Sound mysterious? Just another example of a covert operation that the White House would never talk about, giving Joe Public another reason to suspect the motives of those in power. According to the history books, Project Rainbow involved an experiment conducted both in the Philadelphia Naval Yard and at sea, on a small destroyer escort ship during World War II.
The military wanted to make ships invisible to enemy detection, whether just to enemy radar or more profoundly so still isn’t clear. In any event, it is thought that they set out to achieve this by generating an incredibly intense magnetic field around the ship. This field which would cause refraction – the bending of light or radar waves, similar to the mirages you see because of heated air rising from roads on a hot day.
The experiment worked beautifully, it was claimed… except that the ship actually disappeared physically for a time, and then returned. They wanted (in true Star Trek fashion) to “cloak” the ship from view, but what they got was perhaps even beyond the dreams of any science fiction fan, or it would have been if it had worked properly. Had the ship been through a wormhole?
Apparently it was thought that Albert Einstein’s “Unified Field Theory for Gravitation and Electricity” might be used to help develop a system of electronic camouflage for ships at sea. Einstein is thought to have published it around 1925-27 in German, in a Prussian scientific journal, but it was later withdrawn as incomplete.
The real horror of this whole story begins in June of 1943, with the U.S.S. Eldridge, DE (Destroyer Escort) 173, being fitted with tons of experimental electronic equipment. This included, according to one source, two massive Tesla coils of 75 KVA, each mounted where the forward gun turret would have been, distributing their power through four magnetic coils mounted on the deck, along with three RF transmitters of 2 megawatt CW each.
Three thousand ‘6L6’ power amplifier tubes (used to drive the field coils of the two generators), special synchronizing and modulation circuits, and a host of other specialized hardware were employed to generate massive electromagnetic fields which, when properly configured, would be able to bend light and radio waves around the ship, making it, in theory, invisible to enemy observers.
On July 22nd, 1943, at 9.00am, so it’s said, power to the generators was turned on aboard the Eldridge, and the massive electromagnetic fields started to build up. A greenish fog was seen to slowly envelop the ship, hiding it from view. Then the fog itself is said to have disappeared, taking the Eldridge with it, leaving only undisturbed water where the ship had been anchored only moments before.
Top Navy officers and the scientists involved were awe-struck at the sheer impossibility of it – the ship and crew were not only radar invisible but invisible to the eye as well! Everything worked as planned, and about fifteen minutes later they ordered the men to shut down the generators. The greenish fog slowly reappeared, and the Eldridge began to reappear as the fog subsided, though it was obvious that something had gone horribly wrong.
When those on shore went aboard, they found that the crew above deck were disoriented and nauseous, and unable to speak about what they experienced. The whole crew was highly distressed, so the Navy replaced the entire ship’s company. Deciding in the end that they only really wanted radar invisibility, they had adjustments made to the on board equipment.
It took some time to get re-organised, so it wasn’t until October 28th of the same year, at 17:15, that they were ready to perform the final test on the Eldridge. The electromagnetic field generators were turned on again, and this time the Eldridge became merely near-invisible; only a faint outline of the hull remaining visible in the water. Everything went well for several seconds before, in a blinding blue flash, the ship completely vanished, reappearing again many miles away, in Norfolk, Virginia, where it was seen to stay for several minutes.
The Eldridge then disappeared again from Norfolk and reappeared back in Philadelphia Naval Yard seconds later. This time most of the sailors were violently sick. Some of the crew were simply “missing” never to return. Some went crazy, but, strangest of all, five men were fused to the metal in the ship’s structure. They must have suffered horrendously painful deaths, but we shall probably never know.
This was hushed up for many years, because it had been such a gross miscalculation of the natural forces involved. Those who survived were never the same again, mostly being discharged as “mentally unfit” for duty, though this tells nothing of their real mental or physical conditions at the time.
What began as an experiment in electronic camouflage became the de-materialization and teleportation of an entire ship and crew, to a distant location and back again, all in a matter of minutes! Fantastic as this might seem, we need to recall that the atomic bomb was also being invented at this time, and look where that eventually led. Like the ever mysterious Area 51, and the highly secretive Skunk Works at Lockheed, this appears to have been another shot at gaining knowledge of advanced technology which the government doesn’t want to discuss.
There was a film made called ‘The Philadelphia Experiment’ some years back, and authorities were a little too keen to dismiss it as pure fantasy. ‘Beam me up, Scotty’ did become reality, it seems, for those crew of the Eldridge who survived, but no records exist to which the general public have any access. Did the idea behind the experiment really die with those poor crewmen? Chances are that we will never know.