World War II Allied names for Japanese aircraft
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. Adding to the confusion, the US Army and US Navy each had their own different systems for identifying Japanese aircraft.
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, 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
List of names
|Allied reporting name||Aircraft||Type designation||Notes|
|Abdul||Nakajima Ki-27||Army Type 97 Fighter||see "Nate"|
|Abdul||Mitsubishi||Navy Type 97 Fighter||Fictional type.[Note 1]|
|Adam||Nakajima SKT-97||Navy Type 97 Seaplane Fighter||Fictional type.|
|Alf||Kawanishi E7K||Navy Type 94 Reconnaissance Seaplane|||
|Ann||Mitsubishi Ki-30||Army Type 97 Light Bomber|||
|Babs||Mitsubishi C5M||Navy Type 98 Reconnaissance Plane|||
|Babs||Mitsubishi Ki-15||Army Type 97 Command Reconnaissance Plane (see "Norma")||[Note 2]|
|Baka||Yokosuka MXY7||Navy Suicide Attacker Ohka|||
|Belle||Kawanishi H3K||Navy Type 90-2 Flying Boat|||
|Ben||Nagoya-Sento KI-001||Army(?) Type 1 Fighter||Fictional type.|
|Bess||Heinkel He 111||Type 98 Medium Bomber|||
|Betty||Mitsubishi G4M||Navy Type 1 Land-based Attack Aircraft|||
|Bob||Nakajima E2N||Navy Type 15 Reconnaissance Floatplane||"Aichi Type 97"|
|Buzzard||Kokusai Ki-105 Otori||Transport|
|Cedar||Tachikawa Ki-17||Army Type 95-3 Basic Grade Trainer|||
|Cherry||Yokosuka H5Y||Navy Type 99 Flying Boat|||
|Claude||Mitsubishi A5M||Navy Type 96 Carrier Based Fighter|||
|Clint||Nakajima Ki-27||Army Type 97 Fighter|||
|Cypress||Kokusai Ki-86||Army Type 4 Primary Trainer|||
|Cypress||Kyushu K9W||Navy Type 2 Primary Trainer|||
|Dave||Nakajima E8N||Navy Type 95 Reconnaissance Seaplane|||
|Dick||Seversky A8V||Navy Type S Two Seat Fighter|||
|Dinah||Mitsubishi Ki-46||Army Type 100 Command Reconnaissance Aircraft|||
|Emily||Kawanishi H8K||Navy Type 2 Large Flying Boat|||
|Eva/Eve||Mitsubishi Ohtori||record aircraft erroneously thought to be operated by the IJNAS|
|Fran||Yokosuka P1Y||Navy Bomber/Navy Night Fighter|||
|Frances||Yokosuka P1Y||Navy Bomber/Navy Night Fighter|||
|Frank||Nakajima Ki-84||Army Type 4 Fighter|||
|Gander||Kokusai Ku-8||Army Type 4 Special Transport Glider|||
|George||Kawanishi N1K-J||Navy Interceptor Fighter|||
|Glen||Yokosuka E14Y||Navy Type 0 Small Reconnaissance Seaplane|||
|Goose||Kokusai Ku-8||Army Type 4 Special Transport Glider|||
|Grace||Aichi B7A||Navy Carrier Attack Bomber|||
|Gwen||Mitsubishi Ki-21-IIb||Army Type 0 Medium Bomber|||
|Hap||Mitsubishi A6M3||Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighter Model 32|||
|Hamp||Mitsubishi A6M3||Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighter Model 32|||
|Hank||Aichi E10A||Navy Type 96 Night Reconnaissance Seaplane|||
|Harry||Mitsubishi TK-4||Army Type 0 Single Seat Twin Engined Fighter||Fictional type.|
|Helen||Nakajima Ki-49||Army Type 100 Heavy Bomber|||
|Hickory||Tachikawa Ki-54||Army Type 1 Trainer|||
|Ida||Tachikawa Ki-36||Army Type 98 Direct Co-operation Plane|||
|Ida||Tachikawa Ki-55||Army Type 99 Advanced Trainer|||
|Ione||Aichi AI-104||Type 98 Reconnaissance Seaplane||Fictional Type|
|Irving||Nakajima J1N||Navy Type 2 Land Reconnaissance Plane/Night Fighter|||
|Jack||Mitsubishi J2M||Navy Interceptor Fighter|||
|Jake||Aichi E13A||Navy Type 0 Reconnaissance Seaplane|||
|Jane||Mitsubishi Ki-21||Army Type 97 Heavy Bomber|||
|Jean||Yokosuka B4Y||Navy Type 96 Carrier Attack Plane|||
|Jerry||Heinkel A7He||Navy Type He Interceptor Fighter|||
|Jill||Nakajima B6N||Navy Carrier Attack Bomber|||
|Judy||Yokosuka D4Y||Navy Type 2 Carrier Reconnaissance Plane|||
|Julia||Kawasaki Ki-48||Type 97 Heavy Bomber||Misidentified - same as Lily|
|Kate||Nakajima B5N||Navy Type 97-1 Carrier Attack Bomber|||
|Laura||Aichi E11A||Navy Type 98 Reconnaissance Seaplane|||
|Lily||Kawasaki Ki-48||Army Type 99 Twin-engined Light Bomber|||
|Liz||Nakajima G5N||Navy Experimental 13-Shi Attack Bomber|||
|Lorna||Kyushu Q1W||Navy Patrol Plane|||
|Louise||Mitsubishi Ki-2-II||Army Type 93-2 Twin Engined Light Bomber|||
|Luke||Mitsubishi J4M||Navy Experimental 17-Shi Interceptor|||
|Mary||Kawasaki Ki-32||Army Type 98 Single Engine Light Bomber|||
|Mabel||Mitsubishi B5M||Navy Type 97-2 Carrier Attack Bomber|||
|Mavis||Kawanishi H6K||Navy Type 97 Large Flying Boat|||
|Millie||Vultee V-11||Type 98 Showa Light Bomber|||
|Myrt||Nakajima C6N||Navy Carrier Reconnaissance Plane|||
|Nate||Nakajima Ki-27||Army Type 97 Fighter|||
|Nell||Mitsubishi G3M||Navy Type 96 Attack Bomber|||
|Nick||Kawasaki Ki-45||Army Type 2 Two-seat Fighter|||
|Norm||Kawanishi E15K||Navy Type 2 High Speed Reconnaissance Seaplane|||
|Norma||Mitsubishi Ki-15||Army Type 97 Light bomber|||
|Oak||Kyushu K10W||Navy Type 2 Intermediate Trainer|||
|Omar||Sukukaze 20||Fictional type.|
|Oscar||Nakajima Ki-43||Army Type 1 Fighter|||
|Pat||Tachikawa Ki-74||Initially misidentified as Army Fighter - same as Patsy|||
|Patsy||Tachikawa Ki-74||Army Reconnaissance Bomber|||
|Paul||Aichi E16A||Navy Reconnaissance Seaplane|||
|Peggy||Mitsubishi Ki-67||Army Type 4 Heavy Bomber|||
|Perry||Kawasaki Ki-10||Army Type 95 Fighter|||
|Pete||Mitsubishi F1M||Navy Type 0 Observation Seaplane|||
|Pine||Mitsubishi K3M||Navy Type 90 Crew Training Aircraft|||
|Randy||Kawasaki Ki-102||Army Type 4 Assault Aircraft|||
|Rex||Kawanishi N1K||Navy Fighter Seaplane|||
|Rita||Nakajima G8N||Navy Type 18 Land Based Attack Aircraft|||
|Rufe||Nakajima A6M2-N||Navy Type 2 Interceptor/Fighter-Bomber|||
|Ruth||Fiat BR.20||Army Type I Heavy Bomber|||
|Sally||Mitsubishi Ki-21||Army Type 97 Heavy Bomber|||
|Sam||Mitsubishi A7M||Navy Experimental Carrier Fighter|||
|Slim||Watanabe E9W||Navy Type 96 Small Reconnaissance Seaplane|||
|Sonia||Mitsubishi Ki-51||Army Type 99 Assault Plane|||
|Spruce||Tachikawa Ki-9||Army Type 95-1 Intermediate Trainer|||
|Stella||Kokusai Ki-76||Army Type 3 Command Liaison Plane|||
|Susie||Aichi D1A||Navy Type 94/96 Carrier Bomber|||
|Tabby||Douglas DC-3||Navy Type D Transport|||
|Tabby||Showa L2D||Navy Type 0 Transport|||
|Thalia||Kawasaki Ki-56||Army Type 1 Freight Transport|||
|Thelma||Lockheed Model 14||Army Type LO Transport|||
|Theresa||Kokusai Ki-59||Army Type 1 Transport|||
|Thora||Nakajima Ki-34||Army Type 97 Transport|||
|Tina||Yokosuka L3Y||Navy Type 96 Transport|||
|Tojo||Nakajima Ki-44||Army Type 2 Single-seat Fighter|||
|Tony||Kawasaki Ki-61||Army Type 3 Fighter|||
|Topsy||Mitsubishi Ki-57||Army Type 100 Transport|||
|Topsy||Mitsubishi L4M||Navy Type 0 Transport|||
|Val||Aichi D3A||Navy Type 99 Dive Bomber|||
|Willow||Yokosuka K5Y||Navy Type 93 Intermediate Trainer|||
|Zeke or Zero||Mitsubishi A6M||Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighter|||
- List of Japanese aircraft in use during the Second Sino-Japanese War
- List of aircraft of Japan, World War II
- 'Type' designation in Japan
- Japanese military aircraft designation systems
- NATO reporting name - a similar system implemented in the Cold War for Soviet and Chinese aircraft
- Explanatory notes
- Not an actual aircraft. The aircraft was believed in service but never built, misidentified, or not used (Dunnigan 1998, p. 16).
- The Mitsubishi Ki-15 and C5M were the same aircraft (Dunnigan 1998, p. 16–17).
- Gamble 2010, p. 253.
- Dunnigan 1998, p. 15.
- Gamble 2010, p. 254.
- Dear and Foot 1995, p. 245.
- Gamble 2010, p. 255.
- Bergerud 2000, p. 199.
- Gamble 2010, pp. 254–255.
- Francillon 1979, p.202.
- Wieliczko and Szeremeta 2004, p.87.
- Mikesh 1993.
- Nakajima SKT-97 (Adam) Info, Dave's Warbirds. Accessed 2010-11-18.
- Nagoya-Sento KI-001 (Ben) info, Dave's Warbirds. Accessed 2014-04-25.
- Handbook on Japanese Military Forces
- Aichi Type 97 (Bob) Info, Dave's Warbirds. Accessed 2010-11-18.
- Francillon 1979, p.258.
- Francillon 1979, p.180.
- Tillman 2010, p.276.
- Mitsubishi TK-4 Type 0 (Harry) Info, Dave's Warbirds. Accessed 2010-11-18
- Aichi AI-104 Type 98 (Ione) Info, Dave's Warbirds. Accessed 2010-11-18
- Kawasaki Type 97 Heavy Bomber (Julia) Info, Dave's Warbirds. Accessed 2010-11-18
- Mitsubishi Type 97 Light Bomber (Norma) Info, Dave's Warbirds. Accessed 2010-11-18
- Sukukaze 20 fighter (Omar) Info, Dave's Warbirds. Accessed 2010-11-18
- Francillon 1979, p.261.
- Bergerud, Eric M. (2000). Fire in the Sky: The Air War in the South Pacific. Boulder, CO, USA: Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-3869-7.
- Dear, I. C. B. (General Editor); M. R. D. Foot (Consultant Editor) (1995). The Oxford Companion to World War II. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-866225-4.
- Dunnigan, James F.; Albert A. Nofi (1998). The Pacific War Encyclopedia. New York: Checkmark Books. ISBN 0-8160-4393-0.
- Francillon, René J. (1979). Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War (2nd ed.). London: Putnam & Co. ISBN 0-370-30251-6.
- Gamble, Bruce (2010). Fortress Rabaul: The Battle for the Southwest Pacific, January 1942 - April 1943. Minneapolis, MN, USA: Zenith Press. ISBN 978-0-7603-2350-2.
- Mikesh, Robert C. (1993). Japanese Aircraft Code Names & Designations. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 978-0-88740-447-4.
- Tillman, Barrett (2010). Whirlwind: The Air War Against Japan, 1942-1945. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4165-8440-7. Retrieved 2010-11-18.
- War Department Technical Manual TM-E 30-480 (1944). Handbook on Japanese Military Forces. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office. Retrieved 2010-11-18.
- Wieliczko, Leszek A.; Zygmunt Szeremeta (2004). Nakajima Ki 27 Nate (in Polish and English). Lublin, Poland: Kagero. ISBN 83-89088-51-7.