British military aircraft designation systems

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Since the end of the First World War, aircraft types in British military service have generally been known by a "type name" assigned by their manufacturer, or (for various imported types) bestowed upon them by the first military service to bring them into service. Individual variants are recognised by mark numbers. This is in contrast to the systems such as that used in the United States, where an aircraft type is primarily identified by an alphanumeric designation.

Contents

Pre-1918

From about 1910, the largest single designer of aircraft for the British Army's Royal Flying Corps was the Royal Aircraft Factory, Farnborough (although most were built elsewhere). The Royal Aircraft Factory designated its types according to several categories, which were given the following prefixes:

R.T. & T.E. were also used for strictly one off prototypes.

The Admiralty chose to have private industry design and build its aircraft and frequently referred to designs by the serial of the first aircraft of that type to be accepted for service, although not always. The Army also bought industry-designed aircraft, especially when the Royal Aircraft Factory was unable to keep abreast of demand but no designation system was introduced during the war that covered more than the products of a single manufacturer.

Specification numbers

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