You’re visiting the official webpage of Special Task Air Group One (STAG-1). Officially organized in the summer of 1943 as part of the U.S. Navy’s Special Air Task Force (SATFOR), STAG-1 made an extraordinary contribution to military history by conducting the first-ever combat strikes by drone aircraft.
Today, the news headlines are filled with the stories about the capabilities of weapons like the Predator and the Reaper. Few people know it, but the first weapon of this kind was developed and used in combat by the U.S. Navy during WWII. Known as the TDR-1 “Torpedo Drone”, it was one of the most advanced weapons of its day, and one of the war’s biggest secrets. Equipped with a first-generation TV camera and radio remote controls, TDR-1s were capable of making highly-accurate attacks. Since they could be flown remotely by pilots aboard chase aircraft, they could strike the enemy at will without risking American lives.
In September and October of 1944, STAG-1 deployed to the South Pacific and made a series of attacks on Japanese emplacements in the Solomon Islands. 46 drones were expended in combat conditions with nearly 50% of the strikes judged to be a success, and no American lives lost. Yet despite this achievement, in late October of 1944 the STAG-1 group was deactivated and development of the TDR drones terminated. The sudden end to the program dealt a stunning blow to its proponents, who strongly believed that drones could save thousands of American lives in the on-going fight against Japan, and would eventually change the conduct of war itself.
Established by the surviving veterans of the STAG-1 group, this website is intended to educate the public about one of WWII’s forgotten stories, and to preserve the memory of the pioneers whose dedication to service, and belief in the concept of stand-off weaponry, helped make today’s drones a reality.