A Brief History of Unmanned Aircraft
From bomb-bearing balloons to the Global Hawk.
- By Ed Darack
- AirSpaceMag.com, May 18, 2011
NASM (SI 7A28218)
The Kettering Aerial Torpedo, later called the “Kettering Bug,” was a small biplane powered by a De Palma 4-cylinder engine and guided by gyroscopes, a barometer, and a mechanical “computer.” It flew in 1918 and had a range of up to 75 miles. The onboard computer counted engine revolutions (to gauge distance), then powered down the engine and jettisoned the torpedo’s wings at a pre-determined distance (calculated before launch based on prevailing wind speed and direction). At that point the fuselage would crash into its intended target with an explosive payload onboard. The Bug was never used in actual combat.