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"USAAF use of Pigeons" Topic

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Kaoschallenged Inactive Member24 Sep 2012 2:57 p.m. PST

Thought some of you might find this interesting. Robert






zippyfusenet Inactive Member24 Sep 2012 3:22 p.m. PST

Why? Throw a carrier pigeon out of an airplane? Don't you have a radio?

Interesting photos. Interesting cammo on those B-18Bs. Are the undersides painted black?

I'm surprised to see B-18Bs operating in the Hawaiian Islands in 1943. A book I own told me that: The B-18Bs were all in the Hawaii or the Phillipines on Dec. 7 1941, and were nearly all destroyed in the initial Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor and Clark Field. The B-18As were all in conUS, and were converted to anti-submarine patrol aircraft, and served as such on the Atlantic and Carribean sea frontiers.

Strange to see these two old birds still patrolling in the HI.

Mako1124 Sep 2012 4:16 p.m. PST

For secret communications, since I doubt the enemy can hear them over the airwaves.

Of course, if they put out lots of birdseed, they might be able to intercept a few before they make it back to base.

troopwo Supporting Member of TMP24 Sep 2012 4:25 p.m. PST

I wonder if anyone else heard of their trials with bats?

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member24 Sep 2012 7:46 p.m. PST

I've have known about the bat trials for years. Robert

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member24 Sep 2012 9:51 p.m. PST

That was my first thought Mako LOL. Maybe due to some radios not working well in some terrain the pigeons were a good back up. Robert

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member25 Sep 2012 10:40 a.m. PST

Jut found a mention that they were used also in case a plane had to ditch that they would be sent for help. Robert

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member25 Sep 2012 11:54 a.m. PST

Looks like the RAF used them for similar reasons. Robert


"Canadian PO (A) S Jess, wireless operator of an Avro Lancaster bomber operating from Waddington, Lincolnshire carrying two pigeon boxes. Homing pigeons served as a means of communications in the event of a crash, ditching or radio failure."


Etranger Inactive Member25 Sep 2012 8:58 p.m. PST

A couple of links regarding the British use of pigeons in WWII

Of course you could always use them more aggressively!

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member25 Sep 2012 10:44 p.m. PST

There is a nice shot of two pigeons being loaded onto a 9th AAF B-24 in Libya in 1943. The caption says it was required for the to carry them. The pigeons were trained by the RAF. Robert

DBS30326 Sep 2012 4:37 a.m. PST

As hinted at by the links posted by Etranger, the most important role was as a back-up to the wireless for ditched air crew – basically, any multi-crewed aircraft operating over water and big enough to accommodate a bird or two was well advised to carry them. Quite a few lives were saved by them.

That said, the story of Gustav, awarded the Dickin Medal (the "animal VC") had a sad ending. Just after he was decorated for bringing back the first message from the Normandy invasion fleet, he was killed. When his Flight Sergeant handler stepped on him. Oooops. The Blackadder episode about the "Flanders Pigeon Murderer" was closer to reality than some might realise!

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member26 Sep 2012 2:32 p.m. PST

The photo I linked to of the B-24 pigeons was dated 1943. Does anyone know when the practice of having them on board was discontinued? Robert

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member29 Sep 2012 2:06 p.m. PST

I was also wondering if they were used more and for a longer time in the Pacific and CBI due to the distances flown. Robert

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member29 Sep 2012 10:43 p.m. PST

To this day, a carrier pigeon is listed on the Honours Board in the foyer to the Station Headquarters at RAF Waddington, for having received the Dickin Medal.

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member30 Sep 2012 12:06 p.m. PST

I have read of the ones used by the RAF but really can't find anything about the USAAF ones . Only info about those used by US ground forces. Robert

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