Sunday, June 16

Reviewed: P-61 Black Widow “In Action”

With the new kits in 48th and 32nd scale from model makers in China the P-61 Black widow is gaining new popularity – Squadron has released a few new items to suit the latest large scale Black Widow and now they have this, a new “In Action” title to go along with it as well. Is it a new moon or just a stab in the dark? Let’s have a look….

By David Doyle.
80 pages, Softcover A4 Landscape format
164 B&W & 30 colour photographs + 4 colour profiles & 12 line drawings
Available at Squadron website for $17.06
Paperback ISBN 978-0-89747-719-2,
Hardcover ISBN 978-0-89747-718-5.

With the new large scale P-61 Black Widow coming out from HobbyBoss and one from Trumpeter as well (hmm suspicious anyone?) anyway we need all of the reference we can get. We have already reviewed the “Combat Chronicles” book from Squadron last year; it covered the P-61’s service record in great detail mainly in a lot of text, whilst this book is a pictorial essay of the aircraft in service with both military and later civilian use.
This is the usual format for these “In Action” books, a landscape softcover book with lovely artwork on the cover (back and front) by their regular artist Don Greer which is attractive. Inside there is an introduction that highlights how this aircraft come into being, a descendant of the P-70 and Beaufighter but with the performance of a fighter it was a big task and a lot of trials going into its development.

We are treated to twelve line drawings of the different variations. These are helpful, but more helpful would be how each variant changed in a little caption next to them. You do tend to try to see the differences amongst the smallest of changes sometimes. Captions would help here. Throughout the book there are some close up drawings of the changes to certain parts of the aircraft with some text so this helps us understand the changes.
If however you buy books to read them the differences are well explained in the rest of the book. It is no war and peace – each of the chapters has a brief explanation fo the changes represented in each of the chapters but the pictures are the real stars here.

From opening the book, we go straight into some colour pictures of the black widow and her ancestors, and there are several more good quality coloured snaps throughout this book (30 in all) A lot of them I had not seen before though some were well known to me. All of them illustrated the qualities of the “Widow” very well.
Let’s not leave out the black and white pictures in this book. From details of the parts of the aircraft – often from great quality official shots – to the pictures of the aircraft in flight and at rest in their airfield lairs.  These shots are also in great clarity and usually interesting in their subject matter. Though they are all period shots some look like they could have been taken yesterday. I really like these “in Action2 books that use only period snaps – as contemporary shots can sometimes be misleading when aircraft are restored to an incorrect spec.
We go through each of the developmental steps of the Black widow – right from the experimental XP-61 on right through the final production variant, the F-15A. This was more of a fighter / interceptor than a night fighter, and it is interesting no doubt to those who haven’t read this book to see what became of the “Widow” after the war. Indeed this book helped me understand a lot better the developmental history of the aircraft. I suppose that is the purpose of the book so I am quite happy with it.
The interesting pictures, the brief but interesting captions that go along with them and Squadron’s little line drawings highlighting the differences to certain parts fo the aircraft are winning points to this book. With no real negative points I could say that it’s a great title to have in your arsenal of you are interested or want to model the P-61 or any of it’s variants in the future.

Another great title in this series i shall be using when i finallly build mine (after the house extension)

Adam Norenberg
Thanks to Squadron  for this book to read and review..