Barrage Balloons at Pearl Harbor (?)

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by gjs238, May 25, 2010.

  1. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    In reading of the Nov 1940 Battle of Taranto, prior to the attack the Italians had set up barrage balloons.

    Were barrage balloons used by the US at Pearl Harbor before or after the Dec 7, 1941 attack?
    If not, would they have helped?
     
  2. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    I've never seen pictures of them before or during the attack. Probably showed up afterwards. If they were using them on the West Coast (and there was some use there), then they were probably used at Pearl afterwards.

    But there is a problem with Barrage balloons and Pearl. The place had a ton of airfields around it and putting up Balloons might create more problems than it solved. End up knocking down a lot of your own planes that wander into the wrong place. Not a big place when you get down to it, Oahu. Especially with all those airfields.

    If they had them during the attack, it would've helped. Forcing some of the attacking planes to drop at higher altitudes or make the torpedo planes manuver very hard after dropping, screwing with their drop. But I think Torpedo booms would've done more to help the Battleships. IMHO.
     
  3. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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    Don't recall them being used before or after....may well have helped, in the right places...but as Tim says plenty of airfields means enough US air traffic in the vicinity would cause further issues.....maybe?
     
  4. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    As the U.S. was still at peace and not expecting the attack at Pearl Harbour would it not be unlikely that a defensive array of barrage balloons would be flying?
    Steve
     
  5. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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  6. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    Wouldn't the fact that there was too much US air traffic to risk balloons also mean that there was enough US air traffic to not need balloons? One would imagine that there was enough hardware in the air/ready-on-the-ground that any eventuality could be covered. Just a thought...possibly heat-induced.
     
  7. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Yeah, I'm thinking that had to be part of the calculations. If you look at how many aircraft were destroyed at Pearl Harbor, something like 300+, then having barrage balloons would've just made a crowded place messier. And there were around 300 fighters on the island. Sounds pretty intimidating.

    You have all those airplanes, plus Navy Airgroups coming and going, add in the transients from the Mainland or other islands.

    And that's not even counting civilian traffic.

    Most probably thought Pearl could handle herself in the unlikely event that a task force made it all the way to Oahu unobserved (which most probably thought couldn't happen).
     
  8. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    Yep...pre-PearlHarbor, the US was just complacent (and it being a Sunday morning, a traditionally lazy day anyway, probably just added to the muddle). Post-PearlHarbor, and anything that showed up on radar that wasn't cleared with flight control would've been blasted, then examined later to determine what it was. The seagull population is only now beginning to make its comeback.
     
  9. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    Were barrage balloons overall very effective?
     
  10. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Depends on where and how they were used. Obviously, they weren't a problem to a bomber traveing along at 20K feet. But down low, they were a factor that dive bombers and low down raiders had to consider.

    I think they were used more in the European theatre than in the Pacific. The Euros had dive bombers and low level nusance raiders to contend with. The Brits had them up in various places to deal with both the Stuka and later Intruder raids (quick run in by an FW190 to drop a bomb and then dash home). Generally pushed them higher, probably affected aim of the bombs.

    In the Pacific, the defenses were based on Fighters, AAA and manuver when dealing with ships. Just Fighters and AAA when dealing with land bases. A barrage balloon is not much good when used by a ship manuvering at speed (carrier or other warship). Useful with a convoy, but by the time they showed up, the air threat was generally pretty low (kamikaze threat not withstanding). As for over an island, the fighting tended to be episodic in the Pacific. As such, it followed a pattern in which the heaviest threat from air happened early in the campaign, at least from inbound Japanese aircraft. After that, it was more an isolated threat and the battle moved to the ground warfare phase.

    All of the above is IMHO.
     
  11. hawkeye2an

    hawkeye2an Active Member

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    In reading a book on Operation Dragoon (S. France), they were used by the Invasion convoys.
     
  12. Peter Garwood

    Peter Garwood New Member

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  13. daveT

    daveT Member

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    #13 daveT, Jun 13, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2011
    interesting articles.
    From someone who had lived in Hawaii for 25+ years.
    Barrage Balloons in Hawaii would have been VERY difficult to employ and keep up for the simple fact that in Hawaii there is an almost constant Trade wind blowing. Another fact is that Ford Island Airfield was right in the middle of Pearl Harbor. Balloons and airplanes do not mix! Balloons can be used to protect selected sites, such as I've seen them used over Landing Craft ships and buildings in London. There is no way the entire harbor could be covered. Hawaiis terrain (high mountains, constant winds) would have prevented any use of them.
    DaveT
     
  14. daveT

    daveT Member

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    Corrected Yes they were used in Hawaii. Here are the pictures. Barrage balloon and motor operated winch in sand bagged pit at Fort Kamehameha Oahu Hawaii during World War II.Fort Kamehameha was coastal defense bunkers near Hickam.
    Barrage balloon and motor operated winch in sand bagged pit at Fort Kamehameha during World War .jpg Barrage balloon crew at Fort Kamehameha in World War II. The balloon ascends slowly while the pa.jpg Barrage balloon floating over Fort Kamehameha during World War II..jpg
     
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