P-61 Black Widow

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Airman 1st Class
Dec 23, 2003
The size of a medium bomber with a 20m wingspan, 15m long and it was a night fighter. With the tail boom design of like a p-38 the P-61c was capable of reaching 430mph. It had two massive 2800hp Horsepower R-2800-73 double row 18 cylinder radials. it had a range of 2800miles and could carry external fuel supplys.and was fairly manoverable for its size. It was heavily armed with four 20.mm cannons in a pod under the fusalage. there were also 2 50.calibers in a electic remote controled turret and were fired by the pilot. It could also carry 6400lbs of ordance.
They entered serivice in 1944 with the 18th fighter group in the pacific and had succes in the pacific as well as in Europe. 941 were produced + 35 F-15 high speed long range recon versions that were unarmed.
The P-61 originated with the Britesh need of a night fighter with onboard radar but some eto squads didnt convert from mossys or beaufighters to P-61's until the end of the war. In europe they not only were fighters but ground attack aircraft, strafing trains and convoys. This was probually one of the greatest night fighters maybe not as good as the mossy but comparable.

What do you think about it


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heres some pics found by crazy


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correction there were 4 .50's in the upper turret removed by the 425th, 422nd. and the 418th in the ETO. The a/c was to big and heavy and was not suitable really as a fast night fighter but in the night ground attack it did quite well. I have a copy of the 422nd and 425th microfische and have been fortunate to interview several former members of the units one a CO living to my north some 150 miles.

care to debate I'm on for one..............


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It was kind of a joke...note the smiley at the end of the post...although I do think the M was the better plane, the P-61 was more successful though (obviously)
The P-61 was the best night fighter. Tough, fast, heavily armed with good radar. Do it need anything more? Maybe well trained crew.
It wasnt that fast either...361mph wasnt too good. That was one of the main reasons for development of the P-38M, which gcould do over 400mph.
P-38M should not even be included in a comparison with the P-61. the P-38M came after war in the Pacific. The ETO 422nd and 425th nfs did alright, not great agasint the V-1's. the Widow was not that hot either as a nf. ore suited to heavy payload delivery against German motor transport colums and road junctions. The case in point is the AI jammed on a regular basis, the crews identification was terrible as on one night alone they shot down 2 RAF transport a/c incluidng on anaother night at least 1 mossie maybe 2. The a/c had a hard time slowling down to intercept Ju 87D-5's on night ground attack and usually lost the slow mo cranker with a simple flick of the wings and dive into the haze.

That is pretty much what I have read about the P-61. I always thought it was interesting looking aircraft but I never really liked it and always doubted how affective it was.
One of the things it had were slats in place of alerons it had a roll rate equal or better than anything in the sky according to the AAF.

The turrets were not arodynamicly correct and caused a lot of problems and the speed was lower than desired which is why the P-38M was requested by the AAF
From official US sources on the P-38NF.

The M did not come off the Lockheed Dallas production line till summer of 45 and it appears that the 547th nfs used P-38's for ground attack work. the 12 kills by P-38's were modified G series and day fighter P-38's in as transfers.

the M variant was used in the staes for night fighter training and at war's end most of them were dumped in the scrap pile. Only 4 Lockheed P-38M's made it to the Pacific theater and thse arrived after the cessation of hostilities. After being reassembled in the Phillipines they were tranferred to the 418th nfs in Japan. here they were used in january/February 1946, then the crews and a/c were assigned to the 421st nfs in Fukuoka japan. By march the project and the a/c were goping to the scrap yards.............
I always saw the P-61 Blackwidow as a night bomber...It's intresting you say it is a night fighter, did it have the manouvrability of a fighter or did it relly on the cover of darkness to engage it's victims... I know that it was one of the first planes to have an onboard radar which could have made it an effective night fighter but also a bomber... As a fighter it's strong point would have been the crew number(I'm guessing 5, this meaning 5 pears of trained eyes), giving it an advantage in spotting the enemy... My respect to the Widow...


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