Did you know about the “Boeing Wonderland”?

“Boeing Wonderland,” a bomber factory disguised as a neighborhood
(Photo: Boeing)

World War II saw numerous innovative attempts to confuse the enemy through camouflage: by hiding one’s assets from detection, while creating fake units elsewhere to misdirect the enemy’s attention. (You might recall one of our older articles about the Germans disguising the battleship Tirpitz as a group of houses. Read our earlier article.) Boeing Wonderland was a fantastically imaginative attempt to hide an entire aircraft production plant from potential Japanese bombers attacking the West Coast.

A hillside in Boeing Wonderland with a house for very short people
(Photo: Boeing)

Boeing Plant 2 in Seattle, Washington, built almost 7,000 B-17 heavy bombers, more than half of all the Flying Fortresses (Read our earlier article) ever constructed. The sprawling factory covered 1,776,000 square feet (165,000 m2, close to two-thirds of a square mile), and was considered a particularly important target for any potential Japanese air raid over the West Coast.

A small part of Boeing Wonderland with short houses and a waist-high car
(Photo: Boeing)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recruited the help of Hollywood artists to “hide” the plant by building an entire fake residential neighborhood nicknamed “Boeing Wonderland” on the roof. The layout of the streets was designed to blend in with a nearby real residential area. The green camouflage netting was repainted in a variety of shades to make the “grass” more realistic, with some “lawns” painted brown to suggest they were not being watered. Houses, schools, public buildings and cars were built of plywood and canvas – since the Japanese were only supposed to ever see it from above, many of these were only 6 feet (180 cm) tall or even lower.

Two pedestrians on a footpath in Boeing Wonderland
(Photo: Boeing)

Shrubs were made out of chicken wire and burlap, and trees were constructed by coating more chicken wire in tar and dipping it in feathers. Street signs were put up, and actors were hired to mill about on the factory’s roof, pretending to be locals. The plant’s employees were also expected to lend a hand by going up top during the breaks and “walk home” or take down the laundry.

Actors having a picnic on the “front lawn” of a Boeing Wonderland residence
(Photo. Boeing)

Victory in Europe Day promotion

10% discount on all tours

French civilians in Reims, France, the site of the (first) German surrender on May 7, 1945, applaud American soldiers during a V-E Day celebration
(Photo: U.S. Army)

In two days, we will celebrate the 79th anniversary of V-E Day, standing for Victory in Europe Day, the date of the formal surrender of the German armed forces in World War II on May 8, 1945. On this occasion, we are offering all our available tours with a 10% discount if you book and pay in full by May 8, 2024. Note that this offer applies only in case of new bookings, and it can be combined with selected special offers. If you have any questions related to this promotion or our tours, please contact our travel consultants at info@beachesofnormandy.com or by calling our toll-free number: +1 855-473-1999.

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