Jap Fire Balloons a Fizzle
Japan landed more than 200 bombcarrying, unmanned paper balloons in this country, most of them in the Western area, out of perhaps thousands launched, but the attack fell flat as a military weapon.
At July 31, last, nearly 230 of the balloons or their exploded remnants had been recovered. They fell from Alaska to Mexico and as far east as Michigan, but most frequently in British Columbia, Washington. California and Montana.
Many more were sighted and still are being sought and recovered in isolated areas, where unexploded bombs remain a menace. The exact number sent out of Japan and to land on our hemisphere may never be known. Official guesses, however, place the total released at well into the thousands. One Navy task force reported seeing hundreds in a single day off the Aleutians, headed for California. This was at the time of the San Francisco Security Conference and the report caused considerable apprehension and a redoubled watch. Apparently all of them fell into the sea.
Except for killing six persons who tampered with a bomb near Lakeview, Ore., perhaps causing two small fires and diverting manpower for their investigation, and control, the drafting balloons failed miserably as a war weapon. Not one ever fell in a city or war plant although it is disclosed several came down near the Hanford atomic bomb factory in south central Washington state, and one dropped on the Bonneville Dam power line, momentarily stopping power to the Hanford project. Capt. Don Leonord of the Michigan State Police reported one fell only twenty miles front Detroit.
The hitherto secret details of landings, and the bomb specifications have now been released. The balloons were thirty-three foot hydrogen-filled bags made of five layers of paraffined rice paper; they traveled at an altitude of about 30.000 feet with prevailing Pacific winds, coming from Japan in three and a half to four and a half days. Each carried five bombs, four incendiaries, and a thirty-three pound fragmentation-type antipersonnel bomb.
Famous St. Paul’s Saved
The British Ministry of Information has disclosed a story of heroism in the days of the London blitz, in 1940, when a bomb disposal expert saved St. Paul’s Cathedral at the risk of his own life.
An unexploded mine fell into the courtyard of St. Paul’s at the height of one of the German attacks, landing only three yards away from the cathedral wall. Commander Lieut. Ronald J. Smith, sent to render the mine harmless, found it covered by a parachute with which it dropped and so entangled that the ’chute could not be removed.
He crawled under the ’chute to get to the mine and unscrew the fuse, which had to be done before he could fit in a safety device. Just as he began work a fire engine rumbled by and the vibration started the clockwork mechanism of the fuse. That meant just seventeen seconds before the mine would go off.
Racing against time, Smith cooly unscrewed the fuse disc and got in the “safety gag;” with about two seconds to spare.
Jap Oxygen Mask
A mask that generates its own oxygen electrically is reported used by the Japs. Our fliers rely on masks to which compressed oxygen is fed from containers. One type Japanese mask consists of a battery, two electric buttons, a container for the oxygen generator, a gas-meter, the mask and the necessary rubber tubing for connections. Two special chemical oxygen generators are inserted in the container.
When ready for use, one of the electric buttons is pressed down to ignite the generator. Oxygen begins to flow in five seconds. Generation of gas continues for seventy-five minutes. By using both generators, enough oxygen to last a man for two hours is produced, it is said. The meter tells the fighter how much oxygen he is getting.
About U. S. Incendiary Bombs
Incendiary bombs that fired Japanese cities with 3,000 degree Fahr. flames are themselves roasted at 2,000 degrees in U. S. war plants, it is disclosed. The General Electric Company, whose brazing furnaces turned out incendiary casings at the rate of 400 per furnace, per hour, explain that the containers were filled with inflammable gel-gas which discharges almost non-extinguishable flame. The furnace treatment seals the joints of the metal casings before they are filled.
The incendiaries, known officially as M-69 and M-74, weigh from six to ten pounds, are about half the size of a baseball bat and trail green ribbons or metal vanes for stability during their descent to a target. They usually were dropped in clusters of fourteen to thirtyeight.
As the incendiary strikes the target its fuse sets off an explosive charge in the bomb nose. The pressure developed by the charge shoots the flaming gasoline jelly from the tail end, and the burning charge adheres to anything it strikes. The casing itself, however, does not burst.
Effects of U. S. Bombing of Japan
The questionable Tokio radio is responsible for these statistics: Forty-four Japanese cities were almost completely wiped out and nearly 10,000,000 people killed, injured or rendered homeless by Allied air assaults on Japan throughout the war.
Tokio “statistics” said that one-fifth of Japan’s 206 cities were almost totally destroyed, with a death toll of 260,000. In addition, thirty-seven other cities, including Tokio, lost more than 30 per cent of their built up areas under the high explosive and fire bombs of United States aircraft.
Japanese air defense GHQ gave the following totals “which are still incomplete and are likely to mount as further investigations are made”:
Killed: 260,000, of whom 90,000 died from the atomic bomb blows on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Injured: 412,000, including 180,000 atomic bomb victims.
Houses wrecked: 2,210,000 completely demolished or burned down and 90,000 partially destroyed.
This, of course, is in addition to the damage done to industrial and military establishments, commercial and business structures.
Home Made Bomb Effective
In St. Paul, Minn., Conrad Olson, 14, was killed when a home-made bomb exploded as he and a companion attempted to duplicate experiments in spontaneous combustion. The companion, Bert Schilling, was not injured.
The boys had used a mixture of powder from shotgun shells and other chemicals in their experiments and had exploded several bottles without harm. Then they obtained a steel pipe, threaded at both ends. After putting a cap on one end, they filled it with the chemical mixture. It exploded as the Olson boy started to screw a cap on the open end.
Navy Releases Crash Accident Data
The Navy has disclosed that ten men were killed, eighty-five planes w-ere destroyed and fifty-five others damaged when a four-engine Navy bomber veered off a runway on Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshalls August 9, 1944.
A Consolidated Liberator, when taking off, plowed into a replacement pool of planes for carriers. Seven of the Liberator’s 500-pound bombs exploded or began burning as flames spread rapidly from the plane’s 2,900 gallons of gasoline. The pilot and all but one of the eleven-man crew were killed in the crackup, or died later.
The crash emphasized the possibilities for accident always present in landing or take-off operations a crowded airport.