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TOPIC: Aircraft Serials - please explain

Aircraft Serials - please explain 01 Jun 2011 23:45 #1

  • YellowPinkie
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OK, been looking at the Gate Guards thread and I found myself wondering if there is any logic to the aircraft numbers; XH558 for the Vulcan for instance.

X seems to be a common prefix.

Can anyone enlighten me?

Don't know why I haven't wondered this before...

Thanks!

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Aircraft Serials - please explain 02 Jun 2011 00:13 #2

  • David Thompson
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Have a look here and then click on UKSerials for individual aircraft ; http://www.ukserials.com/

There are quite a few anorak/spotter/enthusiast books on the market which list them too . Possibly the most popular is this one ; http://www.aviation-links.co.uk/mam.html
Youth is wasted on the young !

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Aircraft Serials - please explain 02 Jun 2011 05:39 #3

  • Bigbear
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Some time during the 2nd WW aircraft serials were changed to start with the prefix AA and then 3 numbers the first being 001 presumably. As aircraft came in to service they were allocated the next number so AA002 after AA999 the serial rolled to AB001 then eventually AZ999 then BA001 and so on through the alphabet passing through XH. Registrations are now in the ZZs (Reapers, the new tankers etc.) I don't know what will happen after ZZ999 is allocated though. A bit like the number plate change I suppose!

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Aircraft Serials - please explain 02 Jun 2011 07:00 #4

  • daveg4otu
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Bigbear;76145 wrote: Some time during the 2nd WW aircraft serials were changed to start with the prefix AA and then 3 numbers the first being 001 presumably. As aircraft came in to service they were allocated the next number so AA002 after AA999 the serial rolled to AB001 then eventually AZ999 then BA001 and so on through the alphabet passing through XH. Registrations are now in the ZZs (Reapers, the new tankers etc.) I don't know what will happen after ZZ999 is allocated though. A bit like the number plate change I suppose!


Nearly correct- in fact normally a block starts at 100 rather than 001 although in recent years in the ZH and ZK blocks there has small use of 00x serials.
It will be years before the system runs dry as many blocks remain totally unused at this time (ZL/ZN/ZP/ZS/ZV/ZW/ZX - ZT has only had one use).ZO, ZQ and ZY will not be used.
See my Hampshire,Dorset,Devon,IOW Airfields sites..
www.hampshireairfields.co.uk/

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Aircraft Serials - please explain 02 Jun 2011 07:49 #5

  • YellowPinkie
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All interesting stuff; in theory then we could have a stab at how many aircraft the RAF have had.

I'd imagine that at our current rate of aircraft use we'll not run out of serials for decades...

Thanks folks.

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Aircraft Serials - please explain 02 Jun 2011 16:19 #6

  • canberra
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Dont forget though that aircraft built for foreign air forces such as the Typhoons have British military serials whilst on test.

And that begs the question as to whats happened to the B markings that used to be applied to such aircraft? And is there a section at MOD that allocates serials?

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Aircraft Serials - please explain 02 Jun 2011 17:03 #7

  • daveg4otu
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B marks do still get used on some occasions...Westlands still fly the occasional helo with G17-xx.

Just to confuse things Qinetiq /ETPS have recently been flying an A109 with the marks QQ100.

A straight count of the available serials from A1000 to ZZ999 will not help you work out how many aircraft the RFC/RAF/FAA/AAC have had as it is normal for there to be "blackout blocks" of unused serials :
For Example ....

NB767 to NC408 (note the very unusual use of C as a second letter),Wellington XIV,Serials used were...NB767-783,796-841,853-896,908-952,964-999,NC112-160,164-209,222-234,235-408(last batch cancelled).

In some cases the number of omitted serials may exceed the number actually used .

In addition to the above - some sequences , notably that beginning with Nxxxx,were used several times , and the Sxxxx series was never used beyond S1865.
See my Hampshire,Dorset,Devon,IOW Airfields sites..
www.hampshireairfields.co.uk/

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Aircraft Serials - please explain 02 Jun 2011 18:15 #8

  • canberra
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When I was on IV we had the last Harrier GR3 delievered fresh from Dunsfold and it was XZ999.

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Aircraft Serials - please explain 02 Jun 2011 21:44 #9

  • WJT
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And many serials were allocated but the aircraft they were expected to appear on were cancelled - eg TSR2, and many more.

So-called 'B' Conditions markings need some explaining. These are essentiall civil markings and are authorised in British Civil Airworthiness Requirements. Essentially, this means that the aircraft has been approved to fly in accordance with a set of procedures but without any formally approved certification. This might mean that the aircraft has no Type Certificate or it has undergone some form of modification which must be flight tested before it can be formally approved.

These days the B Conditions marks are seldom used on aircraft destined for a military air arm and British military serial numbers are allocated instead. It eases the paperwork and keeps the CAA (and its horrendous fees - they currently charge £189 per hour) off the case.

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Aircraft Serials - please explain 03 Jun 2011 06:08 #10

  • canberra
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And to confuse things a bit BAC in the mid sixties had a Canberra with civil G markings, and later on Hawker Sidddeley had its Harrier demo aircraft with a G registration.

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