The Nation: Bombs over the U.S.

One of the great secrets of World War II was that from November 1944 to April 1945 the Japanese floated over North America some 9,000 small bombs in paper balloons made of tightly glued pieces of parchment-like paper. Only about 280 are known to have reached the U.S. and hit the ground — in Ore gon, Wyoming, Montana and as far in land as Iowa. The Japanese had hoped the bombs, launched into the Pacific jet streams, would ignite forest fires in the Pacific Northwest and panic the U.S.

population. But there were no fires — and no panic because the...

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