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1944-1945, the "Foo-Fighters"

Although reports of sightings, which were eventually termed "UFOs," can be traced far back into history, students of the subject have arbitrarily placed the beginning of the modern era in the mid-1940s with the appearance of UFOs over both the European and Pacific Theaters of War. These UFOs were called by many names, all of which revealed a lack of understanding of their nature and source. To the Allies, they were "kraut fireballs" or "foo fighters," with the latter term surviving. It is believed that the Germans and Japanese saw them too.

Reports of "unexplained transparent, metallic and glowing balls" began in quantity in June, 1944, at about the same time the Allies invaded France, and Nazi Germany began launching V-1 flying bombs aimed at London, thus starting the era of unmanned missiles. Reports intensified in November 1944, not long after the first German V-2 ballistic rockets were fired at London and Paris.

Pilots and their air crews reported that the "odd things" flew in formation with their airplanes, "played tag" with them, and generally behaved as if they were under intelligent control. At no time were they said to have displayed aggressive behavior. Nevertheless, most people assumed they were an experimental enemy device being prepared for operational use. Rumors of highly advanced weapons were common at this time, fed by the awesome reality of the V1 and V2 weapons. The following are typical of the scores of "foo fighter" reports on record. Rumors persist that the U.S. Eighth Air Force in England commissioned a study on these reports, but no documentary evidence has yet been found.

"Foo-Fighters" photographs:

Photographs of Foo Fighters are very rare.

"Foo-Fighters" cases:

The English Channel, 1943:

Observation by Gordon J. Cammell.

Indian Ocean, August 1944:

On August 10, 1944 over the Indian Ocean, the co-pilot of a U.S. Army Air Force B-29 Superfortress heavy bomber reported that:

"A strange object was pacing us about 500 yards [475 m.] off the starboard wing. At that distance it appeared as a spherical object, probably five or six feet [1 - 2 m.] in diameter, of a very bright and intense red or orange... It seemed to have a halo effect."

"My gunner reported it coming in from about a 5 o'clock position (right rear) at our level. It seemed to throb or vibrate constantly. Assuming it was some kind of radio-controlled object sent to pace us, I went into evasive action, changing direction constantly, as much as 90 degrees and altitude of about 2,000 feet [600 m.]. It followed our every maneuver for about eight minutes, always holding a position about 500 yards [475 m.] out and about 2 o'clock (right front) in relation to the plane. When it left, it made an abrupt 90 degree turn, accelerating rapidly, and disappeared into the overcast."

(Jerome Clark and Lucius Farish, "The Mysterious 'Foo Fighters' of World War II", article in 1977 UFO Annual, USA, 1977.

Hagenau, France, December 1944:

On December 22, 1944 over Hagenau, "Germany", (actually France), the pilot and radar operator of an American night fighter encountered two "large orange glows" which climbed rapidly towards them. When the pilot dove steeply and banked sharply, the objects stayed with him. The pilot stated:

"Upon reaching our altitude, they levelled off and stayed on my tail... After two minutes, they peeled off and turned away, flying under perfect control."

(Jerome Clark and Lucius Farish, "The Mysterious 'Foo Fighters' of World War II", article in 1977 UFO Annual, USA, 1977.

Case file and possible explanation here.

Truk Atoll, the Pacific, May 1945:

Case file here.

Speyer, Germany, November 1944:

Case file here.


Documents regarding foo fighter incidents are still being discovered even 50 years after the end of World War II. In 1992, researcher Barry Greenwood of Citizens Against UFO Secrecy (CAUS) went to the National Archives in Suitland, Maryland and located fifteen "Mission Reports" from the 415th Night Fighter Squadron, covering a period between September 1944 and April 1945. Here are two samples:

"December 22/23, 1944 - Mission 1, 17:05-18:50. Put on bogie by Blunder at 17:50 hours, had A.I. [Airborne Intercept radar] contact 4 miles range at Q-7372. Overshot and could not pick up contact again. A.I. went out and weather started closing in so returned to base. Observed 2 lights, one of which seemed to be going on and off at Q-2422."

"February 13/14, 1945 - Mission 2, 18:00-20:00. About 19:10, between Rastatt and Bishwiller [Sic, "Bischwiller"], encountered lights at 3,000 feet, two sets of them, turned into them, one set went out and the other went straight up 2-3,000 feet [600 - 900 m.], then went out. Turned back to base and looked back and saw lights in their original position again."

(Barry Greenwood, "More Foo-Fighter Records Released", in his bulletin Just Cause, #33, CAUS, USA, September 1992.)

Suggested explanations, both at the time and subsequently, have included prototype enemy anti-aircraft devices, St. Elmo's fire (glowing balls of static electricity) and simple misidentification of other airplanes.

(Jo Chamberlain, "The Foo Fighter Mystery", in The American Legion Magazine, USA, December 1965;
Associated Press article, "Nazi Fire Balls May Be Kind of Ball Lightning", in The New York Herald Tribune, USA, January 3, 1945;
other miscellaneous press reports.)

"Foo Fighters" in the Press:

Current Science and Aviation USA, January 22, 1945 "Foo-Fighters".
Newsweek USA, January 15, 1945 "Foo-Fighters", different types.
The Era USA, January 2, 1945 "Foo-Fighter" joins weird fight in skies".
Post-Dispatch USA, January 2, 1945 "Mysterious 'Foo Fighters,' balls of fire, trail U.S. night flyers".
Newsweek USA, December 25, 1944 "The silver spheres puzzle."
New York Times USA, December 21, 1944 "Silver spheres above city have no effect."
Stars and Stripes Europe, December 16, 1944 "New German Secret Weapon?"
The New York Times USA, December 14, 1944 "Floating mystery ball is new German weapon", "Foo-Fighters" "explained" as new German weapon.

Foo fighters related documents:

Cliquez! Major Keyhoe calls the ATIC, did Air Force pilots shoot at unidentified object? They shoot at "Foo-Fighters", says ATIC.
Cliquez! ALSACAT, my catalogue of the UFO sighting reports in Alsace, France, includes all the "Foo-Fighters" incidents in this region of France.

Foo fighters over Alsace:

As I built up a catalogue of the sighting reports in my own region, Alsace, in France, I opened files for each Foo Fighter incident that occurred in my region. Here they are:

Date: ~Time: Dep.: Place and link to the case file: Type: NS: TS: Explanation:
1945-02-14 February 14, 1945 Afternoon 68 Above Bettendorf DD * O Unexplained.
1945-02-13 February 13, 1945 07:10 p.m. 67 Between Bischwiller and Rastatt NL ******* O Unexplained.
1945-02-09 February 9, 1945 ? 67 In Strasbourg or Rigel NL ***** U Insufficient information.
1945-02-08 February 8, 1945 ? 67 Northwest of Strasbourg NL **** U Totally insufficient information.
1945-02-02 February 2, 1945 ? 68 Near Colmar NL **** U Possible V-2 rocket.
1945-01-30 January 30, 1945 00:10 a.m. 67 Near Wissembourg or Landau NL ***** O Unidentified.
1945-01-14 January 14, 1945 08:00 p.m. 67 Near Ingwiller NL *** O Possible V-2 rocket.
1945-01-14 Jauary 14, 1945 07:00 p.m. 67 Near Haguenau NL *** O Unidentified, poor data.
1945-01-01 January 1, 1945 Night 67 Above Strasbourg - Saverne NL **** O Insufficient information.
1944-12-30 December 30, 1944 Night ? Maybe in Alsace NL * O Insufficient information.
1944-12-27 December 27, 1944 Nightt 67 Over Strasbourg area NL ** O Insufficient information.
1944-12-22 December 22, 1944 06:00 p.m. 67 Near Haguenau NL ******... O Unidentified.
1944-12-14 December 14, 1944 06:40 p.m. 67 Near Erstein NL ******* O Unexplained, low strangeness.
1944-11-27 November 27, 1944 Night? 67 Strasbourg or Seyer or Mannheim NL ********** P Probable V-2 rocket.
1944-11-23 November 23, 1944 10:00 p.m. 67 Near Saverne NL ******... O Unidentified.
1944-10-12 October 12, 1944 ? 67 Near Strasbourg ? *** U Unexplained. Not necessarily related to UFOs.

A conclusion:

In order to accept any of the above explanations, one would have to discount the observational skills of scores of veteran combat pilots and their crew members whose very survival depended on their ability to instantly identify and react to any potential threat.


I wrote this page between 2002 and 2006. since then, the page was copied or cited here and there, with or without sources In 2014, I started to publish my catalogue of all the UFO sighting reports in Alsace, including those of "Foo-Fighters", so I added the link to the observation between Rastatt and Bischwiller, the Post-Dispatch January 2, 1945 article, and the link to the ALSACAT catalogue where all the "Foo-Fighters" Alsatian case files can be found.

In september 2014, I added these Press sources: Newsweek for December 25, 1944; NYT for December 14, 1994, Stars and Stripe for December 16, 1944.

In July 2021, I added the list of "Foo Fighter" related cases over Alsace as they appear in ALSACAT.

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This page was last updated on July 24, 2021.