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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In-depth profile of the Curtiss SB2C Helldiver

The ‘Beast’, to give one of the Helldiver’s unflattering nicknames, had a troubled gestation, as Matthew Willis reports

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Stunning photos of the RAeS Garden Party 1956

A delightful day’s flying, courtesy the Royal Aeronautical Society — and one that could almost be repeated in the present

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What happened to the 'Thistle Squadron'?

The so-called ‘Thistle Squadron’ was the first in the Belgium Air Force earmarked to receive the new Hawker Hurricane. Col Michel ‘Mike’ Terlinden and Daniel Brackx recount the story

An A-4E ‘Mongoose’ (the unofficial name for this sub-type) awaits its next sortie from Naval Air Station Miramar. These jets were fast and manoeuvrable, making them excellent adversaries. US NAVY Feature Premium

TOPGUN - The early years

Marcelo Ribeiro marked the 50th anniversary of the US Navy’s iconic dissimilar air combat training squadron – TOPGUN – in 2019 by exploring its formative years

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Lufthansa’s early Boeing 727 operations

Lufthansa was the first airline in Europe to fly the Boeing 727 and ‘The Aeroplane and Commercial Aviation News’ December 31, 1964 issue looked at the type’s first seven months of operations with the German carrier

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Investigators find cause of Navy Wings Sea Fury crash

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has concluded its inquiry into a crash of a Hawker Sea Fury T Mk 20.

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De Havilland's ten greatest aircraft: do you agree?

Steve Beebee attempts the impossible – picking out the ten greatest aircraft from the immortal de Havilland stable

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Aeroplane July 2022

The full issue in page-turning PDF format

Dutch Fokker successfully completes flight debut

Fokker D.XXI PH-XXI, an airworthy rebuild of the Dutch World War Two fighter, made a successful debut flight from Hoogeveen in the Netherlands on May 23.

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Lancaster review: veterans’ memories of a mighty aircraft

How best to translate the visceral power of the Avro Lancaster to the screen?

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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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