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P-61 with fixed gun barbette

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The fixed cannons in the belly were not fitted " instead " of the turret. They were always there regardless if the turret was there or not. I'm not absolutely sure, but I believe that if the turret wasn't fitted or removed, the gunner's sight was also removed and possibly even the gunner's seat and the plane was flown with just two crew.



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I wasn't clear in my description. 

The turret used in the P-61 was in high demand by the B-29s, so instead they fixed a barbette of 4x .50s in a fix mount in place of the turret. 

Lonestar models makes a conversion as does quick boost of this. I read that most of pacific based Widows had these installed. 



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I may be wrong, but I believe the consequence of the turret shortage was the omission of any turret on the upper fuselage rather than its replacement by a different, fixed barbette. I think the fixed turret was the same as the rotating turret. They just fixed it in place because of problems with buffeting when it was rotated and/or elevated. Again, I could be wrong on this. I have no idea about what changes, if any, might have been made to the sighting system when the turret was fixed.

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The fixed turret was indeed different from the normal item.  I have three Black Widow books and there is only one photo of this turret and it's not captioned as such. Nor does the text make any reference to the fixed turret. I wish I had my almost complete collection of Airpower/Wings catalogued, I bet there's info in them.

Googled "black widow fixed turret" and found the picture.

-https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http%3A%2F%2Fi47.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Ff170%2FKosachevSergey%2FIMG_1936.jpg&imgrefurl=http%3A%2F%2Faeroscale.kitmaker.net%2Fmodules.php%3Fop%3Dmodload%26name%3DReviews%26file%3Dindex%26req%3Dshowcontent%26id%3D7719&docid=K616Q3esNLcT9M&tbnid=ORdqY1Fu6jvpIM%3A&vet=10ahUKEwjM0c_g1YnUAhUG2SYKHecaBKsQMwgvKAEwAQ..i&w=886&h=724&bih=672&biw=1024&q=p-61 black widow fixed turret&ved=0ahUKEwjM0c_g1YnUAhUG2SYKHecaBKsQMwgvKAEwAQ&iact=mrc&uact=8[/img]

Edited by Slartibartfast
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"Midnight Mickey" 42-5524 was equipped with the fixed turret (you can see the fixed turret cover in the picture below)




And looked to have retained the turret control gun sight




But I can't assure it was a common occurence.



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  • 3 years later...

I've a bit obsessed with this subject myself. Apologies for "crashing" this plastic model forum, as I'm an RC Scale modeler and working on my second P-61.  The first was "Midnight Mickey" and the current project is "DOUBLE TROUBLE".


I can't always put my finger on the specific reference for the following, as I have a stack of P-61 books and have also been getting good info from some P-61 aficionados on the face book P-61 page (which, by the way, has a ton of archived photos, many from personal collections).


Without a doubt, "Midnight Mickey" had the fixed barbette for the .50's.  Apparently these were a retrofit performed in Hawaii before being shipped out to bases. Most, if not nearly all PTO P-61's had these, including some frequently modeled examples (such as "Lady in the Dark"), which usually end up being built with the "cooler" rotating turret.


Somewhere I read that these were delivered WITH the two remote sights installed.  Why?  Because there was a hope that eventually the remote turret would be installed as originally intended.  I do wonder if, over time, the sights remained, due to the weight they had to represent.  For some reason 1500 lbs rings a bell, but I can't recall if that was the two sights together, or the turret.  Note the photos which indicates a 3-man crew for Midnight Mickey -- accounts suggest that they often took an observer along for "another pair of eyes". When I made "Midnight Mickey" (59" span), I did include the two remote sights, 3-man crew, and also modeled a correct fixed barbette cover for the quad-50's.


DOUBLE TROUBLE was a the first P-61A-10 of the line, and shipped to the ETO, 422nd.  It was manufactured without the turret and that space clearly capped with a circular panel.  I very much doubt that these P-61's would have been shipped with the gun sights, but can't remember reading of any confirmation.  The other issue with these turretless ETO P-61's is the location of the Radar Operator.  The 425th concluded that the R/O would be better positioned in the forward (former) gunner position, and moved the radar equipment forward on many of their P-61's.  One pilot claimed that the resulting shift in CG changed the flight attitude of these P-61's from slight "nose up" and increased the airspeed by 10-15 mph.  So far, however, the record suggests that the 422nd's P-61's left the R/O in the aft position.  So for my particular model, I'll not only leave off the remote sights, but the gunner's chair.  While there is mention of PTO Widow's flying with an "observer" in the gunner position, it seems the ETO's flew with just two-man crews.  There are some oft-reproduced photos of DOUBLE TROUBLE and you can see a second crewman right behind the pilot.  I think this was just ground crewman getting a ride -- he's hunched immediately behind the pilot, where there is no seat -- in fact, he has to be sitting over the entry hatch/ladder, which occupied a large space between the pilot and gunner position. I think this points to "DT" not having a gunner seat installed.  The new P-61 is 79.5" span and will be built with no gunner seat, and only two crew.






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