USSR military aircraft designation systems

From Academic Kids

Imperial Russia (before 1917) does not seem to have had a system. Aircraft were given names or numerical designations by manufacturers, like Ilya Muromets or Anatra Anasal.


Soviet System to 1939

Soviet system to 1939 was divided by type, with numbers assigned in order by government ministry. However, designers/manufacturers usually also gave them their own designations.

Type Prefixes

(incomplete - cyrillic characters in parenthesis)

A (А) - (Autogiro)
B (Б) - Bombardirovshchik (Bomber)
BB (ББ) - Blizhnij bombardirovshchik (Short-range Bomber)
DB (ДБ) - Dalnij bombardirovshchik (Long-range Bomber)
G (Г) - (Paratroop Transport)
I (И) - Istrebitel ("Destroyer" = Fighter)
M (М) - Morskoi (Seaplane)
MBR (МБР) - Morskoi blizhnii razvedchik (Short-range Reconnaissance Seaplane)
MDR (МДР) - Morskoi dalnii razvedchik (Long-range Reconnaissance Seaplane)
MI (МИ) - Mnogomestnii istrebitel (Multi-seat Fighter)
MP (МП) - (Transport Seaplane)
MR (МР) - Morskoi razvedchik (Reconnaissance Seaplane)
R (Р) - Razvedchik (Reconnaissance)
SB (СБ) - Skorostnoi bombardirovshchik (High-speed Bomber)
SPB (СПБ) - Skorostnoi pikiruyuschii bombardirovshchik (High-speed Dive Bomber)
T (Т) - Torpedonosets (Torpedo bomber) ("Torpedo carrier")
TB (ТБ) - Tiazholyi bombardirovshchik (Heavy Bomber)
U (У) - Uchebny (Trainer)
UT (УТ) - Uchebno-trenirivochnyi (Primary/Advanced Trainer)
UTI (УТИ) - Uchebno-trenirivochnyi Istrebitel (Fighter Trainer)


I-1: Polikarpov
I-2: Grigorovich
I-3: Polikarpov (1-seat biplane with open cockpit and fixed undercarriage)
I-4: Tupolev ANT-5 (1-seat sesquiplane)
I-5: Polikarpov-Grigorovich
I-8: Tupolev ANT-13 (prototype only)
I-14: Tupolev ANT-31 (1-seat monoplane with enclosed cockpit and retractable undercarriage)
I-15: Polikarpov TsKB-3 (1-seat biplane with `gull' upper wing open cockpit and fixed undercarriage)
I-15bis/I-152: Polikarpov TsKB-3bis (re-engined and other minor changes)
I-15ter/I-153: Polikarpov TsKB-3ter (re-engined and retractable undercarriage)
I-16: Polikarpov TsKB-12/18/29 (1-seat monoplane with open cockpit and retractable undercarriage)
I-17: Polikarpov TsKB-15/19/33 (1-seat monoplane with in-line engine and retractable undercarriage)
I-21: Pashinin (only 5 built - protoype fighter from Ilyushin may share designation)
I-22: Lavochkin-Gorbunov-Gudkov (later designated LaGG-1)
I-26: Yakovlev Krasavec `Beauty' (later designated Yak-1)
I-28: Yatsenko (constructed from resin-bonded wood)
I-61 or I-200: Mikoyan-Gurevich (later designated MiG-1)


DB-2: Tupolev/Sukhoi ANT-37 (cancelled bomber derivative of ANT-25)
DB-3: Ilyushin TsKB-30 (2-engine all-metal monoplane), later designated Il-4
SB or SB-2: Tupolev ANT-40 (2-engine all-metal monoplane)
TB-1: Tupolev ANT-4 (2-engine all-metal monoplane)
TB-3: Tupolev ANT-6 (4-engine all-metal monoplane)
TB-4: Tupolev ANT-16 (6-engine all-metal monoplane)
TB-7: Tupolev ANT-42 (4-engine all-metal monoplane, later designated Pe-8)

Soviet system since 1939

The system after 1939 used letter abbreviations for the design office, then numbers in order, with odd numbers for fighters and even numbers for all other types. However, this latter rule was sometimes breached, especially for helicopters.

Contrary to western sources, official Soviet designations did not include constructors' names (eg. Yakovlev Yak-1), only abbreviations (ie. Yak-1).

The NATO Air Standardization Coordinating Committee reporting name system (used because correct designation of new types not always known) was based on having the initial letter indicate type of aircraft (B = bomber, C = cargo, F = fighter, H = helicopter, M = miscellaneous) or missile, and 1 syllable if propeller-driven or 2 if jet- or rocket-powered.

Design Office Prefixes

An: Antonov
Ar: Archangelskii
BI: Berezniak-Isaev
Be: Beriev
La: Lavochkin
LaGG: Lavochkin-Gorbunov-Gudkov
Il: Ilyushin
Ka: Kamov
M: Myasishchev
Mi: Mil
MiG: Mikoyan-Gurevich, until the death of Artem Mikoyan in 1970, then just Mikoyan
Pe: Petlyakov
Po: Polikarpov
Su: Sukhoi
Tu: Tupolev (earlier: ANT)
Yak: Yakovlev (earlier: AIR)
Yer: Yermolayev

See also

Lists of Aircraft | Aircraft manufacturers | Aircraft engines | Aircraft engine manufacturers

Airports | Airlines | Air forces | Aircraft weapons | Missiles | Timeline of aviation


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