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US Army SD-1 Reconnaissance Drone

US Army SD-1 Reconnaissance Drone

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  • Model: 17848
  • Shipping Weight: 200lbs


  • In very good condition
  • Missing the wings, propellor and cameras
  • Complete with original engine
  • Complete with documentation and some spare parts
  • This is the first remote control spy drone developed by the US

    The item for sale here is an original SD-1 drone. In overall very good condition. The wings, propeller and parachute are missing. The tail shows some damage caused by rough landings when the drone ran out of gas and deployed its parachute. Original paint and markings. All the data plates remain in place. Also included are three manuals (for later drones of the same family), remote control, spark plugs and propeller mounting base. This is the grandfather of all the spy drones flying today over Afghanistan and Iraq.


    The body has an early version of the US Air Force logo painted on one side. The characters 038 indicate a serial number identifier. Tube structures come out from the side to provide a place where the exhaust pipes were secured.

    The compartment where the camera equipment is placed has a round opening at the bottom to allow for the lense to be exposed. A compartment next to it has a hinged cover. That is where the parachute is located.

    The drone did not have a landing gear. It would be placed on a hold pattern until it ran out of gas. A parachute was deployed to land the aircraft.

    The engine was manufactured by the McCulloch Motors Corp. It has four cylinders. The two barrel carburetor is missing. We do not know if the engine works. The data plate is present and contains information such as timing, contract number, etc.

    The remote control box (BC-1156-A) is part of the offering. Its design is similar to the modern remote controller boxes. A joy stick is found in the center. Toggle switches and a dial are used to issue commands to the drone. Two large connectors marked "Azon" and "GB and Razon" are placed on one side. Manufactured by "International Industries Inc.". The original data plate remains in place.

    This is the junction box for the drone. Multiple connectors in back. Two switches are found on one end.

    Among the accessories that come with the drone are a propeller base plate, drone nose cover. Three drone manuals. One of the manuals is for a target drone manufactured by Northrop.

    In 1959 the US Army started a program to employ surveillance drones. The drone itself was known as the AN/USD-1, although this was really the designation of the entire drone surveillance system, including ground equipment. The done itself was known as SD-1, where SD stands for "Surveillance Drone".

    The equipment found on the SD-1 included a KS-54 or KS-61 camera system (including a KA-39A or KA-30 still picture camera), flare ejectors and an AN/DPN-32 radar beacon. Which was later replaced by the AN/DPN-62(V). The SD-1 was tracked on the ground by using the AN/MPQ-29 radar system.

    There were two different models of the SD-1 drone. One for the AN/USD-1A drone system and one for the AN/USD-57B. The models differed slightly in the electronic guidance equipment. The AN/USD-1A drone used the R-943/USD-1A receiver. while the second model employed the R-1220/USD-1B receiver and a KY-500/USD-1B decoder.

    Length 13 feet 4 inches
    Wingspan 11 feet 6 inches
    Weight 430 pounds
    Range 100 miles
    Endurance 30 minutes
    Propulsion McCulloch O-100-1 piston engine; 54 kw (72 horse power)
    Speed 185 Miles per hour

    This is the first remote control spy drone developed by the US Army. Manufactured in 1959. The drone had a 30 minute flight time. The way it was operated involved launching the drone from a fixed platform (sling shot type action), flying it over the area. In very good condition. We do not know if the engine works or not.

    After a mission the SD-1 could not be landed as a normal aircraft. It was left on a hold pattern flying in a circle until the gas ran out. At this point a parachute located inside the fuselage would deploy. An item this heavy and bulky does not have a soft landing. Usually the wings and the propeller would be compromised.

    This is an artist rendering of a drone similar to the SD1 attacking a ship at sea.

    This drawing shows the anatomy of a drone which is very similar to the SD1.

    In June 1963, the AN/USD-1A and AN/USD-1B surveillance systems were designated as MQM-57A and MQM-57B respectively. The MQM-57 family remained in service until the mid 1970's. A total of about 1500 MQM-57's of all versions were built by the Northrop Ventura company (formerly Radioplane).

    This is an example of the military antiques and collectibles available for sale in our store.