D-Day's ingenious tactics in pictures: From inflatable tanks to 'ghost' soldiers

Deception played a big part in the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. From dummy tanks and landing craft to the creation of a “ghost army,” these are some of the remarkable tactics that fooled the enemy on D-Day.

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    Operation Bodyguard - Operation Bodyguard refers to the deception efforts that helped ensure the success of Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy 75 years ago. From the sending of false radio communications to the creation of a phantom army, the Allies helped spread misinformation, which tied down German forces in Norway, the Balkans and in the Pas de Calais region of France. All this aided the Allies’ efforts on D-Day. This photo shows an inflatable dummy tank modeled after the M4 Sherman in Southern England, 1944.
    (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)
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    Fortitude North - The effectiveness of Fortitude North has been debated for years, but the deception efforts – which were coordinated from Edinburgh Castle and consisted of the fake British Fourth Army – helped convince the Germans that an invasion would land in Norway. The naming of the fictional army is notable as the Fourth Army did exist in the First World War and took part in the Battle of the Somme and was to mount Operation Hush, an amphibious landing on the Belgian coast. As a result of Fortitude North, 13 German army divisions remained stationed in Norway. This image is a file photo of Nazi officials, including Joseph Goebbels, visiting a war cemetery in Norway.
    Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images
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    Fortitude South - The southern counterpart to Fortitude North was to convince the Germans that the main invasion would come at the Pas de Calais region of France, east of Normandy, while the Normandy landings were only a feint. It has been argued that Fortitude South had the advantage of being the plan that German dictator Adolf Hitler wanted to believe would occur and thus he never accepted that Normandy was the actual invasion.The invasion was to be carried out by the First United States Army Group (FUSAG), under the command of the very real General George S. Patton. This photo from August 1944 shows Patton talking to Allied war correspondents in Normandy.
    Photo by Keystone/Getty Images
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    Operation Quicksilver - To convince the Germans that the invasion would come at Calais, not only was the ghost army created, but Operation Quicksilver also ensured that fake radio communications were sent and a real order of battle was created for FUSAG with units that didn't exist. The U.S. Army's heraldry department even made up unit shoulder patches for units of the ghost army.
    Collection of Peter Suciu
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    Dummy Landing Craft and Tanks - It wasn't just shoulder patches that were created to help make the ghost army appear real. Inflatable tanks were positioned around Dover while landing craft made of thin wood and canvas were also deployed. However, by the spring of 1944 German reconnaissance flights were rare – and that was probably good news for the Allies.The light landing craft had a bad habit of blowing away in heavy winds, while at least one English farmer's bulls decided to take on the rubber tank. Not unexpectedly the bull won that fight. This image is a file photo of a British dummy tank.
    US National Archives
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    Double Cross System - There was a "double cross" of sorts involving D-Day but it was against the Germans – and actually helped the Allies convince Germany's high command that the main invasion would come at Pas de Calais. Double agents told their German handlers small, but seeming significant, details, which included reports of large concentrations of Allied soldiers in the Dover region. Among the most notable of the turned agents was Juan Pujol Garcia, a Spanish citizen first recruited by German intelligence and who even created a network of imaginary agents. Known as "Garbo" he misled the Germans about the time and location of the invasion. This photo shows American troops landing in Normandy.
    STF/AFP/Getty Images
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    Paradummy - Beginning on the late hours of June 5, the RAF and Special Air Service dropped around 500 dummy parachutists dubbed "Rupert" by the British and "Oscar" by the Americans as part of Operation Titanic. These dummies were dropped in places other than the real Normandy drop zones to tie down German forces and draw troops away from the beachheads. One German commander on the coast in Le Havre, north of the landing beaches, reported to his superiors of a large landing and warned that he was cut off from the rest of the German forces, while near Omaha and Gold beaches German reserves moved inland to search for paratroopers instead of heading to the defend the beaches. It wasn't just dummies that were dropped across northern France. Paper strips covered with aluminum and known as "Window" were deployed along the French coast as well. On German radar this foil, or chaff, appeared as a continuous blip and appeared similar to an approaching fleet.
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    Operations Taxable and Glimmer - Two other operations were also employed in the early hours of June 6, and this also included the dropping of chaff in progressive patterns while two small boats towed radar reflector balloons and simulated radio traffic. Taxable was carried out by 18 small boats and by Lancaster bombers from the No. 617 "Dam Busters" Squadron, and meant to simulate an invasion of Cap d'Antifer; while Glimmer was conducted by Lancaster bombers from the No. 218 "Gold Coast" Squadron, was meant to simulate an attack on Pas de Calais. Due to poor weather Taxable did not seem to draw much attention from the Germans, while Glimmer did convince some German units at Calais that an invasion was imminent. This photo shows a Lancaster bomber at the Bomber Command Museum of Canada.
    Bomber Command Museum of Canada
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