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.

What makes the Spitfire so good?

Antony Parkinson MBE might have done over 1000 hours in both the Eurofighter Typhoon and F4 Phantom, but he rates the Spitfire as one of the greatest aeroplanes he’s ever flown. Here’s why

The cost of a Spitfire (it’ll make your eyes water)

Back in the 1940s, it’s said that a Spitfire would be £5,000 to make. That’s a drop in the ocean compared to what one would set you back now…

Two blokes and a Merlin engine!

Look what Spitfire restorer Tony Hoskins just happened to have in the back of his van! He and Cambridge University engineering professor, Hugh Hunt, discuss one of the great inventions of the 20th Century.

The Spitfire’s first ever flight

Five men all with good reason to smile – the prototype Spitfire had just flown. Ken Ellis sets the scene

The world’s greatest Spitfire collection?

The Heritage Hangar at Biggin Hill is home to an incredible group of Spitfires. With tours currently closed due to Covid, Key.Aero gives you a video tour of one of historic aviation’s most impressive places.

Design secrets of the Spitfire

Revolutionary flush riveting that increased top speed, and seats made out of the last material you’d expect: watch this video to uncover some of the Spitfire’s hidden but ingenious engineering.

What’s it like to fly in a Spitfire?

As Key.Aero’s Assistant Editor, Tara Leggett has an aviation-themed bucket list. Right at the top of it? Flying in a Spitfire. She went to Biggin Hill and strapped herself in…

The Spitfire’s elliptical wing explained

Spitfire aficionados Tony Hoskins and Hugh Hunt discuss the design of the most famous aircraft wing ever made.

How hard is it to restore a Spitfire?

Key.Aero heads to the Heritage Hangar at Biggin Hill, one of the world’s great Spitfire collections

The Spitfire world record holder

Straight after Flt Lt Charlie Brown notched an astonishing 1,500 hours flying Spitfires, Key.Aero spoke to him about what makes this iconic aircraft so special.

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

Subscribe to Key.Aero

Become a part of our aviation community and subscribe to Key.Aero now. You can get all the aviation information you'll ever need, whenever you want, with access to all the latest aviation updates, news, events and more.