Naval Aircraft Modification Unit KDN Gorgon

The Naval Aircraft Modification Unit KDN Gorgon, originally designated TD2N, was an early jet-powered target drone developed by the Bureau of Aeronautics and constructed by the Naval Aircraft Modification Unit for use by the United States Navy. First flown near the end of World War II, it was cancelled due to problems with its engine in 1946.

KDN Gorgon
A TD2N (KDN) on display in 1947
Role Target drone
National origin United States
Manufacturer Naval Aircraft Modification Unit
First flight 27 June 1945
Primary user United States Navy
Number built 19[1]
Developed from Gorgon IIIB missile


The TD2N-1 was a development of the Gorgon IIIB missile, designed in 1943 by the U.S. Navy Bureau of Aeronautics for use against heavy bomber aircraft and ground targets using optical guidance.[2] The Gorgon IIIB was cancelled due to its engine proving unsatisfactory;[3] however, a version simplified for use as a target drone was developed starting in November 1944.[4] Built by the Navy's Naval Aircraft Modification Unit, located in the former Brewster Aeronautical Corporation factory in Johnsville, Pennsylvania,[5] the TD2N-1 was of conventional design, with a monoplane wing and twin-tail configuration; to reduce cost and pressure on strategic materials, it was constructed primarily of wood with some portions of the fuselage being fabric-covered.[6] The aircraft was powered by a Westinghouse 9.5 – later redesignated J32 – turbojet engine mounted beneath the airframe.[2] The drone was controlled by a combination of preset navigation and radio command guidance, and was equipped with a parachute recovery system to allow the aircraft to be reused if it was not shot down.[6]

Operational history

The first drop tests of the TD2N-1 took place in June 1945;[2] on June 27, the first powered flight was attempted, but the aircraft crashed following a failure of the radio command system.[3] On August 17, the TD2N-1 completed its first successful powered flight.[3] Testing at Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst continued following the end of World War II;[6] in early 1946, the aircraft was redesignated KDN-1 as the Navy rationalized its designation system,[2] however in March of that year the program was cancelled because of continuing development issues with the Westinghouse engine.[3]

Surviving aircraft

One KDN-1 survives, having been donated by the United States Navy to the National Air and Space Museum in 1965; it remains in storage awaiting restoration.[6]


Data from NASM[6]

General characteristics

  • Crew: None
  • Length: 16 ft 3 in (4.95 m)
  • Wingspan: 10 ft 9 in (3.28 m)
  • Height: 4 ft 2 in (1.27 m)
  • Wing area: 27.8 sq ft (2.58 m2)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Westinghouse J32 turbojet, 260 lbf (1.2 kN) thrust


  • Maximum speed: 500 mph (800 km/h, 430 kn)

See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists


  1. Trimble 1990, p.337
  2. Parch 2005
  3. Leyes and Fleming 1999, p.42.
  4. Ordway and Wakeford 1960, p.181
  5. Pattillo 1998, p.145
  6. National Air and Space Museum: Drone, Target, KDN-1
  • Leyes, Richard; William A. Fleming (1999). The History of North American Small Gas Turbine Aircraft Engines. Reston, VA: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. ISBN 1-56347-332-1.
  • "Drone, Target, KDN-1". National Air and Space Museum. Smithsonian Institution. 20 November 2016. Retrieved 2017-11-29.
  • Ordway, Frederick Ira; Ronald C. Wakeford (1960). International Missile and Spacecraft Guide. New York: McGraw-Hill. ASIN B000MAEGVC.
  • Parsch, Andreas (4 January 2005). "Martin ASM-N-5 Gorgon V". Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles Appendix 1: Early Missiles and Drones. Designation-Systems. Retrieved 2017-11-29.
  • Pattillo, Donald (2001). Pushing the Envelope: The American Aircraft Industry. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-472-10869-7.
  • Trimble, William F (1990). Wings for the Navy: A History of the Naval Aircraft Factory, 1917-1956. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0870216633.
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