One of the most baffling mysteries of World War II was the strange aerial apparitions in the shape of blazing balls which were encountered over Truk Lagoon, in the skies of Japan, the West Rhine area of Alsace-Lorraine and over the Bavarian Palatinate. They were met by U.S. night fighter pilots, by U.S. day bomber squadrons and by some Royal Air Force pilots.
These weird balls of fantastic and variable speeds, glowed from orange to red and white and back to orange, and appear to have been sighted first at 10 p.m. on November 23, 1944, by a U.S. pilot in the area north of Strasbourg in Alsace-Lorraine.
Three nights later they were again seen by a U.S. pilot flying in the same area. They were seen for a third time on the night of December 22-23, 1994, by a U.S. pilot flying a mission over the same area. Just before the Allies overran and captured the secret German experimental bases east of the Rhine these balls vanished. After these bases were overrun by the Allies, not even the slightest clue was ever discovered hinting that the Nazi technicians had invented and flown these mysterious blazing balls.
Over Japan, their pilots met the blazing balls and took them to be secret and mysterious aerial devices of the Americans or the Russians. On the other hand, equally mystified U.S. pilots supposed that the balls were a curious device thought up by Japan as a last-ditch expedient to stave off mass-bombing raids.
One pilot, chatting in the mess with others who had seen these light balls on night flights and had been “ribbed” by intelligence officers who heard their reports, had an idea. “Let’s call the so and so’s foo fighters,” he said. The name stuck. It seems to have been suggested by a comic strip in which one “Smokey Stover” said: “Yeah, if there’s foo, there’s fire.” Probably the slang word foo is a corruption of the French word feu, or fire.
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