U.S. Military Aircraft Nicknames

I thought it would be fun to compile a list of U.S. military aircraft nicknames. This isn’t an exhaustive list, nor is it original. In fact, it’s one that’s been compiled elsewhere on the internet (see reference section).

As you may know, aviation isn’t really my area of interest. I don’t know much about aircraft, doctrine, or operations, apart from knowing what the general role of each aircraft is. I don’t mean to imply that I’m dismissive of aviation, but it’s not the main focus of my research. However, I do enjoy the odd sense of humor that comes out of the military. Pilots and aviators love to give strange, bawdy, or politically incorrect nom de guerre to their machines. I’ve tried to do some basic research, however, I can’t guarantee the accuracy of many of these nicknames. No doubt, many of them are probably apocryphal or hardly ever used. Take them with a grain of salt.

Note that some entries have been consolidated or are listed by a more generic designation. Many aircraft have electronic warfare and reconnaissance variants, but I’ve only listed them separately if their nickname(s) seemed to warrant a separate listing. I’ve also listed many of the helicopters under their “HH” designation because the same helicopter design can have many different variants and designations depending on what branch of service they were in and what role they were configured for. (e.g. the Sikorsky S-70 design is known as the UH-60 Black Hawk (U.S. Army), HH-60 Pave Hawk (U.S. Air Force), SH-60 Seahawk (U.S. Navy), and the HH-60J Jayhawk (U.S. Coast Guard), not to mention the numerous other variants/upgrades of each design). Also, the Tri-Service Designation system was introduced in 1962 which changed some of the alpha-numeric designations. For example, fighter aircraft originally given the designation of “P” (for pursuit fighter) were changed to “F” (for fighter).

Finally, many of these aircraft have the same nicknames. This is because many of the nicknames are generically applied to the aircraft type, size, design, or role, as oppose to the specific aircraft.

Alpha-numeric DesignationOfficial Service NamePhotoNickname(s)
A-3DSkywarriorWhale, All Three Dead (it had no ejection seats)
A-4SkyhawkScooter, Heinemann’s Hotrod (after its designer, Ed Heinemann), Mongoose, Bantam Bomber, Mighty Mite, Skyhog, Tinker Toy
A-5VigilanteVigie, Viggie (both pronounced with short “i” and soft “g”)
A-6IntruderDrumstick, Pregnant Guppy, Dogship, Man-eater (a man got sucked into the engine once, he lived), Tadpole
A-7Corsair IISLUF (Short Little Ugly Fucker)
A-10Thunderbolt IIWarthog, Hog, Porker, SLAT (Slow, Low Aerial Target)
A-26InvaderLittle Hummer, Little Racer
AC-130A/E/HSpectreSpooky, Puff the Magic Dragon, Dragon (these names were also shared with the Vietnam-era predecessor AC-47)
AD-1SkyraiderSpad, Able Dog (from the old phonetic alphabet), Fat Face, Flying Dump truck
AF-2GuardianFertile Myrtle, Guppy, Scrapper
AH-1GCobraSnake
AH-1WSuper CobraWhiskey, Whiskey Cobra
AT-17BobcatBamboo Bomber, Double-breasted Cub, Rhapsody in Glue, Useless 78
AT-6TexanAwful Terrible Six
AV-8HarrierJump Jet, Scarier, Whistling Shitcan
B-1LancerBone (from “B One”), Lawn Dart
B-2SpiritBlack Knight, Boomerang, Budget Bomber
B-17Flying FortressQueen
B-24LiberatorCee One-Oh-Boom (C-109 cargo variant)
B-25MitchellBilly’s Bomber
B-26MarauderBaltimore Whore, Flying Prostitute, Widow maker
B-36PeacemakerAluminum Overcast, Magnesium Overcast, Six Turnin’ & Four Burnin’ (it had six radial prop and four jet engines), Big Stick
B-52StratofortressAluminum Overcast, BUFF (Big Ugly Fat Fucker), Coconut Knocker, Monkeyknocker
B-57CanberraCranberry
B-58HustlerDelta Queen
BT-13ValiantBee Tee, Vibrator
C-3TrimotorFlying Washboard, Tin Goose
C-5GalaxyAluminum Overcast, Cumulus Aluminus, Big Mac, Fat Albert, Linda Lovelace (its nose section pivots up allowing vehicles to drive up into it), FRED (Fucking Ridiculous Economic Disaster)
C-17Globemaster IIIMighty Mouse, Buddha, Moose, Barney
C-45ExpeditorBug Smasher, Slow Navy Bomber (SNB Kansan variant)
C-47DakotaDowager Duchess, Gooney Bird, Grand Old Lady, Old Methuselah, Placid Plodder
C-69ConstellationConnie, Flying Speed brake
C-82PacketCrowd Killer
C-119Flying BoxcarCrowd Killer, Dollar Nineteen
C-124 Globemaster IIAluminum Overcast, Old Shaky
C-130HerculesHerc, Herky Bird, Fat Albert, Vibrator, Bugsmasher, Bleed Air Blimp, Hog
C-135StratolifterSilver Sow, Chipmunk (RC-135C variant), Hog nose (RC-135M), Lead Sled (RC-135U)
C-141StarlifterLockheed Lizard (when in camo paint), Star Lizard (same), Quarter Pounder, T-tailed mountain magnet
E-1TracerWillie Fudd, Stoof With a Roof
E-2HawkeyeHummer (for the noise the engines make)
E-3SentryAWACS (Airborne Early Warning and Control System), Frisbee
E-6AHermes/MercuryGecko (they can lose (and have lost) their tail and kept flying)
EA-3SkywarriorElectric Whale (Electronic warfare variant of the A-3D)
EA-6BProwlerQueer (from the “VAQ” squadron designation. Electronic warfare variant of the A-6), Q-bird, Double Ugly, Gliding Electric Show, Sterile Arrow
EC-130HCompass CallElectric Herc
EC-130ECommando SoloClipper (pods make it resemble a seaplane)
EF-111RavenSpark Vark
ES-3ShadowElectro-Lux
F2HBansheeBanjo
F3HDemonLead Sled
F3DSkyknightDrut (“turd” spelled backwards), Whale
F4DSkyrayFord
F-4Phantom IILead Sled, Double Ugly, Rhino (some models had a nose pitot tube), Flying Footlocker, Bug Basher, Old Smokey, Big Iron Sled, Flying Brick, St. Louis Slugger, World’s Leading Distributor of MiG Parts
F-5A, BFreedom FighterDinky Toy, Skoshi Tiger (“skoshi” is Japanese for “a little”)
F-8CrusaderMiG Master, Crud, ‘Sader
F-14TomcatTurkey, Tomkitty, Cat, Tomgrape, Bombcat (when configured for air-to-ground missions), Peeping Tom (when carrying the TARPS recon pod)
F-15EagleBeagle (E variant, contraction of “bomb eagle”), Mudhen (dark grey E variant), Albino (light grey C variant), Flying Tennis Court, Starship, Ego Jet, Big Bird
F-16Fighting FalconViper, Lawn dart, Electric Jet, Icepick, Little Hummer
F/A-18HornetBug, Plastic Bug, Rhino (F/A-18E/F Super Hornet)
F-84ThunderjetHog, Lead Sled, Lieutenant Eater
F-84FThunderstreakGround-loving whore, Super Hog
F-86DSabreSabre Dog,
F-89ScorpionFOD Vacuum, Stanley Steamer
F-100Super SabreClunk (because of the sounds it would make while sitting in the hangar with no one near it), Super Sled, Hun, Silver Dollar, Slick Chick (RF-100A recon variant)
F-101VoodooOne-Oh-Wonder
F-102Delta DaggerDeuce, Dagger, Tub (TF-102)
F-104StarfighterZipper, Missile with a Man in It, Sled, Widowmaker (for its reputedly poor safety record with the Luftwaffe)
F-105ThunderchiefThud, Nickel, Lead Sled, Iron Butterfly, Mighty Iron Hardware, Squash Bomber, Triple Threat, Ultra Hog
F-106Delta DartSix, Dart, Six Shooter
F-111Aardvark‘Vark, Switchblade Edsel, Ramp Vac, McNamara’s Folly, Flying Edsel, Swinger
F-117NighthawkCockroach (they run away when the lights come on), Roach, Stinkbug, Black jet, Goblin, Wobblin’ Goblin, Ghost, Bat plane
F3FFifi
F4UCorsairHog, hose nose, bent-wing widow maker, bent-wing bird, Whistling Death
F7UCutlassGutless (underpowered engines & a high accident rate)
HH-3Sea King/Jolly Green Giant/PelicanSea Pig, Junglie
HH-21Shawnee/WorkhorseFlying Banana
HH-43HuskieFlying Shithouse
HH-47ChinookHook, Shithook
HH-53Sea Stallion/Pave LowSuper Jolly Green Giant, Super Shitter (CH-53E Super Stallion)
HH-60Black Hawk/Seahawk/Pave Hawk/JayhawkCrash hawk, Catfish, Velcro hawk
HH-65DolphinTupperwolf (portmanteau of tupperware and Airwolf, portions of the airframe are made out of composite and it resembles the helicopter from the TV series)
KC-10ExtenderSnoopy
KC-135StratotankerStrato-Bladder, Steam Jet, Fanbird (R variant equipped with turbofans), Flying Gas Station, GLOB (Ground Loving Old Bastard), Tank
LOH-58KiowaLoach (from Light Observation Helicopter (LOH) designation)
OH-6CayuseLittle Bird, Egg, Killer Egg, Loach, Olive on a Toothpick
P2VNeptuneSnake
P5MMarlinFrog
P-38LightningFork-tailed Devil, Droop Snoot (J & L bombing variants)
P-40WarhawkGypsy Rose Lee (L variant)
P-47ThunderboltJug, Superbolt, T-bolt
P-51MustangPeter Dash Flash, Spam Can, Cadillac of the Skies
PT-22RecruitMaytag Messerschmitt
R-4HoverflyFlying Eggbeater, Frustrated Palm Tree
S-2TrackerStoof
S-3VikingHoover, War Hoover
SB2CHelldiverBig-Tailed Beast, Beast, Two-Cee, Son-of-a-Bitch 2nd Class
SBDDauntlessBarge, Clunk, Slow But Deadly, Speedy Three (SBD-3 variant)
SR-71BlackbirdHabu (Japanese for pit viper, several SR-71s were based out of Kadena), Sled, Lead Sled
T-2BuckeyeGuppy, North American Safety Jet
T-33Shooting StarT-Bird
T-34MentorRadial Interceptor
T-37DragonflyDog Whistle, Converter (converts fuel into noise), Tweety Bird, Tweet, Killer Tweet, Howler, Screamer, Hummer
T-38TalonWhite Rocket, Smurf (blue-camo AT-38s)
T-43Gator (short for “navigator”), Flying Classroom (used to train USAF navigators), Strike Pig
T-46Thunder Piglet
TBFAvengerPregnant Beast, Turkey
U-2U-2Angel, Dragon Lady, Useless Deuce
UH-1IroquoisHuey, Hog, Slick
X-20Dyna-Soar (Dynamic Soarer)Dinosaur
X-24AFlying Potato
X-24BFlying Flatiron
X-29Polecat
XB-70ValkyrieOvercast
XP-54Swoose Goose
XP-55AscenderAss-ender (Engine is in a pusher configuration)
XF-84HThunderscreech
XF-85GoblinBumble Bee
XF-92Seven Balls Two

References

Crowell, J. (n.d.). Aircraft Nicknames Appendix. SailorSpeak. http://www.combat.ws/S4/SAILOR/APNDX1.HTM.

Gustin, E. (n.d.). Aircraft Nicknames. http://web.mit.edu/btyung/www/nickname.html.

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