Dai-Nippon Teikoku Rikugun Kokutai
Imperial Japanese Army Air Service
Aircraft Code Names & Designations
1910 - 1945
1910 - 1921: The Early Years
Initially, the Imperial Japanese Army did not have a specific method for designating military aircraft; generally the manufacturer's designation or model number was used. Later, a Type designation based on the phonetic pronounciation of the first Japanese character of the manufacturer's name was assigned.
Examples: Kaishiki No. 1 Aeroplane; Army Type Mo 1913 Aeroplane (Mo - Maurice Farman).
Listing of early IJA aircraft.
1921 - 1927: First Designation System
Starting in November/December 1921, IJA aircraft were assigned a manufacturer type code (from the 10 Stems of the Japanese zodiac) along with a numerical designation:
Example: Army Type Ko 2 Trainer (license-built Nieuport Nie.83).
Listing of IJA aircraft in first designation system.
1927 - 1932: "Type Number" Designation System
In 1927, this system was replaced by a Type number based on the last two digits of the
Japanese calendar year in which the aircraft was accepted for service, along with a description
of the aircraft's role.
Example: Mitsubishi Army Type 87 Light Bomber.
Listing of IJA aircraft in "Type Number" designation system.
1932 - 1945: World War II-era Designation System
Starting in 1932, the "Type Number" designation system was expanded to include a Project Designation for experimental and developmental aircraft, consisting of "Ki" (Kitai, airframe) and a number drawn from a chronological list.
Example: Nakajima Ki-43 Army Type 1 Fighter Hayabusa.
Listing of IJA aircraft in World War II-era designation system.
Other World War II-era Designations
Imperial Japanese Army aircraft engine and armament designations:
1942 - 1945: Joint Army-Navy Engine Designations
In 1942, the Japanese Ministry of Munitions implemented a designation system for aircraft engines used by both the Imperial Japanese Army and the Imperial Japanese Navy, combining elements of both service's engine designation systems.
© 1997-2013, Robert Beechy
Originally posted 1998