The NGC Universal ID is a four digit alphanumeric that groups coins based on a unique combination of date, mintmark, denomination and striking process (MS, PF, or SP). These IDs are a simple organization of all coins prior to variety attribution and grading.
The 1938-D half dollar is rather an anomaly, a low-mintage issue produced in the pre-World War II era of generally increasing production at each mint. Made to the extent of a mere 491,600 pieces, the 1938-D is the key to the 'Long Short Set' of Walking Liberty halves that begins with the 1934-PDS mintages.
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