The Q-Birds: American Manned Aircraft as Drones *Due May 2024

ISBN: 9781800352797
Format: Hardback

Book Details

This is an account of a fascinating but largely unknown aspect of post World War 2 US military aviation history, the conversion and use of former front line aircraft to serve as remotely piloted drones. This story begins as far back as the 1920s, gains momentum during World War 2 and peaks with the postwar glut of airframes during the Cold War era.

The list of manned aircraft converted to drones over the decades is long and includes at least the following: P-12, B-17, PB4Y-1, PB4Y-2, SB2C, F-80, T-33, F6F, F-86, B-29, B-47, F9F Panther and Cougar, F-100, F-102, F-104, F106, F-4, F-16, P-39 and Boeing 720. These aircraft were used in a wide range of capacities; as test beds, flying bombs and targets for missiles and other aircraft to intercept and shoot down. One example of the sort of secret projects covered by this book, was a post war scheme to use remotely controlled B-29s as one-way nuclear delivery devices under the code name Banshee.

Since the 1970s the author has visited a number of drone sites, including the plant that converted F-100s and F-102s as well as ranges where drones were used. His files include many photographs, mostly never previously unpublished of the many and varied types of drone which were created including the last B-17G Boeing that rolled out the door in Seattle and was ultimately consumed as a QB-17 drone.

Aviation historians and enthusiasts will find so much of interest in this genuinely original, thoroughly researched, well illustrated and utterly absorbing book which explores in detail a neglected but compelling aspect of recent US military aviation history.

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