TIL I learned that America had developed drone plane technology during WWI. The Kettering Bug was an experimental unmanned biplane, aerial drone torpedo, a forerunner of present-day cruise missiles. It was first tested 103-years-ago on October 2, 1918.

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kettering_Bug

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  1. “The prototype Bug was completed and delivered to the Aviation Section of the U.S. Army Signal Corps in 1918, near the end of World War I. The first flight on October 2, 1918 was a failure: the plane climbed too steeply after takeoff, stalled and crashed. Subsequent flights were successful, and the aircraft was demonstrated to Army personnel at Dayton.
    “The Kettering Bug had 2 successes on 6 attempts at Dayton, 1 of 4 at Amityville, and 4 of 14 at Carlstrom.”
    Despite some successes during initial testing, the “Bug” was never used in combat. Officials worried about their reliability when carrying explosives over Allied troops.[1] By the time the War ended about 45 Bugs had been produced. The aircraft and its technology remained a secret until World War II.
    During the 1920s, what had become the U.S. Army Air Service continued to experiment with the aircraft until funding was withdrawn.
    From April 1917 to March 1920 the US Government spent about $275,000 ($3,550,000 in 2021) on the Kettering Bug.”

  2. Imperial Germany had a similar weapon, The [Siemens torpedo glider](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siemens_torpedo_glider) (often referred to as an aerial torpedo) was an early precursor of the modern glide bomb developed in World War I but never used in action. It consisted of a naval torpedo, launched from a Zeppelin, with an attached airframe which was to be remotely wire-guided. Its last test flight was performed on August 2, 1918. On this flight a 1,000 kilograms (2,200 lb) biplane glider was launched from Zeppelin LZ 80 (L 35). The glider was released from 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) over the Havel river and worked as expected until its control wire that attached the glider to the Zepplin snapped and the glider spun out of control.

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