Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The 1942 UFO Battle for Los Angeles Explained


While many in the UFO community think the February 24-25th, 1942 incident where the United State Army allegedly had a battle with a UFO over the Pacific Ocean just off the coast of Los Angeles…


…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:


Here’s a PDF copy of the full 1947 report, from our UFO web-site:

Controlled-Altitude Free Balloons



MistaG said...

Here's a Tokyo/AP article from the L.A.T dated 11-01-1945 that makes me question your explanation:

     `The Battle of Los Angeles was a myth; the Japaneses did not send planes over that city the night of Feb 2-25, 1942, a Japanese navy spokesman told the Associated Press today.

The question was put because the Fourth Air Force at San Francisco on October 28th said that planes, possibly Japanese, were overhead that night. Lt. Gen. John L. DeWitt, former commander of the Western Defense Command at San Francisco, was quoted, "It is my belief that those planes were launched from submarines somewhere close to the shore under our detectors."

Capt. Omae of the Japanese navy said, however, that a plane was launched from a submarine and sent over the Southern Oregon coast on Feb. 9, 1942, "to attack military installations, but the lone pilot was unable to discover any. Another purpose was to keep Americans worried over coastal attacks and force them to keep many planes at home. This would cut down the air strength America could send overseas." Omae said the reason the Oregon coast was selected was not indicated in navy files.

The submarine, which shelled Ft. Stevens, Oregon, near the mouth of the Columbia River, approached its objective by remaining submerged during the day and surfacing late at night. Omae said the submarine commander had a full set of plans of Ft. Stevens and his objective was to destroy the military installations.

The submarine which shelled the Goleta oil filed near Santa Barbara, CA., early in 1942, also sought military installations, and to nail down American forces in the United States. That attack was made so the Japanese people could be told that one of their submarines easily reached the United States coast. "When the submarine commander failed to find military installations he shelled oil property," Omae said.`

If Omae was recounting their successes, I don't see why he wouldn't mention fire balloons. That is unless of course he wasn't familiar with their launch. If that's your argument I'd then counter that it still couldn't be the case because the first launch was two years later in '44. Also the LA Times picture strongly suggests the "balloon" was elliptical along the horizontal. Whereas we can assume a partially deflated balloon would be elliptical along the vertical axis. The general shapes don't match up. That aside, also take in to account that the balloon was reported to be incandescent according to a number of people, including, Halbert P. Gillette of San Marino who wrote a Letters to The Times, L.A.T (pp. 81, Sword, Terrenz (2002). Battle of Los Angeles 1942: The Mystery Air Raid, 60th Anniversary Edition. New Bruncswick, NJ: Global Communications. ISBN N/A.)

     "Wednesday morning a friend told me that he had witnessed the first "dog-fight" between airplanes over America. Later it turned out that what he had seen was a "dog-less dog-fight," for no enemy airplanes had been seen or even heard, and that what looked like a balloon had been spotted by searchlights and fired upon.

The photograph in Thursday's ''Times'' shows the alleged balloon clearly, illuminated by nine converging searchlight beams, and with half a dozen blobs of light from bursting anti-aircraft shells near it. This "balloon" has a nearly hemispherical top and possibly a similar base. That it was not a balloon seems probable because the escape of a no balloon has been reported, as well as because it failed to collapse under intense and apparently accurate shellfire. What was it then?

The answer is that it was probably an approximately globular cloud of exceptional character. There is a well-known, though rare, meteorological phenomenon known as a fireball. Occasionally such a luminous ball drops out of a thundercloud and drifts away looking like an incandescent balloon. The astonishing features about a fireball are two, first its almost perfect sphericity, and second its incandescent.

I find that to be the biggest problem with this explanation. I'd love to hear any other ideas you might have to offer.

Thanks for the intriguing PDF!

RRRGroup said...


Thanks for the "corrective."

We really don't think the "object" shot at was extraterrestrial, and we have an ongoing colloquy about the episode with Frank Warren (TheUFOChronicles.com) who knows much more about the 1942 incident than we do.

The balloon "explanation" is one of many, and can be discounted, as your material suggests.

The thing wasn't an airplane -- too stationary -- so we rule that out.

The "meteorological" explanation is intriguing, and possible, as far as we're concerned.

Our balloon interpretation is meant as one possibility, even though your material makes us take pause.

More about this to come? Perhaps.

Thanks, again, for the article.

Rich Reynolds

Jason said...

Could any balloon, of any type, ever created withstand the anti aircraft bombardment that this craft took for such a sustained period of time?

RRRGroup said...


Anonymous said...

First, I really like your RRRgroup blog, you do some interesting research and commentary, and I enjoy reading it.

You're right about the balloon part, but it was American balloons that started the shooting...how do we know? There were hundreds of eyewitness accounts that night and most of them can't be trusted because nobody knew what they heck they were looking at, with the exception of military folks who saw the meterological (weather) balloons that they launched, about 3am, and it was shortly after 3am that all the shooting started so this is no coincidence:

[i]At 3 a.m. on the morning of the raid, the 203rd launched two balloons, one from its headquarters on the Sawtelle Veterans Hospital grounds in Westwood and the other from Battery D, located on the Douglas Aircraft plant site in Santa Monica. So that the balloons could be tracked at night, a candle placed inside a simple highball glass was suspended under each balloon, whose silver color would reflect the light enough to be tracked to heights usually well above 25,000 feet. Lieutenant Melvin Timm, officer in charge of Battery D’s meteorological operations, ordered his balloon launched and had notified the filter room-also known as the Flower Street Control Center, where all planes, identified or otherwise, were tracked on a giant, flat table map-of its departure, when ‘all hell broke loose.’[/i]

[i]At 0306 a balloon carrying a red flare was seen over Santa Monica and four batteries of anti-aircraft artillery opened fire, whereupon “the air over Los Angeles erupted like a volcano.” From this point on reports were hopelessly at variance

...I immediately reported to our regimental commanding officer, Colonel Ray Watson, that the guns were firing at our balloon and that there were no aircraft in sight

Watson sent out the order that none of the 203rd’s 3-inch guns were to fire, then notified the Flower Street Control Room of what was happening. Astonishingly, the order came back from Flower Street to shoot down the balloon...[i]

I agree with you that the balloons not only could but did survive the AA attack, notice that Timm reported to the colonel they were "firing at our balloon", he doesn't say they shot it down, which is what he would have said had they shot it down. There are several reasons the balloon could survive, the first being that the shells may have simply not detonated close enough to the balloons. There are a number of reasons for this, we know the training of the gunners wasn't very good so there may have been accuracy issues, but also as you said balloons can easily reach 30,000 feet and since those 3 inch guns can't hit anything over about 25,000 feet one possibility is they were out of range, but personally I suspect even if they were within range it was an accuracy issue.

Once the shooting started, it didn't really have to be balloons that were being shot at during the entire battle, in fact we know that's NOT the case because some people were just firing wildly into the air or were shooting at the puffs of smoke from the previous AA shell detonations:


[i]Regardless of what was or was not overhead, once the shooting started nobody seemed to care. Whenever and wherever searchlights stopped probing and focused on something, orange-colored bursts of exploding anti-aircraft shells quickly filled the sky around it. At least one unit, the 211th Coast Artillery Regiment, admitted that although its members did not see any planes, they shot anyway.[/i]

What commenter MistaG thought might be a cloud illuminated by searchlights may also be smoke from AA fire so it seems entirely possible that's what they were shooting at if the shooting continued after the weather balloons were shot down.

Regards, Dave

RRRGroup said...

Nice comment, Dave...

YOu might check out our other blogs, especially The UFO Iconoclast(s) -- http://ufocon.blogspot.com for recent postings and more about the 1942 L.A. Battle.


Randy said...

I find it very difficult to believe that this was a balloon. I think someone should fund an investigation and simulate this event to the best of their ability. Take a "balloon" and fire at it with 3" x 12" anti-aircraft rounds using a total of 1430 of them... if they weren't able to down a balloon with this massive air attack then proof it. Don't talk about the possibilities that a balloon could possibly survive such an attack... show us scientifically how a balloon could survive it. This is absurd.

Zombie_Head said...

Does anyone know if Cal Herbert or Carl Herbert had anything to do with the battle of Los Angeles? Or a Major General W.E.R Covell or a Jimmy I don't know any last name on him. Thanks for your help.

RRRGroup said...


You should contact Frank Warren at frank-warren@pacbell.net.

He's the absolute expert on the 1942 event, and the webmaster for The UFO Chronicles.