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USSR military aircraft designation systems

Imperial Russia (before 1917) does not seem to have had a system. Aircraft were given names or numerical designations by manufacturers.

Table of contents
1 Soviet System to 1939
2 Soviet System since 1939
3 Design Office Prefixes
4 See also

Soviet System to 1939

Soviet system to 1939 was divided by type, with numbers assigned in order by government ministry. However, designers/manufacturers usually also gave them their own designations.

Type Prefixes

A - (Autogiro)
B - Bombardirovschik (Bomber)
BB - Blizhnij Bombardirovschik (Short-range Bomber)
DB - Dalnij Bombardirovschik (Long-range Bomber)
G - (Paratroop Transport)
I - Istrebitel ("Destroyer" = Fighter)
M - Morskoj (Seaplane)
MDR - Morskoj Dalnij Razwedchik (Long-range Reconnaissance Seaplane)
MI - Mnogomestnij Istrebitel (Multi-seat Fighter)
MP - (Transport Seaplane)
MR - Morskoj Razwedchik (Reconnaissance Seaplane)
R - Razwedchik (Reconnaissance)
SB - Skorostnoi Bombardirovschik (High-speed Bomber)
SPB - Skorostnoj Pikiruuschij Bombardirovschik (Dive Bomber)
T - Torpedonosets (Torpedo bomber)
TB - Tiajiolij Bombardirovscik (Heavy Bomber)
U - Uchebny (Trainer)
UTI - Uchebno-Trenirivochnij Istrebitel (Fighter Trainer)


I-1: Polykarpov
I-2: Grigorovich
I-3: Polykarpov (1-seat biplane with open cockpit and fixed undercarriage)
I-4: Tupolev ANT-5 (1-seat sesquiplane)
I-5: Polykarpov-Grigorovich
I-8: Tupolev ANT-13 (prototype only)
I-14: Tupolev ANT-31 (1-seat monoplane with enclosed cockpit and retractable undercarriage)
I-15: Polykarpov TsKB-3 (1-seat biplane with `gull' upper wing open cockpit and fixed undercarriage)
I-15bis/I-152: Polykarpov TsKB-3bis (re-engined and other minor changes)
I-15ter/I-153: Polykarpov TsKB-3ter (re-engined and retractable undercarriage)
I-16: Polykarpov TsKB-12/18/29 (1-seat monoplane with open cockpit and retractable undercarriage)
I-17: Polykarpov TsKB-15/19/33 (1-seat monoplane with in-line engine and retractable undercarriage)
I-21: Pashinin (only 5 built - protoype fighter from Ilyushin may share designation)
I-22: Lavochkin-Gorbunov-Gudkov (later designated LaGG-1)
I-26: Yakovlev Krasavec `Beauty' (later designated Yak-1)
I-28: Yatsenko (constructed from resin-bonded wood)
I-61: Mikoyan-Gurevich (later designated MiG-1)


DB-2: Tupolev/Sukhoi ANT-37 (cancelled bomber derivative of ANT-25)
DB-3: Ilyushin TsKB-30 (2-engine all-metal monoplane)
SB or SB-2: Tupolev ANT-40 (2-engine all-metal monoplane)
TB-1: Tupolev ANT-4 (2-engine all-metal monoplane)
TB-3: Tupolev ANT-6 (4-engine all-metal monoplane)
TB-4: Tupolev ANT-16 (6-engine all-metal monoplane)
TB-7: Tupolev ANT-42 (4-engine all-metal monoplane, later designated Pe-8)

Soviet System since 1939

The system after 1939 used letter abbreviations for the design office, then numbers in order, with odd numbers for fighters and even numbers for all other types. However, this latter rule was sometimes breached, especially for helicopters.

The NATO Air Standardization Coordinating Committee reporting name system (used because correct designation of new types not always known) was based on having the initial letter indicate type of aircraft (B = bomber, C = cargo, F = fighter, H = helicopter, M = miscellaneous) or missile, and 1 syllable if propeller-driven or 2 if jet- or rocket-powered.

Design Office Prefixes

An: Antonov
Ar: Archangelskii
BI: Berezniak-Isaev
Be: Beriev
La: Lavochkin

LaGG: Lavochkin-Gorbunov-Gudkov
Il: Ilyushin
Ka: Kamov
M: Myasishchev
Mi: Mil
MiG: Mikoyan-Gurevich
Pe: Petlyakov
Po: Polikarpov
Su: Sukhoi
Tu: Tupolev
Yak: Yakovlev
Yer: Yermolayev

See also