The crews manning the antiaircraft artillery batteries in Los Angeles had been trained, but lacked experience in actual combat. The Office of Air Force History described the field reports as "hopelessly at variance".Only one day before, the Japanese submarine I-17 had surfaced off of Santa Barbara and fired 25 shells at some aviation fuel storage tanks, so the alert level was the highest it had ever been. Just after am on the morning of February 25, radar picked up a target off the coast. The most famous photograph, from the Los Angeles Times, shows a convergence of searchlights onto a single large cloud of smoke.

The radar lost contact with its target, and searchlight beams swept the sky for nearly half an hour. Over Santa Monica, a balloon carrying a red flare was spotted, and the batteries opened fire at am. For nearly an hour, batteries fired 1,430 rounds of antiaircraft artillery, raining eight and a half tons of shrapnel back down onto Los Angeles. Chief of Staff George Marshall wrote a memo to President Roosevelt, stating the current understanding that airplanes may or may not have been involved, possibly as many as fifteen, possibly commercial aircraft, at various slow speeds.

Given the lack of confirmation that any aircraft were present at all, Roosevelt's response was to ask the Secretary of War to clarify exactly who is authorized to order an air alarm.

And that's where the story was left for decades: a false alarm from the opening days of World War II: No mysteries, no strangeness, no aliens, no supernatural element.

But of course, as you can guess, it did all eventually appear.

At the beginning of WWII, the American defense forces in Los Angeles fought a battle against a UFO.

by Brian Dunning Filed under Aliens & UFOs Skeptoid Podcast #171 September 15, 2009 Podcast transcript | Download | Subscribe Listen: Today we're going to turn the pages back to an American UFO story dating from World War II, the Battle of Los Angeles, when (according to modern lore) the United States Army and Navy battled a giant UFO hovering above the city of Los Angeles.

It was late February, 1942, less than three months after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The moon had set at am, and sunrise was not until am; combined with the blackout, it was about as dark as dark can be.

Residents on the Western coast of the United States expected they were next, and so stood ready with hasty fortifications and kept their eyes on the sky. The only thing anyone could see was whatever the searchlights struck, which was smoke from the AAA bursts.

It took more than 40 years, but UFO enthusiasts finally decorated the Battle of Los Angeles with some imaginative additions.

To understand how it happened, you first have to understand the Majestic 12 papers. Moore, Stanton Friedman, and Jaime Shandera, announced the existence of several government documents, classified as top secret, that purported to contain a 1947 order from President Harry Truman establishing a group called Majestic 12, an assortment of the usual Illuminati from government, business, and the military.

Majestic 12 was charged with handling everything to do with extraterrestrial aliens.