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    Who invented C/N?

    I am wondering about the origins of the term C/N for Constructor's Number. It has been suggested that it was first coined by Air Britain to describe the serial number assigned to an airframe by its manufacturer and to differentiate that number from a subsequent "serial number" as assigned by the military. So who was first to use it and when?
    Regards

    Ron

    "History should always be studied in the morning, before anything else can happen."
    Charles M. Schulz 1923-2000

    #2
    I would assume that this followed on from ship-building practice, where the builder would allocate a 'ship number' or 'yard number'.

    Comment


      #3
      German manufacturers used 'werke' numbers that differed from tail/service numbers during WW1. I do not know what British practise was during this time period.

      Regards
      John

      Comment


        #4
        I'm sure that Ron is not suggesting that manufacturers lacked such a system before Air Britain existed, merely the use of the actual term C/N for clarity, in place of the variety of such terminology.

        However, as far as I know there was no German service numbering system that existed alongside manufacturing werke numbers, at least until late in the war when the system was standardised to avoid duplication. I suspect this is confusion with the radio call sign (four letters) issued to all German aircraft, which differed from the letter/number/two letters carried by operational units.

        Comment


          #5
          Thanks to all who have responded.

          Graham assumes correctly that I am trying to ascertain the origins of the term "C/N" as a descriptor for the serial number issued by the manufacturer.
          Regards

          Ron

          "History should always be studied in the morning, before anything else can happen."
          Charles M. Schulz 1923-2000

          Comment


            #6
            C/n was used by the aviation registration body in the U.K. pre WWII. The term certainly was not introduced by Air-Britain! If you use the CAA site and look at the following link to the first card recording the registration for example of G-ACTF you will find the term Constructors Number already in use.

            https://cwsprduksumbraco.blob.core.w...r/G-ACTF-1.pdf
            "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."(Mary Baker Eddy)

            Comment


              #7
              Consul

              Thank you for that most helpful response. Am I interpreting that document correctly if I deduce that the form (C.A. 113) was introduced by the Air Registration Board in October 1938 (10/38) and that the details for G-ACTF were retrospectively transcribed from a register to the new card (the stamp on the card is illegible). This would date the earliest documented use of "Constructor's No." at October 1938 but presumably it could have been in use earlier. Do we know what term was used in the preceding "Register"? We have at least eliminated the Air Britain furphy.

              Rgds
              Regards

              Ron

              "History should always be studied in the morning, before anything else can happen."
              Charles M. Schulz 1923-2000

              Comment


                #8
                hi morning,
                a interesting question, I've just had a look on the CAA site G-INFO, when I entered G-EASD the aircraft details have serial number E5. Further down the entry is view registration details, and again view entry for pre 1986, this gives the photocopy of the original registry card which then gives construction number E5 registered 26-3-20...
                The entry for G-EAAE a HP.O/400 ex airforce is on the aircraft details page its given as serial number HP16, and its pre 1986 original card its c/n number is D8350, its RAF serial...

                regards,
                jack...

                Comment


                  #9
                  For HP O/400 G-EAAE the 'HP.16' is it's Fleet Number, nominally in the Handley Page Transport fleet, but the list also includes a number of aircraft that HP sold overseas (possibly intended for local HP-sponsored airlines). This was used briefly as the company had become impatient with the international efforts to regularise civil registrations, and found the use of the original RAF serial unwieldy (and highlighting the war-like origins of the aircraft was unwelcome). As HP invented and re-invented their airline aspirations, and as O/400 derivatives proved themselves rather fragile in airline service, a number of their aircraft became 'bitsas' (i.e. bits of this, bits of that) and I don't think there was ever at that time a single 'works' number that was separate from an externally visible identity.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    hi,
                    thanks LaztB for the extra info always useful. My 2 examples were of the earliest civil registrations I could find, and from the CAA cards of these 2 registered in 1920, the card has construction no. printed on...


                    regards,
                    jack...

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Thanks everyone for the ongoing contributions. It would appear that the earliest recorded use of "Constructor's No." is the ARB card Form C.A. 113 which was introduced in October 1938 (See Post #6). Evidently many aircraft which were registered much earlier than 1938 were transcribed to this new card and their identities recorded in the column headed "Contructor's No." These identities may or may not have been classified as Constructor's Numbers before they were transcribed to the new card. The objective now is to find a reference to Constructor's No. earlier than 1938.

                      I am also interested to know if the term was ever used by an American manufacturer.
                      Regards

                      Ron

                      "History should always be studied in the morning, before anything else can happen."
                      Charles M. Schulz 1923-2000

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Hi Ron et al.

                        Trevor Boughton's Man and Aerial Machines had an article plus follow-ups on this subject many years ago. It covered British, Australian and American aircraft. I will dig it up and have a look...
                        Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes Walt Whitman
                        http://vhjet.com

                        Comment


                          #13
                          A lot of people (including some in this thread) refer to something called a "construction number".
                          Is this simply a corruption of "Constructor's Number" or does it have any valid basis? . .

                          Comment


                            #14
                            You could say the answer to that lies in what the constructor puts on the plate. Some read 'serial number'. Some read 'construction number'. Both are constructor's numbers.
                            Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes Walt Whitman
                            http://vhjet.com

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Probably started with the first cars being made maybe?

                              Comment


                                #16
                                US were certainly using it by 1933
                                If anybody ever tells you anything about an aeroplane which is so bloody complicated you can't understand it, take it from me: It's all balls. RJM.

                                Comment


                                  #17
                                  US were certainly using it by 1933
                                  ZRX61 Please clarify. Using what by 1933?
                                  Regards

                                  Ron

                                  "History should always be studied in the morning, before anything else can happen."
                                  Charles M. Schulz 1923-2000

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    Construction/Constructor's Number and Serial Number are NOT the same thing: c/n (whichever version you choose) refers to a manufacturer's sequence number, assigned by them.

                                    Serial number is usually the term used to indicate an in-service identifier for military aircraft in the same way as 'registration letters/marks/numbers' indicate civilian versions of same.

                                    Serial number is also the term used to describe components of an aircraft which usually have a finite service life assigned to them.

                                    Back on-topic I recall as a spotty pre-teen being told about 'con numbers' by an elder member of LAAS (remember them?), but at the time having no idea what it referred to. Nowadays in the industry we seem to use the term 'MSN' rather than c/n.

                                    Comment


                                      #19
                                      Construction/Constructor's Number and Serial Number are NOT the same thing
                                      Sorry Sabrejet but I can't agree with you there. There are many cases where the same number is described as a serial number or a constructor's number.

                                      Serial number is also the term used to describe components of an aircraft
                                      or indeed the entire airframe!

                                      It could be speculated that the use of "serial" to denote an identity assigned by the manufacturer as well as an identity assigned by a military customer created the circumstance where somebody decided to coin the term "Constructor's Number" to eliminate any confusion.

                                      My latest research into Australian government issued registration and airworthiness forms indicates that the term "Constructor's No." was in use as early as 1921. This suggests to me that British use of "Constructor's No." would have been earlier than 1921.

                                      The term "Manufacturer's Serial Number" was in Australian use (for an American aircraft) as early as 1941.

                                      Rgds
                                      Last edited by Ron Cuskelly; 22nd June 2018, 23:00.
                                      Regards

                                      Ron

                                      "History should always be studied in the morning, before anything else can happen."
                                      Charles M. Schulz 1923-2000

                                      Comment


                                        #20
                                        Apologies for being "picky" but surely the question should read, when did the term "constructors number" come into use.
                                        It is not a matter of "inventing" it.....

                                        Comment


                                         

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