Historic

Key.Aero leads the way in the field of aviation history and heritage. Enjoy an outstanding mix of restoration and warbird features, fascinating articles on aviation history produced by some of the best writers in the business and in-depth and entertaining reports on all historic aircraft. Broad coverage spans the earliest years of flight through to the Cold War, encompassing countless aircraft types and their aerial achievements, plus Key.Aero offers the very latest historical aviation news.

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The fascinating story of Rolls-Royce’s Universal Power Plant

Concluding his examination of Hucknall’s Flight Test Establishment, Nigel Gibson opens his father Colin’s scrapbooks and photo albums to reveal the intriguing tale of Rolls-Royce’s Universal Power Plant

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Avro Lancaster Cutaway Poster

Download and view Aeroplane's Lancaster cutaway poster

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Inside Bristow's 1960s North Sea oil rig helicopter service

From the February 16, 1967 issue of Aeroplane, Raymond Hankin describes Bristow Helicopters’ support service for rigs drilling off the east coast of the UK for oil and natural gas

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Flying the flag: Percival’s Proctor

Well over 1,000 were built, but very few examples of Percival’s Proctor grace skies today. Darren Harbar talks to the current custodians of a classic British survivor

Historic Aviation Quiz

Test your historic aviation knowledge in this instalment of the weekly quiz... it's fiendishly tricky!

Filton museum to celebrate Britannia’s 70th

A cavalcade of vintage Bristol buses and Bristol cars will travel from the Aerospace Bristol museum to Cotswold Airport at Kemble, Gloucestershire, on Tuesday 16 August, to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the first flight of the Bristol Britannia.

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What it's like to fly in Flying Bulls’ B-25J Mitchell

Luke Bimm looks back at the legendary ‘Doolittle Raids’ and experiences what it was like to fly one of the machines responsible for the United States’ first bombing raid of World War Two

Pembroke Dock museum wins heritage award

The Pembroke Dock Heritage Trust has become the first Welsh recipient of the Royal Aeronautical Society’s Heritage Award.

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Caproni WW1 bombers: your ultimate guide

Luigino Caliaro examines the Italian pioneer’s 1914-18 biplane and triplane giants – and untangles their destinations

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Scotland’s Strutter due to make debut flight 

The Aviation Preservation Society of Scotland has completed its potentially airworthy reproduction of a Sopwith 1½ Strutter. 

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The Latest Historic Aviation News All in One Place

This is your one stop shop for everything you could possibly want to know about historic aviation. Historic aircraft flights, displays and renovations can all be found among the categories and articles linked to from this page.

Readers can find categories for Warbirds, restoration projects by individuals and organisations such as museums, and in-depth resources on iconic aircraft from all the corners of the globe. Whether it is the Hughes H-4 Hercules Spruce Goose, Boeing C-137 Stratoliner, Aerospatiale / British Aircraft Corporation Concorde, Tupolev Tu-144, Hawker Harrier jump-jet or any other historic commercial and military aircraft, the information is here at your fingertips.

Warbird News & Projects

Warbird enthusiasts spend their time bringing iconic military aircraft back to life and in some cases even back to a state of airworthiness. The name Warbird originally referred only to World War 2 era aircraft but has since been widened to include all historical military aircraft.

Popular Warbird types include the North American P-51 Mustang, Supermarine Spitfire, Hawker Hurricane and the Messerschmitt Bf109. While one or two-seat fighters are affordable for the individual enthusiast to restore, aviation museums and groups of people take on much larger aircraft. Examples of these, include, the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and the Avro Lancaster. The most famous of recent years must be the Avro Vulcan supersonic bomber, which is now on a static display in the UK but flew for several years at airshows.

See all the latest Warbird projects here

Spitfire Fighter Aircraft

The Supermarine Spitfire is arguably the most iconic World War II era European aircraft. Credited with a significant role in the Battle of Britain victory against the Luftwaffe’s assault on Great Britain in the summer of 1940, the propeller driven fighter was designed by Reginald J Mitchell at Supermarine Aviation. Mitchell designed the Spitfire with the Rolls-Royce Merlin and Griffon engines in mind because he saw their potential when combined with the aircraft’s unique aerodynamics.

The Spitfire first flew on 5th March 1936 from Eastleigh Aerodrome. However, due to production issues and limitations in Supermarine’s manufacturing process, the first production Spitfire did not take to the skies for a further 2 years. The Spitfire was born four months after the maiden flight of its partner aircraft, the Hawker Hurricane. Together they would deny Nazi Germany air superiority over England and the English channel.

Find out more about the legendary Spitfire

Aircraft Restorations

The restoration of historical aircraft is a challenge full of difficult obstacles with missing engines, control system parts, and the need for significant fuselage, wing or tail repair. The long, slow process of restoring an aircraft to a flight worthy condition or simply for static display is taken up by many individuals, but also museums and groups of enthusiasts.

The restorations undertaken can be as small as a one-seat civilian bi-plane or the always popular Warbirds, or as large as a Lockheed C-121C Constellation. Museums that tackle large scale restorations include the Historic Aircraft Restoration Museum in Missouri and the Museum of Flight in Everett, Washington. These museums have restored early propeller driven passenger aircraft and the early airliners built in the USA and Europe, like the de Havilland Comet.    

Read more aircraft restoration articles

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