I actually learned about this resource while doing some research for something else, which is one of my favorite ways of finding out about buzzworthy resources. The Warbird Registry describes itself this way: “Over time we would like to develop a database of all military aircraft that have entered civilian hands from World War II to present.” The site itself is available at http://www.warbirdregistry.org/. It’s not a database per se; instead it has a large number of aircraft models on the front page divided into several categories.
Categories include fighters, bombers, transports, etc. While there are some subcategory pages, in many cases the aircraft model numbers are just listed on this one page. You’ll have to know something about military aircraft (I don’t) or just enjoy browsing around (I did.) I looked at the transport category and picked out the “C-119 Flying Boxcar” because it sounded interesting. That model’s page has a list of 13 serial numbers. Click on one and you’ll get information about where that particular aircraft is, some of its history, and in many cases pictures. Good old C-119 Flying Boxcar 51-2566, for example, was at the Museum of Aviation at Warner Robins AFB from at least 1986-2006 (each aircraft’s page shows a “last reported” date) and there are two pictures available.
How much information you get on a particular aircraft just depends on that aircraft and apparently to some extent the model. I took a look at the Spitfires. There were a lot more of them and they had a lot more history and details. For example, Spitfire P9306 has a huge history listed, starting with its construction in 1939.
If you like this resource page you might want to check out the Warbirds Resource Group at http://www.warbirdsresourcegroup.org/, which also has forums, book reviews, and resource centers devoted to various aspects of military aircraft. It looks like some sections of this site are rather old (the link list was last verified in 2001 according to its page) but the forums appear active and there’s enough located on site and in the registry for lots of happy browsing.