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Northrop Drone

Developed by the Northrop Ventura Corporation, California, the SD-1 entered service with the United States Signal Corps in 1956. It was adopted by the British Army in 1961 (entitled Shelduck).  

Fitted with Infra-Red or television cameras or radiation detectors, it was used for all types of aerial reconnaissance.  Its size and manoeuvrability gave minimum radar reflection and made it less susceptible to ground fire. Drones (unmanned aircraft) have also been developed as targets for anti-aircraft gunnery and guided missiles.

Although used principally by the army, the Northrop Drone also gave very useful service to the RAF.  The Drone was utilised for target practice where it proved a very elusive target and also for radar testing and calibrations etc.

This machine was presented to MAPSL in 1992 by the ATC.  The Drone was in poor condition and involved a considerable amount of research and even more refurbishment for the aircraft to be displayed in its present condition.


It was occasionally displayed by MAPSL and had a spell on loan at the Purfleet Heritage Centre.  In 2018, it was sold to the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection at Old Sarum. 


Wing span: 
Weight (empty):
Maximum load: 
Maximum speed:
Service ceiling: 
Colour scheme:

McCulloch 4-cylinder two/stroke of 72 hp.
13ft 5in (4 m)
3ft 7in (1.1 m)
11ft 6in (3.5 m)
329 lb (149 kg)
101 lb (45.8 kg)
184 mph
40 minutes
15,000 ft (4.572 m)
bright red for easy recognition.

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