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Flight Journal
Aviation History | History of Flight | Aviation History Articles, Warbirds, Bombers, Trainers, Pilots

Early UAV Development and Dahlgren
<p>Anyone familiar with Dahlgren history has almost certainly heard of Carl Norden and Dahlgren’s role in the development of his famous bombsight. It’s less well known that he came to Dahlgren two years before his first bombsight tests and almost five years before testing the first version of his famous bombsight in 1924.</p>
<p>This earlier visit was related to the development and testing of a “flying bomb” for the Navy. This work was an outgrowth of a project started by Elmer Sperry to build a gyro stabilized, unmanned airplane for the Navy.</p>
<p>Several years after he came to the United States Norden went to work for Elmer Sperry to to him as “Old Man Dynamite”), fell out with Sperry over patent rights, and left the company in 1913 to start his own company. However, he continued to work for Sperry as a consulting engineer on Navy projects.</p>
<p>Elmer Sperry had done a lot of work on gyro stabilization and held many patents on gyrostabilizers for automobiles, ships, and airplanes. This work led to an interest in automatic control of airplanes and his experiments in this area led to his son Lawrence demonstrating the system in a Curtis flying boat in 1916. While serving on the Naval Consulting Board during World War I, Sperry became aware of the military need to reduce the danger to bomber pilots and advocated with Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels for an unmanned “aerial torpedo.” Based on his experience with gyros and the relative immaturity of radio, he chose to use a gyro-based guidance system.</p>
<p>He had continued working on the control system and installed an updated version on Curtiss N-9s provided by the Navy. The first flights (in Long Island) took place in November 1917. The flights weren’t unmanned – a safety pilot handled takeoffs and landings as well as the return flight to base after a preset range was reached. These flights were intended to test the control system and were precursors to unmanned flights of a new aircraft (known as the “Flying Bomb” or FB) specially designed for the purpose by Glenn Curtiss.</p>
<div id=”attachment_223511″ class=”wp-caption alignnone”><img aria-describedby=”caption-attachment-223511″ loading=”lazy” class=”wp-image-223511 size-large” src=”×834.jpeg” alt width=”586″ height=”477″ srcset=”×834.jpeg 1024w,×244.jpeg 300w,×626.jpeg 768w,×407.jpeg 500w, 1280w” sizes=”(max-width: 586px) 100vw, 586px”><p id=”caption-attachment-223511″ class=”wp-caption-text”>The Curtiss Flying Bomb had an empty weight of 500 pounds, 15 foot length, 25 foot wingspan, top speed of 90mph, and the could carry up to 1,000 pounds of explosives. Many launching mechanisms were tried, including sliding on a wire, a catapult, and from the roof of an automobile, before bringing Norden in to redesign the catapult system. (U.S. Navy photo)</p></div>
<p>The Navy ordered 10 of the FBs and the first was delivered in November 1917. The first three flights took place in December and resulted in three failures and the destruction of two airplanes. After the launching mechanism was identified as the roblem, Carl Norden was brought in as a consultant to help redesign it. The loss of two more aircraft led to the conclusion that they didn’t completely understand the flight characteristics of the FB either. They modified one of the aircraft to carry a pilot and undertook a flight test program. After making changes to both the aircraft and the control system, the FB flew successfully in March 1918. The control system terminated the flight after flying 1000 yards and the aircraft then crashed into the water. Sperry considered it “the first entirely successful flight of an automatic missile in this country if not in the world.” Unfortunately, flights during the summer and fall were failures and the last of the aircraft was destroyed in a test failure in September 1918.</p>
<p>Meanwhile, tests with the N-9 had continued and Sperry decided to conduct a test with an unmanned N-9. This test was to focus on the control system by eliminating the uncertainties caused by the special airplane and the launching system. The test took place on 16 October 1918. The N-9 took off normally and flew a controlled straight-line path to the planned range with very little error. However, the distance control device failed and the flight didn’t terminate. The N-9 was last seen as it disappeared over the horizon at an altitude of 4000 feet. Although the Navy considered the flight to be a success, the end of the war saw interest in the aerial torpedo decline and the contract with Sperry ended in January 1919.</p>
<p>In late 1918 the Navy decided on a fundamental change to their approach. The work was to move to a naval station and five aircraft from the Witteman-Lewis Company were bought to replace the Curtiss Flying Bomb. In addition, Carl Norden was to lead the effort. Norden and a small staff, a launching system, and aircraft arrived in Dahlgren in late May 1919. After some preliminary work, it was decided that the runway at Dahlgren was too rough and that the airplane had stability issues. After both were corrected, the first flight at Dahlgren took place on 18 August 1920 and was a failure. The second flight, a month later was successful. The final flight, also a failure, took place in April 1921. Faced with budget issues, the program was cancelled and Norden returned to his bombsight work. While his focus was on the bombsight, he returned to work on unmanned flight repeatedly over the next few years.</p>
<p>The gyro-guided aerial bomb was, at best, only moderately successful and interest shifted to radio control. Representatives of the Bureaus of Ordnance (BuOrd) and Engineering (BuEng) visited Dahlgren in October 1921 to work out the procedures for conducting radio control research there. The program was approved and work started in January 1922.</p>
<p>Norden was asked to install his control system on an N-9 seaplane. A radio system was developed and tested by the Naval Aircraft Radio Laboratory (later part of the Naval Research Laboratory) by the end of the year. The systems were mated in July 1923 and, with LT John J. Ballantine as safety pilot, was flown successfully more than 30 times that summer and fall. The final test of the year, on 14 November, was flown by radio control for 25 minutes.</p>
<div id=”attachment_223512″ class=”wp-caption alignnone”><img aria-describedby=”caption-attachment-223512″ loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-223512″ src=”×633.jpg” alt width=”586″ height=”362″ srcset=”×633.jpg 1024w,×186.jpg 300w,×475.jpg 768w,×309.jpg 500w,×950.jpg 1536w,×1267.jpg 2048w” sizes=”(max-width: 586px) 100vw, 586px”><p id=”caption-attachment-223512″ class=”wp-caption-text”>Curtiss NC-9H at Dahlgren (U.S. Navy photo)</p></div>
<p>Testing was stopped for the winter and during the hiatus NRL improved the radio control system. Testing resumed in July 1924 and continued into September, again with a safety pilot. After two successful radio-controlled flights on the morning of 15 September, Ballantine and Carlo Mirick (the NRL radio engineer) decided to attempt the first completely unmanned test of the system. Ballantine controlled the aircraft from the radio-control station for the entire forty minute flight. Although the aircraft was damaged on landing, this is considered the first time that a remotely-controlled unmanned airplane took off, maneuvered, and landed.</p>
<p>The radio gear was moved to a Vought VE-7 airplane which flew successfully in December of that year. After stopping for the winter, testing resumed in June 1925. Ballantine completed 28 more tests before leaving Dahlgren in September. Testing continued with LT Valentine H. Schaeffer as safety pilot until the final flight on 11 December 1925. This last test was unmanned and ended when the Vought crashed on takeoff.<br>Even though the project was considered successful and was never officially cancelled, no further tests were conducted. Once again, it was a casualty of the very limited interwar Navy research budget and, perhaps, to the success of Norden’s bombsight. The belief was that the bombsight allowed bombers to fly above the effective height of anti-aircraft fire while maintaining bombing accuracy. If true, this would reduce the risk to pilots, the very factor that drove Sperry’s initial interest and development.</p>
<p>After the successful demonstration of the automatic control system in 1916, Sperry had contacted the Army Signal Corps in an attempt to interest them in an aerial torpedo. Although they didn’t reply to that letter, Major General George O. Squier, Army Chief Signal Officer, finally attended a demonstration of the control system in November 1917. He recommended to the Aircraft Board that the Army pursue this capability and Charles F. Kettering was given a contract to do just that. His team (which included Orville Wright and Elmer Sperry) proceeded to develop the Kettering “Liberty Eagle” (better known as the “Bug”). The Bug had a successful first flight in July 1918 and, between then and October 1918, had three successes in 10 tests. As with the Navy, interest waned after the end of the war and the project shut down in November. Six Bugs were sent to Long Island for further tests in December and January but only one flight was successful. The Army was still interested in this capability and sent 12 Bugs to Florida for additional tests. There were 14 tests in the fall of 1919 with just four successes. That marked the end of the Kettering Bug project.</p>
<div id=”attachment_223510″ class=”wp-caption alignnone”><img aria-describedby=”caption-attachment-223510″ loading=”lazy” class=”wp-image-223510 size-large” src=”×651.jpg” alt width=”586″ height=”373″ srcset=”×651.jpg 1024w,×191.jpg 300w,×488.jpg 768w,×318.jpg 500w, 1423w” sizes=”(max-width: 586px) 100vw, 586px”><p id=”caption-attachment-223510″ class=”wp-caption-text”>The Kettering Bug had a gross weight of 530 pounds, 12 ½ foot length, 15 foot wingspan, top speed of 50mph, range of 75 miles, and the ability to carry a 180 pound warhead. The fuselage was made of wood laminates and papier-mache and the wings of cardboard. It was launched using a track and dolly system. (USAF photo)</p></div>
<p>There were a good number of successful radio-controlled flights (with a safety pilot) in 1924-25, but flights of truly unmanned aircraft were much less successful. The gyro-guided aerial bomb was, at best, only moderately successful. The Sperry-Navy system had one success in 12 tests and the Norden-Navy system had one success in three tests at Dahlgren. Kettering had somewhat better results – seven successes in 24 tests. The consensus of opinion is that, in various ways, the technology and testing methods of the day were not up to the challenge. For example, there was a limited knowledge of aerodynamics which hindered the development of both the airplane and the control system. In addition, testing was mostly trial and error and, because of the destructive nature of the tests, little was learned from the failures.</p>
<div id=”attachment_223509″ class=”wp-caption alignnone”><img aria-describedby=”caption-attachment-223509″ loading=”lazy” class=”wp-image-223509 size-large” src=”×1024.jpg” alt width=”586″ height=”726″ srcset=”×1024.jpg 827w,×300.jpg 242w,×951.jpg 768w,×619.jpg 500w,×1536.jpg 1240w,×2048.jpg 1654w” sizes=”(max-width: 586px) 100vw, 586px”><p id=”caption-attachment-223509″ class=”wp-caption-text”>Carl Norden with his control system installed in a Vought VE-7. Born in Semarang, Java to Dutch parents, Norden studied mechanical engineering at the Federal Polytechnic Institute in Zurich, Switzerland and immigrated to the United States in 1904. His relationship with Sperry was a rocky one – Sperry disliked Norden’s appetite for “vile black cigars” – and other contemporaries described him as “self-centered, impatient, domineering, a perfectionist … and of the highest ethical standards.” (U.S. Navy photo)</p></div>
<p>Navy interest picked up again in 1936 when war seemed imminent but Dahlgren wasn’t involved. Concurrently, the Army showed interest, which along with a Bureau of Aeronautics project, led to efforts to develop target drones and an assault drone during World War II.</p>
<p>Technology and its applications and Dahlgren’s role in research and development have both significantly evolved since Norden’s time at the Naval Proving Ground. But a line can clearly be drawn between these pioneering systems and those of today. For example, while the Germans used essentially the same gyro-guidance technology to guide the V-1 and V-2 missiles during World War II, considerable progress has been made in the development of both missiles and guidance over the decades since. Cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles are becoming ubiquitous and the Dahlgren Division of the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWCDD) has and continues to play an important role in their development for the Navy and America’s defense.</p>
<p>References<br>Hughes, Thomas Parke. Elmer Sperry: Inventor and Engineer. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University, 1971.<br>Leith, Charles H. “Our First Bomber: Charles Candy Middlebrook, Esq. “Middy” (1896-1965) and his part in the Norden Bombsight of W.W. II.” Fredericksburg, VA: Self Published, 1987.<br>McCollum, Kenneth G., Ed. Dahlgren. Dahlgren, VA: NSWC, 1977.<br>Rife, James P. and Rodney P. Carlisle. The Sound of Freedom: Naval Weapons Technology at Dahlgren, Virginia 1918-2006. Dahlgren, VA: NSWCDD, 2007.<br>Werrell, Kenneth P. The Evolution of the Cruise Missile. Maxwell AFB, AL: Air University Press, 1985.</p>

<p><strong><a href=””></a></strong> <a href=””>(Why?)</a></p> Mon, 05 Apr 2021 15:43:38 +0000 Flight Journal
Featured News

The Andermat Aeroplane Saga
<p>I am a volunteer at my local historical society in Sunnyvale, California. When the Covid-19 pandemic began, I started to research the spread and impact of the Spanish flu 100 years prior. I began looking through the local paper, the <em>Sunnyvale Standard</em> from 1916, starting earlier so that I could find the first mention in an article. As I was reviewing the reels of weekly editions, I came across an interesting article on a completely different subject:</p>
<p><img loading=”lazy” class=”alignnone size-large wp-image-223504″ src=”×510.jpg” alt width=”586″ height=”292″ srcset=”×510.jpg 1024w,×149.jpg 300w,×382.jpg 768w,×249.jpg 500w, 1063w” sizes=”(max-width: 586px) 100vw, 586px”></p>
<p>So many questions came to mind: Who or what was the Andermat Aeroplane Company? If they had received such a huge contract, why weren’t they more well-known in aviation history? Where was the plant located? What did the planes look like? Were they used in the War?</p>

<h4>What, where, and who</h4>
<p>Checking an inflation calculator, $9 million in 1916 is $224,540,388 in 2020, which is indeed “colossal”. Just to give an example of salaries at the time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average household in 1915 earned $1,518 a year. A business in a small town getting a contract for $9 million at that time is fantastical. It’s almost unimaginable. The <em>Sunnyvale Standard</em> also reported that it was, “the largest single contact of any kind that has been let in this country since the war in Europe began.”</p>
<p>Doing an internet search for “Andermat Aeroplane” yielded at first, a few grainy photos from a Russian war plane enthusiast website, and the description was of the “Andermat Bomber”. That was interesting, but since this was during the WWI era, not too unexpected. Even though according to the <em>Sunnyvale Standard</em> article, the contract was about to be signed to produce “300 machines”, I could only find a few low-quality images of a single aircraft.</p>
<p>My next question was where would they be produced? In a follow up article printed a week later, “the Goldy Plant” was mentioned as the planned assembly location, which had already been used to build the first Andermat Aeroplane. The Goldy Plant was located in Sunnyvale on the San Francisco – San Jose railroad line, close to Joshua Hendy Iron Works (1856 to 1947), which was at one time a world leader in mining technology and later contributed to the shipbuilding industry during WW II.</p>
<p>Back to the question of who or what was Andermat, I found on the German version of Wikipedia, an article about the Andermat Machine Company (no information in the US version–just a tag for “Andermat 1916 Biplane”, but no article). In the German article, it reads that Andermat was the creation of Gilbert M. Anderson and Robert P. Matches who were partners for several years on their <em>Gray Taxicab Company</em>, where they ran taxis in Los Angeles and San Francisco. In 1915 they formed a new vehicle production company, and used a combination of their surnames to call it Andermat (ANDERson MATches).</p>

<p>A May 8, 1916 article from the <em>Aerial Age Weekly</em> reported the test flight:</p>
<p><em>The double motored, double propelled tractor biplane, constructed by the Andermat Aeroplane Co. at Sunnydale (sic), California, received its initial air tests on April 17. </em></p>
<p><em>Roy Francis, the San Francisco aviator, piloted the huge craft; which has a wing spread of seventy-two feet, across a mile-wide field, made a short turn and landed within only a few feet of the starting point. At no time was Francis more than fifty feet above the ground, but the flight was termed remarkably successful because of the size of the craft </em></p>
<p><em>The machine is equipped to carry three persons, including the pilot in an inclosed body from which bombs could be dropped. It has a carrying capacity of 800 pounds useful load, such as ammunition and provisions. The wings of the cruiser spread seventy-two feet and it measures forty feet from the nose to tip of tail. It weighs approximately a ton and a half and is propelled by two Andermat twin four V-shaped engines, which develop 120 horsepower each. The total carrying capacity of the cruiser while in the air, including the useful load, is 2,275 pounds.</em></p>
<p><em>The Andermat people believe that they have the ideal machine for the Alaska mail service.</em></p>
<p>There’s a bit of confusion regarding the purpose of the plane when there is mention of the possibility of dropping bombs, but also mention of the Alaska mail service. Another snippet of information from the <em>San Francisco Chronicle</em> from May 28, 1916 provides another clue of intent:</p>
<p><em>Mr. and Mrs. Robert P. Matches of San Francisco are at the Hotel Astor for a visit of a month. Matches is president of the Andermat Aeroplane Company ot Sunnyvale. Ca. and is in the East to look after Government contracts which his company is filling.</em></p>
<p>How is it that the<em> Chronicle</em> would have such personal business information?!! Mrs. Matches lived at the Hotel Astor for a month while her husband went to Washington DC to look for a contract to provide planes for the US military. Two weeks later, the article in the <em>Sunnyvale Standard</em> appeared, announcing the $9 million dollar contract.</p>
<p>What happened? Why wasn’t the contract fulfilled? Why were the partners, Gilbert Anderson and Robert Matches, unable to build any planes, other than their single prototype?</p>
<p>Here’s the short answer in case you want to cut to the chase: Robert Matches was a profiteer who was constantly looking for ways to make big money, within short periods of time. The Andermat Aeroplane was an idea that he was able to monetize (he didn’t have a special affinity for planes), but then dumped the project a few months after the test flight, by leaving California for New York with $18,000 (roughly $450,000 today) missing from the company’s accounting book, to start something new. Gilbert Anderson was gobsmacked; he never saw it coming. Since Anderson was the principal investor, he took the financial hit and never recovered the business.</p>

<h4>Unfulfilled dreams at the Goldy Plant</h4>
<p>Gilbert Anderson and Robert Matches were business partners, jockeying to dominate a huge market share for jitneys and taxicabs. In 1912, they started the Gray Taxi Company, and with the offerings of low rates, quick service, and uniformed drivers, Gray taxis (they really were gray) quickly took over the market in Los Angeles and San Francisco.</p>
<p>Gilbert Anderson was the principal stockholder of the Gray Taxicab Company, while Robert Matches was president and general manager. By 1913, the Gray Taxicab company secured exclusive taxicab rights for the entire California south coast. No other company or individual was allowed to solicit a taxicab business at any station or depot.</p>
<p>Having secured this grant, the Gray Taxicab Company purchased the Goldy Plant in Sunnyvale in December 1913 with the intention of producing seven or eight cars a day, with 200 employees. The Goldy Plant was made up of two large buildings, a foundry, a boiler room, and several smaller buildings, all on 20 acres along the Southern Pacific railroad line, close to Murphy Avenue and Hendy Iron Works. The purchase in 1913 was valued at $60,000, which is approximately $1.56 million today.</p>
<p>No cars were built at the Goldy Plant and the reasons are unknown. However, what is known is that Robert Matches was fascinated with transportation, connected to the idea of profit from marketing and selling vehicles of transportation. He was instrumental in making Gray Taxicab a success, and then used income from the taxicab business to invest in other ventures, such as the hydro-motor amphibian-car project, built in San Francisco, and the Andermat aeroplane in Sunnyvale.</p>
<p>The Andermat aeroplane was built in the Goldy Plant, starting in mid-1915, and took approximately eight months to build. The first test flights took place on an airfield, otherwise&nbsp; referred to as “mud flats”, located in the northern part of Sunnyvale.</p>
<p>The main test flight took place on April 17, 1916 in the presence of a representative from the US War Department. The flight was deemed a success, and the Andermat aeroplane was shipped, through Los Angeles, to North Island in San Diego, for another test flight. From San Diego, the plane was sent to another testing facility at Kelley Fields in San Antonio, Texas.</p>
<p>After the plane was returned to Sunnyvale, little is known about what happened to it or the location of its final resting place. I was able to track down a few more photos of a significantly altered plane, but without understanding the purpose of the modifications, it’s difficult to speculate what had been the plan and how it went wrong.</p>
<p><img loading=”lazy” class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-223505″ src=”” alt width=”961″ height=”685″ srcset=” 961w,×214.jpg 300w,×547.jpg 768w,×356.jpg 500w” sizes=”(max-width: 961px) 100vw, 961px”></p>
<h4>A bit more about “Ander” and “Mat”</h4>
<p>The story of Robert P. Matches can be traced quite clearly through newspapers across the country, from 1915 to the early 1920s. In addition to poor financing practices with the Gray Taxicab Company, he was accused of speculating and selling worthless stock for another of his businesses, the Emerson Car Company. He was eventually indicted.</p>
<p>It was much more challenging to find information on Gilbert M. Anderson of Andermat, because another Gilbert M. Anderson kept dominating my search. Gilbert M. Anderson, the silent movie actor who had his own successful film studio in Niles, California, became world famous for his role as “Broncho Billy”, starting in 1908. Today he is recognized as the first star of the “western” film genre.</p>
<p>In 1915, the year before the Andermat plane was created, Gilbert Anderson’s film company called Essanay, which he co-founded with George K. Spoor, a distributor of screen equipment, hired a little known actor called Charlie Chaplin and made three films with him in Niles. It hardly seemed possible that Gilbert Anderson the famous actor, film producer, and eventual Academy Award recipient was the same Gilbert Anderson of Andermat. Finally, after many hours of research, newspaper clippings from 1916 confirmed they were one and the same. Perhaps it’s not surprising that Gilbert Anderson was successful in keeping his failures with the Gray Taxicab Company and Andermat little known.</p>
<p>Though in general little is known about the Andermat plane, it holds a place in history and enthusiasts of early aeronautics hold it in fascination. No matter the outcome, the Andermat plane, the largest flying plane at its time, was built and tested in Sunnyvale, California, and earned a huge contract with the U.S. military. Both Anderson and Matches deserve credit for such an incredible accomplishment.</p>
<div id=”attachment_223506″ class=”wp-caption alignnone”><img aria-describedby=”caption-attachment-223506″ loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-223506″ src=”–e1617297641896-735×1024.jpg” alt width=”586″ height=”816″ srcset=”–e1617297641896-735×1024.jpg 735w,–e1617297641896-215×300.jpg 215w,–e1617297641896-500×697.jpg 500w,–e1617297641896.jpg 745w” sizes=”(max-width: 586px) 100vw, 586px”><p id=”caption-attachment-223506″ class=”wp-caption-text”>The “San Francisco Examiner,” San Francisco, California, April 17, 1916.</p></div>

<p><strong><a href=””></a></strong> <a href=””>(Why?)</a></p> Thu, 01 Apr 2021 17:28:31 +0000 Flight Journal
Featured News

Building the XQ-2C Drone
<p>In the early 1960s, the government needed an interim replacement for the U2 “spy plane”, one that would not carry a pilot. The new, still secret, Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird” was not yet ready to replace the U2.</p>
<p>As it turned out, eight days after Captain Francis Gary powers was shot down on May 1, 1960 in his U2 over the Soviet Union, the Air Force approached Ryan Aeronautical Company, which in the early 1950s had designed a target drone called the Firebee, and offered the company $200,000 to turn the aerial targets into a series of speedy, stealthy unmanned reconnaissance vehicles. Thus our little project was born and we workers weren’t told a thing about all this behind the scenes activity. These new drones’ greatest achievement, according to the crews that operated them, was that they saved lives by taking pictures over high danger targets; rather than losing U.S. pilots in spy planes.&nbsp; The drones outran Russian and Chinese MiGs during thousands of missions in Vietnam.</p>
<div id=”attachment_223500″ class=”wp-caption alignnone”><img aria-describedby=”caption-attachment-223500″ loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-223500″ src=”×1024.jpg” alt width=”586″ height=”659″ srcset=”×1024.jpg 911w,×300.jpg 267w,×863.jpg 768w,×562.jpg 500w, 1304w” sizes=”(max-width: 586px) 100vw, 586px”><p id=”caption-attachment-223500″ class=”wp-caption-text”>Being loaded under the wing of a B-26.</p></div>
<p><u>The Story</u></p>
<p>Twelve employees and I were assigned the task of constructing a new, advanced version of Ryan’s mainstay “FireBee” target drone. Ryan made these by the hundreds for Air Force fighters to shoot at during air to air gunnery practice. Our version was to have longer glider wings, carry more fuel, have more electronics and fly much higher.</p>
<p>There was not enough time to “engineer” these drones and work from blueprints so we modified parts from the existing FireBee and designed as we went. (Ryan was always in a hurry as they did not have enough experienced employees to cover these little “hot” projects!) My job was to package the electronics in the fuselage and oversee final assembly. We built 13 of them.</p>
<p>Each drone was slightly different from the previous one and after we finished it, a draftsman came down and sketched our installations and turned the sketches into blueprints. We were located in the last hangar on the south end of the facility where we had few visitors.&nbsp; It wasn’t really classified, just low key.</p>
<p><img loading=”lazy” class=”alignnone size-large wp-image-223494″ src=”×957.jpg” alt width=”586″ height=”548″ srcset=”×957.jpg 1024w,×280.jpg 300w,×717.jpg 768w,×467.jpg 500w,×1435.jpg 1536w, 1854w” sizes=”(max-width: 586px) 100vw, 586px”></p>
<p>The finished drones, designated XQ-2C’s, were covered with tarps and loaded on Air Force C-123s at Lindbergh Field. On one occasion this took place on a Sunday night around midnight. They were flown over China covertly for many months until one malfunctioned and was shot down by communist China. The ensuing photographs of the wreckage were shown around the world thus ending our “confidential” project. The SR-71 then took over and flew reconnaissance flights for years without the general public knowing about it or even that they existed. The XQ-2Cs went into production at the Torrance, California plant as advanced target drones. The first one of our “handmade” XQ-2Cs is now on display, hanging from the ceiling, at the National Museum of the Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.</p>
<div id=”attachment_223499″ class=”wp-caption alignnone”><img aria-describedby=”caption-attachment-223499″ loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-223499″ src=”×1014.jpg” alt width=”586″ height=”580″ srcset=”×1014.jpg 1024w,×297.jpg 300w,×761.jpg 768w,×495.jpg 500w,×1521.jpg 1536w,×2028.jpg 2048w” sizes=”(max-width: 586px) 100vw, 586px”><p id=”caption-attachment-223499″ class=”wp-caption-text”>XQ-2C controlled in flight by a pilot.</p></div>
<p>The last of our 13 re-configured drones was scheduled to be finished by the end of the week so when the superintendent walked into our hangar on Monday we all knew what he wanted. He announced that he was unable to find new jobs for us elsewhere in Ryan and that Friday would be our last day. Hearing this news most of the men stopped working and did very little the rest of the week; but I continued to give Ryan a full day’s work. The superintendent noticed this and on our last day, Friday, he pulled me aside and said that if I would accept a small cut in pay, he found a place for me and to come to work on Monday. He said, in fact, the new project was working on Saturday. So instead of getting laid off, I was working overtime on a new job, making even more money. There must be a moral in this story someplace!</p>
<p>While we were busy making these drones, a couple of our mechanics, Ted Owens and Lloyd Morrison, disappeared from the shop along with 10 field representatives and supervisors who were rarely in the plant. The program was renamed Red Wagon and made top secret and these men were sent to a leased warehouse on Frontier Street in San Diego where more drones were manufactured on a small assembly line. These men were later sent to Holloman AF Base in New Mexico for flight testing of the drones and then on to Kadena, Okinawa and finally to Bien Hoa, South Vietnam.</p>
<p>For the remainder of my time at Ryan, I never knew what happened to them. It was not until many years later while reading a book by William Wagner named, “<em>Lightning Bugs and other Reconnaissance Drones”</em> that I found out. This 222-page book chronicles in great detail what I have touched on in this narrative. On page 27 in that book is a photo documenting one of our clandestine deliveries as I mentioned earlier.</p>
<div id=”attachment_223497″ class=”wp-caption alignnone”><img aria-describedby=”caption-attachment-223497″ loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-223497″ src=”×1024.jpg” alt width=”586″ height=”671″ srcset=”×1024.jpg 894w,×300.jpg 262w,×880.jpg 768w,×573.jpg 500w, 1273w” sizes=”(max-width: 586px) 100vw, 586px”><p id=”caption-attachment-223497″ class=”wp-caption-text”>Being recovered after a water landing via parachute.</p></div>
<p>The model numbers of Ryan’s drones is confusing and the Q-2Cs seem to have morphed into the model 147 and 136.</p>
<p>Ryan was one of the leading forerunners of the drone industry but gets very little recognition. The history of drones actually started in 1918 when a Sperry-Curtiss “pilotless flying bomb” was made but the project went nowhere.&nbsp; Also in 1918 in Dayton, Ohio, the famous inventor Charles F. Kettering (the automobile self starter) made the first successful drone that went into production. It too had many problems as there were still problems with state-of-art radio control electronics. Ryan’s earlier Q-2A “Firebee” was the first reliable drone used by all three services in the mid 1950s.</p>
<p>Northrop Grumman purchased the burgeoning aviation division from Ryan in the 1960s, inheriting all this drone history and expertise. They poured a lot more money into the division and developed the famous RQ-4 Global Hawk. They never give credit to Ryan being the pioneering drone company that saved Northrop Grumman many years and millions of dollars since they simply bought this experience.</p>

<p><strong><a href=””></a></strong> <a href=””>(Why?)</a></p> Thu, 01 Apr 2021 15:46:19 +0000 Flight Journal
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