The AQM-41A Petrel target-drone version was derived from the flying-torpedo weapon system. The Petrel was essentially a torpedo with a strap-on turbojet propulsion system. Reminiscent of early German missiles, Petrel (AUM-N-2) was nevertheless very effective. It was the nearest approach yet to a "winged torpedo," for that is what it was.
Development was carried out for the Navy BuOrd by the National Bureau of Standards. Starting with a standard 24in Mk 13 torpedo, N.B.S. added a wing, a twin-finned tail, a nose guidance package and a turbojet at the rear. The added airframe is a conventional stressed skin structure, apart from the fins which are each formed from a pair of pressed skins filled with metal-bonded honeycomb. Petrel was carried by a large machine like the P2V-6B, P5M-2B or a developed HSL helicopter. It was launched outside the defensive range of an enemy fleet, towards which it flies under the guidance of a fully active homing head in the nose package. Near normal torpedo range the height is checked by a radar altimeter beneath the nose and, at the correct position, the airframe, powerplant and other additions are jettisoned. The bare torpedo then runs home conventionally.
Since 1955 Petrel had been in volume production by the guided missiles division of Fairchild, at Wyandanch, L.I. It was shipped, together with the AN/APA-80 control monitor group, in aluminium containers made by Honold. Evaluation was completed at NOTS, Chincoteague, Va, and later trials were conducted by the Fleet Operational Development Force, the J44 engines being recovered by parachute for re-use. Very satisfactory performance was announced, the Navy commenting on "a degree of reliability unusual for such a sophisticated weapon."
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