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Archaeology & History

US once tried to use glow-in-the-dark foxes against Japan during WWII

By T.K. Randall
May 21, 2024 · Comment icon 0 comments
Depiction of a Japanese kitsune. Image Credit: Midjourney
A lot of strange tactics were thought up during the Second World War, but this is perhaps one of the strangest of them all.
This bizarre and mostly forgotten chapter of World War II history saw the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which was essentially the forerunner of the CIA, invent a whole range of peculiar schemes designed to give the United States an advantage during the conflict.

One of these, which was known as Operation Fantasia, tried to take advantage of the superstitious beliefs of the Japanese people by making them believe that they were being haunted by a kitsune - a supernatural entity shaped like a fox that was often seen to be a harbinger of doom.

Businessman Ed Salinger was tasked with finding a way to make the whole thing work.

Several methods were investigated, including the idea of floating a large fox-shaped balloon over the battlefield or using fox-call whistles at strategic times and locations.

Ultimately, though, these ideas were scrapped in favor of using actual live foxes and covering them in luminous paint so that they would give off of an eerie, supernatural glow.
To test out the plan, Salinger's team even took to releasing a number of luminous foxes in Rock Creek Park in Washington D.C. to see what the reaction from the public would actually be.

"Horrified citizens, shocked by the sudden sight of the leaping ghost-like animals, fled from the dark recesses of the park," National Park Police reported at the time.

Following this apparent success, the next task was to find a way to get the foxes to Japan.

The team first tried dropping the animals in the ocean and letting them swim to shore, but this inevitably washed off a lot of the paint and defeated the purpose of the exercise.

Unable to find a solution, Salinger went back to the idea of using balloons and even developed a mechanical floating device shaped like a "stuffed fox with a human skull affixed to his head."

In the end, however, the entire project was scrapped before it could be used against the enemy.

Source: Mental Floss | Comments (0)

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