Pigeon II AM-374 - History

Pigeon II AM-374 - History


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Pigeon II

(AM-374: dp. 1,250 (f.), 1. 221'1", b. 32'2", dr. 10'9";
s. 18 k.; cpl. 117; a. 1 3", 2 40mm.; cl. Auk)

The second Pigeon (AM-374), a minesweeper, was laid down 10 November 1944 by the Savannah Machine and Foundry Co., Savannah, Gal; launched 28 March 1945; sponsored by Miss Jean Ross; and commissioned at Savannah 30 October 1945, Lt. Comdr. Robert S. Catchcart in command.

After fitting out at the Charleston Navy Yard and operations out of the Naval Mine Warfare School, Yorktown, Va. Pigeon decommissioned 10 July 1946. Following Communist aggression in Korea, she recommissioned at Orange, Tex., 30 November 1950, Lt. Theodore Sawick in command.

Pigeon departed Orange 2 January 1951 to join Mine Squadron 8 at Charleston, S.C. Taeties and Atlantic Fleet exercises took her to Norfolk, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. On 25 August 1952 she departed Charleston with Mine Division 82 for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization combined fleet exercise operation "Mainbrace.' She arrived at Rosyth, Scotland 11 September 1952 and put to sea the 19th to participate in "Mainbrace" minesweeping operations off Denmark. Pigeon returned to Falmouth England 27 September 1952 and sailed the 29th with the same amphibious attack force for NATO operation "Longstep" in the Mediterranean. These and other operations with the powerful 6th Fleet took her from ports of Morocco

to ports in Italy, Turkey, Greeee, France, and Spain. The minesweeper returned to Charleston, S.C., 7 February 1953.

Overhauled in the Charleston Naval Shipyard, Pigeon resumed readiness and training operations along the eastern seaboard as far north as Quebec, Canada. She departed Charleston 6 January 1954 and joined the 6th Fleet at Lisbon, Postugal, 19 January 1954. After serving in fleet and NATO combined operations throughout the Mediterrancan, she returned to Charleston 29 May 1954.

Pigeon departed Charleston 15 November to prepare for inactivation at Green Cove Springs, Fla. She decommissioned there 14 January 1955 and was placed in reserve. On 7 February 1955, she was reclassified a fleet minesweeper and redesignated MSF-374 She remained in reserve until her name was struck from the Navy List 1 December 1966. She was sold for scrapping.


Pigeons of War

By Joe Razes

The company of Nepali Gurkhas and the British troops with them were trapped on Hangman’s Hill. They had fought their way onto the huge outcropping on Monte Cassino, southeast of Rome, during the fierce battle there in early 1944, only to be pinned down by withering German fire. Stuck for nine days, they had no means of communication with their lines below. American bombers dropped food and water to them, but much of it fell into German hands. Finally, three British volunteers set out toward the trapped men by three different routes. Each carried a haversack with an American homing pigeon inside. One man got pinned down by machine gun spray, but the other two penetrated German lines and reached their destination. All three men scribbled short messages about the routes they had taken and sent them off to headquarters by pigeon. That night, Allied guns opened fire to clear an escape route along the safe paths the scouts had identified, and the trapped soldiers slipped away to safety. The pigeons, meanwhile, rested safely in their loft.

Sending messages with homing pigeons is one of the oldest methods of long-distance communication. The earliest documented use of pigeons by an army was by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago. During World War I, both sides routinely used homing pigeons as couriers. At the urging of General of the Armies John Pershing, the US Army Signal Corps established a pigeon service in 1917.

Communications improved considerably between World Wars I and II, but pigeons were still used throughout World War II as supplemental and emergency means of communication. Their duties varied depending on the branch of service. But wherever the army, navy, coast guard, or marines went, pigeons likely went, too—some bearing colorful names such as Lady Astor, Pepperhead, or Holy Ghost, and others known only by a number. Taken across enemy lines by patrols in pursuit of valuable information, they returned with news on the location and strength of enemy troops, gun positions, pending attacks, traffic conditions, and other vital data. Pigeons were the only means of communication for some advanced observation posts where terrain or proximity to enemy lines made it impossible to string wire or use a radio. Carried in baskets, in a sling under the arm, or in a patrol member’s shirtfront, the birds were released under fire, and most succeeded in getting through.

A pigeon toted its message in a tiny capsule fastened to one leg until handlers started attaching a larger capsule, the size of a cigar tube, to the pigeon’s back this could carry a bigger load, perhaps including maps, photos, and detailed reports. Very few messages—less than one percent—were coded, because pigeons were so dependable at reaching their destinations.

By the time the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the US Army had already expanded its communications operation. The Signal Corps recruited experienced wire specialists from the telephone industry, cameramen from the motion picture industry—and pigeon handlers from pigeon fanciers’ associations nationwide.

By February 1941, incoming GIs could report any experience they had handling pigeons and possibly get an assignment in that field. Meanwhile, the military conducted a census of racing pigeon lofts and asked owners to register their lofts for possible military use. Congress debated a law prohibiting hunters from shooting pigeons. On January 9, 1942, the Signal Corps issued a call to civilian pigeon fanciers for young, healthy birds of both genders. The army offered to purchase birds for five dollars each—half the average market price—but hoped to receive them as gifts or on loan. The American Racing Pigeon Union and the International Federation of American Homing Pigeon Fanciers lent their aid to the drive.

The press devoted countless column inches to the effort. The article “Cheer Up, Men, Birds Also May Be Drafted” in the January 6, 1941, Brooklyn Eagle was typical of the light-hearted but informative articles that appeared throughout the country. There were also stories covering patriotic acts of local pigeon organizations and individual fanciers who donated their best birds.

Pigeon clubs responded overwhelmingly to the call. Fanciers contributed the offspring of champions and sometimes even the champions themselves. Some of these prize-winning birds had won races that covered more than 600 miles in a day. Donated birds arrived by the thousands one shipment from New York City consisted of 52,000.

In 1943 the army procured a number of pigeons from Elroy Hanacek in Cleveland, Ohio, and transported them 800 miles to Camp Crowder, Missouri. A few days later, one pigeon, named Blackie, returned home through a raging snowstorm. Hanacek decided to keep that one. At the other end of the spectrum was a bird called African Owl, which was shipped to the front lines. One of the men the GIs called “pigeoneers” commented that African Owl had come along just for the ride—he couldn’t find his way around inside the loft much less over the countryside.

By October 1943 the Signal Corps had enough pigeons to sustain its own breeding program. All homing pigeons share the blue rock pigeon, or rock dove (Columba livia), as their common ancestor, but the modern homing pigeon was the product of generations of careful breeding and training. The pigeon service would further that legacy at breeding bases at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Fort Benning, Georgia, and Camp Crowder, Missouri. The goal was to crossbreed the fastest, strongest animals with the best homing instincts, to produce even faster and stronger animals that could return home from ever greater distances. While a World War I pigeon could fly about 200 miles in one flight, the World War II birds could easily double that distance, and some could travel 600 miles. Over short distances these birds could approach 60 miles per hour, though 35 to 40 miles was a more typical average cruising speed. Flying is strenuous, and on a long flight, a bird could lose 2 or 3 ounces—about a fifth of its 13 to 15 ounces of body weight. For this reason, younger birds, one to four years old, were used.

Training a reliable messenger took about eight weeks from the time a bird hatched. The chick was taken from the nest at the age of about four weeks and placed in a mobile loft. For the next two to three weeks, the loft was moved daily. The bird flew short flights morning, noon, and evening for several days so it could memorize its aerial bearings. By the eighth week, when the bird had built enough stamina to fly for an hour, it was trained to fly 50 to 60 miles, and then farther. Then it was considered ready to carry messages in combat.

At the front, handlers used a few tricks to push the pigeons to make speedier flights. One was to withhold food until they returned. Hunger proved to be a powerful motivator, but jealousy and sex were even better. When a male pigeon saw his mate with another male that was introduced into the loft shortly before he left on a flight, his return was guaranteed to be faster.

Housing for pigeons at the front consisted of quarter-ton mobile combat lofts that could be moved quickly, usually by a Jeep. Air bases and less mobile operations used larger trailer lofts like those used by civilian pigeon-keepers.

The pigeon service was an instant success. The British Royal Air Force determined that one in every seven of its crewmen who were rescued after being forced down at sea owed his life to a message sent by pigeon. Hearing this evidence, the US Army Air Forces expanded their pigeon communication capability. For certain operations, pigeons were standard aboard American bombers.

As the war progressed, the army decided it needed to utilize pigeon communication more in its airborne operations. It had a special vest developed—a sling-like contraption, made by a brassiere company—that enabled a paratrooper to carry a pigeon on his chest or side. On the ground, the paratrooper could adjust the vest to carry the pigeon on his back. The first paratrooper pigeon was a male named Thunderbird. He also was the first pigeon to make 10 jumps from a plane, and he received a pair of miniature wings from Colonel James Coutts at the Fort Benning parachute school.

Later, the army developed a special cage and parachute for dropping pigeons from aircraft to supply isolated troops with a means of communication. The device was also used to drop thousands of pigeons over the countryside during the June 1944 Normandy Invasion. French civilians were asked to send back detailed information about German installations and troop movements.

B-17 bomber crews found that, although they had to wear oxygen masks and heated suits at 20,000 feet, pigeons needed no special equipment. Even at 35,000 feet, with the temperature at 45 degrees below zero, the birds just sat there, eyes half shut, feathers fluffed against the cold. Special drop boxes had been designed to protect the bird’s wings from being ripped off when they were released from an airplane and entered the slipstream. They opened at a predetermined altitude. But pigeon handlers soon learned the pigeons could be released from high altitudes at speeds of 375 mph with no more protection than an ordinary paper grocery bag. A bag was slit down the side and the pigeon put in headfirst, with the bag neatly folded around it. A handler held the bag so it looked, as one observer put it, like “a couple of pounds of pork chops fresh from the butcher” and dropped it into the slipstream. Soon the bag fluttered open and the bird emerged, spreading its wings and spiraling down to a more comfortable altitude before flying for home.

One problem with pigeons in combat zones was that a constant supply of new birds had to be available to replace old ones. Once a pigeon loft at the front had been moved two or three times, the birds became confused. A pigeon might return to one of the previous locations before finally finding its way to the current one, delaying delivery of its message. So, veteran birds were retired and used for breeding.

Some pigeons ended up POWs—at least temporarily. In the winter of 1944, the operatically named Lucia di Lammermoor was carried to a forward position. Released with important information, she got delayed in flight. That night she returned with a new message:

To the American Troops: Herewith we return a pigeon to you. We have enough to eat. —The German Troops

Other pigeons went missing in action permanently, lost to hawks, severe weather, or power lines, or scared away by exploding artillery and shrapnel. Some German and Japanese soldiers were issued shotguns expressly to shoot down carrier pigeons.

“Friendly” fire claimed its share of birds. In Italy in June 1944, 92 of Fifth Army Corporal Jimmy Ginnell’s birds were flying high and fast while he cleaned out their loft. Suddenly, 12 enemy aircraft came overhead and American anti-aircraft fire filled the sky. “I saw 8 to 10 of my birds get hit in the air by fragments, then spiral and zigzag earthward like sheets of paper…,” Ginnell reported. “Only 42 pigeons returned when the show was over. A few wounded ones straggled in the next morning. It was a sad occasion when I buried those pigeons side by side, like good soldiers they had been. Later I patched up the wounded ones that got in.”

Dark-feathered Blackie Harrington was assigned to a unit on Guadalcanal near a place known as the Catcher’s Mitt because so many bombs fell there. The 164th Infantry Division sent Blackie to headquarters with a message detailing the position of 300 Japanese troops. On the way, Blackie was hit by shrapnel and fell into a thicket, but was able to take off again. He delivered his message, even though part of his neck and chest had been blown away. When he was given a drink, water dribbled out of his chest, and placed on his feet, he stumbled dizzily. It took numerous stitches to close his wounds. He was awarded a medal by Major General Alexander M. Patch, Jr., and treated to a photo session by the army press corps. Blackie spent the rest of his days breeding with Madame Murphy and other females.

The most celebrated pigeon of World War II was the blue-checked GI Joe. On October 18, 1943, an American infantry division called for heavy aerial bombardment on German-occupied Colvi Vecchia, Italy. When the Germans retreated unexpectedly, the British 56th Infantry Brigade moved into town unwittingly minutes before the scheduled bombing. Radio attempts failed to get word through to cancel the attack. With time running out, GI Joe was sent with the vital message to abort the bombing. He made the 20-mile trip in 20 minutes and arrived just as bombers from Allied Support Command were about to lift off. “If he had been five minutes later,” one soldier said, “the story might have been different.” GI Joe was awarded the Dickin Medal for Gallantry by the lord mayor of London, the highest award given to an animal by the British. He was the only American pigeon so honored.

The pigeon service continued to grow through the war. At its peak it mustered 150 officers, 3,000 enlisted men, and 54,000 pigeons. Although its personnel were only one third of one percent of the Army Signal Corps, it provided vital and outstanding service. With ranks filled by some of the foremost pigeon fanciers and trainers in the United States, the service sent an estimated 30,000 messages via pigeon overseas, and an astounding 96 percent reached their destinations. The GIs who depended on those messages knew well the value of the pigeons. “Our men gave first consideration to the birds,” reported Lieutenant Charles A. Koestar. “In Africa, if there was but one cup of water available, the birds drank before the men. That’s the way it works.”

As communications technology advanced after the war, the pigeon service became obsolete and was disbanded in 1957. Most birds were sold at auction, but about two dozen celebrated pigeons were donated to zoos around the country. After their deaths, many of these were returned to the army, which preserved them and put them on display in military museums in memory of their accomplishments and the many lives they saved.

Pigeons had played a vital role in combat zones around the world, but few discussions of America’s efforts in World War II include any mention of them. Of course, the same could be said about most American people who served in the war. As pigeoneer Corporal Oliver Wendell Levi said of the pigeons, “No doubt some of the best of their work has been overlooked…as in the many individual feats of our soldiers….”

All photos courtesy of the National Archives.

Joe Razes of Columbia, Maryland, reports he is struggling with a powerful urge to buy some pigeons of his own. This article originally appeared in the August 2007 issue of America in WWII. Find out how to order a copy of this issue here. To get more articles like this one, subscribe to America in WWII magazine.


America's Kaiser: How a pigeon served in two World Wars

Souvenirs from battlefields the world over can be found in our Division of Political and Military History. Unique among them is a mounted German pigeon. His name is Kaiser, and his story is unique in the annals of military homing pigeon history. He would become one of the longest-held prisoners of war in American history and one of the longest-living pigeons ever bred in captivity. But how did a German war bird come to "live" at the National Museum of American History?

After he died in 1949, Kaiser's remains came to the Smithsonian. He's not the only military pigeon in our collection.

Kaiser's story begins in Koblenz, Germany, in the first week of February 1917. There, in Hans Zimmerman’s loft, a young pigeon (or "squeaker") hatched. When he was just five days old, a small aluminum identification band was placed on his left leg, bearing the Imperial German crown and marked 17-0350-47 (17 indicated the year of birth). After six weeks, Zimmerman turned this young pigeon over to representatives of the Imperial German Army.

In the Great War, pigeons proved essential in trench warfare. Massed artillery fire caused more casualties than any other weapon, and communication between the forces in the trenches and those in the rear areas was essential to avoiding friendly casualties. Artillery fire could cut communication wires and prevent human runners from bringing messages to the rear echelons, but homing pigeons were a low-technology solution, operating swiftly despite bombardments, dust, smoke, and bad weather.

After months of training as a homing pigeon, the bird that would one day be known as "Kaiser" entered frontline service and began flying messages for Kaiser Wilhelm II's German troops in Northern France. In April 1917, just as Kaiser entered the German Army, the United States declared war on Germany.

Shortly after entering the war, the U.S. Army Signal Corps decided it too needed a force of homing pigeons. By March 1918, the Signal Corps' Pigeon Service commenced operations in France. When General John J. Pershing and the American Expeditionary Forces launched the massive Meuse-Argonne Offensive on September 26, 442 American pigeons served the doughboys advancing against the German lines.

During the fighting in October, American troops captured German prisoners and equipment—including pigeons. Men of the 28th Infantry Division, fighting in the Argonne Forest, captured a German trench line. Among the enemy equipment the Americans seized was a German pigeon basket with 10 pigeons, including young Kaiser.

When the war ended less than a month later on November 11, 1918, Kaiser remained confined to a pigeon loft with his captured colleagues, his fate undetermined.

Capturing pigeons, in addition to other equipment, was not uncommon. This image is from the U.S. National Archives.

In December, the Signal Corps decided to bring home distinguished American pigeons together with captured German birds for public relations and morale purposes. On July 17, 1919, Kaiser and 21 other captured German birds arrived in the United States aboard the transport ship USS F.J. Luckenbach. Once in America, Kaiser was paraded with other captured birds and used for recruiting purposes in 1919 before settling in at the Signal Corps Pigeon Center in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey.

In this image from the U.S. National Archives, captured German war pigeons are on parade with military personnel.

Although still a prisoner of war, Kaiser found life comfortable. In addition to free room and board, he received the name "Kaiser" from his American captors and found a mate. Kaiser became a breeding bird and began supplying squeakers for the U.S. Army. By the 1930s, Kaiser was the last surviving captured German pigeon in American custody and, despite his age, his offspring proved champion racers.

In this photo from the U.S. National Archives, "men with previous service" and "pigeon knowledge" are encouraged to learn to fly pigeons for the pigeon section of the Signal Corps.

After American entry into World War II, Kaiser's offspring headed to war in Europe and the Pacific, while their father moved to Camp Crowder, Missouri, home to the U.S. Army's Pigeon Breeding and Training Center. By 1945, Kaiser had sired over 75 birds for the army, living in his own special white loft with his latest mate, Lady Belle. As a special concession for his age, the army equipped the loft with an electric heater to make cold nights cozier for Kaiser and Lady Belle.

Postwar, the army shipped Kaiser back to Fort Monmouth to live out his semi-retirement from active service. On February 27, 1948, the army celebrated Kaiser's 31st birthday. The children at the fort's nursery school held a birthday party for Kaiser and made him the guest of honor.

He was given membership in the American Legion's First Retread Post No. 667 in Los Angeles, California, in August 1948, on account of his service in two wars. The group created a special gold band bearing the organization's crest and engraved with "Kaiser" and "1st Retread 667" which the army placed on Kaiser's right leg.

The bands on Kaiser's legs include one from the American Legion Post No. 667.

Kaiser came to Washington, D.C., to celebrate the inauguration of President Harry Truman on January 20, 1949, joined by hero pigeons G.I. Joe and Jungle Joe as part of the Signal Corps' exhibition.

On Halloween night 1949, Kaiser passed away at Fort Monmouth. He outlived both his namesake Kaiser Wilhelm and every other homing pigeon that served in World War I. His bloodline provided the U.S. Army with countless homing pigeons in World War II. The progeny of his great-great-great-great grandchildren, sold to the public when the army disestablished the pigeon service in 1957, remain in lofts across the United States, undoubtedly still producing racing champions.

As for Kaiser himself, the Signal Corps arranged for the Smithsonian Institution to receive the old pigeon's remains after his death, for mounting and display. Since arriving at the museum in 1950, Kaiser has found himself in good company with three other hero pigeons: Global Girl and Anzio Boy of World War II fame, and the little British pigeon Cher Ami, a fellow veteran of the fighting in the Meuse-Argonne.

In this photo from the U.S. Army, a bird identified as Kaiser perches on a post.

Frank Blazich Jr. is a curator in the Division of Armed Forces History. He has also blogged about Vietnam combat photography and Senator John McCain's service. Learn more about how animals served in World War I, including slugs.


Pigeon II AM-374 - History

By G. Paul Garson

Battlefield communications are often a matter of life and death to individual soldiers and serve to determine not only the outcome of battles but entire wars. Lowly pigeons have played an intrinsic part in world conflicts, filling the gap when modern technology failed, but their story has literally remained, in great part, unsung.

In the millennia prior to the advent of the telegraph, radio, and telephone, the transmission of information—military, economic, and civilian—relied on horse-mounted or fleet-footed human couriers (such as Phidippides, the Greek courier who ran 26 miles from Marathon to Athens, then died while proclaiming victory over the Persians in 490 bc), but a faster method was needed.

In the 5th century bc, ancient Persia and Syria developed an advanced network of messenger pigeons for their communications. The Romans also relied on trained pigeons (including those announcing the ancient Olympics) and thus the release of white doves seen today at the modern Games.

In more recent times, beginning in 1850, the famous news agency Reuters relied on 45 birds to transmit the latest news and stock prices between Germany and Belgium, finding them more reliable than the new telegraph and faster than the railway.

British soldiers release a pigeon with a message capsule attached to its leg, August 1940. Thought to be more secure than radio or telephone communications, the birds could deliver written messages quickly, but sometimes were captured or shot down by the enemy.

After using the birds extensively during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, by 1872 Germany had established a pigeon messenger network headquartered in Berlin. Russia implemented its system in 1874, and the Italians incorporated pigeons into their military in 1878.

By 1890 Canada relied in part on pigeons for civilian communications, with the U.S. Signal Corps establishing a “loft” in Key West, Florida, around the same time. The United States also often relied on pigeons prior to the laying of the transatlantic cable. France led the way in acclimating pigeons to naval gunfire, soon employing the birds on its warships by the end of the 19th century, with the British following suit.

The Germans called their courier birds Brief Taube (literally “letter pigeon”) while the French, Italians, and Portuguese called them “Messenger Pigeons.” The Belgians called their winged servants “pigeon voyageurs,” the English preferring the term “homers” because of their uncanny ability to find their way home, often from great distances.

All such “messenger pigeons” traced their lineage to the Columba livia, commonly known as the Blue Rock Pigeon or Rock Dove, although they were the product of much selective breeding and training. They should not be confused with the native North American “passenger pigeon” that numbered 3 to 5 billion and which, 300 years after European arrival in the New World, had been hunted to extinction by the outbreak of World War I in 1914.

A feathered drone? This pigeon was trained to fly over enemy lines with an aerial reconnaissance camera to snap images before returning home with the intelligence.

The use of trained birds continued in both World War I and World War II when normal lines of communication were unavailable to military forces or clandestine groups. Their importance to the war effort is evidenced by the U.S. Army Signal Corps establishment of a “pigeons service” in 1917, the motivation supplied by the General of the Armies, John “Blackjack” Pershing.

The pigeons carried small messages initially in tubes attached to their feet but larger documents were later transported via a cigar-shaped tube attached to their backs. Most often, because of the accuracy of the pigeon’s skill in finding its correct destination and the difficulty in intercepting them, the messages were not even encoded, although the birds flew as far as 200 miles and often through hostile territory, including poison gas attacks during World War I.

Due to attrition, estimates of messenger pigeon survival rates on some World War I missions were as little as 10 percent, although, all told, 100,000 were pressed into service, achieving an overall success rate of 95 percent. They were also carried on ships so that in the event of a sinking by enemy submarines, the pigeons could be released to carry the location of the sinking to rescuers.

A bird called Cher Ami (“Dear Friend”) delivered a dozen vital messages at Verdun and was thus awarded the famous French Croix de Guerre. Later she delivered a message that saved the lives of many soldiers in the “Lost Battalion” of the U.S. 77th Division. Though shot in the chest and having lost most of one leg, the bird delivered its message (“We are along the road parallel to 276.4. Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heaven’s sake, stop it.”). After she died in 1919, her body was stuffed and mounted, sent to the United States, and put on display at the Smithsonian Institution.

Following the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, and its forces reaching the Ukrainian city of Kiev, SS police authorities, using the rationale of communication with the enemy, rounded up all the area’s several hundred pigeon keepers and had them executed along with their birds.

Shortly after U.S. entry into World War II, new recruits were culled for pigeon experts, while civilian pigeon fanciers were asked to either sell or “volunteer” their birds. When a general call went out on January 9, 1942, it resulted in enthusiastic support, one shipment from New York City consisting of some 52,000 birds.

Joining the war effort was the American Racing Pigeon Union and the International Federation of American Homing Pigeon Fanciers. Many prize-winning and very valuable racing birds were turned over to the U.S. Signal Corps.

The department was eventually manned by 150 officers and 3,000 enlisted personnel, many of them pigeon experts in civilian life. The soldiers responsible for their care and training were dubbed “pigeoneers.” Credited with bringing the American messenger pigeon up to modern military speed was Colonel Clifford A. Poutre, Chief Pigeoneer of the U.S. Army Signal Corps Pigeon Service (1936-1943). Colonel Poutre rejected the pattern of training by starvation used in World War I to one focused on kindness. His pigeons responded with significant improvements in speed, accuracy, and performance.

Pigeon breeding and training bases were set up in Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey, and Texas. The search was on for the fastest birds for the job at hand, the new crop of birds doubling the World War I distance, often traveling 400, sometimes 600, miles to accomplish their mission, and at times reaching 60 mph in short sprints. While some 50,000 birds were employed in military service during World War II, half that of World War I because of advances in electronic communication, they still played a significant role.

In the late 1930s, prior to World War II, Lieutenant Claire Lee Chennault (of “Flying Tigers” fame) brought with him to China several hundred messenger pigeons along with his group of intrepid volunteer American flyers and planes in aid of China’s battle against the Japanese. At war’s end he would leave them behind, the birds remanded into the Chinese military and the foundation for that country’s still active military messenger pigeon program.

Additionally, many a British Royal Air Force crewman owed his life to a pigeon as one in every seven who had crashed landed or parachuted into the sea was rescued, thanks to a message delivered by one of the birds, which were often carried as standard passengers on English bombers.

German soldiers place a pigeon in a wicker cage carried by the dog for transport to a new location. Both sides in the war effectively employed birds to deliver messages.

The U.S. Army Air Forces followed suit on some missions. It was soon learned that the birds could withstand temperatures of -35 degrees and could be dropped from a plane at 375 mph without injury. In addition, a special pigeon-carrying sling was adopted by airborne troops that, once on the ground, converted into a backpack.

Moreover, thousands of specially constructed carriers were parachuted into France during the Normandy D-Day invasion with instructions requesting that their French finders send back intelligence about German defenses.

In The Longest Day, author Cornelius Ryan noted, “Correspondents on Juno [Beach] had no communications until Ronald Clark of United Press came ashore with two baskets of carrier pigeons. The correspondents quickly wrote brief stories, placed them in the plastic capsules attached to the pigeons’ legs, and released the birds.

During World War II, the famous behavioral scientist B.F. Skinner studied the intelligence and trainability of pigeons in his Harvard laboratory, but his findings (birds could be used as suicide bombers) were not accepted.

“Unfortunately, the pigeons were so overloaded that most of them fell back to earth. Some, however, circled overhead for a few moments—and then headed toward the German lines. Charles Lynch of Reuters stood on the beach, waved his fist at the pigeons, and roared ‘Traitors! Damned traitors!’” (This scene was included in the 1962 Hollywood version of the book.)

Said Ryan, “Four pigeons proved loyal. They actually got to the Ministry of Information within a few hours.”

An American pigeon was cited for bravery during World War II when its message was delivered at great speed, thus averting an Allied bombing of 1,000 British troops who had just occupied an Italian town scheduled for attack just five minutes after the bird’s timely and preemptive arrival.

The bird personally received from the Lord Mayor of London the Dickin Medal for Gallantry, Britain’s highest animal award. By the end of the war, some 30,000 messages had been transmitted by pigeon, with an estimated 96 percent success rate.

Enclosed in a wood and canvas crate, two birds are taken aloft in a blimp’s gondola. A number of WAVES serving at air stations throughout the U.S. trained pigeons for “air duty.”

The English effort to utilize messenger pigeons during both world wars is credited to efforts of the British Pigeoneers, Lt. Col. A.H. Osman and Mr. J.W. Logan, Esq. During the war a very sizable fine of 100 pounds Sterling and a six-month prison term awaited any person found in the United Kingdom to have harmed a carrier pigeon.

Both the British and French governments recognized the pigeons’ contributions through the bestowing of medals, and many were heralded in the public press as “heroes.”

The means by which the messenger pigeon travels its course so accurately is attributed to a variety of reasons: that it sees both in color and ultra violet, that it can “read” landmarks such as roadways and intersections, and also that it responds to the electromagnetic field of the earth.

One factor that seems to determine their speed when returning to the home loft is jealousy. The males who mate for life seem to fly faster when they notice a new male has been added to their nesting loft just prior to their departure.

Despite the impression left by their bobbing heads, the motion required to gauge their earthbound position while walking due to their lack of stereoscopic vision, pigeons are quite bright. They are one of only six species, and the only nonmammal, with the ability to recognize itself in a mirror. Tests have also shown that pigeons can distinguish the 26 letters of the English alphabet.

Famous American behavioral scientist B.F. Skinner, known for his work in behavioral conditioning, was contacted during the war by the U.S. Navy seeking a new weapon against the German Navy’s Bismarck-class battleships thus was born Project Pigeon.

It turned out that one of Skinner’s favorite research animals was the pigeon, and thus the idea was born to produce a very small missile divided into three sections, a pigeon encased in each. Projected on a tiny screen was a view of whatever was in front of the missile, the pigeons trained to peck toward the image and thereby working as the guidance system. Skinner was convinced a pigeon-guided missile would work, but apparently no one took him seriously and the plan was scrapped.

The deliberate targeting of messenger pigeons by all combatants was seen as a legitimate means of disrupting enemy communications. Pigeons were machine gunned out of the sky in World War I or fired upon from the trenches by individual soldiers taking potshots.

A paratrooper prepares to release a homing pigeon while on maneuvers during the U.S. Second Army’s Tennessee maneuvers, November 24, 1943.

During World War II, both German and Japanese troops fired on the birds with specially supplied shotguns while natural predators, such as hawks, also took their toll, as did an unlucky intersection with bursts of flak directed at other airborne targets. Both the Germans and British released their own hunting falcons which, however, they found could not distinguish between enemy and friendly pigeons.

Birds occasionally became disoriented, injured, or captured as “POWs.” One World War II report states that a homing pigeon released by its American handlers ended up in German hands during the winter 1944 campaign in Italy. It eventually reappeared at its American loft with its message capsule intact but, once opened, the note read: “To the American Troops: Herewith we return a pigeon to you. We have enough to eat. —The German Troops.”

When the U.S. military disbanded its messenger pigeon operations in 1957, Colonel Poutre, then 103, was honored for his contributions by his release of the last of the country’s military homing pigeons.

Food shortages during and after World War II’s end brought about the disappearance of untold numbers of pigeons from the streets and plazas of Europe however, their numbers have long since recovered and flourished.

Moreover the interest in homing and racing pigeons has also skyrocketed. In early 2011 during an auction in Kermt, Belgium, a rare Belgian racing pigeon brought a record-breaking bid of 156,000 Euros ($208,000), the bird going to China, where the sport has become a phenomenon with some 30,000,000 registered racing pigeons.

In late 2010 China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) initiated a program to train 10,000 pigeons for a “reserve pigeon army” that would provide back-up in case its high-tech electronic communications systems were put out of action. While history seems to be repeating itself, some wags would warn that the United States is now facing a “Messenger Pigeon Gap.”

Comments

So much information! My Father Robert Leslie Homrig was in the 280th Signal Pigeon Corp with Patton’s Army in 1944 to 1945 in France, Belgium, they did change the numbers of the Signal Pigeon Corp!
Would love to know about his unit!
BD 7/10/1922 passed away 4/20/2009 in San Francisco, CA


Contents

As of April 2020, GM produces cars, trucks, and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) of multiple different sizes on 19 different platforms: 7 of which are inherently RWD, with the rest being FWD. All but 5 of these have four-wheel drive variants as well.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro

2019 Chevrolet Blazer

  • 2017–present Cadillac XT5
  • 2017–present GMC Acadia
  • 2018 - 2020 Holden Acadia
  • 2018–present Buick Enclave
  • 2018–present Chevrolet Traverse
  • 2019–present Chevrolet Blazer
  • 2020–present Cadillac XT6

2020 Chevrolet Corvette

  • 2015–present Chevrolet Cruze
  • 2015–present Opel Astra
  • 2015–present Holden Astra
  • 2015–present Vauxhall Astra
  • 2015–present Buick Envision
  • 2015–present Buick Verano
  • 2016 - 2019 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2016 - 2019 Buick Velite 5
  • 2018–present Chevrolet Equinox
  • 2018–present GMC Terrain
  • 2019–present Chevrolet Orlando

2017 Vauxhall Insignia

  • 2016–present Chevrolet Malibu
  • 2017 - 2020 Holden Commodore
  • 2017–present Opel Insignia
  • 2017–present Vauxhall Insignia
  • 2017–present Buick Regal
  • 2015–present Opel Karl
  • 2015–present Vauxhall Viva
  • 2016–present Chevrolet Spark
  • 2016 - 2018 Holden Spark
  • 2019–present VinFast Fadil*
  • 2021–present Chevrolet Trax
  • 2010 - 2015 Chevrolet Spark
  • 2010 - 2015 Holden Barina Spark
  • 2010 - 2014 Chevrolet Sail
  • 2011–present Chevrolet Sonic
  • 2011–present Chevrolet Cobalt
  • 2011 - 2018 Holden Barina
  • 2012–present Chevrolet Spin
  • 2013 - 2020 Chevrolet Trax
  • 2013 - 2019 Opel Mokka
  • 2013–present Buick Encore
  • 2013 - 2019 Chevrolet Prisma
  • 2013 - 2019 Chevrolet Onix
  • 2016–present Ravon R2

2019 Chevrolet Tracker

  • 2016–present Chevrolet Sail
  • 2018–present Buick Excelle
  • 2019–present Chevrolet Tracker
  • 2019–present Chevrolet Onix
  • 2020–present Buick Encore

Also called Global Emerging Markets.

2011 Chevrolet Montana

  • 1983 - 1992 Vauxhall Nova
  • 1983 - 2000 Opel Corsa
  • 1993 - 2000 Vauxhall Corsa
  • 1993 - 2000 Opel Vita
  • 1993 - 2000 Holden Barina
  • 1993 - 2001 Chevrolet Corsa
  • 1994 - 2000 Opel Tigra
  • 1994 - 2012 Chevrolet Chevy
  • 2000 - 2015 Chevrolet Celta
  • 2001 - 2004 Buick Sail
  • 2002 - 2016 Chevrolet Classic
  • 2003–present Chevrolet Montana
  • 2005 - 2010 Chevrolet Sail
  • 2006 - 2012 Chevrolet Prisma
  • 2009 - 2016 Chevrolet Agile

It is GM's longest-running platform that is currently in use.

  • 2013–present Chevrolet Colorado
  • 2012–present Holden Colorado
  • 2012–present Isuzu D-Max
  • 2012–present Chevrolet D-Max
  • 2012–present Chevrolet S10

2019 Chevrolet SIlverado

  • 2019–present Chevrolet Silverado
  • 2019–present GMC Sierra
  • 2019–present GMC Sierra 2500
  • 2019–present Chevrolet Silverado 2500
  • 2019–present GMC Sierra 3500
  • 2019–present Chevrolet SIlverado 3500
  • 2020–present Chevrolet Tahoe
  • 2020–present GMC Yukon
  • 2020–present Chevrolet Suburban
  • 2020–present Cadillac Escalade
  • 2020–present Cadillac Escalade ESV
  • 2020–present GMC Yukon XL

Also used for the 2015 Buick Avenir concept car. [13]

This platform remains in use solely for the GL8, which is sold only in China. It is the only one of GM's Latin-letter platforms still in use.

Also called the SGM258 platform. [15]

Slated to underpin all FWD GM cars plus subcompact crossovers by 2025. [16]

The GM nomenclature works as follows:
1st position is the platform:

  • A – Alpha
  • C – Chi
  • D – Delta
  • G – Gamma
  • E – Epsilon
  • P – Premium Epsilon (XTS)
  • Y – Corvette (Y-body)
  • L – Lambda
  • K – Trucks


2nd position is the platform generation.
3rd position is the body style:

  • A – Convertible
  • B – Coupe
  • S – Sedan
  • J – Hatchback
  • K – CUV?
  • L – Long Wheel Base Sedan
  • M – Minispace
  • U – Crossover/CUV (5 seater)
  • Y – SUV/Truck (7 seater)


4th position is the Brand:

  • B – Buick
  • C – Chevrolet
  • G – GMC
  • H – Holden
  • L – Cadillac
  • M – Citroën (partnership between GM & PSA)
  • O – Opel/Vauxhall


5th position is an optional qualifier: for example the Sales market area:


For example, E2UB-N is the Crossover Buick for the North-American market in the second generation of the Epsilon platform.

As of April 2020 [update] , GM has produced cars, trucks, and SUVs of multiple different sizes on 107 different platforms: 55 of these with Latin letters, 12 with English spellings of Greek letters, and 40 others. Also, 64 of these platforms are inherently RWD, while the rest are primarily FWD. Furthermore, 50 of these have four-wheel drive variants as well.

Latin-letter platforms Edit

1957 Chevrolet Task Force

  • 1923 - 1926 Chevrolet Superior
  • 1923 - 1931 GM Oakland
  • 1933 - 1942 Chevrolet Master
  • 1936 - 1939 Oldsmobile Series F
  • 1940 - 1948 Oldsmobile Series 60
  • 1941 - 1952 Chevrolet Deluxe
  • 1941 - 1947 Chevrolet A/K Series
  • 1941 - 1947 GMC A/K Series
  • 1946 - 1948 Chevrolet Stylemaster
  • 1946 - 1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster
  • 1947 - 1955 Chevrolet Advance Design
  • 1947 - 1955 GMC New Design
  • 1949 - 1950 Oldsmobile 88
  • 1949 - 1949 Oldsmobile 76
  • 1949 - 1957 Pontiac Chieftain
  • 1950 - 1958 Pontiac Catalina
  • 1954 - 1957 Pontiac Star Chief
  • 1955 - 1959 Chevrolet Task Force Series
  • 1955 - 1959 GMC Blue Chip Series
  • 1962 - 1969 GM Beaumont
  • 1964 - 1967 Buick Sport Wagon
  • 1964 - 1967 Buick Skylark
  • 1964 - 1969 Buick Special
  • 1964 - 1967 Chevrolet Chevelle
  • 1964 - 1967 Chevrolet El Camino
  • 1964 - 1967 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser
  • 1964 - 1967 Oldsmobile 442
  • 1964 - 1967 Oldsmobile Cutlass
  • 1964 - 1967 Pontiac GTO
  • 1964 - 1967 Pontiac Tempest
  • 1964 - 1967 Pontiac LeMans
  • 1965 - 1967 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme
  • 1968 - 1972 Buick Skylark
  • 1968 - 1972 Buick Sport Wagon
  • 1968 - 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle
  • 1968 - 1972 Chevrolet El Camino
  • 1968 - 1972 Oldsmobile 442
  • 1968 - 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass
  • 1968 - 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme
  • 1968 - 1972 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser
  • 1968 - 1972 Pontiac GTO
  • 1968 - 1970 Pontiac Tempest
  • 1968 - 1972 Pontiac LeMans
  • 1970 - 1972 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
  • 1971 - 1972 GMC Sprint
  • 1973 - 1977 Buick Century
  • 1973 - 1977 Buick Regal
  • 1973 - 1977 Chevrolet Chevelle
  • 1973 - 1977 Chevrolet El Camino
  • 1973 - 1977 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
  • 1973 - 1977 GMC Sprint
  • 1973 - 1977 Oldsmobile 442
  • 1973 - 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass
  • 1973 - 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme
  • 1973 - 1975 Pontiac Grand Am
  • 1973 - 1977 Pontiac Grand Prix
  • 1973 - 1977 Pontiac LeMans
  • 1977 - 1977 Pontiac Can Am

1980 Chevrolet Malibu

  • 1978 - 1980 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
  • 1978 - 1981 GMC Caballero
  • 1978 - 1981 Buick Century
  • 1978 - 1981 Buick Regal
  • 1978 - 1981 Chevrolet El Camino
  • 1978 - 1981 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1978 - 1981 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme
  • 1978 - 1981 Oldsmobile Cutlass
  • 1978 - 1981 Pontiac LeMans
  • 1978 - 1981 Pontiac Grand Prix
  • 1978 - 1981 Pontiac Grand Am

1996 Oldsmobile Ciera

  • 1982 - 1990 Chevrolet Celebrity
  • 1982 - 1991 Pontiac 6000
  • 1981 - 1995 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera
  • 1996 - 1996 Oldsmobile Ciera
  • 1982 - 1996 Buick Century
  • 1926 - 1935 Buick Master Six
  • 1926 - 1935 Oldsmobile Six
  • 1929 - 1930 GM Marquette
  • 1929 - 1931 GM Viking
  • 1936 - 1958 Buick Century
  • 1936 - 1958 Buick Special
  • 1936 - 1939 Oldsmobile Series L
  • 1936 - 1938 Cadillac Series 60
  • 1936 - 1940 GM LaSalle
  • 1939 - 1951 Cadillac Series 61
  • 1939 - 1939 Oldsmobile Series G
  • 1940 - 1940 Oldsmobile Series 70
  • 1940 - 1940 Pontiac Deluxe
  • 1941 - 1950 Oldsmobile Series 76
  • 1941 - 1948 Oldsmobile Series 78
  • 1941 - 1942 Cadillac Series 63
  • 1942 - 1951 Pontiac Streamliner
  • 1949 - 1968 Oldsmobile 88
  • 1959 - 1972 Chevrolet Biscayne
  • 1959 - 1981 Pontiac Catalina
  • 1959 - 1981 Chevrolet Bel Air
  • 1959 - 1981 Pontiac Bonneville
  • 1959 - 1985 Chevrolet Impala
  • 1959 - 1986 Pontiac Parisienne
  • 1959 - 1962 Buick Invicta
  • 1959 - 1966 Pontiac Star Chief
  • 1959 - 1985 Buick LeSabre
  • 1959 - 1961 Chevrolet Nomad
  • 1959 - 1961 Chevrolet Parkwood
  • 1959 - 1961 Chevrolet Brookwood
  • 1960 - 1961 Pontiac Ventura
  • 1961 - 1966 Oldsmobile Starfire
  • 1962 - 1968 Pontiac Grand Prix
  • 1963 - 1970 Buick Wildcat
  • 1964 - 1965 Oldsmobile Jetstar
  • 1966 - 1990 Chevrolet Caprice
  • 1966 - 1966 Pontiac 2+2
  • 1967 - 1970 Pontiac Executive
  • 1969 - 1970 Chevrolet Kingswood
  • 1970 - 1970 Buick Estate
  • 1971 - 1975 Pontiac Grand Ville
  • 1971 - 1973 Buick Centurion
  • 1977 - 1978 Buick Riviera

1993 Buick Roadmaster

  • 1936 - 1936 Cadillac Series 80
  • 1936 - 1937 Cadillac Series 70
  • 1936 - 1958 Buick Roadmaster
  • 1937 - 1938 Cadillac Series 65
  • 1938 - 1976 Cadillac Sixty Special
  • 1940 - 1964 Cadillac Series 62
  • 1940 - 1958 Buick Super
  • 1940 - 1940 LaSalle Series 52
  • 1940 - 1941 Pontiac Torpedo
  • 1941 - 1984 Oldsmobile 98
  • 1948 - 1950 Cadillac Series 61
  • 1958 - 1958 Buick Limited
  • 1959 - 1966 Cadillac Eldorado
  • 1959 - 1984 Cadillac Deville
  • 1959 - 1984 Buick Electra
  • 1965 - 1976 Cadillac Calais
  • 1971 - 1976 Buick Estate
  • 1971 - 1976 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser
  • 1971 - 1976 Pontiac Safari
  • 1971 - 1976 Pontiac Grand Safari
  • 1971 - 1972 Chevrolet Townsman
  • 1971 - 1972 Chevrolet Kingswood
  • 1971 - 1972 Chevrolet Brookwood
  • 1977 - 1984 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham

1989 Oldsmobile Touring Sedan

  • 1985 - 1987 Cadillac Series 75
  • 1985 - 1992 Cadillac Fleetwood
  • 1985 - 1993 Cadillac Deville
  • 1985 - 1990 Buick Electra
  • 1985 - 1996 Oldsmobile 98
  • 1987 - 1993 Oldsmobile Touring Sedan
  • 1987 - 1993 Cadillac Sixty Special
  • 1991 - 1996 Buick Park Avenue

1958 Cadillac Series 75

  • 1936 - 1984 Cadillac Commercial Chassis
  • 1936 - 1937 Cadillac Series 85
  • 1936 - 1940 Cadillac Series 90
  • 1936 - 1942 Buick Limited
  • 1936 - 1976 Cadillac Series 75
  • 1940 - 1940 Cadillac Series 72
  • 1941 - 1942 Cadillac Series 67
  • 1977 - 1984 Cadillac Fleetwood Limousine

1990 Cadillac Brougham

  • 1985 - 1986 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham
  • 1987 - 1992 Cadillac Brougham
  • 1993 - 1996 Cadillac Fleetwood
  • 1985 - 1996 Cadillac Commercial Chassis

1967 Oldsmobile Toronado

  • 1963 - 1993 Buick Riviera
  • 1988 - 1991 Buick Reatta
  • 1967 - 2002 Cadillac Eldorado
  • 1966 - 1992 Oldsmobile Toronado
  • 1968 - 1970 Jetaway 707*

An extended 6-wheel variant of this platform was used for the GMC Motorhome.

1969 Pontiac Firebird

1974 Chevrolet Camaro

1989 Pontiac Firebird

2000 Chevrolet Camaro

  • 1978 - 1987 Buick Regal
  • 1978 - 1987 Chevrolet El Camino
  • 1978 - 1983 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1982 - 1987 GMC Caballero
  • 1978 - 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme
  • 1978 - 1983 Oldsmobile Cutlass
  • 1978 - 1986 Pontiac Bonneville
  • 1978 - 1987 Pontiac Grand Prix
  • 1981 - 1988 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

2003 Pontiac Bonneville

  • 1995 - 1999 Buick Riviera
  • 1995 - 2003 Oldsmobile Aurora
  • 1997 - 2005 Buick Park Avenue
  • 1998 - 2004 Cadillac Seville
  • 2000 - 2005 Buick LeSabre
  • 2000 - 2005 Pontiac Bonneville
  • 2000 - 2005 Cadillac Deville
  • 1971 - 1977 Chevrolet Vega
  • 1973 - 1977 Pontiac Astre
  • 1975 - 1980 Chevrolet Monza
  • 1975 - 1980 Buick Skyhawk
  • 1975 - 1980 Oldsmobile Starfire
  • 1976 - 1980 Pontiac Sunbird

1998 Pontiac Bonneville

  • 1986 - 1999 Buick LeSabre
  • 1986 - 1999 Oldsmobile 88
  • 1987 - 1999 Pontiac Bonneville

1985 Cadillac Cimarron

  • 1981 - 1989 Buick Skyhawk
  • 1981 - 1988 Cadillac Cimarron
  • 1981 - 2005 Chevrolet Cavalier
  • 1981 - 1988 Oldsmobile Firenza
  • 1981 - 1994 Pontiac Sunbird
  • 1982 - 1996 Chevrolet Monza
  • 1982 - 1989 Holden Camira
  • 1982 - 1989 Vauxhall Cavalier
  • 1982 - 1989 Opel Ascona
  • 1983 - 1989 Isuzu Aska*
  • 1990 - 2000 Daewoo Espero
  • 1994 - 2005 Pontiac Sunfire
  • 1995 - 1997 Daewoo Aranos
  • 1998 - 2000 Toyota Cavalier*

1977 Cadillac Seville

1996 Cadillac Deville

1989 Chevrolet Beretta

1991 Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais

2001 Chevrolet Malibu

  • 1997 - 1999 Oldsmobile Cutlass
  • 1997 - 2003 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1999 - 2005 Pontiac Grand Am
  • 1999 - 2004 Oldsmobile Alero
  • 2004 - 2005 Chevrolet Classic

Also called the P-90 and GMX130 platforms.

The only mid-engined platform from GM until that of the 2020 Corvette. [17]

1996 General Motors EV1

Also called the BEV1 platform retroactively since the introduction of the BEV2 platform in 2016.

  • 1985 - 1988 Chevrolet Spectrum
  • 1985 - 1986 Holden Gemini
  • 1985 - 1993 Isuzu Gemini*
  • 1985 - 1989 Isuzu I-Mark*
  • 1985 - 1990 Chevrolet Gemini
  • 1985 - 1989 Pontiac Sunburst
  • 1988 - 1989 Geo Spectrum
  • 1990 - 1993 Isuzu Piazza*
  • 1990 - 1993 Isuzu Impulse*
  • 1990 - 1993 Asüna Sunfire
  • 1990 - 1993 Isuzu Stylus*
  • 1987 - 1992 Toyota Corolla*
  • 1987 - 1992 Toyota Sprinter*
  • 1988 - 2006 Toyota Conquest*
  • 1989 - 1994 Holden Nova
  • 1990 - 1992 Geo Prizm
  • 1991 - 2002 Toyota Corolla*
  • 1991 - 1998 Toyota Sprinter*
  • 1992 - 1997 Geo Prizm
  • 1994 - 1999 Holden Nova

The successor to the S I platform.

The successor to the S II platform.

The successor to the S III platform.

The successor to the S IV platform.

  • 1973 - 1979 Opel Kadett
  • 1974 - 1978 Opel K 180
  • 1974 - 1987 Isuzu Gemini*
  • 1975 - 1984 Holden Gemini
  • 1975 - 1987 Chevrolet Chevette
  • 1975 - 1980 Buick Opel
  • 1976 - 1987 Pontiac Acadian
  • 1977 - 1986 Daewoo Max
  • 1977 - 1989 Daewoo Maepsy
  • 1980 - 1990 Isuzu Piazza*
  • 1980 - 1994 Chevrolet Marajó
  • 1980 - 1990 Isuzu Impulse*
  • 1981 - 1985 Isuzu I-Mark*
  • 1986 - 1990 Holden Piazza
  • 1992 - 1995 GMC Chevette
  • 1979 - 1998 Vauxhall Astra
  • 1979 - 1999 Opel Kadett
  • 1986 - 1994 Daewoo LeMans
  • 1986 - 1991 Vauxhall Belmont
  • 1988 - 1991 Passport Optima
  • 1991 - 1993 Asüna GT
  • 1991 - 1993 Asüna SE
  • 1988 - 1993 Pontiac LeMans
  • 1995 - 2005 Holden Astra
  • 1991 - 2011 Chevrolet Astra
  • 1991 - 2009 Opel Astra
  • 1994 - 2016 Daewoo Cielo
  • 1996 - 2007 Daewoo Nexia
  • 1999 - 2005 Opel Zafira
  • 1999 - 2005 Vauxhall Zafira
  • 2001 - 2012 Chevrolet Zafira

1990 Chevrolet Lumina APV

  • 1996 - 1999 Opel Sintra
  • 1996 - 1999 Vauxhall Sintra
  • 1997 - 2005 Chevrolet Venture
  • 1997 - 2004 Oldsmobile Silhouette
  • 1997 - 1999 Pontiac Trans Sport
  • 1997 - 2004 Chevrolet Trans Sport
  • 1998 - 2004 Pontiac Montana
  • 1999 - 2005 Buick GL8
  • 2001 - 2005 Pontiac Aztek
  • 2002 - 2007 Buick Rendezvous
  • 2004 - 2009 Pontiac Montana
  • 2005 - 2007 Buick Terraza
  • 2005 - 2007 Saturn Relay
  • 2005 - 2009 Chevrolet Uplander
  • 2005 - 2010 Buick GL8
  • 1966 - 1986 Opel Rekord
  • 1966 - 1971 Chevrolet Opala
  • 1966 - 1971 Chevrolet Comodoro
  • 1966 - 1977 Opel Ranger
  • 1967 - 1982 Opel Commodore
  • 1967 - 1982 Chevrolet Commodore
  • 1972 - 1977 Chevrolet Iran
  • 1977 - 1982 Vauxhall Viceroy
  • 1977 - 1982 Daewoo Royale
  • 1977 - 1994 Vauxhall Carlton
  • 1978 - 1986 Opel Monza
  • 1978 - 1994 Opel Senator
  • 1978 - 1987 Vauxhall Royale
  • 1978 - 1987 Chevrolet Senator
  • 1978 - 2007 Holden Commodore
  • 1978 - 2007 Holden Calais
  • 1986 - 2003 Opel Omega
  • 1987 - 1994 Vauxhall Senator
  • 1988 - 2007 Holden Berlina
  • 1990 - 2006 Holden Statesman
  • 1990 - 1992 Lotus Carlton*
  • 1990 - 2006 Holden Caprice
  • 1991 - 1997 Daewoo Prince
  • 1992 - 2007 Chevrolet Omega
  • 1994 - 2003 Vauxhall Omega
  • 1994 - 2003 Cadillac Catera
  • 1997 - 2007 Chevrolet Lumina
  • 1999 - 2006 Buick Royaum
  • 1999 - 2006 Daewoo Statesman
  • 2000 - 2007 Holden Ute
  • 2001 - 2006 Holden Monaro
  • 2001 - 2006 Vauxhall Monaro
  • 2004 - 2006 Pontiac GTO

Also used for the Buick XP2000 concept car.

1991 Cadillac Allanté

1992 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme

  • 1988 - 1996 Buick Regal
  • 1988 - 1997 Oldsmobile Cutass Supreme
  • 1988 - 1997 Pontiac Grand Prix
  • 1990 - 2001 Chevrolet Lumina
  • 1995 - 1999 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

2004 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

  • 1997 - 2004 Buick Regal
  • 1997 - 2005 Buick Century
  • 1997 - 2003 Pontiac Grand Prix
  • 1998 - 2002 Oldsmobile Intrigue
  • 2000 - 2005 Chevrolet Impala
  • 2000 - 2005 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

2007 Pontiac Grand Prix

  • 2004 - 2008 Pontiac Grand Prix
  • 2005 - 2009 Buick LaCrosse
  • 2005 - 2009 Buick Allure
  • 2006 - 2007 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
  • 2006 - 2016 Chevrolet Impala
  • 1962 - 1967 Chevrolet Chevy II
  • 1968 - 1979 Chevrolet Nova
  • 1973 - 1975 Buick Apollo
  • 1975 - 1979 Buick Skylark
  • 1973 - 1979 Oldsmobile Omega
  • 1971 - 1977 Pontiac Ventura
  • 1977 - 1979 Pontiac Phoenix
  • 1980 - 1985 Buick Skylark
  • 1980 - 1985 Chevrolet CItation
  • 1980 - 1984 Oldsmobile Omega
  • 1980 - 1984 Pontiac Phoenix

1962 Oldsmobile Jetfire

  • 1961 - 1963 Buick Special
  • 1961 - 1963 Oldsmobile F-85
  • 1961 - 1963 Pontiac Tempest
  • 1962 - 1963 Oldsmobile Jetfire
  • 1962 - 1963 Buick Skylark
  • 1963 - 1963 Pontiac LeMans

1966 Chevrolet Corvair

Others Edit

  • 2003 - 2007 Saturn Ion
  • 2004 - 2014 Opel Astra
  • 2004 - 2014 Vauxhall Astra
  • 2004 - 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt
  • 2005 - 2011 Chevrolet Astra
  • 2005 - 2006 Pontiac Pursuit
  • 2005 - 2006 Pontiac G4
  • 2005 - 2011 Holden Astra
  • 2005 - 2009 Opel Zafira
  • 2009 - 2014 Chevrolet Zafira
  • 2005 - 2009 Vauxhall Zafira
  • 2006 - 2011 Chevrolet HHR
  • 2007 - 2011 Chevrolet Vectra
  • 2007 - 2010 Pontiac G5
  • 2007 - 2009 Saturn Astra

Also called the GMT 001 platform for the HHR.

  • 2008 - 2016 Chevrolet Cruze
  • 2008 - 2016 Holden Cruze
  • 2008 - 2011 Daewoo Lacetti Premiere
  • 2009 - 2015 Opel Astra
  • 2009 - 2015 Vauxhall Astra
  • 2009 - 2016 Buick Excelle
  • 2010 - 2019 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2010 - 2019 Buick Velite 5
  • 2010 - 2019 Opel Ampera
  • 2010 - 2018 Chevrolet Orlando
  • 2010 - 2019 Vauxhall Ampera
  • 2011 - 2019 Opel Zafira Tourer
  • 2011 - 2019 Vauxhall Zafira Tourer
  • 2012 - 2017 Buick Verano
  • 2013 - 2019 Opel Cascada
  • 2013 - 2018 Baojun 560
  • 2013 - 2016 Cadillac ELR
  • 2013 - 2019 Buick Cascada
  • 2013 - 2019 Vauxhall Cascada
  • 2014 - 2017 Holden Cascada
  • 2002 - 2008 Opel Vectra
  • 2002 - 2008 Vauxhall Vectra
  • 2002 - 2007 Holden Vectra
  • 2002 - 2014 Saab 9-3
  • 2003 - 2008 Opel Signum
  • 2003 - 2008 Vauxhall Signum
  • 2004 - 2012 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 2005 - 2010 Pontiac G6
  • 2005 - 2011 Fiat Croma*
  • 2006 - 2011 Chevrolet Vectra
  • 2006 - 2006 Cadillac BLS
  • 2007 - 2010 Saturn Aura

Also used for the Saab PhoeniX and Opel Signum2 concept cars

  • 2008 - 2017 Opel Insignia
  • 2008 - 2017 Vauxhall Insignia
  • 2008 - 2010 Chevrolet Vectra
  • 2010 - 2016 Buick LaCrosse
  • 2010 - 2016 Buick Allure
  • 2010 - 2015 GM Alpheon
  • 2010 - 2012 Saab 9-5
  • 2011 - 2017 Buick Regal
  • 2012–present SAIC Roewe 950*
  • 2012 - 2019 Cadillac XTS
  • 2012 - 2016 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 2013 - 2016 Holden Malibu
  • 2015 - 2017 Holden Insignia

Also used for the Buick Riviera and Opel GTC concept cars.

  • 1988 - 2002 Chevrolet Vectra
  • 1988 - 1995 Vauxhall Cavalier
  • 1989 - 1997 Opel Calibra
  • 1989 - 1997 Holden Calibra
  • 1989 - 1997 Vauxhall Calibra
  • 1994 - 2002 Holden Vectra
  • 1994 - 1998 Saab 900
  • 1995 - 2002 Vauxhall Vectra
  • 1997 - 2010 Saab 9-5
  • 1998 - 2003 Saab 9-3
  • 2000 - 2005 Saturn LS
  • 2000 - 2005 Saturn LW
  • 2012 - 2017 BAIC Senova D70*
  • 2015 - 2017 BAIC Senova D80*
  • 1989 - 1991 GMC Tracker
  • 1989 - 2016 Chevrolet Tracker
  • 1989 - 1998 Geo Tracker
  • 1989 - 2005 Suzuki Escudo*
  • 1992 - 1993 Asüna Sunrunner
  • 1994 - 1998 Pontiac Sunrunner
  • 1999 - 2004 Suzuki Vitara*
  • 1982 - 2012 Chevrolet S10
  • 1982 - 1991 GMC S15
  • 1991 - 2004 GMC Sonoma
  • 1991 - 1991 GMC Syclone
  • 1996 - 2000 Isuzu Hombre*

Name retroactively applied in 1988 with the introduction of the GMT 400 platform.

1998 Oldsmobile Bravada

  • 1982 - 2005 Chevrolet Blazer
  • 1982 - 2005 GMC Jimmy
  • 1991 - 2001 Oldsmobile Bravada
  • 1991 - 1993 GMC Typhoon
  • 1996 - 2002 Opel Blazer
  • 1998 - 2000 GMC Envoy

Name retroactively applied 1988 with the introduction of the GMT 400 platform.

Also used for the Hummer HX concept car.

Mechanically very similar to the GMT 745 platform.

2010 Great Wall SoCool

  • 2003 - 2012 Chevrolet Colorado
  • 2003 - 2012 Isuzu Rodeo*
  • 2003 - 2008 Holden Rodeo
  • 2003 - 2012 GMC Canyon
  • 2003 - 2010 Great Wall SoCool*
  • 2003 - 2008 Great Wall Pegasus*
  • 2005 - 2008 Isuzu I-series*
  • 2002 - 2009 Chevrolet Trailblazer
  • 2002 - 2009 GMC Envoy
  • 2002 - 2004 Oldsmobile Bravada
  • 2003 - 2008 Isuzu Ascender*
  • 2004 - 2007 Buick Rainier
  • 2005 - 2009 Saab 9-7X

2007 Isuzu Ascender EXT

  • 2002 - 2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer EXT
  • 2002 - 2006 GMC Envoy XL
  • 2003 - 2007 Isuzu Ascender EXT

1995 Chevrolet Suburban

1992 Chevrolet K5 Blazer

2002 Chevrolet Chassis Cab

1992 Chevrolet Chassis Cab

1997 Chevrolet Kodiak

The last solely medium-duty GM truck platform.

1999 Chevrolet Express

Mechanically very similar to the GMT 345 platform.

2002 Chevrolet Avalanche

2005 Cadillac Escalade EXT

  • 2000 - 2006 Chevrolet Tahoe
  • 2000 - 2006 GMC Yukon
  • 2002 - 2009 Hummer H2
  • 2002 - 2006 Cadillac Escalade
  • 2000 - 2006 GMC Yukon XL
  • 2000 - 2006 Chevrolet Suburban
  • 2000 - 2006 Cadillac Escalade ESV

2005 Chevrolet Silverado 2500

  • 1999 - 2006 GMC Sierra 2500
  • 1999 - 2006 Chevrolet Silverado 2500
  • 1999 - 2006 GMC Sierra 3500
  • 1999 - 2006 Chevrolet SIlverado 3500

2012 Chevrolet Silverado 3500

  • 2007 - 2014 GMC Sierra 2500
  • 2007 - 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 2500
  • 2007 - 2014 GMC Sierra 3500
  • 2007 - 2014 Chevrolet SIlverado 3500
  • 2007 - 2014 Chevrolet Tahoe
  • 2007 - 2014 Cadillac Escalade
  • 2007 - 2014 GMC Yukon

2007 Chevrolet Suburban

  • 2007 - 2014 Chevrolet Suburban
  • 2007 - 2014 Cadillac Escalade ESV
  • 2007 - 2014 GMC Yukon XL

2007 Chevrolet Avalanche

2016 Cadillac Escalade ESV

  • 2014 - 2020 GMC Sierra
  • 2014 - 2020 Chevrolet Silverado
  • 2015 - 2020 Chevrolet Tahoe
  • 2015 - 2020 Chevrolet Suburban
  • 2015 - 2020 Cadillac Escalade
  • 2015 - 2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV
  • 2015 - 2020 GMC Yukon
  • 2015 - 2020 GMC Yukon XL
  • 2006 - 2010 Pontiac Solstice
  • 2006 - 2009 Saturn Sky
  • 2007 - 2009 Daewoo G2X
  • 2007 - 2010 Opel GT
  • 2008 - 2009 Breckland Beira*
  • 2012–present Tauro V8 Spider*

Also used for the Saturn Curve concept car.

  • 2007 - 2010 Saturn Outlook
  • 2007 - 2016 GMC Acadia
  • 2008 - 2017 Buick Enclave
  • 2009 - 2017 Chevrolet Traverse

Also called the GMT 510 platform and the GMT 960 platform.

2007 Alfa Romeo Brera

GM never produced any models on this platform, instead moving its models to the Epsilon II platform.

2016 Chevrolet Equinox

  • 2002 - 2010 Saturn Vue
  • 2005 - 2017 Chevrolet Equinox
  • 2006 - 2015 Opel Antara
  • 2006 - 2015 Vauxhall Antara
  • 2006 - 2017 Chevrolet Captiva Sport
  • 2006 - 2009 Suzuki XL7
  • 2006 - 2009 Pontiac Torrent
  • 2006 - 2017 Holden Captiva 5/7
  • 2006 - 2001 Daewoo Winstorm/MaXX
  • 2006 - 2018 Chevrolet Captiva
  • 2008 - 2017 GMC Terrain

Also used for the Chevrolet S3X and T2X concept cars.

Also called the GMT 191 platform for the Equinox, GMT 192 platform for the Torrent, and GMT 193 platform for the XL7.

Also called Theta-Epsilon since it shares components with the Epsilon II platform, as well as the GMT 267 platform.

  • 2005 - 2018 Fiat Grande Punto*
  • 2006 - 2019 Opel Corsa
  • 2006 - 2019 Vauxhall Corsa
  • 2007–present Fiat Fiorino*
  • 2007 - 2018 Fiat Linea*
  • 2008–present Fiat Qubo*
  • 2008 - 2018 Alfa Romeo MiTo*
  • 2010 - 2017 Opel Meriva
  • 2010–present Fiat Doblò*
  • 2010 - 2017 Vauxhall Meriva
  • 2011 - 2018 Opel Combo
  • 2011–present Fiat Pratico*
  • 2001 - 2018 Vauxhall Combo
  • 2012 - 2019 Opel Adam
  • 2012–present Fiat 500L*
  • 2012 - 2019 Vauxhall Adam
  • 2014–present Jeep Renegade*
  • 2014–present Fiat 500X*
  • 2015–present Ram ProMaster City*
  • 2015–present Fiat Egea*
  • 2016–present Fiat Tipo*
  • 2016–present Fiat Toro*
  • 2016–present Jeep Compass*
  • 2017–present Fiat Argo*
  • 2018–present Fiat Cronos*

1987 Chevrolet Sprint

  • 1983 - 2004 Suzuki Cultus*
  • 1984 - 1988 Suzuki Swift*
  • 1984 - 1988 Pontiac Firefly
  • 1985 - 1990 Suzuki Forsa*
  • 1985 - 1988 Holden Barina
  • 1985 - 2004 Chevrolet Sprint
  • 1986 - 1988 Isuzu Geminett*
  • 1988 - 2000 Suzuki Khyber*

1988-1992 Suzuki Swift

  • 1988 - 1994 Holden Barina
  • 1989 - 1994 Pontiac Firefly
  • 1989 - 1992 Chevrolet Sprint
  • 1989 - 1994 Geo Metro
  • 1989 - 2004 Suzuki Swift*
  • 1989 - 2016 Suzuki Cultus*
  • 1990 - 1994 Maruti 1000*
  • 1994 - 2010 Maruti Esteem*
  • 1995 - 2003 Subaru Justy*
  • 1999 - 2015 Suzuki Lingyang*
  • 1995 - 2001 Pontiac Firefly
  • 1995 - 2001 Suzuki Swift*
  • 1995 - 1997 Geo Metro
  • 1998 - 2001 Chevrolet Metro
  • 2006 - 2013 Holden Commodore
  • 2006 - 2010 Holden Statesman
  • 2006 - 2013 Holden Caprice
  • 2006 - 2013 Holden Ute
  • 2007 - 2011 Chevrolet Omega
  • 2007 - 2013 Vauxhall VXR8
  • 2007 - 2012 Buick Park Avenue
  • 2007 - 2017 Chevrolet Caprice
  • 2008 - 2009 Pontiac G8
  • 2008 - 2012 Bitter Vero*
  • 2008 - 2010 Daewoo Veritas
  • 2010 - 2015 Chevrolet Camaro
  • 2011 - 2013 Chevrolet Lumina

The consolidated successor to the B II, F IV, and V I platforms.

Also used for the Holden Coupe 60 concept car.

2013 Holden Commodore

  • 2013 - 2017 Holden Ute
  • 2013 - 2017 Holden Commodore
  • 2013 - 2017 Holden Caprice
  • 2013 - 2017 Vauxhall VXR8
  • 2014 - 2017 Chevrolet SS

The successor to the Zeta I platform.

  • *These vehicles were/are not from GM brands, but rather were given license to a particular platform by GM, usually either from co-development or a platform nearing the end of its tenure.
  • **These platforms have active models, but no active models from any GM brands, and are thus considered former platforms for this list.

In 2015 GM announced their intention to shift all of their vehicles (with the notable exception of the eighth-generation Corvette) to four platforms by 2025. The following are those platforms, including the already-launched VSS-F:

  • 4th generation Buick GL8
  • 4th generation Buick LaCrosse
  • 7th generation Buick Regal
  • 3rd generation Buick Excelle
  • 3rd generation Buick Verano
  • 3rd generation Chevrolet Spark
  • 4th generation Chevrolet Sail
  • 2nd generation Chevrolet Sonic
  • 3rd generation Chevrolet Onix
  • 2nd generation Chevrolet Spin
  • 3rd generation Chevrolet Cobalt
  • 2nd generation Chevrolet Montana
  • 3rd generation Chevrolet Prisma
  • 3rd generation Chevrolet Cruze
  • 5th generation Chevrolet Cavalier
  • 10th generation Chevrolet Malibu

Slated to underpin all FWD GM cars plus subcompact crossovers by 2025. [16]

  • 7th generation Chevrolet Camaro
  • 2nd generation Cadillac CT4
  • 2nd generation Cadillac CT5
  • 2nd generation Cadillac CT6

Slated to underpin all RWD GM vehicles by 2025.

  • 3rd generation Chevrolet Colorado
  • 3rd generation GMC Canyon
  • 4th generation Chevrolet Silverado
  • 5th generation GMC Sierra
  • 6th generation Cadillac Escalade
  • 13th generation Chevrolet Suburban
  • 6th generation Chevrolet Tahoe
  • 2nd generation Chevrolet Express
  • 2nd generation GMC Savana
  • 6th generation GMC Yukon
  • 6th generation GMC Yukon XL

Slated to underpin all GM body-on-frame SUVs and trucks by 2025.

  • 2nd generation Cadillac XT5
  • 2nd generation Cadillac XT6
  • 3rd generation Buick Enclave
  • 4th generation Chevrolet Blazer
  • 3rd generation GMC Acadia
  • 3rd generation Chevrolet Traverse
  • 2nd generation Cadillac XT4
  • 3rd generation GMC Terrain
  • 2nd generation Buick Envision
  • 4th generation Chevrolet Equinox

Slated to underpin all GM crossovers (excluding those on VSS-F) by 2025.

It is currently unknown whether GEM or a similar low-cost platform will be continued in some form as a subset of VSS.

EV platforms Edit

Electric vehicle platforms are the only other exception to the forthcoming VSS consolidation.

BT1XX Edit

BT1XX, standing for first generation battery-electric truck, is an upcoming electric body-on-frame truck and SUV platform derived from the GMT T1XX platform with RWD and AWD capabilities. [18] It is currently only slated to underpin the 2021 GMC Hummer, though it has not been clarified as to whether it is the only model for which the platform is to be used. [19] Speculation, however, as of May 2021, is that the all-electric Chevrolet Silverado will use this platform is it's been said that the all-electric Silverado will be built alongside the new GMC Hummer EV.

BEV3 Edit

BEV3, standing for Battery Electric Vehicle 3 and also known as Ultium, is to be the replacement for the current BEV2 platform. [20] Little is known about the nature of this platform, though it has been confirmed that it will underpin, among other models, a future Cadillac crossover. [21]


Winkie the RAF Pigeon who Saved the Life of a Bomber Crew

At the beginning of World War II, about 2,000 English pigeon fanciers gave up their pigeons for military purposes so the birds could take on the role of message carrier. Post pigeons were seconded to the National Pigeon Service and even from the Royal Lofts.

Pigeon lofts were built on the bases of the army and the air force, and there were also mobile lofts that moved easily over land.

During the war, the Royal Air Force, the Army, and Civil Defence Services including the Home Guard, the police, the fire service, and Bletchley Park, used almost a quarter of a million birds. Pigeons carried their messages in special containers on their legs or in small pouches on their backs.

Examination and treatment of Army pigeons at the Signal Pigeon Center Tidworth, England, UK (United States Army Pigeon Service)

The keeping of pigeons was strictly controlled, including the rationing of feed. Homing pigeons were used by British, American, Canadian, and German troops in various parts of the world during the war — Greece, North Africa, Italy, India, the Middle East, and the Far East.

Often, pigeons were parachuted inside containers to members of the Resistance in Holland, Belgium, and France. However, this method threatened the lives of the birds due to the bumpy landing. Furthermore, members of the Resistance risked being caught with a British pigeon and getting in serious trouble.

On February 23, 1942, the crew of a British Bristol Beaufighter was returning home having completed a mission in the North Sea. However, because of severe damage from enemy fire, the bomber crashed into the sea more than 100 miles from home.

A crew of a Lockheed Hudson Mark holding a wicker carrier containing a homing pigeon.

Once in the icy water, the four men did not have the ability to radio an accurate position back to base. The carrier pigeon was the crew’s last hope if they did not want to die a cold death.

So, the blue chequered hen bird, called Winkie, was released in the hope that she would be able to fly home and the air base would be notified of the crew’s plight.

Having flown 120 miles, Winkie returned home to her loft in Broughty Ferry where she was found, covered in oil and exhausted, by owner George Ross. He immediately informed RAF Leuchars in Fife.

An aircrew sergeant of No. 209 Squadron RAF about to launch a carrier pigeon.

Even though the pigeon did not have a message attached to her, the RAF was able to calculate the position of the downed aircraft.

To do this, they took into account the time difference between the time the plane went down and the time of Winkie’s arrival in the attic as well as the wind direction and the effect that oil on feathers would have on a bird’s speed.

Fifteen minutes after the start of the search and rescue operation, the crew of the aircraft was safely rescued.

Elaine Pendlebury, from the PDSA, considers this story very touching. “These people would have [perished] without this pigeon message coming through.”

After the rescue, the team arranged a dinner in honor of Winkie who was basking in her cage while the men drank to her health.

On December 2, 1943, Winkie, together with pigeons named Tyke and White Vision, were awarded the first-ever Dickin medals for rescuing an air force crew during World War II.

Dickin Medal.

A Dickin medal is awarded to any animal that has displayed “conspicuous gallantry or devotion to duty while serving or associated with any branch of the Armed Forces or Civil Defence Units.” It is a bronze medallion, bearing the words “For Gallantry” and “We Also Serve.”

Winkies citation reads “for delivering a message under exceptional difficulties and so contributing to the rescue of an Air Crew while serving with the RAF in February 1942.”

After the death of Winkie, Ross donated both her and her Dickin Medal to Dundee Art Galleries and Museum.

Between 1943 and 1949, the Dickin Medal was awarded 54 times to 32 pigeons, 18 dogs, three horses, and a ship’s cat. As of October 2018, the medal had been presented 70 times with an additional award to all the animals that served in the First World War.

A close-up of a member of a Royal Air Force aircrew holding a carrier pigeon beside a Lockheed Hudson of Coastal Command.

Another feathered friend who deserves special respect is G.I. Joe, a pigeon of the US Army. During the Italian Campaign of World War II, Joe managed to save up to 1,000 lives.

A pigeon was needed to hurriedly convey messages that the village to be bombarded had actually been captured by the Allied forces. G.I. Joe flew a 20-mile distance in an impressive 20 minutes and managed to deliver the crucial message to the air base.

When considering the importance of such birds today, Ms. Pendlebury added: “It is very hard for us with mobile phones and emails… to think about the way communication would have happened in the 1940s in wartime… It was very difficult and the pigeons certainly saved numerous lives by flying through really dreadful situations.”

She went on to say: “I’ve been a veterinary surgeon for quite some time but I find the ones that have won the PDSA Dickin medal, the stories are quite inspiring – above and beyond really.”


Strange: In WWII Pigeons Were Used To Guide Missles

Pigeons aren’t birds known for their skill, their intelligence, or even their friendly demeanor. To most people, pigeons are nothing more than a bird seen on every building’s roof, in every park, roaming cities everywhere. However, pigeons have done more for both history and the American military than many other furry or feathery creatures – in the midst of World War II, it was pigeons who joined the ranks of humans, giving their lives to stop German forces.

That’s right – as unbelievable as it sounds, pigeons were part of the war. Though they didn’t serve in the traditional sense, they aided and guided American missiles to their intended targets. In 1943, the U.S. military was struggling to land its missiles and bombs upon German targets.

Accuracy was merely a dream, as most missiles were fired from a great distance away from the sites of impact. The U.S. military needed to improve their accuracy quickly, and B. F. Skinner had the solution: pigeons.

F. Skinner was quite familiar with pigeons, and knew just how much they could offer the U.S. war effort. As a psychological researcher, Skinner often used pigeons in his studies, both observing their behavior and training them in new ways. In one such research study, Skinner trained pigeons to press a lever whenever they wanted food.

B.F. Skinner at the Harvard Psychology Department. By Silly rabbit – CC BY-SA 3.0

Yet psychology wasn’t his only field of fascination Skinner was also an avid inventor. For quite some time during World War II, Skinner considered ways in which the weapons targeting systems used by the military could be improved. Inspiration struck one day when a flock of birds flew over Skinner, in a perfectly arranged formation, as he remarked: “Suddenly I saw them as ‘devices’ with excellent vision and extraordinary maneuverability. Could they not guide a missile? Was the answer to the problem waiting for me in my own back yard?”

With his vast knowledge of pigeons and their behavior, Skinner knew these ever-present birds could help guide American missiles more accurately, helping to execute more precise bombings and air strikes. He decided to take advantage of pigeons’ excellent eyesight and calm demeanor under stress by allowing them to lead a missile to its target. Skinner crafted a nose cone that would slide over a missile, atop of which sat three tiny pigeon cockpits. Inside each of these minuscule cockpits were three electronic screens and room for the birds themselves.

Skinner crafted a nose cone that would slide over a missile, atop of which sat three tiny pigeon cockpits. Inside each of these minuscule cockpits were three electronic screens and room for the birds themselves.

Before placing the pigeons inside their cockpits, Skinner used his psychological background to train them. He taught average street pigeons to recognize a target and to begin pecking whenever they saw it. That pecking motion was what guided and directed the missiles cabling attached to the pigeons’ heads inside their cockpits would mechanically move the missile as they pecked.

War pigeon G.I. Joe

Despite this ingenious invention’s benefits, it did feature two drawbacks: the pigeons had to accompany each missile to its detonation, and many in the U.S. military didn’t take it very seriously. Once the pigeons were placed inside their missile cockpits, there was no way for them to escape during the last seconds before the weapon struck luckily, pigeons were a prevalent bird and viewed as a common pest by many. Skinner, in fact, was more frustrated that so few thought his pigeon-led invention truly deserved to be used widely in war.

Skinner decided to present his pigeon missile plans to the National Research Defense Committee, and, although the Committee was highly skeptical, “Project Pigeon” was put into action with a mere $25,000 in funding.

In 1944, just a single short year after Project Pigeon began, military officials terminated the program. Skinner’s pigeons weren’t unsuccessful – during Project Pigeon’s run, he showed officials how easily the pigeons could be trained, and demonstrated their flawless guiding skills.

However, military leaders just did not want to spend precious funds or resources to get Project Pigeon off the ground. The American military believed that expending energy and necessities required to win the war against Nazi Germany into Project Pigeon was simply too much of a risk to take.

Though disappointed in the lack of support Project Pigeon received, Skinner did not end his career with this small failure in 1944. Instead, he went on to continue his career in psychology and scientific research, achieving countless accolades as one of the most important and influential in his field.

Today, Skinner is not remembered as the man who developed the pigeon-guided missile rather, his psychology colleagues remember him as the scientific mind who popularized behaviorism, which became a cornerstone concept of psychology.

Interestingly, the Pigeon Project did not disappear into the realms of history. Though it was short-lived, its unique and innovative nature made it memorable – and it was given a second chance in 1948, thanks to the U.S. Navy.

Renamed “Project Orcon,” the pigeon-guided missile was brought back to life for five years to help the Navy guide their weapons. It was canceled a second time not because it proved futile or unsuccessful instead, electronic guidance systems were becoming reliable and more commonly used in the military, and there was no longer a need for pigeon aid. Although the pigeons proved helpful and effective, just as Skinner originally intended, they lost their place in military efforts when technology took control.

However, the pigeons Skinner trained never lost their target-guiding abilities. When the Pigeon Project first ended in 1944, he kept the pigeons. Every so often, Skinner gave them a test, interested to see if the skills he’d taught them would quickly be forgotten.

Surprisingly, the pigeons always passed his tests – they maintained and were able to recall their target-driven responsibilities, their minds and memories sharp enough for battle as many as six years after their initial training.


5 Commando

Another recipient of the Dickin Medal, the war pigeon Commando contributed small but extremely valuable victories against the Nazis in Germany. Throughout Commando&rsquos 90 missions during World War II, he delivered crucial intelligence for the Allied forces.

During the climax of World War II, Commando was noted for three particular missions in June, August, and September 1942. On each of these occasions, he carried intelligence to the Special Operations Executive, the British intelligence agency, from German-occupied France. With this information, the Allied forces were better equipped to fight and defend themselves against their German enemies.


There is nothing that prevents pigeons from training or racing for 40 to 50km in their year of birth. Longer distances would inevitably damage the organism that is in full development. The pigeons that had no (or only a few) training flights will have a much better moult compared to pigeons that had to train a lot, although there will always be exceptions: fanciers have told us about pigeons that raced Bordeaux in their year of birth and that were still able to perform well as a three year old. We know that this is possible but you should not forget that there have been hundreds of other pigeons that were killed or lost using this approach. You could compare it to having a beginner cyclist race the Tour de France or Paris-Roubaix. As a fancier you should keep in mind that a long and demanding race puts too much strain on the body of a young bird.

Guillaume Peeters summarised his method as follows:

  • As a young bird: no training
  • As a yearling: natural system up to 200km (training flights)
  • As a two year old: raced on widowhood 400 to 500km
  • As a three year old and older: the longest distances, always on widowhood. The widowers can race in widowhood for four or five years without being tired out

Pneumatic Tube 

An operator preparing to feed a carrier holding about 500 letters into the transmitter for despatch through the tube from Brooklyn Post Office to New York General Post Office, a distance of about 1.75 miles, circa 1899.