WWII - P-61 Black Widow

WWII - P-61 Black Widow

The Northrop P-61 Black Widow, named for the American Spider, was the first operational U.S. military aircraft designed specifically for night interception of opposing aircraft, and was the first aircraft specifically designed to use radar. The P-61 had a crew of three: pilot, gunner, and radar operator. It was armed with four 20 mm  Hispano M2 forward-firing cannons mounted in the lower fuselage, and four .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns mounted in a remote-controlled dorsal gun turret.

It was an all-metal, twin-engine, twin boom design developed during World War II. The first test flight was made on 26 May 1942, with the first production aircraft rolling off the assembly line in October 1943. The last aircraft was retired from government service in 1954.

Although not produced in the large numbers of its contemporaries, the Black Widow was effectively operated as a night fighter by United States Army Air force squadrons in the European Theater, the Pacific Theater, theChina Burma India Theater and the Mediterranean Theater during World War II. It replaced earlier British-designed night-fighter aircraft that had been updated to incorporate radar when it became available. After the war, the P-61—redesignated the F-61—served in the United States Air Force as a long-range, all weather, day/night interceptor for Air Defence Command until 1948, and Fifth Air Force. until 1950.

 

P-61B Black Widow - select to enlarge

P-61B Black Widow

P-61B  Black Widow, "Coopers Snooper" 546th Night Fighter Squadron

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