To have a meaningful database for searching purposes, everybody should preferably list the same things the same way. For French military aircraft our policy is to use the small tailnumber as the registration and the rest as the code.
In fact, this is already stated in the Help item for the Registration at the Upload Page, where it says:
"French military and semi-military aircraft except the Navy: use the small number on the fin (which is often the cn) as the registration and insert the squadron code in the code field. E.g. the small “109” on the fin is the registration, the larger “12-KF” is the code. French Navy aircraft only have a number which is the registration".
The codes (which are doubling as callsigns) should be listed as they are painted on the aircraft, and not filled-up to make them "complete". When e.g. a Falcon 20 has code "A" it should not be filled-up to "F-RAEA".
Codes can be made up in different ways:
Squadron number followed by two letters, as illustrated by the 5-OP code on the Mirage 2000 below. The 5 is for squadron EC02.005, and OP is the individual aircraft code. In full this code OP is callsign F-UGOP. Note the registration 508 on the fin. An example with a two-number squadron code is the ET3/64 Noratlas below, code 64-BK, which makes it callsign F-RABK. On the fin and the nose you see the registration 148.
There are also squadrons with three numbers, like this T-33 with code 314-UQ (callsign F-TEUQ) and registration 14349 on the fin (the registration is here not the cn but a contraction of the previous US serial) or this TB
-30 coded 315-XS (callsign F-TEXS) with registration 102.
Sometimes the squadron number is not used and only the last two letters are painted on the aircraft, like at this Nord 262 with code AW
) and registration 80 (difficult to see on the photo, it is in the red square on the fin). Another example is DC-8 with code FG
(on the nosewheeldoor, callsign F-RAFG
), and registration 46013 on the fin.
It can be even more anonymous with just one letter only, like on the presidential Falcon 20 which had the code A on the tip of the nose only (callsign F-RAEA, registration 260) and SA
-330 Puma coded R on the nose (registration 1257, callsign F-RAFR), unfortunately no examples for those are in the database (yet). But SE
-3200 registration 001 coded S (full callsign unknown, probably F-Z**S) and Jaguar registration A04 coded E (callsign F-ZWRE) are more prominent examples in the database.
In contrast, sometimes the full callsign is painted on the aircraft, like this Alpha Jet F-TERK (registration E31 can be found on the nosewheeldoor) and TB
-30 F-SEXQ (also here, the registration 100 is on the nosewheeldoor). Also in those cases, the code has to be listed in the code field.
And then we have the aircraft which carry the full code, but don't have their registration (fin serial) painted on. In those cases we still list the number as the registration (which will have to be found by checking documentation or other photos) and list the F-R*** in the code field. Examples are Airbus A310 coded F-RADB with registration 422 and Falcon 20 coded F-RAED with registration 93 (although in this case the registration is carried, but so small that it is almost unreadable, it is below "Dassault" on the rudder.
Finally, there are also aircraft which do not carry a code, only their serial. If the callsign is known for those cases and if the photographer wants to add it, it shall not be placed in the code field (as it is not carried) but in the remarks field. Examples are Falcon 900 registration 2 (I think it is painted very small on the rudder) and Falcon 50 registration 34.
At the moment a very large number of photos in the database is unfortunately not yet up to these conventions, but the editors will work on it. By the way, these same conventions apply to Army and semi military agencies too.
I hope this explanation helps for a better understanding and for more standardized uploading.
Chief Database Editor