The vast patchwork of airfields that were a legacy of World War II rendered obsolete the commercial flying boats.
They were replaced by multi-engined landplanes with pressurized passenger cabins, although these, too, soon gave way to the unprecedented speed and comfort of the first turboprop and pure-jet airliners, German wartime research into high-speed aerodynamics had pioneered innovations such as swept wings and podded engines, ushering in the era of supersonic flight. There was also tremendous experimentation with new technologies. In military aviation, the jet engine revolutionized the performance of front – line light fighters and bombers, allowing them to climb higher and fly faster than ever before. The greatest developments of this era were supersonic transport aircraft, high-capacity widebody airliners, and vertical take-off aeroplanes. However, piston-engined aeroplanes were still widely used: as well as conducting survey and agricultural work, they were flown by smaller airlines which were being set up in previously remote parts of the world.

North American X-15

The record-breaking North American X- 15 was an aircraft designed…

Boeing 747

When the Boeing 747 entered service in 1970 it was by far the…

McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II

The most significant Western fighter of the 1960s, the F-4 Phantom…

Lockheed F-104 Starfighter

When it first appeared in 1954, the super-fast, lightweight…

Northrop YB-49

Throughout his career, imaginative American designer Jack Northrop believed…

Mikoyan & Guryevich MiG-21

A classic dogfighter and interceptor, the MiG-21 has probably…

Tupolev Tu-95 Bear

If the Cold War had ever turned hot, the massive Tupolev Bear…

Bell X-1

The rocket-powered Bell X-l was the first aircraft to fly at…

English Electric Canberra

The RAF retired its last three English Electric Canberras on…