The successful protection of the Canal in 1941 from enemy air attack was due to a concerted team effort over several months, which skillfully drew upon conventional means of defence. It was not based on Maskelyne’s dazzle lights.
There is no hard evidence that Maskelyne ever positioned a set of whirling spray searchlights along the Canal. There is no evidence he brought down even a single enemy aircraft with these magic beams.
Why is there no night-time photographic record of Maskelyne’s whirling spray in action? Magic–Top Secret boasts: ”we managed to create beams nine miles long, twenty-four of them from each searchlights… the magic mirrors were a success, and the next job was to get the device into mass production. With them, we made twenty-one searchlights serve for the entire one-hundred-mile length of the Suez Canal.”
Is Maskelyne indulging in a Wagnerian fantasy? His whirling spray would have eclipsed Speer’s infamous columns of light used at the Nuremburg rallies.
If Maskelyne’s blinding ‘death rays’ were so impressive, why did he not transfer this technology to the defence of Alexandria as well?
Interestingly, Alistair Maskelyne suspects that his father’s searchlights were never fully implemented. In his first letter, he wrote: “The ‘Dazzle Lights’ were an idea which was, I believe, constructed only in one prototype and tested on one occasion.”