Northrop P-61 Black Widow 2015 Restoration Update

Photo by John Lackey of Fly By Photography
Photo by John Lackey of Fly By Photography
Photo by John Lackey of Fly By Photography

The Mid Atlantic Air Museum in Reading, Pennsylvania has made great progress on their Northrop P-61 Black Widow restoration project over the past year. Last December, volunteers pulled the P-61’s outer right wing from storage, prepared holding fixtures for it and moved the wing into the shop for rebuild. The crew then set about drilling off the various sheetmetal “skins” to expose the wing ribs and spars for repair. MAAM also ran a Kickstarter fundraising campaign back in March which  exceeded the goal of $35,000 by raising a total of $39,815. Thanks to this, MAAM was able to obtain the raw materials for the spars in both wings. The museum conducted a further fundraising campaign during their annual World War II Weekend in June; setting a $20,000 goal to acquire a rare Curtiss Electric propeller for the project. Amazingly, with public participation, and additional significant contributions from museum members, MAAM collected enough to purchase the propeller that weekend!

Photo by John Lackey of Fly By Photography
Photo by John Lackey of Fly By Photography

Enthusiasm for the P-61 was certainly high at World War II Weekend. Good weather allowed MAAM to display the Black Widow outside – and it looked stunning. The restoration crew had temporarily installed the old engines so that the electrical team could begin making the wiring harnesses for the engine compartments. As for the P-61’s electrical systems, the aircraft finally has the proper cabling to allow power to be applied. They ran system checks on the electrical components already installed, and everything appears to be working properly. The crew has already started building up the electrical harnesses for the outer wings. They have also installed some of the cockpit control cables as well. The project recently received an anonymous $15,000 donation from a long-time member as well, which has greatly boosted spirits at the museum. Work continues, as ever, and each year shows great strides being made to get this rare survivor airborne again. The outer wings represent the last major structural hurdle to overcome, but there are still many time consuming and expensive aspects awaiting attention, especially in the engine compartments. The Mid Atlantic Air Museum could always use support, whether financial or otherwise. If you feel you can help this major project, please click HERE to find out how. The museum also has a list of items they need for the Black Widow and other aircraft in their unique collection too, which you can find HERE.

Photo by John Lackey of Fly By Photography
Photo by John Lackey of Fly By Photography

Thanks to John Lackey of Fly By Photography for the pictures.

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10 Comments

  1. As a long term member of the Mid Atlantic Air Museum, I take great pleasure and pride in being selected as one of the few who tell the story of this Black Widow at our annual World War II Weekend. We have brought her back from New Guinea and the ongoing restoration has reached this point. Ok folks. This is your chance to be a part of the effort to put a piece of history back in the air. Please make a contribution to her today. The faster we raise the bucks to finish the restoration, the sooner we will be able to put the wind beneath her wings. When we get this bird flying you can take satisfaction knowing that you had a hand in making her airworthy. Please visit the MAAM website to see how you can help.

  2. It is great work you are doing on the P61 I will be there for the WWll weekend I have ben trying to get my tickets on line and have ben having trouble getting into the site for tickets please advise thanks Mike

  3. I was Plesantly Suprised to see that there are 3 P — 61 Northrop Black Widow in existence here in our Age !! I knew of one that the Chinese Government maintains and uses in its Technical Training Program of one of its Schools. I also am familiar of another P –61 that is in a private collection …. somewhere . I really rejoice this T H I R D Beauty has been rescued from New Guinea jungle !! This for Me would be probably one of the greatest restorations that I may see in my life !! As an Early Model Aircraft enthusiast… I built Two of the P –61 Black Widow Aircraft and now, I’M about to construct a THIRD One . Thanx for the History, Pictures, Rebuild Imfo and your fine article on this Incredible Bird !!

  4. As a lockheed bratt, and son of a pilot i was destined to be an aviation buff, i was given a p-61 model sometime back in highschool, (never built it) but had never heard of a p-61, but i instantly loved everything about it, dedicated night fighter, awesome name, i hope they get this pretty lady back into the air, if its not already by now, its 2017, would love to hear an update on it.

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