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USSR military aircraft designation systems: Wikis


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Imperial Russia (before 1917) does not seem to have had a system. Aircraft were given names or numerical designations by manufacturers, like Ilya Muromets or Anatra Anasal.


Soviet System to 1940

Soviet system to 1940 was divided by type, with numbers assigned in order by government ministry. However, designers/manufacturers usually also gave them their own designations.


Type Prefixes

(incomplete - Cyrillic characters in parenthesis)

A (А) - Avtozhir (Autogiro)
B (Б) - Bombardirovshchik (Bomber)
BB (ББ) - Blizhnij bombardirovshchik (Short-range Bomber)
BSh (БШ) - Bronirovannyi Shturmovik (Armored Ground Attack plane)
DI (ДИ) - Dvukhmestnii istrebitel (Two-seat Fighter)
DB (ДБ) - Dalnij bombardirovshchik (Long-range Bomber)
G (Г) - Gruzovoi (Cargo plane (usually converted from heavy bombers: G-1 from TB-1 and G-2 from TB-3))
I (И) - Istrebitel ("Destroyer" = Fighter)
IP (ИП) - Istrebitel pushetchnii (Cannon Fighter)
K (K) - Korablennyi (Shipborne)
M (М) - Morskoi (Seaplane)
MBR (МБР) - Morskoi blizhnii razvedchik (Short-range Reconnaissance Seaplane)
MDR (МДР) - Morskoi dalnii razvedchik (Long-range Reconnaissance Seaplane)
MI (МИ) - Mnogomestnii istrebitel (Multi-seat Fighter)
MP (МП) - Morskoi passazhirskiy (Passenger Seaplane)
MR (МР) - Morskoi razvedchik (Reconnaissance Seaplane)
PS (ПС) - Passazhirskii samolyot (Passenger plane)
R (Р) - Razvedchik (Reconnaissance)
SB (СБ) - Skorostnoi bombardirovshchik (High-speed Bomber)
SPB (СПБ) - Skorostnoi pikiruyuschii bombardirovshchik (High-speed Dive Bomber)
T (Т) - Torpedonosets (Torpedo bomber) ("Torpedo carrier")
TB (ТБ) - Tiazholyi bombardirovshchik (Heavy Bomber)
TIS (ТИС) - Tiazholyi istrebitel soprovozhdennii (Heavy Escort Fighter)
TSh (ТШ) - Tiazholyi Shturmovik (Heavy Ground Attack plane)
U (У) - Uchebny (Trainer)
UT (УТ) - Uchebno-trenirivochnyi (Primary/Advanced Trainer)
UTI (УТИ) - Uchebno-trenirivochnyi Istrebitel (Fighter Trainer)
VIT (ВИТ) - Vozdushnyi Istrebitel Tankov (Air Tank Destroyer)


I-1: Polikarpov (1-seat monoplane)
I-1: Grigorovich (prototype only. Two different designs had one designation)
I-2: Grigorovich
I-3: Polikarpov (1-seat biplane with open cockpit and fixed undercarriage)
I-4: Tupolev ANT-5 (1-seat sesquiplane)
I-5: Polikarpov-Grigorovich. First was Tupolev I-5 (ANT-12), later Polikarpov-Grigorovich I-6 was renamed to I-5.
I-6: Polikarpov-Grigorovich. Renamed to I-5 after winning competition with Tupolev I-5.
I-7: Heinlel (licenced-built German HD-37)
I-8: Tupolev ANT-13 (prototype only)
I-9: Grigorovich
I-10: Grigorovich
I-11: Polikarpov
I-12: Tupolev (ANT-23)
I-13: Polikarpov
I-14: Tupolev ANT-31 (1-seat monoplane with enclosed cockpit and retractable undercarriage)
I-15: Polikarpov TsKB-3 (1-seat biplane with `gull' upper wing open cockpit and fixed undercarriage)
I-15bis/I-152: Polikarpov TsKB-3bis (re-engined and other minor changes)
I-15ter/I-153: Polikarpov TsKB-3ter (re-engined and retractable undercarriage)
I-16: Polikarpov TsKB-12/18/29 (1-seat monoplane with open cockpit and retractable undercarriage)
I-17: Polikarpov TsKB-15/19/33 (1-seat monoplane with in-line engine and retractable undercarriage)
I-18: Polikarpov (TzKB-43). Later Polikarpov began use 3-digit designation and again used "18th" index in I-180, I-185 etc.
I-19: Polikarpov (TzKB-25). Later Polikarpov I-190.
I-200 or I-61: Polikarpov and later Mikoyan-Gurevich (later designated MiG-1)
I-21: Ilyushin (Pashinin I-21 (only 5 built) is type 21 of Plant No 21 and designated probably as "istrebitel of 21st plant")
I-22: Lavochkin-Gorbunov-Gudkov (later designated LaGG-1)
I-26: Yakovlev Krasavec `Beauty' (later designated Yak-1). But really index '26' is from Yakovlev AIR seria.
I-28: Yatsenko (constructed from resin-bonded wood)
I-30, I-301: (later designated LaGG-3)


DB-1: Tupolev/Sukhoi bomber variant of ANT-25
DB-2: Tupolev/Sukhoi ANT-37 (2-engine bomber derivative of ANT-25)
DB-3: Ilyushin TsKB-30 (2-engine all-metal monoplane), later version (DB-3F) was designated Il-4
SB: Tupolev ANT-40 (2-engine all-metal monoplane)
TB-1: Tupolev ANT-4 (2-engine all-metal monoplane)
TB-2: Polikarpov
TB-3: Tupolev ANT-6 (4-engine all-metal monoplane)
TB-4: Tupolev ANT-16 (6-engine all-metal monoplane)
TB-5: Grigorovich
TB-6: Tupolev ANT-26 (12-engine all-metal monoplane, cancelled)
TB-7: Tupolev ANT-42 (4-engine all-metal monoplane, later designated Pe-8)

Soviet system since 1940

The system after 1940 (in accordace with order No 704 December 9, 1940) used letter abbreviations for the design office, then numbers in order, with odd numbers for fighters and even numbers for all other types. However, this latter rule was sometimes breached, especially for helicopters.

Contrary to western sources, official Soviet designations did not include constructors' names (eg. Yakovlev Yak-1), only abbreviations (ie. Yak-1). But at the beginning names like Yakovlev-1 was used sometime. In general, this naming practice was adopted from German, except for numbering. Germans have numbered aircraft sequentially regardless of developer, while USSR used "semi-sequential" (odd numbers for fighters, even numbers for bombers/transport with well known exceptions like Tu-95 or An-225) numbers within every developer "label." These names were given to aircraft when they enter the service. Aircraft may have development names (used within design bureaus, like "105" (read as "aircraft 105," count as "ANT-105") for future Tu-22 or T-6 for Su-24) and/or production name (used by industry). This schema was established in ~1940. Before this date soviet aircraft were named according to their function: TB-1 for "Tyazholy Bombardirovschik" ("тяжелый бомбардировщик", "heavy bomber"), the first. Again, this is a soviet practice. Pre-revolutionary Russia (and early Soviet Republic) have used only "vendor names" like "Farman F-20" or "Ilya Muromets" (by I.Sikorski).

The NATO Air Standardization Coordinating Committee reporting name system (used because correct designation of new types not always known) was based on having the initial letter indicate type of aircraft (B = bomber, C = cargo, F = fighter, H = helicopter, M = miscellaneous) or missile, and 1 syllable if propeller-driven or 2 if jet- or rocket-powered.

Design Office Prefixes

An (Ан): Antonov
Ar (Ар): Archangelskii
BI (БИ): Berezniak-Isaev
Be (Бе): Beriev
Che (Че): Chetverikov
Gu (Гу): Gudkov
Il (Ил): Ilyushin
Ka (Ка): Kamov
La (Ла): Lavochkin
LaG (ЛаГ): Lavochkin-Gorbunov
LaGG (ЛаГГ): Lavochkin-Gorbunov-Gudkov
Li (Ли): Lisunov
M (М): Myasishchev
Mi (Ми): Mil
MiG (МиГ): Mikoyan-Gurevich, until the death of Artem Mikoyan in 1970, then just Mikoyan
Pe (Пе): Petlyakov
Po (По): Polikarpov
Su (Су): Sukhoi
Shche (Ще): Shcherbakov
Ta (Та): Tairov
Tu (Ту): Tupolev (earlier: ANT (for A.N.Tupolev, the number sequence is still in use))
Yak (Як): Yakovlev (earlier: AIR (for A.I.Rykov, one of communist leaders))
Yer (Ер): Yermolayev

See also


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