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.[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]

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

Allied reporting nameAircraftType designationNotes
AbdulNakajima Ki-27Army Type 97 Fightersee "Nate"[8]
AbdulMitsubishiNavy Type 97 FighterFictional type.[9][Note 1]
AdamNakajima SKT-97Navy Type 97 Seaplane FighterFictional type.[10][11]
AlfKawanishi E7KNavy Type 94 Reconnaissance Seaplane[10]
AnnMitsubishi Ki-30Army Type 97 Light Bomber[10]
BabsMitsubishi C5MNavy Type 98 Reconnaissance Aircraft[10]
BabsMitsubishi Ki-15Army Type 97 Command Reconnaissance Aircraft(see "Norma")[10][Note 2]
BakaYokosuka MXY7Navy Suicide Attacker Ohka[10]
BelleKawanishi H3KNavy Type 90-2 Flying Boat[10]
BenNagoya-Sento KI-001Army(?) Type 1 FighterFictional type.[12]
BessHeinkel He 111Army Type 98 Medium Bomber[10]
BettyMitsubishi G4MNavy Type 1 Land-based Attack Aircraft[13]
BobNakajima E2NNavy Type 15 Reconnaissance Floatplane"Aichi Type 97"[10][14]
BuzzardKokusai Ki-105 OtoriArmy Transport
CedarTachikawa Ki-17Army Type 95-3 Basic Grade Trainer[10]
CherryYokosuka H5YNavy Type 99 Flying Boat[13]
ClaraTachikawa Ki-70Army Reconnaissance[15]
ClaudeMitsubishi A5MNavy Type 96 Carrier Based Fighter[10]
ClintNakajima Ki-27Army Type 97 Fighter[10]
CypressKokusai Ki-86Army Type 4 Primary Trainer[10]
CypressKyushu K9WNavy Type 2 Primary Trainer[10]
DaveNakajima E8NNavy Type 95 Reconnaissance Seaplane[10]
DickSeversky A8VNavy Type S Two Seat Fighter[10]
DinahMitsubishi Ki-46Army Type 100 Command Reconnaissance Aircraft[13]
EdnaMansyu Ki-71Army Type 99 Assault aircraft[16]
EmilyKawanishi H8KNavy Type 2 Large Flying Boat[13]
Eva/EveMitsubishi Ohtorin/acivil record aircraft misreported as operated by the IJNAS
FranYokosuka P1YNavy Land-based Bomber[17]
FrancesYokosuka P1YNavy Land-based Bomber[17]
FrankNakajima Ki-84Army Type 4 Fighter[17]
GanderKokusai Ku-8Army Type 4 Special Transport Glider[10]
GeorgeKawanishi N1K-JNavy Interceptor Fighter[17]
GlenYokosuka E14YNavy Type 0 Small Reconnaissance Seaplane[13]
GooseKokusai Ku-8Army Type 4 Special Transport Glider[10]
GraceAichi B7ANavy Carrier Attack Bomber[10]
GwenMitsubishi Ki-21-IIbArmy Type 0 Medium Bomber[10]
HapMitsubishi A6M3Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighter Model 32[13]
HampMitsubishi A6M3Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighter Model 32[3][6]
HankAichi E10ANavy Type 96 Night Reconnaissance Seaplane[10]
HarryMitsubishi TK-4Army Type 0 Single Seat Twin-engined FighterFictional type.[10][18]
HelenNakajima Ki-49Army Type 100 Heavy Bomber[13]
HickoryTachikawa Ki-54Army Type 1 Trainer[10]
IdaTachikawa Ki-36Army Type 98 Direct Co-operation Aircraft[13]
IdaTachikawa Ki-55Army Type 99 Advanced Trainer[10]
IoneAichi AI-104Navy Type 98 Reconnaissance SeaplaneFictional Type[10][19]
IrvingNakajima J1NNavy Type 2 Land Reconnaissance Aircraft[17]
JackMitsubishi J2MNavy Interceptor Fighter[17]
JakeAichi E13ANavy Type 0 Reconnaissance Seaplane[13]
JaneMitsubishi Ki-21Army Type 97 Heavy Bomber[10]
JeanYokosuka B4YNavy Type 96 Carrier Attack Bomber[10]
JerryHeinkel A7HeNavy Type He Interceptor Fighter[10]
JillNakajima B6NNavy Carrier Attack Bomber[10]
JudyYokosuka D4YNavy Type 2 Carrier Reconnaissance Aircraft[13]
JuliaKawasaki Ki-48Army Type 97 Heavy BomberMisidentified – same as Lily[10][20]
KateNakajima B5NNavy Type 97-1 Carrier Attack Bomber[13]
LauraAichi E11ANavy Type 98 Reconnaissance Seaplane[10]
LilyKawasaki Ki-48Army Type 99 Twin-engined Light Bomber[13]
LizNakajima G5NNavy Experimental 13-Shi Attack Bomber[13]
LornaKyushu Q1WNavy Patrol Aircraft[10]
LouiseMitsubishi Ki-2-IIArmy Type 93-2 Twin-engined Light Bomber[10]
LukeMitsubishi J4MNavy Experimental 17-Shi Interceptor[10]
MaryKawasaki Ki-32Army Type 98 Single Engine Light Bomber[10]
MabelMitsubishi B5MNavy Type 97-2 Carrier Attack Bomber[10]
MavisKawanishi H6KNavy Type 97 Large Flying Boat[13]
MikeKawasaki Ki-61Army Type 3 FighterInterim designation, also used for Bf 109 [21]
MillieVultee V-11GBType 98 Showa Light Bomber[10]
MyrtNakajima C6NNavy Carrier Reconnaissance Aircraft[10]
NateNakajima Ki-27Army Type 97 Fighter[10]
NellMitsubishi G3MNavy Type 96 Attack Bomber[13]
NickKawasaki Ki-45Army Type 2 Two-seat Fighter[13]
NormKawanishi E15KNavy Type 2 High Speed Reconnaissance Seaplane[10]
NormaMitsubishi Ki-15Army Type 97 Command Reconnaissance Aircraft[10][22]
NormaMitsubishi C5MNavy Type 98 Reconnaissance Aircraft[10][22]
OakKyushu K10WNavy Type 2 Intermediate Trainer[13]
OmarSukukaze 20 FighterFictional type.[10][23]
OscarNakajima Ki-43Army Type 1 Fighter[13]
PatTachikawa Ki-74Army Fighter (initially misidentified – same as Patsy)[24]
PatsyTachikawa Ki-74Army Reconnaissance Bomber[24]
PaulAichi E16ANavy Reconnaissance Seaplane[10]
PeggyMitsubishi Ki-67Army Type 4 Heavy Bomber[10]
PerryKawasaki Ki-10Army Type 95 Fighter[10]
PeteMitsubishi F1MNavy Type 0 Observation Seaplane[13]
PineMitsubishi K3MNavy Type 90 Crew Trainer[10]
RandyKawasaki Ki-102Army Type 4 Assault Aircraft[10]
RexKawanishi N1KNavy Fighter Seaplane[10]
RitaNakajima G8NNavy Type 18 Land Based Attack Aircraft[10]
RufeNakajima A6M2-NNavy Type 2 Interceptor/Fighter-Bomber[13]
RuthFiat BR.20Army Type I Heavy Bomber[10]
SallyMitsubishi Ki-21Army Type 97 Heavy Bomber[13]
SamMitsubishi A7MNavy Experimental Carrier Fighter[10]
SlimWatanabe E9WNavy Type 96 Small Reconnaissance Seaplane[10]
SoniaMitsubishi Ki-51Army Type 99 Assault Aircraft[13]
SpruceTachikawa Ki-9Army Type 95-1 Intermediate Trainer[10]
StellaKokusai Ki-76Army Type 3 Command Liaison Aircraft[10]
SusieAichi D1ANavy Type 94/96 Carrier Bomber[10]
TabbyDouglas DC-3/
Showa/Nakajima L2D
Navy Type 0 Transport[10]
TessDouglas DC-2Navy Transport[13]
ThaliaKawasaki Ki-56Army Type 1 Freight Transport[10]
ThelmaLockheed Model 14Army Type LO Transport[13]
TheresaKokusai Ki-59Army Type 1 Transport[10]
ThoraNakajima Ki-34Army Type 97 Transport[10]
TinaYokosuka L3YNavy Type 96 Transport[10]
TojoNakajima Ki-44Army Type 2 Single-seat Fighter[13]
TonyKawasaki Ki-61Army Type 3 Fighter[13]
TopsyMitsubishi Ki-57Army Type 100 Transport[13]
TopsyMitsubishi L4MNavy Type 0 Transport[10]
ValAichi D3ANavy Type 99 Dive Bomber[13]
WillowYokosuka K5YNavy Type 93 Intermediate Trainer[10]
Zeke or ZeroMitsubishi A6MNavy Type 0 Carrier Fighter[13]

See also


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, pp. 16–17).
  1. Gamble 2010, p. 253.
  2. Dunnigan 1998, p. 15.
  3. Gamble 2010, p. 254.
  4. Dear and Foot 1995, p. 245.
  5. Gamble 2010, p. 255.
  6. Bergerud 2000, p. 199.
  7. Gamble 2010, pp. 254–255.
  8. Francillon 1979, p. 202.
  9. Wieliczko and Szeremeta 2004, p. 87.
  10. 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. 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. 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. pp. 7, 8
  22. 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. Francillon 1979, p. 261.
  • Bergerud, Eric M. (2000). Fire in the Sky: The Air War in the South Pacific. Boulder, CO: 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: 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, DC: 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.
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