S u m m a
Title and Author
Black Widow & F-15 Reporter (2nd Edition) by Miroslav
Balous; Published by Miroslav BÍLÝ (MBI ®)
covers, portrait format (11.25” x 8”), printed on 72
good quality semi-gloss pages (expanded from the
original’s 56 pages). 4 pages of colour illustrations
covering colour schemes and cockpit, 3 pages + 1 A3
loose insert of 1/72-scale plans, many B/W photos and
diagrams + 7 pages of colour photos.
||£10.90, plus £0.60
post & packing (UK – see below for availability
expanded edition of the original 1994 publication.
Greater coverage of the development aircraft and the
F-15 Reporter. Good range of both black & white and
colour photos (now including the Wright-Patterson P-61C
and Beijing Aeronautical Institute’s P-61B), as well as
numerous diagrams and scale plans.
(though the specific aircraft I want to model isn’t in
Reviewed by Steve Naylor
HyperScale is proudly supported by Squadron.com
Like the Mustang, the Black Widow was another aircraft
originally conceived to meet the (then) immediate requirements
of the RAF, but which in the end was adopted and operated to
great effect by the USAAF. The result was a twin-boomed,
twin-engined nightfighter (later developed into a
photo-reconnaissance platform), linking the near-performance of
a single-engined fighter to a devastating array of firepower,
creating a formidable aircraft which saw action in both the
European and Pacific theatres of war.
The first edition of this book was published in 1994, though not
seen by this reviewer, as I didn’t return to the aircraft
modelling ‘fold’ until relatively recently. Whilst that book
predominantly concerned itself with the P-61, this expanded and
revised edition now includes more detail on both the development
aircraft and the later F-15 Reporter PR version developed from
it, as well as adding 7 pages of colour photos of surviving
Miroslav Balous’s book is a bilingual publication in Czech and
English throughout, this includes the main text and all captions
and diagrams. The way this is achieved varies at different
points. Mostly, chapters are split into two columns (Czech on
the left, English on the right), however at other times, the
chapter is effectively repeated (i.e. the Czech version first,
followed by the English translation, with the result that
different photos or diagrams are interspersed with each text).
Whilst not really a problem, it was disconcerting the first time
I looked through it, as I thought that a ‘Czech-only’ chapter
had crept in! This does mean however, that on the occasions
where the latter method is used, the later English text is
divorced from the corresponding photographs or diagrams,
necessitating the need to flick backwards and forwards. Perhaps
I’m being a little uncharitable here (as Czech readers will also
have to flick forwards and then backwards, for the same reasons)
as once you realise what is going on, the ‘flow’ of the book is
not disrupted too much.
Getting down to the content. Inevitably, the book begins with a
background to the design’s inception, though the first chapter
is actually a description of Lt. Herman E. Ernst’s bringing down
of a V-1 on 16 July 1944 – the Widow’s first night-kill of such
a device. The development covers the prototypes, including the
early proposals with front and rear turrets, as well as ducted
cooling air through large propeller spinners. This development
of the airframe is also paralleled by that of a suitable radar
Subsequent chapters cover the design and development of the
P-61A and P-61B and the subsequent performance in service. This
is followed by chapters on the P-61C & D, and then the XP-61E
which led on to the F-15 Reporter. The Reporter is covered in
reasonable detail, followed by two short chapters on Black
Widow/Reporter use as development aircraft (NACA) and by
post-war civilian operators. The final chapter is an illustrated
technical description of the Widow, including a technical data
table covering all the variants.
Throughout, chapters are well illustrated with black and white
photographs, diagrams (including P-61A and B cockpits) and
technical illustrations. There are colour artworks showing
various paint schemes and a coloured illustration artwork of a
P-61B cockpit. As mentioned above, the colour photographs now
included in this second edition, cover the Wright-Patterson
Museum’s P-61C and the P-61B at the Beijing Aeronautical
Institute (the latter looking somewhat battered after all those
post-war years out in the open).
I do not claim to be an ‘expert’ on any
aircraft and I’m certainly not as well clued-up on the P-61 as
some other types. So if there are any technical errors in this
book, they weren’t obvious to me (someone else will have to
stick their head above the parapet on that one!). If there were
a slight criticism, it would be that a separate table compiling
the data on production batches, serial numbers, etc, would have
been useful, rather than leaving the reader to extract such data
from the chapters on each variant.
That said, there is a wealth of detail in this book (reviewer’s
cliché #16), which will be invaluable to the modeller or the
merely interested. This value is enhanced when you consider the
very reasonable cost, coupled to the quality of the reproduction
and the materials used. As an adjunct to Squadron’s “P-61 Black
Widow in Action”, this book is a more than useful work, which I
feel would give me most of what I would need to know to attempt
a competent model of Northrop’s deadly lady.
Recommended to anyone waiting patiently for that AMtech kit (now
apparently scheduled for release in mid-2004 at the earliest).
Review copy courtesy of my
wallet (Try not to let this happen again. Wallet).
In the UK, this series is
available from Czech – SIX Publications (Mark Tuffield), 48
Station Road, Stoke D’Abernon, Cobham, Surrey, KT11 3BN, UK.
Tel.: 01932 866426 or Fax: 01932 867099
For other countries – see below:
Publisher Miroslav BÍLÝ can be contacted at Kocianova 1588, 155
00 Praha 5, Czech Republic. Tel.: +420-251 610 778 or Fax:
+420-251 610 779. Email: email@example.com
4+ PUBLICATIONS N. A.
855 Bebout Road
Venetia, PA 15367
Tel./Fax: (724) 9418755
Ermanno Albertelli Editore
Via Sydney Sonnino, 34
J. ESCARRÉ, S.L.
280 47 Madrid
UNIVERSAL MODELS LTD.
B1-10/F Kong Nam Ind. Bldg.
603-609 Castle Peak Road
Tsuen Wan, N. T.
Tel.: (852) 2493 0215
Fax: (852) 2411 0587
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This Page Created on 08 October, 2003
Last updated 24 October, 2004
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