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Culver PQ-14B – N999ML

The Culver PQ-14B was developed based on Culver’s pre-war Cadet design, and was itself later used as the prototype for Culver’s post-war Victory model. The Navy flew this model as the TD2C. The all-wood aircraft was designed for high performance with a six cylinder Franklin engine and fully retractable tricycle landing gear.

Used during World War II as a radio controlled target drone, the PQ-14B could be operated either with or without a pilot. The plane was a product of the Army’s radio-control program, which started in August 1940. Culver delivered the first prototype in December of that year with a price of $2,875. The Army later raised the price to $3,275 after realizing that Culver wouldn’t be able to clear a profit on the plane at the lower price. Culver received the first Army contract in March 1941 and eventually became the Army’s sole production supplier of radio-controlled target planes.

Radio pilots known as “beeper” pilots, because of the sounds and lights emitted by their control boxes, could control the PQ-14B’s from the ground, or from another plane following at a distance of up to five miles. These pilots could control the plane as effectively as if they we sitting in the cockpit, and could perform a satisfactory imitation of even the hottest enemy fighter planes during target training for gunners and pilots.

The toughness of the PQ-14B is the subject of many stories describing planes being badly shot away, landing under their own power to be refueled and ferried back to base. This toughness, along with the ease with which the all-wood planes were repaired meant that few PQ’s were destroyed. Many American gunners owed their abilities to the training received by firing at these aircraft which were used at many training based in US and on most Allied fronts overseas.

The PQ-14B participated in an aviation milestone by being a part of the first test of midair wingtip coupling. Wingtip coupling presented an alternative means of towing aircraft by attaching two small planes to the wingtips of a larger plane, and was first tested at Wright Field in 1949. Because of induced drag reduction due to the increased aspect ratio when planes are flown in this configuration, the two smaller planes are carried “free” without reducing the range of the towing aircraft

Donated by Morton Lester

Culver PQ-14B Culver PQ-14-B

Accredited by the American Association of Museums
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