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U.S. ships in World War II had 'phantom decks'

While the U.S. was lucky to fight World War II away from its shores, that meant it had to move massive amounts of supplies across the ocean.


With German submarines sinking American vessels and shipyards busy rebuilding the fleet after the Pearl Harbor attacks, America needed a creative way to pack as much gear on each ship as it could.

(Photo: The Mast magazine, April 1944)

More than 600 tankers received these false top decks and shipped over 20,000 aircraft to Britain in the final years of the war.

Because of the salt water, vehicles and planes on these false decks had to be coated with heavy lubricants or other chemicals to prevent corrosion. Before the Army learned this lesson, many of the tanks that arrived in theater needed extensive work to remove rust before they were fit for service.

When the war ended, the need for phantom decks subsided and the temporary innovations were removed.