Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Appendix 1: Early Missiles and Drones
Copyright © 2002-2007 Andreas Parsch

Convair GAM-71 Buck Duck

In the early 1950s, Convair studied the concept of a small decoy missile to be carried inside the bomb bay of a B-36 Peacemaker bomber. This decoy was to be launched by the B-36 in enemy air space to confuse and saturate air defense systems. Convair actually built a prototype using company funds, and in August 1954 the USAF awarded an official development contract for the Buck Duck decoy under project MX-2224. The vehicle was subsequently designated GAM-71, and the name was sometimes shortened to plain Duck. Glide tests of XGAM-71 prototypes launched from a modified B-29 began in February 1955.

The GAM-71 was a small missile with straight wings which could be folded for stowage in the B-36's bomb bay. It was powered by an Aerojet XLR85 variable-thrust liquid-fueled rocket engine, which offered a powered flight duration of 38 minutes. The Buck Duck used radar reflectors to simulate the radar return of a B-36, and had a range of 370 km (230 miles) at a speed of Mach 0.55. Initially it was planned that one bomber in a formation carries the full load of seven GAM-71s, but using a mixed load of two decoys and a reduced bomb load on all B-36s would have been also possible.

Photos: USAF

There are no reports of any powered flights of the XGAM-71, and the Buck Duck program was cancelled in January 1956. The program had proceeded with low priority at Convair, and it was probably terminated because at that time the B-36 would not be in service for much longer anyway. The concept of a small bomber-launched decoy missile was eventually brought to fruition with the GAM-72/ADM-20 Quail in the B-52.


Note: Data given by several sources show slight variations. Figures given below may therefore be inaccurate!

Data for XGAM-71:

Length4.0 m (13 ft)
Wingspan4.3 m (14 ft)
Height1.3 m (4.2 ft)
Weight700 kg (1550 lb)
SpeedMach 0.55
Ceiling12200 m (40000 ft)
Range370 km (230 miles)
PropulsionAerojet XLR85-AJ-1 liquid-fueled rocket; 220-400 N (50-90 lb)

Main Sources

[1] Kenneth P.Werrell: "The Evolution of the Cruise Missile", Air University Press, 1985
[2] Dennis R. Jenkins: "Magnesium Overcast: The Story of the Convair B-36", Specialty Press, 2001
[3] "Standard Aircraft Characteristics: XGAM-71", U.S. Air Force, 12 October 1955

Back to Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 1

Last Updated: 4 July 2007