Fairchild BQ-3

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Fairchild XBQ-3.jpg
Role Flying bomb
National origin United States
Manufacturer Fairchild Aircraft
First flight July 1944
Primary user United States Army Air Forces
Number built 2
Developed from AT-21 Gunner

The Fairchild BQ-3, also known as the Model 79, was an early expendable unmanned aerial vehicle – referred to at the time as an "assault drone" – developed by Fairchild Aircraft from the company's AT-21 Gunner advanced trainer during the Second World War for use by the United States Army Air Forces. Two examples of the type were built and flight-tested, but the progress of guided missiles rendered the assault drone quickly obsolete, and the type was not produced.

Design and development

Development of the BQ-3 began in October, 1942, under a program for the development of "aerial torpedoes", later and more commonly referred to as "assault drones",[1] that had been instigated in March of that year. Fairchild was awarded a contract for the construction of two XBQ-3 prototypes, based largely on the AT-21 Gunner advanced gunnery trainer already in United States Army Air Forces service.[1]

The XBQ-3 was a twin-engined, low-wing aircraft, fitted with retractable tricycle landing gear and a twin-finned empennage; although the aircraft was intended to be operated by radio control with television assist, a two-seat cockpit was included in the design for testing and ferry flights.[2] Power was provided by two Ranger V-770 inline piston engines of 520 horsepower (390 kW) each;[3] up to 4,000 pounds (1,800 kg) of explosives could be carried by the aircraft in unmanned configuration.[2] Like the contemporary Fleetwings BQ-2, the aircraft would be destroyed in the act of striking the target.

Flight testing

The first flight of the XBQ-3 took place in July 1944;[1] later that month, one of the prototypes was severely damaged in a forced landing.[4] Despite the accident, flight testing continued; however, the assault drone was determined to have no significant advantage over conventional bombers, and advances in the field of guided missiles were rapidly rendering the concept obsolete.[5] As a result, the program was cancelled towards the end of 1944.[1]

Specifications (XBQ-3)

Data from [1]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1 (optional)
  • Length: 52 ft 8 in (16.05 m)
  • Wingspan: 37 ft (11 m)
  • Height: 31 ft 1 in (9.47 m)
  • Gross weight: 15,300 lb (6,940 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Ranger V-770-15 inline piston engines, 520 hp (390 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 220 mph (354 km/h; 191 kn)
  • Range: 1,500 mi (1,303 nmi; 2,414 km)


  • 4,000 pounds (1,800 kg) warhead

See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era


  1. ^ a b c d e Parsch 2003
  2. ^ a b Jane's 1947, p.424.
  3. ^ Ross 1951, p.117.
  4. ^ Werrell 1985, p.30.
  5. ^ Craven and Cate 1955, p.254.

Further reading

  • Bridgman, Leonard, ed. (1947). Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1947. London: MacMillan. ASIN B000RMJ7FU. 
  • Craven, Wesley F; Cate, James L, eds. (1955). The Army Air Forces in World War II. Vol. VI, Men & Planes. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. LCCN 48-3657. 
  • Parsch, Andreas (2003). "Fairchild BQ-3". Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 1: Early Missiles and Drones. designation-systems.net. Retrieved 2013-01-23. 
  • Ross, Frank (1951). Guided Missiles: Rockets & Torpedoes. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard. ASIN B001LGSGX0. 
  • Werrell, Kenneth P. (1985). The Evolution of the Cruise Missile. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Air University Press. ISBN 978-1478363057. 
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