P-61 Black Widow of USAAF 419th Night Fighter Squadron in flight, circa 1944-1945

Caption     P-61 Black Widow of USAAF 419th Night Fighter Squadron in flight, circa 1944-1945 ww2dbase
Photographer    Unknown
Source    ww2dbaseUnited States Air Force
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P-61 Black Widow   Main article  Photos  
Added By C. Peter Chen

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed BILL says:
8 Mar 2009 09:05:59 AM

The Northrop P-61 Black Widow was a massive night-fighter, and the early-production P-61A shown here retained the dorsal turret (four fifty caliber machine-guns) deleted from the 38th aircraft and replaced with (four 20mm cannons). Armament: four fifty caliber machine-guns upper turret, and four 20mm cannons in lower forward fuselage 706 Aircraft were built. Operators USAAF AND US Navy.
2. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
13 Aug 2010 11:21:23 AM

Photo of P-61A-1NO of the 419th Night Fighter
Squadron. This unit operated in New Guniea
and the Philippines. Cost to the US Taxpayer
$190,000 each
3. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
13 Aug 2010 07:51:21 PM

Sorry I misspelled New Guinea, I really need
glasses! that's my story and I'm sticking to

The P-61 Black Widow was a 15 ton aircraft
but it could take-off in about 1,000 feet
landing speeds were between 70 and 80 mph.
4. Jeff says:
4 Jan 2011 10:47:07 AM

I understand the top turret was deleted due to buffeting and stability issues when the turret was rotated.
5. ptf says:
21 Apr 2011 01:06:37 PM

my uncle was in the 419 radaropperator on 313? they painted planes with large # 311, 312,etc 316 was found crashed after the war with all on board.the plane had many firsts.split landing doors,flaparons,the remote turret was deleted in about 1/2 the planes.later use so there for hard to get on the b29s.lastly it was the last plane to score a kill in ww2.only 4 examples left
6. William Gillette says:
3 Dec 2012 09:24:01 PM

My dad was a radar operator in the 419th, that plane in the pic is not the 419th, olive drab planes were in the european theatre and they had the cock glass doors instead of the underbelly dopors because of the frozen mud and snow.
7. Tom says:
20 Aug 2014 02:34:07 AM

Gentlemen, I know these posts are old and hopefully you still look here. My father was a pilot in the 419. Would like to hear more from you
8. Tom Walsh says:
16 Oct 2014 07:22:25 AM

Captain John Joseph McCloskey flew with the 419th NFS. Came to the USAAF via the Royal Canadian Air Force. He enlisted in the RCAF in June, 1940 and transferred to the Army Air Corps in September, 1942. KIA November 22, 1943 - does anyone have any details? Captain McCloskey was one of the 8,860 Americans who served in the RCAF in WW II. Information needed for a book article.
9. Dr. Terry M. Mays says:
7 Apr 2015 04:20:16 PM

Tom Walsh: I'm the Squadron coordinator and newsletter editor for the 419th NFS. I know of your father. In fact, he's in my book (with photo) on the 419th and 550th NFSs. Night Hawks and Black Widows: 13th Air Force Night Fighters in the South and South West Pacific 1943-1945. Published by Schiffer in 2009.
10. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
13 Jul 2015 08:57:06 PM


P-61A-1 photo taken in 1944 tested by Northrop aircraft was the 22 second P-61A-1 Northrop manufactured 45 "A" Models.

Jeff: Comment #4

In flight the upper turret caused heavy buffeting when it was rotated, in some cases the turret was used in a fixed forward position. However, a lot of fixes were tried out with adding vanes to control air flow even groves modify the turret, covering the air-vent holes on the .50 barrels. The problem was never fixed in most units the turret was locked in the forward firing position, or removed.
11. Ed Oates says:
20 Sep 2015 12:16:43 PM

Dr. Mays: My father, Robert Oates, was a pilot in the 419th. Recently a relative of his from Romney found a batch of letters he wrote home over a four year period from first entering fight training to returning to Shreveport in early 1946. I transcribed these letters along with some photos into PDF document. I can send it to if you are interested.
12. Jack Shelton says:
9 Dec 2015 05:22:19 AM

My father was a radio operator with the 419th at Floridablanca. I grew up hearing about his experiences with the squadron and seeing the pictures of the airplanes, especially "Vivacious Vivian," that he'd taken and processed in a tent darkroom he made. He passed away in May. He'd hoped to live long enough to see the MAAM P-61 fly again, and we'd visited not long before he died. I have several pictures of his that I can provide. Dr. Mays, I will purchase your book. Where do I find the newsletter? Thanks, Jack Jr.
13. Tim Barker says:
9 Dec 2015 12:36:52 PM

Dr. Mays:
My uncle was a P-61 pilot and I understand he piloted the first plane after assembly #311 in Guadalcanal and was lost with his crew June 11 1944. He was the Squadron Leader for the unit and his name was Lt Col Emerson York Barker. Do you have any information on hum?

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