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.

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.

Messerschmitt makes first flight in over 75 years

Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 410077 – a former JG 54 machine – flew again in the hands of Steve Hinton on May 24 .

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The ultimate ‘barn find’? – restored Mosquito comes to life 

Thanks to the late John Smith, a de Havilland Mosquito FBVI survived in a New Zealand shed for more than 60 years. Now returned to engine-running condition and displayed in the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, this historical ‘time capsule’ is a tribute to its former owner’s part in the preservation movement

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First private Lynx completes testing

Suffolk-based businessman Graham Hinkley’s Westland Lynx AH7 XZ179/G-NCKS received its permit to fly on 29 April following restoration by North Weald Heritage Aviation.

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Czech Miles Magister flies following restoration

Following a two-and-a-half-year restoration at Henstridge, Somerset by Kevin Crumplin, Miles M14A Magister N3827/G-CLHY received its permit to fly on May 13.

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Restoration of first production Hunter completed, and it looks stunning

North Weald Heritage Aviation completed the eight-month restoration of Hawker Hunter F1 WT555 in mid-May.

Dutch Fokker successfully completes flight debut

Fokker D.XXI PH-XXI, an airworthy rebuild of the Dutch World War Two fighter, made a successful debut flight from Hoogeveen in the Netherlands on May 23.

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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

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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