And it involved lots of nuclear weapons.
Because SAC was so fixed on quickly knocking out Soviet air power, H-bombs would have been dropped to explode on the ground rather than in mid-air. While airbursts would have produced more heat and radiation, the focus on was achieving maximum blast damage to destroy Soviet aircraft and bases, despite some unintended side effects. “While the objections to surface burst and the probability of radioactive fallout affecting friendly forces and people have been considered, the requirement to win the Air Power Battle is paramount to all other considerations,” said the SAC study.
If the Cold War had turned thermonuclear, we know that the United States and Soviet Union would have been devastated.
But now for the first time, we know which Russian cities would have been destroyed, and why. The U.S. government has finally declassified the 1950s Strategic Air Command target list, which would have dispatched American bombers and missiles on nuclear strikes across the Communist world.
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“SAC listed over 1200 cities in the Soviet bloc, from East Germany to China, also with priorities established,” according to the National Security Archive, the non-governmental organization which requested the declassified information. “Moscow and Leningrad were priority one and two respectively. Moscow included 179 Designated Ground Zeros (DGZs) while Leningrad had 145, including ‘population’ targets.”