Catalogue description Government Code and Cypher School: Air Section: Reports on Italian and Other Foreign Air Forces (AS/AS- Series)

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Details of HW 21
Reference: HW 21
Title: Government Code and Cypher School: Air Section: Reports on Italian and Other Foreign Air Forces (AS/AS- Series)

Intelligence reports on foreign (European) air forces produced by the Air Section. To aid the understanding of these reports, a number of working aids and orders of Battle are also included, also some correspondence files relating to the reports.

The reports are copies of teleprinted reports to Service Ministries on the activities primarily of the Italian Air Force, both before and during the Second World War. Information on pre-war activities include operations in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, also activity in North Africa, the Aegean and Ethiopia. Information on war time activities includes operations in Africa, the Aegean, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily and mainland Italy, also operations in Russia.

Information on other air force activities in reports comprises:

  • the Spanish Air Forces (Nationalist and Insurgent) during the Spanish Civil War and the Spanish Air Forces subsequently between 1941 and 1945;
  • some activity by the German Air Force in the Spanish Civil War and in and around Europe, prior to and in the early stages of the Second World War - operations by the German Air Forces in North Africa and the Mediterranean are to some extent covered by the Italian Air Force reporting;
  • Russian operations in Finland in 1940;
  • French activity in the Mediterranean, 1939-1943;
  • Portuguese Air Force between August 1943 and October 1944

The reports describe combat operations, transport flights, accidents, deployments and other order of battle changes, readiness states of aircraft and air crews, fuel situations at individual airfields and attaché reports (those from the Italian Air Attaché in Tokyo described Japanese operations in the Far East).

The reports are all based on decrypts of medium/low grade cipher messages: some are verbatim copies of translations while others are paraphrases of the original text.

Date: 1936-1944

Reports in the AS series, which were based on decrypts of messages sent in the ciphers of a number of different national Air Forces, carry a unique serial number in the top right hand corner in the range 1-1899, immediately below which is the date the report was issued. This is followed by the reports title, the routing of the cipher message and the message text. For the most part, reports contain a single cipher message. The AS series was replaced in July 1940 by the ASI series, based solely on decrypts of Italian Air Force ciphers: these initially had the same format as the AS reports but gradually the titles and routings were dropped and by the end of May 1941, each with their own ASI number, were being sent out in batches. ASI numbers were allocated in the range 1-10000, at which they reverted to 1, the second series stopping as 7232, in 1943/1944; reports based on decrypts of these ciphers were issued in the AS(P) series, numbers 1-120. There is also a small AS(R) series dealing with the Russian Air Force, which will form part of a separate release of the Soviet material.

The reports are arranged numerically in books/folders in the following sequence:

  • AS series (April 1936-August 1940)
  • Italian Air Force Orders of Battle
  • Index to ASI series
  • ASI 1-10000 (July 1940-July 1942)
  • ASI 1-7232 (July 1942-November 1943)
  • ASAA 1-3
  • XC/JC series
  • CCC
  • IRT 1-22
  • MERCHANT PK 1-660
  • ITAM series
  • AS
  • AS(P)

For pieces described at item level, the items were numbered arbitarily prior to accessioning. These item numbers do not appear on the reports themselves.

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Former reference in its original department: AS/AS- file series
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Government Code and Cypher School, Air Section, 1936-1946

Physical description: 92 files and volumes
Access conditions: Open
Immediate source of acquisition:

In 1998 Government Communications Headquarters

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