Antique & Vintage Aircraft Restoration Projects

The world of vintage and antique aircraft restoration is thriving, with projects funded by organisations and enthusiasts alike. Whether it is World War II era military fighters including Supermarine Spitfires, bi-planes or something a little more modern, people all over the world are restoring, maintaining and exhibiting these beautiful, historic aircraft.

This page brings you the latest news on vintage aircraft restoration projects around the world and where to see them fly. Restorations are a labour of love that can take many years and highly skilled volunteers give many, many hours of their time to the vintage aircraft’s revival. From the Sopwith Camel to the Lockheed Constellation, all vintage aircraft restorations are often centred around the search for an engine or structural parts that have become rare or lost to time and need to be newly made.

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Flying the flag: Percival’s Proctor

Well over 1,000 were built, but very few examples of Percival’s Proctor grace skies today. Darren Harbar talks to the current custodians of a classic British survivor

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Scotland’s Strutter due to make debut flight 

The Aviation Preservation Society of Scotland has completed its potentially airworthy reproduction of a Sopwith 1½ Strutter. 

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Spitfire BS410: The complete story

Spitfire IX BS410’s remains lay buried for more than sixty years in a French marsh. Ben Dunnell recounts the aircraft’s incredible story, following its successful return to the air in April

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The Flug Werk FW 190 soon to take to Swedish skies

Having become a public exhibit in the Västerås Flygmuseum, a Flug Werk FW 190A-8/N is set soon to take to Swedish skies

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Waterbird replica flies from Windermere

Eight years after construction began at Wickenby, Lincolnshire, a replica of the 1911 Lakes Waterbird seaplane made its maiden flight from Windermere on 13 June with well-known display and test pilot Pete Kynsey at the controls.

Vought F7U-3 Cutlass to undergo major restoration

Vought F7U-3 Cutlass 129685 is to be the subject of a major restoration project at the Military Aircraft Preservation Society (MAPS) Air Museum at Akron Canton Regional Airport, Ohio.

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Bristol Bulldog replica airborne in Oregon after 24-year build

Ed Storo took his Bristol Bulldog replica up for a successful maiden flight on June 28 at Independence State Airport, Oregon, 24 years after construction began.

Canada’s Fairey Firefly returns to the air

The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum’s Fairey Firefly AS.6 WH632 made its first flight in around eight years on June 24.

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B-25 Mitchell heads south for restoration

The rear fuselage and centre section of North American B-25J Mitchell 44-30861, nicknamed the Bedsheet Bomber, was transported by road to the Wings Aviation Museum near Balcombe, West Sussex, on May 3 to continue a thorough refurbishment.

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.

Preserving Warbirds for future generations

The Supermarine Spitfire is a popular Warbird and other military aircraft favoured by restoration enthusiasts include the Messerschmitt Bf-109, the Mikoyan MiG-15, Grumman F6F Hellcat and North American P-51 Mustang. For the individual, these general aviation size Warbirds are affordable and easy to accommodate in local airports; but only organisations, typically, have the capacity to overhaul, maintain and fly larger aircraft such as the Avro Vulcan bomber, Vickers Wellington or Boeing B-29 Super Fortress. One example is the Kansas-based non-profit organisation, Doc’s Friends, which maintains and flies a B-29 from Eisenhower National Airport, Wichita, Kansas.

The Mustang, the Spitfire and others like them, the North American T-6 Texan and the Hawker Sea Fury, all these World War II era fighter aircraft are called Warbirds. Originally, it was only piston-powered, propeller driven aircraft that were referred to as Warbirds, but as jet fighters became vintage, they were included too. Today, other types of military aircraft, transports, bombers, are also now referred to as Warbirds.

The future of restoration projects

From the Kansas Aviation Museum's 1931 Stearman Model 4D Junior Speedmail, to UK-based Aerospace Bristol's Bristol Freighter Type 170 and the Qantas Founders Museum’s Lockheed Constellation, aircraft of many different models have been restored for future generations.

When vintage aircraft find their way to the restorer they are often corroded and missing vital parts such as cockpit dials and wheels. Removing corrosion and repairing the damage is a key area for restoring an airframe with the intention of making it airworthy.

The legendary Concorde has now been retired for many years and the remaining hulls sit in museums, but there has been an organisation, called Club Concorde, which wanted to bring a Concorde back to an airworthy condition to fly it. The airshows where vintage aircraft that have been restored can be seen include, the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture in Oshkosh, the History of Flight Airshow in New York state; and in Europe, the Bedfordshire, UK-based Shuttleworth Collection which has displays in the summer and in France the annual La Ferté-Alais show, which takes place 50 kilometres south of Paris. Whether a Concorde ever flies again, what is true about past restoration projects and will be so for all future works, restoring aircraft is an endeavour powered by enthusiasm and love.

Other topics

Check our dedicated pages for military aircraft news, updates from your favourite military aircraft airshows or information on other military fighter aircraft.

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