World War II Allied names for Japanese aircraft

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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[edit]

Allied reporting name Aircraft Type designation Notes
Abdul Nakajima Ki-27 fighterAArmy Type 97 Fighter see "Nate"[8]
Abdul Mitsubishi fighterNNavy Type 97 Fighter Fictional type.[9][Note 1]
Adam Nakajima SKT-97 fighterNNavy Type 97 Seaplane Fighter Fictional type.[10][11]
Alf Kawanishi E7K reconNNavy Type 94 Reconnaissance Seaplane [10]
Ann Mitsubishi Ki-30 bomberAArmy Type 97 Light Bomber [10]
Babs Mitsubishi C5M reconNNavy Type 98 Reconnaissance Aircraft [10]
Babs Mitsubishi Ki-15 reconAArmy Type 97 Command Reconnaissance Aircraft(see "Norma") [10][Note 2]
Baka Yokosuka MXY7 bomberNNavy Suicide Attacker Ohka [10]
Belle Kawanishi H3K reconNNavy Type 90-2 Flying Boat [10]
Ben Nagoya-Sento KI-001 fighterAArmy(?) Type 1 Fighter Fictional type.[12]
Bess Heinkel He 111 bomberAArmy Type 98 Medium Bomber [10]
Betty Mitsubishi G4M bomberNNavy Type 1 Land-based Attack Aircraft [13]
Bob Nakajima E2N reconNNavy Type 15 Reconnaissance Floatplane "Aichi Type 97"[10][14]
Buzzard Kokusai Ki-105 Otori transportAArmy Transport
Cedar Tachikawa Ki-17 trainerAArmy Type 95-3 Basic Grade Trainer [10]
Cherry Yokosuka H5Y reconNNavy Type 99 Flying Boat [13]
Clara Tachikawa Ki-70 reconAArmy Reconnaissance [15]
Claude Mitsubishi A5M fighterNNavy Type 96 Carrier Based Fighter [10]
Clint Nakajima Ki-27 fighterAArmy Type 97 Fighter [10]
Cypress Kokusai Ki-86 trainerAArmy Type 4 Primary Trainer [10]
Cypress Kyushu K9W trainerNNavy Type 2 Primary Trainer [10]
Dave Nakajima E8N reconNNavy Type 95 Reconnaissance Seaplane [10]
Dick Seversky A8V fighterNNavy Type S Two Seat Fighter [10]
Dinah Mitsubishi Ki-46 reconAArmy Type 100 Command Reconnaissance Aircraft [13]
Edna Mansyu Ki-71 attackAArmy Type 99 Assault aircraft [16]
Emily Kawanishi H8K patrolNNavy Type 2 Large Flying Boat [13]
Eva/Eve Mitsubishi Ohtori recordn/a civil record aircraft misreported as operated by the IJNAS
Fran Yokosuka P1Y bomberNNavy Land-based Bomber [17]
Frances Yokosuka P1Y bomberNNavy Land-based Bomber [17]
Frank Nakajima Ki-84 fighterAArmy Type 4 Fighter [17]
Gander Kokusai Ku-8 transportAArmy Type 4 Special Transport Glider [10]
George Kawanishi N1K-J fighterNNavy Interceptor Fighter [17]
Glen Yokosuka E14Y reconNNavy Type 0 Small Reconnaissance Seaplane [13]
Goose Kokusai Ku-8 transportAArmy Type 4 Special Transport Glider [10]
Grace Aichi B7A bomberNNavy Carrier Attack Bomber [10]
Gwen Mitsubishi Ki-21-IIb bomberAArmy Type 0 Medium Bomber [10]
Hap Mitsubishi A6M3 fighterNNavy Type 0 Carrier Fighter Model 32 [13]
Hamp Mitsubishi A6M3 fighterNNavy Type 0 Carrier Fighter Model 32 [3][6]
Hank Aichi E10A reconNNavy Type 96 Night Reconnaissance Seaplane [10]
Harry Mitsubishi TK-4 fighterAArmy Type 0 Single Seat Twin-engined Fighter Fictional type.[10][18]
Helen Nakajima Ki-49 bomberAArmy Type 100 Heavy Bomber [13]
Hickory Tachikawa Ki-54 trainerAArmy Type 1 Trainer [10]
Ida Tachikawa Ki-36 reconAArmy Type 98 Direct Co-operation Aircraft [13]
Ida Tachikawa Ki-55 trainerAArmy Type 99 Advanced Trainer [10]
Ione Aichi AI-104 reconNNavy Type 98 Reconnaissance Seaplane Fictional Type[10][19]
Irving Nakajima J1N reconNNavy Type 2 Land Reconnaissance Aircraft [17]
Jack Mitsubishi J2M fighterNNavy Interceptor Fighter [17]
Jake Aichi E13A reconNNavy Type 0 Reconnaissance Seaplane [13]
Jane Mitsubishi Ki-21 bomberAArmy Type 97 Heavy Bomber [10]
Jean Yokosuka B4Y bomberNNavy Type 96 Carrier Attack Bomber [10]
Jerry Heinkel A7He fighterNNavy Type He Interceptor Fighter [10]
Jill Nakajima B6N bomberNNavy Carrier Attack Bomber [10]
Judy Yokosuka D4Y reconNNavy Type 2 Carrier Reconnaissance Aircraft [13]
Julia Kawasaki Ki-48 bomberAArmy Type 97 Heavy Bomber Misidentified - same as Lily[10][20]
Kate Nakajima B5N bomberNNavy Type 97-1 Carrier Attack Bomber [13]
Laura Aichi E11A reconNNavy Type 98 Reconnaissance Seaplane [10]
Lily Kawasaki Ki-48 bomberAArmy Type 99 Twin-engined Light Bomber [13]
Liz Nakajima G5N bomberNNavy Experimental 13-Shi Attack Bomber [13]
Lorna Kyushu Q1W patrolNNavy Patrol Aircraft [10]
Louise Mitsubishi Ki-2-II bomberAArmy Type 93-2 Twin-engined Light Bomber [10]
Luke Mitsubishi J4M fighterNNavy Experimental 17-Shi Interceptor [10]
Mary Kawasaki Ki-32 bomberAArmy Type 98 Single Engine Light Bomber [10]
Mabel Mitsubishi B5M bomberNNavy Type 97-2 Carrier Attack Bomber [10]
Mavis Kawanishi H6K patrolNNavy Type 97 Large Flying Boat [13]
Mike Kawasaki Ki-61 fighterAArmy Type 3 Fighter Interim designation, also used for Bf 109 [21]
Millie Vultee V-11GB bomberType 98 Showa Light Bomber [10]
Myrt Nakajima C6N reconNNavy Carrier Reconnaissance Aircraft [10]
Nate Nakajima Ki-27 fighterAArmy Type 97 Fighter [10]
Nell Mitsubishi G3M bomberNNavy Type 96 Attack Bomber [13]
Nick Kawasaki Ki-45 fighterAArmy Type 2 Two-seat Fighter [13]
Norm Kawanishi E15K reconNNavy Type 2 High Speed Reconnaissance Seaplane [10]
Norma Mitsubishi Ki-15 reconAArmy Type 97 Command Reconnaissance Aircraft [10][22]
Norma Mitsubishi C5M ReconNNavy Type 98 Reconnaissance Aircraft [10][22]
Oak Kyushu K10W trainerNNavy Type 2 Intermediate Trainer [13]
Omar Sukukaze 20 fighter Fighter Fictional type.[10][23]
Oscar Nakajima Ki-43 fighterAArmy Type 1 Fighter [13]
Pat Tachikawa Ki-74 fighterAArmy Fighter (initially misidentified - same as Patsy) [24]
Patsy Tachikawa Ki-74 bomberAArmy Reconnaissance Bomber [24]
Paul Aichi E16A reconNNavy Reconnaissance Seaplane [10]
Peggy Mitsubishi Ki-67 bomberAArmy Type 4 Heavy Bomber [10]
Perry Kawasaki Ki-10 fighterAArmy Type 95 Fighter [10]
Pete Mitsubishi F1M reconNNavy Type 0 Observation Seaplane [13]
Pine Mitsubishi K3M trainerNNavy Type 90 Crew Trainer [10]
Randy Kawasaki Ki-102 attackAArmy Type 4 Assault Aircraft [10]
Rex Kawanishi N1K fighterNNavy Fighter Seaplane [10]
Rita Nakajima G8N bomberNNavy Type 18 Land Based Attack Aircraft [10]
Rufe Nakajima A6M2-N fighterNNavy Type 2 Interceptor/Fighter-Bomber [13]
Ruth Fiat BR.20 bomberAArmy Type I Heavy Bomber [10]
Sally Mitsubishi Ki-21 bomberAArmy Type 97 Heavy Bomber [13]
Sam Mitsubishi A7M fighterNNavy Experimental Carrier Fighter [10]
Slim Watanabe E9W reconNNavy Type 96 Small Reconnaissance Seaplane [10]
Sonia Mitsubishi Ki-51 attackAArmy Type 99 Assault Aircraft [13]
Spruce Tachikawa Ki-9 trainerAArmy Type 95-1 Intermediate Trainer [10]
Stella Kokusai Ki-76 transportAArmy Type 3 Command Liaison Aircraft [10]
Susie Aichi D1A bomberNNavy Type 94/96 Carrier Bomber [10]
Tabby Douglas DC-3/
Showa/Nakajima L2D
transportNNavy Type 0 Transport [10]
Tess Douglas DC-2 transportNNavy Transport [13]
Thalia Kawasaki Ki-56 transportAArmy Type 1 Freight Transport [10]
Thelma Lockheed Model 14 transportAArmy Type LO Transport [13]
Theresa Kokusai Ki-59 transportAArmy Type 1 Transport [10]
Thora Nakajima Ki-34 transportAArmy Type 97 Transport [10]
Tina Yokosuka L3Y transportNNavy Type 96 Transport [10]
Tojo Nakajima Ki-44 fighterAArmy Type 2 Single-seat Fighter [13]
Tony Kawasaki Ki-61 fighterAArmy Type 3 Fighter [13]
Topsy Mitsubishi Ki-57 transportAArmy Type 100 Transport [13]
Topsy Mitsubishi L4M transportNNavy Type 0 Transport [10]
Val Aichi D3A bomberNNavy Type 99 Dive Bomber [13]
Willow Yokosuka K5Y trainerNNavy Type 93 Intermediate Trainer [10]
Zeke or Zero Mitsubishi A6M fighterNNavy Type 0 Carrier Fighter [13]

See also[edit]


Explanatory notes
  1. ^ Not a real aircraft. The aircraft was believed in service but never built, misidentified, or not used (Dunnigan 1998, p. 16).
  2. ^ The Ki-15 and C5M were the Army and Navy designations respectively for the same aircraft. (Dunnigan 1998, p. 16–17).
  1. ^ Gamble 2010, p. 253.
  2. ^ a b c Dunnigan 1998, p. 15.
  3. ^ a b c Gamble 2010, p. 254.
  4. ^ Dear and Foot 1995, p. 245.
  5. ^ Gamble 2010, p. 255.
  6. ^ a b c Bergerud 2000, p. 199.
  7. ^ Gamble 2010, pp. 254–255.
  8. ^ Francillon 1979, p.202.
  9. ^ Wieliczko and Szeremeta 2004, p.87.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk Mikesh 1993.
  11. ^ Nakajima SKT-97 (Adam) Info, Dave's Warbirds. Accessed 2010-11-18.
  12. ^ Nagoya-Sento KI-001 (Ben) info, Dave's Warbirds. Accessed 2014-04-25.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac Handbook on Japanese Military Forces
  14. ^ Aichi Type 97 (Bob) Info, Dave's Warbirds. Accessed 2010-11-18.
  15. ^ Francillon 1979, p.258.
  16. ^ Francillon 1979, p.180.
  17. ^ a b c d e f Tillman 2010, p.276.
  18. ^ Mitsubishi TK-4 Type 0 (Harry) Info, Dave's Warbirds. Accessed 2010-11-18
  19. ^ Aichi AI-104 Type 98 (Ione) Info, Dave's Warbirds. Accessed 2010-11-18
  20. ^ Kawasaki Type 97 Heavy Bomber (Julia) Info, Dave's Warbirds. Accessed 2010-11-18
  21. ^ Bueschel, Richard M. Kawasaki Ki.61/Ki.100 Hien in Japanese Army Air Force Service, Aircam Aviation Series No.21. Canterbury, Kent, UK: Osprey Publications Ltd, 1971. ISBN 0-85045-026-8. pages.7 & 8
  22. ^ a b Mitsubishi Type 97 Light Bomber (Norma) Info, Dave's Warbirds. Accessed 2010-11-18
  23. ^ Sukukaze 20 fighter (Omar) Info, Dave's Warbirds. Accessed 2010-11-18
  24. ^ a b 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) (1995). M. R. D. Foot (Consultant Editor), ed. 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.