This is the Bat missile, built by the National Bureau of Standards and one of the most sophisticated U.S. missiles of World War II. It was a glide bomb carried by a Navy PB4Y-2 Privateer patrol bomber or other aircraft and was designed to destroy ships and off-shore enemy targets. It employed a radar-homing system that guided the missile to its target. The Bat was released from its carrier aircraft within a 15- to 20-mile range of its target and carried a 1,000-pound bomb.
Steering was by a controllable tail elevator driven by autopilot servo motors. The Bat missile saw combat in 1945 off Borneo and destroyed several Japanese ships, but it ceased its operational life at the war's end. The U.S. Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics donated this artifact to the Smithsonian in 1950.