I have heard that Japan had used reconnaissance balloons in WWII, especially in China as the Chinese lacked air power and effective anti-air weaponry. I know that balloons - airships to be precise - were used effectively by USA in anti-submarine roles.

Did the Japanese actually use balloons in this manner? If so, what are some incidents where this was used? I have failed to find any reference online as all I find are about the balloon bombs.

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During the siege of Corregidor the Japanese used an observation balloon for artillery spotting (14th Army Opns, II, App. VIII, pp. 37-45.)

The Japanese used an observation balloon during the siege of Singapore (see any detailed history of the siege).

At the Battle of Nomonhan (1939) the artillery had a small, independent detachment called the "Balloon Unit" that operated hydrogen-filled observation balloons for artillery spotting, apparently a very dangerous duty. (see Nomonhan: Japan Against Russia, 1939, by Alvin Coox)

No English language discussion of the use of observation balloons exists for China that I could find, but that is probably just because there were not that many English speakers involved in the battle for China. I am sure Chinese sources will describe the balloons, as the Japanese undoubtedly used them for artillery spotting throughout the war.

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