When Hollywood Joined World War II

[caption id="attachment_29472" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Photo: U.S. Air Force under Creative Commons"][/caption]

As the United States became fully devoted to fighting in World War II, and Japanese submarines, aircraft, and even attack balloons started threatening the west coast, Holly wood stepped up to help the war effort.  The War Department had ordered the installations along the western lands (such as aircraft manufacturers) to be protected... disguised, if possible.

That's when Colonel John F. Ohmer, a seasoned camouflage genius, came into play.  He enlisted Hollywood to create fake landscapes (in tromp l'oeil style) to hide the precious targets from aerial discovery.
Movie studios in Hollywood, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Disney Studios, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Universal Pictures and others accepted the challenge and offered scenic designers, painters, art directors, landscape artists, animators, carpenters, lighting experts and prop men.  While not experienced in military affairs, this legion of experts from the movies would make Colonel Ohmer's assignment considerably easier and entirely possible.

Concurrently, there were efforts at misdirecting prying eyes in the sky to fake targets.
In other sections of March Field, scattered decoy aircraft made of canvas scraps, ration boxes, and burlap on chicken wire as well as flattened tin cans dominated the landscape.  None of these aircraft looked real up close but looked great from a distance.  Fake runways were made by burning grassy strips.  On high, they looked like the real thing.  In all 34 air bases were camouflaged to include the planting of fake foliage and structural cover.

The massive scale of such a project is very impressive, and evident in photos documenting the whole operation.


Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"When Hollywood Joined World War II"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More