English Names of Japan's WWII planes

Discussion in 'Aircraft & Aviation' started by rlwhitt, Nov 19, 2006.

  1. rlwhitt

    rlwhitt Active Member

    All right WWII aircraft history gurus, I've had a question for a long time an am too lazy to research it. I've noticed that most of the Japanese warplanes seem to be quoted with "english" names - "Kate", "Jack", "Nate", "Val", etc. Where do these come from? Were they names of our own military's choosing or are they some sort of translation? If we gave them the names, how did they come up with them?

    Thanks for a little Sunday morning history lesson!

  2. shrike

    shrike Guest

    Someone (with more coffee this morning) will answer in greater detail but the names were given as easier to remember code names by an intelligence station head in hte Pacific. The Japanese had some cumbersome and long winded official designations. For non-Japanese speakers they were easier to remember and pronounce.
    The names were originally his family members and friends.

    NATO did the same thing with Soviet aircraft, prompted in part by the the secrecy of the real designations being kept by the USSR. This was true of all systems, not just aircraft and not all of them were flattering. (The 'Dalek" shipboard turret springs to mind) OTOH MiG liked the name "Fulcrum" for the MiG29 that it became the factory trademark.
  3. tjchung

    tjchung New Member

    I believe the bombers were all named after women, ie Judy, Betty, Kate, etc
  4. cmdrted

    cmdrted Active Member

    I read a story somewhere that the code names for Japanese planes were drawn from "hillbilly" names. I'm not sure what the purpose was, I guess one was for morale, the other it was easier for radio transmissions. We did it in europe, but that was more unofficial,, ie all german tanks were panzers, not mk3 or 4. At the US invasion to our GIs all tanks later were Tigers, mk 6 or not!
  5. OldSalt

    OldSalt Member

    The following is taken from www.kensman.com :

    From Shad Shaddox: "The code name system was started in 1942 to simplify the identification of Japanese aircraft as they were sighted. Generally speaking, boy's code names were given to fighters, while girl's names were assigned to bombers.
    An outstanding example of a Japanese fighter was the Mitsubishi Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighter. This famous fighter was code named "Zeke." The fact that "Zeke" and "Zero" are similar sounding is coincidental. And of course we all know of the role the Zero played in the Pearl harbor attack.

    Examples of bombers used in the Pearl Harbor attack are "Kate" (a torpedo bomber) and "Val", a standard bomber, both flying off carriers."

    Alf: Kawanishi E7K2 Seaplane
    Betty: Mitsubishi G4M2a Bomber
    Cedar: Tachikawa Ki-17 Support AC
    Claude: Mitsubishi A5M4 Fighter
    Emily: Kawanishi H8K2 Seaplane
    Frances: Yokosuka P1Y1 Ginga Bomber
    Frank: Nakajima Ki-84-Ia Hayate Fighter
    George: Kawanishi N1K1-J Shiden Fighter
    Helen: Nakajima Ki-49-IIb Donryu Bomber
    Ida: Tachikawa Ki-36 Support AC
    Irving: Nakajima J1N1-C Gekko Support AC
    Jack: Mitsubishi J2M3 Raiden Fighter
    Jake: Aichi E13A1 Seaplane
    Jean: Yokosuka B4Y1 Support AC
    Jill: Nakajima B6N2 Tenzan Bomber
    Judy: Yokosuka D4Y3 Suisei Bomber
    Kate: Nakajima B5N2 Bomber
    Lorna: Kyushu Q1W1 Tokai Support AC
    Myrt: Nakajima C6N1 Saiun Support AC
    Nate: Nakajima Ki-27b Fighter
    Nell: Mitsubishi G3M2 Bomber
    Oscar: Nakajima Ki-43-IIb Hayabusa Fighter
    Pete: Mitsubishi F1M2 Seaplane
    Rufe: Nakajima A6M2-N Seaplane
    Spruce: Tachikawa Ki-9 Support AC
    Susie: Aichi D1A2 Bomber
    Thora: Nakajima Ki-34 Support AC
    Tillie: Kawanishi H6K5 Seaplane
    Tojo: Nakajima Ki-44-IIb Shoki Fighter
    Val: Aichi D3A2 Bomber
    Zeke/Zero: Mitsubishi A6M5 Reisen Fighter
  6. shrike

    shrike Guest

  7. rlwhitt

    rlwhitt Active Member

    Wow, thanks for the info guys! I figured it had to be something like this, and that's a nice complete list there.

  8. rowiac

    rowiac Member

    Another interesting trivia tidbit:

    When Allied pilots first saw the Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien, they thought it was a derivative of the Italian Macchi C.202 and so they nicknamed it "Tony", which became the allied code name.

    The two planes do look a bit alike, mainly due to the long noses they share. The Tony was the only mass-produced WWII Japanese fighter to use an inline V-engine, which gave it its long nose.

    [​IMG] <-- Ki-61 "Tony"
    [​IMG] <-- Macchi C.202

  9. shrike

    shrike Guest

    Not only long nose, but the engines underneath were the same as well - both license-built DB copies.
    The centrally mounted radiator too.

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