Published April 07, 2015
DAYTON, Ohio -- Kettering Aerial Torpedo "Bug" in the Early Years Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Kettering Aerial Torpedo "Bug" in the Early Years Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Kettering Aerial Torpedo "Bug." (U.S. Air Force photo)
In 1917 Charles F. Kettering of Dayton, Ohio, invented the unmanned Kettering Aerial Torpedo, nicknamed the "Bug." Launched from a four-wheeled dolly that ran down a portable track, the Bug's system of internal pre-set pneumatic and electrical controls stabilized and guided it toward a target. After a predetermined length of time, a control closed an electrical circuit, which shut off the engine. Then, the wings were released, causing the Bug to plunge to earth -- where its 180 pounds of explosive detonated on impact.
The Dayton-Wright Airplane Co. built fewer than 50 Bugs before the Armistice, and the Bug never saw combat. After the war, the U.S. Army Air Service conducted additional tests, but the scarcity of funds in the 1920s halted further development. Museum personnel built this full-size reproduction of the Bug, and it went on display in 1964.
Armament: 180 lbs. of high explosive
Engine: One De Palma 4-cylinder of 40 hp
Maximum speed: 120 mph
Range: 75 miles
Span: 14 ft. 11 1/2 in.
Length: 12 ft. 6 in.
Height: 4 ft. 8 in.
Weight: 530 lbs. loaded
Click here to return to the Early Years Gallery.
Please note Springfield Street, the road that leads to the museum’s entrance, is undergoing construction through the beginning of September. Expect lane reductions and some delays. Please follow the signs and instructions provided by the road crews.
Additional information about our COVID precautions available here
The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is located at:
1100 Spaatz Street
Wright-Patterson AFB OH 45433
(near Dayton, Ohio)