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.