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Aircraft in fiction

This article is about real-world aircraft appearing in works of fiction. For fictional aircraft, see list of fictional aircraft or fictional military aircraft.

Aircraft in fiction
File:F-14 Tomcat VF-31 2006.jpg
Real military aircraft, such as this Grumman F-14 Tomcat, frequently appear in works of 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.

The years between World War I and World War II saw extensive use of the new technology, aircraft, in the new medium, film.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] Made with the co-operation of the United States's 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.[4][5] Future U.S. 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.[6] 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.[7][8]

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.[9][10] 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.[10] 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.[11] 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.[10] For example, there was an entire branch of the Futurist Art movement devoted to aviation, known as Aeropittura (Aeropainting).[12] 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.[12][13]

File:Anson VH-BAF "Roscoe Turner Boeing 247".JPG
This Avro Anson was used in the Australian television miniseries The Great Air Race as a "stand-in" to represent the Boeing 247 flown by Roscoe Turner in the MacRobertson Air Race

In the United States 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 US military in a positive light. Because alternatives to using real military aircraft can be expensive, this means that films that don't get US military approval often do not get financed or made. Sean McElwee, writing for 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."[14]

Since the advent of television, aircraft have been featured in numerous miniseries and series around the world. These include the American productions 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.


A-1 Skyraider

Douglas AD-1 Skyraiders fly RESCAP missions over a downed Grumman F9F Panther and Sikorsky HO3S-1 in Korea in the climax of the 1954 release, The Bridges at Toko-Ri,[15] based on the James A. Michener novel of the same title.

A flight of US Navy AD-1s stood in for unavailable Republic P-47 Thunderbolts in the 1962 production The Longest Day,[16] based on the Cornelius Ryan non-fiction book of the same title.

The A-1 Skyraider made appearances in the 1968 film The Green Berets, loosely based on the 1965 book of the same name by Robin Moore.[16]

"Sandy" combat search and rescue missions were depicted in the 1991 John Milius film Flight of the Intruder based on the Stephen Coonts novel of the same title.[16]

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,[16][17] based on the non-fiction book We Were Soldiers Once… And Young by Lieutenant General (Ret.) Hal Moore and reporter Joseph L. Galloway.

CGI-rendered US Navy Skyraiders were shown in the 2007 Werner Herzog film Rescue Dawn, set during the Vietnam War.[16]

A-4 Skyhawk

Two Douglas A-4 Skyhawks were featured as aggressor aircraft in the film Top Gun.[18] Producers reimbursed the U.S. Navy $8,600 an hour for flight time used in the film.[19]

A Douglas A-4 Ayit from the Israeli Air Force is featured in the opening scene of the Paramount Pictures film The Sum of All Fears.[20]

A-6 Intruder

The 1991 film Flight of the Intruder, centered around two naval aviators during the Vietnam War who take their Grumman A-6 Intruder on an unauthorized bombing raid on Hanoi, from the Stephen Coonts novel of the same name.[21]

A-10 Thunderbolt II

The evil Gobots character Bad Boy and the heroic Transformers character Powerglide both disguise themselves as Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt IIs.[22]

A-10s were also featured in the 2005 movie Jarhead, where they attack US Marine forces in a friendly fire incident.[23]

The popularity of the A-10s in the 2007 Transformers film led to the toy company releasing a minor character named Wingblade that turned into an A-10.[24][25]

In the 2009 film Terminator Salvation, several A-10s are sent to support the ground troops led by John Connor in the intro of the movie. Later, two Resistance A-10s are shot down when trying to intercept the machine transport in which Marcus and Kyle Reese were captive.[26][27]

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 destroyed.[28]

A-26/B-26 Invader

French Armée de l'Air Douglas A-26 Invaders appeared in the 1964 John Frankenheimer film The Train as Allied aircraft bombing a railroad yard.[29]

Two A-26 firebombers were prominently featured in the 1989 Steven Spielberg film, Always.[30] The flying for the film was performed by well-known film pilot Steve Hinton[31] and Dennis Lynch,[32] 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.[33]

A6M Zero

The Mitsubishi A6M Zero was featured in the films The Final Countdown,[34] Pearl Harbor,[35][36] and Tora! Tora! Tora!.[37] 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.[38][39][40] 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."[41][42]

Zero fighters are a major feature in the 2013 Japanese war drama Eien No Zero (The Eternal Zero) directed by Takashi Yamazaki and based on the novel of the same name by Naoki Hyakuta.[43]

Adam A500

The Adam A500 was featured in the 2006 film Miami Vice.[44]

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.[45]

Aérospatiale Gazelle

A heavily modified Aérospatiale SA341G Gazelle was the centerpiece of the 1983 John Badham airborne action film Blue Thunder. The same helicopter appeared in the short-lived TV series by the same name starring James Farentino. The modified Gazelle went on to be used in the TV mini-series Amerika.[46]

The Gazelle also played a role in the 1982 television film Deadly Encounter starring Larry Hagman.[47]

A modified Gazelle was used as a light attack helicopter in the 1988 Sylvester Stallone film, Rambo III. In one scene, the helicopter was shot down by the main character.[48]

Aérospatiale Puma

Modified Aérospatiale SA 330 Pumas are 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.[48][49][50]

AgustaWestland AW109

In Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film Jurassic Park an Agusta A109 is used to fly a group of scientist to an island off the coast of Costa Rica, which is populated with cloned dinosaurs.[51]

In the 2002 film Reign of Fire an A109 is operated by former US soldiers, to trap and bring down fire breathing dragons.[52]

AgustaWestland AW101

An AgustaWestland AW101 appears in the 2012 film Skyfall, used by the villain to attack James Bond's childhood home.[53][54]

AH-64 Apache

The Boeing AH-64 Apache had a major role in the 1990 action-thriller film directed by David Green, Fire Birds (or Wings of the Apache).[55]

The Transformers character Spinister disguises itself as an Apache helicopter.[56]

"Gunship" is an AH-64 Apache helicopter simulation that was released by Microprose in 1986.[57]

The AH-64 also made an appearance in the film Toy Soldiers.[58]

In the film G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Apaches provide air cover for a convoy of nanotechnology-based weapons.[59]

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.[60]

Airspeed Horsa

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.[61]

Ten mockup Airspeed Horsa gliders were fabricated for the filming of A Bridge Too Far, but they were non-flyable.[62]

Antonov An-12

In the 2005 Andrew Niccol film Lord of War, an Antonov An-12 is shown smuggling illegal arms in Africa.[63]

Antonov An-124

An Antonov An-124 appears in the 2002 James Bond film Die Another Day as Gustav Graves main airplane when he escapes North Korea.[64]

Antonov An-225

For the fictional An-500 aircraft seen in the film 2012, see List of fictional aircraft.

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.[25]


An Auster III depicted an Auster V in A Bridge Too Far.[62]

Aviation Traders Carvair

An Aviation Traders Carvair aircraft is displayed at the beginning of the movie Goldfinger in the James Bond movie series, being loaded with a Rolls-Royce Phantom III.[65]

Avro 504

An Avro 504 appears in the 1976 British war film Aces High, being used for photo reconnaissance, a role in which the aircraft was widely used.[66] 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 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.[67]

An Avro 504 also 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,[68] and was based on the 1954 biography of the same name by Paul Brickhill.

Avro Anson

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 Australian television miniseries The Great Air Race.[69] Turner was played by Barry Bostwick in the miniseries.

Avro Ashton

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[70] 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.[71][72]

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.[73]

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.[74]

Avro Lancaster

Len Deighton's 1970 novel Bomber describes an attack by Royal Air Force Avro Lancasters on Krefeld, Germany, during which a series of unplanned incidents leads to the carpet bombing of a small town nearby.[75]

Lancasters appeared in the 1952 British war film Appointment in London (released in the US as Raiders in the Sky) directed by Philip Leacock and starring Dirk Bogarde.[76] 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.[77]

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 Nazi munitions factories.[78] The film is based on the books The Dam Busters by Paul Brickhill and Enemy Coast Ahead by Guy Gibson.

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.[79]

Lancasters feature in the 2011 novel Dambuster by Robert Radcliffe.[80]

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.[81] For the production, a mock-up cockpit section of a Lancaster was constructed and was later displayed at the Bomber Command Museum in Canada.[82]

Avro Vulcan

The Avro Vulcan figures in Anthony Gray's 1965 novel The Penetrators, in which a Royal Air Force officer attempts to demonstrate a weakness in the North American strategic defense system NORAD by launching a mock attack involving nine Vulcans and some Vickers Valiant tankers for inflight refuelling.[83]

The Avro Vulcan is also used in the James Bond film Thunderball (1965).[84]

Parts from two scrapped Vulcan bombers were used to make the set of the spaceship Nostromo from Ridley Scott's 1979 film Alien.[85]

The spaceship HMS Camden Lock in the BBC2 comedy series Hyperdrive bears the serial number XH558. The set and prop designer, model maker Andrew Glazebrook is quoted that, "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.[86]

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.[87]

B-1 Lancer

The Transformers Decepticon named Windsweeper disguises itself as a B-1 Lancer.[88]

A B-1B drops numerous bombs during the climactic battle scene in the 2009 film Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.[89]

B-2 Spirit

The Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit appeared in the 2002 film The Sum of All Fears, based on the Tom Clancy novel by the same name.[90]

B-17 Flying Fortress

The B-17 Flying Fortress was the subject of the 1990 Warner Bros. film Memphis Belle.[91] 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.[92]

The first appearance of the 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.[93]

B-17Bs of the 132nd Bomb Squadron, 9th Bomb Group, 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.[94]

The self-explanatory 1942 Warner Bros. film Flying Fortress showed Royal Air Force Fortress Is, singly, and in formation.[95]

B-17s appear in the 1943 RKO picture Bombardier, at Kirtland Field, New Mexico.[96]

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 year of World War II, including the attack on Pearl Harbor.[97]

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.[98]

B-17s also figured prominently in the Oscar-winning 1949 film Twelve O'Clock High starring Gregory Peck. The film focuses on aviation leadership and the human toll in the USAAF strategy of daylight precision bombing.[99] 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.[100] The film featured an actual crash landing of a B-17, piloted by veteran stunt pilot Paul Mantz.[101]

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.[102]

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 plane 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 has been removed. Anachronistic B-29 engine cowlings line the back wall of the hangar, none of which operated in the ETO.[103]

A U.S. Coast Guard PB-1G "Dumbo", rescue variant of the B-17, carrying an A-1 lifeboat, was shown in the 1954 film The High and the Mighty, based on the Ernest K. Gann novel of the same name.[104]

The love triangle 1958 Universal International Pictures film The Lady Takes a Flyer about a woman involved with two pilots who trade in war-surplus aircraft, featured at least two B-17s.[105]

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.[106]

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.[107]

Two DB-17P former drone-controllers and one B-17F were featured in the 1969 film The Thousand Plane Raid.[108] One of the DB-17Ps briefly appeared in the bio-pic MacArthur in 1977, still wearing the same markings and paint it had for The Thousand Plane Raid.[109]

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.[110]

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.[111]

The B-17 figures prominently in the 1977 novel KG 200[112] by J.D. Gilman and John Clive, about the secret Luftwaffe unit KG 200, which tested and flew many captured Allied aircraft.

B-17s are the main aircraft featured in two recent novels depicting fictional characters in the US daylight bombing offensive over Germany and Occupied Europe, American writer Sam Helpert's A Real Good War (1997)[113] and UK author Robert Radcliffe's Under an English Heaven. (2004).[114]

For George Lucas' 2012 film about the 332d Fighter Group, the Tuskegee Airmen, Red Tails, 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.[115]

B-18 Bolo

Douglas B-18 Bolos appeared in scenes for the 1941 Paramount Pictures film I Wanted Wings, based on the novel of the same title by 1st Lt. Beirne Lay, Jr..[94]

B-18 Bolos are prominently featured in the 1943 RKO picture Bombardier, filmed at Kirtland Field, New Mexico.[96]

B-24 Liberator

A B-24 Liberator was featured in the 1977 TV movie Young Joe: The Forgotten Kennedy.[116]

B-24s appear in the opening scenes of the 2014 war drama Unbroken directed by Angelina Jolie, a film which depicts the true-life wartime experiences of Louis Zamperini.[117]

B-25 Mitchell

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),[118] Hanover Street (1979) based on a fictional B-25 unit stationed in England,[118] and Forever Young (1992), following a B-25 test pilot's story both in the past and present.[119]

The B-25 was the focus of the second half of the 2001 film Pearl Harbor, although critics complained that the bomber and its role were being depicted inaccurately.[120]

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.[121]

A B-25 features in the 1965 World War II movie In Harm's Way directed by Otto Preminger and starring John Wayne and Kirk Douglas.[122]

The Sole Survivor, a 1970 made-for-television film, was also based loosely on the "Lady Be Good", and also featured a B-25 in the Liberator role. It first aired 9 January 1970.[123]

The B-25 is featured in the 1970 Mike Nichols film Catch-22, which had 17 film unit B-25s in flying condition.[124] 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.[125]

B-26 Marauder

Six Martin B-26C Marauders from MacDill Field, Florida, portrayed Japanese bombers in the 1943 Howard Hawks film Air Force.[126]

B-29 Superfortress

The Boeing B-29 Superfortress has played an important role in several Hollywood films, particularly as that dubbed the Enola Gay which dropped the first atomic bomb. The Enola Gay was depicted in Above and Beyond and The Beginning or the End.[127] Film makers also used the only B-29 still flying in 1983 in the film The Right Stuff to recreate the launch of the Bell X-1 for the first supersonic flight.[128]

The B-29 also played the titular role in the 1980 Disney film The Last Flight of Noah's Ark.[129]

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.[130]

A B-29 features in the 1954 Cold War drama Hell and High Water directed by Samuel Fuller and starring Richard Widmark. The movie concerns a plot by the Chinese to use a captured B-29 to launch an atomic strike on Korea and then let the United States take the blame for it.[131]

B-36 Peacemaker

The Convair B-36 featured prominently in Paramount's Strategic Air Command (1955) starring James Stewart, a World War II bomber pilot and member of the Air Force Reserve, that 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 in the Tampa, Florida, area. One shot that was particularly difficult to shoot was where Stewart's character, a baseball player was standing on a baseball field and a B-36 flew overhead, casting a shadow over him and symbolizing his coming recall to active service.[132]

B-47 Stratojet

The Boeing B-47 Stratojet gets a secondary role in Paramount's Strategic Air Command (1955) starring James Stewart as the new jet that is nothing like the old B-36 he is used to.[133]

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.[134][135]

B-52 Stratofortress

The 1957 Karl Malden film Bombers B-52 gives a fictional account of the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress' introduction into service at Castle Air Force Base.[136]

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.[137]

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[138] and in A Gathering of Eagles.[139]

A B-52 was a focal point of the novel Trinity's Child, by William Prochnau, and the television film adaptation, By Dawn's Early Light.[140]

The disappearance of a nuclear-armed B-52 in Alaska during the Cuban Missile Crisis and its discovery in 2008 is central to the plot of an historical novel "The Alaskan Incident" by Chris Rudge published in 2013.[141]

B-58 Hustler

Footage of Convair B-58 Hustlers were used as "Vindicator" bombers in the 1964 Cold War film Fail-Safe.[15]

Beech 18

Hollywood pilot Frank Tallman famously flew a Beechcraft Model 18 through a billboard in the 1963 chase epic It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.[142]

A Beechcraft Model 18 appeared in the 1970 American television situation comedy The Tim Conway Show as the Lucky Linda, the only aircraft operated by Triple A Airlines.[143]

Bell 47

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.[144] A Bell 47 was also one of the 'stars' of the Australian television series Skippy the Bush Kangaroo.[145]

A Bell 47G3B-1 was used as the "Batcopter" in the 1966 Batman film. This airframe had previously appeared in Lassie Come Home.[146]

A Bell 47 depicted a supposed German helicopter in the 1968 action movie 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.[147][148]

The Bell 47, in its military configuration as a H-13 Sioux, was central to the television series M*A*S*H, as well as the 1970 film of the same name.[149]

In the 1979 Norman Jewison film, ...And Justice For All, the main characters go for a ride in a Bell 47G-2 that ends up ditching in Baltimore's Inner Harbor when it runs out of fuel.[150]

Bell 206

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.[145]

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.[151] The Jet Ranger also appeared in the 1977 Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me.[152]

In the 1983 John Badham film Blue Thunder, a Jet Ranger plays the part of a LAPD Police Helicopter for the Astro division.[46]

Bell 222

A Bell 222A was featured in the television film 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.[153]

In the film Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, a Bell 222UT is used to eliminate the antagonists in a high rise building near downtown Los Angeles.[154]

Bell AH-1 Cobra

A pair of AH-1 Cobras appear in Simon West’s film Con Air. The helicopters are used to try and bring down a hijacked Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System (JPATS) aircraft.[155]

In the 1990 film Fire Birds, a US Army AH-1 emerges in the opening sequence, when it is ambushed by a drug runner’s Scorpion helicopter portrayed by a MD 500.[55]

In J. J. Abrams Mission: Impossible III, the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) team use a Bell Huey 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.[156]

Bell H-1 Iroquois

The Bell UH-1 Iroquois (commonly called the Huey) was a central part of the 2002 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.[157][158] Four of the UH-1s used were provided by the Georgia Army National Guard.[159]

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.[160]

Two UH-1H Hueys make up part of the attack package on Ernst Stavro Blofeld's oil rig command center at the climax of the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever.[151]

The UH-1 was in Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 epic Apocalypse Now. Several Hueys were rented from the Philippine Air force.[161]

UH-1s were prominently featured in Oliver Stone's 1986 film Platoon.[162]

The 1990 film Air America, about the CIA's proprietary airline during the war in Southeast Asia, featured the ubiquitous Huey helicopter.[130]

In the disaster movie Dante's Peak, a UH-1 transports the scientists into the crater of the volcano, and ultimately destroyed in the eruption.[163]

The slaying of Israeli athletes by Black September terrorists and the destruction of a Bundesgrenzschutz Bell/Dornier UH-1D[164] during the 1972 Summer Olympics was depicted in the 2005 Steven Spielberg film Munich.[165]

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.[166]

Bell X-1

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.[167] Mock-up is now displayed at the Planes of Fame Museum, Chino, California.[168]

Bell X-2

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.[168]

Blackburn Buccaneer

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.[169] The attack is later featured in the 2004 TV series episode "Canyon – Tightrope at the Speed of Sound."[170]

Boeing 247

The Boeing 247D, NR257Y, c/n 1953, "Warner Bros. Comet", race number 5, United Airlines NC13369, leased by Roscoe Turner and fitted with extra fuel tanks,[171] and flown by Turner and Clyde Edward Pangborn in the 1934 MacRobertson Trophy Air Race, was portrayed by Avro Anson, VH-BAF, in the 1991 Australian mini-series The Great Air Race,[172] also known as Half a World Away.[173]

Boeing 314

The Ken Follett novel Night Over Water is the story of a group of people who are travelling from England to the United States in a Boeing 314 at the beginning of World War II.[174]

Boeing 707

A Boeing 707-349C leased from Flying Tiger Line portrayed two aircraft in the 1970 film Airport, based on the 1968 Arthur Hailey novel of the same name.[175]

Boeing 720

A former United Airlines Boeing 720B stood in for a Boeing VC-137C,[176] Air Force One, serialled 62-6001, in the 1971 ABC Entertainment Group television film The President's Plane Is Missing,[177] 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.

Boeing 727

Industrial Light and Magic constructed a large-scale model of a Boeing 727 of fibreglass and aluminum for use in the 1990 action film Die Hard 2.[178]

The 1996 film Eraser includes an elaborate action sequence involving a parachute jump from a crippled Boeing 727.[179]

The 1998 film U.S. Marshals depicts the crash of a Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System (JPATS) 727.[180]

Boeing 747

A redressed American Airlines Boeing 747 was featured extensively in the 1974 film Airport 1975,[181] and the sequel Airport 77.[182]

A Boeing 747 is the aircraft flown by passengers in the 1975 made for television thriller film Murder on Flight 502.[183]

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 towards the then-record of $70 million.[184]

The Boeing 747 was featured in the 1996 film Executive Decision as the location of a terrorist hijacking.[185]

A 747–146 was the title subject of the 1997 film Air Force One, portraying the real 747–200 VC-25 that transports the President of the United States.[186][187]

The 747 was also prominent in the novel and the 2002 film The Sum of All Fears as the National Airborne Operations Center during a nuclear showdown with Russia.[90]

A 747 in-flight is also the setting for the 2006 horror-thriller film Snakes on a Plane in which a large number of venomous snakes wriggle loose on the large jet, corralled by an FBI agent played by Samuel L. Jackson.[188][189][190]

In the 2013 'zombie romance' movie Warm Bodies, the central character 'R' resides in the abandoned hulk of a Boeing 747,[191] and rescues the female lead Julie by hiding her there from his fellow zombies.[192]

Boeing 757

A Boeing 757 was depicted in the 2006 film United 93 recounting the story of the fourth airliner hijacked in the September 11 attacks, United Airlines Flight 93.[126]

Boeing 767

A Boeing 767 was featured in the 2014 film Non-Stop.[193]

Boeing 777

A modified Boeing 777 was used as the U.S. Air Force mothership for an experimental NASA spaceplane in 2006's Superman Returns.[194]

Boeing PT-17 Stearman

The Boeing PT-17 (Model 75) Stearman, a two-seater trainer designed in 1933, has appeared in a number of films including Independence Day (1996) and The English Patient (1997)[195] and also Pearl Harbor (2001).[196]

Bristol Beaufighter

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 WW2.[197]

Bristol Blenheim

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.[198]

Bristol F2B

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 US and had an inverted Ford Ranger engine instead of a Rolls-Royce, was originally commissioned in 1979 to appear in the movie High Road to China (1983) but was not used in that production.[199]

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.[200]

In the long-running British WW1 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.[201][202]

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 US 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.[203]

Bücker Bestmann

In the 1963 film The Great Escape, the characters played by James Garner and Donald Pleasence steal a Bücker Bü 181 Bestmann from a German airfield in a bid to fly to neutral Switzerland; however, the aircraft develops engine problems and crashes.[204][205]

C-47 Skytrain / C-53 Skytrooper / Dakota

See also Aircraft in fiction#Douglas DC-3 for the civilian aircraft on which the Dakota was based

A ski-equipped Douglas C-47 Skytrain is featured in Howard Hawks' 1951 science-fiction thriller, The Thing From Another World, based on the 1938 novella Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, Jr.[206]

Eleven aircraft were gathered for airdrop scenes in the film A Bridge Too Far, all of which had to be of a paratroop configuration, representing the C-53 Skytrooper variant.[62]

C-54 Skymaster

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.[207]

C-74 Globemaster

A Douglas C-74 Globemaster appeared in the 1969 Michael Caine film The Italian Job.[208]

C-82 Packet

The crash of a Fairchild C-82 Packet in the North African desert is central to the plot of The Flight of the Phoenix drawn from a 1964 novel by Elleston Trevor of the same title.[209]

C-119 Flying Boxcar

The Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar was the subject of the 2004 remake of Flight of the Phoenix, using the descendant design of the C-82 Packet of the original.[210]

C-121 Constellation

Lockheed C-121A Constellation tail number 48-615 was used in the 1977 film MacArthur, starring Gregory Peck, painted in Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) markings.[211]

C-123 Provider

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.[130]

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.[212] 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.[213]

In the 1990 action film Die Hard 2, John McClane ejects from the cockpit of a grounded C-123 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.[214]

C-130 Hercules

Instead of using a Soviet transport plane, a Lockheed C-130 Hercules (or L-100 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.[215]

The special operations variant, the Lockheed MC-130 Combat Talon, was featured as the rescue aircraft in the 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.[186]

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.[216]

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.[217]

In the 2013 film Lone Survivor, a C-130 variant provides firepower as Luttrell is extracted from the village towards the end of the film.[218]

CAC Wirraway

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 movie, the aircraft is painted to depict a Douglas SBD Dauntless dive-bomber.[219]

Capelis XC-12

The oddball Capelis XC-12, an unsuccessful 1933 transport design, appears as a bomber in the 1942 Republic film Flying Tigers.[220]

Caproni Ca.60

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.[221]

CASA 2.111

Several ex-Spanish Air Force CASA 2.111s were used as "stand-ins" to depict German Heinkel He 111 bombers in the film Battle of Britain.[222]

Four ex-Spanish CASA 2.111s, playing the role of Luftwaffe Heinkel He-111s, were also used in the production of the 1970 Oscar-winning movie Patton, starring George C Scott.[223]

Caudron 277

A Caudron 277 was used to play the role of both British and German two-seaters in the 1966 WWI aerial epic The Blue Max directed by John Guillermin and based on the 1964 novel of the same name by Jack D Hunter.[224]

Cessna 310

File:Songbird III.jpg
A Cessna 310D painted as "Songbird III" was used by Sky King star Kirby Grant for a personal appearance in Wichita, Kansas during April 1960.

The Cessna 310B, "Songbird", registration N5348A, was featured in many episodes of the popular TV show Sky King during the late 1950s.[225]

Cessna 402

A Cessna 402, operated by the fictional small airline Sandpiper Air at Tom Nevers Field airport, Nantucket, was featured in the NBC-TV sitcom Wings which ran for eight seasons, 1990–1997.[226]

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.[227]

CH-34 Choctaw / Westland Wessex

Westland Wessex helicopters portrayed CH-34 Choctaws in Stanley Kubrick's 1987 film Full Metal Jacket.[228]

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.[130]

A surplus U.S. Army S-58DT (a converted UH-34D) was prominently featured as Screaming Mimi in the 1984–86 television series Riptide, and remains in service as N9VY.[229] [230]

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.[231]

A Kawasaki-built KV-107 portrays a US 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.[232]

CH-47 Chinook / Boeing-Vertrol 234

In the 2000 film Rules of Engagement two Boeing-Vertrol 234 Chinook helicopters are portrayed as US Marines CH-46 Sea Knights. The helicopters transport a rescue team to evacuate personal from a fallen embassy in Yemen.[233]


The Aerialbot Silverbolt of the Transformers turns into Concorde.[234]

In the Doctor Who serial "Time-Flight", Concorde, its passengers and crew are pulled through time to a prehistoric version of Earth.[235]

Concorde was the title aircraft and star of the 1979 film The Concorde ... Airport '79 in which it was flown by primarily by Alain Delon and George Kennedy's characters.[236]

Consolidated NY

U.S. Navy Consolidated NY trainers from Floyd Bennett Field appeared as some of the biplanes that attack King Kong atop the Empire State Building in the 1933 original film.[237]

Convair XF-92

The Convair XF-92, an experimental delta-wing interceptor, played the role of a F-102 Delta Dagger in the 1956 film Toward the Unknown starring William Holden.[238]

Curtiss RC-1

The rare U.S. Marine Corps Curtiss RC-1 air ambulance, A-8864, made an appearance in the 1935 Warner Bros. film "Devil Dogs of the Air" starring James Cagney and Pat O'Brien.[239]

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).[240]

The Transformers character Needlenose disguises itself as a Dassault Mirage 2000.[241]

de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver

The de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver was central to the 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.[242] Three flying Beavers and four non-flyable were used in the production, all detailed to exactly match one another.[243]

The 1982 film Mother Lode made use of a Canadian-registered former United States Army 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.[244]

de Havilland Comet

The de Havilland Comet airliner is featured in the 1952 British film The Sound Barrier.[96]

de Havilland DH.4

The 1927 William Wellman film Wings featured de Havilland DH.4s among many types depicting World War I aircraft.[245]

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.[172] It is also known as Half a World Away.[173] 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.

A de Havilland DH.88 Comet named Bulldog and voiced by John Cleese is one of the characters in Pixar's 2013 animated film Planes.[246]

de Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide

A vintage de Havilland DH-89A Dragon Rapide 6 featured in the episode 'Out of Time' in Season 1 of the BBC sci-fi series Torchwood (2006). The episode's storyline features a DH-89, carrying three occupants, landing at Cardiff airport in the present day, having mysteriously transported in time from 1953.[247]

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.[172] It is also known as Half a World Away.[173]

de Havilland Fox Moth

The novel Round the Bend by Nevil Shute is the story of two men, both British Licenced 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.[248]

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.[249]

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.[250]

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.[251]

Mosquitos also play the title role of the 1969 film Mosquito Squadron, starring David McCallum and Charles Gray.[252]

The Mosquito plays an important role with the de Havilland Vampire in Frederick Forsyth's novella The Shepherd.[253]

Mosquitos are featured prominently in The Adventures of Tintin 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.[254]

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.[255]

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.[172] It is also known as Half a World Away.[173]

de Havilland Vampire

The de Havilland Vampire was central to the plot of the 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 10 years later, and hence was a major challenge to bail out of, is an important element of the story.[256]

Vampire jets also feature in the 1966 novel Shooting Script by former RAF pilot and thriller writer Gavin Lyall.[257]

Vampires appear in the 1952 motion-picture The Sound Barrier, directed by David Lean.[258]

A French Air Force Vampire appears in the 1954 French-language comic La grande menace by Jacques Martin, the first featuring investigative journalist Guy Lefranc; it was destroyed while engaging an unidentified helicopter.[259]

Douglas DC-2

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.[172] It is also known as Half a World Away.[173]

Douglas DC-3

See also C-47 Skytrain / Dakota for military versions of the DC-3
File:Douglas C-47A G-DAKS G-AGHY Ruskin AS DUX 250482R edited-2.jpg
A Douglas DC-3 painted in Ruskin Air Services fictional markings during filming at Duxford Airfield in 1982 for the British television series Airline

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.[260]

A DC-3A of Central Airlines appears in the 1954 film Strategic Air Command as the transport that conveys a security check team into Carswell AFB, Texas.[261]

An episode of The Twilight Zone entitled "The Arrival" features a DC-3 on Flight 107, which arrives at its destination with no one on board. It originally aired 22 September 1961.[262]

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 television series Tenko and Band of Brothers.[263][264]

In the 1989 comedy film Major League, the hard-luck Cleveland Indians baseball team is "upgraded" to a DC-3 for their transportation to away games.[265]

In the 1994 film Richie Rich, the Rich family own and pilot a DC-3, named "Billion Dollar One," which crashes in the Atlantic due to a bomb on board.[266]

The DC-3 transports characters in the 2008 James Bond film Quantum of Solace.[267]

The 2012 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation television series Arctic Air features a Yellowknife-based airline that relies on DC-3s.[268]

Douglas DC-4

A former USAF Douglas C-54 Skymaster operated by Transocean Airlines portrayed the Douglas DC-4 in the 1954 film The High and the Mighty based on the Ernest K. Gann novel of the same name.[269] 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.[270]

Douglas DC-8

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 plane crashes) that they were ultimately cut before the film's release." ILM constructed five DC-8 models for the production.[184]

EB-66 Destroyer

The film Bat*21 featured an EB-66 variant of the Douglas B-66 Destroyer[271] being shot down over North Vietnam in the beginning of the film.

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.[272][273]

Eurocopter Tiger

A Eurocopter EC 665 Tiger attack helicopter has a starring role in the 1995 James Bond film GoldenEye.[274] 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 FS La Fayette. Its other appearances throughout the rest of the film were special effects models.[275]

F2H Banshee

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.[276]


Flight Command, released by MGM in 1940, featured the Grumman F3F, filmed at NAS North Island, San Diego, California. Aerial flying by Frank Clarke and Paul Mantz.[209]

The 1941 Warner Bros. film Dive Bomber showed Grumman F3Fs.[277] 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 airplane that Fred MacMurray "crashed" in this movie.[278] Filming began at NAS North Island, San Diego, California, on 20 March 1941.[279]

F-4 Phantom II

The Gobots character Mach 3 and the Transformers character Fireflight both turn into McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom IIs.[234]

Marine aviator Lt. Col. Wilbur "Bull" Meecham flew an F-4 Phantom II in the 1976 Pat Conroy novel The Great Santini and the subsequent 1979 film adaptation starring Robert Duvall.[280]

In the book World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks, an Iranian Air Force Major recalls using an F-4 Phantom II to destroy a bridge in Pakistan, leading to a full nuclear exchange between Iran and Pakistan.[281]

In the movie Iron Eagle II, F-4s appear as Soviet MiGs. The planes were provided by the Israeli Air Force for the production.[282]

F4F Wildcat

Grumman F4F Wildcats were shown in the critical aerial battle scenes in the film Midway.[283]

F4U Corsair

The 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.[284]

Computer-generated images of F4U Corsairs appear in the 2006 WW2 drama Flags of Our Fathers directed by Clint Eastwood.[285]

An F4U Corsair named Skipper (voiced by Stacey Keach) is one of the characters in Disney Pixar's animated film Planes (2013).[286]

F-5 Freedom Fighter/Tiger II

Northrop F-5s played the part of the fictional MiG-28 enemy aircraft in the 1986 film, Top Gun.[18][287]

F5F Skyrocket

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.[288]

F6F Hellcat

Grumman F6F Hellcats appeared in the 1951 motion-picture Flying Leathernecks directed by Nicholas Ray and starring John Wayne.[289] 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..."[290]

Computer-generated images of F6F Hellcats appear in the 2002 WW2 drama Windtalkers directed by John Woo and starring Nicolas Cage.[291]

F9F Panther

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.[276] Footage of the famous non-fatal F9F-5 Panther ramp strike accident that occurred 23 June 1951 as Commander George Chamberlain Duncan attempted a landing aboard USS Midway in BuNo 125228, during carrier suitability tests in the Atlantic Ocean in which the forward fuselage broke away and rolled down the deck, pilot suffering burns, has been used in several films including Men of the Fighting Lady, Midway, and The Hunt For Red October.[292]

F11F Tiger

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 United States in "Alas, Babylon", the post-apocalyptic 1959 novel by Pat Frank.[293]

F-14 Tomcat

The Grumman F-14 Tomcat was central to the film Top Gun.[34][294][295] 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.[296] Producers paid the U.S. Navy $886,000 as reimbursement for flight time of aircraft in the film with an F-14 flight hour billed at $7,600.[19][287]

Two F-14As of VF-84 from the USS Nimitz appeared in the 1980 film The Final Countdown,[297] with four from the squadron in the 1996 release Executive Decision,[185] 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,[34] and the Tomcat was a central part of the Stephen Coonts novel "Final Flight".[34]

The F-14 Tomcat is the primary focus of the 1987 Williams pinball machine "F-14 Tomcat".[298]

F-15 Eagle

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. 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[299] and a group of similar Decepticons, the Seekers: Acid Storm, Thundercracker, Skywarp and Sunstorm. Although completely unrelated design to the others, the Autobot Air Raid also disguises himself as an F-15.[300]

The F-15 is featured in the film Air Force One.[187] The Eagle was also shown in advertisements for the 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 movie 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.[301]

Leader-1 of the Gobots turns into an F-15.[302]

F-16 Fighting Falcon

The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon was featured in the film The Sum of All Fears.[90] The Falcon was also one of the stars of the 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".[19]

The F-16 is also the principal aircraft flown by the player character's squadron in the 1993 Origin Systems computer game Strike Commander.[303]

The aircraft was also featured in the HBO 1992 production Afterburn. A dramatization of true events, the F-16 was the subject of a protracted legal battle over the safety of the design.[304]

The Transformers Aerialbot Skydive and Decepticon Dreadwind disguise themselves as F-16s.[305]

F/A-18 Hornet

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.[306]

In the 1996 Michael Bay-directed film The Rock, F/A-18s attack the prison on Alcatraz Island in the final scenes.[307]

F/A-18s successfully attack the famous Japanese monster Godzilla (ゴジラ |Gojira) with AGM-84 Harpoons in the 1998 remake film Godzilla.[306]

The F/A-18F Super Hornet, a two-seat variant, was featured in the 2001 film Behind Enemy Lines, directed by John Moore, and starring Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman. The movie centers around a Super Hornet being shot down over Bosnia.[308]

The F/A-18 Hornet appeared briefly in the 2003 film Tears of the Sun in the final, climactic battle, helping to save the surviving SEAL team members.[309]

In the 2013 Disney animated movie Planes, the characters Bravo and Echo are based on the F/A-18E Super Hornet.[310]

F-20 Tigershark

The Northrop F-20 Tigershark appears a number of times in Kaoru Shintani's manga/animated franchise Area 88, as a personal unit of main character Shin Kazama.[311][312]

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.[313]

F-22 Raptor

After appearing briefly in the 2003 Hulk film, the F-22 made its major Hollywood debut in the 2007 film Transformers and its sequel[314] 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.[315] 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.[316]

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.[317]

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.[318]

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.[217]

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 fighter jets 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.[194]

The next major film appearance of an F-35 was in Live Free or Die Hard (released as Die Hard 4 outside North America) in 2007. The film used a combination of a full-scale model and CGI effects.[319]

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.[320]

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.[321][322]

Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris fly F-35s in a simulated dogfight against the UCAVs Carol's company is trying to sell to the Defense Department in Green Lantern.[323]

A squadron of F-35s engages General Zod's ship in Man of Steel.[14]

Numerous F-35s engage the Formics alien race in the 2013 science fiction film, Ender's Game.[324]

F-86 Sabre

USAF fighter pilot love story, the 1958 film The Hunters, set in Korea, features North American F-86 Sabres.[325] The film was loosely based on the 1956 novel of the same name by James Salter.[326]

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.[260]

A Sabre plays an important role in the 1999 film comedy Blast from the Past which starred Brendan Fraser and Christopher Walken. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, a Sabre pilot is forced to eject over a residential area in the US and the plane 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.[327]

F-101 Voodoo

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.[328]

F-104 Starfighter

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, although the aircraft used for filming was a standard German Luftwaffe F-104G, flying with its wingtip fuel tanks removed, but otherwise lacking any of the NF-104A's modifications, most visibly the rocket engine pod at the base of the vertical stabilizer.[329]

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 US Air Force, was often to be seen landing and climbing out of the cockpit of an F-104A. That particular aircraft – 56-817 – is now in the collection of the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island, Oahu, Hawaii.[330]

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.[331]

Fairchild UC-61 Forwarder

A former United States 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.[332]

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.[332]

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 begat 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 nonreinforced 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.[333]

Fairey Fox

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,[173] by an unlikely Boeing Stearman.[172]

Fairey Swordfish

Two Fairey Swordfish starred in the 1960 film Sink the Bismarck!. Swordfish LS326 was marked as "5A" of 825 Naval Air Squadron, while NF389 was marked as LS423 / "5B".[334]

Focke-Wulf Fw 190

Modified North American T-6 Texans portrayed Focke Wulf Fw 190s in A Bridge Too Far.[62]

A new-build Fw 190 A-8/N participated in the 2007 Finnish war film Tali-Ihantala 1944, painted in the same markings as Oberst Erich Rudorffer's aircraft in 1944.[335][336]

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 airforce and the German Luftwaffe over the Eastern Front in the latter stages of the Second World War.[337]

Focke-Wulf Triebflügel

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.[338]

Fokker Dr.1

A scarlet-painted Fokker Dr.1 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.[339]

A pair of Dr.1s featured in the 1966 motion-picture epic The Blue Max, directed by John Guillermin and based on the 1964 novel of the same name by Jack D Hunter.[340] 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.1 under the bridge, through either the wide or narrow spans, a total of 32 times.[341]

Fokker Dr.1s appear en masse in the 2006 aerial film Flyboys directed by Tony Bill and starring James Franco.[342]

Fokker Dr.1s also appear in the 2008 German film Der Rote Baron, a biopic about the famous WW1 ace Manfred von Richthofen.[343]

Fokker D.VII

The 1927 William Wellman film Wings featured a Fokker D.VII among many types depicting World War I aircraft.[245]

A Fokker D.VII is flown in a dogfight by Baron Heinrich von Frohleich versus Race Bannon in a SPAD S.XIII in episode 10 of Jonny Quest, "Shadow of the Condor", first aired 20 November 1964.[344]

Folland Gnat

Folland Gnats portray the fictional carrier-based fighters in the 1991 comedy movie Hot Shots!.[345]

Ford Trimotor

A Ford 4-AT-E Trimotor, N8407, appeared in the 1965 comedy The Family Jewels "flown" by Jerry Lewis.[346] This aircraft is now owned by the Experimental Aircraft Association.

The Ford 5-AT-B Trimotor currently owned by Kermit Weeks' Fantasy of Flight Museum was featured early in the opening of the 1984 film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.[347][348]

GAF Nomad

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.[349] 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).[350]

Gee Bee Racer

Two Gee Bee Model Z Super Sportster racing planes were featured in the 1991 Walt Disney Productions film The Rocketeer.[351]

Kermit Weeks, founder of Fantasy of Flight, used a Gee Bee Model Z as his main character "Zee" in a 2008 series of children's books set around the Golden Age of Aviation.[352]

A Mexican Gee Bee Racer named El Chupacabra is one of the characters in the 2013 Pixar animated film Planes.[246]

Gloster Gladiator

Gloster Gladiators feature in the WW2 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.[353] 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.[354][355]

Gloster Meteor

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 AFB Flight Test Center museum.[356] 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 United States.[357]

A Gloster Meteor T.7, either WA634 or WA638, owned by Martin-Baker appeared in the episode "Many Happy Returns" of the 1967 British TV series The Prisoner.[358]

Goodyear Blimp

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.[359]

Gotha G.IV

A Gotha G.IV appears in the 2006 WW1 aerial film Flyboys directed by Tony Bill and starring James Franco. To depict the bomber, the producers used both computer-generated imagery[360] and a replica of the forward fuselage of a Gotha, now displayed in a museum at RAF Manston.[361]

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.[362]

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.[209]

The 2010 film The Expendables also features an Albatross as the protagonists' private airplane.[363][364]

Grumman TBF / General Motors TBM Avenger

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.[365] One of the TBMs that featured in the scene was the TBM-3E (BuNo 53503) now currently owned and flown by the Rocky Mountain Wing of the Commemorative Air-Force (CAF).[366]

Grumman Widgeon

A Grumman G-44 Widgeon opened each week's episode of the 1978–1984 television series Fantasy Island.[367]

Grumman X-29

The Transformers Autobot named Dogfight disguises himself as an Grumman X-29.[368]

In Kaoru Shintani's manga series Area 88, main character Shin Kazama pilots an X-29 during the final battles.[369]

HAL HF-24 Marut

A formation of supersonic HAL Marut fighter-bombers of Indian Air Force stationed at Amrisitar took part in the Battle of Longewala by carpet bombing Pakistani armoured divisions consisting of 300 tanks and APCs, in the Bollywood war film Border.[370]

Harrier family

The Harrier family's unique VTOL characteristics have led to them being featured in a number of films and flight simulator programs. Two AV-8B Harrier IIs were used in the film True Lies.[185] 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.[371]

A Royal Air Force Harrier was used by MI6 in the 1987 James Bond film The Living Daylights to smuggle KGB defector Georgi Koskov out of Austria.[372]

The Gobots character Royal-T and the Transformers Autobot named Slingshot disguise themselves as a Harrier.[373] In the Revenge of the Fallen Decepticon character Dirge also became a Harrier. This design was later used for the Decepticon Jetblade.[374]

Harriers were one of the aircraft 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.[375]

A prototype Harrier was used in the in The Saint (TV series) (1962–1969) in Season 5, Episode 13 Flight Plan (Aired June 25, 1967). In the show Simon Templer has to retrieve an prototype aircraft called The Osprey that was stolen by its test pilot and flown to a middle eastern country. The Osprey is portrayed by an early version of the Harrier.[376]

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.[377]

Hawker Hunter

The 1952 British film The Sound Barrier features Hawker Hunter fighters.[96]

Hawker Hunter Mk 4s play a major role in the 1957 British Cinemascope motion picture High Flight directed by John Gilling and starring Ray Milland.[378]

Hawker Hunters of Indian Air Force were flown in the Bollywood war film Border.[379]

A formation of Hawker Hunters of the Chilean Air Force appeared in the 2004 Chilean film Machuca in which they bomb the Palacio de La Moneda.[380][381]

Hawker Hurricane

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.[382]

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.[383]

The Hawker Hurricane was featured in the film Battle of Britain. Three airworthy Hurricanes were located and used for the filming.[384]

A Hawker Hurricane was the fighter flown by the WW2 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.[385]

The Hawker Hurricane Mk. I features as the aircraft for the fictional RAF pilots depicted in the novels Piece of Cake (1983) by Derek Robinson[386] and Blue Man Falling (2006) by Frank Barnard.[387]

Hiller UH-12 / OH-23 Raven

A Hiller UH-12C was used to attack James Bond in the 1963 film From Russia With Love.[388][389]

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.[390]

A Hiller 360 (UH-12) appears in the 1951 sci-fi movie 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.[391]


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.[392] The studio model of the airship is now displayed in the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.[393]

In the 1989 film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indiana Jones travels on a Zeppelin and escapes in an aircraft mounted by trapeze to the Zeppelin's underside.[394]

Hispano HA-1112

Twenty-eight former Spanish Air Force Hispano Aviación HA-1112s were used in the film Battle of Britain as "stand-ins" to depict Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters of the Luftwaffe,[222] 27 single-seat M1Ls, and one two-seat M4L.[395] Eighteen were flown, six could taxi, the rest used to dress sets.[396] 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.[397] 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."[398]

Three of the Buchóns were "hastily converted into P-51B Mustangs for the film Patton. This involved the attachment of a large Mustang-esque fibreglass air intake to the underside of the fuselage."[398]

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.[399] "In 1979, much of the footage shot for 'Eagles Over London' appeared in the dire George Peppard film Hell to Victory".[398]

One CAF Buchón flew as a Bf 109B in Condor Legion markings for the film Hindenburg which began filming in August 1974.[398]

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 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.[400]

One Buchón, which had taxied in The Battle of Britain, flew in the 1988 LWT series Piece of Cake,[401] and was one of three flyable HA-1112s used to depict Bf 109s in the 1990 film Memphis Belle.[395][402] The Piece of Cake Buchón also appeared in the 1991 ITV television miniseries A Perfect Hero.[401]

A Buchón now with the Planes of Fame Air Museum, Chino, California, is under repair after a landing accident at Lydd in Kent during filming of Pearl Harbor in 2000.[401]

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 television film Over Here starring Martin Clunes.[401]

Hughes 500 / OH-6 Cayuse / MH-6 Little Bird

In the film Blue Thunder, the antagonist Colonel Cochrane flew a heavily armed Hughes 500.[403]

Three Hughes OH-6A Cayuse helicopters make up part of the strike package against Ernst Stavro Blofeld's oil rig command center in the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever.[151]

A Hughes 500 takes part in the 1973 television film 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 Alouette II.[404]

A pair of Hughes 500 helicopters appear in the 1978 film Capricorn One, near the climatic ending where they get entangled with a crop duster biplane.[155]

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.[165]

MD Helicopters MH-6 Little Bird helicopters provided air support for the downed Blackhawk's crash site in the 2001 film Black Hawk Down.[405]

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.[406]

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.[407]

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.[408]

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.[409]

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".[410][411]

The airplane 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, revolved around Nate and his team selling the Hercules.[412]

Hughes XF-11

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 made-for-television film, 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,[413] with the aircraft depicted by a mock-up with flight rendered through CGI.[414]


The ICON A5 was the starter aircraft for Microsoft Flight before that simulation program was cancelled in 2013.[415]

Ikarus Kurir

The 1973 film The Fifth Offensive, starring Richard Burton, featured an Ikarus Kurir L playing the part of a Luftwaffe Fieseler Storch.[416]

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.[417] The J2F-6 which starred in the film, BuNo 33587,[418] afterwards resided in the Weeks Air Museum in Florida, USA (now the Fantasy of Flight Museum).[419]

Junkers Ju 52/3m

A Swiss Air Force Junkers Ju 52/3m was used in the 1968 action thriller Where Eagles Dare.[420]

Two Ju 52s appeared in one of the early scenes in the 2008 WW2 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.[421]

Kaman SH-2 Seasprite

The Transformers Combaticon named Vortex disguises itself as an SH-2G Super Seasprite.[422]

Kamov Ka-27

A pair of Ka-27 Helix helicopters appear throughout Martin Campbell's film No Escape. The helicopters transport inmates to a prison island, and patrol the shoreline for would be escapees.[423]

L-5 Sentinel

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.[424] The title of Joseph Heller's 1961 satirical novel of the same name has entered the lexicon.

Lamson Alcor

The one-of-a-kind Lamson L-106 Alcor pressurized high-altitude research sailplane played a key role in the 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.[425]

Lockheed Constellation

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.[414]

The same aircraft (N6937C) was also featured in the 1992 film Voyager which starred Sam Shepard and was directed by Volker Schlöndorff.[426]

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.[427]

Lockheed EP-3

The Hainan Island incident was referenced in the television series JAG, in the episode Dog Robber during season 7. In this episode based on the real incident, a US 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 US 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.[428]

Lockheed Model 12 Electra Junior

A Lockheed Model 12 Electra Junior appeared as the French airliner in the climactic final scene from the 1942 film Casablanca.[429] (The aircraft carries the Air France seahorse logo,[430] although Air France did not operate the type.) A "cut-out" stood in for a real airplane in many shots.[429]

Lockheed Hudson

A vintage flying Lockheed Hudson IV appeared in the WW II film The Great Raid directed by John Dahl and released in 2005. The film was based on the book by William Breuer. The Hudson now resides in the Temora Aviation Museum in Australia.[431][432]

Lockheed Jetstar

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.[433]

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 of California. Whipped by the Santa Anas coming through the Tehachapi Pass into the valley, the smoke effect contributed convincing heavy weather to the shots.[184]

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 movie, 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.[434]

A T-33 played the role of a Soviet 'Yak-13' in the 1957 Cold War romantic/drama Jet Pilot which starred John Wayne and Janet Leigh and was directed by Howard Hughes.[435]

Lockheed U-2

In 1976, Francis Gary Powers' 1970 autobiography, "Operation Overflight: A Memoir of the U-2 Incident", was turned into a television film, Francis Gary Powers: The True Story of the U-2 Spy Incident, with Lee Majors in the role of Powers.[436]

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),[437] the only combat casualty of the Cuban Missile Crisis.[438]

Lockheed Vega

A Lockheed Vega DL-1B Special, one of only two that remain in flying condition, was used in the 1976 television miniseries Amelia Earhart, starring Susan Clark as the aviatrix.[439]

A Stinson Reliant stood in for Lockheed Vega DL-1 Special, G-ABGK, c/n 155, "Puck", race number 36,[440] in the 1991 Australian mini-series The Great Air Race, about the 1934 London to Melbourne MacRobertson Trophy Air Race.[172] It is also known as Half a World Away.[173]

Martin MB-2

The 1927 William Wellman film Wings featured Martin MB-2s among many types depicting World War I aircraft.[245]

Messerschmitt Bf 108

Two Messerschmitt Bf 108 Taifuns depicted Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters in the 1962 film The Longest Day,[441] and the type substituted for unavailable Luftwaffe fighters again in the 1964 film 633 Squadron.[442]

Messerschmitt Bf 109

Computer-generated images of Messerschmitt Bf 109Gs appear in the WW2 aerial film Red Tails (2012) directed by Anthony Hemingway and produced by Lucasfilms.[443]

A computer-generated Messerschmitt 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.[444]

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.[445]

Me 262s feature in the 2012 WW2 aerial epic Red Tails directed by Anthony Hemingway.[446]

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.[447]

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 US Army unit.[448]

In W. E. B. Griffin's 1999 novel Secret Honor, the protagonist gets an introductory flight in an Me 262 while in Nazi Germany.[449]

MiGs (generic)

As was common in the 1950s, MiGs (presumably −15s, as the story is set in Korea) are portrayed by Republic F-84F Thunderstreaks in the 1958 film The Hunters, about USAF fighter pilots[325] and loosely based on the 1956 novel of the same name by James Salter.[326]

More recently the part of MiGs has been played by the F-5 Tiger II in Top Gun[18][287] and JAG episode 3.24.[450]

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.[451] The book was later adapted into a graphic novel in 2011, illustrated by Wesley Robins.[452]

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21

The Indian (Hindi) films Silsila (1981) and Rang De Basanti (2006) depicted the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21.[453]

Mikoyan MiG-29

The MiG-29 is the alternate form of the figure Dreadwing as well as its redecos Overcast and Fearswoop from the 2007 and 2009 Transformers film toy lines.[454]

Mil Mi-8/-17

A Mil Mi-17 is used in the 2001 film Behind Enemy Lines as a NATO CSAR helicopter that makes an attempt to rescue a downed airman.[455]

At the beginning of the 2002 film Die Another Day, a Mil Mi-8T is commandeered by James Bond, to infiltrate the antagonists' base.[456]

The aircraft also appeared in the 2006 film Blood Diamond, directed by Edward Zwick; it was used by the protagonist to reach a refugee camp.[455]

Mil Mi-24 'Hind'

A Mil Mi-24 helicopter appears in the 1997 film Air Force One. The aircraft is used to retrieve a Russian prisoner in exchange for the US President, who’s being held captive.[150]

The helicopter is used extensively in the 2005 movie 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 movie's climactic battle.[457]

In the 2006 film Blood Diamond, a Mi-24 is employed to attack a rebel village.[455]

The helicopter is used by the antagonist to flee a Moscow rooftop in the film A Good Day to Die Hard.[458]

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 Rep. Charlie Wilson's efforts to shoot down Soviet Mi-24s.[459][155]

Mil Mi-26

In the 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.[460]

Miles Falcon

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,[173] Miles Falcon, VH-AAT, played Miles M.3 Falcon, G-ACTM, the prototype fitted with extra fuel tanks, race number 31.[172]

Mitsubishi A5M

The Mitsubishi A5M Type 96 fighter, known to the Allies as the 'Claude', features prominently in the Japanese Studio Ghibli animated feature The Wind Rises (2013) 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.[221]

Moller M400 Skycar

The Moller M400 Skycar was featured in the 2010 made for TV family movie The Jensen Project with LeVar Burton and Kellie Martin.[461]

Morane-Saulnier MS.230

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.[462] Peppard purchased the aircraft and took it back to the US where it joined the collection of the San Diego Aerospace Museum.[463] 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 distance type's reputation as a killer.[464][465]

N3N Canary

Naval Aircraft Factory N3N Canarys were shown in the 1941 Warner Bros. film Dive Bomber.[277]

Nakajima Ki-27

Nakajima Ki-27s, lifted from Japanese film, appeared in the 1942 Republic film Flying Tigers.[220]

Nieuport 17

The Nieuport 17 was one of the main aircraft featured in the 2006 film Flyboys.[466][467]

Nieuport 28

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.[468]

Noorduyn AT-16

Canadian-built variants of the North American T-6 Texan are seen in the 1943 RKO film Bombardier, filmed at Kirtland Field, New Mexico.[96]

Noorduyn Norseman

The Noorduyn Norseman is featured in scenes in the 1942 Warner Bros. film Captains of the Clouds, with Jimmy Cagney as a Canadian bush pilot at the start of World War II.[469]

North American AT-6 Texan

The 1941 Paramount Pictures film I Wanted Wings featured flights of more than 50 North American T-6 Texans from Kelly Field, Texas.[94]

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.[470]

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 novel of the same title by 1st Lt. Beirne Lay, Jr.[94]

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.[471]

The rocket craft is also the subject of the 1961 Essex Productions movie 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.[472]

Northrop A-17

The Northrop A-17 makes an appearance at March Field at the conclusion of the 1941 Paramount Pictures film I Wanted Wings.[94]

Northrop YB-49

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.[473]

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.[130]

O-2 Skymaster

An unmodified Cessna 337 Skymaster painted gray played the part of a Cessna O-2 Skymaster in the 1988 motion picture Bat*21, as the plane flown by Danny Glover.[474]

O2C Helldiver

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.[237] 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.[475]

P-1 Hawk

The 1927 William Wellman film Wings featured Curtiss P-1 Hawks among many types depicting World War I aircraft.[245]


A civilianized Seversky P-35, the Seversky S2, which won the 1937 Bendix Trophy race, appeared as the "Drake Bullet" in the 1938 M-G-M film Test Pilot.[476]

P-38 Lightning

A Guy Named Joe (1943) has Spencer Tracy returning as a guiding spirit looking after young Lockheed P-38 Lightning pilot Van Johnson.[477]

The 1944 short feature P-38 Reconnaissance Pilot, starring William Holden as Lt. "Packy" Cummings, dramatises the work of photo reconnaissance pilots in World War II.[478]

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.[479]

In the pilot episode of the Filmways television comedy Green Acres, presented as a "mockumentary", hosted by John Charles Daly, about the life of actor Eddie Albert's character, Oliver Wendell Douglas, his wartime experience as a P-38 Lightning pilot in the U.S. Army Air Force is depicted, with color footage of the 5,000th P-38 built, P-38J-20-LO, 44-23296, painted a bright vermilion and named "YIPPEE", used to supply flight footage (7:01 – 7:55 in the episode).[480]

In the 1992 action movie Aces: Iron Eagle III, the main character, Brig. Gen Chappy Sinclair, pilots a P-38J as part a mission to field old WW2 airshow planes against a drug cartel in Peru.[481] The aircraft, registration N38BP, came from the Planes of Fame museum.[482]


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.[483] 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.[484]

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.[485]

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.[486]

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.[487]

In the 1969 Twentieth Century Fox film Tora! Tora! Tora!, P-40s are shot up on the ground and shoot down Zeros at the attack on Pearl Harbor.[488]

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.[489] 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.[490] (Not to be confused with the 1975 sci-fi film Death Race 2000.)

In Steven Spielberg's 1979 film 1941, a P-40 Tomahawk was used as actor John Belushi's fighter, with scenes at the "Barstow Munitions Depot" filmed at Indian Dunes, California.[491]

In the 2001 film Pearl Harbor the characters played by Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett manage to get two P-40s into the air during the Japanese attack.[492]

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.[115]

P-47 Thunderbolt

The 1948 Raoul Walsh film Fighter Squadron depicts a Republic P-47 Thunderbolt unit in the ETO.[493]

Czech composer Bohuslav Martinů paid a tribute to the aircraft with his scherzo for orchestra. It was premiered 19 December 1945 in Washington, D.C.[494]

Steve Earle's song "Johnny Come Lately" 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."[495]

Modified T-6 Texans depicted P-47s in the 1977 film A Bridge Too Far.[62]

P-51 Mustang

P-51 Mustangs (postwar designation F-51) appear in the 1957 Universal Studios film Battle Hymn.[392]

P-51s feature repeatedly in the 1987 coming-of-age war film Empire of the Sun, dubbed the "cadillac of the skies" by the protagonist, as a symbol of America in the Chinese theatre of World War II.[496] The film, directed by Steven Spielberg, was based on J. G. Ballard's semi-autobiographical novel of the same name. Three aircraft were used: A Commonwealth-built CA-18 Mk. 22 and two P-51Ds from The Fighter Collection. Pilots were Ray Hanna, who acted as overall Mustang consultant, Mark Hanna, and Hoof Proudfoot. Filming was done in Spain, with Mustang flight operations conducted out of Jerez Airport, although some ex-Spanish Air Force T-6 Texans, modified to resemble Zeros, flew from the film set air field, whose dirt and crushed rock runway was considered too risky for the fighters. All three Mustangs wore markings of the 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 23d Fighter Group, 14th Air Force, which operated in the Pacific theatre. John Williams' score also contains "Cadillac of the Skies" as an individual musical cue.[497]

The North American P-51 Mustang was featured in the 1995 HBO television film The Tuskegee Airmen.[498]

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.[499]

The P-51 Mustang is prominently featured in the 2012 George Lucas film about the 332d Fighter Group, the Tuskegee Airmen, Red Tails.[115][500]

Panavia Tornado

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.[501]

The Transformers character Darkwing disguises itself as a Panavia Tornado.[502]

PBY Catalina

The 1973 Warner Bros. film Steelyard Blues starring Donald Sutherland and Jane Fonda centres on at attempt to make a Catalina airworthy.[503]

A former Royal Danish Air Force PBY-6A Catalina appeared in the 1976 film Midway.[504]

A PBY-5A Catalina appeared in the opening sequence of the 1989 Steven Spielberg film Always as a firebomber picking up a water load and bearing down on two startled fishermen.[504]

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 209 Squadron. The PBY-5A was marked as the Catalina that had a decisive role in the sinking of the Bismarck.[505]

PB4Y Privateer

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".[506]

Percival Proctor

The most prominent of the real aircraft in Nevil Shute's 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.[248]

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..[507]

Pfalz D.III

A pair of flying replica Pfalz D.IIIs were constructed to appear in the 1966 epic WW1 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).[508]

Pfalz D.XII

A Pfalz D.XII which is now in the National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C., was flown in The Dawn Patrol (1930), Hell's Angels (1930), and Men with Wings (1938).[126]

Pilatus Porter

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.[130]

Piper Cherokee

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 United States government of the gold in Fort Knox.[509][510]

Pitcairn Autogyro

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).[511][512][513]

RAH-66 Comanche

The cancelled Boeing-Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche appeared in director Ang Lee's Hulk film in 2003.[514]

Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2

A replica Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c was used in the production of the BBC-TV Great War drama series Wings which aired in 1977–1978.[515][516][517] 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 & 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.[518]

Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5

The 1927 William Wellman film Wings featured a Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5a among many types depicting World War I aircraft.[245]

Ryan NYP

The 1938 Paramount film Men with Wings, starring Ray Milland, featured a reproduction of the Spirit of St. Louis fashioned from a Ryan B-1 Brougham.[519]

A recreation of the Ryan NYP was used for the 1957 Warner Bros. film The Spirit of St. Louis, starring Jimmy Stewart as Charles Lindbergh.[520]

SBD Dauntless

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.[521][522]

Later in 1987, the same aircraft (BuNo 28536), now in airworthy condition, was used in the production of the epic 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.[523]

SB2C Helldiver / A-25 Shrike

The loss of a US Navy Curtiss SB2C-1 Helldiver, BuNo 00154, of VB-5, during launch near Trinidad on 28 May 1943[524] 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.[525]

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.[526]

SB2U Vindicator

Vought SB2U Vindicators were featured in the 1941 Warner Bros. film Dive Bomber.[277]

Short Sunderland

A Short Sunderland flying boat patrol bomber was the setting for much of the 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.[527]

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 novel of the same title.[154]

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.[150]

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.[15]

In the 1954 science fiction film Them!, a Sikorsky S-51 is used to spot giant ants in the New Mexico desert.[58]

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 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.[528]

The character of Harold the Helicopter from the British children's program Thomas the Tank Engine is based on the Sikorsky S-55, built in the UK as the Westland Whirlwind.[529]

The Sikorsky S-55 appeared in Irwin Allen’s 1960 film, The Lost World[530]

Sikorsky S-51 / Westland Dragonfly

A Westland Dragonfly, the 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.[531]

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,[532] produced, directed by, and starring Clint Eastwood, based on the 1977 novel of the same name by Craig Thomas.

The Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion appears in the 2002 film The Sum of All Fears, based on the Tom Clancy novel of the same title.[90]

A CH-53E Super Stallion is featured in the 1997 film The Jackal, where it flies over Washington D.C. and hovers between buildings during a fast rope sequence.[533]

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."[534] Toys for Blackout were MH-53 replicas, which were reused for the characters of Evac, Spinister and Whirl.[535]

The heavier CH-53E Super Stallion is the alternate form for the Decepticon Grindor in the 2009 film Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.[536]

Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe/Sikorsky S-64

In the 1996 film Independence Day a Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane is fitted with an array of flashing lights to communicate with an alien spaceship.[537]

A Skycrane also appears in the 2001 film Swordfish, near the climactic ending in which it has a bus full of hostages slung loaded underneath, and is flying through downtown Los Angeles.[538]

Sikorsky H-60 series

The Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk was the title aircraft in the film Black Hawk Down.[539] Film makers paid the U.S. Department of Defense about $3 million to ship eight helicopters and about 100 crew members to the film location in Morocco. [90]

Black Hawks were also featured in the film "Air Force One", again having been rented from the U.S. military.[187]

In the film Clear and Present Danger a pair of MH-60K Black Hawks are used to insert a special ops team, into a Colombian jungle.[155]

Sikorsky S-29-A

Igor Sikorsky's Sikorsky S-29-A, owned by Roscoe Turner, doubled for a Gotha bomber in Howard Hughes' 1930 aerial epic Hell's Angels.[540]

Sikorsky VS-44

When M-G-M 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.[541]

Sopwith Camel

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,[542] and Biggles of the Camel Squadron.[543] The first of these tales was published in 1932.

The 1934 novel Winged Victory by Victor M. Yeates features the Sopwith Camel in action during the Great War.[544]

In the 1975 George Roy Hill film The Great Waldo Pepper, the title character, flying a Camel, takes part in a dogfight with a Fokker Dr.I.[545]

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.[546]

Sopwith 1&1/2 Strutter

A 1/6 scale RC model of a Sopwith 1&1/2 Strutter was constructed by Proctor-Enterprises to appear in the ABC TV movie Young Indiana Jones Chronicles: Attack of the Hawkmen (1995) produced by George Lucas.[547]

A replica Sopwith 1&1/2 Strutter featured in the 2006 movie Flyboys, a drama about the Lafayette Escadrille. The replica, built in 1992, was purchased from a private museum in Alabama.[548]

Sopwith Pup

The fictional RFC squadron in Derek Robinson's 1999 WW1 novel Hornet's Sting flies the Sopwith Pup.[200]

Space Shuttle orbiter

In Jon Amiel’s film The Core space shuttle Endeavour is sent off course by a disruption in the earth’s magnetic field, forcing it to land in a Los Angeles reservoir.[549]

From the 2013 film Gravity, space shuttle Explorer is destroyed by an out of control satellite, in the early portion of the film.[550]

The Transformers Combaticon named Blast Off, the Autobot Sky Lynx, and triple-changer Astrotrain all disguise themselves as Space Shuttle orbiters.[551]

In the 2000 film Space Cowboys, four retired astronauts launch into space aboard the shuttle "Daedalus" to repair a crippled Russian satellite.[549]

In Payne Harrison's 1990 novel Storming Intrepid, the shuttle Intrepid – one of four new shuttles built by the US 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.[552]


The 1927 William Wellman film Wings featured a SPAD S.VII among many types depicting World War I aircraft.[245]

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.[344]

SR-71 Blackbird

In the 1985 film D.A.R.Y.L. the protagonist steals an SR-71 Blackbird from an air base while trying to escape from government agents.[553]

Although retired from service for over a decade, 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, which are SR-71 models.[554]

In Payne Harrison's 1990 novel Storming Intrepid, the US 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 plane 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.[552]

Stampe SV.4

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 aircraft were prepared by Bianchi Aviation Film Services and flown by well-known pilots including Neil Williams.[555][556]

Supermarine Attacker

The Supermarine Attacker appears in two flying sequences in the 1952 film The Sound Barrier (released in the US as Breaking the Sound Barrier), directed by David Lean and starring Nigel Patrick & Ralph Richardson. The aerial footage was filmed by Jack Hildyard.[258]

Supermarine Spitfire

The 1942 film The First of the Few is a dramatization of the life of R. J. Mitchell, mostly concerning his work on the Supermarine Spitfire.[557][558]

The 1951 film Malta Story centered around Spitfires and their pilots defending Malta in 1942.[559]

A clipped-wing Spitfire features in the opening sequence of David Lean's 1952 film The Sound Barrier (released in the US 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.[560]

British writer Elleston Trevor's best-selling 1955 novel Squadron Airborne depicted a fictional RAF squadron flying Spitfires at the height of the Battle of Britain in 1940.[561] The more recent novel Band of Eagles (2007) by Frank Barnard featured Spitfires engaged in the defence of Malta in 1941.[562]

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).[563][564]

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.[565]

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".[384] 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."[566] Producers secured 35 Spitfires for use in the film.[384]

A Spitfire Mk. IXc (MH434/G-ASJV) depicted an aerial reconnaissance variant in A Bridge Too Far.[62]

A Spitfire (MH434/G-ASJV again) appears in a low-flying sequence in John Boorman's 1987 film Hope and Glory.[567][568][569]

The Spitfire was also the main aircraft used in the 1988 television series 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 taxying replicas.[570]

The 2001 Czech film Dark Blue World, a World War II drama about Czech pilots who flew with the Royal Air Force and 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.[571]

The film Pearl Harbor (2001) directed by Michael Bay included a sequence which featured Spitfires.[572][573]

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.[574]

Two vintage Spitfires were used in the filming of the 2010 BBC television docu-drama First Light, based on the memoir of the same name by WW2 RAF pilot Geoffrey Wellum.[575]

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.[576] The film was nominated for best short film at the 2012 Academy Awards.[577]

Supermarine Swift

The second prototype Supermarine Swift appeared as the "Prometheus" in the 1952 film The Sound Barrier.[96][578]

TBD Devastator

Douglas TBD Devastators were featured in the 1941 Warner Bros. film Dive Bomber.[277]

Thomas-Morse MB-3

The 1927 William Wellman film Wings featured Thomas-Morse MB-3As among many types depicting World War I aircraft.[245]

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.[579][580]

USS Macon

In the 1934 Warner Bros. film Here Comes the Navy, directed by Lloyd Bacon, the first of nine movies 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.[581]

Vickers FB5 Gunbus

A replica Vickers FB5 was constructed to appear in the 1986 movie Sky Bandits (also released under the title Gunbus) which was about a pair of cowboys who flee the US to escape prison for a bank robbery and end up serving in the RFC during the Great War. The replica, built as a taxying prop for the film, is currently housed at Sywell Aerodrome in the UK.[582]

Another Vickers FB5 replica was built to appear in the 1976 film Shout at the Devil which starred Lee Marvin & Roger Moore and was based on the Wilbur Smith novel of the same name.[583]

Vickers Valiant

The Vickers Valiant figures in Anthony Gray's 1965 novel The Penetrators, in which an RAF officer attempts to demonstrate a weakness in the North American strategic defense system NORAD by launching a mock attack involving nine Avro Vulcans and some Vickers Valiant tankers for inflight refuelling.[83]

Vickers Wellington

The Vickers Wellington features in the films Target for Tonight (1941)[584]

A haunted Vickers Wellington is the subject of Robert Westall's macabre, and critically appreciated, short story Blackham's Wimpy.[585]

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.[586]

V-22 Osprey

In the 2005 TV miniseries The Triangle, V-22 Ospreys armed with torpedoes confront and sink the protagonists' boat on the ocean as they approach the exclusion zone around the temporal phenomenon.[58]

Two Bell-Boeing CV-22 Ospreys (of only three in the USAF inventory at the time)[587] were filmed in flight at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, in May 2006 for the 2007 Transformers film.[588][589] 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.[590]

The 2011 movie Transformers: Dark of the Moon features the CV-22 Osprey.[591]

Wallis autogyro

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.[592] In 1966, one of the Beagle-built WA-116s, registered G-ARZB, was modified for use in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice, dubbed "Little Nellie" and flown by Wallis, doubling for Sean Connery's 007.[593]

Wright Flyer

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.[594]

Wright Model B

Several replicas of the Wright Model B were constructed for the filming of the 1978 TV movie The Winds of Kitty Hawk. One of the replicas is now owned and preserved by Wright B Flyers Inc. based in Dayton, Ohio.[595]


The Martin XB-51 depicted the fictional Gilbert XF-120 in the 1956 film Toward the Unknown, starring William Holden as a test pilot.[596] 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.[597]

XB-70 Valkyrie

The Transformers character of Silverbolt was upgraded to a North American XB-70 Valkyrie for the Universe line as an Ultra class toy.[598]


A German Zeppelin is shot down in the 1930 Howard Hughes film Hell's Angels.[599]

A bombing raid by a Zeppelin comprises a major plot point in the Elsie McCutcheon novel Summer of the Zeppelin.[600]

The 1971 British film Zeppelin, set during World War I, features a new prototype airship.[601]

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Further reading

  • Call, Steve (2009). Selling Air Power Military Aviation and American Popular Culture After World War II. Texas A&M University Press. ISBN 1-60344-100-X. 
  • Van Riper, A. Bowdoin (2004). Imagining Flight Aviation and Popular Culture. College Station, Texas, USA: Texas A&M University Press. ISBN 1-58544-300-X. 

External links