In March 1942, the USAAF initiated a program to develop radio-controlled assault drones, frequently called "aerial torpedoes" at that time. These aerial torpedoes were to be unmanned expendable aircraft (either purpose-built or converted from existing types), fitted with a large payload of high-explosive, remote-control equipment and a forward-looking TV camera. The drones were to be directed to the target by radio commands from a control aircraft, where the operator would "fly" the drone watching the video transmitted by the camera.
Development of the BQ-1 began on July 10, 1942. Fleetwings was contracted to build a single XBQ-1 assault drone, powered by two Franklin O-405-7 opposed piston engines, and fitted with a fixed landing gear in tricycle configuration. The aircraft was optionally piloted; a single-seat cockpit was installed for ferry and training flights; a fairing would replace the cockpit canopy on operational missions. The BQ-1 was intended to carry a 2,000 pounds (910 kg) warhead over a range of 1,717 miles (2,763 km) at 225 miles per hour (362 km/h); the aircraft would be destroyed in the act of striking the target. A single BQ-2 was to be constructed as well under the same contract.
Following trials of the television-based command guidance system using a PQ-12 target drone, and earlier trials of the XBQ-2A, the XBQ-1 flew in May 1944; however, the aircraft crashed on its maiden flight. Following the loss of the lone prototype BQ-1, the project was cancelled.
Variants: Fleetwings BQ-2
Engine: 2 × Franklin O-405-7, 225 hp (168 kW) each
Wingspan: 48 ft 7 in (14.81 m)
Gross weight: 7,700 lb (3,493 kg)
Cruise speed: 225 mph (196 kn; 362 km/h)
Range: 1,717 mi (1,492 nmi; 2,763 km)
Crew: 1 (optional)
Warhead: 2,000 pounds (910 kg)