B.F. Skinner's pigeon-Guided Bomb: Did It Work?

I understand that in WWII, the Harvard psychologist B. F. Skinner invebted a guided bomb. It was guided by a trained pigeon, which peckked on a joystick, and steered the bomb to its target.
Imagine what PETA wouldsay about such a thing today!
Anyway, were these things actually tested? And did they work?

Was it based on the work of this guy?

Huh. Bats as conscientious objectors. Who knew?

Free the Carlsbad 3,500!

The pigeons were trained to recognise the profiles of certain kinds of target and peck at them; then they were strapped into the device, behind a frosted glass screen mounted on a swivel mechanism, onto which a view of from the front of the missile was projected - if the missile moved off target to the left, the pigeon would see it moving to the right side of the screen and would peck off-centre to the right, tilting the screen and actuating steering vanes bringing the missile back on course. Several pigeons would be installed per missile and their averaged collaborative pecks would be more accurate.

It sounds like something from Wallace and Gromit, but it really was a serious project and had been demonstrated to be a genuinely workable concept.

Yeah, it was Skinner’s way of showing the practical applications of conditioned response; if he could have figured out a way to get a kid to take out the garbage on a regular basis, he might have had more fans.

In the late 1960s I visited a pharmecutical plant outside Philadelphia. Among other interesting things, they had a team of pigeons that did quality control on various pills manufactured there.

The pills were on a small conveyor belt and would pass by the pigeons, under a piece of glass. The pigeons were trained to peck at pills that looked defective. The machine would respond to a peck by shuttling that pill to the reject bin, and issuing a small reward for the sharp-eyed bird.

Apparently it wasn’t hard to train the pigeons, and their performance was good - easily better than a human’s after an hour or so (when human boredom sets in).