WarbirdsNews recently heard from Russ Strine who runs the Mid Atlantic Air Museum in Reading, Pennsylvania. As most of you will know, his museum is rebuilding the Northrop P-61B Black Widow (42-39445) which they recovered from Mt.Cyclops in Hollandia, New Guinea back in the late 1980s. They are making great progress with the night fighter, and we thought you would like to hear (and see) some of the work that’s been going on with the Widow of late….
Russ Strine: The Mid Atlantic Air Museum’s P-61 restoration project continues to move along. As a result of the recent Kickstarter fund raising effort, all of the materials to manufacture the new wing spars, replace any damaged wing ribs, and reskin the wings are now in house. Several specialty machine shops are in the process of providing quotes for the machining of the eight wing spar caps. Meanwhile MAAM crews are busy with the other wing spar components such as the spar web, and are also making the patterns for and forming new wing ribs as necessary. The ribs are made in 3 sections, nose, center, and trailing edge, however it is a number of the nose or leading edge section ribs which must be replaced due to damage from trees during the crash.
Work on the crew nacelle has been focused on installing miles of electrical wiring for quite some time now, and just prior to the December holidays ground power was put on the airplane for the first time to test all electrical circuits, which went without a hitch!
Other work has centered around stringing and connecting up engine fuel system and flight control trim cables.
During 2014 an original New Old Stock Curtiss Electric propeller was purchased after raising $20,000 dollars during the Museum’s annual World War II Weekend event. A second Curtiss propeller has also been promised to the Museum for the project.
WarbirdsNews wishes to thank Russ Strine and the Mid Atlantic Air Museum for contributing the details for this article. The P-61 is in the last stages of its restoration, which as anyone will know is often the most complex and expensive stage. Engines need rebuilding, and systems too. For those wishing to contribute to this important, and ultra-rare aircraft please click HERE to find out how.
The museum is a must see for anyone with even a passing interest in vintage military aviation. Their WWII Weekend during the first weekend in June is not to be missed either. It is a unique event combining many aspects of WWII from mock ground battles, military encampments, and some superb aircraft on the ground and in the air… not to mention a great memorabilia market as well with dozens of interesting vendors.