We currently have 8902 items listed in the inventory, in 3645 different locales. This abandoned donkey boiler is off the side of Hwy 130, West of Laramie, Wyoming. It is not in the database.
The Method to our Madness
We pad our identification numbers with zeros in order list them in order. If the items is ex-military we also add the associated service(s), ie 63-12201: USAF or WD592: UKRAF.
A lot of aircraft started life in one service and were transferred to other services. For Example: the PBY-5 "046582: USN; 6520: FAB" started as a US Navy Catalina and was transferred to the Brazialian Air Force.
Certain oddities eventually show up, for instance: F-86F 57-6432:NAA; 02-7975: JASDF. The aircraft parts were made in the USA and had an administrative serial number assigned by North Averican Aviation (NAA.) The parts were then shipped to Japan and assembled by Mitsubishi. It was then given a serial number for the Japanese Self Defense Force. The aircraft was never part of the USAF. See our abbreviations page for more information on the abbreviations.
Designations are a constant problem.
United States Naval aircraft: We try to keep the models generic and when drilled down to the item make it specific. For instance, the Grumman Wildcat is either a F4F or FM2 depending on where it was manufactured. In a model search you will only see "Wildcat" and the different versions will show up when selected. For those aircraft that have different names for different roles they will also come out in the model selection. For example the Recconaissance version will not be included with the Fighter version on the listing. That means that you will find five different versions of the F-84 (two under F-84, two under RF-84, and one under XF-84), as each had a different model name.
The US Army items have similar challenges, having started their model numbers at M1 for every different type of ordnance/equipment they held in inventory. They renumbered their items in 1962 but you can still find duplications like the M114, it is either a Howitzer or a Command and Recconaissance Carrier. The Army has started with M1 again with the M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank and we still have the obsolete M1A1 120mm Anti-Aircraft "Stratosphere Gun" on display in several locations.
Another of these challenges for the Army is their Artillery inventory serialization. In 1962 they updated their model numbers but only added new dataplates on the units during overhaul. That means that a person can walk up to two similar guns and find two different model numbers. Newer artillery units have multiple serial numbers found on the item. We only track four associated serial numbers: gun (receiver/breach;) carriage; recoil mechanism; and tube (barrel.) Our US Army reference inventory uses any one of the these as the serial number. ** note: they depend on the end user to record the serial number of the item received. In many cases it is the easiest one found. ** US Army motorized equipment has at least two numbers, the serial/construction number and the registration number.
Unknowns Our serial number data contains the following types of unknowns: unknown - no data available, on the item or in any available documentation. unknown9999 - data is not in available in our current reseach documentation. Data on the item itself is painted over or masked. The number reflects our record number.