Fire balloon

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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.[1]

Contents

Overview

From late 1944 until early 1945, the Japanese launched over 9,300 of these fire balloons, of which 300 were found or observed in the U.S. Despite the high hopes of their designers, the balloons were ineffective as weapons, and caused only six deaths (from one single incident)—a kill rate of 0.067%—and 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[2] and Iowa, as well as Mexico and Canada.

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