May 27, 1943: Early Drones

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  • Army Air Forces

The final GM A-1 drone flew for  80 minutes. Although U.S. Army Air Force officials deemed the flight successful, the persistent problem of ineffective control throughout the first and second test series never got completely solved, and the project was terminated six months later.

The GM-A-1 possessed a maximum range of 400 miles.  However, its maximum speed topped at 200 miles per hour, making it vulnerable to the high performance fighters that emerged during World War II.

In comparison, the German V-1 Flying Bomb flew a distance of 130 miles at 415 miles per hour, while carrying an 1,870 pound explosive charge.

According to Army officials, the relative small warhead reduced the tactical value of the drone.  The need for a mother ship to steer it towards a target also hindered it combat effectiveness.  However, the deal breaker dealt with the issue of unstable performance due to inadequate flight controls, an ongoing problem from day one of the project..

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