P-61C Black Widow aircraft on display at Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center, Chantilly, Virginia, United States, 26 Apr 2009

Caption   P-61C Black Widow aircraft on display at Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center, Chantilly, Virginia, United States, 26 Apr 2009 ww2dbase
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P-61 Black Widow   Main article  Photos  
Photos on Same Day 26 Apr 2009
Added By C. Peter Chen
Added Date 31 May 2009

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed C. Peter Chen says:
28 May 2009 07:20:54 PM

Museum display card reads as follows:

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 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. By the end of World War II, Black Widows had seen combat in every theater and destroyed 127 enemy aircraft and 18 German V-1 buzz bombs.

The Museum's ERF-61C-1-NO Black Widow was delivered to the Army Air Forces in July 1945. It flew in cold-weather tests and in the National Thunderstorm Project, and the Smithsonian lent it to the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) in 1951-54 to perform drop tests. It is displayed in its NACA colors.

Transferred by the U.S. Air Forcedir>
2. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
13 Aug 2010 11:28:24 AM

By 1950 most of the P-61's were out of
service missing the Korean war by a few
months. Other aircraft, were used for tests and research.
The last operational flight was in 1952.

The aircraft were replaced by the F-82 twin-
mustang built by North American Aircraft.
3. Alan says:
21 May 2011 08:40:09 AM

The P-61C appeared in answer to pleas for greater speed and operational ceiling, all earlier Black Widows having proved somewhat disappointing in these respects. The turbo-super-charged R-2800-73 engines gave a substantial increase in performance (despite an large increase in aircraft weight). Maximum speed was increased to 430 mph and service ceiling was raised by 8,000 feet to 41,000 ft. Only Forty-One P-61Cs had been completed before the ending of hostilities brought a cancellation of the order for a further 476 machines.
4. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
10 Nov 2015 02:27:36 PM


After WWII the USAAF, later the USAF kept the P-61 Black Widow in its inventory a few more years, one of the F-15's last operational missions was the mapping of Korea, that was completed
just before the start of the Korean War, both the surviving P-61's and F-15's were later retired.
Did you know that during WWII the P-61 cost the American taxpayer $170,000 1940's dollars, that was a lot of money back in the day...


The P-61 and F-15's were replaced by the new North American P-82 Night-Fighter, and took an active part in the Korean War.


The glossy black paint scheme was selected against the dull-black and Olive Drab (OD) earth camouflage. It was found that the glossy finish was less visible against searchlights, the glossy finish refracted the light, making the aircraft hard to see and track.


Two P-61's called F2T-1's by the US Navy were used for tests and other operational testing.

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