Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Copyright © 2002 Andreas Parsch

Beech KDB/MQM-39

In 1955, the U.S. Navy initiated a design competition for a new recoverable low-speed target drone. The Beech Model 1001 was eventually selected and designated KDB by the Navy. The first XKDB-1 flew in early 1957, and production of the KDB-1 started in 1959. The U.S. Army adopted the very similar Model 1025 Cardinal, later designated as MQM-61.

The KDB-1 was powered by a McCulloch six-cylinder piston engine, and could be launched either by a catapult or a zero-length launcher (using a rocket booster in the latter case). The drone was controlled in flight by a radio command guidance system, and was recovered by a single drogue parachute. It was used for air-to-air and ground-to-air anti-aircraft missile and gunnery training. The KDB-1 could be fitted with various equipment like miss distance indicators, and radar and infrared augmentation devices. It was also frequently used to tow banners or other towed targets.

Photo: via Jane's

In June 1963, the KDB-1 was redesignated as MQM-39A. Production continued until the early 1970s, and almost 1000 KDB-1/MQM-39A targets were built.


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

Data for MQM-39A:

Length4.60 m (15 ft 1 in)
Wingspan3.95 m (12 ft 11.5 in)
Height1.02 m (3 ft 4 in)
Diameter45 cm (17.75 in)
Weight301 kg (664 lb)
Speed560 km/h (350 mph)
Ceiling13100 m (43000 ft)
Endurance> 60 min.
Range> 500 km (300 miles)
PropulsionMcCulloch O-150-4 (Model TC6150-J-2) flat-six turbocharged piston engine; 93 kW (125 hp)

Main Sources

[1] R.T. Pretty, D.H.R. Archer (eds.): "Jane's Weapon Systems 1970-71", McGraw-Hill, 1970
[2] Kenneth Munson: "World Unmanned Aircraft", Jane's, 1988
[3] Frederick I. Ordway III, Ronald C. Wakeford: "International Missile and Spacecraft Guide", McGraw-Hill, 1960

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Last Updated: 30 April 2002