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Northrop's Night Hunter
P-61 Black Widow

Specialty Press

S u m m a r y

Title:

Northrop’s Nigth Hunter - P-61 Black Widow

ISBN:

978-1-58007-122-2

Media and Contents:

Hardcover  10 x 10" with 198 pages including 430 b/w and color photos

Price:

$39.95 USD (plus $6.95 Shipping and Handling) available online from Speciality Press

Review Type:

First Read

Advantages:

Thorough history of the type down to individual Aircraft records, stunningly clear photos and great colour plates. The definitive title on the type

Disadvantages:

It will make you want to get stuck into a kit of one with a passion

Recommendation:

Highly Recommended – Definitive title

Reviewed by Al Bowie


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FirstRead

 

“Black Widow” is an evocative name that conjures up images of predatory spiders stalking their prey, but this book is dedicated to another supreme predator in the form of Northrop’s purpose built night fighter the P-61 Black Widow.

The P-61 was an outstanding night fighter of the Second World War. It was a large distinctive twin engined boom tail design. Despite its size it performed like a smaller single engined fighter and it was one of the most successful night fighters of WW2. The P-61 was usually finished in a sinister black paint scheme and carried a fearsome armament and excellent radar to hunt down and destroy its prey – any axis aircraft or ground target it came across. It excelled as a night fighter and as an attack aircraft with performance and handling qualities usually only found in smaller single engined fighters.

This title, like the real aircraft is impressive and has high quality paper and printing usually found in books many times its price. The author has provided a thorough coverage of the P61’s short history in a format that is easy to digest and enjoyable to read. He has provided a swag of new photos of the type in both colour and black and white supported by line drawings and excellent colour plates.

Exhaustive research must have gone into the compilation of this book as it is extremely thorough covering the history of development and operations right down to individual aircraft histories. Separate chapters deal with the different operational areas the Widow’s operated in and these are a captivating read. Post war use as weather reporters involved in Thunderstorm research was a use I was totally unaware of but is another area covered in the book and supported by a great series of photos and diagrams.

Chapter 10 details the four known Surviving Black Widows and is followed by the appendixes which are a chronology detailing development / service life with Combat and operations and a second appendix details the individual aircraft histories some of which are quite extensive.

The book covers the P-61’s  short life in the following chapters

Foreword, Introduction, Acknowledgements, Dedication and Colour Profiles and Photograpy

  1. The Early Era of Night Fighting

  2. P61 and F-15 Variants

  3. Inside the Black Widow

  4. Zone of the Interior

  5. Fighting the Luftwaffe

  6. Black Widows in the Pacific

  7. China, Burma and India

  8. Navy and Marine Widows

  9. Project Thunderstorm and NACA

  10. Surviving Black Widows

Appendix A -  Chronology

Appendix B – Individual Aircraft Histories

I found this to be one of those rare titles that offers something for both the modeller and the aircraft historian/enthusiast.  The many photos and diagrams will be of great use to the modeller and these are further reinforced by the excellent colour plates. There is a lot of information presented but fortunately in a highly readable format which really drew me in and schooled my in this amazing aircrafts development and history.
I highly recommend this title particularly at the price which is well below what I would expect to pay for such a quality book. If you want a book that covers the P-61 this is what you are after, it is the definitive P-61 reference.

The Black Widow has been a popular model subject with kits by Aurora, Frog, Airfix (The best kit BoxArt), Monogram and even DML. Get a copy of this book and you will find yourself wanting to build one of these kits. If you have some of these in the stash and want inspiration this book is for you.

The book may be ordered calling Speciality Press at 1-800-895-4585 or at their website Speciality Press

Thanks to Specilaty Press for the sample


Review Copyright 2009 by Al Bowie
This Page Created on 2 June, 2009
Last updated 1 June, 2009

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