Hiding in the infrared
Stories from Physics for 11-14 14-16
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.