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Bucharest Bombing Decoy

On 17 May 1944, a Mosquito aircraft of No.60 (Photographic Reconnaissance) Squadron, South African Air Force, photographed an apparent complex of railway maintenance sheds and oil storage tanks 10km west of Bucharest, Romania.


The lack of railway lines, interconnecting roads and surrounding buildings, however, identifies this site as a bombing decoy. This half-size replica was intended to draw Allied bomber aircraft away from the real facilities in north-west Bucharest, shown below. 

Taken during the same sortie, this image shows the actual railway repair and maintenance depot, situated along the Calea Grivitei in Bucharest. Two large maintenance sheds can be seen, with multiple sidings leading west onto the main line, along with a cluster of small oil storage tanks at left of centre.
While the shape of the railway sheds are faithfully represented by the decoy, the oil storage tanks are smaller and occupy a much smaller relative area than their decoy counterparts.

To the east of the decoy maintenance sheds and oil tanks is a representation of the Bucharest Gara de Nord railway station, with its long platforms and roofs of different lengths. Marks on the ground simulate railway lines leading west, away from the station, past a decoy semi-roundhouse.
Behind the decoy station, to the east, is an open square feature, intended to represent the CFR Palace, headquarters of the Romanian state railway.

This image shows the real Gara de Nord railway station, with the monolithic CFR Palace to the east. Recent bombing activity is evidenced by the presence of craters across the railway tracks and damage to the station roof. The semi-roundhouse, used for storing and repairing locomotives and visible at lower left of the image, has been destroyed.


Decoys were placed in open countryside to avoid collateral damage to civilians and buildings in vulnerable cities, however the lack of surrounding buildings and roads often diminished their ability to deceive. Despite being built in a location where the orientation of field boundaries closely matches the general street pattern in Bucharest, the lack of bomb damage in the vicinity of the decoy in these images shows that it was insufficiently realistic to confuse Allied airmen.