Dai-Nippon Teikoku Kaigun Koukuu-tai

Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service

Aircraft Code Names & Designations

1912 - 1945

1912 - 1922: The Early Years

The first aircraft used by the Imperial Japanese Navy were imported from France and America in 1912. As the Imperial Japanese Army had already imported similar aircraft, the IJN used the same designations, which consisted of a Type designation based on the phonetic pronounciation of the first Japanese character of the manufacturer's name.

Example: Navy Type Ka Seaplane (Curtiss 1912 Seaplane).

In 1915 the Imperial Japanese Navy created a new designation system and existing aircraft were re-designated. From 1915 to 1922, the Imperial Japanese Navy used a series of consecutive katakana characters (I, Ro, Ha, Ni, Ho) (from the Iroha) along with the suffix "go" ("type") to designate aircraft. Modified aircraft added Ko, Otsu, Hei, Tei, Bo, Ki, Ko, Shin, Jin, Ki (from the 10 Stems of the Japanese zodiac) with "gata" or "kata" ("sub-type" or "model").

Example: I-go Otsu-gata Seaplane (Curtiss 1912 Seaplane).

Listing of early IJN aircraft.

1922 - 1931: The Interwar Years

In 1922, 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. Initially, the Taisho calendar year was used, then changing to the Showa year until Showa 3 (1928), at which point the National calendar year was used.

Example: Navy Type 10 Carrier Fighter.

Listing of interwar IJN aircraft.

1931 - 1945: The War Years

In 1931, Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft designations were expanded and revised further to include an experimental designation and a project designation, along with the official Type designation:

Listing of World War II-era IJN aircraft, engine and other designations.

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© 1997-2013, Robert Beechy
Originally posted 1998
Modified: 02/12/2013