Selwyn;76752 wrote: The aircraft serial system used in UK began in 1912. Army aircraft were serialled A1 onwards and Navy aircraft serialled N1 onwards. WW1 meant lots of aircraft built for the services and the Army soon got (1917 ish) to A9999 although Navy A/c were still using the N system when the RAF came into being, this series was then used for RAF aircraft ordered for use by the fleet and seaplanes. The army/RAF continued on using B ,C, excetera until they got to Z by this time serials had standardised on the format Z0001 to Z9999. running out of letters they then started again but with AA and three numbers AA001 to AA999. this series continues today. When the Navy N series ran out in the late 20's they started to use S prefixes (Seaplane?) but after this ended naval aircraft were numbered in the standard system.
Incidentally the N series was used twice, it was used again for RAF aircraft in the 20-30's
some letters were missed out, you will not find I or O letters as these could be mistaken for numbers.
Hope this helps (its very simplified!)
Just some small corrections/additions...
The first series (RFC) started at 1 and went up to 10,000,
Series A to J started at A1 (etc ) to A9999 ...never at A0001(etc).
From K onwards the series started at K1000, L1000 etc. M was not used for servicable aircraft ,being reserved for non-flying airframes.
N was used 3 times....
N1 to N300(with gaps) Experimental Seaplanes...also N500-546.(First Series use terminated c1928 )
Second Series(1916- C1919)
N3000-3999 French built aircraft
N4000-4999 Large Flying Boats
N5000-8999 Naval aircraft
N1000-9999 reused starting 1937 for normal RAF/FAA production.
Letters not normally used are C/I/O/Q/U and Y.... although C was used in the original C1-C9999 block in 1917 and recently QinetQ have been using an A-109 with the serial QQ100.
Following on from aircraft serial numbers, something that has always puzzled me is why, certainly up to 1942, aircraft squadron codes and individual aircraft codes read opposite ways on the port and starboard sides of the aircraft - ? For example in 263 Squadron's case, a Whirlwind's code would read ' HE - L ' on the starboard side of the fuselage and ' L - HE ' on the port side instead of the logical ' HE - L '. Can anyone explain this one please - ?