Military slang "pickle"...where did it come from?

In many books and movies, I’ve heard the term “pickle” used to refer to the act of dropping a bomb from an aircraft, physically releasing it, or also the switch allowing the pilot to do it. For example, in the movie “Top Gun”, the “pickle” would be the selector switch between missiles and guns. The trigger is just the trigger.
I have written to West Point and Annapolis, and have visited museums on Ft. Bliss, since I live in El Paso, TX. Nobody seems to know where it came from, and I don’t even know if I am using the term correctly.:confused: Please help. The curiosity is killing me.:smiley:

Briefly, it’s fighter pilot slang partially intended to whoosh those non-worthies*, like us. In fighter aircraft, the current trend in control configuration is HOTAS, Hand On Throttle And Stick. So, to perform tasks that in earlier aircraft that would require the pilot to operate controls that would be on the control panel, these controls are now mounted on the grips of the throttle and/or stick. These switches would be for things like radio transmit, arm weapons, select weapons, select display, adjust trim, activate targeting radar, etc. So, with all these mostly push button switches added to the control handles, at some time, a pilot commented that with all the bumps, the handle felt like a pickle. And “pickle” caught on.

*To a fighter pilot, a “non-worthy” is everyone who is not good enough to be a fighter pilot. For a further explanation of this sort of thinking, you should read Tom Wolfe’s “The Right Stuff”. Sure, the movie is good entertainment, but I recommend you read the book.

I thought I remember hearing it had to do with bombing accuracy in WW II. The Norden bombsite was so good that you could drop your bombs in a pickle barrel. That led the the dropping of bombs being called “pickling them off”. I’m pretty sure this pre-dated HOTS.

My dad was a bombardier in the 8th Air Force flying missions over Germany in B-17’s. He never referred to releasing the bombs as “pickling them off”.

Bombsight. A bombsite is something different.

Anyway, the pickle barrel story dates to 1943, if not earlier. A demonstration in April 1943 was a circus act, not an actual drop from a plane."pickle+barrel"&tbs=,cdr:1,cd_max:Dec+31_2+1945&num=10

Pickle in re: military aircraft, has many, varying meanings … in the “Nam” war, our squadron used it to mean drop ALL ordnance at the same time… either for max effect on a target, or prior to emergency/crash landing to avoid self devastation upon the crash. i.e. you would “pickle your load” prior to landing