Northrop's Lethal Spider: The P-61 Black Widow
Part Two: Far Eastern Nights
The night war in the Pacific was an interesting conflict due to the
large expanses covered as well as the limited ground resources. In spite
of these difficulties the P-61 managed to rack up some impressive kills,
made all the more impressive by the strong decline of Japanese night
flying. The P-61s flying in the Far East were split into two main groups,
the Pacific squadrons and the China/Burma/India squadrons. Between the
two groups a total of ten squadrons flew the Widow (two for CBI and
the other eight for the Pacific).
P-61A-10 42-5615 "I'll Get By"
426th NFS, Chengtu, 1944
Capt. John Wilfong
On the night of November 21, 1944 Captain John Wilfong and Lieutenant
Glenn Ashley intercepted a Mitsubishi Ki-46 Dinah and at an altitude
of approximately 14,000 ft performed a textbook shootdown, firing roughly
40 rounds from their 20mm cannons into the Dinah. This would be the
only kill by this team during the war. Like all CBI Black Widows, this
plane has the top turret removed and an ADF antenna in its place. The
single Japanese kill marking is on the nose, above the script "I'll
P-61A-10 42-5626 "Jing-Bow Joy-Ride"
426th NFS, Chengtu, 1945
Capt. Carl Absmeier & Lt. James R. Smith
With a total of two kills, "Jing-Bow Joy-Ride" was the leading
nightfighter team of the 426th. The team of Absmeier and Smith intercepted
Ki-48 Lily bombers on two occasions and shot both of them down. Other
Lily kills by the 426th include one by Scott and Phillips in "Merry-Widow"
and one by Heise and Brock in an unnamed plane. These kills, plus the
Dinah by "I'll Get By" mark the grand total of night kills
by the 426th.
P-61A-10 42-5619 "Satan 13"
426th NFS, Kunming, 1944
Capt. John Pemberton & Flt. Off. C. W. Phillips
Flying from Kunming, China, "Satan 13" would be one of the
several nightfighting teams of the 426th to remain scoreless throughout
the war, a result of heavy attrition during the day of the Japanese
air forces. The ADF antenna on this plane is painted black and the "Satan
13" is in red and white on the nose.
P-61B-15 42-39586 "Black Panther"
418th NFS, Pacific, 1944
Lt. Stan Logan & Lt. George Kamajian
One of the eight squadrons flying over the islands of the South Pacific,
the 418th NFS also has the distinction of being the top scoring unit
against the Japanese and also had the only nightfighter ace in the Pacific/CBI
theater. Logan's plane "Black Panther" didn't achieve any
kills but it is a nice example of a P-61B flown by the 418th. The name
and the panther outline are yellow, with white and red details on the
P-61A-10 42-39369 "Ally R"
418th NFS, Pacific, 1944
Maj. Bill Sellers & Lt. Hap Holliday
Another plane from the 418th, this one also managed to finish the war
scoreless. The name on the nose is yellow, shaded in white. Of interest
are the tail markings, which show a crescent moon and star in white,
with a blue band outlined in white. The serial is also in white. The
colors of the tail markings are taken from references including Stan
Logan's memory and a color photo of "Wanda'er" in similar
Northrop P-61 Black Widow, Warren Thompson, Wings of Fame Volume
Black Widow, Warren E. Thompson, Combat Aircraft, November
P-61 Black Widow in Action, Squadron-Signal Publications
Part Three: OD & Gray and Post-War Widows COMING SOON!