Japanese Balloon Bomb

The Case:

The granddaughter of a World War II veteran from Austin, Texas has a wartime memento with a note claiming it is a piece of Japanese balloon that floated across the Pacific Ocean in 1945.

The alleged balloon scrap could be evidence of a unique weapon in modern warfare: the Japanese Balloon Bomb.

More than 9,000 of these incendiary weapons were launched from Japan during the war via the jet stream with the intention of causing mass disruption and forest fires in the American West. These Balloon Bombs caused the only fatalities on the U.S. mainland due to enemy action during World War II.

The existence and purpose of the Balloon Bombs were kept secret from the American public for security reasons until a tragic accident forced a change in policy.

History Detectives investigates whether this scrap of fabric is a missing piece of an ingenious secret weapon.

Discuss this story

Season 6, Episode 3
Season 7, Episode 9

Tukufu Zuberi Location:
Austin, Texas and Washington, D.C.

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