World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Northrop AQM-38

AQM-38A on F-89 Scorpion launch aircraft
Type Target drone
Place of origin United States
Service history
In service 1959-1970s
Used by United States military
Production history
Manufacturer Northrop Corporation
Number built 2000+
Specifications (AQM-38A)
Weight 300 pounds (140 kg)
Length 9 feet 8 inches (2.95 m)
Height 1 foot 6 inches (0.46 m)
Diameter 12 inches (300 mm)

Engine Aerojet 530NS35
36 lbf (160 N)
Wingspan 5 feet (1.5 m)
Propellant Solid fuel
Flight ceiling 60,000 feet (18,000 m)
Boost time 9 minutes
Speed Mach 0.94
F-89 Scorpion

The AQM-38 was an American target drone, developed by the Radioplane Division of the Northrop Corporation during the 1950s. Extensively used for surface-to-air missile training, over two thousand of the drones were built during its production run, with the missile continuing in use with the United States Army and United States Navy for almost twenty years.


  • Design and development 1
  • Operational history 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Design and development

Following flight trials of the XKD4R target drone, developed for the United States Navy, Radioplane redesigned the aircraft into an improved version, designated RP-76, first flying in 1959.[1] Compared to the XKD4R, the RP-76 had redesigned wing fairings, with the vertical control fin being moved to the underside of the missile, as opposed to being on top.[2]

The RP-76 was designed to fly a pre-programmed trajectory on autopilot, with radio command guidance being optional.[1] As with the XKD4R, control was provided by three fins located forwards on the body of the craft. A Luneberg lens was included to augment the drone's radar signature, and recovery at the end of the flight was by parachute.[1]

Operational history

Flying for the first time in 1959,[2] the RP-76 was most often launched from a F-89 Scorpion fighter of the United States Air Force, and was extensively used by the U.S. Army for training the operators of surface-to-air missiles;[1] the drone was also used for training USAF fighter pilots in air-to-air gunnery.[3] A slightly modified version, designated RP-78, was supplied to the U.S. Navy; it used a more powerful rocket, producing 99,000 lbf (440 kN) of thrust,[3] to propel the drone to a top speed of Mach 1.25.[1]

In 1963 the RP-76 and RP-78 received the designations AQM-38A and AQM-38 in the new "tri-service" missile designation system.[3] In all, over 2000 examples of the drone were built by Northrop, with the missile remaining in service with the U.S. Military until the mid-1970s, when they were retired.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Parsch 2003a
  2. ^ a b Parsch 2003b
  3. ^ a b c Jane's 1967, p.421.
  • Parsch, Andreas (2003a). "Northrop (Radioplane) AQM-38". Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles. Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
  • Parsch, Andreas (2003b). "Radioplane KD4R". Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles Appendix 1: Early Missiles and Drones. Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
  • Taylor, John W.R., ed. (1967). Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1967-1968. London: Jane's Information Group. 

External links

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.