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

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Holy vintage vehicles! Earliest known official Batmobile goes on sale
Riddle me this: are you prepared to pay US$180k?
Criticism of Uber's journo-Data Analytics plan is an Attack on DIGITAL FREEDOM
First they came for Emil – and I'm damn well SPEAKING OUT
'Open source just means big companies can steal your code.' O RLY?
Plus: Flame of the Week returns, for one night only!
'It is comforting to know where your data centres are.' UK.GOV does NOT
Plus: Anons are 'wannabes', KKK says, before being pwned
NEWSFLASH: It's time to ditch dullard Facebook chums
Everything hot in tech, courtesy of avian anchor Regina Eggbert
Hey, you, PHONE-FACE! Kickstarter in-car mobe mount will EMBED your phone into your MUG
Stick it on the steering wheel and wait for the airbag to fire
Bible THUMP: Good Book beats Darwin to most influential tome title
Folio Society crowns fittest of surviving volumes
U wot? Silicon Roundabout set to become Silicon U-BEND
Crap-spouting London upstarts to get permanent road closure
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.