Westland Sea King RAF Rescue Helicopter

Captioning Aircraft Photos

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How To Accurately Caption Aircraft Photos

Most aircraft enthusiasts can tell you the difference between a Mk1 Spitfire and a MkIX* so accurate captioning of your aircraft photos is important, especially if you want to sell them.

Vans RV8 RV8tors
Vans RV-8 G-RVMZ of the RV8ors aerobatic duo.

Every civilian aircraft carries a prominently displayed registration. In the UK this starts with G- . Type the registration into Google and you will usually find references to that aircraft. This also works for most military aircraft which carry a more discreet serial number on the rear fuselage. You can improve your search results by putting the aircraft type in, if you know it, as well as the serial or registration.

Westland Sea King RAF Rescue Helicopter
Westland WS-61 Sea King ZH542

The only exception to this are preserved military aircraft that are in civilian ownership and displayed in a military colour scheme. Often this paint scheme was never worn by that aircraft or occasionally not even by that type of aircraft. However a search using the displayed serial will usually bring up correct results.

Checking the results

The problems start with the results of your search. Many photographers haven’t got the slightest idea what they have photographed so their captions often aren’t accurate? Even the major TV channels often just pick a clip of any world war II aircraft to illustrate a piece on the Battle of Britain. There are several sites that usually have accurate caption info and these include http://www.airliners.net and Air Britain at http://www.abpic.co.uk.

By checking between these two you can generally get accurate info and identify the specific Mk (mark) of an aircraft*. You’re probably not going to worry about constructors numbers or the minutiae of sub marks (I don’t) but a little work will save you looking a wally by calling a Hurricane a Spitfire.

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*Aircraft such as the Spitfire progressed through a range of marks from the Mk1 right up to the Mk24 with side shoots of Seafires and later variants being powered by a Griffon engine rather than the famous Merlin. Some of the changes between marks were minor but others resulted in significantly different aircraft so it is worth identifying the specific Mk.

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