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From 1919 until 1924, the United States Army Air Service used a system to designate the types of aircraft it was operating, based on role and specific characteristics of the aircraft. When first instituted, Roman numerals were used to number the designations in use. These numerals were only applied to the first 15 types before being abandoned. Air-cooled and Water-cooled refer to the engines installed, while Pursuit was the name given to fighter aircraft in the US Army, at that time. The system was clumsy, and quickly became unworkable, being replaced by the 1924 United States Army Air Service aircraft designation system.

List of designations[]

Numeral Code Type of Aircraft Dates in use
I PW Pursuit, Water-cooled 1921-1928
II PN Pursuit, Night 1921
III PA Pursuit, Air-cooled 1922
IV PG Pursuit, Ground Attack 1922
V TP Two-seat Pursuit 1922
VI GA Ground Attack 1920-1922
VII IL Infantry Liaison 1919
VIII NO Night Observation 1925
IX AO Artillery Observation 1924
X CO Corps Observation 1922-1924
XI DB Day Bombardment 1920-1923
XII NBS Night Bombardment, Short Distance 1921-1924
XIII NBL Night Bombardment, Long Distance 1923
XIV TA Trainer, Air-cooled 1921-1924
XV TW Trainer, Water-cooled 1920-1923
n/a A Ambulance 1919-1925
n/a G Glider
n/a M Messenger 1919-1921
n/a PS Alert Pursuit (Special) 1923
n/a R Racer 1921-1923
n/a S Seaplane
n/a T Transport 1919-1923

Source: Bridges[1]



  1. Bridges, 2006


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