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.

Sea Harrier taxies under its own power after restoration work

Sea Harrier FA.2 ZH798 has taxied under its own power as the result of extensive restoration work...

Fw189 needs new project custodian

The Restoration Hangar has been home to a secret project for the past few years… and now the project needs a new custodian

BIG LANCASTER RESTORATION NEWS!

The Lincolnshire Aviation Centre has released the following statement highlighting a plan to return Lancaster NX611 'Just Jane' to flight

WATCH: The man with the half-built Spitfire

You may not have seen him at the Battle of Britain airshow, but Stuart had a fascinating story to tell about the project that’s been 17 years and counting…

WATCH: Pilot interviews from 2021 Battle of Britain Airshow

We speak to Spitfire pilot Antony Parkinson, and John Romain and Martin Overall from the Aircraft Restoration Company, as the 2021 Battle of Britain airshow kicks off!

FlyPast Podcast Episode 15

This week on the FlyPast podcast, assistant editor Tara chats to three of the men who make up the team restoring English Electric Lightnings over at the Lightning Association...

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The couple who spent eight years restoring a Nimrod simulator, part 3!

Having spent years tracking down parts, Sarah Thorpe and Geremy Britton now had just seven weeks to put it all together…

The couple who spent eight years restoring a Nimrod simulator, part 2!

With one of only two Nimrod simulators ever built in their possession, the hunt was now on for Sarah Thorpe and Geremy Britton to find parts. It took years…

The couple who spent eight years restoring a Nimrod simulator

Restorations are hard enough, but what about rebuilding one of only two Nimrod simulators ever built? In lockdown? With your other half? Key.Aero chats to the amazing couple who did just that…

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RESTORATION SCENE: Kriegsmarine Legend

Christian Koenig provides insight into the unique restoration...

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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