As the end of World War II loomed on the horizon in 1944 and the atomic attack on Hiroshima only months away, Japan implemented a plan designed to kill their Allied combatants on North American soil. Thousands of hydrogen-filled paper balloons armed with small bombs, assembled by school children, were launched from the east coast of the Japanese island of Honshu. Designed to piggyback the strong jet stream over the Pacific ocean these balloons, or Fu-Go as they became known, were meant to deploy their explosive cargo anywhere and everywhere on American and Canadian territory.
In all, approximately 9,000 of these balloons were launched. Reports began to surface in 1944 of fragments of the balloons with Japanese lettering on them being found in Alaska, Montana, Hawaii, Michigan, northern Mexico and the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. Initially, it was thought the floating bombs might be originating from Japanese detention camps in the Pacific Northwest, although the materials used to construct the balloons quickly ruled that theory out.
As sightings of Fu-Go increased, the U.S. military stepped in and ordered a media ban on the publication of any details about airborne balloons being spotted or any wreckage being discovered. When the war ended, details of unexploded balloon bombs being found made their way into American newspapers. Even as recently as 2014 Fu-Go scraps were discovered near Lumby, British Columbia.
Story by Jay Moon