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  P-61B-10-NO Black Widow Serial Number 42-39641  
449th FS (AW)

Former Assignments
415th NFS

Click For Enlargement
via Jeff Kolln 1970

Pilot  Lt. Frank J. Knapp (survived)
Crew  Lt. Gabriel P. Gawrada (survived)
Crew  Cpl. Billy L. Anderson
Crashed  December 21, 1947

Aircraft History
Built by Northrop. Manufacture Number 1160. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-61B-10-NO Black Widow serial number 42-39641.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 415th Night Fighter Squadron (NFS) based at Adak Airfield. In 1947, the unit was redesignated the 449th Fighter Squadron (AW). No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On December 21, 1947 took off from Umnak Airfield but crashed soon after the nose lifted off the ground, causing the landing gear to collapse and skid across the runway then catch fire destroying the aircraft. Likely, this aircraft was caught in the prop wash of the previous P-61 taking off. The entire crew survived the crash unhurt.

The crash site of this aircraft remains in situ at Umnak Airfield on Umnak Island.

Jeff Kolln reports:
"I only have one photo showing the engines, mounts props, and some metal that is there to this day. Does anyone else have a better photo of this wreck?"

Frank K. Knapp, Jr. (son of pilot Frank J. Knapp):
"His World War II duty was in England flying P-51s. I know he did yeoman duty in Alaska between WWII and the Korean conflict. Had an old B&W photo of a P-61 he flew on that threw a prop port engine I think. Cut a huge gash between the pilot and RIO compartments. Don't know if it happened while flying or on the ground. My father retired in 1963 from Dow AFB in Maine."

Loretta H. Gawrada (widow of crew member Gabriel P. Gawrada)
"My husband passed away in 1997. Knapp was my husband's best friend, please tell his son to get in touch with me."

USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-61B-10-NO Black Widow 42-39641
"to reclamation at Hill Field, UT Sep 24, 1948"
World War II Army Enlistment Records - Frank J. Knapp
World War II Army Enlistment Records - Gabriel P. Gawrada

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018


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