Northrop P-61 Black Widow
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Northrop P-61 Black Widow

P-61 was the first U.S. fighter equipped with radar. The first prototype flew on May 21, 1942. A total of 706 aircraft were built.


 ENGINE2 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-65 Double Wasp, 1491kW
    Take-off weight16420 kg36200 lb
    Empty weight10637 kg23451 lb
    Wingspan20.12 m66 ft 0 in
    Length15.11 m50 ft 7 in
    Height4.47 m15 ft 8 in
    Wing area61.53 m2662.30 sq ft
    Max. speed589 km/h366 mph
    Ceiling10090 m33100 ft
    Range2173 km1350 miles
 ARMAMENT4 x 20mm cannons, 4 x 12.7mm machine-guns, 2900kg of bombs

Northrop P-61 Black Widow

Northrop P-61 Black Widow

Comments1-20 21-40 41-60
Jeff Kolln, 24.11.2016

Has anyone heard about a P-61B down in Central America? I have heard a number of rumors about one down there?

Jeff Kolln, 24.11.2016

I was wondering if anyone had photos of the Naval Tests with P-61s showing them being launched from land and from a carrier? I talked to the pilot who flew the tests and he described the tests and also have accident reports from a couple P-61s that were damaged in these, as well as the harness used on the main landing gear, but he had no photos. Of course the Navy seems to have no files anymore. Also I am trying to find a copy of the maintenance and operators manual on the P-61s radar systems. Please let me know if you can help me on these. I could not find them in time for my book, but would love to do some articles on them. Would appreciate your help.

Brian, 14.08.2016

My father, Henry John Battjer, Jr. was a P-61Radar Operator withe 419th Night Fighter Squadron. He flew 53 mission with Reuben Kingdon as his primary pilot, but also flew with Marion Flansburg and Harold Michels as alternative pilots.

mark limke, 30.07.2016

I am seeking any info on my father-in-law Paul R. Diehl who was a gunner with the 547th NFS.

Granpa, 24.07.2016

I am the surviving patriarch of a 4 generation aviation family. My Dad worked at the Billings MT airport immediately after the war. I spent a lot of time at "the field" and about twice a year for 2 or 3 years, a P-61 would show up and spend a couple days, I assume visiting family. This would have been somewhere between 48 and 53 I think. Does anyone know where there were some operational squadrons during that time frame. The P-61 shares something with the F-4 Phantom. It was so ugly, it was beautiful.

joe von rembow, 14.06.2016

I was at itazuke 1947 with the 433 ftr sq.and helped rescue the pilot of the p-61 that lost an engine on take-off.The pilot banked into the dead engine and made a crash landing in the rice paddy.I helped pull him from the Aircraft and the medics rushed him to the hospital in Fukuoka.I understand that he did survive.I was on week-end alert at the time with a flight of P-51s. I was a volunteer with BOUT 1 and spent 18 months in Korea and the returned to itazuke and the 68Th as crew chief on the F-82 and later transition to the F-94 while still with the 68th.What a trip.

Klaatu83, 20.08.2015

The P-61 was not the FIRST U.S. fighter equipped with radar. That distinction undoubtedly belongs to the Douglas P-70, which was a night-fighter version of the A-20 Boston/Havoc attack-bomber. Although the RAF had been using Havocs as night-fighters since 1941 the aircraft was never regarded as entirely satisfactory because it was derived from an attack-bomber, with engines that were optimized for low to medium altitude performance, which meant that it's performance fell off at higher altitudes. The P-61 was the first U.S. fighter to have been designed from the outset to carry radar. Technically, it was classed as an "All-Weather Day or Night Interceptor", although the emphasis was definitely on operations at night or during conditions of reduced visibility.

Nancy, 26.05.2015

My father was a P-61 pilot with the 547th. His photograph collection (mostly from Luzon) was recently accepted into the collection of the National Museum of the U.S. Aor Force in Dayton, OH. The photos include many squadron members.

Mark Steele, 22.12.2014

My father-in-law, Cecil Halbert, was a gunner with the 547th from the time it began in New Guinea until it was disbanded in Japan. Yesterday (12/20/2014), he identified Willard Bush, mentioned in this thread in 2012, as a friend of his in the 547th. Any more info on the 547th would be greatly appreciated as my father-in-law is pushing 90 years old.

Dr. Thomas Davis, UCLA, 12.08.2014

The History Channel last night showed some TOP SECRET footage of six P-61 Black Widow Nightfighters. Their mission was to intercept a Japanese six engined version of the Junkers JU-390. The Japanese had an Atomic Bomb Program and the History Channel showed how a German Submarine brought the U-235 to Japan. Also it showed pictures of Anna Kreisling warming up the engines of a JU-390 in the Kuril Islands. If she had not been recalled back to Berlin in April of 1945 by Martin Bormann, she had planned a one way mission in a Japanese JU-390 to drop the bomb on Los Angeles! Only these P-61 Black WIDOWS could have saved Los Angeles!

John Peterson, 12.01.2014

The F-61s were in Adak in 1948 in the 449th Fighter Sq (all weather)and were phased out in March 1949 when the squadron moved to Ladd AFB at Fairbanks. I was in the squadron at that time.

Brian Murphy, 18.07.2013

My father ( Lt.John F.Murphy )was a P-61 pilot in the 425th NFS in WWII. I have been doing research into his career and would love to learn any information about my Dad or the plane he flew. Please contact me.

Gary Bush, 15.10.2012

My dad Willard Bush told me he was a gunner in a P-61 and flew mission over Formosa was with th 547th night fighter squadron.

Glen Lowe, 22.08.2012

I lived in Hawthorne right accross the street from the factory I saw the first P-61 I beleive rool out of the hangers severald times and taxey as though it would take off, And one day it did take off right over our house cars had the streets blocked severalb blocks all around us my dadwas on his way home from work he drove home partly by driveing the alleys, That was I am sure in May 1941, and I have a book Airplanes of ww2 That conferms that date,

Robert E. Dodson, 01.06.2012

Solie Solomon USAAF 1945 flew "Lady in the Dark" P-61
on August 16, 1945 while on combat air patrol near Ie Shima
shot down a Ki44 Japanese fighter and was logged as the
last kill in WWII.

Rod Cordell, 29.05.2012

My dad was stationed in Orlando, FL. with a A20/P70 squadron in 1942-1944. We got transferred to Hammer field in 1944. He was a crew chief for the P-61 squadrons that formed there. He was exempted from over seas duty because of a medical condition.
Any one out there from Hammer Field in 1944-1946 that may remember Erbert (Shorty) Cordell, he was 5'4.
If anyone has pictures of the guys at that time I would love to see them. My dad might just show up.
I was only two years so I don't remember anything.

Mark Adams, 11.05.2012

My father was a P-61 radar crew chief at Hammer Field in CA where they trained flight crews. He tells of spending a number of months at an airfield in Washington state with a Widow to watch for the Japanese ballon bombs that were being sent across the Pacific.

G. Spanneut, 26.03.2012

My Father was in the Marines in WWII on various islands in the Marshall and the Marianas chains. I have a a photo he took on one of the islands of a P-61 with the numerals 239555 and the name "Night Nurse" and a drawing of a nurse on the nose of the aircraft. Can anyone provide any information on that plane or tell me how I might research it further. Also, there appears to be a Curtis Helldiver in the background of the photo with the numerals 65 on the tail; however, the plane is partially obscured by a palm tree.

Steve Sowar, 15.03.2012

Just an update for Ken Dowld. The P-61C 43-8330 that was in storage at the NASM in Silver Hill, MD is now on display at the new NASM at Dulles Airport in Northern Virginia. The plane looks great. They did a nice job on the restoration.

George, 15.10.2011

425th.Night Fighter Squadron. I was Crew Chief on P-61 Black Widow- Plenty Peed-off Pootie III. Pilot was Lt.Co.Russel Glasser

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