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Radioplane / Northrop Ventura Devision Designations

Stargazer2006

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The name Radioplane will forever be associated with Reginald Denny (1891-1967). Born Reginald Leigh Dugmore in Richmond, Surrey, England, Denny served with the British Royal Flying Corps during World War I, and after the war emigrated to the United States to seek his fortunes in Hollywood as an actor. Denny had made a name for himself and became a well-known actor in silent films. With the advent of talkies in the 1930s, he became a character actor, and between acting jobs, he pursued his interest in radio control model aircraft.

Denny and his business partners formed Reginald Denny Industries and opened a model plane shop in 1934 on Hollywood Boulevard known as Reginald Denny Hobby Shops. His most famous model, the Dennyplane, enjoyed great success throughout the 1930s. The shop evolved into the Radioplane Company. Denny believed that low-cost radio-controlled model airplanes would be very useful as aerial targets for antiaircraft gunnery training by the Army Air Corps. In 1935 he demonstrated a prototype target drone, the RP-1, to the US Army. Denny then bought a design from Walter Righter in 1938 and began marketing it to hobbyists as the Dennymite, and demonstrated it to the Army as the RP-2, and after modifications as the RP-3 and RP-4 in 1939. In 1940, the Army placed an order for 53 RP-4s, designating them the OQ-1, the "OQ" meaning a "subscale target". This small order led to a much bigger 1941 order from the US Army for the company's similar RP-5, which became the US Army OQ-2. The US Navy also bought the drone, designating it TDD-1 or "Target Drone Denny 1".

Thousands of Radioplane target drones were built, manufactured in a plant at the Van Nuys Airport in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. They became in effect the world's first mass-produced UAVs, although the term did not exist (they were refered to only as target drones). It was at this factory that in 1944 Army photographer David Conover saw a young lady named Norma Jeane, and thought she had potential as a model. This "discovery" led to fame for Jeane, who soon changed her name to Marilyn Monroe...

In 1952, Radioplane Co. became the Radioplane Division of Northrop Aircraft, Inc. During the 1960s, the Radioplane Division became known as the Northrop Corporation's Ventura Division (or Northrop-Ventura), but the numbering system carried on unchanged, with just the prefix "RP-" being replaced by "NV-".


(list removed and soon replaced by more up-to-date version)


More on Reginald Denny: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reginald_Denny_%28actor%29
All about the Radioplane story: http://www.ctie.monash.edu.au/hargrave/denny.html
 

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hesham

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Hi,

NV-123 was turbojet-powered remotely controlled recoverable training
target for VSTT (Variable-Speed Training Target) competition,
which intended to compete the Beech Model 1089.
NV-128 was developed from MQM-74A Chukar as a surviellance drone,
but did not enter service.
NV-135 just a pictures

http://reborn-technology.blogspot.com/2008/06/northrop-qm-74-chukar-series.html
 

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Stargazer2006

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Thanks hesham! Great find. I've added the NV-123 and -128 to the list (I found NV-135 yesterday myself and added it already).
 

aim9xray

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Neither BAT nor TSSAM were Northrop Ventura programs or part of the Radioplane/Northrop Ventura lineage/heritage.

BAT originated out of the Northrop Electro-Mechanical Division in Anaheim as a "black" program known only as "Project Alpha". On the demise of NEMD in 1990 or so, the program was transferred to the Northrop Electronics Systems Division (NESD - formerly Northrop Electronics Division - NED) at Hawthorne. Upon the demise of NESD, (itself successively renamed) I believe the program transferred to Rolling Meadows and then finally to a facility at Huntsville to be near the customer at Redstone. BAT has been redesigned from an acoustic sensing-only weapon and is now know as "Viper Strike".

TSSAM was a "black" Northrop Aircraft Division (NAD) (later Military Aircraft Division- MAD) program developed at Hawthorne, although production was to be at a new purpose-built facility at Perry, Georgia.

Following the cancellation of Tacit Blue, the Northrop Ventura division was wound down and production work (primarily BQM-74E) transferred down to Aircraft Division's Production Development Center (PDC) at Hawthorne in the early 1990's and thence to Palmdale (Antelope Valley Manufacturing Center - AVMC) in 2002 when the remains of NAD were moved to El Segundo after the divestment of the Commercial Aircraft Division (CAD) to Vought Aircraft Industries.

Technically, the BQM-74F (previously Target 2000) was not a NV product as development began after the demise of NV. The BQM-74F was not a successful effort, and BQM-74E production is currently in production shutdown mode with termination funding supplied by the Navy.
 

aim9xray

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NV-144 on display at the Western Museum of Flight in 2006 when the WMoF was located at Jack Northrop Field, Hawthorne Airport.
 

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Stargazer2006

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aim9xray said:
Neither BAT nor TSSAM were Northrop Ventura programs or part of the Radioplane/Northrop Ventura lineage/heritage.

BAT originated out of the Northrop Electro-Mechanical Division in Anaheim as a "black" program known only as "Project Alpha". On the demise of NEMD in 1990 or so, the program was transferred to the Northrop Electronics Systems Division (NESD - formerly Northrop Electronics Division - NED) at Hawthorne. Upon the demise of NESD, (itself successively renamed) I believe the program transferred to Rolling Meadows and then finally to a facility at Huntsville to be near the customer at Redstone. BAT has been redesigned from an acoustic sensing-only weapon and is now know as "Viper Strike".

TSSAM was a "black" Northrop Aircraft Division (NAD) (later Military Aircraft Division- MAD) program developed at Hawthorne, although production was to be at a new purpose-built facility at Perry, Georgia.

Following the cancellation of Tacit Blue, the Northrop Ventura division was wound down and production work (primarily BQM-74E) transferred down to Aircraft Division's Production Development Center (PDC) at Hawthorne in the early 1990's and thence to Palmdale (Antelope Valley Manufacturing Center - AVMC) in 2002 when the remains of NAD were moved to El Segundo after the divestment of the Commercial Aircraft Division (CAD) to Vought Aircraft Industries.

Technically, the BQM-74F (previously Target 2000) was not a NV product as development began after the demise of NV. The BQM-74F was not a successful effort, and BQM-74E production is currently in production shutdown mode with termination funding supplied by the Navy.

Thank you very, very much for these precious corrections and details, aim9xray. I will update the list accordingly!
 

Stargazer2006

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A new and interesting find is the Northrop Ventura RP-99. According to Unmanned Aviation: A Brief History of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles by Lawrence R. Newcome (Reston, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, 2004), the RP-99 was developed in model form by Northrop Ventura in 1962, but was not purchased by the US military. However, the concept was sold to the Manufacture Belge de Lampes et de Matériel Électronique S.A. (MBLE) which developed it as the Épervier reconnaissance drone, first flown in 1965. The fully successful tests ended in 1973. The Belgian Army purchased the system in 1974 and put it in active service in 1976. It served with the Belgian Army until 1999.

Of course, as in many other example of acquired foreign technology, most sources (many of them European) claim unsurprisingly that the Épervier was "elaborated in collaboration with the Belgian Ministry of National Defence and with the support of the Ministry of Economic Affairs" and was "a full original creation at which the M.B.L.E. research and study departments have worked for ten years." (in The Controller, 1977).

It would be interesting to know how similar and how different the RP-99 proposal was to MBLE's Épervier...
 

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Just found this interesting thread. As a small aside, the RCAF received at least 10 of the OQ-19A model in 1951, RCAF serials 20100 to 20109 (at least). The company numbers were C2 to C11 (at least). RCAF records record the manufacturer as Radioplane Company of Van Nuys. No company designation is recorded. A few survivors became training aids in 1955.
 

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I am trying to remember from 25 years ago, but I am pretty sure that the company model number for the AGM-136A Tacit Rainbow was NV-138.
 

Stargazer2006

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kpkatz said:
I am trying to remember from 25 years ago, but I am pretty sure that the company model number for the AGM-136A Tacit Rainbow was NV-138.

Thanks very much for that valuable piece of information, and welcome to our forum!
 

Stargazer2006

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I never imagined I'd see the Radioplane list complete one day... Thank you so much Mark (and Paul) for this fantastic document! (perhaps the topic ought to be closed now?!? ;D )
 

Stargazer2006

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Mark Nankivil said:
Not quite! ;)
Need help IDing this one...

I think we need to split this topic and separate the illustrations from what is purely the designations stuff.
 

Stargazer2006

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I have been working for several days on a complete rehaul of my initial Radioplane/Ventura list thanks to the wonderful document shared by Mark Nankivil.

However, far from solving all the mysteries, it actually adds a few more interrogations! Very often it gives only a generic designation (e.g. Q-6) instead of the full one (XQ-6A), or describes the variant of an earlier model that does not appear earlier in the list! Here is a list of my questions at this stage (please answer only if you have documented answers — do not seek answers from the obvious online sources, which are very incomplete and contain a lot of mistakes!):
  • Did RP-7 apply only to the OQ-5 or dit it also encompass the OQ-3/TDD-2 and OQ-7?
  • Didthe TDD-4 variant fall under the general RP-8 designation?
  • Did RP-15 also include the OQ-15?
  • Did RP-18 include KDR-2?
  • Was RP-35 named "Assault", as the use of capitals on that word would suggest?
  • RP-42 relates to a study for a modified Q-1... RP-50 is the YQ-1B... but where do the XQ-1 (1950) and XQ-1A (1952) fit in this list? What about the XQ-3 (1953)?
  • The U.S. Army evaluated two versions of the RP-19, the XM23E-1 (RP-51) and the XM20. Where does the latter fit in?
  • Where do the various OQ-19 variants and their Navy KD2R-1 to -4 Quail equivalents fit in? Modified variants are listed, but not most of the proper versions. Did they belong under RP-19 or did they get separate designations?
  • Was "Quick" the company-given name of what became the Crossbow?
  • Where does the different KD2R-5 Shelduck (MQM-36A) fit in?
  • Do the previously quoted designations RP-71-C2, RP-71A-C2A and RP-71A-C2B match to the SD-1, SD-1A and SD-1B variants of the Falconer (MQM-57A)?
  • Was "Oscura" the company-given name of the RP-76? Although it is the name of a test range, the fact it is written here in capitals, like all the other program names, seems to point towards that possibility.
  • Why was the "100" slot duplicated? It gives the impression that the NV- list wasn't so much a continuation of the RP- list that a new thing altogether.
  • Was "Hawk"the name of the NV-105 prototype (the one with the delta wings)?
  • Where do the MQM-74B, MQM-74C Chukar II, BQM-74C Chukar III, BQM-74C/Recce, Army BQM-47D and the much-later BQM-74E fit in (not to mention all their respective export versions)?
  • Can we assume that the Parasail program was the same as the PADS-500 (NV-107)?
  • What is a "Ducted Fan RML" as quoted for NV-126?
  • NV-129 is given as the "Minnie RPV" when it is obvious that the Little "R" program was about "Mini-RPVs". Is that a typo? Or is that to say the NV-129 received the name "Minnie" as a joke (or perhaps even as a real name)? After all, it would seem that SHARC became the Shark...
These are only some of the questions, of course. Many projects are still mysterious and undocumented. But the above questions are the ones pertaining directly to the names, allocations, designations or lack thereof.
Concerning the company-given names, I guess that plans or company documents (such as the ones recently shared by Mark) could give us a clue.
Concerning the most produced types, such as the OQ-19/Quail, Falconer, RP-76 and Chukar series, it would be surprising that there isn't somewhere a trace of the company-given designations... So if any of you has anything, please contribute!



Here is also a list of the missing designations:
  • RP-23, RP-79, RP-89, RP-94, RP-96, RP-97, RP-98, RP-99
  • NV-133, NV-134, NV-141, NV-142, NV-143, NV-145, NV-146, NV-147, NV-148, NV-149, NV-152 and beyond.
Apart from RP-23 (skipped in the 1940s or omitted by the person who did the list years later?) I suppose some of these must have pertained to secret or confidential projects. Last known designation is NV-151 (a derivative of NV-144).
 

BillRo

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Mark Nankivil's Northrop Ventura designation chart is the real deal because of the names attached. One of them was my direct boss for several years. If you are interested in RP and NV products you need to find a copy of "50 years of Target Drone Aircraft" by Richard Botzum, published by Northrop, Ventura Division in 1985 (Library of Congress Card # 85-63290). It appears he used the same drawings that Gerry Balzer supplied to Mark as the source of much of the artwork in the book. It contains much detailed information on many of the designs and products.
 

Stargazer2006

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BillRo said:
Mark Nankivil's Northrop Ventura designation chart is the real deal because of the names attached. One of them was my direct boss for several years. If you are interested in RP and NV products you need to find a copy of "50 years of Target Drone Aircraft" by Richard Botzum, published by Northrop, Ventura Division in 1985 (Library of Congress Card # 85-63290). It appears he used the same drawings that Gerry Balzer supplied to Mark as the source of much of the artwork in the book. It contains much detailed information on many of the designs and products.

Thanks Bill! I am a target drone buff indeed and have already several valuable books (notably by Bill Wagner) about the Teledyne Ryan side of things, but nothing on the RP/NV story. The book you mention sounds really great, but being in France it will be tough getting access to that volume... :(

As for the list provided by Mark, it is of course an outstanding document, but after spending three days over it, cross-comparing the data with my own list and various sources, there are still some mysteries such as why the Q-1 targets didn't get any designation, for instance (they happened between RP-45 and RP-46, as you can see there is a one-year plus jump between the two). I'll soon post an Excel file which will be more detailed (quite a few sub-variants are not in the list either).

Thanks a lot for your help, Bill!
 

Stargazer2006

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Skyblazer said:
I think we need to split this topic and separate the illustrations from what is purely the designations stuff.

Quoting myself here but I think this request needs repeating. Most of this topic belongs in the Aerospace section, with only the few posts strictly related to designations that could form a separate topic here. Thanks!
 

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