US Navy once fired at a ‘balloon weapon’ that turned out to be Venus

The rather embarrassing incident was recently recounted in a Tweet by the US Naval Institute.

Back in the 1940s, at a time when Japan was using balloons to drop bombs and other incendiary devices over the United States, the crew of a US Navy vessel spotted a spherical object in the sky that they believed to be one such weapon.

“We opened fire at what we thought was the altitude of the [balloon],” Lanson B. Ditto, who had been serving on the ship at the time, later recalled of the incident. “We had to estimate.”

“We set a fuse to go off at an estimated altitude. We started out at 5,000 feet [1,524 meters] and could see that it was coming up short, so we raised to about 7,500 feet [2,286 meters] and could see that it was short, too. So, we raised it up to the maximum of 10,000 feet [3,048 meters].”

Despite their best efforts, however, the crew were unable to hit the object.

The reason, it turned out, was because what they were actually firing at was the planet Venus.

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