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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How a war veteran FG-1D Corsair was restored

The restoration of an FG-1D Corsair for the Warbird Heritage Foundation recalls not the type’s combat career, but its role in training new US Navy carrier pilots. David Leininger reports

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Argentine and German museums collaborate on Ju 52 project

Argentina’s Museo Nacional de Aeronáutica (MNA) has received a boost in its bid to restore Junkers Ju 52/3mge 4043, an aircraft that once served the Argentine Air Force (FAA) as T-158. 

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Restoration report: Curtiss Kittyhawk pulled from Russian lake

Pulled from a Russian lake in 1997, a Curtiss Kittyhawk has returned to the sky over New Zealand. Gavin Conroy reports on the lengthy restoration of this combat veteran

Curtiss P-40N Warhawk restoration projects offered for sale

In a deal brokered by US-based Courtesy Aircraft Sales, a pair of Curtiss P-40N Warhawk restoration projects are available to purchase

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Broussard returns to the skies in Wiltshire

Following an extensive rebuild and avionics upgrade, Max Holste MH.1521C Broussard G-CLLK flew again on February 10.

Original Nieuport 28C.1 ready for take off

The American Heritage Museum has completed the restoration of its Nieuport 28C.1.

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Japanese fighter to be restored in Ohio

One of the last salvaged Japanese combat fighter aircraft of the Pacific War is being readied for shipment to Zanesville, Ohio from Australia

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Russian Polikarpov restoration takes to the air

A Polikarpov Po-2 returned to Russian skies late last year at Drakino airfield, south of Moscow…

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PRESERVATION REVIEW OF 2021

Looking back at the year’s big events on the aviation heritage...

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...

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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