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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 (injured, 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. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-61B-1-NO Black Widow serial number 42-39445. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA). This aircraft was painted black and did not have a remote controlled top turret, only four 20mm cannons.

Wartime History
On January 6, 1945 assigned to the 13th Air Force (13th AF), 550th Night Fighter Squadron (550th NFS). No known nickname or nose art. This aircraft had only ten hours of flight time before it crashed.

Mission History
On January 10, 1945 took off from Hollandia Airfield piloted by 2nd Lt. Logan Southfield with radar operator Lt. Goldstein on a local "proficiency flight". Reportedly, two unauthorized passenger U. S. Army nurses were aboard, one named "Ruth". Minutes after take off, at 10:00am crashed into Mount Cyclops in the Cyclops Mountains at an elevation of 5,050'. Aboard, the crew and passengers survived the crash.

Rescue
Southfield suffered a broken bone and injuries. On January 12, 1945 two days after the crash, a U. S. Army rescue team reached the crash site and rescued them aiding them out of the mountains.

Wreckage
This aircraft crashed largely intact. After the crash, the U. S. Army destroyed the radar dish then abandoned the plane. Until early 1991, this aircraft remained in situ. The aircraft had traces of black paint on the exterior surfaces.

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

Restoration
Since 1991, this aircraft had been under restoration at Mid Atlantic Air Museum (MAAM) using volunteer labor and donations. It is estimated by the museum that 65% of the original aircraft will be usable in the restoration to flying status. In the middle of 2006, the fuselage and wings were mounted then unveiled at the World War II Weekend Airshow in June 2006.

Relatives
Jill Greenberg (daughter of Southfield)

References
Some sources state this aircraft was nicknamed "Midnight Queen".
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-61B-1-NO Black Widow 42-39445
"39445 crashed on the slopes of Mt Cyclops in New Guinea Jan 10, 1945. Four crew survived. Wreck returned to USA in 1991 for restoration to flight status by Mid-Atlantic Air Museum at Reading, PA as N550NF. Still under restoration Sep 2008."
USAAF Overseas Accident Report - January 1945 does not list this loss
Interview with Gene Strine about P-61B "Midnight Queen" interview February 5, 2000
Rescuing A Widow DVD covers salvage and restoration
Thanks to the MAAM including Gene Strine and Russ Strine for additional information

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

Last Updated
January 10, 2020

 

Tech Info
P-61

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