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Lieutenant Colonel
Apr 1, 2004
Attached is an image of a P-61 'Black Widow', which I believe to be a P-61C, taken at some time in 1945. It's serial code is #25501. I would like to know;

A) Is it a P-61C?
B) Anything else about the aircraft in the picture.
C) Where the picture was taken.
D) When, precisely, the picture was taken.

I know that's asking a bit, but the information would be greatly appreciated.


  • P-61C Black Widow #25501.jpg
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If you look at the nose, the radome hasnt been painted. I think the AAf was having trouble finding a paint that would stick to the plastic radome without melting it or flaking off.

Picture was taken in 1944?

Picture location was Southern california, probably Los Angeles area.
It's not a P-61C. The correct serial number based on the fuselage would be 42-5501.This is a Northrop P-61A-1-NO Black Widow. It's disposition is: condemned accident not combat Luzon, PI May 3, 1945. Considering the serial is issued as a 1942 serial, the picture could have been taken any time between 1942 and May 3, 1945. But I am guessing it was in the PI well before May of 1945.
As I remember P-61C had mounted air-breakers on both upper and lower surface of wings.Besides, forty one P-61Cs were produced.Their serials were 43-8321 to 43-8361.Looking at the pic I am not convinced of its serial.The last digit could be seven.If yes the plane would be serving in 419 NFS.
I've gone through some sites about P-61 and on the one I've found the same shot with a description below that the aircraft was P-61A-1 from 419th Night Fighter Squadron, this plane was lost over South Pacific on 1945-04-10.
The link is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P-61_Black_Widow
Next I've got an other link where was a larger high quality pic.In the one the serial is visible clearly and it can be stated that the last digit is "7".
The link: http://www.af.mil/photos/index.asp?galleryID=161&page=5
I have some shots of 419NFS P-61s in my archive.There is a pic of 42-5507 among them.The P-61A was based at Puerto Princesa on Palawan in 1944.Aditionally I've got info that all P-61A of 419th NFS were delivered in the early Olive Drab over Natural Grey camouflage with clear plexiglas radomes overpainted withe a light coat of translucent paint on the inside of the dome.
There are two pics of the P-61A of 419th NFS,the first is 42-5507 the second is 42-5508.
source unknown:


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I have a serial number database connection that can link up with any serial number that the US had. Mine is from the official source. I was thinking the last digit might be a 7 also. If that is the case, the type is the same, Northrop P-61A-1-NO Black Widow. It is possible that a number was transposed in either the record, or in Wurger's info, but the records state it was in the 418th NFS, not the 419th. But numbers transposed is not unusual. If it is 42-5507, then MACR 13784 would cover it.

You can go here to request a MACR for a nominal fee:
There is an enlarged part of the pic with the serial.


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Hi !!!
In the Polish publication "TBU" no.101 about P-61 I've found some info on the 419th NFS.
In May of 1944 the 6th NFS become the first unit on Pacific area equipped with P-61s.
At that time the squadron based on Hawaii.The 419th NFS and 421th NFS were armed with the armament at the same time almost simultaneously to the 6th one.An airfield of the 419th NFS was located on Guadalcanal.Unfortunately the Japanese Air Force didn't acted in the area because of its retreat from Salomon's islands.The squadron scored the first vitory on 5 October 1944.However,the P-61s of the 419th NFS proved their mattle after the unit had been moved to airfields on Morotai and Sansapor islands that were located closer to the front line.From October the 7th 1944 to February the 1st 1945 the crews of the squadron gained five victories.In the period the Japaneses carried out 82 flights using 179 aircrafts. Although the achievment of the unit hasn't seemed to be impressive but it was 20% of the general number of shot down enemies by the anti-aircraft defence.
Aditionally,taking the airfield location on Morotai into consideration it should be stated that the five victories were a success.

Besides, there is the Bertrand Thompkins' description of his flight at night on December 27/28th 1944.He was a pilot of the 419th Night Fighter Squqdron.
"...J took off my P-61 for a patrol at Mindoro area.About one and a half an hour later GCI directed me to a detected enemy flying six miles away from my position at 10 000 ft.I noticed him about 2000 feet away.When I came near at a distance of 150 ft I opened fire.Tony-Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien burst out and plummeted down into the sea.Some minutes later I was directed on South-West where a next target flew 20 miles away.My radar operator Vincent Wertin identified him from six miles and directed me behind its tail.Being 300 ft from the enemy plane I fired burst.The Tony also exploded..."

Another P-61A from the 419th NFS serial 42-5506 with a white number 311 at Henderson Field on Guadalcanal.It was the major Emerson Barker's aircraft.He was the commander of 419th NFS.
source unknow:


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the first phoot is of the P-61 over the states before it's transfer into a combat unit and the Pacific. note the nose without the traditional white three-digit letters, and then pulled off later due to overpainting in black/olive. P-61 squads practiced several painting methods and to paint over the protective radome, paint it white, paint it black -flat or glossy to match the fuselage paint, and in the rare incident it even was almost clear whatever fabric was being used to protect the overly sensitive AI, and it was overly sensitive I can assure you through chats with several P-61 veterans.

Also of note I have a very similiar pic of a Widow of the 421st flying over the same are in the background, it's red serial number on the boom being covered over for security reasons
Guys here is a pic I've had on my computer for ages of a P-61 at Morotai. Thought it would be of some interest.


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