Bud Bier heard men shouting. “Let’s get that tank out of here! We’ve got to move out!” He watched the tanks driving past him, felt the rumble of the engines.

The performance, in the French countryside in 1944, was going smoothly. The sound system, the actors, the props — including some real artillery vehicles and lots of inflatable neoprene replicas — were all in place.

This was theater production on a grand scale, as a strategy of war, an elaborate fakeout to trick the Germans into believing large forces of Allied troops were being massed where they were not. The unit used inflatable tanks and what have been described as “gigantic speakers” to replicate the noise of an army 20 times its size as it served as a decoy.

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Image courtesy of Boston Globe Staff

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