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#1 mille125

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 03:08 AM

Great responses......what are your thoughts on the balloons that were largely unsuccessful but supposedly did cause one forest fire injuring 3 mainland civilians (the only mainland civilians likely killed in the war).....was this a one time try or did the japanese try a more widespread campaign that just resulted in very limited success....I cannot find a lot of info on this.....If someone has a resource, please share.....By the way this is a great forum...

#2 formerjughead

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 05:41 AM

Great responses......what are your thoughts on the balloons that were largely unsuccessful but supposedly did cause one forest fire injuring 3 mainland civilians (the only mainland civilians likely killed in the war).....was this a one time try or did the japanese try a more widespread campaign that just resulted in very limited success....I cannot find a lot of info on this.....If someone has a resource, please share.....By the way this is a great forum...


It wasn't a forest fire it was an actual unexploded bomb that was found by a family while on a pic nic near Bly Oregon Killing a woman and 5 children.
Here is a link to one of the Forest Rangers who responded to the incident:
BLY, OREGON BALOON BOMBING

The presence of these weapons was highly classified. There was a Parachute Infantry Battalion that was tasked with responding to any fires caused by these devices; the 555th PIB which had detachments in several towns on the west coast, including Chico and Redding California with a headquarters unit in Pendleron, Oregon.
http://en.wikipedia...._(United_States)

#3 lwd

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 05:34 AM

Hence the " " on Dirty Bomb.

Bio weapons were a concern, more so than Atomic weapons and I would be interested to see what the health department numbers for influenza and other illnesses were for 1944/45 in the Pacific Northwest when the balloons were comming accross.

The influenza virus can't live outside a host for very long so the balloons wouldn't be a good way of delivering it. I'm not sure what diseases the Japanese weaponized but I know there was at least one. I don't think it was ammenable to the balloon delivery either.

#4 lwd

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 05:46 AM

It was apparently quite an extensive program although not very successful. I've heard some of the balloons got as far as Michigan.

About the dangers of radiation. I remember hearing that Mac wanted to create a radioactive bearier between China and Korea. Given the knowledge at the time does anyone have any idea just how hot he planned on making it?

#5 formerjughead

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 02:51 PM

The influenza virus can't live outside a host for very long so the balloons wouldn't be a good way of delivering it. I'm not sure what diseases the Japanese weaponized but I know there was at least one. I don't think it was ammenable to the balloon delivery either.


Considering the transit from Japan took only 3-4 days it is plausible that even if someone with the flu sneezed on the rice paper balloon the virus could have been transmitted. It is also not uncommon for other viruses to present themselves with flu like symptoms in the early stages as influenza viruses are often used as the "Host virus" for many bio weapons.

#6 lwd

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 03:46 AM

Considering the transit from Japan took only 3-4 days it is plausible that even if someone with the flu sneezed on the rice paper balloon the virus could have been transmitted. It is also not uncommon for other viruses to present themselves with flu like symptoms in the early stages as influenza viruses are often used as the "Host virus" for many bio weapons.

I've seen nothing about the Japanese having a capability for combining viruses. Most of the effort I've read about in WWII era was simply how to "weaponize" biologicals. I thought I'd remembered the flu virus surviving a matter of minutes outside the host so I looked it up. Here's what wiki says about it at:
Influenza - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

As the influenza virus can persist outside of the body, it can also be transmitted by contaminated surfaces such as banknotes, doorknobs, light switches and other household items. The length of time the virus will persist on a surface varies, with the virus surviving for one to two days on hard, non-porous surfaces such as plastic or metal, for about fifteen minutes from dry paper tissues, and only five minutes on skin. However, if the virus is present in mucus, this can protect it for longer periods (up to 17 days on banknotes). Avian influenza viruses can survive indefinitely when frozen.

If you don't like wiki (I don't trust it all that much myself) here's another source:
http://www.ncbi.nlm....pubmed/18359825

We assessed the survival of human influenza viruses on banknotes given that billions of these notes are exchanged daily worldwide. Banknotes were experimentally contaminated with representative influenza virus subtypes at various concentrations, and survival was tested after different time periods. Influenza A viruses tested by cell culture survived up to 3 days when they were inoculated at high concentrations. The same inoculum in the presence of respiratory mucus showed a striking increase in survival time (up to 17 days). Similarly, B/Hong Kong/335/2001 virus was still infectious after 1 day when it was mixed with respiratory mucus. When nasopharyngeal secretions of naturally infected children were used, influenza virus survived for at least 48 h in one-third of the cases.

Given the low temps aloft it's possible that the viruses would still have been active. However they wouldn't have been arosolized so it would depend on some one coming into contact with the rice paper soon after it landed and then putting his hand in his/her mouth or nose soon after contact and before washing hands note the 5 minute survival time on human skin. Given the population density in the regions target by the Japanese and the fact that fire bombs could be very effective (perhaps even more effective) in low population areas I would think it highly unlikely that they attempted this. Even if they did I'm not sure it would have caused a noticeable increase in the presence of flu in the US population.

#7 formerjughead

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 05:18 AM

Given the low temps aloft it's possible that the viruses would still have been active. However they wouldn't have been arosolized so it would depend on some one coming into contact with the rice paper soon after it landed and then putting his hand in his/her mouth or nose soon after contact and before washing hands note the 5 minute survival time on human skin. Given the population density in the regions target by the Japanese and the fact that fire bombs could be very effective (perhaps even more effective) in low population areas I would think it highly unlikely that they attempted this. Even if they did I'm not sure it would have caused a noticeable increase in the presence of flu in the US population.


You're missing what I am saying. Given the amount of effort, by the US Government, to conceal the presence of these weapons (from both the Japanese and US citizens) it would be interesting to see if there was a correlating spike in illnesses reported to the health departments or any type of 'suggested' innoculations; wther it be 'influenza' or some other virus.

#8 lwd

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 01:28 AM

A campaign to increase inoculations might indeed be suggestive of at least some suspicions on the part of American authorities. Given the low probability of infection unless it was some weird tropical disease I doubt any increase could be discerned vs the back ground.

#9 RabidAlien

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 02:11 AM

I read recently that the Japanese sent up thousands of the fire-bomb balloons, but most of them either drifted astray and lost pressure, coming down in the ocean, or burst due to flaws in the materials, and only a very few actually made it to the US. Due to the low population density in the areas that the balloons went feet-dry (the Japanese failed to take into account that the jet stream did not cross over San Francisco, apparently), most of the bombs either disappeared, or started small fires in the rain-forests on the north-west coast, which either burned themselves out rather quickly, were put out without much problem by locals, or simply failed to explode due to corrosion/damage done by the high winds in the jet stream. Of course, take this info with a very large grain of salt....I couldn't even finish the book, it was so poorly written/edited (spelled one guy's name two different ways...within three sentences of each other). It would be interesting to find out what our plans were, had the Japanese actually employed a successful biological attack, whether directed against our troops, or against the civilian populations. I can imagine that, at that point, all gloves come off and the Allies get REALLY pissed.

#10 lwd

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 02:39 AM

Looking around I didn't find anything to support Japanese use of flu as a weapon. However I did find the following info at: Unit 731

Proposals included use of these weapons against the United States. They proposed using balloon bombs to carry disease to America and they had a plan in the summer of 1945 to use kamikaze pilots to dump plague infected fleas on San Diego.
Some Japanese generals proposed loading the balloons with weapons of biological warfare, to create epidemics of plague or anthrax in the United States. Other army units wanted to send cattle plague virus to wipe out the American livestock industry or grain smut to wipe out the crops. As it happened, 9,000 balloons each carried four incendiary and one antipersonnel bomb across the Pacific on the jet stream to create forest fires and terror from Oregon to Michigan.
As the end of the war approached in 1945, Unit 731 embarked on its wildest scheme; codenamed Cherry Blossoms at Night, the plan was to use kamikaze pilots to infest California with the plague.


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#11 mille125

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 03:02 AM

Influenza cannot be weaponized in a way that it would be delivered via balloon bomb. I am an MD. Trust me on this one

#12 formerjughead

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 03:16 AM

Looking around I didn't find anything to support Japanese use of flu as a weapon. However I did find the following info at: Unit 731


Looks like the quote function isn't working right


I used influenza as an example because the virus has been able to live for up to 17 days on items such as money. Many bio weapons exhibit 'flu like symptoms' after exposure and I would assume that, in lieu of other symptoms (especially in the early stages or limited exposure) or direct attack, exposure to a biological weapon might be passed off as a strain of influenza by public health.

For example, Bacillus anthracis is considered an effective agent for several reasons. First, it forms hardy spores, perfect for dispersal aerosols. Second, this organism is not considered transmissible from person to person, and thus rarely if ever causes secondary infections. A pulmonary anthrax infection starts with ordinary influenza-like symptoms and progresses to a lethal hemorrhagic mediastinitis within 3–7 days, with a fatality rate that is 90% or higher in untreated patients. Finally, friendly personnel can be protected with suitable antibiotics. .......

Agents considered for weaponization, or known to be weaponized, include bacteria such as Bacillus anthracis, Brucella spp., Burkholderia mallei, Burkholderia pseudomallei, Chlamydophila psittaci, Coxiella burnetii, Francisella tularensis, some of the Rickettsiaceae (especially Rickettsia prowazekii and Rickettsia rickettsii), Shigella spp., Vibrio cholerae, and Yersinia pestis. Many viral agents have been studied and/or weaponized, including some of the Bunyaviridae (especially Rift Valley fever virus), Ebolavirus, many of the Flaviviridae (especially Japanese encephalitis virus), Machupo virus, Marburg virus, Variola virus, and Yellow fever virus. Fungal agents that have been studied include Coccidioides spp..[5][6]
Toxins that can be used as weapons include ricin, staphylococcal enterotoxin B, botulinum toxin, saxitoxin, and many mycotoxins. These toxins and the organisms that produce them are sometimes referred to as select agents. In the United States, their possession, use, and transfer are regulated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Select Agent Program.
(Biological warfare - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)


The only point I am try ing to make is that: Japan may very well have tried to release a bio weapon via balloon bomb; however, any such infections or outbreaks could have been 'covered up' in the interest of national security and recorded simply as 'Influenza' or another common viral infection.

Influenza cannot be weaponized in a way that it would be delivered via balloon bomb. I am an MD. Trust me on this one


I am not saying they weaponized the flu. What was said is that the transit time from Japan to Mainland US was 3-4 days and that if a child, who had the flu, gluing the rice paper balloon together sneezed on the paper the flu virus could still be active on the paper. Then it was nit pic'd into the flu can't be weaponized. Most bio weapons exhibit flu like symptoms in the early stages after exposure. That's all there is to it.

Edited by formerjughead, 07 April 2011 - 03:24 AM.


#13 formerjughead

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 03:17 AM

Move along....nothing to see here...double post.

Edited by formerjughead, 07 April 2011 - 03:25 AM.


#14 mille125

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 03:47 AM

You are missing my point. I am simply refuting your initial point of delivering a bioweapon via a balloon/balloon bomb. Even with today's advances it would be very difficult to do this using a balloon as a delivery system.

#15 brndirt1

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 03:12 PM

You are missing my point. I am simply refuting your initial point of delivering a bioweapon via a balloon/balloon bomb. Even with today's advances it would be very difficult to do this using a balloon as a delivery system.


I believe that Brad was trying to convey that we (America) had full knowledge of the "plague bombs" used by the Japanese in China where bubonic plague was spread by dropping clay bombs which would explode at a few hundred meters after being dropped from aircraft without killing the infected fleas within them. These were successfully employed and killed thousands of Chinese.

The fear was that Unit 731 may have developed a method of keeping the fleas alive for their trip across the Pacific in the Jet Stream using the Fugo hydrogen balloons, and could have created a biological weapon in so doing. Just what that Unit had been doing since the Chinese "experiments" was largely unknown to the US, and that was the reasoning behind the fear. Or perhaps they had figured out ways of delivering other bio-weapons by balloon which we knew full well they had used in China. Anthrax, Glanders, etc..
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Happy Trails,
Clint.

#16 formerjughead

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 03:16 PM

You are missing my point. I am simply refuting your initial point of delivering a bioweapon via a balloon/balloon bomb. Even with today's advances it would be very difficult to do this using a balloon as a delivery system.


It could have been a very viable weapons platform and could have been untilized as such had the Japanese known, for certain, any of the balloons had reached the US. Of the 9,000 balloons launched there have only been 1,000 confirmed as successfully reaching the US so to say that Japan never tried to introduce Bio weapons via this mechanism is pretty narrow. I think it is even more narrow to assume that had Japan known that they had successfully reached the US with more than 10% of these bombs, or if any of the bombs had found a populated area, they wouldn't have tried bio weapons.

11% is a not a bad number considering the simplicity of the delivery mechanism. I just don't think there is enough known about this program to use words like 'never' and 'couldn't'.

I grew up hearing stories about these and even when I was a kid in the 70's we were cautioned about not touching these if we found them. A couple of years ago a friend of mine in Oregon found parts one while logging. There is a lot more to these than we'll ever know.

I believe that Brad was trying to convey that we (America) had full knowledge of the "plague bombs" used by the Japanese in China where bubonic plague was spread by dropping clay bombs which would explode at a few hundred meters after being dropped from aircraft without killing the infected fleas within them. These were successfully employed and killed thousands of Chinese.

The fear was that Unit 731 may have developed a method of keeping the fleas alive for their trip across the Pacific in the Jet Stream using the Fugo hydrogen balloons, and could have created a biological weapon in so doing. Just what that Unit had been doing since the Chinese "experiments" was largely unknown to the US, and that was the reasoning behind the fear. Or perhaps they had figured out ways of delivering other bio-weapons by balloon which we knew full well they had used in China. Anthrax, Glanders, etc..


Exactly.....:S!

#17 brndirt1

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 03:26 PM

Here is a good site on the Fugo bombs.

Goto:

Fugos

And as Brad said, there are still some of the buggers being found even today. They have been reported as far north as Alaska, as far south as Mexico, and as far east as Michigan. That site doesn't give the same number as Brad's did, fewer than a thousand out of 9,000... But still an interesting break-down of the delivery system.
Happy Trails,
Clint.

#18 formerjughead

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 03:30 PM

Here is a good site on the Fugo bombs.

Goto:

Fugos

And as Brad said, there are still some of the buggers being found even today. They have been reported as far north as Alaska, as far south as Mexico, and as far east as Michigan. That site doesn't give the same number as Brad's did, fewer than a thousand out of 9,000... But still an interesting break-down of the delivery system.


Here's another site and is the one I pulled my numbers from:
Japanese Balloon Bombs (Fu-Go Weapon)

Wiki and it's broad strokes provides a very concise synopsis:
http://en.wikipedia....ki/Fire_balloon

Edited by formerjughead, 07 April 2011 - 03:36 PM.


#19 lwd

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 11:20 PM

A source I mentioned down thread a bit does state that some Japanese generals considered attacking the US with biological balloon bombs. I suspect however that their technical experts convinced them it just wasn't possible to accomplish much that way for several reasons:
1) The balloon bombs would produce an extremely strenuous regime to most biologicals. Very few agents of the time could survive the transit.
2) The probability of human contact was low and much of the contact would involve a significant delay after the balloon landed. The chances of even one landing in a city were very remote. Most probably ended up in the Rockies or the Cascades and a fair number at sea. East of the Cascades and West of the Mississippi was a very low population area at that time.
3) Even with contact the chance of someone actually getting the disease would in most cases have been pretty low. The list of agents that were hardy enough to make the trip and still remain highly contagious was certainly not large.

If they had tried it the US would probably not have had to try and hide anything during the war. The cases would have been so few as to be unnoticeable in the general background noise.

#20 mille125

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 04:09 PM

My point is that if the Japanese wanted to use biological weapons against the US interests, their best bet would have be to do something similar to what was done in China (ie Plague) in the Phillipines, SE Asia, or some other theater that was within striking range. The idea of biologicals in a balloon released thousands of miles away is bereft of logic. For biologicals to be effective you must have some control over the delivery system and over the area that you are targeting. Biologicals in a balloon does neither of these. It is a very time consumptive process especially in the 1940s to devise a plan like this.

#21 formerjughead

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 02:53 PM

My point is that if the Japanese wanted to use biological weapons against the US interests, their best bet would have be to do something similar to what was done in China (ie Plague) in the Phillipines, SE Asia, or some other theater that was within striking range. The idea of biologicals in a balloon released thousands of miles away is bereft of logic. For biologicals to be effective you must have some control over the delivery system and over the area that you are targeting. Biologicals in a balloon does neither of these. It is a very time consumptive process especially in the 1940s to devise a plan like this.


Those are valid points except you overlook the terror factor, releasing a bio weapon, would create. All they had to do was reach the United States. The balloons were cheap and didn't require a pilot or fuel. Had the Japanese known the balloons were indeed landing in the US I am quite confident that there would have been improvements in guidance and targeting.

The intent of the balloons was not to create significant casualties; they wanted to create fear and cause troop diversions.

#22 syscom3

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 03:21 PM

.... I am quite confident that there would have been improvements in guidance and targeting ...


There was no way for the balloons to be steered. They were at the mercy of the winds, which were variable in speed and direction.

#23 belasar

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 04:01 PM

I too, thought there was a limit to any guidence to be had with a ballon unless they could devise a way to launce closer to the US mainland.
Wars are rarely fought in black and white, but in infinite shades of grey

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#24 formerjughead

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 04:10 PM

There was no way for the balloons to be steered. They were at the mercy of the winds, which were variable in speed and direction.


This is true; but, if the Japanese would have been aware of where the balloons were landing they could have improved where they landed. As it sits Balloons were found everywhere from Califonia to Michigan, because the Japanese did not know how long the balloons would take to transit due to the differeing speeds of the jet stream at different altitudes. Had they known where the balloons were landing they could have developed better altitude and ballast controls.

#25 OpanaPointer

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 04:37 PM

"Where should I aim this thing?"

"At North America."

"Hey, I'm not a sniper!"
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