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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.

Wingspan

5 ft 4 in.

Length

12 ft 10 in.

Height

3 ft 3 in.

Weight

1,198 lbs

Maximum Speed

650 MPH

Service Ceiling

55,000 ft

Range

460 miles

Engine

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

Manufacturer
McDonnell

Markings
U.S. Air Force, 1961

Designation
ADM-20C

Serial Number
UNKNOWN

Pima Air & Space Museum

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

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