Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Spectrum Monitor Review of the International Call Sign Handbook, 4th Edition

Blog Editor Note: This is a review of my new e-book that appeared in the May edition of The Spectrum Monitor e-zine. The Spectrum Monitor ® is published monthly by Ken Reitz KS4ZR at 1403 Holland Creek Road, Louisa, Virginia 23093. You can order your subscription to TSM at

New International Call Sign Handbook: Government and Military EditionBy Larry Van Horn N5FPW
Teak Publishing $6.99
Fourth Edition Kindle e-book 608 pages
Reviewed by Ken Reitz KS4ZR

Anyone who had read Monitoring Times magazine over the last few decades will be familiar with the topic of government and military radio call signs that appeared every month in the Milcom column, written by Larry Van Horn N5FPW. While MT ceased publication with the December 2013 issue, Larry maintained his interest in this subject and has just released the massive fourth edition of the International Call Sign Handbook (Government/Military Edition).

And, if you’ve been reading Hugh Stegman and Mike Chace-Ortiz’s columns in TSM, you’ll know that there are hundreds of frequencies on which you might hear any of these call signs. You can’t tell the players without a scorecard and Larry’s just published the definitive call sign scorecard.

At more than 600 pages, he has left nothing out. And, if you are not familiar with this fascinating subject, he includes a thorough tutorial on the subject to bring you up to speed. Call signs for every branch of the US military, known and arcane federal agencies, and many nongovernmental organizations are also listed. He has also included international call signs for other countries.

You’ll also learn how to set up your listening post to be able to monitor Mode-S ADS/B, a data stream that is sent automatically by most civilian and military aircraft, that IDs each craft as it comes within communications reach of your receiver; a hobby within the air monitoring hobby. Larry includes active links to all the websites you’ll need to go to for software downloads and detailed instructions on tuning in.

It’s difficult to emphasize what a bargain this book is: $6.99 (that was the cost of one issue of Monitoring Times, if you could find it on the bookstore shelves!) for 600 pages of military and federal call signs (in its last year the entire MT magazine was only 62 pages each month and the Milcom column was only two pages each month!).
This book has an active Table of Contents that makes finding your way around in this enormous publication a breeze.

The International Call Sign Handbook is available only as a Kindle e-publication, but you don’t need a Kindle product, iPad, or smartphone to read this publication. Any desktop or laptop computer can display any Kindle e-book. Just download the free app for your device, order the book and start reading. Go here to find out more about Kindle apps:

Go here to buy or read a sample of this book:

And, while you’re at it, check out the other publications released recently by Teak Publishing (also found on the TSM Bookshelf):

Teak Publishing 2015 Air Show Guide (By Larry Van Horn)
International Shortwave Broadcast Guide (By Gayle Van Horn)

QSLing the World (By Gayle Van Horn)
And, don’t forget Larry and Gayle’s excellent blogs for up to date information on shortwave listening and military communications:

Milcom Monitoring Post and Shortwave Central