Drone and Control Aircraft

The Standoff Guided Missle (then called “assault drone”) and its Control Plane

Together, these two elements provided the Navy with a combat tested successful standoff guided missile weapon system.

The TDR-1 Assault Drone (manufactured by Rudolf Wurlitzer Company,and assembled at Interstate Aircraft Plant, DeKalb Division) carried a 2,000 lb. bomb load or torpedo..Its Control Plane, a TBM (design by Grumman (TBF) and manufactured by General Motors), carried a crew of four which included two pilots, each of whom, by transmitting radio signals could control the flight of the drone (left, right, up, or down) and also its speed and altitude. The latter through a radio altimeter called “ACE” with settings from 50 to 1500 feet above sea level.

One of the two pilots, the one in the front seat of the Control Plane, was the Commander of this “element” (the Drone and its Control Plane). The Control Plane Pilot (CPP) took control of the drone immediately after takeoff and directed the drone to within “television sight” of the target.

The CPP had the additional capability of dropping the wheels of the drone shortly after takeoff, thereby increasing the speed of the drone by about 10 knots.


TDR-1 Assault Drone

TDR-1 Assault Drone


In the second seat, directly behind the CPP, is the Drone Control Pilot DCP. This is his primary job He is hunkered down over a small (six inch face) television screen receiver. The picture is transmitted from a TV camera located in the nose of the drone. The TV picture he sees is what he would see if he were in the drone looking straight ahead. As soon as he has a picture of the target on his TV screen he notifies the CPP.

At this point, the Control Plane Pilot can leave the area – increase his “open out” or “standoff range” from the target, since the Drone Control Pilot has taken over and guides the drone on its “run-in”. He finally crashes the drone against the target or performs other functions such as dropping bombs or laying smoke.


TBM-1 and TBF-1 Control Planes

TBM-1 and TBF-1 Control Planes


The CPP and the DCP each have a device similar to a rotary phone base with dial and miniature control stick. The stick is used for attitude control and the dial for function control. To turn, the stick is used. By dialing ACE, the radio altimeter will keep the drone at the height he has selected. By taking the drone off ACE he can resume manual control which is required during the last stages of the approach to the target..


One Response to Drone and Control Aircraft

  1. Rob Duncan says:

    What is the lower blister turret? Is this an antenna? Is it lowered after takeoff like the B-24′s lower turret? Are there any drawings or other details published?