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P-61 BLACK WIDOWN UNITS OF WORLD WAR 2 (Osprey Combat Aircraft No 8)
Aeroplane Books

P-61 BLACK WIDOWN UNITS OF WORLD WAR 2 (Osprey Combat Aircraft No 8)

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Warren Thompson,

Osprey, 1998

The first aircraft to be purposely designed as a radar-equipped nightfighter, Northrop's P-61 Black Widow was heavily influenced by early RAF combat experience with radar-equipped aircraft in 1940/41. Built essentially around the Bulky Radiation Laboratory SCR-720 radar, which was mounted in the aircraft's nose, the P-61 proved to be the largest fighter ever procured for frontline service by the USAAF. Twin-engined and twin-boomed, the Black Widow was armed with a dorsal barbette of four 0.50-in Browning machine guns and two ventrally-mounted 20mm cannons. After initial structural and radar problems, the aircraft was finally issued to a frontline unit (the 481st NFG) in March 1944, and both ETO and Pacific squadrons went into action almost simultaneously that spring--the honor of scoring the first kill (a Japanese 'Betty' bomber) went to the 6th NFS on 6 July 1944.  704 Black Widows were built in three distinct variants by Northrop, and the type saw action as a night intruder operating against ground targts as well as in its designated role. This volume features all the frontline users of the mighty P-61, and includes many first-hand accounts from pilots and gunners who saw action in the Pacific, Mediterranean, and Western Europe. 96 pages