World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

List of Rainbow Codes

Article Id: WHEBN0003219130
Reproduction Date:

Title: List of Rainbow Codes  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Handley Page Victor, Green Cheese (missile), Bloodhound (missile), Black Arrow, Blue Stone (neutron initiator)
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

List of Rainbow Codes

The Rainbow Codes were a series of code names used to disguise the nature of various British military research projects. They were mainly used from after the Second World War until 1958, when they were replaced by an alphanumeric code system.


  • History 1
  • Projects 2
    • Black 2.1
    • Blue 2.2
    • Brown 2.3
    • Green 2.4
    • Indigo 2.5
    • Jade 2.6
    • Orange 2.7
    • Pink 2.8
    • Purple 2.9
    • Red 2.10
    • Violet 2.11
    • Yellow 2.12
  • Non-Rainbow codes 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


The Ministry of Supply (MoS) initiated the idea because, during World War II, the British realised that although the code-names of some German secret projects could be cryptic, they often provided useful clues as to their nature. For example, basic characteristics of a new German radio navigation device known as Wotan (which used a single radio beam) were inferred by the British before it entered service with the Luftwaffe. This was because the system was named after the one-eyed god of the same name, which offered British scientists a useful hint.[1] The intention of rainbow codes was to clearly and uniquely identify British projects, whilst not providing any hints or clues regarding their characteristics.

Each rainbow code name was constructed from a randomly selected colour, plus an (often appropriate) noun taken from a list, for example:

While most colour and noun combinations were meaningless, some were real names, although quite unrelated to the project they designated. For example, "Black Maria" is also a name for a police van and the "Red Duster" is a name for the Red Ensign, the flag flown by British merchant ships.

The names were mostly dropped with the end of the Ministry in 1959. Its functions were transferred to the BL755, WE.177. However, rainbow codes continue to be used with some modern systems; current examples include the Blue Vixen radar[2] and the Orange Reaper Electronic Support Measures system.



  • Black Arrow - a satellite launch vehicle derived from Blue Streak/Black Knight
  • Black Knight - a launch vehicle used to test re-entry vehicles for Blue Streak
  • Black Maria - fighter IFF interrogator
  • Black Prince - proposed satellite launch vehicle based on Blue Streak/Black Knight — a.k.a. Blue Star
  • Black Rock - surface to surface guided missile



  • Brown Bunny - original, unofficial name for Blue Peacock




  • Jade River - continuous wave radar, developed from Indigo Corkscrew



  • Pink Hawk - early name for Fairey Fireflash missile. As this was a "reduced" version of the Red Hawk, it is a rare example of Rainbow Codes having some implied meaning, rather than their usual purely deliberately meaningless choice.





Non-Rainbow codes

Several British military related terms have a similar format to Rainbow Codes, but are not since they do not refer to classified research projects, and some names have been used unofficially. These include:

See also


  1. ^  
  2. ^ "Blue Vixen radar (United Kingdom), AIRBORNE RADAR SYSTEMS". Jane's Avionics. Retrieved 2009-08-08. 
  3. ^ Boar
  4. ^ 7
  5. ^ p.18Vulcan’s HammerChris Gibson
  6. ^ PRO. AVIA 65/1193 E10A. Tech Note GW375 p.2
  7. ^ "Fairey Green Cheese Air to Surface missile". Skomer. 
  8. ^ Cullen, Tony & Foss, Christopher F. (1991) Jane’s Land-Based Air Defence 1990–91, Jane’s Information Group, London: ISBN 0-7106-0915-9
  9. ^ Green Mace Anti-Aircraft Gun
  10. ^ p17Vulcan's HammerChris Gibson
  11. ^ British Secret Projects: Jet Bombers Since 1949 Tony Buttler Midland Publishing 2003
  12. ^ a b c d "United Kingdom Aerospace and Weapons Projects". Skomer. Retrieved 2012-09-28. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ The Red Queen and the Vigilante accessed 22 April 2008
  15. ^ Red Queen
  16. ^ Jobson P. (2008) Royal Artillery Glossary of Terms and Abbreviations, The History Press, Stroud: 316 pp.
  17. ^ "Airborne DF has existed for over 50 years.".  
  18. ^ "Falklands 25". Fast Air Photography. 
  19. ^ Morgan, David (2012). Hostile Skies. Hachette. p. 165.  
  20. ^ [2]
  21. ^ Campbell, Duncan (17 April 1981). "The Wings of the Green Parrot". New Statesman. p. 9. 
  22. ^ Duncan Campbell (1986). The Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier: American Military Power in Britain. Paladin Grafton Books. p. 104. 
  23. ^ Davis, R.A. (1993). "Concorde Power Plant Fire Protection System". Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology 43 (5): 26–30. 
  • United Kingdom Aerospace and Weapons Projects
  • Public Record Office, London. TNA AIR 2/17322 E51B (a)
  • Vulcan's Hammer: V-Force Aircraft and Weapons Projects Since 1945 - Chris Gibson - 2011 - ISBN 978-1-902109-17-6

External links

  • British nuclear weapon history
  • United Kingdom Aerospace and Weapons Projects
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.