Our Archives 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.
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.
The Museum holds microfilm covering the following aircraft:
U.S. 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. For more information, see the US Air Force History Card Finding Aid.
United States Air Force
Air Force Historical Research Agency
600 Chennault Circle
Maxwell AFB, AL
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 more information, see the US Navy History Card Finding Aid.
United States Navy
Naval Aviation History Office
Washington Navy Yard
901 M St, SE
Accessing This Collection
- Plan your visit to the Archives
- Submit a research request to our reference desk
- Order Reproductions
- Fee Schedule
The Museum only holds aircraft history cards for the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy. For history cards on other military aircraft, please contact the appropriate agency:
United States Army
United States Coast Guard
(Currently all aircraft records, including the inventory history, are destroyed when the subject aircraft is retired from the USCG inventory.)