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Thread: Total number of airworthy WWII aircraft?

  1. #1
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    Total number of airworthy WWII aircraft?

    Has anybody kept track of the above?

    All types, all Nationalities, and all locations.

    I was idly wondering how large a theoretical air force it would be possible to assemble tomorrow. Weather permitting.

    This comes from having watched ten Mustangs in formation in 2005 (I think) and remembering the Duxford Spitfire display a year or two ago.

    I've not asked this until now, because without a Mosquito I couldn't be bothered.

  2. #2
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    Given the variety of types, it will number well into the hundreds, if not thousands.

  3. #3
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    Tiger Moths ? Piper Cubs ?

    What about a Swordfish made in 1938, or a Corsair made in 1946 ?

    Do you mean any aircraft constructed in that period?


    There's about 60 Spits, 200 Mustangs, 30 B.25's, 10 B.17's

  4. #4
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    I am hoping that somebody slightly more retentive than I, might actually be doing what I didn't.

    A few days ago somebody asked which squadrons had Mosquito XVIs. I got my Mos book and totalled them up for him/her. On a piece of paper. Which I threw away after replying. In these times I hoped that something might exist that would let me dump that for others to see. And so I would not have to ask the original question.

    If it transpires that there is not, and it definitely was not my intention, might I be on to something that is worth doing?

    I should also say that I have also wondered if there was an online diary/calendar showing which air force sent which aircraft into action and their losses/achievements etc. That could automatically correlate with the opposing force.

    It would take years to build, but the data could then be drilled to show an accelerated animation of what happened, when and where.

  5. #5
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    Paul Cogan and Warbirds Worldwide did some great books with the most up to date listings of WARBIRDS ! I think the last one was out in the early 90s, If i can find the books I will start a listing but of course lots has changed since then.

    Interesting to see how many are out there

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trolly Aux View Post
    Paul Cogan and Warbirds Worldwide did some great books with the most up to date listings of WARBIRDS
    Still have all my copies of warbirds worldwide and still miss it coming thorugh the door at times.
    It was excellent at the time and I feel it would be the same in todays market, Paul did a fantastic job and set a standard which nobody has achieved since, such a shame Paul had to wrap things up , must be 12 yrs now the last one was published.
    Paul if your on this forum maybe good time to getting writing again?

    Regards jay

  7. #7
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    Paul is unfortunately no longer with us.
    John

    I Wandered Lonely As A Clown...

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbs View Post
    Paul is unfortunately no longer with us.
    Am shocked to read this, as he was still so young, another great loss to the aviation preservation movement.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by j_jza80 View Post
    Given the variety of types, it will number well into the hundreds, if not thousands.
    After checking the FAA database, there are 2256 Stearmans alone on the US registry. And that is after the recent database purge to eliminate "paper only" planes...but not all are airworthy of course.
    Add the T-6/Harvards, L-4s, C-45s, C-54s and C-47s...add these "other"
    types (those we don't always think of as warbirds) and the number grows to 3-4 thousand on top of the Mustangs, Spits, Corsairs...
    Last edited by J Boyle; 28th November 2012 at 20:19.
    There are two sides to every story. The truth is usually somewhere between the two.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by J Boyle View Post
    ........And that is after the recent dtatbase purge to eliminate "paper only" planes...but not all are airworthy of course.
    Actually, the recent FAA purge did nothing of the sort, it simply required owners to reconfirm details of the aircraft registered to them. It made no attempt to verify the existence of actual airframes, so I'm sure many owners holding just the paperwork to types that they consider of value have reregistered them.

    I'm sure the exercise did eliminate a lot of the 'dross' though, doubtless along with the registrations of some stored projects where the owners have passed on or just didn't bother or otherwise neglected to reregister them.

  11. #11
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    Boguing, I think you're overestimating the power of archive documents.

    Historians have been trying to reconstruct the details of WWII air battles for half a century, but in order to do so, you have to actually have access to precise documents from both sides of the conflict, and that is rarely the case. Being interested mostly in Pacific and CBI theater of ops I read quite a bit on the subject and one thing stands out - in many cases crosschecking exact air victories / losses of both sides (especially from Philippines campaign onwards) is very difficult, because of lack of Japanese records, which were just lost before the end of the war, or destroyed soon after. Creating a big database or a "calendar" showing "which air force sent which aircraft into action and their losses/achievements etc." is just impossible then.

    Simple example: to this day, nobody knows for sure how many Zero fighters actually took part in an engagement over Bougainville, which ended admiral Yamamoto's life. According to IJN, all six fighters providing cover landed undamaged at Kahili, while USAAF pilots were reporting hitting a couple of them - were there any additional Zeroes from Kahili operating in the area? Maybe - we'll never know, because Japnese reports from that day do not exist anymore, while American ones are not precise (Mitchell's pilots initially claimed downing three Bettys, which obviously was not true). And If such a "famous" interception (maybe the most famous of WWII?) has not been precisely reconstructed to this day, what can be said about hundreds of other, "ordinary" air battles?

    Getting back to today's warbirds database topic, I suppose it wouldn't be easy either - do you remember that cool short documentary posted (linked to) somewhere here a couple weeks ago, the one about C-47s transporting people and goods all over Columbia? I enjoyed watching it and the thing that struck me was - nobody aboard the old plane knew how many flight hours it actually had done in its life so far, 'cause when they bought it, they only got a handful of papers with it. They just know it's a surplus WWII machine and they obviously do all the required paperwork now, but there's a "document hole" in the operational history of this particular A/C and nobody seems to be able (or willing) to fill it. I wonder how many similar cargo warbirds with "messy" or incomplete papers are still flying / rotting in the bushes in Latin and South America, Africa etc. Tracking them and their history must be hell.

  12. #12
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    Art-J.

    An excellent reply.

    I have an answer, but it will take a day or two.

    Thanks for taking me seriously.

  13. #13
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  14. #14
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    Whoa, a damn fine link. Seems to be a good place for a start! Bookmarked.

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