Could you hide a tank with no obvious way to change it? How about a city?
|Deception is a marvelous thing. Things can appear to be as they really aren’t. We can hide supersonic fighters using advanced technology. How about the grand illusions of making something like the Statue of Liberty disappear or people vanish? I wish we could say having the Wisconsin Legislature disappear was an illusion.
We think we live in such a sophisticated age. Many of the techniques we consider commonplace had their origins in World War Two. Consider the problem of green Tanks in a pretty brown desert. Today, we have well developed desert camouflage, but the circumstance in 1941 dictated ingenuity
The tanks used to attack Rommel in the North African desert were originally designed for Greece. The answer for shockingly green tanks was simple. “Paint em”. They didn’t have any camouflage paint and it was estimated that they would need ten thousand gallons
Any paint would do. They just needed to add the right pigment to get to the right sand type color. After experimentation, the solution became apparent—camel dung. They had unlimited supply.
The Dung Patrol was born. Their tongue and cheek motto was, “We stand behind every camel.” As Arabs used camel dung to fire furnaces for cooking, they were not happy. The whole process was very successful
Also in 1941, the Allies had a problem that they had to hide the large city of Alexandria in Egypt, so Nazis would not bomb it. It was their main supply line in the fight against Rommel.
An ex-movie producer and talented magician took on the daunting task. They decided,” We can’t cover it up, but maybe we can move it.” About one mile down the bay, the coastline was similar. Fake houses and timber for combustion was placed in readiness. But what about the lighthouse at Alexandria which was several hundred feet high and considered one of the wonders of the ancient world? They would fake the 7’Th wonder of the ancient world. From the air, height was difficult to measure.
With German aircraft approaching, the lights of the real Alexandria were turned off and the fake city lit up. Some of the real antiaircraft batteries were moved to the fake city to keep up the illusion. With the extra timber, the fake city burst into flames. Every night, debris from the bombing of the fake city was placed in the real Alexandria, giving the image of real damage. The ruse was so effective, the fake city was bombed for a series of eight consecutive nights.
Eventually the Germans lost interest. Bombers were needed for the invasion of the Soviet Union. Millions of tons of supplies continued to flow into the unbombed seaport.
There is an old saying, “ There is nothing up my sleeve. The truth is that there is always something there. Subterfuge has probably been around since the caveman. It became more developed in World War two.