Since balloons have been in the news lately for obvious reasons, did you know that balloon bombs really did fall on Iowa during World War II? It's true and these contraptions were more dangerous than you'd think.

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The technical term for these weapons was Fu-Go balloon bomb that were created by Japan in 1944 in an attempt create a device that could reach the American mainland. They built around 9,300 and an alarming number did reach America including 3 incidents reported in Iowa as this Smithsonian map reveals.

Infographic, Mikesh, Robert C, Smithsonian
Infographic, Mikesh, Robert C, Smithsonian

These balloon bombs took several days to travel from Japan to the west coast of America covering over 5,000 miles with Iowa being the furthest incursion of these devious weapons. According to Wikipedia, these bombs contained "a payload of four 11-pound (5.0 kg) incendiary devices plus one 33-pound (15 kg) anti-personnel bomb, or alternatively one 26-pound (12 kg) incendiary bomb". The hope was to start forest fires in America.

On May 5, 1945, 6 civilians including 5 children in Oregon were killed by one of these balloons. No casualties were reported in Iowa as fortunately none of the balloons reached large population areas.

It's interesting with the recent incursion by what are widely believed to be surveillance balloons from China (and their eventual demise at the hands of F-22 missiles) that there is a crazy but true history of real damage done by balloons. The truth is really stranger than fiction.

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