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blakduk
01-10-2006, 04:53 PM
Does someone have a simple answer for the name codes of USA military aircraft.
I cant understand how the US military denotes the different types of aircraft in service- for example:
An F4F is a wildcat
An F6F is a hellcat
An F4U is a corsair etc. However the F4F and F4U are very different, the F6F is more similar to the F4F.
At least the bombers seem to have some logic (at first glance) such as B17, B24, etc, until we come to the B1(?) which is much later.
Also, what happened to the prefix 'P' as in P38, P47, P51 etc. We now have fighters called F16, F/A18 etc. Prior to these later fighters we had the F86, F111 etc.
There doesnt appear to be any logic to the sequence of designation.
What am i missing?

Zeus-cat
01-10-2006, 05:09 PM
P stood for Pursuit. That designation was eliminated.

They simply started the bomber numbers over again. They did the same thing with the fighter numbers. We used to have F-100s, F-104s, etc.

MLudner
01-10-2006, 05:26 PM
All Navy fighters are F (Fighter) then a number. The F4F designation is the Wildcat
F4U is the Corsair.

It is the F or U that distinguishes them. I do not understand, though, why the Navy designated the way it did. F6F? There must have been a method to their madness somewhere.
But, it's the Navy ....

Pursuit is the WWII/VI USAAF designation for a fighter. Shortly after the war the USAF changed the designation to F for Fighter. Mustangs during the Korean War were F-51's.

blakduk
01-10-2006, 05:54 PM
Zeus-cat: 'They simply started the bomber numbers over again.'

Any idea why they started over again?

MLudner: 'Mustangs during the Korean War were F-51's.'

I had never heard that before, thanks for the info.
I assume there is some method to their insanity, i just cant seem to pin it down.

bolillo_loco
01-10-2006, 05:56 PM
The Army Air Corps dropped the "P" designation for "pursuit" and switched to "F" for "fighter" around 1946 or at least 1947 at the latest. Hence, the P-38 became the F-38, F-47, F-51, F-80, etc. Prior to this the "F" designation stood for "Photo recon."

The USN and Marine Corps used an entirely different system to identify aircraft. The last F in F4F and F6F means that Grumman made them. The U in F4U means that it was made by Chance Vought. Below is a list that the USN used to designate the last letter of the respective aircraft.

A-Aeromarine
B-Boeing
C-Curtiss
D-Douglas
F-Grumman
G-Goodyear
H-McDonnell
J-North American
K-Martin
L-Bell
M-General Motors
O-Lockheed
R-Ryan
T-Northrop
U-Vought
W-Wright
Y-Convair

The USN and USMC did differ with other aircraft, for example, the SBD-3 in USN service was an A-24 in the USMC, but I don't know the rhyme or reason. It seems that the USN and USMC did use the same designation for bombers, for example, the USAAC used the B-25, but in the USN and USMC it was the PBJ-1. I believe it means P "patrol," B "bomber," and J is North American's designation to both services.

Flakwalker
01-10-2006, 06:04 PM
Originally posted by MLudner:

Pursuit is the WWII/VI USAAF designation for a fighter. Shortly after the war the USAF changed the designation to F for Fighter. Mustangs during the Korean War were F-51's.

Yes, also by that time the A-26 Intruder was designated B-26, wich make confusions with the B-26 Marauder.

SkyChimp
01-10-2006, 06:05 PM
Navy designations can be a bit confusing. Up until 1962, the US Navy/Marines had is own designation system. After 1962, the US Department of Defense standardized a common designation system for both the USAF and USN/USMC. For instance, the F-4 Phantom II was then known as the F-4 in both the USAF, USN and USMC.

Up until 1962, the US Navy/Marines had their own designation system.

The first letter ,or letters, is "Class" letter or mission-type of the aircraft. (ie. fighter, scout bomber, etc. (F4U = F(ighter)4U)

The following number is the manufacturer's design number. (ie. F4(4th fighter design)U).

The letter follwoing the number is the Manufacturer's code. "U" was Vought's code. (ie. F4U(Vought)).

So, F4U = Figher/4th Design/Vought.

Sometimes the designation is followed by another number and letter, ie F4U-4B. The "4" is the model of the design, and the "B" is the "series" designation. IE, model 4, series B of the F4U.

Here is a chart of mission codes and manufactuer codes that may be helpful (Source: US Navy Aircraft 1921-1941/US Marine Corps Aircraft 1914-1959 by William Larkin):

http://members.cox.net/us.fighters/class.jpg
http://members.cox.net/us.fighters/manufacturer.jpg

Some USN planes had multiple missions. There was a USN floatplane manufactured by the company Hall-Aluminum called the XPTBH-2 which stood for eXperimental Patrol Torpedo Bomber Hall aluminum - design 2 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/b/be/Xptbh.jpg .

SkyChimp
01-10-2006, 06:15 PM
Originally posted by bolillo_loco:
The USN and USMC did differ with other aircraft, for example, the SBD-3 in USN service was an A-24 in the USMC, but I don't know the rhyme or reason. It seems that the USN and USMC did use the same designation for bombers, for example, the USAAC used the B-25, but in the USN and USMC it was the PBJ-1. I believe it means P "patrol," B "bomber," and J is North American's designation to both services.


The USN and USMC used the same designation system, since the USMC was/is a branch of the USN. The A-24 designation is a US Army designation.

The USN and USMC both had, and used, SBDs. That same plane in US Army parlance was A-24. Once the Army got them, they pretty much decided they didn't want them, and gave them to the Marines. The planes that came from the Army kept their old designations.

Flakwalker
01-10-2006, 06:16 PM
On the list is missing TBF, wich mean Torpedo Bomber Fighter?

blakduk
01-10-2006, 06:21 PM
Thanks for that guys.
What a mess!
No wonder the British stuck nicknames on them.
It seems really bizarre that they would stick a coding system together that is so open to confusion. For example, what if Vought had started manufacturing wildcats? The designation would then have been F4U!!!!
It would have seemed more sensible to copy a system like the Germans used with the prefix defining the manufacturer, the number defining the model, and a suffix defining modifications.

SkyChimp
01-10-2006, 06:22 PM
Originally posted by Flakwalker:
On the list is missing TBF, wich mean Torpedo Bomber Fighter?

Yet another confusing point.

TBF stood for Torpedo Bomber Grumman. F was Grumman's manufacturers code.

The reason there is no number between the TB and the F is because that was Grumman's first design of a Torpedo Bomber. If it was a first design, 1s were generally not used, and the Mission-Type letters and the Maunfacturer code were just put side-by-side.

Another example was Douglas' fabulous Skyraider attack plane. That was Douglas' first "attack" plane design. Therefore, the designation became AD (Attack Douglas) and the planes was simply known as the AD. As various models of the AD appeared, they became designated AD-1, AD-2 and so on. Then various series of different models appeared, such as Night attack versions, and they became known as AD-3N, for instance.

See why the DoD went toa standardized designation system?? http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

bolillo_loco
01-10-2006, 06:24 PM
Yes Chimp, I stand corrected on the A-24.

Flakwalker, I proved a list of USN/USMC designations for manufacturers, and Chimp came a long and provided an even more complete list. If you check either list you will see that TBF means "T" torpedo, "B" bomber, "F" designates that Grumman manufactured the aircraft. The las F means "Grumman" to the Navy and Marines.

Zeus-cat
01-10-2006, 06:25 PM
"Any idea why they started over again?"

You are assuming there is a logical reason for this. Trust me, logic doesn't have a lot to do with decisions like this. My guess is that some general didn't like numbers over 100.

An example: Recently the USAF renumbered all its airbase wings from 3 digit designations 851, 432, etc, to 2 digit designations like 88. The reason (at least the one I heard), a general didn't like the three digit numbers because it made it seem like the USAF had hundreds of squadrons of planes. The public might think that this was a waste of money. So they spent millions to renumber all the wings in the USAF to two digit designations.

berg417448
01-10-2006, 06:30 PM
Originally posted by blakduk:
Thanks for that guys.
What a mess!
No wonder the British stuck nicknames on them.
It seems really bizarre that they would stick a coding system together that is so open to confusion. For example, what if Vought had started manufacturing wildcats? The designation would then have been F4U!!!!
It would have seemed more sensible to copy a system like the Germans used with the prefix defining the manufacturer, the number defining the model, and a suffix defining modifications.

If Vought had begun to make Wildcats it would not have been F4U since that was already the Corsiar's designation. Would have been F5U or something like that.

Actually a simple system when you know how it works. The Japanese navy had a similar system:

A6M2

A= Carrier borne fighter
6= Sixth into service
M= Mitsubishi
2= second version produced


Did the British even have a system?

SkyChimp
01-10-2006, 06:44 PM
That list of manufactures codes I posted isn't complete, as if goes only thru 1941. For instance, "M" became General Motors manufacturer number.

GM built a lot of Grumman desgined planes. The first was the Wildcat.

Grumman's Wildcat was F4F.

GM's Wildcat was the FM. There was no design number between the F and the M because it was GM's first fighter.

Later, GM was to build some of Grumman's F8F Bearcats for the Navy. Since by that time, it would have been GMs third fighter, it was to be designated F3M.

Flakwalker
01-11-2006, 01:10 PM
Originally posted by bolillo_loco:
Flakwalker, I proved a list of USN/USMC designations for manufacturers, and Chimp came a long and provided an even more complete list. If you check either list you will see that TBF means "T" torpedo, "B" bomber, "F" designates that Grumman manufactured the aircraft. The las F means "Grumman" to the Navy and Marines.

Yes, but by that crazy name designations, also Fokker use the same letter.
I tought that TBF means what I put and TBD mean "Torpedo Bomber Diver".

Skychimp, also the Skyhawk version A, B and C was in the middle of such designations until it was called A-4