Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Appendix 1: Early Missiles and Drones
Copyright © 2003-2005 Andreas Parsch

Fleetwings BQ-1/BQ-2

In March 1942, the USAAF initiated a program to develop radio-controlled assault drones, frequently called "aerial torpedoes" at that time. These aerial torpedoes were to be unmanned expendable aircraft (either purpose-built or converted from existing types), fitted with a large payload of high-explosive, remote-control equipment and a forward-looking TV camera. The drones were to be directed to the target by radio commands from a control aircraft, where the operator would "fly" the drone watching the video transmitted by the camera.

In July 1942, Fleetwings was awarded a contract for the BQ-1 assault drone, but development was slow. In October 1943, Fleetwings could successfully demonstrate the guidance principle with a YPQ-12A target drone converted to a radio-controlled bomb with a TV camera. However, the BQ-1 program was cancelled in July 1944, when the only XBQ-1 prototype crashed on its first flight.

Photo: Tom Beamer collection, via Aerofiles

The XBQ-1 was powered by two Franklin O-405-7 piston engines and had a fixed tricycle landing gear. The XBQ-1 had a cockpit so that it could be flown by an on-board pilot on test and ferry flights. For unmanned flights, the cockpit would have been replaced by a flush fairing.

Together with the XBQ-1, the USAAF also ordered a single XBQ-2. This was to be identical to the XBQ-1 except for Lycoming XO-435-3 engines and a jettisonable landing gear. The XBQ-2 was not built, however, being replaced by a single XBQ-2A. The XBQ-2A replaced the O-435 engines by two Lycoming R-680-13. Because of high costs, the XBQ-2A project was terminated in December 1943, and the aircraft was subsequently redesignated as ZXBQ-2A to denote its obsolescence.

Photos: George H. Stuebing Collection


Note: Data given by several sources show slight variations. Figures given below may therefore be inaccurate!

Data for XBQ-1, XBQ-2A:

Wingspan14.81 m (48 ft 7 in)
Weight3500 kg (7700 lb)
Speed360 km/h (225 mph)?
Range2740 km (1700 miles)?
Propulsion2x Franklin O-405-7 piston engine; 167 kW (225 hp) each 2x Lycoming R-680-13 piston engine; 207 kW (280 hp) each
Warhead900 kg (2000 lb) high-explosive

Main Sources

[1] Kenneth P.Werrell: "The Evolution of the Cruise Missile", Air University Press, 1985
[2] John M. Andrade: "U.S. Military Aircraft Designations and Serials, 1909 to 1979", Midland Counties, 1979
[3] James C. Fahey: "U.S. Army Aircraft 1908-1946", Ships and Aircraft, 1946
[4] US Army Air Forces: "Army Aircraft Model Designations", 1945 & 1946 editions

Back to Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 1

Last Updated: 27 October 2005