AIRCRAFT HISTORY CARDS
The National Air and Space Museum Archives Division holds
microfilm copies of aircraft records created by the United States Air
Force and its predecessors and the United States Navy. These records are
commonly called Aircraft History Cards. The Museum's holdings are partial
duplicate sets of those held by the services. The Museum holdings do not
include history cards for aircraft operated by Army Ground Forces/Army
Aviation (post-WWII), non-activated Air National Guard units, or the United
States Coast Guard.
WHAT IS AN AIRCRAFT HISTORY CARD?
An Aircraft History Card (or the USAF "Individual Aircraft
Record Card") is a compilation of the inventory history of a single aircraft,
showing the location or controlling unit and status of that aircraft at
a given time. Other information may also be included, such as airframe
time, time since overhaul, and so forth. In most cases, this history covers
the period from the acceptance of the aircraft by the controlling service
until it is removed from that service's inventory.
WHAT AN AIRCRAFT HISTORY CARD IS NOT:
Aircraft History Cards are not an operational history
of the aircraft. They do not include any information on missions flown,
crews assigned, or markings. They do not generally include specific maintenance
or modification information. The records for Army Air Forces (AAF) aircraft
transferred overseas during World War II stop upon arrival in theater
and do not resume until the aircraft either returns to the Continental
United States or is removed from the inventory. Gaps exist for both Navy
and AAF aircraft during 1943-1944, apparently due to changes in record-keeping
policies and systems. Other gaps may exist on some cards and most cards
contain a variety of data formats.
OBTAINING AIRCRAFT HISTORY CARDS
Send your request for History Card information via email or to the address below. The Archives staff can provide copies of the history cards for up to three specific aircraft by military serial number (AF serial number or Navy Bureau of Aeronautics number). As most of these records are in code, we will also attempt a basic interpretation of the data; however, our understanding of the codes used on these cards is incomplete. If the records for any single request require more than 20 printed pages, you will be billed for the prints at 30¢ per page.
Duplicates of complete rolls of Aircraft History Card microfilm are also available; please download the Aircraft History Cards Microfilm order form (Adobe Acrobat PDF format, 434k) for ordering instructions; also consult our shipping rates to calculate your shipping charges.
Duplicates of complete rolls of microfilm are also available;
please contact the Archives for more information.
Finding Aids for the Air Force and Navy History Cards are also available.
The Museum holds microfilm covering the following aircraft:
US Air Force:
Aircraft retired from the Air Force inventory from the late-1920s through
May 1953 except aircraft whose record cards had been removed from the
master aircraft file prior to microfilming due to security or other concerns.
All aircraft through Fiscal Year 1986 (ending September 30, 1986) except
Lend-Lease aircraft purchased under Navy contract and delivered directly
to an Allied power.
For history cards on other military aircraft, please
contact the appropriate agency:
United States Air Force
Air Force Historical Research Agency
600 Chennault Circle
Maxwell AFB, AL
United States Army
U.S. Army Aviation Systems Command
4300 Goodfellow Blvd
St. Louis, MO
United States Navy
Naval Aviation History Office
Washington Navy Yard
901 M St, SE
United States Coast Guard
Currently all aircraft records, including the inventory history,
are destroyed when the subject aircraft is retired from the USCG inventory.
TO REVIEW THE RECORDS IN PERSON:
We encourage researchers to visit the National Air and Space Museum Archives and review these records in person, particularly if their research needs are extensive. The records are available at the Archives reading rooms at both the Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia and at the Museum in Washington, DC.
Mail your history card request
P.O. Box 37012
National Air and Space Museum
Archives Division, Rm 3100, MRC 322
Or send your history card request by email.