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Allied names for Japanese aircraft
G3M Type 96 Attack Bomber Nell G3M-18s.jpg
Mitsubishi G3M aircraft of the Imperial Japanese Navy were nicknamed "Nell" by Allied forces during World War II.

The World War II Allied names for Japanese aircraft were reporting names, often described as codenames, given by Allied personnel to Imperial Japanese aircraft during the Pacific campaign of World War II. The names were used by Allied personnel to identify aircraft operated by the Japanese for reporting and descriptive purposes. Generally, Western men's names were given to fighter aircraft, women's names to bombers, transports, and reconnaissance aircraft, bird names to gliders, and tree names to trainer aircraft.

The use of the names, from their origin in mid-1942, became widespread among Allied forces from early 1943 until the end of the war in 1945. Many subsequent Western histories of the war have continued to use the names.


During the first year of the Pacific War beginning on 7 December 1941, Allied personnel often struggled to quickly, succinctly, and accurately identify Japanese aircraft encountered in combat. They found the Japanese designation system bewildering and awkward, as it allocated two names to each aircraft. One was the manufacturer's alphanumeric project code, and the other was the official military designation, which consisted of a description of the aircraft plus the year it entered service. For example, the military designation of the Mitsubishi A5M fighter was the "Navy Type 96 Carrier Fighter". Type 96 meant that the aircraft had entered service in Imperial year 2596, equivalent to Gregorian calendar year 1936. Other aircraft, however, which had entered service the same year carried the same type number; aircraft such as the Type 96 Carrier Bomber and the Type 96 Land Attack Bomber.[1] Adding to the confusion, the US Army and US Navy each had their own different systems for identifying Japanese aircraft.[2]

In mid-1942, Captain Frank T. McCoy, a United States Army Air Forces military intelligence officer from the 38th Bombardment Group assigned to the Allied Technical Air Intelligence Unit in Australia, set out to devise a simpler method for identifying Japanese aircraft. Together with Technical Sergeant Francis M. Williams and Corporal Joseph Grattan, McCoy divided the Japanese aircraft into two categories; fighters and everything else. He gave boys' names to the fighters, and the names of girls to the others. Later, training aircraft were named after trees,[3][4] single engine reconnaissance aircraft were given men's names and multi-engine aircraft of the same type were given women's names. Transports were given girls' names that all began with the letter "T". Gliders were given the names of birds.[2]

A6M3-32 "Hamp" fighters

McCoy's system quickly caught on and spread to other US and Allied units throughout the Pacific theater. By the end of 1942, all American forces in the Pacific and east Asia had begun using McCoy's system, and British Commonwealth nations adopted the system shortly thereafter. The list eventually included 122 names and was used until the end of World War II. To this day, many Western historical accounts of the Pacific War still use McCoy's system to identify Japanese aircraft.[2][5]

In an effort to make the names sound somewhat comical, McCoy gave many of the aircraft 'hillbilly' names, such as "Zeke" and "Rufe," that he had encountered while growing up in Tennessee.[6] Others were given names of people the creators of the system knew personally; the Mitsubishi G4M bomber, with its large gun blisters was named "Betty" in homage to a busty female friend of Williams. The Aichi D3A "Val" got its name from an Australian Army sergeant.[7] Not all of McCoy's chosen names caught on. Many Allied personnel continued calling the Mitsubishi Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighter "Zero" instead of McCoy's name of "Zeke." Also, McCoy's name for an upgraded version of the Zero, "Hap," in tribute to US Army general Henry H. Arnold, had to be changed to "Hamp" when it was learned that Arnold disapproved.[3][6]

List of names

Allied reporting name Aircraft Type designation Notes
Abdul Nakajima Ki-27 Army Type 97 Fighter see "Nate"[8]
Abdul Mitsubishi Navy Type 97 Fighter Fictional type.[9][Note 1]
Adam Nakajima SKT-97 Navy Type 97 Seaplane Fighter Fictional type.[10][11]
Alf Kawanishi E7K Navy Type 94 Reconnaissance Seaplane [10]
Ann Mitsubishi Ki-30 Army Type 97 Light Bomber [10]
Babs Mitsubishi C5M Navy Type 98 Reconnaissance Plane [10]
Babs Mitsubishi Ki-15 Army Type 97 Command Reconnaissance Plane (see "Norma") [10][Note 2]
Baka Yokosuka MXY7 Navy Suicide Attacker Ohka [10]
Belle Kawanishi H3K Navy Type 90-2 Flying Boat [10]
Bess Heinkel He 111 Type 98 Medium Bomber [10]
Betty Mitsubishi G4M Navy Type 1 Land-based Attack Aircraft [12]
Bob Nakajima E2N Navy Type 15 Reconnaissance Floatplane "Aichi Type 97"[10][13]
Buzzard Kokusai Ki-105 Otori Transport
Cedar Tachikawa Ki-17 Army Type 95-3 Basic Grade Trainer [10]
Cherry Yokosuka H5Y Navy Type 99 Flying Boat [12]
Clara Tachikawa Ki-70 [14]
Claude Mitsubishi A5M Navy Type 96 Carrier Based Fighter [10]
Clint Nakajima Ki-27 Army Type 97 Fighter [10]
Cypress Kokusai Ki-86 Army Type 4 Primary Trainer [10]
Cypress Kyushu K9W Navy Type 2 Primary Trainer [10]
Dave Nakajima E8N Navy Type 95 Reconnaissance Seaplane [10]
Dick Seversky A8V Navy Type S Two Seat Fighter [10]
Dinah Mitsubishi Ki-46 Army Type 100 Command Reconnaissance Aircraft [12]
Edna Mansyu Ki-71 [15]
Emily Kawanishi H8K Navy Type 2 Large Flying Boat [12]
Eva/Eve Mitsubishi Ohtori record aircraft erroneously thought to be operated by the IJNAS
Fran Yokosuka P1Y Navy Bomber/Navy Night Fighter [16]
Frances Yokosuka P1Y Navy Bomber/Navy Night Fighter [16]
Frank Nakajima Ki-84 Army Type 4 Fighter [16]
Gander Kokusai Ku-8 Army Type 4 Special Transport Glider [10]
George Kawanishi N1K-J Navy Interceptor Fighter [16]
Glen Yokosuka E14Y Navy Type 0 Small Reconnaissance Seaplane [12]
Goose Kokusai Ku-8 Army Type 4 Special Transport Glider [10]
Grace Aichi B7A Navy Carrier Attack Bomber [10]
Gwen Mitsubishi Ki-21-IIb Army Type 0 Medium Bomber [10]
Hap Mitsubishi A6M3 Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighter Model 32 [12]
Hamp Mitsubishi A6M3 Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighter Model 32 [3][6]
Hank Aichi E10A Navy Type 96 Night Reconnaissance Seaplane [10]
Harry Mitsubishi TK-4 Army Type 0 Single Seat Twin Engined Fighter Fictional type.[10][17]
Helen Nakajima Ki-49 Army Type 100 Heavy Bomber [12]
Hickory Tachikawa Ki-54 Army Type 1 Trainer [10]
Ida Tachikawa Ki-36 Army Type 98 Direct Co-operation Plane [12]
Ida Tachikawa Ki-55 Army Type 99 Advanced Trainer [10]
Ione Aichi AI-104 Type 98 Reconnaissance Seaplane Fictional Type[10][18]
Irving Nakajima J1N Navy Type 2 Land Reconnaissance Plane/Night Fighter [16]
Jack Mitsubishi J2M Navy Interceptor Fighter [16]
Jake Aichi E13A Navy Type 0 Reconnaissance Seaplane [12]
Jane Mitsubishi Ki-21 Army Type 97 Heavy Bomber [10]
Jean Yokosuka B4Y Navy Type 96 Carrier Attack Plane [10]
Jerry Heinkel A7He Navy Type He Interceptor Fighter [10]
Jill Nakajima B6N Navy Carrier Attack Bomber [10]
Judy Yokosuka D4Y Navy Type 2 Carrier Reconnaissance Plane [12]
Julia Kawasaki Ki-48 Type 97 Heavy Bomber Misidentified - same as Lily[10][19]
Kate Nakajima B5N Navy Type 97-1 Carrier Attack Bomber [12]
Laura Aichi E11A Navy Type 98 Reconnaissance Seaplane [10]
Lily Kawasaki Ki-48 Army Type 99 Twin-engined Light Bomber [12]
Liz Nakajima G5N Navy Experimental 13-Shi Attack Bomber [12]
Lorna Kyushu Q1W Navy Patrol Plane [10]
Louise Mitsubishi Ki-2-II Army Type 93-2 Twin Engined Light Bomber [10]
Luke Mitsubishi J4M Navy Experimental 17-Shi Interceptor [10]
Mary Kawasaki Ki-32 Army Type 98 Single Engine Light Bomber [10]
Mabel Mitsubishi B5M Navy Type 97-2 Carrier Attack Bomber [10]
Mavis Kawanishi H6K Navy Type 97 Large Flying Boat [12]
Millie Vultee V-11 Type 98 Showa Light Bomber [10]
Myrt Nakajima C6N Navy Carrier Reconnaissance Plane [10]
Nate Nakajima Ki-27 Army Type 97 Fighter [10]
Nell Mitsubishi G3M Navy Type 96 Attack Bomber [12]
Nick Kawasaki Ki-45 Army Type 2 Two-seat Fighter [12]
Norm Kawanishi E15K Navy Type 2 High Speed Reconnaissance Seaplane [10]
Norma Mitsubishi Ki-15 Army Type 97 Light bomber [10][20]
Oak Kyushu K10W Navy Type 2 Intermediate Trainer [12]
Omar Sukukaze 20 Fictional type.[10][21]
Oscar Nakajima Ki-43 Army Type 1 Fighter [12]
Pat Tachikawa Ki-74 Initially misidentified as Army Fighter - same as Patsy [22]
Patsy Tachikawa Ki-74 Army Reconnaissance Bomber [22]
Paul Aichi E16A Navy Reconnaissance Seaplane [10]
Peggy Mitsubishi Ki-67 Army Type 4 Heavy Bomber [10]
Perry Kawasaki Ki-10 Army Type 95 Fighter [10]
Pete Mitsubishi F1M Navy Type 0 Observation Seaplane [12]
Pine Mitsubishi K3M Navy Type 90 Crew Training Aircraft [10]
Randy Kawasaki Ki-102 Army Type 4 Assault Aircraft [10]
Rex Kawanishi N1K Navy Fighter Seaplane [10]
Rita Nakajima G8N Navy Type 18 Land Based Attack Aircraft [10]
Rufe Nakajima A6M2-N Navy Type 2 Interceptor/Fighter-Bomber [12]
Ruth Fiat BR.20 Army Type I Heavy Bomber [10]
Sally Mitsubishi Ki-21 Army Type 97 Heavy Bomber [12]
Sam Mitsubishi A7M Navy Experimental Carrier Fighter [10]
Slim Watanabe E9W Navy Type 96 Small Reconnaissance Seaplane [10]
Sonia Mitsubishi Ki-51 Army Type 99 Assault Plane [12]
Spruce Tachikawa Ki-9 Army Type 95-1 Intermediate Trainer [10]
Stella Kokusai Ki-76 Army Type 3 Command Liaison Plane [10]
Susie Aichi D1A Navy Type 94/96 Carrier Bomber [10]
Tabby Douglas DC-3 Navy Type D Transport [10]
Tabby Showa L2D Navy Type 0 Transport [10]
Tess Douglas DC-2 [12]
Thalia Kawasaki Ki-56 Army Type 1 Freight Transport [10]
Thelma Lockheed Model 14 Army Type LO Transport [12]
Theresa Kokusai Ki-59 Army Type 1 Transport [10]
Thora Nakajima Ki-34 Army Type 97 Transport [10]
Tina Yokosuka L3Y Navy Type 96 Transport [10]
Tojo Nakajima Ki-44 Army Type 2 Single-seat Fighter [12]
Tony Kawasaki Ki-61 Army Type 3 Fighter [12]
Topsy Mitsubishi Ki-57 Army Type 100 Transport [12]
Topsy Mitsubishi L4M Navy Type 0 Transport [10]
Val Aichi D3A Navy Type 99 Dive Bomber [12]
Willow Yokosuka K5Y Navy Type 93 Intermediate Trainer [10]
Zeke or Zero Mitsubishi A6M Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighter [12]

See also


Explanatory notes
  1. Not an actual aircraft. The aircraft was believed in service but never built, misidentified, or not used (Dunnigan 1998, p. 16).
  2. The Mitsubishi Ki-15 and C5M were the same aircraft (Dunnigan 1998, p. 16–17).
  1. Gamble 2010, p. 253.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Dunnigan 1998, p. 15.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Gamble 2010, p. 254.
  4. Dear and Foot 1995, p. 245.
  5. Gamble 2010, p. 255.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Bergerud 2000, p. 199.
  7. Gamble 2010, pp. 254–255.
  8. Francillon 1979, p.202.
  9. Wieliczko and Szeremeta 2004, p.87.
  10. 10.00 10.01 10.02 10.03 10.04 10.05 10.06 10.07 10.08 10.09 10.10 10.11 10.12 10.13 10.14 10.15 10.16 10.17 10.18 10.19 10.20 10.21 10.22 10.23 10.24 10.25 10.26 10.27 10.28 10.29 10.30 10.31 10.32 10.33 10.34 10.35 10.36 10.37 10.38 10.39 10.40 10.41 10.42 10.43 10.44 10.45 10.46 10.47 10.48 10.49 10.50 10.51 10.52 10.53 10.54 10.55 10.56 10.57 10.58 10.59 10.60 10.61 10.62 Mikesh 1993.
  11. Nakajima SKT-97 (Adam) Info, Dave's Warbirds. Accessed 2010-11-18.
  12. 12.00 12.01 12.02 12.03 12.04 12.05 12.06 12.07 12.08 12.09 12.10 12.11 12.12 12.13 12.14 12.15 12.16 12.17 12.18 12.19 12.20 12.21 12.22 12.23 12.24 12.25 12.26 12.27 12.28 Handbook on Japanese Military Forces
  13. Aichi Type 97 (Bob) Info, Dave's Warbirds. Accessed 2010-11-18.
  14. Francillon 1979, p.258.
  15. Francillon 1979, p.180.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 16.5 Tillman 2010, p.276.
  17. Mitsubishi TK-4 Type 0 (Harry) Info, Dave's Warbirds. Accessed 2010-11-18
  18. Aichi AI-104 Type 98 (Ione) Info, Dave's Warbirds. Accessed 2010-11-18
  19. Kawasaki Type 97 Heavy Bomber (Julia) Info, Dave's Warbirds. Accessed 2010-11-18
  20. Mitsubishi Type 97 Light Bomber (Norma) Info, Dave's Warbirds. Accessed 2010-11-18
  21. Sukukaze 20 fighter (Omar) Info, Dave's Warbirds. Accessed 2010-11-18
  22. 22.0 22.1 Francillon 1979, p.261.

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