Third Reich to standardize and produce an identifier for each aircraft design’s airframe type produced in Germany. It aircraft radio system pdf in use from 1933 to 1945 though many pre-1933 aircraft were included and the system had changes over those years. As well as aircraft of the Luftwaffe, it covered civilian airliners and sport planes, due to the RLM handing all aviation-related matters in the Third Reich, both civilian and military in nature.
When the Reichsluftfahrtministerium was given control of the country’s aviation activities in 1933, it set out to catalog both the aircraft already in production by various German manufacturers as well as new projects approved for development by the ministry. The improved designation system was introduced in order to provide a simple and unambiguous identification of every German civilian and military aircraft, be it fixed-wing or rotary-winged, and its corresponding airframe design. Fw for Focke-Wulf or Bf for Bayerische Flugzeugwerke. Voss and received the designation BV for their new aircraft, the first of which was the BV 138 Fliegender Holzschuh maritime patrol trimotor flying boat.
As such the RLM referred to a Messerschmitt twin-jet fighter project internally as type “8-262”, although the same aircraft in service would be more generally known as the “Me 262”. Originally, these numbers were assigned sequentially and wherever possible attempted to take into account the manufacturers’ own in-house design numbers for types already existing in 1933. Duplication resulted from the fact that when one manufacturer abandoned a project, the same number was occasionally re-allocated, with an appropriate time delay, to another manufacturer.
So, for example, the Me 262 V3 was the third prototype of the Me 262 built. V” designation, and even the Me 262’s own later prototypes began using the letter “S” for such models.
Once accepted by Deutsche Lufthansa or the Luftwaffe, major variants of the aircraft were suffixed alphabetically with a capital letter. For example, the major variants of the Me 262 were numbered Me 262 A, Me 262 B, and Me 262 C, often using the German “spelling alphabet” for each major variant’s letter. More minor variants were then suffixed numerically, beginning with “-0” for pre-production evaluation versions. More minor variants still were given a lower case alphabetical suffix.
When the Me 262 A-1a was to be experimentally equipped with different engines, in this given case the BMW 003 units, it became the Me 262 A-1b. U followed by a number. R was an abbreviation of Rüstsatz, a pre-packaged kit of parts that was usually installed on aircraft in the field, as opposed to requiring an aircraft factory to install one. The Rüstsatz designation was used for modification of basic types in order to be usable for a specific mission task like recon, fighter-bomber or bomber-destroyer.
Umbau, and was done with aircraft taken from the assembly line but also in repair workshops with airframes already in use, in any environment equipped at least as well as an aircraft factory would have had. The Umrüst-Bausatz designation was used for smaller equipment changes like additional boost agents for the engine or a different main armament.