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Old 01-14-2020, 12:46 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 1,044

You are correct regarding the bureau number; it's a manufacturer/purchasing/logistic reference, and these whilst handy for parts ordering are a bit unwieldy for day to day use by a squadron. It's far simpler to paint a large visible 2- or 3-digit number code for quick ID of an a/c and easier to verbalise.


"Fisher, you're to take 208 out for a post maintenance test hop"

"Hey chief, the XO in 04 is reporting a leak, can you go check it out?"

"Get 211 out of the landing area stat!"

"102 Tomcat Ball"

Try replacing any of those numbers with the bureau and you'll see what I mean.

In your specific example, which is US Navy:

401 is specifically

4 = Squadron on the carrier; in earlier times the fighter squadrons would own the 100 and 200 number range, the ground attack squadrons the 300 and 400 ranges.

01 = an individual aircraft within the squadron. Ranges usually from 00-12 dependant on squadron strength.
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