Vega (Lockheed) Models 40, 41 and 42 target drones


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25 June 2009
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Going over the Lockheed and Vega Model Numbers and Temporary Design Numbers (both of which were distinct between the two until 1943), I have been puzzled by the mention of Vega's V-111 to V-114 temporary designations, and the Models 40 to 42, all of which refer to "target planes". Model 42 corresponds to design V-114, but I don't know about the rest. Only the 1939 Model 40 is mentioned in the following text which I found on the web:

Earlier, in August, 1937, Lockheed Aircraft had formed a subsidiary called the AiRover Company to build a small 5-passenger transport for the feeder air-line market called the Model 2 Starliner. It featured the Unitwin powerplant, a unique arrangement of two Menasco side-by-side engines driving a single propeller. It also featured a retractable tricycle landing gear. However, the plane was not a commercial success and only a few were built. In 1938, the subsidiary's name was changed to the Vega Airplane Company to perpetuate the famous Vega name. The second company design was the Model 40 ground-controlled target drone for the Army Air Corps, of which five were built and all of which were eventually lost.

This means that the USAAC already tested genuine target drones which weren't simply unmanned versions of existing airplanes! I would love to see what those early birds looked like. Who knows anything about them on this forum? Thanks for your answers!

Source: Daniel Haughton's biography on the National Aviation Hall of Fame website
Re: Earliest US target drone... ever??

The U.S.Navy in the mid thirties put some effort in to target drones, sorry no details. The U.S.Army followed at the end of the thirties.
Re: Earliest US target drone... ever??

The General Motors A-1 flying bomb was a conventional highwing monoplane powered by a 200-hp piston engine. It was launched from a four-wheeled dolly, and could carry a 500-lb bomb over a distance of 400 miles. Initial tests between 1941 and 1943 were not very successful because basic problems of inadequate control had not been resolved.



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Re: Earliest US target drone... ever??

At long last, I have found not one, but two photographs of the elusive Vega Model 40 (also found as the Lockheed Model 40)!

They appear in Attack of the drones: a history of unmanned aerial combat by Bill Yenne, published in 2004.


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Re: Earliest US target drone... ever??

And now that we've finally seen the Model 40, what about the Model 41? Here are three company 3-view drawings for the Models 41-67, 41-78 and 41-80 configurations. None of these was built in the end.

All about the Model 41:


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Re: Earliest US target drone... ever??


a quote from Journal,American Aviation Historical Society;


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Re: Earliest US target drone... ever??

malcolm said:
Not a drone but a uav

What used to be called a "target drone" became an RPV in the 1960s, then a UAV in the 1980s, and it's now called a UAS... but to me it's still the same thing, basically...
Re: Earliest US target drone... ever??

With hesham's find, we have solved the triple mystery of Vega's models 40, 41 and 42 in one single day! Wow.

And what's more, the whole thing is becoming more and more interesting. Indeed, the Vega 42 is simply an unmanned version of the Vega 35 trainer (formerly the North American NA-35). Apart from the shape of the fin, and the type of landing gear, everything is the same!

Also, note how the place normally allocated to the pilot has been glazed on the Model 42. We may well be here in the presence of the very first OPV design ever!


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NOTE: Just changed this topic's title to give it more visibility.
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(For lack of a better place to put it... and since the Vega 35 spawned the Models 40 to 42...)

Most accounts of the NA-35/Vega 35 story will tell you that the type failed to attract any interest from the armed services.

Quite true. And yet the photo below, in which a Vega 35 sports what seems like typical military markings, can lead to confusion.

The adjoining article explains that the markings are actually those of the Civil Air Patrol (with triangles instead of stars in the roundels), and so it proves that the Vega 35 DID enjoy some amount of service life, albeit not in the armed forces!

Photo and text from an old 1958 Air Pictorial.


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Good Day All -

A couple of Model 35 3 views to go along with this thread as well....

Courtesy of the Gerald Balzer Collection.

Enjoy the Day! Mark


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