Airplanes of the Past Home Page Tail code lettering system used by the United States Air Force



U. S. Air Force Tail Codes

Tail Codes
USAF jet fighter Tail Codes

Tail Codes are markings usually on the vertical stabilizer of U.S. military aircraft that help to identify the aircraft's unit and/or base assignment and other information that is not unique.

This is not the same as the Air Force Serial Number, Navy Bureau Number, aircraft registration number, or Buzz Number.

Since 1993, all Air Force units, including Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard, utilize this system.

Two large letters identify the home base, or in some organizations, an historic legacy. Air National Guard units usually use the two-letter state abbreviation as a tail code.

The Air Force aircraft Serial Number is also usually marked on the tail.

The first two digits of the serial number indicate the year in which the aircraft was ordered, the remaining digits being a sequential number within that year.

Photographs Showing U.S. Air Force Tail Codes

Tail Code "DM" on a Fairchild-Republic A-10A Thunderbolt II, Air Force Serial Number 75-0298
355th Wing, Davis-Monthan AFB
Tail Code "DM" on a Fairchild-Republic A-10A Thunderbolt II, Air Force Serial Number 75-0298, 355th Wing, Davis-Monthan AFB
Tail Code SH on F-105D Thunderchief, Air Force Serial Number 62-4360
at the Charles B. Hall Airpark located at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
F-105D S/N 62-4360 at the Charles B. Hall Airpark located at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Tail Code LF on McDonnell-Douglas F-4D Phantom II, Serial Number 66-8812, Tyler, TX
Tail Code LF on McDonnell-Douglas F-4D Phantom II, Serial Number 66-8812
Tail Code SH on F-4D Phantom II, Serial Number 66-7518, Oklahoma City
F-4D Phantom II S/N 66-7518 at the Charles B. Hall Airpark located at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
A variety of Air Force tail codes, Pima Air and Space (October 2012)
A variety of Air Force tail codes