Have you ever wondered how RAF aircraft are named and which conventions they use?

The Royal Air Force has never had set aircraft naming rules.

They have for the most part accepted the names selected by the manufacturers, although these needed to be formally approved by the Air Ministry – until 1964 – or by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) nowadays.

In 1918, the Ministry of Munitions created a “unified naming system”, a set of conventions where the scheme would create classes of names that related to the role.

In this system, each aircraft would receive of a name, and sometimes a role prefix and a mark number. Typically, the names were then further divided by size and bu whether they were land- or sea-based.

For example, fighter aircraft were to be animals, plants or minerals.

Ever heard of the Sopwith Camel, the Gloster Meteor or the Hawker Demon?

Bomber aircraft were to have geographical names, such as the Lancaster, the Hudson, the Bristol Beaufort and the Boston Bomber

It is an easier association for heavy-lift aircraft, which tend to have names associated with strength.

Long-distance transport aircraft have travel-related names (e.g. Globemaster, Voyager) and Intelligence, Surveillance, Target acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) aircraft have names associated with watching (e.g. Sentry, Sentinel). (Forces.net News, 16th April 2019)

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