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Buzz Numbers
The Explanations and Regulations Behind America's Military Aircraft Identification System


Peter M. Bowers and David W. Menard



S u m m a r y

Title, Description & Publisher: Buzz Numbers - The Explanation and Regulations Behind America's Military Aircraft Identification System
by Peter M. Bowers and David W. Menard
ISBN: 978-1-58007-103-1
Media: Soft Cover; 11.5 x 9" format; 96 pages; around 300 black and white photos throughout
Price: USD$16.95 from Specialty Press
Review Type: First Read
Advantages: The definitive reference for the Buzz Number code system for US military aircraft; logically laid out; clearly described in text, photos and tables; detailed Appendices with copies of actual technical orders and regulations
Recommendation: Recommended


Reviewed by Brett Green

HyperScale is proudly supported by Squadron.com




"Buzz Numbers" is the identification system that was used for US Army and US Air Force aircraft from late 1945 until the mid-1960s. This was a combination of two earlier identification systems - individual aircraft serial numbers, and fiscal year serial numbers.

From 1942 onwards, prominent numbers began appearing on the tails of US Army aircraft. These tail numbers were abbreviated versions of longer fiscal year numbers, which included information about the year of manufacture, the aircraft type and the individual aircraft number. They also doubled as the aircraft's radio call number.

After Allied victory in Europe, Eighth Air Force frequently pilots "buzzed" the countryside. Ground observers needed a way to easily identify these aircraft, hence the "Buzz Number" system was created to catch these miscreants.

The Buzz Number scheme comprised two letters to identify the aircraft type (eg P for pursuit) and model (eg A for P-38), followed by a dash and the last three digits of the tail number.

The authors have created a very useful reference covering the history and development of Buzz Numbers and their application. The book commences with a summary of systems in place prior to Buzz Numbers, followed by a description of the new system and its implementation. The next eight Chapters outline the application of the two-letter Buzz Number system, laid out by aircraft type - fighters, bombers, cargo, pursuit, trainers and miscellaneous.

The remaining six Chapters explains some of the specialist units and exceptions, including the three-letter Buzz Numbers, US Air Force (and USAF) markings, National Insignia and Air National Guard.

The book is wrapped up with tem Appendices. These are copies of original technical orders and regulations, providing first-hand insight into the implementation of this system.

The book is liberally illustrated with around 300 captioned contemporary black and white photos as marking examples. The system is are further explained using helpful tables.

Although this subject might be expected to be dry, the authors have actually delivered quite an interesting book that will be of great use to modellers and historians as the definitive reference on the subject of Buzz Numbers.


Thanks to Specialty Press for the review sample

Review Copyright 2006 by Brett Green
This Page Created on 02 October, 2006
Last updated 31 December, 2006

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