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kindlyaware
2010-Feb-11, 06:49 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yP185xsDJ4s

I was wondering what your input is on this video.

What could it be?

A foreign military plane? A balloon? An animal?

Why are they shooting at it?

Thanks.

slang
2010-Feb-11, 07:45 AM
This is a 3:42 "video" of one still, and an WW II era radio recording from Wednesday February 25th 1942. The news report describes anti aircraft guns firing at an object in the sky in the Los Angeles area, only weeks after Pearl Harbor.

Weltraum
2010-Feb-11, 07:48 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQmbGMWlL7w&feature=related Here's another video about it, though with a stupid soundtrack. This one mentions the possibility of a weather balloon. Seeking the simplest explanation, I'd certainly say it was a balloon of some type, and people just got overly excited and started shooting when it was spotted. Pretty funny that they never managed to shoot it down.

Space Chimp
2010-Feb-11, 01:55 PM
Probably much of the confusion over what object was in the sky that night comes from the fact that the anti-aircraft shell bursts, caught by the searchlights, were themselves mistaken for enemy planes.

Comes off to me as a case where one jittery AA gun battery starting shooting, and the rest blindly joined in out of nerves or boredom.

gzhpcu
2010-Feb-11, 04:31 PM
http://ufoprovo.blogspot.com/2008/10/1942-ufo-battle-for-los-angeles.html


…the thing that was fired upon was a Japanese balloon, as explained in this paragraph from a 1947 report about balloons during the 1942 time-frame:

Fazor
2010-Feb-11, 04:57 PM
Interesting. I was unaware that we ever fired AA guns "in defense" off the mainland. Other than at Pearl Harbor, of course.

captain swoop
2010-Feb-11, 05:16 PM
Until the advent of Radar Fire Control and Proximity Fuese later in the war AA fire at night was mainly just 'Blind Fire' anyway.
In the Blitz on London batteries wereordered to fire even when they had no targets in the searchlights as sit re assured the people in the Shelters

Space Chimp
2010-Feb-11, 06:06 PM
Interesting. I was unaware that we ever fired AA guns "in defense" off the mainland. Other than at Pearl Harbor, of course.

The continental US was actually bombed on one occasion by the Japanese. They used a float plane launched from a submarine to try and ignite forest fires in Oregon by using incindearies in 1942. They hoped to divert some fleet elements back to defend the US West Coast. It was the only time in the war the US was directly bombed by aircraft (as opposed to balloons.)

The wikipedia article on it..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobuo_Fujita

captain swoop
2010-Feb-11, 06:25 PM
U-Boats shelled locations on the Eastern Seaboard at times as well.

aurora
2010-Feb-11, 06:30 PM
And the balloons were kept a secret from the Americans at first, because they didn't want the Japanese to know that the balloons were making it all the way to North America. It only came out after some people in Oregon were killed, as I recall.

There were balloons shot down and found in California, but this page says it started in 1944.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_balloon

So I'm guessing anything over LA in 1942 would have been trigger happy AA gunners getting spooked by something and punching holes in the sky.

anyway, this page has a list of all attacks on North America during WWII.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attacks_on_North_America_during_World_War_II


edited to add that this page

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Los_Angeles

says it may have been a weather balloon or a blimp.

Some of the descriptions make it sound to me that some of the people saw a flock of birds and thought it was a flight of aircraft farther away.

NEOWatcher
2010-Feb-11, 06:47 PM
There were balloons shot down and found in California, but this page says it started in 1944.
Not exactly. It stated statistics for a range of dates, but didn't rule out the possibility of earlier strikes.
Japanese Balloon Bombs (http://www.japaneseballoonbombs.com/)

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
So; the project started in 1942 with the big launch in 1944. I would fathom to guess that there were test strikes starting in the early days of the project.


says it may have been a weather balloon or a blimp.
Some of the descriptions make it sound to me that some of the people saw a flock of birds and thought it was a flight of aircraft farther away.
And I'm not ruling those out (combined with the trigger happy). Just adding the other possibility.

Jim
2010-Feb-11, 08:03 PM
Didn't John Belushi make a documentary about this?

Swift
2010-Feb-11, 08:31 PM
Didn't John Belushi make a documentary about this?
1941 (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078723/). I don't think it was a documentary, but it was based on this stuff.

mike alexander
2010-Feb-11, 08:40 PM
The story of the Japanese balloon bombs is very well told in John McPhee's essay "The Gravel Page", which can be found in his collection Irons in the Fire. The story of how forensic geologists were able to determine the launching site of the balloons from the mineral characteristics of the sand used as ballast makes fascinating reading.

kleindoofy
2010-Feb-11, 08:40 PM
The word "alien" has yet to appear in this thread.

What's wrong? ;)

Weltraum
2010-Feb-11, 09:23 PM
The word "alien" has yet to appear in this thread.

What's wrong? ;)

Because they weren't "aliens" per se, but robots. Robots who came to protect us from the terrible secret of space. :whistle:

JustAFriend
2010-Feb-12, 01:03 AM
Didn't John Belushi make a documentary about this?

What I popped in to say. Didn't anyone ever watch Speilberg's "1941"???

Everyone panned it but I thought it was great fun.

SolusLupus
2010-Feb-12, 01:25 AM
Huh. I learned something new today.

Joe Boy
2010-Feb-12, 02:36 AM
If they were not shooting at baloons, it must have been venus. Those ufos always seem to be one or the other . . .

J Riff
2010-Feb-12, 03:25 AM
2 aerial bombs made it as far as LA. It was not something they wanted the public to know about at the time, that we could, HAD been succesfully attacked. I'm not sure if one or both of them actually came down and did damage or killed people... but ET was the coverup for anyone who would believe it.

kindlyaware
2010-Feb-12, 07:17 AM
This is a 3:42 "video" of one still, and an WW II era radio recording from Wednesday February 25th 1942. The news report describes anti aircraft guns firing at an object in the sky in the Los Angeles area, only weeks after Pearl Harbor.

Yes, I realize that, here's another link with a little bit more.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQmbGMWlL7w


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQmbGMWlL7w&feature=related Here's another video about it, though with a stupid soundtrack. This one mentions the possibility of a weather balloon. Seeking the simplest explanation, I'd certainly say it was a balloon of some type, and people just got overly excited and started shooting when it was spotted. Pretty funny that they never managed to shoot it down.

Very true. What was a balloon doing in the air? Surveillance?

You think it's funny they didn't shoot it down? I would think hundreds of artillery shells surely would do the trick. I think it's odd that it didn't pop and get picked up by the military. I wonder where it did go though, if it floated on, or just hung there for a while.


Until the advent of Radar Fire Control and Proximity Fuese later in the war AA fire at night was mainly just 'Blind Fire' anyway.
In the Blitz on London batteries wereordered to fire even when they had no targets in the searchlights as sit re assured the people in the Shelters

So they were just firing at the empty spot light targets?



Some of the descriptions make it sound to me that some of the people saw a flock of birds and thought it was a flight of aircraft farther away.

But how long were they targeting, and shooting at this balloon. That is to say if they were shooting at anything at all.


The word "alien" has yet to appear in this thread.

What's wrong? ;)

What would an alien be doing flying in a balloon? I would hope they'd have a faster means of space travel!


Because they weren't "aliens" per se, but robots. Robots who came to protect us from the terrible secret of space. :whistle:

Which is? And robots are built, no?


Huh. I learned something new today.

Try to do that everyday. There's no telling what the next year may bring!


If they were not shooting at baloons, it must have been venus. Those ufos always seem to be one or the other . . .

What if it was an enemy aircraft?


2 aerial bombs made it as far as LA. It was not something they wanted the public to know about at the time, that we could, HAD been succesfully attacked. I'm not sure if one or both of them actually came down and did damage or killed people... but ET was the coverup for anyone who would believe it.

So they didn't want anyone to know/freak out about the war, and claimed ET's were coming instead?

I would like to get to the bottom of this, but it seems the circumstances remove any surety of that. The information seems to have been covered from the get go, for fear of intelligence leak.

Thanks to all who posted though.

gzhpcu
2010-Feb-12, 07:20 AM
If they were not shooting at baloons, it must have been venus. Those ufos always seem to be one or the other . . .
Hey Joe Boy, you forgot swamp gas! :)

eburacum45
2010-Feb-12, 09:20 AM
Here is an earlier thread about the 'Battle'.
http://www.bautforum.com/life-space/49134-battle-los-angeles.html

The initial alert may have been caused by a balloon of some sort, not necessarily Japanese but quite possibly of US origin. After the guns started firing they were simply shooting at the smoke of the explosions, illuminated by searchlights. The balloon may have been shredded, or simply drifted out of the firing line.

There is some question about the authenticity of the photo - it may have been made in the darkroom by a photojournalist in a hurry to catch the morning papers. Note how the searchlight beams do not extend past the object - this means either the photo is a mock-up, or (if it is a real photo) the seachlights are simply illuminating the base of a cloud.

J Riff
2010-Feb-12, 09:51 AM
Don't forget that LA was not a placid SoCal hangout at the time. There were people arriving from overseas, from the camps, there were bodies of casualties arriving every day and the Japanese had these balloon bombs, well-documented for what it's worth, and we heard way back in the fifties about this, that one of them actually went off.
I have no idea how these things were activated ? On a timer, or an altitude detetctor or ..? They had to drift all the way across the ocean so it's fairly amazing if the story is true.

slang
2010-Feb-12, 10:04 AM
Yes, I realize that,

Of course you do, you posted the video :) I posted a short description of what it contained for the benefit of other readers, so they can decide whether it's something they care to watch or not. You'll find that many people here are hesitant to click a link with little description. Adding a little detail gives you a better chance that it gets seen by someone who actually knows a bit about US World War II history, or someone might recognize it as something that has been discussed here before.

NEOWatcher
2010-Feb-12, 01:20 PM
Check the page I linked (http://www.japaneseballoonbombs.com/) on post #11, its got some information in it.

2 aerial bombs made it as far as LA. It was not something they wanted the public to know about at the time, that we could, HAD been succesfully attacked.
Not just LA, 1000 out of 9000 made it to the U.S.


I'm not sure if one or both of them actually came down and did damage or killed people... but ET was the coverup for anyone who would believe it.
No, but there was one causing deaths in Oregon.
(June 1, 1945 - Seattle Times) A minister, still dazed by the shock of seeing his wife and five church children killed by a Japanese balloon-borne bomb a month ago [May 5], had War Department approval Friday to tell of the tragic picnic in southern Oregon.
The six deaths are the only known fatalities on the United States mainland from enemy attack. Full details were released after a month of secrecy as national officials expanded their warning program against Japanese balloons in western states.

I have no idea how these things were activated ? On a timer, or an altitude detetctor or ..? They had to drift all the way across the ocean so it's fairly amazing if the story is true.
There's information how it was built and operated on the site, but the one thing they left out is how the fuse was lit.

Space Chimp
2010-Feb-12, 02:04 PM
Don't forget that LA was not a placid SoCal hangout at the time. There were people arriving from overseas, from the camps, there were bodies of casualties arriving every day and the Japanese had these balloon bombs, well-documented for what it's worth, and we heard way back in the fifties about this, that one of them actually went off.
I have no idea how these things were activated ? On a timer, or an altitude detetctor or ..? They had to drift all the way across the ocean so it's fairly amazing if the story is true.

The Japanese balloon bombing campaign didn't start until 1944 according to NEOwatcher's link, so I doubt if it was one of those given the February 1942 date for this event. A US weather or barrage balloon more likely even assuming it was a balloon. I find it odd that the OP seems dubious that troops would open fire even if there was nothing there to open fire on. There are numerous accounts from Viet Nam of one-sided firefights, where green, unseasoned troops in particular would mindlessly join in shooting into the treeline at something they couldn't even see because someone else was. However, this was the sort of breakdown of fire discipline that the military wouldn't like to openly admit after the recent embarassment of Pearl Harbor, the on going defeats in the Pacific, and the way U-Boats were destroying US shipping on the East Coast at the time.

NEOWatcher
2010-Feb-12, 02:10 PM
The Japanese balloon bombing campaign didn't start until 1944 according to NEOwatcher's link, so I doubt if it was one of those given the February 1942 date for this event.
Although I find it highly unlikely, I wouldn't rule out the possibility of a test flight before the barrage.

Space Chimp
2010-Feb-12, 02:58 PM
Although I find it highly unlikely, I wouldn't rule out the possibility of a test flight before the barrage.

Everthing I've ever read about the Japanese balloon bomb campaign seems to suggest it was born of a desire to retaliate for the American Doolittle Raid on the Japanese mainland of April 1942 (which itself was a retaliation for Pearl Harbor) But it could be remotely possible. A lot of Japanese records were destroyed in the war.

NEOWatcher
2010-Feb-12, 03:10 PM
Everthing I've ever read about the Japanese balloon bomb campaign seems to suggest it was born of a desire to retaliate for the American Doolittle Raid on the Japanese mainland of April 1942 (which itself was a retaliation for Pearl Harbor)
According to the link I found and provided, Yes. It states that the project started 2 years before the 1944 barrage.

R.A.F.
2010-Feb-12, 06:17 PM
I would like to get to the bottom of this, but it seems the circumstances remove any surety of that.

That's a given when your evidence consists of a still picture, and testimony from a populous frightened by war.


The information seems to have been covered from the get go, for fear of intelligence leak.

No...you've provided no evidence for any of that. If you have evidence to present to validate your "findings" then present it.

captain swoop
2010-Feb-12, 10:27 PM
So they were just firing at the empty spot light targets?
It's not entirely on topic but here is an outline of AA at the time of the 'Blitz'

German attacks were at night and although they were tracked by Radar at that time there was no Radar Fire Control. Fuses in the shells were set by a timing 'machine' before being loaded into the gun. This machine was fed with estimated height and range, at night this was more or less a guess. In practice it was known what altitude the attacking bomber streams were flying at and a good estimate could be made. Early in the raids the gunners would only fire when an aircraft was in the searchlights but this left a lot of them not firing for large amounts of the time. Instead they switched to a tactic of 'blind firing' into 'boxes' that the bomber streams would be known to intercept. This proved as effective as 'aiming' and reassured the population that the gunners were 'Giving them hell' Remember that by the time the fues is set, the shell is loaded, fired and thentakes it's time to get tothe altitude it explodes the target has moved a considerable distance across the sky. When you can't see the target in the first place you start to see the problems of AA direction at night.
Later in the war batteries were directed by Radar Fire Control and the 'Proximity' fuse meant that the shells would actually explode close to the targets without having to estimate time of flight and altitude etc. (A Proximity Fuse' uses what can be thought of as a 'mini radar' to detect the target and explode the shell close to it. It was one of the most important but unsung developments of the war) These two developments meant that AA fire at night was as effective as it was in daylight.
When the V1 'Flying Bombs' started to be launched against London the batteries were moved out of London and down towards the coast to intercept them on the way in. SOme were later moved back as the public thought they had been abandoned and even though they weren't as effective in the city people wanted the reassurance of hearing the guns firing.

Noordung
2010-Feb-12, 11:45 PM
While I was composing this Captain Swoop beat me to some of it, but let me add some figures.



You think it's funny they didn't shoot it down? I would think hundreds of artillery shells surely would do the trick. I think it's odd that it didn't pop and get picked up by the military. I wonder where it did go though, if it floated on, or just hung there for a while.

On the question of whether a hypothetical balloon would have been shot down, the following figures are not quite apples to apples comparisons, but they do suggest the effectiveness of WW2 era AAA.

"In the course of 1944, the number of 128-mm rounds per aircraft shootdown was 3,000, less than one-fifth the number expended by its 88-mm counterpart. The large disparity in shootdowns per rounds expended between these flak guns was primarily a result of two factors. . . . Second, and most important, regular Luftwaffe flak personnel operated operated every 128-mm flak gun battery and were considered the 'cream' of the Luftwaffe's flak arm. The performance of the 128-mm gun crews demonstrates the results that could be obtained with well-trained crews and high-quality equipment."
Edward B. Westermann, Flak: German Anti-Aircraft Defenses, 1914-1945 (Lawrence KS: University Press of Kansas, 2001), 293.

The figures above seem to lump daylight effectiveness with nighttime, while the "Battle of LA" took place in the dark.

"The limited effectiveness of the flak batteries in nighttime operations did not go unnoticed by the high command of the Luftwaffe. . . . In fact, some flak batteries increasingly resorted to the ammunition-intensive procedure of either firing based on aural detection or simply using barrier fire principles. Despite Göring's complaint, the flak batteries in Air District VII again failed to bring down a confirmed kill in November [1940], even though they had fired 16,472 88-mm rounds, 3,393 37-mm rounds, and 47,478 20-mm rounds."
Ibid., 103-104.

I have heard reference to some radar contacts during the "Battle of LA," but while I don't have a good source handy I would be surprised if this consisted of much more than a fairly primitive detection system. Many of these early sets didn't even give an altitude reading, a major problem as shells were time-fused to explode at the estimated target altitude (proximity fuses were still some years away). This is a far cry from the integrated early-warning, tracking and gun-directing radar systems the Germans used even to get their 1:3000 kill rate firing on formations of large bombers. Adding in smaller calibre US AA weapons and recently drafted crews in their very first "action," I don't find it at all difficult to accept that a balloon--presuming it was there in the first place--could drifted away unscathed.

(Edited to add quote).

astrophotographer
2010-Feb-13, 02:10 AM
11690

Page 48 of Allan Hendry's UFO handbook has a good photograph of a spotlight on a thin cloud. I think that demonstrates that the Battle of LA photo is probably not an alien spaceship. The rest of the story seems to revolve around war nerves. Reading the actual newspaper articles of the time, all sorts of claims were made. Some indicated formations of aircraft flying in from the ocean. No planes could be proven to be there and none were shot down. There were claims of airplanes being shot down and crashing in various locations. Others mention that aerial flares were put up to illuminate the night giving more sources for "UFOs" being reported. It is interesting to note that an actual Japanese submarine shelled an oil refinery (or something like that) a few days prior to this (and no they did not destroy a ferris wheel in the process!), which probably led to some of the "war jitters".

Joe Boy
2010-Feb-13, 04:02 AM
Hey Joe Boy, you forgot swamp gas! :)

DRAT!!!! I missed that one

captain swoop
2010-Feb-13, 02:46 PM
Germany never developed a Proximity Fuse. they used a time fuse throughout the war, next to each gun was a fuse setting machine, the nose of the shell was put into the machine and this set the time based as I posted before on the various estimated inputs from range finders and estimated altitude. Later in the war they did have some radar direction but not to the extent of British batteries.

Huge Thousand Bomber daylight raids by the US 8th Air Force account for most of the German figures. RAF Night raids suffered much less from the effects of AA fire but they were hit by the Night Fighter force. Using airborne Radar it was far more effective than the AAA at night. Gunners in the night bombers prefered a clear sky and a full 'Gunner Moon' to overcast. It gave them a far better chance of spotting the Night Fighters as they started an attack. Towards the end of the war bombers were fitted with 'Tail Warning' radar sets that sounded an alarm when a fighter was on their 'six'.

Noordung
2010-Feb-14, 07:57 AM
I gather that captain swoop is responding to my post #33, as no other between his posts #32 and #36 treat the issue of AAA effectiveness. With respect, I think it is beside the point.



Germany never developed a Proximity Fuse.

My post does not say that they did.



they used a time fuse throughout the war, next to each gun was a fuse setting machine, the nose of the shell was put into the machine and this set the time based as I posted before on the various estimated inputs from range finders and estimated altitude. Later in the war they did have some radar direction but not to the extent of British batteries.

This is a more detailed discussion of fusing than I went into, but I fail to see any discrepancy in mine.



Later in the war they did have some radar direction but not to the extent of British batteries.

"At the start of the war, the German military had only eight Freya radar systems along the northern coast of Germany, but these stations had proved their worth by providing warning of impending British attacks in the first months of the war. . . . The Freya proved capable of identifying approaching aircraft at distances of up to 120 kilometers, but it did not provide the altitude of the target or suitably precise position values for anti-aircraft gun operations. . . . In operational tests during the summer of 1940, the Lorenz device (Funkmeßgerät 40L or FuMG 40L) demonstrated a range of between fifteen and twenty-four miles and an accuracy under ideal conditions of plus or minus twelve to fifteen yards, making it highly suitable for antiaircraft gun targeting. In contrast, Telefunken's Würzburg radar had almost double the range of the Lorenz device but was less accurate. . . . By the summer of 1941, the Würzburg device was the Luftwaffe's standard gun-laying radar, and the FuMG 39T(C) incorporated improvements that made it effective for aircraft targeting. By December, the Luftwaffe introduced the FuMG 39T(D), which remained the standard flak control radar through the end of the war."
Westermann, 95-96.

How this compares to British practice is immaterial, the question is how it compares to US practice in Feb 1942.



Huge Thousand Bomber daylight raids by the US 8th Air Force account for most of the German figures. RAF Night raids suffered much less from the effects of AA fire . . .

"German flak defenses accounted for the destruction of an estimated 1,345 [RAF] Bomber Command aircraft during night sorties . . . . The Eighth [US Army] Air Force lost a total of 1,798 aircraft to flak during the war."
Ibid., 286.

So yes, most of the losses came from the Eighth, but hardly an overwhelming majority. I also fail to see why this constitutes an objection to the figures given in post #33.



. . . but they were hit by the Night Fighter force. Using airborne Radar it was far more effective than the AAA at night.

"Luftwaffe fighters brought down an estimated 2,278 Bomber Command aircraft. According to these figures, Luftwaffe fighters enjoyed a 1.69 to 1 advantage over the flak arm; in other words, fighters accounted for 59 percent of Bomber Command's estimated losses, while flak accounted for the remaining 41 percent."
Ibid.

Whether that ratio constitutes "far more" is a matter of definitions, but since fighters were involved neither in the "Battle of LA" nor the statistics given in post #33 I fail to see its relevance.



Recapping my previous post, kindlyaware suggested that had a balloon been present during the LA incident it should have been shot down. Now, leaving aside the question of whether a material object of any kind was needed to spark panic firing under the war-nerves condition pertaining, I was attempting to cite some figures showing that this was far from certain. Ideally these would have been for early 1942 vintage US systems firing on balloons, but not having any such handy I turned to Westermann's book as a ready source of quantified data which might at least be suggestive. The first citation I chose was meant to illustrate a best case for Luftwaffe AAA against heavy bomber formations, and the second performance in conditions closer to the "Battle of LA" (darkness being a primary and agreed element).


My final paragraph was meant to suggest how closely conditions in LA in 1941 approximated those in the Luftwaffe cases. It is the weakest as I made several suppositions in it, but my contention is that effectiveness there would probably have been lower than in both the cases of Luftwaffe data. One of these is that available US Army AA guns in this period were of smaller calibre than the German weapons (3" rather than 88-mm and 4.5" rather than 128-mm, as I believe neither the 90-mm nor 4.7" had yet been fielded). Another is that the crews are unlikely to have been trained as well as the "cream" of their 1944 German counterparts. Selective service had only been instituted in late '40 and the war was only a few months old. Even had the training and command control been up to the standards the Germans had achieved after several years of operations, the fact that this would have been the first "action" for those involved would not have been conducive to calm efficiency. I also alluded to the question of how the kill probability of a balloon would differ from that of a heavy bomber; it would clearly be more fragile but have a much smaller target area, particularly compared to a whole formation.

And finally we come to the question of US radar. As I stated, I recollect hearing radar contacts mentioned in connection with "The Battle of LA," though I have not checked to see if my recollection was accurate or such reports verified. It did seem worth mentioninging as it might influence the AAA picture. Again I am speculating, but as I noted such equipment (if it was actually there) would probably have been limited to an early detection system such as the SCR-270. This would be very roughly comparable to the German Freya described above, in other words a warning and tracking system not useful for actual firecontrol.

So, what I have done is cite figures on Luftwaffe capabilities in 1941 and 1944 from what I take to be a reputable source and referenced same. I have then tried to estimate how this compares to conditions for US Army AA units as they would have existed in the LA area in February 1942. People might well disagree with my assessment of this and I am open to further data which would change it, but discussions of fighters or late war British practice don't. When composing my first post, I toyed with calling it a "red apples to green apples comparison." Continuing the analogy, these side issues seem an argument over whether Pippins are greener than Granny Smiths.

eburacum45
2010-Feb-14, 09:44 AM
The first radar contact was just after 2 am. Radar contact continued until 02.21 but as far as I can tell did not continue during the barrage of shells. Eight tons of shells were fired into the air on that night; three people were killed, and three more died of heart attacks. No balloon was found, but I'm not surprised; it was probably long gone.

Noordung
2010-Feb-14, 05:06 PM
Thanks, ebura, that eight ton figure allows for some comparison.


Both the Mk IX and M42 versions of the 3" HE shell had weights between 12 lbs, 7.75 oz and 12 lbs, 14.25 oz (unfortunately weights for the fuzes are not given, but this is probably accurate enough given only a single significant figure in the total weight). Taking the average this suggests that eight tons would be fewer than 1300 shells.

United States War Department, War Department Technical Manual TM 9-1904: Ammunition Inspection Guide (Washington DC, 2 March 1944) 446-447.

As an aside, my earlier reference to a 4.5" AA gun seems to have been erroneous. Very likely the weapons in question would have been 3" guns.



Just for comparison, lets see what weight of shell is represented by the ineffective November '40 fire detailed by Westermann. As previously noted, this comprised 16,472 rounds of 88-mm, 3,393 rounds of 37-mm and 47,478 rounds of 20-mm. The weights of 88-mm and 20mm HE shells were 20 lbs and 4.2 oz respectively. Unfortunately no weight is given for the 37-mm shell in the War Department source below, but the Navweaps site lists a 1.64 lb weight for the HE-T projectile. Summing this up, it appears that this represents the expenditure of just over 170 tons of projectiles without achieving a single confirmed kill.

Just to explore the best case again, the German 128-mm HE round weighed 57 lbs, thus the wartime average under even good conditions suggests that over 80 tons of such shell had to be expended for each kill achieved. That hypothetical balloon looks safer all the time.

United States War Department, War Department Technical Manual TM-E 30-451: Handbook on German Military Forces (Washington DC: United States Government Printing Office, 15 March 1945) pp. VII-39, VII-43, VII-44.

http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNGER_37mm-83_skc30.htm

Noordung
2010-Feb-15, 09:02 PM
It has been suggested that the statistics I have previously cited for AAA effectiveness are problematic, given that they do not include aircraft damaged yet still able to return to their bases. I don't see this as an overriding objection, given that we have a great deal of uncertainty over many factors, perhaps most notably how the Pkill for aircraft and balloons would compare. Since the fire of the LA defenses seems to have been significantly below what they suggest was typically required to kill an aircraft (both in terms of shell number and aggregate weight), I think they are adequate to show that a hypothetical balloon could easily have survived it.

The objection carries a bit more weight with respect to the November 1940 data, wherein counting damage or unconfirmed kills might shift the results into a "poor result" rather than a "no result" category, particularly as it does seem reasonable to conclude fragments which would only have damaged a bomber might have destroyed the balloon. Thus:

"Expressed as a percentage of all night sorties during the period [February 1942 to April 1945] , flak batteries inflicted damage on 3.5 percent of all bombers despatched."
Westermann, 286.

So, a balloon could be many times more vulnerable and still survive.


Edited for typo in citation.

Tedward
2010-Feb-16, 09:28 AM
I am reminded of a quote from a pilot or two of the F117 during the first Iraq war when approaching Bagdad that is in the excellent book, Skunk Works. I am sure a few on here have the book and not wanting to breach any rules so page 104 onwards for how effective blind firing can be, or really how effective it was not. I assume the sky is big and you have to be lucky or bang on target for a (deliberate) hit.

David Mc
2010-Mar-06, 08:25 AM
DRAT!!!! I missed that one
Swamp gas? no. Whale gas. It's the ocean.

Most of the excuses for AA fire are from multiple guns firing at 250 mph multiple targets.
This is multiple guns firing at just one very slow target.
There's no way they missed a balloon.

A flock of birds can do a great job of looking like a craft at night.
I've been burned by that a couple of times.

What I would readily believe is that after the radar at Pearl Harbor was not respected, they picked up a radar anomaly from the clouds in LA, focused in on what looked like what might be something (anything) and started shooting.
Every burst of smoke from a flak round just made it worse.

They killed a cloud.

Hazzard
2010-Mar-12, 08:10 PM
.

Comes off to me as a case where one jittery AA gun battery starting shooting, and the rest blindly joined in out of nerves or boredom.


Same here,.... and I see nothing in that photo, but the obvious clouds/smoke from the exploding anti aircraft shells.

kindlyaware
2010-Mar-15, 07:37 PM
Very interesting, thanks.