Here's How The "Ghost Army" Helped Win WWII Using Theater Props

May 23, 2015

During World War II, a secret division of the U.S. Army, known as the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, conducted over 20 tactical ops in the European theater of battle, helping save tens of thousands of lives. They were the unsung heroes of WWII, and information on them was finally declassified in 1996.

That's because there was something very special about these troops...

No, they weren't the real-life participants of some type of "Super-Soldier" program similar to the one that created Captain America in Marvel Comics. The reality is that this "tank" is basically an inflatable bouncy castle that weighs about as much as a rubber dinghy. 

But why were U.S. troops fooling around with tank-shaped balloons at all?

It's because the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops were on a secret mission to intimidate the enemy into thinking our armies were significantly larger than they were.

They were better known as the "Ghost Army."

They staged crucial "battlefield deceptions" by creating fake trucks...


Fake planes...

And fake tanks, all to give the illusion of two full divisions of 30,000 troops ready to attack.

In reality, there were only about 1,000 soldiers and some well-crafted stage props.

The men of the Ghost Army were more than just grunt soldiers.

The majority of them were actors, designers, advertisers and artists recruited from top art and design schools around the country.

They used their creativity and cunning to help create an effective illusion of force.

They also used speakers to play sound effects recorded at Fort Knox with the help of engineers at Bell Labs. The sound from this "marching army" could be heard up to 15 miles away.


The artists would paint the inflatables with camouflage, and the Ghost Army also had a few real artillery units at their disposal to further help sell the illusion.

They would also send actors dressed as generals and officers into towns to spread false information.

In their spare time, they continued to sketch and paint. Fashion designer Bill Blass and painter Ellsworth Kelly were both members of the Ghost Army.

The Ghost Army was so successful they even had Axis propagandists reporting that there was an entire Allied division prepping for battle in an area that actually had no troops at all.

Records of German radio transmissions show various reports of Allied divisions that were undoubtedly the Ghost Army. This type of psychological warfare actually had a significant impact on the later days of the war. It helped give Allied troops more time to advance/retreat as needed, helping save countless lives. Who ever thought an inflatable tank could help win a war?

Via: Messy Nessy Chic

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