Acoustic deception in land warfare?

shin_getter

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Acoustic sensors is generally a tertiary in importance in land warfare and not paid much attention. That said, all sensors offer opportunity for tactical advantage via deception.

So does anyone know of deception tactics and equipment around sound in land warfare?

While sensors focused on loud sounds, like artillery sounding, there is likely no generation method that is significantly cheaper (explosives production limits artillery in ww1) than doing the main activity. That said, not all acoustic sensors is focused on very loud sounds.

Some possible applications:
1. Defeating sound based unattended sensors like igloo-white type sensor net, WAM, anti-helicopter mines and likes.
2. Deception against humans with sounds of things like helicopter, heavy combat vehicles and anything you can imagine.
3. Deception against things like gunfire locators (which may have other operating modes like helicopter localization)
4. Deception in the context of subterranean warfare
 

riggerrob

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During the D-Day Invasion,, WALLIES dropped hundreds of dummy paratroopers. These small parachutes had explosive (fire-crackers) to simulate small-arms fire. The primary contribution of paratroopers was to confuse German defenders.
 

Hood

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During WW2 sonic deception was tried several times but it proved tricky to get right, it had to be right volume not to sound fake or not too quiet so the enemy couldn't make out the sounds they wanted him to hear.
I don't think it was particularly successful. I don't know much about post-war efforts but I presume techniques would have been refined as audio technology has improved.

A good WW2 book on all things deception (from the Allied side) is The Deceivers: Allied Military Deception in the Second World War, by Thaddeus Holt.

Oddly the 1961 film The Long and the Short and the Tall was based around the fate of a sonic deception unit in Burma, perhaps the only time the technique entered the silver screen. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Long_and_the_Short_and_the_Tall_(film)
 
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dan_inbox

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AFAIK in the old times the IDF training included a peculiar "sound deception" at night:
during night fighting, the poor uneducated Egyptian fellahs have their superstitions, fears and imagination run wild. So after contact, our troops attacking were encouraged to scream "devilish cries" to play on those fears. IIRC it was used in 1956 with reasonable success (hearsay, it was before my time).

Of course, if the devils are against you, it gets harder...
 

kaiserbill

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The South African psy-ops teams played hyena howls throughout the nights via Groundshout equipment....aimed at Angolan troops. It had the dual purpose of keeping them awake, and fraying their nerves.
I am unsure whether they used the system for other purposes.
I wouldn't be surprised as they constructed "artillery" from trees, then lobbed smoke mortar shells into those "artillery" positions to simulate firing, to try set up an ambush via SAM's (Cactus) on Cuban MiGs.
 

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DWG

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The South African psy-ops teams played hyena howls throughout the nights via Groundshout equipment....aimed at Angolan troops. It had the dual purpose of keeping them awake, and fraying their nerves.
Shades of the US in Panama bombarding the Vatican Mission with Springsteen to try and force Noriega to surrender.
 

Graham1973

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AFAIK in the old times the IDF training included a peculiar "sound deception" at night:
during night fighting, the poor uneducated Egyptian fellahs have their superstitions, fears and imagination run wild. So after contact, our troops attacking were encouraged to scream "devilish cries" to play on those fears. IIRC it was used in 1956 with reasonable success (hearsay, it was before my time).

Of course, if the devils are against you, it gets harder...

Anecdotally I have seen reports that Japanese soldiers during WWII were provided with cards bearing short English phrases like 'Don't Shoot', 'Pull Back' 'Stand up Corporal Smith', etc with the idea of causing confusion to the enemy during the attack.
 

robunos

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I knew I'd seen something on this theme, a little searching came up with this, a US Army sonic deception unit in the ETO using loudspeakers mounted on armoured vehicles . . .

"Thirty M10s were modified for a special Signal
Corps project during the Fall of I944. Highly classified
at the time. this project involved the installation of
powerful sound systems to deceive the enemy. Using
wire recordings played through loudspeakers, the
equipment could simulate the sound of many kinds of
military activity such as construction projects or tank
and troop movements. The sound equipment was
installed in 24 M10s after replacement of the 3 inch gun
with a dummy and some rearrangement of the interior.
For security purposes. these vehicles were designated
as "Special Cars“. The remaining six M10s were called
"Control Cars“ and they retained their armament.
Some programming equipment was installed in the latter
vehicles replacing part of the 3 inch ammunition
stowage.
The 30 M10s were modified at the York Safe and
Lock Company and shipped to the Army Experimental
Station at Pine Camp. New York during September
1944. The sound equipment was installed at Pine
Camp and the vehicles were taken overseas by the
3133rd Signal Service Company. They were in operation
in northern Italy early in I945."

Source: Hunnicutt's 'Sherman', page 370.


"The most secret version oi the
M18 was the “Sonic M39” one
of a number of vehicles
configured with a large
retractable loud-speaker for
broadcasting tank sounds to
deceive enemy forces about
the location of US units. The
vehicles in the background are
Sonic M10 tank destroyers,
which were used in combat in
1944-45 in Italy and the ETO
on these deception missions."

Source: Osprey New Vanguard 97 'M18 Hellcat', page 42.


"One of the oddest variants of
the M10 was the so-called Sonic M10
of which two dozen were converted.
The gun was removed and the barrel
replaced with e dummy. An array
of loudspeakers was mounted
inside the turret, hinged so that
they could be elevated tor use
as seen here, or folded inside
when not in use. These were
used in both France and Italy to
deceive the Germans about the
locations of US armored units
by broadcasting fake armored
vehicle sounds. "

Source: Osprey New Vanguard 57 'M10 and M36 Tank Destroyers', page 18.

cheers,
Robin.
 

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dan_inbox

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Any info on how successful those Sonic M10s were?
 

robunos

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That's all I could find so far . . . :confused:

cheers,
Robin.
 

Hood

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Some relevant info from The Deceivers: Allied Military Deception in the Second World War, by Thaddeus Holt.

Sonic deception was given two overall codenames:
POPLIN - British
HEATER - American

It had no strategic value, only tactical value in trying to spoof the enemy into a different direction for example by fake tank noises, landing craft engine noises or bridge construction noises.

The British used sound film and the Americans used magnetic wire, the former gave greater fidelity and the latter greater volume. Both POPLIN and HEATER were small enough to mount on scout or armoured cars and in small landing craft. Lighter models were also used by paratroops.
The Americans used AIR HEATER in aircraft, codenamed POLLY as a PA system capable of transmitting from 2-5,000ft to the ground and normally used for voice messages.
GAS HEATER projected vehicle engine sounds by direct horn amplification from the exhaust.
WATER HEATER (aka CANARY HEAD) was a torpedo that went to a selected point, would then float until the pre-set time and then stick up the loudspeaker above the water to broadcast its sounds.
DUCK HEAD was the same as CANARY HEAD but transmitted radio broadcasts instead.
The Americans also developed BUNSEN BURNER which was a radio receiver and loudspeaker which could be parachute dropped and would operate for up to 4 hours broadcasting sounds or voice messages transmitted to it, then it would self-destruct.

It was found that HF sound waves were absorbed by air and LF tended to mask easily and weather affected things too. Experience showed it was better to synthesise characteristic sound elements rather than trying to accurately reproduce sounds.

Beyond loudspeakers were the simulated weapons firing; paper noise bombs that produced sound and flash, the British PARAFLEX parachute-dropped rifle and grenade simulators. The idea was to mix PARAFLEX with dummy parachutists, PINTAIL and BUNSEN BURNERs to create a mini platoon-sized dummy force that could last from 1-6 hours.
Similar rifle and grenade simulators in Burma designed by Major Andre Burcat were codenamed BURCAT SAUSAGES, BURCAT STRIPS and BURCAT CRACKERS.

The British 'A' Force first tried sonic deception to try and dislodge Major Bach's forces holding the Halfaya Pass following the German withdrawal after Operation Crusader in December 1941. Lt R.A. Bromley-Davenport was given the task and went on to devise the early sonic deception kit. An Egyptian film studio recorded tank sounds and these were played through propaganda speakers on Christmas Eve night in an attempt to draw Bach's defences against another sector. The attack on Christmas Day failed but 'A' Force stuck with sonic deception.

Following this, 'A' Force created a force of 3 armoured cars fitted with sonic deception equipment.
SONIA was the prototype, completed in June 1942. Initially permission to use it had to be obtained from London but Auchinlek managed to get permission to use it during the defence of the Nile Delta. It was also used during the opening attack at El Alamein with success, convincing some German defenders that an Allied infantry attack had tank support and once it was called on to call a German unit to surrender. The British 'A' Force first tried sonic deception to try and dislodge Major Bach's forces holding the Halfaya Pass following the German withdrawal after Operation Crusader in December 1941. An Egyptian film studio recorded tank sounds and these were played through propaganda speakers on Christmas Eve night in an attempt to draw Bach's defences against another sector. The attack on Christmas Day failed but 'A' Force stuck with sonic deception.
ORA was the second car, completed in November 1942. The equipment intended for ORA was used aboard an MTB during the night of 23/24 October 1942 to fake an amphibious assault against Baggush on the North African coast by broadcasting winch sounds and anchors being dropped and weighed. No result was detected.
There was a third car too but the retreat of Rommel saw no use for the cars until 1944 in Italy (two Light Scout Car Companies with POPLIN fitted cars and a Light Car Field Park which was a larger unit), with little success due to terrain and with so much real military traffic on a narrow front they had no real role.
'D' Force in Burma in December 1943 also received two Light Scout Car Companies and a Light Car Field Park.

In the US, the USN put Douglas Fairbanks to work on sonic deception paired with Prof. Harold Burns-Meyer who was a pioneer of stereophonic sound reproduction. At first they looked at ear-splitting sounds and "sonic bombs" before settling on sonic deception. They tested their kit off Sandy Hook on 27 October 1942 at night with success during a training exercise. This work led to the 'Beach Jumpers' who were sent to the Med for Husky.

The US Army in 1944 raised the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, a unit to simulate a corps of one armoured and two infantry divisions. Part of this unit was the 3132nd Signal Service Company (Special) for sonic deception to simulate the sounds of the armoured division. They were given AT and AA protection and went into Normandy in July 1944.
The US Army also raised the 3133rd and 3134th and operated Army Experimental Station at Pine Camp, NY, for training and developing sonic deception. The 3133rd were earmarked for the Pacific but ended up in Italy in March 1945 and was used successfully a couple of times before the end of the war.
 

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