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Identifying USAF Registrations?

Sat Mar 04, 2017 11:47 am

Hi All,

Having just photographed Avalon, any tips on how to identify the registrations on USAF Aircraft?

For example, I photographed an F-16, with the following info: WW AF92 887

I understand that 'WW' is the code for the 35th FW, but how do I find the registration like you would find on the tail of a traditional aircraft? As 'AF92 887' does not produce any results.

Any help would be appreciated.

Mitch Getson
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Joined: Thu Apr 18, 2013 3:04 pm

Re: Identifying USAF Registrations?

Sat Mar 04, 2017 1:31 pm ... file/3780/

Google is your friend. The actual reg is 92-3887
If we weren't all crazy we'd all go insane!
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Re: Identifying USAF Registrations?

Tue Mar 28, 2017 5:02 am

To expand on that a little,USAF serials/registrations are written as the last two digits of the fiscal year the funding was allocated for the aircraft (92 for 1992; as a side note, that doesn't always mean that aircraft was built in that year; sometimes there can be a several year difference!), followed by a number of digits representing the specific aircraft, typically abbreviated to four digits, as the numbers can be quite long and contain a lot of redundant zeroes.

The "AF **-***" format is known as the tactical presentation, and is usually seen on fighters, bombers, and some trainers. it's the last two digits of the fiscal year (92), followed by the las three of the rest of the number. USAF serials are usually written in six digits (**-****), and for the purposes of searching it's usually safe to assume that the missing digit is a zero (though it's always worth checking, since some types (especially F-16s like the one in question and T-38s, in my experience) can have other numbers there.

The USAF also has another serial presentation, typically seen on tankers and transports. This is a five-digit number with no hypen, and consists of the last digit of the fiscal year, followed by the four digits of the aircraft number. So a KC-135R with 37980 on the tail would be 63-7980, or C-17A 80052 would be 98-0052.

Hope that helps a little; for more reading, wikipedia has some good articles talking about US military serials.

So far as searching for serials, I've found Scramble's database to be extremely helpful - with their ability to insert asterisks for unknown digits, it can make finding numbers easy, even if you only know a few digits! (for example, with the airframe you mentioned, you could input 92-*887 as your search term).

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