During World War II the Japanese built some nine thousand hydrogen-filled, paper balloons to carry small bombs to North America, hoping to set fires and inflict casualties.  About 300 balloon bombs were found or observed in America. On November 3, 1944, Japan released fusen bakudan, or balloon bombs, into the Pacific jet stream.They each carried four incendiaries and one thirty-pound high-explosive bomb. America, Canada and Mexico were all placed under assault from one of the most ingenious and dastardly weapons of WW2 - the Japanese balloon bomb. The Japanese did not have a long range and heavy bomber like the B-29 that could level American cities, nor did it have enough aircraft carriers to transport what few aircrafts they had across the ocean. Elsie Mitchell is buried in the Ocean View Cemetery in Port Angeles, Washington. A few balloons carried radiosonde equipment rather than bombs. Through Firefly, the military used the United States Forest Service as a proxy agency to combat FuGo. AP Photo Using balloons to carry bombs was not a new idea. When the balloon descended below 30,000 ft (9.1 km), it electrically fired a charge to cut loose sandbags. The Fourth Air Force, Western Defense Command, and Ninth Service Command organized the Firefly Project of 2,700 troops, including 200 paratroopers of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion with Stinson L-5 Sentinel and Douglas C-47 Skytrain aircraft. It was only available in squares about the size of a road map, so it was glued together in three or four laminations using edible konnyaku (devil's tongue) paste – though hungry workers stealing the paste for food created some problems.  Perhaps as a result, the Japanese only learned of one bomb's reaching Wyoming, landing and failing to explode. The Japanese balloon bomb was a brilliant invention built to offset the loss of Japanese air power during the war in the Pacific. , The remains of a balloon bomb were found in Lumby, British Columbia, in October 2014 and detonated by a Royal Canadian Navy ordnance disposal team. Extensive use of Operational Analysis in planning these attack made them far more successful. At first the balloons were made of conventional rubberized silk, but improved envelopes had less leakage. Angry citizens congregated outside the telephone office, banging on the windows and doors. After several hundred tests, the Japanese released the first balloon bomb, named fugo, or “wind-ship weapon,” on November 3, 1944. Japan Used These Balloons To Bomb America in World War II. Joan Patzke survived the initial blast, but died later. Earlier this summer, World War II historian G. P. Cox posted an excellent blog entry in his blog Pacific Paratrooper about Japanese balloon bombs reaching the United States. A balloon launch organization of three battalions was formed. The rest were children barely into their teens. Type 92 33-pound (15 kg) high-explosive bomb consisting of 9.5 pounds (4.3 kg). A memorial, the Mitchell Monument, is located at the point of the explosion, 69 miles (111 kilometers) northeast of Klamath Falls in the Mitchell Recreation Area. By early 1945, Americans were becoming aware that something strange was going on. The deaths occurred when the victims decided to touch the balloon, thus causing it to explode. There was evidence of a small fire nearby suggesting that the bomb may have started the fire. © Copyright 2020 Center for the National Interest All Rights Reserved. Suddenly Elsie called out to him. The designers planned to have the balloons drop their ordnance via timed fuses, but an important question had to be answered: how would the device maintain altitude for 70 hours as it traversed 6,000 miles of ocean? Two years passed before the Japanese launched the first operational balloon bomb across the Pacific. Each launch procedure required 30 personnel and took half an hour to complete. The balloon bomb, though seemingly a passive weapon, provided the Japanese with an effective method of bringing the war to American shores without expending enormous amounts of manpower and materiel. Designated by the National Register of Historic Places in 2003, this is the only place on the continental United States where Americans were killed by … On May 5, 1945, a pregnant woman and five children were killed when they discovered a balloon bomb that had landed in the forest of Gearhart Mountain in Southern Oregon. The engineers devised a control system driven by an altimeter to discard ballast. During World War II the Japanese built some nine thousand hydrogen-filled, paper balloons to carry small bombs to North America, hoping to set fires and inflict casualties. The Japanese did not have a long range and heavy bomber like the B-29 that could level American cities, nor did it have enough aircraft carriers to transport what few aircrafts they had across the ocean. More than 9,000 of these incendiary weapons … Archie Mitchell was the pastor of the Bly Christian and Missionary Alliance Church. Japanese fire balloons used to attack the US during WW2. The Japanese high command launched balloon bombs against the United States for a period of six months, from November 1944 through the spring of 1945. The Japanese used them to determine the possibility of the bomb-carrying balloons reaching The United States. Near Medford, Oregon, a balloon bomb exploded in towering flames. The nerve-shattering echo of an exploding bomb rolled across the mountain landscape. Ingenious, diabolical and ultimately ineffective, the Fu-Go project was the world’s first intercontinental weapons delivery system. 11-pound (5.0 kg) thermite incendiary bomb consisting of a 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) steel tube 15.75 inches (40.0 cm) long containing thermite with an ignition charge of magnesium. Much worse, the Americans had some knowledge that the Japanese had been working on biological weapons, most specifically at the infamous Unit 731 site at Pingfan in northeast China, and a balloon carrying biowarfare agents could be a real threat. The Japanese set a production goal of 10,000 balloons. A bomb disposal expert guessed that the bomb had been kicked. Each balloon comes flat: to use, simply blow in the hole which will force the balloon to expand, inflate and form into its circular shape character .The balloons can be flattened and blown up over and over again. The 10-meter (33 ft) diameter balloons were inflated with hydrogen and typically carried one 15 kilograms (33 lb) bomb, or one 12 kilograms (26 … When detonated, the bombs might trigger massive forest fires in the northwestern United States that would divert manpower from the war effort and knock the lumber industry back on its heels. A DVD of "On a Wind and a Prayer" is available at Amazon.com. Taking advantage of the easterly winds, the Japanese created “fire-balloon bombs” that would drift across the Pacific, carried by hydrogen power, and explode over the western United States. Japanese Balloon Bombs In 1944, during World War II, Japan launched a top secret project, nearly two years in the making, to send thousands of "balloon bombs" (called Fu-Go Weapons) to the United States. A sudden explosion rent the air. Amazing that the Japanese knew about the prevailing air currents and the US did not. The Japanese figured that the Fugo balloon bombs, about 70 to 80 feet high, 30 feet in diameter and filled with hydrogen, would ride eastward on the jet stream, each carrying a couple of incendiary bombs and a 33-pound antipersonnel bomb. The Mitchell Monument marks the spot near Bly, Oregon, where six people were killed by a Japanese balloon bomb during World War II. Discover Japanese Balloon Bomb Memorial in Klamath County, Oregon: The victims of a free-floating Japanese bombing during WWII are remembered by this stone monument. , The jet stream reported by Wasaburo Oishi blew at altitudes above 30,000 ft (9.1 km) and could carry a large balloon across the Pacific in three days, over a distance of more than 5,000 miles (8,000 km). Discover Site of a Japanese Balloon Bomb Explosion in Omaha, Nebraska: These experimental weapons brought World War II to Nebraska as well as 26 other U.S. states. These Japanese paper balloons are made from bright, crisp environmental paper. Their launch sites were located on the east coast of the main Japanese island of Honshū. The American media reported on many of the earliest recoveries, but in January 1945 the government’s Office of Censorship, hoping to convince the Japanese that their program was failing, ordered a publicity blackout. Japanese FUGO balloon carried a 33lb anti-personnel bomb.  They assembled the paper in many parts of Japan. It's a quirky story [of] World War II. Japanese Balloon Bomb (U.S. Air Force) Upon tending his garden, John T. Cook of Gill Road found something that looked like a “new tin can as the material had a bright metallic finish,” according to a declassified Security and Intelligence Division report on the incident. ROSS COEN: Apparently, this bomb was not of any particular American make, and matched known characteristics of Japanese bombs. Meanwhile, the North Dorr balloon has returned to Michigan, after more than 70 years. Another dashed to the nearby telephone office, where Cora Conner was running the town’s two-line exchange that day. Their Proposed Airborne Carrier research and development program explored several ideas, including the initial idea of balloon bombs, according to Robert Mikesh. Moreover, the potential devastation would hammer away at American morale. The balloon bombs were possibly viewed as a means of exacting some revenge for the extensive US bombing of Japanese cities, which were particularly vulnerable to incendiary attacks. In retaliation, the Japanese high command injected new life into its previously dormant balloon project, which had begun in the early 1930s but had been relegated to the back burner as other wartime priorities took hold. A military intelligence officer scrambled out of the car and joined Conner inside. , The bombs most commonly carried by the balloons were:, The Japanese Imperial Army's Noborito Institute cultivated anthrax and Yersinia pestis; furthermore, it produced enough cowpox viruses to infect the entire United States. , The balloon had to carry about 1,001 pounds (454 kg) of gear. Several Japanese civilians have visited the monument to offer their apologies for the deaths that took place here, and several cherry trees have been planted around the monument as a symbol of peace. One of the victims was Elsie Mitchell, the minister’s pregnant wife. Key Point: Even today, unrecovered balloon bombs are thought to dot the North American landscape. The balloons rose to about 30,000 feet, where winds aloft transported them across the Pacific Ocean. “They had to find something and came across this idea,” sai… The Japanese wanted to strike back at the US mainland. "balloon bomb"), was a weapon launched by Japan during World War II. The deployment of these biological weapon on fire balloons was planned in 1944. Cooperating with the desires of the government, the press did not publish any balloon bomb incidents. It was also a sort of last-ditch effort by a country with damaged military and limited resources. A Japanese bomb-carrying paper balloon in the air over North America on July 2, 1945. The contraption had alighted on Gearhart Mountain, where it lay in wait until the fateful day when it found its victims—the only deaths from enemy attack within the continental United States during World War II. Lacking a practical means to attack the US mainland during the war, the Japanese constructed 9,000 large hydrogen balloons, attached incendiary and anti-personnel bombs to them, and set them aloft on the high-altitude […] The Japanese designed two types of balloons. , The preparations were lengthy because the technological problems were acute. The second type was the bomb-carrying balloon. A huge paper balloon, deflated and pockmarked with mildew, lay nearby. Balloon bombs aimed to be the silent assassins of World War II. The Doolittle Raid, although limited in destruction, was an effective psychological ploy, proving that American forces had the capability to strike the Japanese homeland. Elsewhere, a farmer noticed one of the balloons drifting in the sky above, then watched as it plummeted to the ground and wedged itself against a barbed wire fence. Woodsmen in Spokane, Washington, stumbled across two fallen bombs on the ground and, according to reports, “fiddled” with the devices, which failed to detonate. The balloons were part of a Japanese plan to demoralize Americans, ... On March 10, remains of balloon bombs were found at Satus Pass, Toppenish and Moxee.  Army Air Forces or Navy fighters scrambled to intercept the balloons, but they had little success; the balloons flew very high and surprisingly fast, and fighters destroyed fewer than 20. Additional launches followed in quick succession. Nobody believed the balloons could have come directly from Japan. The type B balloons were sent first and mainly used for meteorological purposes. When it was over, a lone figure—Archie Mitchell, a young, bespectacled clergyman—stood over six dead bodies strewn across the scorched earth. Throughout the years, Japan’s balloon bombs have continued to be discovered. Similar, though simpler, balloons were also used by Britain to attack Nazi Germany between 1942 and 1944. One of World War 2’s best-kept secrets was that of the Japanese balloon bombs, the first weapon ever deployed with intercontinental range. Throughout the years, Japan’s balloon bombs have continued to be discovered. Balloons fell into rivers, tumbled onto forest roads, and interrupted electric service when they dropped onto power lines. Lacking a practical means to attack the US mainland during the war, the Japanese constructed 9,000 large hydrogen balloons, attached incendiary and anti-personnel bombs to them, and set them aloft on the high-altitude […] Each balloon was wrapped in a cloth band from which hung a set of 50-foot shroud lines to carry its ordnance and instruments. Here is a three minute clip from the documentary: > Return to … In June 1942, Japan… Mitchell, pastor of the Christian Missionary Alliance Church, had invited students from his Sunday school classes to a picnic on Gearhart Mountain in the Fremont National Forest. The first battalion included headquarters and three squadrons totaling 1,500 men in Ibaraki Prefecture with nine launch stations at Ōtsu. JAPANESE BALLOON AND ATTACHED DEVICES by Technical Air Intelligence Center, May 1945 . Many schoolchildren in America grow up believing that Japan only attacked American soil once, in the attack on Pearl Harbor, and never attacked the … The Japanese did not have a long range and heavy bomber like the B-29 that could level American cities, nor did it have enough aircraft carriers to transport what few aircrafts they had across the ocean. Though relatively simple as a concept, these balloons—which aviation expert Robert C. Mikesh describes in Japan’s World War II Balloon Bomb Attacks on … The first balloon was released on November 3, 1944. Japanese Balloon Bombs Attacked on Our Own Soil These videos, from the Naval Archives in Washington, DC., are made available through the kind cooperation of Bolling Smith, of the Coast Defense Study Group , to whom I say thank you very much. This limited the chance of the incendiary bombs causing forest fires, as that time of year produces the maximum North American Pacific coastal precipitation, and forests were generally snow-covered or too damp to catch fire easily. National and state agencies were placed on heightened alert status when balloons were found in Wyoming and Montana before the end of November.. “He told them that there had been an explosion and people had been killed.”, Within 45 minutes, a government vehicle roared to a stop in front of the telephone shack. The Emperor Hirohito did not permit deployment of biological weapons on the occasion of a report of President Staff Officer Umezu on October 25, 1944. Hitching a ride on a jet stream, these weapons from Japan could float soundlessly across … Japanese bomb-carrying balloons were 33 ft (10 m) in diameter and, when fully inflated, held about 19,000 cu ft (540 m 3) of hydrogen.  The final flash of gunpowder released the bombs, also carried on the wheel, and lit a 64 feet (20 meters) long fuse that hung from the balloon's equator. School children were drafted to paste together balloons in seven factories around Tokyo. A typical balloon was equipped with five bombs, including a 33-pound antipersonnel device and several types of incendiaries. PETER: Yeah. The balloon bomb, though seemingly a passive weapon, provided the Japanese with an effective method of bringing the war to American shores without expending enormous amounts of manpower and materiel. In April 1942, four months after the Pearl Harbor attack, Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle and 16 B-25 medium bombers roared off the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet to pummel targets in and around Tokyo. The Office of Censorship then sent a message to newspapers and radio stations to ask them to make no mention of balloons and balloon-bomb incidents. In an ironic twist, the Japanese … The Japanese balloon bomb had killed five civilians. The sand could not be coming from American beaches, nor from the mid-Pacific. Japanese Balloon Bombs synonyms, Japanese Balloon Bombs pronunciation, Japanese Balloon Bombs translation, English dictionary definition of Japanese Balloon Bombs. While the balloon bombs were the result of work by numerous branches of the Japanese military, government and private sector, they also involved teenage recruits at … Further exploring their long-range options, the Japanese also planned to riddle the American coastline with submarine-fired rocket volleys. 1945:: A Japanese balloon bomb kills six people in rural eastern Oregon. Japan released the first of these bomb-bearing balloons on November 3, 1944. A Japanese-launched balloon bomb like this one apparently exploded near Farmington in March 1945 during World War II. In September 1942, a Japanese submarine surfaced off the Oregon coast and launched a small airplane that dropped a 165-pound incendiary bomb over the Siskiyou National Forest. It was 30 ft (9.1 m) in diameter and consisted of rubberized silk. The concept was the brainchild of the Imperial Japanese Army's Ninth Army's Number Nine Research Laboratory, under Major General Sueyoshi Kusaba, with work performed by Technical Major Teiji Takada and his colleagues. Three hundred sixty-one of the balloons have been found in twenty-six states, Canada and Mexico. When detonated, the bombs might trigger massive forest fires in the northwestern United States that would divert manpower from the war effort and knock the lumber … In 1945 Newsweek ran an article titled "Balloon Mystery" in their January 1 issue, and a similar story appeared in a newspaper the next day. Joan Patzke, 13 years old, initially survived the explosion but succumbed to her injuries shortly afterward. Something that appeared to witnesses to be like a parachute descended over Thermopolis, Wyoming. The bombs also had a potential psychological effect on the American people. The balloons were intended to make use of a strong current of winter air that the Japanese had discovered flowing at high altitude and speed over their country, which later became known as the jet stream.  In all, seven fire balloons were turned in to the United States Army in Nevada, Colorado, Texas, Northern Mexico, Michigan, and even the outskirts of Detroit. The Japanese used them to determine the possibility of the bomb-carrying balloons reaching The United States. Prompted by the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo in April 1942, the Japanese developed the balloon bombs as a means of direct reprisal against the U.S. mainland. At the center of the impact zone, lying on a snow pile six inches deep, were the rusting remains of a bomb. Japan Used These Balloons To Bomb America in World War II. The second battalion of 700 men in three squadrons operated six launch stations at Ichinomiya, Chiba; and the third battalion of 600 men in two squadrons operated six launch stations at Nakoso in Fukushima Prefecture. The first was launched November 3, 1944.  The second type was the bomb-carrying balloon. A large number of the balloons that successfully reached North America failed to release their bomb loads when they arrived. The Japanese Military Scientific Laboratory originally conceived of the idea of balloon bombs in 1933. Suggest you have students go to a search engine and type: “Japan”+”balloon bombs” Questions or comments on this page? The influx of military personnel, equipment, and tactics shaped how the United States Forest Service approached fire suppression in the post War period.. The bodies of the victims were grouped within a 10-foot radius of the explosion, which had churned up the forest floor.  The 555th suffered one fatality and 22 injuries fighting fires. A five-month media blackout ordered by the U.S. government helped disguise the fact that several hundred Japanese balloon bombs had reached the West Coast. “But Saturday was a workday in our house, so we didn’t go.”. It had to be coming from Japan. Japanese bomb-carrying balloons were 33 ft (10 m) in diameter and, when fully inflated, held about 19,000 cu ft (540 m3) of hydrogen. Wilder theories speculated that they could have been launched from German prisoner of war camps in the U.S., or even from Japanese-American internment centers. Known as Operation Fu-Go, Japan first started toying with the idea of bomb-laden balloons in the 1930s, but the program began to take on a bit more urgency after April 18, 1942. In 1944–1945, during World War II, Japan launched some 9,300 Fu-Go balloon bombs at North America. Major Takada watched as the balloon flew upward and over the sea: "The figure of the balloon was visible only for several minutes following its release until it faded away as a spot in the blue sky like a daytime star." The Japanese expected 10% (around 900) of them to reach America, which is also what is currently believed by researchers. They were found in Alaska, Alberta, Arizona, British Columbia, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Mexico, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and Yukon Territory. The press blackout in the U.S. was lifted after the first deaths to ensure that the public was warned, as public knowledge of the threat could have possibly prevented it.. A canister from the balloon's incendiary bomb was found by a man tending his garden near 8 Mile and Gill roads. The Japanese balloon project was revenge for an altogether different morale-smashing mission. The documentary is titled "On a Wind and a Prayer". “He had me place a call to the naval base in nearby Lakeview, the closest military installation to our town,” recalls Conner.  They were the only people whose deaths were attributed to the balloon bombs deployed on American soil. On May 5, 1945, three and a half years after Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor, and three months before the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, one of these Japanese balloon bombs actually did explode in rural Oregon, killing six people. An order went out for ten thousand balloons made of "washi", a paper derived from mulberry bushes that was impermeable and very tough. One of the best kept secrets of the war involved the Japanese balloon bomb offensive. It is likely that more balloon bombs landed in unpopulated areas of the United States. They had to stop at this spot near Bly, Oregon, due to construction and a road closing. Originally, Japan decided to test a large balloon - 9 meters in diameter - to study the atmosphere. For the general use of incendiary balloons in warfare, see, "Igakusya tachi no sosiki hannzai kannto-gun 731 butai", Keiichi Tsuneishi, "Showa no Shunkan mou hitotsu no seidan", Kazutoshi Hando, 1988, "Japan's Secret WWII Weapon: Balloon Bombs", "Anti-Aircraft Mine & Intercontinental Launching Balloon Bombs Through Jet Stream-Fire balloon-Japanese Balloon Bombs-Terrorist Handbook-on a wind and a prayer | Jet Stream | Anti Aircraft Warfare", "That time in World War II when Japan used a hot air balloon to bomb Oregon and kill six people - Altered Dimensions Paranormal", "Warrior Clans from the Bloody History of the Japanese Samurai", "Utah Was Spared Damage By Japan's Floating Weapons", rcaf.com, 2010, "Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawks of the RCAF", History of the Plutonium Production Facilities at the Hanford Site Historic District, 1943–1990, "How Geologists Unraveled the Mystery of Japanese Vengeance Balloon Bombs in World War II", https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.aegweb.org/resource/resmgr/Legendary_People/Hunt.pdf, "Mysterious Balloon Found In Montana Mountain Area – Huge Paper Bag Bearing Jap Characters, Incendiary Device Studied By Military", "May 5, 1945: Japanese Balloon Bomb Kills 6 in Oregon", "Japanese Balloon bomb – Picture of Canadian War Museum, Ottawa", The Fire Balloons from Greg Goebel's Air Vectors, Anti-aircraft mine & Intercontinental launching balloon bombs through jet stream, Utah Was Spared Damage By Japan's Floating Weapons, Fu-go:The Curious History of Japan's Balloon Bomb Attack on America, Report by U.S. Technical Air Intelligence Center, May 1945, Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany, Rape during the Soviet occupation of Poland, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Fu-Go_balloon_bomb&oldid=990740231, Short description is different from Wikidata, Articles containing Japanese-language text, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.