RAF designations 1939-1945

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Nynjazen, Feb 3, 2013.

  1. Nynjazen

    Nynjazen New Member

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    I,

    Does anyone know if RAF designations were of two sorts during WW2:

    ie: Spitfire Mk V, VI, IX and so on at the beginning of the war...
    Then: Spitfire LF Mk V, HF Mk IX, HF Mk VI from 194.?

    Are the second one official Air Ministry designations or Field Designations ?

    Regards,
    Nynjazen
     
  2. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #2 stona, Feb 3, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2013
    They were of one type throughout Spitfire production and are official designations.
    The roman numeral is the Mark number,I,II,V,IX etc.
    The letters,LF,for example,indicate a sub type. A Spitfire LF V is a Mark V Spitfire fitted with a Merlin 50M engine rather than the standard Merlin 45.
    The final letter,as in Mk V B referes to the wing (and hence indirectly its armament).

    The problem is that a lazy diarist or author mght refer to any type of Spitfire V as a Mk V without using the other designations to more accurately identify what exactly the aircraft was. It's like writing Bf 109 G without a dash number,or in some cases R number .

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  3. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    To add to Steve's info, Spitfire's used the following abbreviations:


    F - Fighter (often not written, simply recorded as 'Mk. -')
    FR - Fighter-Reconnaissance
    L - Low level
    H - High altitude
    PR - Photo- Reconnaissance

    In addition the letters afterwards denoted the 'Wing type', ie the type of armament fitted.

    A - 8 x .303 in. Browning MG
    B - 2 x 20mm Hispano cannon, 4 x .303 Browning
    C - 2 x 20 mm Hispano cannon in inboard position, faired over outer cannon ports.
    E - 'Universal wing' - 2 x 20 mm cannon in outboard position, faired over inner cannon ports
    'Bowser wing' - wings minus armament, fitted with extra fuel tanks in leading edges. (PR versions)

    Couple of examples:
    - Spifire Mk.I: Mk.Ia, sometimes Mk.Ib - sometimes written as Mk.IA, Mk.IB depending on source
    - Mk.V: Mk.Va, -b, or -c, low level version: LF Mk.Vc
    - Mk.VI, VII , and early Mk. VIIIs: High- altitide versions, thus HF.MK. VI, VII, and (initially) VIII
    - Mk.IX: Mk.IXb, -c or -e, armed- reconnaissance version FR.Mk.IX, ground attack version LF. Mk.IXc , or -e, often just '
    - Mk.XIX: unarmed photo-reconnaissance version, thus PR.Mk.XIX.

    Note:
    The 'Mk.' stands for 'Mark' (Marque), that is, Version.
    Where you have a long title (eg. PR.Mk.XIX), the 'MK.' was usually dropped, becoming 'PR.XIX'
    From August (IIRC) 1945, roman numerals were replaced by standard numerals, thus a 'Spitfire PR.XIX' became a Spitfire PR.19 from that date


    Though not a complete explanantion (there were detail differences within the same marks, etc) , I hope this goes some way to help clarify the letter/ number system!
     
  4. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Good stuff guys. In addition, once the Mark numbers reached ungainly proportions using Roman numerals, these were changed to Arabic numerals, from the Mk PRXIX onwards.
    Hence, the Photo Recce Mk XIX was known (officially) as the PR19, although the PRXIX designation was still used in some cases, albeit incorrectly.
    All Spitfires up to the MkXIX were, and continued to be known or described by their original Roman numeral number, for example, MkIXc, with later versions being, for example, PR19. Mk21, Mk24 etc.
    This practice, in general, covered all aircraft types in the RAF, and still does, but all aircraft also had, or have a name, for example Phantom FGR2, making it easier to identify the type and sub type, without the possible confusion of repeated type numbers spread over decades, for example, F-4U, F-4J and so on.
     
  5. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    It was my understanding that the C wing and E wing could both take 4 x 20mm cannon, but that option was rarely used. I think the C wing was also called the universal wing - it could take the 4 x 20mm or 2 x 20mm + 4 x 0.303. The E wing had the mg gun ports blocked off, and couldn't take mgs in them at all. The 20mm cannon were carried in the outer cannon bays, usually with 0.50"hmgs in the inner cannon bays.
     
  6. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    #6 A4K, Feb 4, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2013
    AFAIK, only the E was known as the 'universal' wing, and don't know about the .50 cals in the inner postions, but the rest is correct. My post wasn't intended to be a synopsis on Spitfire armament, rather a general explanation of the usual features associated with the suffixes (c wings were very rarely fitted with both cannons, for example, as you said)


    More RAF abbreviations, with examples (non Spitfire):

    B - Bomber (eg, Lancaster B.Mk.III or B.III)
    C -Cargo (York C.Mk.I)
    FB - Fighter-Bomber (Mosquito FB.Mk.VI - usually just FB.VI)
    GR - General Reconnaissance (Hudson GR.Mk.III or GR.III)
    T - Trainer (Mosquito T.Mk.III or T.III)
    TB - Torpedo Bomber (Hampden TB.MK.I or TB.I)
    TT - Target tug - possibly post war designation(?) (Beaufighter TT.Mk.3)
     
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