posted on Oct, 15 2006 @ 01:47 PM
Yeah crusader the F-5 project was commenced in 1954 at a time when current fighters like the F-100, F-104, F-105, F-106 were flying. Since the F-5
vwas conceived as an export figher under the Military Assistance Program it was never intended as a front line US machine- hence the different
designation. If the F-111 flew in 1964 under the old designation, after the F-5 in 1962 how is the F-5 in the new system since it was a MAP
Our F-14 was coincidentally the Grumman designation in sequence from theie 1st fighter the F2F in 1933, the F3F, F4F Wildcat, F5F prototype, F6F
Hellcat, F7F Tigercat, F8F Bearcat, F9F Panther, F10F Jaguar protype, F11F Tiger, F12F Tiger ugrade. There was no F13F Tomcat but should have been.
Superstition won out and the F-14 is simply the next Grumman/Navy designation. The fact that it coordinates with the "new" system was not lost on
the brass who took the opportunity to integrate it into the "all Fs for all services."
The Navy's designation system lasted until September 16, 1962, when the US Defense Department decided to introduce a new designation system.
Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara supposedly got frustrated when his advisers tried to explain the aircraft designation system to him, and was
surprised to find that the Navy and the Air Force had two different designation systems, often for what was basically the same airplane (F-110 for the
Air Force version of the Phantom, F4H for the Navy version). The Secretary ordered that the Navy abandon its separate designation system and
redesignate all of its aircraft according to the Air Force system. For fighters, the Air Force sequence had reached F-111, and the Defense Department
decided to start a brand new fighter designation series with 1, which would cover both Navy and Air Force fighters. Existing Navy fighter aircraft in
service at that time were assigned new numbers in the new unified fighter system.
Air Force fighters in service at the time- F-100, F-101, etc., retained their original designations, but new Air Force fighters ordered after 1962
were assigned numbers in the new unified designation scheme- F-15, F-16. After the F-14 Tomcat Navy planes were assigned the one-service F designation
such as the YF-17 which became the basis for the F/A-18.
New Designation/ Old Designation
North American F-1/ Fury North American FJ Fury
McDonnell F-2 Banshee/ McDonnell F2H Banshee
McDonnell F-3 Demon/ McDonnell F3H Demon
McDonnell F-4 Phantom II/ McDonnell F4H Phantom/F-110 Spectre
Douglas F-6 Skyray/ Douglas F4D Skyray
Convair F-7 Sea-Dart/ Convair F2Y Sea Dart
Vought F-8 Crusader/ Vought F8U Crusader
Grumman F-9 Cougar/ Grumman F9F Cougar
Douglas F-10 Skyknight/ Douglas F3D Skyknight
Grumman F-11 Tiger/ Grumman F11F Tiger
Nobody who really knows has explained it the F-19 stuff. It's been suggested, and sounds plausible,that it was called F-19 to start with but the
number was changed as a security measure after the open press started using that designation in the early 1980s (the aircraft first flew in 1981, but
wasn't revealed to the public until 1988). Why they picked F-117 as the new number is a mystery.
The USAF Museum lists "Lockheed F-19 CSIRS" among the fighters, with a note "see F-117".
The "F-19" may have been part of a "leak identification" project; it's common practice in many black projects to create several false stories and
track down leaks by watching to see which one gets out. The descriptions of the "F-19" also were very misleading regarding how to shape a stealth
aircraft, with lots of round curves, which wasn't practical then. (The A-11 would have logically been a ground attack aircraft)
The designation F-19 has been "used" for something else, as there is a NASA document titled "XF-19 EW suite" (Document ID: 19770060541 A
(77A43393)), published Jul 1, 1977, which mentions "the projected XF-19 U.S. STOL fighter-bomber" and that "The XF-19 is designed for forward area
tactical interception of hostile aircraft and missles, or for tactical close air support, with
capability of operating from unimproved/minimal/damaged runways, or small ships."
However, the document is only about desirable features of the ECM system of a possible future STOL fighter-bomber and "XF-19" is just a number the
author uses for the hypothetical aircraft as it was the next "free" number then.
There's also the separate question of why it was given an F-series (fighter) designation at all. Some think it should have gotten an A- or B-
designation, as it's got no air-to-air capability. But F- is correct for pure ground attack fighters too under the old system.
The F-117 has been popularly known as "Nighthawk" for some time; the Air Force made the name official on 24 June 1994.
The three main theories (in no specific order) are:
1. No reason whatsoever: The Pentagon just picked a random number.
2. The aircraft was using the call sign "117" (possibly for reasons connected with the following theory, or possibly just an arbitrarily assigned
number) on some of its early test flights, and the number just happened to stick presumably for lack of any other designation. When Lockheed got
around to printing pilot's manuals for the aircraft, they were labelled "F-117", and from then on it became official.
3. F-117 follows the designations F-112 to F-116, in the old USAF designation scheme, which were applied to some other aircraft types -- but if so
it's unclear which ones.
Some believe F-112 to F-116 were used for foreign types such as MiG-21 and Su-17 being flown in secret and as F-117 was too, it got a number in that
Pilot biographies on the USAF's official web site www.af.mil lists YF-110 and YF-113 among aircraft types flown for pilots who have served with
4477th Test and Evaluation Squadron. YF-113G seems to have been the Flogger G MiG-23 variant, it's not clear if any other YF-113s also were of the
MiG-23/27 family or not.
Another explanation is that it's just a continuation of the old scheme, as applied to later aircraft, and never redesignated F-19 (as F-111 never
was), sort of like this:
F-4 F-110 Fictional designations between " "
F-17 "F-115" This doesn't take into account F-5 and YF-12,
F-18 "F-116" and had the common scheme not been adopted
F-117 the USN would have kept its old system, possibly leaving the "F-19"
spot for F-117