Primary source material: Deception in World War II by Charles Cruickshank

Churchill during the Battle of Britain

Introduction: After the fall of France in the summer of 1940, Great Britain was faced with the possibility of a German invasion. While most of the fighting was done in the skys over Britain, a ground deception program under the Command of Colonel John Turner helped to contribute to to Britain's eventual victory in the Battle of Britain.


During World War I Great Britain first experimented with the use of dummy airfields and flare paths.

Spring 1939

Great Britain's Air Ministry, in anticipation of war with Germany, hold a conference to discuss plans to build dummy aerodromes for the Royal Air Force(RAF).

August 1939

The Air Ministry decides to postpone the construction of all false aerodromes until essential permanent air stations are built. Men and material could not be spared. Deception would be limited to dummy flare paths and fake lighting-effects to protect the permanent air stations. The Ministry names Colonel Sir John Turner head of the aerodrome deception program known as Colonel Turner's Department in order to disguise its function. This move succeeded in legitimizing the importance of the air deception campaign and uniting the three Air Commands(Fighter, Bomber, and Coastal) under a single policy of deception.

September 1939

Germany invades Poland. Great Britain and France declare war on Germany.

The first phony airplanes are constructed by the British cinema industry for the British deception campaign.

Phoney airplane prior to assembly

Phoney airplane after assembly

Flat Dummy Aircraft

October 1939

First night dummy landing strips are constructed for the RAF.

Winter 1940

Britain constructs first 'K-site'.


May 1940

Adolf Hitler in Paris (NA)

Germany invades France and captures it in June 1940.

June 1940

Britain constructs its first 'Q site'.

August 1940

The Battle of Britain officially begins with a massive assault by German Fighters and Bombers on the English coastline and London.

Dummy factories are built. They successfully attracted German bombers away from the real factories, however, due to their high costs only four were ever constructed.

Fake fires, 'QF' or Starfish sites are first used to attract enemy bombers.

Starfish site

May 1941

The Battle of Britain officially ends as German fighters and bombers are transfered to the Russian border in preparation for Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of Russia.

January 1942

Due to Allied air supeiority and a consequent decrease in German bomber attacks as well as a decreasing effectiveness(most had been discovered by the enemy) of the daytime dummy air stations, most daytime airstations are closed down.

May 1942

Last K-site is closed.

Conclusion: K-sites, Q-sites, Starfish, phoney airplanes and factories deceived German flyers into unloading their bomb payloads on false targets. The success of the British deception program during the Battle of Britain contributed to Britain's victory in the skys and fostered Hitler's postponement of Operation Sealion, the invasion of Great Britain.