TYPE: Photo-reconnaissance aircraft
ACCOMMODATION: Crew of two
POWER PLANT: Two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-65 “Double Wasp” radial engines, rated at 2,000 hp each
PERFORMANCE: 376 mph at 17,000 ft
COMMENT: In autumn 1944, two Northrop P-61B “Black Widow” night fighters were extensively modified in an attempt to improve the performance and to extend the long-range in order to use these aircraft as long-range escort fighters. Designated XP-61E the fuselage decking was cut flush with the wing to allow a large blown canopy to be fitted. The center and aft section of the fuselage nacelle housed additional fuel tanks and the nose radar was supplanted by four machine guns. The XP-61E’s were tested in the early month of 1945 but the second was lost in an accident on April 1945 and in view of the changing course of the war, further development of the “Black Widow” in this role as long-range escort fighter was abandoned. The first and remaining prototype was converted to the XF-15 “Reporter”, a long-range photo-reconnaissance aircraft, tested after the war. Due to the on-coming new turbojet powered aircraft a production order never was placed (Ref.: 9).