|This page is about the American twin-engine fighter P-61C-1. For the premium version, see P-61A-1.|
- 1 Description
- 2 General info
- 3 Armaments
- 4 Usage in battles
- 5 History
- 6 Media
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
The P-61C-1 is a rank III American twin-engine fighter with a battle rating of 4.0 (AB/RB) and 4.3 (SB). It was introduced in Update 1.57 "Battle March".
The P-61C-1 is a heavy twin-engine strike fighter. It is designed to deliver as much damage as possible, and therefore makes a great ground attack aircraft and bomber-hunter.
It has four cannons placed are under the belly of the aircraft with an additional four Browning machine guns in the upper turret. The cannons combined with the gunner and turret are able to make quick work of any plane which stands in your way. The machine gun turret can be used, defensively and offensively by the gunner. It is excellent in bomber hunting and it excels when used with boom and zoom tactics. However, it does not have a decisive defensive armament which can provide essential protection from the low rear or belly attacks. It also is unable to turn fight, as it is extremely large, slow and loses any advantages it has easily.
Turret defensive angles are limited, it can not aim any lower than the elevator. If an enemy plane is lower than the elevator, you will need to put the plane into a steep climb or dive. It also offers very weak crew protection from head-on attacks.
Its armament is exceptionally powerful for its battle rating, being essentially slightly faster firing Hispano Mk.IIs. Additionally, its firepower is exclusively mounted on the fuselage, making it very accurate for long range shooting. However, note that unless the new 20 mm cannons upgrade is researched, they are somewhat inaccurate (especially in a head-on pass). However, this is nowhere near as visible as on planes where the cannons are wing mounted, like the F4U-1C. Like with all other AN/M2 cannons, it is recommended to use either the Default or Stealth belts due to their higher composition of HEF-I shells.
The most notable aspect of the P-61C-1's armament is that the 4 x 12.7 mm machine gun turret is mounted on the roof of the aircraft and is capable rotating a full 360 degrees on the horizontal axis and almost 90 degrees upwards. Not only does this give the plane an effective defensive armament if an enemy plane is above the P-61, but it also makes the gunner able to actively fire at the same target as the pilot, or fire at planes that the pilot cannot get an immediate gun solution on. Keep in mind, however, that the turret cannot aim downwards at all, leaving the belly of the aircraft all the way up to wing level unprotected. Its utility is best shown in situations where you are hunting high altitude bombers. Instead of struggling to climb up to the bomber's attitude and keeping up the speed, you could be flying 1 - 1.2 km below the bomber, catch up with it, then manually aim the turret which has 360 degrees of coverage to snipe the plane down with 4 x 12.7 mm machine guns. This is even more effective towards bombers which have blind spots in the belly.
Describe how the aircraft behaves in the air. Speed, manoeuvrability, acceleration and allowable loads - these are the most important characteristics of the vehicle.
| Max Speed
(km/h at 7,100 m)
| Max altitude
| Turn time
| Rate of climb
| Take-off run|
| Max Speed
(km/h at 7,100 m)
| Max altitude
| Turn time
| Rate of climb
| Take-off run|
|Combat flaps||Take-off flaps||Landing flaps||Air brakes||Arrestor gear|
| Wing-break speed
| Gear limit
| Combat flaps
|Max Static G|
|< 530||< 420||< 450||> 337|
|Optimal altitude||100% Engine power||WEP Engine power|
|8,000 m||2,200 hp||2,783 hp|
Survivability and armour
- 12.7 mm Steel - Nose armour plating (behind radar unit)
- 60 mm Bulletproof glass - Pilot and gunner armoured windscreens
- 12.7 mm Steel - Gunner front armour (folds out of the way when not in use)
- 12.7 mm Steel - Lower gun plate
- 9.5 mm Steel - Gun turret ammo protection plates
- 12.7 mm Steel - Turret protection plate
The P-61C-1 is armed with:
- 4 x 20 mm AN/M2 cannons, belly-mounted (200 rpg = 800 total)
The four cannons are arranged in bundles of two mounted on the sides of the fuselage. Each are armed with the same amount of ammunition, which means that all guns will fire together until empty.
The P-61C-1 can be outfitted with the following ordnance:
- Without load
- 4 x 500 lb AN-M64A1 bombs (2,000 lb total)
- 4 x 1,000 lb AN-M65A1 bombs (4,000 lb total)
The P-61C-1 is defended by:
- 4 x 12.7 mm Browning M2 machine guns, dorsal turret (560 rpg outer + 500 rpg inner = 2,120 total)
Usage in battles
The below tactics are recommended for all game modes:
How to offensively engage an enemy aircraft: Climb to high altitude and keep on a straight heading once you have seen the enemy. Overshoot the enemy plane, then perform a 180-degree turn. Make sure you stay on his tail and gradually descend. It is recommended to do something similar to a shallow descent, where you can keep speed and height to your advantage in case the enemy aircraft changes course and altitude. Do not perform a dive which requires you to dive straight down since you will rip the wings off and crash. Once you are within firing range, fire a short salvo from your cannons. A couple of bursts from the Black Widow are sufficient to easily rip an enemy plane to shreds.
How to perform defensive fighting: When you are being engaged by an enemy fighter, make sure you keep descending. Very Important: Do not allow enemy aircraft to get lower than your elevator on the tail boom. You have no defensive armament to cover the belly or full-rear of the plane; these are your weakest defended parts.
- Tactic one: Descend slowly. Put the plane in a steep dive that does not exceed your structural limit. However, it must be steep enough to provide the turret gunner full visibility of the enemy plane. The four Browning machine guns will take care of the enemy plane.
- Tactic Two: Put the plane in a steep climb and make sure you set the throttle to at least 70%. Jump into the gunner turret and operate it. This will be the most accurate and fastest way of shooting down the hostile plane. When you operate the turret, make sure you try and perform defensive manoeuvres when operating it i.e. sharp turns, rapidly decreasing in height as well as gaining height and changing the speed of the plane in an irrational way. This will give you a higher chance of survival against the enemy.
The P-61C-1 is equipped with an AI Mk. X search radar, located in the nose of the aircraft. The radar utilised a 29 in (74 cm) parabolic dish which it rotated at 360 rpm when set to ranges below 100 miles, however, it is slowed down to 100 rpm when set to the 100 miles setting. The scopes could be set to one of four ranges, 1, 10, 20 or 100 miles (1.6, 16, 32 or 160 km). The parabolic dish could be adjusted to different altitude settings which included 0° to 0°, -5° to +5°, +5° to +20°, and +20° to +50°. One of the benefits to the multiple choices in range and altitude settings of the radar was that it provided partial immunity to chaff and other radar interference or countermeasures deployed by the enemy.
|AI Mk. X - Target Detection Radar|
|14,000 m||8,500 m||±75°||-20°/+40°|
Manual Engine Control
Not auto controlled
Auto control available
Auto control available
|Separate|| Not controllable
|I||Fuselage repair||Radiator||Turret 12 mm|
|II||Compressor||Airframe||New 12 mm MGs (turret)||FMBC mk.1|
|III||Wings repair||Engine||Offensive 20 mm|
|IV||Engine injection||Cover||New 20 mm cannons||FLBC mk.1|
The P-61C-1 is a thoroughbred Boom & Zoom aircraft. However, when the plane is first unlocked the flight performance will be very lacklustre to support this tactic. As such, the initial priority should be to improve the aircraft, by researching the upgrades that improve flight performance the most, namely Compressor, Engine and Engine injection. When the flight performance has reached a satisfactory level to allow for effective Boom & Zoom tactics, the priority should be switched towards researching the New 20 mm cannons upgrade in order to improve the accuracy of the cannons. After this is done, either finish upgrading the flight performance or focus on the turret upgrade. The bomb racks should be left to research last, as they are not critical to the P-61's main role as a fighter.
Pros and cons
- The offensive armament is mounted under the belly of the plane, this provides excellent accuracy
- Powerful offensive armament with 4 x AN/M2 cannons with a total amount of 800 rounds
- Powerful defensive armament with 4 x Browning machine guns in a rotating turret, a total of 2,120 rounds
- Defensive armament is able to be used offensively by the gunner
- Very stable climb rate
- Engines are able to cool down very fast
- Able to perform sharp movements at low and high speed
- Excellent bomber hunter
- Very strong and rugged airframe; is able to fly with wing tips missing
- Can keep a lot of momentum from a gradual dive
- Can carry 4 x 1,000 lb bombs: enough to fully destroy one base or four light pillboxes
- Air brakes installed, allows you to slow down faster for a bomb run or landing
- Powerful engines when upgraded giving great acceleration
- Can fly on one engine
- Fairly good roll rate at high speeds thanks to spoilers
- Very little adverse yaw effect thanks to spoilers (SB)
- Has access to a target detection radar, with much better range than German radars found around this battle rating
- Slow acceleration when not upgraded and requires a long airstrip to take off due to weight
- Uncompetitive roll rate at slow speeds
- Bad turn rate (utilise Immelmann turns, chandelles or normal loops)
- Due to size, slow to gain speed in a dive, however, can exceed structural limits if not careful. Per the pilot's manual while in a dive:
- Between 0 - 10,000 ft do not exceed 415 mph IAS
- Between 10,000 - 20,000 ft do not exceed 375 mph IAS
- Between 20,000 - 30,000 ft do not exceed 305 mph IAS
- Bottom of aircraft is unprotected
- Large body airframe, not meant for turn-fighting (Boom & Zoom or Boom & Run)
- Dorsal turret might hit friendlies when active under AI control during furballs or when you're behind friendlies chasing an enemy
In 1940, the British Purchasing Commission wanted a high-altitude, high-speed interceptor to shoot down Luftwaffe bombers when they raided British cities. This called for a high-endurance heavy fighter with Aerial Interception (AI) radars and specified gun armament mounted in a 360 degrees gun turret. The requirements were sent to many aircraft manufacturers, one of them being Jack Northrop. The USAAC accepted his proposal, resulting in one of the most deadly and large fighters in World War Two. The prototype YP-61, had a long fuselage gondola in between two engine nacelles. The tail was a new radical twin-boom design. Full span flaps were fitted on the wings and it had two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-10 Double Wasp 18-cylinder radials, producing 2,000 horsepower each. The plane was mounted on a tricycle landing gear and had a three-man crew: a radar operator, gunner, and pilot. Armament includes four Browning 12.7 mm heavy machine guns mounted in a four-gun powered turret. The original design also had a ventral turret, but that was replaced by Hispano Mk.II cannons. Some versions also had air brakes so the pilot would not overshoot the target.
- Pilot Training Manual for the P-61 Black Widow - By Headquarters AAF - Office of Flying Safety, 1944
- Northrop P-61 Black Widow Pilot's Flight Operations Instructions - USAAF, July 1945
|USA twin-engine fighters|
|P-38||XP-38G · P-38E · P-38G-1 · P-38J-15 · Bong's P-38J-15 · P-38L-5-LO · P-38K · YP-38|
|P-61||P-61A-1 · P-61C-1|
|F7F||F7F-1 · F7F-3|
|Other||XF5F · XP-50 · F-82E|