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Letter Identification For Naval And Marine Aircraft 1946

Waring Hills Nov 07, 2011

A T-45C Goshawk assigned to the Eagles of Training Squadron Seven (VT-7) is guided toward a catapult the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Ronald Reagan is supporting Naval Air Training Command carrier qualifications. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Alexander Tidd/Released)


Sixty-five years ago today, the Navy adopted a letter identification system for marking all Navy and Marine Corps aircraft,  including those belonging to the Naval Air Training Command and the Naval Air Reserve.

In Carrier Air Wing tail codes, the first letter denotes which fleet the Air Wing deploys from; A for Atlantic Fleet and N for Pacific Fleet. Tail codes in this category are organized as follows:








CVW-11: NH

CVW-14: NK

CVW-17: AA

Notice the AC tail code on this VAW-126 Seahawk E-2C landing on USS Harry Truman indicating that it is in Carrier Air Wing Three (CVW-3).








There are slight exceptions to this rule, as Fleet Replacement Squadrons for carrier based aircraft use the CVW style tail codes for the side of the country the unit is based from AD signifying a unit based in the Eastern U.S. and NJ from the Western US. Also, the US Naval Reserve’s Tactical Support Wing (formerly Reserve Carrier Air Wing 20) uses tail code AF. Training Command aircraft, used for training prospective Naval Aviators and Naval Flight Officers use a single-letter tail code, which denotes the aircraft’s parent training wing and, as such, home port.

TW-1 NAS Meridian, MS: A

TW-2 NAS Kingsville, TX: B

TW-4 NAS Corpus Christi, TX: G

TW-5 NAS Whiting Field, FL: E

TW-6 NAS Pensacola, FL:F

To read more about Navy and Marine Corps aircraft tail codes click here…

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2 thoughts on “Letter Identification For Naval And Marine Aircraft 1946

  1. John Howe says:

    Movie Bridges at Toko-Ri had an aircraft frying from USS ORISKANY with Tail Code Peter Peter, Side Nr 21. Please explain.

  2. Mike Lane says:

    John, you are specifically referring to the aircraft PP21, which was a F9F-5P photo recon version of the F9F Panther. VFP, or photo recon squadrons, did not deploy completely with any particular airwing but sent detachments on deployments. They tended to use the tail code PP. You will see this also show up in the film Thirteen Days about the Cuban Missile Crisis where the RF-8 Crusaders of VFP-63 are shown with the same tail code.

    As a side note, Bridges at Toko-Ri was filmed before the US Navy adopted two-letter codes for all air wings. Notice that the fighter versions of the F9F Panther are bearing the tailcode B.

    Hope this helps.

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