It’s the Westerners who are remembered for developing some of the most innovative and conceptual weapons of the Second World War. But when it concerned experimental military innovations, Japan suffered from no shortage of ideas. Here is the main Bomb you should know, The Fu-Go Balloon Bomb
As the Nazis were lobbying V2 rockets over the English Channel, the Japanese were making their own “revenge weapons” too. Military organizers, who were not able to develop an intercontinental missile, rather established the principle of balloon bombs.
(Photo via US Army)
To make it work, the Japanese connected incendiary bombs to balls which traveled 5,000 miles to the United States along the jet stream. The goal was to have the gadgets remove over the forested areas of the Pacific Northwest and start big forest fires that would divert significant U.S. labor force.
Geologist and historian J. David Rogers discuss how they worked:
The balloons were made from paper of a mulberry, glued with potato flour and filled with comprehensive hydrogen. They were 33 feet in size and may raise approximately 1,000 pounds. Nevertheless, the deadly part of their freight was a 33-lb anti-personnel fragmentation bomb, linked to a 64– foot long fuse that was prepared to burn for 82 minutes before detonating. The Japanese set the balloons to introduce hydrogen if they rose to over 38,000 feet and to drop sets of sand filled ballast bags if the balloon fell listed below 30,000 feet, utilizing an altimeter. 3 dozen sand-filled ballast bags were hung from a 4-spoke aluminum wheel that was suspended below the balloon, together with the bomb. Each ballast bag weighed in between 3 and 7 pounds. The bags were set up to be launched against the opposite sides of the wheel, so that the balloon would not be tipped to one side or another, launching any of the important hydrogens. In this way, the balloons would increase in the daytime heat every day of the crossing and fall each night, till their ballast bags were lessened, at which time the balloon and its deadly contents would descend upon whatever common underneath it.
The very first balloons were introduced in late 1944, landing in the United States on November 5th off San Pedro, California. By the following day, they landed as far as Thermopolis, Wyoming. Some even landed in Canada. In all, some 285 verified landings and sightings were made. On March 5, 1945, 6 Americans (a minister and five kids) were removed by amongst the grounded balloons in Oregon while aiming to pull it through the forest back to their camp.
The United States federal government muzzled the media about the balloons for worry of encouraging the challenge. The American public was ultimately notified of the balloons after the war.
To learn more about the Secret Weapons in the US History, watch this video: