Learned Something New

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Senior Airman
Dec 3, 2003
today. Found out what the designations for American fighters mean:

"P" stands for Pursuit, a designation used for fighter types between 1925 1947, though this changed in 1947 when the "F" for Fighter designation entered use.

"51" means the the aircraft was the 51st pursuit type to be built.

"D" The fourth main variant of the Mustang which included the 1,490hp Packard V-1650 Merlin engine, six gun main armament, and the teardrop canopy.

"20" This is the Block Number. These numbers ran in fives as minor equipment changes were implemented.

"NA" means that the aircraft was built at Inglewood, California, the other designation "NT" denotes an aircraft built in Dallas, Texas
I knew all of that but, what can I say? I remember you had to get told what the P means by LG.
Just to add to the list for production designations; RE, Republic Farmingdale; RA, Republic Evansville; CU, Curtiss-Wright at Buffalo.
LO- Lockheed, Burbank
VN- Vega, Nashville

You mine find this interesting as well. American engines were designated by a letter and then a series of numbers (V-1710, R-2800, etc.). The letter designated the type of engine (V for inline 'vee' engine, R for radial) and the numbers were the capacity of the engine in cubic engines.
im fine with that cos any insult to me is an insult to you too, you are the inferior of the two of us after all :D
Thanks for telling us that, Lanc.

I'll probably get some of these wrong but; P is Pursuit, F is Fighter, B is Bomber, A is Attack, PR is Photo-Recce, AEW is Airborne Early Warning, AWACS is Airborne Warning and Control System...I know the last two were modern.
I've missed some there...the F could get confusing because in World War 2 the Americans didn't have F for fighter, they had the F-5 which was a recce Lightning but I don't know what the F stands for on that... :oops:
I'm not sure that it stood for anything. There were also F- models of the A-20, the P-51, and I believe the B-24 but I don't remember exactly what the designations were.
They had the F-51 after the war when they changed to F instead of P. There were F-51s in Korea.
During the war, the F-3 was the recon version of the A-20, F-4 and F-5 were versions of the P-38, the F-6 was from the P-51, and the F-7 from the B-24. At least I think that is correct.
Here is my incomplete list. These are fairly standard, although the Navy and the AF uses different designations for some aircraft. This is not a complete list:
A is for attack
AT is for advance trainer (AT-6).
B is for Bomber
C is for Cargo.
D is typically for drone tugs or carriers (DB-36)
E is for electronic (EA-6)
F is for fighter
G is mostly for gliders
H is for Helicopter (AH-64, attack helicopter)
J is typically a Navy designation for utility transport
K is for tanker aircraft (KC-135)
L is for Liaison (L-5 Bird dog)
M is sometimes used for medical, sometimes for clandestine operations
N is the Navy deignator for trainer (SNJ=AT-6)
O is for observation (OV-10 Bronco)
P is for pursuit
Q is for unmanned vehicles (Q-1 Predator)
R is for Reconnaissance
S is for scout (SB-2C=Scout/Bomber)
T is for trainer (T-38 Talon)
U is for Utility (U-7 Seneca, typically a cargo aircraft. U2 is an exception)
V is typically for VIP transport (VC-135)
W is for Weather recon (WC-130)
X is for experimental, as in XB-70, experimental bomber.
Y is for prototype.

The SR71 is a misnomer. It was originall called the XR-71, and someone mispronounced it (I think it was a president) and it stuck.

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