Aircraft stories

Cockpit photo of IWM's B-17 Flying Fortress ©IWM

Flying the B-17 Flying Fortress

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress dropped more bombs than any other US aircraft in the Second World War. A lot of these aircraft flew out of bases in England, but what was it like to fly?
SR-71 Blackbird in flight US Public Domain

SR-71 Blackbird: the fastest aircraft in history

The Blackbird was developed in the 1960s during the Cold War as a high-flying reconnaissance jet. It is still considered by many as the most advanced aircraft of its type, flying at three times the speed of sound. So why was the Blackbird grounded? Why were so few made? And what was it like to fly?
F-111 Aardvark in flight US Public Domain

The F-111 Aardvark: America's all weather attack aircraft

The F-111 Aardvark was an all-weather attack aircraft, capable of low-level penetration of enemy defences to deliver ordnance on the target. It was also the first production aircraft to feature variable-sweep wings. After a troubled development, the F-111 entered service with the US Air Force in 1967. It flew in Vietnam, Operation El Dorado Canyon, and the first Gulf War before its retirement in 1998.
A P-51 Mustang (PI-W, serial number 44-15056) nicknamed "Jackie" of the 356th Fighter Group in flight, flown by Captain Jack W "Wild Bill" Crump. ©IWM (FRE 6075)

What made the P-51 Mustang special?

The P-51 Mustang could fly and fight with British and American bombers all the way to Berlin and back again. By 1944, the aircraft helped the Allies gain aerial superiority over Western Europe.
A-10 Thunderbolt II in flight US Public Domain

The A-10 Thunderbolt II: unbeatable for close air support

The A-10 Thunderbolt II is best known for two things: the GAU-8 30 mm rotary cannon in its nose, and its ability to destroy tanks. Unpopular when first introduced, the A-10 Warthog is considered by many as very well designed to fulfil its mission: close air support to ground forces
U-2 Reconnaissance image of Cuba 14 October 1962 US Official

The U-2 and the Cuban Missile Crisis

U-2 overflights across the Soviet Union were incredibly dangerous missions. Every flight was at risk of being perceived as an unauthorised invasion of another country’s airspace.