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Project Blue Boy

The use of deception as a tactic in warfare to sway how an adversary is thinking has existed for many years. Deception has ranged from the use of camouflage to “hide” a thing that you do not want your adversary to see, to the use of decoy items to cause or change what an adversary does see.

A decoy can be almost anything from a solitary soldier to an entire community, equipment or multiple pieces of equipment, artillery, airfields, and so on. These decoys were fabricated with cloth, wood, metal, and even were pneumatic. Though likely less effective in the “modern warfare” of today, decoys were a very effective tactic even into the 1970s. The CECOM Historical Office maintains nearly 40 linear feet of materials related to camouflage and decoy activities and research. Included in this collection are hundreds of photographs, reports, technical manuals, correspondence, research information, and project information.

One example of a decoy program was a late 1950s Project called Blue Boy and the related “Bailey Bridge” project of the 1940s. Project Blue Boy was a specific type of “Bailey Bridge.”

The Blue Boy was a simulated bridge with six expandable bays, a two-cable suspension system, a roadway, and a foot-walk. The weight of Blue Boy came in at 6,510 pounds. The expandable bays represented the side trusses; the suspension system included two cables, pylons, and associated cables. The roadway was a continuous piece of cotton duck cloth while the foot-walk was strips of cotton duck joined together.

A 60-foot "Blue Boy" Decoy

A 60-foot “Blue Boy” Decoy

The decoy collection contains one report (1946) related to the Bailey Bridge, or Dummy Bailey Bridge. This report presents results tests on a British developed decoy (Camouflage Device No. 7). This decoy consisted of rectangular panel frames which were cross sections the side section. The frame was tubular metal and cotton webbing formed the bridge members. The roadway was cloth. This device could be erected in bridge lengths of 60, 90, and 120 feet.

The two photographs included here illustrate these types of decoys.

Aerial views of "Blue Boy" decoys

Aerial views of “Blue Boy” decoys

This post was written by Floyd Hertweck.

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