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P-61A Black Widow - USAAF 6th NFS, #42-5525 Midnight Belle, Le Shima, Okinawa, 1945 

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Air Force 1 1:72 0090G
P-61A Black Widow - USAAF 6th NFS, #42-5525 Midnight Belle, Le Shima, Okinawa, 1945
World War II

Historical Note:



The 6th Night Fighter Squadron received its first Northrop P-61 Black Widows in early June 1944. The aircraft were quickly assembled and underwent flight testing as the pilots transitioned from the squadron's aging P-70s. The first operational P-61 mission occurred on 25 June. On 30 June 1944, the P-61 scored its first kill when a Japanese Mitsubishi G4M Betty bomber was shot down. Japanese night bombers launched a major effort to disrupt the construction of U.S. airfields on Saipan needed for the Boeing B-29 Superfortress campaign against the home islands. Flying P-61s, the 6th began defensive operations nine days after the Marines' 15 June landing on Saipan. In thirty-seven attempts at interception from 24 June to 21 July, the defense of the island made twenty-seven airborne radar contacts and claimed three kills.

A typical Japanese aerial assault force consisted of a dozen Mitsubishi G4M Betty bombers flying twenty miles apart. P-61 crews discovered that if they could shoot down the lead bomber, the others would jettison their bombs and flee. Black Widows from the 6th and 548th Night Fighter Squadrons downed five additional enemy intruders before the attacks stopped in January 1945. The 6th flew defensive patrols to protect the B-29 bases there until the end of the war.

The heavily-armed Black Widow-the United States' first aircraft specifically designed as a night-fighter-first flew on May 21st, 1942. The P-61 had four forward-firing 20mm cannons and a dorsal turret housing four .50-caliber machine guns. The radar equipment in its nose enabled its crew to locate and attack enemy aircraft in total darkness. The twin boom arrangements housed two Pratt & Whitney turbocharged engines and were joined at rear by a large plane and twin rudder formation. The pilot was seated in the main fuselage, with the gunner immediately behind him and the radar operator at the rear of the gondola.

Info: P-61A Black Widow - USAAF 6th NFS, #42-5525 Midnight Belle, Le Shima, Okinawa, 1945

Product Videos

P-61 Black Widow Night Fighter (12:56)
Subscribe to Dark Skies: https://bit.ly/dark5skies The first operational U.S. aircraft specifically designed as a night-fighter was the P-61 Black Widow. Created in 1940 by Northrop Aviation, in collaboration with the British Royal Air Force, the P-61 was also the first aircraft designed to use radar. With its mysterious appearance and name, the Black Widow ruled the night in the waning months of World War 2. It would even collect the last confirmed air-to-air kill on the last night of the war... - As images and footage of actual events are not always available, Dark Skies sometimes utilizes similar historical images and footage for dramatic effect. I do my best to keep it as visually accurate as possible. All content on Dark Skies is researched, produced, and presented in historical context for educational purposes. We are history enthusiasts and are not always experts in some areas, so please don't hesitate to reach out to us with corrections, additional information, or new ideas. -
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