The Northrop P-61 Black Widow, named for the American spider, was the first operational U.S. warplane designed from the onset as a night fighter, and the first aircraft designed to use radar.
The P-61, described as both elegant and menacing, was an all-metal, twin-engine, twin-boom design that first broke ground on May 26, 1942. The first production aircraft began rolling off the assembly line in October 1943.
The P-61 had a crew of three: pilot, gunner, and radar operator and was armed with four 20 mm (.79 in) Hispano M2 forward-firing cannons mounted in the lower fuselage where the muzzle flash would effect the night vision of the crew less than nose or wing-mounted arrangements. In addition, the remote controlled dorsal gun turret sported four .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns. Issues with buffeting at high speeds when the guns were elevated in azimuth and production problems at General Electric (the turret’s manufacturer) necessitated the production of P-61’s without the dorsal turret (late production P-61A’s and early production P-61B’s).
Although not produced in the large numbers, the Black Widow was operated as a night-fighter by United States Army Air Force squadrons in the European, Pacific, China-Burma-India, and Mediterranean theaters during World War II. It replaced earlier British-designed night-fighter aircraft that had been modified to accommodate radar until a purpose-built night-fighter was available.
Since the Air Force of each country started paying their attention to the night bombing,the bombing became more effective than ever.To fight against the night bombing,a series of night fighter were put into use.The American started their night fighter program on 1940.The Army used the P-70 Havoc and Beaufighter to fight with the Japanese until the first 45 P-61 Black Widow were in active service in October,1943.
But both the P-61A and P-61B were felt to have a deficiency in top speed and operational service ceiling.To improve the performance,two new more powerful Pratt & Whitney R-2800C engines were applied.With this increase in power,the top speed and altitude were increased to 430 mph and 30,000 feet.
Another changes on the P-61C was the wide chord propellers and special "fighter brakes" which allow the P-61C to turn much tighter and avoid overshooting targets.
Assembly required. Paints and glue not included.
Features: The kit consists of 90 parts, clear parts for windscreen & windows and photoetched sprue for fine details.