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This 'Ghost Army' used phony inflatable tanks and weapons to dupe Hitler in WW2

The men were artists, audio technicians, actors and designers who created inflatable mock-ups of military vehicles, tanks and artillery.

screen shot 2015-12-22 at 2.04.25 pm America's Ghost Army standing next to a rubber cannon. Source: National Archives/Business Insider

FROM THE SUMMER of 1944 until the end of World War II in Europe, the US fielded a unique ‘Ghost Army’ throughout France and the Rhine Valley in order to deceive the Third Reich into overestimating the strength of the Allied forces.

The Ghost Army, which consisted of 1,100 hand-picked men and a number of phony inflatable tanks and weapons, was part of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops.

The unit’s sole responsibility was to create illusions and spread incorrect information about the strength and location of Allied forces.

screen shot 2015-12-22 at 2.13.41 pm Source: Screen grab/The Ghost Army/PBS

According to PBS documentary ‘The Ghost Army’, these masters of deception saw action dangerously close to the frontlines in France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany throughout the war.

In total, the unit was responsible for over 20 illusions that befuddled German military planning and masked actual Allied troop movements and deployments.

To the Nazis, the Ghost Army appeared as real units and soldiers.

However, these men were a combination of artists, audio technicians, actors, and designers who, through a commitment to their craft, created inflatable mock-ups of military vehicles, tanks, and artillery.

Arriving in France just after the D-Day invasion, the Ghost Army set to work creating numerous illusions both on and off the battlefield.

On the battlefield, the unit fielded imperfectly camouflaged tanks, planes, and guns in order to convince the Nazis that there were 30,000 more Allied troops on the field than were actually present.

screen shot 2015-12-22 at 2.12.12 pm Soldiers work on an inflatable tank. Source: Natioanl Archives/Business Insider

These visual illusions were compounded by the use of audio recordings that could be heard over nine miles away.

The recordings featured sound effects that mimicked the movement of large armoured divisions.

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resources-sonichalftrack-thumb-570x458-122294 (1) A 500-pound Ghost Army speaker that played fake recordings of the army's movement. Source: National Archives/Business Insider

Off the battlefield, actors within the Ghost Army would impersonate US generals and officers in towns throughout France.

These actors, aware that German agents may be spying on them, would flippantly discuss fake military plans and deployments over wine in order to better spread false information.

Earlier this year, American Sniper actor Bradley Cooper announced he will produce Warner Bros. upcoming Ghost Army film.

Below is the trailer to the PBS documentary on the subject from 2013.

Source: ghostarmy23/YouTube

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