by: HG Barnes [ ]
The SubjectIn the late 1950s, the USAF awarded Ryan Aeronautical Company a contract for a substantially improved "second generation" Firebee, the Model 124, originally with the designation Q-2C. The initial prototype performed its first flight in late 1958 and went into production in 1960.
The BQM-34A emerged as the Firebee as it is recognized today, with a bigger airframe, longer wings, and a particular "chin"-type inlet under a pointed nose (in contrast to the circular intake of the first-generation Firebees). It was powered by a Continental J69-T-29A turbojet, a copy of the improved Turbomeca Gourdon derivative of the Marbore, with 1,700 lbf (7.6 kN) thrust. The U.S. Navy also adopted the BQM-34A, while the Army obtained a ground-launched version designated MQM-34D with longer wings and a heavier JATO booster.
In 1963, it was redesignated the BQM-34A. The old first-generation KDA-1 and KDA-4 targets then still flying with the Navy were (somewhat confusingly) given the respective redesignations AQM-34B and AQM-34C.
Length: 21 ft 11 in (6.68 m)
Wingspan: 12 ft 11 in (3.93 m)
Height: 6 ft 8 in (2.04 m)
Wing area: 36.0 sq ft (3.34 m2)
Empty weight: 1,500 lb (680 kg)
Gross weight: 2,060 lb (934 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 2,500 lb (1,134 kg)
Powerplant: 1 × Continental J69-T-29A turbojet, 1,700 lbf (7.6 kN) thrust
Maximum speed: 690 mph (1,110 km/h, 600 kn) at 6,500 ft (2,000 m)
Cruise speed: 630 mph (1,010 km/h, 550 kn) at 50,000 ft (15,000 m)
Stall speed: 116 mph (187 km/h, 101 kn)
Never exceed speed: 731 mph (1,176 km/h, 635 kn) at 50,000 ft (15,000 m)
Range: 796 mi (1,281 km, 692 nmi)
Endurance: 75 min 30 s
Service ceiling: 60,000 ft (18,000 m)
Rate of climb: 16,000 ft/min (81 m/s)
Terrific box art will come in handy when you're ready to build your Plus Model Firebee BQM-34A. The content includes three plastic sprues, a small PE fret, decals and color instructions. The plastic gives you two Firebee models and racks for the B-26 Invader, P2V Neptune and C-130 Hercules. A small PE fret make up the horizontal stabilizer fins and a nicely printed decal sheet make up the three markings. The instructions are in color and while this is a very simple model to build it's a nice touch. The color call-outs are for the U.S. Air Force and two for the Navy.
The plastic has good detail with raised and recessed components along with an option for the ventral fin used by some branches of service and not others. The fit is passable after the sprue gates and flash are cleaned up but since there are so few parts you won't mind that at all. Consider this a "short run" style of model and you'll already be in the mindset to tackle any little challenges. The photo-etch is for a particular model used by the Navy. Decals are really thin and come off the sheet in less than 15 seconds so be careful they don't run away or fold over on you.
These Firebee jet drone models are a brilliant idea by Plus Model. Who ever came up with the topic deserves a pat on the back from us modelers who crave something different and interesting to add to a build or stand alone. The company is known for unique modeling solutions yet this one gets top marks from me. The only trouble is they're like munching on salted peanuts! You just want another and another...
Very special thanks go out to the good people at Plus Model for sending this sample for review and of course to YOU for taking the time out of a busy day to read along.
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