Flying a twilight mission in his P-61 Black Widow on October 24, 1944, Colonel Oris Johnson and his radar operator have picked up a formation of three Fw-190s; stealthily closing on their quarry in the gathering dusk, ‘O.B.’ makes one quick and decisive strike, bringing down the enemy leader with two short bursts of fire. Banking hard, as the Fw-190 pilot prepares to bale out, he brings his blazing guns to bear on a second Fw-190, the tracer lighting up the fuselage of his P-61.
It lurks in the dark, carefully chooses its moment of attack, and strikes unseen, cutting down its prey with deadly certainty. Northrop could not have chosen a more apt name with which to christen its new night fighter when the P-61 Black Widow entered service in the spring of 1944. The first aircraft designed from the start as a night fighter, the P-61 had the distinction of pioneering airborne radar interception during World War II, and this remarkable twin-engined fighter saw service in the ETO, in China, the Marianas, and the South West Pacific.
Under the command of Lt. Colonel O. B. Johnson, one of the P-61’s greatest exponents, the 422nd Night Fighter Squadron was the leading P-61 outfit in the ETO, destroying 43 enemy aircraft in the air, 5 buzz bombs, and hundreds of ground based vehicles, becoming the most successful night fighter Squadron of World War II.
Each print is signed by the artist and 422nd’s famous C.O., Colonel Oris B. Johnson, together with three other P-61 night fighter crew who became Aces in the Black Widow in the European Theater.
Major General ORIS B. JOHNSON (Pilot)
Lieutenant Colonel HERMAN ERNST (Pilot) – 6 victories / including a V1 Flying Bomb
Major ROBERT GRAHAM (Radio Operator) – 5 victories
First Lieutenant BOB TIERNEY (Radio Operator) – 5 victories / he and his Pilot, Paul Smith, were the first US night fighter aces of WWII