Modern American warfare relies on the use of radar to seek out and find enemy targets in the sky, the sea, and the on the ground. Radar is everywhere, and the use of Stealth technology on planes and drones to avoid radar detection has been an incredible modern-day technological achievement. But at one point in our military history, the use of radar in a plane to seek out enemy targets was an incredible technological advance, one that allowed the US to “see” enemies in the dark. The first U.S. aircraft to use radar technology to intercept and destroy opposing aircraft was known as the P-61 Black Widow.
Today’s remarkable find saw a lot of action in World War II, and if uniforms could talk, what a story this one could tell. Today’s listing is this P-61 BLACK WIDOW A-2 FLIGHT JACKET OFFICERS GROUPING 547th & 349th NIGHT FIGHTER:
The flight jacket is in great condition, having been owned by WWII veteran George Arthur, an officer who was part of the crew on a P-61 Black Widow in the 547th Fighter Squadron.
The description on the listing goes in to quite some detail about what is being sold with the flight jacket, in what the seller describes as a “grouping”:
“In addition to the A-2 jacket the grouping also includes the following:
- detailed service diary 42 copied pages, 2 pages per sheet (great details)
- Type A-4 Navigation Case: Dead Reckoning
- Type B-2 Size 7-1/8 leather cap
- Leather combat boots, very high quality in great condition
- Officers crusher cap
- Green jump suit with Black Widow Patch and AAF decal
- Type A-11 Leather Flight Helmet Size Large
- Tan paints with name stamped inside
- AAF Dress Coat – Sax Fifth Ave
- Ike Jacket
- Tan overalls
- Tan dress shirt
- Tan shirt with 5th AAF patch
- Tan officers hat
- Green officers hat
- Ike jacket – 5th AAF patch, sewn observer wings
- Leather Gloves
- Single leather glove
- 2 original photos of Lt. Arthur
- 3 copies of newspaper articles about the P-61″
Quite an impressive kit! More impressive is all the different military patches.
This one is the 349th Night Fighter Squadron patch:
This is the incredibly rare Black Widow 547th patch, in great condition:
And finally this one is the 5th AAF felt patch (the felt being a bit more worn):
Another cool item included in this kit is the officer’s diary. The listing talks about the diary:
“The diary is simply amazing. Lt. Arthur did an excellent job of documenting his entry into the AFF, training, family issues, friends, details about different parts of the country where he was sent and his overall feelings about military life. The diary has a page where it documented his military record, all his friends and fellow officers. There are mentions in the diary about receiving his flight jacket, dislike of flying, personal doubts, getting his B-3 coat stolen, dancing in Hollywood, CA with Betty Grable and dealing with family and girlfriend who turned into his wife.
One of the more striking elements of the diary is when he is sent into combat. Lt. Arthur goes into great detail about his time in the US but as his time in the Pacific grows, so does the dark tone of his notes. The living conditions were rough and as he experiences more night time combat missions, the stories are more grim. Towards the end of the diary there are mentions of friends dying, rough missions and then it ends on May 1st, 1945. “
My father served in the Pacific in WWII, and hardly ever spoke of his time there. Turns out Lt. Arthur’s son had much the same experience, saying that his father “didn’t talk much about the end of the war afterwards, but he was certainly a true American hero who operated in a then secret aircraft that was rarely talked about afterwards. ”
To Lt. Arthur and all veterans, we salute your service.