P61 questions

Discussion in 'Flight Test Data' started by olbrat, Mar 19, 2008.

  1. olbrat

    olbrat Member

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    I was curious about the handling characteristics of the P61. I know it was used effectively as a night fighting aircraft. I also enjoyed assembling the model. It has an interesting design.

    Was it designed to be used against specific aircraft (other than whatever was in it's way)?

    Was it easy/enjoyable to fly?

    Did it ever have to "dogfight"?

    Was it ever used in daylight? If so, in what capacity?

    I'm sorry if this is "old hash", but I'm still a newbie here.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Marshall_Stack

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    I'll tell you what I know (from a book I have about the plane).

    The design was based watching the use of British nightfighters and incorporating their radar (which was later copied and improved upon by MIT). It was the only night fighter used by any force in WWII that was designed as such from the beginning.

    For a large plane, it was maneuverable because of the use of spoilers. I haven't read about any dogfights per se, it usually crept upon its victim and either got them or the prey slipped away.

    It wasn't a fast plane (360 mph; except for the P61C at 420 mph which didn't see service in time) so it would be somewhat vulnerable in daylight. A P-61 was able to shoot down two FW190s in the dawn hours but that is one of the few kills made during daylight. A P-61 was used in the Philippines in "The Great Raid" when US forces liberated a Japanese POW camp. The plane made low flight maneuvers over the camp to distract attention away from the camp guards.
     
  3. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    Hi,

    And here my three cents to that.After D-day 422NFS at the end of July 1944 was at Maupertus airfield near Cherburg and was attached to 9th Air Force but 435NFS in August.In the same month both squadrons were involved in daily misins against ground targets in France ( operation Intruder) During one of flights crews of 425NFS destroyed four German aircraft.In October 1944 both squadrons were continued their daily assault missions mostly.
     
  4. HoHun

    HoHun Active Member

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    Hi Olbrat,

    >Was it designed to be used against specific aircraft (other than whatever was in it's way)?

    It was designed as a night fighter. It was a bit special in having a flexible top turret - this indicates a special doctrine of use that apparently did not have any actual operational application later.

    Though it's often considered "the first purpose-built night fighter", it's worth noting that for all practical purposes, the Heinkel He 219 was a purpose-built night fighter too, though due to the multi-purpose doctrine of the Luftwaffe, other roles were considered (but never implemented). Originally, the He 219 designation had been used for a high-speed reconnaissance aircraft with a contra-rotating central propeller like the He 119, but the later He 219 night fighter actually has nothing in common with that design study except the designation.

    >Was it easy/enjoyable to fly?

    An important advantage of the Northrop P-61 over other contemporary designs was its very low single-engine safety speed. The rudders appear to have been exceptionally effective, allowing the pilot to use full power on one engine if the other one failed even at low speeds without loss of control. In combat operations at night where you might come home with battle damage, the ability to go around on one engine when something goes wrong on landing is a definite plus!

    You can find a historic P-61 manual in this thread:

    http://www.ww2aircraft.net/forum/other-mechanical-systems-tech/p-61-pilots-manual-6789.html

    (The first publicized image of the then-secret P-61 was a drawing in one of Milton Caniff's comic strips, by the way. He had seen the prototype in flight, failing to appreciate that despite being flown in broad daylight over a major city, it was still supposed to be secret - reportedly, he got into a bit of trouble with the authorities for that strip!)

    Have fun! :)

    Henning (HoHun)
     
  5. olbrat

    olbrat Member

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    Thanks for the info guys! It helps fill in a few (mental) blanks for me.

    I love the idea of the secret prototype being in one of Milton Caniff's strips! I can just picture the Dragon Lady holding Terry hostage until Pat Ryan gives her the secret plans. Ha Ha
     
  6. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    take a peek at the best night fighter thread as the P-61 has some coverage there most of it about it's faults
     
  7. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    The P-61 is among my, if not my favorite, WW2 planes. For no other reason than I think it is a cool looking plane.
     
  8. otftch

    otftch Active Member

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    The U.S.Navy also used some for advaced training.They look kinda neat all black with white USN lettering.
    Ed
     
  9. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    A P61 did get into dogfight of sorts (at night) with a Japanese Ki-46.

    The P61 had a Ki-46 on its tail, and by using effective use of the "zap flaps", it was able to out turn the Ki-46 using diving corkscrew turns and escaping into the darkness.
     
  10. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    yes one of the ETO P-61's got into a dogfight with the tail gunner of a He 177 and lost, the P-61 was ripped pretty well and crash landed and then used for parts
     
  11. JoeB

    JoeB Member

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    US radar developments in WWII were helped by access to general British data, but the main radar used in the P-61, SCR-720, was not a copy of a British set. In fact some later Brit nightfighters also used SCR-720. The earlier SCR-540 was a copy of a British set, but not too successful and not used much in nightfighters.

    On visual dogfights, the 421st NFS had several with Japanese day fighters around dawn and dusk when defending the new airfield at Tacloban on Leyte in late 1944. For example a flight of P-61's jumped a pair of Tony's at dawn Nov 10 '44 claiming both. Another example, on evening patrol Nov 28 '44 a flight was credited with 4 victories, over Zekes and Hamps, 1 with by fwd firing 20mm and three with .50 cal turret guns. I don't know the actual Japanese opponents and results.

    Joe
     
  12. mauricefly

    mauricefly New Member

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    THERE ARE NOT P61 LOST TO FIGHTER OF GERMEN? AND HOW MANY P61 LOST IN EUROPE?
     
  13. Johnny Signor

    Johnny Signor Member

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