AerialTarget (AT)
AerialTarget (AT)

AerialTarget (AT)

Radio-controlled aerial target type Aerial Target (AT) have begun to develop more 70 years ago. It was the world's first anti-aircraft shells, which can be controlled, who designed and built the British constructor A. Lowe. This development was carried out during the First World War. The main objective was the destruction of German bombers. It was first used 1917 year, but due to imperfect design and management interest in the development dropped.

The history of the project

The need has arisen due to mass bombing enemy aircraft. During these years only began to emerge the country's air defense. This massive destruction of strategic targets from the air bombings led to the activation of designers to create safety systems. It should also be noted that bombing of German zeppelins were held at night, making it difficult to destroy their ground systems.

Thus, in 1925, the already well-known radio designer Archibald Lowe offered to counter enemy aircraft with unmanned radio-controlled vehicles that carried explosives. The designer’s idea was to control the apparatus from the ground to the detected target, after which Aerial Target (AT) would explode near the target and bring maximum damage to the bomber with shrapnel. This idea was taken into development, the chief designer of the project was G. Folland, and Lowe was appointed head of the research department. 


The name "Flying target" was chosen specifically to mislead enemy intelligence. Vehicle was made of wood in Scheme monoplane, which were highly situated wings. Wingspan device reached 4,2 meters. The power plant was presented to the two-cylinder piston engine, which gave 25 horsepower. Motor drives a single propeller. It was originally set 50-hp engine, but it created a large magneto interference to radio equipment.

Used to control the horizontal and vertical rudders, and the stability of the roll has become possible due to the bending of the wing. Along the body and between the wings were stretched special wire, which acts as an antenna. Each antenna is mounted worked on reception of a certain frequency, which were transferred to the relay autopilot.

The project, drawn up by Lowe, the machine had to run from a catapult on the specified path to the goal. The operator should keep the device in the field of view, then it is necessary to make rise closer to the target in a circular path. After reaching the goal of undermining held 40 kilos of explosives, which was carrying a drone. If you deviate from the course could ground the machine due to the presence of ski gear type.


In the spring of 1917, the Aerial Target (AT) 7 machines were manufactured. The first demonstration of the device took place in March 1917, the flight ended rather quickly, because the screw was broken, yet the designer managed to demonstrate good target handling. This demonstration showed the possibilities, after which the active development of the project began. Further tests were almost failed due to numerous failures. In addition, there was a new task to destroy enemy bomber aircraft. Of course, Aerial Target (AT) could stand up to them, but it required a significant refinement of the device, which was never given permission. In the autumn of 1917, the project was finally closed by a management decree. 

AerialTarget (AT). Characteristics:

Modification   AT
Wingspan, m   6.71
Aircraft Length m   6.20
Height, m   1.78
Wing area, m2  
Weight, kg  
  normal takeoff   227
engine's type   1 PD ABC Gnat
Power, hp   X 1 35
Maximum speed km / h  
Practical ceiling, m  


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