History Misc Musings

How did Inflatable Tanks Fool the Nazis?

inflatable tank

During the Second World War the allies used various tricks and deceptions to fool the Nazi’s. One of these deceptions was quite elaborate and involved inflatable tanks, sound trucks and fake radio transmissions. This was known as the Ghost Army.

The purpose of the Ghost Army was to deceive and befuddle the Germany army in the weeks leading to the D-Day landings. The unit, known as the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, put on a travelling road show throughout France.

The unit enticed German Units into battle or deflected them from where larger combat units intended to be. They went into France and used various tactics to confuse the enemy, this included using inflatable rubber tanks which they inflated at night using compressor pumps. The troop would scar the ground making it look like the tread marks of tanks.

The unit used ‘sound trucks’ to broadcast complex sounds of military units to make it sound like there were hundreds of tanks rolling though. They were s able to emulate the impression of a 30,000 strong army while having only 1100 men in the unit. However, these weren’t soldiers. The unit was made up of artists, actors and set designers. They were recruited from art schools, advertising venues are other creative avenues.

To enhance the deception the unit would also use dummy artillery, broadcast fraudulent radio messages and leave empty bivouacs shelters around. Many of these performances even took place within 100 yards of the front lines!

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