As early as the summer of 1942, the US Navy had exhibited an interest in the P-61 Black Widow. They needed a night fighter which could operate from land bases at far-flung locations throughout the Pacific. However, the USAAF had the priority on deliveries of Black Widows, and the Navy would have to wait until mid-1944 until their request was finally honored. At that time, the Navy was finally given the go-ahead to acquire its own Black Widows. The naval P-61s were to be issued to Marine Corps night-fighter units then operating a mixed bag of Lockheed PV-1 Venturas, Vought F4U Corsairs, and Grumman F6F Hellcats.
However, on July 10, 1944, the Navy changed its mind and decided to opt instead for the Grumman F7F Tigercat as its primary night fighter. The Navy cancelled its request for Black Widows. Nevertheless, the Navy did acquire a dozen ex-USAAF P-61B-10s, 15s and 20s for use as crew trainers until their Tigercats could be made available in quantity. The naval Black Widows were given the naval designation F2T-1 and were assigned the Bureau of Aeronautics serial numbers 52750 through 52761. However, the F2T-1s did not enter service with the Navy until September of 1945, by which time the war in the Pacific was over.
The naval F2T-1s served with shore-based training units for only a brief time, and the survivors were eventually transferred to support units. The last two F2T-1s were stricken off Navy rolls in August of 1947.