Text here with a few more add-ons…
The Northrop P-61, was shrouded in secrecy from its inception. Known as the “BLACK WIDOW”, it was the first U.S. aircraft designed exclusively as a night fighter. The P-61 was the heaviest aircraft to ever bear the designation “P” for pursuit, with its initial weight of over 27,400 pounds. Specifications of the WIDOW were those of a medium bomber, with a wing span of 66 feet and an overall length of 48 feet 11 inches. Two Pratt and Whitney R 2800 engines powered the P-61A developing initially 1600 horse-power each. The P-61B had two R2800-65 engines, with an increased horsepower of 2200 each. Top speed of this aircraft was over 370 miles per hour.
The P-61 was the most advanced night fighter of its day, possessing incredible capabilities of destruction. Four .50 calibre machine guns were mounted in a dorsal turret and four 20 millimeter cannons in the ventral location on the fuselage pod. The four .50 calibre machine guns were designed initially as defensive weapons and could be controlled by any one of the three crew members, pilot, rear gunner, or radar operator who sat in the extreme rear of the fuselage pod. The dorsal gun turret could be rotated 360° and elevated to a 90″ angle.
The first thirty-six P-61As carried the dorsal turret. The remainder of the A production of 200 had the dorsal turret deleted due to a buffeting problem caused when the turret was rotated.
The P-61B was approximately 8 inches longer than the “A” model, its overall length being 49 feet 7 inches. Of the four hundred-fifty “B’s” produced, only the second two hundred had the dorsal turret which was re-introduced. The buffeting problem had been lessened by redesign of the structure. The P-61 B also incorporated many improvements requested by pilots who had used the P-61A in combat.
The P-61B was painted an overall gloss black as were many P-61A’s, although initially the P-61A was painted in the conventional olive drab over neutral gray. The P-61B, when painted a glossy black, was almost invisible in the night skies.
The premier ace of World War II night fighter fame was Major Carroll C. Smith of the 418th Night Fighter Squadron stationed in the Pacific.
On December 29th, 1944, Major Smith and his radar operator, Lt. Phillip Porter, accomplished a feat unheard of in night fighter history as they intercepted and destroyed four Japanese aircraft in a single night with their P-61, “Times A Wastin’ “. With these four Japanese aircraft, destroyed off the coast of Mindoro in the Philippines, Major Smith became the highest scoring U.S. Night Fighter Ace with a total of seven kills.
This accurately detailed model was designed from authentic drawings and photos taken of the P-61 at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. Also much technical information was furnished by Ronald C. Harrison and Garry R. Pape. They are coauthors of a soon to be released book, “Black Widow—Queen of the Midnight Skies.”
This is the story of the design and development of the P-61 and the American night fighter squadrons of World War II.
MONOGRAM MODELS, INC.
Morton Grove, III. Made in U.S.A.