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ACUFO is my comprehensive catalog of cases of encounters between aircraft and UFOs, whether they are "explained" or "unexplained".

The ACUFO catalog is made of case files with a case number, summary, quantitative information (date, location, number of witnesses...), classifications, all sources mentioning the case with their references, a discussion of the case in order to evaluate its causes, and a history of the changes made to the file.

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Japan or China or the Pacific Ocean, in 1944 or 1945:

Case number:



The photograph below appeared in several coffee-table books about UFOs in the 1980 - 1990:


The various captions claimed that is is a "rare photograph" of the Foo Fighters of WWII.

Most captions did not tell where it was taken, who took it and when. In some instance it was said it is a Foo Fighter as "seen by Allied"; ufologist John Spencer said it was "taken in 1944 over Germany," or "Luftwaffe, Germany, 1944."

The first serious examination of the image was done by Robert Bull, in the ufology bulletin BUFORA Bulletin, of the British UFO Research Association (BUFORA), in December 1998.

Bull determined that the plane was the Japanese plane Tachikawa Ki-36, names "Ida" by the Allies, or probably its new version Ki-55. Quite obsolete in WWII against the Allied fighter planes, it was mostly used over China, as a trainer or liaison plane.

Bull also learned that the image had appeared in Paul Dong's book "UFOS over China" (1983), and, from US ufologist Jan Aldrich, he learned that the image originated with the "Cosmic Brotherhood Association" (C.B.A) UFO group in Japan, of which late ufologist Jun-Tchi Takanashi said that all their "Foo-fighter" photographs were spurious, published without pedigree.


Temporal data:

Date: 1944 or 1945
Time: ?
Duration: ?
First known report date: 1983
Reporting delay: 4 decades.

Geographical data:

Country: Japan or China or Pacific Ocean

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: ?
Number of known witnesses: 0
Number of named witnesses: 0

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: UFO group, UFO book.
Visibility conditions: ?
UFO observed: ?
UFO arrival observed: ?
UFO departure observed: ?
UFO action:
Witnesses action:
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): No.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): No.
Witness(es) feelings: ?
Witnesses interpretation: ?


Sensors: [ ] Visual:
[ ] Airborne radar:
[ ] Directional ground radar:
[ ] Height finder ground radar:
[X] Photo: Yes.
[ ] Film/video:
[ ] EM Effects:
[ ] Failures:
[ ] Damages:
Hynek: ?
Armed / unarmed: 1 7.62 mm nachine gun.
Reliability 1-3: 1
Strangeness 1-3: 1
ACUFO: Probable reflections on cockpit.




The cropped photo appears in this book with the caption:

One of the rare photographs of the mysterious balls of fire seen by Allied planes during the Second World War.


The same photo as below appears in this book with the caption:

Inexplicable balls of fire, the "foo fighters", grazed the planes of both camps during the last war.

[Ref. jsr1:] JOHN SPENCER:


The cropped photo appears in this book with the caption:

This photograph was taken in 1944 over Germany. It is supposed to show the mysterious "Foo Fighter", which followed planes during World War II.

[Ref. ues1:] "UFO ENCOUNTERS":


This rare photograph of "foo fighters" shows UFOs of the World War II era. Reports of these objects were kept secret until 1944.

In the picture credits of the book, this photo is credited to "Picture Library".

[Ref. ofr1:] OMAR FOWLER:


The mysterious "Foo Fighters" plagued and perplexed Allied airmen during World War II. Most flyers thought the unidentified flying objects were terror weapons released by the Nazi war machine during the final days of the Third Reich. A few insisted that the "Foo Fighters" were guided by extraterrestrial intelligence.

The above photograph has appeared under various guises, claiming to show "Foo Fighters" over Europe in WW2, the Pacific and even Korea. Arthur Tomlinson showed this photo in slide form and commented that it was supposed to show the new German secret saucer aircraft in flight.

The Mitsubishi "Karigane" Mk. II Monoplane (800 h.p. Mitsubishi A.14 engine).

The "Karigane," with military modifications and equipment, is used in quantity by the Japanese Army Air Corps. The photograph above shows the civil version of the Mitsubishi "Karigane" which was in wide use in 1940 with the Japanese Army Air Corps. (photo: Janes All The World's Aircraft 1940). If the photograph at the top of the page is authentic, it could well show a flight of "Karigane" aircraft in company with "Foo Fighters" over the Pacific theatre of operations in WW2.

[...] where is the evidence to support the ever increasing claims that "Foo Fighters" were seen frequently over Europe during Allied WW2 bombing missions?

The European reports appear to be totally unsubstantiated and have been seized upon by a number of authors without proper research and so the myth increases with each telling.



Foo Fighter picture Mystery

Robert Bull

The Mystery "Foo Fighter" photograph
Nothing is known regarding this picture; where it was taken, when and by whom. ln this article Robert Bull attemots to get to the bottom of this enigma.

There's a well-known Foo Fighter photograph (depicted above) which shows two fuzzy lights close to a fixed-undercarriage, propeller-driven aircraft. I've seen the photo captioned variously as 'Luftwaffe, Germany, 1944' (The UFO Encyclopaedia, John Spencer}, 'Japan, WW II' (The Complete Book of UFOs, Peter Hough and Jenny Randles) and 'American, WW II' (a recent coffee-table UFO book by Colin Wilson).

I'm reasonably well up on WW II aircraft, and my feeling was that the aircraft shown is NOT German - the Luftwaffe would not be flying fixed-undercarriage aircraft over Germany in 1944. Also it doesn't LOOK like any German aircraft I know. Indeed it didn't remind me of ANY aircraft (of that time} which I was familiar with, although I thought there were Dutch and Japanese possibilities. I wondered whether determining what the aircraft type is would help to determine the true location and date of the photograph, which in turn may help with the Foo Fighter mystery.

John Spencer says that the "Germany, 1944" caption was the information that he got with the picture. He "showed it to an RAF historian at the time who told me he thought it probably did come from the European theatre but I can't remember what plane he thought"


it was. However, several people after that sent me letters arguing it was just about every plane that had ever been made. I remember one saying that he thought he could see a 'bent' wing in the photo that was, he thought, unique to a Japanese plane."

John adds that "There were reports from both theatres so the general question is open: for example Hagenau in Germany on December 22nd 1944 and August 1944, over Sumatra where they were seen by Captain Alvah Reida in a B-29 bomber."

The first possibility that occurred to me was that the aircraft was a Fokker DXX1 (dee twenty-one), a Dutch aircraft. This was entering service with the Dutch AF at about the time Germany invaded Holland, so it COULD have been a captured example, pressed into service with the Luftwaffe. Also, the Dutch had a presence in the South Pacific at about the time the Japanese were expanding into that area, so that would fit with Jenny's 'Japanese' caption.

Examination of photographs and 3-view silhouettes of the Fokker DXX 1 showed, however, that this was not the answer:

Fig. 1:
Fokker DXXI Silhouette

[Fokker DXXI silhouette.]

Turning to Japanese possibilities, I felt the most likely was the Aichi type D3A, USN reporting name 'Val', the plane used to torpedo US Navy ships in Pearl Harbour:

Fig. 2:
Aichi type D3A Silhouette

[Aichi type D3A silhouette.]

However, a quick comparison of this aircraft with the photograph in question showed that this too was not the answer.

At this point I decided it was time to turn to the 'experts' and I visited the Duxford airfield part of the Imperial War Museum, to the south of Cambridge. The gentleman I showed the photo to didn't know what it showed either, but he said he would get back to me. He kept his word. I soon received a letter from the Duxford Associates (a branch of the Duxford Aviation Society) with a positive lD: the aircraft was a Tachikawa Ki36, reporting name 'Ida'.

This was not a type I was familiar with, but comparison of pictures ot this aircraft with the 'Foo Fighter Picture' left me in no doubt:

Tachikawa Ki-36 Silhouette

[Tachikawa Ki-36 silhouette.]


The Ki-36 first flew in April 1938, and was ordered into production for the Japanese Army in November of that year. Having entered service as a co-operation aircraft, the army realised it would also make an ideal trainer. lt thus entered service as a trainer in September 1939, being redesignated Ki-55.

Production of the Ki-36/Ki-55 ended in January 1944. The Ki-36 was first deployed in China (as part of the Second Sino-Japanese contlict, starting an the late 1930s), where it was highly successful. The aircraft was then deployed in the wider Pacific theatre but, being of relatively low performance, it proved vulnerable to US fighters and was withdrawn, remaining only in China.

Whilst trying to pin down the identity of the aircrafr, I also began to sound out other researchers.

Andy Roberts recalled that "The photo in question was taken in the Pacific theater of war, 1944-1945-ish and is of a Japanese plane, and also that it appeared in one of Paul Dong's books of UFO photos."

He added that he thought that "almost (if not all the so called Foofighter photos in existence - and I once had ten - were taken in the Pacific theater. Despite there being rumour a go-go about them being seen and photographed by allied pilots over Europe there were'nt actually that many reported."

Corroborative information came from Kevin Mcclure, who stated that "the picture originally first appeared in Paul Dong's UFOS over China and shows a "Mitsubishi fighter'. (Most people, if they could name a WW 2 Japanese aircraft at all, would say "Mitsubishi". Mitsubishi made aircraft long before they made cars).

He also stated there had been some doubts expressed over the authenticity of the photograph, and that the picture may well be a later-than-WW 2 fake.

Damning information came from Jan Aldrich: "I think this is Japanese and originated with the Cosmic Brotherhood Association (C.B.A) in Japan. The late Jun-Tchi Takanashi maintained that all the C.B.A "Foo-fighter" photographs were spurious. The C.B.A had many Foofighter photographs without providence and pedigree." He added that "Publishers, of course, want pictures, so this junk continues to be recycled."

So. Real or fake? lf the photograph is fake, then of course it yields no useful information, other than that the propensity to fake photographs is not restricted to the Western world, also that we should all be on our guard about accepting the authenticity of any UFO photograph.

But what if it shows real objects? Does this strengthen the argument of those who would maintain that Foo Fighters were a natural phenomenon?

The Second World War in the air was fought with large numbers of cheap aircraft. Several hundred aircraft could be aloft simultaneously, within a few cubic miles of airspace. Such 'air fleets' will never be seen again.

Could the sheer numbers of aircraft in the air at once be themselves responsible, in some way, for the 'ghost lights'?

The search for the true explanation of Foo Fighters goes on, but the evidence that the majority of Foo Fighters were seen in the Pacific thealre must surely sever the slender thread of credibility attached to arguments by Renato Vesco and others that the Foo Fighters were sightings ot the secret German "Feuerball" weapon.

Aircraft information:

Tachikawa Ki-36 was loosely inspired by the two-seat US Seversky P-35 sold to the Japanese Navy, which briefly used them as a light bombers in the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Tachikawa Ki-55 "Ida" was a new version of the Ki-36. It was a two-seat Japanese plane with a maximum speed of 349 km/h. It was armed with one forward-firing 7.62 mm Type 89 machine gun.



It goes without saying that the same photo appeared on a few websites, most often to illustrate articles about the "Foo Fighters" written by non-ufologists. None gave any contextual information other than that which I found in bookish sources.

There has obviously never been a "sighting report" related to this image. My guess is that the Cosmic Brotherhood Association probably found the photo in some Japanese book or newspaper or magazine showing photos of airplanes, and, seeing the "bright spots", they must have decided they were UFOs.

But the two "bright spots" could be reflections on the cockpit of the plane that took the photograph, obviously during the day. Two planes appear in the image, the photograph could only have been taken from a third plane.


Probable reflections on cockpit.

Sources references:

* = Source is available to me.
? = Source I am told about but could not get so far. Help needed.

File history:


Main author: Patrick Gross
Contributors: None
Reviewers: None
Editor: Patrick Gross

Changes history:

Version: Create/changed by: Date: Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross October 28, 2023 Creation, [odb1], [lpo1], [jsr1], [ues1], [bua1].
1.0 Patrick Gross October 28, 2023 First published.
1.1 Patrick Gross November 12, 2023 Addition [ofr1].

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This page was last updated on November 12, 2023.