Aircraft Wiki
Harvard - Abingdon 2013 (8713839100)

ANorth American T-6 Texan participating in Abingdon in 2013. The Texan has been one of the most popular warbirds as large numbers were sold to civilian buyers after World War II.

A warbird is any retired military aircraft now used for non-military purposes, mainly aerial displays. Old military aircraft have been sold to civilian buyers ever since the First World War, but the large-scale appearance of warbirds began after the Second World War when large numbers of surplus aircraft such as the North American T-6 Texan and the Boeing-Stearman Model 75 were sold away cheap.


HA 1112-M1L and Bf 109G-2

Two warbirds: a Hispano HA-1112 (left) and a Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2. The HA-1112 is painted to resemble a Bf 109.

The term is often applied to only World War II era aircraft, although actually any former military aircraft is a "warbird", regardless of how old or new it is, and whether the aircraft was used for combat or not. However, airworthy military jets, especially more modern types, are rare due to their high operating costs and technical complexity. Perhaps the most famous jet warbird was the Avro Vulcan bomber XH558, which flew from 2008 to 2015 until the aforementioned reasons grounded it.

Sometimes modern replicas of old aircraft are also considered to be warbirds. They may be practically identical to original examples, and even use original parts without having historical value that could be lost in a crash. Replicas often represent famous examples of the type, such as the Red Baron's aircraft in the case of Fokker Dr.I replicas.

Warbird owners usually restore their aircraft to be as authentic as possible, but modern regulations and the scarcity of original parts may force owners to "cheat". For example, Flug Werk GmbH installed Chinese-built Shvetsov ASh-82 engines in its Focke-Wulf Fw 190 replicas. The armament has to be removed from warbirds for safety reasons.

Except for some racing aircraft, warbirds often retain their military markings, while some are painted with fake markings to represent a different example. Most notable examples include Hispano Buchóns painted to represent Luftwaffe Messerschmitt Bf 109s, despite the fact that Buchóns never served in the Luftwaffe. Buchóns painted as such have been used in many movies.

Aircraft such as the North American P-51 Mustang, the Vought F4U Corsair, the Supermarine Spitfire and the Hawker Hurricane are popular warbirds due to their fame and impressive performance, while trainers such as the North American T-6 Texan and the Nanchang CJ-6 are more affordable while still having a "World War II feel" in them.

Famous warbirds[]