Antique 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.

Feature Premium

Reviving a trials workhorse

Boscombe Down Aviation Collection’s restoration of Meteor NF.11...

Feature Premium

Sweet sixteen

Gavin Conroy charts the course of a newly restored Spitfire Mk.XVI...

The Nighthawk Returns!

Jamie Hunter

Last February, Combat Aircraft Journal brought you the incredible story of the still-active F-117A Nighthawks that were photographed and filmed flying at low level in the Mojave Desert. Aircraft continued to be seen throughout 2019, but of recent their appearances had dropped off. However, now the F-117 is back!

Jamie Hunter
Thumbnail Feature Premium

Restoration scene: Hawker duo

DARREN HARBAR

When FlyPast last visited the Cambridge Bomber and Fighter Society’s...

DARREN HARBAR

B-52 engine replacement campaign gathers pace

Khalem Chapman

The US Air Force (USAF) has provided an update on its Commercial Engine Replacement Program (CERP) – which seeks to replace the powerplant of its venerable Boeing B-52H Stratofortress fleet.

Khalem Chapman
Thumbnail Feature Premium

Warbird Alchemy

Chris Clifford

Torrential rain failed to dampen the enthusiasm of FlyPast’s Chris Clifford during his visit to Vintage Aero Ltd...

Chris Clifford
Thumbnail Feature Premium

VERTICAL LEAP - VAAC Harrier

RICHARD SCOTT

It might seem a huge step from 1969-vintage Harrier to 21st-century Lightning II, but one very historic aircraft links them.

RICHARD SCOTT
Thumbnail Feature Premium

AEROPLANE MEETS... RICHARD GRACE

BEN DUNNELL

It was his childhood dream to fly Second World War aeroplanes...

BEN DUNNELL

USAF deploy B-52s to Diego Garcia amid Iran tensions

Khalem Chapman

USAF sends six Boeing B-52H Stratofortress heavy bombers to the island of Diego Garcia – a militarised atoll in the British Indian Ocean Territory.

Khalem Chapman
Thumbnail Feature Premium

Restoration Scene: Tempting Reality

DARREN HARBAR

The ‘carrot’ of an airworthy Hawker Tempest has been dangling for years...

DARREN HARBAR

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.