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The Battle of Los Angeles revisited


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Posted (IP: Staff) ·
Image credit: Los Angeles Times
Image credit: Los Angeles Times
The Battle of Los Angeles occured early on February 25th 1942 when a number of unidentified objects in the sky over the city were fired upon by anti-aircraft artillery. It was thought at the time that the objects were Japanese aircraft however this turned out not to be the case, in fact to this day nobody is sure what the objects were. Theories range from weather balloons and blimps to spacecraft of an otherworldly origin.

"Pat Carrell was 3 years old and living with her parents and baby brother in Hawthorne when she was awakened by the sound of booming antiaircraft guns in the morning hours of Feb. 25, 1942. Less than three months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the West Coast was on edge. Carrell remembers the shades being drawn, the fear in her parents' eyes, the warning to keep the lights off. After what must have seemed like an eternity to a toddler, the explosions finally stopped and daylight broke. But for years, Carrell wasn't sure what had happened during what came to be known as the Great L.A. Air Raid. To this day, no one is."

arrow3.gifView: Full Article | arrow3.gifSource: LA Times
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  • aquatus1

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I don't think this incident ever got the full investigation it deserves.

Another one of those events that the government used 2 or 3 different stories to explain how "nothing happened" then it got tossed into the dust bin of history.

Edited by Old Bob
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That picture scares the hell out of me.

But I agree, this deserves more investigation. You can not explain this thing away as being an aeroplane or balloon, etc...

So then what was it?

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Well, if it was a Japanese airplane it sure made a wasted trip because it didn't shoot back, or drop any bombs.

As for balloon? Man it has to have been the toughest balloon of all time. Over 2,000 rounds of AA were fired at it. Many of which were direct hits and after 15 or 20 minutes it casually drifted off to the SW !

Edited by Old Bob
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Ok, maybe you could explain how radar picked up "nothing".

False RADAR contact? Usually it's a glitch in the software, but there's a few other ways to do it. The earlier radar models sometimes even triggered off to erratic thermoclines.

But even at that, it doesn't necessarily mean that a plane was detected. After all, a cloud of birds can set off a radar too. Or, as is often claim in the L.A. air raid, a balloon with a stack of coins could have done it.

The beauty of it is how long the "raid" lasted :lol:. While I freely admit that I haven't got any evidence for it (and, frankly, no one else does either), I have my own theories.

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Radar was in its infancy then. Anything could have set it off. How about nerves? It was only a few days after Pearl harbor and the populace was on edge.

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and yet still we have pilots who can see an object visually ( with crew as well ) and yet nothing on radar. If we have the tech to avoid radar why not another ?? I wouldn't call radar the gold standard.

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It was shooting at something. The grey's probably laughed as their saucers wobbled a little because of the bombardment.

It fired for some time so i dont think it was something as trivial as a baloon with coins attached.

If not flying saucers it's still an interesting mystery.

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Well, this should be a relatively easy experiment for guys like UFO Hunters.

I count 9 searchlights pointed at "nothing". If you point 9 searchlights at the sky right now you should get the same effect. That being, the concentration of lights should produce exactly the same picture. Which gives the appearance of a solid object in the center of the lights.

I was not there, I don't claim to have more knowledge than anyone else here, but it sure looks like those lights are on "something" not "nothing".

I'd also like to know who gave the order to open fire? Had to be an officer. Why did an officer order the batteries to fire?

I can buy "war nerves" for Joe the private out there, but not an officer.

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Well, this should be a relatively easy experiment for guys like UFO Hunters.

I count 9 searchlights pointed at "nothing". If you point 9 searchlights at the sky right now you should get the same effect. That being, the concentration of lights should produce exactly the same picture. Which gives the appearance of a solid object in the center of the lights.

I was not there, I don't claim to have more knowledge than anyone else here, but it sure looks like those lights are on "something" not "nothing".

I'd also like to know who gave the order to open fire? Had to be an officer. Why did an officer order the batteries to fire?

I can buy "war nerves" for Joe the private out there, but not an officer.

??? how about some common sense ?? there is no way there could be ' nothing there'..... why ??? easy ....... if there were nothing there , no matter how many spotlights , the beams of said spotlights wouldn't just come to a halt they would continue ...

do an experiment ... take 2 or more flashlights and cross beams ..... do the beams stop at the point they meet ?? nooooooooo they wouldn't .. ever. unless an object was in it's course .

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??? how about some common sense ?? there is no way there could be ' nothing there'..... why ??? easy ....... if there were nothing there , no matter how many spotlights , the beams of said spotlights wouldn't just come to a halt they would continue ...

do an experiment ... take 2 or more flashlights and cross beams ..... do the beams stop at the point they meet ?? nooooooooo they wouldn't .. ever. unless an object was in it's course .

We are in agreement then? There IS something there.

Thank you Lt.

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Yeah, Ripley, I do believe Old Bob was implying there was something there.

Personally, I've always found this story fascinating. If it wasn't an actual object-- spaceship, balloon, what have you-- then it just goes to show how badly fear and nerves can play on not only a single person, but a whole region. While I don't doubt that it could have just been a giant false alarm/mass delusion, I do find that possibility almost as interesting as it being anything paranormal.

Little side story: My father fought in Vietnam. Early on in his deployment he awoke to his entire camp shooting at something out in the jungle-- all he could see were the tracer bullets. After a good ten minutes of this they stopped and found a dead panther. The person on watch got spooked when he heard movement and, sure enough, everyone else jumped in. Fear can easily spread like that.

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We are in agreement then? There IS something there.

Thank you Lt.

I apologize whole heartedly ! :blush:

Edited by Lt_Ripley
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I count 9 searchlights pointed at "nothing". If you point 9 searchlights at the sky right now you should get the same effect. That being, the concentration of lights should produce exactly the same picture. Which gives the appearance of a solid object in the center of the lights.

Well, don't forget that there are a bunch of powder clouds in the air as well.

I'd also like to know who gave the order to open fire? Had to be an officer. Why did an officer order the batteries to fire? I can buy "war nerves" for Joe the private out there, but not an officer.

As a former officer, please let me say that Joe the private isn't the only one who can get the nerves.

??? how about some common sense ?? there is no way there could be ' nothing there'..... why ??? easy ....... if there were nothing there , no matter how many spotlights , the beams of said spotlights wouldn't just come to a halt they would continue ...

do an experiment ... take 2 or more flashlights and cross beams ..... do the beams stop at the point they meet ?? nooooooooo they wouldn't .. ever. unless an object was in it's course .

It's a curious effect of light that, after a while, it seems to disappear. A light beam doesn't just stretch out into the infinity of space; it does actually seem to come to a rather abrupt halt. I play around with lasers enough to be familiar with this effect, although I haven't really bothered to look into the explanation.

Personally, I've always found this story fascinating. If it wasn't an actual object-- spaceship, balloon, what have you-- then it just goes to show how badly fear and nerves can play on not only a single person, but a whole region. While I don't doubt that it could have just been a giant false alarm/mass delusion, I do find that possibility almost as interesting as it being anything paranormal.

Little side story: My father fought in Vietnam. Early on in his deployment he awoke to his entire camp shooting at something out in the jungle-- all he could see were the tracer bullets. After a good ten minutes of this they stopped and found a dead panther. The person on watch got spooked when he heard movement and, sure enough, everyone else jumped in. Fear can easily spread like that.

There's accounts of police officers surrounding a building and demanding the suspects come out. A shot gets fired, everyone starts shooting, and some cops go down. Evetually, the smoke clears and the suspects are not found in the house. What happened? Well, when you get a bunch of cops around a house shooting at it, some of the bullets are going to go straight through the house, through the other side, and towards the other cops.

So, let me propose something that is in line with the facts of the case. One of the stations, testing its equipment, ties a bunch of coins to a balloon and sends it up, pinging it with their radar, getting a good read, and forgetting about it (as is reported). Now, another station downwind suddenly sees something on radar. The word goes out an everyone is on high alert. Tensions rise. Suddenly, one officer gets a radar blip and orders fire. One shot booms out. Immediately, a dozen other stations train their searchlights and spot what used to be shell, but what is now a cloud of smoke, and start firing as well. The sky is now full of exploding shells, and the people on the ground are convinced they are in the middle of the first firefight on American soil. Bombs rain down among them, convincing them even further (it never occurs to them that these bombs might be from their own side!). As long as people on the ground see objects in the air, and bombs being fired, they keep at it, until they run out of ammo.

Yes, it could very well have been nothing more than nerves. And a very unlucky balloon.

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Eyewitness reports:

http://ufocasebook.com/battleoflosangeles.html

"It was huge! It was just enormous! And it was practically right over my house. I had never seen anything like it in my life! It was just hovering there in the sky and hardly moving at all."

"It was a lovely pale orange and about the most beautiful thing you've ever seen. I could see it perfectly because it was very close. It was big!"

"They sent fighter planes up and I watched them in groups approach it and then turn away. There were shooting at it but it didn't seem to matter."

"It was like the Fourth of July but much louder. They were firing like crazy but they couldn't touch it."

"I'll never forget what a magnificent sight it was. Just marvelous. And what a gorgeous color!"

"I'm a WWII veteran. Just thought I'd let you know that I was an eyewitness to the event back in February of 1942. I was 14 at the time, living in the Adams and Crenshaw area of Los Angeles. My family and I observed the entire episode through the large bay window of our home facing west.

The air raid sirens awoke us at 2 AM. There was a period of silence following that, then the thumping of antiaircraft fire. The northwest sky was lit up with bursting shells and searchlights. The action was moving south along the coastline. I remember distinctly the convergence of searchlights reflecting off the bottom of some kind of slow moving objects, apparently flying in formation. They seemed to be completely oblivious and impervious to the shells exploding around them."

I was quite the aviation buff back then, as I am now, but I must admit that I had a devil of a time trying to identify the objects, what with the awe, excitement and speculation of the moment, the bursting shells, tracers, etc. I was surprised in the days that followed to discover that with all that aggressive firepower there was no evidence that we had brought anything down.

It could have been two, or three, or up to six miles away, I can't recall exactly since it occurred so long ago. But I strongly remember the searchlights converging on the bottoms of the reddish objects flying in formation"

http://www.ufocasebook.com/battleoflosangeles2.html

Editor Peter Jenkins of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner reported, "I could clearly see

the V formation of about 25 silvery planes overhead moving slowly across the sky toward

Long Beach." Long Beach Police Chief J.H. McClelland said, "I watched what was described

as the second wave of planes from atop the seven-story Long Beach City Hall. I did not

see any planes but the younger men with me said they could. An experienced Navy observer

with powerful Carl Zeiss binoculars said he counted nine planes in the cone of the

searchlight. He said they were silver in color. The (UFO) group passed along from one

battery of searchlights to another, and under fire from the anti-aircraft guns, flew

from the direction of Redondo Beach and Inglewood on the land side of Fort MacArthur,

and continued toward Santa Ana and Huntington Beach. Anti-aircraft fire was so heavy we

could not hear the motors of the planes."

Reporter Bill Henry of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "I was far enough away to see an

object without being able to identify it...I would be willing to bet what shekels I

have that there were a number of direct hits scored on the object."

Comprehensive account:

http://brumac.8k.com/BATTLEOFLA/BOLA1.html

http://www.ufo.it/testi/1942.htm

Actual Radio Broadcast:

http://www.ufomystic.com/wake-up-down-there/la-air-raid-ufo/

News report:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUL9qsoipFs

Edited by karl 12
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So, let me propose something that is in line with the facts of the case. One of the stations, testing its equipment, ties a bunch of coins to a balloon and sends it up, pinging it with their radar, getting a good read, and forgetting about it (as is reported). Now, another station downwind suddenly sees something on radar. The word goes out an everyone is on high alert. Tensions rise. Suddenly, one officer gets a radar blip and orders fire. One shot booms out. Immediately, a dozen other stations train their searchlights and spot what used to be shell, but what is now a cloud of smoke, and start firing as well. The sky is now full of exploding shells, and the people on the ground are convinced they are in the middle of the first firefight on American soil. Bombs rain down among them, convincing them even further (it never occurs to them that these bombs might be from their own side!). As long as people on the ground see objects in the air, and bombs being fired, they keep at it, until they run out of ammo.

Yes, it could very well have been nothing more than nerves. And a very unlucky balloon.

Bolding mine above, Do you have a link stating that this ever took place? I have never heard of that,, A balloon being sent up to test a radar ping and the guy forgets about it and in turn setting off the entire chain of events leading to this massive gunning and killing 6 civilians,,,

I would be VERY intereasted in reading any information available of this happening,

Regards;

TFF

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Bolding mine above, Do you have a link stating that this ever took place? I have never heard of that,, A balloon being sent up to test a radar ping and the guy forgets about it and in turn setting off the entire chain of events leading to this massive gunning and killing 6 civilians,,,

I would be VERY intereasted in reading any information available of this happening,

Regards;

TFF

What, the balloon? Yeah, that's part of the basic story...give me a few minutes...

Okay, here's the group that does the re-enactments of the Battle of Los Angeles. The thing about the balloon is at the bottom of the page.

The Great Los Angeles Air Raid of 1942

Edited by aquatus1
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What, the balloon? Yeah, that's part of the basic story...give me a few minutes...

Okay, here's the group that does the re-enactments of the Battle of Los Angeles. The thing about the balloon is at the bottom of the page.

The Great Los Angeles Air Raid of 1942

aquatus1 thanks for the reply and the link;

The way im reading this story is there is only the one person stating (and second hand terstimomny at that) that there were nickel size balloon sent up with wires attached to it, My question is this, How can we take just one individuals second hand testimony and say its credible and accurate when we have many many other accounts saying that yes there was planes in the sky and shooting at this object and and the second part of the question is how is it possible that a military trained for combat and protection of the usa mistake a nickel balloon with a wire attached to it for an enemy combatant and then light up the sky and do all that shooting with artillary? Just makes no sense to me whatsoever,, I dont buy it,, JMHO,

For anyone interested heres the exerpt from the article with a person saying it was a nickel balloon,

Here's an excerpt from an article written for the Daily News by reporter Matt Weinstock. After the war he was talking to man who had served in one of those Army batteries and the gentleman recounted the following story.

"Early in the war things were pretty scary and the Army was setting up coastal defenses. At one of the new radar stations near Santa Monica, the crew tried in vain to arrange for some planes to fly by so that they could test the system. As no one could spare the planes at the time, they hit upon a novel way to test the radar. One of the guys bought a bag of nickel balloons and then filled them with hydrogen, attached metal wires, and let them go. Catching the offshore breeze, the balloons had the desired effect of showing up on the screens, proving the equipment was working. But after traveling a good distance offshore and to the south, the nightly onshore breeze started to push the balloons back towards the coastal cities. The coastal radar's picked up the metal wires and the searchlights swung automatically on the targets, looking on the screens as aircraft heading for the city. The ACK-ACK started firing and the rest was history."

Link to article;

http://www.theairraid.com/

Regards;

TFF

Edited by thefinalfrontier
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aquatus1 thanks for the reply and the link;

The way im reading this story is there is only the one person stating (and second hand terstimomny at that) that there were nickel size balloon sent up with wires attached to it, My question is this, How can we take just one individuals second hand testimony and say its credible and accurate when we have many many other accounts saying that yes there was planes in the sky and shooting at this object and and the second part of the question is how is it possible that a military trained for combat and protection of the usa mistake a nickel balloon with a wire attached to it for an enemy combatant and then light up the sky and do all that shooting with artillary? Just makes no sense to me whatsoever,, I dont buy it,, JMHO,

Well, that's certainly your right, and as I said before, no one here has any evidence to prove pretty much anything. To me, though, it actually makes perfect sense. The reason I can take one testimony over another is because one has actions that are not only possible, they are quite probable (being that using balloons to test radar was a fairly common procedure), whereas the others require me to believe that there were planes in the air, that they survived one of the harshest air attacks the US could generate (1400 bombs in an hour!), that they didn't drop any bombs, any wreckage, and that stayed in the same region that full hour, a region being so heavily pounded that (quoted from the above link): As one witness, Jack Illfrey, a young P38 pilot assigned to the 94th aero squadron stationed at Long Beach Airport reported, "We pilots prayed to the good Lord above that we wouldn't be sent up in that barrage, enemy or not. Most everyone saw or imagined something – Japanese Zero's, P34's, Japanese Betty bombers. We were not sent up".

As to your second question, I'm not sure I can describe to you what being in combat is like. When the sirens sound, and you hear that the enemy is just out of sight, and your grip on your firearm is turning your knuckles white...being trained in combat and protecting the US does not, in any way, make the nerves any less jittery.

Oh, an the reason they mistook a nickel balloon for an enemy combatant is because the radars in those days didn't really do a whole lot more than tell you that something was in the air. A blip was a blip, and to an officer already 45 minutes into a air raid alert, it was all he might have needed to fire off a shot. After that, everything happened, again as it does to this day. One person starts shooting, everyone else joins in, and people end up shooting each other.

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Well your rational is certianly within reason as is mine, I simply am trying to find the truth like so many others, I can reason with your reasoning but there is still many accounts that contradict the whole story, I guess as you said we most likely will never know exactly how all this went down but its hard to discredit so many people who know what they seen, Heck i seen a black triangle hovering with no sound and I know for a fact what I seen but I have came to no conciouse conclusion as to what it was, im at a loss for that one but my point is I know what I seen and it stands to reason that so many others in LA from many miles apart saying the same things that they know what they seen as well,,

Well anywhoots I appreciate the link ya gave me, Thats one side of the story I had never heard and it gives me food for thought,

Regards;

TFF

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It was nerves. Nothing more than that. After the attack on Pearl, the powers that be EXPECTED an attack to take place on the west coast. They felt that a Japanese invasion was imminent. Add new technology such as radar, nerves, defensive posturing and an itchy trigger finger and BAM! Theres your battle of LA. They were firing at nothing but their own fears....

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Firing at nothing but there own fears for hours on end. BULL! Come on guys. If all the search lights were on one spot then its pretty clear whether it is exploding AA shells or a solid object. Get off the grass!

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