USN WWII Tail Codes (Geometric Shapes)

Discussion in 'Aircraft Markings and Camouflage' started by CliffyB, Aug 11, 2008.

  1. CliffyB

    CliffyB Member

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    Hey guys, I am trying to find a list, chart, etc... of the geometric shape tail codes USN aircraft carried in the middle of the war. I've poured over countless photos and have only able to find out a few of the symbols and no definitive list anywhere. Any help will be appreciated and I apologize if the answer is already on this site but I tried searching before I posted this and no luck. Thanks in advance!
     
  2. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    I think some of the books put out by "squadron/signal" publications have it.
     
  3. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    I have seen something like this somewhere.If I recall it myself I can upload it.
     
  4. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Like USS Bunker Hill's CV-17 Arrow etc....?
     
  5. Micdrow

    Micdrow “Archive”
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    Im not exactly sure where I found this. Quality is not the best but maybe it will help.
     

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  6. CliffyB

    CliffyB Member

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    YES!!!! You're awesome! If you can remember where you found that you'll be even more awesome.

    The only ones missing are the carriers that were sunk or weren't in the Pacific. If anyone has their codes (providing they had any) feel free to add it to the list.

    CV-2,4,5,7,8,37
    CVL-23

    Thanks again guys!!!
     
  7. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    I don't think that USS Lexington, Ranger, Yorktown, Wasp and Hornet had these "G" symbols as they were sunk before they come into use...
     
  8. CliffyB

    CliffyB Member

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    Gotcha, wasn't sure exactly when the "G" symbols came into use.
     
  9. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    I'm not sure either mate, my guess is sometime during '44.
     
  10. otftch

    otftch Active Member

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    I don't know if this will help."Color Schemes and Markings U.S.Navy Aircraft 1911-1950.Author is BillC Kilgrain.Book is 8"X5" and paperbound.I've had it for years so I can't tell you where I got it.There is no ISBN number,only printed in Canada.It has all tail codes and the wing markings (geometric to go with them) along with the escort carrier markings,and many photos.
    Ed
     
  11. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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  12. CliffyB

    CliffyB Member

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    Thanks for all the help guys. I scooped up Squadron's "USN Colors and Camo '41-'45" and it's in the mail right now. I'll look around for the 1911-1950 book and grab a copy of it as well when I can. I'm doing research for a for some drawings/paintings and you've made my life a lot easier, thanks again!
     
  13. CliffyB

    CliffyB Member

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    For future reference guys, I was able to find out that the "G Codes" were in use from January until August of 1945. In August they transitioned to the Letter Codes.
     
  14. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    Specifically, ComAirPac ordered the G codes for each CV and CVL to be effective 27 January 1944. These were to replace designs used by some, but not all, embarked air groups. The G codes were replaced by letters, either single or double depending on the CV or CVL, effective 28 July 1945.
     
  15. CliffyB

    CliffyB Member

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    I stand corrected, thanks for the info man.
     
  16. MFH

    MFH New Member

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    What do you mean by "middle of the war"?

    The PDF of the G-symbols is only vaild from late January 1945 (depending on when ship's crews could repaint the tails) to late July 1945.

    The letter symbols went from July 28 to the end of hostilities, though at least CVG-10 on Intrepid kept theirs for a portion of the occupation in late 1945.

    If you mean from the start of the central Pacific offensive until January 1945, the G-symbols in the PDF do not apply. (Also, the PDF has some errors in it: it gives the impression that Saragota had a white tail with a blue stripe, which it did not, and Enterprise aircraft carried a forward-pointing white outlined arrow, not the angled stripes, unless CVG-20 carried them in December 1944, Wasp had a wide stripe that went from leading edge to trailing edge, etc.).

    However, most fast carriers from late 1943 until January 1945 did carry unique markings on their tails for identification (if I had more time tonight, I'd look for pics for you):

    CV-6 - white upward pointing triangle with plane number in it,
    CV-9 - narrow white stripe near the top of the vertical stabilizer from leading to trailing edges (this started perhaps beginning late in CVG-9's tour, for sure during CVG-15's and most of CVG-4's tours),
    CV-10 - white downward (LSO) stripe from leading edge to roughly the rudder (VF-1 Hellcats had "K"s painted on the rudder with the plane number on the wing opposite the national insignia [top bottom], too),
    CV-11 - white plus sign at the top of the vertical stabilizer,
    CV-12 - white solid circle in the middle of the rudder below the number,
    CV-13 - varied by squadron to the best of my knowledge,
    CV-14 - a white inverted chevron under the plane number,
    CV-15 - N/A (joined the fleet in 2/45),
    CV-16 - varied by squadron (VF-16 painted their emblem in front of the cockpit, VF-19 carried numbers behind their cockpit, VB-19 had huge numbesr on their Beasts, etc.),
    CV-17 - white "overline" and underline above and below the numbers on the tail,
    CV-18 - small white upward pointing triangle on the rudder,
    CV-19 - a symbol similar to a horseshoe (CVG-7 anyway),
    CV-20 - N/A (joined the fleet in 2/45),
    CVL-22 - VF(N)-41 carried a circle outlining the number on the tail, with the tail number repeated in front of and below the cockpit, VT(N)-41 carried numbers in the same approximate locations, but didn't carry the circle on the tail,
    CVL-23 - don't know of anything for CVG-23, but VF-27 had the famous "cat-mouthed" Hellcats until sunk, don't know anything about VT-27,
    CVL-24 - solid circle on the tail before the rudder, with the plane number in the circle,
    CVL-25 - white stripe above the plane number on the tail (looks like from leading to trailing edge) with an underline the width of the number,
    CVL-26 - can't find anything tonight,
    CVL-27 - top of the tail painted white,
    CVL-28 - white stripe in the middle of the vertical stabilizer that does not reach the top of the rudder, but does wrap beneath the tail (similar but different to CVG-10 on CV-11 in 1945),
    CVL-29 - can't find anything tonight,
    CVL-30 - white "x" on the rudder.

    As to the pre-war carriers, they did not carry much in the way of ID. However, it is possible to distinguish units to some extent by the colors and placement of numbers, national insignia placement and size, and pre-May 15 tail stripes. Get copies of Lundstrom's The First Team series to see what I'm writing about.

    A few ships had a white LSO stripe or stripes on at least the left side of their tail (CV-5 CV-6, if memory serves), but I think I've seen the double stripes on both sides in at least one picture.

    And a few units had emblems painted below the cockpit or on their tail, such VF-3 (a bomb toting Felix the Cat) VF-6 (tombstones after Eastern Solomons; never worn in combat to my knowledge).

    I hope this helps.
     
  17. MFH

    MFH New Member

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    I hope this works. My scanner is dead, but my digital camera does have a macro function, so I tried to take a picture of some of my uncle's drawings he did on the Essex in WW II that show the unofficial "plane designations" (pre-G-symbols).

    It's not perfect, either. I know San Jacinto's marking isn't quite right, and I've nver seen Lexington with a number in a diamond.

    Maybe he meant Franklin, but that would be a 1945 G-symbol, and CVG-13 didn't use that, only CVG-5 during its March 18-19, 1945 deployment.

    P.S. CV-37 to the best of my knowledge did not have had a geometric symbol. She was launched in July '45, and commissioned in November, by which time carriers were using the letter designators.

    And for the heck of it, one source I have lists the July 1945 ID letters as:

    CV-3 - CC
    CV-4 - PP
    CV-6 - M
    CV-9 - F *
    CV-10 - RR *
    CV-11 - E
    CV-12 - S *
    CV-13 - LL
    CV-14 - V *
    CV-15 - L *
    CV-16 - H *
    CV-17 - Y
    CV-18 - X *
    CV-19 - U *
    CV-20 - TT
    CV-21 - ZZ
    CVL-22 - D
    CVL-24 - P
    CVL-25 - A
    CVL-26 - C
    CVL-27 - K
    CVL-28 - R
    CVL-29 - T
    CVL-30 - B
    CV-31 - SS *
    CV-36 - W
    CV-38 - Z *
    CV-39 - AA
    CVB-41 - YY (I don't think this was ever utilized)
    CVB-42 - FF (I don't think this was ever utilized)
    CVB-43 - EE (I don't think this was ever utilized)

    * - I've seen photos of these on planes.
     

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  18. dakjunkie

    dakjunkie New Member

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    I believe you are correct as far as the above, but the 2nd USS Hornet CV 12 seems to have used a white disc painted on the tail, my pix doesn't show the wings. The 2nd USS Wasp CV 18 has an 18" wide horizontal bar on the tail. Again, I don't know
    from the pix what was on the wing or where.

    The CVE's had codes too, but since they didn't operate with the fast carriers, the PDF mentioned above may not have included them.
     
  19. fubar57

    fubar57 Well-Known Member

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  20. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    :lol: The time flies... :lol:
     
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