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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The origins of the Mission Aviation Fellowship

Wartime inspired an alternative form of service, birthing Mission Aviation Fellowship – now more than 75 years old. Robin Evans and Darren Harbar explain all

Navy Wings stops Sea Vixen work and starts new project

Trustees of Yeovilton-based Navy Wings have decided to cease restoration work on Sea Vixen FAW2 XP924.

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The dramatic role of RAF Hurricanes in the Battle of El Alamein

This year marks the 80th anniversary of World War Two’s pivotal Battle of El Alamein in North Africa. Andrew Thomas reflects on the dramatic role played by Hawker Hurricane ‘tank busters’ from the RAF’s 6 Squadron

Twin Pioneer G-AOEO at Davos, Switzerland, where passengers were taken by horse-drawn sledge from aircraft to hotel or ski-lift. AEROPLANE Feature Premium

Twin Pioneer Demo Tours

When Scottish Aviation sent its new Twin Pioneer on demonstration tours, it really put the aircraft through its paces
By David Dorman

No 203 AFS at Driffield, Yorkshire, trained many National Service pilots. It put up this formation of three Meteor T7s during 1949. AEROPLANE Feature Premium

When conscripts flew RAF fighters

The days when National Service pilots flew RAF jet fighters are understandably long gone, but memories remain strong – not least amongst those who piloted Meteors

David Beale in his replica Mew Gull G-HEKL leads ‘Dodge’ Bailey at the controls of the Shuttleworth Collection’s G-AEXF. Feature Premium

UK Percival Mew Gulls

The Shuttleworth Collection’s Percival Mew Gull G-AEXF and David Beale’s replica G-HEKL make for a splendid pair — and an interesting comparison

Messerschmitt makes first flight in over 75 years

Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 410077 – a former JG 54 machine – flew again in the hands of Steve Hinton on May 24 .

Spitfire wreck located on Maltese seabed

The Virtual Underwater Museum in Malta has published a series of images revealing the submerged wreck of a Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vc, sitting upright on the seabed at a depth of some 70m.

The 458th Bomb Group’s second assembly ship at work over Norfolk in the summer of 1944. This B-24H had a troublesome career with the 754th Bomb Squadron flying only seven combat missions before being modified for assembly ship duties in May that year. Feature Premium

Bizarre schemes of US assembly bombers

The skies of eastern England contained a number of rather colourful aircraft in 1944 – Roger Freeman explained the reason in the May 1996 issue of FlyPast

Early RAF Hampden Is cavort for the camera. Although intended to be manoeuvrable, this the Handley Page aircraft was not — and certainly it was no fighter. AEROPLANE Feature Premium

Handley Page Hampden night-fighters

A desperate measure to combat the German night raiders of late 1940 saw Handley Page Hampdens being pressed into use as improvised fighters

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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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