In the basement of an "antique store" these two books of 35mm negatives were found. They were destined for the dumpster no doubt, but rescued for LOST GALLERY and the enthusiasts who treasure the history and memorabilia of the second world war.
The first book of contains 327 negatives. The photographs were scanned and uploaded to a set on Flickr in 2007 and then grouped generally by subject for the pages of LOST GALLERY. Most of the photographs in this set are of aircraft in world war two. Nothing was known for sure about the photographs but slowly over the years some information has accumulated. It was established that the date for most of the photographs is late 1944.
Most of the negatives had notations on the accompanying index pages. Mostly the photographer was concerned about the lighting and exposure of each frame but occasionally also made notes on the subject matter. Where possible these notations will be included under each picture on this page.
The 205 negatives in the other file were taken postwar, about half in England and the rest in Texas, USA. The photographs apparently show a bit of touring before leaving the England based AAF unit and the first photographs after arriving in Texas.
P-61A Black Widow, serial number 42-5580, 'Wabash Cannon-Ball IV'.
From what I understand, this ship was initially allocated to the 422nd Night Fighter Squadron, then transferred to the 425th NFS in July 1944. While with the 425th, it was assigned to the squadron commander, LtCol Leon G. 'Gilly' Lewis and radar operator, Senior Squadron R/O Lt Karl W. Soukikian.
The ship still wears invasion stripes under the wings, although not on the tail booms, which is somewhat unusual I think. I don't know the location or the time-frame, although I suspect that the latter would be late 1944 or early 1945, and there are clues in some of these photos which may identify the location.
Fade to Black...
From Steve Birdsal (author of many books on aviation)
Roger Freeman writes that: On 26 July 1944 approval was given for four P-61s to be made available to 8th Reconnaissance Wing. One, 42-5556, was sent to Langford Lodge to have the turret removed while the others were retained at BADA, where one had extra tanks installed. Subsequently all four P-61s were transferred to Mount Farm and then to Watton. The project was cancelled after evaluation trials revealed that the type was not as acceptable as the Mosquito or the expected H2X version of the P-38.
Whether this is one of those four P-61s I do not know . . . as Ben Johnson said, in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, "that's not my department". But this is Bassingbourn, and there are B-17s in the background . . . and is that the Avro York?
From anyjazz65 on Flickr:
Yes, that looks like an Avro York back there. Hard to tell for sure. The Avro York series is on negative strips #55, #56, #57, #59 and #60. The P-61 shots are on #54, #58 and #59. It was probably all the same day.
This P-61 is likely the Wabash Cannonball IV, 42-5580 as in the other 11 shots of this plane. If the theoretical dating at the months around the winter of 44-45 holds true for this set, it could very well be one of those four assigned for experimentation. There does not seem to be a dorsal turret.
I understand this plane was scrapped in May 1946.
'Wabash Cannon-Ball IV' again... I have a photo of this P-61 in my collection, and had thought of building a model of it, but didn't have enough photo reference to satisfy myself... thanks to you and this virtual walkaround, now I do!
The P-47 on the right appears in a few of these photos... I don't know for sure which unit it was from. Part of the second letter of the unit code is visible in THIS photo, and it's a 'Q'... which means there are several possibilities.
The most likely possibility is that it was from the 552nd Fighter Training Squadron, 495th Fighter Training Group... unit code was 'DQ'. The very bottom of the first letter in the code is visible in THIS photo, and it seems to be consistent with a 'D'.
Too bad the serial number is not legible here, but this shot does show that this Jug was classified as a war weary airframe ('WW' on the tail), which is consistent with aircraft assigned to the FTGs, which I believe were almost all war-weary birds.
But it's also consistent with hacks used by various other units, including bomber outfits. All of these hacks were classified 'WW', but there were a number of bomber squadrons that used codes ending in 'Q'... as well as one eligible fighter squadron... so who knows for sure what outfit it came from... unless there's another shot of this P-47 in that wonderful group of negatives, that is!
From Flickr member Kevinreeder99
This plane left the USA on 5/30/1944 for England. It was delivered to the 422nd NFS on 6/24/1944. They had the plane until 7/10/1944, when it went to 425th NFS. The plane is a P-61A-10NO number 42-5580. Do you build models of the P-61? I'm doing lots of research, as my mother's brother was lost near Japan, on August 5, 1945 in a P-61B-15NO number 42-39591. He was with the 418th NFS.
From Flickr member John Wilkerson: This could be RAF Duxford. RAF Duxford has three permanent hangers dating from the 1930's with doors that open to excess of 80 feet, and also aligned parallel to the runway. And there was no paved runway during WWII.
From Flickr Member Howard Keetch:
Please could you tell me if this is taken at Bassingbourn,England and when?.
ANYJAZZ65: Sorry I don't know for sure that this was Bassingbourn or not. Several photos in this set have been pretty well pinned down to that base but the P-61 shots are still seem unconfirmed.
From Flickr member David Tegerdine (no longer active on Flickr):
It looks very much like Bassingbourn. Here's a small, but more recent photo I found on Flickr:
(From Flickr member firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thanks for the input and link!
I agree. Just this week I found pictures of the same plane taken at Bassingbourn.
Further it turns out that many of the other shots in this set are confirmed at Bassingbourn. Including this aerial shot:
aerial views 8000 feet 4 100 green filter 90mm Elmar 61
CLICK HERE to view the
from the other negative file from this same photographer.
Look at the bazookas on that little honey!
Click here for the whole story!
Here are more stories about the 91st Bomber Group and some of the missions flown on a fine website by
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