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Physics a type of diffraction grating used in spectroscopy consisting of a series of plates of equal thickness arranged stepwise with a constant offset
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Russian, eshelon), in Soviet military usage:

(1) A unit within the battle or operational arrangement of a body of troops. A battle formation or the operational arrangement of a front’s or any army’s forces may consist of one echelon or of several echelons arranged one behind another.

(2) A distinct grouping of personnel being moved by rail, water, or air. In this sense, an echelon may be a troop train, a motor-vehicle convoy, or a group of aircraft or surface ships.

(3) In military strategy, the part of a country’s armed forces that is deployed while mobilization is taking place in a critical period, at the very outset of a war, or in the course of military actions.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A formation of troops; the units are parallel but unaligned, in a steplike manner.
A similar arrangement of planes or ships, as planes flying in a V formation.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


i. An arrangement of aircraft flying a formation in which each flies at a level above or below another aircraft in the formation and usually at a distance to the right or the left. Aircraft are said to be in the echelon port or the star-board, depending on which side of the leader they are on.
ii. A level of maintenance service, such as first echelon maintenance, fourth echelon maintenance, etc.
An Illustrated Dictionary of Aviation Copyright © 2005 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved