Development of the BQ-1 began on July 10, 1942, under a program for the development of "aerial torpedoes" - unmanned aircraft carrying internal bombs - that had been instigated in March of that year. Fleetwings was contracted to build a single XBQ-1 assault drone, powered by two Franklin O-405-7 opposed piston engines, and fitted with a fixed landing gear in tricycle configuration. The aircraft was optionally piloted; a single-seat cockpit was installed for ferry and training flights; a fairing would replace the cockpit canopy on operational missions. The BQ-1 was intended to carry a 2,000 pounds (910 kg) warhead over a range of 1,717 miles (2,763 km) at 225 miles per hour (362 km/h); the aircraft would be destroyed in the act of striking the target. A single BQ-2 was to be constructed as well under the same contract.
Following trials of the television-based command guidance system using a PQ-12target drone, and earlier trials of the XBQ-2A, the XBQ-1 flew in May 1944; however, the aircraft crashed on its maiden flight. Following the loss of the lone prototype BQ-1, the project was cancelled.