NORTHROP P-61 BLACK WIDOW

NORTHROP P-61 BLACK WIDOW

BW B Named after the poisonous american spider, the Black Widow, the Northrop P-61 was the first operational US warplane specifically designed as a night fighter and the inaugural to integrate radar.

BW E The all metallic element, twin engined, twin smash designed aircraft rolled off the production agate line in deep October 1943 and although never produced in the lapp numbers as its contemporaries, the Black Widow proved to be an effective and deadly night champion and served across the European Theatre, China and Burma and the Mediterranean theatres of war.

BW I With a crew of three consisted of the original, tune artilleryman and radar operator the P-61 was armed with four 20mm Hispano M2 advancing firing cannons mounted in the lower fuselage and another four M2 Browning machine guns mounted on a remote-con trolled abaxial gunman.

BW Y The spine-mounted dorsal gunman could be fired by either the artilleryman or the radar operator and could even be locked into a forward position and fired by the original. The dorsal remote control turret was capable of a full 360° rotation and 90° acme, and could engage any target above and to the sides of the P-61.

BW W With the SCR-720A scan radar transmitter in the P-61 ’ sulfur nose and with a range of fair over five miles, the unit could besides function as an airborne radio beacon or homing device, navigational aid or as an interrogator-responder for the aircraft ‘s IFF ( Friend or Foe system )

BW V The aircraft ‘s radar operator would locate the targets on his telescope and set up the unit to track and vector them as he guided the pilot program on an interception course. once within range, the fender used a smaller scope mounted gallant of the main instrument panel to close in on the target and mount their attack.

MOSQUITO MAGNETO SWITCH 1625 4 Whilst the Black Widows design was to prove a revolutionary approach to night prison term interception, the aircraft had a tenuous get down when rumor started flying around that the aircraft was excessively dull to efficaciously engage with the Luftwaffe ‘s fighters and metier bombers which gained quick grip with the RAF ’ s fighter command who had based their appraisal on just a unmarried aircraft they had taken delivery of.

BW M The situation was not helped any foster, when a number of USAAF Generals repeated those concerns and requested their units be equipped with the british De Havilland Mosquito rather than the P-61.

The request was refused due to the insufficient numbers of Mosquitos and the RAF continued to fly the Mosquitos whilst crews from the british based 422nd USAAF Night Fighter Squadron took pitch of the P-61 ’ south.

BW X argument raged as to which was the most effective aircraft in esteem to speed and maneuverability therefore finally a issue of competitions were organised between the two aircraft and their crews to settle the argument once and for all.

Using an example from the 422nd which had its double Wasp radials cautiously “ tuned up ” for the rival – against a Mosquito NF.XVII, one of the USAAF leading opponents to the P-61, Lt Col Kratz made a $ 500 count in favor of the RAF ; ’ s Mosquito. It proved to be a badly call.

BW N As things turned out, the P-61 proved a lot faster at all altitudes and out turned and out climbed the Mosquito at every level. Kratz lost his bet and opinions began to change and the P61 found itself being dispersed across an increasing number of Squadrons operating across Europe.

The 422nd NFS received their first P-61s in late mid July 1944 but the aircraft arrived without its dorsal turret so the squadrons gunner were dispersed to other duties. however their absence in the P-61 ’ mho used in the European field presented some previously unanticipated issues for the pilot program.

BW P The squadron housed their radar in the rear compartment which meant the navigate had no ocular contact with the operator. As a resultant role, respective pilots continued flying critically damaged aircraft under the false impression that their radar operator was injured or unconscious mind when in fact, they and already bailed out. finally the radar was moved back just behind the pilot in what would have been the artilleryman situation. amazingly this not alone gave the pilot an extra fructify of eyes but besides improved the aircraft ‘s flight characteristics as the motion shifted the P-61s center of gravity forward making the aircraft more responsive.

The first battle engagement for the P-61 occurred on July 15 when an aircraft was directed to intercept a V1 Flying Bomb.

BW Z Diving from above to match the rocket ‘s accelerate of 350mph, the P-61s lucite rear cone imploded under the air imperativeness and the attack was aborted. Tail cones continued failing on a number of early models before this was finally corrected. On the 16th July, the same fender found himself once again diving on another Flying fail although this time the attack was successful and become the squadron ’ s first official european ‘ kill ’.

A calendar month belated the 422nd were transferred to Maupertus France after the successful Normandy invasion, the P-61s began to encounter their first german aircraft. On the night of August the fifteenth BW XI ‘ Impatient Widow had its starboard engine photograph out along with its petroleum lines and hydraulics whilst attempting to attack a Heinkel He 177A Greif, the Luftwaffe ‘s new long-range counterpart engined bomber.

By the end of December 1944, P-61s were helping repel the surprise german offensive in through the forests of the Ardennes, To become known as the Battle of the Bulge, BW U german tank divisions and elite commando detachments caught the allied forces wholly off guard duty and were only defeated when their already dwindling supplies of equipment, men and fuel were cut off from their advance forces. The offensive grind to a stop after the allies directed their air forces to target the german provision column.

As contribution of this counter offensive, pilots of the 422nd and 425th NFS switched their tactics from night fighting to daylight ground attack, strafing german add lines and railroads. The P-61 ’ s four 20 millimeter cannons proved effective in destroying german locomotives and trucks.

In the Mediterranean, the many night fighter squadrons were beginning to exchange their ageing Bristol Beaufighters for the P-61s but the war in Europe was quickly winding down and the change over had short effect with an about not actual Luftwaffe in the region.

BW C The same was besides true in the Pacific Theatres when the 6th NFS based on the island of Guadalcanal received their first gear P-61s in early June 1944.

The first operational mission took set in late June when a P-61 from the squadron downed a japanese Mitsubishi G4M “ Betty ” bomber but by the summer of that year, it was rare to encounter any japanese aircraft but when they were encountered, the P-61s made curtly work of them resulting in respective kills for pilots and radar operators who jointly shared accredit for the kills.

BW XII Back in Europe during the last months of the war, the P-61 ’ second found themselves outclassed by the new german fighters such as the Me 262, advanced Focke Wulf and the push puff propeller attack champion, the Dornier Do 335 which proved to be the fastest piston engined fighter of the War but it was besides little excessively late and the little number produced did fiddling to for stall the Germans eventual capitulation.

In the contiguous post war period, the P-61 ’ south found themselves quickly superseded by the emerging coal-black fighters such as the british Gloster Meteor and were soon retired from operations .
All Northrop P-61 Black Widow Instruments listed below come complete with detailed Scale Model, Mango Wood Stand & Plaque plus Printed Fact Sheet featuring photo of instrument in the aircraft cockpit.
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