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Thread: Naval aircraft identification

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Kennewick, Washington, United States

    Default Naval aircraft identification

    does anyone know why the navy used M to identify both aircraft from Martin and GM. example B for Boeing Xf8B Douglas SBD Vought F4U you get the idea last letter identifys manufacturer so why is PBM JRM Martin products and TBM FM1 FM2 General Motors products but all use the same identifier

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007

    Default Re: Naval aircraft identification

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Nelson View Post
    does anyone know why the navy used M to identify both aircraft from Martin and GM. example B for Boeing Xf8B Douglas SBD Vought F4U you get the idea last letter identifys manufacturer so why is PBM JRM Martin products and TBM FM1 FM2 General Motors products but all use the same identifier
    Why “M” for the Eastern Division of General Motors? Who knows, maybe because of “Motors”?

    Certainly there were already enough E’s and more than a couple of G’s. In truth, duplication of manufacturer’s letter designators was not all that unusual:

    From the USN published list:

    A - Aeromarine Plane and Motor Co. 1922
    A - Atlantic Aircraft Corp (American Fokker) 1927–1930
    A - Brewster Aeronautical 1935–1943
    A - General Aviation Corp (ex Atlantic) 1930–1932
    A - Noorduyn Aviation, Ltd. (Canada) 1946
    B - Beech Aircraft Co. 1937–1962
    B - Boeing Aircraft Co. 1923–1962
    B - Budd Manufacturing Co. 1942–1944
    C - Cessna Aircraft Corp. 1943–1951
    C - Culver Aircraft Corp. 1942–1946
    C - Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Co. 1922–1946
    C - Curtiss Wright Corp 1948–1962
    C - DeHaviland Aircraft of Canada 1955–1962
    D - Douglas Aircraft Co. 1922–1967
    D - McDonnell Aircraft Corp. 1942–1946
    D - Radioplane Co. 1943–1948
    D - Frankfort Sailplane Co. 1945–1946
    DH - DeHavilland Aircraft Co. Ltd. (England) 1927–1931
    DW - Dayton-Wright Airplane Co. 1923
    E - Bellanca Aircraft Corp. 1931–1937
    E - Cessna Aircraft Co. 1951–1962
    E - Edo Aircraft Corp. 1943–1962
    E - G. Elias & Brothers 1922–1924
    E - Gould Aeronautical Corp. 1942–1945
    E - Hiller Aircraft Corp. 1948–1962
    E - Piper Aircraft Corp. 1941–1945
    E - Pratt-Read 1942–1945
    F - Fairchild Aircraft, Ltd. (Canada) 1942–1945
    F - Columbia 1943–1944
    F - Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corp. 1931–1962
    G - Gallaudet Aircraft Corp. 1929–1935
    G - Globe Aircraft Corp 1946–1948
    G - Goodyear Aircraft Corp. 1942–1962
    G - Great Lakes Aircraft Corp. 1929–1935
    H - Hall Aluminum 1928–1945
    H - Howard Aircraft Co. 1941–1944
    H - Huff, Daland & Co 1922–1927
    H - McDonnell Aircraft Corp 1946–1962
    H - Stearman-Hammond Aircraft Corp. 1937–1939
    J - Berliner/Joyce Aircraft Co. 1929–1935
    J - North American Aviation 1937–1962
    K - Fairchild Aircraft Corp. 1937–1942
    K - Kaman Aircraft Corp 1950–1962
    K - Kaiser Cargo Inc. Fleetwings Div. 1948–1962
    K - Keystone 1927–1930
    K - Kinner Airplane & Motor Corp. 1935–1936
    L - Bell Aircraft Corp. 1939–1962
    L - Columbia 1944–1946
    L - Grover Loening, Inc. 1923–1933
    L - Loening Aeronautical Engineering Corp. 1922–1932
    M - General Motors Corp. (Eastern Aircraft Div.) 1942–1945
    M - Glenn L. Martin Co. 1922–1962
    N - Gyrodyne Company of America 1955–1962
    N - Naval Aircraft Factory 1922–1948
    N - Naval Air Development Station 1948–1962
    O - Lockheed Aircraft Corp. 1931–1962
    P - Pitcairn Autogyro Co. 1931–1932
    P - Piasecki Helicopter Corp. 1946–1955
    P - Vertol Aircraft Corp. 1955–1962
    P - Spartin Aircraft Co. 1940–1941
    Q - Bristol Aeronautical Corp. 1941–1943
    Q - Fairchild Engine and Airplane Co. 1928–1962
    Q - Stinson Aircraft Corp. 1934–1936
    R - Aeronca Aircraft Corp. 1942–1946
    R - Ford Motor Co. 1927–1932
    R - Interstate Aircraft and Engineering Corp. 1942–1962
    R - Radioplanes Co. 1948–1962
    R - Ryan Aeronautical Co. 1948–1962
    S - Schweizer Aircraft Corp. 1941–0000
    S - Sikorsky Aviation Corp. 1928–1962
    S - Sperry Gyroscope Co. 1948–1962
    S - Stearman Aircraft Co. 1934–1945
    T - Taylorcraft Aviation Corp. 1942–1946
    T - Tempco Aircraft Corp. 1955–1962
    T - New Standard Aircraft Corp. 1930–1934
    T - The Northrop Corp. 1933–1937
    T - Northrop Aircraft Inc. 1944–1962
    T - Timm Aircraft Corp. 1941–1943
    U - Lewis & Vought, Chance Vought, Vought Sikorsky 1922–1962
    V - Vultee Aircraft Inc. 1943–1945
    V - Lockheed Aircraft Corp. 1942–1962
    W - Canadian Car and Foundry Co., Ltd. 1942–1945
    W - Waco Aircraft Corp. 1934–1945
    W - Willys-Overland Co. 1948–1962
    W - Wright Aeronautical Corp. 1922–1926
    X - Cox-Klemin Aircraft Corp. 1922–1924
    Y - Consolidated Aircraft Corp. 1926–1954
    Y - Convair Division (General Dynamics Corp) 1954–1962
    Z - Pennsylvania Aircraft Syndicate 1933–1934

    Out of 23 letters used to designate aircraft manufacturers during the span of the World War II years, 16 were assigned to at least two, and sometimes more, different firms.

    I can just imagine some unrecorded LCDR at BuAer holding up an open hand up over his head, suddenly closing as if he’d caught a fly, bringing it down inches before his eyes, slowly opening his clenched fist, staring close at his palm, and suddenly looking up, smiling, and announcing: “M! We’ll give them M!”

    One might note that some of the most well known producers of USN aircraft had letter designators which in no way conformed with the firm name. Grumman was "F", Chance-Vought was "U", Consolidated was "Y" . . . so I would suggest that a designator matching the firm name was merely a serendipitous coincidence.
    Last edited by R Leonard; 04-05-2014 at 09:27 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007

    Default Re: Naval aircraft identification

    I know nothing about this topic, but I wonder if the odd designations arise from the manufacturers' odd letters for models rather than armed services designations?

    Down here we had a post-war series of rather random alphabetical designations of General Motors (Holden's) cars such as the following sequence in chronological order. The hyphens signify a new model, or at least body shape as the mechanicals weren't always much improved, from the early 1950s to the mid 1980s. For example, the FB followed the FE and FC (and the FE, one of which I had, preceded the FC) was a later body shape while the EK was an earlier body shape which preceded the EJ (one of which I had) and the EH.


    Ford here also pursued its equally random if somewhat more sequential designations which, as best as I can recall in chronological order from the early 60s to the mid/late 80s were mainly:
    XF (one of which I had)

    Then Ford went in the late 80s and 90s to EA (one of which I had), EB, EBII, ED, EL (one of which I had) and in the late 1990s early 2000s to AU (one of which I still have as the last of the Tickford hand built motors), and after that to BA and then BF.
    A rational army would run away.

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