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155 posts tagged with coldwar.
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The Night of The Hunter

After 50 years of service, the Lockheed P-3 Orion, is standing down. [more inside]
posted by timsteil on Dec 14, 2011 - 31 comments

A Farewell to Arms

The B53 wasn’t just any old megabomb. It was the first bunker buster. U.S. nuclear doctrine called for it to be delivered over suspected underground Soviet command-and-control facilities. The dumb bomb wouldn’t destroy them so much as it would destroy everything remotely near it, leaving — literally — a smoldering crater. That was the U.S. plan for “victory” in a nuclear war right up until the implosion of the Soviet Empire. (related) [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Oct 25, 2011 - 75 comments

Hate mail from in front of the iron curtain

During the cold war Wartburg and Skoda exported cars from the Eastern Bloc to the United States. An action that was . . . controversial. One dealership received both love and hate mail.
posted by Mitheral on Oct 17, 2011 - 20 comments

Inside the Russian Short Wave Enigma

UVB-76 is a Russian short wave station that has enthralled and mystified enthusiasts for decades.
posted by reenum on Oct 4, 2011 - 59 comments

Broken Promises

High Arctic Relocation. In the 1950s several Inuit families were relocated from the relatively balmy Inukjuak, in northern Quebec, to settlements in what are now called Grise Fiord and Resolute in the far north of Canada with few resources to survive the extremely harsh climate. [more inside]
posted by dabug on Sep 9, 2011 - 24 comments

Obscure cold war nuclear projects: the Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion Program

The Cold War resulted in a rather large number of interesting military research programs. One of these with which I'm familiar is the Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion program, which ran from 1946 to 1961. The basic idea? Modify a bomber (such as a B-36 bomber), creating an aircraft that could theoretically remain aloft for weeks at a time without refueling, much like ballistic submarines? The challenge? Shielding. Shielding the reactor alone would make the aircraft prohibitively heavy, so the idea was to primarily shield the crew compartment instead of the reactor. However, to study the concept, and evaluate various lightweight shielding concepts, two very novel and unique nuclear reactors were built at Oak Ridge National Laboratory: the Bulk Shielding Reactor, a novel "swimming pool reactor", and the Tower Shielding Reactor, an unshielded reactor that was hung 200' in the air dangling between 310' steel towers. While the program successfully demonstrated several of the concepts (including a nuclear-powered gas turbine engine running in Idaho, and a modified B-36 that carried a nuclear reactor but wasn't propelled by it (mentioned above), the program was canceled in 1961 due to feasibility and budget concerns.
posted by kaszeta on Aug 21, 2011 - 26 comments

A Short Vision

"Just last week you read about the H-bomb being dropped. Now two great English writers, two very imaginative writers — I’m gonna tell you if you have youngsters in the living room tell them not to be alarmed at this ‘cause it’s a fantasy, the whole thing is animated — but two English writers, Joan and Peter Foldes, wrote a thing which they called ‘A Short Vision’ in which they wondered what might happen to the animal population of the world if an H-bomb were dropped. It’s produced by George K. Arthur and I’d like you to see it. It is grim, but I think we can all stand it to realize that in war there is no winner." [via]
posted by brundlefly on Jun 27, 2011 - 13 comments

Area 51 'Uncensored'

Area 51 'Uncensored': Was It UFOs Or The USSR? With insider sources, LA Times journalist Annie Jacobson reveals more (see earlier 2009 story) about the deepest secrets of Area 51, including a shocking new explanation of " the little grey men". [more inside]
posted by Bwithh on May 17, 2011 - 130 comments

A Bottomless Silo

The Rusty Technoporn Of Nuclear Russia - The Base Of Human Exterminators , The Place That Stalkers Would Love To Visit, from English Russia via Warren Ellis
posted by Artw on May 3, 2011 - 35 comments

Declassifying The Big Bird

Via Secrecy News:
Millions of feet of film of historical imagery from intelligence satellites may be declassified this year, the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) said. "The NGA is anticipating the potential declassification of significant amounts of film-based imagery... in 2011," according to an NGA announcement that solicited contractor interest in converting the declassified film into digital format. It was published in Federal Business Opportunities on February 14, 2011. A copy is posted here (pdf).
[more inside]
posted by HLD on Feb 28, 2011 - 13 comments

United States v. Tiede

On August 30, 1978 a Polish airliner was hijacked and redirected to Tempelhof airport in West Berlin. Torn between a policy of supporting defection and a recently-signed anti-hijacking treaty, the West German government ceded jurisdiction over the defendants to the United States government, which was still technically an occupying power and had an interest in the case because of the US Air Force Base at Tempelhof. The result was the one and only decision rendered by the United States Court for Berlin, United States v. Tiede. [more inside]
posted by jedicus on Jan 7, 2011 - 13 comments

The Dead Keep It

The division of post-WWII Berlin reached everywhere in the city, even underground, sealing stations throughout the long decades of the Cold War. They were the first “ghost stations”, which can now be found everywhere: the Paris Metro (previously), Los Angeles, the London Underground, New York City, and the aforementioned Berlin, remaining as entombed time capsules that are passed by millions every day.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul on Dec 29, 2010 - 10 comments

Uncertain Futures

Uncertain Futures: Americans and Science Fiction in the Early Cold War Era [via Futurismic]
posted by brundlefly on Nov 15, 2010 - 4 comments

Art IS a weapon

The CIA spent 20 years promoting modern art as a propaganda tool: "We wanted to unite all the people who were writers, who were musicians, who were artists, to demonstrate that the West and the United States was devoted to freedom of expression and to intellectual achievement, without any rigid barriers as to what you must write, and what you must say, and what you must do, and what you must paint, which was what was going on in the Soviet Union. I think it was the most important division that the agency had, and I think that it played an enormous role in the Cold War."
posted by BZArcher on Nov 1, 2010 - 50 comments

I've got my pipe because we’re going to speak about schoolish kind of things

In 2007, Beck, then the host of “Glenn Beck,” on CNN’s Headline News, brought to his show a John Birch Society spokesman named Sam Antonio, who warned of a government plot to abolish U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada, “and eventually all throughout the Americas.” Beck told Antonio, “When I was growing up, the John Birch Society—I thought they were a bunch of nuts.” But now, he said, “you guys are starting to make more and more sense to me.”
A secret history of Glenn Beck, by way of Robert Welch, Willard Cleon Skousen and the John Birch Society. From the New Yorker.
posted by gerryblog on Oct 15, 2010 - 41 comments

Bahnhof ISP

Located in a nuclear bomb shelter which was built during cold war under 30 meters of rock mountain, Bahnhof ISP is host to the Wikileaks servers. [more inside]
posted by gman on Sep 20, 2010 - 42 comments

“The purple glow in the sky — that was so eerie”

Lookout Mountain Laboratories (Hollywood, CA) was originally built in 1941 as an air defense station. But after WWII, the US Air Force repurposed it into a secret film studio which operated for 22 years during the Cold War. The studio produced classified movies for all branches of the US Armed Forces, as well as the Atomic Energy Commission, until it was deactivated in 1969. During this time, cameramen, who referred to themselves as "atomic" cinematographers, were hired to shoot footage of atomic bomb tests in Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and the South Pacific. Some of their films have been declassified and can be seen here. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Sep 14, 2010 - 6 comments

Worse than Three Mile Island?

Over fifty years after Los Angeles' first nuclear meltdown, the State of California is finally getting around to decontaminating the radioactive fallout.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot on Sep 3, 2010 - 35 comments

The Pond: an early US spy agency you've never heard of

Before the CIA, there was the Pond -- a highly secret, unacknowledged, and semi-autonomous intelligence agency created by the US military in 1942 as an alternative to the OSS. According the Associated Press, "The organization counted among its exploits an attempt to negotiate the surrender of Germany with Hermann Goering, one of Adolf Hitler's top military leaders, more than six months before the war ended; an effort to enlist mobster Charles 'Lucky' Luciano in a plot to assassinate Italian dictator Benito Mussolini; identifying the location of the German heavy water plants doing atomic research in Norway; and providing advance information on Russia's first atomic bomb explosion." But the CIA says that its record was "largely one of failure and impermanence."
posted by twirlip on Aug 3, 2010 - 6 comments

The Future of Border Defense: Robot Sentries

The Korean DMZ (pdf) / PLZ has been a hot tourist attraction for years, featuring must-see sites like the Third Infiltration Tunnel, Dora Observatory, the Dora Mountain Train Station, the Freedom Bridge and the Imjingak Tourist Site, complete with its statue of Harry Truman. And now, South Korea's border with North Korea -- the most heavily militarized border on Earth, -- will be patrolled by killer robots. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 15, 2010 - 50 comments

Vietnam, huh? Grenada man. Grenada?

The Invasion of Grenada (also known as Operation Urgent Fury) took place on October 25, 1983. Despite its reputation for only being "like 12 hours long," it played an important part in the history of the Cold War, the Reagan Administration, and U.S. military policy. Some have compared the way it was handled to the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.
posted by Man Bites Dog on Jul 13, 2010 - 35 comments

Someone forgot to tell 'em the Cold War ended....

The US Department of Justice has announced arrests in four states of ten alleged members of a “deep-cover” Russian spy ring whose ultimate goal was apparently to infiltrate U.S. policy-making circles. So much for burger diplomacy? [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jun 28, 2010 - 70 comments

Journey to the Bottom of the (Cold War) Sea and Back

Submarine causalities are tragedies of war that are not always directly associated with combat. Systems failures at sea are often mysterious, with evidence and remains disappearing to all but the deepest diving vehicles. This was no different in the Cold War, with non-combat losses from the US and the Soviet Fleets. In that era of nuclear secrets, both those of nuclear-powered submarines and nuclear weapons, learning about the enemy's technology was paramount. Such an opportunity came to the US with the sinking of K-129, a Golf Class II Soviet submarine that went down with 98 men on board. The recovery took over six year, involved the possible payback of Howard Hughes, a videotaped formal sea burial that was eventually copied and given to then-President Boris Yeltsin, and decades of CIA secrecy. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on May 27, 2010 - 41 comments

The Key Word Is "Survival" On The New Frontier

The complete history of the Fallout Shelter sign.
posted by mattdidthat on May 6, 2010 - 36 comments

"A Mushroom Cloud, Recollected"

"With the renewed interest in nuclear weapons I have been struck by how few people there still are who have seen one explode." Jeremy Bernstein looks back on the two above-ground tests he witnessed in 1957. "Smoky" and "Galileo" were part of Operation Plumbbob, a series of 29 tests.
posted by The Mouthchew on Mar 24, 2010 - 20 comments

Chairman Mao's Underground City

Chairman Mao's Underground City is a pictorial travelogue of a small part of the tunnels that Chairman Mao had built under Beijing to serve as a nuclear fallout shelter. The intrepid urban explorers come across some surprising things. The complex, which was built by hand, could house three hundred thousand people for up to four months and had amenities such as restaurants, cinemas and roller rinks. Here's a short Travel Channel feature on the Underground City.
posted by Kattullus on Nov 29, 2009 - 38 comments

World's Longest Invisible Fence

Twenty years ago this month, the nearly 700 mile border between East and West Germany started to disappear. "The fence is long gone, and the no-man's land where it stood now is part of Europe's biggest nature preserve. The once-deadly border area is alive with songbirds nesting in crumbling watchtowers, foxes hiding in weedy fortifications and animals not seen here for years, such as elk and lynx. But one species is boycotting the reunified animal kingdom: red deer." According to the Bavarian National Forest Park Service, scientists [link in German] have recorded nearly 11,000 GPS locations for 'Ahornia," a red deer who appears to never enter the Czech Republic.
posted by webhund on Nov 4, 2009 - 22 comments

That's just normal oxidation.

Removing 600 kilos of enriched U-235: the story of how, in 1994, the United States secretly removed from Kazakhstan enough purified uranium to make 24 nuclear weapons. (Full article with one photo.) Russian bomb-grade uranium is now being used in U.S. power plants.
posted by exogenous on Sep 21, 2009 - 50 comments

Keeping an eye on and old friend

Russian strategic nuclear forces - an online watchdog of the movements of Russia's nuclear forces. [more inside]
posted by Burhanistan on Sep 20, 2009 - 8 comments

K-E-Y! Y? Because We Will Bury You

Exactly 50 years ago today, Soviet Premier and Cold War Villain Nikita Khrushchev was denied a visit to Disneyland. He was in Southern California as part of a cross-country tour of the U.S.A.* (Can you imagine an enemy of the US doing that today?). The reasons for the denial? Security Logistics and Time Limitations (you have to devote a whole day for The Magic Kingdom). Instead, he visited a sound stage at 20th Century Fox (shooting "Can Can") and a housing development in a San Fernando Valley suburb. The next day, he got a warmer, but semi-stunned, reception in San Luis Obispo, CA. Not the only place that welcomed him. Farmers in Coon Rapids, Iowa were happy to show off American agriculture in an event recently commemorated.
*Look Inside book at Amazon link for more content. Also lots more coverage in the L.A. Times' Nostalgia Blog)
posted by wendell on Sep 19, 2009 - 32 comments

The Iron Lady ❤s The Iron Curtain

New Documents from the Soviet Archives reveal that as the Warsaw Pact was falling apart, Margaret Thatcher called Gorbachev to inform him that:
The reunification of Germany is not in the interests of Britain and Western Europe. It might look different from public pronouncements, in official communiqué at Nato meetings, but it is not worth paying ones attention to it. We do not want a united Germany. This would have led to a change to post-war borders and we can not allow that because such development would undermine the stability of the whole international situation and could endanger our security. In the same way, a destabilisation of Eastern Europe and breakdown of the Warsaw Pact are also not in our interests.
This backs up assertions from former German Chancellor Kohl's new memoir that Thatcher put up obstacles to German Re-unification, fearing the rise of a Fourth Reich.
posted by empath on Sep 10, 2009 - 78 comments

"a real-life James Bond. His boozy amours, his tough postures, his intelligence expertise..."

In 1948, when John was five, Guy Burgess came to stay for a holiday. John's mother resented Burgess and his close relationship with her husband, and began staging accidents to claim attention; she once reported being mugged in her car, and on another occasion set fire to the living room, suffering serious burns. She was later sent to a Swiss clinic for treatment. Philby was posted to the United States the following year. The strange life of John Philby, the son of "the most hated man in England", Kim Philby, a member of the notorious Cambridge Five spying ring. (via)
posted by The Whelk on Aug 23, 2009 - 16 comments

The CIA in Tibet

The CIA in Tibet l the Cold War in ShangriLa l The CIA's Secret War In Tibet by Kenneth Conboy and James Morrison, the entire book online. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Aug 3, 2009 - 8 comments

when two tribes go to war

By 17 October, the day of the Soviet Moon landing, tension had risen. Czechoslovakian and Hungarian troops were said to be massing on the border with Austria. Soviet fighters had been harassing civil aircraft in the Berlin corridors, causing an American airliner to crash.

What was once the most secret British government document is released to the public on Tuesday. The Government War Book, used during the Cold War, set out in great detail exactly what would happen in the days before nuclear weapons were fired.

Prof Peter Hennessy describes the War Book
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar on Jun 23, 2009 - 30 comments

Background to Danger

For Graham Greene he was "unquestionably our best thriller writer". John le Carré once called him "the source on which we all draw". With the six novels he wrote in the years leading up to the second world war - five of which have just been reissued by Penguin Modern Classics - Eric Ambler revitalised the British thriller, rescuing the genre from the jingoistic clutches of third-rate imitators of John Buchan, and recasting it in a more realist, nuanced and leftishly intelligent - not to mention exciting - mould. - The writing of Eric Ambler
posted by Artw on Jun 6, 2009 - 14 comments

Lost in Space

Lost in Space: What really happened to Russia's missing cosmonauts? An incredible tale of space hacking, espionage and death in the lonely reaches of space. "There are those who believe that somewhere in the vast blackness of space, about nine billion miles from the Sun, the first human is about to cross the boundary of our Solar System into interstellar space. His body, perfectly preserved, is frozen at –270 degrees C (–454ºF); his tiny capsule has been silently sailing away from the Earth at 18,000 mph (29,000km/h) for the last 45 years. He is the original lost cosmonaut, whose rocket went up and, instead of coming back down, just kept on going." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Apr 30, 2009 - 83 comments

hatchink fiendish plan to catch moose and squirrel

Interested in Soviet era spying by the KGB in the United States? Bummed that you cant get into the KGB archives? Well it turns out that someone copied all the good stuff already, and you can take a peek. [more inside]
posted by shothotbot on Apr 23, 2009 - 6 comments

Strings, not Threads, nor Duct Tape

Nuclear puppet shows: Atomic survival PSAs by the U.S. Civil Defense
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Apr 5, 2009 - 14 comments

Samuel Huntington Dies

Samuel Phillip Huntington, best known for his work "Clash of Civilizations," died on December 24. Previously on the blue (here, here, here, and here)
posted by Glibpaxman on Dec 27, 2008 - 20 comments

Nuclear Redux

Photographer Paul Shambroom has spent the last sixteen years documenting a much-discussed but little seen aspect of American foreign policy -- our nuclear arsenal. [more inside]
posted by puckish on Dec 10, 2008 - 19 comments

Be thankful these black swans didn't fly

Seven Close calls in the Nuclear Age Previously
posted by lalochezia on Oct 24, 2008 - 13 comments

Well there goes Reykjavik

More subprime collateral damage. Iceland's now getting a $5B bailout from Russia. What does Russia want in return? Access to shipping lanes? The old US base? via
posted by blahblah on Oct 7, 2008 - 48 comments

When the Wind Blows

This is the Wartime Broadcasting Service. This country has been attacked with nuclear weapons. Communications have been severely disrupted, and the number of casualties and the extent of the damage are not yet known. We shall bring you further information as soon as possible. - The BBC releases its script for use in the event of nuclear war.
posted by Artw on Oct 2, 2008 - 37 comments

The Umbrella Killer

Scotland Yard thinks it knows who killed Bulgarian dissident writer Georgi Markov with a ricin-tipped umbrella on the streets of London 30 years ago this month. Police are hoping to press charges against the man known as Agent Picadilly, who received a secret medal for his services. Interest in the case was sparked by "Kill the Wanderer", a book by journalist Hristo Hristov, who gained access to the archives of the former Bulgarian security service. Bulgaria has extended its own investigation, just as the statute of limitations on the Markov murder was set to expire.
posted by up in the old hotel on Sep 22, 2008 - 13 comments

Better red than dead

With the potential 'crisis' with Russia, Georgia, Europe et al, the BBC tries to imagine what a new Cold War would be like starting with a tour of the budding Moscow tourist attraction called the Confrontation Cold War Museum. Sold off in an auction last year, the underground bunker now belongs to a private company that plans to turn it into an entertainment complex with a museum about the Cold War, a restaurant and even a spa. But it is already possible to hold fashion shows around the 600-meter-long network of bare, cavernous tunnels.
posted by infini on Aug 31, 2008 - 6 comments

A Tale of Two Airplanes

"Once Upon A Time... there were two very special airplanes that lived.... far.... far.... away on a tiny island in the Bering Sea. One was named Rivet Ball and the other was named Rivet Amber. Very few people knew anything about these two planes or the men that flew them. Even family members knew very little. That's because their mission was... TOP SECRET." (some photos and language within are NSFW) [more inside]
posted by kurmbox on Aug 7, 2008 - 18 comments

Those barricades can only hold for so long

Twenty years ago this week, the biggest escape ever over the Berlin Wall took place, but the event went nearly unreported outside of the two Germanies. The 182 persons who jumped over the Wall in the early morning hours of 1 July 1988, instead of leaving East Germany, fled in the opposite direction (scroll down to "Wolfgang Ritter") to escape the West Berlin police. East German border guards waited with trucks on the other side of the Wall in the middle of the death strip to pick up the wall-hopping protesters; they were driven to another location, served breakfast, and then taken to the Friedrichsstrasse crossing to West Berlin with the admonition to "use the usual border crossing next time." [more inside]
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy on Jul 3, 2008 - 16 comments

There's no reason to become alarmed, and we hope you'll enjoy the rest of your flight. By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?

Russian car magazine "Autoreview" has posted photos of a 1978 Korean Air Lines (KAL) forced landing to accompany an article about the Land Rover Defender pickup that was used to haul equipment at that time. Apparently, Korean Air Lines is not amused (Korean) by this effort to dig up the past. More photos. Via the always awesome Marmot's Hole. [more inside]
posted by KokuRyu on Jun 5, 2008 - 13 comments

Canada's Russian Revolution

It stands as one of the more unusual turning points of the Cold War, thanks mostly to the surprise appearance of several naked middle-aged women. Taking The Cure: How a group of British Columbian anarchists inspired democracy in Russia. [more inside]
posted by amyms on May 13, 2008 - 7 comments

'Radioactive mama, we'll reach critical mass tonight'

Atomic Platters :: Cold War Music from the Golden Age of Homeland Security
posted by anastasiav on Feb 15, 2008 - 5 comments

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