While hurricanes and the Asian equivalent typhoons now alternate the gender naming rights of tropical storms and hurricanes—each western and eastern hemisphere separately, coming up with names in alphabetical order, I had thought—mistakenly—that it was just a western thing to call our car “Girl” or “She”.
I grew up with that, and aside from calling one or two clunkers a female dog slang term as well as the term for a male offspring of an unmarried couple, I have never thought to calling my car as though it was a woman I entered and pushed around with my hands upon her yoke, foot upon her driving her hard… I’ve just seen it as a car I could drive.
The same goes for ships and aircraft—specifically as nicknames for vehicles during various war times.
I have nothing against it, to be honest. I never thought about it.
During WWII, for example, crews of an airplane might place a nickname upon their aircraft, someone might paint an image of said nickname - and that would be it.
Sometimes Disney cartoon images might be used—I have a magazine advert showing the Big Bad Wolf was used as a squadron’s insignia.
I think I’ve seen Betty Grable showing off a lot of leg painted under the pilot’s window of an aircraft.
As an aircraft buff, I know that airplanes have had nicknames—from the earliest of days through now: P-51 Mustang; F-22 Raptor, etc.
What I didn’t know, was that during WWII, the Americans had nicknames for Japan’s military aircraft, providing them with westernized names.
And... surprise-surprise, the names picked weren't just female names!
For example… Japan’s Kawanishi (company) E7K Navy Type 94 reconnaissance seaplane was known by the Allies simply as Alf.
Why not. By the time some look out managed to say: “There’s a squadron of Kawanishi E7K Navy Type 94 reconnaissance seaplanes approaching from out of the sun in the east” one’s ship would already be fired upon.
“There’s a squadron of Alf’s approaching from out of the sun in the east.” Much easier to say, and quicker to react to.
Only one Japanese aircraft was given a Japanese nickname: the Yokosuka MXY7 navy suicide attack plane known as Ohka.
“Suicide? That’s Baka!”
Baka is the Japanese word meaning “stupid”. The individual Kanji that make up the word baka are: ba = horse and ka = deer. Maybe the combined horse deer is stupid. Pronounce it backwards a la ka-ba, and you get hippopotamus.
Other interesting points, are the fact that training planes were named after a type of tree...
Topsy, Tabby and Buzzard are also odd.
Most interesting to me, however, are how the names - actual names - chosen were, in the 1940s, common names for women... and now... well... you can see how out-dated some of the names are.
|Abdul||Nakajina Ki-27||Army Type 97 fighter|
|Art||Kawanishi E7K||Navy Type 94 reconnaissance seaplane|
|Ann||Mitsubishu Ki-30||Army Type 97 light bomber|
|Babs||Mitsubishi C5M||Navy Type 98 reconnaissance aircraft|
|Babs aka Norma||Mitsubishi Ki-15||Army Type 97 command reconnaissance aircraft|
|Baka||Yokosuka MXY7||Navy suicide attack plane|
|Belle||Kawanishi H3K||Navy Type 90-2 flying boat|
|Bess||Heinkel He 111||Army Type 98 medium bomber|
|Betty||Mitsubishi G4M||Navy Type 1 land-based attack aircraft|
|Bob||Nakajima E2N||Navy Type 15 reconnaissance floatplane|
|Buzzard||Kokusai Ki-105 Otori||Army transport plane|
|Cedar||Tachikawa Ki-17||Army Type 95-3 basic grade trainer|
|Cherry||Yokosuka H5Y||Navy Type 99 flying boat|
|Clara||Tachikawa Ki-70||Army reconnaissance plane|
|Claude||Mitsubishi A5M||Navy Type 96 carrier based fighter|
|Clint||Nakajima Ki-27||Army Type 97 fighter|
|Cypress||Kokusai Ki-86||Army Type 4 primary trainer|
|Cypress||Kyushu K9W||Navy Type 2 primary trainer|
|Dave||Nakajima E8N||Navy Type 95 reconnaissance seaplane|
|Dick||Seversky A8V||Navy Type S two-seat fighter|
|Dinah||Mitsubishi Ki-46||Army Type 100 command reconnaissance aircraft|
|Edna||Mansyu Ki-71||Army Type 99 assault aircraft|
|Emily||Kawanishi H8K||Navy Type 2 large flying boat|
|Eva/Eve||Mitsubishi Ohtori||Army Type 93 twin-engine light bomber|
|Fran/Frances||Yokosuka P1Y||Navy land-based bomber|
|Frank||Nakajima Ki-84||Army Type 4 fighter|
|Gander||Kokusai Ku-8||Army Type 4 special transport glider|
|George||Kawanishi N1K-J||Navy interceptor fighter|
|Glen||Yokosuka E14Y||Navy Type 0 small reconnaissance seaplane|
|Goose||Kokusai Ku-8||Army Type 4 special transport glider|
|Grace||Aichi B7A||Navy carrier attack bomber|
|Gwen||Mitsubishi Ki-21-IIb||Army Type 0 medium bomber|
|Hap||Mitsubishi A6M3||Navy Type 0 carrier fighter model 32|
|Hank||Aichi E10A||Navy Type 96 night reconnaissance seaplane|
|Helen||Nakajima Ki-49||Army Type 100 heavy bomber|
|Hickory||Tachikawa Ki-54||Army Type 1 trainer|
|Ida||Tachikawa Ki-36||Army Type 98 direct co-operation aircraft|
|Ida||Tachikawa Ki-55||Army Type 99 advanced trainer|
|Irving||Nakajima J1N||Navy Type 2 land reconnaissance aircraft|
|Jack||Mitsubishi J2M||Navy interceptor fighter|
|Jake||Aichi E13A||Navy Type 0 reconnaissance seaplane|
|Jane||Mitsubishi Ki-21||Army Type 97 heavy bomber|
|Jean||Yokosuka B4Y||Navy Type 96 carrier attack bomber|
|Jerry||Heinkel A7He||Navy Type He interceptor fighter|
|Jill||Nakajima B6N||Navy carrier attack bomber|
|Judy||Yokosuka D4Y||Navy Type 2 carrier reconnaissance aircraft|
|Julia||Kawasaki Ki-48||Army Type 97 heavy bomber|
|Kate||Nakajima B5N||Navy Type 97-1 carrier attack bomber|
|Laura||Aichi E11A||Navy Type 98 reconnaissance seaplane|
|Lily||Kawasaki Ki-48||Army Type 99 twin-engine light bomber|
|Liz||Nakajima G5N||Navy Experimental 13-Shi attack bomber|
|Lorna||Kyushu Q1W||Navy Patrol Aircraft|
|Louise||Mitsubishi Ki-2-II||Army Type 93-2 twin-engine light bomber|
|Luke||Mitsubishi J4M||Navy Experimental 17-Shi interceptor|
|Mary||Kawasaki Ki-32||Army Type 98 single-engine light bomber|
|Mabel||Mitsubishi B5M||Navy Type 97-2 carrier attack bomber|
|Mavis||Kawanishi H6K||Navy Type 97 large flying boat|
and Bf 109
|Army Type 3 Fighter|
|Millie||Vultee V-11GB||Type 98 Showa light bomber|
|Myrt/Myrtle||Nakajima C6N||Navy carrier reconnaissance aircraft|
|Nate||Nakajima Ki-27||Army Type 97 fighter|
|Nell||Mitsubishi G3M||Navy Type 96 attack bomber|
|Nick||Kawasaki Ki-45||Army Type 2 two-seat fighter|
|Norm||Kawanishi E15K||Navy Type 2 high-speed reconnaissance seaplane|
|Norma||Mitsubishi Ki-15||Army Type 97 command reconnaissance aircraft|
|Norm (again)||Mitsubishi C5M||Navy Type 98 reconnaissance aircraft|
|Oak||Kyushu K10W||Navy Type 2 intermediate trainer|
|Oscar||Nakajima Ki-43||Army Type 1 fighter|
|Pat||Tachikawa Ki-74||Army fighter|
|Patsy||Tachikawa Ki-74||Army reconnaissance bomber|
|Paul||Aichi E16A||Navy reconnaissance seaplane|
|Peggy||Mitsubishi Ki-67||Army Type 4 heavy bomber|
|Perry||Kawasaki Ki-10||Army Type 95 fighter|
|Pete||Mitsubishi F1M||Navy Type 0 observation seaplane|
|Pine||Mitsubishi K3M||Navy Type 90 crew trainer|
|Randy||Kawasaki Ki-102||Army Type 4 assault aircraft|
|Rex||Kawanishi N1K||Navy fighter seaplane|
|Rita||Nakajima G8N||Navy Type 18 land-based attack aircraft|
|Rufus||Nakajima A6M2-N||Navy Type 2 interceptor/fighter-bomber|
|Ruth||Fiat BR.20||Army Type I heavy bomber|
|Sally||Mitsubishi Ki-21||Army Type 97 heavy bomber|
|Sam||Mitsubishi A7M||Navy experimental carrier fighter|
|Slim||Watanabe E9W||Navy Type 96 small reconnaissance seaplane|
|Sonia||Mitsubishi Ki-51||Army Type 99 assault aircraft|
|Spruce||Tachikawa Ki-9||Army Type 95-1 intermediate trainer|
|Stella||Kokusai Ki-76||Army Type 3 command liaison aircraft|
|Susie||Aichi D1A||Navy Type 94/96 carrier bomber|
|Navy Type 0 transport|
|Tess||Douglas DC-2||Navy transport|
|Thalia||Kawasaki Ki-56||Army Type 1 freight transport|
|Thelma||Lockheed Model 14||Army Type LO transport|
|Theresa||Kokusai Ki-59||Army Type 1 transport|
|Thora||Nakajima Ki-34||Army Type 97 transport|
|Tina||Yokosuka L3Y||Navy Type 96 transport|
|Tojo||Nakajima Ki-44||Army Type 2 single-seat fighter|
|Tony||Kawasaki Ki-61||Army Type 3 fighter|
|Topsy||Mitsubishi Ki-57||Army Type 100 transport|
|Val||Aichi D3A||Navy Type 99 dive bomber|
|Willow||Yokosuka K5Y||Navy Type 93 intermediate trainer|
|Zeke or Zero||Mitsubishi A6M||Navy Type 0 carrier fighter|
The careful reader will have noted and wondered about why there are American airplanes in the list. Even a Fiat. Is it an error?
No. And it’s nothing nefarious, either.
It is possible that the Fiat, was purchased at such a time when Italy was an ally with Japan 9and Germany) as part of the Axis, or more than likely, Japan was using a Fiat for the same reason it had been using American aircraft.
Prior to its attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan was a viable trading partner to the U.S. In fact, during WWI, Japan was an ally with the US et al in their battles against der kaiser and Germany.
During the 1930s, Japan legally purchased aircraft from Seversky, Douglas and Lockheed for non-military purposes, and during WWII re-purposed them for military use.
The thing that took the longest to do, was to find computer code that would allow me to create chart-like separation for blogger.com-blogs.
Oh well... what to do for tomorrow? Oh... I know, I know.
PS: Image at top from http://warthunder.wikia.com/wiki/File:A6m_together.jpg