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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Swissair’s speed machines

Swissair and SAS took the bold step of buying the Coronado and the March 18, 1965 edition of ‘The Aeroplane and Commercial Aviation News’ detailed how the airliner fared

Historic Aviation Quiz

The historic quiz is back to basics this week with a simple question-and-answer layout! How well will you score?

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Derek Robinson: Piece of Cake

Derek Robinson's WW2 novel, Piece of Cake may be a work of fiction, but the descriptions of aerial combat make it worth the read alone…

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Top Secret 'Operation Jiu Jitsu'

In early 1952, preparations were well advanced for an audacious Cold War operation, as Sqn Ldr John Crampton and his colleagues from the RAF Special Duty Flight got ready to fly their US-loaned North American RB-45Cs on deep penetration missions over the Soviet Union. Highly secret at the time, Operation ‘Jiu Jitsu’ can today be seen as the start of a new period in aerial reconnaissance

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1952: The Dawn of a New Era

The start of the new Elizabethan age brought with it one of Britain’s greatest aeronautical achievements: the inauguration of jet-powered airliner travel. Alas, the Comet’s lead soon evaporated

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Vixen Versus Javelin

The de Havilland Vixen might have been the RAF’s primary night fighter from the mid-1950s, rather than the Gloster Javelin, but 1952 would prove critical for the DH110

HISTORY MAKER. – The first aeroplane of post-war Russian design to land in England, C.S.A.’s Ilyushin IL-12, is seen here at Northolt a few minutes after its historic arrival. “Aeroplane” photograph Feature Premium

A historic UK visitor – CSA Ilyushin Il-12

The CSA Ilyushin Il-12 which touched down at Northolt on September 12, 1949 was the first post-war Soviet-built aircraft to visit England. The visit was covered by ‘The Aeroplane’ in its September 23 issue

FlyPast's 40th Birthday Spitfire Flight Winner!

For our 40th birthday, FlyPast teamed up with Aero Legends to offer one lucky winner the flight of a lifetime. Tara Leggett recalls the day from start to finish

MT928 in the night News Premium

Duxford in a Different Light: The Spitfire Special

Following previous successful night photography events, Duxford in a Different Light returns on February 19, 2022…

Mk 1 Spitfire cockpit News Premium

IWM In the Cockpit Experiences

Sit in the cockpit of an airworthy combat veteran Mk Ia Spitfire

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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