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Northrop P -61 Black Widow - Uvod in razvoj

Northrop P -61 Black Widow - Uvod in razvoj

Northrop P-61 Black Widow-Uvod in razvoj

Northrop P-61 Black Widow je bil edini nočni borec ameriške izdelave, ki je med drugo svetovno vojno prišel v službo, in je bil eden največjih in najbolj izpopolnjenih lovskih letal svoje dobe. Morda je bil zaradi tega razvoj P-61 počasen in čeprav so se dela začela pozno leta 1940, je začel delovati šele leta 1944.

Črna vdova se je rodila v londonskem Blitzu. Tako Jack Northrop kot general Delos Emmons (poveljnik, poveljstvo, poveljstvo vojaškega letalskega korpusa) sta iz prve roke videla nekaj nočnih bombnih napadov. Med obiskom v Londonu, kjer so razpravljali o Vultee Vengeance, so Britanci predstavili svoje zahteve za nočnega lovca proti Northropu. To je zahtevalo letalo z možnostjo, da ostane v zraku do osem ur, dovolj hitro, da ujame nemške bombnike, in oboroženo s pištolami (da se pilot pusti, da se osredotoči na prestrezanje nedostopnih bombnikov). Počasen razvoj Black Widow je pomenil, da nikoli ni videl službe pri RAF -u, saj sta ga uporabila Bristol Beaufighter in nočne lovce različice de Havilland Mosquito.

Po vrnitvi iz Londona je general Emmons prišel do zaključka, da vojaški letalski korpus potrebuje svoj nočni prestreznik. Jeseni 1940 je odbor Emmons pripravil predhodno specifikacijo, ki je bila 21. oktobra 1940 predstavljena Vladimirju Pavlecki, Northropovemu vodji raziskav.

Pavlecka in Northrop sta primerjala zapiske in prišla do zaključka, da bo veliko dvoletno letalo Northrop, ki ga je načrtoval za Britance, prav tako ustrezalo ameriškim specifikacijam. S tem začetkom je Northrop potreboval le teden dni, da je pripravil predlog, svoje ideje pa so lahko predstavili letalskemu korpusu 5. novembra 1940. Po nekaj nadaljnjih oblikovalskih delih so 17. decembra 1940 Northropu dali pismo o pooblastilu za izdelavo dva prototipa in dva majhna modela z oznako XP-61 (uradna pogodba je sledila 10. januarja 1941). Sledila je pogodba za trinajst testnih letal (YP-61) in eno statično testno postajo, izdano 10. marca 1941.

Prvotna zasnova Northropa je bila za letala z dvojnim motorjem in dvojnimi boom, oborožena z nosilnimi in repnimi kupolami. Kupole so nato premaknili v zgornji in spodnji položaj, preden so spodnjo kupolo zamenjali s krilnimi puškami, po pregledu prve makete pa s štirimi 20-milimetrskimi topovi, nameščenimi v osrednjem trupu trupa. Zgornji stolp je bil obdržan, čeprav je bil odstranjen z večine letal zgodnje proizvodnje, in ko je bil nameščen, je bil pogosto pritrjen na mesto za povečanje strelne moči naprej. Glede na to, da je kupola povzročala tudi razvojne in proizvodne zamude, je bila njena vključitev verjetno napaka.

Prvi XP-61 je prvič uradno poletel 26. maja 1942, ko je pet dni prej zapustil tla med hitrim taksi testom (prva proizvodna pogodba za 150 letal je bila sklenjena 1. septembra 1941, devet mesecev pred deklico). let). Čeprav je bil prototip verodostojno hitro razvit, bo minilo še dve leti, preden bo letalo začelo delovati. Po obetavnem prvem letu so kasnejši testi odkrili težave z loputo "Zap"-zložljivo loputo, ki se je uporabljala namesto bolj običajnih krmilnikov, in jo je bilo treba zamenjati z majhnimi krilci in običajnimi zavihki. YP-61 so bili dokončani šele avgusta-septembra 1943, prva proizvodnja P-61A pa je bila končana oktobra 1943.

P-61 je začel delovati leta 1944. Prispeval je relativno malo k vojnim prizadevanjem, prišel je prepozno in v premajhnem številu, da bi bil resnično vpliven. Kljub tem omejitvam je bil P-61 tehnični uspeh s hitrostjo, stabilnostjo in ognjeno močjo, ki je bil potreben, da je postal nočni borec prvega razreda. Njegov prihod je bil posebno olajšanje v Pacifiku, kjer se je majhno število eskadrila nočnih lovcev borilo z neprimernimi letali.


P-61 Črna vdova

Močno oborožen Northrop P-61 Black Widow je bil največje in najtežje lovsko letalo, ki je med drugo svetovno vojno služilo ZDAAF, in prvo ameriško letalo, ki je bilo od začetka posebej zasnovano za nočno bojno vlogo. P-61 je v nosu nosil radarsko opremo, ki je svoji dve ali tri posadki omogočila, da sovražnikova letala poiščejo v popolni temi in odletijo v ustrezen položaj za napad.

Letalci niso dolgo čakali, da bi izkoristili tisto, kar je pisatelj George Sterling imenoval "noč, ki si je prisvojila zvezde". Letalski pionirji so s svojim krhkim letalom odleteli v mrak v iskanju kamuflaže teme in v zasledovanju sovražnih letal, ki iščejo isti rob. Leta 1909 sta Wilbur Wright in vojaški 2d podpolkovnik Frederick E. Humphreys postala prva Američana, ki sta ponoči letela in za dvainštirideset minut krožila okoli letala College Park v Marylandu.

Raziskava 1. Lts. Muir S. Fairchild in Clayton Bissell sta v dvajsetih letih prejšnjega stoletja pokazala, da nočne operacije zahtevajo posebej zasnovano letalo z veliko hitrostjo in okretnostjo ter neoviran pogled za pilota. Testni leti so pokazali, da so piloti izgubili orientacijo, ko so izgubili pogled na tla in obzorje. Človeški čuti so nasprotovali letalskim instrumentom, vrtoglavica pa je povečala pilotovo zmedo.

Za letalce je bila očitno nepremostljiva ovira pri iskanju drugega letala v veliki praznini nočnega neba. Mnogi letalci so verjeli, da lovsko letalo nikoli ne more prestreči in sestreliti bombnikov sredi dneva, kaj šele ponoči. Ker bi bombniki lahko podnevi napadali brez nevarnosti, ne bi bilo potrebe po nočnih misijah in po nočnih bojnih zmogljivostih. Šele ko je druga svetovna vojna razkrila, da so ti novi bombniki podnevi ranljivi za napad in ne morejo ‚vedno prebroditi‘, je spet postala jasna potreba po nočnih lovcih.

Potem ko je britanski obrambi podnevi izgubil skoraj 1700 letal v treh mesecih, je G ring svoje bombne napade prestavil na noč v oktobru 1940. Ta sprememba strategije je sovpadala tudi z njegovo odločitvijo, da cilja na britansko moralo, ki je bolje napadna v nočni negotovosti, z manjšimi izgubami. Nemške izgube britanske nočne obrambe in vseh drugih vzrokov med Night Blitzom nikoli niso presegle štirih odstotkov.

Ključ do odprtja črnega svetišča, ki je ščitilo nočne bombnike, je bil razvoj radarja, tako na tleh kot tudi enot, ki so jih nosili v zrakoplovih. Ključni razvoj nočnih lovcev v drugi svetovni vojni je bilo nenamerno odkritje Lawrancea A. Hylanda leta 1930, da je radijske valove, ki se odbijajo od letala med letom, za katerega se je prej zdelo, da je premajhen za merjenje, dejansko mogoče zbrati in izmeriti. Nočni lovci, usmerjeni v radar, so svojo prvo zmago dosegli novembra 1940 in med nočnim blitzom nad Anglijo od marca do junija 1941 zahtevali 102 zmage od 200 letalskih radarskih stikov.

V drugi svetovni vojni so letalske sile ameriške vojske (AAF) ponoči izvajale misije za boj proti sovražnikovim aktivnostim pod pokrovom teme. Zavezniške letalske sile so vzpostavile zračno premoč nad bojiščem in za svojimi linijami, zato so morale letalske sile osi uporabiti nočno zaščito za svoje napade na zavezniške objekte. Nočni borci AAF so sovražnikom zavračali uporabo noči za te napade. Poleg tega je leta 1944 zavezniška dnevna premoč zaradi sile osi manevrirala in se oskrbovala ponoči po zraku, kopnem in morju. Ameriški nočni borci so poskušali motiti te dejavnosti kot podaljšek prizadevanj za prepoved dneva in nadlegovanje.

Letalski korpus je želel posebej oblikovanega nočnega lovca, zgrajenega po navodilih Muirja Fairchilda iz zgodnjih 1920 -ih. Prvotna zahteva za zbiranje predlogov je zahtevala "letalo za preganjanje nočnih prestreznikov". V odgovor na predlog podjetja Northrop je vojaški letalski korpus januarja 1941 naročil dva prototipa XP®61 za 1.367.000 dolarjev. Letalski korpus je lačen svojega prvega nočnega lovca dva meseca kasneje naročil trinajst YP -jev 61 za testiranje storitev.

Prototip je bil popolnoma kovinski, dvomotorni, trislojni monoplan z dvojnimi repnimi nosilci in popolnoma zložljivim podstavkom tricikla. Njegove revolucionarne lopute z luknjami in perforirani spojlerji so mu omogočili, da se zelo hitro zapre na cilj do 362 milj na uro (različica P61A), nato pa se hitro upočasni na le 70 milj na uro, da ne bi presegel cilja. Kljub tej impresivni zmogljivosti Black Widow ni imel hitrostne prednosti, potrebne za prestrezanje nekaterih visoko letečih sovražnikovih bombnikov. Dva motorja Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp z 2.000 konjskimi močmi sta poganjala P61, dvostopenjski turbopolnilniki General Electric so povečali zmogljivost na višini, štirje 20-milimetrski topovi in ​​štiri mitraljeze kalibra 50 pa so zagotovili ubijalsko moč.

Čeprav je bila črna vdova zasnovana za tričlansko posadko (pilota, radarja [R/O] in strelca), strelec včasih ni letel v boju, ker je pištolo daljinsko vodeno pištolo izbrisal ali sprožil. Oklepne plošče so posadko zaščitile pred streljanjem iz mitraljeza. Pilot bi lahko uporabil nočni daljnogled z močjo 5,8, nameščen v pilotski kabini in povezan z optičnim nišanom. Štiri osvetljene pike na strelišču so pilotu omogočile določitev sovražnikovega dosega. R/O je sedel nazaj in ni mogel videti, kaj je pred nami, z očmi, ki so ga trenirali na radarskem dosegu med koleni.

P61 z vzdevkom Črna vdova je imel številne težave z zobmi, kar je onemogočilo letenje prvega prototipa do maja 1942, preizkusni model do februarja 1943 in proizvodni model do oktobra 1943. Črna vdova je prvič nastopila januarja. 1944 med skrivnostnim nočnim preletom Los Angeles Coliseuma, ki se je hitro pojavil iz teme kot kakšen velikanski netopir, nato pa prav tako nenavadno izginil, le šumenje motorjev pa je pričalo, da je letelo nad presenečeno množico na proslavi ob polčasu. .

Črna vdova P61 se je soočala s stalnimi tehničnimi težavami: aerodinamično povzročenim udarcem repa, premikom topov s kril na trebuh, potrebo po dodatni količini goriva, nosnimi stožci iz pleksi stekla, ki so se stopili na soncu, in zamudami pri sprejemu daljinsko vodene pištole (povpraševanje po B29) so še bolj upočasnile proizvodnjo. Dobava proizvodnih letal se je začela konec leta 1943. Težave z delom in pomanjkanje materiala so prav tako prispevale k zamudam v Northropovi tovarni v Hawthornu v Kaliforniji, ki je leta 1943 zgradila le 34, leta 1944 449 in leta 194 199. S Northropovo montažo V polni opremi je popolnoma opremljen P61 stal 194.000 dolarjev 180.000 dolarjev, kar je trikrat več kot cena lovca P38 in dvakrat več kot prevoz C47.

Med drugo svetovno vojno je Northrop izdelal približno 700 P-61, od tega 41 modelov C, izdelanih poleti 1945, ki ponujajo večjo hitrost in lahko delujejo na večji nadmorski višini. Northrop je leta 1946 izdelal še 36 črnih vdov kot neoboroženo letalo za foto-izvidništvo F-15A.

Do dneva, 6. junija 1944., je bilo v tujini le 100 črnih vdov. P-61 je svojo prvo operativno prestrezno misijo kot nočni borec v Evropi preletel 3. julija 1944, kasneje pa je bil uporabljen tudi kot nočni vsiljivec nad sovražnikovim ozemljem. Na Pacifiku je črna vdova prvič ubila v noči na 6. julij 1944. Ko so postali na voljo P-61, so v vseh eskadrilah nočnih lovcev USAAF zamenjali vmesne Douglas P-70 in Bristol Beaufighters.

Zanamci nikoli ne bodo natančno vedeli, koliko letal so sestrelili ameriški nočni lovci. Njihova vojna je bila osamljena. Zahteve je bilo treba utemeljiti, kar ponoči običajno ni bilo mogoče. Zmage v zraku je bilo težko doseči. Z nekaj prestrezanjem so se ameriški nočni borci v severni Evropi, tako kot njihovi kolegi v Italiji, obrnili na misije nočnih vsiljivcev.

Najljubša taktika nočnega vdora, ki se je začela leta 1945, je bila spuščanje rezervoarjev za gorivo, napolnjenih z napalmom. Tekočim bombam ni bilo treba neposredno zadeti tarče, nastali požar pa je osvetlil območje za nadaljnje streljanje. P61 so nosili tudi visokohitrostne letalske rakete (HVAR), visoko eksplozivne bombe in zažigalne bombe. Tako raznolika oborožitev je bila potrebna, ker je moralo nekaj nočnih borcev, vključenih v nočno prepoved, povečati svoje zmogljivosti.

Avgusta 1944 so bili v pacifiškem gledališču na voljo P -61, 418 -ta eskadrila nočnih lovcev, opremljena z njimi, pa se je preusmerila nazaj v obrambne patrulje, pri čemer je med kampanjo Luzon dosegla štiri umore na Morotaiju in pet iz Mindora. V trinajstih nočeh po 27. decembru 1944 je 418. dosegel dvanajst od svojih osemnajstih vojnih zmag. S pilotiranjem črne vdove je major Carroll C. Smith postal najboljši nočni as vojne, ki je v noči z 29. na 30. december na dveh misijah dosegel štiri umore. P61 61 426. NFS so novembra 1944 odšli na Kitajsko, da bi zaščitili baze B29 pred japonskimi vsiljivci. Tako kot drugod so nočni borci ugotovili, da so lovci revni, do februarja 1945 so zahtevali le štiri umore.

Življenjska doba Črne vdove se je podaljšala v neposredno povojno obdobje, zamenjava Črne vdove pa z nočnimi lovci F-82F Twin Mustangs se je začela v začetku leta 1948. Večina Črnih vdov je bila v operativni službi do začetka leta 1950.

Ameriški nočni letalci so delovali na obrobju vojnih prizadevanj. Od več kot sto tisoč lovskih letal, ki so jih ZDA izdelale za vojno, je bilo le devetsto nočnih lovcev. Zrušenje 158 sovražnih letal v vojni se je zdelo nesorazmerno z 900 dragimi P70 in P61 in 16 bojnimi eskadrilami, ki so jih Združene države mobilizirale za nadzor neba ponoči. Nočne enote niso bile nikoli oblikovane v skupine, krila ali ukaze, ampak so delovale neodvisno kot eskadrilje. Večje število in višje prioritete verjetno ne bi povečale njihovega prispevka. Nočni borci niso mogli vstopiti v boj v formacijah, bili so samotni lovci.


Northrop P -61 Black Widow - Uvod in razvoj - Zgodovina

Northrop P-61 Black Widow, poimenovana po ameriškem pajku, je bilo prvo operativno ameriško vojno letalo, zasnovano kot nočni borec.

Northrop P-61 Black Widow, poimenovana po ameriškem pajku, je bilo prvo delujoče ameriško vojno letalo, zasnovano kot nočni borec, in prvo letalo, namenjeno uporabi radarja. [2] [3] P-61 je imel tričlansko posadko: pilota, strelca in radarja. Oborožen je bil s štirimi 20-milimetrskimi topovi Hispano M2 s streljanjem naprej, nameščenimi v spodnjem trupu, in štirimi puškarnicami M50 Browning, dolgimi 50 mm (12,7 mm), nameščenimi v daljinsko vodeni hrbtni puški.

Šlo je za kovinsko, dvomotorno in dvojno nosilno konstrukcijo, razvito med drugo svetovno vojno. Prvi preizkusni let je bil opravljen 26. maja 1942, prvo serijsko letalo je s proizvodne linije priletelo oktobra 1943. Zadnje letalo je bilo leta 1954 umaknjeno iz vladne službe.

Čeprav ni bila proizvedena v velikem številu sodobnikov, je črna vdova med drugo svetovno vojno učinkovito delovala kot nočni borec eskadrilj ameriških letalskih sil v evropskem gledališču, pacifiškem gledališču, kitajskem gledališču Burma India in sredozemskem gledališču. Nadomestil je prejšnja letala za nočne lovce, ki so jih oblikovali britanski proizvajalci in so bili posodobljeni tako, da so vključevali radar. Po vojni je P-61, ki je preimenoval F-61, služil v letalskih silah Združenih držav Amerike kot dolgoročni, vse vremenski prestreznik dan/noč za poveljstvo zračne obrambe do leta 1948 in peto letalstvo do leta 1950.

V noči na 14. avgust 1945 je bil P-61B 548. eskadrile Night Fight, imenovane Lady in the Dark, neuradno pripisan zadnji zmagi zavezniških letalcev pred dnevom VJ. P-61 je bil spremenjen tudi za izdelavo foto-izvidniškega letala F-15 Reporter za letalske sile ameriške vojske, ki so ga nato uporabile letalske sile ZDA.

& quotVaše vznemirljivo potovanje v digitalni svet letalstva se začne & quot

Vsekakor ste navdušeni, da odkrijete Northrop P-61.

Čeprav se je P-61 izkazal za sposobnega proti večini nemških letal, s katerimi se je srečal, so ga nova letala, ki so prispela v zadnjih mesecih druge svetovne vojne, premagala. Manjkalo mu je tudi zunanjih rezervoarjev za gorivo do zadnjih mesecev vojne, dodatek, ki bi razširil njegov doseg in rešil številne obsojene posadke, ki so v temi in slabem vremenu iskale pristajalno mesto. Z zunanjimi obremenitvami bomb bi bil tip bolj primeren za vlogo v kopenskem napadu, ki ga je kmalu prevzel v Evropi. T P-61 se je izkazal za sposobnega proti vsem japonskim letalom, na katera je naletel, a jih je videl premalo, da bi bistveno spremenili prizadevanja v pacifiški vojni

P-61B-1NO, AAF Ser. Št. 42-39419, je bil večino svoje vojaške kariere rešen pri Northropu, ki je letalo ob koncu vojne kupil od vlade. Ker ji je bila dodeljena civilna registrska številka NX30020, so jo uporabljali kot izvršilni prevoz, kot letalo za preizkušanje letenja in za preskuse z napredno navigacijsko opremo. Kasneje ga je kupil Jack Ammann Photogrammetric Engineers, podjetje za fotografiranje s sedežem v Teksasu, nato leta 1963, prodano letalskemu tankerju in uporabljeno za gašenje gozdnih požarov.

Northrop
Northrop P-61 Črna vdova

Northrop P-61 Black Widow: Tehnični podatki

Nacionalni izvor Združene države Amerike

Uvod 1944 Upokojen 1954

Primarni uporabniki Air Force United States Air Force Združene države Air Force

Posadka: 2–3 (pilot, radar, izbirni strelec)

Dolžina: 15,11 m (49 ft) Višina: 4,47 m (14 ft)

Razpon kril: 20,12 m

Površina krila: 61,53 m2

Teža praznega vozila: 10.637 kg

Naložena teža: 13.471 kg vzletna teža: 36.200 lb (16.420 kg)

Pogonski agregat: 2 × Pratt & amp Whitney R-2800-65W Double Wasp radialni motorji, 2.250 KM

Največja hitrost: 368 mph (318 kn, 589 km/h) pri 20.000 ft (6.095 m)

Bojni doseg: 520 nmi, 982 km

Servisni strop: 33.600 ft (10.600 m)

4 × 20 mm (.79 in) top Hispano AN/M2 v ventralnem trupu, 200 nabojev na pištolo

12,7 mm M2 Browning mitraljezi M2 Browning v daljinskem upravljanju, zgornja kupola, 560 vrt / min


Northrop P -61 Black Widow - Uvod in razvoj - Zgodovina

Northrop P-61/F-15 Črna vdova

Zgodovina delovanja - posebni projekti

Faza projekta na Floridi leta 1946 se je nadaljevala v drugo fazo, ki je potekala v Ohiu poleti 1947. Rezultati te pionirske terenske študije so bili osnova za znanstveno razumevanje neviht in veliko naučenega se je malo spremenilo z naslednjimi opažanji in teorijami. Podatki so bili prvič zbrani na podlagi sistematičnega radarskega in letalskega prodora neviht, kar je osnova za številne objavljene študije, na katere se raziskovalci mezorazseja in nevihte še vedno pogosto sklicujejo.

Opazovanja in meritve v nevihtah bodo pridobljeni na območju približno šestdeset kvadratnih milj na območju Orlanda s pomočjo letalskih in jadralnih letov, treh radijskih sond in več radarskih postaj ter približno petdesetih površinskih snemalnih postaj.

Vojaške letalske sile bodo za projekt nevihte zagotovile ustrezno spremenjena letala s posadko. Letala, ki bodo obratovala tri od vsakih pet dni, bodo v nevihti istočasno letela na 5000, 10.000, 15.000, 20.000 in 25.000 čevljih, skrbno jih bodo spremljali in usmerjali z radarjem in VHF radijskim sprejemnikom. V vsaki misiji nevihte bo skupaj delovalo pet letal. Če je mogoče, bodo letala poleg pilota in kopilota sposobna nositi tudi opazovalca.

Mornarica bo preučila možnost uporabe “dronov, ” radijsko vodenih letal, usmerjenih bodisi s tal ali z drugega letala, za nošenje snemalne opreme in za zagotovitev predhodnih preskusov letenja nevihte. Mornarica bo izvedla program za uporabo brezpilotnih letal v projektu, če testi pokažejo izvedljivost takega programa.

Baloni se bodo v nevihtnih razmerah sproščali v velikem številu. Ti bodo sestavljeni iz majhnih balonov, ki nosijo običajne rawin tarče za določanje horizontalne cirkulacije različnih ravni v nevihtnih radiosondih za pridobivanje termodinamičnih podrobnosti nevihte in radijsko oddajnih balonov, opremljenih za merjenje turbulence, stopnje vzpona in navpične hitrosti zraka. Vse balone bo spremljal radar. Posebne mobilne radijske zvočne enote bodo opazovale balone.

Radarska oprema se bo uporabljala ne le za sledenje letal in balonov, ampak tudi za preučevanje vsebnosti vode in obsega nevihtnih oblakov.

Petdeset zemeljskih postaj, ki se bodo nahajale na območju s premerom največ dvajset milj, bodo samo snemalne enote postaj, sestavljene iz mikrobarografov, vetrnice in anemometra#8211, higrotermografa in merilnika dežja.

Raziskave za projekt bodo potekale na Univerzi v Chicagu, v Naval Research Laboratory, ki bo deloval v okviru projekta statičnih padavin v Minneapolisu, Univerze v Novi Mehiki, Inštituta za tehnologijo v Massachusettsu in Oddelka za obremenitve letal Nacionalnega svetovalnega odbora za Aeronavtika. Ameriško društvo Soaring se bo ukvarjalo z možnostjo letenja z jadralnim letalom v nevihtah.

Celotno usklajevanje raziskav in usklajevanje dela med različnimi vladnimi in nevladnimi udeleženci v projektu bo v pristojnosti vremenskega urada. Predsedstvo bo zagotovilo tudi osebje in opremo za projekt, ki bo morda potrebna za dopolnitev tistega, ki sta ga ponudila vojska in mornarica.

G. Lawrence M. Dye, meteorolog urada, bo teden 9. januarja v Orlandu razpravljal o projektu z vremensko službo na vojaškem letališču in se z različnimi lastniki nepremičnin v bližini dogovoril za vzpostavitev kopenskih postaj na njihovih zemljiščih.

Spodaj v Orlandu na Floridi projekt Thunderstorm že dobro poteka. Čeprav ima sedež na terenu v Orlandu, je sedež projekta v Chicagu v Illinoisu pod regijo tri. Trenutno obstaja 54 samodejnih površinskih postaj za snemanje, ki so na razdalji približno 1 miljo na jugu od Orlanda na območju 7 milj širokih in 13 milj dolgih. Vse te postaje se servisirajo enkrat dnevno, pri čemer se dvojni register spreminja, dežemer, mikrobarograf in higrotermografske karte vsakih 24 ur. Tik izven območja je tudi šest postaj vojske 658 raob-rawin. To vojaško opremo upravlja osebje vremenskega urada. Komunikacija med vsemi temi zgornjimi letalskimi postajami, sedežem v Orlandu in nadzorno radarsko postajo, ki se nahaja zahodno od Orlanda, poteka prek radijskega omrežja Project ’s.

Poleg podrobne mikroanalize običajnih površinskih in zgornjih meteoroloških podatkov ima projekt devet P-61 ’ (Črna vdova) in tri jadralna letala, da bi dobili boljše informacije o dogajanju v nevihti. Ta letala imajo instrumente za snemanje navpičnih tokov, nove elektronske merilne instrumente za temperaturo, radijske višinomere in radarske merilnike, ki jih bodo fotografirali, in upamo, da bodo elektrostatični snemalniki polja prejeti nekaj časa to poletje.

Površinski zemljevidi se narišejo in narišejo vsakih 5 minut v času vseh neviht ali velikih konvektivnih ploh. Maja je bilo dvajset takih obdobij, kar je daleč nad podnebnim povprečjem. Nekatere do sedaj zabeležene nevihte so bile majhne nalete oblakov z do pet desetinami palca ali padavinami v petih minutah. Skupne količine padavin za vsako nevihto so bile v eni uri približno 2 cm. Zgornja analiza raobov in surovin se je začela 27. maja, letala pa bodo po nevihtah začela leteti v prvem delu junija. Podatki, prejeti iz vseh virov, bodo analizirani.

Poleg terenskega štaba v Orlandu je bil na postaji 26 v površinskem omrežju na jezeru Tohopekaligia, kjer so bile postavljene 3 začasne vojaške zgradbe, organiziran še en podpoljni štab. Ta služi kot sedež osebju, ki servisira površinsko omrežje, osebju, ki dela na 658 postajah, in osebju, ki dela na 654 postajah. Poleg treh stavb je tam še 658 rawin in 1 mobilnih radijskih postaj. To je dobro organizirana postaja, tudi do lepe plaže za kopanje po dolžnosti na kratki razdalji po cesti.

Ta postaja je daleč od najbližje oskrbe s pitno vodo, zato se je čutila potreba po vodnjaku. Oprema za vodnjak s črpalko je bila sestavljena iz črpalke, cevi in ​​pogonske točke. Slednje je gospoda L. M. Dyeja, meteorologa, zadolženega za odsek opazovanj projekta, povzročilo nekaj zadrege. Zdi se, da so se po tem, ko so zabili cev in se približali približno 8 čevljem v tla, odločili, da črpalko premaknejo na novo mesto. Cev je prišla ven, vendar ne pogonska točka. Na predlog gospoda Dyeja so možje izkopali majhno luknjo, da so lahko dosegli točko. Vendar je bila ta luknja precej ozka in meteorolog, zadolžen za oddelek za opazovanje, se je prostovoljno odločil, da ga najprej spustijo za gležnje. To se je zgodilo nekoliko hitreje in siloviteje, kot je bilo predvideno, in čeprav je obnovil cevovod, je gospod Dye težko vsem razložil, kako je sredi dneva dobil tisto oblogo peska.

Za razliko od katere koli druge skupine, ljudje iz projekta Thunderstorm zapustijo Florido, da bi poiskali zimske prostore. Operativni del projekta je 20. septembra v Orlandu zložil krila. Posebna oprema, nameščena na letalih Black Widow P-61 za ta projekt, je bila v tednu 23. septembra odstranjena. Enote SCR-658 in SCR-584 ter meteorološke oprema, ki se uporablja na površinskih postajah, bo razstavljena v dveh tednih po zaključku projekta.

Med operativno sezono je bilo zbranih veliko podatkov. Od 1. maja do 20. septembra je nad našim omrežjem 111 dni padal dež. Za podrobno analizo je bilo izbranih enainpetdeset neviht. Postaje SCR-658 (radiosonde-rawin) so izdale 435 izdaj, postaje SCR-584 (radar-rawin) pa 289 izpustov. P-61 in#8217 so leteli z misijami s skupno 554 prečkami skozi nevihte, 17 skozi konvektivne kumulusne oblake in 11 na drugih vrstah letov.

Osebje na površju in v zraku je imelo poleti veliko zanimivih izkušenj. Različne žabe, kače in podgane so po naključju ali namerno našle pot v avtomatske snemalne instrumente. Žaba, ki je skakala gor in dol po deževnici, je dala zelo čudno sled. Radiosondski baloni so naleteli na številne nenavadne meteorološke razmere. En balon se je med nevihto 32 minut vrgel navzgor in navzdol med 14.000 in 17.000 čevljev. Kar nekaj balonov je bilo prisiljenih spustiti zaradi močnega dežja in ledenih razmer.

Med letalskimi operacijami je en pilot med nevihto poročal o močnem snegu. Drugo letalo je bilo med enim prehodom nevihte dvakrat prevrnjeno na hrbet. Na številnih prečkah so naleteli na zelo ohlajeno vodo.

Pozimi bo oddelek za analizo še naprej delal z zbranimi podatki – tako na površju kot v zraku – v upanju, da bo močno povečal znanje o nevihtah pred operacijami prihodnjega poletja#8217. To delo bo opravljeno v pisarni projekta Thunderstorm Project v Chicagu v Illinoisu.

Osebje, ki je to poletje zbralo površinske podatke, se premešča drugam v Združenih državah in#8211 odpravlja v vse dele države, dokler se spomladi naslednje leto ne odpokličejo v projekt. Nekateri med njimi bodo v zimskih mesecih še naprej opazovali rawinsonde na rednih zgornjih letalskih postajah Weather Bureau. Radarsko osebje in člani postaj SCR-584 so organizirani za vzpostavitev prvega programa za odkrivanje nevihte vremenskega urada. Ta projekt poteka v Washingtonu.

Druga faza projekta Thunderstorm se bo začela 1. oktobra. Vojaški del projekta je pod poveljstvom zračnega materiala na Wright Fieldu, operativno območje pa se nahaja v bližini letališča County Clinton, Wilmington, Ohio. V zimskih mesecih bo upravna sila projekta Thunderstorm pripravila načrte za operacije v naslednjem letu.


Northrop F-15 Reporter

Prvotni Northrop P-61 "Black Widow" se je med drugo svetovno vojno (1939-1945) izkazal za izjemnega težkega nočnega lovca za svoj čas v zraku. To je bilo prvo letalo Združenih držav, ki je bilo posebej zasnovano za vlogo nočnih bojev in je svojo kariero naredilo v pacifiškem gledališču proti Japonskemu cesarstvu. Skupna proizvodnja je prinesla 706 primerkov pred koncem vojne, vendar je bila linija v povojnih letih s prihodom letala precej hitro opuščena-čeprav so nekateri v zagotavljanju korejske vojne 1950–1953 videli druge vloge.

Northrop je poskušal več večjih in manjših preoblikovanj in sprememb v svoji zasnovi P-61. Med njimi so bili modeli na dolge razdalje in višine, pri katerih so nekateri videli operativno službo, drugi pa preprosto zavržene vnose. Eden od sprejetih izdankov je postal F-15A "Reporter", namenska neoborožena dvosedežna različica za foto-izvidništvo, spremenjena za to vlogo.

XF-15 je dovolj navdušil vojaške oblasti, da je upravičil dodaten razvoj, in to delo je ustvarilo "XF-15A"-čeprav zdaj temelji na predelanem proizvodnem modelu P-61C. XF-15A bi odražal predserijsko kakovost in zmogljivost, vojska pa je nato naročila približno 320 tipov pod operativno oznako F-15A "Reporter". Motorji so bili 2 x tipa R-2800-73 in spet je bila uporabljena prevleka iz naravne kovine. Postala bi najvišja zmogljivost izvidniškega namena za storitev do sedaj.

Northrop je junija 1945 prejel prvotno pogodbo za 175 enot, ki naj bi bile zgrajene na vrhu obstoječih modelov P-61C, ki so še na tekočih linijah. Letala v uporabi so bila opremljena z 2 x motorjema s turbopolnilnikom serije R-2800-73 (enako kot pri modelih P-61C).

Kljub obetavni naravi bi imel F-15A Reporter omejeno in kratko kariero v vojaški službi za vojno z Japonsko, ki se je končala avgusta 1945, vojska pa je hitro odpovedala izjemne tekoče projekte z mnogimi ameriškimi skrbmi, vključno z Northropom. Prototip XF-15A je prvi let opravil šele po vojni 17. oktobra 1945. Leta 1947 je prišlo do uradne odpovedi F-15A po dokončanju šestintridesetih letal. Ti so ostali v obtoku po ustanovitvi letalskih sil ZDA (USAF) leta 1947 in leta 1948 je bil F-15A preimenovan v "RF-61C". Ti so se nadaljevali v korejski vojni in močno se je zanašalo, da bodo zagotovili prepotrebne zračne podatke o ozemlju Severne Koreje.


A llies and Axis - Approaches to Night Bombing

The Germans resorted to night bombing as an unacceptable number of German bombers were shot down in daylight raids. This prompted the British to adapt twin-engine fighters or small bombers for night fighting. By the end of 1940, radar was put into the Beaufighter, to attack German night bombers. The Japanese used nighttime bombing all across the Pacific as a means of harassment creating a need for Allied night fighters to stop these attacks. The American F6F Hellcat was used in this capacity by being equipped with a short range radar unit. The ground radar would send the fighter to the vicinity of the target where it could use its short range radar to close in on the target.


Northrop F-15 Reporter

Avtor: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 08/16/2019 | Vsebina in kopija www.MilitaryFactory.com | Naslednje besedilo je izključno za to spletno mesto.

The original Northrop P-61 "Black Widow" proved itself an exceptional heavy night fighter for its time in the air during World War 2 (1939-1945). It was the United States' first aircraft specifically designed for the night-fighting role and made its career in the Pacific Theater against the Empire of Japan. Total production yielded 706 examples before war's end but the line was rather quickly given up in the post-war years with the arrival of the jet age - though some saw service in the ensuring Korean War of 1950-1953 in other roles.

Northrop attempted several major and minor conversions and modifications of its P-61 design. Among these were long-range and high-altitude models of which some saw operational service and others were simply discarded entries. One of the adopted offshoots became the F-15A "Reporter", a dedicated unarmed, two-seat, photo-reconnaissance variant converted for the role.

The F-15's development stemmed from modification of one of the two existing XP-61E prototypes. This pair was originally designed around a daytime long-range escort requirement which seated its crew of two in tandem under a new canopy. The dorsal turret was deleted and an additional fuel store was added at the radar operator's former position in the rear fuselage pod to help increase range. The nose was revised to house a battery of 4 x 12.7mm heavy machine guns and the ventral cannon battery of 4 x 20mm was retained. The first XP-61E recorded its first flight on November 20th, 1944.

Form this beginning, the F-15 was formed from the basic framework established through the XP-61E - a design offering inherent power, speed and high-altitude performance. Further work on the type saw the aircraft stripped of all of its armament and a new nose section added (manufactured by Hughes Tool Company) which housed six trainable cameras of various makes and models. The aircraft was powered by 2 x R-2800-65 series engines and each of these drove a four-bladed propeller unit. A base metal finish completed the look of what became the prototype "XF-15" and a first flight was recorded on July 3rd, 1945.

In the XF-15 prototype, the crew of two sat in tandem under an all-new, forward-sliding (blown) canopy and flight controls replicated at both positions allowing either crewman to take control of the aircraft. For long range sorties, the crew seats were also given a reclining feature for resting. Externally, the wings were given provision for jettisonable fuel stores which further increased range.

The XF-15 impressed Army authorities enough to warrant additional development and this work produced the "XF-15A" - though now based on a converted P-61C production model. The XF-15A would reflect pre-series quality and performance and the Army then commissioned for some 320 of the type under the operational designation of F-15A "Reporter". The engines were 2 x R-2800-73 types and a natural metal finish was, again, used. It would become the highest-performance reconnaissance-minded mount for the service to date.

Northrop received the initial contract for 175 units in June of 1945 and these were to be built atop the existing P-61C models still on the assembly lines. In-service aircraft were outfitted with 2 x R-2800-73 series turbocharged engines (the same as fitted to P-61C models).

Despite its promising nature, the F-15A Reporter would have a limited and short career in Army service for the war with Japan ended in August of 1945 and the Army moved quickly to cancel outstanding on-going projects with many American concerns including Northrop. The XF-15A prototype did not complete its first-flight until after the war in October 17th, 1945. In 1947, the official cancellation came for the F-15A after thirty-six airframes had been completed. These remained in circulation after the United States Air Force (USAF) was formed in 1947 and, in 1948, the F-15A was redesignated to become the "RF-61C". These soldiered on into the Korean War and were heavily relied-upon to provide much-needed aerial data of the North Korean territory.


Northrop P-61 Black Widow - Introduction and Development - History

The Northrop P-61 Black Widow, named for the deadly American spider, was the first operational U.S. military aircraft designed specifically for night interception of opposing aircraft, and was the first aircraft specifically designed to use radar. It was an all-metal, twin-engine, twin-boom design developed during World War II. The last aircraft was retired from government service in 1954.

The British Purchasing Commission was evaluating US aircraft after declaring their urgent need for a high-altitude, high-speed aircraft to intercept the Luftwaffe bombers attacking London at night. The aircraft would need to patrol continuously over the city throughout the night, requiring at least an eight-hour loiter capability. The aircraft would carry one of the early (and heavy) AI radar units, and mount its specified armament in 'multiple-gun turrets'. The British conveyed the requirements for a new fighter to all the aircraft designers and manufacturers they were working with. Jack Northrop was among them, and he realized that the speed, altitude, fuel load and multiple-turret requirements demanded a large aircraft with multiple engines. Northrop's first proposal was a long fuselage gondola between two engine nacelles and tail booms with a tricycle landing gear. Engines were to be Pratt & Whitney R-2800-10 Double Wasp 18-cylinder radials, producing 2,000 hp (1,491 kW) each. The fuselage was to house a three-man crew, the radar, and two four-gun turrets. Some alternative design features were investigated before finalization. Among them were conversion to a single vertical stabilizer/rudder and the shifting of the nose and tail gun turrets to the top and bottom of the fuselage along with the incorporation of a second gunner. Late in November 1940, Northrop returned to the crew of three and twin tail/rudder assembly. To meet USAAC's request for more firepower, designers abandoned the ventral turret and mounted four 20 mm (.79 in) Hispano M2 cannons in the wings. As the design evolved, the cannons were subsequently repositioned in the belly of the aircraft. The P-61 therefore became one of the few U.S.-designed fighter aircraft to have 20 mm (.79 in) cannon as factory-standard in World War II. On 5 November 1940, Northrop and Vladimir H. Pavlecka, Northrop Chief of Research, met at Wright Field with Air Material Command officers and presented them with Northrop s preliminary design and with only one other competitor for a design, Northrop s design was selected and the Black Widow was conceived. The XP-61's spine-mounted dorsal remote turret could be aimed and fired by the gunner or radar operator, who both had aiming control and gyroscopic collimator sight assembly posts attached to their swiveling seats, or could be locked forward to be fired by the pilot in addition to the 20 mm (.79 in) cannons. The radar operator could rotate the turret to face to the rear, in order to engage targets behind the aircraft. Capable of a full 360 rotation and 90 elevation, the turret could conceivably be used to engage any target in the entire hemisphere above and to the sides of the XP-61.
The basic design was approved by the USAAC and a contract issued for prototypes on January 10, 1941. Designated the XP-61, the aircraft was to be powered by two Pratt & Whitney R2800-10 Double Wasp engines turning Curtiss C5424-A10 four-bladed, automatic, full-feathering propellers. As construction of the prototype moved forward, it quickly fell victim to a number of delays. These included difficulty obtaining the new propellers as well as equipment for the upper turret. In the latter case, other aircraft such as the B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator, and B-29 Superfortress took priority in receiving turrets. The problems were eventually overcome and the prototype first flew on May 26, 1942, with the first production aircraft rolling off the assembly line in October 1943.

In Action
Over Europe

The first unit to receive the P-61 was the 348th Night Fighter Squadron based in Florida. A training unit, the 348th prepared crews for deployment to Europe. Additional training facilities were also used in California. The P-61 was not entirely welcomed into the USAAF over Europe. In May, 1944, General Spaatz requested the de Havilland Mosquito night fighters to equip two U.S. night fighter squadrons based in the UK. The request was denied due to insufficient supplies of Mosquitoes which were in demand for a number of roles. At the end of May, the USAAF insisted on a competition between the Mosquito and the P-61 for operation in the European Theater. RAF crews flew the Mosquito Mk XVII while crews from the 422nd NFS flew the P-61. In the end the USAAF determined that the P-61 had a slightly better rate of climb and could turn more tightly than the Mosquito. In England, the 422d NFS finally received their first P-61s in late June, and began flying operational missions over England in mid-July. These aircraft arrived without the dorsal turrets so the squadron's gunners were reassigned to another NFS that was to continue flying the P-70. The first P-61 engagement in the European Theater occurred on July 15 when a P-61 piloted by Lt. Herman Ernst was intercepted a V-1 'Buzz Bomb'. However, due to damaged to his rear cone(a common problem resolved in later models), he was not able to bring it down. On the 16th of July, he again had the chance to intercept the V-1 and this time was successful, making it the first kill of a P-61, albeit, during a daytimne flight. By December 1944, P-61s of the 422nd and 425th NFS, operating from abandoned Lufwaffe bases, were helping to repel the German offensive known as the Battle of the Bulge, with two flying cover over the town of Bastogne. Pilots of the 422nd and 425th NFS switched their tactics from night fighting to daylight ground attack, strafing German supply lines and railroads. During its night fighting operations the most commonly encountered and destroyed Luftwaffe aircraft types were Junkers Ju 188s, Junkers Ju 52s, Bf 110s, Fw 190s, Dornier Do 217s and Heinkel He 111s, while P-61 losses were limited to numerous landing accidents, bad weather, friendly and anti aircraft land fire. No P-61s were confirmed to be destroyed in aerial combat, though one may have been shot down by an Fw 190.
In the Pacific
In June 1944, the first P-61s reached the Pacific and joined the 6th Night Fighter Squadron on Guadalcanal. The Black Widow's first Japanese victim was a Mitsubishi G4M which was downed on June 30, 1944. By this stage of the war, Japanes aircraft flying night missions were far and few in between. One squadron succeeded in destroying a large number of Kawasaki Ki-48 'Lily' Japanese Army Air Force twin-engined bombers, another shot down several Mitsubishi G4M 'Bettys', while another pilot destroyed two Japanese Navy Nakajima J1N1 'Irving' twin-engined fighters in one engagement but most missions were uneventful. On 30 January 1945, a lone P-61 performed a vital mission that was instrumental in the successful raid carried out by the U.S. Rangers to free over 500 Allied POWs held by the Japanese at the Cabanatuan prison camp in the Philippines, by performing low flying aerobatics, distracting the guards as the Rangers approached undetected.

With the change in the USAF's aircraft designation system in June 1948, all P-61s became F-61s and all F-15As became RF-61Cs. Retirement of the P-61 began in 1948 by replacing them with F-82s TwinMustangs, equipped as night fighters, and by the end of the year all of the ADC Black Widows in the United States, Alaska and in Panama were off the inventory rolls. Most of Far East Air Force's P-61s were retired in 1949 the last operational Black Widow of the 68th Fighter Squadron, 347th Fighter Group left Japan in May 1950, missing the Korean War by only a month, where they may have proved useful against the North Korean PO-2 night flying intruders that stalked Allied airfields for much of the war.
All models and variants of the P-61 were produced at Northrop's Hawthorne, California manufacturing plant with a total of 706 being built. The final F-61s were retired in May 1950. Sold to civilian agencies, F-61s and F-15s (the F-15 carried a multitude of cameras and was intended for use as a reconnaissance aircraft and was redesignated F-61 in 1948), it performed in a variety of roles into the late 1960s, from weather research to fire fighting. The last recorded commercial flight was on 6 September 1968, when Ralph Ponte, one of three civilian pilots to hold a rating for the F-15, was flying a series of routine Phos-Chek drops on a fire raging near Hollister, California. Despite not being overloaded for a shorter runway, weather conditions from the fire, made the take-off dangerous and Ponte decided to abort during take off. However, the plane was unable to stop in time, crashing into a vegetable garden, breaking a wing and causing a fire, which was put out by another fire fighting aircraft, saving Ponte's life.


P-61 Black Widow Night Interceptor

As with so many U.S. World War II aircraft, the P-61 had its origins before the United States entered the war. During the height of the Battle of Britain in August 1940, the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) developed intelligence about the utility of airborne radar. The Henry Tizard technical mission, which arrived in the U.S. in late September 1940, brought the latest British radar equipment and top secret information about technical issues in the air war. With the onset of Luftwaffe night bombing of London that month, the British required night interceptors and asked manufacturers to develop them. The U.S. Air Technical Service Command (ATSC) collected the RAF data and began the process of supplying the RAF with what it needed. John C. (Jack) Northrop, founder of the Northrop Corporation and who conveniently sat on the ATSC board, reviewed the RAF data and realized the likelihood that the USAAC would issue specifications for a night fighter after a period of review. Northrop immediately began working on his own plans based upon the RAF's information, though he could not tell anyone, even in his own company.

Things moved fast. On 22 October 1940, Northrop met with his Chief of Research, Vladimir H. Pavlecka. Pavlecka told Northrop that he had been in contact with the ATSC and now had (verbally) their latest informal requirements for a night fighter. This itself was unusual, because there had not yet been issued in formal specifications - it was just a casual, "Hey could you guys work on this for us" phone call. With the "cat out of the bag," Jack Northrop now revealed his own sketches for the night fighter that he had been working on for a month already. Within a week, Northop and Pavlecka had a preliminary design, greatly aided by the "inside information" Northrop had acquired from his own position with the ATSC. The company submitted its proposal to the USAAC on 5 November 1940. The design called for a two-engine interceptor which would carry radar equipment in its nose. The USAAC immediately approved the design, and Northrop and Pavlecka began working on a prototype. This was an astonishingly fast conception for a successful military plane, without the usual competitive bidding and other processes, but the situation in Europe was dire. Another way of putting it is that Jack Northrop saw an unusual opportunity, and grabbed it.

Northrop's task was to develop an entirely new aircraft category, the night fighter. Both the Luftwaffe, with the Bf 110, and the RAF, with the Bristol Blenheim and Bristol Beaufighter, were experimenting with night fighters and using them with gradually increasing success. However, the Luftwaffe and RAF interceptors were converted daytime aircraft, not originally designed for operation after dark. Among other things, there was so little experience with night fighters that even the most basic issues such as proper size for a night fighter and appropriate weaponry were unclear. Northrop's design was huge (14 meters, or 45.5 feet, long and 20 meters, or 66 feet, wide) and carried two four-gun (12.7 mm, or .50 caliber, Browning machine guns) turrets, operated with three crewmen. Basically, the P-61 looked and was armed like many then-standard bombers and thus was unusual for a fighter design. However, since the RAF already was using converted bombers in a night fighter role, and the Luftwaffe was edging in that direction, it was not quite as big a departure as might first appear.

Northrop worked closely with the USAAC in developing the P-61. Based on their wishes, the machine guns were changed to 20 mm (.79 inch) Hispano M2 cannons which the RAF and Luftwaffe were beginning to use. Basically, the European conflict was a huge testing laboratory for development of the P-61, and initial findings from that conflict worked their way into the Northrop P-61 design. After some further modifications, the USAAC approved Northrop's "final" design with a 17 December 1940 Letter of Authority For Purchase, with $1.367 million authorized for wind-tunnel tests and two prototypes (some sources place final approval on 30 January 1941). This was less than two months after the arrival of the Tizard Mission had first raised the issue of a need for a night fighter at all. The P-61 project certainly was one of the fastest and most unusual procurement processes in U.S. military history, especially in peacetime. The aircraft's initial designation was XP-61.

The USAAC was ramping up production of all of its classes of warplanes in anticipation of war, and this began to create bottlenecks for aircraft at earlier stages of design and construction such as the P-61. These problems included such mundane issues as the availability of specific aircraft parts, which were allocated first to heavy bombers such as the Boeing B-17 which were ready for use. The bottleneck problem only got worse after the Japanese attack on Pearl Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, as the USAAC, now the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF), suddenly needed to get planes of proven design in the air fast. In addition, the RAF was experiencing fewer problems from Luftwaffe bomber attacks following the German invasion of Russia on 22 June 1941, which saw the Luftwaffe commitment on the Channel Front greatly lessened as planes shifted eastward. For many reasons, the pace of P-61 development slowed.

The XP-61 prototype, with test pilot Vance Breese at the controls, first flew on 26 May 1942, powered by twin P&W R-2800-10 radials providing 1,490 kW (2,000 HP) each. The test flights were successful, and the USAAF ordered thirteen more prototypes for testing. Northrop did not deliver these until August/September 1943. These were quickly followed by the first production version, designated P-61 A-1-NO (all P-61s were built at Northrop's Hawthorne, California plant, and NO is that plant's designation). However, the war was proceeding, and the need for a night fighter was great. Just as the European combatants had done, the USAAF began converting other aircraft, in this case the Douglas A-20 Havoc bomber, for use as night fighters.

The first batch of production models went to the training base of the 348th Night Fighter Squadron in Orlando Army Air Base, Florida. This training lasted into 1944, and the first two P-61 night fighter squadrons, the 422nd and 425th, sailed to England aboard the RMS Mauretania and Queen Elizabeth, respectively. The P-61 squadrons, however, had difficulty getting assignments because USAAF generals and the British considered the P-61, capable of flying 366 mph (589 km/h) at 20,000 ft (6,095 m), to be slower than alternatives already on hand, such as the de Havilland Mosquito, and definitely slower than modern Luftwaffe fighters. While British rejection of new designs was nothing new - even the initial versions of the legendary P-51 Mustang had issues being accepted by the RAF at first - this led to an unusual series of "fly offs" between the P-61 and RAF planes. These produced results that some say favored the P-61, and others say favored the Mosquitos, but regardless of a slight edge in either direction, the reputation of the P-61 as a slow plane persisted. In hindsight, the Mosquito and P-61 were reasonably comparable planes in terms of performance, but the Mosquito "got there first."

Twin-engine fighters in general did not have a good reputation in the ETO. To be candid, the USAAF in England would have preferred to use Mosquito bombers for night fighter missions instead of the P-61 and kept the latter for training purposes. However, the available Mosquito bombers were fully utilized elsewhere, and a formal request along those lines to the RAF was denied. The USAAF thus began to "work" on the P-61, much in the manner of later hot-rodders tooling around with carburetors. Finally, a specially tweaked P-61 out-flew a Mosquito on 5 July 1944, and it was cleared for combat. Operational missions began in mid-July 1944, but encountered no Luftwaffe planes until mid-August. The 422nd scored the first victory by a P-61 on the night of 14/15 August 1944, against either a Bf 110 or a Fw 190. At least one P-61 was lost in the same encounter, so it was apparent that the P-61 was competitive, but hardly a dominant aircraft.

The Luftwaffe by now was flying jet-powered aircraft, and even some rocket-powered Me-163s. Quite simply, these Luftwaffe aircraft proved too fast for the P-61 in chase situations. In fact, it is believed that P-61s never engaged in combat with either type of Luftwaffe plane, because every time a German jet pilot (and some non-jet pilots) spotted a P-61, he simply sped away back to base. Since this was not the sort of thing that USAAF generals liked to hear, one can understand their ambivalence about the P-61.

Among other things, experience showed that the P-61 turrets were unnecessary. Since the turrets, which were the same as those used in USAAF bombers, were in short supply, most P-61s wound up flying without the dorsal turret, with an extra fuel tank in its place. Without the turret, the gunner became unnecessary, so many P-61s flew with a two-man crew. However, there were three seats, and the flights at night were long and tedious, so the gunner was often brought along anyway for company and to "help out," whether that meant scouring the skies for targets or just playing the (civilian) radio. When flying with only two men, and after the 425th moved its radar operators into the empty gunner's seat further forward from his usual seat in the rear, the P-61 had a different center of gravity and reportedly handled a bit better.

  • Herman Ernst and Edward Kospel, ETO, 6 kills
  • Paul Smith and Robert Tierney, ETO, 6 kills
  • Carrol Smith and Philip Porter, PTO, 5 kills.

The first P-61s arrived in the Pacific Theater of Operations (PTO) not long after the first had arrived in England, in June 1944. Unlike their ETO colleagues, however, the USAAF generals in the PTO had no qualms about the P-61 and were eager to slot them into operations. As a stopgap measure, the USAAF had been using converted Douglas A-20 Havocs as night fighters, designated P-70 "Nighthawks," until the "real" night fighters (namely, the P-61) became available. Thus, there were fairly high expectations for the new planes, but, by the time they had arrived and the P-70 crews re-trained to fly them, the period of crisis had passed. The first P-61 mission, by the 6th Night Fighter Squadron operating out of Guadalcanal, occurred on 25 June 1944. The 6th NFS notched the first PTO victory (and first anywhere, apparently) on 30 June 1944, a Mitsubishi G4M "Betty" bomber. The new plane thus had "proved" itself, but there weren't many more kills to be had because Japanese night missions were dwindling. In other words, the P-61s turned out to be an excellent solution for a problem that no longer existed.

If many missions in the ETO were long and boring, those in the PTO were even worse in that regard. P-61s flew long, uneventful missions over the ocean, with nothing to break the monotony. However, when P-61s did spot Japanese planes, they tended to be in swarms, so the few battles that developed became real melees. The victories, however, were few and far between for P-61s, and, as noted above, the PTO produced only one ace crew, with five kills.

P-61s, while rather average aircraft in terms of relative performance, were reliable aircraft. They also were available in fairly plentiful supply, with 700 being built while incurring relatively few losses. These attributes led to their use in various special missions. For instance, P-61s are said to have shot down nine or more V-1 cruise missiles, which is not a fantastically high number of the thousands launched by the Germans, but it was of some use. In another situation, a P-61 was used successfully to distract Japanese guards at a POW camp in the Philippines while U.S. Army Rangers prepared an attack.

Northrop heard about the complaints regarding the P-61's speed, and in November 1943 developed the P-61C, which featured turbocharged R-2800-73 radials providing a maximum power of 2,090 kW (2,800 HP). These were farmed out to the Goodyear plant in Akron, Ohio. When P-61Cs finally rolled off the assembly line in early 1945, they were significantly faster than earlier versions, reaching a respectable 690 kph (430 mph) at altitude. These did not arrive in units until July 1945, however. None saw combat, and thus the P-61C cannot be considered relevant to World War II.

Today, there is not a single flyable P-61, the last having crashed on 6 September 1968 during fire-fighting operations near Hollister California. However, for lovers of classic aircraft, there is hope, as four non-flying P-61s exist. Reportedly, one of those, owned by the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum and recovered from its crash site in New Guinea, is being restored to flight condition in a very long and difficult process that already has lasted more than two decades


Northrop P-61 Black Widow - Introduction and Development - History

P-61B Black Widow 1/72 Kit
the famous "Lady in the Dark," a twin-engine, twin-boom, Northrop P-61B Black Widow flown off Iwo Jima by the 548th Night Fighter Squadron in 1945, this 1/72 scale, plastic kit features engraved panel lines, a detailed cockpit with a clear canopy, newly designed photo-etched metal parts, four underwing fuel tanks and dipole antennas, realistic landing gear, a choice of three markings (including 418th NFS Pacific and 422nd NFS France), and more. 11" wingspan assembly required.

P-61 Black Widow 1/63 Model
Hand carved and painted, this 1/63 scale, mahogany model of the P-61 Black Widow - which, as the first aircraft designed for nighttime interception, was also the first specifically designed to use radar - includes a metal history plate mounted on an elegant wood display base. 12" wingspan.
P-61 Black Widow 1/120 Die Cast Model
a twin-boom P-61 Black Widow - the first aircraft designed specifically as a radar-equipped night fighter - flown by the 548th Night Fighter Squadron, this 1/120 scale, die cast model features textured surfaces clear plastic windows wing-mounted fuel tanks rotating propellers authentic markings, including the squadron's cat holding a flashlight in one hand and a smoking gun in the other and more. 6" wingspan includes a display stand.

P-61 Black Widow 1/48 Scale Model Kit
Plastic Model Airplane Kit.

This huge, black, 38,000 lb. airplane was the foremost American night fighter in WWII . Plastic kit comes complete with removable nose, radar, exposable engine detail, detailed cockpit and flight deck, rotating top turret, and flight crew.
Skill level 2

P-61B/C Black Widow 1/48 Scale Aircraft Model
Pre Built Molded Resin Airplane Models.

Made of durable molded resin, this 1/48 scale model measures 12" in length and has a wingspan of 16" . Hand painted and detailed, model comes ready to display on the included mahogany base.


Poglej si posnetek: Northrop P-61A Black Widow 3D Model (Januar 2022).