Poland's Daughter


Japanese aircraft terminology

by Osamu ("Sam") Tagaya

Below is an initial list of the major late 1930s and WWII aircraft types. I would welcome others to participate and make the list more comprehensive. Truly fanatical purists (if any) who want to pronounce the numbers in Japanese as well should follow the following general guide:

0=Rei, 1=Ichi, 2=Ni, 3=San, 4=Yon, 5=Go, 6=Roku, 7=Nana, 8=Hachi, 9=Kyu, 100=Hyaku. Double digit numbers should simply be read by combining the single digit pronunciations in the case of these designations. Thus, Type 97 is Kyu-Nana [nine-seven] Shiki, NOT Kyu-JUH Nana [ninety-seven] Shiki.

Imperial Japanese Navy


Type 96 Carrier Fighter (A5M Claude)
96 Shiki Kanjoh Sentoh-ki Abbrev. 96 Kansen

Type 0 Carrier Fighter (A6M Zeke)
0 Shiki Kanjoh Sentoh-ki Abbrev. 0-sen

Carrier Bombers

Type 99 Carrier Bomber (D3A Val)
99 Shiki Kanjoh Bakugeki-ki Abbrev. 99 Kanbaku

Carrier Attack Aircraft

Type 97 Carrier Attack Aircraft (B5N Kate)
97 Shiki Kanjoh Kohgeki-ki Abbrev. 97 Kankoh

Land-based Attack Aircraft

Type 96 Land-based Attack Aircraft (G3M Nell)
96 Shiki Rikujoh Kohgeki-ki Abbrev. 96 Rikkoh

Type 1 Land-based Attack Aircraft (G4M Betty)
1 Shiki Rikujoh Kohgeki-ki Abbrev. 1 Shiki Rikkoh


Type 0 Reconnaissance Seaplane (E13A Jake) 0 Shiki Suijoh Teisatsu-ki Abbrev. 0-Sui

Type 0 Observation Seaplane (F1M Pete)
0 Shiki Suijoh Kansoku-ki Abbrev. 0-Kan

Type 2 Fighter Seaplane (A6M2-N Rufe)
2 Shiki Suijoh Sentoh-ki Abbrev. 2 Shiki Sui-sen

Flying Boats [Note: For flying boats, the preferred abbreviated reference deviates slightly from the original full designation, in that the word "tai" meaning large is included for the four-engined examples below, whereas the full formal designation does not include that word.]

Type 97 Flying Boat (H6K Mavis)
97 Shiki Hikoh-tei Abbrev. 97 Taitei

Type 2 Flying Boat (H8K Emily)
2 Shiki Hikoh-tei Abbrev. 2 Shiki Taitei

Land-based Reconnaissance Aircraft

Type 98 Land-based Reconnaissance Aircraft (C5M Babs)
98 Shiki Rikujoh Teisatsu-ki Abbrev. 98 Riku-tei

100 Hawks for China

Imperial Japanese Army


Type 97 Fighter (Ki 27 Nate)
97 Shiki Sentoh-ki Abbrev. 97-sen

Type 1 Fighter (Ki 43 Oscar)
1 Shiki Sentoh-ki Abbrev. 1 Shiki sen

Type 2 Single Seat Fighter (Ki 44 Tojo)
2 Shiki Tan-za Sentoh-ki Abbrev. 2 Shiki Tan-sen

Type 2 Two-seat Fighter (Ki45 Nick)
2 Shiki Fuku-za Sentoh-ki Abbrev. 2 Shiki Fuku-sen

Type 3 Fighter (Ki 61 Tony)
3 Shiki Sentoh-ki Abbrev. 3 Shiki sen

Type 4 Fighter (Ki 84 Frank)
4 Shiki Sentoh-ki Abbrev. 4 Shiki sen

Type 5 Fighter (Ki 100)
5 Shiki Sentoh-ki Abbrev. 5 Shiki sen

Heavy Bombers

Type 97 Heavy Bomber (Ki 21 Sally)
97 Shiki Juh Bakugeki-ki Abbrev. 97 Juh-baku

Type 100 Heavy Bomber (Ki 49 Helen)
100 Shiki Juh Bakugeki-ki Abbrev. 100 Shiki Juh-baku

TYpe 4 Heavy Bomber (Ki 67 Peggy)
4 Shiki Juh Bakugeki-ki Abbrev. 4 Shiki Juh-baku

Light Bombers

Type 97 Light Bomber (Ki 30 Ann)
97 Shiki Kei Bakugeki-ki Abbrev. 97 Kei-baku

Type 98 Light Bomber (Ki 32 Mary)
98 Shiki Kei Bakugeki-ki Abbrev. 98 Kei-baku

Type 99 Twin-engined Light Bomber (Ki 48 Lily)
99 Shiki Soh-hatsu Kei Bakugeki-ki Abbrev. 99 Soh-kei

Reconnaissance Aircraft

Type 97 Command Reconnaissance Plane (Ki 15 Babs)
97 Shiki Shireibu Teisatsu-ki Abbrev. 97 Shi-tei

Type 100 Command Reconnaissance Plane (Ki 46 Dinah)
100 Shiki Shireibu Teisatsu-ki Abbrev. 100 Shiki Shi-tei (Often referred to simply as the Shin Shi-tei, i.e. New Command Recce)

Type 99 Assault Plane/Type 99 Army (i.e. Tactical) Reconnaissance Plane (Ki 51 Sonia)
99 Shiki Shuhgeki-ki/99 Shiki Gun Teisatsu-ki Abbrev. 99 Gun-tei (Crews appear to have referred to the Ki 51 most often as Gun-tei regardless of the version being referred to.)

Type 98 Direct Cooperation Reconnaissdance Plane (Ki 36 Ida)
98 Shiki Chokusetsu Kyohdoh Teisatsu-ki Abbrev. 98 Chokkyoh

Advanced trainer

Type 99 Advanced Trainer (Ki 55 Ida)
99 Shiki Kohtoh Renshuh-ki Abbrev. 99 Koh-ren

Cheers, Sam

[Copyright © 2008 Osamu T. This document first appeared on the J-Aircraft.com message board.]

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