The Electromagnetic Spectrum
Light Sound and Waves

Hiding in the infrared

Stories from Physics for 11-14 14-16 IOP RESOURCES

During the Battle of the Atlantic in the Second World War, the breaking of the enigma code allowed Allied Forces to increase the rate at which they sank German U-boats. Seeking an explanation for the additional losses, Karl Dönitz, a German admiral, came to believe that U-boats were being detected by their infrared emissions – a false belief amplified by rumours spread by British agents. The Germans accepted the story and responded by painting their U-boats with an infrared emission reducing paint. Rather than hiding the U-boats, the new coating increased the vessels’ radar signature, making them more vulnerable to attack.

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