The Battle of Los Angeles is not just a Rage Against the Machine album.
In the wee hours of the morning on February 25th, 1942 searchlights lit the sky above LA. The city was plunged into emergency black out and anti-aircraft guns exploded shells into a target above the city for over an hour. Several civilians died as a result of friendly fire, a few buildings burned down, and at least 3 people had heart attacks during the attack.
What the fuck was going on?
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was less than three months earlier and the West Coast was considerably edgier than it usually is. Not your average over-caffeinated twitch response mind you. It was full on paranoia that at any moment the sky would fill with Zero fighters raining high caliber machine gun death on the quirky but generally peace loving people of Southern California.
The whole country stood at a definite "War Footing" as we readied what remained of our Navy to take the fight all the way to Tokyo like a red, white, and blue flag waving, cigar chomping, radioactive death dealing giant lizard. The government was wondering out loud about putting everyone of Asian ancestry, regardless of citizenship status, into internment camps. The Nazi threat loomed in Europe as Hitler gave the free world the finger and essentially told everyone to brush up their German and learn to love his brand of hot sausage. Things were scary and weird.
So into this equation you have a mystery object, traveling slowly down the coast from Santa Monica heading to Long Beach. It is almost invisible to radar (it was detected intermittently, and was possibly one of as many as five objects), silent, makes no attempt to identify itself, and looks a bit too much like an upside down silver pie plate for comfort. All of these factors contributed to one of the loudest and most hostile welcomes in LA history.
Over 1400 12.8lb anti-aircraft shells were fired at the object over the course of an hour. Many of those shells, according to the artillery crews and civilians, impacted on the object or exploded in close proximity. No debris was found, no damage observed, after an hour of sustained firing the thing simply vanished. Of course nobody had a clue as to who the fight was with, what the other side wanted, or if there would be more fight to come.
The US Army and the Government have offered a few explanations over the years for the incident and object, all of which must be true until a new official report is published that contradicts the last one. Here are a few of the explanations...
False Alarm: Attributed to "War Nerves". Fair enough. People were crazy with worry over a possible additional Japanese sneak-attack. That is actually perfectly plausible. However an object was shot at, and hit to no effect, and this is known because newspaper men and the Army photographed it as it happened. So unless the citizens of LA were so nervous as to psychically imprint their worry in the shape of a flying saucer on tons of film, "Move along, nothing to see here" may not be the best explanation.
Japanese "Fire Balloon": A good theory, except that a balloon filled with flammable hydrogen (the Japanese did not have access to non-explosive lighter than air gasses like helium) and carrying a payload of flammable liquids and dynamite is doubtful to withstand sustained artillery fire for more than an hour. Also, the Japanese did not start unleashing their wildly ineffective balloon assault until 1944.
Birds: Birds are silent, at high altiude can appear to be slow moving, and are often covered by a reflective metal surface. However those points conceded, it can be assumed that most birds will not hover stationary in the face of powerful search lights and giant explosions for longer than an episode of The Lawrence Welk Show.
Weather Balloon: I will accept this explanation if you can explain to me how 1400+ 12.8lb anti-aircraft shells could not even move one, while in another five years one crashed on its own in Roswell, New Mexico and left a debris field around 300 feet long and with several burned and broken crash test dummies in its wake. It can be assumed from this that our earlier weather balloons were invulnerable titans of modern engineering while models produced less than a decade later folded like a house of cards at the slightest provocation.
Japanese/Nazi (Japanazi) Secret Weapon: Also a good speculation. However since this article is not written in German, Kanji, or a crude Germanese/Spanglish dialect I will assume that this was not a forgotten Wunderweapon of the 3rd Reich.
What we have here is one of the best examples of a UFO sighting in recorded history. Both Military and civilian sources observed it, fired at it, and were scared shitless of it. Photographic evidence still exists even, probably because it was not assumed to be anything other than birds or lost Japanese fighter planes with no guns searching for Sushi Bar and rest room. Despite it being such a good example, with a pretty good pile of evidence, one rarely hears about it. Why? Probably because its a good example of something unknown with a pretty good pile of evidence.
Bonus! Pictures! [Click on them for full size]
The most common image of the battle.
A photo taken directly from the microfilm copies.
Here is the negative of the first photo. Isn't that something?
The Negative of the image shows the object in the center of the searchlights in pretty good detail. I am not saying that its full of little green men, but it is interesting.
What is also interesting is despite all that attention, the photographs, media reports, shells fired, and civilian deaths there was no Congressional investigation into the mater. Not a one. The Army concluded at the time it must have been civilian planes operated by unauthorized pilots engaged in a psychological warfare operation of some kind. They theorize that the planes were being flown at low speed and high altitude so as to avoid the shelling from below. Which would work out as an explanation, except the object and the exploding shells can be seen in the photo's, and with even more clarity in the negative.
Another interesting factor is that in addition to the Motion Picture studios, Southern California at that time was a powerhouse of industrial production. Of what you may ask? Why, weapons of course. Ships, guns, bombs, bullets, you name it. Industrial production for the backbone of Americas war effort. All being churned out by cute little California beach bunnies. All kinds of weapons, even nukes.
Robert Oppenheimer was hard at work at the University of California (Berkley) at this time, finishing his calculations concerning critical mass and detonation. If there is a connection I have no idea what it is. Probably just a coincidence, just an interesting one.
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