Code Naming Japanese Aircraft

The code name system for Japanese aircraft originated in the Southwest Pacific theatre in the second half of 1942. Before Pearl Harbor, very little was known about Japanese military aircraft of any type, and it was widely assumed that most Japanese military aircraft were second-rate copies of obsolescent Western designs. It goes without saying that the first six months of the Pacific War showed just how wrong that view was!

The Allies were thus faced with a desperate need for accurate, up-to-date intelligence on the Japanese aircraft which were at that time riding roughshod over the entire Pacific theatre of operations. In June, 1942 Captain Frank T. McCoy of Nashville, Tennessee became head of the Material Section of the Directorate of Intelligence of the allied air forces in the entire Southwest Pacific area. His team was assigned the task of identifying and classifying Japanese aircraft.

Since Captain McCoy was from Tennessee, he initially assigned hillbilly names such as ZEKE, RUFE, NATE, and JAKE to Japanese aircraft--chosen so that they were short, simple, unusual, and easy to remember. 75 code names were assignedthe first month. By September 1942, these names were in wide use throughout the entire Southwest Pacific. Shortly thereafter, they went into use throughout the entire Pacific.

These odd-sounding code names soon attracted attention from high-ranking military brass. Captain McCoy assigned to what later turned out to be a modified Zero the code name HAP, the nickname of General Henry H. ("Hap") Arnold, USAAF Chief of Staff. The General was NOT amused, and had Capt McCoy summoned before General MacArthur's chief of operations to explain what he was up to. Captain McCoy seems to have gotten himself out of this particular jam, but the name HAP was quietly changed to HAMP.

In the summer of 1944, a joint Army-Navy Air Technical Center in Washington took over responsibility for assigning the names.

The code names were alloted according to the following system:

Male first names: Fighters and reconnaissance seaplanes

Female first names: Bombers, attack bombers, dive bombers, Reconnaissance aircraft ,Flying boats

Transports (names beginning with letter T).

Tree names: Trainers

Bird names: Gliders

However, there were some exceptions to the rule. The Ki-44 Shoki single-seat fighter was assigned the name TOJO.



ABDUL,Nakajima Ki-27,Army single-seat fighter serving in CBI theatre. Duplicate of NATE in Southwest Pacific.After 1943, code name NATE was used exclusively.

ADAM,Nakajima STK-97,Nonexistent fighter seaplane

ALF,Kawanishi E7K,Navy single-engined reconnaissance biplane seaplane

ANN,Mitsubishi Ki-30,Army single-engined light bomber

BABS,Mitsubishi Ki-15/C5M,Army/Navy single-engined reconnaissance aircraft

BAKA,Yokosuka MXY7 Ohka,Navy rocket-powered suicide (Cherry Blossom) attacker.

BELLE,Kawanishi H3K1,Navy biplane flying boat

BEN,Nagoya-Sento KI-001,Did not exist.

BEN,Mitsubishi A6M Reisen,Name briefly assigned to Zero (Zero Fighter in CBI theatre.

BESS,Heinkel He 111,Erroneously believed to being built under license in Japan

BETTY,Mitsubishi G4M,Navy twin-engined land-based attack bomber

BOB,Aichi Type 97,Navy recon seaplane - did not exist

BOB,Kawasaki Ki-28,Erroneously believed to be in production as fighter

BUZZARD,Kokusai Ku-7 Manazuru,Army transport glider

CEDAR,Tachikawa Ki-17,Army single-engined two-seat biplane primary trainer

CHERRY,Yokosuka H5Y,Navy flying boat

CLARA,Tachikawa Ki-70,Army command reconnaissance aircraft

CLAUDE,Mitsubishi A5M,Navy carrier-based single-seat fighter

CYPRESS,Kyushu K9W,Navy primary trainer,Kokusai Ki-86 Army primary trainer

DAVE,Nakajima E8N,Navy two-seat reconnaissance seaplane biplane.

DICK,Seversky A8V1,Seversky 2PA-B3 purchased from USA and operated as two-seat Navy land-based fighters.

DINAH,Mitsubishi Ki-46,Army twin-engined reconnaissance and interceptor aircraft.

DOC,Messerschmitt Bf 110,German twin-engined fighter erroneously believed to be in service in Japan.

DORIS,Mitsubishi B-97,Medium bomber- did not exist

DOT,Yokosuka D4Y,Carrier-based dive bomber - duplicate of JUDY

EDNA,Mansyu Ki-71,Army experimental single-engined two-seat tactical reconnaissance aircraft.Development of Mitsubishi Ki-51.

EMILY,Kawanishi H8K,Navy four-engined long-range reconnaissance flying boat

EVA(EVE),Mitsubishi Ohtori,Erroneously believed to be a bomber

FRANCES,Yokosuka P1Y Ginga,Navy land-based twin-engined (Milky Way) light bomber/night fighter

FRANK,"Mitsubishi TK-4",Fictional twin-engined fighter. Name later applied to Nakajima Ki-84

FRANK,Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate (Gale),Single-seat Army fighter.

FRED,Focke-Wulf FW 190A-5,Erroneously believed to be in service in Japan

GANDER,Kokusai Ku-8,Army transport glider Formerly named GOOSE

GEORGE,Kawanishi N1K Shiden,Navy single-seat land-based (Violet Lightning) interceptor-fighter

GLEN,Yokosuka E14Y,Navy single-engined reconnaissance seaplane

GOOSE,Kokusai Ku-8,Army transport glider Named changed to GANDER

GRACE,Aichi B7A Ryusei,Navy single-engined carrier- (Shooting Star) based attack bomber.

GUS,Nakajima AT-27,Fictional twin-engined fighter.

GWEN,Mitsubishi Ki-21-IIb,Army heavy bomber - name later changed to SALLY III.

HAMP,Mitsubishi A6M3,Navy carrier-based fighter. First named HAP, then HAMP, then finally ZERO 32.

HANK,Aichi E10A,Navy reconnaissance seaplane

HELEN,Nakajima Ki-49 Donryu,Army twin-engined heavy bomber (Storm Dragon)

HICKORY,Tachikawa Ki-54,Army twin-engined advanced crew trainer and light transport.

IDA,Tachikawa Ki-55 and Ki-36 ,Army single engined two-seat monoplane trainer and army cooperation aircraft

IONE,"Aichi AI-104" Nonexistent reconnaissance seaplane.

IRENE,Junkers Ju 87A,German single-engine dive bomber erroneously believed to be in service with Japanese army.

IRVING,Nakajima J1N Gekko (Moonlight),Navy twin-engined land-based night fighter and reconnaissance aircraft.

JACK,Mitsubishi J2M Raiden,Navy single-seat land-based (Thunderbolt) interceptor.

JAKE,Aichi E13A,Navy single-engined reconnaissance seaplane.

JANE,Mitsubishi Ki-21,Army heavy bomber - Name later changed to SALLY

JANICE,Junkers Ju 88A-5,German light bomber erroneously believed to be in service in Japan.

JEAN,Yokosuka B4Y,Navy carrier-based single-engined attack bomber biplane.

JERRY,Heinkel A7He1,Heinkel He 112B-0 in service in Japan as Navy land-based fighter.

JILL,Nakajima B6N Tenzan,Navy single-engined carrier- (Heavenly Mountain) based attack bomber.

JIM,Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa,Army single-seat fighter - name later changed to OSCAR

JOE,TK-19,Fictional single-seat fighter

JOYCE,Misidentified HICKORY,Believed to be a light bomber version of Tachikawa Ki-54

JUDY,Yokosuka D4Y Suisei,Navy carrier-based single- (Comet) engined dive bomber.

JULIA,Misidentified LILY,Believed to be a heavy bomber

JUNE,Misidentified JAKE,Believed to be a floatplane version of VAL

KATE,Nakajima B5N,Navy single-engined carrier-based attack bomber

LAURA,Aichi E11A,Navy reconnaissance seaplane

LILY,Kawasaki Ki-48,Army twin-engined light bomber

LIZ,Nakajima G5N Shinzan,Navy four-engined attack bomber (Mountain Recess) operated as freight transport.

LORNA,Kyushu Q1W Tokai,Navy twin-engined land-based (Eastern Sea) patrol aircraft.

LOUISE,Mitsubishi Ki-2,Army twin-engined light bomber

LUKE,Mitsubishi J4M Senden, Navy interceptor

MABEL,Mitsubishi B5M,Carrier-based attack bomber. Name later changed to KATE 61

MARY,Kawasaki Ki-32 ,Army single-engined, two-seat light bomber

MAVIS,Kawanishi H6K,Navy four-engined maritime reconnaissance flying boat

MIKE,Messerschmitt Bf 109E,German fighter erroneously believed to be in service in Japan.

MILLIE,Vultee V-11GB,Erroneously believed to be in production by Showa in Japan

MYRT,Nakajima C6N Saiun,Navy single-engined carrier- (Painted Cloud) based reconnaissance aircraft

NATE,Nakamima Ki-27,Army single-seat fighter Name initially used only in Southwest Pacific theatre, whereas the same plane was called ABDUL in CBI theatre. From 1943 onward used name NATE exclusively.

NELL,Mitsubishi G3M,Navy land-based twin-engined attack bomber

NICK,Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu,Army two-seat, twin-engined (Dragon Killer) fighter

NORM,Kawanishi E15K Shiun,Navy single-engined high-speed (Violet Cloud) reconnaissance seaplane

NORMA,Misidentified BABS,Believed to be a light bomber

OAK,Kyushu K10W,Navy intermediate trainer License-built North American NA-16

OMAR,Suzukaze 20,Fictional twin-engined fighter

OSCAR,Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa,Army single-seat fighter - known (Peregrine Falcon) for a time in CBI theatre as JIM

PAT,Tachikawa Ki-74,Erroneously believed to be a long-range fighter. Name changed to PATSY when,true role of bomber became known.

PATSY,Tachikawa Ki-74,Army experimental long-range, high-altitude reconnaissance bomber.

PAUL,Aichi E16A Zuiun,Navy single-engined (Auspicious Cloud) reconnaissance seaplane

PEGGY,Mitsubishi Ki-67 Hiryu,Army twin-engined heavy bomber (Flying Dragon)

PERRY,Kawasaki Ki-10,Army single-seat biplane fighter Relegated to training roles by beginning of Pacific War

PETE,Mitsubishi F1M,Navy single-engined observation biplane seaplane.

PINE,Mitsubishi K3M,Navy single-engined crew trainer

RANDY,Kawasaki Ki-102b,Army twin-engined assault plane

RAY,Mitsubishi A6M Reisen,Name briefly assigned to Zero (Zero Fighter) in CBI theatre.

REX,Kawanishi N1K Kyofu,Navy single-engined seaplane (Mighty Wind) fighter.

RITA,Nakajima G8N Renzan,Navy land-based four-engined (Mountain Range) attack bomber

ROB,Kawasaki Ki-64,Experimental Army single-seat fighter

RUFE,Nakajima A6M2-N,Seaplane fighter version of Mitsubishi A6M2 Reisen.

RUTH,Fiat BR-20,Italian-built heavy bomber in Japanese service

SALLY,Mitsubishi Ki-21,Army twin-engined heavy bomber. Formerly named JANE.

SAM,Mitsubishi A7M Reppu,Navy single-seat carrier-based (Hurricane) fighter

SANDY,Mitsubishi A5M,Navy carrier-based fighter. Name given to a non-existent inverted-gull wing version of CLAUDE.

SLIM,Watanabe E9W,Navy Reconnaissance Seaplane

SONIA,Mitsubishi Ki-51,Army two-seat, single-engined assault aircraft

SPRUCE,Tachikawa Ki-9,Army medium-grade two-seat single-engined biplane trainer

STELLA,Kokusai Ki-76,Army single-engined command liaison aircraft. Generally similar to Fieseler Fi 156 Storch but not a copy.

STEVE,Mitsubishi Ki-72,Army experimental twin-engined fighter

SUSIE,Aichi D1A,Navy single-engined carrier-based biplane dive bomber

TABBY,Showa/Nakajima L2D,Navy land-based twin-engined transport. License-built version of Douglas DC-3.

TESS,Douglas DC-2,License-built DC-2s erroneously believed to be in widespread use by Japanese Navy.

THALIA,Kawasaki Ki-56 ,Army twin-engined transport. Japanese-built adaptation of Lockheed Model,14-WG3.

THELMA,Tachikawa/Kawasaki Type LO,Twin-engined Army transport. License built version of Lockheed Model 14.

THERESA,Kokusai Ki-59,Army twin-engined light personnel transport

THORA,Nakajima Ki-34/L1N,Army/Navy twin-engined transport

TINA,Mitsubishi Ki-33,Army transport - misidentified Yokosuka L3Y transport version of G3M attack bomber.

TILLIE,Yokosuka H7Y,Navy experimental flying boat

TOBY,Lockheed 14,Commercial Lockheed 14s used by Japan during Pacific War.

TOJO,Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki,Army single-seat fighter(Devil-Queller)

TONY,Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien (Swallow),Army single-seat fighter

TOPSY,Mitsubishi Ki-57/L4M,Army/Navy twin-engine transport

TRIXIE,Junkers Ju 52/3m,German trimotor transport erroneously believed to be in service in Japan

TRUDY,Focke-Wulf Fw 200,German four-engined maritime reconnaissance aircraft erroneously believed to be in service in Japan

VAL,Aichi D3A,Navy single-engined two-seat carrier-based dive bomber

WILLOW,Yokosuka K5Y,Navy intermediate trainer biplane.

ZEKE,Mitsubishi A6M Reisen, Navy single-engined carrier-(Zero Fighter) based fighter.

Source: Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War, Rene J. Francillon, Naval Institute Press, 1979

From a message from Joe Baugher on one of the Usenet groups. This message was passed on to me by Rick Housden. I've attempted to write the author on a couple of occasions, but have been unable to get a message through. If you know how I can get ahold of the author, I'd greatly appreciate an e-mail with his address as I'd like to let him know that I'm using it here.