Culver PQ-14 Cadet

Development of early Unmanned Aerial Systems exploded during WWII, with Culver PQ-14s being amongst the most widely produced drones of the time.

Designed not as a weapon system, like the U.S. Navy’s TDN-series Assault Drones, but rather as a radio-controlled target drone, the Culver PQ-14 was sufficiently large for a human pilot to fly it from one location to another. The cockpit accommodations could be described as rudimentary at best, of course, with the pilot expected to use their parachute for a seat atop the wing root. The drone itself was flown remotely by an operator within a modified Beech UC-45F (CQ-3) mothership during its live fire missions.

First flown in 1942, the PQ-14 was an updated variant of the Culver PQ-8. Another radio-controlled aerial target, the PQ-8 was itself a modified version of the pre-war Culver Cadet, a sport airplane developed by famed designer Albert Mooney. The PQ-14’s importance was actually a direct contributor to how rare these aircraft are today, since most successful missions resulted in the airframe being blown out of the sky!

The PQ-14 provided Army and Navy surface gunners with the perfect opportunity to practice live-fire anti-aircraft gunnery. Naval variants were known as TD2C-1 Turkeys, although many of them were acquired from U.S. Army Air Force PQ-14 stocks. With over 2,000 examples produced of all types, this docile, “trouble-free” airplane honed the talents of thousands of gunners who were later asked to protect the U.S. Navy’s Pacific fleet from Kamikaze attacks, or to defend U.S. Army columns from German ground attack aircraft.

The Museum’s PQ-14 was built in Wichita, Kansas for the U.S. Army Air Forces as s/n 44-68349; the USAAF taking delivery on March 16, 1945. With gunnery training winding down at that time, the Army transferred the aircraft directly into storage at Jackson AAF in Missouri, which is how the aerial target evaded its seemingly inevitable destruction. It would later be stored at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico until it was sold off in November 1948. While the Museum’s example is presently in storage, we do have plans to restore it, perhaps even to flying condition.

Did You know?


  • Number Built: 2,043
  • Year Produced: 1945
  • Serial Number: 44-68349
  • Crew: (1/0) Pilot, Remote Pilot
  • Current Pilots: TBD


  • Length:  19′ 6″
  • Wingspan:  30′ 0″
  • Empty Weight:  1,230 lbs.
  • Loaded Weight: 1,830 lbs.
  • Engine:  1 x Franklin 6ACT-298-35 6-cylinder, air-cooled, horizontally-opposed engine
  • Engine Power:  150 hp


  • Cruising Speed:  154 mph
  • Max Speed:  185 mph 
  • Range:  362 miles
  • Ceiling: 17,000 ft
  • Rate of Climb:  910 ft./min. initial


  • none

Gallery & Media