Model 147SK (US Navy)

Teledyne-Ryan supplied ten Model 147SK low-altitude photo recce Firebees to the US Navy. Craig Kaston kindly contributed three US Navy photos shown below of this unique version.

The Model 147SK had no AQM-34 designation, but it was comparable to the USAF's Model 147SC / AQM-34L, modified for ground launch. In fact it was the first Model 147 that was ground-launched. Attachment points for the RATO bottle's brace were added under the horizontal stabilisers (also seen on the AQM-34V).

According to Robert Chisman (Teledyne-Ryan aerodynamicist and project engineer), the SK was the first model to be flown without a ventral fin fitted to the parachute cone. It would interfere with the RATO bottle, and they were expensive to produce and lost with each recovery. To restore directional stability, end plates were fitted. These endplates were later also fitted to 147S series models, because the deletion of the ventral fin on these versions resulted in directional stability problems and several losses during operational missions.

The first photo shows a launch across the No. 1 catapult of the USS Ranger. According to 'Lightning Bugs and other reconnaissance drones', only the early launches were made like this.

The second photo shows the same launch I believe, but photographed from the fire truck on the front deck visible in the first photo. This photo clearly shows that the vertical tail and the endplates were painted in the darkest of three grays. Lastly, the RATO bottle can be seen clearly in this photo.

The third photo clearly shows the camouflage of this Navy Firebee. It was apparently adapted to the then-current Navy camouflage style of Gull Gray on the upper surface and White on the lower surface. However, there are two grays on the upper surface, with a scalloped edge. The same pattern is seen in other (black and white) photos of SK's too, so it strongly appears to have been the standard camouflage.

'Strategic Reconnaissance 1956-1976' (p 207) states on page 31 that the 100th SRW assisted the Navy on 31 flights.

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