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8 Of The Most Revolutionary British Aircraft Ever Built

The British have built some impressive aircraft over the years. Here are 8 of their best designs.

1) Sopwith Camel

The Camel got its name from a metal fairing that was placed over the machine guns, creating a 'hump' on the front of the aircraft. It was heavy and difficult to handle, but the famous Sopwith Camel shot down 1,294 enemy aircraft in WWI. That's more than any other Allied fighter in the war.

Scott Lowe

2) Supermarine Spitfire

The Spitfire was the only British fighter that was in continuous production during WW2. In 1943, the Spitfire conducted high speed trials, because it could achieve the highest Mach number of any aircraft at the time. The Spitfire managed to fly Mach 0.92, the fastest recorded for a piston aircraft. The last Spitfire was produced in 1948, with a total of 20,351 aircraft built.

Bryan Fury75

3) English Electric Canberra

The Canberra was the first British jet powered bomber, replacing the DH Mosquito. The Canberra flew higher than any other bomber in the 50s, and set an altitude record of 70,310 feet in 1957. The design was so popular, the US Air Force developed 403 of the under license through the Martin company.


4) De Havilland Comet

The Comet was the first production jetliner in the world. Unfortunately, the revolutionary jet's square windows contributed to airframe fatigue problems, and 3 of them broke apart inflight.

I Wish I Was Flying

5) English Electric Lightning

The Lightning was the only Mach 2 fighter jet designed exclusively by Britain. Additionally, it was the first aircraft capable of supercruise.

BAE Systems

6) Vickers VC10

The VC10 was one of only two airliners in the world designed with a quad rear-engine layout (the other was the Ilyushin Il-62). The VC10 was built to operate out of short runways at hot and high airports in Africa, and still holds the record for the fastest London to New York Atlantic crossing by a subsonic airliner.

RAF Brize Norton

7) Harrier

The Harrier was the only VSTOL fighter to be successfully deployed into service in the 20th century. The design withstood the test of time - the first Harrier flight was 1967, and 47 years later, it's still operated by several countries around the world.


8) Concorde

The Concorde is one of two supersonic transport airliners ever built (the other being the Tupolev Tu-144). While it wasn't exclusively built by the British, it was impressive. The Concorde was capable of a speeds over Mach 2, and it holds the speed record for fastest airliner flight between New York to London, at 2 hours, 52 minutes, 59 seconds. The Concorde logged over 600,000 supersonic flight hours, more than all other supersonic aircraft in the western world combined.

Nick Warner

Colin Cutler

Colin is a Boldmethod co-founder, pilot and graphic artist. He's been a flight instructor at the University of North Dakota, an airline pilot on the CRJ-200, and has directed development of numerous commercial and military training systems. You can reach him at

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