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 USAAF Tail Markings

United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) unit identification aircraft markings, commonly called "tail markings" after their most frequent location, were numbers, letters, geometric symbols, and colors painted onto the tails (vertical stabilizer fins), wings, or fuselages of the combat aircraft (primarily bombers) of the USAAF during WWII. The purpose of these markings was to provide a means of rapid identification of the unit to which an aircraft was assigned. Variations of these markings continue to be used in the United States Air Force (USAF) in the form of tail codes identifying operational wings.

In June 1943, VIII Bomber Command introduced the use of a geometric symbol painted on either side of a bomber's vertical fin to denote a bombardment wing (later division) identification marking. These devices were white in color and 80 inches in diameter. A triangle denoted the B-17 1st Bombardment Wing (later 1st Air Division).

8th AF Group Letter Identifiers

91 BG - A 92 BG - B 303 BG - C 305 BG - G
306 BG - H 351 BG - J 379 BG - K 381 BG - L
384 BG - P 401 BG - S 457 BG - U 398 BG - W

The first color markings for B-17s appeared in July 1944 when the 1st Combat Wing (91st, 381st, and 398th Bomb Groups) painted the empennage of their airplanes bright red.

(adapted from Wikipedia article)