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