Video Features 3-D Simulation of D-Day Harbor

Anyone looking for a better appreciation of the military engineering marvels behind D-Day should watch Nova’s “D-Day’s Sunken Secrets.”

The two-hour episode of the popular science TV program aired last month on PBS in advance of tomorrow’s 70th anniversary of the June 6, 1944, allied invasion of German-occupied France, and can be viewed in its entirety at the series’ website.

Beginning around the 1 hour 40 minute mark, the video features a 3-D simulation of the Mulberry Harbors, a pair of man-made harbors featuring floating roadways that were used to ferry some 2.5 million troops and half a million vehicles from the sea to shores of Normandy.

“I always knew it was big but I think this makes you feel how big it is and how busy it was,” marine engineer Tim Beckett, whose father designed the harbor, says at one point after seeing the digital creation of the landing area.

The simulation was created by the French software design company Dassault Systèmes, whose products are used by such companies as Boeing Co. to design aircraft. Dassault’s Passion for Innovation Institute also uses the software to model historical engineering triumphs.

The Mulberry Harbor is one of three of the invasion’s critical technologies being digitally recreated by the company as part of a project designed to coincide with the 75th D-Day anniversary in 2019, according to an article by Kelsey Atherton of Popular Science. The others are the Waco CG-4A Hadrian glider and the Higgins Boat.

To recreate the Normandy of yesteryear, the company collected blueprints, scanned underwater areas and used mapping tools to detail the harbor, boats and other wrecked artifacts, Atherton wrote.

The company has its own promotional video of the project posted on its website. Check it out below.

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • Isoroku Yamamoto

    Amazing! Obama would have just let Hitler keep France.

    • oldmtnbkr

      Today’s Congress would be whining that FDR didn’t tell them when the ships were crossing the Channel.

      • Mark Beauch

        Today’s President would have welcomed Hitler to the White House.

        • Kurt Montandon

          Because black guys *love* Hitler.

        • Neil

          Your an idiot.

          • Neil

            Referring to Beauch.

    • Yoshua

      So? France is always the first country to go

    • Franklin D

      At least Hoover didn’t start the war like GW Bush did… And another one at the same time, too, of course.

      • aloo benard olowa

        Not BUSH Terrorists!

    • Mitch S.

      I try to avoid responding to these but I have to point out that the FDR let Hitler keep France (we didn’t go to war against Germany) for a year and a half - until Pearl Harbor.

    • IronV

      No. Obama would have sent a Special Services Regiment team to kill Hitler where he slept.

    • blight_

      “When did Roosevelt know what he knew about Japan…he must be a pro-Jap cripple!”
      ~angry Republican congress?

  • Jasper

    A historic example of British engineering at its best. And with sections still in situ on the Normandy beaches they act as a permanent reminder of the ingenuity, courage and sacrifice given by the allied forces to ensure our world is a safer place.

    • OriginalK

      British engineering was the best in the world at the end of WW2. In aeronautics, high frequency electronics and civil engineering they were tops, particularly as the Germans were no longer in the game. Then they went socialist and threw their technology and research advantages away away with both hands. After all, somebody had to pay for the “free” health care.

      • Stan

        Because it’s so terrible that a state ensures that its people can access health services, when needed. Terrible abuse of its people!

      • Peter

        As a Brit I have to say you are 100% on the target there! If you’re not aware of it look up the story of the TSR2, a truly groundbreaking plane cancelled by a Labour (socialist) government. It wasn’t just the loss of that project but it’s cancellation tore the heart out of the whole UK aircraft industry. There is a joke about an American and a Brit discussing healthcare. The American says how expensive it is in the US and the Brit says You want to see how much it costs when it’s free! Only problem, that’s not a joke.

        • tiger

          While the loss of The UK air industry is sad, The TSR2 was the wrong plane to build. The loss of the Carrier force was the other big killer event. On the bright side They continued the Concorde & Harrier projects.

        • Stan

          At least accessing British health services is not dependent on how much patients can personally pay, unlike the US, where people who can’t pay much, usually go without.

        • Stan

          Peter, there is another joke. When people collapse in America, paramedics feel for a wallet, before a pulse.

        • blight_

          There is no free lunch. And on the other hand, some people have no lunch.

          • Stan

            In America, many more than “some” people have no lunch.

  • blight_

    I feel like the Romans would’ve been proud.

    Heck, if they had to, they probably would’ve been able to lay Mulberries too. Look at Caesarea in the Holy Land…breakwaters built with concrete that could cast underwater.

    Along with the underwater fuel pipe across the English Channel; without logistics we never would’ve gotten far off the beach. Without thousands of ships to ship fuel to England and the hundreds which blew up (and thousands who died) bringing fuel and troops across the English channel…

    • tiger

      Why did he delete that?

  • Mitch S.

    The D-day landings bring to mind the sheer scale of operations in WWII.
    And the armies, armaments and technologies that sprang up and multiplied over the course of about 5 years.

    As far as the technical successes of the Brits and others, it’s worth noting how due to the needs of the war, the vast military and civilian bureaucracies tolerated oddballs that would have otherwise been sidelined.
    Turing, Oppenheimer and Rochefort come to mind.

  • tiger

    Good one, but lets stay on topic…..

  • AussieREMF

    The Mulberry at Omaha Beach was destroyed in the storms of 19-22 June 1944. In the week prior average daily tonnage unloaded reached a peak of 8,700 tons. By 26 June by landing supplies over the beach over 13,000 tons were being landed each day. See, for example, Neptune: The Allied Invasion of Europe and the D-Day Landings by Craig L. Symonds.

    • tiger

      But the second one did hold & kept things flowing for months.

  • tiger

    Speaking of engineering… There was a major Fail. The DD tanks. Those poor SOB’s are still on the bottom. Also, Rommel had a hell of a defense set up. Based on the Nova episode The air support missed the target entirely. The naval Gunfire was poor. Leaving the Germans ready to fight.

  • Phil T

    So cool. I get to work for the company that developed this 3D Virtual Reality video… Also, prior mil, so this is so cool. More coming.

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