Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Appendix 4: Undesignated Vehicles
Copyright © 2004 Andreas Parsch

Curtiss-Wright TDU-12/B Skydart

Curtiss-Wright developed the TDU-12/B Skydart target rocket for the U.S. Air Force in 1959. The TDU-12/B was an unguided vehicle which was powered by a dual-thrust (boost/sustain) solid-propellant rocket motor. Four tailfins with control surfaces on the vertical ones provided lift and roll control, while the small fixed canards were preset for the desired flight trajectory. The Skydart was equipped with an infrared flare in the tail, and could accommodate a transponder or telemetry equipment in a payload section.

Photo: via Ordway/Wakeford

The TDU-12/B was launched at high altitude, and at speeds between Mach 0.8 and Mach 2, from F-100 Super Sabre and F-104 Starfighter aircraft. The useful endurance of the target was longer than 90 seconds. It was used in tests and training exercises involving heat-seeking air-to-air missiles like the GAR-8/AIM-9 Sidewinder and the IR-guided variants of the AIM-4 Falcon. However, the Skydart's service career was rather short, and it was apparently no longer in use by the late 1960s.


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

Data for TDU-12/B:

Length2.03 m (6 ft 8 in)
Wingspan52.8 cm (20.8 in)
Diameter16.2 cm (6.4 in)
Weight47 kg (103 lb)
SpeedMach 2
Endurance> 90 s
PropulsionGrand Central/Hercules dual-thrust solid-fueled rocket; 2.8 kN (620 lb) for 2 s + 0.33 kN (75 lb) for 44 s

Main Sources

[1] Norman J. Bowman: "The Handbook of Rockets and Guided Missiles", Perastadion Press, 1963
[2] Frederick I. Ordway III, Ronald C. Wakeford: "International Missile and Spacecraft Guide", McGraw-Hill, 1960

Back to Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 4

Last Updated: 16 June 2004