• World War II in Color

    Japanese Fire Balloon Attacks

    Between November 1944 and April 1945, the Japanese Navy launched over 9,000 fire balloons toward North America. Carried by the recently discovered Pacific jet stream, they were to sail over the Pacific Ocean and land in North America, where the Japanese hoped they would start forest fires and cause other damage. About three hundred were reported as reaching North America, but little damage was caused. Six people (five children and a woman) became the only deaths due to enemy action to occur on mainland America during World War II when one of the children tampered with a bomb from a balloon near Bly, Oregon and it exploded.  The site is marked by a stone monument at the Mitchell Recreation Area in the Fremont-Winema National Forest.  Recently released reports by the Canadian military indicate that fire balloons reached as far inland as Manitoba. 

    A Japanese fire balloon

    "Japanese Paper Balloons" was a United States Navy training film released in 1945. It showed the design of the balloons and how they operated, detailed the types of explosives they carried, and warned of the danger the devices presented. 


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