And Man Made Something Amazing…


I am the reigning queen of a very cynical world. 

Just this morning, I woke up thinking that there has to be more to this than the hand Iv’e been dealt, but what?   Just the night before, I stood in my kitchen….salmon searing in a pan on the stove and I wondered, which wine goes with boredom?   Then, I shook it off, admonishing myself for my brief dalliance with self-loathing.  The reality is, I’ve been fortunate to see many wonderful places and things.  I’ve had an enviable career that’s exposed to me wonders and at times, certain levels of debauchery that humans (much less woman) should ever see.   

So, no, I don’t always hold out hope for us, the incredibly fragile two legged entities who comprise the human race.   But every once in a while, I’m reminded that there is evidence of tremendous brilliance at work in the world.  Now, the depth of that only translates positively if said brilliance is playing for your team.  Fortunately, for Americans and everyone who fought in our corner during the last world war,  chalk one up for us.    

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I received an email recently that contained the photos you are about to see.  I’d never before heard the story behind them, but it’s interesting one and proof that there is such a beast as ‘Yankee ingenuity”.    It served us well against the Red Coats and Hessians during the Revolutionary War.   As a Southerner, I hate to admit that it helped defeat the “rebel hun” in the Civil War and it was intended to do the same thing during World War II, had Japan had the temerity to attack California.    

There was an uneasiness all along the West coast during the war, especially when the U.S. entered the Pacific Theater.    True, the actual war was being fought several thousand miles away, but with the advent of submarines and battle ships that can stay at sea for weeks, and fighter planes that can take off from aircraft carriers, the distance could be easier and quicker to broach.    People on the West Coast panicked and understandably so.    We had en enormous amount of industrial suppliers and manufacturers located all along the West Coast.   We’re talking munitions plants, oil and gas concerns,  shipyards with battle vessels either docked or under construction and then of course, there were the airplane factories.   Vital airplane factories.  You see, World War II saw conventional battle go from land and sea to the air.   Aircraft was key.    

This is the B-17 “Flying Fortress”


And the Lockheed aircraft plant located in Burbank back in the 40’s was one that was vital to American defense.  It hired hundreds of men and woman and helped the area’s economy in untold ways.    

But not only that, it helped us wage war and ultimately win it.   All told, Lockheed produced 19,278 aircraft during World War II, representing six-percent of those produced in the war. This included  2,600 Venturas, 2,750 B-17 Flying Fortresses (built under license from Boeing and certainly one of the most famous aircraft the flew in air battles in World War II).   

The “Yippee” 


Additionally,  2,900 Hudsons were built  and 9,000 Lightnings also known as “The Yippee”.  I’m assuming because it was fun to fly???    

 I’ve not a clue.    

As far as “The Yippee” is concerned though, it was Lockheed’s answer to a specific military request for an interceptor.   The P-38 Lightning fighter plane, was a somewhat unorthodox twin-engine, twin-boom design. The P-38 was the only U.S. fighter design to be built for the entire duration of the war. It filled ground attack, air-to-air, and even strategic bombing roles in all theaters of the war in which the United States operated. The P-38 was responsible for shooting down more Japanese aircraft than any other U.S. Army Air Force type during the war; and is particularly famous for being the airplane that shot down Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto’s airplane.   

So, as you can imagine, the Lockheed plant in Burbank was very important to national defense and it had to be kept safe from a domestic attack by the enemy.  If that were to happen, the West Coast and certainly, bases and factories located there would be first in a Japanese Zero’s crosshairs.       

But, perhaps the plants proximity to Hollywood, the place where illusion meets reality but ONLY as it pertains to fantasy, was the impetus behind what the brain trust at Lockheed did to guarantee the plant’s safety and secrecy.  This is an aerial view of the Lockheed plant.   


And this is Lockheed after the Army Corp of Engineers morphed into set designers and magicians to perform one of the biggest vanishing acts in history:  they made Lockheed disappear.   


Yes, that’s the same place.  The plant is there, it’s just that this aerial photo is the Lockheed plant completely hidden under a camouflage tarp and netting to fool enemy aerial reconnaissance.     

The factory was hidden beneath a huge burlap tarp painted to depict a peaceful semi-rural neighborhood, replete with rubber automobiles. Hundreds of fake trees, shrubs, buildings and even fire hydrants were positioned to give a three-dimensional appearance.     

The trees and shrubs were created from chicken wire treated with an adhesive and covered with feathers to give the impression of a leafy texture.   


Underneath the netting, it was business as usual.   







As it turned out, the precaution was all for naught, but in wartime, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.   The Japanese did attack, but that occurred on December 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor, the United State’s deep-water naval base on the island of O’ahu, Hawaii.    The continental United States wasn’t attacked.  

No, that would happen 60-years later on a bright, but balmy September morning on another island…..called Manhattan.



  1. Hey, thanks for the pix. I have learned about this particularly creative camouflage effort only once before. It is part of a video called Monster Road.

    It’s a video about a guy who does fantastic claymation. His father was with Lockheed when they did this subterfuge. It has some video of the one-half scale city. But I never saw all the angles of it, like the parking and the tarmac.

    I remember now that the Japanese had some lame bombs they floated over us with hydrogen-filled balloons. With a primitive altimeter and explosives, they were designed to come in with the prevailing wind and come down and blow up on the land. I guess it was basically a clever idea, except it had no hope of changing the course of the war. It really wasn’t guided. None of them ever did any harm.

    Too bad we had to nuke Japan. They were willing to surrender, but not unconditionally like we wanted. So they got nuked. They were warned with the Potsdam declaration that there was big destruction coming if they didn’t surrender. Japan and Germany were working on the Bomb at the same time we were. So they must have known what that meant. So I think it was best that they surrendered unconditionally.

  2. Love this Laurie. I love how we overcame our financial death to become such a superpower. The hidden stories of WW2 such as this and in Normany, the rubber tanks poised to attract the Panzers drawing a clearing for D-Day landings are rarely told. Hek even the American spies stories of the revoluntionary war wasnt told until 1939. Thier true identites revealed. Prior to that, they were considered Bristish loyalists.

    History has many untold stories showing the creativity of man against tremendous odds. It is amazing how we can get things done if we use common sense and come together for a single goal.

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