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The Bat guided bomb was a United States Navy World War II radar-guided missile which was used in combat beginning in August 1944.

A Bat on its hoist

Dragon and Pelican

In January 1941 RCA proposed a new TV-guided anti-shipping weapon called Dragon for which an operator would use the TV image sent from the nose of the weapon and operate aerodynamic controls during the weapon's fall. The National Bureau of Standards (NBS) would provide the airframe for use with a standard bomb. The Pelican was a June 1942 modification to instead drop depth charges (e.g., against U-boats) using semi-active radar homing. By mid-1943, the design was changed again to use a new active radar homing system from Western Electric with a general-purpose bomb. This Pelican version entered testing in summer 1944 at Naval Air Station New Yorkmarker, where it hit its target ship two out of four drops.

The Bat was the production version which combined the original NBS airframe with a GP bomb and the Pelican active radar system. Gyrostabilized with an autopilot supplied by Bendix Aviation, the steerable tail elevator was powered by small wind-driven generators. The Navy's Bureau of Ordnance in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technologymarker (MIT) supervised development and the NBS was in charge of the overall development. Flight tests were conducted at the Naval Air Ordnance Test Station at Chincoteague Island, Virginia.

The antiship variant of the Bat (SWOD Mark 9 Model 0) eventually saw combat service beginning in April 1945 off Borneomarker, dropped by PB4Y Privateers (one bomb mounted under each wing) at altitudes of 15,000 to 25,000 feet (4,600–7,600 m) at airspeeds of 140 to 210 knots (260-390 km/h). Several Japanese ships were sunk, including a destroyer at a range of 20 nmi (37 km). Several Bats were also fitted with modified radar systems (SWOD Mark 9 Model 1) and dropped on Japanese-held bridges in Burmamarker and other land-based targets. The Bat guidance system was easily confused by radar land clutter, particularly against targets close to shore.

The Privateer was the primary launch platform for the Bat, but other aircraft were also modified to launch the weapon, including the F4U Corsair, SB2C Helldiver, and TBF Avenger. The primary post-WWII aircraft to carry the weapon was the P-2 Neptune.

Hugh Dryden won the Presidential Certificate of Merit for the development of the Bat.

Bat (guided bomb) World War II bombings
Date Result
August 13, 1944 1 B-17 with 2, 1000-pound (900 kg) BATTY bombs is launched against Le Havremarker; one each B-17, P-38 Lightning, and de Havilland Mosquito support aircraft assist; the target is missed and the Mosquito is destroyed by the exploding bombs.
August 17, 1944 A B-17 Flying Fortress on Mission 559 dropped a BATTY TV bomb on the port area at La Pallice, France One impacted 1 mile (1.6 km) short and the second about 1 mile to the right of the target.
April 23, 1945 The first fully-automatic guided missile to be used operationally by any combatant during WWII, the SWOD-9 Bat was dropped from Consolidated PB4Y on Japanese shipping in Balikpapanmarker Harbour.


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