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Does anybody here use their own system of aircraft designation?

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A while back I decided to create my own system of aircraft naming based on real-life systems. Does anyone else do this? This is my method:

Instell Inc. Aircraft Classification System

Closely based on the USA Tri-Service aircraft designation system.

Name format is [Prefix][VT][PM][SM][TM]-[Number][Name]

Vehicle type always goes before mission, prefix goes before everything.

Mission type isn't necessarily needed. For instance if you have a spaceplane that carries cargo to orbit, it would be fine to designate it "S-123" or "SC-123".

Status Prefix (ex: XF-23, YF-35B):
G=Permanently Grounded (Probably won't be used in a game like KSP.)

Vehicle Type/Mission Type (Goes before secondary mission and number):
A=Attack (primarily air-to-ground combat)
B=Bomber (doesn't apply to fighter-bombers)
F=Fighter (applies to fighter-bombers, multirole fighters, and some interceptors)
I=Interceptor (Fills a similar role to fighter. mission usually entails quick deployment to destroy a missile or other high-speed attack.)
K=Tanker (For refuelling)
L=Laser-equipped (Not applicable to Fighters or Attack aircraft equipped with laser targeting systems.)
M=Multi-mission (not applicable to multirole fighters. Think aircraft that would fit too many classifications to be easily explainable.)
O=Observation (Different from Reconnaissance.)
P=Patrol (Think aircraft that are built to fly for long periods of time to patrol an area, generally automated. Use kOS for this.)
Q=Unmanned Vehicle
R=Reconnaissance (similar to Observation, but generally more stealthy.)
V=VTOL aircraft
X=Special Research (If this applies, don't use the "X" Prefix, this is enough.)
Z=Lighter-Than-Air (pretty much exclusive to modded crafts.)

For secondary and tertiary missions just use the same classifications as above.

If aircraft has more than three classifications just use "M" to indicate a multi-mission aircraft.

If you have your own system that's different from mine please share it. I'm interested to see how you guys name your crafts.

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I developed one for my FRX medium-lift expendable booster family, but it doesn't really transfer well to aircraft.

As all FRXen share a common 2.5m core stack, the FRX Designation System lacks many of the earlier (unreleased, circa 0.18.x) Archer Designation System's features.


[MY] = last 2 digits of model year

[RC] = revision code, omitted for the release-to-manufacturing model (revision zero).

[LSS] = Liquid Stack Specifier, syntax is L[CSS](.[CSS])... where
[CSS] = Component Stage Specifier (order in LSS indicates staging)

[LBS] = Liquid Booster Specifier (also covers drop tanks)
The syntax for this section isn't nailed down yet, I haven't really had a reason to build a FRX with liquid boosters or drop tanks.

[SBS] = Solid Booster Specifier, syntax is S[BSS].[BC] where
[BSS] = Booster Size Specifier (03, 06, 12, 25, 37, and 50 are defined)
[BC] = number of boosters of this type

Example part numbers:

  • FRX14L2-S06.4: Model year 2014 FRX, with 4x 0.625m SRB and a stretched first stage
  • FRX125r2: Second major design revision of the model year 2015 FRX
  • FRX15r2L1.L2-S06.4: As above, but with both liquid stages stretched and 4x 0.625m SRB added. This variant has enough oomph for a single-launch Mun mission.

My current successful spaceplanes are named after various minerals (typos in their names are deliberately preserved across generations), with a short suffix indicating the orbital maneuvering fuel for easy ISRU planning.

The previous generation (circa 0.25.x/0.90) used two random nouns followed by a revision code (e.g. "Canada Spark r3"); said generation's cargo spaceplanes evolved organically from the B9 recon drones, and had a B9-derived prefix added before the standard name (e.g. "UAS-10 Bismillah XP").

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Does anybody here use their own system of aircraft designation?

Yes, here's what I use.

Three digits + Class Name

ex, 244 - Razor = Crew transfer SSTO with NTR for orbital maneuvering

>First - Purpose

0 Drone, Disposable

1 Drone, Reusable

2 Crew Transfer

3 Tanker

4 Station

5 Tug

6 Cargo

7 Carrier

9 Compound Vehicle

>Second - Propulsion

0 None

1 Chemical

2 Chemical Dual Mode

3 Nuclear Thermal

4 Chem-Nuclear Thermal Mixed

5 Chem Mixed

6 Mag Accelerated Ion

7 Nuclear Pulse

8 Nuclear Thermal Dual Mode

9 Physics Exploitation

>Third - Operational Regime

0 Impactor

1 Surface Fixed

2 Non Atmospheric

3 Atmospheric

4 Transatmospheric

5 Interplanetary

6 Interstellar

Edited by Nothalogh
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That is the system for the Air Force...

I know it is. I even stated it in the text "Closely based on the USA Tri-Service aircraft designation system." Not just the Air Force uses it either, all three branches do.

It's not exactly the same, however. Some letters are changed to better fit KSP. For example, under the real life system "S" stands for "Anti-Submarine Warfare". Plus in the real-life version the ordering of the letters doesn't matter, whereas in my system it does.

Edited by 8bitsblu
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Mines on my mission report thread. I'm just going to head over and copy it now.

- - - Updated - - -


USM- Union Space Mission

1001- First mission of Year 1

-Mu- Mun mission, Kerbin missions have no suffix, others listed below:

Mi- Minmus

M- Moho

E- Eve system

Du- Duna system

D- Dres

J- Jool system

E- Eeloo

ARM- Asteroid Redirect Mission

K- Solar mission

R- Rescue mission e.g. Duna rescue mission will be USM-xxxx-R, not DuR.

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My numbering system is very simple, and like my documents numbering system keeps things in a nice order when alphabetized.

AB-C-DE-F Type H

A is the general purpose of the vehicle



T-Crew Transfer


B is the subtype of the vehicle (grouped for convenience)

© Cargo Vessels:

U-Uranium (Does not include uraninite, only enriched and depleted uranium, enriched uranium is my primary source of income in KSP)

R-Rocket parts (not specific ones, just general ones)

O-Ore (not any specific ore, just general ores)

T-Tug (for colony buildings)

(M) Military Vessels:


DM-Defence, Mobile (located in space)

DS-Defence, surface (can be mobile or immobile)

T-Troop Transport


(T) Crew Transfer VesselsSTS-Surface to Station

STP-Surface to planet

(E) Exploration Vessels)

P-Prospector (can find resources)


R-Research (has science lab and equipment)


C stands for the type of navigation the vessel uses



AM-Both automated and manual control options

D stands for the engine type

N-Nuclear (Fission) Thermal

F-Nuclear Fusion

NP-Nuclear Pulse


DC-Dual Mode Chemical

DN-Dual Mode Nuclear (Fission or Fusion)

E-Electric (Ion or something else)

E is the max Delta-V of the ship in a vacuum using it's main engine.

F is the number of kerbals that can be carried by the ship

H is a number that increases from one for every iteration with the same AB-CD-EF-G code

Any and all nicknames are added after the designation and in quotes, for example my orion drive battleship would be the:

MB-AM-NP<200 000-12 Type 3 "Duna"


Oh, and once the vessel is launched the stuff in quotes is dropped to be replaced by it's unique name and it gets a designation number which is the number of that vessel class launched before it, so if you were launching the 28th duna class vessel it would be the "MB-AM-NP<200 000-12 Type 3 28 Valance.

Edited by NuclearNut
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My aircraft almost always start with the T-1 Birdname, followed by the T-2 Another Birdname and so on.

(Yes, "T" does stand for trainer, and no, this does not rule out possible "A-", "B-", "F-", etc. designations. They've just never reached campaign games.)

Each individual aircraft gets a serial number, as well. This takes the form of s-y-NNN


-s is the Save Number (increments on each new campaign save, currently 9)

-y is the current year in the save

-NNN is the number of the aircraft of the current year (1st is 001, tenth is 010, three hundred twenty second is 322, etc.)

(Of course, I've never gotten beyond a T-3 version in any save. One of these days, I need to work on rebuilding the tech tree for a The Right Stuff campaign, with a series of X-* and X?-* jet and rocket aircraft before vertical rockets ever enter the picture.)

Edited by razark
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My spaceplanes do, sorta: I started naming big ones HL after the B9 fuselage system that turned into Mk3, then XL for my outsize version for that, and so then I needed ML for smaller ones - retrodesignating everything xLifter. Outside that I've been calling BDA challenge craft mostly by fictional RAF designations, and anything else gets whatever name seems to suit it...

Generally though I don't have enough variations: Usually two lifter variants for each size with different engine configurations so one just has a version number tag and the other is also tagged Light, so no scheme needed there. Here we've usually named aircraft rather than numbered them - or if there's been a number it's been somewhat random - so giving things suitable names seems to fit better.

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I generally follow a fairly simple naming convention for my spacecraft/rockets/potatoroids, consisting of a prefixed abbreviation, a name (usually mythological or an animal name), and a suffix in numbers and letters for the iteration. It looks like this: ABC (name) (iteration number)(sub-iteration)

ABC is the letter-based prefix for the craft. Here's the list of prefixes:


AC- Normal aircraft (ex. AC Hawk 1A)

ACX - Experimental or prototype aircraft. (ex. ACX Delta 2B)

FR - Fighter aircraft (ex. FR Eagle 3C)

BR - Bomber aircraft (ex. BR Condor 4D)

RC - Reconnaissance aircraft (ex. RC Falcon 5E)


XSC - Experimental space craft (ex. XSC Arrow 1A)

CWT - Crew Transport (ex. CWT Hermes 2B)

CRT - Cargo Transport (ex .CRT Atlas 3C)

SSTO-(insert other prefix here) - SSTO which performs a function designated by the prefix (ex. SSTO-CT Pegasus 4D)

LDR - Lander (ex. LDR - Atlantis 5E (Mun)) (Note: Behind the usual suffix is denoted the intended body for the lander to land on in brackets)

MPCV - Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (ex. MPCV - Minerva 3C) (MPCVs can serve as CWTs or CRTs; however, they tend to have much more d/v to visit farther places)

IEV - Interplanetary Exploration Vehicle (ex. IMV Ares I) (NOTE: These usually don't have a suffixed iteration - instead, they have a suffix consisting of Roman numerals denoting the mission)

STN - Space Station (ex. STN - Copernicus (Kerbin) (NOTE: Instead of the suffixed iteration, the suffix denotes the body the station is in orbit of in brackets)

LBS - Land Base (ex. LBS - Centaur (Mun-1)) (NOTE: Instead of the suffixed iteration, the suffix denotes the body the base is on as well as the numerical order in which it was landed, 1 being the first base on said planet)

RVR - Rover (ex. RVR - Odyssey (Duna)) (NOTE: Instead of the suffixed iteration, the suffix denotes the body the rover is on)

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My designation system is as follows:

Special Designations:

X - Experimental

Y - Prototype

U - Unmanned


J - Jet

P - Prop

R - Rotor (Helicopter)


HF - Heavy Freighter

MF - Medium Freighter

LF - Light Freighter

TF - Tanker Freighter (carries both cargo and fuel)

CF - Converted Freighter (i.e, a converted passenger jet)

F - Fighter (Any interceptor, multi-role, fighter bomber, etc.)

B - Bomber

R - Reconnaissance

K - Tanker (Different from TF as it only carries fuel)

T - Trainer

V - Crew transport

M - Medical Transport

So an experimental passenger jet carrying KSC staff would be XJV-whatever

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Guess a satellite is also a "craft"? If yes, then yes. ^^

My sats are named like this:

[Purpose] Sat [body] [Range] [Version]

Example: COM Sat Kerbin LR Mk1 which means, a communications satellite in Kerbin orbit with long range equipment version 1.

My polar satellites are always at least one range class above the aequatorial ones. So I don't need a distinction in the name here.

The "Purpose":

- COM = Communication

- SCAN = Survey scanner

The "Range":

- SSR = Super Short Range (Omni antenna only up to 5k km)

- SR = Short Range (Omni + Dishes <= 90k km)

- MR = Medium Range (Dishes <= 60M km)

- LR = Long Range (Dishes <= 400M km)

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In a normal game no, in RO/RSS/RP0 (Realism Overhaul and associated mods), my jet aircraft all have the prefix P-SF, such as P-SF-A1.

The P-SF stands for "Prototype - Sonic Flight" (which is probably incorrect terminology), but really I wanted a designation I could swap with "Probably shouldn't fly". A is the line, and 1 is the model. A line are twin engine craft named after cities, B line are single engine aircraft named after something to do with spinning around.

P-SF-A1 "Kalcutta" (yeah, I did the K thing.)

P-SF-A2 "Delhi"

P-SF-B1 "Dervish"

P-SF-B2 "Vortex"

P-SF-B3 "Super Vortex"

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I use a US military style (letter or letters)-(number)(letter for specific model) type format for craft that, in my head, are reusable. Like X-15, FA-18, etc. Rockets, spaceplanes or aircraft use this.

The first letter or letter denotes the type of engine or engines the craft uses. J for the lower-end jet, T for the turbo-jets, R for Rapiers, I for Ion, L for liquid fuel. The second letter is whether the craft is either atmospheric (A) or orbital (O). Any craft that can't make orbit is considered atmospheric even if capable of suborbital flight. Any craft that can go farther than Kerbin orbit is still considering an 'O' for the purposes of this system.

Then the number is the just numerical for the order I created the craft, but each number/letter combo has it's own series. When I'm first building the thing, it's X-whatever, and those have their own order (X-1, X-2, etc.). Only when the bugs are worked out do I decide they're 'operational' and give them their 'in-service' designation. Then when they're 'in-service', they get like, JA-1, or TLO-3. Not all of the 'X' craft go into service.

Some have letters after the main combination to denote a variant with some minor change. JA-3B, etc. I also give my craft some cool word name, too. So JA-3 Sparrow, RO-1 Torpedo, etc.

Expendable craft like rockets are usually a 'mission name' followed by a number.

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I forgot about sats and stations, but that's because this is tagged as an aircraft thread: I name them when they're in orbit and those are actually pretty important given how they can spam the mission list. <body> <class> <subclass> <orbit> <detail>, so Kerbin Sat Scan 120 Polar 1, or Mun Station 120, or Kerbin Dockyard 90-1000. I'm hoping one day we'll get a nested mission list.

I'm sure pretty much everyone sorts permanent orbiting craft like that though.

Edited by Van Disaster
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Unfortunatly i do not have the mental capacity nor the arse to make a prefix system.

When I do things like that, I forget what I meant, half the time I build i get carried away and my cra(p)fts end up doing more than originally intended anyway.

My names are simple, Usually blatently the first mission objective of said craft e.g. Duna lander, or KerbinSAT or 40t launcher, or muntest etc.

Infact I do use a number system after said name - for revisions. E.g. Duna landerV2, or Lunar crane V3.1.

When I end up completely re-building something then it gets a new number, then when faults are found and fixed it gets a new 0. decimal number.

Actually I sometimes put a TL at the end after, meaning (to me) "test launch". This is usually the final save before the last launch. i once made a something V3.3 TL2 but thats the worst of it.

My load list sometimes gets boggling because I have all sorts of things e.g. like 8 different "minmus landers", when I want the science one, the good one but it isn't V8 then I make again lol.

but usually the highest number works or I make again and add to the list moar

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For anyone interested, I'm starting to write a new mod to allow you to create a name format, and then have ships automatically named based on their function.

It's just in the planning stage, but I hope to have something in a few weeks.

Right now, I'm thinking about a name for the mod, so suggestions are welcome.

I'm leaning towards "Craft Autonamer", but am very open to suggestions.


Edit: Just thought of another name: What's in a Name (WIAN)

Edited by linuxgurugamer
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  • 2 weeks later...

A very simple system (for rockets, I don't do planes. ...yet.)

A new rocket for a certain target mission gets a name that starts on a letter that is in alphabetic order for my projects.

For instance, my latest rocket is the 'Lensman' (a Mun/Minmus rocket). The name starts with an 'L' because it follows 'Kronos' (a Laythe rocket). Which followed the 'Journeyman' (an outwardbound probe). Which followed 'Ikaros' (a brilliant Duna rocket). Which followed 'Helios' (an inwardbound probe). Which followed 'Genesis' (an advanced Mun-rocket design that failed and was cancelled). Which followed 'Firebrand' (a crude&ugly but brilliant Mun/Minmus rocket). Which followed 'Exokerm' (a singleseat Mun/Minmus rocket).... etc.

The rocket then gets an _X designation as long as it's in development. Every new major configuration gets a new number after the 'X'. Like _X1, _X2, _X3 etc. Once the rocket is mature enough to be deployed and fly a mission, it gets a letter designation instead, starting with an 'A'. So the Lensman_X3 became the Lensman_A. Later, the Lensman_X9 became the Lensman_E. If several identical versions are flown, the later ones become numbered, Like the Ikaros_D2.

As you might gather, my naming system primarily serves the vessel 'save' function. I have older versions at hand for backup or reference, and they are in order.

Edited by Vermil
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Example: Spacespear-MkIX-"Blue_arrow"EIS-RLLi-OIS

Nameofgroup-modelnumber-"Name of version"-whatitismentfor-whatitis-whatitcando

What it says at the end signifys what it is meant for, what it is and what it can do (in that order) a letter represents the first letter of a word in order so it makes a sentence. for example;

"EIS" would mean "Exploring Interplanetary Space"

the world can alter tho for example;

"E" could mean, Exploratory, Exploring or Explore

different letters represent different things tho a letter can represent mutable things like "Lander" and "Lifter" which is why you try to order them so they make somewhat of a sentence as you wouldn't say it twice. Tho that's not enough information, you could get confused which is which and that's why you add the more letters in that word until it becomes different from another one but lowercase to signify its part of what its behind.

Heres a list of what the different letters mean

E: explore

I: interplanetary

S: space

R: rocket

L: lander

Li: lifter

O: orbit

So that's it! tho, the list will expand of course as this is still a work in progress. i based it off a bunch of different naming schemes. i hope this helped you make your own or be entertained or something...oh and i don't know if this is in the correct spot i only really made this so i can remember it. bye!

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I take words and parts of words relating to the mission goal and combine them

Example: Mun mission (Luneve], Duna Mission (Orange Horizon]

I'm considering making a dedicated naming system for the future though when I get organized.

Edited by musicpenguin
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