Wikipedia:Manual of Style/UK military aircraft designations

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This page contains guidelines about how best to format references to designations ("marks") of aircraft used by the RAF and other armed forces of the United Kingdom.


Since the end of World War I, the UK armed services have assigned a designation to each variant of most aircraft they have operated. Each designation consists of a type name followed by a role prefix (in most cases) and a mark number (in Roman or Arabic numerals).

Outside Wikipedia these designations have been written in a wide variety of formats. For example, "RP IX", "RP.IX", "RP Mark IX", "RP Mk. 9", "RP Mk 9", "RP.9" and "RP9" would all refer to the same variant.

Article names[edit]

The alphanumeric part of the designation (e.g. "HAR3A") identifies variants within an aircraft type and thus is generally not included in the article title. The exception to this is articles about a specific variant (e.g. "British Aerospace Nimrod AEW3").

Role prefixes and mark numbers[edit]

The following table recommends the formats to be used in Wikipedia. In the table "RP" represents a role prefix (e.g. "F", "AH", "AEW" or "B(I)"), "X" represents a Roman number and any suffix letters (e.g. "VII" or "XB") and "2" represents an Arabic number and any suffix letters (e.g. "1", "4A" or "23").

Type of military designation (excluding the name e.g. "Spitfire" ) Recommended format Other acceptable format(s) Examples of formats that should be avoided
Roman number without role prefix Mk X [1]
e.g. Spitfire Mk VB
X [2]
Mark X
Role prefix and roman number RP.X [3]
e.g. Mosquito FB.VI
RP Mk X [4]
RP X [5]
Mk RPX     RP.Mk X     R.P. Mk X     RPX
Role prefix and Arabic number (type not in UK service after 2000)
"In UK service" excludes use by historic flights
RP.2 [6]
e.g. Gnat F.1
RP2 [7]
RP Mk 2 [8][9]
RP 2 [10]
R.P Mk. 2     RP Mk.2     RP .2
Role prefix and Arabic number (type in UK service after 2000)
"In UK service" excludes use by historic flights
RP2 [11]
e.g. Lynx HMA8
RP Mk 2 [12]
RP.2 [13]
RP.Mk.2     RP     RP Mk.2     RP Mk2     RP MK X     RP 2     RPMk2     R.P.2    
RP.Mk2     RP.Mk 2
Arabic number without role prefix.
E.g. "Sea King Mk 5" means any or all of Sea King HAS5 / HAR5 / AEW5 / HU5.
Mk 2 [14][15] Mark 2
Mk2 [16]
MK2     MK 2     MK-2

Each article should use a consistent format for each variant (including in any diagrams). For aircraft operated by historic flights (e.g. the BBMF) the historical designation (e.g. "Dakota III") should be used rather than the modern format (e.g. "Dakota C3").

Manufacturer's designations should not be confused with military designations – for example "Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5" shows a manufacturer's designation. Similarly, "HP" and "DH" are abbreviations of manufacturer's names – not role prefixes. For export variants (i.e. not operated by the UK) the designation assigned by the manufacturer or the designation assigned by the operator (customer) should be used (e.g. "Sea King Mk.41", "Strikemaster Mk 80", "Wessex 52" and "Sea Harrier FRS51").

The UK military designation should not be combined with any other designation - for example refer to "Blackburn R.B.1A" or "Iris II", but not to "Blackburn R.B.1A Iris II". The correspondence between the designations should be covered in the text of the article or in the Variants section - e.g. "R.B.1A / Iris II".

The following guidelines also apply:

  • In the article about an aircraft type the first reference to each variant should be in bold.
  • For those designation formats that include a space, a non-breaking space may be used – e.g. if there is a list of designations in a table.
  • Articles relating to aircraft using role prefixes (i.e. from the 1940s) should wikilink to British military aircraft designation systems - e.g. "The first operational Lightning, designated the F.1, was ...".


These guidelines are mostly consistent with the RAF Museum Aircraft Thesaurus ([10]) – the main exception being that a full stop should not be used after "Mk" (see WP:MOS).


  1. ^ RAF Yearbook 1976 p62
  2. ^ RAF Yearbook 1978 p44
  3. ^ RAF Museum Aircraft Thesaurus [1]
  4. ^ RAF Yearbook 1977 p22
  5. ^ RAF Yearbook 1975 p63
  6. ^ RAF Museum Aircraft Thesaurus [2]
  7. ^ RAF website [3] (refers to "Phantom FGR2") (accessed 2 April 2011)
  8. ^ RAF Yearbook 1976 p15
  9. ^ RAF website History Gallery [4]
  10. ^ RAF Yearbook 1975 p63
  11. ^ RAF [5]
  12. ^ MOD [6]
  13. ^ Janes Defence Weekly
  14. ^ [7]
  15. ^ Jane's [8]
  16. ^ MOD [9]