The F-19 posting to end all F-19 postings

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Andreas Parsch

olvasatlan,
2002. júl. 30. 16:22:432002. 07. 30.
Hello,

to beat a dead horse one last time: the "F-19" fighter designation.

Through FOIA, I have obtained a bunch of DOS/USAF letters regarding the
request and assignment of the designation F-20A to Notrhrop's
"Tigershark" aircraft in late 1982. These letters prove the following:

The designation "F-19" was skipped at Northrop's request. They wanted
F-20A, because they preferred an even number. The Soviet competitors in
the export fighter export market of the early 1980s all used odd
numbers, and Northrop wanted to stand out from these. So the official
"confusion with MiG-19"-story (which was called "nonsense" by almost
everyone) is in fact more or less close to the truth, albeit a bit
unfortunately formulated. Nobody would "confuse" an "F-19A" with a
MiG-19, especially because the latter was obsolete anyway at that time.
To say it again, Northrop didn't want to avoid "confusion" with MiG-19
in particular, but to use an even number to stand out from all the
Soviet odd ones.

The F-20A designator was approved despite official recommendation by
the USAF Standards Branch (at that time responsible for nomenclature
assignments) to follow the regulations and use "F-19A".


Below, I quote the essential portions of all USAF and DOD
correspondence about allocation of the F-20A designator. In-line
remarks in [brackets] are from me.


Ref.1
-----
Date: 28 Oct 1982
From: USAF, HQ Aeronautical Systems Div (AFSC),
Wright-Patterson AFB
Signed Col. Craig O. Schaum, USAF
Director, Fighter/Attack SPO
Deputy for Tactical Systems
Reply to: TAA
To: ASD/ENESS
Subject: Redesignation of F-5G "Tigershark" Fighter Aircraft

"1. In mid 1981, Northrop Corporation's Intermediate Export
Fighter candidate was designated the F-5G. Since that time,
the F-5G has incorporated substantial changes in structure,
engine and aircraft systems. Northrop Corporation believes
these changes would be best reflected by a model designation
change from F-5G to F-20A, "Tigershark". Northrop's reason
for specifically requesting the model 20 designation is that
being an even number series [sic], it would be unique in the
foreign market which typically sees odd numbered threat
designators (MIG 19; MIG 21; MIG 23).

2. [...] [A description of the F-20A, suitable for the designation
allocation process]

[...]"


Ref.2
-----
Date: 1 Nov 1982
From: ENESS
Signed Maj. Frederic P. Walsh, USAF
Chief, Standards Branch
Directorate of Equipment Engineering
To: HQ AFSC/LGMP, HQ USAF/PRPRB (in turn)
Subject: Redesignation of F-5G "Tigershark" Fighter Aircraft
(ASD/TAA Ltr, 28 Oct 1982)

"1. The attached request [Ref.1 above] is forwarded for your
consideration and approval of a new Mission-Design-Series (MDS)
designator.

2. MDS designator F-5G was approved for Northrop's Intermediate
Export Fighter candidate in May 1981. Based on the information
contained in the subject letter, the aircraft has been changed
sufficiently from the original F-5G configuration to warrant
assignment of a new MDS as requested.

3. Our records indicate that -19 is the next number available
for assigment in the "F" series and to comply with AFR 82-1
paragraph 3f we feel that F-19A should be assigned to this
aircraft.

4. The popular name "Tigershark" has not been approved at this
time and should not be listed in DODL 4120.15 until an MDS has
been assigned to this aircraft. We will take action to obtain
approval of the popular name when an MDS has been established.

5. Our recommendations for entry into DODL 4120.15 are as
follows:

a. F-19A [MDS]
b. Northrop [Manufacturer]
c. unassigned [Popular Name]
d. [...] [Other columns of 4120.15 entry]

[...]

[The copy of the letter has a hand-written note at the bottom,
saying "Dissapproved [sic!] see F-20A folder"]


Ref.3
-----
Date: 17 Nov 1982
From: USAF, HQ USAF, Washington DC
Signed Maj.Gen. Charles J. Cunningham Jr., USAF
Director, Directorate of Programs & Evaluation
Reply-to: PRP
To: AFSC/LG
Subject: Redesignation of F-5G to F-20A (AFSC/LGM Ltr, 5 Nov 82)

"1. Redesignation of the Northrop Corporation's intermediate
export fighter from F-5G to F-20A is approved. Substantial
changes in design and capability warrant a different basic
design number. Northrop's concern for potential confusion with
the MIG-19 [here we have obviously the origin of the official
story!] in their foreign markets is a sound basis for bypassing
that number.

2. The assignment of the popular name "Tigershark" is being
worked through public affairs channels. [...]

3. Please advise ASD and Northrop of the F-20A designation and
the status of the popular name request."

A note to conspiracy fans: You can always claim that paragraph 3 in
Ref. 2 above ("Our records indicate that -19 is the next number
available for assigment in the "F" series [...]") was just made up to
cover the "real" F-19. Have fun, but I'm _not_ into this game!

For me the "F-19 case" is definitely closed now.

Regards
Andreas

--
US Military Aiation Designation Systems
http://www.designation-systems.net/usmilav/

John Keeney

olvasatlan,
2002. júl. 31. 2:41:272002. 07. 31.
Well done.
Now, how long did it take you and how much did it cost?

Andreas Parsch <apa...@gmx.net> wrote in message
news:ai6skl$6e5$1...@news.online.de...


> Hello,
>
> to beat a dead horse one last time: the "F-19" fighter designation.
>
> Through FOIA, I have obtained a bunch of DOS/USAF letters regarding the
> request and assignment of the designation F-20A to Notrhrop's
> "Tigershark" aircraft in late 1982. These letters prove the following:
>
> The designation "F-19" was skipped at Northrop's request. They wanted

[snip]

Andreas Parsch

olvasatlan,
2002. júl. 31. 3:46:412002. 07. 31.
John Keeney wrote:

> Well done.


Thanks.


> Now, how long did it take you and how much did it cost?


I have been FOIA-requesting various nomenclature-related documents and
information from DOD for about 18 months now. This included a long
learning curve about what kind of info and records are available, and
how to request them in a time- and cost-efficient way.

The actual request for all records about allocation of F-20A took two
hours to write ;-), and 7 weeks to wait for the reply. Apart from the
cost of a two-page fax message to the FOIA office, it was free :-).


In hindsight, it only needed the (not _too_ far-fetched) idea to look
into the F-20 records to find out about F-19. I suspect, others have
done that too, but found the results too mundane and/or boring to
boast about it.

Regards
Andreas

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