Radioplane OQ-2

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OQ-1, OQ-2, OQ-3, OQ-7, OQ-13, and OQ-14
Role Target drone
National origin United States
Manufacturer Radioplane
First flight 1939
Primary user USAAF
Number built ca. 15,000

The OQ-2 Radioplane was the first mass-produced UAV or drone in the United States. The drone was the product of Reginald Denny. He served with the British Royal Flying Corps during World War I, and after the war emigrated to the United States to seek his fortunes in Hollywood as an actor. Denny had made a name for himself as an actor, and between acting jobs, he pursued his interest in radio control model aircraft in the 1930s. He and his business partners formed "Reginald Denny Industries" and opened a model plane shop in 1934 on Hollywood Boulevard known as "Reginald Denny Hobby Shops".[1]

Early Radioplane development

The shop evolved into the "Radioplane Company". Denny believed that low-cost RC aircraft would be very useful for training anti-aircraft gunners, and in 1935 he demonstrated a prototype target drone, the RP-1, to the US Army. Denny then bought a design from Walter Righter in 1938 and began marketing it to hobbyists as the Dennymite, and demonstrated it to the Army as the RP-2, and after modifications as the RP-3 and RP-4 in 1939.[2]

Army purchase[edit]

Marilyn Monroe with RP-5's prop

In 1940, the Army placed an order for 53 RP-4s, designating them the OQ-1, the OQ meaning a "subscale target". This small order led to a much bigger 1941 order from the US Army for the company's similar RP-5, which became the US Army OQ-2. The US Navy also bought the drone, designating it TDD-1, for Target Drone Denny 1. Thousands were built, manufactured in a plant at the Van Nuys Airport in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. It was at this factory that in 1944 Army photographer David Conover saw a young woman assembler named Norma Jeane Dougherty, whom he thought had potential as a model. She was photographed in the plant, which led to a screen test for Norma Jeane, who soon changed her name to Marilyn Monroe.[3]

Description and variants[edit]

The OQ-2 was a simple aircraft, powered by a two-cylinder two-cycle piston engine, providing 6 horsepower (4.5 kW) and driving two contra-rotating propellers. The RC control system was built by Bendix. Launching was by catapult only and recovered by parachute should it survive the target practice. The landing gear was used only on the OQ-2 versions as sold to the Army to cushion the landing by parachute. None of the drones including the improved variants shipped to the Navy had landing gear. The subsequent variants delivered to the Army did not have landing gear.

The OQ-2 led to a series of similar but improved variants, with the OQ-3 / TDD-2 and OQ-14 / TDD-3 produced in quantity. A number of other target drones were built by Radioplane (including licensed contractors) and competing companies during the war, most of which never got beyond prototype stage, which accounts for the gaps in the designation sequence between "OQ-3" and "OQ-14".

After WW2 ended various experiment were done with Radioplane target drones. In one experiment in 1950 a derivative of the QQ-3 Radioplane drone was used to lay military communication wire.[4]

During the war Radioplane manufactured nearly fifteen thousand drones. The company was bought by Northrop in 1952.

Specifications (OQ-2)[edit]

General characteristics

  • Crew: None
  • Length: 8 ft 8 in (2.65 m)
  • Wingspan: 12 ft 3 in (3.73 m)
  • Gross weight: 104 lb (47 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Righter O-15-1, 7 hp (5 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 85 mph (137 km/h)
  • Endurance: 1 hours  0 min

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Reginald Denny Hobby Shops
  2. ^ Parker, Dana T. Building Victory: Aircraft Manufacturing in the Los Angeles Area in World War II, pp. 129-30, Cypress, CA, 2013. ISBN 978-0-9897906-0-4.
  3. ^ Parker, Dana T. Building Victory: Aircraft Manufacturing in the Los Angeles Area in World War II, pp. 5, 7-10, 13, 59, 131-2., Cypress, CA, 2013. ISBN 978-0-9897906-0-4.
  4. ^ "Drone Plane Lays Wire" Popular Mechanics, October 1950, p.96

This article contains material that originally came from the web article Unmanned Aerial Vehicles by Greg Goebel, which exists in the Public Domain.

External links[edit]