a website collaboration between Science Service and the Smithsonian Institution

1945 - Christmas Tree fixed to the size of the Northrop Black Widow P-61 night fighter is the radar interrogator, which sends a constant and automatic impulse in the code of the day

NORTHROP BLACK WIDOW

E&MP 103.063

Radar - Parts

ca. 1945

This "Christmas Tree" fixed to the size of the Northrop Black Widow P-61 night fighter is the radar interrogator, which sends a constant and automatic impulse in the code of the day.

U.S. warpanes, caught in the widow's radar net automatically reply in code, warning the Black Widow's observer that they are friendly.

Planes which sent back no code signal were identified as enemy, so the Widow could close and sting with her eight heavy automatic guns.

Original Caption by Science Service
© Dale Armstrong - Steve Hannagan Associates - Northrop Aircraft, Inc.

Additional Information

The Northrop P-61 Black Widow, named for the 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.
Top speed: 366 mph (589 km/h)
Length: 50' (15 m)
Wingspan: 66' (20 m)
First flight: May 26, 1942
Introduced: 1944
Engine type: Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp
Unit cost: 190,000–190,000 USD

 

Courtesy: U.S. Army


National Museum of Air and Space:

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.

Transferred from the United States Air Force

Location
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Chantilly, VA
Hangar - Boeing Aviation Hangar

ID: A19510044000

Courtesy: NASM - Smithsonian Institution



National Museum of American History

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