Monday, October 13, 2014

A Cool Bit Of History Found In British Columbia

Like so many "secret weapons" late in World War II, the Japanese fire balloons or Fu-Go (Windship Weapon) were a failure. Of the 9,300 hydrogen balloons launched with incendiaries attached, about 300 were found to have landed or been shot down in North America. The Japanese hoped that these balloons would have reached the forests along the Pacific coast and started massive fires that would divert resources from the war in the Pacific Theater.

The bombs did kill six people, a pregnant woman and five kids, in southern Oregon who were out on a church camping trip. However, no massive fires were started and no resources diverted.

Until this month, the last time a balloon bomb was found was in the 1970s. A forestry worker in Lumby, British Columbia discovered one last Thursday.
On Thursday morning RCMP in Lumby were asked by one of Tolko’s employees to come to an area off Thunder Mountain Forest Road. The employee suspected that he had found an unexploded Japanese balloon bomb. The bomb is partly embedded in the ground within the bush in the area east of Lumby. Officers photographed the bomb and the military disposal unit from Esquimalt is heading to the area to deal with the unexploded bomb.

The RCMP said that they hoped to be able to salvage parts of the bomb such as the aluminum ring seen in the picture below for display at the local Lumby Museum.

This is a cool bit of history. I hope they succeed in preserving as much of it as possible. Looking at Lumby on the map, it is in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. This means this balloon bomb, after crossing the North Pacific, drifted over the coastal mountains and about two-thirds of BC to land in Lumby. That's incredible.


  1. I did read another history about those type of bombs, Japan had made a lot more of those bombs, Due to the suppression of news at that time the Japanese never launched the rest of them.

  2. Funny thing: Those bombs were a failure because the Japanese had no way of controlling where they would come down. Today, all you'd have to do is put a GPS on them and a small computer loaded with the center points of all the major cities, and just program it to drop them when it was within 5 or so of any coordinate in the list. Combine that capability with the ability to have them go to heights of 100,000+ feet, and you'd have a hard weapon to defend against. Hard to spot on radar (if built properly), hard to see, and hard to shoot down.

    But you didn't hear that from me ;-)

    1. Interesting concept. I wonder if DARPA has given any funding for this.

    2. The purpose of the balloon bombs was not to attack cities, but to start fires in forests which the Japanese considered to be supplying vital war materiel. They didn't work very well for the simple reason that the season when the winds are most favourable for the Pacific crossing is the rainy season in those forests.