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Hardcover | $84.00 Short | £69.95 | 768 pp. | 8 x 10 in | 549 b&w illus. | November 2015 | ISBN: 9780262029223
eBook | $59.00 Short | November 2015 | ISBN: 9780262331753
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Unmanned Systems of World Wars I and II

Foreword by Michael Toscano


Military drones have recently been hailed as a revolutionary new technology that will forever change the conduct of war. And yet the United States and other countries have been deploying such unmanned military systems for more than a century. Written by a renowned authority in the field, this book documents the forgotten legacy of these pioneering efforts, offering the first comprehensive historical and technical accounting of unmanned air, land, sea, and underwater systems. Focusing on examples introduced during the two world wars, H. R. Everett meticulously traces their development from the mid-nineteenth century to the early Cold War. A pioneering Navy roboticist, Everett not only describes these systems in detail but also reverse-engineers the designs in order to explain how they operated in real-world conditions of the time. More than 500 illustrations—photographs, drawings, and plans, many of them never before published—accompany the text.

Everett covers the evolution of early wire-guided submersibles, tracing the development of power, propulsion, communication, and control; radio-controlled surface craft, deployed by both Germany and Great Britain in World War I; radio-controlled submersibles; radio-controlled aircraft, including the TDR-1 assault drone project in World War II—which laid the groundwork for subsequent highly classified drone programs; and remote-controlled ground vehicles, including the Wehrmacht’s Goliath and Borgward demolition carriers.

About the Author

H. R. Everett, a retired U. S. Navy commander, is Technical Director for Robotics at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSCPAC) in San Diego. In 1986, he established a pioneering in-house government program in robotic science and technology at this location, then the Naval Ocean Systems Center.


“Drones are the hallmark of tech-y modern warfare, but weapons piloted from afar have been around for more than a century. These long-gone systems used servos, gyroscopes, motors, and rotary switches, and they’re all lovingly described in Unmanned Systems of World Wars I and II, an encyclopedic history of remotely controlled ships, planes, and tanks.”—Wired


“As the visionary pioneer of unmanned ground systems in the Department of the Navy from the Cold War to Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, Everett appropriately looks back at the origins of all unmanned systems. His impeccably researched history is as compelling as it is comprehensive.”
Rear Admiral Tim Flynn, USN (ret.), Commanding Officer, SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific (2002-2005)
“It is extremely rare to come across a book that adds so much to the information available about its subject, but this book is an extreme example. Everett has produced an exhaustive and unprecedented study of the unmanned vehicles from a period that few people consider when thinking about them. This book is an absolute must for anyone interested in unmanned systems, as well as anyone interested in analog systems and early electronic systems that existed before the digital revolution.”
Bill Yenne, author of Attack of the Drones: A History of Unmanned Aerial Combat, Birds of Prey, and Drones at War
“Everett’s new book is an extraordinary compendium of unmanned military technologies, ranging from the very first amazing remote-controlled prototypes in the nineteenth century to the more sophisticated ones developed during World War II and the years immediately following. A must for lovers of history of technology.”
Antonio Pérez Yuste, Professor in Telecommunications Engineering, Technical University of Madrid