A MAN, A PLAN, A CANAL
According to Fisher, after the success of the Alexandrian experiment, Major Barkas had further important work for the Magic Gang. Could Maskelyne camouflage the Suez Canal, a vital supply line?
The answer was yes. But how could this impossible challenge be met? The Canal was 107 miles long.
Covering it with canvas would be impractical, expensive, and time consuming.
Undaunted, Maskelyne came up with the novel idea of constructing 21 dazzle lights along the length of the Canal to confuse and blind enemy pilots. These powerful searchlights would each hold 24 spinning beams and would project a cartwheeling barrage of light up to nine miles into the sky.
Fisher claims that this radical defensive shield, dubbed Whirling Spray, was a major reason why the Suez Canal remained open for the duration of the war.
According to Fisher, Maskelyne’s dazzle lights were later employed successfully in England: “the Spray received credit for assisting in numerous Heinkel and Messerschmitt kills as well as preventing countless others from reaching their target.”
If only these extraordinary claims were true.
The description of Maskelyne’s near fatal test flight above the deathly dazzle light reads like B-movie melodrama. Fisher based his account on the dubious incident written up in Magic–Top Secret, which has all the hallmarks of the invisible ghost writer.
Let us extract ourselves from the world of make-believe and consider the evidence more seriously.
Photographs of Maskelyne’s searchlight appear in Magic–Top Secret so it is no figment of the ghost writer’s imagination. This website also reveals new photos taken from Maskelyne's own scrapbook.
Did Maskelyne really vanish the Suez Canal by employing this miracle weapon?
Why, indeed, did the Germans fail to close down the Suez Canal? This is a neglected topic. Most historians emphasise the strategic importance of the Suez Canal but do not explain how it was defended.