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I think this prisoner may have been telling a bit of a tall tale.


"An Exact representation of a raft, and its apparatus, as invented by the French for their proposed invasion of England — from a drawing of a prisoner who has made his escape from France"

Source: Bibliotheque Nationale de France via Retronaut
Categories: Military
Posted by Alex on Fri Jan 31, 2014
Comments (1)
In April 1941, a London newspaper pulled off a minor hoax/publicity stunt. They dressed a young man in the uniform of a German officer — after having removed the Nazi cap badge, belt, and insignia of rank — and had him walk around through central London, directly past the Houses of Parliament. They claimed to be trying to prove that "Londoners wouldn't know a German soldier if they saw one."

Sure enough, the young man attracted no attention.


The photo of the "German officer" posing in Central London ran in a lot of papers, both in the UK and America. (For instance, the Lewiston Morning Tribune - Apr 29, 1941).

But I think the experiment would have been a lot more interesting if he had walked through London wearing a uniform with all the Nazi insignia still on it. That would probably have elicited a different reaction.
Categories: Military
Posted by Alex on Fri Oct 11, 2013
Comments (0)
Dan Townend, writing in the Express, discusses the surprising camaraderie that often existed between British and German soldiers during World War I. Prisoners of war were, many times, treated with great decency and compassion. Of course, this show of kindness could have ulterior motives. The Germans, for instance, liked to "soften up" their prisoners to get them to reveal military secrets. But the British prisoners weren't so easy to gull. Thanks to one British prisoner, the Germans seriously came to believe that the UK had a top-secret aircraft called the Crosse and Blackwell that had been developed by the engineers Huntley and Palmer. [Express]

Categories: Military
Posted by Alex on Sun Aug 18, 2013
Comments (0)
Word got out this week that the Ukrainian military had lost three dolphins in the Black Sea after the dolphins swam away from their trainers, apparently to search for mates. The problem: these were trained attack dolphins "equipped with firearms."


The source of the story was a document that appeared online that seemed to be a scan of a letter from the head of a Ukrainian military research institute to naval command warning of the dolphin escape. The story took off when it got picked up by RIA Novosti (the Russian International News Agency) and from there spread to the western media.


However, Ukraine's Defense Ministry has denied the story is true, pointing out that the scanned document wasn't on letterhead and lacked an official stamp. And, more importantly, it points out that Ukraine doesn't have a military dolphin program. The Soviets used to have one, but that ended long ago. [links: en.ria.ru, alaskadispatch.com
Categories: Animals, Military
Posted by Alex on Fri Mar 15, 2013
Comments (0)
The Iranian news website Khouz News recently posted a picture of Iran's new stealth fighter, the Qaher F313.


But The Atlantic Wire points out that the photo is actually a composite. The background is a photo of Mount Damavand from a stock-image site. The jet fighter was cut-and-pasted from a photo of what is apparently a plastic jet fighter (because it seems to lack exterior bolts or rivets) on display indoors.


In Iran's defense, the photo could have been intended as a kind of mock-up of what the plane would look like while flying. But given the Iranian military's past history of photoshopping, no one is cutting them much slack.

The Guardian suggests that the purpose of the photo was not to fool skeptical westerners, but rather to pull the wool over the eyes of the Iranian people by leading them to believe that their country is more technologically advanced than it really is.
Categories: Military, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Wed Feb 13, 2013
Comments (1)
An unusual example of military deception!

The Army's special branch: How bizarre fake spy trees appeared in no-man's land during WWI (and killed hundreds of soldiers)
Daily Mail

Artists in the Royal Engineers were tasked with meticulously selecting a real tree on the battlefield by measuring and photographing it extensively. The ideal tree was dead and often it was bomb blasted. The photographs and sketches were then sent to a workshop where artists constructed an artificial tree of hollow steel cylinders. It contained an internal scaffolding for reinforcement, to allow a sniper or observer to ascend within the structure. Then, under the cover of night, the team cut down the authentic tree and dug a hole in the place of its roots, in which they placed the O.P. Tree. When the sun rose over the battlefield, what looked like a tree was a tree no longer. Instead, it was an enemy lookout tower.


Categories: Military
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 07, 2013
Comments (0)
Despite major bombings that have rattled the nation, and fears of rising violence as American troops withdraw, Iraq’s security forces have been relying on a device to detect bombs and weapons that the United States military and technical experts say is useless.
The small hand-held wand, with a telescopic antenna on a swivel, is being used at hundreds of checkpoints in Iraq. But the device works “on the same principle as a Ouija board” — the power of suggestion — said a retired United States Air Force officer, Lt. Col. Hal Bidlack, who described the wand as nothing more than an explosives divining rod. Still, the Iraqi government has purchased more than 1,500 of the devices, known as the ADE 651, at costs from $16,500 to $60,000 each.
Link: NY Times

The high price is probably part of the marketing psychology that helps sell these things. Buyers figure that, at that price, they must work.
(Thanks, Bob!)
Categories: Military, Technology
Posted by Alex on Thu Nov 05, 2009
Comments (4)
Robert Capa's photo of a soldier falling backward from the impact of a shot to his head is one of the most famous images in the history of photography. But for decades people have argued that Capa staged the shot. In the hoax photo archive I have a brief summary of the controversy. I come down on the side of those who feel the photo wasn't staged.

Adding new fuel to the controversy, a Catalan newspaper now claims to have found evidence that Capa staged the shot. From The Independent:

The so-called "falling soldier" was not photographed near Cerro Muriano in Andalusia, as has been claimed, but about 50km to the south-west, near the town of Espejo far from the frontline on a day when there was no military action, a Catalan newspaper claims.
"Capa photographed his soldier at a location where there was no fighting," wrote the daily El Periodico on Friday. The paper carried out a detailed study of Capa's pictures taken in September 1936, three months after the conflict broke out.
"The real location, some 10km from an inactive battle front, demonstrates that the death was not real," the paper says. The claim is backed with photos taken very recently on a hillside near Espejo that show a mountainous skyline that appears to match exactly that of Capa's photo.

I haven't seen El Periodico's evidence, but I'm skeptical of their argument. After all, hasn't the soldier in the photo been identified?
Categories: Military, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Wed Jul 22, 2009
Comments (2)
The Hello Kitty Taser raised the ire of Justin Yu at CNET who wrote:

The existence of this Hello Kitty taser gun makes me want to open it up and point it at my head. You have to question the intentions of these designers...is the gun supposed to make little girls less fearful about attacking their in-store competition? Maybe it's meant to fool criminals into thinking their victims are unarmed, only to be met with 50,000 volts of adorable electricity.

Only subsequently did he realize that it was simply "a Photoshopped picture of Taser's "Metallic Pink" version of the C2 gun."

Hello Kitty guns seem to be a popular meme.
Categories: Law/Police/Crime, Military
Posted by Alex on Wed Jul 08, 2009
Comments (9)
Jack Livesey claimed he was in the Parachute regiment of the British Army, did five tours of duty in Northern Ireland, and won a military medal. He was a guest of honor at the 25th anniversary commemorations of the Falklands War.

But the British Ministry of Defense says, "Jack Livesey (DOB 15/05/54) only served in the British Army in the Army Catering Corps from December 1971 until April 1974."

Livesey also claims he was a miltary adviser to Saving Private Ryan, though he wasn't paid a fee which is why, he says, there was never any public acknowledgment of his help. [BBC News]
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Military
Posted by Alex on Fri Jul 03, 2009
Comments (4)
Another case of a phony veteran. Rick Duncan claimed he survived the 9/11 attacks on the Pentagon, that he survived a roadside bomb in Iraq, and that he had a metal plate in his head. None of it was true. Not even his name, which was really Richard Strandlof. He also says that he's not a pathological liar. But then, what else would a pathological liar say? link: CNN
Categories: Military
Posted by Alex on Fri Jun 12, 2009
Comments (2)
German politicians are upset by all the fake soldiers hanging around the Brandenburg Gate. The fake soldiers are there trying to make a buck from the tourists, who want their picture taken with someone in a Cold War-era uniform. But the politicians are worried that the Brandenburg gate is deteriorating into a miniature Disneyland and may go the route of Checkpoint Charlie which has become "a tacky tourist trap unworthy of its historical significance." I was in Berlin just a few months ago, and I can definitely confirm that appraisal of Checkpoint Charlie. [Spiegel]
Categories: Military, Places
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 16, 2009
Comments (2)
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