It wasn’t just soldiers who fought in wars. Also artists, painters and make-up artists. You could turn a lens into a gigantic theater. For example, hollow trees were made to be used as secret lookouts. Or houses were painted so that they couldn’t be seen from the air and hid military sites. Noteworthy is the role of camouflage in the world wars.
The Royal Navy, for example, looked at advanced camouflage techniques. They wanted to protect the ships. How? They created complex patterns of geometric shapes in contrasting colors that interrupted and intersected. Its aim was to baffle the enemy. Thus, they could not identify the actual speed at which the ship was traveling or its specific position.
Deception in Africa
In 1942, North Africa was the scene of the struggle against the Axis powers, consisting of Germany, Italy and Japan. The Camouflage Directorate of the Middle East Command, a unit devoted to deception operations and the concealment of men and military equipment, created a major distraction there. They painted the floor of the airfields with black and gray spots. They simulated the shadows of the weapons in order to deceive the reconnaissance flights of the Axis powers. Then they had to camouflage entire legions of tanks in the north of the battlefield.
They created a deception army of 600 completely counterfeit military vehicles in the south. Therefore, the Axis Powers feared an equally powerful attack from this flank. It was made using fake food tanks and boxes, ammunition silos, and oil containers. Everything from boxes and palm leaves covered with tarpaulin.
In the northern part the royal tanks had specially equipped wooden compartments. They made them look like normal trucks. The artillery pieces were covered in a similar way. Once in position and just before the battle began, the covers were removed. The Axis powers were taken by surprise.
These ingenious tricks inspired an American military regiment during World War II. The special forces at Headquarters 23 became known as the “Phantom Army”. They consisted of over 1,000 men and were deployed in Europe after D-Day.
Their aim was to deceive the Germans. They were led to believe that forces of up to 30,000 additional troops were threatening their lines. This resulted in them distributing troops to places that were convenient for the Allies. Like the Camouflage Directorate of the Middle East Command, they recruited many architects, designers, advertising creatives and artists as well as regular soldiers and engineers.
The counterfeit military equipment included hundreds of inflatable tanks. From a distance they looked exactly like the original and successfully fooled the German aerial reconnaissance. Another team was responsible for the fake radio traffic that was supposed to be intercepted by Nazi spies.
A pair of portable loudspeakers made sounds of troop movements. They also simulated sounds from large engineering projects like building bridges.
The role of camouflage in the world wars shows a new direction in the history of illusionism in art. These wars involved optical tricks by artists in completely original ways.
His work of strategically diverting attention was critical to the entire war effort. As Sun Tzu did as early as the 5th century BC. Chr. Observed with care. C. In China, deception is always the key element in the “Art of War”.