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U.S. Navy Equipment - Designations (until 1943/53)

Jürgen Stichling Ernst Erb Bernhard Nagel 
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Forum » Commercial sets (incl. valve testers) » Military equipment 1930 and later » U.S. Navy Equipment - Designations (until 1943/53)
Martin Bösch
Martin Bösch
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28.May.10 10:38

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The United States Navy used in the early years a different designation scheme then the the U.S. Army. This early system of alphanumeric designations has been in use after around 1910 and has been replaced by the "Joint Army Navy Nomenclature System" after 1943.

Complete communications systems got different designations, then single components. Sometimes, both designations can be found on the identification plate / tag, sometimes this information is missing. This quite often leads to confusion when one is talking about the TCS receiver and someone else is doing a hard search for the schematic of the COL-46159, it's much easier when You find out, that it is in fact the same set and You might easily find the corresponding technical manual.

Sets / Communication Systems

Designations start with two or three letters, in later systems followed by a dash and a sequential model number. In some cases, small letters indicate variants or modifications.

The first letter indicates the type of equipment.

The second letter stands for a sequential model letter, so RA stands for the first, RB for the second receiver, and so on. After all letters up to Z have been exhausted, they continued with RAA, RAB,...

In some cases, the second letter has been used for sub - types, and only the third letter was the sequential model designator. In later years, as the number of different equipment did raise substantially, numbers were used to indicate later versions of a system.

An "X" in front of a standard designator indicates, that the set is in prototype stadium.

Model     Type of Equipment
A-- ---   Airborne Radio and Radar Equipment
    AB-   Airborne IFF
    AI-   Airborne Radar Intercept
    AM-   Airborne Radio Transmitting and Receiving
    AR-   Airborne Radio Receiving
    AS-   Airborne Search Radars
    AT-   Airborne Radio Transmitting
    AY-   Airborne Radar Altimeters
B-- ---   Ship-Shore IFF Equipment
C-- CX    All Commercial Experimental Equipment
D-- ---   Ship-Shore Radio and Radar Direction Finding Equipment
    DX-   Assembled Direction Finder Equipments (DF assemblies 
          which when used with a standard receiver form a 
          complete DF equipment.)
E-- ---   Emergency Power Equipment (Gasoline or Diesel engine 
          generator sets)
F-- ---   Radar Fire Control Equipment ("F" series superseded by 
          the BuOrd Radar Mark/Mod series)
    ---   Subseries of "F" series in use for other than fire 
          control radar, as follows:
    FP-   Facsimile Recording Equipment.
    FQ-   Facsimile Scanning Equipment.
    FR-   Frequency Shift Receiver Converter Equipment.
    FS-   Frequency Shift Keying Equipment.
G-- ---   Airborne Radio Transmitting Equipment (Classification 
          cancelled - Reassigned "AT" series.)
H-- ---   Hoist Train Mechanism (Cancelled - hoist train 
          mechanism considered as part of an equipment.)
I-- ---   Intercept Radar.
J-- ---   Sonar-Sound Listening (Receiving).
L-- ---   Precision Calibrating Equipment.
M-- ---   Radio Transmitting and Receiving Equipment.
N-- ---   Sonar Echo Sounding.
    NA-   Sonar Beacon.
    NG-   Echo Sounding (Rochelle Salt).
    NJ-   Lightweight Echo Sounding Recording.
    NK-   Portable Echo Sounding Recording.
    NM-   Echo Sounding (Magnetostriction).
O-- ---   Measuring, Test, and Operator Trainer Equipments for 
          Models OA to OCZ inclusive.  For Models after OCZ, the 
          subseries breakdown is as follows:
    OE-   Xmtr and/or Rcvr Analyzers, Vacuum-Tube Voltmeters, 
          Volt-Ohm-Milliammeters, Multimeters.
    OF-   Echo Boxes, Wavemeters, Frequency Meters (non-
    OG-   Signal Generators (non-precision), Test Oscillators
    OK-   Sonar Computers.
    OM-   Test Monitor Equipment.
    OP-   Signal and Sound Wave Measuring Equipment, Noise 
    OS-   Oscilloscopes.
    OT-   Radar Operator Trainers.
    OV-   Vacuum Tube Analyzers or Testers.
    OW-   Sonar Test Equipment.
    OZ-   Impedance Measuring Equipment.
P-- ---   Automatic Transmitting and Receiving Equipment Coding 
Q-- ---   Sonar Echo-Ranging-Listening Equipments:
    QA-   E/R/L (Quartz).
    QB-   E/R/L (Rochelle Salt).
    QC-   E/R (Magnetostriction) with L (Rochelle Salt).
    QD-   Depth Determining Equipment.
    QF-   Teacher and Training Equipment.
    QG-   Console Version of "QC" Series.
    QJ-   Console Version of "QB" Series.
    QK-   Scanning Sonar-Crystal.
    QL-   Frequency Modulated Sonar.
    QX-   Auxiliary Equipments to Echo Ranging Sonar.
R-- ---   Radio Receiving Equipment (Panoramic radio adapters 
          were included in this class up through Model REZ).
    RP-   Panoramic Radio Adapters.
S-- ---   Search Radar Equipment.
T-- ---   Radio Transmitting Equipment.
    TP-   Power Amplifiers.
U-- ---   Remote Control:
    UX-   Mobile Remote Control.
V-- ---   Visual - PPI Repeaters.
W-- ---   Sonar - Combined Ranging and Sounding:
    WA-   Combined Sounding-Ranging (Magnetostriction).
    WB-   Combined Sounding-Ranging (Rochelle Salt).
    WC-   Combined Sounding-Ranging (R/S Sounding) (M/S & R/S 
          Ranging & Listening).
    WD-   Combined Sounding-Ranging (R/S Sounding) (M/S & R/S 
          Ranging & Listening)
    WE-   Combined Lightweight M/S Echo Ranging with sounding 
          feature removed.
    WF-   Combined Ranging-Sounding-Listening (Sonic & supersonic 
          listening using ADP crystals).
X-- ---   Experimental (Navy-designed).
Y-- ---   Navigation and Landing Equipment: (other than direction 
          finders), (beacons).
Z-- ---   Airborne Navigation and Landing. (Classification 
          cancelled - reassigned "AY" series).
As examples for early U.S. Navy designations have a look at the RAO receiver
or the TCS transmitter / receiver.

Components and Parts of a System

The first letter is usually a "C" standing for component,

the following one or two letters indicate the manufacturer of the equipment, as an example, COL stands for Collins, CMX for Magnavox,... as found with the TCS receiver.

The next two digits indicate the class or type of component, followed by another 2 - 4 digits as sequential model numbers resulting in a 4 - 6 digit model number.

Additional letters indicate model modifications or variants.

Class   Material
10      Miscellaneous: To be used when a definite class is not 
14      Special RF Devices (Not covered by any other 
        classification).  (Electronic switching, etc.)
18      Prime Movers and Accessories: All types except 
19      Batteries:  All types; parts and accessories.
20      Rectifier Power Units - Voltage Regulators - Copper Oxide 
        Rectifiers: All types.  A20 is crystal detectors.
21      Motors - Generators - Dynamotors - Motor Generators - 
        Rotary Converters, etc.  Motor controllers.
22      Instruments - Electrical Indicating and Recording.
23      Control Panels and Control Units. (Except motor 
24      Switches: Manually operated.
25      Shields and Shielding Material: Finishes.
26      Keys - Telegraph: Manually operated.
28      Protective Devices: Static types.
29      Electromagnetic Contact Devices: All types.
30      Transformers and Reactors: Power and audio.
35      Oscillators - Complete Units (Audio or RF).
36      Ranging Equipment - Radio (Localizer, rotating beacons, 
38      Vacuum Tubes - Photo-electric Cells: All types.
40      Piezo-Electric Crystals and Holders - Thermometers and 
41      Compensators - Underwater Sound.
43      Transmitter-Receiver Units (Combined): Equipment in which 
        the transmitter and receiver are not separable as units.
46      Receiver Units and Converters (RF to IF, etc.) - Radio 
        and Sound.
47      RF Transformers - Inductors - Chokes.
48      Capacitors: All types.
49      Head Telephones - Telephone Cords - Patch Cords - 
        Loudspeakers - Plugs - Jacks - Sockets - Receptacles: All 
50      Amplifier, Modulator, and Coupler Units - Electronic 
        Converters - Mixing Panels: All types. (Complete diplex 
        and duplex units.) See 14 for electronic switching.
51      Microphones - Hydrophones - Underwater Sound Electrical 
        Pickup Devices - Combination Handsets: All types.
52      Radio Transmitter Units: Includes RF drivers for 
        underwater sound equipment, etc.
53      Filter Units: All electrical types.
54      Sound Receiving Devices - Acoustical.
55      Indicators and Recorders: Radio, radar, and underwater 
        sound.  (Indicating instruments under Class 22.)
56      Wave Propagation.
59      Television - Photo - Radio.
60      Test Equipment (Integral instruments under Class 22.) A60 
        is Training Equipment (Operator trainers and instruction 
61      Insulators and Insulating Material: Phenolic and ceramic.
62      Wires and Conductors - Junction Boxes.  A62 is RF 
        transmission lines and RF cables, etc.
63      Resistors:  All types.
64      Static Recorders and Eliminators.
65      Remote Control Systems by Wire: Repeater systems, etc.
66      Antennas - Antenna Assemblies.  (Dummy and phantom 
67      Automatic Systems, Facsimile, Tele-Automatic: Automatic 
        keyers and recorders.
68      Secrecy Systems: Sending and receiving. (Speech 
69      Direction Finding Equipment: Radio.
70      Distance Finding: A70 is radio altimeters.
72      Portable Equipment - Field Sets.
73      Combined Gas Engine Generator Sets.
74      Precision Calibration and Measuring Equipment.
75      Standards: (Including standardization notices, etc.)
78      HF Underwater Sound Projector (above 10 Kc) and 
        supporting parts.
79      LF Underwater Sound Projector (10 Kc or below).
83      Frequency Control Systems.
84      Control by Radio.
85      Interference Reduction.
87      Experimental Superfrequency Equipment.
88      Instrument Landing Equipments.
89      Radio Recognition and Identification Devices.
90      Visual Signalling Apparatus (This classification for type 
        number assignments only).

In our example with the TCS receiver, COL-46159, "COL" stands for Collins as manufacturer, "46" stands for receiver and "159" is a sequential model numbers; there exist later sets with a suffix "-A"

The Navy Designation scheme seems quite difficult to understand, it has been replaced by the "AN" - System after 1943/53.

Many thanks to Andreas Parsch who runs an excellent website on U.S. military designations which was very helpful for me to understand the U.S. Navy designations.

Martin Bösch
Martin Bösch
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28.May.10 10:51

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As found in the post above, the U.S. Navy Components / Parts designations always start with a C as first letter followed by two letters indicating the manufacturer.

It is not easy to find a complete list of all communications equipment manufacturer codes, so please inform me, in case You have further informations. 

Manufacturer code    Manufacturer
COL-                 Collins Radio Comp., Cedar Rapids
CIH-                 Hamilton Radio Corp., N.Y.
CKP-                 Air King Products Inc.
CMX-                 Magnavox
CNA-                 National Company, Inc., Malden
CWQ-                 Wells Gardner

Hope this helps, Martin Boesch

Jan Terranea
Jan Terranea
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18.Jun.10 18:31

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Dear Martin,

I came upon a list of manufacturers and their 3 character codes, who took part in the production of the 74028 frequency meter. See attachment.

It is however not a complete list of all.

Jan Terranea.


Emilio Ciardiello
Emilio Ciardiello
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18.Jun.10 22:19

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Dear Martin,

Here are the codes of some JAN qualified tube manufacturers:

CAHG        Chatham
CBNQ        Bomac
CBOP        Lewis and Kaufman
CCTH         Metcom
CCUQ        Beam Tube Corporation

CDR          General Electronics
CG            General Electric
CFT           Federal
CHS          Sylvania
CHY          Hytron
CIM           Eimac
CKR          Ken-Rad
CNU          National Union
CQN          Slater
CRC          RCA
CRP          Raytheon
CS            Sperry
CTL           Tung Sol
CUE          United Electronics

CW           Western Electric
CWL         Westinghouse

Unfortunately this list only refers to vacuum tubes and is not complete. I hope that it could help you.



This article was edited 30.Jan.11 22:16 by Emilio Ciardiello .

Sheldon Wheaton
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29.Nov.19 05:57

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Regarding US Navy type designations for components

In the book "History of Communications Electronics in the United States Navy"
By Linwood S. Howeth, United States. Office of Naval History, published in 1963, starting on page 218 is a section named:  "Navy Radio Type Number System".  The following is an excerpt from that section [with my notations in brackets]:

Preceding the type number was a letter designation indicating the design source: SE [for Bureau of Steam Engineering] if designed by the Navy, or C if of commercial design, followed by one or two [and later 3] additional letters indicating the particular originating company.

Thus, I believe the "C" at the beginning of the manufacturer identification actually stands for "commercial".  During the early years, much of the equipment was designed by the US Navy, itself, and was marked with the "SE" designation.