Aviation Command History Reports
The NHHC Archives' major collections are the annual historical reports submitted by the various naval aviation commands, including squadrons and shore-based commands. These collections, some of which are classified, cover the period 1941 to the present. (During the period 1953 to 1957, the Navy dropped its history reporting requirements; consequently, there are no reports for that timeframe.) Some of these reports have been digitized.
Information on aircraft types
The NHHC Archives has some information on almost every aircraft the Navy has had in its inventory since 1911. There is, however, a very limited amount of technical information in these records. Detailed technical information may be obtained from either the Public Affairs Office, Naval Air Systems Command, or from the Bureau of Aeronautics Collection (Record Group 72) held by the National Archives and Records Administration. Naval aircraft drawings are held by two different organizations: the National Archives and Naval Air Systems Command.
Naval Aviation Insignia
The Naval History and Heritage Command is the final approving authority for the insignia of all Navy and Marine Corps aviation commands, excluding ships. The Archives maintains a file containing most of the officially approved Navy and Marine Corps aviation insignia from World War II to the present.
Aircraft History Cards
The Archives' collection of aircraft history cards are a record of the assignments of individual naval aircraft (e.g. squadron or shore activity). [Please note that the cards do not indicate who flew the aircraft, or what happened to the aircraft after being stricken from the Navy's inventory.] The cards are indexed by the unique bureau number the Navy gives to each of its aircraft. The collection covers the period 1911 to 1987. It is on microfilm only. Due to staff limitations, we are only able to provide aircraft history cards for one bureau number per reference request. The microfilm reels are fully accessible to the general public in our research room.
Aircraft Accident Summaries/Aircraft Mishap Investigation Reports
The Aircraft Accident Reports are a record of operational losses. The incident reports normally do not include reports on combat losses. Presently, the collection covers the period 1920 to December 1973. The records are filed by type of aircraft and date of the accident. The collection is only on microfilm. Records for the post-December 1973 period are held by the Naval Safety Center.
Access to Aircraft Accident Reports by the general public is limited due to restricted information contained within the reports. Reports prior to July 1955 are fully releasable. Requests for reports after July 1955 need to be submitted through FOIA. NOTE: Without the type of aircraft and date of the accident, it is almost impossible to locate the report. Requestors must have the type of aircraft and date of the accident in order to obtain a copy of the report.
The NHHC Archives has a limited number of aviation photographs in its collections, the majority of which are in the Aircraft Collection. Naval aviation photographs may also be obtained from the NHHC Photographic Section and the Still Pictures Branch of the National Archives and Records Administration. There may be a fee for the reproduction of these photographs.
Reproduction of Documents
The Archives will provide a limited number of complimentary photocopies or scans. Larger orders are subject to a fee. The cost of these services is listed on the fee information page. Please note that, due to staff limitations, we are unable to undertake large-scale research projects on behalf of the general public.
The Archives has an excellent collection of reference documents on Naval Aviation. The following is a list of some of the more important reference sources (some of the recent documents are still classified).
1. Naval Aviation News magazine and its predecessors, the Bureau of Aeronautics Newsletters and CNO Aviation News Bulletins/Letters. This collection covers the period 1917 to the present.
2. Naval Aeronautical Organization (OPNAVNOTICE 5400), Fiscal Year 1923 to 2001.
3. Monthly Report, Status of Naval Aircraft, 1926 to 1954.
4. Allowances and Location of Navy Aircraft (OPNAVNOTICE C3110), 1949 to 1988.
5. Naval Aviation Summary (OPNAVNOTICE C3100), 1949 to 2001.