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US Navy Aircraft Designations of the Second World War
Introduction and Explanation
Aircraft class designations
Aircraft currently on the site
Introduction and Explanation
The US Navy used one of the more confusing systems of aircraft designations to be seen during the Second World War. This system contained three main elements and a number of optional elements.
The three main elements were the aircraft class designation, a sequence number specific to a particular aircraft manufacturer and a manufacturer code. This would often be followed by a dash number, reflecting a major sub-type of the aircraft.
The roots of the system in use during the Second World War can be traced back to 1920. In that year a system was introduced in which each type of aircraft was given a two letter code - the first letter to distinguish between lighter-than-air (Z) and heavier-than-air types(V), followed by a second letter to describe the mission responsibility of the aircraft. A fighter aircraft designation would thus start with VF.
This system was modified on 2 January 1934 to allow for multi-purpose aircraft. A third letter could be added to the type designation for the secondary mission duty of an aircraft (thus an aircraft type with the designation VPB would be a heavier than air patrol aircraft with secondary bombing duties.
The list of aircraft class designations in use during at the start of the Second World War was established on 1 July 1939, and contained eleven two letter codes and six three letter codes. During the war at least ten more designations were added to the list. In July 1944 the list was changed against, this time to include a number of sub-codes in brackets.
Next in line was the sequence number specific to a particular manufacture. This was only used for the second and later aircraft of a particular type produced by a particular company (ie the Grumman FF was the first naval fighter produced by that company, the F2F was the second). This is the most confusing part of the system, and things would have been a lot clearer if the sequence numbers had been tied to the aircraft class, not the manufacturer.
The third main part of the code was the manufacturer code, a one letter code, some of which are obvious, others less so.
This produced the distinctive letter-number-letter sequence of US navy aircraft.
Most major aircraft also gained a series of sub-types, distinguished by dash numbers, reaching as high as the F4U-7 for the Corsair. Just to confuse the picture even further, on occasions an aircraft was given a new designation. In this case both the sequence number and dash-number would alter, so the F4U-6 Corsair became the AU-1 when it was redesignated as an attack aircraft. On some occasions a different dash number indicated a very different aircraft, as with the PB4Y-2 Privateer, which was significantly different to the PB4Y-1 Liberator.
There was also a number of prefixes used, the most common of which was X for experimental. This has the capacity to distort alphabetical lists of aircraft types, especially when a particular aircraft never made it past that stage.
This system could produce some apparently illogical results. It is not at all uncommon for an aircraft with a high sequence number to be followed into service by one with a lower number from a different manufacturer (thus the Grumman F6F Hellcat was followed into service by the Chance Vought F4U Corsair). Later in the war when some types of aircraft were being constructed by more than one company virtually identical aircraft could have very different designations (thus the Grumman F4F Wildcat was also produced by Eastern Aircraft as the FM-1). The confusion this system could cause was recognised when the US Navy began to give its aircraft official names.
Aircraft class designations
In practice the V prefix is rarely given. Here we will list the one or two letter class designations as they are normally used.
B - Bombing
F - Fighting
M - Miscellaneous
O - Observation
P - Patrol
S - Scouting
N - Training
R - Transport (Multi-engined)
G - Transport (Single-engined)
J - Utility
OS - Observation-Scouting
PB - Patrol-Bombing
SB - Scouting-Bombing
SO - Scouting-Observation
TB - Torpedo-Bombing
JR - Utility-Transport
A - Ambulance
BT - Bombing-Torpedo
SN - Scout-Training
L - Gliders
LN - Training Gliders
LR - Transport Gliders
H - Helicopters
HO - Observation-Helicopters
D - Drones
TD - Torpedo Drones
F - Fighters
SB - Scout Bombers
B - Torpedo Bombers
O/S - observation scout
PB - Patrol Bombers
R - Transport
J - Utility
SN - Training
N - Training
K - Drones
KN - Drones (target training)
L - Gliders
LN - Gliders (training)
LR - Gliders (transport)
(M) - Medium or 2 engines (used with F and J)
(HL) - Heavy or 4 engine landplanes (used with PB and R)
(ML) - Medium or 2 engine landplanes
(HS) - Heavy or 4 engine seaplanes
(MS) - Medium or 2 engine seaplanes
Aircraft manufacturers (from official Glossary of U.S. Naval Abbreviations)
A - Allied Aviation Corporation
A - Brewster Aeronautical Corporation
A - Noorduyn Aviation Ltd.
B - Beech Aircraft Company
B - Boeing Aircraft Company
B - Budd Manufacturing Company
C - Cessna Aircraft Corporation
C - Culver Aircraft Corporation
C - Curtiss-Wright Corporation
D - Douglas Aircraft Company
D - McDonnell Aircraft Corporation
D - Radioplane Company
E - Bellanca Aircraft Corporation
E - Edo Aircraft Corporation
E - Piper Aircraft Corporation
F - Columbia Aircraft Corporation
F - Fairchild Aircraft Ltd (Canada)
F - Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation
G - Globe Corporation (Aircraft Division)
G - Goodyear Aircraft Corporation
G - Great Lakes Engineering Corporation
H - Hall-Aluminium Aircraft Corporation
H - Howard Aircraft Corporation
H - Stearman-Hammond Aircraft Corporation
J - North American Aviation Corporation
K - Fairchild Aviation Corporation
K - Kaiser Cargo Inc, Fleetwings Division
K - Kinner Airplane and Motor Corporation
K - Nash-Kelvinator Company
L - Bell Aircraft Corporation
L - Columbia Aircraft Corporation
L - Langley Aviation Corporation
M - General Motors Corporation, Eastern Aircraft Division
M - Glenn L. Martin Co.
N - Naval Aircraft Factory
O - Lockheed
P - Piper Aircraft corporation (Gliders)
P - P-V Engineering Forum, Inc (Helicopters)
P - Spartan Aircraft Co.
Q - Bristol Aeronautical Corporation (Gliders)
Q - Fairchild Aircraft Division, Fairchild Corporation
Q - Ranger-Lark Division, Fairchild Corporation
Q - Stinson Aircraft Corporation (later part of Consolidated-Vultee)
R - Aeronca Aircraft Corporation
R - American Aviation Corporation (Gliders)
R - Brunswick-Balke-Callender
R - Interstate Aircraft and Engineering Corporation
R - Maxson-Brewster (W.L. Maxson Corporation)
R - Ryan Aeronautical Company
S - Boeing Aircraft Company/ Stearman
S - Schweizer Aircraft Co.
S - Sikorsky Aircraft (United Aircraft Corporation)
S - Vought-Sikorsky (United Aircraft Corporation)
T - Northrop Aircraft Inc (El Segundo Division, Douglas Aircraft)
T - Taylorcraft Aviation Corporation
T - Timm Aircraft Corporation
U - Chance Vought Aircraft (United Aircraft Corporation)
U - Vought-Sikorsky (United Aircraft Corporation)
V - Canadian Vickers
V - Consolidated-Vultee Aircraft Corporation (ConVAir)
V - Vega Aircraft Corporation, later Lockheed Aircraft Corporation
V - Vickers, Inc.
V - Vultee
W - Canadian Car and Foundary
W - Waco Aircraft Comapny
W - Willys-Overland
Y - Consolidated Aircraft Corporation
Y - Consolidated-Vultee Aircraft Corporation
Aircraft currently on the site (by class)
B - Bomber
Douglas BD-1 and BD-2 (Havoc)
Consolidated XBY-1 Fleetster
BF - Bomber-Fighter
F - Fighter
Bell XFL-1 Airabonita
Boeing F3B (Model 77)
Brewster F2A Buffalo
Chance Vought F4U Corsair
Curtiss F6C Hawk
Curtiss F7C Seahawk
Curtiss F8C Helldiver
Curtiss F9C Sparrowhawk
Curtiss XF10C-1/ XS3C
Curtiss F11C Goshawk
Curtiss F12C/ XS4C/ XSBC (Model 73)
Eastern Aircraft Division FM-1 Wildcat
Eastern Aircraft Division FM-2 Wildcat
Goodyear FG Corsair
Goodyear F2G "Super Corsair"
Grumman F4F Wildcat
Grumman F6F Hellcat
Northrop F2T (Black Widow)
H - Ambulance (early)
J - Utility
Douglas JD Invader
Martin JM Marauder
Lockheed JO 'Electra Junior'
JR - Utility Transport
N - Training
Boeing NB (Model 21)
Boeing XN2B-1 (Model 81)
Boeing-Stearman NS (Kaydet)
Boeing-Stearman N2S (Kaydet)
Consolidated NY Husky
O - Observation
Curtiss O2C Helldiver
Stinson OY Sentinel (O-62/L-5)
P - Patrol
Consolidated XPY-1 Admiral
Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon
Martin P4M Mercator
Martin P5M Marlin
Martin P6M Seamaster
PB - Patrol Bomber
Boeing PB-1W (Fortress)
Consolidated PBY Catalina
Consolidated PB4Y-1 Liberator
Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer
Lockheed PBO-1 (Hudson)
Martin PB2M/ JRM Mars
R - Transport
Consolidated RY Liberator
Curtiss R4C/ C-30/ Condor II
Curtiss R5C/ C-46 Commando
Douglas RD Dolphin
Douglas R3D (DC-5)
Douglas R4D (DC-3/ C-47)
Douglas R4D-8 (Super DC-3)
Douglas R5D (DC-4)
Douglas R6D Liftmaster (C-118)
Lockheed XRO-1 Altair
Lockheed XR3O (Electra)
Lockheed XR4O (Super Electra)
Lockheed R5O Lodestar
Lockheed XR6O Constitution
S - Scouting
Curtiss XS2C-1 (YA-10)
Curtiss XS3C/ XF10C-1
Curtiss XS4C/ XSBC / F12C (Model 73)
Martin SC/ Curtiss CS/ Martin T2M
SB - Scout Bomber
Curtiss XSBC/ F12C/ XS4C (Model 73)
Curtiss SBC Helldiver
Curtiss SB2C Helldiver
Douglas SBD Dauntless
SN - Scout Trainer
T - Torpedo
Martin T2M/ Curtiss CS/ Martin SC
Martin T4M/ Great Lakes TG-1/ Great Lakes TG-2
TB - Torpedo Bomber
Chance-Vought XTBU-1 Sea Wolf
Consolidated TBY-2 Sea Wolf
Douglas TBD Devastator
Eastern TBM Avenger
Grumman TBF Avenger
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US Navy Aircraft Designations of the Second World War - History
German & Japanese Aircraft Designation Systems
- Can you please explain the naming systems used for German and Japanese combat planes during World War II?
- question from Rick Tanner
German aircraft were most often identified by two letters and a number. The letters did not specify the mission of the aircraft, as has always been common practice in the US, but denoted the manufacturing company. The number refers to the specific model of aircraft built by that company. The letters and number are separated by a space, not a dash as is common in the US or Russia. The two letter prefix codes for the various German manufacturers are described below. Note that three companies had two designations. The "Bf" used by Messerschmitt came from Bayerische Flugzeugwerke, which had been the company's name before Willy Messerschmitt took over the firm. Older Messerschmitt aircraft desinged before the name change continued to be known by their Bf designations. The "Ha" for Blohm und Voss refers to Hamburger Flugzeugbau, the name of the aircraft division of the Blohm und Voss shipbuilding company. "Ta" refers to Kurt Tank, an aircraft designer honored by Focke-Wulf.
The type numbers were not chosen by the companies, but officially assigned by the German air ministry, or RLM. A single sequence was used for all manufacturers. Related types were often given numbers differing by 100. For example, the Messerschmitt Me 210 was designed as a replacement for the Bf 110, and was later developed into the Me 310 and Me 410.
Major variants of a given aircraft model were denoted by additional letters following the type number, such as the Me 262A. Slight changes to these subtypes were usually designated by an additional variant number after the variant letter, the two being separated by a dash. An example is the Me 262A-1. Pre-production aircraft were similarly identified, except that the variant number was always 0, such as the Me 262A-0. Further variations on a subtype could be denoted by a lower case letter attached to the variant number, such as the Me 262A-1a. Modified aircraft were indicated by "/R" or "/U" and a number, e.g the Me 262A-1a/U5, or by "/Trop," which indicated a tropical climate adaptation.
However, a special case is prototypes of a particular aircraft model. These were identified on an individual airframe basis. The prototype itself was indicated by a letter "V" separated from the type number by a space, and the specific prototype was called out by a number immediately therafter. An example is the Me 262 V1.
As for the Japanese, there is no single, clearly defined naming system. Four different systems were actually in use simultaneously during World War II, in addition to the codenames used by the Allies. The Japanese Army and Navy each used two systems to identify the same aircraft, so a type used by both services could have up to five different designations--a Japanese Army Kitai number, Army type number, Navy designation code, Navy type number, and Allied codename.
To confuse matters even further, a few types were known best by nicknames that had no official status. The Mitsubishi A6M fighter, also known as the Carrier-Borne Fighter Type 0, had the official Allied codename of "Zeke", but it went down in history under the unofficial nickname used by both sides: "Zero".
The Japanese Army Air Force identified aircraft by "Kitai" (airframe) numbers. This system consisted of "Ki", a dash, and a number. Originally the numbers were a simple numeric sequence. Later, some randomization was added as a security measure. Gliders received "Ku" ("Guraida") numbers instead. Subtypes or variants were indicated by Roman numeral suffixes, or by various Japanese abbreviations. A common example was "Kai" (for "Kaizo"), indicating a major modification.
In addition to Kitai numbers, most Army aircraft also received a second designation in a parallel system based on role and the year of entry into service. Originally, this value was the last two digits of the year, where 100 was used for the Japanese year 2600 (1940). Afterwards, the numbers were restarted from 1.
Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft received a designation code very similar to those used by the US Navy. This method consisted of a letter to indicate the aircraft's function, a sequential number to indicate a specific aircraft type (but unlike the USN system, the number 1 was retained), and a letter to indicate the manufacturing company. This series was then followed by a dash and a number to indicate a subtype, plus an optional letter or letters for further variations.
The Japanese Navy aircraft function codes are described below: The major Japanese manufacturer codes included: The IJN also used a parallel system based on role description and year number, similar to (but independent of) the Army system. In this case, however, the year 2600 (1940) became 0 instead of 100. This system was abandoned in 1943, when it was decided that revealing the year of an aircraft's entry into service might give useful information to the enemy. Aircraft were then given proper names instead.
Because the correct designations of Japanese aircraft were often not known to the Allies, simple codenames were assigned to them instead. Although they were not often followed, some basic rules for choosing the codename were developed: The following list provides some of the various designations given to several Japanese aircraft of World War II. After the war, Germany largely retained the same designation system system for later aircraft production. The Japanese, thankfully, switched to a much simpler system similar to that used by the US today.
- answer by Joe Yoon, 21 September 2003
Naval Aircraft Designations - 1946-1962
There have been several systems to designate U.S. naval aircraft. Naval aircraft model designation history is very complex. For those land-lubbers accustomed to the Joint system in effect since 1962, it is nearly impossible to understand. Unlike Army and Air Force designation systems, which were organized around mission designations, the Navy designation systems were organized around both mission and manufacturer, introducing complexity unfathomable to non-nautical minds.
In order to fully understand the designations, it is important to know the factors that played a role in developing the different missions that aircraft have been called upon to perform. Technological changes affecting aircraft capabilities have resulted in corresponding changes in the operational capabilities and techniques employed by the aircraft.
- Aircraft Type/Class
- Manufacturer Type Sequence
In the beginning there were just two classes: heavier-than-air (fixed wing) identified by the letter V and lighter-than-air identified by the letter Z. The letter H for heavier-than-air (rotary wing) was added with the introduction of the helicopter in the 1940s. Late in 1945 the letter K was added for pilotless aircraft, making four distinct types. In March 1946 the Type/Class designation was separated into two distinct headings of Type and Class. The letter V was omitted in the model designation, but H, K, and Z were used where applicable. The letter X was added as a prefix designating an experimental model.
In designating the first model of a class produced by a given manufacturer, the first number (1) is omitted in the Manufacturer Type Sequence position, but is shown in the Modification Sequence position. Thus, in the VJ class, the first utility aircraft produced by Grumman Aircraft Corporation was the JF-1. When a major modification was instituted for the JF-1 without changing the character of the model, that modification changed the designation to JF-2. The second modification changed the designation to JF-3. The second utility aircraft built by Grumman was designated the J2F-1 and successive modifications to this aircraft became J2F-2, J2F-3, etc. It must be remembered that the aircraft Modification Sequence Number is always one digit higher than the actual modification number.
A "model" is a basic alpha-numeric designation within a weapon system series, such as a ship hull series, an equipment or system series, an airframe series, or a vehicle series. For example, the F-5A and the F-5F are different models within the same F-5 system series. Model designator systems generally consist of alpha-numeric strings, with each character in the sequence being a more specific subset of the class defined by the previous character. Thus, model 5 is a subset of the F class. Air Force mission designator system designations are assigned chronologically, which makes it immediately evident whether an aircraft is of recent or elderly vintage. For those lubbers accustomed to this system, the Navy's former designation system can be unfathomable. A lubber might imagine that the F4F is a followon to the F4D, but in fact the two aircraft are completely unrelated, the first being a jet fighter made by Douglas in the 1950s, and the later being a propeller-driven fighter built by Grumman during World War II [which started life as a biplane in 1935].
The basic designation could be expanded to show additional characteristics, as demonstrated below:
Suffix letters came into a more general use during the period of rapid expansion immediately prior to US entry into World War II. Unfortunately, the use of suffix letters was not strictly defined and the same letter was frequently used to denote several different characteristics causing considerable confusion.
On 11 March 1946, a major revision was issued to the Class Designation of Naval Aircraft. Aviation Circular Letter Number 43-46 divided naval aircraft into four types and assigned a letter designation. The This order provided that "no changes. be made in the model designation of aircraft already produced or in production, except that the mission letter of all BT class aircraft shall be changed to A." Thus, the SB2C and TBF/TBM aircraft remained in use until they were removed from the inventory, while the BT2D and BTM aircraft were redesignated as AD and AM. These aircraft were assigned to the new attack squadrons established in the latter part of 1946.
By the time the system was abandoned, it was necessary to know the aircraft in question rather than relying on the suffix letter to tell the specific characteristics being identified. The Navy system had worked well enough for forty years, however, Congress decreed in 1962 that there should only be one system to designate military aircraft in the United States. The new system was based on the Air Force system and the aircraft manufacturer was no longer identified.
While there were relatively few changes to Air Force aircraft designations, the Navy made a complete change. Aircraft models all started with the numeral 1, except for those aircraft on hand which were used by both services, in which case the existing Air Force designation applied. Thus, the FJ-3 became the F-1C, while the SNB-5P became the RC-45J.
It must be emphasized that the placement of the dash is critical to distinguish aircraft under the new system from those under the previous Navy system. For example, the F4B-4 was a Boeing biplane fighter of the mid 30's, while the F-4B is an early version of the Phantom II.
The new system consisted of a Status Prefix Symbol (letter), a Basic Mission Symbol (letter), a Design Number (numeral), a Modified Mission Symbol (letter), a Series letter, and a Type Symbol (letter). A Design Number was assigned for each basic mission or type. New design numbers were assigned when an existing aircraft was redesigned to an extent that it no longer reflected the original configuration or capability. A Series Letter was assigned to each series change of a specific basic design. To avoid confusion, the letters "I" and "O" were not used as series letters. The Series letter was always in consecutive order, starting with "A".
How to Understand US Military Aircraft Designations
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United States military aircraft are all given specific designations by the Department of Defense known as MDS designations (Mission Design Series) that identify their design and purpose.  X Research source This joint designation system was introduced by the Department of Defense in 1962, replacing the separate systems of the US Air Force, US Navy, US Marine Corps, US Army, and US Coast Guard. This article will explain what those designations mean and how to read them.
The Wrist. Watch. Waterproof. (The "Dirty Dozen")
Produced under contract to the British MoD, 150,000 of these watches were delivered to replace the various timepieces given the Army Trade Pattern designation. Contracted to 12 watch different companies &mdash some of them big names in Swiss horology &mdash they were delivered in late 1945, too late to see combat. Nonetheless, the Wrist. Watch. Waterproof. watches (which were only given their cinematic nickname by modern collectors much later) were built to high standards, with mechanical movements regulated to chronometer accuracy. Enough were produced that they can still be purchased today for a few thousand dollars.
U.S. Navy Aircraft History
If you look closely at the above picture (click on it to make it bigger), you'll note that the KA-6D tanker is assigned to squadron VA-165 and the F-4J, VF-96. The A is short for Attack and the F, Fighter. So what's with the V?
The V means that it's a fixed-wing heavier-than-air squadron (as opposed to H for a rotary wing, i.e. helicopter, heavier-than-air squadron). Why V? It turns out that not even the Navy knows for sure, although its historians think it might have represented volplane, a French word for an aircraft sustained in the air by lifting surfaces as opposed to a bag of a gas that is lighter than air. In the beginning, since the usage predates helicopters by more than 20 years, it stood for heavier-than-air, period, with the designation for lighter-than-air being Z. It seems very likely that the Z is based on Zeppelin, the name of the Count who pioneered rigid airships before World War I, although the Navy applied it to non-rigid as well as rigid airships. See: http://www.history.navy.mil/avh-1910/APP16.PDF
My understanding is that the designations first appeared in General Order No. 541 (see http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/genord_541.htm) approved by the Secretary of the Navy on 17 July 1920. It provided two-letter (and in some cases, three-letter) designations for all the Navy's ships and airplanes. The first letter of the ship designation was its basic type, e.g. battleship, cruiser, destroyer, submarine, etc. The second letter was a modifier as to class within that type, e.g. a light cruiser was designated CL and a battle cruiser, CC. The aircraft carrier, the first of which was in the process of being converted from a collier (AC), was considered to be a type of cruiser, probably by default since it resembled any of the other six types even less. For some reason, an ordinary cruiser was a CA, which eliminated the use of A for aeroplane for the aircraft carrier, which was designated CV. Almost every letter in the alphabet was used for the second letter in the various designations, most being logical like SF for Fleet Submarine. V, whether for volplane or not, was probably as good as any other letter available once A was not.
Heavier-than-air airplane designations were to begin with V as well, with the secondary letters been F for fighting, O for observation, S for scouting, P for patrol, and T for torpedo and bombing. As it turned out, however, the V system was used to designate squadrons as shown above rather than airplane types, whereas ships were identified by the two-letter designation and sequential numbers, e.g. CV-1 was Langley, CV-2 was Lexington, and so forth.
Your guess is as good as mine as to why a battle cruiser wasn't a CB and an ordinary cruiser a CC (a battleship was a BB, a destroyer a DD, and a submarine an SS, for example), making CA available for the aircraft carrier. Better, actually, since I don't have one.
I could be wrong, but I was told when in Washington that when it came to Carriers, it went like this:
Carrier Version followed by: Attack, Nuclear, Anti Submarine Warfare, etc.
Then someone in the Pentagon did not like typing all those letters so everything was shortened to CV.
At least for a while before computers.
"P" meant "Pursuit" not patrol and was later changed to "F" for Fighter. They thought of using "I" for Interceptor but that never stuck.
A lot of that can be contributed to the old manual typewriters. My experience was that No errors were allowed in any documents.
No corrections, it had to be right or redo the entire document Lots of retyping went on, corrections were not permitted.
V meaning version doesn't sound valid, certainly not with those particular distinctions that didn't exist in the 1920s. The designations did change over time and did include CVA, CVN, CVS, etc. but I'm sure that CV predated all that.
I don't think the Navy ever formally used the word Pursuit. That was a Army thing up through World War II. When the Navy first used a designation system, it was F for Fighter.
The V in CV stands for vessel. For example: CV 6 was the designation for pre nuclear USS Enterprise, carrier vessel 6. Post nuclear designation is CVN - carrier vessel nuclear. CVN 65 is the present USS enterprise.
V stands for vessel? Do you have a USN document stating that? All ships are vessels. Why would the Navy distinguish only a carrier as a vessel back in the 1920s and none of its other ships?
Could the "V" for squadron come partially from the fact that early squadron formations were a V of aircraft? I'm guessing they couldn't use S for squadron because S was already used for Submarine. Of the remaining unused letters could they have chosen V for the resemblance to a squadron formation? I also had the thought that CV for aircraft carrier came from the Cruiser nomenclature. I'm happy to see some back up for that idea of CV meaning aircraft squadron carrying cruiser. It makes sense since the Lexington and Saratoga started as cruisers. Did the Langley have the designation CV-1 before the Lex and Sara were CV-2 and CV-3?
I believe the N in CVN stands for night operations. I’m pretty sure the N was use late in WWII. Aircraft started operating at night at the same time.
Aaron - the N stands for nuclear-powered
Tailspin- you are correct. The article I read was calling the enterprise CV(N)-6. Looks like that’s not the official “bureau” number. Thanks for clarifying that.
Aircraft Mission-Design Series (MDS)
All US military aircraft were given a two-part Model Design Series (MDS) symbol or designation when the DOD unified all military aircraft designations in 1962 under a common designation system, based on that of the US Air Force. The first part is a letter which tells the kind of aircraft and the second part is a number which tells the model of the aircraft. When originally developed, designations for planes were used much the same as they are today with few exceptions. For example F is the designator for a modern day fighter aircraft but in World War II, F meant a photographic plane used for reconnaissance. During World War II these designators were used: A for attack. B for Bombardment, C for Cargo, L for Liaison, P for Pursuit and T for Training. This letter indicated the function of the plane. The following number indicated sequence within a type as in B-17. If there was a letter after the number it indicated an improved model type such as B-17E.
The general policy of naming Army aircraft after Indians tribes, chiefs or terms was made official by authority of AR 70-28, dated 4 April 1969. Although this regulation has been recinded, the Indian names were very popular among Army personnel and the practice continues in place. The commanding general of the US Army Material Command has the responsibility of initiating action to select a popular name for aircraft. For this purpose he has a list of possible names obtained from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (for brevity the names usually consist of only one word). When a new aircraft reaches the production stage or immediately before it goes into production, the commanding general selects five possible names. He bases his selection on the way they sound, their history and their relationship to the mission of the aircraft. They must appeal to the imagination without sacrificing dignity and suggest an aggressive spirit and confidence in the capabilities of the aircraft. They also must suggest mobility, firepower and endurance.
The names are sent to the Trade Mark Division of the US Patent Office to determine if there is any legal objection to their use. After approval by the Patent Office the five names are sent to the Chief of Research and Development, Department of the Army, with a short justification for each. From these five the Chief of Research and Development selects one. The approved name then goes to the Aeronautical Systems Division, Directorate of Engineering Standards, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. This Department of Defense unit has the responsibility of officially registering the names of all aircraft used by the military. It also prints a list of the names in a publication called "Model Designation of Military Aircraft, Rockets and Guided Missiles." Some Army aircraft, such as the Bird Dog and Otter, do not have Indian names. Most were named before the present policy went into effect. AR 70-28 specifies that these will not be changed.
The 1919 Type System
When the Army first acquired military aircraft they were referred to by the manufacturer's designation. Few aircraft were acquired in the pre-World War I period, and they were mainly used for observation purposes. During the war, aircraft types became more specialized and a more precise system of aircraft identification was needed, although one was not developed until after the war.
The Army Air Corps aircraft designation system introduced in 1919 described aircraft according to types assigning a Type numeral to each. The following year the Engineering Division at McCook Field instituted a series of letter designations to supplement the Type series. Numbers were added to these letters to further identify aircraft, thus creating an identification system familiar to us today. These were 2-3 letter designations that served as abbreviations for the function of the aircraft.
Between 1919 and 1924 eight more letter designations were added by the Engineering Division. The letters were proving to be more flexible and descriptive than the Type numerals, and the new designations were not assigned Type numerals. The first major revision occurred in 1924. The Roman numerated Type designations were completely abandoned, and identification was entirely by function of the aircraft. It is during this period that the prefix X was first used to designate experimental aircraft, prototypes, and temporary test aircraft Y denoted service aircraft and Z designated obsolete models.
American Bombing Aircraft
Welcome to my listing of articles on American bombing aircraft! I expect ultimately to have here detailed articles on all of the bombing aircraft operated by the US Armed Forces throughout the 20th century.
There is not nearly as much confusion about American bomber designations as there has been about fighter designations, since it has generally been true that only the Air Force and not the Navy have operated bombers. In fact, the Navy was for most of the past explicitly forbidden to operate aircraft intended for an aerial bombardment role, since this was perceived to be strictly an Air Force responsibility. Consequently, there is only one designation system to track rather than two.
Nevertheless, there have been changes over the years in how Army and Air Force bombing aircraft have been designated. Here is a brief history and description of the designation system for American Army and Air Force bombers:
The US Navy has not generally been allowed to operate aircraft that were specifically designed or designated for bomber roles, the role of aerial bombardment being officially declared as strictly an Air Force responsibility. However, the US Navy did briefly have aircraft designated as bombers in the early years of the Second World War.
Here are descriptions of bomber aircraft used by the US Army Air Corps, the US Army Air Forces, and the US Air Force:
Us Air Force Boneyard Inventory
Most aircraft at boneyards are either kept for storage with some maintenance or have their parts removed for reuse or resale and are then scrapped. Davis monthan afbs role in the storage of military aircraft began after world war ii and continues today.
A 7e Cv Buno 158021 Operational History 1972 73 Va 195 As Nh
Over 4000 Us Air Force Planes Are Laid To Rest At The Boneyard
Convair F 106a Delta Darts From The 318tb And 5th Fis Of The Us
It has evolved into the largest aircraft boneyard in the world.
Us air force boneyard inventory. Marines taking 30 hornets from boneyard navy inventory to address readiness crisis. Amarg davismonthan air force base. The 309th aerospace maintenance and regeneration group 309th amarg often called the boneyard is a united states air force aircraft and missile storage and maintenance facility in tucson arizona located on davismonthan air force base.
The 309th amarg was previously aerospace maintenance and regeneration center and the military aircraft storage and disposition center and its predecessor was established after world war ii as the 3040th aircraft storage group. An aircraft boneyard or aircraft graveyard is a storage area for aircraft that are retired from service. The second character of the navy designators generally described the type of mission the aircraft type fulfilled.
With the areas low humidity in the 10 20 range meager rainfall of 11 annually. Commercial airliner boneyards and. Amarc aircraft maintenance and regeneration center.
Commonly known as the boneyard at davis monthan air force base in arizona. 309th aerospace maintenance and regeneration group. The 309th aerospace maintenance and regeneration group.
Refunds for amarg tickets purchased online will be processed within 7 10 business days. Us marine corps photo. Boneyard facilities are generally located in deserts such as those in the southwestern united states since the dry conditions reduce corrosion and the hard ground does not need to be paved.
Comprehensive source of information on the important job that amarc carries out in support of the various branches of the us military and other government agencies. By direction of the us air force amarg boneyard tours have been suspended until further notice. Us navy and marines aircraft types had numberalpha formatted designators for example 1k 3a 6a etc.
Currently at the boneyard at davis monthan air force base in tucson az the aircraft are being sold for their base materials in the form of 27 million pounds of ferrous and nonferrous scrap metal. Starting wednesday march 21 2012 government liquidation will be accepting bids on these end of life planes through its online marketplace. Recycling is not a new concept for the air force in fact weve been doing it throughout our history and getting new life out of old aircraft is the main purpose of the aerospace maintenance and.
The museum is a public non profit 501c3 organization that conducts this tour on behalf of the us. Military planes are stored in the largest airplane boneyard in the world operated by the 309th aerospace maintenance and regeneration group amarg at davis monthan air force base in tucson. The third section of the inventory number consisted of a two letter aircraft type designator.
Airliner boneyards in the deserts of the western united states serve several.
Mark numbers [ edit | edit source ]
Starting in the interwar period, variants of each operational type were usually indicated by a mark number, a Roman numeral added to the type name, usually preceded by "Mark" or "Mk." (e.g. Hawker Fury Mk. I). Mark numbers were allocated sequentially to each new variant, the new Mark number signifying a 'major' change such as a new engine-type. Sometimes an alphabetic suffix was added to the mark number to indicate a minor change (e.g. Bristol Bulldog Mk. IIA). Occasionally, this letter indicated a change in role, e.g. the Bristol Blenheim Mk.I bomber was adapted to the Blenheim Mk.IF long-range fighter.
During the Second World War, as aircraft ordered for one purpose became adapted to a multitude of roles, mark numbers became prefixed with letters to indicate the role of that variant. Aircraft of the same mark that were adapted for different purpose would then be differentiated by the prefix. For instance the Boulton Paul Defiant Mk.I was adapted to a night fighter, the Defiant NF Mk.II, some of which were later converted to target tugs as the Defiant TT Mk. II. Where there was a Sea- variant, this would have its own series of mark numbers (e.g. the Seafire Mk.I was derived form the Spitfire Mk.V).
Series numbers [ edit | edit source ]
Occasionally other 'minor' but nonetheless important changes might be denoted by Series numbers, preceded by "Series" or "Srs." ( e.g. de Havilland Mosquito B Mk.IV Srs. I / B Mk.IV Srs.II). The series number denoted a revision during the production run of a particular Mark. This again could then have an additional letter-suffix (e.g. the Handley Page Halifax Mk. II Srs IA).
Post-1948 [ edit | edit source ]
In 1948, Arabic numerals replaced Roman numerals. This system has continued largely unchanged to this day with the addition of more prefixes as new roles have arisen. With this change, the Sea- variants were allocated their own range within one common series for all variants (e.g. the Hawker Fury Mk.I was followed by the Sea Fury F.10, Sea Fury FB.11 etc. The use of the "Mark" or "Mk." has gradually been dropped from use.
For example, the first Lockheed Hercules variant in RAF service was the Hercules C.1 ("Cargo, Mark 1"). A single example was adapted for weather monitoring purposes and became the Hercules W.2. The stretched variant became the Hercules C.3. With aircraft with a long service life, as their function changes over time, the designation letters and sometimes the mark digit will change to reflect this.
The prefixed mark number can be presented in three different styles - for example:
- Hercules C Mark 3 - very rarely used
- Hercules C Mk 3 - official style
- Hercules C3 - common abbreviated style
A full stop has generally been used to break the number from the prefix, e.g. C. Mk. 3 or C.3, a practice that has officially discontinued recently for current in-service types [ citation needed ] .
Export variants of British military aircraft are usually allocated mark numbers (sometimes without a role prefix) from a higher range of numbers, usually starting at Mark 50. A converse convention was adopted for the Canadian-designed de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk, where the sole British service variant was designated Chipmunk T.10.