Apr 6

World War I and Early Unmanned Aviation Vehicles (UAVs)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 11:02 AM

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93 years ago today, the U.S. declared war against Germany and entered World War I and, in addition to all the carnage, was a laboratory for future weapons.

Research and development of planes akin to modern UAVs began during World War I. These developmental tests concentrated on unmanned planes using different mechanisms for controlling their flight to impact targets.

Unmanned guided ordnance was concurrently developed for delivery by air and sea.The naval torpedo became an underwater projectile that would eventually become guided ordnance as well. During World War I, military researchers developed an automatic airplane, the Hewitt-Sperry. The only program continued after the war, the “Bugs,” pilotless flight vehicles, continued until 1925. In 1936 the development of pilotless planes for realistic antiaircraft training had the unintended effect of furthering guided missile technology. In 1940 the Naval Aircraft Factory project developed radio controls for their torpedo-carrying TG-2 airplane.