All fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft in Sober Thought's Air Service are named and painted according to a specific pattern. Each airframe is assigned a number within a specific range to indicate a broad role and a letter prefix is added to more clearly specify the role. On the fuselage is a letter code indicating the squadron to which that aircraft is attached.
Airframe numbers and marks
Unlike many real world armed forces, the Air Service first assigns numbers to aircraft airframes and then adds letters to designate the variant. No matter what purpose they are adapted to, all airframes will bear identical numbers. Numbers 1 through 39 are reserved for frontline combat aircraft (whether fixed or rotary wing, jet or propeller driven), 40 through 69 for front-line transport and 70 through 99 to others. Airframe numbers can be recycled in the unlikely event they are exhausted any time soon.
Improvements or changes within a variant are indicated by Roman numeral mark numbers at the end, with forms like T-40 III, T-40 Mk III, T-40 Mark III, T-40 Mk 3 and T-40 Mark 3 all having the same meaning (although the second and third examples are preferred in official correspondence). Marks apply only to the specific variant, so a TG-40 Mk I might incorporate the exact same airframe improvements as a T-40 Mk VI.
Letter prefixes and official nicknames
The aircraft variant letter prefixes and the roles they indicate are follows: B for Bomber, E for Electronic Warfare and AWACS, F for Fighter, G for Ground attack, H for Helicopter, N for Naval, R for Reconnaissance, S for Search and Rescue, T for Transport (TP for Personnel transport, TC for Cargo and TL for Liquid fuel), and U for Utility.
If more than one letter is needed to adequately express the purpose of the aircraft, apply the letters in the following order:
- Helicopters always begin with H.
- Use the letter representing the original design (which is not always the main production line, cf. R-78 and RB-78).
- Prefer T to TP, TC or TL if two or three of the latter apply to the same aircraft manifestation.
- Use U if the aircraft was truly designed for different purposes in the same unit with little or no modification.
- Use N for aircraft normally based on land but with a sea-going naval variant (e.g., FN-1) but not for aircraft designed for use at sea (e.g., HU-77).
- Use addtional letter(s) as applicable to indicate an adaption from the original design, e.g., the TG-40 is a transport airplane adapted for ground attack, the FR-1 a fighter adapted for reconnaissance, an RB-78 a maritime reconnaissance airplane adapted for bombardment. Consult Rule 2 for clarification for what constitutes design and adaptation.
Mnemonic names based on a combination of model designations and personal names are also applied. The name should be short, sound distinctive, retain the order of letters in the model designation and avoid using letters or sounds which might be used in other names (disregarding logically impossible letter designations). Some exceptions have been made to this role, as noted below.
Aircraft in service
There are about three dozen or so models and variants of aircraft currently on active duty in the Community Defence Forces. They are variously under the operational command of the all-regular Air Service and Naval Service, or regular Land Service or militia Civil Guard.
The list arranged alphabetically by role, and within each role by ascending airframe number, letter prefix and nickname within that role. Aircraft are listed twice or more as necessary, e.g., for helicopter and naval use (whether bearing an N indicator or not) are. Each entry, whether for a lone or multiple entry, has an unduplicated note about the origin, meaning or selection of the nickname.
Airborne warning and control (AWACS)
- TE-61 Tessie, theatre AWCAS. The TX-6X series uses T+vowel+doubled consonant+phonetic E for its nicknames.
- TNE-61 Tennie, carrier-based AWACS.
- TE-62 Teddy, strategic AWCAS. Theodore, if not this diminutive or pet form, is common to most European languages.
- RE-78 Remy, carrier and coastal based AWCAS. Displays the French heritage of Sober Thought. and through its origin as “oarsman” suggests its coastal role.
- FB-1 Fabien, light dual purpose fighter-bomber. The potentially confusing N for naval sound is in the wrong order. It can be spelled and pronounced the English way as well.
- B-10 Bob, heavy single purpose bomber. The intensifying double B emphasises its heavy bomber role.
- HUBR-77 Hubert, light anti-submarine warfare naval rotary wing aircraft. The letter code veritably cries out for this nickname, requiring only two additional letters – both of which tangentially apply to the helicopter.
- RB-78 Robert, carrier and coastal based maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare. Can be pronounced the French or English way.
- FE-1 Felix, light ground-based electronic warfare. While the X or KS sound may be mistaken for an S, we have already established there can't be a SAR variant of a fighter. The name is short, distinctive and resonates in both English and French.
- FNE-1 Fannie, light naval electronic warfare. The initialism veritably screams out for this nickname, created by adding two vowels and doubling a consonant.
- BE-10 Bessie, strategic EW variant, can shoot chafe and dummy jets from bomb bay. It suggests a cow, a large ungainly animal which nevertheless unfailingly delivers.
- RE-78 Romeo, coastal-based naval electronic warfare. While Romeo is common to most European languages, it is most closely associated with Romance languages.
- F-1 Faust, land-based basic fighter. While both S and T are used to designate models, neither a fighter search-and-rescue nor a fighter transport variant are logically possible. It pays homage to the German heritage of the country, and alludes to both Dr. Faustus and Panzerfaust, an infantry anti-armour rocket.
- FN-1 Faina, carrier and coastal based basic fighter. In Russian its meaning is obscure, possibly from Greek for “shining.”
- F-22 Faith, carrier- and cruiser-based vertical/short take off and landing fighter.
- F-25 Felipe, land-based interceptor and escort.
- FG-1 Fagan, light fixed wing ground attack. It alludes to the disreputable character in Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist who relies on stealth and whose presence is sure to bring trouble -- much like a single-engined ground attack jet. While it has an N for naval sound as well, it appears in the wrong order (FGN in the nickname but FNG in the hypothetical aircraft role) so it can't be confused.
- G-8 Galya, medium fixed wing tankbuster. Slavic pet name for the female version of the Greek “Galen,” meaning “calm.” Considering its purpose, an ironic reference.
- HG-9 Hugo, medium rotary wing ground attack. This name is very common in European languages.
- FG-22 Flaget, vertical/short take off and landing ground attack.
- TG-40 Tiger, heavy fixed wing gunship. Clearly suggested by the letter designations, can be spelled and pronounced the French way as well.
- HG-9 Hugo, medium rotary wing ground attack. This is a Romance variant of a Germanic name meaing “heart, mind or spirit."
- HT-55 Hatty, rotary wing medium transport. Most transport aircraft have feminine names.
- HTN-55 Hortense, rotary wing naval transport. The letter prefix practically demands the use of this nickname.
- HU-70 Huo, rotary wing ground-based general purpose. This is a Chinese given name.
- HU-77 Huan, rotary wing naval general purpose. The name literally means "happiness."
- HUBR-77 Hubert, light anti-submarine warfare naval rotary wing aircraft. It may be pronounced the English or French way.
- HUS-77 Hudson, rotary wing search and rescue. For decades there was a car model with this name, but there is no direct connection to it.
- FN-1 Faina, carrier and coastal based basic fighter. Formerly called the Fenella, which was equally obscure but lacked any association with an ethnicity widely represented in Sober Thought.
- FNE-1 Fannie, light naval electronic warfare. This name has currency in both English and French.
- FNR-1 Fionnarra, naval tactical reconnaissance.
- F-22 Faith, carrier- and cruiser-based V/STOL fighter. Named more precisely for one of the three biplanes on Malta during the Second World War.
- HTN-55 Hortense, rotary wing naval transport. The name is reflective of the country’s English heritage, conveying the sense of an elderly woman.
- TLN-61 Toulon, small tanker adapted to carrier. The Vichy Navy scuttled its fleet there in the Second World War to avoid capture by the Allies.
- HU-77 Huan, rotary wing naval general purpose. The name is theoretically against the rules, but its terminal "-n" suggests its naval use.
- HUBR-77 Hubert, light anti-submarine warfare naval rotary wing aircraft. This name is common in most European languages.
- HUS-77 Hudson, rotary wing search and rescue. Named after explorer Henry Hudson who was searching for the Northwest Passage.
- R-78 Roland, carrier and coastal based unarmed maritime reconnaissance. The name alludes to the epic poem of Roland, about a quasi-historical knight killed in the vanguard fighting in Spain.
- RB-78 Robert, carrier and coastal based maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare. Germanic in origin, it means “bright fame.”
- RE-78 Remy, carrier and coastal based AWCAS. Its Latin origin as “oarsman” suggests its coastal role.
- RE-78 Romeo, coastal-based naval electronic warfare. This name was chosen in part so it would be sufficiently distinguishable from its close relative the Remy while remaining sufficiently similar to show its relation.
- FNR-1 Fionnarra, variant of a Gaelic name meaning "fair hair" or "white head."
- FR-1 Frederic(k), tactical aerial reconnaissance. The double use of the R reinforces the meaning of reconnaissance, and the French-English duality appeals to both official language groups.
- HUBR-77 Hubert, light anti-submarine warfare naval rotary wing aircraft. Its origins are Germanic and has the meaning of “bright heart” which applies to aircraft trying to illuminate their knowledge of submarines’ locations.
- R-78 Rada, carrier and coastal based unarmed maritime reconnaissance. This Slavic name means “happy.”
- R-99 Richard, strategic aerial reconnaissance. It may be pronounced the English, French or German way.
- TLN-61 Toulon, small tanker adapted to carrier. This series of tankers was named after places in France to show the connections. Toulon is an historic armaments city supplying armed forces for centuries.
- TL-62 Toulouse, medium tanker. This alludes to both the city near Toulon and noted poster artist Toulouse-Latrec.
- TL-63 Tuileries, large tanker. This alludes to the French royal and imperial palace which played a pivotal role in the 1789 French Revolution, the 1848 French Revolution and the 1870 Paris Commune.
- T-40 Taavi, fixed wing tactical transport. Although it was chosen primarily as the Finnish equivalent of "David," the name also suggests Rudyard Kipling’s snake-hunting mongoose Rikki Tikki Tavi.
- HT-55 Hatty, rotary wing medium transport. The H+vowel+double consonant+phonetic E is identical to its fixed-wing jet equivalents.
- HTN-55 Hortense, rotary wing naval transport. The name is a technical violation of the naming principles but was chosen because it is very phonetic. *T-60 Tammy, executive jet similar in size to Challenger but Airbus in style, VIP transport. A diminutive or pet name of the female version of Thomas.
- T-61 Timmy, regional jet similar in size to Bombardier but Airbus in style, small but fast medium-range transport. A diminutive or pet name of Timothy, meaning “honouring god.”
- T-62 Tommy, twin-engined jumbo jet similar to Airbus, strategic transport. Diminutive or pet name of Thomas, meaning “twin.”
- T-63 Tummy, quad-engined jumbo jet similar to Airbus, strategic transport. Although this is not a conventional given name, it fits the pattern too well to be dismissed solely on that grounds. Furthermore, as the largest airplane in the T-6X series, the childish synonym for “stomach” seems highly appropriate.
- HU-70 Huo, rotary wing ground-based general purpose. The name means "fire" in Chinese.
- HU-77 Huan, rotary wing naval general purpose. This is a common Chinese given name.
- HUS-77 Hudson, rotary wing search and rescue. Unlike the English explorer, most Hudsons find what they seek.
- HUBR-77 Hubert, light anti-submarine warfare naval rotary wing aircraft. Its nickname could be understood to incorporate its whole purpose: a utility helicopter used for electronic reconnaissance and able to bomb submarines.
While squadrons may be numbered in a variety of separate sequences each generating identical ordinal numbers, the three letter squadron code assigned to each is always unique throughout the Air Service. Consequently, the three letter code may be used informally or semi-formally instead of the concurrent ordinal and name designation.
The codes begin at AAA and end at ZZZ, with squadrons raised in each wave appearing in one sequential batch but the order within that batch being arbitrary. The letters I, O and U are omitted in all instances, since they look so similar to the numbers 1 and 0 as well as the letters J, Q and V. This gives enough for 12,167 squadrons, which at the current rate of about 160 squadrons per wave should carry Sober Thought until it reaches the unlikely population of 7.6 billion.
After the three letter squadron code painted on the fuselage is a Community Defence Forces blue-and-white roundel. It is effectively a simplified version of the central portion of the national flag with the chain links of unity enclosing the scales of justice. In fact, it resembles the Community Defence Forces hieroglyphics symbol for the military police enclosed in a circle.
Following the roundel is a single letter which is unique to a single aircraft inside each squadron (and occasionally among similar squadrons). The same prohibitions against I and O apply here, but within these strictures the aircraft pilot (as the sub-unit commanding officer) may express a preference for a particular letter and indirectly an individual name.
Like the real life Commonwealth air forces, the fourth letter may be used with a mnemonic, like "A for Apple," "B for Betty," "C for Community" or "D for Drewburgh." These need not be the same as the military alphabet (formerly Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog, etc., and now Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, etc.), and rarely are so because it is one of the few opportunities in the armed forces to personalise things. Certain classes of names are banned for use as mnemonics, being reserved for aircraft nicknames or in the interests of good taste.