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Fairchild XBQ-3.jpg
Role Flying bomb
National origin United States
Built by 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 unmanned combat 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, however the progress of guided missiles rendered the assault drone quickly obsolete, and the type was not produced.

Design and developmentEdit

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, providing 520 horsepower (390 kW) each;[3] up to 4,000 pounds (1,800 kg) of bombs could be carried by the aircraft in unmanned configuration.[2]

Flight testingEdit

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)Edit

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)</ul>Armament
  • 4,000 pounds (1,800 kg) warhead

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Parsch 2003
  2. 2.0 2.1 Jane's 1947, p.424.
  3. Ross 1951, p.117.
  4. Werrell 1985, p.30.
  5. Craven and Cate 1955, p.254.
  • Bridgman, Leonard, ed (1947). Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1947. London: MacMillan. ASIN B000RMJ7FU. 
  • Craven, Wesley F & Cate, James L, ed (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. 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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