HomeNewsArticle Display

TINKER HISTORY: Drones in the ’40s

Numerous PQ-14s “Cadets” are shown undergoing maintenance and inspection checks at Tinker Field. These checks were routinely conducted during delivery and acceptance review by the Army Air Corps. (Photo courtesy of the Tinker History Office)

Numerous PQ-14s “Cadets” are shown undergoing maintenance and inspection checks at Tinker Field. These checks were routinely conducted during delivery and acceptance review by the Army Air Corps. (Photo courtesy of the Tinker History Office)

A Culver PQ-14A “Cadet,” serial number 45-59043, wearing a bright red aerial target paint scheme and still in flyable condition shown on static display at an event in California in 2001. (Photo courtesy of Jay Beckman/Crosswind Images)

A Culver PQ-14A “Cadet,” serial number 45-59043, wearing a bright red aerial target paint scheme and still in flyable condition shown on static display at an event in California in 2001. (Photo courtesy of Jay Beckman/Crosswind Images)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

The Culver PQ-14 “Cadet” was an outgrowth of Culvers pre-WWII efforts in to inexpensive general aviation aircraft production. The PQ-14’s predecessor, the PQ-8, was produced specifically as a radio-controlled drone for the Army Air Corps beginning in 1940 when a contract for 200 aircraft was let. These proved to be so successful, a slightly larger version with retractable tricycle landing gear, redesigned cockpit and larger more powerful engine were ordered in huge numbers as the PQ-14A.

According to official Tinker history documents and photographs, the Oklahoma City Air Depot conducted maintenance, repair and overhaul of the aircraft which was constructed of all-wood, except for the rudder which had a metal frame covered in fabric. The Franklin engine was a six-cylinder, air-cooled horizontally-opposed piston engine creating 150 horse power.

The drones were primarily used during and after WWII for aerial and anti-aircraft gunnery training and wore a vibrant red paint scheme to aid in target identification by pilots and gunners.

The PQ-14 was manned by a single pilot usually, but had two seats. Manned operations were conducted for training and ferry flights while the aircraft was flown by radio remote-control when acting as a target.

The ‘Cadet’ was so successful in its role it was also purchased by the Army Air Corps for the U.S. Navy which designated it the TD2C-1. The Navy purchased 1,201 TD2C-1s.

Manufacturer: Culver

Aircraft type: PQ-14

Nickname: Cadet

Crew: 1 ferry pilot (or unmanned)

Power plant: One Franklin O300 piston engine

In-service dates: 1942-1946

Number produced: 2043

Tinker connection: Maintenance, repair and overhaul