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Thread: The Battle of Los Angeles

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    The Battle of Los Angeles

    I read about this a very long time ago when I came across an old 1942 issue of Time, though it was not referred to as the "Battle of Los Angeles":


    The Battle of Los Angeles, also known as The Great Los Angeles Air Raid, is the name given by contemporary sources to the rumored enemy attack and subsequent anti-aircraft artillery barrage which took place from late February 24 to early February 25, 1942 over Los Angeles, California. The incident occurred less than three months after the United States entered World War II as a result of the Japanese Imperial Navy's attack on Pearl Harbor, and one day after the Bombardment of Ellwood on February 23.

    Initially, the target of the aerial barrage was thought to be an attacking force from Japan, but speaking at a press conference shortly afterward Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox called the incident a "false alarm." Newspapers of the time published a number of sensational reports and speculations of a cover-up. A small number of modern-day UFOlogists have suggested the targets were extraterrestrial spacecraft. When documenting the incident in 1983, the U.S. Office of Air Force History attributed the event to a case of "war nerves" likely triggered by a lost weather balloon and exacerbated by stray flares and shell bursts from adjoining batteries.

    Air raid sirens were sounded throughout Los Angeles County on the night of 24–25 February 1942. A total blackout was ordered and thousands of air raid wardens were summoned to their positions. At 3:16 a.m. the 37th Coast Artillery Brigade began firing 12.8-pound anti-aircraft shells into the air at reported aircraft; over 1,400 shells would eventually be fired. Pilots of the 4th Interceptor Command were alerted but their aircraft remained grounded. The artillery fire continued sporadically until 4:14 a.m. The "all clear" was sounded and the blackout order lifted at 7:21 a.m.

    In addition to several buildings damaged by friendly fire, three civilians were killed by the anti-aircraft fire, and another three died of heart attacks attributed to the stress of the hour-long bombardment. The incident was front-page news along the U.S. Pacific coast, and earned some mass media coverage throughout the nation.
    Balloons, with incendiary bombs attached, launched from Japanese ships or submarines is a possibility. Such balloons actually reached Oregon during the war with at least one fatality.

    Columbia Pictures is releasing a movie loosely based on the events of February, 1942, titled Battle:Los Angeles. The previews give the impression that it will be one of those utopian multiracial/cultural feelgood movies where all of humanity overcomes its racial/cultural bigotries (for Whites) or misunderstandings (everyone else) in the face of an extraterrestrial invasion.

    In the trailer for Battle:Los Angeles you hear the following voiceover:

    "When you invade a place for its resources, you wipe out the indigenous population. Right now we are being colonized."

    Do any of the people who were involved in the making of this film see the irony of these words? Especially in regard to Los Angeles.

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    Very odd. In front of hundreds of thousands of witnesses they fired over 1500 12 pound high-explosive shells, making numerous hits, and yet could not bring down the "balloon" in the sky. There is not a blimp in the world even now that could withstand and hour-long barrage and stay in the air like that. This is something of a mystery:

    The object seemed completely oblivious to the hundreds of AA shells bursting on and adjacent to it which caused it no evident dismay. There were casualties, however...on the ground. At least 6 people died as a direct result of the Army's attack on the UFO which slowly and leisurely made its way down to and then over Long Beach before finally moving off and disappearing.
    The blackout was lifted and sirens screamed all clear at 7:21. The shooting stopped but the shouting had hardly begun. Military men who never flinched at the roar of rifles now shook at the prospect of facing the press. While they probably could not be blamed for what had happened, they did have some reason for distress. The thing they had been shooting at could not be identified.
    Caught by the searchlights and captured in photographs, was an object big enough to dwarf an apartment house. Experienced lighter-than-air (dirigible) specialists doubted it could be a Japanese blimp because the Japanese had no known source of helium, and hydrogen was much too dangerous to use under combat conditions.
    The press responded with scathing editorials, many on page one, calling attention to the loss of life and denouncing the use of the coast artillery to fire at phantoms. The Los Angeles Times demanded a full explanation from Washington. The Long Beach Telegram complained that government officials who all along had wanted to move the industries were manipulating the affair for propaganda purposes. And the Long Beach Independent charged: "There is a mysterious reticence about the whole affair and it appears some form of censorship is trying to halt discussion of the matter. Although it was red-hot news not one national radio commentator gave it more than passing mention. This is the kind of reticence that is making the American people gravely suspect the motives and the competence of those whom they have charged with the conduct of the war."
    Against this background of embarrassing indecision and confusion, Army Western Defense Command obviously had to say something fast. Spokesmen told reporters that from one to 50 planes had been sighted, thus giving themselves ample latitude in which to adjust future stories to fit whatever propaganda requirements might arise in the next few days.
    When eyewitness reports from thousands searching the skies with binoculars under the bright lights of the coast artillery verified the presence of one enormous, unidentifiable, indestructible object - but not the presence of large numbers of planes - the press releases were gradually scaled downward. A week later Gen. Mark Clark acknowledged that army listening posts had detected what they thought were five light planes approaching the coast on the night of the air raid. No interceptors, he said, had been sent out to engage them because there had been no mass attack.

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    The Japanese launched 9,300 balloons, the Japanese expected 10% (around 900) of them to reach America, which is also what is currently believed by researchers. 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. The last one was launched in April 1945. 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. Similarly, when the balloon rose above about 11.6 km (38,000 ft), the altimeter activated a valve to vent hydrogen. The hydrogen was also vented if the balloon's pressure reached a critical level.
    Similar, but cruder, balloons were also used by Britain to attack Germany between 1942 and 1944.
    The U.S. strategy was to keep the Japanese from knowing of the balloon bombs' effectiveness. In 1945 Newsweek ran an article titled "Balloon Mystery" in their January 1 issue, and a similar story appeared in a newspaper the next day. The Office of Censorship then sent a message to newspapers and radio stations to ask them to make no mention of balloons and balloon-bomb incidents, lest the enemy get the idea that the balloons might be effective weapons. Cooperating with the desires of the government, the press did not publish any balloon bomb incidents.[7] Perhaps as a result, the Japanese only learned of one bomb's reaching Wyoming, landing and failing to explode, so they stopped the launches after less than six months.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_balloon

    I have a few hypothesis for the battle of Los Angeles. My guess is that the balloons were some sort of primitive high altitude attack test balloons by Japan (they easily could have launched them by submarines) and then the US government followed the same precedure as the Japanese fire balloons mentioned above and tried to talk it down saying it was weather balloons. Or it could be an attempt by the US military to show the Japanese that the US is extremely well prepared for any attack by launching its own balloons out at sea for a test. Or maybe it was just a stray weather balloon.

    It really doesn't matter whatever happened.

    There was a great special on the History channel not too long ago about the battle of Los Angeles.

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    Invasion of the California Coast

    I had an Uncle who was in the 7th Infantry Div. at the outbreak of WWII. This Division was stationed in California at the time of the attack at Pearl Harbor. To hear him tell it, "Yeah, the whole State was under attack, but only in the minds and eyes of the public and political leaders. We spent the first three months of the War chasing up and down Coastal Highway 1 repelling phantom Japanese invasion forces. And the heck of it all, we never did see one Jap".


    Ah... the joy of paranoia, fear and panic...

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