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Michigan museum taking on the restoration of another 'Wildcat'

Air Zoo is taking on the restoration of another Wildcat and you can watch.

Air Zoo is taking on the restoration of another Wildcat and you can watch.

A Michigan aviation museum is helping to restore a World War-II era plane that was recovered from the bottom of Lake Michigan.

The FM-2 ``Wildcat'' Fighter crashed during aircraft-carrier training near Waukegan, Ill., on Dec. 28, 1944. It sank in about 200 feet of water in an accident blamed on engine failure.

Crews recovered it from the lake and it was shown earlier this month at the Air Zoo, an aviation museum and attraction in Portage in southwestern Michigan near Kalamazoo. The Air Zoo's Flight and Restoration Center is a Smithsonian affiliate and is directing the restoration.

The Naval Aviation Museum Foundation sponsored the recovery. Plans call for the plane to eventually go on display in the Chicago area.

While it is in Michigan, though, Air Zoo director Troy Thrash plans to use it as an educational tool for Aviation clubs, Academies and particularly colleges. And the public will get to watch too. He plans to install web cameras at the hanger where its being restored, so people can watch at home.

They already have the only complete set of Grumman made WW-2 fighters and dive bombers at the Air Zoo.

This is the Air Zoo's restored Wildcat. The recovered one will look like this after restoration.

This is the Air Zoo's restored Wildcat. The recovered one will look like this after restoration.

Grumman was able to produce several of them a day for about $27,500 a copy. They estimate it will take about 5-years and cost about a million to restore the newly recovered one. When its done, it will be given to a museum that doesn’t have any similar planes.

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