Video Response to: S. Korean Activists Send Balloons Filled With Truth Leaflets To N. Korean People





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Published on Dec 7, 2010

Balloon Bombs...A fire balloon, balloon bomb (Japanese: 風船爆弾 fūsen bakudan, literally "balloon bomb"), or Fu-Go was an experimental weapon launched by Japan during World War II.

A hydrogen balloon with a load varying from a 12-kilogram (26 lb) incendiary to one 15 kg (33 lb) antipersonnel bomb and four 5 kg (11 lb) incendiary devices attached, they were designed as a cheap weapon intended to make use of the jet stream over the Pacific Ocean and wreak havoc on Canadian and American cities, forests, and farmland.

The balloons were relatively ineffective as weapons but were used in one of the few attacks on North America during World War II.

Between November 1944 and April 1945, Japan launched over 9,300 fire balloons. About 300 balloon bombs were found or observed in North America, killing six people and causing a small amount of damage

Japanese bomb-carrying balloons were 10 m (33 ft) in diameter and, when fully inflated, held about 540 m3 (19,000 cu ft) of hydrogen. Their launch sites were located on the east coast of the main Japanese island of Honshū.

Japan released the first of these bomb-bearing balloons on November 3, 1944. They were found in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Michigan and Iowa, as well as Mexico and Canada.

General Kusaba's men launched over 9,000 balloons throughout the course of the project. The Japanese expected 10% (around 900) of them to reach America, which is also what is currently believed by researchers. About 300 balloon bombs were found or observed in America. It is likely that more balloon bombs landed in unpopulated areas of North America.

The last one was launched in April 1945.

The balloon campaign was the fourth attack the Japanese had made on the American mainland. The fūsen bakudan campaign was, however, the most earnest of the attacks.

The concept was the brainchild of the Imperial Japanese Army's Ninth Army's Number Nine Research Laboratory, under Major General Sueyoshi Kusaba, with work performed by Technical Major Teiji Takada and his colleagues.

The balloons were intended to make use of a strong current of winter air that the Japanese had discovered flowing at high altitude and speed over their country, which later became known as the jet stream.

The jet stream blew at altitudes above 9.15 km (30,000 ft) and could carry a large balloon across the Pacific in three days, over a distance of more than 8,000 km (5,000 miles).

Such balloons could carry incendiary and high-explosive bombs to the United States and drop them there to kill people, destroy buildings, and start forest fires

The preparations were lengthy because the technological problems were acute. A hydrogen balloon expands when warmed by the sunlight, and rises; then it contracts when cooled at night, and falls.

The engineers devised a control system driven by an altimeter to discard ballast. When the balloon descended below 9 km (30,000 ft), it electrically fired a charge to cut loose sandbags. The sandbags were carried on a cast-aluminium four-spoked wheel and discarded two at a time to keep the wheel balanced

The control system ran the balloon through three days of flight. At that time, it was likely over the United States, and its ballast was expended. The final flash of gunpowder released the bombs, also carried on the wheel, and lit a 19.5 meter (64 ft) long fuse that hung from the balloon's equator. After 84 minutes, the fuse fired a flash bomb that destroyed the balloon

The balloon had to carry about 454 kilograms (1,000 lb) of gear. At first, the balloons were made of conventional rubberized silk, but there was a better way to make an envelope that leaked even less. An order went out for ten thousand balloons made of "washi", a paper derived from mulberry bushes that was impermeable and very tough.

It was only available in squares about the size of a road map, so it was glued together in three or four laminations using edible konnyaku (devil's tongue) paste. Hungry workers stole the paste and ate it.[citation needed] Many workers were nimble-fingered teen-aged school girls.

They assembled the paper in many parts of Japan. Large indoor spaces, such as sumo halls, sound stages, and theatres, were required for the envelope assembly.

Similar, but cruder, balloons were also used by Britain to attack Germany between 1942 and 1944.


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