Kaiser-Fleetwings BQ-2 - United States, 1943
Detailing the development and operational history of the Kaiser-Fleetwings BQ-2 Expendable Unmanned Assault Drone / Flying Bomb Prototype.
Entry last updated on 8/18/2016; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The Kaiser-Fleetwings XBQ-2A was an early American attempt at an expendable Unmanned Aerial Vehicle - a flying bomb.
Fleetwings origins were in 1926 and the company eventually created a small stable of aircraft designs including the "Fleetwings 33" and the BT-12 "Sophomore" trainers during the 1930s. One of its more interesting initiatives became the "BQ-1", a flying bomb design intended to interest the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) during World War 2 (1939-1945). Henry J. Kaiser purchased the company in 1943 and the name was changed to Kaiser-Fleetwings.
The BQ-1 laid the groundwork for the subsequent BQ-2, an early attempt at an expendable Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). Only one was completed and a first-flight was had in 1943. The aircraft was given a conventional layout with fixed, spatted tricycle undercarriage (jettisonable), wing-mounted engine nacelles (two engines) and a standard single-finned tail unit. The cockpit section, while glazed, only sat a pilot as optional. The aircraft's development began in July of 1942 and the type of aircraft was then known as an "assault drone".
Power was from 2 x Lycoming R-680-13 series air-cooled radial piston engines driving two-bladed propeller units. Performance specifications included a speed of 225 miles per hour with a range of 1,715 miles. As an unmanned bomb, the payload was 2,000lbs of explosive materials making up the warhead -the entire aircraft would be expended upon impact with the target.
In the end, the XBQ-2A proved too expensive to procure and field in the numbers anticipated, leading to only one prototype example being completed before project's end. It did conduct several test flights for its time in the air.
The earlier BQ-1 was flown and crashed on its maiden flight. The same USAAF contract covered both designs.