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WORLD WAR II BALLOON ATTACK ON NORTH AMERICA Michael E

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1 WORLD WAR II BALLOON ATTACK ON NORTH AMERICA Michael E
WORLD WAR II BALLOON ATTACK ON NORTH AMERICA Michael E. Unsworth Michigan State University Libraries Why did Japan send 9300 pilotless paper balloons against North America? Revenge. Quick description of balloon attack: SOURCE: Canadian War Museum

2 REVENGE FOR THE DOOLITTLE RAID (APRIL 18 ‘42)
Doolittle Raid on Tokyo (18 April 1942) caused the Japanese to regret this strategy. The enemy had struck the home islands; this insult had to be avenged. The American mainland must suffer in kind. Conventional means for vengeance were lacking: no bases and no long-range bombers were being designed. BB093 SOURCE: Craig Kodera "30 sec over Tokyo")

3 DEFEAT AT MIDWAY (JUNE 3-4, 1942) COMPLICATED PLANNING
Midway ([June ] another result of the Doolittle Raid) reversal meant no regular forces could be spared for any special retaliation missions. Thus, the Japanese had to resort to unusual means. BB090 Ensign George “Tex” Gay’s TBD Devastator of Torpedo Squadron 8 attacking carrier Kaga painting (Reynolds, Clark G. Carrier War (Alexandria, Va.: Time-Life Books, 1983), 90

4 JAPAN’S POST-MIDWAY STRATEGIC SITUATION
SOURCE: BB227

5 I-15 CLASS SUBMARINE LAUNCHING YOKOSUKA E14Y1 ("Glen”) FLOATPLANE
Attacks by submarine-launched floatplanes; meager results. Japanese army demanded that the oversize submarines be used to resupply island garrisons BB003 SOURCE: Bert Webber. Retaliation : Japanese attacks and Allied countermeasures on the Pacific Coast in World War II (Corvalis: Oregon State University Press,1976), 66.

6 RESEARCHERS OF THE NINETH MILITARY TECHNICAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE AT NOBORITO
Japanese military researchers then convinced their superiors to adopt a novel form of attack: unmanned bomb-carrying balloons. Submarines and battleships were initially considered for launching them, but more vital tasks had priority. Thus, the "FU-GO" weapons were to be launched from the Home Islands. BB004 SOURCE: Smithsonian Institution Photo #

7 THE “FU-GO” WEAPON “FU" is the thirty- second character in the Japanese syllabary (alphabet). "GO" was the Japanese equivalent for "Number” "FU-GO" was Weapon No. 32 of the Japanese Military Scientific Laboratory. "FU" also happens the first part of "FUSEN", the Japanese word for balloon. SOURCE: Mikesh, 3-5

8 TOP: TYPICAL FLIGHT PROFILE BOTTOM: TYPICAL JET STREAM IN WINTER
Prewar research in Japan revealed the existence of the jet stream: strong currents of air that move at high altitudes. This research indicated that the jet stream could carry an explosives-laded balloon 6200 miles from Japan to the Pacific Coast of North America. Destination - The Pacific Northwest. Real target - morale of the American and Canadian civilian populations. Yo-yo physics. BB006 SOURCE: Mikesh, p. 22

9 A-TYPE PAPER FU-GO Took almost two years to develop: a 30 foot-in-diameter hydrogen-filled balloon (roughly size of a hot-air balloon) that had a total military payload was of roughly 70 lbs. BB007 SOURCE: Mikesh, p. 39 Line drawing of Fu-Go

10 Gas Release Valve & Envelope From North Dorr, Michigan, Incident (March ‘45)
BB123 Incident #223 (SOURCE: PA201380)

11 A-TYPE FU-GO CHANDELIER
BB008 Line drawing of chandelier Mikesh, p. 53 A barometer triggered the ejection of sandbags to keep the balloon within the cruising heights of 30,000 to 38,000 feet (same cruising range of jet airliners). Key component was a battery that provided the power to activate the sandbag-release circuits. This battery was protected by an antifreeze solution that would prevent it from freezing at high-altitude temperatures.

12 U.S. NAVAL AVIATORS EXAMINING CHANDELIER

13 CHANDELIER, BOMBS & SANDBAG FROM BOUNDARY BAY, B. C
CHANDELIER, BOMBS & SANDBAG FROM BOUNDARY BAY, B.C. INCIDENT (APRIL '45) Took hours to travel across the Pacific (6200 miles).. BB124 SOURCE: PA201381

14 CHANDELIER RELEASING SANDBAG
After releasing 32 sandbags, the altitude control mechanism would drop its load of bombs on (hopefully) North American forests and rangeland. Slow burning fuses set off explosives on both the balloon and altitude control mechanism. When 19,000 cubic feet of highly flammable hydrogen ignited, a blinding flash would appear in the skies. This balloon weapon would be difficult to counter. It would be unseen and unpredictable BB009 SOURCE: Mikesh, pg. 57

15 NEW YORK TIMES (MARCH 17, 1995) NYT (3-17-95) Kristoff JPN BW article
The FU-GO researchers initially wanted to use biological weapons. Their plan was approved along the chain of command to Army CoS, General Tojo. In the early fall of 1944, he refused to sanction the use of these weapons; he feared retaliation from the U.S. This information was revealed in a March 1995 article in the New York Times by Nicholas Kristoff. Prior to this article, there was only nebulous reports of meetings between

16 PAPER MAKING Crash program. Competing wartime priorities demanded use of non-strategic materials. Centuries-old expertise paper-making expertise developed a special laminated mulberry paper that, when shellacked with a persimmon juice sealant, could withstand the rigors of a high-altitude transoceanic crossing (paper umbrellas). BB011 SOURCE: S.I. #

17 PAPER MAKING Paper-making was subcontracted to small cottage enterprises. BB012 SOURCE: Smithsonian

18 ROOM OF FINISHED SHEETS
BB014 SOURCE: Smithsonian

19 GLUING SHEETS TO FORM LAMINATE PANELS
Assembly was done mainly by high-school girls, who possessed the necessary manual dexterity to carefully paste four or five layers of tissue-thin paper together to form the balloon's skin. Compulsory civilian war work. Pilfered the paste since it was a compound of edible arum root; the temptation to steal the paste was compelling since Japanese civilians were on short food rations. BB013 SOURCE: Smithsonian

20 TEST INFLATION OF FU-GO ENVELOPE
FU-GO construction went well: 10,000 balloons were made under tight secrecy. Steps were also taken to insure that no obvious traces of the balloons' origin were present. Strange nature of the effort ensured that most Japanese would disbelieve the intended use of the balloons. Other rumors seemed more credible. BB015 SOURCE:

21 LAUNCH CREW MANHANDLING TEST BALLOON
BB017 SOURCE: Mikesh, 12

22 LAUNCH SITE WITH THREE PADS IN OPERATION
--Most dangerous parts of the launch were the filling of the balloons with hydrogen gas and the actual release. The first few launches had faulty electrical circuits explode the balloons before lift-off. Quickly corrected, but the likelihood of mishaps remained. --Crews remembered the launches as strangely beautiful. The FU-GO weapons resembled giant jellyfish since they were only partially inflated. The hydrogen would expand and fill the balloon when it reached cruising altitudes. BB016 SOURCE: Mikesh, 21

23 FU-GO AIRBORNE AFTER LAUNCH
--As they silently rose, the rising or setting sun would color the craft in reds and yellows. Quickly they gained altitude until they resembled daytime stars. --Security broke down in the launching of the balloons. The authorities took great pains to leave no traces of the balloons' origins and evacuated the launch sites and surrounding ocean area, they had not counted on Japanese martial traditions. Launch troops left good luck charms in the folds of the balloons. They followed a military tradition that had a warrior leaving home for battle, carry a samhara, an amulet that protected him from harm. Fighting customs of past centuries foiled painstaking security measures. BB019 SOURCE: Smithsonian

24 FU-GO OVER THE PACIFIC --The Special Balloon Regiment launched 9300 FU-GO weapons in the five months from November 1944 to April Japanese hoped that 1,000 balloons would get across the Pacific (roughly 9%), but it would be enough. If only one forest fire could approximate the damage of the 1932 Tillamook, Oregon, fire or if Americans or Canadians were killed, then the effort would be worthwhile. --Japanese assumed that the American news organizations would not ignore such an important story and thus give the FU-GO directors valuable information. Americans, in their view, were an undisciplined and gossipy people. Their newspapers and broadcasts would provide detailed coverage on this unusual weapon. --Little news filtered back to Japan. There were only two stories in December 1944 of balloon incidents in Montana and Wyoming, By mid-April 1945 the Japanese high command concluded that the balloon campaign had failed. Moreover, American B-29 raids were destroying hydrogen-producing facilities. The warlords consequently abandoned the FU-GO effort. BB021 SOURCE: Mikesh p. 23 (Signal Corps SC226132)

25 BATTERY BOX What the Japanese didn't know was that the balloon design had a major flaw: battery that powered the altitude control mechanism. The antifreeze solution was too weak and didn't prevent the battery from freezing. With no power to activate the dropping of sandbags, most of the FU-GO weapons descended into the Pacific. BB020 SOURCE: Mikesh, p. 50

26 ENVELOPE IN THE PACIFIC (APRIL 17, ‘45)
Thus instead of the estimated 1000, almost 300 were discovered in North America. BB180 SOURCE: NAC PA204240

27 “Japanese Balloon Incidents Prepared By CAORG From Canadian And U. S
“Japanese Balloon Incidents Prepared By CAORG From Canadian And U.S. Reports, 26 April 1945” BB106 “Japanese Balloon Incidents Prepared by CAORG From Canadian and U.S. Report” SOURCE: RG 319, Box 7357, Pt. 75

28 MEXICAN RECOVERY (MARCH 1945)
BB038 SOURCE: NARA Incident # 147 or 183

29 “35 m. N.W. of Whitehorse” (Aug. 15 or 16, ‘45)
SOURCE: BB145 (NAC RG 24 Vol. 136, BDO Reports; Incident #YX2)

30 NORTH DORR, MICHIGAN (MARCH ‘45)
SOURCE:FBI

31 COUNTERMEASURES: Responsibilities
North American defense – Canada & U.S. had control of their own territories. Full information sharing U.S.: Military – Navy over water; Army over land Civilian – F.B.I.

32 COUNTERMEASURES: Detection: Sunset Project (Spring ’45)

33 COUNTERMEASURES: Interception: Sumas, Wash. (Feb. 21 ’45)

34 COUNTERMEASURES: Interception: Coal Harbour, B.C. (Mar. 12 ’45)

35 COUNTERMEASURES: Interception: Coal Harbour, B.C. (Mar. 12 ’45)

36 COUNTERMEASURES: Interception: Coal Harbour, B.C. (Mar. 12 ’45)

37 COUNTERMEASURES: Investigations - Newcastle, Wyoming (Feb. 8, ’45)

38 INVESTIGATIONS : Nixon, Nevada (Mar. 29, ’45)

39 INVESTIGATIONS : Glacier National Park, Mont. (July 27, ’45)

40 INVESTIGATIONS : Oxford House, Manitoba (Mar. 12, ’45)

41 FOREST FIRE THREAT: WHITEWATER, B.C. CHANDELIER (MAY 31, 1945)
--Winter seemed a weird time to set the Western forests ablaze, but authorities kept finding scores of incendiary-equipped balloons. Thus, officials concluded that the forests were a prime target. FU-GO weapons would be very effective during the 1945 fire season due to a number of factors (work on the potential). The civilian fire-fighting agencies had lost their most experienced personnel to the war effort. What was available was in low numbers and poorly trained. Wartime cutting practices had produced large amounts of combustible slash in the forests. Finally, the precipitation in the threatened areas was "substantially below normal." --Researchers estimated that half the “bombs which fall in western Canada south of the Barrens will fall in wooden areas”. April was expected to be the beginning of increased fires. There was concern that fires could easily get started in remote areas and that the reduction in visibility would exacerbate the situation by hindering fire patrols. There was concern that more BBs could reach Canada in the warmer months than the U.S. Also, it was suspected that more BBs had arrived than had been found. --B.C. Provincial Forester, E.E. Gregg, requested that BBs be downed in “green timber” instead of slash areas. Due to limited resources, RCAF assistance would be transport of personnel and equipment in emergencies as well as doing fire recon in the course of other duties. There was concern the JPN would use “incendiary leaves” in the BBs. --Fortunately, no fires were started by the balloons in the West. With hindsight, these countermeasures were unnecessary since the Japanese could only launch balloons during the winter months when high-altitude winds were at their peak. However, the authorities lacked this knowledge and had to prepare for the possibility of forest fires. SOURCE: BB 155 (NAC PA204243; Incident #184)

42 INCENDIARIES --Winter seemed a weird time to set the Western forests ablaze, but authorities kept finding scores of incendiary-equipped balloons. Thus, officials concluded that the forests were a prime target. FU-GO weapons would be very effective during the 1945 fire season due to a number of factors (work on the potential). The civilian fire-fighting agencies had lost their most experienced personnel to the war effort. What was available was in low numbers and poorly trained. Wartime cutting practices had produced large amounts of combustible slash in the forests. Finally, the precipitation in the threatened areas was "substantially below normal." --Researchers estimated that half the “bombs which fall in western Canada south of the Barrens will fall in wooden areas”. April was expected to be the beginning of increased fires. There was concern that fires could easily get started in remote areas and that the reduction in visibility would exacerbate the situation by hindering fire patrols. There was concern that more BBs could reach Canada in the warmer months than the U.S. Also, it was suspected that more BBs had arrived than had been found. --B.C. Provincial Forester, E.E. Gregg, requested that BBs be downed in “green timber” instead of slash areas. Due to limited resources, RCAF assistance would be transport of personnel and equipment in emergencies as well as doing fire recon in the course of other duties. There was concern the JPN would use “incendiary leaves” in the BBs. --Fortunately, no fires were started by the balloons in the West. With hindsight, these countermeasures were unnecessary since the Japanese could only launch balloons during the winter months when high-altitude winds were at their peak. However, the authorities lacked this knowledge and had to prepare for the possibility of forest fires. SOURCE: BB 155 (NAC PA204243; Incident #184)

43 FOREST FIRE THREAT Majority of Discovered Balloons Had Incendiaries
Most of the Western U.S. & Canada Was Forested Fire Danger for Jan.-Mar. Was Nonexistent April - September Was the Most Dangerous Period Prevailing Summer Winds Might Bring More Balloons to Canada Than to the U.S. Japanese Development of a Phosphorus- treated Cardboard Squares (“Incendiary Leaves”) Posed a Particular Danger SOURCES: Item 156: Possible Enemy Action – Balloons “Minutes of Meeting No. 62 – Joint Service Committee, Pacific Coast,” (13 Apr. 45) DHH (D23) Appendix D, “Japanese Balloon Incidents, Summary No. 5” (10 Mar 45) in “Free Balloon Incidents,” B.I.D. No From M.A. Ottawa, Canada, Report No. R-202:45 (19 March 1945) NARA RG 319, Box 7357, Pt. 74. “Notes on Incendiary Weapons: Incendiary Leaflets,” (31 Mar 45) PCS (GO), NAC,m R.G. 24, Vol. 11, 894, 5-75

44 COUNTERMEASURE: FIRE FLY PROJECT
--Winter seemed a weird time to set the Western forests ablaze, but authorities kept finding scores of incendiary-equipped balloons. Thus, officials concluded that the forests were a prime target. FU-GO weapons would be very effective during the 1945 fire season due to a number of factors (work on the potential). The civilian fire-fighting agencies had lost their most experienced personnel to the war effort. What was available was in low numbers and poorly trained. Wartime cutting practices had produced large amounts of combustible slash in the forests. Finally, the precipitation in the threatened areas was "substantially below normal." --Researchers estimated that half the “bombs which fall in western Canada south of the Barrens will fall in wooden areas”. April was expected to be the beginning of increased fires. There was concern that fires could easily get started in remote areas and that the reduction in visibility would exacerbate the situation by hindering fire patrols. There was concern that more BBs could reach Canada in the warmer months than the U.S. Also, it was suspected that more BBs had arrived than had been found. --B.C. Provincial Forester, E.E. Gregg, requested that BBs be downed in “green timber” instead of slash areas. Due to limited resources, RCAF assistance would be transport of personnel and equipment in emergencies as well as doing fire recon in the course of other duties. There was concern the JPN would use “incendiary leaves” in the BBs. --Fortunately, no fires were started by the balloons in the West. With hindsight, these countermeasures were unnecessary since the Japanese could only launch balloons during the winter months when high-altitude winds were at their peak. However, the authorities lacked this knowledge and had to prepare for the possibility of forest fires. SOURCE: BB 155 (NAC PA204243; Incident #184)

45 FIRE FLY PROJECT: 555TH Parachute Infantry Battalion
--Winter seemed a weird time to set the Western forests ablaze, but authorities kept finding scores of incendiary-equipped balloons. Thus, officials concluded that the forests were a prime target. FU-GO weapons would be very effective during the 1945 fire season due to a number of factors (work on the potential). The civilian fire-fighting agencies had lost their most experienced personnel to the war effort. What was available was in low numbers and poorly trained. Wartime cutting practices had produced large amounts of combustible slash in the forests. Finally, the precipitation in the threatened areas was "substantially below normal." --Researchers estimated that half the “bombs which fall in western Canada south of the Barrens will fall in wooden areas”. April was expected to be the beginning of increased fires. There was concern that fires could easily get started in remote areas and that the reduction in visibility would exacerbate the situation by hindering fire patrols. There was concern that more BBs could reach Canada in the warmer months than the U.S. Also, it was suspected that more BBs had arrived than had been found. --B.C. Provincial Forester, E.E. Gregg, requested that BBs be downed in “green timber” instead of slash areas. Due to limited resources, RCAF assistance would be transport of personnel and equipment in emergencies as well as doing fire recon in the course of other duties. There was concern the JPN would use “incendiary leaves” in the BBs. --Fortunately, no fires were started by the balloons in the West. With hindsight, these countermeasures were unnecessary since the Japanese could only launch balloons during the winter months when high-altitude winds were at their peak. However, the authorities lacked this knowledge and had to prepare for the possibility of forest fires. SOURCE: BB 155 (NAC PA204243; Incident #184)

46 ACTUAL FOREST FIRE DAMAGE CAUSED BY BALLOONS: None
ACTUAL FOREST FIRE DAMAGE CAUSED BY BALLOONS: None. The Japanese ceased launching balloons in early April 1945

47 THE CHEMICAL WARFARE/BIOLOGICAL WARFARE (CW/BW) THREAT
BB034 SOURCE: Mikesh, p. 50, Figure 65

48 MOST LIKELY AGENTS: HUMAN MALADIES
B-Encephalitis Rift Valley Fever Meliodosis Bacilli Rickettsia Diseases Cholera Salmonella Typhoid Dysentery Psittacosis Brucellosis Plague Variola Chemical Agents

49 MOST LIKELY AGENTS: ANIMAL MALADIES
Rinderpest Foot-and-Mouth Disease Contagious Pleural Pneumonia Fowl Plague Newcastle’s Disease Chemical Agents

50 Decontamination Practise
BB208 SOURCE: For King and Country : Alberta in the Second World War / [edited by Ken Tingley]. Edmonton, Alberta : Provincial Museum of Alberta., c1995 P. 111 Prov. Archives of Alberta PAA P5876.

51 THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT THE BALLOONS CARRIED CHEMICAL OR BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS

52 CENSORSHIP Imposed on the U.S. and Canadian media in early January 1945 Aggressively enforced by authorities Reached even this comic strip “Smilin' Jack” New York Sunday News (Aug. 5, ‘45) SOURCES: McGuire, Japanese Balloon Enterprise, 8-9: “Censorship,” (5 Jan 45) PCS 508-l-1-4 FD 156 (JSC), DHH (D47); U.S. Office of Censorship. A History of the Office of Censorship Vol. II: Press and Broadcasting Divisions. World War II Administrative Histories, no. 80 ([Washington, 1945-J; NewHaven, Ct.: Research Publications, 1974) Microfilm, “Ottawa to DOC MD 12 Regina,” (Jan 22 45), DHH (Dl 1); “Chas. A. Mitchell to Col. J.H. Jenkins,” (April 30, 1945) [HQS Vol. l] NAC RG 24, Vol

53 SECURITY BLANKET STARTED TO UNRAVEL ON MAY 5, 1945: A WOMAN AND FIVE CHILDREN WERE KILLED NEAR BLY, OREGON SOURCE: A History of the Office of Censorship Vol. II, 146-l 53.

54 ONE OF THE BIGGEST SECURITY BREACHES : TORONTO DAILY STAR
ONE OF THE BIGGEST SECURITY BREACHES : TORONTO DAILY STAR. HOME EDITION MAY 31, 1945 SOURCES: “Publicity: BW Aspects of Japanese Balloons,” (2 Jun 45) HQS FD 10 (DMO & P) (Oprs. 200-R), DHH 75/3 16; Military Attaché Report Canada, Report No. R-42 1:45, “Subject: B.W. Aspects of Free Balloon Incidents,” (5 June 1945). NARA RG 3 19, Box 7357, Pt. 75; NAC Microfilm C5282 RG24, HQS

55 CENSORSHIP WAS THE MOST EFFECTIVE COUNTERMEASURE: THE JAPANESE STOPPED THE BALLOON ATTACK IN APRIL DUE TO THE LACK OF FEEDBACK

56 HANFORD, WASHINGTON, INCIDENT MARCH 10, ‘45
SOURCES: “Publicity: BW Aspects of Japanese Balloons,” (2 Jun 45) HQS FD 10 (DMO & P) (Oprs. 200-R), DHH 75/3 16; Military Attaché Report Canada, Report No. R-42 1:45, “Subject: B.W. Aspects of Free Balloon Incidents,” (5 June 1945). NARA RG 3 19, Box 7357, Pt. 75; NAC Microfilm C5282 RG24, HQS

57 JAPANESE BALLOONS REPORTED DURING WW II
COUNTRY NUMBER Canada 78 United States Mexico 2 At sea TOTAL

58 “U.S.” BALLOONS REPORTED DURING WW II
Oregon Nebraska 5 Montana Colorado 3 Washington Iowa Alaska Texas California Arizona Idaho Michigan 2 S. Dakota N. Dakota 2 Wyoming Hawaii Nevada Kansas

59 MICHIGAN BALLOON INCIDENTS
BB 247

60 NORTH DORR/BYRON CENTER: February 23 '45
BB 243

61 Property of Chris Stein: Intersection of 146 Avenue and 21st Street
BB243

62 ROPE FROM BALLOON BB047

63 Fein Family Farm House BB043

64 RECOVERED ENVELOPE & GAS RELEASE VALVE
BB044

65 ROPE & HOOKS BB048

66 Don Piccard’s Balloon “Recycling” Feb. 16, ’47 - Minneapolis
Air & Space magazine, May 2001

67 FARMINGTON: Mar. 25/June 8 ‘45
BB245

68 FARMINGTON: Gill Road SOURCE:

69 FARMINGTON: Gill Road SOURCE:

70 INCENDIARIES BB053 & BB 167

71 WHY YOU HAVEN’T HEARD ABOUT IT: COMPETED WITH V-J DAY STORIES

72 WHY YOU HAVEN’T HEARD ABOUT IT:
FEW CASUALTIES SAME PRINCIPLES USED FOR COLD WAR U.S. SPY AND ANTI-CROP WARFARE BALLOONS BB224: WS-119L balloon being inflated before launch. BB225: Soviet drawing of the WS-119L payload. SOURCES: Curtis Peebles The Moby Dick Project : Reconnaissance Balloons Over Russia (Washington, D.C. : Smithsonian Institution Press, c1991): between p Simon M. Whitby, Biological Warfare Against Crops ( Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2002), 164.

73 FU-GO IN LITERATURE: Liam Callanan
FU-GO IN LITERATURE: Liam Callanan. The Cloud Atlas New York : Delacorte Press, c2004. BB224: WS-119L balloon being inflated before launch. BB225: Soviet drawing of the WS-119L payload. SOURCES: Curtis Peebles The Moby Dick Project : Reconnaissance Balloons Over Russia (Washington, D.C. : Smithsonian Institution Press, c1991): between p Simon M. Whitby, Biological Warfare Against Crops ( Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2002), 164.

74 POSTSCRIPT: AL-QAEDA USE?
BB229

75 ***END***

76 ***END***


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