Aircraft in fiction
Aircraft in fiction covers the various real-world aircraft that have made significant appearances in fiction over the decades, including in books, films, toys, TV programs, video games, and other media. These appearances spotlight the popularity of different models of aircraft, and showcase the different types for the general public.
- 1 Origins
- 2 A-1 Skyraider
- 3 A-4 Skyhawk
- 4 A-6 Intruder
- 5 A-10 Thunderbolt II
- 6 A-26/B-26 Invader
- 7 A6M Zero
- 8 Adam A500
- 9 Aérospatiale AS365 Dauphin
- 10 Aérospatiale Gazelle
- 11 Aérospatiale Puma
- 12 AgustaWestland AW101
- 13 AgustaWestland AW109
- 14 AH-64 Apache
- 15 Airbus A400M Atlas
- 16 Airspeed Horsa
- 17 Antonov An-12
- 18 Antonov An-124
- 19 Antonov An-225
- 20 Auster
- 21 Aviation Traders Carvair
- 22 Avro 504
- 23 Avro Anson
- 24 Avro Ashton
- 25 Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow
- 26 Avro Lancaster
- 27 Avro Vulcan
- 28 B-1 Lancer
- 29 B-2 Spirit
- 30 B-17 Flying Fortress
- 31 B-18 Bolo
- 32 B-24 Liberator
- 33 B-25 Mitchell
- 34 B-26 Marauder
- 35 B-29 Superfortress
- 36 B-36 Peacemaker
- 37 B-47 Stratojet
- 38 B-52 Stratofortress
- 39 B-58 Hustler
- 40 Beech 18
- 41 Bell 47
- 42 Bell 206
- 43 Bell 222
- 44 Bell AH-1 Cobra
- 45 Bell UH-1 Iroquois
- 46 Bell X-1
- 47 Bell X-2
- 48 Blackburn Buccaneer
- 49 Boeing 247
- 50 Boeing 314
- 51 Boeing 707
- 52 Boeing 720
- 53 Boeing 727
- 54 Boeing 747
- 55 Boeing 757
- 56 Boeing 767
- 57 Boeing 777
- 58 Boeing-Stearman Model 75
- 59 Bristol Beaufighter
- 60 Bristol Blenheim
- 61 Bristol Bulldog
- 62 Bristol F2B
- 63 Bristol Type 170 Freighter
- 64 Bücker Bü 181
- 65 C-2 Greyhound
- 66 C-47 Skytrain / C-53 Skytrooper / Dakota
- 67 C-54 Skymaster
- 68 C-74 Globemaster
- 69 C-82 Packet
- 70 C-119 Flying Boxcar
- 71 C-121 Constellation
- 72 C-123 Provider
- 73 C-130 Hercules
- 74 CAC Wirraway
- 75 Capelis XC-12
- 76 Caproni Ca.60
- 77 CASA 2.111
- 78 Caudron 277
- 79 Cessna 310
- 80 Cessna 337
- 81 Cessna 402
- 82 CG-4 Haig / Hadrian
- 83 CH-34 Choctaw / Westland Wessex
- 84 CH-46 Sea Knight / Boeing-Vertol 107
- 85 CH-47 Chinook / Boeing-Vertol 234
- 86 Concorde
- 87 Consolidated NY
- 88 Convair XF-92
- 89 Curtiss RC-1
- 90 Dassault Mirage 2000
- 91 de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver
- 92 de Havilland Comet
- 93 de Havilland DH.4
- 94 de Havilland DH.88 Comet
- 95 de Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide
- 96 de Havilland Fox Moth
- 97 de Havilland Hornet Moth
- 98 de Havilland Mosquito
- 99 de Havilland Puss Moth
- 100 de Havilland Vampire
- 101 Douglas DC-2
- 102 Douglas DC-3
- 103 Douglas DC-4
- 104 Douglas DC-8
- 105 EB-66 Destroyer
- 106 English Electric Lightning
- 107 Eurocopter Tiger
- 108 Eurocopter AS332 Super Puma
- 109 F2H Banshee
- 110 F3F
- 111 F-4 Phantom II
- 112 F4F Wildcat
- 113 F4U Corsair
- 114 F-5 Freedom Fighter/Tiger II
- 115 F5F Skyrocket
- 116 F6F Hellcat
- 117 F9F Panther
- 118 F11F Tiger
- 119 F-14 Tomcat
- 120 F-15 Eagle
- 121 F-16 Fighting Falcon
- 122 F/A-18 Hornet
- 123 F-20 Tigershark
- 124 F-22 Raptor
- 125 F-35 Lightning II
- 126 F-84 Thunderjet, Thunderstreak
- 127 F-86 Sabre
- 128 F-101 Voodoo
- 129 F-104 Starfighter
- 130 F-117 Nighthawk
- 131 Fairchild UC-61 Forwarder
- 132 Fairchild Hiller FH-227
- 133 Fairey Fox
- 134 Fairey Swordfish
- 135 Focke-Wulf Fw 190
- 136 Focke-Wulf Triebflügel
- 137 Fokker Eindecker
- 138 Fokker Dr.I
- 139 Fokker D.VII
- 140 Folland Gnat
- 141 Ford Trimotor
- 142 GAF Nomad
- 143 Gee Bee Racer
- 144 Gloster Gladiator
- 145 Gloster Meteor
- 146 Goodyear Blimp
- 147 Gotha G.IV
- 148 Grumman G-21 Goose
- 149 Grumman HU-16 Albatross
- 150 Grumman J2F Duck
- 151 Grumman TBF / General Motors TBM Avenger
- 152 Grumman Widgeon
- 153 Grumman X-29
- 154 HAL HF-24 Marut
- 155 Harrier family
- 156 Handley Page Victor
- 157 Hawker Hunter
- 158 Hawker Hurricane
- 159 Heinkel He 111
- 160 Hiller UH-12 / OH-23 Raven
- 161 Hindenburg
- 162 Hispano Aviación HA-1112
- 163 Hughes 500 / OH-6 Cayuse / MH-6 Little Bird / MD 500 Defender
- 164 Hughes H-4 Hercules ("Spruce Goose")
- 165 Hughes XF-11
- 166 ICON A5
- 167 Ikarus Kurir
- 168 Junkers Ju 52/3m
- 169 Junkers Ju 87
- 170 Kaman SH-2 Seasprite
- 171 Kamov Ka-27
- 172 L-5 Sentinel
- 173 Lamson Alcor
- 174 Lockheed Constellation
- 175 Lockheed C-141 Starlifter
- 176 Lockheed P-3 Orion
- 177 Lockheed Model 12 Electra Junior
- 178 Lockheed Hudson
- 179 Lockheed JetStar
- 180 Lockheed L-1011 TriStar
- 181 Lockheed T-33 T-Bird
- 182 Lockheed U-2
- 183 Lockheed Vega
- 184 Martin MB-2
- 185 McDonnell Douglas DC-10
- 186 Messerschmitt Bf 108
- 187 Messerschmitt Bf 109
- 188 Messerschmitt Me 262
- 189 MiGs (generic)
- 190 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21
- 191 Mikoyan MiG-29
- 192 Mil Mi-8/-17
- 193 Mil Mi-24 'Hind'
- 194 Mil Mi-26
- 195 Miles Falcon
- 196 Mitsubishi A5M
- 197 Moller M400 Skycar
- 198 Morane-Saulnier MS.230
- 199 N3N Canary
- 200 Nakajima Ki-27
- 201 Nakajima Ki-43
- 202 Nieuport 17
- 203 Nieuport 28
- 204 Noorduyn AT-16
- 205 Noorduyn Norseman
- 206 North American AT-6 Texan
- 207 North American BT-9 / BT-16
- 208 North American X-15
- 209 Northrop A-17
- 210 Northrop YB-49
- 211 O-1 Bird Dog
- 212 O-2 Skymaster
- 213 O2C Helldiver
- 214 P-1 Hawk
- 215 P-35
- 216 P-38 Lightning
- 217 P-40
- 218 P-47 Thunderbolt
- 219 P-51 Mustang
- 220 Panavia Tornado
- 221 PBY Catalina
- 222 PB4Y Privateer
- 223 Percival Proctor
- 224 Pfalz D.III
- 225 Pfalz D.XII
- 226 Pilatus Porter
- 227 Piper Cherokee
- 228 Pitcairn Autogyro
- 229 RAH-66 Comanche
- 230 Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2
- 231 Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5
- 232 Ryan NYP
- 233 Saab 35 Draken
- 234 Saab JAS 39 Gripen
- 235 SBD Dauntless
- 236 SB2C Helldiver / A-25 Shrike
- 237 SB2U Vindicator
- 238 Short Sunderland
- 239 Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King
- 240 Sikorsky H-5 / R-5 / HO2S / HO3S / S-51
- 241 Sikorsky H-19 / Westland Whirlwind
- 242 Sikorsky S-58
- 243 Sikorsky H-53 series
- 244 Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe/Sikorsky S-64
- 245 Sikorsky H-60 series
- 246 Sikorsky S-29-A
- 247 Sikorsky S-38
- 248 Sikorsky VS-44
- 249 Sopwith Camel
- 250 Sopwith 1½ Strutter
- 251 Sopwith Pup
- 252 Space Shuttle orbiter
- 253 SPAD
- 254 SR-71 Blackbird
- 255 Stampe SV.4
- 256 Sukhoi Su-35
- 257 Supermarine Attacker
- 258 Supermarine Spitfire
- 259 Supermarine Swift
- 260 TBD Devastator
- 261 Thomas-Morse MB-3
- 262 Thurston Teal
- 263 UFM Easy Riser
- 264 USS Macon
- 265 Vickers FB5 Gunbus
- 266 Vickers Wellington
- 267 V-22 Osprey
- 268 Wallis autogyro
- 269 Wright Flyer
- 270 Wright Model B
- 271 XB-51
- 272 XB-70 Valkyrie
- 273 Zeppelin
- 274 Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI
- 275 See also
- 276 References
- 277 Further reading
- 278 External links
The first aviation film was the 1911 William J. Humphrey–directed two-reeler, The Military Air-Scout, shot following an Aero Club of America flying meet at Long Island, New York, with Lt. Henry Arnold doing the stunt flying. "Arnold, who picked up 'a few extra bucks' for his services, became so excited about movies that he almost quit the Army to become an actor."
The years between World War I and World War II saw extensive use of the new technology, aircraft, in the new medium, film. In the early 1920s Hollywood studios made dozens of now-obscure "aerial Westerns" with leads such as Tom Mix and Hoot Gibson, where the role of the horse was taken by aircraft, or used aircraft as nothing more than vehicles for stunts to excite audiences. In 1926 the first "proper" aviation film was made; Wings is a story of two pilots who sign up to fly and fight in World War I. Made with the co-operation of the United States' then-Department of War (a relationship that continues to this day), it used front-line military aircraft of the day such as the Thomas-Morse MB-3 and Boeing PW-9, flown by military pilots. Future US Air Force Generals Hap Arnold and Hoyt Vandenberg were among the military officers involved with the production, Arnold as a technical consultant and Vandenberg as one of the pilots. Wings was a box-office hit when it achieved general release in 1929 and went on to win the award for Best Production at the first Academy Awards.
In Fascist Italy in the 1930s, aviation-themed films were used as propaganda tools to complement the massed flights led by Italo Balbo in promoting the regime domestically and abroad. One such film was the most successful Italian film of the pre-World War II era; Luciano Serra pilota (Luciano Serra, Pilot) was inextricably linked to the Fascist government via Mussolini's son Vittorio, who was the driving force behind the film's production. The film, set between 1921 and the Italo-Abyssinian War, was used to compare the allegedly moribund state of aviation in pre-Fascist Italy with the purported power of the Regia Aeronautica and Italian aviation in general in the 1930s. However, by the time that Luciano Serra pilota was shown at the 1938 Venice Film Festival, the link between aviation and Fascism had already been firmly established in the minds of the Italian people through widespread depictions of aircraft in a variety of media. For example, there was an entire branch of the Futurist Art movement devoted to aviation, known as Aeropittura ("Aeropainting"). While many of the Aeropittura works were devoted to flight rather than aircraft per se, some did celebrate Italian aviation exploits, such as Alfredo Ambrosi's Il volo su Vienna (The Flight over Vienna) which depicted in Futurist style the World War I exploit of Gabriele d'Annunzio; although the city of Vienna is shown in abstract in accordance with the aims of Aeropittura – namely to show the dynamism and excitement of flight – the Ansaldo SVA aircraft are very carefully and accurately rendered.
In the US the use or denial of use of current military aircraft in films is determined by the US military itself. The armed services review all requests for the use of aircraft, by examining the scripts to ensure that aircraft will only be used in films that show the U.S. military in a positive light. Because alternatives to using real military aircraft can be expensive, films that do not get U.S. military approval often do not get financed or made. Sean McElwee, writing for Salon.com concluded of this problem, "This is a prima facie case for de facto censorship...If the government wants to allow its equipment to be used by studios, it needs to grant access to anyone who wants to use it – that is the meaning of pluralism. The Pentagon fears that some of the movies may hurt the military's reputation and recruiting efforts. These concerns are legitimate, but it's more important that we allow John Stuart Mill's 'market place of ideas' to be a place for free trade, rather than favoring some over others."
Since the advent of television, aircraft have been featured in numerous miniseries and series around the world. These include the American productions Twelve O'Clock High, Airwolf, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Sky King and Wings; the Australian series Big Sky, Chopper Squad and The Flying Doctors, and the miniseries The Lancaster Miller Affair; British shows such as Airline, Piece of Cake and Squadron, the Canadian series Arctic Air; JETS – Leben am Limit and Medicopter 117 – Jedes Leben zählt from Germany; and the Canadian–British–German co-production Ritter's Cove.
In the 1953 James A. Michener novel of The Bridges at Toko-Ri a number of Douglas AD-1 Skyraiders fly RESCAP missions over a downed Grumman F9F Panther and Sikorsky HO3S-1 in Korea. This is also the case in the 1954 film of the same name.
The Skyraider was also featured as one of the many aircraft providing close air support during the First Battle of the Ia Drang Valley Campaign in Mel Gibson's 2002 film We Were Soldiers, based on the non-fiction book We Were Soldiers Once… And Young by Lieutenant General (Ret.) Hal Moore and reporter Joseph L. Galloway.
The 1986 Stephen Coonts novel Flight of the Intruder centers around two naval aviators during the Vietnam War who take their Grumman A-6 Intruder on an unauthorized bombing raid on Hanoi. It was made into a 1991 film of the same name.
A-10 Thunderbolt II
In the 1996 film Courage Under Fire, A-10s are depicted dropping napalm on the crash site of two downed Huey helicopters after their crews were recovered, and briefly depicted during an account given by a survivor.
In the 2009 film Terminator Salvation, several A-10s are sent to support the ground troops led by John Connor in the opening sequence of the film. Later, two Resistance A-10s are shot down when trying to intercept the machine transport in which Marcus Wright and Kyle Reese were captive.
Three A-10s using the call sign "Thunder" are sent to Smallville to kill both Superman and General Zod and his henchmen in the 2013 film Man of Steel but are attacked by Zod's forces, resulting in the destruction of two of the jets.
Two A-26 firebombers were prominently featured in the 1989 Steven Spielberg film, Always. The flying for the film was performed by well-known film pilot Steve Hinton and Dennis Lynch, the owners of the A-26s. Attempts to use radio-controlled models for special effects shots were abandoned as unworkable and models "flown" from wire rigs were utilized instead.
The Mitsubishi A6M Zero was featured in the films The Final Countdown, Pearl Harbor, and Tora! Tora! Tora!. The Zero was also depicted in the 1976 film Midway; however real Zeros were not used. Modified T-6 Texans were used in both Tora! Tora! Tora! and Midway to depict A6M2 Type 21 Zero fighters, and some footage from the former was reused in the latter. Three Type 52 Zeros were used in Pearl Harbor. Two restored aircraft operated by Flight Magic, and one in the Planes of Fame Air Museum collection were barged to Hawaii where "all three aircraft were extensively flown with few problems until NX6528L suffered a gear-up landing. Fortunately, this was near the end of filming. NX6528L was shipped to Pete Regina Aviation at Van Nuys where it was returned to flying condition. This aircraft is now with the Commemorative Air Force Southern California Wing at Camarillo Airport."
Aérospatiale AS365 Dauphin
In the 1989 Bond film Licence to Kill, 007 rides down on a rescue hoist cable from a USCG HH-65 Dauphin, where he attaches the cable to the antagonist's aircraft tail. Once attached, the Coast Guard helicopter is able to drag the Cessna 172 away.
A heavily modified Gazelle was the centerpiece of the 1983 John Badham action film Blue Thunder. The same helicopter appeared in the short-lived 1984 TV series by the same name starring James Farentino. The modified Gazelle went on to be used in the TV mini-series Amerika.
Modified Aérospatiale SA 330 Pumas were used to depict Mil Mi-24 helicopter gunships, in the films Red Dawn, Rambo: First Blood Part II, and Rambo III, in 1984, 1985 and 1988, respectively.
An AH-64 was used to attempt to suppress the Hulk in the 2008 film, The Incredible Hulk. Although it has the standard, nose mounted M230 Chain Gun, it instead attacks with the unusual configuration of twin, pylon-mounted miniguns.
Airbus A400M Atlas
The assault on what would later be known as the Pegasus Bridge over the Caen Canal in France by British commandos landing in Airspeed Horsa gliders was depicted in the 1962 war epic The Longest Day. Only one Horsa replica was actually constructed.
The Decepticon character Jetstorm from the 2007 Transformers film line is based on the Antonov An-225. This toy shares its body design with Cybertron Jetfire, Classics Fireflight and Universe Air Raid.
Aviation Traders Carvair
An Avro 504 appears in the Lewis Gilbert-directed 1956 British biographical film Reach for the Sky as the training aircraft in which a young Douglas Bader learns to fly. The film was based on the 1954 biography of the same name by Paul Brickhill.
An Avro 504 also appears in the 1976 British war film Aces High, being used for photo reconnaissance, a role in which the aircraft was widely used. Directed by Jack Gold and starred Malcolm McDowell, Peter Firth, Christopher Plummer and Simon Ward, the screenplay was written by Howard Barker. As acknowledged in the opening credits, the film is based on the 1930s play Journey's End by R. C. Sherriff and the 1936 memoir Sagittarius Rising by Cecil Lewis of the Royal Flying Corps. It tells the story of an RFC squadron in the First World War and the high turnover of pilots and the strain on the survivors and includes aerial dogfight scenes.
An Avro Anson was used as a "stand-in" to represent the Boeing 247 Race 57 flown in the 1934 England-to-Australia MacRobertson Air Race by Roscoe Turner, in the 1991 Australian television miniseries The Great Air Race. Turner was played by Barry Bostwick in the miniseries.
An Avro Ashton, in its six-engined, Olympus testbed form appeared as the fictitious Phoenix airliner in Cone of Silence (1960), based on the novel of the same name by David Beaty, a former BOAC pilot. This concerned the takeoff problems of the Phoenix, and the subsequent accident investigation; it was based on two takeoff accidents to the de Havilland Comet.
Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow
The Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow makes a prominent appearance in Daniel Wyatt's 1990 novel, The Last Flight of the Arrow. In the novel, the real-life destruction of the fighter is a cover for a secret US-Canadian continental air-defense initiative that fields a fleet of Arrows. A Polish-Canadian RCAF pilot flies one Arrow on a high-speed reconnaissance flight over Russia to find proof that the Soviets are planning an airstrike on North America.
In 1997, the CBC broadcast The Arrow miniseries. The production used a combination of archival film, remote-control flying models and computer animation for the static, ground and flying sequences. The film won numerous awards, including the Gemini that year.
The Avro Lancaster was perhaps the most well-known and successful Royal Air Force heavy bomber of World War II. As such it has appeared in many works of fiction related to Bomber Command and its night raids over Germany and occupied Europe.
Lancasters appeared in the 1952 British war film Appointment in London (released in the U.S. as Raiders in the Sky) directed by Philip Leacock and starring Dirk Bogarde. Three Lancasters were used in the production—NX673, NX679 and NX782, the same three that were used in the filming of The Dam Busters three years later.
The Lancaster was central to the second half of the 1955 British film The Dam Busters. This is a dramatisation of the real-life Operation Chastise, which included the forming of No. 617 Squadron RAF commanded by Wing Commander Guy Gibson, who was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC), and the bombing of the Möhne, Eder and Sorpe Dams in Germany to interrupt water and hydro-electric power supplies to German munitions factories. The film is based on the books The Dam Busters by Paul Brickhill and Enemy Coast Ahead by Guy Gibson. A number of B VII Lancasters in storage were modified to the original configuration of the B III (Special) for use on screen.
A 1989 British commercial for Carling Black Label lager reused Avro Lancaster footage in a Dam Busters parody sequence where a German soldier on top of a dam catches the Lancaster's bombs like a football goalkeeper. The pilot of the attacking Lancaster then delivers the brand slogan: "I bet he drinks Carling Black Label!" The commercial ran for many years, frequently appearing in commercial breaks during broadcasts of both The Dam Busters and documentaries about Operation Chastise.
Len Deighton's 1970 novel Bomber describes an attack by Royal Air Force Lancasters on Krefeld, Germany, during which a series of unplanned incidents leads to the carpet bombing of a small town nearby.
The Avro Lancaster was also featured in the UK TV series Pathfinders, airing in 1972 and released on DVD in 2006, concentrating on the lives of the aircrew of a fictional Pathfinder squadron during the Second World War.
Lancasters appear in a sequence depicting the bombing of Dresden in World War II in the 1992 film Map of the Human Heart directed by Vincent Ward. For the production, a mock-up cockpit section of a Lancaster was constructed and was later displayed at the Bomber Command Museum in Canada.
Vintage Lancaster NX611 appeared in the 2002 BBC mini-series Night Flight (also released as Night and Day) which featured Christopher Plummer and Edward Woodward as two ageing veterans of Bomber Command who are haunted by the memories of their experiences.
Lancasters feature in the 2011 novel Dambuster by Robert Radcliffe.
The spaceship HMS Camden Lock in the 2006-2007 BBC2 comedy series Hyperdrive bears the serial number XH558. The set and prop designer, model-maker Andrew Glazebrook, stated "its registration number XH558 is actually that of the Royal Air Force's "Avro Vulcan" bomber and was suggested by the show's writers, Andy Riley and Kevin Cecil." This direct involvement with the Avro Vulcan and its role as a military aircraft is clearly connected to its science-fiction counterpart.
Vulcans are the central feature of the 2008 aviation novel by English author Derek Robinson, titled Hullo Russia, Goodbye England. A British RAF pilot named Silk, a veteran of Bomber Command in the Second World War, rejoins the service at the height of the Cold War.
Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit was featured in the 1996 20th Century Fox film Independence Day. B-2 spirit deploys the nuclear missile at the saucer over Houston but fails because the saucer has a deflector shield.
B-17 Flying Fortress
The first appearance of the B-17 Flying Fortress in film was a Y1B-17 in the 1938 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) production Test Pilot, although for the crash scene a Douglas DC-2 was modified to stand in for the bomber, the Army Air Corps being unwilling to risk even having a fire lit next to the scarce type for filming.
B-17Bs of the 132nd Bomb Squadron, 9th Bomb Group from March Field, California ("Land of the Flying Fortress") were featured in the 1941 Paramount Pictures film I Wanted Wings, based on the novel of the same title by 1st Lt. Beirne Lay, Jr..
The 1943 Warner Bros. film Air Force, directed by Howard Hawks, used at least nine B-17B, C and D model Flying Fortresses to depict the early years of World War II, including the attack on Pearl Harbor.
In William Wyler's 1946 film The Best Years of Our Lives, B-17s are prominently featured. The primary male characters hitch a cross country ride in a B-17E Flying Fortress early in the story, and at the conclusion the scrapyard at Chino, California is shown full of disposal B-17s and YB-40 gunship versions of the B-17.
B-17s also figured prominently in the Oscar-winning 1949 film Twelve O'Clock High starring Gregory Peck. The film concerns aviation leadership and the human toll in the USAAF strategy of daylight precision bombing. The U.S. Air Force cooperated in the production of the film, lending aircraft to the producers and allowing filming at Eglin Air Force Base and at Ozark Army Air Field. The film featured an actual crash landing of a B-17, piloted by veteran stunt pilot Paul Mantz.
The other post-war (1948) film about early 8th Air Force bomber operations, MGM's Command Decision, with Clark Gable and Walter Pidgeon, relied primarily on combat footage of Flying Fortresses, although at least one B-17F and one B-17G were utilized for ground filming in California.
For the 1954 Universal International Pictures film The Glenn Miller Story, directed by Anthony Mann, a wartime performance set in a U.K. air base hangar was shot in Hangar No. 1 at Lowry Air Force Base, Colorado, on 10 July 1953, with the late-production B-17G command aircraft of Gen. John G. Sprague, commanding officer of Lowry, as a backdrop. It received a wartime coat of olive drab paint for the appearance, but the chin turret was removed. Anachronistic B-29 engine cowlings line the back wall of the hangar, although B-29s were not used in the ETO.
One ex-USAAF B-17 Flying Fortress and two ex-U.S. Navy PB-1W Flying Fortresses were retrieved from a boneyard, restored, and flown across the Atlantic Ocean for the making of the 1962 Columbia Pictures film The War Lover, based on a John Hersey novel of the same title.
A B-17G operated by Intermountain Airlines, an actual Central Intelligence Agency front company, fitted with the Fulton recovery system, drops rescue gear to James Bond and his Bond girl in the Bahamas at the conclusion of the 1965 film Thunderball. This aircraft had actually been used by the CIA to insert and recover agents in the Arctic that had checked on an abandoned Soviet ice station under Project COLDFEET in 1963.
Two DB-17P former drone-controllers and one B-17F were featured in the 1969 film The Thousand Plane Raid. One of the DB-17Ps briefly appeared in the biopic MacArthur in 1977, still wearing the same markings and paint it had for The Thousand Plane Raid.
Five flyable B-17s were secured by producer Elmo Williams for use in the filming of the 1970 motion picture Tora! Tora! Tora!. During filming, one B-17 suffered a malfunction in its landing gear, forcing it to land on one wheel. Williams ordered a camera crew to film the landing and incorporated the footage into the film's script.
The 1972 novel The Silver Lady by James Facos is about a B-17 crew working together and trying to survive its 25-mission tour.
The B-17 Flying Fortress was the subject of the 1990 Warner Bros. film Memphis Belle. During filming, one of the five vintage B-17s was destroyed in an accidental crash and a second was damaged when an engine cowling detached in flight, tearing a chunk out of the aircraft's tail (and narrowly missing a nearby P-51). There were no injuries in either incident.
B-17s are the main aircraft featured in two recent novels depicting fictional characters in the U.S. daylight bombing offensive over Germany and Occupied Europe, American writer Sam Helpert's A Real Good War (1997) and UK author Robert Radcliffe's Under an English Heaven. (2004).
For George Lucas' 2012 film Red Tails about the 332d Fighter Group, the Tuskegee Airmen, the B-17G "Pink Lady" operated by the Association Forteresse Toujours Volante, appeared as a 351st Bomb Group aircraft named "Yankee", coded ED-N. Filmed in the Czech Republic in 2010, the film company funding allowed the warbird to fly for an additional year before being retired to museum status. Other Flying Fortresses were rendered through CGI.
The novel Face of a Hero (1950) tells the story of a B-24 crew operating from an airport in Apulia, Italy, in 1944; it is based on the real experiences of its author, Louis Falstein, who had been a tail gunner on a USAAF B-24. The novel describes in detail the raids of the B-24 bombers on Romania, Yugoslavia, northern Italy, southern France, and Germany.
The B-24 is featured in the classic novel Goodbye to Some by Gordon Forbes, a former pilot, who seems to know the foibles of the aircraft. Of special note is the characteristic "siphoning" during flight of fuel from the tanks in the wings, caused by a venturi effect of air passing over the wings, sometimes resulting in a mid-air explosion of the aircraft.
The North American B-25 Mitchell had feature roles in the films: Thirty Seconds over Tokyo (1944) (pilot Ted Lawson's account of the Doolittle Raid), Hanover Street (1979) based on a fictional B-25 unit stationed in England, and Forever Young (1992), following a B-25 test pilot's story both in the past and present.
The episode "King Nine Will Not Return" of television series The Twilight Zone was based on the "Lady Be Good", a Consolidated B-24 Liberator whose wreckage had been discovered in November 1958, and used a B-25 in place of the B-24. It first aired 30 September 1960.
The B-25 is featured in the 1970 Mike Nichols film Catch-22, which had 17 film unit B-25s in flying condition. Like the Battle of Britain's resurrection and ultimate preservation of German and British aviation combatants, the Catch-22 air force helped form a nucleus of the nascent warbirds movement. Fifteen of the 18 bombers used in the film still remain intact, including one on display at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum.
The Boeing B-29 Superfortress has played an important role in several Hollywood films, particularly the Enola Gay, which dropped the first atomic bomb. The Enola Gay was depicted in Above and Beyond and The Beginning or the End.
The first Hollywood retelling of the 509th Composite Group's preparation for the atomic missions was Above and Beyond, released by MGM in 1953, with Robert Taylor portraying Col. Paul Tibbetts, and Jim Backus as Gen. Curtis LeMay. Filmed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.
A B-29 features in the 1954 Cold War drama Hell and High Water directed by Samuel Fuller and starring Richard Widmark. The film's plot concerns a plan by the Chinese to use a captured B-29 to launch an atomic strike on Korea and then let the US take the blame for it.
The Convair B-36 featured prominently in Paramount's 1955 film Strategic Air Command starring James Stewart, who plays a World War II bomber pilot and member of the Air Force Reserve and is forced to crash land in the Arctic. The film features many good aerial shots of B-36s and was primarily filmed at Carswell AFB, Texas, and MacDill AFB in Tampa, Florida, and Al Lang Field in nearby St. Petersburg, Florida. One particularly difficult shot was that of Stewart's character, a baseball player, standing on the baseball field at Al Lang Field while a B-36 flies overhead and casts a shadow over him, foreshadowing his imminent recall to active service.
The Boeing B-47 Stratojet gets a secondary role in Paramount's 1955 film Strategic Air Command, starring James Stewart, as the new jet that is nothing like the old Convair B-36 he is used to. The film features good aerial footage of both the B-47 and the B-36. The majority of B-47 scenes were filmed at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, using aircraft from the 306th Bombardment Wing.
Ejection seat testing of B-47s performed at Eglin AFB, Florida, in 1953 and 1954 as part of aeromedical research was recreated in the 1955 20th Century Fox film On the Threshold of Space starring Guy Madison, and in a 1957 Pine-Thomas Productions drama Bailout at 43,000.
The 1957 Warner Brothers melodrama film Bombers B-52 features Castle Air Force Base, proudly sporting its slogan "Home of the B-47", and its transition from the Stratojet to the new B-52.
The 1963 film A Gathering of Eagles focuses on the stresses of a B-52 wing commander at the height of the Cold War. Some excellent visuals of the B-52 including a complex inflight refueling operation which nearly ends in disaster.
The B-52 was also a key part of Stanley Kubrick's 1964 black comedy film Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
The Convair B-58 Hustler appeared in the 1964 film Fail Safe, where stock footage of B-58s was used to represent the fictional "Vindicator" bombers that attack Moscow. The art used in the original magazine publication of the novel had depicted the "Vindicator" bombers – a recycling of the name of a World War II American dive bomber – as nearly identical to B-58s, but equipped with canards. This would have given the fictional bombers the appearance of the canceled B-58B.
The 1950s syndicated American television series Whirlybirds, produced by Desilu Studios, starred a pair of Bell 47 helicopters. The association with Whirlybirds continues to be used in order to promote helicopters and the Bell 47 in particular. A Bell 47 was also one of the 'stars' of the Australian television series Skippy the Bush Kangaroo.
A Bell 47 depicted a supposed German helicopter in the 1968 action film Where Eagles Dare. Although experimental German helicopter types did exist in this time period, the Focke-Achgelis Fa 223 was a larger, twin-rotor machine, which was used on only a limited basis.
Chopper Squad was a 1970s Australian television series about a Bell 206 JetRanger used for rescue work in Sydney. The helicopter used was an actual rescue helicopter operated by the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service.
A Bell 206B was one of the helicopters that attacks the oil rig control center of Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the climactic scenes of the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever. The Jet Ranger also appeared in the 1977 Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me
In the 1983 film Blue Thunder, a Jet Ranger is portrayed as a LAPD helicopter flying for the Astro division. Also appears in the 1991 film Terminator 2, as another LAPD helicopter, which is stolen by the T-1000 Terminator and flown under an expressway to pursue John Connor, Sarah Connor and the T-800 Terminator protecting them.
A Bell 222A was featured in the telemovie Airwolf, which starred Jan-Michael Vincent and Ernest Borgnine. Within the year, the film was made into a TV series which aired from 1984 to 1986. Another modified version known as Airwolf II (also known as Redwolf) was in the series.
Bell AH-1 Cobra
In J. J. Abrams 2006 film Mission: Impossible III, the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) team use a Bell 204 to escape after rescuing one of their team members. They must evade an AH-1 Cobra, which pursues them through a wind farm, firing heat seeking rockets at them.
Bell UH-1 Iroquois
The Bell UH-1 Iroquois (commonly called the Huey) was the most common helicopter during the Vietnam War, as an aircraft used to insert and remove troops from the field, transport casualties for medical treatment and as a gunship. As such, it has appeared in many works of fiction related to the war.
The UH-1 was an important part of the 1968 film The Green Berets. The production company paid $18,623.64 for the material, the eighty-five hours of flying time by UH-1 helicopters, and thirty-eight hundred man-days for military personnel taken away from their regular duties.
A Bell 205 is used as a mountain rescue helicopter in the 1993 film Cliffhanger. The aircraft is used to locate a missing jet and then employed to find stolen money. Towards the film's end the helicopter is dangling upside down against a cliff, where the hero (Sylvester Stallone) and villain (John Lithgow) brawl on the belly of the aircraft.
The UH-1 was a central part of the 2002 Vietnam war film We Were Soldiers. The helicopter was shown ferrying troops into the Ia Drang valley as part of the then-new concept of air cavalry. The film particularly focused on the flights of Major Bruce Crandall, who was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions while piloting his UH-1 during the battle depicted in the film. Four of the UH-1s used were provided by the Georgia Army National Guard.
The slaying of Israeli athletes by Black September terrorists and the destruction of a Bundesgrenzschutz Bell/Dornier UH-1D during the 1972 Summer Olympics was depicted in the 2005 Steven Spielberg film Munich.
UH-1 helicopters are seen as the primary transport aircraft in the 2017 film Kong: Skull Island, and are attacked by Kong after launching seismic bombs in an attempt to map the Island's subterranean caves.
The Bell X-1 was depicted early in the film The Right Stuff. The film showed the historic flight of the X-1 becoming the first aircraft to break the sound barrier in level flight under its own propulsion. This achievement helped usher in the U.S. space program that was the subject of the rest of the film. A mock-up built for the film is now displayed at the Planes of Fame Museum, Chino, California.
For the pilot-film of the TV series Quantum Leap a Bell X-2 mock-up was built, which is now on display at the Planes of Fame Museum, Chino, California, together with the X-1 mock-up from the film The Right Stuff.
In Kaoru Shintani (新谷 かおる)'s air combat franchise Area 88, Area 88's chief tactical advisor, former RAF Major Roundell, pilots a Blackburn Buccaneer in leading the base's best pilots in supporting an attack on an oil refinery. As Roundell has low-level piloting skills, he guides them through a deep canyon on the way to the target. The attack is later featured in the 2004 TV series episode "Canyon – Tightrope at the Speed of Sound."
A Boeing 247D, registry no. NR257Y, c/n 1953, "Warner Bros. Comet", race number 5, United Airlines NC13369, leased by Roscoe Turner and fitted with extra fuel tanks, and flown by Turner and Clyde Edward Pangborn in the 1934 MacRobertson Trophy Air Race, was portrayed by an Avro Anson, VH-BAF, in the 1991 Australian mini-series The Great Air Race, also known as Half a World Away.
The 1936 movie 13 Hours by Air takes place largely aboard a transcontinental Boeing 247 flight and includes significant historically interesting second-unit footage of actual terminal facilities on United Air Lines's then-new transcontinental route network.
In 2011, the American television series Pan Am took place in the early and mid-1960s and featured interior sets and exterior CGI representations of the 707 on the ground and in flight; it was Pan Am's flagship airliner during that time. Additional footage of John Travolta's Boeing 707 in Pan Am livery has also been used in the TV series.
A former United Airlines Boeing 720B stood in for a Boeing VC-137C, Air Force One, serialled 62-6001, in the 1971 ABC Entertainment Group telemovie The President's Plane Is Missing, based on the 1967 novel of the same title by Robert J. Serling, in which the SAM flight carrying the President of the United States crashes in a storm in Arizona.
A Boeing 747 featured in the 1981 Australian film The Survivor, a supernatural horror film directed by David Hemmings about an airline pilot (played by Robert Powell) who mysteriously survives a 747 crash that wipes out all of the other occupants. The film was based on the novel by English author James Herbert.
In the 1990 action film Die Hard 2, a 747 that has been hijacked by terrorists is destroyed by John McClane. Three 23-foot models were fabricated by Industrial Light and Magic with one destroyed during filming done at a remote airstrip in the Mojave Desert of California. The effects were matched to a real 747 filmed taxiing at Alpena, Michigan. The cost of the special effects pushed the film's production costs towards the then-record of $70 million.
In the 2013 'zombie romance' film Warm Bodies, the central character 'R' resides in the abandoned hulk of a Boeing 747, and rescues the female lead Julie by hiding her there from his fellow zombies.
A Boeing 777 was scripted as, and widely used in dialog and in footage of the ill-fated Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 that portrays the basis for the ABC television series Lost. However, the fuselage used to represent the wreckage on the beach was a Lockheed L-1011 TriStar.
Boeing-Stearman Model 75
In 1950, Paul Mantz tore the wings off a Boeing PT-13D (Model 75) Stearman by flying between two oaks for the 1950 film When Willie Comes Marching Home. A crop-dusting Stearman, N6340, was featured early in the 1963 Elvis Presley film It Happened at the World's Fair.
A Boeing Stearman appears in the climatic scene of the Disney Sci-Fi film The Cat from Outer Space (1978). The scene involves a mid-air transfer of characters between the Stearman and a Gazelle helicopter. The Stearman is a wreck but is flown by the powers of the magic necklace belonging to the cat Jake.
Graphic novelist Garth Ennis' 2007 revival of the old British war comic hero Battler Britton: Bloody Good Show, featured the ace fighter pilot commanding a squadron of Bristol Beaufighters in North Africa during the Second World War.
A Bristol Blenheim IV, restored from a Bolingbroke IVT, appeared in the 1995 film Richard III, an adaptation of Shakespeare's play directed by and starring Ian McKellen; who set the play in an imaginary 1930s England ruled by a fascist-style Monarch.
In the long-running British First World War comic strip Charley's War, published in Battle Picture Weekly 1979–1986 and written by Pat Mills and illustrated by Joe Colquhoun, the storyline goes on a tangent when Charley Bourne's younger brother Wilf enlists under-age and becomes an observer/gunner in a Bristol F2B squadron in France in early 1918.
A replica Bristol F2B mounted on skis was featured in the 1981 film Death Hunt which starred Charles Bronson and Lee Marvin. The replica, which was constructed in the U.S. and had an inverted Ford Ranger engine instead of a Rolls-Royce, was originally commissioned in 1979 to appear in the film High Road to China (1983), but was not used in that production.
The fictional RFC unit featured in Derek Robinson's 1999 novel Hornet's Sting, set in 1917 over the Western Front, exchange their outdated Sopwith Pups for the new Bristol F2Bs.
Bristol Type 170 Freighter
A Bristol Type 170 Freighter Mk. 11A played a major role in the 1957 British film The Man in the Sky directed by Charles Crichton and starring Jack Hawkins who played a test pilot. A major sequence of the film featured Hawkins testing a Bristol Type 170 when one of the engines catches fire and he has to stay aloft long enough to use up enough fuel in order to make an emergency landing with one engine and one wheel. The film was distributed in the U.S. under the title Decision Against Time. The Bristol Freighter that starred in the film, G-AIFV, was damaged in a crash during filming. After repairs it returned to service with Silver City Airways until it was retired and scrapped in 1962.
Bücker Bü 181
In the 1963 epic film The Great Escape, the prisoners of war played by James Garner and Donald Pleasence steal a Luftwaffe Bücker Bü 181, a plot invention for the movie. In the actual escape from Stalag Luft III, no aircraft were involved. Pleasence, an aircraft wireless operator with No. 166 Squadron, however, was imprisoned in Stalag Luft I after his Lancaster was shot down over Germany on 31 August 1944.
C-47 Skytrain / C-53 Skytrooper / Dakota
- See also #Douglas DC-3 section for the civilian aircraft on which the Dakota was based
The 1953 film, Island in the Sky, directed by William A. Wellman, and starring and co-produced by John Wayne is based on the true-life forced landing and rescue of a C-47 in the Canadian wilderness. The screenplay was written by Ernest K. Gann based on his books Island in the Sky (1944) and Fate is the Hunter (1961).
In the 1955 British film The Night My Number Came Up directed by Leslie Norman and starring Michael Redgrave and Denholm Elliott, a man tells guests at a dinner party of a dream he had of a Tokyo-bound Dakota that crashes in the Japanese mountains. Some of the guests board such a flight the next day and they begin to fear the dream is coming true.
The 20th Century Fox production The Big Lift (originally titled Quartered City), set during the Berlin Airlift, was filmed in Berlin at a former German studio near Tempelhof in 1949 and Douglas C-54 Skymasters were prominently featured. Military personnel from Rhein-Main Air Base appeared as extras.
C-119 Flying Boxcar
In the 1990 action film Die Hard 2, John McClane ejects from the cockpit of a grounded Fairchild C-123 Provider for a parachute recovery just before terrorists destroy it. A full-scale fuselage mock-up, molded from a real Provider, was rigged with 3,000 bullet hits, each one drilled and loaded with a charge, tapped, and wired to discharge in sequence. Actual pyrotechnics work was done at Indian Dunes, California, with actor Bruce Willis' ejection composited into the shot later.
The 1990 film Air America loosely recounted the exploits of the Central Intelligence Agency proprietary airline in Southeast Asia in the 1960s and early 1970s and featured Fairchild C-123K Providers leased from the Royal Thai Air Force.
The C-123 was featured in the 1997 film Con Air, with much of the film's action taking place in and around the aircraft. Three C-123s were used in the production of the film. One aircraft was used for all of the flying sequences. Another was used for the taxiing scenes and the third Provider, non-airworthy and in poor condition, was dismantled and its fuselage used for the filming of the climatic crash scene.
Instead of using a Soviet transport plane, a Lockheed C-130 Hercules (or Lockheed L-100 Hercules civilian model in military markings) was featured in the 1987 James Bond film The Living Daylights, although a C-123K Provider was swapped out in some tail ramp fight scene close-ups.
The special operations variant, the Lockheed MC-130 Combat Talon, was featured as the rescue aircraft in the 1997 film Air Force One, performing a daring mid-air rescue of the President and his family as Air Force One is failing and going into the water.
In the 2007 film Transformers a close air support variant of the C-130, the AC-130 gunship, is used to drive off the Decepticons after the military base in Qatar is attacked, by executing a pylon turn to deliver ground fire.
In the 2013 film Olympus Has Fallen, a C-130 armed with multi-barrel cannons attacks Washington, D.C. and shoots down two USAF F-22 Raptor fighters sent to intercept it. The C-130 is shot down by another F-22 and crashes into the Washington Monument, causing part of it to collapse.
A restored Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Wirraway, an Australian production variant of the North American NA-16 Harvard, appeared in the beach landing scenes in the 1998 war film The Thin Red Line directed by Terence Malick and based on the 1962 James Jones novel of the same name. In the film, the aircraft is painted to depict a Douglas SBD Dauntless dive-bomber.
The Caproni Ca.60 Noviplano, a nine-wing flying boat of which only a single prototype was constructed and which crashed on its first test flight in 1921, features in the 2013 Japanese animated feature The Wind Rises, a romantic dramatization of the life of Japanese aircraft designer Jiro Horikoshi. In the film, the Italian aeronautical designer Giovanni Caproni appears as a mentor to Horikoshi in several dream sequences, one of which features a tour of the Ca.60.
A Caudron 277 was used to play the role of both British and German two-seaters in the 1966 First World War aerial epic The Blue Max directed by John Guillermin and based on the 1964 novel of the same name by Jack D. Hunter.
A black-painted Cessna 337 (also known as the Cessna O-2 Skymaster) with the tail number N101BL is used as a mysterious airplane in the 1997 movie The Night Flier starring Miguel Ferrer, whose character owns and flies a Bonanza V35B (based on the tail #N70DR).
CG-4 Haig / Hadrian
Crashed WACO CG-4A gliders of the 99th Troop Carrier Squadron were depicted by replicas in the film Saving Private Ryan. These were recreated using measurements taken from a surviving example at the Museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop, Hampshire, England.
CH-34 Choctaw / Westland Wessex
Turbine-repowered Sikorsky S-58Ts portrayed CH-34 Choctaws in the 1990 film Air America about the exploits of the Central Intelligence Agency proprietary airline during the war in Southeast Asia.
CH-46 Sea Knight / Boeing-Vertol 107
In the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice a KV-107 has an electromagnet slung loaded underneath, and is used to airlift an antagonist's car off the road, thereby freeing up 007 from their pursuit.
A Kawasaki-built KV-107 portrays a U.S. Navy UH-46 Sea Knight that airlifts a team of hijackers aboard the USS Missouri in the 1992 film Under Siege, and is later depicted being blown up on the ship's fantail. Filming was done aboard the USS Alabama museum ship.
CH-47 Chinook / Boeing-Vertol 234
In the 2000 film Rules of Engagement two Boeing-Vertol 234 Chinook helicopters are portrayed as U.S. Marines CH-46 Sea Knights. The helicopters transport a rescue team to evacuate personal from a fallen embassy in Yemen.
In the 2010 Charles Stross novel The Fuller Memorandum, the occult arm of the British government maintains four Concordes for use as supersonic reconnaissance aircraft to monitor the Sleeper in the Pyramid. In the event of the Black Pharaoh awakening, the Concordes are to be used as nuclear bombers to attempt to contain the threat before it manifests on Earth.[third-party source needed]
Dassault Mirage 2000
The Dassault Mirage 2000-5 featured prominently in the 2005 French film Les Chevaliers du Ciel (The Knights of the Sky in literal translation, released as Sky Fighters in English-speaking territories).
de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver
The 1982 film Mother Lode made use of a Canadian-registered former United States Army de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver on floats as the neglected mount of character Jean Dupré (Nick Mancuso), who embarks on a search for a missing friend in northern British Columbia. During the filming the aircraft actually crashed while landing on a lake and sank. This accident was not in the original script, but the footage was retained and incorporated into the film's plot. The aircraft was recovered from the lake, repaired, restored and exported to the US.
The DHC-2 was central to the 1998 film Six Days Seven Nights. The actual flying in the film was done by its star, Harrison Ford, who enjoyed flying the Beaver so much that he bought one after filming was completed. Three flying Beavers and four non-flyable were used in the production, all detailed to exactly match one another.
de Havilland Comet
de Havilland DH.4
de Havilland DH.88 Comet
A pair of non-flying replica de Havilland DH.88 Comets, "G-ACSS", which was taxiable, and "G-ACSP", static, appeared in the 1991 Australian mini-series The Great Air Race, about the 1934 London to Melbourne MacRobertson Trophy Air Race. It is also known as Half a World Away. Comet G-ACSS, "Grosvenor House", race number 34, was the outright winner of the competition, while G-ACSP, "Black Magic", number 63, got lost, had to refuel with low-octane motoring petrol, and subsequently was forced out of the race when its engines burned up.
de Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide
The de Havilland Dragon Rapide VH-BGP portrayed Rapide, ZK-ACO, "Tainui", race number 60, in the 1991 Australian mini-series The Great Air Race, about the 1934 London to Melbourne MacRobertson Trophy Air Race. It is also known as Half a World Away.
A de Havilland DH-89A Dragon Rapide 6 featured in the episode "Out of Time" in Season 1 (2006) of the BBC sci-fi series Torchwood. The episode features a DH-89 carrying three occupants, landing at Cardiff airport in the present day after being mysteriously transported in time from 1953.
de Havilland Fox Moth
The 1951 novel Round the Bend by Nevil Shute is the story of two men, both British Licensed Aircraft Engineers. A large number of different aircraft types, both fictitious and real, feature in the book. The narrator and one of the protagonists of the story is Tom Cutter, and the novel details his efforts to establish an air charter business in Bahrain immediately after World War II. His first aircraft is a de Havilland Fox Moth; it is later joined by several other aircraft as the business expands, mostly fictitious, but among them a Percival Proctor.
de Havilland Hornet Moth
The novel Hornet Flight by Ken Follett is a thriller of the Resistance against the Nazi occupation of Denmark in World War II. In the novel a de Havilland Hornet Moth is used by the protagonists to fly from Denmark to the United Kingdom with information about a German radar system. The author drew inspiration from an actual flight that took place during World War II.
de Havilland Mosquito
In the 1954 British film The Purple Plain with Gregory Peck, a Canadian Second World War pilot crashes a de Havilland Mosquito on the Burma plain and struggles to survive. Two flying Mosquito PR.34s from No. 81 Squadron RAF, Seletar, Singapore, and a "disused" T.3, which arrived in pieces at the film site at Negombo, Ceylon to represent the wrecked aircraft, were used in filming, all with fictional serial numbers. Flt. Sgt. (later Squadron Leader) "Chick" Kirkham flew for the flight sequences shot from a Harvard camera ship. The film received two nominations for the British Academy Awards.
Mosquitos are featured prominently in The Adventures of Tintin 1958 comic book album The Red Sea Sharks. They drive the plot in various ways, first as war-surplus equipment offered for sale by an arms dealer early in the story, and later in combat.
De Havilland Mosquitos feature prominently in the 1964 film 633 Squadron alongside actors Cliff Robertson and Harry Andrews. The film was notable for its use of genuine, airworthy aircraft, rather than models, for many of the scenes.
Scott Summers and his younger brother Alex Summers, members of Marvel Comics' X-Men, are orphaned as children after parachuting out of their father's Mosquito when it is set ablaze by an alien attack.
de Havilland Puss Moth
A de Havilland Leopard Moth was painted as de Havilland DH.80 Puss Moth, VH-UQO, "My Hildegarde", race number 16, for the 1991 Australian mini-series The Great Air Race, about the 1934 London to Melbourne MacRobertson Air Race. It is also known as Half a World Away.
de Havilland Vampire
The Vampire is central to the plot of the 1975 novella, The Shepherd by British novelist Frederick Forsyth, the story of an RAF pilot attempting to fly home for Christmas from RAF Celle, Germany, to RAF Lakenheath on Christmas Eve 1957. The fact that the DH.100 was not fitted with ejection seats until about ten years later, and hence was a major challenge to bail out of, is an important element of the story.
Douglas DC-2, PH-AJU, "Uiver", race number 44, was depicted by Douglas DC-3, VH-ANR, in the 1991 Australian mini-series The Great Air Race, about the 1934 London to Melbourne MacRobertson Trophy Air Race. It is also known as Half a World Away.
- See also C-47 Skytrain / Dakota section for military versions of the DC-3
The chief character of the 1965 novel High Citadel by Desmond Bagley is an alcoholic former Korean War fighter pilot who flies a Douglas DC-3 for a small airline in a fictional Andean country in South America. He is forced at gunpoint by his co-pilot—a Communist agent—to crash-land the DC-3 at a remote abandoned mine in the Andes so that Communists planning a coup can capture and kill a politician travelling as a passenger.
A DC-3 starred in the 1982 British television series Airline. The aircraft used to depict the DC-3 of the fictional Ruskin Air Services was also used in the 1980s television series Tenko and the 2001 series Band of Brothers.
The 2016 film Rules Don't Apply features a DC-3 in two sequences on land and one in air. Howard Hughes pilots the DC-3 in a risky manner while two other passengers are aboard, shutting off the engines in-air and performing a "proper glide".
The Douglas DC-4 appears in the Ernest K. Gann novel The High and the Mighty. A former USAF Douglas C-54 Skymaster operated by Transocean Airlines portrayed the Douglas DC-4 in the 1954 film of the same name. Ironically, this airframe was lost over the Pacific on 28 March 1964 with an engine fire just as depicted in the film. There were no survivors of the nine "souls on board" and the wreckage was never found.
In the 1990 action film Die Hard 2, a Douglas DC-8 is given false landing instructions by terrorists and crash lands in a blizzard, resulting in fatalities to all on board. Industrial Light and Magic used a 23-foot long model to shoot the effects of the crash and explosion. Filming was done at a remote airstrip in the Mojave Desert of California. "However, shots of the passengers' frightened reactions to the initial impact, which had been shot on a set and originally cut into the movie, were so terrifying (made all the more authentic by preproduction research of Federal Aviation Administration test crashes and data from real aircraft crashes) that they were ultimately cut before the film's release." ILM constructed five DC-8 models for the production.
English Electric Lightning
The 1976 children's book Thunder and Lightnings by Jan Mark is about the relationship of two boys – otherwise outsiders – who share an interest in aeroplanes, in particular the English Electric Lightnings flown by the local squadron. The author was awarded the Carnegie Medal in 1978 the book.
A Eurocopter EC665 Tiger attack helicopter has a starring role in the 1995 James Bond film GoldenEye. On the 2002 Special Edition DVD, the director's commentary notes the aircraft's appearances in the film's Monte Carlo scenes were of a prototype Tiger provided by the French Navy along with its test platform, the frigate La Fayette (F710). Its other appearances throughout the rest of the film were special effects models.
Eurocopter AS332 Super Puma
Protagonist Lt. Harry Brubaker flew a McDonnell F2H Banshee in the 1953 James A. Michener novel The Bridges at Toko-Ri. In the subsequent 1954 film adaptation, his aircraft was changed to a Grumman F9F Panther.
The 1941 Warner Bros. film Dive Bomber showed Grumman F3Fs. F3F-2, BuNo 0989, '6-F-4', of VF-6, assigned to USS Enterprise, is one of the best-known F3F-2's due to the fact it is the aircraft that Fred MacMurray "crashed" in this movie. Filming began at NAS North Island, San Diego, California, on 20 March 1941.
F-4 Phantom II
The Vought F4U Corsair was a regularly featured aircraft of VMF-214 in the 1976–1978 television series Baa Baa Black Sheep, based on the experiences of Pappy Boyington. The series was later renamed Black Sheep Squadron.
F-5 Freedom Fighter/Tiger II
The sole Grumman XF5F-1 Skyrocket, which never entered production or squadron service, was incorporated as the primary mount for Blackhawk and the Blackhawk Squadron in wartime editions of the anthology series Military Comics published by Quality Comics, the first issue of which was published in August 1941. The long-running title was later acquired by DC Comics, with the squadron upgrading to more modern types.
Grumman F6F Hellcats appeared in the 1951 motion picture Flying Leathernecks directed by Nicholas Ray and starring John Wayne. One of the pilots who flew aircraft for the aerial scenes in the production was Marine Captain Phil De Groot who, after completing work on the film, flew in the Korean War and was wounded in action. The production was filmed at a small airstrip at Camp Pendleton, California. De Groot said, "They put some sand all over the strip, and some palm trees, and built a little pagoda there, simulating Guadalcanal..."
The Grumman F9F-2 Panther was prominently featured in the 1954 films Men of the Fighting Lady and The Bridges at Toko-Ri, although the protagonist instead flew a McDonnell F2H Banshee in the 1953 novel of the same name on which the latter film was based. Footage of the famous non-fatal F9F-5 Panther ramp strike accident that occurred on 23 June 1951 as Commander George Chamberlain Duncan attempted to land on USS Midway in BuNo 125228, in which the forward fuselage broke away and rolled down the deck, has been used in several films including Men of the Fighting Lady, Midway (1976), and The Hunt For Red October (1990).
A heat-seeking missile launched by a Grumman F11F Tiger that accidentally strikes the port area of Latakia, Syria, setting off secondary explosions, gives the Soviet Union the casus belli for preemptive nuclear strikes against the US in Alas, Babylon, the post-apocalyptic 1959 novel by Pat Frank.
The Grumman F-14 Tomcat was central to the film Top Gun. The aviation-themed film was such a success in creating interest in naval aviation that the U.S. Navy, which assisted with the film, set up recruitment desks outside some theaters. Producers paid the U.S. Navy $886,000 as reimbursement for flight time of aircraft in the film with an F-14 billed at $7,600 per flight hour.
Two F-14As of VF-84 from the USS Nimitz appeared in the 1980 film The Final Countdown, with four from the squadron in the 1996 release Executive Decision, the Jolly Rogers' final film appearance before being disestablished. The military legal drama TV series JAG (1995–2005) featured lead character Harmon Rabb, a Tomcat pilot-turned-lawyer, and the Tomcat was a central part of the Stephen Coonts novel Final Flight.
The McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle is one of the most recognized modern fighters; this has led to, or perhaps even been aided by, its common use in children's toys. Leader-1 of the Gobots turns into an F-15. The Transformers toy line and media have featured numerous characters who turn into F-15 Eagles, the most notable being the villain Starscream in 1984 and a group of similar Decepticons, the Seekers: Acid Storm, Thundercracker, Skywarp and Sunstorm. Although a completely unrelated design to the others, the Aerialbot Air Raid also disguises himself as an F-15.
The F-15 is featured in the 1997 film Air Force One. The Eagle was also shown in advertisements for the 2000 film Thirteen Days. The ads were withdrawn when it came to the attention of New Line Cinema that the F-15, which first flew in 1972, was out of place for a film set in 1962. This was problematic for New Line, who had termed the film a "by-the-numbers recreation" and "close to perfect." "Every ship, plane, truck and craft that moves in the film is absolutely authentic to the time period", said Steve Elzer, a spokesman for New Line. Mr. Elzer said the advertisement was created by an outside agency.
F-15Js and F-15DJs appear prominently in the 2004 film ULTRAMAN. The film's protagonist, Shunichi Maki, is a prestigious pilot of the F-15, and encounters the enigmatic Ultraman 'The Next' while flying the aircraft.
F-16 Fighting Falcon
The Falcon was one of the stars of the 1986 film Iron Eagle. The U.S. Air Force refused to assist with production of the film because it found the plot about a teenager flying an F-16 into a foreign country to be "a little off the wall".
The 1986 action-adventure romantic comedy film The Jewel of the Nile featured a brutal dictator's personal F-16 as the key element in the protagonists (played by Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas) escaping from a fortified town.
The McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet appears in the 1994 film Clear and Present Danger which was directed by Phillip Noyce. The jet drops a laser-guided bomb on a car at a drug lord's villa, being laser designated by a special forces team.
Barrett Tillman's 1992 novel The Sixth Battle (novel) includes two mythical Forrestal class aircraft carriers opposing a post-Soviet Russian fleet in the Indian Ocean. Both air wings include two F-18 squadrons that sustain heavy losses while repulsing the Eurasian Union assault on South Africa.
The F/A-18 Hornet was prominently featured in the 1996 film Independence Day and was filmed using F/A-18 squadrons belonging to the 3rd Marine Corps Aircraft Wing at El Toro and Miramar, in California.
The updated two-seater F/A-18F Super Hornet variant was featured in the 2001 film Behind Enemy Lines, directed by John Moore, and starring Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman. The plot centers around a Super Hornet being shot down over Bosnia.
Although the F-20 never entered service, in Barrett Tillman's 1991 novel Warriors, the Royal Saudi Air Force orders over a hundred of them. The RSAF assigns the fighter to select pilots who graduate from a localized version of Top Gun established by former USAF and USN pilots. The bigger plot of the novel involves the Saudi pilots joining a pan-Arab attack against Israel.
The F-22 Raptor is heavily featured in the 1998 Stephen Coonts novel Fortunes of War. This novel sees Japan invade Russia with a fictional airplane they developed called the "Zero". While not wanting to directly come to the aid of the Russians, the US lends a squadron of F-22 Raptors to the Russian Air Force and hires American pilots to fly as sworn-in members of the Russian military.
After appearing briefly in the 2003 Hulk film, the F-22 made its major Hollywood début in the 2007 film Transformers and its 2009 sequel as the form taken by the Decepticon character Starscream in addition to numerous USAF fighters that engaged during the initial and climactic battles. The film crew was allowed to film actual Raptors in flight, unlike previous computer-generated appearances, because of the military's support of director Michael Bay. The Raptors were filmed at Edwards Air Force Base. The real Raptor made its next big screen appearance in Iron Man, in which a Raptor call sign "Whiplash 1" lost its left wing during a mid-air collision with the Iron Man armor.
Toys released for Starscream were replica F-22 Raptor models. These models were reused for other characters in the line, like Thundercracker, Skywarp and Ramjet, that also turned into F-22 Raptors.
Although the live-action 2007 film Transformers made Starscream the best-known Transformer that turns into an F-22, there were other F-22 Transformers before it. For instance the 1997 Machine Wars versions of Megatron and Megaplex transformed into F-22s.
In the 2013 film Olympus Has Fallen, computer animation was used to depict F-22 Raptors intercepting an armed AC-130 attacking Washington, D.C.; two F-22s are shot down before a third hits the AC-130 with a missile, causing it to crash.
F-35 Lightning II
The first major film appearance of a representation of a Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II was 2006's Superman Returns. During this film, a pair of F-35A fighters escorted the modified Boeing 777 mothership for an experimental NASA spaceplane. This visualization was a combination of an actual cockpit and CGI for the aircraft in flight.
The Transformers character of the Autobot Breakaway and its redeco the Decepticon Thrust from the Revenge of the Fallen toy both disguise themselves as F-35s. Breakaway appears as a playable character in the 2009 Revenge of the Fallen video game.
F-35s are depicted in the 2012 film The Avengers. The film was originally intended to include real F-35s, but the United States Department of Defense objected to the depiction of F-22s and F-35s as under the control of S.H.I.E.L.D., a covert, "extra-governmental" organization whose loyalties are unclear, so CGI aircraft were substituted instead.
F-84 Thunderjet, Thunderstreak
For the 1955 biographical film The McConnell Story about ace Joseph C. McConnell, eight Republic F-84s of the 614th Fighter-Bomber Squadron donned dark blue paint with red stars to portray MiG-15s doing mock battle for the cameras with F-86 Sabres of the 366th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, both units based at Alexandria AFB, Louisiana. Air Defense Command headquarters notified its pilots in January 1955 that the mock MiGs would be operating over portions of the southwestern United States.
Desmond Bagley's 1965 novel High Citadel features F-86 Sabres, which make up the frontline equipment of the air force of the fictional South American country in which the book is set. There are four squadrons of Sabres; two are loyal to the current corrupt government; one is secretly loyal to a reformist politician who is returning from exile to take over the country; and the fourth is secretly loyal to Communist forces who are attempting to kill the politician. The latter part of the novel features a dogfight between a Sabre flown by one of the main characters—a CIA agent and former Sabre pilot who fought in the Korean War—and aircraft of the Communist squadron.
F-86F Sabres of the JASDF regularly feature in the Showa era of kaiju films produced by Toho, with the aircraft appearing most prominently during a sequence in Godzilla where two Sabres attack the titular monster after he leaves the devastated city of Tokyo.
In the 1981 dystopian film The Last Chase, retired pilot J.G. Williams (played by Burgess Meredith) and his F-86 Sabre play the antagonist in attempting to track down and destroy the protagonist Franklyn Hart (played by Lee Majors). After becoming sympathetic to Hart's cause, Williams sacrifices himself in a kamikaze-style attack against a laser installation to protect Hart.
A Sabre plays an important role in the 1999 film comedy Blast from the Past which stars Brendan Fraser and Christopher Walken. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, a Sabre pilot is forced to eject over a residential area in the U.S. and the aircraft just happens to crash onto the house of an eccentric father who is sheltering with his family in a large underground bomb shelter he has constructed. Believing the crash to be the impact of a nuclear bomb, the family remain underground for 35 years.
There is a short scenario in the 1999 animated action adventure, The Iron Giant, in which the U.S. military sends out three F-86 Sabres in attempt to "rescue" Hogarth by shooting down the giant who was holding Hogarth in his hands. The Sabres begin their chase when the giant runs away from the town, but then encounters by a school bus, causing him to trip and fall of a cliff, with the Sabre pilots assuming that he had fallen to his death. But then soon afterwards, he ascends into the air due to rockets implanted in his feet. The Sabres then pursue the giant and have trouble following him, until finally shooting him down with an unguided missile.
A pair of McDonnell F-101B Voodoos fly over the Russian submarine Спрут at the end of the 1966 comedy The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, directed by Norman Jewison. Although the film is set in New England, it was filmed on the West Coast and the fighters were from the 84th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, based at the now-closed Hamilton Air Force Base, California.
Gen. Charles "Chuck" Yeager's 10 December 1963 flying accident during a test flight in a modified rocket-boosted Lockheed NF-104A Starfighter was featured in The Right Stuff motion picture. The aircraft used for filming was a standard German Luftwaffe F-104G, flying with its wingtip fuel tanks removed; it otherwise lacked any of the NF-104A's modifications, most visibly the rocket engine pod at the base of the vertical stabilizer.
The F-104 is featured heavily in the 1964 film The Starfighters, directed by Will Zens and starring future U.S. Congressman Bob Dornan. The film later appeared on the Comedy Central series Mystery Science Theater 3000 as the subject of episode #612.
Footage of an F-104 featured in the opening scenes of the science-fiction motion picture The Bamboo Saucer (1968), playing the role of an experimental jet called the 'X-109' whose pilot Fred Norwood (John Ericson) encounters a UFO while carrying out a test-flight.
An F-104 made regular appearances on the 1960s television sitcom I Dream of Jeannie. Leading man Major Anthony Nelson (Larry Hagman), a pilot in the U.S. Air Force, was often to be seen landing and climbing out of the cockpit of an F-104A. That particular aircraft – 56-817 – later became part of the collection of the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island, Oahu, Hawaii.
Italian Air Force F-104 Starfighters starred in several episodes of the 1989 Italian public television RAI Due fiction series Aquile, which tells the story of a group of Italian Air Force cadets going through training in the Accademia Aeronautica of Pozzuoli (near Naples).
The German controversy over the Starfighter's contract and its toll on pilots inspired a rock concept album by Robert Calvert of Hawkwind, called Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters. It repeated the commonplace grim joke in Germany that the cheapest way of obtaining a Starfighter was to buy a small patch of land and simply wait.
Fairchild UC-61 Forwarder
A former US Army Air Force Fairchild UC-61A Forwarder makes a brief appearance to represent the Noorduyn UC-64A Norseman, in which big band leader Glenn Miller disappeared in December 1944, in the 1954 Universal International Pictures film The Glenn Miller Story, painted in USAAF colours.
The same aircraft was also featured in a 1964 episode of Michael Bentine's BBC TV comedy programme, It's a Square World, about a shoestring airline with a staff of two. Filming took a day at Elstree Aerodrome, Herts. In 1965, it appeared in an episode of the ITV programme, The Moonraker.
Fairchild Hiller FH-227
When Uruguayan Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Uruguaya) Flight 571's Fairchild Hiller FH-227D, T-571 crashed in the Argentine Andes on 13 October 1972, it began a tale of amazing human survival for the 16 of the 45 on board who were rescued over two months later, after two passengers walked to civilization. The survivors' story was published in Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors, a critically acclaimed book by Piers Paul Read, in 1974. When the story was filmed in 1992 as Alive, directed by Frank Marshall, a similar FH-227 was marked as the doomed aircraft for some shots while Industrial Light and Magic depicted the crash using an eight-foot breakaway model, designed to shear at mid-fuselage. The nose and tail were heavily reinforced while a non-reinforced midsection was built up of plastic, foil, wires and metals so that when it broke it would have the layered metal look of a real airframe breaking up. A cable system was rigged to fly the model, which was on an aligned track, into the miniature mountain, hitting the "sweet spot" on the fuselage, a weakened area barely three inches long.
The Fairey Fox I, G-ACXO, race number 35, which participated in the 1934 London to Melbourne MacRobertson Trophy Air Race, was portrayed in the 1991 Australian mini-series The Great Air Race, also known as Half a World Away, by an unlikely Boeing Stearman.
Focke-Wulf Fw 190
Fw 190s feature in the French graphic novel The Grand Duke (2012) written by Yann, illustrated by Romain Hugault and depicting aerial combat between the Soviet air force and the German Luftwaffe over the Eastern Front in the latter stages of the Second World War.
A Focke-Wulf Fw Triebflügel aircraft was featured in the 2011 American superhero film Captain America: The First Avenger, with the supervillain Red Skull making his first escape in this rocket-aircraft. The scene accurately depicts the rocket and ramjet start and initial climb out of the Triebflügel. Historically, the Triebflügel had only reached wind-tunnel testing when the Allied forces reached the production facilities, and no complete prototype was ever built. CGI vehicles designed for the film were based on real historical aircraft such as the Triebflügel.
A scarlet-painted Fokker Dr.I triplane featured in the DC comic Enemy Ace and was the mount of the central character Baron Hans von Hammer, a German fighter pilot in the First World War. Debuting in 1965, the comic was written by Robert Kanigher and drawn by Joe Kubert and the character has been revived several times since by other writers & artists.
A pair of Dr.Is are featured in the 1966 film epic The Blue Max, directed by John Guillermin and based on the 1964 novel of the same name by Jack D. Hunter. In the film, rival pilots Stachel (George Peppard) and von Klugermann (Jeremy Kemp) try to out-do one another in a test of nerves by flying their triplanes under a bridge. The scene was filmed at Formoy Viaduct in Ireland and stunt pilot Derek Piggott was obliged to fly a Dr.I under the bridge, through either the wide or narrow spans, a total of 32 times.
John Wayne was depicted piloting a Ford Trimotor in several episodes of the 1932 serial film Hurricane Express. A Ford Trimotor appeared in Chapter 1 of Flash Gordon (Universal, 1936). Director Howard Hawks' 1939 film Only Angels Have Wings features a Trimotor that catches fire after a freak accident with a condor, eventually performing an emergency landing on an airfield. A real and a model Trimotor were used for the sequence.
The Government Aircraft Factories (GAF) Nomad, an Australian-built twin-engine STOL (Short Take-Off and Landing) aircraft, was a regular feature on the successful Australian TV series The Flying Doctors which aired on the Nine Network 1986–1993. The GAF Nomad had a controversial history with a high accident rate. Of the 172 that were constructed, 32 were involved in major hull-loss accidents, resulting in 76 fatalities including GAF test pilot Stuart Pearce (father of actor Guy Pearce).
Gee Bee Racer
Gloster Gladiators feature in the Second World War novel Signed with their Honour, written in 1942 by Australian author and war correspondent James Aldridge. The novel is set during the Axis invasion of Greece in 1940–41 and the central character is a British pilot named John Quayle who flies Gladiators with No. 80 Squadron RAF. An attempt in 1943 to make a film based on the novel was abandoned when two Gladiators were destroyed in a mid-air collision during the production.
A privately owned Gloster Meteor TT20, N94749 appeared in the two-part 1976 episode, "The Feminum Mystique", of the first season of the Wonder Woman television series, as the experimental "XPJ-1" fighter which is stolen by the Nazis. This airframe has been donated to the Edwards Air Force Base Flight Test Center museum. The episode title was borrowed from Betty Friedan's 1963 book of a similar title, which is widely credited with sparking the beginning of second-wave feminism in the US.
The 1977 John Frankenheimer film Black Sunday features the Goodyear Blimp as the vehicle which Black September terrorists plan to hijack and attack the Super Bowl, played in the Orange Bowl in Miami.
A Gotha G.IV appears in the 2006 First World War aerial film Flyboys directed by Tony Bill and starring James Franco. To depict the bomber, the producers used both computer-generated imagery and a replica of the forward fuselage of a Gotha, now displayed in a museum at RAF Manston.
Grumman G-21 Goose
A Grumman G-21 Goose, painted red, white and black, named "Cutter's Goose", was the main transport of protagonist Jake Cutter (played by Stephen Collins) in the early 1982–83 adventure television series, Tales of the Gold Monkey, and used to transport Cutter and his allies among various south Pacific islands in the late 1930s setting of the show.
Several short stories by author Louis L'Amour feature pilot Turk Madden flying a Grumman Goose during World War II or the events shortly before and after. Most of these stories are featured in the collection Night Over the Solomons.
Grumman HU-16 Albatross
The 1964 film Flight from Ashiya, starring Richard Widmark, Yul Brynner and George Chakiris, follows the crews of two Grumman HU-16 Albatross of the USAF Air Rescue Service as they attempt to rescue the survivors of a Japanese shipwreck in the North China Sea.
Grumman J2F Duck
A Grumman J2F Duck was the primary plot device of the 1971 United Artists film Murphy's War, starring Peter O'Toole as the title character. Stunt flying was done by Frank Tallman. The J2F-6 which starred in the film, BuNo 33587, afterwards resided in the Weeks Air Museum in Florida, USA (now the Fantasy of Flight Museum).
Grumman TBF / General Motors TBM Avenger
The 1944 film Wing and a Prayer is the fictional account of a torpedo squadron equipped with Grumman TBF Avengers in early 1942. The movie culminates when the squadron fights at the Battle of Midway.
A group of Avengers appears in the opening scene of Steven Spielberg's 1977 sci-fi film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In the scene, a group of officials arrive at an isolated cantina in Mexico's Sonora Desert where the five Avengers of 'Flight-19' have mysteriously appeared overnight. Flight 19 was the infamous training flight of five TBMs that vanished without trace after taking off from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on 5 December 1945. One of the TBMs featured in the scene was the TBM-3E (BuNo 53503) now owned and flown by the Rocky Mountain Wing of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF).
HAL HF-24 Marut
The Bollywood war film Border is a fictionalized account of the 1971 Battle of Longewala between India and Pakistan. In the film a formation of supersonic HAL HF-24 Marut fighter-bombers of the Indian Air Force bomb Pakistani armoured ground forces consisting of 300 tanks and Armored Personnel Carriers.
The Gobots character Royal-T and the Transformers Aerialbot named Slingshot disguise themselves as a Harrier. In the Revenge of the Fallen Decepticon character Dirge also became a Harrier. This design was later used for the Decepticon Jetblade.
A prototype Harrier was used in the TV series The Saint (1962–1969) in Season 5, Episode 13 Flight Plan (aired June 25, 1967). In the show Simon Templar has to retrieve a prototype aircraft called the Osprey that was stolen by its test pilot and flown to a middle eastern country. The Osprey is portrayed by a Hawker Siddeley P.1127 and a Hawker Siddeley Kestrel, both early versions of the Harrier.
Two AV-8B Harrier IIs were used in the 1994 film True Lies. The aircraft was prominent in the latter part of the film, being used by Arnold Schwarzenegger's character to rescue his daughter from terrorists in a Miami high rise and shoot down their helicopter.
In the 2000 film Battlefield Earth, a U.S. Air Base with 1000-year old Harriers, is discovered. The primitive tribesmen use a flight simulator to train themselves to fly and later use the Harriers to attack and destroy the Alien's city.
The Harrier was one of the aircraft types featured in the short-lived 1982 BBC-TV series Squadron which was a drama about a fictional Royal Air Force unit, 373 Squadron. The unit was a Rapid Deployment Force and featured an unusual mix of aircraft including Harriers, C-130 Hercules and Puma helicopters. The series ran for 10 episodes.
Handley Page Victor
The 1963 British film The Iron Maiden features a Handley Page Victor bomber as a fictional supersonic passenger-carrying airliner designed by the protagonist. At the end of the film, this fictional airliner is named after the eponymous traction engine.
Along with the Supermarine Spitfire, the Hawker Hurricane is very strongly linked to the Battle of Britain in summer 1940, where the Royal Air Force fought the German Luftwaffe over the skies of Britain for air superiority. As such it has been featured in many works of fiction related to the Battle of Britain.
A number of Hawker Hurricanes, including the last one built, registered G-AMAU, "The Last of the Many", and five provided by the Portuguese Air Force, which flew the type until mid-1954, were utilized in the making of the Templar Productions Ltd. production provisionally titled "Hawks in the Sun", based on the book What Are Your Angels Now? by Wing Commander A. J. C. Pelham Groom, then released in March 1952 as Angels One Five.
Hurricanes were featured in the 1956 British film Reach For the Sky starring Kenneth More and directed by Lewis Gilbert and based on the biography of Douglas Bader by Paul Brickhill. One Hurricane which featured in a static role in the film was the Mk. I, P2617, now preserved at the Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon. Another, which flew in the aerial scenes, was the Mk-IIc, LF363, now operated by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight based at Conningsby, UK.
A Hawker Hurricane was the fighter flown by the Second World War character Johnny Redburn in the long-running British comic strip Johnny Red which was published in Battle Picture Weekly 1977–1987. The storyline featured Redburn, having been discharged from the RAF and joining the Merchant Navy, commandeers a CAM ship's Hurricane during an attack on a convoy (the official pilot being incapacitated), and ends up stranded in Soviet Russia at the height of the war against the Germans in which he fights alongside Russian pilots. The comic was written by Tom Tully and illustrated by Joe Colquhoun, John Cooper and Carlos Pino.
The Hawker Hurricane Mk. I features as the aircraft for the fictional RAF pilots depicted in the 1983 novel Piece of Cake by Derek Robinson. The 1988 miniseries based on the novel featured Supermarine Spitfires instead of Hurricanes.
The 2006 novel Blue Man Falling by Frank Barnard also featured Hurricanes.
Heinkel He 111
Hiller UH-12 / OH-23 Raven
A Hiller UH-12 appears in the 1951 sci-fi film When Worlds Collide directed by George Pal and based on the 1933 novel of the same name. The helicopter is used to render assistance to flood-stranded refugees and to rescue a young boy stranded on a rooftop.
A Hiller UH-12E suffered a tail-rotor strike during filming of the 1978 film Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Footage of the crash was used in the film. The helicopter pilot and actors on board escaped without serious injury, but the helicopter was destroyed.
The Zeppelin LZ 129 Hindenburg was the subject of the 1975 film The Hindenburg, which speculated sabotage as the cause of the 1937 disaster at Naval Air Station Lakehurst, New Jersey. The studio model of the airship is now displayed in the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
Hispano Aviación HA-1112
Twenty-eight former Spanish Air Force Hispano Aviación HA-1112s were used in the 1969 film Battle of Britain as "stand-ins" to depict Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters of the Luftwaffe, 27 single-seat M1Ls, and one two-seat M4L. Eighteen were flown, six could taxi, the rest used to dress sets. In the mid-1960s at the time aircraft began to be collected for the film to be made, the only genuine Bf 109s known to exist were unairworthy examples in museums such as the Imperial War Museum and the South African National Museum of Military History or in private hands; whereas the HA-1112 was just being retired from service with the Spanish Air Force and several airframes in flyable condition and some 50 dismantled Buchóns were up for disposal bid. The four airframes acquired by the Confederate Air Force just prior to the start of filming "were the first Buchóns in truly civilian ownership, early members of the fledgling warbird preservation movement."
Several Buchóns were painted in RAF markings for the 1969 Italian "macaroni combat" war film Eagles Over London, also known as Battle Squadron and Battle Command (Italian: La battaglia d'Inghilterra), directed by Enzo G. Castellari. "In 1979, much of the footage shot for Eagles Over London appeared in the dire George Peppard film Hell to Victory".
Three of the Buchóns were "hastily converted into P-51B Mustangs for the 1970 film Patton. This involved the attachment of a large Mustang-esque fibreglass air intake to the underside of the fuselage."
Buchóns, again depicting Bf 109s, made an appearance on the 1980 ABC-network TV sci-fi series Galactica 1980, a short-lived spin-off from the original Battlestar Galactica series. The heroes travel back in time in their space Vipers to Earth during the Second World War and encounter the Luftwaffe. The footage of Buchóns consisted of out-takes from the 1969 film Battle of Britain.
One Buchón, which had taxied in The Battle of Britain, flew in the 1988 LWT miniseries Piece of Cake, and was one of three flyable HA-1112s used to depict Bf 109s in the 1990 film Memphis Belle. The Piece of Cake Buchón also appeared in the 1991 ITV television miniseries A Perfect Hero.
A former training airframe that did not appear in the Battle of Britain but which was restored to Bf 109G-10 standard in the early 1990s, and operated by the Old Flying Machine Company, appeared in the 1995 telemovie Over Here starring Martin Clunes.
Hughes 500 / OH-6 Cayuse / MH-6 Little Bird / MD 500 Defender
A Hughes 500C takes part in the 1973 telemovie Birds Of Prey, in which a traffic reporter, played by David Janssen, gets into an aerial duel with a gang of bank robbers, who have their own getaway helicopter, an Aérospatiale Lama.
"240-Robert" is an American television series that ran on ABC from 1979 to 1981. The series was about a specialized unit of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD), that used four–wheel drive vehicles and a Hughes 500 helicopter.
In the 1980s television series Magnum, P.I., Thomas Magnum's friend and fellow war veteran Theodore Calvin (known as T.C.) flies a civilian Hughes 500D as a tourist charter Island Hoppers business.
Hughes H-4 Hercules ("Spruce Goose")
Also known as the Hercules HK-1 and "The Spruce Goose", this gigantic flying boat has made a number of appearances in fiction. The aircraft was central to the plot of the 1987 Hanna-Barbera animated film Yogi Bear and the Magical Flight of the Spruce Goose.
In the 1988 biopic Tucker: The Man and His Dream, a pivotal meeting between automaker Preston Tucker and Howard Hughes takes place in front of the Hercules, within its hangar, where Hughes briefly tells Tucker that whether the Hercules flies is not the point, as well as how to circumvent the "establishment" and Senator Ferguson.
In the 1991 adventure film The Rocketeer, hero Cliff Secord uses a large-scale model of the Hughes H-4 Hercules to escape some eager federal agents and Howard Hughes himself. After Secord glides the model to safety, Hughes expresses relief that the craft would actually fly.
The production and sole test flight of the H-4 Hercules was depicted in the 2004 Martin Scorsese film The Aviator. A flying large-scale model was used for the film, and it is now displayed next to the original aircraft at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.
In the video game L.A. Noire (2011) the player is able to enter the aircraft. Additionally, exterior and interior views of the H-4 Hercules aircraft are featured in the opening introduction of the DLC mission, "Nicholson Electroplating".
The aircraft was the center of a con job in TNT's drama series Leverage, Episode 5.01 "The Very Big Bird Job", which aired 15 July 2012, involved "selling" the Hercules. Part of the con involves convincing the mark that Hughes secretly gave the aircraft stealth capabilities.
The 7 July 1946 maiden flight of the Hughes XF-11 reconnaissance design which ended in a crash in Beverly Hills, California, severely injuring pilot Howard Hughes was depicted in a 1977 telemovie, The Amazing Howard Hughes (with a P-38 Lightning standing in for the XF-11), and again in the 2004 Martin Scorsese film, The Aviator, with the aircraft depicted by a mock-up with flight rendered through CGI.
Junkers Ju 52/3m
Two Ju 52s appeared in one of the early scenes in the 2008 Second World War film Valkyrie directed by Bryan Singer and starring Tom Cruise. One aircraft was painted in a Luftwaffe scheme, the other in an all-silver finish.
Junkers Ju 87
The 1941 Nazi propaganda film Stukas, produced by Karl Ritter, described the wartime exploits of a squadron of Junkers Ju 87 "Stuka" dive bombers and their pilots during the Invasion of France during World War II.
Kaman SH-2 Seasprite
Three SH-2F Seasprites from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (Light) 31 from NAS North Island in San Diego are featured prominently near the end of the 1977 film Airport '77. The aircraft include Bureau Numbers 148186, 149036, and 150185.
A Stinson L-5A Sentinel was featured in the 1969 Mike Nichols film Catch-22 as the aircraft that a pilot commits suicide in after accidentally killing another squadron member with his propeller. The title of Joseph Heller's 1961 satirical novel of the same name has entered the lexicon.
The one-of-a-kind Lamson L-106 Alcor pressurized high-altitude research sailplane played a key role in the 1977 book Sierra Sierra, by John Joss. In the novel, Marine fighter pilot Mark Lewis saw his best friend, John O'Halloran, killed on the last day of the Vietnam War. When he travels to Seattle, Washington, to explain O'Halloran's death to his family he discovers that O'Halloran's father and sister are engaged in building a research glider, the Alcor, in which O'Halloran was to have set world records for altitude and distance, when he returned from Vietnam. Instead Lewis takes O'Halloran's place in the project, while trying to put his own life back together after the war, flying the Alcor in the mountain wave of the Sierra Nevada.
Lockheed Constellations of Trans World Airlines were depicted in the 2004 Martin Scorsese film The Aviator. The preserved Super Constellation, "Star of America", N6937C, of the Airline History Museum was filmed at San Bernardino International Airport, California, for this Howard Hughes biopic. A fleet of grounded Connies was rendered in CGI.
Lockheed C-141 Starlifter
In Jimmie H. Butler's 1991 novel Red Lightning, Black Thunder, the U.S. deploys a Lockheed C-141 Starlifter out of Hawaii in a mission to launch ASAT missiles against a Soviet network of killer satellites.
Lockheed P-3 Orion
The Hainan Island incident was referenced in the television series JAG, in the 2001 episode "Dog Robber" during season 7. In this episode based on the real incident, a U.S. Navy Lockheed EP-3 Orion collides in mid-air with a Chinese fighter. The EP-3 crew then make an emergency landing at Fuzhou Airbase in China. The crew and aircraft are detained as in the real incident. A U.S. delegation led by Admiral Thomas Boone flies to Fuzhou Airbase and secures the release of the crew, but the aircraft remains in Chinese custody. Against orders a Navy Lieutenant flies into Chinese airspace and destroys the EP-3 before the Chinese have a chance to study it in detail. This leads to him being court-martialed.
Lockheed Model 12 Electra Junior
A Lockheed Model 12 Electra Junior, registration NC17342 appears in the 1940 film Flight Angels as an experimental aircraft called the "Stratosphere". This particular aircraft also appears in the films Rosalie, Nick Carter, Master Detective, Secret Service of the Air, and Murder Over New York.
A Lockheed Model 12 Electra Junior appeared as the French airliner in the climactic final scene from the 1942 film Casablanca. (The aircraft carries the Air France seahorse logo, although Air France did not operate the type.) A "cut-out" stood in for a real aircraft in many shots.
A vintage flying Lockheed Hudson IV appeared in the 2005 Second World War film The Great Raid directed by John Dahl. The film was based on the book by William Breuer. The Hudson now resides in the Temora Aviation Museum in Australia.
Auric Goldfinger's private aircraft in the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger is a Lockheed L-1329 JetStar. Although the real aircraft had "Auric Enterprises" on the nose, the model used in some shots did not.
A Lockheed JetStar was used by Eric Qualen's team in the film Cliffhanger, callsign 680TT, where it is used in an attempted aerial robbery from a US Treasury aircraft; the aircraft is damaged by gunfire and consequently crashes in the Colorado Rockies.
Lockheed L-1011 TriStar
Several Lockheed L-1011 TriStars were depicted in the 1990 action film Die Hard 2, with two large models constructed by Industrial Light and Magic "flown" on wires for the cameras through "storm clouds" made of non-toxic vaporized mineral oil. Filming was done at a remote airstrip in the Mojave Desert in California. Whipped by the Santa Ana winds coming through the Tehachapi Pass into the valley, the smoke effect contributed convincing heavy weather to the shots.
Although a Boeing 777 is mentioned as aircraft for the ill-fated Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 central to the ABC television series Lost, the fuselage used to represent the wreckage on the beach was a Lockheed L-1011-385 formerly operated by Delta Airlines.
Lockheed T-33 T-Bird
A Lockheed T-33, the trainer version of the Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star, appeared in the 1955 science-fiction film This Island Earth. In one of the early scenes of the film, the hero scientist Cal (played by Rex Reason) is about to land his T-33 at the desert airfield near his government-owned laboratory when the aircraft becomes ensnared by some unknown alien force. The film achieved renewed fame when it was spoofed in the 1996 comedy Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie.
In 1976, Francis Gary Powers' 1970 autobiography, "Operation Overflight: A Memoir of the U-2 Incident", was turned into a 1976 telemovie, Francis Gary Powers: The True Story of the U-2 Spy Incident, with Lee Majors in the role of Powers. The same incident involving the U-2 is also recreated in the 2015 Steven Spielberg film Bridge of Spies.
The Lockheed U-2 made an important appearance in the 2000 Beacon Pictures docudrama Thirteen Days as the aircraft that initially detected Soviet missiles being deployed in Cuba in October 1962, and was later shot down, killing pilot Maj. Rudolf Anderson, Jr. (played by Chip Esten), the only combat casualty of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
A Stinson Reliant stood in for Lockheed Vega DL-1 Special, G-ABGK, c/n 155, "Puck", race number 36, in the 1991 Australian mini-series The Great Air Race, about the 1934 London to Melbourne MacRobertson Trophy Air Race. It is also known as Half a World Away.
McDonnell Douglas DC-10
In Michael Crichton's Airframe, one of the characters uses the American Airlines Flight 191 crash involving a DC-10 to describe how a highly publicized accident can destroy a good airplane's reputation because "a media industry that has grown hostile and shallow with the ascendancy of television always jumps to the wrong conclusion."
Messerschmitt Bf 108
Two Messerschmitt Bf 108 Taifuns depicted Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters in the 1962 film The Longest Day, and the type substituted for unavailable Luftwaffe fighters again in the 1964 film 633 Squadron.
Messerschmitt Bf 109
27 Spanish Hispano Aviación HA-1112 M1L 'Buchon' single-engined fighters, Messerschmitt Bf 109s built under license in Spain, were used in the 1969 film Battle of Britain. The Buchons were altered to look more like correct Bf 109Es, adding mock machine guns and cannon, redundant tailplane struts, and removing the rounded wingtips.
A computer-generated Bf 109 also appears in the 2002 war film Hart's War which starred Colin Farrell and Bruce Willis and was based on the 1999 novel of the same name by John Katzenbach. In the film, a Bf 109 engages in a dogfight with a P-51 above the POW camp where the film is set and the former is shot down, crashing into one of the camp's guard-posts.
Messerschmitt Me 262
The American hard rock band Blue Öyster Cult portrayed a Messerschmitt Me 262A on the cover of their third album Secret Treaties (1974). The album also contains a song, "Me 262", written from the point of view of a Luftwaffe pilot on a bomber interception mission in April 1945.
In the 2000 alternate history novel Fox on the Rhine, by Douglas Niles and Michael Dobson, the Luftwaffe, under Adolf Galland's command, prioritizes the development of the Me 262. A number of squadrons are used to maul a heavy bomber raid in concert with other propeller-based fighters, but worker sabotage of the engines affect their operational performance.
In the second and last issue of the 2001 DC Vertigo miniseries Enemy Ace: War In Heaven, lead character Hans von Hammer leads a Luftwaffe flight against USAAF bomber formations with him piloting a scarlet red Me 262 that has no swastika tail insignia. Seeing the hopelessness of the war, he and his men later destroy the remaining 262s in their control before surrendering to a U.S. Army unit.
As was common in the 1950s, "MiGs" (presumably −15s, as the story is set in Korea) appear in the 1956 novel The Hunters by James Salter about USAF fighter pilots. As was common in the 1950s, the MiGs are portrayed by Republic F-84F Thunderstreaks in the 1958 film The Hunters
MiGs feature in the 2007 novel Ascent by UK author Jed Mercurio, a fictional work about a Soviet pilot Yefgeni Yeremin covertly flying MiGs during the Korean War. The book was later adapted into a graphic novel in 2011, illustrated by Wesley Robins.
Mil Mi-24 'Hind'
The helicopter is used extensively in the 2005 film The 9th Company, which fictionally depicts the Battle for Hill 3234 where Soviet Army paratroopers defend their post against Mujahideen fighters. It was especially employed to eliminate the Mujahideen's last wave of attack in the film's climactic battle.
The 2007 film Charlie Wilson's War portrays the Mi-24 as used in the Soviet war in Afghanistan. Mujahideen use FIM-92 Stinger missiles supplied through US Congressman Charlie Wilson's efforts to shoot down Soviet Mi-24s.
In the 2013 Bruce Willis action film A Good Day to Die Hard, a Mil Mi-26T, leased from the Belarus Ministry for Emergency Situations and painted in washable military camouflage, was used in various scenes.
For the 1991 Australian mini-series The Great Air Race, about the 1934 London to Melbourne MacRobertson Trophy Air Race, also known as Half a World Away, Miles Falcon, VH-AAT, played Miles M.3 Falcon, G-ACTM, the prototype fitted with extra fuel tanks, race number 31.
The Mitsubishi A5M Type 96 fighter, known to the Allies as the 'Claude', features prominently in the 2013 Studio Ghibli animated feature The Wind Rises directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The film is a semi-fictionalised lyrical portrayal of the famous Japanese aircraft designer Jiro Horikoshi and depicts him designing the A5M in the 1930s.
Moller M400 Skycar
The Moller M400 Skycar was featured in the 2010 telemovie The Jensen Project with LeVar Burton and Kellie Martin. It also appears in Clive Cussler's novel Atlantis Found, where it is flown by Dirk Pitt.
The Morane-Saulnier MS.230 featured as the fictional 'new monoplane' in the 1966 World War I epic The Blue Max and was the aircraft in which the central character Bruno Stachel (George Peppard) meets his demise. Peppard purchased the aircraft and took it back to the U.S. where it joined the collection of the San Diego Aerospace Museum. The plot, which has Stachel wringing-out a new design until it sheds its wings, is based on the experience with the late-war Fokker E.V, a parasol design, three of six of which crashed within a week of being delivered to Jasta 6 in August 1918. Grounded for investigation, the problem was traced to shoddy workmanship at the Mecklenburg factory where defective wood spars, water damage to glued parts, and pins carelessly splintering the members instead of securing them were discovered. Upon return to service two months later, the design was renamed the Fokker D.VIII in an effort to avoid the type's reputation as a killer.
An authentic Nieuport 28 was provided and flown by Frank Tallman, a Hollywood film pilot, for The Twilight Zone episode "The Last Flight" in which a World War I Royal Flying Corps pilot is transported in time in a cloud to the 1960s. Norton Air Force Base, California, was the filming site. The episode first aired on 5 February 1960.
North American AT-6 Texan
An SNJ-5 Texan, a naval variant of the AT-6, appeared in several television productions. It was modified to play the role of a Japanese Zero in the TV series Baa Baa Black Sheep (1977) and the mini-series Pearl (1979) and it played the roles of both a Zero and an SBD Dauntless in the 1987 mini-series War and Remembrance.
North American BT-9 / BT-16
North American BT-9 and BT-16 basic trainers were filmed at Randolph Field, Texas, for the 1941 Paramount Pictures film I Wanted Wings, based on the 1937 novel of the same title by 1st Lt. Beirne Lay, Jr.
North American X-15
On 5 November 1959, a small engine fire forced pilot Scott Crossfield to make an emergency landing on Rosamond Dry Lake, Edwards Air Force Base, California, in a North American X-15. Not designed to land with fuel on board, the X-15 landed with a heavy load of propellants and broke its back, grounding it for three months. Footage of this accident was later incorporated in The Outer Limits episode "The Premonition", first aired 9 January 1965.
The rocket craft is also the subject of the 1961 Essex Productions film X-15, a fictionalized account of the program, directed by Richard Donner in his first outing, and narrated by USAF Brigadier General (Reserve) James Stewart in an uncredited role.
Paramount Pictures' 1953 film, The War of the Worlds incorporates color footage of a Northrop YB-49 test flight, originally used in one of Paramount's Popular Science theatrical shorts. In the George Pal film, the Flying Wing is used to drop an atomic bomb on the invading Martians.
O-1 Bird Dog
The 1990 film Air America, which loosely recounted the exploits of the Central Intelligence Agency proprietary airline in Southeast Asia in the 1960s and early 1970s, featured Cessna O-1 Bird Dogs.
U.S. Navy Curtiss O2C-2 Helldivers from Floyd Bennett Field were used in filming King Kong in 1933, but as Carl Denham observed, "Oh no, it wasn't the airplanes. It was beauty killed the beast." Writer and director Merian C. Cooper, who was shot down in World War I in an Airco DH.4 and made a prisoner of war by the Germans, and who later flew with the Kosciuszko Squadron, portrayed the pilot who kills Kong, while director Ernest B. Schoedsack plays his gunner, in uncredited roles. In the 2005 remake of the film, director Peter Jackson plays one of the gunners while the pilot is portrayed by Rick Baker, who played Kong (in a rubber suit) in the 1976 remake.
The 1965 film Von Ryan's Express begins with main protagonist, USAAF Colonel Joseph Ryan (Frank Sinatra), crash landing a P-38 Lightning in World War II Italy and being held as a prisoner of war.
In the 1992 action film Aces: Iron Eagle III, the main character, Brig. Gen. Chappy Sinclair (Louis Gossett Jr.), pilots a P-38J as part a mission to field old Second World War airshow aircraft against a drug cartel in Peru. The aircraft, registration N38BP, came from the Planes of Fame museum.
In the 1942 John Wayne film Flying Tigers, real Curtiss P-40 Warhawks are featured. A New York Times critic called the P-40s "the true stars" of the film. Republic Studios also built replicas for the film due to material shortages during the war. These can be identified by the fairings hiding the cylinder heads of the automotive V-8 engines installed in them, and the lack of elevators on the horizontal stabilizer.
Future U.S. President Ronald Reagan appears in the Recognition of the Japanese Zero Fighter (training film, 1942) as a young pilot learning to recognize the difference between a P-40 and a Japanese Zero. In this film Reagan mistakes a friend's P-40 for a Japanese Zero and tries to shoot it down. In the end, Reagan gets a chance to shoot down a real Zero.
In the 1945 film God is My Co-Pilot, based on Robert Lee Scott, Jr's book about the Flying Tigers and the USAAF pilots who replaced them in the Republic of China and Burma, a mix of real P-40 and "film" P-40s are featured.
A P-40E appeared in the 1967 World War II film Tobruk directed by Arthur Hiller and starring Rock Hudson and George Peppard. The P-40, a Mk 1a Kittyhawk s/n 18796, had formerly served in the RCAF, and later was used in the filming of Tora! Tora! Tora!. The aircraft is now owned by the War Eagles Air Museum in Mexico.
A P-40 featured in the 1973 made-for-TV film Death Race (also known as State of Division) which starred Lloyd Bridges and Doug McClure. The film featured a damaged Allied fighter, unable to take off but still able to taxi, being pursued across North Africa by a German tank. (Not to be confused with the 1975 sci-fi film Death Race 2000.)
Former AVG pilots are involved in the helicopter-chase film Birds of Prey, a 1973 telemovie starring David Janssen. Opening credits run over footage from 1942's Flying Tigers, and a sharkmouthed Warhawk is prominent in opening scenes.
In the 2012 George Lucas film about the 332d Fighter Group, Red Tails, the story opens with the Tuskegee Airmen forced to fly obsolescent P-40 Warhawks and given missions far from the hot war zones.
Steve Earle's 1988 song "Johnny Come Lately" from the album Copperhead Road is about an American P-47 pilot in World War II; it contains a verse "My P-47 is a pretty good ship. She took a round comin' cross the channel last trip."
The Steven Spielberg film Empire of the Sun (1987), based on the J.G. Ballard novel of the same name, featured models and restored Mustangs in an attack against a Japanese internment camp. This was the most complex and elaborately staged sequence of the film, requiring over 10 days of filming and 60 hours of aerial footage of Mustangs. Film historians and reviewers regard the scene as a significant cinematic achievement: "Spielberg's most emotionally reverberant moment, and one of the rare movie scenes that can truly be called epiphanies."
Two P-51Ds appear briefly at the end of Steven Spielberg's 1998 film Saving Private Ryan as "tank-busters" (although P-47 Thunderbolts would have been the more likely type in this role). "Big Beautiful Doll" of the Old Flying Machine Company, Cambridge, England, and "Old Crow" of the Scandinavian Historic Flight were used.
The Royal Air Force's ground attack aircraft, the Panavia Tornado, featured extensively in the television pilot Strike Force, produced in the 1990s for ITV in the UK. Strike Force did not enter series production.
In the 2002 submarine film Below, the USS Tiger Shark is directed to pick up three survivors of a torpedoed hospital ship by a Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina, marked as AH545, 'WQ-Z' of No. 209 Squadron. The PBY-5A was marked as the Catalina that had a decisive role in the sinking of the German battleship Bismarck.
U.S. Navy PB4Y-2M Privateers of VP-23, based at Naval Air Station Miami, Florida, were filmed at the close of the 1948 hurricane season and the footage used in the 1949 20th Century-Fox film "Slattery's Hurricane".
The most prominent of the real aircraft in Nevil Shute's 1951 novel Round the Bend is a war-surplus Percival Proctor, which is used by the protagonist Constantine Shak Lin (also known as Connie Shaklin) to tour Asia to spread his teachings. At the end of the book the Proctor is the basis of a shrine to Shaklin and his new creed, laid up in a hangar in a state of uncompleted maintenance for pilgrims to view.
In 1968, three Proctors were remodelled with inverted gull wings and other cosmetic alterations to represent Junkers Ju 87s in the film Battle of Britain but, in the event, radio-controlled models were used instead.
A pair of flying replica Pfalz D.IIIs were constructed to appear in the 1966 epic First World War film The Blue Max, based on the novel of the same name by Jack D. Hunter. The aircraft subsequently appeared in Darling Lili (1970) and Von Richthofen & Brown (1971).
The STOL-capable Pilatus Porter was depicted in the 1990 film Air America, loosely recounting the exploits of the Central Intelligence Agency proprietary airline in Southeast Asia in the 1960s and early 1970s.
The character Pussy Galore in the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger is the leader of "Pussy Galore's Flying Circus", a group of women who fly Piper Cherokees, trained acrobats turned cat burglars, in the novel of the same name by Ian Fleming. In the film the arch-villain uses the Cherokees in his plan to deprive the US government of the gold in Fort Knox.
In the 1934 screwball comedy It Happened One Night, the foppish bridegroom King Westley arrives at his own wedding "piloting" a Pitcairn Aircraft Company autogyro (although the real pilot can be seen crouching in the cockpit after Westley deplanes).
Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2
A replica Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c was used in the production of the BBC Great War drama series Wings which aired in 1977–1978. The replica was originally commissioned in 1969 by Universal Studios for a proposed big-budget film Biggles Sweeps the Skies but the project was cancelled after the aircraft was built. The replica was constructed by engineer and pilot Charles Boddington who was later killed during the making of the 1971 film Von Richthofen & Brown. His son Matthew recently rebuilt the aircraft (after it was badly damaged in an accidental crash in the US) and it flew again at Sywell aerodrome, UK, in 2011.
Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5
Saab 35 Draken
Saab JAS 39 Gripen
A Douglas SBD Dauntless was used in the production of the 1976 motion picture Midway. An SBD-5, which had formerly served in the RNZAF and which was (in 1976) non-airworthy and wingless, was used in the filming of the cockpit close-ups for actors such as Charlton Heston.
Later in 1987, the same aircraft (BuNo 28536), now in airworthy condition, was used in the production of the epic 1988-1989 TV mini-series War & Remembrance. The aircraft appeared in the sequence depicting the Battle of Midway and during filming, was flown off the USS Lexington the first time an SBD had taken off from a carrier in 42 years.
SB2C Helldiver / A-25 Shrike
The loss of a U.S. Navy Curtiss SB2C-1 Helldiver, BuNo 00154, of VB-5, during launch near Trinidad on 28 May 1943 during the shakedown cruise of the USS Yorktown was incorporated by 20th Century Fox into the 1944 film Wing and a Prayer: The Story of Carrier X.
Two USAAF Curtiss RA-25A Shrikes collided during a flypast for an air show near Spokane, Washington, on 23 July 1944, the accident filmed by a Paramount Pictures newsreel crew. This footage was used in the 1956 film Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, apparently being shot down by a saucer.
A Short Sunderland flying boat patrol bomber was the setting for much of the 1980 novel The Flying Porcupine by Richard Haligon. The novel takes its title from a nickname reputedly given to the Sunderland by German pilots thanks to its defensive armament of as many as 16 machine guns.
Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King
CIA officer Jack Ryan (played by Alec Baldwin) is flown from an aircraft carrier to the submarine USS Dallas in a Sikorsky SH-3H Sea King in the 1990 film Hunt for Red October, based on the Tom Clancy's novel of the same title.
At the end of the successful rescue mission for Apollo 13, two SH-3 Sea Kings, historically painted as Helos 66 and 406, retrieve the astronauts from their spacecraft after splashdown in the 1995 Ron Howard film.
Sikorsky H-5 / R-5 / HO2S / HO3S / S-51
The 1954 film The Bridges at Toko-Ri, based on the 1953 James A. Michener novella of the same title, opens and closes with scenes of a U.S. Navy Sikorsky HO3S-1 of utility helicopter squadron HU-1 operating from an Essex-class aircraft carrier in pilot rescue and recovery during the Korean War.
A Westland Widgeon, a UK-built version of the Sikorsky S-51, appears in the 1971 British film When Eight Bells Toll, starring Anthony Hopkins, directed by Étienne Périer and based on the Alistair Maclean novel of the same name. Aerial scenes were filmed over the Scottish islands of Staffa and Mull.
Sikorsky H-19 / Westland Whirlwind
The 1955 Warner Bros. film The McConnell Story, about Capt. Joseph C. McConnell, Jr., the top American ace of the Korean War, includes footage of a Sikorsky H-19 Chickasaw rescuing a downed B-29 crew in that conflict, while under heavy fire. A Chickasaw was furnished by the 48th Air Rescue Squadron, Eglin AFB, Florida, for seven days of filming at Alexandria AFB, Louisiana, in February 1955.
The book, Retreat Hell, by W. E. B. Griffin, takes place in Korea during the Korean War. It centers on the use of a Sikorsky H-19A helicopter during the fall of 1950. Much of the action is driven forward by the abilities of the helicopter.
Sikorsky H-53 series
The HH-53C variant was used in the combined combat search and rescue and VIP delivery sequences in the 1982 Malpaso Productions spy and action film Firefox, produced, directed by, and starring Clint Eastwood, based on the 1977 novel of the same name by Craig Thomas.
The Sikorsky MH-53J is featured in the 2007 Transformers film as the alternate mode of Blackout. Production designer Jeff Mann stated "the Pave Low looks butch... the size made it the logical choice." Toys for Blackout were MH-53 replicas, which were reused for the characters of Evac, Spinister and Whirl.
Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe/Sikorsky S-64
Sikorsky H-60 series
The Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk was the title aircraft in the 2001 film Black Hawk Down. For this film too the film makers rented the aircraft, paying the U.S. Department of Defense about $3 million to ship eight helicopters and about 100 crew members to the film location in Morocco.
In the 2003 film Tears of the Sun three MH-60S Seahawk helicopters bring evacuated US embassy staff and their SEAL team rescuers from Nigeria to the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman. Two SH-60B Seahawk helicopters are used to retrieve a SEAL team and refugees in Nigeria.
Igor Sikorsky's Sikorsky S-29-A, previously owned by Roscoe Turner, doubled for a Gotha bomber in Howard Hughes' 1930 aerial epic Hell's Angels. It was destroyed during filming. At the time of the aircraft's demise it had flown 500,000 miles.
When MGM produced the 1959 film The Gallant Hours, based on the life of U.S. Navy Admiral William "Bull" Halsey, the studio rented a Sikorsky VS-44A, N41881, named "Mother Goose", from Catalina Air Lines, Inc., and painted it in wartime camouflage to depict a secret flight that Halsey had made to the South Pacific in a Consolidated PB2Y-1 Coronado. Although the studio had promised to repaint the flying boat after the production, this did not happen, and the airline had to restore the civilian livery itself.
The First World War Sopwith Camel fighter features prominently in the Biggles stories of W. E. Johns such as the collections: The Camels Are Coming (1932), and Biggles of the Camel Squadron (1934).
Sopwith Camels feature in the 2013 novel A Splendid Little War by Derek Robinson which depicts a fictional RAF unit – Merlin Squadron – flying Camels in support of the White forces during the Russian Civil War in 1919.
Sopwith 1½ Strutter
A 1/6 scale radio-controlled model of a Sopwith 1½ Strutter was constructed by Proctor Enterprises to appear in the ABC television series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles episode "Attack of the Hawkmen" (1995) produced by George Lucas.
Space Shuttle orbiter
In Payne Harrison's 1990 novel Storming Intrepid, the shuttle Intrepid – one of four new shuttles built by the U.S. government – is hijacked by its mission commander, who is a Russian agent. The plot revolves around American efforts to prevent the agent from landing the shuttle in the USSR with its advanced SDI system intact.
In Jon Amiel's 2003 film The Core space shuttle Endeavour is sent off course by a disruption in the Earth's magnetic field, forcing it to land in the concrete-lined channel of the Los Angeles River.
Race Bannon, flying a SPAD S.XIII, fights a dogfight with a Fokker D.VII, flown by Baron Heinrich von Frohleich in Episode 10 of Jonny Quest, "Shadow of the Condor", first aired 20 November 1964.
In Payne Harrison's 1990 novel Storming Intrepid, the U.S. deploys an SR-71 over the USSR on an ELINT mission to record communications between the hijacked shuttle Intrepid and Soviet commanders on the ground. The Soviet air defenses attempt to shoot down the aircraft as it tries to get out of Soviet airspace. The aircraft briefly flames out, but successfully recovers and narrowly escapes a missile trap by MiG-31 interceptors.
Although already retired from service for around a decade at the time of the film's release, the SR-71 Blackbird appears in the form of the character Jetfire, an over-the-hill Transformer near the end of its days, in the 2009 film Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and its toy line.
The 1976 film Aces High uses several modified Stampe SV.4 aircraft made to look like Royal Flying Corps Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 aircraft. These were prepared by Bianchi Aviation Film Services and flown by well-known pilots including Neil Williams.
In the 2005 film Mirror Wars: Reflection One, Russian two-seat Sukhoi Su-35UB featured the main role of a fifth generation jet fighter Sukhoi Su-XX, nicknamed Sabretooth that a group of mercenaries and agents tries to steal.
The Supermarine Attacker appears in two flying sequences in the 1952 film The Sound Barrier (released in the U.S. as Breaking the Sound Barrier), directed by David Lean and starring Nigel Patrick and Ralph Richardson. The aerial footage was filmed by Jack Hildyard.
Along with the Hawker Hurricane, the Supermarine Spitfire fighter is very strongly linked to the Battle of Britain in summer 1940, where the Royal Air Force fought the German Luftwaffe over the skies of Britain for air superiority. As such it has been featured in many works of fiction related to the Battle of Britain.
A clipped-wing Spitfire features in the opening sequence of David Lean's 1952 film The Sound Barrier (released in the U.S. as Breaking the Sound Barrier). In the scene, which takes place over Dover in 1945, the Spitfire's pilot Philip Peel (John Justin) dives his aircraft at such a high speed, that he encounters a 'barrier' of dense air, causing such severe buffeting that he almost loses control of his machine.
A Spitfire IXc was one of at least two used in the production of the 1962 World War II epic film The Longest Day. The same aircraft also appeared in Von Ryan's Express (1965), Night of the Generals (1967), and Battle of Britain (1969).
In John Frankenheimer's 1964 film, The Train, a Royal Air Force Spitfire is shown attempting to shoot up a locomotive traveling light on the French railway system, which gains safety in a tunnel.
The Spitfire was a central part of the 1969 Guy Hamilton-directed film Battle of Britain, a fictionalized account of the real Battle of Britain that one critic called "the definitive depiction of war in the air". The film led to an increase in the popularity of the aircraft among collectors of warbirds. According to one property dealer the appearance "did for Spitfires what the James Bond films did for the Aston Martin." Producers secured 35 Spitfires for use in the film.
The Spitfire was also the main aircraft used in the 1988 miniseries Piece of Cake. The series was based on a novel by the same name. Pilots in the novel flew the Hawker Hurricane, but the lack of airworthy Hurricanes forced the producers to change aircraft types, using five privately owned airworthy Spitfires and a collection of static and taxiing replicas.
Real-life World War II RAF ace Douglas Bader was portrayed as a night-flying Spitfire pilot during The Blitz in the animated Disney series Gargoyles second season episode “M.I.A”, and was saved from losing his life in air combat by Goliath and by Griff, a British gargoyle of the London Clan.
The 2001 Czech film Dark Blue World, a World War II drama about Czech pilots who flew with the Royal Air Force directed by Jan Svěrák, featured Spitfires. The vintage Spitfires cost the film-makers US$7,500 an hour to use. The aerial sequences were a combination of live aerial footage, CGI and out-takes from the 1969 film The Battle of Britain.
A Spitfire Mk Vb featured in at least three episodes of the British ITV television series Foyle's War (2002-2015). The central character Detective Foyle has a son Andrew, who is a pilot in the Royal Air Force during WW2. One episode to feature the Spitfire was Among the Few in season 2 where one of Andrew's fellow pilots is revealed to be a secret homosexual and guilty of manslaughter.
Spitfires starred in the 2006 seven-minute short film/commercial Pilots produced by the Swiss-German watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen to promote its Big Pilot's Watch Collection. John Malkovich featured in the film.
The more recent novel Band of Eagles (2007) by Frank Barnard featured Spitfires engaged in the defence of Malta in 1941.
A Spitfire features in the 2011 animated short film Paths of Hate by Polish film-maker Damian Nenow, a war and supernatural horror film in which two fighter pilots fight a vicious duel to the death. The film was short-listed for best short film at the 2012 Academy Awards.
The 1973 film The Wicker Man featured a Thurston Teal as transport for Police Sergeant Neil Howie when he visits the island of Summerisle. It is inferred in the film that the plane has been sabotaged in some way as the engine will not start preventing Howie's return to the mainland.
UFM Easy Riser
The UFM Easy Riser was one of two ultralight aircraft that lead the Canada geese south in the 1996 film Fly Away Home. The film was a highly fictionalized account based on Bill Lishman's autobiography and work with Operation Migration, but both Lishman's real-life migratory experiments teaching birds to migrate and the film used the Easy Riser, due to its low cruising speed, which allowed the birds to pace the aircraft in flight.
In the 1934 Warner Bros. film Here Comes the Navy, directed by Lloyd Bacon, the first of nine films in which James Cagney and Pat O'Brien appeared together, the U.S. Navy dirigible USS Macon (ZRS-5) is shown late in the production after Cagney's character transfers to a lighter-than-air unit after a falling out with his shipmates aboard the USS Arizona.
Vickers FB5 Gunbus
A replica Vickers FB5 was constructed to appear in the 1986 film Sky Bandits (also released under the title Gunbus) which was about a pair of cowboys who flee the U.S. to escape prison for a bank robbery and end up serving in the RFC during the Great War. The replica, built as a taxiing prop for the film, is currently housed at Sywell Aerodrome in the UK.
A Vickers Wellington features in the 1961 comedy film Very Important Person (released in the US as A Coming Out Party). In the film, the central character, a military scientist named Sir Ernest Pease (James Robertson Justice) is taken over Germany during WW2 in order to test a top-secret apparatus. However the Wellington is hit by anti-aircraft fire and Pease is sucked out through a hole in the fuselage, parachuting into enemy territory and ending up in a POW camp.
The 1968 Czechoslovak film Nebeští jezdci (Sky Riders) about Czechoslovak airmen in RAF Bomber Command featured a Vickers Wellington. It was depicted by a taxiing replica based on an extensively modified Lisunov Li-2. Flight sequences were shot with large scale replicas and the film also incorporated wartime stock footage, including scenes from Target for Tonight.
Popular Irish graphic novelist Garth Ennis chose the Wellington to be the aircraft flown by the Australian crew of RAF Bomber Command in his 2010 graphic novel Happy Valley, set in 1942 during the early phase of the night bombing offensive and one of his successful Battlefields series.
Two Bell-Boeing CV-22 Ospreys (of only three in the USAF inventory at the time) were filmed in flight at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, in May 2006 for the 2007 Transformers film. This would inspire a host of Transformers toys and characters based on the Osprey including the Decepticons Incinerator and Ruination as well as the Autobots Springer and Blades.
Developed in the 1960s by former RAF Wing Commander Ken Wallis, the Wallis WA-116 Agile was an improved, more stable autogyro design. Following a prototype, five WA-116s were built by Beagle Aircraft at Shoreham, three of which were for evaluation by the British Army Air Corps. In 1966, one of the Beagle-built WA-116s, registered G-ARZB, was modified for use in the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice, dubbed "Little Nellie" and flown by Wallis, doubling for Sean Connery's 007.
The Wright brothers' Wright Flyer is featured in the Season Seven episode of The Simpsons "Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming". In the episode, first aired 26 November 1995, Sideshow Bob steals the Flyer, which is on loan from the Smithsonian Institution, while it is on display at an airshow. He then flies it into a shack from which Krusty the Clown is making a television broadcast in order to put Krusty off the air; however, instead of demolishing the building the frail Flyer merely bounces off the wall undamaged.
Wright Model B
Several replicas of the Wright Model B were constructed for the filming of the 1978 telemovie The Winds of Kitty Hawk. One of the replicas is now owned and preserved by Wright B Flyers Inc. based in Dayton, Ohio.
The Martin XB-51 depicted the fictional Gilbert XF-120 in the 1956 film Toward the Unknown, starring William Holden as a test pilot. On 25 March 1956, the first XB-51 prototype, 46-0685, crashed in sand dunes near Biggs Air Force Base, El Paso, Texas, killing both crew, while staging to Eglin AFB, Florida, for filming of scenes for the motion picture.
A bombing raid by a Zeppelin comprises a major plot point in the Elsie McCutcheon novel Summer of the Zeppelin.
In the 2017 film, Wonder Woman, a Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI is loaded with 4,500 pounds of bombs filled with poisonous gas intended for London. Steve Trevor destroys it by detonating the payload mid flight, sacrificing himself.
- List of fictional spacecraft
- Airborne aircraft carrier
- G-BDXJ a retired Boeing 747 used for film and television work.
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