Best Allied Nightfighter: P-61, Mosquito, or Hellcat?

Best Allied Nightfighter?

  • Northrop P-61B Black Widow

    Votes: 13 31.0%
  • DeHavilland Mosquito NF-XIII

    Votes: 25 59.5%
  • Grumman F6F-5N Hellcat

    Votes: 4 9.5%

  • Total voters
  • Poll closed .

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Oct 27, 2006
Sapporo, Hokkaido
Hello. This is my first posting. I read with interest an extensive evaluation of WW2 aircraft at Elgin Field, Florida throughout 1945. This testing included flying competition between all current USA production fighter aircraft. (P-51D, F4U-4, P-39Q, P-40N, P-38L, P-47D-25, P-61B, F6F-3, FM-1, and P-63) It also included some pilots from Canada and the UK, and a few foreign aircraft (Hurricane, Spitfire, A6M2, Bf-109E, Mosquito NFII). The report listed the result of the flyoff between the P-61B and Mosquito NFII "inconclusive", the only flyoff so listed. There was interest by the Americans to abandon the P-61 and procure only Mosquitos for the nightfighter role. My question is:
What was the best nightfighter Allied aircraft; P-61B, Mosquito NF-XIII, or F6F-5N?
Thank you.
The Mosquito NF XII for me most, but this isn´t a general answer.
It very much depends on the thread scenario and I must admit that the P-61 could proove more able to development changes in some respects.
I should think the Mossie, for one or two reasons that I can think of offhand - higher speed: about 612kph/380mph compared to 589kph for the Widow (sorry, but my docs on the Widow are in German, with metric measures. It would in fact be fairer to compare the Widow, which entered squadron service in March 1944, with the Mossie NF. Mk30. This entered service in 1944, and had two-stage Merlin 72s or 76s, and a speed of 424mph/682kph.

The Mossie was not just faster, but significantly more manoueverable (is that how it's spelt?), too.

It was cheaper and easier to build, needing far less in the way strategic materials.

And it had a not dissimilar punch; although it had lost the four .303 Brownings, the four 20mm Hispanos were the same. Do not forget that the turret was not carried on many P-61s, having proven to be unreliable.

Hellcats? As night fighters? Forget it. A single seater equipped with AI, at that time, gave the pilot too many things to look at at the same time. Just flying at night was difficult enough, plus keeping an eye on navigation - you never know when your d/f kit is going to pack up - without having to keep your eyes on a second set of dials for the AI system. And 6 .50 brownings do not pack enough punch to do significant damage to a bomber with just a few hits. Because at night, that's what you're going to get.

I think you've forgotten the Beaufighter, as well; not as advanced as the Mossie, but greatly loved by the people who used it. 4x 20mm Hispanos and 7x .303 Brownings...
Mossie was a better performer but I would look at this by theater. In the SW Pacific I'd go with the P-61. It was tailored for the role and had nice round reliable engines. We could argue which aircraft had the better radar, I think in reality they were about the same. The Mossie had an edge on firepower but it's wood structure could be troublesome, especially if continually repaired.
this's already been covered and apart from CC and wmaxt who will swear blind that the P-38 is the best most will agree to it being the mossie NF.XXX, and whilst i agree the Beau does deserve a mention she wasn't the best, better than a hallcat though :lol: ................
I voted for the Mossie and she was obviously a better aircraft than the other aircraft post but I agree with FBJ that for the PTO the P-61 would be better only due to construction. Wood would rot easier in the PTO.
This from Wikipedia...

"Training of P-61 crews commenced in a variety of ways. Several existing night fighter squadrons operating in the Mediterranean and Pacific Theatres were to transition directly into the P-61 from Bristol Beaufighters and Douglas P-70s, though most P-61 crews were to be made up of new recruits operating in newly commissioned squadrons. After receiving flight, gunnery, or radar training in bases around the U.S. the pilots, gunners, and radar operators were finally combined and received their P-61 operational training in Florida, for transfer to the European Theatre or California, for operations in the Pacific Theatre."

The 422nd Night Fighter Squadron was the first squadron to complete their training in Florida and, in February 1944, the squadron was shipped to England aboard the Mauritania. The 425th NFS was soon to follow aboard the Queen Elizabeth.

Upon arrival in England, the two squadrons found they were without any aircraft. The crews passed the time by flying the base's Airspeed Oxford and Cessna C-87, as well as visits to local towns and occasionally to London.

The situation deteriorated in May 1944 when the squadrons learned that several USAAF Generals believed the P-61 was too slow to effectively engage in combat with German fighters and medium bombers. The RAF shared this view, based on a single P-61 they had received in early May. The RAF championed switching to their De Havilland Mosquito Mk. XVI. Several pilots in the 422nd NFS threatened to turn in their wings if they weren't permitted to fly the "Black Widow." At the end of May, the USAAF insisted on a competition between the Mosquito and the P-61 for operation in the European Theatre. RAF crews flew the Mosquito Mk. XVI while crews from the 422nd NFS flew the P-61. In the end the USAAF determined that the P-61 had a slightly better rate of climb, and could turn tighter than the Mosquito. :rolleyes: The RAF disputed these claims and continued to push for the use of the Mosquito, but the P-61 was considered the victor. In later tests conducted by the manufacturers, the two aircraft were actually found to be very similar in performance, with no clear advantage for either aircraft.

As I posted here before, while the light wood structre of the Mossie was its strength, wood could be real troublesome in the field. Those working with it had to be well trained and some of the repair operations required a clean temperature controlled environment, something not readily available in that day. An aluminum structure aircraft could be repaired almost anywhere you could bring tools and possibly shop air for a rivet gun. Also aluminum structures were a lot more forgiving if the repairs weren't of the highest quality, not the same for wood....
Actually, the AI was the same - AI Mk X, which was the British built US SCR-720.
I thought the roll rate of the P61 was superior due to the "zap flaps".

There was an occasion in New Guinie where a P61 actually turned inside a Japanese "sally" which wa pursuing it, and maintained the turn through several complete circles. This was an accomplishment of sorts.
the 2 ETO squads that have mentioned incluidng the 418th nfs perferred the P-61 in the night ground attack and intruder roles. The two nfs mentioned also and I hate to say this but as a member of the US nf assoc. the crews were terrible at iding friend/foe at night even with the useage of the special night glasses. Me 262's were supposedly visualized in Oct. of 44 which is wrong as well as the id of Me 163's at night which is also incorrect. Several mysterious flying saucer shapes were also id'd and their are other peculiararites as well

the best of the three mentioned is the Mossie XXX without doubt
Each aircraft had it valuations to me. Mossies were used European theatre and it suited the purposes to be used as a night fighter. if the poll was exclusive to each theatre it was used in i would vote towards the actual conditions it was exposed to P61 was brilliant in its role in Pacific theatre and operating to its conditions for example the high humidity found in the Pacific and Asian region etc where as the Mosquito operated just fine in cooler climates found in Europe. Hellcat i didn't even know it was used as a nightfighter so i would have to discount it due to my ignorance of its capabilities. but between the Mosquito and the black widow neck a neck in performance durability and overall handling by the crews using them. but for me the Mosquito by a hairs breathe and only just
Yes, I am corrected in my question. I incorrectly did not list the P-70, P-38M, or Beaufighter. Did the F4U-4N any kills? They should be considered also.

In this report I read, the visibility, firepower, cockpit layout was preferred in the P-61B. Tandem seating, acceleration, and responsiveness were preferred in the Mosquito.

This report also strongly recommends discontinuance of production of the P-39Q, P-63, and P-40N, stating "they are not modern fighter aircraft". It also [then censored] reports the dismal performance of the P-59 with the Meteor. The Americans were to wait for the P-80.
ah the posts in this thread have some inaccuricies but I am going to go back to what the poll mentioned. The Mossie XIII would of been nowhere superior to the later P-61B, had the poll mentioned the Mossie XXX then the tide would of turned to the Mossies favour.

forget the P-70 and the P38M never did fly operationaly as a night fighter according to US nf documentation, only after war in which the US nf units then were disbanded

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