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Subject: The Zone Call
DropBear    10/6/2004 2:31:48 AM
A WW1 term... A special call from an aircraft to the artillery. Tapped out by wireless operator, the "G.G." fire signal was followed by the pin-point co-ordinates of target. When the Military Map Grid References were identified, every weapon of every calibre within range, directed rapid fire on the spot. It was estimated that it cost 10 000 Brit Pounds, per minute. 1. Is there a modern day equivalent 'term' or action similar to this? 2. Is it un/common for modern day planes to signal artillery support? 3. What did the initials G.G. stand for? Were they merely convenient letters for use in morse, just like CQD and SOS were. Your thoughts....
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neutralizer    RE:The Zone Call   10/6/2004 7:14:06 AM
The Zone Call was introduced on the Western Front in 1916. Basically each map sheet was divided into squares with 6000 yd sides and identified by a letter, and this square was then quartered and given a letter A - D. This sub square with 3000 yd sides was a Zone. Particular batteries were assigned to engage targets in a particular zone. During WW1 the BEF did not call fire onto targets by coordinates or grid references because their maps were not gridded, individual sheets were 'squared' as described above. Of course the maps were built on triangulation so there was an underlying 'grid', but since each of the BEF's armies established its own geodetic reference there was no common grid across the BEF (they started introducing this in 1918). Basically the aircraft of a Corps Wing RFC would have squared maps and these were usually overprinted with all the known hostile battery locations, each identified by a number. If a pilot saw one firing he would broadcast a 'NF' (now firing) call giving the zone (eg QB) and the HB number, the batteries allocatted to that zone would then engage by looking up the target coords on their HB list. There was a system of dividing a zone into tenths and possibly hundredths but its not clear if this was much used by aircraft against opportunity targets. 'GG' rings a bell and it may be these prefixes were carried on to WW2 for use with the arty/R procedure (it might also have been incorproated in the standard 'artillery code' use with morse). This enabled RAF aircraft to call for fire, the original concept didn't work too well for several reasons and revised procedures were adopted mid WW2, these involved aircraft (usually tac/R) being tasked to engage specific ground targets with arty fire. They usually operated 'deep', often with a fighter escort. Targets close to the FDLs were engaged using AOP, these were RAF sqns but all the pilots were arty officers and engaged whatever they saw using standard arty procedures. Depending on the authorisation given to the AOP pilot this meant that they could order concentrated fire from single regiment (Mike Target) or divisional artillery (Uncle Target). Some were sometimes authorised for an AGRA (Yoke Target) and I would guess occassionally for a corps artillery (Victor Target). The Zone Call procedure was considered quite fast, but not as fast as the response to Mike, Uncle and probably Yoke in WW2. Today such targets would be called 'Fire Mission Regiment', Fire Mission Division', 'Fire Mission (number) Guns', etc.
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DropBear    RE:The Zone Call   10/6/2004 8:36:23 AM
Cheers mate, you seem to know your stuff! Quite informative.
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Texastillidie    RE:The Zone Call   4/9/2005 1:57:07 AM
The modern term is Time-on-target (TOT). Every gun available computes the time of flight for their shells. They all fire at slightly different times so that all shells land at exactly the same time. First round casualties are much higher than second round. If only a battalion fired it would be a battalion TOT. If a division artillery were to fire a TOT it would be called a DIVARTY TOT. Such a call for fire would have to be approved by the Division Commander as it unmasks your order of battle and shows your enemy your true strength. This is something you don't want to do unless an opportunity exists to cripple him.
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neutralizer    RE:The Zone Call   4/9/2005 6:48:52 AM
'The modern term is Time-on-target (TOT)." I'm afraid Sir, that this is twaddle. The modern equivalent is to call a recorded target with whatever number of guns that recorded target is circulated to. Of course with modern systems the whole notion of recorded targets is increasingly superfluous. Just call the grid, the computers do the rest, or call teh tgt no, let the computers find it put it through the network then compute it wherever you do that (on the guns or in the battery). ToT is merely a method of fire control to achieve simultaneous impact of the opening rounds, it's appropriate to some types of target but not to others. The Zone Call did not worry about this, they merely fired 'when ready'. It's often forgotten that ToT engagements slow down the speed of response to get rounds on the ground, which is where they need to be (ie against opportunity targets they pander to some bozos idea of what the slowest battery can achieve if they can drag themselves off the arses). The Zone Call was predicated on fast response where the fastest battery was the best battery.
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neutralizer    RE:The Zone Call   4/9/2005 7:02:53 AM
Returning to the original question and the GG call. I happen to have in front of me AT Vol 2 Gunnery 1934. Chap XII is called 'Co-operation with the RAF', and has the calls, they certianly include at least some of those used in WW1 with the RFC. However, there's no GG. It gives the following Fire Codes: OE (call for fire of a single battery, ranging by single rounds); FG (Call for the fire of a single battery, ranging by groups of rounds); LL (Call for a heavy concentration of fire). In WW1 an RFC pilot wouldn't be able to range several batteries individually, therefore I'd guess the GG call meant something on the lines 'all batteries covering this zone fire now'. There were a fair number of WW1 notes, ciculars, etc about air observation of arty by the RFC. I'd guess the calls were defined in GHQ Artillery Notes No 6, unfortunately this is the only one in this series that I don't have.
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starlight14    RE:The Zone Call   11/21/2005 11:52:13 PM
Artillery is not really my field of expertise but I came across this thread whilst looking for more information on zone calling. My grandfather was in No 6 Squadron RFC during the whole of WW1 and was attached to the Wireless Flight. I just looked in the back of his 1916 war diary where he noted all of the (then) current air to ground signals and the only 'G' signals at that time were G - Fire, GF - Fire for effect, GO - Continue firing in own time and GZ - Graze. At that time they had yet to work out how to handle multiple frequencies at any one time so aircraft went up and signalled to each zone/battery one by one. It may well be that when they were able to simultaneously transmit to more than one battery the code 'GG' was used to invite all batteries to open fire, but I can find nothing in the diaries that show this. I hope this is of interest.
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DropBear    RE:The Zone Call   11/22/2005 12:14:54 AM
I must admit that I pulled the source from an old Biggles book, however, I think W.E. Johns knew his stuff and the term G.G surfaced in his text. :)
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neutralizer    RE:The Zone Call   11/22/2005 3:24:39 AM
It would be 'GG', one of the standard codes for a type target or engagement. I've never looked for a list, but GHQ issued several Notes, etc, about cooperation between arty and RFC so it's probably in one of these. If you want a copy try the IWM's online document catalogue. Don't know where you found the references to 'coordinates' or even 'military grid references' but they're wrong. In WW1 coords were only used for targets produced as a result of survey processes in a broad sense, eg flash spotting and sound ranging as well as triangulation by ground surveyors. The reason was that on the W Front maps were not 'griddded' they were 'squared', a different thing altogether. In modern terminology a Zone Call would be better described as a recorded target, actually they were published on target lists of overlays printed on maps, this meant that data was prepared so the response was fast. Zone Calls did not survive long after WW1. Before and during WW2 the equivalent was arty/R. There's a fairly comprehensive summary on the 'Other Firepower' page of this web site Arty/R died after WW2. Today the equivalent might be a UAV controlling fire, that said NCW/NEC should allow a target found by a fast jet recce aircraft with a realtime data link to ground to feed coords into the arty fire control system. The long range stand-off surv aircraft like JSTARS or the new RAF system might also do it but I suspect the tgt location might be insufficiently accurate (ie at most 10 metres)and while it will 'detect', 'recognise' is probably problematic and 'identify' unlikely. UK came close to airborne rdr controlled arty in 2003 using SK7 but I think they handed off to a UAV to control the arty attack.
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DropBear    RE:The Zone Call   11/22/2005 4:28:01 AM
I got them from the same source.
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Carl S    RE:Clarification for Grided Maps   11/23/2005 12:26:19 PM
Neutralizer...can you provide details on the sue o grided maps by the Royal Artillery & Brit army in general? Do you have any solid info on similar usage in other armys?
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