1956 - 2021, Celebrating  over 65 Years of Service

Buzz Numbers, The Explanation and Regulations Behind America’s Military Aircraft Identification System
by Peter M. Bowers & David W. Menard
Publisher: Specialty Press

2966 Grand Avenue, North Branch, MN 55056

Web Site:
Binding:  Paperback Height:




Pages:  96 No. Photos:

It is a real pleasure to find a book that has been written by two experts on a subject not well covered in the U.S. Such is the case with Buzz Numbers by pioneer AAHS members Pete Bowers (#18) and Dave Menard (#80).

The AAF/USAF system of using a two-letter system to identify the aircraft type and model was designed to identify any aircraft buzzing ground locations. By adding the last three digits of the aircraft serial number it pinned down the one plane in the entire Air Force, and presumably the pilot, that was involved in the incident. The precedent for this had been laid by the AAF Flying Training Command in WWII using a letter code for the field and an individual field number.

The system has been primarily described as using “Buzz Numbers” but this was a popular, not official name. The system went through many changes and some bureaucratic nonsense (such as assigning codes to the B-36) until it was abandoned by 1965. It remains as a fascinating bit of military history that can teach you a lot about aircraft types since a Buzz Number was assigned to every plane and glider flown by the AAF and USAF.

The book contains 260 photos as well as copies of the official Tech Orders and documents involved. It will no doubt become the primary reference on this subject.

Bill Larkins


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