The Role of Air Compressors and Pumps in the Battle Against the Nazis in WWII 

New air compressor on a white background.

Even seventy years later, stories of the war emerge to astound and astonish those for whom the war is distant history. The wars were fought on multiple fronts, in so many ways, using aircraft, ships, submarines, artillery, rifles, amphibious assaults, and countless other axillary weapons and tactics. Behind all of this, of course, was incredible tactile, strategic, engineering, and creative brainpower that coalesced to form the Allied defense against the Nazis. The war effort was not only composed of men but of machines and tools that allowed men to complete their missions. Two of those less-talked-about tools include the handy pump (used in Navy ships) and the air compressor that assisted many land missions and others. 

Using Compressed Air and Imagination To Take the Enemy By Surprise 

When most people think of ground operations in Nazi-occupied Germany or other parts of the Western front, they think of heavy artillery, tanks, machine guns, and all that good stuff. And yet, to win the war, the Allies had to use more than just pure military muscle.

The art of deception was a central part of inching towards victory. 

Deceiving the enemy has always been part of military strategy, from the Trojan Horse in Greek mythology to Alexander the Great, to the British Q-ships in World War I, to modern warfare. The United States and Britain used their fair share of guile and cunning to get the upper hand on the Nazis. 

Operation Fortitude and Inflatable Tanks

One of the most famous examples of award-winning cleverness in wartime was operation fortitude, leading up to the invasion of Normandy. The plan consisted of Fortitude North (fooling the Germans that America planned to attack Norway) and Fortitude South (fooling the Germans on the location of the France invasion area to be north-east of Normandy in Pas de Calais). Dummy tanks were lined up in corresponding areas of Britain to trick German reconnaissance planes into believing the ploy and confusing them into thinking that the advance was much larger than it was. These inflatable tanks depended on trusted air compressors to achieve the size and dimensions of a real tank. 

The Ghost Army and Their Artistic Ploys to Win the War 

There is a famous story that pertains to the Ghost Army: A Frenchman standing on a field somewhere in France saw a few American soldiers pick up a tank from the bottom and run with it. The Frenchman’s eyes widened and somebody told him, “The Americans are very strong.” It wasn’t until 1985 when the Smithsonian Magazine began telling the story, that the Ghost Army—not included in a lot of the official literature—began making the rounds after its missions were declassified. The Ghost Army did not consist of regular soldiers but was made up of illustrators, artists, radio people, and sound guys. Their role was to impersonate real Army units and go around Nazi-occupied France, Belgium, and Luxembourg showcasing the art of deception through inflatable tanks and airplanes, speakers, phony radio transmissions, and more. 

One of these soldiers was Irwin Vanderheide, a radio communications specialist. The whole idea was these guys would—in the cover of darkness or when the Germans were not looking—replace actual units to make advancements seem larger, divert attention, or let real units take breaks. These soldiers carried their air compressors, radios, and speakers everywhere they went and had the same uniforms and insignia as the unit they mimicked.  In March of 1945, they staged amassing of thousands of troops near the Rhine River as the Allies readied to storm the last lines of the German defense. This deceived the Germans into thinking that the advancement was about a month away. The real invasion, however, came much sooner and from a different location than the mock setup. The element of surprise was essential!

The Essential Pumps of the U.S Navy Ships

The war was not only fought on the ground but also through the help of the United States Navy. The Handy Billy is one of these famous tools of war that came in handy for so many Navy ships that faced enemy fire or emergency situations. This is an emergency pump that pumped 50 gallons per minute and was gasoline-powered. It was particularly useful because of its portability, which helped. In World War II, it weighed 160 pounds and would have to be carried by two sailors, one on each end. Nevertheless, it was incredibly handy in flooding situations.

These are only a few examples of how this type of equipment played a role in the war effort. There are many more, as the war effort was massive and consisted of many working parts and moving components. Air compressors and pumps were also used in medical facilities, stations, and more. 

Equipment to Get You Through The Rough Day 

We know that pumps, air compressors, and boilers are highly valuable to any industrial endeavor, factory, production line, or commercial space. We are dedicated to providing equipment and service that keeps these necessary tools dependable and doing their work. These tools are a part of the industrial nation’s history and advancement, although they don’t often get the credit they deserve. 

Is your commercial property, factory, or industrial space in need of quality equipment? Call Wisco Supply today and talk to an equipment specialist. Find out how we can help.