D-Day, Innovation Day

Dassault Systèmes' 3D Technologies to Build Bridges between the Engineers of Yesterday and Today by Preserving the Memory of their Remarkable Technological Innovations.

6 June 1944. Area around Sainte-Mère-Église, Manche department. 0400 hours.

About 50 gliders land in the Normandy 'bocage' landscape, crisscrossed by hedgerows and trees. The Allied battalions they carry are tasked with securing the inland areas. The success of Operation Overlord depends on it.

Quinéville, Manche department, to Ouistreham, Calvados. 0630 hours.

Thousands of flat-bottomed landing craft begin arriving, inserting the first British and American troops onto the beaches, from where they will take the coastal areas before pressing inland to liberate the country from Nazi occupation.

Arromanches, Calvados department. Late the same day.

The first concrete sections of an artificial harbour arrive in the bay. A week later, Mulberry B is operational. Over the next five months, it will be used to offload no less than 2.5 million men, 500,000 vehicles and 4 million tonnes of supplies.

Only a few Waco gliders and LCVP craftsurvive to this day, and the remnants of the artificial harbour at Arromanches, once an impressive feat of engineering, are slowly eroding away. To safeguard the memory of these remarkable achievements, Dassault Systèmes has recreated them in an interactive and immersive virtual reality experience. Using the most advanced 3D simulation software applications, Dassault Systèmes’ ‘Passion For Innovation’ institute and its labs have carefully studied the technological innovations, which were fielded in such extreme conditions and still command respect and admiration 70 years later. The result is a fitting tribute to engineers of then and now.

Dassault Systèmes' 3D technologies at the heart of the project

LCVP Landing Craft and Waco Glider

3D construction in CATIA of the LCVP Landing Craft and the Waco glider

The Landing Craft, Vehicle & Personnel (LCVP) designed by American engineer Andrew Higgins offered its various innovative features. Each LCVP could carry a platoon-sized complement of men and weapons. Its flat-bottomed hull allowed it to run right up to the shoreline. The platoon leader would drop the full-width bow ramp and the men would charge down onto the beach. Thanks to its second rudder blade, placed forward of the prop, it would then reverse itself off the beach and head back out to the supply ship for another load.


The Waco CG-4A glider was the aerial counterpart of the LCVP. It could accommodate 13 troops and weapons, plus pilot and copilot. Relatively small, light and maneuverable, as well as silent of course, the Wacos carried troops deep into Normandy’s ‘bocage’ landscape in the early hours of 6 June to secure the inland areas and seize key objectives, such as villages, bridges and crossroads.

Mulberry B Harbor at Arromanches

Demonstration of the interactive 3D experience of the Mulberry B harbor at Arromanches

An artificial harbor was assembled off the coast at Arromanches — the first temporary deepwater facility of its kind ever devised and attempted. Major Allan Beckett of the Royal Engineers developed a system of floating metal roadways mounted on pontoon units of concrete or steel, which connected the beaches to the floating pierheads, further out to sea where large vessels could berth.

Thanks to legs that rested on the seabed but allowed these floating platforms to move up and down with the tide, operations could continue round the clock, which was a world first. The system used to join the floating sections gave them great flexibility, absorbing movements caused by sea swell and the weight of vehicles moving over them. The ‘kite’ anchors, which moored the floating platforms to the seabed, were designed to dig in further when the cable is pulled, keeping the structure firmly in place throughout the landing operations. Huge reinforced concrete caissons were laid in a semicircle around the artificial harbor to form a breakwater, protecting it from tide surges and storm damage. By the end of July 1944, the Mulberry B at Arromanches was the world’s busiest port in terms of traffic volumes.

D-Day documentary [trailer]
Other videos to come