|World empires and colonies in 1914, |
also at the time of the 1. Int. Radiotelegraphic Convention.
Source Wikipedia Commons, user Andrew0921
I have always been envious of those radio amateurs who have a call sign starting with a letter that reflects their country's name. This seems to be the privilege of big and powerful nations, or countries that were just lucky in having names that didn't overlap too much with those of other nations. Among the 1913 call signs one can find:
- D - Deutschland/Germany
- F - France
- G - Great Britain
- I - Italy
- J - Japan
- R - Russia
- CO to CP - Chile
- EA to EG - España/Spain
- SA to SM - Sweden
- TA to TM - Turkey (later reduced to TA-TC - was this due to the fall of the Ottoman empire?)
My own country Norway which had just become independent a few years before (1905) could not get the N-series as the US were already using it. But we still got a rather large allocation, LA to LH, probably because of the size of our merchant fleet. Actually it was so big that Norwegian is included along with English and Spanish among only 10 languages that has a special Q-code: QOD7 - "Can you communicate with me in Norwegian?"
For the most part, understanding the radio amateur call sign also means that one can understand the country of origin of aircraft also as they more or less follow the same allocation table.
The call signs of the US have their own special history (N, W, and K) which has been covered elsewhere.
But for other countries some observations are:
- The V series was allocated to the British Empire, and remnants of this is seen in the call signs of Commonwealth countries like Canada (VE) and Australia (VK), former British colony India (VU), as well as what remains of British Caribbean colonies. The VR code for Hong Kong was also part of this series, but has since then shifted with the 1997 transfer to China.
- Russia was not a signatory to the 1912 convention, so UA–UM were originally assigned to France and its colonies, and UN–UZ were assigned to Austria-Hungary and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 1927, the Soviet Union was assigned the entire U series and when the USSR broke up in 1991, several former Soviet republics received blocks of U call signs.
- One can also recognize former French colonies because they have inherited the T call signs originally assigned to France and its colonies. Today France is left with TK (Corsica). TM and TO-TQ. Among former colonies with T call signs are:
- TJ - Cameroon
- TL - the Central African Republic
- TN - Republic of the Congo
- TR - Gabon
- TS - Tunisia
- TT - Chad
- TU - Côte d'Ivoire
- TY - Benin
- TZ - Mali
I could go on, for instance with the prefixes starting with Z which seem to indicate an origin in the British empire (ZL - New Zealand, ZS - South Africa), but with notable exceptions like ZP for Paraguay and ZV-ZZ for Brazil. But I had better stop here before I make too many historical errors.