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Russian and Soviet Designations

Russian names of aircraft are of course originally written in the Cyrillic alphabet, and have to be transcripted. Transcriptions can be quite different, largely dependent on the language of the reader, to reflect pronunciation; eg. Gorbatsjov and Gorbachew.

Always remember that the aircraft that you are looking for might be in the list under Y instead of J, V instead of W, E instead of 'Ye', 'TCh' instead of 'Ch', 'Sj' instead of 'Sh', or the other way around...

Until recently, there was enormous confusion, because many designations were kept secret and information flow was slow. The assigning of NATO codenames to aircraft was done for good reason. Sufficiently old books will claim that the "Foxbat" is the 'MiG-23', "Faceplate" is the 'MiG-21', or that "Backfin" was in production as the 'Yak-42'. A few times detailled three-view drawings of non-existing aircraft have been published. And often, even if a general designation of the aircraft is known, different versions with different engines may not be distinguished.

To mess up things even more, many design bureaus assign designations very similar to the designations applied by the armed forces, e.g. Tu-95 and Tu-20, or even duplicate designations. By which designation an aircraft is known in the West is often a matter of coincidence. The assigned NATO codenames help clearing this up and clarify changes.


Before WWII

Before WWII, aircraft were given designations consisting of a function letter and a sequential number. A function letter system, as supplied by (Mike Campbell), is listed here:

A Autogyro ARK Arctic Coastal Recce B Bomber (Bombar) BB Short-range bomber Bsh Armoured attacker DAR Long-range arctic recce DB Long-range bomber DI 2-seater fighter DIS Twin engined escort fighter I Interceptor (Istrebitel) I/PI Single seat fighter KOR Ship-borne recce M Seaplane MA Amphibian MBR Short-range maritime recce MDR Long-range maritime recce MI Fighter seaplane MK Armoured seaplane MP Transport seaplane MR Reconnaisance seaplane MTB Maritime heavy bomber MU Trainer seaplane P Mailplane PB Dive bomber PL Transport PS Mail / passenger G Paratroop transport R Reconnaissance ROM Open sea recce SB High speed bomber Sch Low level attacker SchR Attack fighter-recce SPB Fast dive bomber TB Heavy bomber TSh Heavy attack fighter U Primary trainer UT Basic trainer (Uchebnotrenirovochny) UTI Fighter trainer VI High altitude fighter VIT Assaulter VT Supervised design Yu Junkers aircraft V Airship

After WWII

The basics of the current designation system are very simple. Aircraft are known by the acronym for their design bureau, and a sequential number. The number is odd for fighters and types similar to fighters, and even for other aircraft. The definition of a 'fighter' is rather vague and includes such as the Su-25 'Frogfoot' attack aircraft.

Complication arise because of the way in which subtypes are designated. Letters are appended to the basic designation, which indicate the type of modification. There is no fixed sequence, and a letter may have another meaning depending on the designation.

NATO Codenames

        Acrid              AA-6     Bisnovat R-40

        Alamo              AA-10                       (R-27)

        Alkali              AA-1     Tomashevitch K-5

        Amos              AA-9     Vympel K-33        (R-33)

        Anab              AA-3     Bisnovat K-8       (R-8, R-98)

        Apex              AA-7     Vympel K-23        (R-23)

        Aphid              AA-8     Bisnovat R-60

        Archer              AA-11    Molniya            (R-73)

        Ash              AA-5     Bisnovat K-80      (R-4)

        Atoll              AA-2     Vympel K-13        (R-3)

        Awl              AA-4     Mikoyan K-9

                      AA-12                       (R-77)

        Backfin       Tupolev Tu-98

        Backfire      Tupolev Tu-22M / Tu-26

        Back Net      Surveillance radar for SA-5.

        Badger              Tupolev Tu-16

        Band Stand    Radar associated with SS-N-7.

        Bank              North American B-25 Mitchell

        Barge              Tupolev Tu-85

        Bark              Ilysuhin Il-2

        Bar Lock      Surveillance radar for SA-5.

        Bat              Tupolev Tu-2 and Tu-6

        Beagle              Ilyushin Il-28

        Bear              Tupolev Tu-20, Tu-95 and Tu-142

        Beast              Ilyushin Il-10

        Bee Hind      Gun laying radar for the tail guns of the Tu-95 'Bear'.

        Big Bulge     Radar carried by the 'Bear-D'.

        Big Bulge     Radar fitted to the Ka-25 'Hormone-B'.

        Big Nose      Radar of the Tu-28P 'Fiddler'

        Bison              Myasichew M-4

        Blackjack     Tupolev Tu-160

        Blinder       Tupolev Tu-22 / Tu-105

        Blowlamp      Ilyushin Il-54

        Bob              Ilyushin Il-4

        Boot              Tupolev Tu-91

        Bosun              Tupolev Tu-14 / Tu-89

        Bounder       Myasichew M-50

        Box Tail      Tail warning radar fitted to the Tu-95 and the Tu-22M

                      'Backfire', replacing 'Bee Hind'.

        Brawny              Ilyushin Il-40

        Brewer              Yakovlev Yak-28

        Broussard     Yakovlev Yak-28 (Renamed Brewer)

        Buck              Petlyakov Pe-2

        Bull              Tupolev Tu-4 and Tu-80

        Butcher       Tupolev Tu-82

        Cab              Lisunov Li-2

        Camber              Ilyushin Il-86

        Camel              Tupolev Tu-104

        Camp              Antonov An-8

        Candid              Ilyushin Il-76

        Careless      Tupolev Tu-154

        Cart              Tupolev Tu-70

        Cat House     Radar associated with ABM-1.

        Cash              Antonov An-28

        Cat              Antonov An-10

        Charger       Tupolev Tu-144

        Charlie       Submarine class.

        Clam              Ilyushin Il-18, renamed Coot

        Clam Pipe     Nose radar fitted to the Tu-95MS Bear-H

        Clank              Antonov An-30

        Classic       Ilyushin Il-62

        Cleat              Tupolev Tu-114

        Cline              Antonov An-32

        Clobber       Yakovlev Yak-42

        Clod              Antonov An-14

        Clog              Antonov An-28 (?)

        Coach              Ilysuhin Il-12

        Coaler              Antonov An-72

        Cock              Antonov An-22

        Codling       Yakovlev Yak-40

        Coke              Antonov An-24

        Colt              Antonov An-2

        Condor              Antonov An-124

        Cooker              Tupolev Tu-110

        Cookpot       Tupolev Tu-124

        Coot              Ilyushin Il-18 and Il-20

        Cork              Yakovlev Yak-16

        Cossack       Antonov An-225

        Crate              Ilyushin Il-14

        Creek              Yakovlev Yak-12

        Crib              Yakovlev Yak-6 and Yak-8

        Crow              Yakovlev Yak-10 and Yak-12

        Crown Drum    Nose radar of the Tu-95 'Bear-B'

        Crusty              Tupolev Tu-134

        Cub              Antonov An-10 and An-12

        Cuff              Beriev Be-30

        Curl              Antonov An-26

        Delta              submarine class

        Dog House     Medium range early-warning ground radar for ABM-1.

        Down Beat     Nose radar of the Tu-95 'Bear-G' and Tu-22M 'Backfire'.

        Echo              Submarine class.

        Faceplate     Mikoyan-Gurevich E-2A

        Fagot              Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15

        Faithless     Mikoyan-Gurevich Ye-231

        Falcon              Mikoyan-gurevich MiG-15, renamed Fagot

        Fang              Lavochkin La-11

        Fan Song      Radar associated with the SA-2 'Guideline'

        Fantail       Lavockhin La-15

        Fantan              Nanchang Q-5

        Fargo              Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-9

        Farmer              Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19

        Feather       Yakovlev Yak-15 and Yak-17

        Fencer              Sukhoi Su-24

        Fiddler       Tupolev Tu-28

        Fin              Lavochkin La-7

        Finback       Shenyang F-8 II

        Firebar       Yakovlev Yak-28

        Fire Can      Radar used with 57mm and 85mm AAA.

        Fishbed       Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21

        Fishpot       Sukhoi Su-9 and Su-11

        Fitter              Sukhoi Su-7, Su-17, Su-20 and Su-22

        Flagon              Sukhoi Su-15 and Su-21

        Flanker       Sukhoi Su-27

        Flap Wheel    Gun laying radar for 130mm AAA.

        Flash Dance   Radar of the MiG-31.

        Flashlight    Yakovlev Yak-25 and Yak-27

        Flat Face     Radar used with SA-3 and SA-5.

        Flat Jack     Radar radome of the Tu-126 'Moss'.

        Flipper       Mikoyan-Gurevich Ye-152

        Flogger       Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 and MiG-27

        Flora              Yakovlev Yak-23

        Forger              Yakovlev Yak-38

        Foxbat              Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25

        Fox Fire      Radar of the MiG-25 Foxbat-A

        Foxhound      Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-31

        Frank              Yakovlev Yak-9

        Fred              Bell P-63 Kingcobra

        Freehand      Yakovlev Yak-36

        Freestyle     Yakovlev Yak-141

        Fresco              Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17

        Fritz              Lavochkin La-9

        Frog              artillery rocket

        Frogfoot      Sukhoi Su-25

        Frosty              Tupolev Tu-10

        Fulcrum       Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29

        Gadfly              SA-11, SA-N-7

        Gainful       SA-6

        Ganef              SA-4

        Galosh              ABM-1

        Gammon              SA-5

        Gaskin              SA-9

        Gauntlet      SA-15, SA-N-9

        Gazelle       ABM-3

        Gecko              SA-8, SA-N-4

        Giant              SA-12B

        Gimlet              SA-16

        Gladiator     SA-12A

        Goa              SA-3, SA-N-1

        Goblet              SA-N-3

        Golf              submarine class

        Gopher              SA-13

        Grail              SA-7

        Gremlin       SA-14

        Griffon       SA-5 (renamed Gammon)

        Grisha              corvette class

        Grisom              SA-19, SA-N-11

        Grumble       SA-10, SA-N-6

        Guideline     SA-2, SA-N-2

        Guild              SA-1

        Gun Dish      Gun-laying radar for ZSU-23-4 and ZSU-52-2 AAA sets.

        Halo              Mil Mi-26

        Hare              Mil Mi-1

        Harke              Mil Mi-10

        Harp              Kamov Ka-20

        Harp              missile ?

        Hat              Kamov Ka-10

        Havoc              Mil Mi-28

        Haze              Mil Mi-14

        Head Light    Radar for SA-N-3 Goblet

        Head Net      Shipboard surveillance radar

        Helix              Kamov Ka-32, Ka-27, and Ka-29

        Hen              Kamov Ka-15

        Hen House     Long-range early-warning ground radar.

        Hermit              Mil Mi-34

        High Fix      Radar of the Su-17 'Fitter-C' and of the early MiG-21.

        High Lark     Radar of the MiG-23 'Flogger'.

        High Lune     Height Finding radar used with SA-N-2 Guideline.

        Hind              Mil Mi-24

        Hip              Mil Mi-8 and Mi-17

        Hog              Kamov Ka-18

        Hokum              Kamov Ka-50

        Homer              Mil Mi-12

        Hoodlum       Kamov Ka-26 and Ka-126

        Hook              Mil Mi-6

        Hoop              Kamov Ka-22

        Hoplite       Mil Mi-2

        Hormone       Kamov Ka-25

        Horse              Yakovlev Yak-24

        Hot Brick     IR jammer.

        Hotel              submarine class

        Hound              Mil Mi-4

        Jay Bird      Small radar set, used by the MiG-25U Foxbat-C trainer

                      and the MiG-21MF.

        Kangaroo      AS-3

        Kanin              destroyer class

        Kara              cruiser class

        Karen              AS-10

        Kashin              destroyer class

        Kazoo         AS-18

        Kedge              AS-14

        Kegler              AS-12

        Kelt              AS-5

        Kennel              AS-1

        Kerry              AS-7

        Kickback      AS-16

        Kildin              (ship) class

        Kilter              AS-11

        Kingfish      AS-6

        Kingpost      AS-13 (?)

        Kingbolt      AS-13 (?)

        Kipper              AS-2

        Kitchen       AS-4

        Koala              AS-X-19

        Kotlin              SAM-carrying destroyer class

        Kresta              cruiser class

        Krivak              destroyer class

        Krupny              destroyer class

        Krypton       AS-17

        Kuril              carrier class

        Kyle              AS-9

        Kynda              cruiser class

        Long Track    Surveillance radar associated with the SA-4 and SA-6

        Low Blow      Radar associated with the SA-3

        Madcap              Antonov An-74

        Madge              Beriev Be-6

        Maestro       Yakovlev Yak-28

        Magnet              Yakovlev Yak-17

        Magnum              Yakovlev Yak-30

        Maiden              Sukhoi Su-11

        Mail              Beriev Be-12

        Mainstay      Ilyushin Il-76

        Mallow              Beriev Be-10

        Mandrake      Yakovlev Yak-25

        Mangrove      Yakovlev Yak-27

        Mantis              Yakovlev Tak-32

        Mare              Yakovlev Yak-14

        Mark              Yakovlev Yak-7U

        Mascot              Ilysuhin Il-28

        Max              Yakovlev Yak-18

        May              Ilyushin Il-38

        Maya              Aero L-29 Delfin

        Mermaid       Beriev Be-42

        Midas              Ilyushin Il-76

        Midget              Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15

        Mink              UT-2

        Mode              Beriev Be-8 ?

        Mole              Yakovlev Yak-14 or Beriev Be-8 ?

        Mongol              Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21

        Moose              Yakovlev Yak-11

        Moss              Tupolev Tu-126

        Mote              Beriev Be-2 / MDR-2

        Moujik              Sukhoi Su-7

        Mug              Chetverikov Che-2 / MBR-2

        Mule              Polikarpov Po-2

        Mystic              Myasischew M-17 / M-55

        Nanuchka      Missile boat class

        Odd Rods      IFF set with three antennas of increasing length.

        Osa              Missile boat class

        Papa              Submarine class.

        Pat Hand      Radar associated with SA-4 and SA-6.

        Peel Group    Radar for SA-N-1 Goa.

        Pop Group     Radar for SA-N-4.

        Puff Ball     Big surveillance radar, carried by the Tu-16.

        Saber           SS-25

        Sandal                SS-4

        Saddler         SS-7

        Sagger                AT-3

        Salish                SSC-2A

        Samlet                SSC-2B

        Sandal                SS-4

        Sandbox         SS-N-12

        Sapwood         SS-6

        Sasin                SS-8

        Satan           SS-18

        Savage                SS-13

        Sawfly                SS-N-6

        Scaleboard        SS-12

        Scamp                SS-14 plus road trailer.

        Scapegoat        SS-14

        Scan Odd        The 'Izumrud' radar of the all-wheater MiG-19 and

                        maybe the MiG-17P.

        Scan Fix        Early version of the Izumrud radar, fitted to

                        the MiG-17P.

        Scan Three        Radar of the Yak-25.

        Scarp                SS-9

        Scrag                SS-10

        Scrooge         SS-15

        Scrubber        SS-N-1

        Scud                SS-1

        Scunner         SS-1

        Sego                SS-11

        Sepal                SSC-1B cruise missile

        Serb                SS-N-5

        Shaddock        SS-N-3

        Sheet Bend        Radar associated with SSC-2B Samlet cruise missiles.

        Shershen        torpedo boat class.

        Shilka                ZSU-23-4 self-prolled AA gun platform

        Short Horn        Navigation and bombing radar. Fitted to

                        Tu-95 'Bear-H'

        Short Horn        Search radar of the Ka-25 'Hormone-A'

        Shyster         SS-3

        Sibling         SS-2

        Side Net        Heigth finding radar for SA-5.

        Siren                SS-N-7

        Skean                SS-5

        Skip Spin        Radar set of the Yak-28P 'Firebar',

                        Su-11 'Fishpot' and Su-15 'Flagon'.

        Slim Net        Missile-associated radar.

        Slot Black        Radar set of the MiG-29.

        Snapper         AT-1

        Snark                SS-N-4

        Spandrel        AT-5

        Spigot                AT-4

        Spin Scan        The R1L radar fitted to some MiG-21 versions.

        Spiral                AT-6

        Spoon Rest        Early-warning radar

        Square Pair        Target-tracking radar for SA-5.

        Stiletto        SS-19

        Straight Flush        Radar for SA-6.

        Strela                SS-N-1 (also Scrubber)

        Styx                SS-7, SS-N-2

        Swatter         AT-2

        Swift Rod        ILS system carried by many USSR aircraft.

        Tall King        Ground radar.

        Top Sail        Surveillance radar associated with SA-N-3 Goblet.

        Try Add         Ground radar associated with the ABM-1 'Galosh'

        Twin Scan        Radar of the Su-21 'Flagon-E'

        Typhoon         submarine class ?

        Victor                submarine class

        Whisky                submarine class. 'Whisky Twin Cylinder' with two

                        deck launchers for SS-N-3 cruise missiles, 'Whisky

                        Long Bin' with four internal launchers.

        Yankee                submarine class

        Yo-yo                Radar for SA-1 Guild systems.

        Zulu                submarine class

Emmanuel Gustin

Military Aircraft Database . Index