View Full Version : Long lived combat types

Dr Jekyll
21st Sep 2003, 22:56
I've been amusing myself compiling a list of WW2 combat aircraft that remained in service of some kind long after 1945. Any corrections or contributions welcome.

Spitfire 1963.
Mustang 1984?
BF 109 (as Buchon) mid sixties.
Heinkel 111 (as Casa 111) 1975.
Lancaster 1966 or 67.
Mosquito 1963.
F4 Corsair, French navy until the early 60's, maybe longer in latin America, anyone know exactly?
B29 (as TU 4). China had plenty in the mid seventies, some suggest they used 1 or 2 for test work in the late eighties.
B17 1955 with the military, fire bombing until 1980 ish.
Meteor, still used by Martin Baker.
B25, early seventies as bombers in Dominica? Later still as camera ships, but when?

Does anyone know how long B24's stayed in service? In India for example? I also read that Burma was still acquiring ex Israeli Spitfires in 1958, how long were they used for?
I'm sure P47's were used post war in South America, anyone know where and when?

Not strictly WW2, but does anyone know when Iraq retired their Furies?

21st Sep 2003, 23:31
Not a patch on modern kit though.



Some of these, if worked back from WW2 would be alongside Sopwith Camels!

22nd Sep 2003, 15:31
How about the Catalina ? long wartime record but unglamourous aircraft so did not get the attention that some of that era did.
Used as water bombers until 1990's (i think)

22nd Sep 2003, 16:44
Ref B17's. The French Institut Geographique National (mapping agency) had/have some for aerial survey. I think that a least one of theirs was used for the Memphis Belle film.

23rd Sep 2003, 00:38
The IGN aircraft F-BEEA was the one that was sadly destroyed in a take-off accident during the filming of Memphis Bell. Assume it was still actively surveying up until then - forty four years, not bad!

The Martin Mars are still being used as water bombers this year - I believe they were in action over the summer. :ok:

Golf Charlie Charlie
23rd Sep 2003, 01:38
I believe the type that has been in production for the longest time, military or civil, is the C-130 Hercules, which first flew in 1954. If you go 49 years back instead of forward to the present, you almost get to the Wright Brothers. I reckon that the C-130 will outlast even the B-52, though I admit some individual examples of the B-52 may outlast any individual C-130.

23rd Sep 2003, 06:08
And dont forget that the French IGN (mapping agency) also used Lancasters notably NX 611 now owned by The Panton Bros and doing engine run's on an old ww2 airfield in Lincs (ther is a super book entitled The Last Lanc, which is all about the recovery to the UK from AUS about this ac it also gives the fate and disposision (ex spelling) of every Lanc ever built.:ok: :ok:

23rd Sep 2003, 17:07
Get some time in.

Canberra. 1949 - ......

23rd Sep 2003, 21:05
Reichman wrote:
Canberra. 1949 - ......

Absolutely. Oldest Canberra still with the RAF is 39's WH849, a T.4. Entered service on 24 May 1954! Will have been in service 50 years next May. ;)

Second oldest is WH849, T.4 - the "Blue One". Entered service on or about 24 Dec 1954.


24th Sep 2003, 00:19
Can't let this one rest without a mention of the Westland Wessex's unmatched (until someone proves me wrong!) record of operational service.

First deployed to Northern Ireland in August 1969, finally left in March 2002 - nearly 33 years! And all that time, service there was recognised by issue of the General Service Medal with clasp "Northern Ireland". And the reverse of said medal, for those without access to one, reads "For Campaign Service".

Any advance on 32 years 7 months continuously on ops??

24th Sep 2003, 03:38
Although, strictly speaking, not a combat type (although, didn't they see "combat" in Kenya), a Harvard was still in service in genuine military marks at Boscombe Down last time I was there. Maybe it's still flying?

24th Sep 2003, 09:53
Maybe I missed it on this thread - but what about the C-47/DC3???

Used as a gun ship. Think the USAF may still have some in service?


24th Sep 2003, 10:54
The PBY is still earning it's keep as a water bomber in this country. The first ones flew in 1936 or so. The Mark VI Norseman (UC64) and the Beech 18 (C45) still fly commercially as well. Both designs date from the mid 1930's.
(I modestly lay claim to having flown all three);)

24th Sep 2003, 16:34
If we're talking OPERATIONAL service, it's still the Canberra.

24th Sep 2003, 17:55
If we're talking operational service then its the South African Air Force's C-47s which are still in at least squadron strength.

24th Sep 2003, 18:28
OK, you've got me on that one.

How about OPERATIONAL and UNMODIFIED. The SAAF C47s have Turbo prop engines and updated avionics.


24th Sep 2003, 18:39
Canberra PR.9s

Still using Avons but without the infamous Avpin start. Gawds that stuff was awful, could spoil your whole day.

24th Sep 2003, 22:24

Still using Avons. Still using AVPIN starters.


24th Sep 2003, 22:34
Thought the 9s were to be modified after their sojurn and walk-about in Afika. You mean they're not truly "globalised" yet! :( :( Have the mob still got to source this nasty stuff - or carry it with them!