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  P-61B-1-NO Black Widow Serial Number 42-39445  
USAAF
13th AF
550th NFS

Click For Enlargement
Richard Leahy 1991

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Gene Strine 1991

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Justin Taylan 2000

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Justin Taylan 2003

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Justin Taylan 2005

Pilot  2nd Lt. Logan Southfield (survived)
Radar  Lt. Goldstein (survived)
Passenger  ? (survived)
Passenger  ? (survived)

Crashed  January 10, 1945 at 10:00am
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Northrop. Constructors Number 964. Painted black, this aircraft did not have a remote controlled top turret installed, only four 20mm cannons. Assigned to the 13th Air Force, 550th Night Fighter Squadron on January 6, 1945, with only ten hours of flight time prior to the crash. This P-61 had no known nose art or nickname.

Mission History
Took off from Hollandia Airfield on its first mission with the squadron on a "proficiency flight". Minutes after take off, at roughly 10:00am this P-61 crashed into Mount Cyclops at 5,050' elevation. The crew survived the crash, and Southfield suffered a broken bone and injured back.

Reportedly, two unauthorized passenger were also aboard, both U. S. Army nurses. Their exact identities are unknown but one was possibly named "Ruth". Both women sat in the gunner's compartment during the flight.

Rescue
Two days later, a U. S. Army rescue team brought the injured crew down from the mountain. Before the aircraft was abandoned, the radar dish was destroyed.

Wreckage
Until early 1991, this aircraft remained in situ with traces of the exterior black paint.

Recovery
During early 1991, the wreckage was recovered by Gene Strine of Mid Atlantic Air Museum (MAAM) and lifted by helicopter from Mount Cyclops to Jayapura. In exchange for export rights AT-16 Stearman was traded to the Indonesian Air Force Museum (AURI). The wreckage was loaded into a shipping container and transported to the United States and shipped by truck to the Reading, PA.

Restoration
Under restoration at Mid Atlantic Air Museum since 1991. It is estimated by the museum that 65% of the original aircraft will be usable in the restoration, with a goal to return it to flying status.

During the middle of 2006, the fuselage and wings were mounted and unveiled at the World War II Weekend airshow during June 2006.

Relatives
Jill Greenberg (daughter of Southfield)

References
Thanks to the MAAM including Gene Strine and Russ Strine for additional information
Rescuing A Widow DVD covers salvage and restoration
This aircraft is not included on the list of USAAF Overseas Accident Report - January 1945
Possibly nicknamed "Midnight Queen"

Contribute Information
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?

Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

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P-61

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