McDonnell ADM-20C Quail

A picture of the McDonnell ADM-20C Quail

The Quail decoy was designed to be released from a B-52 bomber just before it attempted to penetrate the aerial defenses of the Soviet Union.  Its job was to mimic the radar signature, speed, altitude, and maneuvers of the real bomber to give it a better chance to reach its target.  The Quail entered service in 1961 and remained in first line service throughout the 1960s.  In 1972, Air Force testing disclosed the fact that radar operators could easily distinguish between the drone and the real aircraft by correctly identifying the drone 21 out of 23 times.  The Air Force quickly switched its focus to Air Launched Cruise Missiles to keep the bombers out of harm’s way and the Quail was quickly phased out of service.

Service History

The service history of this drone is not known.  It was loaned to the Pima Air & Space Museum by the National Museum of the United States Air Force in 1989.


5 ft 4 in.


12 ft 10 in.


3 ft 3 in.


1,198 lbs

Maximum Speed

650 MPH

Service Ceiling

55,000 ft


460 miles


One General Electric J85-GE-7 turbojet with 2,450 pounds of thrust


U.S. Air Force, 1961


Serial Number

Pima Air & Space Museum

Creating unlimited horizons in aerospace education through the preservation and presentation of the history of flight.

Charity EIN: 86-6031135

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Contact Info


6000 E Valencia Rd, Tucson, AZ 85756

Operating Hours:
Open 9 AM – 5 PM Daily
Last Admittance at 3:00 PM