70 Years Ago Today: The Battle of Los Angeles

In the first few weeks after the formal entry of the United States into World War II, many Americans on the west coast feared Japanese air and sea attacks, or even an amphibious invasion. On February 23, 1942, a Japanese submarine briefly surfaced off Ellwood, California and shelled an oil refinery there. Two days later, radar spotted an unidentified flying object approaching Los Angeles:
The varying reports of the morning’s events represent the mass confusion and paranoia of the time. Some reported there were just a few planes, while others claimed to have seen several dozen aircraft. There were even reports that planes were shot down, when in reality, nothing was hit by the AA guns—except three civilians killed and a few buildings damaged by friendly fire. Guns fired at the flying object for more than an hour between 3:15 and 4:15 a.m. on 25 February 1942.

To this day it is still uncertain what the flying object actually was, giving rise to many conspiracy theories of aliens, UFOs, and a subsequent government cover-up; but the most likely scenario is that the object was simply a rogue weather balloon.

Link -via Ace of Spades HQ | Photo (unrelated) via the National Park Service

P.S. Neatorama contributor Eddie Deezen starred in 1941, a movie about this period of World War II.

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I guess it is still a little known fact that the Japanese conducted what could best be considered a passive "air" attack on the united states during WWII. Thousands of paper balloons filled with helium and carrying explosive devices that had either altitude or temperature fuses on them. (my facts are foggy) This worked due to the jet stream the balloons would fly depositing them around the mid-north western pacific coast. Ingenious. However, they were either covered up, never made it, or explained away so the unrest it was supposed to cause never materialized. There is a documented story of a small group of picnic-ers who stumbled on one of these balloons that had landed high in a hill. An explosion ensued and the pastors pregnant wife and 2 local boys were killed. Find the the documentary "On Paper Wings" and watch it. You will be amazed truly.
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One or two alien-invasion movies have used this incident as a plot-point; it "turns out" that it was a scoutship or somesuch, and now the main force has arrived.
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