Northrop P-61B Black Widow – “Lady in the Dark”, Major Lee Kendall, 548th NFS, USAAF, Pacific 1945.Add to compare
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Airforce 1 1/144 scale AF1-0138; Northrop P-61B Black Widow “Lady in the Dark” Major Lee Kendall, 548th NFS, USAAF, Pacific 1945.
Length 4 inches Wingspan 6 inches
On the night of 14 August 1945 this P-61B named “Lady in the Dark” of the 548th Night Fight Squadron was unofficially credited with 2 of the last Allied air victory before VJ Day; a Japanese Nakajima Ki–43 Hayabusa on 14 August 1945. However the fascinating story is completed by the pilot himself, Major Lee Kendall in his own words: “Probably the most famous Black Widow was Lady in the Dark of the 548th NFS. The Lady was credited with the last two kills of the Second World War. Both kills were achieved without firing a shot when the P-61 forced both Japanese fighters into the sea. Lady in the Dark was assigned to me and my crew. The date of the first kill was on the 14th of Aug. 1945 and the second kill (Nakajima Ki–44 Shoki) on the night of 15-16th of Aug. 1945, almost 24 hours after the war was offictially over!” Out of pure interest: the last two kills, two A6M Zero fighters, were achieved by crew of a B-32 Dominator bomber “Hobo Queen Two”, on 18 Aug 1945.
The Northrop P-61 Black Widow, named after the American spider, was the first operational U.S. warplane designed as a night fighter, and the first aircraft designed to use radar. The P-61 had a crew of three: pilot, gunner, and radar operator. It was armed with four 20 mm (.79 in) Hispano M2 forward-firing cannons mounted in the lower fuselage, and four .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns mounted in a remote-controlled dorsal gun turret.
It was an all-metal, twin-engine, twin-boom design developed during World War II. The first test flight was made on 26th May 1942, with the first production aircraft rolling off the assembly line in October 1943. The last aircraft was retired from government service in 1954.
Although not produced in the large numbers of its contemporaries, the Black Widow was effectively operated as a night-fighter by United States Army Air Forces squadrons in the European Theater, the Pacific Theater, the China Burma India Theater and the Mediterranean Theater during World War II. It replaced earlier British-designed night-fighter aircraft that had been updated to incorporate radar when it became available. After the war, the P-61—redesignated the F-61—served in the United States Air Force as a long-range, all-weather, day/night interceptor for Air Defense Command until 1948, and Fifth Air Force until 1950.