Remembering Japan's balloon attack on Northwest forests

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Offensive killed Oregon family, failed to spark terror or forest fires


Updated 9:26 am, Wednesday, December 7, 2016

It may have been one of the least effective, most mysterious attacks ever launched against the U.S, but caused the only known combat deaths in the 48 states.

It was 1944, and Japanese scientists had discovered that a powerful air current flowed generally east across the Pacific Ocean at about 30,000 feet.

Though they had found the air current through unrelated research, they saw a way to use it to attack U.S. targets without ever setting foot on American soil.


Or at least they hoped.

Knowing the currents existed, the Japanese took large paper balloons, filled them with buoyant hydrogen, and attached incendiary devices — crude bombs intended to start forest…

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