Welcome to the first ever “theme week” on the LSNED blog. All week I’ll be posting exciting, thrilling, educational facts on the topic of… deception! Yup, deceptions big and small of all sorts. Stay tuned for a tricky week.
The big turning point in World War II was the Normandy invasion, where allied troops managed to set foot on the European continent and go from there. One of the critical points for securing that foothold was making sure that the German forces were not prepared for D-Day. That task was assigned to Operation Fortitude, which was… completely fake.
The goal was to convince the Germans that an attack was coming further north up the French coastline and in Norway. The deception was a thorough recreation of true military operations including fake radio traffic and information leaks. Top-flight military leaders like US General Patton were put in command of fake armies, which were visually created using plywood trucks and inflatable tanks.
The allied deception had to fool not only the German intelligence network, but also visual reconnaissance flights. So full divisions of inflatable tanks were created and regularly moved, complete with fake tracks left behind. Thanks to this massive amount of long-term, well-executed deception come June 6th, 1944 the strength of Germany’s army was waiting at Calais for the attack that never came… at least not there.
To this day, the US Army still uses dummy tanks to imitate their current production model. Not only does is look right, but it also presents the same heat image for infrared cameras… and still packs into a duffel bag. Apparently every tank has one on board.