German Military Aircraft Database

Army Designations 1910-1918

The German military services have used several aircraft designation systems. The earliest system used by both Army and Navy was simply to use the manufacturer’s name. Later, when some manufacturers began to produce multiple types of aircraft, the manufacturer's designation was used. This was made mandatory for Army airplanes in 1913. The Army began to use a system of type letters in 1911. At first these were type A monoplanes, and type B biplanes. Some indicate that A stood for Aeroplan, and B for Biplan, neither of which appears to be good contemporary German. C, D, and E type letters were added roughly in alphabetical order, so the chosen letters may have had no other initial significance. After August 1915, if a manufacturer produced an aircraft significantly different from their first model, a Roman numeral was added: i.e. LVG B followed by LVG B.I, followed by LVG B.II. Surviving A and B-type aircraft with letter-only designations were also redesignated in August 1915 as A.I or B.I. Suffix letters indicated less significant changes. An F suffix to several D-type designations indicated the use of an overcompressed high-altitude engine. An N suffix to C-types indicate a night-bombing version. Aircraft produced under license were initially assigned numbers in the license manufacturer's sequence. For example, Albatross D.II produced by LVG were first designated LVG D.I. This caused considerable confusion, so in 1917, license-built aircraft were redesignated to the original manufacturer's designation with the license manufacturer's abbreviation following in parentheses: Alb D.II (Lvg).

1910-1918 Army Type Letters

A

Monoplane

1911-1916

B

Biplane

1911-1918

C

Armed Biplane (150 PS or more)

1915-1918

CL

Light C

1917-1918

CLS

2-seat Close-Support

1918

D

Armed Single-Seat Biplane

1916-1918

Dr

Triplane Fighter (Dreidecker)

1917-1918

E

Armed Single-Seat Monoplane

1915-1916 and 1918

F

Armed Single-Seat Triplane

1917

G

Multi-Engined (Grossflugzeug)

1915-1918

J

Infantry Support (Infanterie-Flugzeug?)

1917-1918

K

Battleplane (Kampfflugzeug)

1915

L

Medium Bombing

1918

N

Night Bombing (Nachtflugzeug?)

1917-1918

R

Giant Airplane (Riesenflugzeug)

1915-1918

S

Ground Attack (Schlachtflugzeug)

1918

 

Aircraft Manufacturer Abbreviations

Aeg

AEG

Ago

Ago

Alb

Albatros

Av

Aviatik

Bay

BFW

Bayru

Rumpler Bavaria

Brand

Hansa-Brandenberg

Daim

Daimler

Dfw

DFW

Do

Zeppelin Lindau (Dornier)

Eul

Euler

Fok

Fokker

Fdh

Friedrichshafen

Germ

Germania

Go

Gotha

Halb

Halberstadt

Han

Hannover

Hansa

Hansa (Caspar)

Ico

Junkers (Junk also?)

Jfa

Junkers-Fokker

Kon

Kondor

KW

Imperial Dockyards

Li

Linke-Hofmann

Lvg

LVG

Mark

Markische

Mer

Mercur

Oaw

Albatros East

Ot

Otto

Pfal

Pfalz

Rat

Rathgerber

Rin

Rinne

Rol

LFG Roland

Ru

Rumpler

Sab

Sablatnig

Shul

Shutte-Lanz

Ssw

Siemens-Schuckert

Staak

Zeppelin-Stakken

Torp

LTG

Army 1910-1918 Types

 

Army Serial Numbers 1911-1918

German Army aircraft were assigned individual serial numbers from 1911. Serials were assigned sequentially according to the aircraft basic type; A, B, C, D, E, F, G, J, N, or R, and the year ordered. Each type sequence was restarted annually, with the exception of R. R-series (Riesenflugzeug) serials were assigned in a single series, regardless of the year ordered. Possibly this was because of the small number of aircraft involved. At first, each year's serials started at 1. Beginning in 1916, each series started at 100. All CL, CLS, and most N types, were serialled in the appropriate C number sequence. Similarly, the GL types were assigned serials in the G series. F series serials were only assigned in 1917, and most of these aircraft were delivered as Dr types with that prefix to the serial number. After this, all fighter aircraft whether of monoplane, biplane, triplane (or other) configuration were given serials in the D series. The only exception to this was the Fokker E.V, later redesignated D.VIII. These aircraft were assigned serials in a new 1918 E sequence. Normally, once assigned, a serial was not reassigned if an aircraft was cancelled. Serials on some aircraft, primarily Fokker D.VIIs, had an F suffix. This may have indicated the use of an overcompressed engine requiring Fliegerbenzin high octane fuel.

Aircraft purchased by Bavaria had their own serial numbering system until 1915. At least two different sequences, A for Albatros and P for Pfalz were created. Aircraft by LVG and Otto seem to not have had prefix letters and their apparent serials may have been manufacturer numbers. Remaining examples of these aircraft were sometimes partially renumbered into the German Army system by adding the appropriate year to the Bavarian serial number. They then duplicated existing German serials.

Army Serials 1911-1918

 

Navy Designations 1910-1918

The German Navy used manufacturer's designations for most aircraft during this period. Some aircraft from the Army were operated under their Army designations.

Navy 1910-1918 Types

 

Navy Serial Numbers 1910-1918

German Navy aircraft were assigned serial numbers in two seperate series, one for floatplanes and the other for landplanes. The floatplane series was begun first, in 1910. Serials were simple sequential numbers beginning with 1. Approximately the first twenty-four floatplanes had their serial number prefixed by D (Doppeldecker) or E (Eindecker) as appropriate. This prefix was later dropped. On August 5, 1914, Naval Command decreed that landplanes would be assigned a block of serials from 101 to 200. The numbers seem to have been reserved but not used, although some were later used for seaplanes. Later, in mid-1915, 301 to 400 appears to have been reserved for R-type giant airplanes. Beginning November 15, 1917 at serial number 2201, the floatplane serials began to be assigned into blocks by manufacturer. Serial numbers 7501/7503 for the Junkers CLS.I may have been assigned by the Army, Navy, or both. After the false start mentioned above, the Naval High Command adopted on March 7, 1915, a system that had already been begun by the Freiwilliges Marine Fliegerkorps at the beginning of the war. This landplane series was at first prefixed with S (Schulflugzeug), as most Navy landplanes were used for training. On October 3, 1915, this was changed to LF (Landflugzeug). This series does not seem to have been used after about mid-1916, as most naval landplanes were ordered on behalf of the Navy by the Army, and retained their Army serials in service. And finally, the Zeppelin-Stakken V.G.O. I was assigned R.M.L.1, the only one in this series.

Navy Serials 1910-1918

 

Airships 1907-1918

Both the Geman Army and Navy were large users of airships. Most of these were the products of Count Zeppelin. At first, Army Zeppelin-built airships were designated with Roman numerals, i.e. Z.I, Z.II... After Z XII had been reached, they used LZ-numbers. From 34 to 39, these were Zeppelin manufacturer numbers. After this, thirty was added to the Zeppelin number to obscure production. Missing numbers in this series were those delivered to the Navy. Navy Zeppelin airships were designated in a consecutive L-series. Naval Parseval airships used their manufacturer P-number. Army Parseval airships were designated with Roman numerals. Schutte-Lanz airships for both services simply used their manufacturer's SL-number.

Airships 1907-1918

 

Secret Air Force 1922-1933 and Luftwaffe 1933-1945

After the Treaty of Versailles, Germany was permitted a small military, but this did not include any aircraft. In order to evade these restrictions, a secret Air Force was soon begun. Military aircraft designed in Germany were built by subsidiaries outside of Germany. Most were delivered to the secret base at Lipetsk, in the Soviet Union. After the announcement of the Luftwaffe in 1933, both military and most civilian aircraft designations were assigned by the RLM. Numbers were assigned in blocks to a manufacturer. Occasionally, a manufacturer would request a specific number that had already been assigned to another manufacturer.

1922-1945 Types

 

The New Luftwaffe 1956-to the Present

In 1956, it was decided by the Western Allies to rearm West Germany as a bulwark against the looming Soviet menace. The new Luftwaffe aircraft again used manufacturer's designations, or the military designations of the supplying country. When East and West Germany was reunited, former East German aircraft were operated under their Soviet designations.

1956-Present Types

 

German Military Aircraft Engines

1910-1918

German military aircraft engines were also known by the maufacturer's designation at first. After about 1914, a designation system based on nominal rated power was used by both services. The engines were designated in numbered classes as shown in the table below. New power classes were added as engine powers increased over the years. This power was measured in Pferdestärke, abbreviated PS (metric horsepower). This is approximately 98 percent of non-metric horsepower. Stationary crankcase engines were rated at 1400 rpm. Rotary engines were rated at 1200 rpm. The class number was prefixed by an abbreviation that indicated the original manufacturer. A table of these is included below. A suffix letter could be added to indicate a different engine by the manufacturer in a specific class. Such a suffix did not necessarily indicate that the engine was developed from or even of the same configuration as any other of the same class. For example, the BMW IIIa was an inline six-cylinder engine and the BMW IIIb was a V-8. Other suffix letters indicated license-built engines. There were additional suffix letters such as m, o, ü, or v. These may not have been an official part of the designation. These typically indicated an over-compressed engine with an altitude-compensating carburetor.

Examples:

As.III O

Argus design - 180 PS rated power - License-built by Opel

BuS.Vü

Basse & Selve design - 350 PS rated power - High-altitude engine

 

Engine Classes C.1914-1918

0 – Up to 99? PS

I – 100 to 109? PS

II - 110 to 129? PS

III - 130 to 199 PS

IV - 200 to 299 PS

V – 300 to 399 PS

VI – 400 to 499 PS

VII – 500 PS and Up

 

Engine Manufacturer Abbreviations

Ad

Adler

As

Argus

BuS

Basse-Selve

Bz

Benz

BMW

B.M.W.

C

Conrad

D

Daimler

Goe

Goebel

Kg

Koerting

Mana

M.A.N.

Mb

Maybach

U

Oberursel (Gnome-based designs)

Ur

Oberursel (LeRhone-based designs)

Rp

Rapp

R

Rhemag (Rh?)

Sh

Siemens-Halske

1933-1945

After the announcement of the Luftwaffe in 1933, both military and most civilian engine designations were assigned by the RLM in a manner similar to aircraft. Again, numbers were assigned in blocks to a manufacturer.

German Engines

 

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12/30/11