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Aviation / Aerospace


Interstate Aircraft TDR


Unmanned Assault Drone [ 1942 ]



The Interstate TDR was an early-form Unmanned Aerial Vehicle developed by the Americans during the fighting of World War 2.



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 03/22/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

GO TO SPECIFICATIONS [+]
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One of the earlier forays by the United States military into an unmanned attack-minded drone aircraft was the Interstate Aircraft and Engineering Corporation (IAEC) "TDR" of the World War 2 period (1939-1945). The principle driving force behind its development was the United States Navy (USN) in its ferocious battle against the might of the Empire of Japan. The aircraft went on to record its first-flight in 1942 just as American involvement in the war ramped up - though formal series introduction was not had until September of 1944. The air vehicle was actively used by the service against the Japanese in the Pacific Theater but technological issues and proven conventional solutions ultimately doomed the novel, forward-thinking project - its last flying days were recorded as soon as October 1944.

Beyond its deployment by the USN, the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) thought enough of the TDR project to reserve several designations - the branch only ever saw a few prototypes emerge.

The remote attack aircraft concept was championed by one Lieutenant Commander D.S. Fahrney and this was allowed to be furthered by the advancing technologies accelerated under the shadow of World War. In April of 1942, with the United States already committed to the war effort across Africa, Europe, and the Pacific, the first successful test attack by drone aircraft was recorded by the USN.

Interstate Aircraft, an aviation concern founded in the pre-war period back in 1937, was rewarded with a development contract to continue the work. Up to 1942, the company had just the S-1 "Cadet" lightweight, utility-minded, high-winged monoplane to its name (though 574 of the type were built for USAAF service). The company received funding to cover a pair of prototypes and 100 subsequent operational-level production airframes - these to fall under the "TDR" designation.

The initial experimental prototypes were appropriately designated "XTDR-1". The work on these airframes ultimately led to the definitive production form "TDR-1" and 189 of the type were produced from the XTDR-1 prototype standard.

In the TDR arrangement, the aircraft would be controlled by specially-modified, television-equipped Grumman TBF "Avenger" Navy dive bombers relying on such "new-fangled" technologies as radar altimeter and a crude form of remote camera / communications. Externally, the aircraft appeared very conventional in form complete with a slender fuselage, low-mounted monoplane mainplanes, and a single-finned tail unit. A jettisonable tricycle undercarriage helped to direct the aircraft when on the ground. Internally, a steel tube structure supported the airframe with economically-minded molded wood skinning covering the entire arrangement.

As completed, the TDR's wingspan reached 48 feet and gross weight was 5,900lb. The twin-engined arrangement took power from 2 x Lycoming O-435-2 opposed piston engines, each delivering up to 220 horsepower while rotating twin-bladed propellers in trailer arrangement. The engines were positioned in nacelles at the leading edge of each wing mainplane member.
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Optionally-piloted, the aircraft could seat single crewman in a cockpit for direct-control actions, primarily during testing, though this position was faired over for the unmanned, operational-level sorties that followed.

The airframe had three ventral hardpoints to carry various conventional drop bomb sizes or a single torpedo weapon. There was a hardpoint at fuselage centerline and a pair under and aft of each engine nacelle.

As the program began to prove its value, USN authorities envisioned a massive paired manned/unmanned force of the aircraft, the former directing the latter against enemy targets at range with minimal risk to airmen. However, the project was of the back-burner type as the war effort intensified and required attention, resources, and funding elsewhere. As a result, the complex program was reduced from the initial 1,000 drones to about 300 and, even then, this total was never to be reached.

It was not until 1944 that the TDR was finally placed into action with the first sortie had on September 27th. The drones were successful on the whole despite the technological challenge in perfecting the systems at play. However, the project ended its flying days by October 27th of that year - in-field results included no loss of operators or mothership aircraft and thirty-one successful attacks by the drones.

Subsequent models with varying engine installations emerged as the "XTD2R-1", which was powered by a pair of Franklin O-805-2 series engines, and the "XTD3R-1", propelled by a pair of Wright R-975 air-cooled radial piston engines. Although two prototypes of the XTD2R-1 were ordered, neither saw the light of day as attention shifted to the more promising XTD3R-1 - though, again, this entry limited to just three prototypes. The "TD3R-1" was to become its serial production effort but, in any event, the forty airframes ordered were eventually cancelled outright.

The "XTD3R-2" was a follow-on to the "XTD3R-1" project but existed only as a sole prototype and nothing more.

Interest from the United States Army led to the TDR-1 being designated under the experimental "XBQ-4" - however, only a single aircraft was converted from the existing TDR-1 stock. The subsequent "XBQ-5" and "XBQ-6" (based in the XTD2R-1 and XTD3R, respectively) fell to nothing. The "BQ-6A" was to cover the TD3R-1 in Army service but none of the aircraft were produced.

The sole, preserved TDR-1 example is under the care of the USN at its National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida.
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Specifications



Service Year
1942

Origin
United States national flag graphic
United States

Status
RETIRED
Not in Service.
Crew
0
UNMANNED
Production
195
UNITS


Interstate Aircraft and Engineering Corporation - USA
(View other Aviaton-Related Manufacturers)
National flag of the United States United States
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
Close-Air Support (CAS)
Developed to operate in close proximity to active ground elements by way of a broad array of air-to-ground ordnance and munitions options.
Special-Mission: Anti-Ship
Equipped to search, track, and engage enemy surface elements through visual acquisition, radar support, and onboard weaponry.
Maritime / Navy
Land-based or shipborne capability for operating over-water in various maritime-related roles while supported by allied naval surface elements.
Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.
Unmanned Capability
Aircraft inherently designed (or later developed) with an unmanned capability to cover a variety of over-battlefield roles.


EXTENDED RANGE PERFORMANCE
Capability to travel considerable distances through onboard fuel stores.
MARITIME OPERATION
Ability to operate over ocean in addition to surviving the special rigors of the maritime environment.
TORPEDO ARMAMENT
Ability to launch / release torpedoes against ocean-going threats / targets.
UNMANNED OPERATION
Design features ability to fly sans pilot, actions controlled onboard through programming and / or ground-based operator.


Width/Span
49.2 ft
(15.00 m)
Empty Wgt
5,897 lb
(2,675 kg)
MTOW
7,937 lb
(3,600 kg)
Wgt Diff
+2,039 lb
(+925 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Interstate TDR-1 production variant)
monoplane / low-mounted / straight
Monoplane
Design utilizes a single primary wing mainplane; this represent the most popular mainplane arrangement.
Low-Mounted
Mainplanes are low-mounted along the sides of the fuselage.
Straight
The planform involves use of basic, straight mainplane members.
(Structural descriptors pertain to the Interstate TDR-1 production variant)
Installed: 2 x Lycoming O-435-2 opposed piston engines developing 220 horsepower each driving two-bladed propeller units.
Max Speed
155 mph
(250 kph | 135 kts)
Cruise Speed
143 mph
(230 kph | 124 kts)
Max. Speed Diff
+12 mph
(+20 kph | 11 kts)
Ceiling
6,004 ft
(1,830 m | 1 mi)
Range
426 mi
(685 km | 1,269 nm)


♦ MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030


(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the Interstate TDR-1 production variant. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database or View aircraft by powerplant type)
1 x 2,000lb conventional drop bomb OR aerial torpedo held ventrally at fuselage centerline. Smaller diameter drop bombs under the wing roots (three total hardpoints including center).


Supported Types


Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Graphical image of an aircraft aerial torpedo


(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 3
Mounting Points




-
-
-
-
-
3
1
2
-
-
-
-
-
HARDPOINT(S) KEY:
X

15
13
11
9
7
5
3
1
2
4
6
8
10
12
14


COLOR KEY:
Fuselage Centerline
Fuselage Port/Wingroot
Fuselage Starboard/Wingroot
Wing/Underwing
Wingtip Mount(s)
Internal Bay(s)
Not Used

Note: Diagram above does not take into account inline hardpoints (mounting positions seated one-behind-the-other).


TDR - Base Series Designation.
XTDR-1 - Prototype designation; two vehicles completed.
XTD2R-1 - Proposed prototype powered by 2 x Franklin O-805-2 engines; two examples ordered though none built.
XTD3R-1 - Prototype powered by 2 x Wright R-975 air-cooled radial piston engines; three airframes completed.
XTD3R-2 - Variant of XTD3R-1; single example completed.
XBQ-4 - U.S. Army designation of TDR-1; single conversion example.
XBQ-5 - U.S. Army designation of XTD2R-1; none built.
XBQ-6 - U.S. Army designation of XTD3R; none built.
TDR-1 - Primary production version; 189 airframes completed.
TD3R-1 - XTD3R-1 production model; none built - order for forty airframes cancelled.
BQ-6A - U.S. Army designation of TD3R-1; none built.


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