TDU-12/B Skydart


The TDU-12/B Skydart was an unguided target rocket built by Curtiss-Wright for use by the United States Air Force. It was used operationally from the late 1950s to the mid 1960s.

TDU-12/B Skydart
TDU-12 Skydart.jpg
TypeTarget rocket
Place of originUnited States
Service history
Used byUnited States Air Force
Production history
Mass103 lb (47 kg)
Length6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)
Diameter6.4 in (16 cm)

EngineGCRC/Hercules dual-thrust
620 lbf (2.8 kN) for 2 sec
75 lbf (0.33 kN) for 45 sec
Wingspan20.8 in (0.53 m)
Maximum speed Mach 2
F-100, F-104

Design and developmentEdit

Skydart, designated TDU-12/B by the U.S. Air Force,[2] was developed by the Santa Barbara Division of Curtiss-Wright.[3] It was designed for use as a target for practice with infrared homing air-to-air missiles such as the AIM-9 Sidewinder and AIM-4 Falcon. It had a small cylindrical body fitted with four cruciform fins aft for control and fixed forwards canards to set the rocket's trajectory. Propulsion was by a dual-thrust boost-sustain solid-propellant rocket supplied by the Grand Central Rocket Company and the Hercules Powder Company. A gyroscopic-driven autopilot stabilized the rocket in flight.[4] An infrared flare was installed to provide signature enhancement for training purposes, and the rocket could be equipped with a telemetry system.[1] Skydart was designed to use a common launching rail and electronic connections to the launch aircraft as Sidewinder.[5] Launch would be undertaken at speeds between Mach 0.8 and 2.0. Design endurance was nominally 90 seconds, but in service 110-second endurance was demonstrated.[3]

Operational historyEdit

A $470,000 contract was awarded to Curtiss-Wright by the USAF for production of Skydart.[5] Launched from F-100 Super Sabre and F-104 Starfighter fighters, Skydart was used throughout the early-to-mid 1960s, but was out of service before the end of the decade.[1] Proposals for improved versions of Skydart, including a ground-launched version and an enlarged target drone, do not appear to have been developed.[5]



  1. ^ a b c Parsch 2004
  2. ^ Jacobs and Whitney 1962, p. 170.
  3. ^ a b Missiles and Rockets Volume 5 (1957–1958), p. 28 (a).
  4. ^ Ordway and Wakeford 1960, p. ND20.
  5. ^ a b c Missiles and Rockets Volume 5 (1957–1958), p. 28 (b).


  • Jacobs, Horace; Eunice Engelke Whitney (1962). Missile and Space Projects Guide 1962. New York: Springer Science+Business Media. ISBN 978-1-4899-6967-5.
  • Ordway, Frederick Ira; Ronald C. Wakeford (1960). International Missile and Spacecraft Guide. New York: McGraw-Hill. ASIN B000MAEGVC.
  • Parsch, Andreas (16 June 2004). "Curtiss-Wright TDU-12/B Skydart". Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 4: Undesignated Vehicles. Designation-Systems. Retrieved 2017-12-09.