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RAF Tornado F3 tail coding system

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RAF Tornado F3 tail coding system

Old 16th Feb 2021, 17:06
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RAF Tornado F3 tail coding system

I'm trying to understand the later Tornado F3 tail coding system adopted in the later years with 'U*', 'V*, etc through to 'Y*'. I'm guessing it could relate to specific fits of airframes as nothing else makes any sense!

MTIA
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Old 16th Feb 2021, 18:38
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From memory it was per Sqn - F* being something from XXV(F), D* being 11(F), H* being 111(F) Sqn and G* being 43(F). I canít remember what 56 had. Generally anything with a T in it was a trainer. This was generally the case, barring fleet rotation, when I was there 2005-08.
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Old 16th Feb 2021, 20:45
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Going from some of my pics, Frodo's post above is correct. 56 had codes starting with T*, and also *T but near the end when they were at Leuchars, they went to W*. Checking some of my pics, 11 had codes U*, 25 had both V* and X*, 111 had J*. I don't have any of 43 with other than G- codes, although I have pics of F3's in 25 sqn marks, with both V* and X* codes, but one of them could have been an ex 43 aircraft.
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Old 16th Feb 2021, 21:22
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Originally it was:

A* = 229 OCU, 65 Sqn and 56 Sqn
B* = 29 Sqn
C* = 5 Sqn
D* = 11 Sqn
E* = 23 Sqn
F* = 25 Sqn
G* = 43 Sqn
H* = 111 Sqn

Then there was F, H, C and D on 1435 Flt
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Old 16th Feb 2021, 21:44
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Originally Posted by The B Word View Post
Originally it was:

A* = 229 OCU, 65 Sqn and 56 Sqn
B* = 29 Sqn
C* = 5 Sqn
D* = 11 Sqn
E* = 23 Sqn
F* = 25 Sqn
G* = 43 Sqn
H* = 111 Sqn

Then there was F, H, C and D on 1435 Flt
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Old 17th Feb 2021, 09:14
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Thanks all, I'm familiar with the original 1990s system per squadron (A* to H* as mentioned) but the below list from about 2008 doesn't make much sense:KT/ZE941 F3 OCU/56(R) Sqn

LT/ZE154 11 Sqn

MT/ZH558 F3 OCU/56(R) Sqn

NT/ZH557 25 Sqn

OT/ZH556 111 Sqn

TA/ZE934 F3 OCU/56(R) Sqn
TB/ZE908 F3 OCU/56(R) Sqn
TC/ZE888 F3 OCU/56(R) Sqn
TE/ZE793 111 Sqn
TH/ZE728 25 Sqn
TI/ZE343 F3 OCU/56(R) Sqn
TO/ZE287 11 Sqn
TP/ZE256 F3 OCU/56(R) Sqn
TR/ZE250 F3 OCU/56(R) Sqn
TV/ZE199 F3 OCU/56(R) Sqn
TW/ZE163 43 Sqn
TX/ZE160 F3 OCU/56(R) Sqn

UA/ZE258 F3 OCU/56(R) Sqn
UB/ZE257 43 Sqn
UC/ZE255 25 Sqn
UD/ZE254 25 Sqn
UF/ZE251 11 Sqn
UI/ZE206 43 Sqn
UJ/ZE204 25 Sqn
UK/ZE203 11 Sqn
UL/ZE201 F3 OEU
UM/ZE200 11 Sqn
UN/ZE168 F3 OEU
UP/ZE165 5 Sqn
UQ/ZE164 stored
UR/ZE162 RAF Leuchars
UT/ZE967 111 Sqn
UU/ZE161 43 Sqn
UV/ZE159 111 Sqn
UW/ZE158 25 Sqn
UX/ZE156 F3 OCU/56(R) Sqn

VS/ZG799 43 Sqn
VT/ZE966 F3 OCU/56(R) Sqn
VU/ZE790 25 Sqn
VV/ZE982 25 Sqn
VW/ZE291 43 Sqn
VX/ZE289 111 Sqn

WA/ZG798 43 Sqn
WB/ZG797 43 Sqn
WC/ZG796 F3 OCU/56(R) Sqn
WD/ZG795 1435 Flt
WE/ZG793 11 Sqn
WF/ZG780 11 Sqn
WG/ZG778 43 Sqn
WI/ZG774 11 Sqn
WJ/ZG772 1435 Flt
WK/ZG770 F3 OCU/56(R) Sqn
WM/ZG757 43 Sqn
WN/ZG755 11 Sqn
WO/ZG753 1435 Flt
WP/ZG751 25 Sqn
WT/ZE965 F3 OCU/56(R) Sqn
WV/ZG731 F3 OEU
WY/ZE983 111 Sqn

XA/ZE969 25 Sqn
XB/ZE968 111 Sqn
XC/ZE962 25 Sqn
XD/ZE961 F3 OCU/56(R) Sqn
XE/ZE942 5 Sqn
XF/ZE936 25 Sqn
XI/ZE889 F3 OCU/56(R) Sqn
XK/ZE839 11 Sqn
XL/ZE838 43 Sqn
XO/ZE834 111 Sqn
XQ/ZE831 25 Sqn
XR/ZE812 F3 OCU/56(R) Sqn
XU/ZE810 43 Sqn
XV/ZE808 25 Sqn
XY/ZE791 111 Sqn

YA/ZE788 111 Sqn
YC/ZE785 F3 OEU
YD/ZE764 111 Sqn
YE/ZE763 11 Sqn
YI/ZE758 RAF/DARA
YJ/ZE757 25 Sqn
YL/ZE755 25 Sqn
YN/ZE736 RAF/DARA
YP/ZE731 11 Sqn
YR/ZE729 111 Sqn
YS/ZE342 111 Sqn
YT/ZE963 111 Sqn
YU/ZE341 25 Sqn
YV/ZE338 43 Sqn
YX/ZE294 25 Sqn
YY/ZE292 25 Sqn

Crazy!
Jerry Atrick is offline  
Old 17th Feb 2021, 09:23
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Twin-sticks have a code containing a "T"?
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Old 17th Feb 2021, 09:27
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Re my post above, the two versions of the T code used by 56, T* and *T, I have a vague memory that one set of codes was used for the 2 stickers, and the other used for single stick airframes.

Jerry, the code blocks may have been originally assigned to a Sqn, but airframes were moved around Sqn's so often that they were eventually all jumbled up. The first 4 airframes in your post above, were probably with 56 when the codes were applied.

Re the J* code for 111 Sqn I mentioned, this was JU on a specially marked F3, which was their code in WWII.

Last edited by Dan Gerous; 17th Feb 2021 at 09:38.
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Old 17th Feb 2021, 15:07
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When aircrew are discussing which aircraft specifically they'll be flying today, how do they refer to them?

I appreciate sometimes there might be a discussion about serviceability and which aircraft are available with which bits working, depending on what we're training on this occasion, that sort of thing.
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Old 17th Feb 2021, 16:15
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I seem to remember something in a spotting magazine saying that the code was related to the airframe number or build number?
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Old 17th Feb 2021, 16:50
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Originally Posted by Phil_R View Post
When aircrew are discussing which aircraft specifically they'll be flying today, how do they refer to them?

I appreciate sometimes there might be a discussion about serviceability and which aircraft are available with which bits working, depending on what we're training on this occasion, that sort of thing.
It depends on the fleet - for example when I was on F3s I might refer to the jet as ĎFJí because thatís how my Sqn (and fleet) managed their jets. On GR4 however the fleets were referred to by number - so Ď057í or similar. The one thing we didnít refer to them by was their actual serial, like ZGxxx. This clearly is only the case for fast jet fleets, I donít know for rotary or multis/ISTAR.
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Old 17th Feb 2021, 20:37
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Originally Posted by bobward View Post
I seem to remember something in a spotting magazine saying that the code was related to the airframe number or build number?
That would probably only be in cases such as in the Typhoon fleet, where the 3 numbers of the reg are used as the tail code, ie. ZK357 is coded 357. I remember as a youngster seeing Phantoms with codes such as 3**, and thinking the RAF had at least 300 Phantoms in service.

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Old 17th Feb 2021, 23:33
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Originally Posted by Phil_R View Post
When aircrew are discussing which aircraft specifically they'll be flying today, how do they refer to them?

I appreciate sometimes there might be a discussion about serviceability and which aircraft are available with which bits working, depending on what we're training on this occasion, that sort of thing.
The Tornado GR fleet used squadron-specific tail letters until the mid-2000s, by when the frequency of aircraft rotations between squadrons and deployed ops was such that a fleet-wide tail numbering scheme was adopted. Engineers and aircrew alike referred to the aircraft by their tail letters or number - that was the whole point, less of a mouthful than the registration, and easily readable when looking for your aircraft on the line or working out whoís where when joining formation! However formal paperwork (authorisation sheets, maintenance records, etc) always used the registration. The Typhoon system seems ideal for minimising the number of different ways to refer to a particular aircraft.
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