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World War II
Naval Aircraft Squadron
Designations

The basic tactical and administrative unit of Naval aviation is the squadron. The number of aircraft in a squadron vary according to the type and mission.  World War II squadrons consist of as few as six aircraft and as many as thirty-six or more. A standard WWII Carrier Air Group consists of four -  eighteen plane squadrons. But, extra squadrons and added strength squadrons are common.  Marine Air Groups (MAG) and Wings (MAW) as well as Navy shore based squadrons varied in strength as tasks demand.  Patrol and Search aircraft form Fleet Air Wings.
Fixed wing aircraft squadrons (heavier than air) are denoted by the letter "V."  Rotary wing (helicopter) squadrons use "H."  The lighter than air (airship or LTA) squadrons are designated by the letter "Z."  Marine squadrons are noted by the second letter "M."  Hence, VF-1 is  Navy Fighting Squadron One and VMF-1 is Marine Fighting Squadron One.  The "ing" on Fighting, Bombing and Scouting has fallen from use.  Present use is Fighter Squadron.
Squadron numbering is not linear.  Some squadrons by function are numbered in ascending order.  Other squadrons take numbers from the wing or the ship to which they were assigned.  Pre-WWII Carrier Groups, composed of VF, VS, VB and VT squadrons are identified by the carriers' number.  Therefore, USS Enterprise (CV-6) has VB-6, VF-6, VS-6 and VT-6 on board at the start of WWII. With the loss of carriers and formation of new squadrons the matching of carrier and squadron numbers is no longer possible.  

 

Designation
[Number]
Name
[Number]
VB Bombing Squadron
VC Composite Squadron
VCS Cruiser Scouting Squadron
VD Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron
VF Fighting Squadron
VF(N) Night Fighting Squadron
VGF Escort Fighting Squadron
VGS Escort Scouting Squadron
VH Air-Sea Rescue Squadron
VJ Utility Squadron
VM Miscellaneous  Squadron (Naval Base)
VN-D Training Squadron (Naval District)
VO Observation Squadron
VOT Operational Training Squadron
VP Patrol Squadron
VP-D Patrol Squadron (Naval District)
VPB Patrol Bombing Squadron
VR Transport Squadron
VRE Transport-Evacuation Squadron
VRF Ferry Squadron
VRS Service Squadron
VS Scouting Squadron
VS-D Scouting Squadron (Naval District)
VSB Scout Bombing Squadron
VT Torpedo Squadron
VTB Torpedo Bombing Squadron
VX-D Experimental Squadron (Naval District)
VMB Marine Bombing Squadron
VMD Marine Photographic Squadron
VMF Marine Fighting Squadron
VMF(N) Marine Night Fighting Squadron
VMJ Marine Utility Squadron
VMO Marine Observation Squadron
VMOT Marine Operational Training Squadron
VMP Marine Patrol Squadron 
VMPB Marine Patrol Bombing Squadron
VMR Marine Transport Squadron
VMRF Marine Ferry Squadron
VMRS Marine Service Squadron
VMS Marine Scouting Squadron
VMSB Marine Scout Bombing Squadron
VMT Marine Torpedo Squadron
VMTB Marine Torpedo Bombing Squadron
VMW Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron
ZJ Airship Utility Squadron
ZN Airship Training Squadron
ZP Airship Patrol Squadron
ZS Airship Scouting Squadron

 

 
 
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