USAAC/ USAAF/ USAF Fighter Designations

Prior to 1924 the USAAC used several different fighter designations, reaching a peak of six classifications, the most important being the PW Pursuit, Watercooled class which contained nine types. This was replaced in 1924 by a single P for Pursuit class.

During the 1930s two new fighter classes were introduced - PB for two-seat fighters (Pursuit, Biplane) and FM for Fighter Multiplace. The main aircraft in this class was the five-man Bell FM-1. Neither of these classes was of any great significance and soon faded away.

In 1948 the new USAF changed the P designation to F for Fighter. Existing aircraft kept their number but changed letter, so the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star became the F-80.

In the 1962 tri-service designation system the F classification was retained and the sequence began again from one. Numbers 1 to 4 and 6 to 11 were given to existing Navy aircraft. The sequence then continued up to the F-23, but after that was broken. The F-35 retained its original X number, and the F-117 may have inherited its early test call sign.

P - Pursuit (1924-1948)/ F - Fighter (1948)

Curtiss P-1 Hawk
Curtiss P-2 Hawk
Curtiss P-3 Hawk
Boeing XP-4
Curtiss P-5 Superhawk
Curtiss P-6 Hawk
Boeing XP-7
Boeing XP-8
Boeing XP-9
Curtiss XP-10
Curtiss XP-11
Boeing P-12
Thomas Morse XP-13 Viper
Curtiss XP-14
Boeing XP-15
Berliner-Joyce P-16
Curtiss XP-17
Curtiss XP-18
Curtiss XP-19
Curtiss YP-20
Curtiss XP-21 Hawk
Curtiss YP-22
Curtiss XP-23
Detroit-Lockheed YP-24
Consolidated Y1P-25
Boeing P-26
Consolidated YP-27
Consolidated YP-28
Boeing YP-29
Consolidated P-30
Curtiss XP-31 Swift
Boeing YP-32
Consolidated P-33
Wedell-Williams XP-34
Seversky P-35
Curtiss P-36 Hawk
Curtiss YP-37
Lockheed P-38 Lightning
Bell P-39 Airacobra
Curtiss P-40 Warhawk
Seversky XP-41
Curtiss XP-42
Republic P-43 Lancer
Republic P-44 Rocket
Bell P-45
Curtiss XP-46
Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
Douglas XP-48
Lockheed XP-49
Grumman XP-50 Skyrocket
North American P-51 Mustang
Bell XP-52
Curtiss XP-53
Vultee XP-54 Swoose Goose
Curtiss XP-55 Ascender
Northrop XP-56 Black Bullet
Tucker XP-57
Lockheed XP-58 Chain Lightning
Bell P-59 Airacomet
Curtiss XP-60
Northrop P-61 Black Widow
Curtiss XP-62
Bell P-63 Kingcobra
North American P-64
Grumman XP-65
Vultee P-66 Vanguard
McDonnell XP-67
Vultee XP-68 Tornado
Republic XP-69
Douglas P-70 Nighthawk
Curtiss XP-71
Republic XP-72
Fisher P-75 Eagle
Bell P-76 Airacobra
Bell XP-77
North American P-78
Northrop XP-79B
Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star
Convair XF-81
North American F-82 Twin Mustang
Bell XF-83
Republic F-84 Thunderjet
Republic F-84F Thunderstreak
McDonnell XF-85 Goblin
North American F-86 Sabre
Curtiss XF-87 Blackhawk
McDonnell XF-88 Voodoo
Northrop F-89 Scorpion
Lockheed XF-90
Republic XF-91Thunderceptor
Convair XF-92A
North American YF-93
Lockheed F-94 Starfire

Republic YF-96A
Lockheed YF-97 Starfire
Hughes F-98 Falcon (GAR-1)
Boeing F-99 Bomarc (IM-99)
North American F-100 Super Sabre
McDonnell F-101 Voodoo
Convair F-102 Delta Dagger
Republic XF-103
Lockheed F-104 Starfighter
Republic F-105 Thunderchief
Convair F-106 Delta Dart
North American F-107
North American F-108 Rapier
Bell XF-109
McDonnell F-110 Spectre
General Dynamics F-111

F - Fighter (1962 new number)

North American F-1 Fury (FJ)
McDonnell F-2 Banshee (F2H)
McDonnell F-3 Demon (F3H)
McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II (F4H and F-110)
Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter
Douglas F-6 Skyray (F4D)
Convair F-7 Sea Dart (F2Y)
Vought F-8 Crusader (F8U)
Grumman F-9 Cougar (F9F)
Douglas F-10 Skyknight (F3D)
Grumman F-11 Tiger (F11F)
Lockheed F-12
Grumman F-14 Tomcat
McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle
General Dynamics/ Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon
Northrop F-17 Cobra
McDonnell Douglas F-18A/B/C/D Hornet
Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet
Northrop F-20 Tigershark
Israel Aircraft Industries F-21 Kfir C-2
Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor
Northrop/ McDonnell Douglas F-23 Black Widow II
Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II
Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk

PB - Pursuit Biplace (1935-1941)

Berliner-Joyce PB-1 (P-16)
Consolidated PB-2 (P-30)
Lockheed XPB-3 (later XFM-2)

FM - Fighter Multiplace (1936-1941)

Bell FM-1
Lockheed XFM-2

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (28 November 2012), USAAC/ USAAF/ USAF Fighter Designations , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_US_designations_fighters.html

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