Podcast | Boeing’s WWII camouflage stunt that fooled the world

The company’s Plant 2 was so crucial that the military asked Hollywood to hide it from the enemy. Knute Berger shares the story.

Boeing Wonderland houses

“Boeing Wonderland” consisted of short structures that looked real from high altitude. (The Boeing Company)

From the moment the United States entered World War II, Seattle was vital to the war effort. Boeing’s Plant 2 was a key manufacturing hub for thousands of B-17 bombers, one of the Allies’ most important tools in Europe.  

Fearing the consequences of a military attack on the facility, the U.S. Army hired a Hollywood set designer to help make its roof look – at least from the air – like just another suburban neighborhood.  

 Subscribe to Mossback on Apple PodcastsSpotifyAmazonGoogle Podcasts, or Podbean.

Cascade PBS’ resident historian Knute Berger explored this historic feat of camouflage in a recent episode of the Mossback’s Northwest video series, but there’s much more to the story.  

In this episode of Mossback, Berger and co-host Stephen Hegg dig into why the U.S. military went to such great lengths to hide the Boeing plant in the first place; John Stewart Detlie’s little-known legacy in Seattle; Detlie’s gossip-strewn relationship with actress Veronica Lake; and what all of this tells us about the war’s lasting impact on the Pacific Northwest. 

About the Hosts

Knute Berger

Knute Berger

Knute “Mossback” Berger is Crosscut's Editor-at-Large.

Stephen Hegg

Stephen Hegg

Stephen is formerly a senior video producer at Crosscut and KCTS 9. He specialized in arts and culture.