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MQM-36 Shelduck / AQM-37

Reginald Denny, born Reginald Leigh Deymore in Britain, served with the British Royal Flying Corps during the Great War, and after the war emigrated to the United States to seek his fortunes in Hollywood as an actor. Denny played a lead role in a number of his earlier films, generally as a comedic Englishman, and later had reasonably steady work as a supporting actor in dozens of films, including a screen version of ANNA KARENINA. Between acting jobs he pursued his interest in RC model aircraft, opening a model-airplane shop on Hollywood Boulevard in the early 1930s. This shop evolved into the "Radioplane" company.

Denny believed that low-cost RC aircraft would be very useful for training anti-aircraft gunners, and in 1935 demonstrated a prototype target drone, the "RP-1", to the US Army. This led to demonstration of an "RP-2" in 1938, with flights of the "RP-3" and "RP-4" in 1939. The Army placed an order for 53 RP-4s, designating them the "OQ-1". This small order led to a much bigger 1941 order from the US Army for the company's "RP-5A", which became the US Army "OQ-2A". The US Navy also bought the drone, designating it "Target Drone Denny 1 (TDD-1)". Thousands were built, manufactured in a plant at the Van Nuys Airport in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

The Basic Training Target (BTT) family began life in the late 1940s, evolving through a series of refinements with the US Army designations of "OQ-19A" through "OQ-19D", and the US Navy name of "Quail" with designations of "KD2R-1" through "KD2R-5". In 1963, when the US military adopted a standardized designation system, the surviving US Army BTT variants became "MQM-33s" and the Navy KD2R-1, the only member of the family still in Navy service, became the "MQM-36 Shelduck". The "BTT" designation wasn't created until the 1980s, but is used as a convenient way to resolve the tangle of designations.

The Common Shelduck is a large, somewhat goose-like duck with very dark green head, some black markings and chestnut breastband from the back of the neck to the beginning of the wings. Both sides of the body and back are white. The bill is red and drake has a little knob on the bill before forehead. The legs are pink. The seashore with shallow coastal water is its habitat. It moves the wings considerably slower while flying than other species of ducks.

The MQM-36 is the most evolved of the BTT family, but retains the same general configuration as the other members. It is larger and more businesslike than the first-generation RP-5A, and is powered by a flat-four four-stroke McCulloch piston engine with 71.2 kW / 95 HP. The Shelduck can carry radar enhancement devices on its wingtips.

Radioplane was bought out by Northrop in 1952 to become the Northrop Ventura Division, though it appears that the "Radioplane" name lingered on for a while. Reginald Denny died in 1967 at age 75, after what sounds like an interesting and profitable dual career in the film and aviation industries.

MQM-57 Falconer

A variant of the BTT, later known as the MQM-57 Falconer, was built for battlefield reconnaissance, with first flight in 1955. The Falconer was similar in appearance to the MQM-36 Shelduck, but had a slightly longer and stockier fuselage. It had an autopilot system with radio-control backup, and could carry cameras, as well as illumination flares for night reconnaissance. Equipment was loaded through a hump in the back between the wings. Although it only had an endurance of a little more than a half-hour, making it of limited use, about 1,500 Falconers were built and the type was used internationally with several different military forces, remaining in service into the 1970s.

Crew None
Length 12 ft 8 in (3.85 m)
Wingspan 11 ft 6 in (3.50 m)
Height 2 ft 6 in (0.76 m)
Empty weight 271 lb (123 kg)
Gross weight 360 lb (163 kg)
Powerplant 1 McCulloch O-100-2, 90 hp (67 kW)
Maximum speed 230 mph (370 km/h)
Endurance 1 hours
Service ceiling 23,000 ft (7,000 m)

MQM-36 MQM-36 MQM-36 MQM-36

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