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Allies Designation for Japanese Aircraft

Contributor:

Even if a pilot knows the full designation of an aircraft such as Aichi D3A1 Navy Type 99 Carrier Bomber Model 11, he might wish to have a short, simple and unmistakable name, especially when he is in combat with it!

In the second half of 1942, a colorful set of code names was developed in the Southwest Pacific Theater by the Air Technical Intelligence Unit (ATIU) of the Allied Air Forces in Australia. The head of the unit, Captain Frank T. McCoy Jr. was from Nashville, Tennessee, and the first few code names were hillbilly names such as ZEKE, NATE, PETE, JAKE and RUFE, as they were simple, short and distinctive. The basic system spread rapidly, and by late 1942, was adopted for use by both the USAAF and USN. In general, the code names were assigned using the following system, although several exceptions exist:

Basis of the Allied Code Names Scheme

Code Name TypeAssigned to Aircraft Type
Male namesFighters (both Army and Navy, single or multi-engined) and Reconnaissance seaplanes
Female namesBombers (including attack and dive-bombers), Reconnaissance planes (land or carrier-based), Flying boats and Transports (transport names began with "T")
Tree namesTraining aircraft
Bird namesGliders

Thus, the example Aichi given above became simply VAL in the Pacific code name system. As we learned more about the various models of each type, the Japanese model number was often attached to the code name, as in ZEKE 32 for the A6M3 Type 0 Carrier Fighter Model 32 "Zero".

Obviously, these code names were much easier to remember and say for Allied airmen and thus, even today, discussions of the Pacific war are filled with names such as BETTY, PETE, OSCAR, KATE and TONY.

List of Japanese Army and Navy Aircraft and their Code Names

Aircraft marked with a single asterisk (*) were fictional, and did not exist. Those with a double asterisk (**) were identified as more than one type, i.e. they are duplicated in the list. This list is extracted and edited from Mikesh's Japanese Aircraft Code Names & Designations.

ServiceJapanese Military DesignationJapanese Manufacturer DesignationAmerican Code Name
Navy Type 1 Target Plane  Kugisho MXY4  
Army Type 2 Advanced Trainer Manshu Ki-79  
Navy Type 2 Training Fighter Mitsubishi A5M4-K  
Navy Type 2 Training Flying-Boat Aichi H9A1  
Army Type 5 Fighter Kawasaki Ki-100  
Army Type 97 Fighter * Mitsubishi ABDUL 
Navy Type 97 Seaplane Fighter * Nakajima ADAM 
Navy Type 94 Reconnaissance Seaplane Kawanishi E7K ALF 
Army Type 97 Light Bomber Mitsubishi Ki-30 ANN 
Army Type 97 Command Reconnaissance Plane Mitsubishi Ki-15 BABS 
Navy Type 98 Reconnaissance Plane Mitsubishi C5M BABS 
Army Navy Suicide Attacker Ohka Yokosuka MXY7 BAKA 
Navy Type 90-2 Flying-Boat Kawanishi H3K1 BELLE 
 Type 98 Medium Bomber * Heinkel He 111 BESS 
Navy Type 1 Attack Bomber Mitsubishi G4Ml/G4M6 BETTY 
Navy Type 1 Formation Escort Fighter Mitsubishi G6M1 BETTY 
Navy Type 1 Attack Bomber Trainer Mitsubishi G6Ml-K BETTY 
Navy Type 1 Transport Mitsubishi G6M1-L2 BETTY 
Navy Type 97 Reconnaissance Seaplane * Aichi BOB 
Army Type 95-3 Primary Trainer Tachikawa Ki-17 CEDAR 
Navy Type 99 Flying-Boat Kugisho H5Y CHERRY 
  Tachikawa Ki-70 CLARA 
Navy Type 96 Carrier Fighter Mitsubishi A5M CLAUDE 
Army Type 97 Fighter ** Nakajima (See NATE) CLINT 
Navy Type 2 Primary Trainer Momiji Kyushu K9W1 CYPRESS 
Army Type 4 Primary Trainer Kokusai Ki-86 CYPRESS 
Navy Type 95 Reconnaissance Seaplane Nakajima E8N1 DAVE 
Navy Type S Two-seat Fighter Seversky A8V1 DICK 
Army Type 100 Command Reconnaissance Plane Mitsubishi Ki-46 DINAH 
Army Type 100 Tactical Pilot Trainer Mitsubishi Ki-46-II KAI DINAH 
Army Type 100 Interceptor Fighter Mitsubishi Ki-46-III KAI DINAH 
Navy Type 1 Dive Bomber * Nakajima (See JUDY) DOT 
  Tachikawa Ki-71 EDNA 
Navy Type 2 Flying-Boat Kawanishi H8K EMILY 
Navy Navy Bomber/Navy Night Fighter Yokosuka P1Y FRAN 
Navy Navy Bomber/Navy Night Fighter Yokosuka P1Y FRANCES 
Army Type 4 Fighter Hayate Nakajima Ki-84 FRANK 
Army Type 4 Special Transport Glider Kokusai Ku-8 GANDER 
Navy Navy Interceptor Fighter Kawanishi N1K-J GEORGE 
Navy Type 0 Small Reconnaissance Seaplane Kugisho E14Y1 GLEN 
Army Type 4 Special Transport Glider** Kokusai Ku-8 (GANDER) GOOSE 
Navy Navy Carrier Attack Bomber Aichi B7A GRACE 
Army Type 0 Medium Bomber ** Mitsubishi (See SALLY) GWEN 
Navy Type 96 Reconnaissance Seaplane Aichi E10A1 HANK 
Army Type 0 Single-seat Twin-engine Fighter * Mitsubishi HARRY 
Army Type 100 Heavy Bomber Donryu Nakajima Ki-49 HELEN 
Army Type 1 Advanced Trainer Tachikawa Ki-54a HICKORY 
Army Type 1 Operations Trainer Tachikawa Ki-54b HICKORY 
Army Type 1 Transport Tachikawa Ki-54c HICKORY 
Army Type 98 Direct Co-operation Plane Tachikawa Ki-36 IDA 
Army Type 99 Advanced Trainer Tachikawa Ki-55 IDA 
Navy Type 98 Bomber Float Plane * Aichi IONE 
Navy Type 2 Land Based Reconnaissance Plane Nakajima J1N1-C IRVING 
Navy Type 2 Gekko (Night Fighter) Nakajima J1N1-S IRVING 
Navy Navy Interceptor Fighter Mitsubishi J2M JACK 
Navy Type 0 Reconnaissance Seaplane Aichi E13A1 JAKE 
Army Type 97 Heavy Bomber ** Mitsubishi (See SALLY) JANE 
Navy Type 96 Carrier Attack Bomber Kugisho B4Yl JEAN 
Navy Type He Interceptor Fighter Heinkel A7He1 (He 112B-0) JERRY 
Navy Type 97 Carrier Attack Bomber Nakajima B6N2 JILL 
Army Type 1 Single-seat Fighter ** Kawasaki (See OSCAR) JIM 
Navy Type 99 Four-engine Flying Boat *  JOAN 
Army Type 1 Light Bomber * Nakajima (See EVE) JOYCE 
Navy Type 2 Carrier Reconnaissance Plane Kugisho D4Yl-C JUDY 
Army Type 97 Medium Bomber * Kawasaki JULIA 
Navy Type 99 S.E. Dive Bomber Seaplane ** Aichi (See JAKE) JUNE 
Navy Type 97-1 and 97-3 Carrier Attack Bomber Nakajima B5N1 & 2 KATE 
Navy Type 98 Reconnaissance Seaplane Aichi E11A1 LAURA 
Army Type 99 Twin-engine Light Bomber Kawasaki Ki-48 LILY 
Navy Navy Experimental 13-Shi Attack Bomber Nakajima G5N LIZ 
Navy Navy Patrol Plane Kyushu Q1W LORNA 
Army Type 93-2 Twin-engine Light Bomber Mitsubishi Ki-2-II LOUISE 
Navy Navy Experimental 17-Shi Interceptor Mitsubishi J4M LUKE 
Navy Type 97-2 Carrier Attack Bomber Mitsubishi B5M1 MABEL 
Army Type 98 Light Bomber Kawasaki Ki-32 MARY 
Navy Type 97 Flying Boat Kawanishi H6K MAVIS 
 Type 98 Showa Light Bomber * Vultee V-11GB MILLIE 
Navy Navy Carrier Reconnaissance Plane Nakajima C6N MYRT 
Army Type 97 Fighter Nakajima Ki-27 NATE 
Navy Type 96 Attack Bomber Mitsubishi G3M NELL 
Army Type 2 Two-seat Fighter Toryu Kawasaki Ki-45 KAI NICK 
Navy Type 2 High-speed Recon. Seaplane Shiun Kawanishi El5Kl NORM 
 Type 97 Light Bomber * Mitsubishi NORMA 
Navy Type 2 Intermediate Trainer Kyushu K10W1 OAK 
Army Type 1 Fighter Hayabusa Nakajima Ki-43 OSCAR 
  Tachikawa Ki-74 PAT 
  Tachikawa Ki-74 PATSY 
Navy Navy Reconnaissance Seaplane Aichi E16A PAUL 
Army Type 4 Heavy Bomber Hiryu Mitsubishi Ki-67 PEGGY 
Army Type 4 Special Attack Plane Mitsubishi Ki-67-I KAl PEGGY 
Army Type 95 Fighter Kawasaki Ki-10 PERRY 
Navy Type 0 Observation Seaplane Mitsubishi F1M1 PETE 
Navy Type 90 Operations Trainer Mitsubishi K3M1 PINE 
Army Type 4 Assault Plane (See note) Kawasaki Ki-102b RANDY 
Navy Type 1 Single-seat Fighter ** Mitsubishi (See ZEKE) RAY 
Navy Navy Fighter Seaplane Kawanishi N1K REX 
Navy Navy Type 18 Land Based Attack Aircraft Nakajima G8N RITA 
Navy Type 2 Fighter Seaplane Nakajima A6M2-N RUFE 
Army Type I Heavy Bomber Fiat B.R.20 RUTH 
Army Type 97 Heavy Bomber Mitsubishi Ki-21 SALLY 
Navy Navy Experimental Carrier Fighter Mitsubishi A7M SAM 
Navy Type 96 Carrier Fighter ** Mitsubishi (See CLAUDE) SANDY 
Navy Type 96 Reconnaissance Seaplane Watanabe E9W SLIM 
Army Type 99 Assault Plane/Tactical Recon. Mitsubishi Ki-51 SONIA 
Army Type 95-1 Intermediate Trainer Tachikawa Ki-9 SPRUCE 
Army Type 3 Command Liaison Plane Kokusai Ki-76 STELLA 
Navy Type 96 Carrier Bomber Aichi D1A2 SUSIE 
Navy Type 0 Transport Douglas DC-3 L2D2/5 TABBY 
Navy Type D Transport Douglas DC-3 TABBY 
Army  Douglas DC-2 TESS 
Army Type 1 Freight Transport Kawasaki Ki-56 THALIA 
Army Type LO Transport Lockheed 14 THELMA 
Army Type 1 Transport Kokusai Ki-59 THERESA 
Army Type 97 Transport Nakajima Ki-34 THORA 
Navy Type 97 Transport Nakajima L1N1 THORA 
Navy Type 96 Transport Kugisho L3Y TINA 
Army Type 2 Single-seat Fighter Shoki Nakajima Ki-44 TOJO 
Army Type 3 Fighter Hien Kawasaki Ki-61 TONY 
Army Type 100 Transport Mitsubishi Ki-57 TOPSY 
Navy Type 0 Transport Mitsubishi L4M1 TOPSY 
Navy Type 99 Carrier Bomber Aichi D3A VAL 
Navy Type 93 Intermediate Trainer Kugisho K5Y WILLOW 
Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighter Mitsubishi A6M ZEKE 

Sources and Further Reading

An excellent single source on Japanese Army and Navy aircraft is Rene J. Francillon's Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War, published by Putnam and others.

Another specific reference is Japanese Aircraft Code Names & Designations by Robert C. Mikesh, published by Schiffer. This book has some interesting history behind the development of the Allied code names, as well as a short discussion of each aircraft, including some rather minor types.

For a humorous and unfortunately typical American view of Japanese military and naval air power in early 1941, check out the article Japan Is NOT an Air Power.

Source: Randy Wilson's Aviation History Site.






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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed BILL says:
10 Jun 2009 05:17:12 PM

Today Japanese Plastic Model Airplane Manufactures such as Hesegawa, Fujimi, Tamiya and LS describe the aircraft, by its Allied Code Name, along with the Japanese on the box top. During the Cold War, a system was used to describe Russian Aircraft, but those Boy and Girl names for WWII Japanese aircraft sound very different, they were unique, and belonged to a different time. The Allies never had a code system for German or Italian Aircraft.
2. Affordable Logo Design says:
31 Aug 2010 02:23:50 AM

What a collection this is very informative and amazing blog for me i m doing research about 2nd world war your posts helps me very much in my work thanks a lot

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