Air Force of Zimbabwe Serial Numbering System
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Serial Numbering System Explained


Aircraft assigned to the Southern Rhodesia Air Unit (and later Southern Rhodesia Air Force) were given a single digit serial number with the prefix SR. Some aircraft wore their SR serials in addition to their RAF serials, e.g. Hart K3877/SR3. When the SRAF was absorbed into the RAF, the SR serial system was discontinued. Aircraft with Nos. 237, 44 and 266 Squadrons carried RAF serials.

SRAF 1947-1954

In the initial period after the re-establishment of a Southern Rhodesia Air Force, the SR serial system was continued from where it left off. As new aircraft were received, additional serial numbers were allocated in sequence. When the Vampires were delivered, a jump was made to a new serial block starting at SR100. The sequence ended at SR 139, a Percival Provost.

RRAF 1954-1962

In 1953 the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was established, and on 15 October 1954 the SRAF was renamed the Rhodesian Air Force. Shortly afterwards the Force became the Royal Rhodesian Air Force. Aircraft received after this date were given a serial number with the prefix RRAF. The numerical sequence continued as before, so the next Provost delivered was serialled RRAF140. Aircraft already in service had the SR prefix changed to RRAF.

RRAF 1963-1968

In March 1962 the previous sequential numbering system was replaced by a batch numbering system. The Canberras were reserialled to RRAF 200 onwards, the Provosts to RRAF 300 onwards, and the Vampire T.11s to RRAF 400 onwards. Pembrokes and Dakotas shared a batch from RRAF 700 onwards, and the Canadair DC-4Ms became RRAF 600 onwards. The single seat Vampires retained their original RRAF 100 onwards numbering. Aircraft which had been lost in accidents were not omitted from the new numbering sequence. Curiously, Hawker Hunters which were delivered a short time later were not allocated their own serial batch but took up serial numbers vacated by the renumbered Vampire T.11s, i.e. RRAF 116 onwards.

Rhodesian Air Force 1968-1980

In March 1962, a modified serial numbering system was introduced, in an attempt to disguise the number of aircraft currently Rhodesian service - an increasingly important issue as a good number of these aircraft were obtained illegally. Apparently random 4-figure serial with the prefix R were applied to all current and newly acquired aircraft, e.g. Hunter R8122. In fact the new numbers were based on the old 3-digit numbering system, but with an additional number inserted in a certain pattern to give a 4-digit serial. The additional number was the Squadron number, except for the Hunter which used 8 instead of 1. The R prefix was later deleted.

Hunter FGA.9  
(1 Sqn)
Vampire T.11
(2 Sqn)
(3 Sqn)
(4 Sqn)
(5 Sqn)
R8116 R2400 R3702 R4320 R2005
R1817 R4201 R7303 R3421 R2051
R1188 R4022 R7034 R3242 R2502
R1198 R4032 R7053 R3234 R5203
R1280 R4024 R7036 R3244 R2504
R1821 R4205 R7307 R3425 R2055
R8122 R2406 R3708 R4326 R2085
R1823 R4207 R7039 R3427 R2059

Air Force of Zimbabwe 1980-current

Aircraft acquired after independence in 1980 have reverted to the 3-digit batch serial system, with Hawks serialled 600 onwards, Chengdu F-7s serialled 700 onwards and CASA 212s 800 onwards. No prefix letters are used.

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First Created: 26 January 2003 - Last Revised: 26 January 2003
Copyright © 2003 John Hayles.     e-mail: