The P-61 Black Widow was the first U.S. aircraft designed to locate and destroy enemy aircraft at night and in bad weather, a feat made possible by the use of on-board radar. The prototype first flew in 1942. P-61 combat operations began just after D-Day, June 6, 1944, when Black Widows flew deep into German airspace, bombing and strafing trains and road traffic. Operations in the Pacific began at about the same time. By the end of World War II, Black Widows had seen combat in every theater and had destroyed 127 enemy aircraft and 18 German V-1 buzz bombs.
The Museum’s Black Widow, a P-61C-1-NO, was delivered to the Army Air Forces in July 1945. It participated in cold-weather tests, high-altitude drop tests, and in the National Thunderstorm Project, for which the top turret was removed to make room for thunderstorm monitoring equipment.
Weight, gross: 16,420 kg (36,200 lb)
Top speed: 684 km/h (425 mph)
Engines 2 Pratt and Whitney R-2800-73 Double Wasp, air-cooled radial, 2,000 hp with turbo supercharger.
Crew: 3 (pilot, radar operator, gunner)
Armament: four 20 mm cannons (belly), four .50 cal machine guns (top turret, some models), 2,900 kg (6,400 lb) of bombs
Transferred from the United States Air Force.