BQM-34A Yanks Air Museum

The Yanks Air Museum at Chino (CA) has a BQM-34A (Model 124) target Firebee on display, that has the extended rear fuselage of an AQM-34. This initially led to the idea it could be a Model 147NA / AQM-34G, but research has shown that this is not the case. The Firebee is painted orange all over, with a black radome, fin tip and horizontal tail tips. Its markings are limited to 'U.S. AIR FORCE' on the fuselage, and a skull with two crossed Sidewinder-like missiles painted on the tail.


At first sight this Firebee appeared to be a standard BQM-34A (Model 124) target Firebee. However, it has the extended aft fuselage of a Model 147 Firebee. There was only one Model 147 version with a standard Model 124 Firebee front fuselage: the Model 147NA or AQM-34G, as described on the Early TAC Firebees. Only 24 were built. However, many or maybe all other features of the AQM-34G are missing on this Firebee. The AQM-34Gs were equipped with ALE-2 chaff pods on wing pylons, the wings themselves were fitted with extended wingtips, the horizontal tailplanes had endplates like most other AQM-34 versions, and a ventral fin was not installed.

Craig Kaston researched this Firebee better, and found out the following. He established that the Yanks Air Museum has a partial fuselage of a Model 147SC / AQM-34L in its storage area, that shows signs of having the rear fuselage extension plug section removed. What now remains are a separate mid upper fuselage section and a separate avionics compartment with tail surface attachment points. Signs that this originally was a Model 147SC / AQM-34L are the light gray paint, and that it has stripped paint and metal tape consistent with the SCs used in 1988/89 for radar testing. In these radar tests, Model 147SD / AQM-34Ms were also used, but the plug section does not have the intake on the lower right side that the 147SD has. Therefore it seems that the Firebee on display is an original Model 124 / BQM-34A target Firebee fitted with the plug section of a Model 147SC / AQM-34L fitted for unknown reasons.

This conclusion is fully supported by a set of photos made by Rob Mignard in 2006. The photos show two Firebee fuselages, a one-piece bare-metal Model 124 / BQM-34A fuselage (minus nacelle and nose) in the upright position, and a one-piece light gray Model 147SC / AQM-34L fuselage (minus nacelle and nose) upside down. The latter can be recognised by its gray color and paint stripped along most panel lines. The wing's color also suggest an AQM-34 history.

The 2007 and 2013 photos make it clear that the AQM-34L rear fuselage extension plug section was indeed removed, and fitted to the BQM-34A fuselage. The reason for this strange modification is yet unclear.


Rob Mignard visited the museum in May 2006, and made the following photos of the various parts in the storage area.

BQM-34A fuselage
AQM-34L fuselage
AQM-34L wings
Various parts

Craig Kaston visited the museum in July 2013, and made the following photos.

Craig Kaston returned in October 2013, and made more photos.

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