Feeds

UK's RAF planned WMD delivery via 'pigeons of death'

Lofty goals

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

British secret service files released today reveal the existence immediately after the second world war of a stealth weapons system capable of the precision delivery of death, destruction and anthrax to an unsuspecting enemy. Unfortunately, the WMD programme was cancelled when the Joint Intelligence Committee decided it couldn't afford any more millet.

It seems sadly clear that the JIC was losing it 50 years before it got anywhere near Iraq dossiers because yes, in 1950 here it was arguing the toss about who was going to foot the bill for a loft full of 100 pigeons, under the heading "Pigeon Policy". This potential deadly WMD scheme had been hatched (an oddly appropriate word) immediately after the war by one Wing Commander WEL Rayner, head of the air ministry's pigeon section, whose command was being rendered obsolete by new stuff like radio and the telephone. But Rayner was made of sterner stuff, and lobbied for the redeployment of his troops as silent (well, unobtrusive, anyway), remote-controlled agents of death.

He envisaged mastery of the birds' homing instincts, claiming that: "All we need is a model of the small target and three weeks for special training by experts." So you'd just need a model of the Tirpitz in its fjord, and three weeks later the pigeons would have seen to it. Up to a point. Although he felt pigeons could be released well outside AA range, 100-200 miles away from the target, they do have a relatively small payload. But undaunted, he visualised 'big wings' of pigeons: "With the latest developments of explosives and bacterial science - this possibility should be closely investigated - a thousand pigeons each with a 2oz explosive capsule landed at intervals on a specific target might be a seriously inconvenient surprise."

He seems not to have been entirely alone. M14, responsible for monitoring Germany, suggested delivering pigeons to the vicinity of the target via rocket, training them to fly into searchlights and blowing up and developing "a capsule stimulant to be fed to birds prior to service flight," presumably to put them into an appropriately bloodthirsty, berserker, battle-crazed mood.

Sadly, the elite pigeon squadron was decommissioned in 1950. It is not thought that any pigeon-based strike forces remain in the world's armouries, although DARPA is thought to be working on a number of turkeys. ®

Related links:

Famous military pigeons
Branded pigeons invade Wimbledon
Rival German wartime pigeon training

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
WRISTJOB LOVE BONANZA: justWatch sex app promises blind date hookups
Mankind shuffles into the future, five fingers at a time
Every billionaire needs a PANZER TANK, right? STOP THERE, Paul Allen
Angry Microsoftie hauls auctioneers to court over stalled Pzkw. IV 'deal'
Apple's Mr Havisham: Tim Cook says dead Steve Jobs' office has remained untouched
'I literally think about him every day' says biz baron's old friend
Cops apologise for leaving EXPLOSIVES in suitcase at airport
'Canine training exercise' SNAFU sees woman take home booming baggage
Oi, London thief. We KNOW what you're doing - our PRECRIME system warned us
Aye, shipmate, it be just like that Minority Report
Flaming drone batteries ground commercial flight before takeoff
Passenger had Something To Declare, instead fiddled while plane burned
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.