US Navy Attack Aircraft Designations

1923-1962 Navy Aircraft Designation System

For many years, the US Navy used a completely different aircraft designation system from the USAAC/USAAF/USAF. In 1923, the Navy introduced an aircraft designation system in which its aircraft were designated according to manufacturer, type, and model sequence by a sequence of letters and numbers. The system was also used by the US Marine Corps, which is a part of the Navy, as well as by the US Coast Guard beginning in 1935. This system continued relatively unchanged until the introduction of the unified designation scheme of 1962.

The naval designation scheme is as follows

(status prefix)(Type)(Manufacturer type sequence)(manufacturer) - (configuration sequence number)(special purpose suffix)

The fields have the following meaning:

Here is a list of Navy/Marine Corps aircraft that fall into the attack category:

A--Attack (1946-1962)

  • Douglas Aircraft Corporation
    • Douglas AD Skyraider
    • Douglas A2D Skyshark
    • Douglas A3D Skywarrior
    • Douglas A4D Skyhawk

  • Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation
    • Grumman AF Guardian
    • Grumman A2F Intruder

  • McDonnell Aircraft Corporation
    • McDonnell AH-1 Phantom II

  • North American Aviation Inc.
    • North American AJ Savage
    • North American A2J
    • North American A3J Vigilante

  • Glenn L. Martin, Inc
      Martin AM-1 Mauler

  • Chance Vought Corporation
    • Vought AU Corsair
    • Vought A2U

Bomber-Fighter (1934-1937)

  • Boeing Airplane Company
    • Boeing BFB

  • Curtiss Aeroplane Company
    • Curtis BFC
    • Curtiss BF2C

Bomber-Torpedo (1942-1945)

  • Curtiss Aeroplane Company
    • Curtiss BTC
    • Curtiss BT2C

  • Douglas Aircraft Corporation
    • Douglas BTD Destroyer
    • Douglas BT2D Dauntless II

  • Kaiser-Fleetwings
    • Kaiser-Fleetwings BTK

  • Glenn L. Martin Corporation
    • Martin BTM

Scout-Bomber (1934-1946)

  • Brewster Aeronautical Corporation
    • Brewster SBA
    • Brewster SB2A Buccaneer

  • Curtiss Aeroplane Corporation
    • Curtiss SBC Helldiver
    • Curtiss SB2C Helldiver
    • Curtiss SB3C

  • Douglas Aircraft Corporation
    • Douglas SBD Dauntless
    • Douglas SB2D Destroyer

  • Grumman Aircraft and Engineering Corporation
    • Grumman SBF

  • Fairchild (Canada)
    • Fairchild SBF

  • Naval Aircraft Factory
    • Naval Aircraft FBN

  • Chance Vought Aircraft Corporation
    • Vought SBU
    • Vought SB2U Vindicator

  • Canadian Car and Foundry
    • CCF SBW

Torpedo-Bomber (1935-1946)

  • Douglas Aircraft Corporation
    • Douglas TBD Devastator
    • Douglas TB2D Skypirate

  • Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation
    • Grumman TBF Avenger
    • Grumman TB2F
    • Grumman TB3F

  • Great Lakes Aircraft Corporation
    • Great Lakes TBG

  • General Motors (Eastern Aircraft Division)
    • General Motors TBM Avenger

  • Chance Vought Aircraft Corporation
    • Vought TBU Seawolf

  • Convair
    • Convair TBY Seawolf

1962 Unified Designation System

On September 11, 1962, the Navy mission-manufacturer-number designation system that had been in use for so many years was replaced by a unified Department of Defense system in which Navy and Air Force aircraft were designated according to the same scheme. One of the changes was the introduction of a new A for attack series which would be used by both the Navy and the Air Force. Several of the Navy attack aircraft in the 1946-1962 attack series were redesignated with numbers in the new system.

Here are the existing Navy attack aircraft that were redesignated:

New DesignationOld Designation
Douglas A-1 SkyraiderDouglas AD Skyraider
North American A-2 SavageNorth American AJ Savage
Douglas A-3 SkywarriorDouglas A3D Skywarrior
Douglas A-4 SkyhawkIDouglas A4D Skyhawk
North American A-5 VigilanteNorth American A3J Vigilante
Grumman A-6 IntruderGrumman A2F Intruder

In the years following 1962, additional Navy attack aircraft were produced, and were assigned new numbers in the attack sequence:

  • Ling-Temco-Vought A-7 Corsair II

  • McDonnell Douglas AV-8 Harrier II

  • General Dynamics/McDonnell Douglas A-12 Avenger II

  • McDonnell Douglas/Boeing A-18 Hornet. Later changed to F/A-18