On the 9th June 1944 at 14:30 hours a Northrop P-61A, No
42-5548 of the 422nd Night Fighter Squadron took off from its
base at Scorton on a non operational cross country flight to RAF Speke near
Liverpool and when arriving at 15:20 hours entered the circuit to land, the
landing gear was lowered and a landing was made, after losing speed the nose
of the aircraft was let down and it was at this point the nose went all the
way down with the propellers hitting the runway and skidded three quarters
of the way down the runway in a straight line on its nose making a "grinding"
It appeared that the front under carriage had failed to extend resulting
in damage to the Perspex nose, both propellers and engines, the aircraft had
only flown a total of 36½ hours prior to the accident. Fortunately none of
the crew were injured during the accident.
2nd Lieutenant Lewis A Gordon was a passenger in the gunners
compartment and recalled the events surrounding the accident,
"On Friday June 9th I was riding in the gunners
compartment of a P-61 type of aircraft engaged on a scheduled flight from
Scorton to Speke The flight was without occurrence until we prepared to
land. At this time the pilot made a customary approach, put the landing gear
handle in the down position and prepared to land. The pilot received no red
light from flying control and the emergency landing gear horn was not
sounding so he set the plane down on the main gear holding the nose wheel
off. When half way down the runway the pilot eased the stick forward to let
nose wheel down. The nose went clear forward striking the runway since the
nose wheel had failed to come down. The pilot cut the switches and the plane
skidded three quarters of the way down the runway. The pilot, navigator and
passenger got out through the pilot's emergency exit and the radar operator
the normal exit in the rear. On examining the aircraft it was found the nose
gear had failed to come down, the nose was damaged and the props badly bent.
I was not injured".
The 422nd Night Fighter Squadron was the leading P-61 outfit
in the European Theatre of Operations, destroying 43 enemy aircraft in the air,
5 flying bombs and hundreds of ground based vehicles, becoming the most
successful night fighter Squadron of the war.