Historic

Key.Aero leads the way in the field of aviation history and heritage. Enjoy an outstanding mix of restoration and warbird features, fascinating articles on aviation history produced by some of the best writers in the business and in-depth and entertaining reports on all historic aircraft. Broad coverage spans the earliest years of flight through to the Cold War, encompassing countless aircraft types and their aerial achievements, plus Key.Aero offers the very latest historical aviation news.

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Historic Aviation Quiz

Test your knowledge with this week's historic aviation quiz

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Germany’s blunted ‘Arrow’ – was the Do 335 too little, too late?

Dornier’s remarkable Do 335 could have been among the most potent piston-engined aircraft of World War Two, but changing plans and production problems derailed the concept, as Chris Goss  reveals

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What does it take to own a world record setting racing Yak? 

Mark O’Sullivan and Ronan Harvey are now operating former Reno racer Yak-3 'Steadfast' in the blue skies of New Zealand. Mark recounts the story of this remarkable flyer...

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What made Avro's Roy Chadwick such a design genius?

It is now 75 years since British aviation lost one of its greatest names. The death of Avro chief designer Roy Chadwick in the crash of the prototype Tudor II robbed the industry of a true visionary, whose creations spanned the eras from the pioneers to the jet bomber age

Army Flying Museum talk will commemorate Market Garden

To coincide with the anniversary of Operation Market Garden next month, Derek Armitage will be hosting a special talk at the Army Flying Museum in Middle Wallop, Hampshire, on September 13 and 14, lifting the veil on the largest airborne operation of World War Two.

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Excavated Messerschmitt engines on display

An exhibition has been staged in France to showcase the engines of three JG 53 Messerschmitt Bf 109s

Unique Desford makes final flight

The one-off Reid and Sigrist Desford completed its final flight on 19 August, on delivery to the Newark Air Museum

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The war and peacetime career of a film star B-17

In the August 1996 FlyPast Alan F Crouchman examined the wartime and postwar history of B-17G Flying Fortress 44-8846 (F-AZDX) ‘Pink Lady’

South Wales Aviation Museum receives Canberra

St Athan-based South Wales Aviation Museum has taken delivery of a 1954-built English Electric Canberra TT.18

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Aeroplane Personal Album: Croydon in the ’30s

The collection of negatives loaned to reader John Evans by Pembrokeshire-based friend Joyce Northwood elicits another selection from Croydon Airport in the 1930s, focusing on mainland European visitors to this cosmopolitan hub

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The Latest Historic Aviation News All in One Place

This is your one stop shop for everything you could possibly want to know about historic aviation. Historic aircraft flights, displays and renovations can all be found among the categories and articles linked to from this page.

Readers can find categories for Warbirds, restoration projects by individuals and organisations such as museums, and in-depth resources on iconic aircraft from all the corners of the globe. Whether it is the Hughes H-4 Hercules Spruce Goose, Boeing C-137 Stratoliner, Aerospatiale / British Aircraft Corporation Concorde, Tupolev Tu-144, Hawker Harrier jump-jet or any other historic commercial and military aircraft, the information is here at your fingertips.

Warbird News & Projects

Warbird enthusiasts spend their time bringing iconic military aircraft back to life and in some cases even back to a state of airworthiness. The name Warbird originally referred only to World War 2 era aircraft but has since been widened to include all historical military aircraft.

Popular Warbird types include the North American P-51 Mustang, Supermarine Spitfire, Hawker Hurricane and the Messerschmitt Bf109. While one or two-seat fighters are affordable for the individual enthusiast to restore, aviation museums and groups of people take on much larger aircraft. Examples of these, include, the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and the Avro Lancaster. The most famous of recent years must be the Avro Vulcan supersonic bomber, which is now on a static display in the UK but flew for several years at airshows.

See all the latest Warbird projects here

Spitfire Fighter Aircraft

The Supermarine Spitfire is arguably the most iconic World War II era European aircraft. Credited with a significant role in the Battle of Britain victory against the Luftwaffe’s assault on Great Britain in the summer of 1940, the propeller driven fighter was designed by Reginald J Mitchell at Supermarine Aviation. Mitchell designed the Spitfire with the Rolls-Royce Merlin and Griffon engines in mind because he saw their potential when combined with the aircraft’s unique aerodynamics.

The Spitfire first flew on 5th March 1936 from Eastleigh Aerodrome. However, due to production issues and limitations in Supermarine’s manufacturing process, the first production Spitfire did not take to the skies for a further 2 years. The Spitfire was born four months after the maiden flight of its partner aircraft, the Hawker Hurricane. Together they would deny Nazi Germany air superiority over England and the English channel.

Find out more about the legendary Spitfire

Aircraft Restorations

The restoration of historical aircraft is a challenge full of difficult obstacles with missing engines, control system parts, and the need for significant fuselage, wing or tail repair. The long, slow process of restoring an aircraft to a flight worthy condition or simply for static display is taken up by many individuals, but also museums and groups of enthusiasts.

The restorations undertaken can be as small as a one-seat civilian bi-plane or the always popular Warbirds, or as large as a Lockheed C-121C Constellation. Museums that tackle large scale restorations include the Historic Aircraft Restoration Museum in Missouri and the Museum of Flight in Everett, Washington. These museums have restored early propeller driven passenger aircraft and the early airliners built in the USA and Europe, like the de Havilland Comet.    

Read more aircraft restoration articles

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