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First cruise missile — Kettering’s Bug

1 April 2011

First cruise missile — Kettering’s Bug

Powered and controlled aviation began in the early years of the 20th century and aircraft rapidly evolved through WW I becoming large and with multiple engines — even flying onto and off of water. Glenn Curtiss had plans to have the first aircraft design to fly across the Atlantic with the America* — a Curtiss Model H — in 1914, barely a decade after the first controlled flight under power by the Wright Brothers in 1903. Cruise missiles also had their start in WW I with the Kettering Aerial Torpedo, more popularly known as the “Kettering Bug”, which could deliver a 180 lb (81kg) warhead to a target 75 miles (120km) away.

A Kettering Bug replica at the National Museum of the USAF — photo by Joe May

The Kettering Bug** has a lot in common with the Feisler V-1 “Buzzbomb” of WW II, more often considered to be the first cruise missile. Both took off from a rail, both had courses and distances set at the time of launch, both dropped onto targets by cutting fuel supply to the engine after a predetermined distance had been flown, and both were stabilized by gyrocompasses. The Kettering Bug was powered by an internal combustion engine driving a propeller while the  V-1 was jet powered — though the V-1 had a longer range of 150 miles (250km) and a heavier warhead of 1870 lb (850kg) warhead.

* For more information about the America flying replica — a gorgeous flying boat — please go here.

** Visit here for the fact sheet and large photo from the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

Special note: there are many posts about the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force and getting to them is as easy as pasting that name into the search box and selecting ENTER. For those of you from the Seattle PI you may wish to use this search box to find them all.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 3 April 2011 14:52

    Air Forces first operational surface-to-surface missile was the winged mobile nuclear-capable also similar in concept to the V-1. Deployment overseas began in 1954 first to West Germany and later to the Republic of China Taiwan and South Korea.


  1. First cruise missile — Kettering’s Bug (via Travel for Aircraft) « Calgary Recreational and Ultralight Flying Club (CRUFC)

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