The World War II Photo of the Week
for 2 July 2001
|At the Corner of Synthetic and Burlap ...
For the duration of the war, Boeing's Plant No. 2 in Seattle, Washington disappeared beneath a fantastic tent, appearing to aircraft to be a patchwork of houses, streets, fields, and pastures, dotted by cows, cars, and trees. Underneath this make-believe world, inside the giant factory, Boeing manufactured the B-17 Flying Fortress and later the B-29 Superfortress. Burlap houses and chicken-wire lawns were used to camouflage the massive rooftops of the plant. To any enemy agents overflying the area, the bomber manufacturing center looked like a quiet, somewhat bucolic suburb. In the photo above, the fake neighborhood of net and burlap, 2-by-4s, and plywood takes shape on the plant's rooftop. Below, two aerial obliques show artificial trees and the illusion of intersecting streets, complete with streetsigns and (notice) only the tops of mock parked cars. Further below, a plant worker poses at the corner of "Synthetic Street and Burlap Boulevard." Architect William Bain, Sr. (1896-1985) was the designer of the elaborate false town. Photos reprinted courtesy Boeing Co.