Talk:Foo fighter

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Ummm, Me 262?[edit]

After reading the description here, and then on other pages I googled, I would like to propose that the series of foo fighters seen by the US night figther pilots were possibly the Me 262B-1a/U1. The B-1/U1 was a "quick and dirty" conversion of the B-1 trainer to the NF role via the addition of the FuG-218 Neptun radar.

This aircraft would:

  1. Show two glowing balls of light, unlike the Me 163
  2. Be able to maintain formation for lengthy periods of time
  3. Easily be able to keep up with any US aircraft in a dive
  4. Easily "zoom up into the sky"

Limited operations started in October 1944, and continued until the end of the war IN May 1954, so the time frame of the Time article (Jan 1945) is well within the realm of possibility. I know they were flown operationally only by 10./NJG 11, as well as experimentally by Kommando Stamp/Kommando Welter. If the US pilots met aircraft operated by the later, that might explain why they didn't actually get fired on.

Frankly I can't imagine why anyone would even think the description fits the Me 163, and at the same time why no one has proposed the Me 262 instead. I believe this is simply an initial guess made in 1944, one that has remained with us even in the face of better post-war information.

Note this item (found in the Time article):

Day bombers have met the Me163, which has an explosive charge in the nose and is apparently designed to crash into Allied planes.

This is almost certainly a reference to the Enzian missile, not the Me 163. The Enzian looks quite a bit like the 163, and indeed was remotely controlled in order to explode near bombers. It shows that given the limited information available during the war, experimental designs could easily be mistaken for ones that were already known. The point here is that since the Me 163 was known earlier than the Me 262 (albiet not long) it is not all that difficult to believe they would have ascribed it to the first thing they could think of.

BTW, many of the articles noted above make mention of the foo fighters not showing up on radar. This is hardly surprising, Germany is well beyond the horizon as seen by the Chain Home sites in England, which would be the primary radar sites during this period. Although there were short-range gunlaying systems on the continent, notably the excellent SCR-584, these had ranges of about 25 miles and were attached to AA guns. The mention of a "sector radar" not seeing them is simply laughable.

Maury 13:28, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

Maury, the identification of foo-fighters with the Me 163 seems to be based upon a single sighting, which was not published until Jo Chamberlin's article, "The foo-fighter mystery", was printed in the December 1945 issue of American Legion:
The next night the same two men, flying at 10,000 feet, observed a single red flame. Lt. David L. McFalls, of Cliffside, N. C., pilot, and Lt. Ned Baker of Hemat [sic], California, radar-observer, also saw: "A glowing red object shooting straight up, which suddenly changed to a view of an aircraft doing a wing-over, going into a dive and disappearing." This was the first and only suggestion of a controlled flying device. [Emphasis added.]
The behaviour described is certainly suggestive of an aircraft or missile that is powered by a single rocket engine, rather than a twin-engined aircraft like the Me 262. However, this appears to be the only time that such a sighting was claimed, so it must be taken with a grain of salt.
Chamberlin seems to have obtained his information from pilots and airmen of the USAAF 415th NFS, which is the same unit that war correspondent Robert Wilson mentioned, in his story "Foo-fighter latest menace to Yankees" (The Charlotte Observer, 1 January 1945). Since the 15 January 1945 NEWSWEEK article, to which you referred (but misidentified as being from 15 January 1945 issue of TIME), is also based on Wilson's report (same names and incidents reported), it's possible that the whole "bright light turning into an aircraft" episode had already given rise to suggestions that foo-fighters were missiles that resembled the Me 163, even though the incident itself was not reported until much later. Oboroten 22:23, 23 July 2007 (UTC)


The foo fighters were seen with considerable regularity by both Allied, Axis and Soviet pilots in both theatres of operation, European and Pacific, and upon inquiry, neither side came to a conclusion as to what they were, other than non-engaging and harmless (even in the rare cases when they were fired upon), or at the very least observational only of the war-related activity around them. German technology was not responsible, for instance, for foo fighter reports over the Indian Ocean. --Chr.K. 23:17, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
Chr.K., could you point me toward any verified foo-fighter reports that originated from Axis or Soviet sources? The only alleged Axis report that seems to be readily available apparently arose from Henri Durrant's infamous "Sonderbüro 13" hoax, and my Russian sources have turned up nothing at all. It's a real puzzle. Oboroten 22:23, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

" ... during the war you were de-briefing pilots, and I gather you had quite a lot of Flying Saucer reports?"

"Well no, that was in the winter of 43-44, we were doing specialised raids on Stettin, that part of the Baltic, and some pilots coming back from a raid - flying Lancasters - so that's abut 24 thousand feet in the air, for a raid there, they'd seen lights in the sky, now we thought they were airborne lights by German - German fighters, now they were in the area where there was the new research station at Pennemunde, so it could have been a special weapon, so they'd fired at these lights with their mid-upper turrets and rear turrets, and had no result, they hadn't shot the light out, all that they'd got was a light that was flying round-and-round the aeroplane." - Michael Bentine in conversation with Patrick Moore on a 1979 edition of The Sky at Night [1] (audio only)

— Preceding unsigned comment added by 95.148.220.131 (talk) 23:59, 18 September 2015 (UTC)

foo - Usage and Etymology[edit]

While cartoonist Bill Holman may have originally found the word "foo" or "fu" on the bottom of a Chinese figurine, and thus began to include it in his Smokey Stover fireman cartoon strips, his later usage of it may have branched to other meanings, for humor or other reasons. However, if he ever used it as a euphemism for the f- word, he may not have wanted to admit this, as this was, after all, a comic strip frequented at times by children.

Once this word was in use for one particular purpose, he eventually used the word for some of its other purposes. He probably got questioned all the time as to its meaning or source. One wouldn't want to lose one's career over admitting any kind of questionable use in comic strips or books read by children.

While his original use of "foo" may have come from some figurine (who knows what that said), unrelated to fire, it is STRANGELY COINCIDENTAL that his comic strip is about a FIREMAN, and that several European languages have some word for FIRE that can sound or look a lot like "foo" (or feu, fu, etc.).

While the article here suggests that at some point, it may have derived from the French word for fire, "le feu" – and it may have – the German word for fire is FEUER, and the article in question here refers in large part to "foo fighters" and fireballs that appeared in air in flights over or fights with Germany.

Other, select, European, Indo-European, or nearby-countries' words for fire: fuego (Spanish); fuoco (Italian); foc (Romanian). The Hindi word sounds interesting.[1] And a lot of English and European words come from Hindi, or so say many etymologies. Speaking of which:

I added the following paragraph to the top of Etymology section today:

The word "foo" was used in English by at least the 19th Century. A dictionary.com reference says that "the nautical construction "foo-foo" (or "poo-poo"), used to refer to something effeminate or some technical thing whose name has been forgotten... common on ships by the early nineteenth century."[2]

It is therefore highly likely that such constructions were used by a number of English-speaking Navies and militaries, long before the 20th Century uses listed in the article.

Since aerial fireballs and various other kinds of "foo fighters" (UAP/UFOs) were reported in or related to Germany, I wouldn't be surprised if there were some possible etymological connection to some German word, especially if the Allies got such a reference from a translation gotten from German forces, or from having broken the code of various Axis transmissions and messages.

German was a common language in early years of the United States, even if it didn't almost become its official language.[3]  :)

Non-German-speaking folks could easily misread/mispronounce the German word for FIRE, "feuer", as foo-er, especially since the French word is almost-pronounced like foo (and even the Spanish word isn't far off from that).

Misty MH (talk) 21:34, 27 June 2013 (UTC) Misty MH (talk) 21:42, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

Citations don't work in Talk. LOL. Oh well. Misty MH (talk) 21:46, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
They work if you add a {{reflist}} template. That's all very interesting, but in the absence of a source saying that is, or might be, the etymology of the foo in foo fighter it is WP:SYNTH (ie not allowed) to put it in the article. By the way, the German pronunciation of feuer is not "foo-er", it is closer to "foyer". SpinningSpark 00:51, 28 June 2013 (UTC)

The term "foo fighter" obviously originated in American (or possibly British) pilots' slang during the war. It is unlikely they took it directly from another language, especially not from German.--Jack Upland (talk) 09:08, 4 January 2014 (UTC)

Misty MH might be on the right track, according to the edition of 'Dizionario enciclopedico di ufologia' in my possession the term foo derives from the French 'feux' for fire, thus closely linking it to a phenomenon such as St Elmo's fire. As a note, the emergence of the term among Allied pilots coincides with the closer integration of French airmen into the Allied air forces. The mayor of Yurp (talk) 21:33, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
If you have a source, you can add it to the article. However, it seems very unlikely. Simply having French (or Polish) pilots flying with the RAF wouldn't necessarily trigger linguistic borrowing. I think English already has a word for fire!--Jack Upland (talk) 09:54, 30 April 2014 (UTC)