The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia
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U.S. Air Force. Via Wikipedia Commons.
Northrop P-61A Black Widow
20.12m by 14.91m by 4.47m
|Wing area||664 square feet
61.7 square meters
|Maximum speed||372 mph (599 km/h) at 17,600
feet (5360 meters)
333 mph (536 km/h) at sea level
|Cruise speed||200 mph
|Landing speed||85 mph
|Climb rate||39 feet per second
11.9 meters per second
|Service ceiling||33,700 feet
|Power plant||2 2000 hp (1491 kW) Pratt and Whitney R-2800-10 Double Wasp 18-cylinder two-row radial engines|
|Armament||4 20mm M-2 fixed
1 electric remote control dorsal turret with 4 0.50 machine guns
|Sensors||SCR-720 airborne interception radar|
|Production||941 of all types from 5/44 at Northrop Air Incorporated, Hawthorne, CA:|
The P-61B added pylons for four 250 gallon (946 liter) drop tanks or four 1600 lb (726 kg) bombs. Some of the early production aircraft lacked the dorsal turret.
The P-61C had R-2800-73 engines.
The P-61 was the first aircraft ever designed from the ground up as a night fighter, using the experience of the earliest radar-equipped RAF night fighters. It carried the new SCR-720 airborne interception radar in its nose, and its main armament sat well back on its central nacelle. It had a large fuel capacity and was fast and agile for its size. The aircraft derived its nickname, the Black Widow (a poisonous North American spider), from its all-black finish.
The dorsal turret was remotely controlled and
could be aimed from the front or rear positions of the aircraft and
fired by the pilot. This
turret was omitted on some of the early P-61B
models because it created turret buffet. This problem was solved
halfway through the P-61B production run and the turret was restored.
The pylons added to the P-61B allowed it to carry as heavy a bomb load
as some medium bombers.
Though the aircraft was introduced quite late in
the war, due in part to difficulties working the bugs out of the
SCR-720 installation, there were several P-61 aces
Pacific. 56% of P-61 crews were deployed to the Pacific or Far East.
et al. (1999)
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