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Check Six: Air Force Buzz Numbers

November 8, 2018

A Hawaii Air National Guard F-102 Delta Dagger with a buzz number in the early 1960s | click to enlarge

A buzz number was a large letter and number combination applied to U.S. Air Force planes after World War II and into the early 1960s. They were applied for general aerial identification of aircraft, but particularly for the identification of aircraft guilty of “buzzing” (very-low-altitude high-speed passes) over populated areas.

The system was designed to be a deterrent to 8th Air Force pilots performing unauthorized low-level flying over post-war Europe. This practice created the need for ground observers to be able to identify and report an offending aircraft.

In response to this need, a system of letters and numbers was developed to uniquely identify each aircraft in inventory. The number was painted as large as possible on each side of the fuselage, and on the underside of the left wing.

The Buzz Number system continued in use through the 1950s, but was ended during the 1960s. One of the last Air Force fighters to carry was the F-4 Phantom II, which used a Buzz Number of FJ.

Continue reading about buzz numbers at the Airplanes of the Past website– Great photographs


Special thanks to Drew Hurley for sending the link to this website to Retiree News. Drew was a public information officer in the Hawaii Air National Guard. He served for several years before transferring to the New Jersey Air National Guard. Retiree News is planning an update on Drew.

From → History

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