“Feb. 25, 1942: Searchlights converge on an unknown object in the skies over Los Angeles. During the early morning air-raid alert, more than 1,400 anti-aircraft shells are fired.
The incident, now referred to as the Battle of L.A., occurred less than three months after the Pearl Harbor attack and two days after a Japanese submarine shelled an oil facility near Santa Barbara.
The next day, on Feb. 26, The Times published a photo page with a retouched version of the above searchlight photo and seven other images of damage from falling anti-aircraft shells.”
Do you hear that sound? It’s one “classic” UFO case falling apart in the most basic form. In an article by Scott Harrison published by the same LA Times, we are informed that an original, unretouched negative of the famous image was recently found at the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive at UCLA, and that:
“In the retouched version, many light beams were lightened and widened with white paint, while other beams were eliminated.
In earlier years, it was common for newspapers to use artists to retouch images due to poor reproduction — basically 10 shades of gray if you were lucky.
Thus my conclusion: the retouching was needed to reproduce the image. But man, I wish the retouching had been more faithful to the original. With our current standards, this image would not be published.”
Previously, Tim Printy had already delved into the whole Battle of LA case in his SUNlite Vol..3 No.1, where he had already speculated the famous image could have been retouched. He also noted that another photo of the Battle of LA published on LIFE magazine shortly afterwards didn’t show anything at all:
As it turns out, just like the original unretouched LA Times image.
Printy’s article also goes into the very small detail that most promoting an UFO link seem to ignore, that the Battle of LA happened a couple of days after an actual Japanese attack on the west coast.
Interestingly, and quite amazingly, all the panic that night may have started with a weather balloon. One of the major cases before the word UFO was even coined involved a weather balloon.
Believe it or not – and if you do read more about the historical context, it actually is quite believable – fact is that the only physical evidence for an alleged alien spacecraft that night has just vanished.
As it was never actually there.
UPDATE 03/13/2011: A looping animation between the original and retouched versions:
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