Brother Tim's historical novel Red Rain debuts next week.
Tim Wendel’s RED RAIN tells the story of the best-kept secret weapon of World War II – the Japanese fire balloons.You can join me in reading chapter one on Tim's website.
Assembled from paper by schoolchildren and women in the waning years of the war, these curious weapons were launched from fields near Tokyo and Kyoto. They often reached the U.S. mainland in just three days and two nights. Armed with incendiary bombs, the balloons’ original goal was to ignite forest fires throughout the western states, which they did at an alarming rate. Wendel’s research at the National Archives and the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., reveals that the balloons touched down in the U.S. more than 300 times from 1944 to 1945.
The balloons proved to be a better weapon than the Imperial Army ever knew. One sailed as far east as Michigan. At one point, the Japanese high command planned to replace the incendiary bombs with nerve and gas warfare. But, thankfully, it never came to that largely because of the U.S. military’s ability to keep a secret.