Wikipedia:WikiProject Aircraft/Categories

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Scope: This scheme is intended to cover specific aircraft (eg Boeing 747), variants (eg WP-3D Orion), and articles about aircraft types (eg Bomber aircraft). Other aircraft- and aviation-related categories exist for manufacturers, powerplants, etc.

Heavier-than-air and lighter-than-air aircraft, piloted and remotely-piloted, fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft are all included.

Primary categorisation[edit]

Primary categorisation is three-fold, by nation, primary role, and era. The tree expands out as (for example):

British fighter aircraft 1930–1939

+British fighter aircraft
+British military aircraft
+British aircraft
+United Kingdom
+Aircraft by country
+Military aircraft
+Military equipment
+Fighter aircraft
+Military aircraft by type
+Military aircraft (as above)
+Aircraft by type
+British military aircraft 1930–1939
+British military aircraft (as above)
+Military aircraft 1930–1939
+Military aircraft (as above)
+Aircraft 1930–1939
+Aircraft by era
+Fighter aircraft 1930–1939
+Fighter aircraft (as above)
+Aircraft 1930–1939 (as above)


Simply stated, the nation that the aircraft was manufactured in. For the vast majority of types, this works without any further qualification.

More specifically, it is the nation in which the manufacturer was headquartered in at the time that the aircraft was first produced. Thus, Dornier aircraft of the 1920s are still listed as Category:Aircraft manufactured in Germany, even though they were actually being assembled in Italy. Learjet aircraft before 1991 are listed as Category:Aircraft manufactured in the United States, but as Category:Aircraft manufactured in Canada after the company was purchased by Bombardier.

International aircraft[edit]

Aircraft manufactured by international consortiums (such as Airbus), and aircraft built as one-off joint ventures (such as the Concorde) are listed as Category:International aircraft.

Defunct nations[edit]

Special cases apply when the manufacturing nation no longer exists in the form that it did when the aircraft was first produced.

  • Czech and Czechoslovakian aircraft - similar distinction as for Soviet/Russian aircraft above, with the change happening in the decade 1990-1999.
  • Yugoslav and Serbian aircraft - similar distinction again. The changeover is again in the decade 1990–1999.

We will eventually require similar distinctions for Category:Austro-Hungarian aircraft.

Known problems[edit]

  • "International" is a problematic description, since when combined with a role, it can produce ambiguous category names such as Category:International airliners. Does this mean airliners that have an international range?
  • Sometimes, an aircraft's primary (or even exclusive!) user may be different from its nation of manufacture. Readers may be surprised (or outraged) to find the CF-18 Hornet classified as US, and the C-7 Caribou classified as Canadian.


Role categories are intentionally quite broad - the danger of over-precision would be the creation of multiple, closely-related categories with only very hazy (or semantic) borders between them.

The main distinction lies between Category:Military aircraft, Category:Civil aircraft, Category:Experimental aircraft, and the (still problematic) Category:Special-purpose aircraft. Where aircraft are used by both civil and military operators, they should be classified under both trees.

Most, if not all, aircraft have been used in multiple roles. This classification is based on the primary role they were designed for. Sometimes, this role will incorporate other roles, for example patrol aircraft will generally have anti-submarine capabilities, but Category:ASW aircraft should be reserved for dedicated ASW aircraft. All airliners carry freight, but Category:Cargo aircraft is for dedicated freighters. On the other hand, when an aircraft is designed from the start with dual or multiple roles in mind, it should be classified into both of those trees. A common example are so-called "tactical" or "strike" fighters that equally belong in Category:Fighter aircraft and Category:Bomber aircraft.

Category:Military aircraft[edit]

Existing subcategories are:

Probably the haziest distinction here is what constitutes an "attack aircraft" - most fighters (and even some trainers) have some ground-attack capability, and the distinction between an attack aircraft and a "light bomber" may not be clear either. Try to be guided by how the air force that used the aircraft classified it.

Civil aircraft[edit]

Existing subcategories are:[edit]

Category:Experimental aircraft[edit]

This category should be reserved for pure research aircraft (not prototypes). Distinction is not made here between civil and military projects.

Category:Special-purpose aircraft[edit]

These aircraft have been designed for a single purpose - usually at the expense of any other capability they may have otherwise had. Most are specialised variants of existing aircraft types.


Aircraft are classified into the decade that their first flight occurred in. Usually, this will be the first flight of the prototype, but for an article about a specific variant, the category should reflect the date that this variant first flew, which may be in a different decade.

While it may seem attractive to add multiple eras to reflect the entire service life of an aircraft, consider that this is generally much harder to pin-point and is subject to much qualification. Date of first flight is a single, unambiguous point in time.

Aircraft projects that were cancelled without ever flying are categorised by the year the project was terminated or abandoned (ie, the closest that they got to a first flight.)

Secondary categorisation[edit]

Additionally, many aircraft have been given categories according to various distinguishing features. This is a more ad-hoc set of categories, which currently include:

Aircraft by manufacturer[edit]

Aircraft by power sources[edit]

Aircraft by wing type[edit]


Many more are certainly possible.

These exist side-by-side with the primary categories described above.