|Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles|
|Copyright © 2002-2003 Andreas Parsch|
In the late 1950's, Northrop's Radioplane division developed the RP-76 subscale radio-controlled recoverable target drone. The RP-76 was essentially the production version of the earlier RP-70, which had been evaluated by the U.S. Navy as the XKD4R-1 (q.v. for differences between the RP-70 and -76). Beginning in 1959, the RP-76 was used by the Army for surface-to-air missile training, mainly with the MIM-3 Nike-Ajax.
|Photo: via Ordway/Wakeford|
The RP-76 was usually launched from USAF F-89 Scorpion aircraft, and was powered by an Aerojet solid-fuel rocket motor, which produced a thrust of 160 N (37 lb) for about 9 minutes. The drone had two rocket exhausts at the sides of the fuselage, and could reach a speed of Mach 0.94. The RP-76 was controlled in flight by an automatic control system with optional override by radio command, and could be recovered by a two-stage parachute system. The RP-76 had a unique set of flying surfaces, with 3 forward control fins, and a fixed horizontal tailplane located below the ventral vertical tail. Equipment included a Luneberg lens for radar reflectivity augmentation, and a Northrop RPTA-1 tracking aid system.
|Photo: Western Museum of Flight|
The Model RP-78 was the U.S. Navy's variant of the RP-76. It used a higher-thrust rocket motor, which allowed supersonic speeds of up to Mach 1.25. Other than most U.S. Naval drones before 1963, the RP-78 has apparently never received a KD type designation.
In June 1963, the RP-76 and RP-78 were designated as AQM-38A and AQM-38B, respectively. More then 2000 AQM-38 targets were built, and they were used until the mid-1970s.
Note: Data given by several sources show slight variations. Figures given below may therefore be inaccurate!
Data for AQM-38A/B:
|Length||2.95 m (9 ft 8 in)|
|Wingspan||1.52 m (5 ft)|
|Height||0.46 m (1 ft 6.2 in)|
|Diameter||30 cm (12 in)|
|Weight||136 kg (300 lb)|
|Speed||Mach 0.94||Mach 1.25|
|Ceiling||18300 m (60000 ft)||24000 m (78700 ft)|
|Endurance||23 min. (powered: 9 min.)|
|Range||?||70 km (44 miles)|
|Propulsion||Aerojet 530NS35 solid-fuel rocket; 160 N (37 lb)||Solid-fuel rocket; 440 N (100 lb)|
 Richard A. Botzum: "50 Years of Target Drone Aircraft", Northrop, 1985
 R.T. Pretty, D.H.R. Archer (eds.): "Jane's Weapon Systems 1970-71", McGraw-Hill, 1970
 Frederick I. Ordway III, Ronald C. Wakeford: "International Missile and Spacecraft Guide", McGraw-Hill, 1960
 Norman J. Bowman: "The Handbook of Rockets and Guided Missiles", Perastadion Press, 1963
Back to Current Designations Of U.S. Unmanned Military Aerospace Vehicles
Back to Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles