P-61 Black Widow Cockpit

P-61 Black Widow cockpit instrument diagrams from the Pilot Training Manual for the Black Widow, P-61, Office of Assistant Chief of Air Staff Training, Headquarters AAF, Washington, D.C.

p61-black-wido-cockpit-front-panelControls, Switches, Instruments (Front Panel)

1. Remote compass
2. Airspeed indicator
3. Rate of climb indicator
4. Altimeter
5. Turn and bank indicator
6. Gyro horizon
7. Dials of automatic pilot
8. Pilot’s gunsight
9. Manifold pressure indicator
10. Oil temperature indicator
11. Oil pressure indicator
12. Carburetor air temperature indicator
13. Lower cowl flaps control valves
14. Upper cowl flaps control valve
15. Clock
16. Tachometer
17. Cylinder head temperature indicator
18. Fuel pressure indicator
19. Wheel and flap position indicator
20. Fuel gage
21. Oil cooler flap indicator
 

Continue reading P-61 Black Widow Cockpit

Short-Field Takeoffs in the P-61

Instructions for short-field takeoffs in the P-61 Black Widow reproduced from: Pilot Training Manual for the Black Widow, P-61, Office of Assistant Chief of Air Staff Training, Headquarters AAF, Washington, D.C.

short-field-takeoffs-p61-black-widow

SHORT-FIELD TAKEOFFS

Suppose you are on a field pitted with bomb holes. You must get off the ground as soon as possible. However, we’ll assume there are no obstacles to clear. Therefore, you do not have to pick up altitude quickly.

1. Make the usual pre-takeoff check.

2. Lower your wing flaps 2/3.

3. Line up for takeoff as close to the end of the runway as possible.

4. Run the engines to full takeoff manifold pressure (54″ Hg.) against the brakes.

5. Release the brakes and start your run, but keep the nosewheel on the ground as long as you can while picking up speed.

6. Pull the nosewheel off the ground and take off as soon as you have reached flying speed (75 mph at 29,000 lbs. gross weight). Then, raise the wheels and level off to attain critical single engine speed before climbing.

In short-field takeoffs, you may use your water injection system to increase the engines’ horsepower and help you get off sooner.

takeoffs-over-obstacles-p61-black-widow

TAKEOFFS OVER OBSTACLES

Fields bordered by obstacles generally are also short. To take off under these conditions, follow the procedure of a short-field takeoff, with the following exceptions:

1. Take off at the last possible moment.

2. After getting off the ground, raise your wheels and climb steeply until you have cleared the obstacle. Then level off to gain speed.

 

Night Binoculars for the P-61 Pilot

Night binoculars for the P-61 Black Widow night fighter as described in the Pilot Training Manual for the Black Widow, P-61, Office of Assistant Chief of Air Staff Training, Headquarters AAF, Washington, D.C. The night binoculars combined 5.8 power night glasses with an optical gunsight. The P-61 pilot could use the night binoculars for both general flying and as a accurate gunsight.

p61-night-fighter-night-binoculars

Night Binoculars

P-61B’s have night binoculars for the pilot. With these binoculars, he can see to shoot accurately about four times as far at night as he can without them.

The night binoculars are mounted on a carriage that travels along a track straddling the windows to the left of the pilot’s seat. Normally, when not in use, they are stowed behind him, approximately over the front entrance door.

The night binoculars are a combination of 5.8 power night glasses and optical gunsight. They are mounted on gimbals, which prevent all vibration from affecting them, and are set in a frame which swings out from the carriage like a door.

When starting out on a mission in which he expects to use the night binoculars but doesn’t need them right away, the pilot usually pulls the binocular carriage forward as far as it will go but leaves the binoculars swung back against the carriage until he needs them.

When he’s ready to use the binoculars, the pilot swings them forward and then locks them in position directly in front of him by turning a handle at the top of the frame.

There’s a pistol grip at the left side of the binocular frame. With this grip, the pilot can rotate the binoculars from side to side and up and down, for searching. He must return them to the gunsight position before using them for shooting. A rheostat on the binocular frame controls the lighting of the gunsight.

With a little practice, the pilot can fly the P-61 at night while he’s looking through the binoculars. In place of the circle and dot of light in his regular gunsight, there is a horizontal row of four illuminated dots in the gunsight of the night binoculars. The pilot lines these dots up with the wing of the plane he is following and uses that combination for an artificial horizon. The inner dots of the gunsight are 10 mils apart and the outer dots are 70 mils apart. This scale enables the pilot to determine the enemy’s range with remarkable accuracy.

1/32nd Black Widow Decals

Two new decal sheets for the HobbyBoss 1/32nd-scale Black Widow have been released by Superscale International:

MS320262 — 1:32 SuperScale P-61Bs of the 548th NFS: Decals for (3) overall black USAAF Black Widow night fighters of the 548th NFS stationed on Iwo Jima during 1945: P-61B-1-NO s/n 42-39404 ‘Midnite Madness II’; P-61B-15-NO s/n 42-39408 ‘Lady in the Dark’, 1945 and P-61B-2-NO s/n 42-39454 ‘Cooper’s Snooper’, 1945. Includes national insignia, nose art, aircraft specific stencils, propeller blade logos and stencils, color profiles and painting notes. Recommended for the HobbyBoss kit. List Price: $16.00.

MS320263 — 1:32 SuperScale P-61Bs of the 414th, 418th & 422nd NFS : Decals for (3) overall black USAAF Black Widow night fighters: P-61B-6-NO s/n 42-39532 ‘First Nighter’ of the 414th NFS, Strassfeld, Germany, 1945; P-61B-15-NO s/n 42-39672 ‘Little Audrey’ of the 422nd NFS, Etain, France, late 1944 and P-61B-15-NO s/n 42-39586 ‘Black Panther’ of the 418th NFS, Pacific Theater, 1944. Includes national insignia, nose art, aircraft specific stencils, propeller blade logos and stencils, color profiles and painting notes. Recommended for the HobbyBoss kit. List Price: $16.00.

MS320262 -- 1:32 SuperScale P-61Bs of the 548th NFS MS320263 -- 1:32 SuperScale P-61Bs of the 414th, 418th & 422nd NFS
 

P-61 Escape Hatches

Location of escape hatches on the P-61 Black Widow night fighter from the Pilot Training Manual for the Black Widow, P-61, Office of Assistant Chief of Air Staff Training, Headquarters AAF.

Escape Hatches on the P-61 Black Widow Night FighterEscape Hatches

There are three escape hatches in the P-61. The top of the pilot’s compartment opens to the left when the latch above his right shoulder is released. Normally, he opens this hatch to climb over the back of his seat every time he enters and leaves the plane.

The right side of the gunner’s compartment may be unlatched and pushed out completely. This hatch should never be used except in an emergency. Neither should the RO’s escape hatch. In the early A models, the plexiglas panel over the RO’s head opens in the middle and folds outward to left and right. In later A’s and in the B model, only the port half of this panel opens. It opens out and down.

The chapter on Emergency Operations, Pages 96-105, tells you and your crew when and how to use the escape hatches. It also tells you when to resort to the entrance hatches in bailing out, and how to leave the plane through them when that becomes necessary.

 

P-61 Black Widow Guns

Northrop P-61 Black Widow Gunnery Equipment from P-61 Pilot’s Flight Operating Instructions:

P-61 Black Widow Guns and Gunnery Equipment
 

A New Shape in the Neighborhood

“A new shape in our neighborhood… and a new face” from “Antiaircraft Artillery Notes,” HQ ETO, No. 14, January 1945:

WW2 Aircraft Recognition: A new shape and a new face

The aircraft are the P-61 Black Widow night fighter and the A-26 Invader attack bomber.