Author Topic: Ack Ack Formation  (Read 36430 times)

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Offline BulletMagnet

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Ack Ack Formation
« on: November 03, 2011, 23:10:37 »
Wondering if anyone here knows where the term for Ack Ack came from?

A recruit asked an Instructor and he had no clue he asked me and I vaguely remembered something about it being taken from a fighter formation of similar pattern but I'm not 100% either so I thought to ask here.

Anyone know for sure?
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Offline cupper

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Re: Ack Ack Formation
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2011, 23:16:49 »
It supposedly comes from the slang British Signals Phonetic alphabet used during WWI.

A = Ack. Therefore AA = Ack Ack.
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Offline frank1515

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Re: Ack Ack Formation
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2011, 23:18:14 »
I thought "Ack" was the short version of "Acknowledge"

That's how I've seen it used in e-mails and sometimes verbally.
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Re: Ack Ack Formation
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2011, 23:23:26 »
Ack Ack was a term for Anti-Aircraft fire...so an ack ack formation was a dispersal pattern to keep from having a huge target for flak rounds to detonate in.

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Offline BulletMagnet

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Re: Ack Ack Formation
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2011, 23:26:37 »
I should have been clear my apologies

Ack Ack in terms of Infantry is a formation used while patrolling. I am wondering where that term came from when applied to the ground formation.

I was already aware that Ack meant acknowledge and Ack Ack was short for Anti Aircraft fire. Thank you for your prompt replies but they were not what I was looking for.
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Re: Ack Ack Formation
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2011, 23:46:31 »
Maybe the Army actually borrowed something from the Air Force...or maybe got coined from the pigeon gunners themselves?

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Offline Michael O'Leary

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Re: Ack Ack Formation
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2011, 23:52:55 »
BM, I'm not certain of the provenance of the term, but it may be based on an impression that the alternating soldiers on either side of the road or path were a similar pattern to the alternating rounds from a two-barreled AA gun.

It was also discussed here: http://forums.army.ca/forums/index.php?topic=98856.0

Offline BulletMagnet

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Re: Ack Ack Formation
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2011, 23:54:31 »
MM I was pretty sure it was taken from the Air Force and the Ack Ack Formation like you said above, likely because it resembled it or had a similar function. I was hoping for a solid answer though from some of the history buffs around these parts.
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Offline BulletMagnet

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Re: Ack Ack Formation
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2011, 23:56:47 »
Thank you Mr O'Leary
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Offline Michael O'Leary

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Re: Ack Ack Formation
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2011, 00:05:25 »
I can confirm that it is not included in the 1944 Infantry Training manual (Part VIII - Fieldcraft, Battle Drill, Section and Platoon Tactics).

The listed Section formations are:

Blobs (of two, three or occasionally four men)
Loose file (normal file formation, but broken so that men are not covered off laterally or from front to rear)
Irregular arrowhead (Normal arrowhead formation, but broken as to avoid regular pattern visible from the air)
Extended Line (for final assault, occasionally for crossing open ground.)

Note the specific description of the loose file.

Offline Michael O'Leary

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Re: Ack Ack Formation
« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2011, 00:09:16 »
And from the 1928 Infantry Section Leading:



Offline BulletMagnet

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Re: Ack Ack Formation
« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2011, 00:29:56 »
Micheal

Yup I'm tracking it seems loose file resembled the Ack Ack rounds and it went from common slag to an official term over the years.
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Offline FlyingDutchman

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Re: Ack Ack Formation
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2011, 01:41:03 »
Is it safe for me to assume this term is older than 15 years?
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Offline Old Sweat

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Re: Ack Ack Formation
« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2011, 06:33:35 »
When I took recruit training back in 1958, we were taught ack ack formation was used as a passive defence against air attacks, which back then (and in the Second World War) was by strafing with machine guns and/or cannon by high performance aircraft. It would also provide a degree of protection by dispersion against direct and indirect fire.

Offline TN2IC

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Re: Ack Ack Formation
« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2011, 07:22:07 »
Just usless information, but in the MSE Trade, we use Ack Ack Formation. Don't know where it came from. But we teach it on the QL3, as per SOP.

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Offline PMedMoe

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Re: Ack Ack Formation
« Reply #15 on: November 04, 2011, 07:25:56 »
Blobs (the size of two, three or occasionally four men)

I think we still have these in the CF.    ;)
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Offline Michael O'Leary

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Re: Ack Ack Formation
« Reply #16 on: November 04, 2011, 07:30:55 »
Is it safe for me to assume this term is older than 15 years?

Yes.

Offline Good2Golf

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Re: Ack Ack Formation
« Reply #17 on: November 04, 2011, 08:32:23 »
There are cases where in canalizing terrain, we will use "loose trail" formation as a counter to small arms fire, thereby putting following sections of aircraft/helicopters out of the immediate line of fire from ground crews looking to engage low fliers.  It also gives better mutually-supporting arcs of fire for flank protection during transit.  The other formation option is "battle" formation, which places elements across a wide frontage, used primarily where an identifiable threat is forward and it is desired to concentrate formation fires forward against the threat.  The 'loose trail' idea was borne of WWII bomber "Box/Combat box" formations where 'boxes' of three to six bombers would be offset laterally (and to some degree vertically) to counter airborne threats (enemy counter-air fighter aircraft) as well as balance concentration of munitions (from closer formation) with force protective dispersion (to balance against ack-ack/flak/anti-aircraft fires).

As an aside, I was taught about 'ack-ack' formation on patrol during basic in the mid-80's and it was explained by my Armour recce WO that it was based on aircraft formations to disperse against ambushing fires, like the aircraft did against 'ack-ack' in WWII, so that lines up with some elements of current/historical air doctrine.   That gives the term at least 25-30 years in 'modern' CF usage.

Today's fighter force, of course, like their earlier brethren seem to do whatever they want, so long as they look good doing it...  ;)

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Offline ArmyRick

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Re: Ack Ack Formation
« Reply #18 on: November 04, 2011, 09:53:22 »
Ack Ack is not the official term, loose file is.
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Offline Rifleman62

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Re: Ack Ack Formation
« Reply #19 on: November 04, 2011, 10:10:46 »
Loose File it may be, but Ack Ack was what I was taught on Group I in 1964. Usually used for walking up roads during a move, WWII style. Ack Ack Platoon, leapfrogged the sections forward.

We still had a lot of WWII Vets in, who absolutely insisted to get off the objective as soon as it was cleared. They were fanatical about it from the bitter experience of being stonked by the Germans.
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Offline FlyingDutchman

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Re: Ack Ack Formation
« Reply #20 on: November 04, 2011, 10:58:24 »
Yes.
Thank you, now I get to go say 'I told you so.'
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Offline marshall sl

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Re: Ack Ack Formation
« Reply #21 on: November 06, 2011, 03:26:10 »
Loose File it may be, but Ack Ack was what I was taught on Group I in 1964. Usually used for walking up roads during a move, WWII style. Ack Ack Platoon, leapfrogged the sections forward.

We still had a lot of WWII Vets in, who absolutely insisted to get off the objective as soon as it was cleared. They were fanatical about it from the bitter experience of being stonked by the Germans.

Same term in 76. Our RSM and one of the CSM were WW2 and Korean Vets
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Re: Ack Ack Formation
« Reply #22 on: March 22, 2015, 21:24:48 »
I would also link it to the WW2 German AA guns, 88mm flak. german for eight is acht.

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Re: Ack Ack Formation
« Reply #23 on: March 22, 2015, 21:53:48 »
Or, it may be from Bill the Cat, who says ACK!  all the time.
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Offline Good2Golf

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Re: Ack Ack Formation
« Reply #24 on: March 22, 2015, 21:55:28 »
Or, it may be from Bill the Cat, who says ACK!  all the time.

...but then it would be "ACK, Phhhht, ACK, Phhhht" formation...  ???

Offline Old Sweat

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Re: Ack Ack Formation
« Reply #25 on: March 22, 2015, 21:56:05 »
Loose File it may be, but Ack Ack was what I was taught on Group I in 1964. Usually used for walking up roads during a move, WWII style. Ack Ack Platoon, leapfrogged the sections forward.

We still had a lot of WWII Vets in, who absolutely insisted to get off the objective as soon as it was cleared. They were fanatical about it from the bitter experience of being stonked by the Germans.

I was taught AA formation in the RCA Depot in 1958 as moving with section and platoon HQ alternated on opposite sides of the road to make a difficult target for strafing. And the Canadian Army was adamant that troops get off the objective into a defensive position as the Germans always mounted local counter-attacks as soon as possible to drive the attackers back. Some battalions learned to have companies attack with a few troops because the enemy would abandon the position, planning to recapture it as our guys were re-organizing. Having a fresh force with bags of Bren guns to meet them should have taught them a lesson, but the record shows they never did.

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Re: Ack Ack Formation
« Reply #26 on: December 29, 2017, 21:32:16 »
Hi there,

When I was in the Army Cadets we used the ack ack formation during route marches or patrol. Squad leader puts both arms up at 90 degrees and pump the fists. The squad would separate, odd person go left even person go right to the side of the road, path etc.

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Re: Ack Ack Formation
« Reply #27 on: December 29, 2017, 21:40:34 »
Hi there,

When I was in the Army Cadets we used the ack ack formation during route marches or patrol. Squad leader puts both arms up at 90 degrees and pump the fists. The squad would separate, odd person go left even person go right to the side of the road, path etc.

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