November 14, 2019

OLD AND BUSTED: “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?!”

The new hotness? “Was it over when the Japanese bombed Michigan?!” How the Japanese bombed Michigan during World War II:

November marks the 75th anniversary of the start of an unusual, mostly unknown chapter of World War II — Operation Fu-Go, the Japanese launching of more than 9,300 large, bomb-laden, hydrogen balloons, carried east across the Pacific Ocean by the jet stream at high altitudes to cause destruction and chaos in the U.S. and Canada.

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[M]orale among Japanese citizenry had taken a blow following the Doolittle Raid, a surprise attack on Tokyo on April 18, 1942, by long-range U.S. bombers. While the raid itself inflicted little damage, it humiliated Imperial Japan and its military, said Michael Unsworth, a retired history librarian at Michigan State University who has written and lectured on the balloon bombs.

“They felt honor-bound to retaliate,” he said.

But the Japanese had no similar long-range capabilities — particularly after the significant losses their Pacific fleet had taken in the Battle of Midway in June 1942.

That’s when Japanese strategists and researchers hit upon using the jet stream, a west-to-east air current in the upper atmosphere only discovered by a Japanese researcher, Wasaburo Oishi, in the mid-1920s. His research didn’t receive extensive international attention because he published it in Esperanto, a dialect invented in the 1880s in an attempt to create a uniform international language.

Read the whole thing.

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