Our military aircraft collection charts the changing technology of aerial warfare, from the Second World War onwards. You can see these aircraft in our new Military Aviation Hangar, which tells the stories of aerial combat from the first use of air-to-air weapons in 1914 to drone attacks in the 21st century.

Bristol Bolingbroke

The Bolingbroke was the name given to the Bristol Blenheim light bomber built under licence in Canada. The Blenheim was developed in 1936 from a high speed transport aircraft built for Lord Rothermere, owner of several newspapers.

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Supermarine Spitfire

The Spitfire is the most famous of all British combat aircraft. It played a vital role in the Battle of Britain in 1940. More than 20,000 were built between 1936 and 1948.

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Messerschmitt Komet

The rocket-powered Komet was the fastest aircraft of the Second World War.

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English Electric Canberra

The Canberra was the first Royal Air Force bomber powered by jet engines.

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Armstrong Whitworth Meteor

The Meteor was the Royal Air Force’s first jet fighter. It entered service in 1944.

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Hawker Sea Hawk

The Sea Hawk was a single-seat jet fighter which entered service with the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm in 1953. Like most naval aircraft, it had folding wings to save space on an aircraft carrier.

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de Havilland Sea Venom

The Sea Venom was the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm’s first all-weather jet fighter. It entered service in March 1954.

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Aero S-103

Between 1954 and 1958, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech and Slovak Republics) used the S-103 as its main jet fighter. This aircraft was the Soviet MiG-15bis, built under licence by the Aero Vodochody aircraft company

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English Electric Lightning

The Lightning was the first supersonic jet fighter in the Royal Air Force. It entered service in 1960. It could fly at twice the speed of sound (Mach 2) but it used so much fuel that its range was limited.

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Hawker Siddeley Harrier

Known as the ‘jump jet’, the Harrier was the world’s first vertical take-off combat aircraft to enter operational service. The Royal Air Force began to use Harriers in 1969.

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SEPECAT Jaguar

The Jaguar was a tactical strike and reconnaissance fighter which could carry nuclear weapons. It was in Royal Air Force service between 1974 and 2007.

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Panavia Tornado

The Tornado was the Royal Air Force’s only variable geometry (swing wing) aircraft.

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Civil aircraft

The aeroplanes, autogyros and hang-gliders in our Civil Aviation Hangar represent a range of different uses of civilian aircraft, from delivering goods to delivering babies!
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Aircraft location

Most of our aircraft collection is on display at the National Museum of Flight, but some planes and gliders can be found in the National Museum of Scotland.
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