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Aircraftman (AC), or Aircraftwoman (ACW), is the lowest rank in the Royal Air Force and the air forces of several other Commonwealth countries.

Aircraftman ranks below Leading Aircraftman and has a NATO rank code of OR-1. It is presently a training rank only and no airmen in productive service hold this rank. Aircraftman do not wear any rank insignia.

History[edit | edit source]

The rank was introduced on the formation of the RAF in 1918, replacing the Royal Flying Corps rank of Air Mechanic 2nd Class. There were two grades: Aircraftman 1st Class (AC1) and Aircraftman 2nd Class (AC2; also colloquially known as an "AC plonk").

Usage[edit | edit source]

Royal New Zealand Air Force[edit | edit source]

In the Royal New Zealand Air Force, the rank is known as "Aircraftsman", regardless of the person's sex, in line with Seaman in the Royal New Zealand Navy.

Royal Air Force[edit | edit source]

In RAF slang, Aircraftmen are sometimes called "erks". The word "erk" is perhaps a phonetic spelling of an East Londoner's pronunciation of the abbreviation, "airc".[citation needed]

The spelling "Aircraftsman", despite being seen even in official documents, is incorrect in the RAF.

See also[edit | edit source]

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