Said in Morse…
Morse code is now some 180 years old. When I saw the next item to be replicated for our Spitfire Mark IX was a Morse Code signal box, or “Switchbox Identification” in Air Ministry parlance, it gave pause for thought.
I could not help but wonder whether any pilot ever availed himself of this facility, given the effectiveness of spoken word radio communication by the 1940’s. Some research in Wikipedia soon illustrated that indeed, it was an extremely important means of communication.
Operators skilled in Morse Code can evidently often understand code in their heads at rates in excess of 40 words per minute (wpm). It is believed that some operators may have passed 100 wpm. By this time they are “hearing” phrases and sentences rather than words!
Operators also need to understand all the communications protocols, such as the abbreviations of the Q-Code. Many of those with an aviation background will recognise these, such as “QNH”, which is the barometric setting required to indicate the altitude of a specified location correctly.
So no doubt our aviators of the day were skilled or at least proficient in the use of Morse code. The Spitfire Mk.IX had two signal lamps, one mounted above the fuselage behind the cockpit and under mounted below. These were used when radio silence had to be maintained. It was thus essential to be able to communicate with the others in your squadron or on the ground with the signal box.
Thus it was a pleasure to replicate the original, using two three position switches, one each for the upper and lower lamps, and a morse key being a simple sprung pushbutton, all of which are operational in the DCS World Spitfire.
It will be great to practice my Morse skills on this. 🙂