Northrop P-61 Black Widow (oz4796)


Northrop P-61 Black Widow (oz4796) by Frank Baker 1982 - plan thumbnail

About this Plan

Northrop P-61 Black Widow. Radio control scale twin.

Quote: "THE NORTHROP P-61 was the only American aircraft designed specifically as a night fighter in World War II. The Black Widow reached combat status in 1944, and was used in both the European and Pacific theaters. In the latter area, it enjoyed a great deal of success.

Despite being a new design, the Black Widow was not kept in the USAF inventory after the war. However, a few Air National Guard squadrons were equipped with them for a short period. None were used in the Korean War, where the night fighter role was fulfilled by Marine F4Us and F7Fs.

An unusual incident is associated with the P-61. During the war there was an aviation-oriented comic strip called Smilin' Jack, and its creator lived in the Los Angeles area. He noticed a rather unusual black twin-boomed aircraft that often flew over his home. He included sketches of this aircraft in the comic strip. After about a week, someone in the Army Air Corps realized that their top-secret night fighter was appearing in several hundred newspapers across the country. Needless to say, the black aircraft disappeared from the comic strip.

Actual examples of the P-61 are extremely rare. During the 1960's I heard rumors of a flyable Black Widow located in southern California. The USAF Air Museum at Dayton, OH has a P-61 in mint condition. I recently visited the museum, and was surprised at how small the P-61 seemed. It was parked next to a Douglas B-26, which seemed to be a much larger airplane. The P-61 fuselage is only slightly wider than the pilot's shoulders. The tail booms and rudders were also much smaller than I had anticipated. My perception of the aircraft's size had been based entirely on photographs.

The Black Widow is one of those aircraft that naturally lends itself to being modeled. It has a large wing, a long nose, and a relatively long tail moment arm. In addition, it has an imposing look about it.

I have taken a few liberties with certain features. The actual P-61 had sharply tapered outer wing panels with very small ailerons, as the main roll control was by means of spoilers. I widened the wing tips by an inch or so and used full-span strip ailerons. The full-size aircraft has a large number of air scoops, oil coolers, etc, hanging all over the engine cowls. Since I'm too lazy to carve all that, I simply left them off. Finally, the P-61 had rather large wing leading edge air intakes which were also left off. Other than these discrepancies, the aircraft is true scale.

Since I think that the OS Max .10 FSR is a jewel of an engine, the Black Widow model was designed around them. The result was a rather large model for the engine size, but it flies perfectly. Due to its size, your biggest enemy is weight, so choose your wood carefully, and sand all wood as much as you dare..."

Direct submission to Outerzone.

Update 24/02/2017: added article, thanks to RFJ.

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Northrop P-61 Black Widow (oz4796) by Frank Baker 1982 - model pic

  • (oz4796)
    Northrop P-61 Black Widow
    by Frank Baker
    from Model Aviation
    February 1982 
    58in span
    Scale IC R/C Multi Military Fighter
    clean :)
    all formers complete :)
    got article :)
  • Submitted: 05/09/2013
    Filesize: 1618KB
    Format: • PDFbitmap
    Credit*: JJ
    Downloads: 7289

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User comments

Good Morning Steve, After getting several wonderful plans from your site I'm finally able to offer some small thing in return. Recently I saw that you have some P-61 plans (PlanID=4796) added to this site. Well as luck would have it, I built one from these very same plans about 3 years ago. Here's a photo of the completed plane [model photo]. Feel free to use it if it will help in any way. Thank you for the time and effort you have put into this site. Love the plans.
Tom - 22/09/2013
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