British Military Aircraft Designation Systems
British military aircraft designations are used to refer to aircraft types and variants operated by the armed forces of the United Kingdom.
Since the end of the First World War, aircraft types in British military service have generally been known by a name (e.g. "Spitfire"), with individual variants recognised by mark numbers, in contrast to the systems such as that used in the United States, where an aircraft type is primarily identified by an alphanumeric designation.
The British military aircraft designations (e.g. "Spitfire Mark V" or "Hercules C3") should not be confused with the serial number used to identify individual aircraft (e.g. "XR220"), nor with U.S. aircraft designations (e.g. "C-5", "C-17", "MQ-9") or manufacturer's designations (e.g. "S-58", "Jaguar B", "WS-61", "AW139", "WAH-64", "Lynx Mk.21A").
No designation system was introduced during World War I that covered more than the products of a single manufacturer. The Admiralty frequently referred to designs by the serial of the first aircraft of that type to be accepted for service.
Read more about British Military Aircraft Designation Systems: The Military Designation System
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