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This list of military aircraft of the United States includes prototype, pre-production and operational types. For aircraft currently in service, see the List of active United States military aircraft. Prototypes are normally prefixed with "X" and often unnamed (note that these are not the same as the experimental X-planes, which are not generally expected to go into production), while pre-production models are usually prefixed "Y".

The United States Air Force currently employs a designation and naming system to identify all aircraft type with distinct names. Until 1962, both the Army and Air Force maintained one system, while the United States Navy maintained a separate system. In 1962, these were unified into a single system heavily reflecting the Army/Air Force method. For more complete information on the workings of this system, refer to United States Department of Defense Aerospace Vehicle Designations.

This list does not include aircraft designated under the pre-1962 United States Navy designation system. For these aircraft, see List of military aircraft of the United States (naval).

A collection of NASA experimental aircraft, including (clockwise from left) the X-31, F-15S/MTD, SR-71, F-106, F-16XL, X-38, Radio Controlled Mothership, and X-36.

Contents

Prior to 1919

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Army Signal Corps, August 2, 1909 to April 6, 1917

American-Built Airplanes of World War I, April 6, 1917 to November 11, 1918

American Expeditionary Force (A.E.F.) aircraft from the French Government

American Expeditionary Force (A.E.F.) aircraft from the British Government

American Expeditionary Force (A.E.F.) aircraft from the Italian Government

Post-War, November 11, 1918 to September 1919

Army Air Service, 1919-1924

Prior to 1919, all planes flown by the Army Air Service were referred to by the designation given to them by their manufacturer. In September 1919, the Army Air Service decided that it needed some organized designation sequence, and adopted fifteen classifications, designated by roman numerals. Several other unnumbered designations were added later. Each designation was assigned an abbreviation, and each design a number within that abbreviation. Variants were designated by alphabetically appending letters to the design number.

Type O: Foreign-Built Pursuit Aircraft

Type I: Pursuit, water-cooled

Type II: Pursuit, night

Type III: Pursuit, air-cooled

Type IV: Pursuit, ground attack, 1922

Type V: Two-seat pursuit

  • TP-1 - Engineering Division

Type VI: Ground attack, 1920-1922

Type VII: Infantry liaison

  • IL-1 - Orenco

Type VIII: Night observation

Type IX: Artillery observation

Type X: Corps observation

  • CO-1 - Engineering Division
  • CO-2 - Engineering Division
  • CO-3 - Engineering Division
  • CO-4 - Atlantic
  • XCO-5 - Engineering Division
  • XCO-6 - Engineering Division
  • XCO-7 - Boeing
  • XCO-8 - Atlantic

Type XI: Day bombardment

  • DB-1 - Gallaudet

Type XII: Night bombardment, short range

  • NBS-1 - Martin (originally designated MB-2)
  • XNBS-2 - Lowe-Willard-Fowler
  • XNBS-3 - Elias
  • XNBS-4 - Curtiss

Type XIII: Night bombardment, long range

Type XIV: Trainer, air-cooled

Type XV: Trainer, water-cooled

Ambulance, 1919-1924

Messenger

Pursuit, special

Racer

Seaplane

Transport

Army Air Corps/Army Air Forces/Air Force 1924-1962

Attack, 1924-1948

Bomber

Until 1926, the Army Air Service had three sequences for bombers. Light bombers were indicated by the LB- prefix, medium bombers by the B- prefix, and heavy bombers by the HB- prefix. In 1926, the three-category system was scrapped and all bombers subsequently built were placed in the B- sequence.

Light Bomber, 1924-1926

Medium Bomber, 1924-1926

Heavy Bomber, 1924-1926

Unified bomber sequence, 1926-1962

Bomber, long range, 1935-1936

A short-lived designation used from 1935-1936 to refer to three long-range bomber projects commissioned by the Army Air Corps.

Missiles

Beginning with #68, the M- (missile) and B- (bomber) series diverged. The following missiles, some of which are incorrectly labeled as "formerly designated B-xx" in some sources, never used a B-series designation.

Cargo, 1924-1962

After 2005, several planes were added to this sequence.

Drone

Aerial Target

1940-1941
1942-1948
  • PQ-8 Cadet - Culver
  • PQ-9 - Culver
  • PQ-10 - Culver
  • PQ-11 - Fletcher
  • PQ-12 - Fleetwings
  • PQ-13 - ERCO
  • PQ-14 - Culver
  • PQ-15 - Culver

Aerial Target (Model Airplane), 1942-1948

  • OQ-2 - Radioplane
  • OQ-3 - Radioplane/Frankfort
  • OQ-4 - Brunswick-Balke-Collender
  • OQ-5
  • OQ-6 - Radioplane
  • OQ-7 - Radioplane
  • OQ-11 - Simmonds Aerocessories
  • OQ-12 - Radioplane
  • OQ-13 - Radioplane
  • OQ-14 - Radioplane/Frankfort
  • OQ-16
  • OQ-17 - Radioplane
  • OQ-18
  • OQ-19 - Radioplane

Controllable bomb, 1942-1945

Target Control, 1942-1948

Unified sequence, 1948-1962

  • Q-1 - Radioplane
  • Q-2 Firebee - Ryan
  • Q-3 - Radioplane
  • Q-4 - Radioplane/Bendix
  • Q-5 Kingfisher - Lockheed
  • Q-6
    • Q-7 - skipped: request for redesignated QB-17 not approved
    • Q-8 - skipped: request for redesignated QF-80 not approved
  • Q-8 Cadet Culver
  • Q-9
  • Q-10 - Radioplane
    • Q-11 - skipped
  • Q-12 Challenger - Beech
  • Q-14 Cadet - Culver

Electronic Reconnaissance

Glider

Assault Glider, 1942-1944

  • AG-1 - Christopher
  • AG-2 - Timm

Bomb Glider, 1942-1944

  • BG-1 - Fletcher
  • BG-2 - Fletcher
  • BG-3 - Cornelius

Cargo Glider, 1941-1948

  • CG-1 - Frankfort
  • CG-2 - Frankfort
  • CG-3 - Waco
  • CG-4 Haig - Waco
  • CG-5 - St. Louis
  • CG-6 - St. Louis
  • CG-7 - Bowlus/Douglas
  • CG-8 - Bowlus/Douglas
  • CG-9 - AGA Aviation
  • CG-10 Trojan Horse - Laister-Kauffman
  • CG-11 - Snead
  • CG-12 - Read-York
  • CG-13 - Waco
  • CG-14 - Chase
  • CG-15 Hadrian - Waco
  • CG-16 - General Airborne Transport
  • CG-17 - Douglas
  • CG-18 - Chase
  • CG-19 - Douglas
  • CG-20 - Chase

British-Built Cargo Gliders, 1941-1948

Fuel Glider, 1930-1948

  • FG-1 - Cornelius

Powered Glider, 1943-1948

  • PG-1 - Northwestern
  • PG-2 - Ridgefield
  • PG-3 - Waco

Training Glider, 1941-1948

  • TG-1 - Frankfort
  • TG-2 - Schweizer
  • TG-3 - Schweizer
  • TG-4 - Laister-Kauffman
  • TG-5 Grasshopper - Aeronca
  • TG-6 Grasshopper - Taylorcraft
  • TG-7 Orlik - SZD
  • TG-8 Grasshopper - Piper
  • TG-9 - Briegleb
  • TG-10 - Wichita Engineering
  • TG-11 - Schempp
  • TG-12 - Bowlus
  • TG-13 - Briegleb
  • TG-14 - Stiglmeier
  • TG-15 - Franklin
  • TG-16 - A.B.C.
  • TG-17 - Franklin
  • TG-18 - Midwest
  • TG-19 - Schweyer
  • TG-20 - Laister-Kauffman
  • TG-21 - Notre Dame
  • TG-22 - Mehlhose
  • TG-23 - Harper-Corcoran
  • TG-24 - Bowlus-Dupont
  • TG-25 - Plover
  • TG-26 - Universal
  • TG-27 - Grunau
  • TG-28 - Haller
  • TG-29 - Volmer Jensen
  • TG-30 Bluebird - Smith
  • TG-31 - Aero Industries
  • TG-32 - Pratt-Read
  • TG-33 - Aeronca

Unified sequence, 1948-1955

  • G-2 - Ridgefield
  • G-3 - Waco
  • G-4 Haig - Waco
  • G-10 Trojan Horse - Laister-Kauffman
  • G-13 - Waco
  • G-14 - Chase
  • G-15 Hadrian - Waco
  • G-18 - Chase
  • G-20 - Chase

Sailplane, 1960-1962

  • S-1 - Schweizer
  • S-2 - Schweizer

Gyroplane, 1935-1939

Pursuit, 1924-1948/Fighter, 1948-1962

Designated P- for "pursuit" until 1948, when the United States Air Force was founded. After this, all P- designations were changed to F- ("fighter"), but the original numbers were retained.

Unofficial designations YF-112 and up were later assigned to "black" projects - see Fighter series in Unified System.

Fighter, Multiplace

Pursuit, Biplace

Pursuit, British-built

Observation

Observation, 1924-1942

Observation amphibian, 1925-1948

Liaison, 1942-1962

Reconnaissance

Photographic reconnaissance, 1930-1948 / Reconnaissance, 1948-1962

Reconnaissance-strike, 1960-1962

Both of the following aircraft are part of the B- (bomber) series.

Rotary Wing, 1941-1948/Helicopter 1948-present

Designated R- for "rotary wing" until 1947, when the United States Air Force was founded. After this, all R- designations were changed to H- ("helicopter"), but the original numbers were retained. After 1962, the series was continued within the Unified Designation System.

Supersonic/special test, 1946-1948

The series was continued as the X (Experimental) series after 1948 - see X-series in Unified System.

Trainer

Advanced Trainer, 1925-1948

Basic Combat, 1936-1940

Superseded by Advanced Trainer (AT-).

Basic Trainer, 1930-1948

Primary Trainer, 1925-1948

Foreign-Built Training and Communications Aircraft, 1925-1948

Unified sequence, 1948-present

The AT-6 Texan, AT-7 Navigator, and AT-11 Kansan, were retroactively given T- designations. The new sequence began at 28, one number higher than the PT- sequence had reached.

Convertiplane, 1952-1962

Army, 1956-1962

Airplane, Cargo, 1956-1962

Airplane, Observation, 1956-1962

Airplane, Research, 1956-1962

  • AZ-1 Marvelette - Mississippi State University

Flying Platform, 1955-1956

  • HO-1 Pawnee - Hiller (redesignated VZ-1 in 1956)
  • HO-2 - De Lackner (redesignated HZ-1 in 1956)

Helicopter, Cargo, 1956-1962

Helicopter, Observation, 1956-1962

Helicopter, Utility, 1956-1962

Helicopter, Experimental, 1956-1962

  • HZ-1 - De Lackner

Vertical Takeoff and Landing Research, 1956-1962

Unified System, 1962-present

Airship

  • Z-1 - Goodyear
  • Z-2 Sentinel - Westinghouse Airships
  • Z-3 - American Blimp

Anti-Submarine Warfare

Attack

USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II

Fixed-Wing Gunships (Modified Aircraft)

Use for attack missions is indicated by the modified mission identifier A-.

Bomber

USAF B-2 Spirit

Cargo

Drone

Electronic Warfare

USAF E-3 Sentry

Electronic Warfare (Modified Aircraft)

Experimental, 1948-present

Fighter

Note: Captured foreign aircraft used for evaluation and aggressor were given designations in sequence—based on chronology—with "black" project aircraft, continuing the pre-1962 F series.[8]

Glider[9]

Helicopter

Anti-Submarine Warfare Helicopter

Attack Helicopter

Cargo Helicopter

Army Chinook sling-loads a howitzer.

Observation Helicopter

Training Helicopter

Utility Helicopter

Laser

Observation

Patrol

Reconnaissance

Reconnaissance (Modified Aircraft)

Tanker

Trainer

Utility, 1955-present

Vertical and Short Take-off and Landing Aircraft

Un-designated foreign aircraft operated by the United States

See also

References

  1. ^ Parsch, Andreas. "Convair MX-2223 (SM-74)". Designation-Systems.Net. http://www.designation-systems.net/dusrm/app1/sm-74.html. Retrieved 2007-07-24. 
  2. ^ Andrade 1979, page 60
  3. ^ "HazeGray.org". rec.aviation.military FAQ, Part 4. http://www.hazegray.org/faq/ram4.htm. Retrieved 2007-01-13. 
  4. ^ Fitzsimons, Bernard, ed. Illustrated Encyclopedia of Weapons and Warfare (London: Phoebus, 1978), Volume 4, p.370, "Blackbird, Sr-71 Lockheed".
  5. ^ Parsch, Andreas. "DOD 4120.15-L - Addendum, MDS Designators allocated after 19 August 1998 (until March 2009)". Designation-Systems.Net. http://www.designation-systems.net/usmilav/412015-L(addendum).html. Retrieved 2009-12-05. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Parsch, Andreas (2006-11-27). "Cover Designations for Classified USAF Aircraft". Designation-Systems.Net. http://www.designation-systems.net/usmilav/coverdesignations.html. Retrieved 2006-12-29. 
  7. ^ "Edwards AFB website". Col. Joseph A. Lanni, USAF biography. http://www.edwards.af.mil/units/bio/lanni-bio.html. Retrieved 2007-01-07. 
  8. ^ a b Fulghum, David A., "MiGs in Nevada", Aviation Week & Space Technology, November 27, 2006
  9. ^ 94th Flying Training Squadron aircraft
  • Andrade, John M. (1979). U.S. Military Aircraft Designations and Serials Since 1909. Midland Counties Publications. ISBN 0-904597-22-9. 
  • Fahey, James C. (1946). U.S. Army Aircraft 1908-1946. 

External links


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