Traditionally the phrase Brass Monkeys goes hand in hand with weather so cold that only a naughty sounding description like, “It’s cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey,” will suffice.  If, however, you were the crew member a NATO aircraft in Europe during the tense times of the Cold War, Brass Monkeys meant something very specific!  It was a code phrase that everyone knew of and listened out for on the Guard frequency just in case it was broadcast.  Two or three minutes into the flight Rikki was super-sonic and climbing through twenty thousand feet or so when the first “Brass Monkeys” call came over the radio: “Brass monkeys, brass monkeys, aircraft heading east at high speed fifty miles east of Gutersloh, brass monkeys”. He ignored it!

The true origin of Brass Monkeys has been lost in time


The identification papers of defector Viktor Belenko


Map of the East/West German airspace


An F84


West German Navy Sea Hawk


A Lightning F3 landing


Mig 21s chasing


Returning safely


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to Louis-Philippe Crépin, images in the Public Domain, the CIA, the RAF, Rosario Van Tulpe, Milborne One and Mike Freer.