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Rec. 1 p.m. LONDON, Aug. 5. The Navy for nearly two years used a phantom fleet of wooden warships, with dummy guns, to hoax enemy reconnaissance aircraft and bombers. They were merchantmen, fitted with elaborate superstructures of plywood and canvas, painted to transform them into replicas of battleships and aircraftcarriers. They were used as bait for U-boats, as decoys to draw away bomber attacks from the base ships at Scapa Flow. The dummy rieet was also used at the Firth of Forth when the Fleet' was away, or to dilute the scale of attacks against the Fleet when in port. They kept the enemy guessing on the strategic disposition of capital ships. The steamer Pakeha became the battleship H.M.S. Revenge, the Waimana became H.M.S. Resolution, and the Mamari was the aircraftcarrier Hermes. Mr. Churchill, as First Lord of the Admiralty, ordered new dummy ships, known as tenders, at the outbreak of war. The Pakeha and Waimana have now been turned over to their owners again, and are running as merchantmen.

Dummy warships to foil the operations of enemy intelligence, reconnaissance aircraft and U-'boats had their innovation in the Great War —really as part of the science of camouflage. In some cases fast merchantmen, camouflaged to represent cruisers, did patrol duty off ports to mislead and draw the attack of U-boats. At other places old vessels, similarly camouflaged, were substituted secretly for actual warships, and, at anchor or on the move, maintained a patrol pretence which was sufficient to fool enemy eyes and dissuade them from action. Their use at Scapa Flow and the Firth of Forth in this war was also the reintroduction of precautions taken in the First World War to mislead enemy eyes. How effective they have proved cannot be estimated, but there were notable cases during the Great War which proved their usefulness. One case is known of»a warship being sunk by enemy mines and her place being taken by a disguised merchantman so effectively that at the end of the war, three years later, enemy records showed that they still believed the warship to be afloat. Camera records made from reconnaissance aircraft, with scale photographs, would have done much to rob these ships of value/ as it was extremely difficult to disguise the size of the vessels used. In superstructure the dummies were.exactly to scale, and would fool almost anyone into believing them actual warships. Were Old Troopships The three Shaw Savill ships mentioned are all old ships with long records of trading between Britain and New Zealand, carrying refrigerated cargo. Two of them, the Pakeha and Waimana, were used as troop transports in the Great War, and their names will revive memories in the minds of old Australian and New Zealand Diggers. The Waimana was among the vessels used to carry men of the Main Body from New Zealand to Europe. The Pakeha, then under the command of Captain R. S. Lewis, now Marine Superintendent for the Shaw, Savill Company at Auckland, was used variously as a 'transport of troops, frozen meat and horses. On one occasion slid carried 700 horses from Australia to Bombay. The Mamari had no war record except as a merchanman. She is believed to have been sunk during this war, though no accurate Information is available. Though the Waimana and the Pakeha are stated to have been returned to the owners they are operating at the direction of the Ministry of Shipping, and are now known as the Empire Waimana and the. Empire Pakeha. Both vessels have visited Auckland since their release from honourable service as "dummy warships" with the Royal Navy.

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Bibliographic details

DUMMY WARSHIPS, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 184, 6 August 1945

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DUMMY WARSHIPS Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 184, 6 August 1945

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