The Mid Atlantic Air Museum in Reading, Pennsylvania has just released their 2017 annual summary on progress with the restoration of their ultra-rare Northrop P-61B Black Widow night fighter 42-39445. They have been working diligently on the project since recovering it from the side of Mount Cyclops on Papua, Indonesia in 1991. Structurally, the P-61 has progressed to a degree that the aircraft now looks like a P-61 again. However, the bulk of their efforts this past year have focused more on the smaller details, which always seem to take up a lot more time… and money… than one would initially expect. A number of the more demanding items, like the outer wing spars and one of the engines, are contracted out to workshops which specialize in those areas. Therefore, as the museum states in their press release below, we unfortunately don’t have any current images to share, (although we have included a few older ones here to show how much has already been achieved).
We would like to thank the many followers and donors of our P-61 for their requests for more progress photographs. We happily post new photos as there is new material to show you, but posting photos of electrical wiring or drilled holes in metal or rivets becomes repetitious, especially when the new photos look like others already posted. So, to keep you updated, we will explain where we are with the restoration.
- Our wing spars are still outsourced to the machine shop and are not completed yet – thus no new spar photos.
- During 2017 several donors stepped forward which has enabled us to order four new brake assemblies ($20,000), order two diamond tread 47s.c. tires ($7,500), overhaul all of the pilot instruments ($10,000), and overhaul all four of the submersible boost pumps ($5,800). All of the above items are now in-house except the four brake assemblies which are expected in the 2nd quarter of 2018.
- Another donor has provided the necessary funds to send one of the R2800-65 engines to Anderson Aeromotive for an overhaul ($85,000). The second engine will follow as funding becomes available.
- The task of making pattern templates for the four fuel bladders is in progress. The two inboard tank patterns have been completed and test fitted. The initial patterns for the two outboard tanks will begin in January 2018.
- Wiring harnesses continue to be built and installed in the airframe.
- A materials list is being put together to begin building the control cables for the engines and airframe. We expect to order materials for this part of the project in the 1st quarter of 2018.
Work continues on the P-61 on a daily basis. We assure you the project continues to move forward. I urge you to please be patient and allow us to continue with the various aspects of this spectacular aircraft restoration and we promise to post additional photos as opportunities for new material become available. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
WarbirdsNews would like to thank Russ Strine and the Mid Atlantic Air Museum for sharing these details with us. We wish them the best of luck in completing this important project. Anyone wishing to help further their efforts should click the link HERE to find out how they can contribute.