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Phonetic Alphabet Introduced

Wireless World, March, 1956.
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The standard NATO phonetics with some earlier alphabets.

Yet another phonetic alphabet for use in radio-telephony was introduced on March 1st. This is the third or fourth official list to be promulgated in just over eight years.

It will be recalled that three or four years ago the International Civil Aviation Organization introduced a word-spelling alphabet which was compiled with a view to the words being readily recognized by those whose mother tongue is not English. it was, however, strongly criticized and many of the member countries of ICAO. refused to adopt it, so that its introduction increased rather than diminished the confusion so far as air radio operators were concerned.

It was given the approval of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and eventually adopted (in 1952) by the Ministry of Civil Aviation. However, the volume and strength of criticisms were such that ICAO. member countries were asked to submit proposals. A committee was, therefore, set up by the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation including representatives of the civil airline operators, the Armed Forces and phoneticians, and six changes were suggested. These were Charlie (instead of Coca) for C, Fox (Foxtrot) for F, Mike (Metro) for M, Nugget (Nectar) for N, Uniform (Union) for U and X-ray (Extra) for X.

Some of these suggestions have been included in the new phonetic alphabet which is to be used by all NATO. forces and by civil air-line operators from March 1st. We give below the new alphabet in the first column, followed by the 1951 ICAO. list, the Able-Baker-Charlie list and the somewhat cumbrous words listed in the final acts of the Atlantic City International Radio Conference of 1947. The syllables to be emphasized are shown in heavy type in the new list.

On the marine side we understand that no change is being made. For Working between British ships and British coast-stations the Able-Baker-Charlie list will continue to be used and for international working the Atlantic City phonetics. It will be recalled that during the War the Armed Forces adopted Able-Baker in place of the old Ack-Beer.

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