XP-61F question

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Hoggardhigh

Airman 1st Class
192
6
Jan 6, 2014
United States
Hi all,

Some sources describe the XP-61F Black Widow (unbuilt two-seat, bubble canopy version of P-61C) as a proposed up-engined equivalent of the XP-61E heavy fighter, whereas others claim it (the XP-61F) was intended as an improved night intruder variant.

Does anyone know which is correct?
 

Hoggardhigh

Airman 1st Class
192
6
Jan 6, 2014
United States
From page 36 of Anthony Chong's Flying Wings & Radical Things: Northrop's Secret Aerospace Projects & Concepts 1939-1994 (emphasis added by me):

"As enemy air operations on all fronts declined during the closing months of the war, the Black Widows switched from flying defensive night interceptor missions to operating as offensive night intruders. Their success in that role led the AAF to request a dedicated night intruder variant of the XP-61E escort fighter. The resulting supplemental agreement to the XP-61D contract, dated 1 June 1945, authorized that one P-61C be converted to a XP-61F for flight testing by 1 September 1945."

Does anybody know how reliable the above quote is?
 

fubar57

Lieutenant General
29,863
14,993
Nov 22, 2009
The Jungles of Canada
The book, "P-61 Black Widow in action" says, ".....was to be modified as a two seat night-fighter. ....there is no record as to whether or not the aircraft was actually modified or what those modifications consisted of. .....the aircraft was sent to a storage facility" That is all, no more no less.
 

mjfur

Senior Airman
403
383
Sep 23, 2006
Last edited:

Steve Hnz

Airman
87
53
Aug 25, 2009
As I've posted above, if the XP-61E was an Escort Fighter and the XP-61F was a conversion attempt to turn a P-61C into an XP-61E standard. Wouldn't that make the XP-61F an Escort Fighter the same as the XP-61E's?
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I think that depends on how literal you want to be with your interpretation of that. An airframe modified to XP-61E standard but with P-61 radar retained becomes a two seater night fighter with very long range or extended endurance. With only forward facing guns, as most other night fighters had, you have the increased performance through weight saving of the turret & associated crew member.
 

mjfur

Senior Airman
403
383
Sep 23, 2006
I think that depends on how literal you want to be with your interpretation of that. An airframe modified to XP-61E standard but with P-61 radar retained becomes a two seater night fighter with very long range or extended endurance. With only forward facing guns, as most other night fighters had, you have the increased performance through weight saving of the turret & associated crew member.

It is literal, "The radar was also removed and replaced with four 0.50 caliber machine guns in the nose". You are the one adding the above,"but with P-61 radar retained". Based on???

The P-61C conversion to XP-61F (XP-61E Standard) took advantage of the C's higher output engines, turbosupercharged R-2800-73 radials offering a max WEP of 2,800 hp. The two original XP-61E's were converted from B models with lower HP engines.

At this point it doesn't really matter, from what I've read the plane 43-8338 showed up at Northrop in Aug. 45 and was scrapped/cancelled by Oct. 45. Most likely very little or perhaps nothing at all was done with it.
 

Night Fighter Nut

Master Sergeant
2,744
487
Nov 3, 2009
Plano Texas
From "Northrop P-61 Black Widow... The Complete History and Combat Record" Appendix D...

Aircraft 43-8338 P-61C-1-NO. XP-61F ...
This project never got beyond the proposal stage. The aircraft was never modified. Project was terminated October 24th 1945.

As a note of interest, there were 16 P-61G's... as part of a non-Northrop modification project.
There was also P-61H project but it never made it past the wind-tunnel model stage.
 

basil

Airman
42
3
Sep 10, 2011
From "Northrop P-61 Black Widow... The Complete History and Combat Record" Appendix D...

Aircraft 43-8338 P-61C-1-NO. XP-61F ...
This project never got beyond the proposal stage. The aircraft was never modified. Project was terminated October 24th 1945.

As a note of interest, there were 16 P-61G's... as part of a non-Northrop modification project.
There was also P-61H project but it never made it past the wind-tunnel model stage.

Do exist any pictures of the G and H wind tunnel models or descriptons of the differences compared to earlier variants?
 

Steve Hnz

Airman
87
53
Aug 25, 2009
It is literal, "The radar was also removed and replaced with four 0.50 caliber machine guns in the nose". You are the one adding the above,"but with P-61 radar retained". Based on???
Given that neither your version or my version actually happened then it is speculation on both our parts. I didn't actually say this was the P-61F but was speculating that the 61E modified without the extra nose guns could have become the higher performance night fighter it had potential to be. Given that the F was not built, it is probable that the E with extra nose armament was not needed as an escort fighter. Other views above seem to give credence to the conversion being for a night fighter version.
 

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