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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Blackbushe Vickers Viking 'Vagabond' restoration revealed

A classic British airliner is coming back together at Blackbushe Airport, and with exciting plans surrounding its future. Ben Dunnell went to find out more

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Restoring first flying Fokker D.XII in 70 years: behind the scenes

For the first time in more than 70 years, there is a flying Fokker D.XXI in the Netherlands. Leonard van den Broek speaks to those behind the project

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Inside HARS: Maintaining Australia's rare classic airliners

Australia’s Historical Aircraft Restoration Society is home to several rare commercial aircraft, lovingly looked after by a team of volunteers. Chris Frame tells us more

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Inside a Canadian Hawker Typhoon restoration project

The Typhoon Legacy Company, based in Comox, British Columbia, is adopting its own singular approach to returning its example of the Hawker fighter-bomber to airworthiness 

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Raptor Resurrected: USAF F-22A involved in 2018 mishap returns to flight

Five years after a failed take-off at NAS Fallon in Nevada left F-22A Raptor (serial 07-146) – assigned to the USAF’s 3rd Wing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska – in a critical condition, the fifth-generation air superiority fighter has returned to the skies after a lengthy restoration and rebuilding process

Ukraine restores ex-North Macedonian Su-25 to help fight Russia

Images of Ukrainian-operated Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot ground attack jets carrying two fuel tanks and four five-tube B-13L rocket pods that appeared on social media on May 10 have confirmed that Ukraine has managed to restore at least one of the four Su-25s that North Macedonia donated to Kyiv in 2022 to an airworthy, combat-capable condition

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Behind the scenes of a Westland Lysander restoration

In the April 1980 issue of Aeroplane Monthly, Dick Richardson described the restoration of Strathallan’s Westland Lysander

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What's happening with the UK's next flying Seafire?

The next Supermarine Seafire to fly in the UK will be a MkXV — and, through the application of advanced manufacturing techniques, it’s a project with potentially wider importance for other restorations, too

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What’s happening at the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar?

In little more than a decade the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar has developed into a multi-faceted restoration business that can also offer a range of flight experiences. Steve Beebee sat down with Biggin Hill’s Peter Monk to discuss a fascinating past, present and future

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REVEALED: 'Barn find' restoration of the sole surviving Fairey Gordon

The story of how this inter-war biplane came to be restored — and it’s up for sale

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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