Every student of the history of UFOs knows of the phenomenon
seen during WWII and known as foo-fighters,
kraut fireballs or a variety of other names. Basically they
were balls of light which followed and hovered around `planes of
all nationalities both in daylight and after dark. Research
into this subject has been undertaken by myself on behalf of the
Fund for UFO Research and a full study of the
phenomenon should be available by the end of 1991.
Foo-fighter research shows the genesis of the modern UFO age
and during my research I came across the old chestnut of the
dreaded government "cover-ups". For many ufologists WWII is the
time when the cover-up really began and there are intimations in
many writers' books (Keel, Fawcett, Good for example) that both
the US and UK governments were involved in separate studies of
the foo-fighter phenomenon. These subjects are several articles
long in themselves and we won't go into them here, but for the
record so far there is no documentary evidence of a cover-up of
WWII UFO sightings, or even much interest on any government's
No, what we are trying to get to here are the facts
surrounding one particular case of a WWII foo-fighter sighting,
the cover-up implications and how ufology has dealt with it. So,
as the walls melt and voices become fuzzy, let me take you back,
back, back ...
OK, it's October 14th 1943 and you're a bomb aimer in a
B-17 going in amongst the flak for the final run over the
ball-bearing factories at Schweinfurt in Germany, a trouser
filling experience which us young folk can't even begin to
imagine, but for this particular bomber wave they had more than
flak to contend with. According to Martin Caidin who wrote
Black Thursday(1960) which deals exclusively
with the Shweinfurt raid:
"During the bomb run of several groups, starting at about
the time the Fortresses approached the Initial Point, there
occurred one of the most baffling incidents of World War II,
and an enigma that to this day defies all explanation."
"As the bombers of the 384th Group swung into the final bomb
run after passing the Initial Point, the fighter attacks
fell off. This point is vital, and pilots were queried
extensively, as were other crew members, as to the position
at that time of the German fighter planes. Every man
interrogated was firm in his statement that "at the time
there were no enemy aircraft above."
"At this moment the pilots and top turret gunners, as well
as several crewmen in the Plexiglas noses of the bombers,
reported a cluster of discs in the path of the 384th's
formation and closing with the bombers. The startled
exclamations focused attention on the phenomenon and the
crews talked back and forth, discussing and confirming the
astonishing sight before them."
"The discs in the cluster were agreed upon as being silver
colored, about one inch thick and three inches in diameter.
They were easily seen by the B-17 crewmen, gliding down
slowly in a very uniform cluster."
"And then the `impossible' happened. B-17 Number 026 closed
with a number of discs; the pilot attempted to evade an
imminent collision with the objects, but was unsuccessful in
his maneuver. He reported at the intelligence debriefing
that his right wing "went directly through a cluster with
absolutely no effect on engines or plane surface."
"The intelligence officers pressed their questioning, and
the pilot stated further that one of the discs was heard to
strike the tail assembly of his B-17, but that neither he
nor any member of the crew heard or witnessed an explosion."
"He further explained that about twenty feet from the discs
the pilots sighted a mass of black debris of varying sizes
of clusters of three by four feet."
"The SECRET report added: `Also observed two other A/C
flying through silver discs with no apparent damage.
Observed discs and debris two other times but could not
determine where it came from.'"
"No further information on this baffling incident has been
uncovered, with the exception that such discs were observed
by pilots and crew on missions prior to, and after, Mission
115 of October 14, 1943."
Caidin's account of the events of 14/10/43 has since been
cited, quoted from and faithfully reproduced with not the
slightest hint of analysis in over 20 UFO books. Tim Good's
Above Top Secret uses the case to back up an as
yet fictional WWII study of UFOs by one General Massey, and it
is used both to support the 'UFOs were around in WWII' school of
thought but more so to hint at the birth of official cover-ups.
Why? Well because in Caidin's book the account is footnoted "1
Memorandum of October 24, 1943, from Major E.R.T. Holmes,
F.L.O., 1st Bombardment Division, Reference FLO/IBW/REP/126, to
M.I.15, War Office, Whitehall, London, SW (copy to Colonel E.W.
Thomson, A-2, Pinetree)", leaving us in no doubt that "they"
knew all about this UFO sighting and had full documentation (at
least two copies, not to mention any subsequent memoranda).
But did they really? In fact, did the event ever really
happen at all? I'm not so sure it did. When I first discovered
the account I began to see what could be found out about it -- it's
obviously well-referenced and so should be easy to check out ...
A letter to the M.O.D at their Air Historical Branch 5 came
to nothing, suggesting that either of the documents may be held
at the Public Records Office at Kew, London. A professional
researcher was despatched to try to find the document. She
searched all relevant Air Force records available (some are still
bound by various `rules' with embargos on viewing of up to 100
years) but could find nothing, despite the help of staff there
and noting that "the reference FLO etc. does not correspond with
any references at the record office."
In the USA, Dennis Stacy (MUFON Journal
editor) had taken an interest in the case and followed up
several leads, aided by the Freedom of Information Act. Firstly
the A.F. Historical Research centre at Maxwell AFB searched
their 8th A.F. files but could come across no documentary
record of the event (interestingly enough I tried the same
source and whilst they gave me squadron histories of the 415th
Night Fighter squadron and their documented foo-fighter
sightings, they could provide nothing on the Schweinfurt raid --
odd if the Schweinfurt events were real).
The National Archives (Washington) searched their files but
drew a blank. A letter written to French researcher J. M.
Bigorne from the National Archives stated "A search in records of
the United States Strategic Bombing Survey (USSBS), European War,
Target Damage File, 11a (2606), Schweinfurt, failed to disclose
any documentation or information regarding little flying discs by
All this presents us with a quandary. If the Archives are
quite free about some foo-fighter info why, if it exists at all,
should they be that bothered about concealing the Schweinfurt
material? So far three independent researchers over the past
ten years have had the same answer -- none of the flight records
for that day record the event in Caidin's book. As I have seen
other pilots' logs which mention unusual UFO-type sightings
during missions it would be inconceivable for at least a few
aircrew on that raid to have mentioned it even in passing -
especially as in this case it was obviously something of an item
Letters in numerous aircrew magazines (UK & US) requesting
info on the raid were placed and despite many replies no-one knew
anything. Aviation writers Martin Middlebrook and Chaz Bowyer
who have written many highly detailed books about the air war,
and have interviewed thousands of aircrew, wrote to say they had
never heard of the incident, despite having had foo-fighters
mentioned to them in other contexts.
If the account wasn't a hoax and the government archives
(all of them) were either lying or hiding material pertaining to
the event the only way of proving it seemed to be getting a fresh
first-hand report of the incident. Dennis Stacy contacted the
384th Bombing Group survivors association and with no account of
the UFO sighting forthcoming from them (even stranger - perhaps
survivors associations are in on the cover-up too), was put onto
General Theodore Ross Milton who led the raid that day and went
in first with the 91st Group Formation. He wrote; "I don't
recall seeing black discs or hearing about any strange phenomena
from any of my group," was his reply to the questions Stacy posed
Are we really to believe that the guy who led the raid
didn't hear anything about the phenomenon? Or is he part of the
cover up too?
Martin Caidin, originator of the rumour also presents
problems. His book Black Thursday was first
published in 1960 and yet quotes an alleged SECRET
report. How did he get hold of it then and why has it not been seen since?
As for Caidin himself, several people have tried to get in
touch with him without success. Both myself and MUFON
Journal editor Dennis Stacy have tried to track him
down via his publishers and a UFO magazine he has written for,
but to no avail. He last appeared in the dodgy US magazine
UFO Universe where he was featured on the front
page as having 'chased bogies at 20,000 feet,' (an astonishing
spectacle no doubt!), but whilst the article gave details of
UFOs he'd seen post-WWII, government film of UFOs, cover-ups,
and you name it (along with mucho promotion for his many books,
including UFO based novels) the Schweinfurt raid was never
mentioned. Funny that, really.
So unless and until Caidin himself comes out of the woodwork
with the original document to which he refers, or until someone
who was on the raid can verify the sighting, or until other
evidence about the event comes out, the discs mentioned by Martin
Caidin seem to be nothing but a rumour -- a rumour which like so
many others has distorted UFO literature for many years.
On a more hopeful note, if the sightings did take place the
event still has no real place in ufology, especially in the way
it has been used. Remember from the original account the
objects were only one inch by three inches which is stretching
the small alien interpretation somewhat. In an air war context
I would suggest that anything which is small and metallic and in
clusters is some kind of "window" or radar deflecting device, or
some other war related artefact. Caidin's account also mentions
that pilots saw "a mass of black debris of varying sizes" in
conjunction with the discs, suggesting that they came from some
explosive shell casing or damaged airplane. Note also that at
least one plane was alleged to have flown through clusters of
the discs "with absolutely no effect," suggesting that, like
radar deflecting strips and their ilk, there was very little
weight or mass to them. All this is pure speculation however.
Finally, whilst this case is often included in `foo-fighter'
round-ups it really has no business there, being atypical of the
general `foo-fighter' morphology and behaviour.
You may think I've been a bit pedantic here with this case
but, it is very significant and the available facts need to be
made known. If people are going to talk about sightings then
let's at least be certain they happened. If `cover-ups' are to
be invoked, let's see some non-anecdotal evidence. As with the
other foo-fighter cover-up case from Germany (Project Uranus --
a hoax generated by French ufologist Henry Durrant to see how
far it would go -- it went all over the place!), the Caidin
account has been repeated ad nauseum by UFO writers each trying
to use the material for their own ends without looking into the
source material -- crap researchers the lot of `em! If the
document Caidin alludes to turns up -- fair enough, but until
then the case which launched the WWII cover-up idea seems to be
on very shaky ground indeed.