have been for instruction only as is also suggested by the tack-heads indicated in the corners of the inner outlines.

[German WW2 Military Recognition Signals]
Fig. 1

While accurate knowledge of its use is not obtainable, it seems probable that the star, blinker, colored light, and emergency signals illustrated might be customarily given by airplanes. However, the red star rocket may well be sent up by ground troops as a challenge, in which case an approaching plane would reply in either the same manner or by one of the other signals, blinker or light.

b. Permanent

ES-1 in figure 2 may be interpreted as a challenge to an approaching unit -- air, ground or afloat. The one white rocket is equivalent to, "Halt -- who's there?" The approacher replies with one white and three red -- the identification signal meaning, "Friend," and the challenger replies with two white rockets, "Pass friend." The interpretation of the other signals 2 to 7 are simple, the acknowledgement, ES, meaning, "Signal received."

[German WW2 Military Recognition Signals]
Fig. 2


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