Balloon Bombs

Until today, I had always been under the impression that there were no civilian casualties as a result of Japanese attack on the US mainland during WWII. Wrong:
http://slate.msn.com/id/2102499/
Sure, I’d heard of the largely ineffective shelling of oil fields in Santa Barbara, a telegraph station in Vancouver (Canada), and Fort Stevens in Oregon by Japanese submarines, as well as forest fires caused by incendiary bombing done by a sub-launched plane (which were fought by the predecessor of modern smoke jumper batallions, the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion). I’d also read about the balloon bomb project fugo launched on the emperor’s birthday in 1944. However, most of the reports I had read until now lacked in detail regarding effectiveness of these weapons, or simply stated they had caused forest fires in Washington or Oregon.
Starting from the bibliography in the article linked above I will begin researching this subject further as I find it interesting that a minister’s pregnant wife and children could be killed with so little consequence (although the media blackout convinced the Japanese to stop the program, which may haved saved many more lives). Oh, and that the Japanese could have caused a nuclear accident and prevented or delayed the nuking of their own country with paper balloons floated in the airstream. Read the article, it’s a revelation in many ways.

3 Replies to “Balloon Bombs”

  1. Anthrax was feared but doesn’t seem to have been implemented in the animal tests run by the government on the mysterious liquids they found on some balloons.

  2. I live in southern oregon, not so far from where these deaths occurred [Prospect, OR]. There’s a small memorial near the site. Maybe I can snag a digiphoto and mail it to you, if you’re interested.There’s also a couple of small books put out by the Southern Oregon Historic Society that cover some of this. They can be hard to find, but maybe I can help there, too.
    For an intriguing [at least to me] side-story, check in John McPhee’s _Irons in the Fire_ for a very cool forensic geology line on the sand used in the ballast and the American follow-up.
    all of us here at gats’ place had a great time with you and nam last night. hopin’ to see you again.

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