• Families

D-Day Planning

You’ve been entrusted with a super-secret mission. Our mission’s code name is: Operation “Titanic” and the success of D-Day depends on it...

Mission Briefing

Part of the Family Mission series created during the UK lockdown in Spring 2020. CBBC Presenter Ben Shires delivers your mission briefing.

[Onscreen text] Family Mission: Parachute Jump 

Preparations for D-Day 

Codename: “Operation Titanic” 

Greetings recruits! It's Colonel Shires here and you have been entrusted with a super-secret mission. The mission’s name is Operation Titanic and quite simply the success of D-Day depends on it. You're charged with deceiving the enemy and tricking them into believing that D-Day will take place in a completely different location. 

But how will we do that I hear you ask? Well, it's quite simple. We use fake tanks and fake parachutes! Yes, your mission is to create these dummy parachutes for the RAF drop that's taking place tonight. Time is very much of the essence. Sorry, what was that? D-Day took place 76 years ago... Really? Oh well... there you have it.  

Okay so I may have got the wrong year, but fake tanks and parachutes really were used as a trick to deceive the occupying German army in June 1944. The mission was called Operation Titanic and it involved dropping around 500 dummy parachutes in different locations around France to deceive the occupying forces and to disguise the real D-Day landing drop zone in Normandy.  

We need you to put this trick to the test in this week's IWM Family Mission. All you need is a bin bag, some stray scissors, Sellotape, a pen, a ruler and something like this a little toy – preferably with a quiff. The lovely folk at the Imperial War Museum have put all the instructions up on the website – just follow the link in this post. Good luck paratroopers! I've got a good feeling about this mission. Right, now it's time to go give it a test. Chocks away! 


Now that Colonel Shires has relayed your Family Mission brief, you’ll find everything you need below, including your instructions to create your parachute dummy in order to bamboozle the enemy and contribute to the success of D-Day.

What you’ll need:

  • A bin bag
  • String
  • Scissors 
  • Sellotape
  • A pen
  • A ruler
  • A small plastic toy (i.e. an action figure or barbie)


1. Decide how big you want your parachute to be. Do you think that a Big, Medium or Small parachute will work the best for your chosen toy?

You’ll need to consider:

  • The size and weight of your toy
  • The height you’ll be dropping from
  •  The heavier your toy, or the higher up your toy will be parachuting, the bigger your parachute silk might need to be.

2. Draw out your parachute onto the bin bag using the following measurements based on your decision:

  • Big – a square with all sides measuring 30cm.
  • Medium – a square with all sides measuring 20cm
  • Small- a square with all sides measuring 10cm

3. Cut out the square that you have drawn. This is now your parachute silk.

4. Cut 4 pieces of string each measuring 15cm.

5. Place one end of string on each corner of the parachute silk, and Sellotape down.

6. Bring all of the remaining 4 ends of string that aren’t attached the parachute silk together and wrap some Sellotape around the bottom.

7. Sellotape the end to your toy.

8. Now it’s ready for testing. Go top of your stairs, or climb on top of your bed or sofa and see if your parachute works by dropping it from a height.

Warning! Every paratrooper is responsible for making sure every other one is safe before a jump so ask an adult to help you.


  • Did you make the right decision?

    Make another parachute in one of the other sizes to test if you made the right call on the first size parachute silk you chose.

  • Can you land on your target location?

    Draw a target on a piece of paper and place it in your drop zone to see if you can get your toy to land on a marked location.

  • How long can your parachute stay in the air?

    Grab a timer and time how long your parachute can stay in the air from the point that you let go

Did parachuting dummies really play a part in D-Day?


On the night of 5-6 June 1944, as part of Operation ‘Titanic’, the RAF dropped about 500 dummy parachutists over France, in places other than the real D-Day landing location in Normandy. The plan was to trick the occupying German defenders into believing that a large force had landed, drawing their troops away from the Normandy beaches.

They weren’t the only dummies!

Inflatable Sherman tank.
© IWM H 42531
Inflatable Sherman tank.

Big inflatable dummy tanks like this one were also used to trick the German Army into thinking the Allies had more tanks than they actually did and they helped to disguise the true plans for the invasion of France, known as D-Day. The Allied deception strategy for D-Day was one of the most successful ever conceived and helped achieve the key element of surprise.

Don’t forget to tell us how you get on or even better show us your parachute on IWM’s Facebook and Twitter


Explore Further

Inflatable Sherman tank.
© IWM H 42531

D-Day’s Parachuting Dummies and Inflatable Tanks

The Germans knew that at some stage the Allies would launch a cross-Channel invasion, but they were unsure of exactly where or when it would take place. As a crucial part of their preparations for D-Day, the Allies developed a deception plan to draw attention away from Normandy.

Troops of 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade disembarking with bicycles onto Juno Beach
© IWM (A 23938)
Classroom Resource

What was D-Day?

What were the circumstances that prompted D-Day? Discover more in IWM's learning resource. 

Adventures in History: D-Day - People and Planning
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D-Day: People and Planning

Want to hear about the biggest invasion by land, sea and air in history? Discover how D-Day was planned and learn about the real people who were part of it.

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Family Mission has been created with the generous support of Old Possum's Practical Trust