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Published on Jul 27, 2009
The Kettering Bug was an aerial torpedo, the forerunner of what today is considered a UAV or a cruise missile. It was capable of striking ground targets up to 75 miles (120 km) from its launch point.
The prototype Bug was completed and delivered to the Aviation Section of the U.S. Army Signal Corps in 1918, near the end of World War I. The first flight on October 2, 1918 was a failure: the plane climbed too steeply after takeoff, stalled and crashed. Subsequent flights were successful, and the aircraft was demonstrated to Army personnel at Dayton.
"The Kettering Bug had 2 successes on 6 attempts at Dayton, 1 of 4 at Amityville, and 4 of 14 at Carlstrom."
Despite some successes during initial testing, the war ended before the Bug could enter combat. By that time, about 45 Bugs had been produced. The aircraft and its technology remained a secret until World War II.
During the 1920s, what was now the U.S. Army Air Service continued to experiment with the aircraft until funding was withdrawn.
A full-size reproduction of a Bug is on permanent display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.
From April 1917 to March 1920 the US Government spent about $275,000 on the Kettering Bug.