The color pink and material made of lace were two of the reasons we won World War II. Well, perhaps not the overriding factors in our march toward victory against the forces of evil, but amazingly enough, the color pink and lacy material were two unique ways in which American troops attempted to befuddle and trick the enemy, and gain an advantage when tangling with opposing forces. Fact is sometimes stranger than fiction…and this is one of those times.
Camouflage is Pink
When something is camouflaged, it usually means that it is a very similar color to its surroundings. If we think of camouflage for an airplane, we might think to paint it blue or perhaps white. However, in World War II, some planes were actually painted pink. Pink?
The Spitfire was a iconic British fighter plane that captured the public’s imagination during World War II due to its speed and agility. Though America supplied plenty of aid to the British before and during the war, it was the British who supplied the Americans with planes for the first American fighter squadrons in Europe, and those planes were the Spitfire.
The Spitfire became a common choice for reconnaissance missions. They went through several rounds of camouflage paint, from dark brown to pale gray to baby blue to pink. Many of these planes were painted a powder pink. Why pink, you ask? Seems like pink would make them easy targets, signaling the enemy from ten miles away – hey here I am, shoot me down!
However, believe it or not, pink is a good camouflage color…for small planes in the sky. From the ground, we see the sky as blue because particles in the sky scatter blue light. Clouds scatter all types of light and against the backdrop of a blue sky, they appear white or greyish. However, in the sky, visible light is filtered out and redirected, and often casts a pinkish hue on objects in the sky. The Spitfires often flew their missions at dawn and dusk when they blended in with the pinkish hue of the cloud cover. A light pink plane was much harder to see in the sky that you would imagine.
Lace as a Way to Hide in Place
When we think of lace, most of our thoughts turn to sexy lingerie. Well, my thoughts do. But, lace has a completely different meaning for some soldiers who fought on the ground in World War II. During the Battle of the Bulge, an enterprising Army Sergeant, William Furia found a pair of white lace curtains in an abandoned home in Luxembourg. He most likely was seeking some humor and a brief moment of levity during the horrors of war when he put the lace curtain on his head, but he soon figured out that the lace offered some strategic advantage in the harsh European winter. When placed over his helmet, it helped him and the other soldiers blend with the snow that blanketed the area. A little bit of lace and plenty of ingenuity gave one American troop a tactical advantage over the enemy. And most likely a few hard-earned laughs.
Pink and lace – true unknown strategic instruments of war. It is doubtful that they changed the course of history, but they most likely saved a few lives on the ground and helped our pilots gather strategic information on reconnaissance missions. So, the next time your wife puts on some pink, lacy lingerie, you can give her a history lesson. Or not.