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Osprey Combat Aircraft 8 : P-61 Black Widow Units of World War 2

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 produced 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 20 mm cannon. After initial structural and radar problems, the aircraft was finally issued to a frontline unit [the 481 st NFG] in March 1944, and both ETO and Pacific squadrons went into action almost simultaneously that spring - the honour of scoring the first kill [a Japanese 'Betty' bomber] went to the 6th NFS on 6 July 1944. Some 704 Black Widows were built in three distinct variants by Northrop, and the type saw action as a night intruder operating against ground targets as well as in its designated role. This book 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. Text by Warren Thompson with illustrations by Mark Styling.

    Contents
  • Prelude to Combat
  • European Theatre
  • Mediterranean Theatre
  • Pacific Theatre
  • China/Burma/India Theatre
  • Appendices

 

Osprey Combat Aircraft


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