Jump to content
SASS Wire Forum

Camouflage California: Hiding Air Bases, Factories and Plants in WWII


Subdeacon Joe

Recommended Posts

Camouflage California: Hiding Air Bases, Factories and Plants in WWII

 

It’s February, 1942. US Navy Monitors have just tracked a Japanese submarine skulking just outside of San Francisco. A few nights later, a Japanese submarine surfaces off the coast of Santa Barbara and fires a few shells at an oil storage facility. With the memories of Pearl Harbor from last December still fresh, the threat of a Japanese invasion is palpable.

 

Enter Lt. Gen. John L. De Witt, head of Western Defense Command. He is tasked with the daunting order to implement ‘passive defense measures’ for all vital installations along the Pacific coast. Executing such an order fell to Col. John F. Ohmer who was stationed at March Field, about 60 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. Camouflage California was on.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't forget to mention how MGM (or was it Paramount?) camoflaged theire studios by painting nice, big arrows on their roofs, pointing toward the nearest military facilities. Must have worked.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't forget to mention how MGM (or was it Paramount?) camoflaged theire studios by painting nice, big arrows on their roofs, pointing toward the nearest military facilities. Must have worked.

 

I looked that up and found:

 

http://www.airspacem...ht/rooftop.html

 

 

Show Me the Way to Go Home

 

Long before the Global Positioning System, pilots got from town to town by reading rooftops.

  • By Roger A. Mola
  • Air & Space magazine, September 2006

For six years, demonstration and race pilot Blanche Noyes had ridden herd on a government program that called for navigation markers to be placed on building rooftops to help pilots find their way from one town to another. By 1941, some 13,000 marks had been painted on barns, hangars, skyscrapers, oil tanks, and train stations. Now, in January 1942, on the heels of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Civil Aeronautics Administration, goaded by the War Department, directed that all air markers near both coasts be obliterated.

 

"The number of military ships which have been forced to land due to running out of gasoline…has been appalling," Noyes later wrote to her bosses, blaming the loss of air markers. The CAA chief of airways countered: "The Army feels that the value of markers to the enemy overshadows the need by our pilots; therefore the air marking project will remain suspended for the duration of the emergency."

Before radio navigation was widely available to pilots of small aircraft, they got around by flying by landmarks. In unfamiliar terrain, however, it was easy to get lost, so in 1926 the government set out to promote air marking, painting the name of a local airport on a nearby building's roof with an arrow pointing in the airport's direction, or simply the name of the town with an arrow indicating north. Though federal aviation agencies regulated every aspect from letter size (10 to 30 feet tall) to paint (Chrome Yellow Number 4 on a black background) to distance between markers (one every 15 miles was the goal), they never lifted a brush. Labor came from the Works Progress Administration, the Civil Air Patrol, the Civilian Conservation Corps, civic volunteers, scouting organizations, and the Ninety-Nines organization of women pilots. Along with the safety benefits of guided navigation, air marking was variously touted as a job program, a scout merit badge, a commercial welcome mat, and a boon to women in aviation.

 

. . .

Link to post
Share on other sites

I read a great book a few years ago "The War Magician" about Jasper Maskelyne, a British officer who was a stage magician before the war. He devised some amazing camoflage techniques and at one point had the Germans bombing a fake town instead of an Egyptian city.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.