- SKU: 17134049
- Release Date: 09/30/2008
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- Closed Captioned
Between 1944 and 1945, a series of events unfurled that qualifed as some of the most bizarre and unusual in 20th century military history. The Japanese spent the period of 1942-44 designing and launching a "second act" to Pearl Harbor by devising the world's first intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) - attached to balloons. Known as "Fugo" balloons, and powered by hydrogen, they carried average bomb payloads ranging anywhere from 12 kg. to 20 kg - thus giving them incredibly destructive potential, including immolative abilities. On a malevolent note, the military strategists originally regarded the balloons as a prototype for biochemical warfare, that could be used to unleash deadly chemicals and viruses into the United States. It is now estimated that the Japanese ultimately created and launched around nine thousand via the currents of the Pacific Jet Stream, targeting the North American continent. In the final analysis, only 361 were ever reported in the U.S., the balloons took six American lives, and the Japanese stopped the program when the United States failed to report any related incidents or casualties. The PBS special On a Wind and a Prayer relays this terminally odd and chilling story. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi