P5M-2 Restoration

by LCdr Jack Page, USN (Ret)

SP-5B BuNo 135533 at the National Museum of Naval Aviation (NMNA), Pensacola, FL was brought in for Hurricane Ivan repair in June 2007. The work was done by Mariana Airmotive of Cantonment, FL under a government contract with the Navy Department. The contract was limited to storm damage repair, corrosion repair, and spot painting as necessary. The Mariner/ Marlin Association requested the aircraft be fully repaired and painted in order to best protect it from further damage from the elements as an outside display. The additional cost to complete the exterior restoration above the original contract price amounted to $54,000.

The Museum held on account approximately $17,500 in dedicated funds donated toward the restoration of the Marlin, $12,500 donated on behalf of the Mariner/Marlin Association by the Lockheed-Martin Company and $5,000 by the VP-45 Association. In May 2007 the Mariner/Marlin Association agreed to donate an additional $20,000 toward the completion of the external restoration. At their annual reunion, Capt Bob Rasmussen, Director of the Museum accepted the donation and committed to
completing the external restoration with the museum picking up the balance of the cost.

In order to repair the damage to the T-tail, the entire assembly was  removed from the aircraft and placed on the hangar floor. All of the controls were completely reworked and the aluminum skin atop the tail was replaced due to extensive corrosion damage. Corrosion was also repaired throughout the aircraft fuselage. On moving the aircraft one beaching gear wheel nearly came off due to bearing failure and had to be replaced. The beaching gear tanks were removed, repaired and painted. The search light and MAD
boom were completely restored and reinstalled. The fuselage leaks were sealed. The aircraft was then completely repainted with high quality paint for the best protection from the elements. The external restoration was completed in October 2007 and serves as a tribute to all who flew, crewed or supported the last of the Navy’s fighting flying boats – the Martin P5M Marlin.

The Museum and the Foundation have agreed not to wait until the money can be raised for the new Phase expansion of the Museum. They are going ahead with building a new hangar type building on the property, which will be a large enough to house all of the large aircraft on the back ramp area, including the P5M. Construction is expected to start in the fall of 2008.