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Was the Battle of Los Angeles Really an Alien Attack?

Satyajeet Vispute Mar 22, 2020
A rare UFO-related event of truly massive proportion, the Battle of Los Angeles has been the inspiration for numerous movies, including 'Independence Day' and 'Battle: Los Angeles'.
Not Us! The Japanese, till date, maintain that they weren't responsible for the Battle of Los Angeles.
Astronomer Frank Drake's equation predicts that the number of technologically advanced alien civilizations in our galaxy alone should number in the millions! And yet, strangely, we haven't yet been contacted by any of them; or have we?
Ask a ufologist, and you'll be regaled by ceaseless stories of UFO sightings, alien abductions, etc., that are claimed to have taken place throughout human history. While most of these would simply seem too wonderful to be true, there is at least one in particular which is compelling enough to appeal to even the most unbending of realists.
It pertains to the events that took place in the wee hours of the morning of February 25, 1942, in Los Angeles, California. To the believers this remains one of the most conclusive of evidences that we are not alone, and that advanced alien races do, in fact come to visit us.


On December 7, 1941, the American naval base at Pearl Harbor was attacked by bomber planes and submarines belonging to the Imperial Japanese Navy. This attack was a huge blow to the perceived immunity that Americans thought they enjoyed against World War 2.
Pearl Harbor was a big shock to the American people, government, as well as the military. There was a great sense of insecurity, and tensions ran high with regards to the impending attacks, which everyone believed would certainly take place.
There were speculations that the West Coast was next on the target of the Japanese. A day before the Battle of Los Angeles, a Japanese submarine had shelled an oil field near Santa Barbara. Consequently, anti-aircraft installations were put on high alert, and the crews were ordered to be on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary.

Battle of Los Angeles 1942 Facts

On the night of February 25, 1942, at 3:16 AM, air raid sirens went off throughout Los Angeles County. A complete blackout was ordered, as thousands of air raid wardens scrambled to their positions.
Searchlights scanned the skies until they were locked on an unidentified aircraft hovering over the L.A. skyline. Guns were aimed at the enemy craft, and the 37th Artillery Brigade began firing .50 caliber machine guns and 12.8-pound anti-aircraft shells at the target.
In the frenzy, a total of over 1,400 rounds were fired during the alert, which continued on later in sporadic bursts, until 4:14 am. The Fourth Interceptor Command was alerted, but their fighter planes didn't take off. Finally, at 7:21 AM, the 'all clear' was issued, and the blackout was lifted.
In the panic of the event, five civilians lost their lives (three due to car accidents, and two due to heart attacks). Also, numerous buildings and vehicles were damaged by the shell fragments that fell from the sky.

An Alien Attack?

Though the citizens and the military initially thought that it was a Japanese attack, apparently, it soon turned out to be something much more bizarre!
When the gigantic spot lights of the Army's 37th Coast Artillery Brigade lit up the sky and converged in on the intruding aircraft, many eyewitnesses reportedly saw a giant, pale-orange colored UFO moving above California.
The anti-aircraft artillery fired round after round, aimed directly at this mysterious object in the sky. Yet the UFO continued to move without showing any sign of damage.
An air raid warden said "It was huge! It was just enormous! And it was practically right over my house. I had never seen anything like it in my life!"

"It was just hovering there in the sky and hardly moving at all. It was a lovely pale orange and about the most beautiful thing you've ever seen. I could see it perfectly because it was very close. It was big!"
"They sent fighter planes up and I watched them in groups approach it and then turn away. There was shooting at it but it didn't seem to matter."

"It was like the Fourth of July but much louder. They were firing like crazy but they couldn't touch it."

"I'll never forget what a magnificent sight it was. Just marvelous. And what a gorgeous color!" she said.
As the UFO continued to move unaffected by the incoming fire, it came up directly overhead the MGM studios in Culver City. There, a very good quality photograph of the object was taken with the spotlight beams as well as traces of firing still visible.
The UFO then moved over Long Beach, and finally disappeared completely. No enemy craft was found in the sky or destroyed on the ground as a result of the firing, which further strengthens the hypothesis that it was actually an alien aircraft.


A few hours after the event, in a press conference, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox stated that the incident was caused due to a false alarm which he declared was a result of 'war nerves', and that no aircraft was actually present in the sky that night.
Next day, Army General George C. Marshall proposed that the event was likely caused by commercial airplanes in an attempt to carry out a psychological attack to induce mass panic.
The army even stated that there were possibly five light enemy aircraft which could be launched from secret bases within California, Mexico, or from submarines. These could have been involved in the events of that night.
These contradictory statements from the higher ups, coupled with eyewitness and other evidences, led many to suspect that the government was trying to cover up the actual happenings of the Battle of Los Angeles.
An editorial in the Long Beach Independent declared: "There is a mysterious reticence about the whole affair and it appears that some form of censorship is trying to halt discussion on the matter."

Office of Air Force History's Explanation

The Office of Air Force History in 1983 reasoned that, it was probably meteorological balloons that triggered the Battle of Los Angeles. Back then, every six hours, weather balloons were deployed from each of the dozen anti-aircraft batteries around the city.
These balloons were illuminated from below by an enclosed candle, the light from which would reflect off the silver lining of the balloon itself. This ensured that it was visible against the dark night sky.
Reports from that fateful night indicate that, while all anti-aircraft batteries fired at the mysterious aircraft, only the D Battery of the 203rd Coast Artillery Regiment did not. Interestingly, it was this very regiment which had last released its balloon at 3 AM, prior to the start of the firing.
The already tensed and nervous spotters and crew members watching the sky that night most likely mistook the weather balloon for an enemy craft or even a UFO, and open fired at it. In the darkness, the shell bursts must have again been confused for aircraft, which prompted more of the artillery to partake in the firing.

What Ufologists Have to Say

Ufologists believe that, in the Battle of Los Angeles, a large alien spaceship hovered over the city of Los Angeles, and later on disappeared without sustaining any damage from the shells fired at it. They claim that, the American government and military are all aware of this fact, but are attempting to cover it up.
Ufologists discredit the meteorological balloon theory, stating that, if the mysterious aircraft was indeed only a balloon, why didn't it burst under the effect of the direct firing that it sustained?
Further, they point towards the photograph taken by a Los Angeles Times' photographer, which clearly shows a saucer-shaped entity in the focus of the beams from the numerous military searchlights.
Last but not the least, ufologists highlight the numerous eyewitness accounts, which state that, the mysterious aircraft was unlike anything that humans could have built.

Counter Arguments

Though the arguments of ufologists are strong, there are a number of counter arguments that can be used against them too.
It is possible that, since the balloons aren't rigid objects like fighter planes, they are able to hold-up better against exploding shells. Considering that it was a meteorological balloon which was seen on that night, its skin must have dented and distorted in response to the shell explosions, without puncturing, thus keeping it from going down immediately.
Secondly, regarding the famous Times photograph, it is now known that the original photo was retouched and heavily modified before being printed.
This was a common practice back then, as without it, the reproduced images would usually come out looking very shoddy. Blobs of white paint were added to points where the light beams converged, which is probably what makes it seem like an object is visible there.
Finally, though several eyewitnesses claim that they saw a UFO on that night, there are many others who state that they saw an entire fleet of Japanese aircraft, enemy dirigibles, and even squadrons of US fighters chasing them! Clearly though, eyewitness accounts cannot be held as conclusive evidence, as the citizens of L.A. were in a state of immense panic.
So was the Battle of Los Angeles really an alien attack? Most likely not. However, a lot of official reports and statements from back then are conflicting and easy to discredit, while there is some strong supportive evidence in favor of this theory.
It is thus difficult to be absolutely sure that it wasn't an alien invasion, especially given that the mathematics says that alien intelligence is far more common than we would like to imagine.