Photo courtesy MSgt Leroy Lewis


This is the M-33 Radar plotting board with a controller flying an RCAT Drone. (The M-33 Plotting Boards were essentially the same as those found inside the Nike Ajax Battery Control Van.) If you look on the left side of the board about midway up, you can see the ink pen drawing where the drone is and the course it has flown. The Drone is on a firing course and it is flying due north (top of the plot). I would say the missile has fired or is about to fire. If you look to the right you will see that pear shaped course I mention earlier, the PD course. The RCAT's altitude is shown on the smaller plotting board to the lower right. Standard firing courses were overlaid on the face of the plotting boards to act a guide for the controller as he flew the drone.

The drone was built as a target for Anti Aircraft Artillery (AAA) guns. I would fly it between 2,000 and 3,000 ft. for gunnery practice. When we started to fly it for the Nike, we didnít know how high we could go. The more we flew it the more we learned. We found that the leaner we set the engine the higher we could go. Most of the time we flew at about 20,000 ft. Each morning we would call Holliman Air Force Base to get the wind information. This governed how high we would fly. I know of two flights that were over 30,000 ft.

Time to get to altitude would depend on the winds. I would say about 20 minutes was average. Airspeed was around 220 miles per hour.

The higher we would go the slower the RCAT would fly. That is because we could not adjust the fuel mixture inflight. The YOQ 19 had a 65 Hp engine. The recovery parachute had a 38 foot diameter. The gas tank held 11.3 gal. of 145 Octane AvGas.