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This timeline explores the broken world left by the Great Nuclear War - October 28, 1962.
The year is 1962. Tensions are at a boiling point between the U.S and U.S.S.R as the Cuban Missile Crisis is at its height. On October 27th, a B-52 bomber crashes shortly after take off causing it's nuclear payload to detonate eviscerating a small U.S Air Force Base in the rural town of Damascus, Arkansas. The US are swift to respond launching a “Retaliatory Strike” against the USSR in response to what they believe to be a Soviet First Strike. This attack is detected by soviet early warning sites and they quickly launch their own Retaliatory Strike against the US. Less than ten minutes later Soviet and American missiles are making landfall severely crippling both nations. France, in light of this sudden, and terrifying American aggression, refuses to launch their missiles against the USSR, and after a short but intense series of reprisals, lasting approximately six hours, the world is razed to the ground by nuclear arm fire, and human civilization along with it. While the war is never officially declared over, The early morning hours of October 28th mark the end a chapter of human history.
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US President John F. Kennedy makes a very grave decision on October 20 of that very same year: to invade Cuba in response to Soviet Missiles discovered by a hapless U-2 plane. This invasion didn't lead to the Nuclear War everyone feared, until a takeoff accident on a B-52 Bomber caused a Nuclear Detonation. This event was the first blow in the Nuclear War. But it was not an end; but rather the preface to a new volume of human history. In the years since, much has happened.
Timeline of Crisis
It should be noted that in this timeline the Soviet strategic nuclear forces are on par with the U.S. strategic missile forces due to a nuclear incident in 1958 which sent the Soviets into a frenzy when it came to the expansion of their nuclear forces. So in this timeline 10 IRBM sites are built in Cuba instead of six and the number of Soviet ICBMs is larger than the U.S. ICBM force than by about 20 missiles and in this timeline both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. would be obliterated.
Saturday, October 27, 1962
9:00 AM - CIA memorandum indicates all of the 10 IRBM sites in Cuba appear to be operational. Cuban mobilization continues at a high rate, but Cuban forces have strict orders not to fire unless fired upon.
10:00 AM - In a meeting of the ExComm (Kennedy-created organization designed to guide him through the crisis... kind of a war cabinet for the crisis) a letter from Khrushchev offering to remove the missiles in exchange for American missiles removed from Turkey and Italy is received. Discussions continue throughout the day about how to respond. Kennedy says that to go to war rather than accept a trade would be an "insupportable position."
11:00 AM - A U-2 based in Alaska accidentally strays into Soviet airspace. After realizing the error, the pilot radios for backup as he flies back to Alaska. Two nuclear-armed F-102s respond, and although the flight is shadowed by Soviet aircraft, no shots are fired.
11:30 AM - Word of the American breach of Soviet air space reaches the Kremlin and Soviet forces in Cuba are ordered to high alert status by the Kremlin in response to the American breach of their air space over the Bering Strait.
12:00 AM - A U-2 is shot down over Cuba, and the pilot, Major Rudolph Anderson, is captured by Cuban Forces. Upon receiving the news, the ExComm believes the order to fire on the U-2 was given by the Kremlin and is intended to escalate the conflict. When in reality, the order was given by a Soviet Colonel named Antipov Svyatoslav who was in command of the SAMM Battery in Cuba which shot down the U-2, and the Kremlin was unaware of the situation.
1:00 PM - The destroyers USS Beale, Cony, and Murray begin the investigation of a reported sonar contact on the west side of the American blockade of Cuba.
3:41 PM - Low-level reconnaissance aircraft fly over Cuba in an effort to gain intelligence on the Soviet force presence in Cuba. They take heavy fire, and one aircraft is hit by a 37mm anti-aircraft shell but is able to return to base.
4:00 PM - Kennedy meets with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Maxwell Taylor, about the U-2 shootdown. He decides not to order a reprisal raid on the SAM sites that shot down the aircraft, angering many in the Pentagon, but indicates that if another aircraft is shot down, he will authorize retaliation.
(Note: Throughout the day, Kennedy keeps in close contact with U Thant, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, in an effort to broker some sort of agreement with the Soviet Union, using Thant as the go-between.)
4:17 PM - The USS Beale makes contact with the Soviet Foxtrot-class submarine B-59. In an attempt to "communicate," the Beale begins pinging with active sonar and drops practice depth charges on the submarine.
4:28 PM - In Washington, Kennedy and ExComm agree to a response to Khrushchev's trade letter, and agree to the deal as long as the American missile withdrawal will be kept secret. In exchange for that concession, the United States will agree to a guarantee of non-invasion of Cuba.
4:50 PM - The USS Cony, having also arrived on the scene with the Beale attempts to signal B-59 with hand grenades dropped in the water above the submarine. Though aware that American tactics involved the use of practice depth charges, the Soviet submariners believe they are under attack.
(Note: This perception causes many in the submarine's crew to believe that war has already begun. Thus a "totally exhausted" Captain Valentin Savitsky, unable to establish communications with Moscow, becomes furious and orders a nuclear torpedo be assembled for battle readiness. Savitsky roars "We're going to blast them now! We will die, but we will sink them all." Attempts to dissuade him prove fruitful and he doesn’t launch the nuclear torpedo, but he does keep it on standby incase they are at war. To which none of the crew objects.)
5:16 PM - The crew of the B-59 launches a metal water-proof container connected to a life jacket out of the submarine via to torpedo tube containing a message for the americans which translated to this from Russian: “Americans stop dropping real depth charges on us and withdraw to a distance of 20 Miles so we can surface otherwise we will launch a nuclear torpedo against you. -Soviets”
5:28 PM - American forces withdraw completely to the 20 mile line and the B-59 Submarine surfaces where they communicate with the Americans.
5:21 PM - Negotiations between the two sides goes sideways and the submarine submerges again while American ships begin to drop depth charges on it in an attempt to make it surface before it makes it to Cuban waters.
6:20 PM - A frustrated American commander orders U.S. Forces to drop a nuclear depth charge on it after the submarine had already damaged the USS Cony.
6:25 PM - The depth charge misses and the B-59 survived by the fact it was in an underwater trench when the depth charge went off. In response it launches two out of its three 15 kiloton nuclear torpedoes at the USS Cony and Beale, along with another one launched at the American aircraft carrier the USS Randolph. At 40 knots, it closes the distance between the submarine and the USS Cony and USS Randolph quickly.
6:30 PM - Two 14.7 kiloton nuclear blast vaporises the USS Cony and USS Beale. The accompanying USS Barry is completely wrecked. The nearby aircraft carrier USS Randolph is destroyed, and several of its accompanying destroyers are wrecked as well. The B-59, meanwhile, managed to surface just in time to avoid getting hit by a massive underwater shock wave which would have buckled its hull. Water floods various compartments of the submarine, sending it on a mad dash for land.
6:43 PM - Kennedy learns of the 3 nuclear detonations in the Caribbean and reportedly asked “Ours or Theirs?”, to which his staff responded “Both”.
7:00 PM - Following an emergency conference with ExComm, Kennedy orders immediate retaliation against Soviet submarines. No nuclear weapons are authorized to be used, but Soviet submarines west of 60W are to be killed on sight, but no action is to be taken outside of the western Atlantic Ocean. The Soviet Ambassador, Anatoly Dobrynin is to be notified of this fact immediately. In Moscow, no one is yet aware of the nuclear detonation.
7:20 PM - The order to hunt and destroy Soviet submarines in the western Atlantic is received by US Navy ships at sea along the blockade line. The USS Essex, which is heading a task force hunting a submarine at the time of the message, launches alert aircraft, and all ships arm weapons.
7:34 PM - In Moscow, Premier Khrushchev is notified that 3 nuclear detonations have taken place in the Caribbean. The report comes from the freighter Pella, which had seen 3 large mushroom clouds to the north as it approached the quarantine line. Khrushchev demands an immediate verification and orders that a message be sent to the embassy in Washington. As a precaution, he orders a heightened state of alert for Soviet strategic forces.
7:59 PM - Anatoly Dobrynin arrives at the White House to meet with President Kennedy. A heated exchange follows, and Dobrynin leaves the White House fifteen minutes later, almost at a run. This fact is observed by reporters who have been watching the comings-and-goings at the building since the beginning of the crisis. Dobrynin's car speeds away in the direction of the Soviet Embassy. In his haste, Dobrynin fails to call ahead to the Embassy.
8:16 PM - The Essex task force, having finally located the Soviet submarine it was tracking, begins to launch depth charges against the submarine. The attack proves successful, and the submarine is driven to the surface where it is sunk by gunfire from the depth-charging destroyers. Before being destroyed, it manages to transmit a distress call indicating that it is under attack by American ships and is sinking. The garbled call is picked up by nearby Soviet ships and is relayed across the Atlantic to the Soviet Union.
8:32 PM - Having been delayed by a traffic accident in Washington, ambassador Dobrynin reaches the Soviet Embassy, and rushes to the radio room to pass his information along to Moscow and awaits a reply.
8:49 PM - News of the sinking of the submarine by the Essex task force reaches Moscow. Upon receipt of the news, Khrushchev orders immediate counter action, ordering the Soviet military to full readiness and also ordering that Soviet ships and submarines may attack American Military ships at sea. Civilian ships are to dock at the nearest friendly port.
9:12 PM - The Soviet Zulu-class submarine B-75 acknowledges receipt of its orders and orders torpedoes armed. Its captain, Nikolai Annenkov, has the submarine first target an American Cruiser along the Quarantine Line. The Crusier is hit by two torpedoes and sinks, sending out a distress call as it goes to the bottom. As with the Soviet submarine's distress call an hour before, the message is passed on by other ships. It is only one of six to go across the radio within fifteen minutes as other Soviet submarines begin to get to work. One of the sinkings is east of the 60W line set by Kennedy.
9:13 PM - Ambassador Dobrynin's message reaches Premier Khrushchev. Khrushchev questions the message, as the Americans now seem to be attacking Soviet submarines. He demands Dobrynin ask Kennedy if a state of war exists between their two countries.
9:35 PM - News of the Cruiser sinkings reaches Kennedy's desk. He orders that American ships prosecute any Soviet vessels in the Atlantic Ocean. After extensive negotiations with the Joint Chiefs and ExComm, he orders that a strike be readied for the missile sites in Cuba. If war is at hand, Kennedy thinks, those missiles must not leave the ground.
9:47 PM - Khrushchev's message reaches Dobrynin in Washington, who immediately calls the White House to demand a conference with Kennedy over the phone. The conversation is short and to the point, as Kennedy is furious over the nuclear attacks and the perceived Soviet sneak attack. But the Soviets are equally outraged about the attack on their submarines and the use of a nuclear depth charge against one of their submarines before the submarine in question, the B-59 even used it nuclear torpedos. The first real stages of fear setting in, Dobrynin relays the message to Moscow via radio, and requests that Khrushchev come to the radio in person so that a direct channel can be set up between him and Kennedy.
9:48 PM - US Navy vessels on the quarantine line and around the world acknowledge the presidential order. Over the next twenty minutes, 9 Soviet vessels will be sunk around the world and 11 American ships will join them at the bottom of the sea.
10:57 PM – As a precautionary measure, and in response to panicked phone calls from several congressional leaders, President Kennedy issued a Civil Defense Defense Emergency message, informing Civil Defense authorities across the country of attacks against American ships at sea. As a result of the Defense Emergency, Civil Defense measures begin to be put into place, and in several cities, air raid sirens are accidentally switched on, causing panic.
11:48 PM – As tensions heighten in around the world, in Berlin a brief firefight breaks out between American and Soviet soldiers. A Soviet soldier, patrolling with a loaded rifle, trips, firing a single shot harmlessly into the air. On the other side of the border, American soldiers, tense with the news from the other side of the Atlantic, fire on the Soviet soldiers that they believe are attacking. After ten minutes of firing, the Soviets throw a grenade over the wall kill 4 out of the 6 American Soldiers. But, then each side retreats deeper into its sector of Berlin, having received pullback orders from their respective commanders, who want to avoid conflict as long as possible.
Over the next few hours, the situation at sea continues to deteriorate as diplomats on both sides of the world work to arrange a voice-to-voice meeting between the two leaders. Meanwhile, ships and submarines are fighting a war while most of the western world sleeps. In Washington, Kennedy is increasingly bombarded by questions from political leaders across the country as news of the nuclear attack and subsequent sinkings trickles out. Not many people in the United States have gone to sleep, and stay glued to their televisions and radios for the latest news bulletins. Premature air raid sirens have awoken many from bed, and in some cities there are riots and bouts of looting, which are suppressed by local police.
Sunday, October 28, 1962
12:04 AM – In Washington and Moscow, Kennedy and Khrushchev hang up their phones with a sense of finality, concluding a nearly 90 minute discussion – if such a disorganized, shout-filled conversation deserves that label – that leaves both leaders believing the other has fired the first shots.
12:07 AM – Khrushchev is notified about the Berlin firefight.
12:23 AM – Kennedy is notified about the Berlin firefight.
1:16 AM – After discussing the conversation and the reports out of Berlin with the ExComm, Kennedy orders a review of the air strike plans presented by General Taylor on the 21st. Pressured by many members of the ExComm, and by his military advisors, Kennedy believes that the best way to bring the crisis to an end is to destroy the missiles that are causing it.
1:28 AM – After a review of the plans, Kennedy okays a naval invasion intended to destroy the IRBM and MRBM launchers so far pinpointed as well as the three airfields holding nuclear-capable IL-28 bombers. General Taylor reminds the President that only about 50% percent of the known launchers will likely be destroyed, and that there may be other launchers not pinpointed by U-2s and the CIA. Kennedy, in a deep malaise, and seeing no other option, authorizes the invasion. He repeatedly reminds himself that the risk is worth it, that it could save millions of Americans. Even if the Soviets launch…
1:37 AM – After nearly an hour of discussion, Khrushchev comes to an undeniable conclusion – the Soviet Union and the United States are both in a position it cannot win. A strike against the NATO or Warsaw Pact countries, even if successful, would invite a massive nuclear attack against both sides, something that would utterly destroy both countries. He is aware, even if the United States is not, is aware that his nuclear capabilities are more numerous than the United States’s Nuclear capabilities. But he realizes if he were to stand down he risked the possibility of a Military Coup by the KGB which would launch against the United States and at least this way he could control the situation. Thus with the support of his military advisors and the majority of the Cabinet, he orders that if the Americans invade Cuba that the Soviets will declare war.
1:46 AM – President Kennedy gives the final go-ahead for the strikes against IRBM and MRBM missile launchers in Cuba. Due to the distance from staging naval bases, the first troops are scheduled to land at exactly 4:35 AM.
1:50 AM - In a conference with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Kennedy is appraised of the nuclear situation, and the fact that the latest Strategic Integrated Operations Plan, the plan for nuclear war with the Soviet Union, China, the Warsaw Pact, or any other nation on Earth, has been updated with the latest information, and that the most up to date installment, SIOP-63, has been implemented and is ready for execution at any time. Kennedy refuses to discuss the topic, and instead veers conversation towards the upcoming attack on Cuba.
1:53 AM – A firefight similar to the one that took place in Berlin takes place along the inter-German border, near the town of Wanfried. Unlike in Berlin, both sides call for reinforcements, believing that an invasion is underway (Berlin’s long history of tension causes commanders there to be more reluctant about engaging in hostilities, particularly on the Western side, where the strategy is to retreat deep into the city and force the Soviets to fight house-to-house.) Battalion-level artillery is engaged, beginning a fight that will last for nearly an hour, as both sides finally realize that there is no wide-scale invasion taking place…… Yet.
2:13 AM – As the preparations for Khrushchev's move to his secure bunker in Siberia, the Premier settles in his chambers and waits for his car to arrive. As mid morning sunlight streams through the windows of his office, the door bursts open to admit 4 KGB officers, who bring news of the Americans beging an invasion of Cuba. Khrushchev almost dies of a heart attack but is saved by on site soldiers with medical training.
2:24 AM – The first wave of American ships are picked up by Cuban radar stations. The entire Cuban naval defense network and military is put at full alert along with half of the soviet troops on the island.
2:31 AM – The first American aircraft cross into Cuban airspace on a mission to soften up the Cuban defenses. 60 MiG fighters launch from Cuba, but they are vastly outnumbered by the approaching American aircraft, which number nearly 120.
2:34 AM – Cuban SAM Sites open up and shoot down 20 American aircraft.
2:35 AM – MiG fighters engage USAF F-105s and US Navy F-4 Phantoms in air combat above Cuba. Due to the odds stacked against them, the 60 MiGs are shot down in short order, with the loss of 50 American aircraft.
2:37 AM – The first bombs began to fall on Cuban SAM sites and airfields. Though the American bombers take a few losses from SAM fire, Cuban anti aircraft gunnery is fairly good due to Soviet training, and downs 10 aircraft. Only one SAM site is destroyed, and a few additional bombers tasked with hitting the Cuban airfields are chased off by a remming MiGs.
3:16 AM – The second wave of American aircraft arrives, which attack the IRBM and MRBM sites in the area as the airfields are to heavily defend. However MiG-17 fighters from bases further away arrive and chase off the now undefended American Bombers. Which makes the bombing ineffective and they only destroy 50% of the known IRBM and MRBM sites. Which left about 75% of the Soviet IRBM and MRBM Force on the island of Cuba left.
3:57 AM – The third and final wave of American aircraft arrives to drop bombs on the pinpointed offensive missile sites. But the attack is aborted because Cuban air defenses and aircraft were now swarming the area and sending more aircraft in would be a suicide mission.
4:15 AM – Having taken the air strikes on Cuba to be a declaration of war, Fidel Castro begins the attack on Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, as forces have long been in place, and only needed the order to act. A massive artillery barrage begins to fall on the base. Castro asks Moscow for assistance. Moscow, of course, obliges.
4:35 AM – The first American forces land on Cuba.
6:45 AM – It is now early afternoon in Moscow, and Khrushchev infuriated with the American invasion of Cuba agrees with his advisors and the cabinet that the Soviet Union must respond with force, and eliminate the western nuclear threat. It will be a great challenge, but all agree to a plan of action – an invasion of Western Europe, with the aim of eliminating western nuclear arms that might threaten the Soviet Union.
Khrushchev, knowing the real numbers on the ground – the United States with 27,000+ nuclear warheads, versus the Soviet Union’s 30,000+, and most of those on long-range launchers – knew the strategy would work. Contacting the various commanders of armies along the frontier, Khrushchev and his advisors set their plan into motion. H-hour will be at dawn the next day, in order to achieve the greatest amount of surprise possible. The Red Army may not be fully ready, but neither will NATO… or so the thought goes.
9:00 AM – The war in Cuba is now in full swing. President Kennedy has called for a special meeting of the combined Congress in order to take a vote on a declaration of war. The question on everyone’s mind is whether it will be only against Cuba, or also against the Soviet Union. In Cuba itself, Kennedy has authorized the use of everything short of nuclear weapons in order to ensure the safety of Guantanamo Bay.
11:00 AM – The strategic nuclear forces of the Soviet Union are put on full alert status, and thus the plotters as well. Doubts about moving ahead with an invasion are quickly are squashed by the need to destroy the west’s nuclear capabilities.
1:00 PM – In what is perhaps the oddest joint session of Congress in the history of the United States, a formal state of war is declared between the United States and Cuba. Over a third of the assembled chamber casts votes via telephone, due to the fear of a surprise Soviet attack. This bending of the rules is allowed due to the extraordinary circumstances of the vote. Immense public pressure is being placed on Kennedy to retaliate in nuclear form, given the public knowledge that the Soviets and the United States have already used nuclear weapons, but Kennedy feels as in control of the situation as he’s been in the last 24 hours, and resists the pressure.
3:00 PM – Several hundred miles northwest of Cuba, the Soviet Foxtrot-class submarine B-130 spots an ideal target – the aircraft carrier USS Essex. The Essex task force has been chasing the submarine for the last 12 hours, and several close depth charges have caused minor damage throughout the boat. Now, the captain has a chance to even the score. Because of the long range, and thanks to the five destroyers screening the Essex, Captain Nikolai Shumkov orders the submarine’s single nuclear torpedo readied.
3:04 PM – After closing within 4,000 yards of the Essex – as close as he dares – Shumkov orders a long-range deflection shot at the Essex. The 15kt nuclear warhead will kill the carrier even if it detonates a ways off after running out the 4,000m programmed distance. After launch, the B-130 executes an emergency turn, and slips away undetected.
3:06 PM – Having run its programmed course, the 53cm torpedo detonates its 15 kiloton warhead fewer than 200 yards from the hull of the Essex, which has completely failed to spot its attacker, the torpedo, or to take any sort of zig-zag course, confident as it is in its screen of destroyers. It, along with three of its escorts, is vaporized in less than a second. Only one destroyer, which had detected the noise of the B-130’s emergency turn and had gone to investigate, evades destruction.
3:21 PM – News of the second nuclear detonation reaches Washington. Unlike the first nuclear attack, reports are immediately picked up outside the White House, and the President is bombarded by calls for retaliation against Cuba. Kennedy is shocked and appalled. One nuke might have been a mistake. Two is enemy action.
4:49 PM – After a meeting of ExComm, a retaliatory strike is agreed upon. The city of Guantanamo, Cuba, will be targeted by a 50kt nuclear device, to be delivered by the US Air Force. This will have the effect of responding to the Soviet move, as well as relieving pressure on the embattled defenders of Guantanamo Naval Base.
5:37 PM – A massive protest begins outside the Soviet Embassy in Washington D.C. Rioters storm the gates of the embassy, burning buildings, and lynching the few people still present in the building. Police, unwilling to stop the violence, stand by while the building burns before eventually breaking up the protest. Ambassador Dobrynin, having been evacuated several hours earlier, watches the events unfold on television. He will leave for Mexico in less than an hour, en route to Moscow, having been quietly recalled by Khrushchev. The assistant ambassador will remain in Mexico to coordinate the American withdrawal from Europe the Soviets hope will take place following their predicted victory.
6:21 PM – Two B-52s of the 96th Bomb Wing launch from Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, both armed with a single 50 kiloton nuclear bomb. Only one is scheduled to drop its weapon, but the other one is a backup in the event that the primary bomber is shot down.
6:42 PM - Aircraft lift off from various bases across Florida and the Caribbean. Their mission will be to clear the airspace around Guantanamo and ensure the safe arrival of the B-52s.
7:17 PM – The first wave of aircraft begins hitting SAM and antiaircraft positions around Guantanamo city. 20 go down to Cuban SAM-2s, but many more missiles are successfully evaded. 20 MiG-17s scramble from Cuban airfields, but are shot down in rapid succession by the F-4 Phantoms that maintain a constant presence over Cuban airfields.
7:52 PM – A second coordinated wave of aircraft began launching attacks on Guantanamo city’s defenses. Many sites uncovered during the first wave’s attack are destroyed in this wave of bombing. The way is opened for the B-52 attack.
8:34 PM – 45 minutes after sunset, the B-52s arrive at Guantanamo. Only one makes an approach over the target, as the other aircraft stands off in reserve. A few American bombers make one final run through the remaining defenses to draw off whatever missiles or antiaircraft fire remains. As a result, only one SAM is launched at a B-52, and that at one of the reserves, which is damaged in the attack.
8:36 PM – The B-52 “Lucky Lady” drops its weapon on Guantanamo, half a kilometer north of the city’s center. The resulting explosion incinerates the town, killing an estimated 20,000 people instantly. Along the perimeter of the Naval Base, firing comes almost to a complete halt as defender and attacker alike turn to stare at the enormous fireball rising into the sky a dozen miles to the north. The early twilight is banished by the atomic blast. Before the fireball has even risen to its peak, the fighting resumes.
8:38 PM - The “Lucky Lady” is shot down by vengeful Cuban MiG-17s and in response the 2nd B-52 goes rogue and drops its nuclear bomb on Santiago.
8:40 PM - The 50 kiloton nuclear bomb detonates 100 feet above Santiago and kills 115,020 people in less than an instant.
8:49 PM – Fidel Castro learns of the destruction of Guantanamo and Santiago. For a moment, the voluble Cuban leader is struck silent. He quickly launches into a tirade, demanding an immediate nuclear response from General Issa Pliyev, commander of Soviet forces in Cuba. Though Pliyev isn’t allowed to launch the IRBMs or SRBMs, Castro knows that the general still has several short-ranged tactical nuclear missiles which he has permission to use, small-warhead missiles intended for battlefield use. He demands that the general use these against Guantanamo Naval Base in retaliation for the American nuclear strike. Pliyev agrees. But, first he withdraws the 20,500 Warsaw Pact he sent to aid in the attack on Guantanamo.
9:17 PM – Khrushchev receives news of the destruction of Guantanamo and Santiago. For most, this only hardens his resolve that NATO’s nuclear assets in Western Europe must be destroyed quickly, and at as low a price as possible. He also sends the following telegram to General Pliyev:
-START OF TELEGRAM- GENERAL PLIYEV -STOP- YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN PERMISSION TO USE TACTICAL NUCLEAR WEAPONS -STOP- THE TACTICAL NUCLEAR WEAPONS YOU ARE ALLOWED TO USE ARE THE FROG NUCLEAR TIPPED MISSILES -STOP- HOWEVER THE IRBMs AND SRBMs IN CUBA ARE NOT TO BE USED UNLESS TOLD OTHERWISE BY HIGH COMMAND OR MYSELF -STOP- GOOD LUCK FROM PRIMER KHRUSHCHEV -END OF TELEGRAM-
The initial phase of the invasion, scheduled for launch in only a few hours, will consist of a series of massive air raids against NATO air bases and missile sites, coupled with a land invasion aimed at Brussels and Paris. Air support of ground forces will be sacrificed to missions targeted at NATO missiles and air power. Those are the primary targets, and they must be destroyed.
9:36 PM – Cuban and Warsaw Pact soldiers, under direct orders from Fidel Castro and General Pliyev, retreat from the area around Guantanamo Bay.
10:02 PM – After all Cuban and Warsaw Pact soldiers left the blast area, six nuclear-tipped FROG missiles lift off from southern Cuba, heading south towards Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.
10:05 PM – Having traveled the roughly twenty miles from their launch site, the five nuclear warheads begin their return to Earth. One missile overshoots the base entirely, landing in the Caribbean Sea. Another one impacts at the far eastern end of Guantanamo’s runway, blasting chunks of concrete into the air in an enormous fireball. Two fall amidst the American buildings on the eastern side of the bay, killing hundreds of Americans in an instant. The final two missiles impacts amid aircraft hangars and a control tower on the western side of the bay, destroying Guantanamo’s ability to launch aircraft and killing several hundred more Americans. Among those killed are the commanders of the Marine brigade currently battling along the perimeter of the isolated base. Though the marines fight on, they have largely lost contact with higher command.
10:31 PM – News of the destruction of Guantanamo reaches Washington, D.C. Kennedy and the rest of the ExComm, who had previously believed Khrushchev's claim of tactical nuclear rockets to be a bluff, are stunned to the core. The CIA and aerial reconnaissance had not revealed the presence of any FROG launchers on the island. Kennedy feels a brief instant of guilt, but quickly moves to what should be done.
Reluctantly, Kennedy agrees that the Enterprise and Independence carrier groups to the west and south of Jamaica, respectively, should prepare to assist the invasion rather than begin an evacuation. After an additional consultation with ExComm and others, Kennedy agrees to the Joint Chiefs’ request for a nuclear strike on Havana both to retaliate for the destruction of Havana and to soften Cuban defenses for the invasion, which has an H-hour set for noon, 14 hours hence.
Kennedy is under enormous pressure from Congress to “level Cuba” and end the threat once and for all. Ironically, this would probably have been the right move, as it would have irrevocably eliminated the nuclear threat from the island – at the cost of every human being living on it. Kennedy’s humanity prevents him from taking that cold-blooded action. In his heart, he knows that the invasion of Cuba will cost many lives, but those lives will mean a cost far less than that of the devastation of Cuba. As long as there is still hope, Kennedy will not destroy the world.
10:53 PM – A single B-52 of the 9th Bomb Wing, based at Homestead, Florida, lifts off from Homestead Air Force Base south of Miami. Due to the large number of SAMs and antiaircraft fire expected around Havana, the bomber is armed with a single AGM-28 Hound Dog standoff missile. As more and more SAC bombers are called into service, armed, and sent to standoff positions near the Soviet Union, every bomber is valuable, and this one will not be risked.
11:11 PM – From a position 100 miles west of Marathon, Florida, the B-52 “Super Sally” releases its missile towards Havana. It falls to an altitude of 5,000 feet before igniting its engine and rocketing toward Cuba. However, Cuban radar detects its launch and the city along with Castro is evacuated.
11:26 PM – After covering the 200 miles from its launch point as a speed in excess of Mach 1, the 1.1 megaton nuclear bomb in the tip of the missile detonates. Although it explodes over the south side of the city, rather than the downtown section of the city, the large size of the warhead renders any inaccuracy moot. Among the nearly 500,000 people who die in the first five minutes after the detonation is Fidel Castro’s close advisor and older brother Ramón Castro, who has been directing the ongoing fight from a bunker beneath the city.
General Pliyev, driving west in a chauffeured car, is rocked by the explosion, despite being 30 miles from the city. The car slows, then continues on. The Cubans will be utterly enraged, he realizes – he has to get to the remaining nukes in order to prevent the Cubans from seizing them. He has no desire to see a Cuban-launched nuclear missile start a war between his country and the United States, not out of any love for the United States, but rather a love for the Soviet Union.
Monday, October 30, 1962
12:35 AM – An exhausted President Kennedy emerges from a conference with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other American military advisers. Virtually every topic in relation to the growing war is discussed, ranging from the ongoing invasion of Cuba, the growing Soviet activity in Europe, and the growing number of flashpoints around the world, from the Korean border to the Persian/Soviet border, to Europe, Berlin, and the situation at sea, which is finally settling as the Soviets have taken firm control of the North Atlantic, Baltic, and North Pacific, while the Americans had control over the East Pacific, South Atlantic, and South Pacific. Before adjourning to bed for a short rest - Kennedy has been awake for more than 40 consecutive hours – he remarks that it’s a dark day and that he hopes the world will still be there when he wakes up.
1:15 AM – Khrushchev and his advisors meet for the final time before the invasion. Now, everything is being put on this one last roll of the dice. Events in Cuba have made it abundantly clear to the Soviets that if things are not handled quickly, they will not be handled at all. Khrushchev believed he could handle Kennedy – events in Cuba showed otherwise. So the Soviets responded to the destruction of Havana, Santiago, and Guantanamo with the support of Castro give the order for 3 nuclear launches against the American ally South Korea in response for the attacks on Cuba.
1:45 AM - Three SS-4 nuclear tipped ICBMs each carrying a 1 Megaton Nuclear Warhead make landfall in South Korea and destroy Seoul, Busan, and Daegu. Five Million people die between the attacks on all three cities and then if to make matters worse North Korean, Chinese, and Soviet Troops surged across the border and into South Korea. Facing little to no resistance as the disorganized and scattered South Korean defenders that were more focused with setting up refugee camps for survivors of the attacks than stopping the North Koreans.
Meanwhile, In the Soviet Union and many other Warsaw Pact countries bombers are already in the air, streaming from bases all over the Eastern Bloc Nations to targets in Western Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Only the bare reserves – nuclear-armed retaliatory bombers - stand in reserve to finish things if the strikes do not succeed.
1:17 AM – Raul Castro, personally commanding the Cuban and Warsaw Pact forces attacking the beleaguered defenders of the ruins of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, learns of the destruction of Havana and the presumed death of his older brother, Ramón. When asked what his orders are, he replies, “Fight. What else can we do?” He orders word of Havana’s destruction be spread among the soldiers, in order to spur them to fight harder.
1:24 AM – NATO radar stations in West Germany and Norway pick up an enormous swarm of aircraft over Eastern Europe. Electrons know no borders, and the Soviet and Warsaw Pact buildup is noticed with alarm by NATO aerial commanders. With General Norstad out of communications, NATO sector commanders are left to order their horrifically outnumbered aircraft into the air. Air defenses along the line are put into operation with varying degrees of quickness. Warsaw Pact forces quickly burst through NATO lines and a Soviet nuclear armed IRBM makes it through NATO lines and drops a one Megaton nuclear warhead on Brussels which destroys the city and kills the majority of NATO high command including General Norstad, Supreme Commander of NATO Forces in Europe. About only 5% of NATO high command survives the attack on Brussels.
1:39 AM – President Kennedy is awoken from a deep sleep in the White House. Bleary-eyed, he is ushered into the Situation Room and informed of events in Europe. Additional aircraft have been picked up approaching Japan and Alaska. Exhausted, and having gotten less than an hour of sleep, he orders American air defenses to full readiness, and orders an Air Defense Emergency for NORAD and Civil Defense. Across the United States and Canada, air raid sirens begin to howl, startling the few Americans and Canadians who have gone to sleep into wakefulness.
Kennedy asks if any missiles have been detected. When a negative is received, there is an ironic laugh. At least they’ll be able to see what hit them, Kennedy remarks. He orders SAC to Defcon One. The instant a bomb falls on North America, he’ll order a strike on the Soviet Union.
Several of Kennedy’s military advisors are extremely agitated at this statement. By ignoring strikes against American forces outside North America, he is endangering the United States’ ability to strike back, they declare, and by limiting America’s response to targets outside the Soviet Union, he would be inviting a counterstrike. Despite his exhaustion, Kennedy weathers the arguments. Unless the Soviets attack first, he will not give the order to launch. His military leaders stifle the obvious response – so what happened in Cuba, then?
Eventually, the aircraft turn back, but not before leaving Airfields across Europe and Nuclear launch silos in Turkey and Italy in Flames. Which effectively rendered NATO’s air superiority a moot point as over 75% of NATO’s Air Forces had been destroyed or rendered combat ineffective.
1:42 AM – General Pliyev reaches the site of his remaining nuclear weapons. Detoured several times due to American airstrikes, site holding the final remaining 5 SS-4 launchers and 20 SS-4 missiles, that were not destroyed in American Airstrikes. As well as ten SSC-1a nuclear tipped cruise missiles is guarded by 500 Soviet soldiers and over 2,000 Cuban soldiers. Immediately upon arriving, Pliyev is confronted by an agitated Cuban officer, who says he has orders from Castro to secure the launch of the remaining nuclear weapons against American targets.
Pliyev, having seen the destruction of Havana in the rear-view mirror of his car, rebuffs the furious officer, and orders him to return to his post. The sentiment festering among the Cubans guarding the missiles, however, is a hostile one – having heard of the destruction of Havana, they want revenge, particularly the soldiers who had families in the city. The nuclear weapons at hand are the perfect way for them to get that revenge, and they cannot understand why “that damned Soviet general” will not let them be fired off. The Americans, after all, have already used nuclear weapons on Cuba – it is only right that they should have revenge.
Pliyev warns the Red Army troops to be on high alert and orders a Soviet infantry battalion to come reinforce the missile base’s Garrison. He doesn’t like being out of contact with higher authority, the broadcasts he’s picking up from the United States are making him nervous, and worst of all, the Cubans look mutinous. If things are as bad as American radio is making them sound, he wants to launch the missiles on his authority, not those of some ragged militiaman. And if the orders never come to launch, he’ll be even happier. But that won’t matter a damn if the Cubans don’t go along, he thinks darkly.
1:43 AM – Soviet soldiers cross the border from East Berlin and Potsdam into the western sections of Berlin in an attempt to cut the city in two. French, British, and American forces resist where possible, but retreat to pre-planned fortress lines. House-by-house fighting, point-blank armor fights, and brutal combat will be the hallmarks of the fight for the city, the first operation of the Soviet invasion of western Europe.
1:50 AM – Soviet aircraft began bombing of other targets in West Germany, Norway, and other NATO countries. The first targets hit are secondary airfields, SAM sites, and suspected nuclear storage sites. The aircraft are met by a hail of ground fire as well as a few of the NATO air forces which weren't destroyed already. F-105s clash with MiG 21s over Germany as the largest aerial battle in history unfolds as dawn breaks over Europe. The sky is streaked with missile and aircraft contrails and the dots of ejected pilots’ parachutes. Below, NATO troops hunker down for what they know is coming. They won’t have long to wait.
1:55 AM – Artillery and rockets begin to fire across the German border. Warsaw Pact armor and infantry follow on the heels of the initial bombardment, slashing across the countryside – for the first 100 yards. They are then met by a storm of anti-tank missiles, counter-artillery, and every rifle in Western Europe. Warsaw Pact forces advance extraordinarily fast, despite chemical bombardment by NATO Forces.
2:10 AM - Warsaw Pact Air Forces finally win air superiority and rain fire on the NATO Forces. Precision air strikes on NATO Hardpoints and Defensive Strongholds breaks any significant resistance.
2:37 AM – The initial Warsaw Pact air assault plan is going beautifully. Soviet air planners are at a loss with how successful the operation is going. Their mission orders were specific – to target NATO special weapons depots wherever found – to which they had fulfilled to the letter. So now they could focus on smashing what remained of NATO’s Air Forces and Air Defense Network. However, adding to their troubles is the standing order to keep 20 percent of nuclear-capable aircraft in reserve – just in case. However this fact was made moot by the fact that NATO forces were in a even worse position.
6:02 AM – A hasty battle plan is assembled by what remains of NATO’s High Command which have set up a hastily erected command post in Aachen. The battle plan is called Plan Foxtrot Alpha India Lima or Plan Fail which details a U.S. and NATO Forces to withdrawal to the Rhine River and then use tactical nuclear weapons against Soviet Forces as they tried to cross the river.
10:00 AM – The initial bombardment of Mariel, Cuba begins for a secondary invasion of Cuba. Despite the chaos surrounding the destruction of Havana, most Cubans return fire on the American destroyers shelling the town and surrounding coast. They are quickly silenced, but sporadic artillery fire continues to fall around the ships. In less than a half hour, La Boca, at the entrance to the harbor, is in flames, as is the airfield on the shores of the harbor. American aircraft are everywhere, strafing and launching rockets against anything that even looks like it might be hostile. Guantanamo and the three nuclear torpedoes used against American ships and the six Tactical Nukes used against Guantanamo ensure that no one is in the mood to take prisoners.
12:13 AM – Gen. Pliyev is again approached by the same Cuban officer, who demands that he use the Soviet nuclear weapons. The Americans are attacking Mariel, he declares, and begs Pliyev to use his weapons to drive the Americans back. Gen. Pliyev replies “I will launch the a tactical nuclear missile at when the American Troops make landfall.” The Cuban officer, thanks him before running of to spread the news. Pilaev orders the company guarding the missiles to be ready for anything, and orders the radiomen feverishly working to establish contact with anyone in Moscow – or barring that, the Soviet combat group in San Antonio de los banos -- to work faster. Time is clearly running out.
11:49 AM – A Soviet heliborne operation to capture the American headquarters at Nurnberg on the left flank of the main Soviet advance captures several documents reportedly detailing the locations of the redeployed stockpiles of tactical nuclear weapons which numbered around 500 of NATO’s tactical nuclear weapons. The information is quickly helicoptered back to East Germany and passed up the chain of command.
12:05 PM – Paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions began landing in Cuba. Assigned to the far eastern and western flanks of the invasion, respectively, the 101st lands near the town of Abajo and its adjacent airfield, while the 82nd lands in and around Cabanas. Unfortunately, the weather is bad, and with it raining and thundering & lightning. Even the Cubans seem quiet as the Screaming Eagles fall from the sky, as most of the militiamen who otherwise might have been defending have been rushed to fight fires in Havana, 15 miles to the east. The 82nd is greeted by heavy small arms and antiaircraft fire, and the Cubans there have no burning Havana to distract them. The men of the “All-American” division dig in under increasing fire, and await support. It will never come.
1:37 PM – The first elements of the 1st Armored division and several Marine brigades begin landing to the east and west of the Mariel harbor entrance. The First Armored, better known as “Old Ironsides” lands to the west of the harbor, and scout elements strike quickly inland to capture the Mariel airfield, two miles from the beach. Resistance is light, as the Cuban militia in the area have been largely been pulled back anticipating the incoming Tactical Nuclear Missiles.
The same can’t be said on the harbor’s eastern side, where the towns of Mariel and La Boca are scenes of burning, hellish urban warfare as the Marine regiment assigned their capture becomes drawn into close combat with a regular Cuban Army company. Refugees from the fighting began streaming south, only to be strafed by American aircraft under orders from higher authority to ensure that no guerilla fighters manage to close with American lines. The fact that the columns are moving away, not towards the battlefront, is ignored.
2:22 PM – Gen. Pliyev gives orders to launch to launch the nuclear tipped FROG missiles which makes impact with the make impact 2 minutes later.
3:11 PM – The first two full companies of the 1st Armored Division are formed up and receive orders to advance inland. But before they could do so they were hit by 2 Tactical Nuclear missiles and the fleet was also hit by another Tactical Nuclear missile which sunk one carrier and damaged another.
3:56 PM – In accordance with the pre-invasion briefing, which emphasized speed, speed, and more speed, lead elements of the 1st Armored refuse to be bogged down by the destruction of the invasion fleet, and instead attack, but quickly run out of supplies and ammo which the invasion fleet was suppose. The few Cuban regulars in the area have the new Soviet RPG-7s, and knock out many American tanks conveniently. The American advance is halted.
4:17 PM – The Soviet Military high command meets to discuss the latest developments in the fighting. Many in the military, having lost faith in the plan to eliminate NATO’s nuclear capability through conventional means, call for the employment of several tactical nuclear weapons in order to ensure the destruction of known enemy weapons. Alexander Shelepin is one of several to vocally object to this idea. Though the Soviet Union can far better suffer nuclear attack than the NATO forces, Shelepin has no desire to see nuclear fire rain down on Europe. He wants to lead the Soviet Union, not kill it.
Forced by events to reveal the Nurnberg discovery, he declares that even now, Soviet aircraft are en route to destroy the NATO bunkers described in the documents, and that soon, all the talk of nuclear action will become moot. On that note, the military commanders disperse, but there is the unspoken feeling that if this attack is not successful, a new approach may be needed.
4:44 PM – Elements of the First Armored Division complete the encirclement of Poblado Quiebra Hacha. As the men of the unit celebrate their minor victory, word comes in that large numbers of Soviet troops and a small amount of armor is assaulting the Marine beachhead east of Mariel. Air support is plentiful, but the Marines are hard-pressed, and orders go out for the First Armored to make every effort to relieve the pressure on the Marines.
5:46 PM – South of the town of Brujo, Gen. Pliyev watches through his binoculars as a stream of Cuban trucks and soldiers marches out of the Cuban camp. Pilaev orders one of the Cubans to get as close to the camp as possible in order to find out what happened. He has suspicions, but feels the risk is worth the potential benefit.
His suspicions are verified when the man returns with news that the column is leaving is to reinforce the Cuban forces starting to mop up the remaining U.S. Forces. Pilaev can believe it. American aircraft have been flying overhead for nearly two days now, and although his missiles are hidden in caves blasted from the mountainside – an abandoned coal mining operation – he still fears discovery from the ever-present eyes in the sky.
Even more troubling, however, the Cuban reports that a group of 100 Cuban hardliners splitted off from the camp and declared they'ed take the Soviet missiles. The remaining 400 loyal Cubans who stayed at the camp were marching to move in with the Soviets.
6:03 PM – A shot rings out in the treeline near Pilaev’s missiles. One of the patrols of Soviet soldiers guarding the missiles confronts a group of Cubans intent on seizing the missiles. Both sides draw guns. No one knows who fires first, but the situation devolves into a firefight that draws more and more men from both sides into the fighting. The problem is that Pliyev only has 800 men he can count on – the Cubans Hardliners have many, many more.
6:26 PM – Over 500 Soviet aircraft, guided by the information in the captured documents, launch attacks on bunkers and sites across West Germany. They launch bombs and cruise missiles that hit nuclear weapon stockpiles in fields and bunkers. This results in the destruction of 1,000 Nuclear warheads. The tide is beginning to swing in the Warsaw Pact’s favor.
6:47 PM – Pliyev welcomes the Cubans who arrive and help the Soviets crush the Cuban Hardliners. The Cuban Hardliners are killed or captured down to the man.
7:45 PM – Pliyev received another telegram from Soviet High Command which said the following:
-START OF TELEGRAM- YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN PERMISSION TO USE ALL NUCLEAR WEAPONS AT YOUR DISPOSAL -STOP- IF YOU SEE FIT TO USE THEM -STOP- HOWEVER YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO USE THEM AGAINST THE UNITED STATES OR CANADA -STOP- UNLESS ORDERED OR GIVEN PERMISSION TO BY HIGH COMMAND -STOP- ALSO THEIR IS A FULL SCALE SOVIET INVASION OF EUROPE IS UNDERWAY -STOP- GOOD LUCK GENERAL -END OF TELEGRAM-
8:42 PM – The lead elements of a fresh Soviet armored division, after several hours of fierce fighting with the US V Corps, achieve a breakthrough in the NATO line in southern Germany. Soviet tanks begin the race towards Frankfurt. Small amounts of American reserves – all that’s left after reinforcing embattled units all day can only slow the Soviet breakthrough.
8:50 PM - General Pliyev after an hour long conference with his Cuban and Soviet subordinates decides to use his missiles to halt the American advance. The Soviet missiles are wheeled from their caves and into position for launch.
9:06 PM – Over the next three minutes, a total of 8 missiles will be fired from the Soviet missile base near Brujo. However the SS-4s would not be used… Yet.
9:08 PM – A special mobile radar site in Central Florida, hastily rushed into service by the Cuban Crisis, doesn't pick up the 8 low-altitude, short-range FROG missiles. So no warning comes to the american forces.
9:09 PM – 8 2-kiloton FROG missiles impact at various points along the Cuban coast from Cabanas to Mariel, devastating the American beachheads. Tens of Thousands of American soldiers are killed or injured in the first minute. The thick-skinned armor of the tanks and APCs of the First Armored division fare well – those that were further away and buttoned up, at least – but the trucks and men supporting those tanks take heavy losses. The 82nd Infantry division, having been engaged in heavy fighting south of its Cabanas drop zone, takes gruesome losses. Cuban forces close to the detonation points also take a few losses, but most injuries are from flash blindness as many more Cuban soldiers are facing north, into the American beachhead. But the American attack is destroyed in a brutal and utterly destructive way.
9:12 PM – President Kennedy, who has gotten only 5 hours of sleep in the previous 72 hours, receives word of the Cuban launches and destruction of the American invasion. He immediately orders a full civil defense alert and orders that Washington be evacuated.
9:33 PM – An American divisional commander, having lost the vast majority of his command in a vain attempt to keep the Soviets away from Rhein-Main Air Force Base, personally authorizes the use of nearby nuclear weapons, despite having received no such orders from NATO command or Washington. Washington is still grappling with the launch from Cuba, and no orders are coming from above. The chaos of battle is such that his orders are not questioned as every available man rushes to try to beat back the approaching Soviet armor.
9:38 PM – Two 10 kiloton nuclear devices immolate the lead elements of the Soviet armored division approaching Rhein-Main.
9:47 PM – After a hurried evacuation of Washington by most of the government, President Kennedy convenes a teleconference with the Joint Chiefs of Staff as to the best response to events in Cuba. No further missiles have been detected as incoming, but Kennedy is advised that it does take some time to reload the missile launchers, particularly if they are being crewed by inexperienced Cubans.
The situation on the ground is bleak, as the eight nuclear blasts have grievously injured the invasion, and the First Armored is in a fight for its life as the Cubans exploit the gaps in the line. Hesitantly, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommends a full nuclear response to cover an evacuation of the island. Clearly, the situation is untenable, and the threat of further attacks demands a nuclear response.
An exhausted Kennedy, after further discussion, agrees. He can see no other alternative, and he doesn’t want to see all of the American troops in Cuba die in nuclear fire. He okays nuclear attacks in order to shield the evacuation and on suspected missile sites. In the eyes of Gen. Curtis LeMay and the other military advisers, they have just been given a blank check for anything involving nuclear weapons in Cuba.
9:59 PM – The Soviet corps commander on the scene orders an immediate retaliatory strike on Rhein-Main.
10:01 PM – Kennedy receives word of nuclear attacks in Europe, but details are not easy to come by. Stunned by the news, he is tempted to call off the upcoming nuclear bombardment of Cuba for fear of escalating the conflict, but decides that there is no alternative – the United States cannot afford more missiles launched from Cuba.
10:14 PM – Three Soviet nuclear devices destroy Rhein-Main Air Force base and the scratch forces attempting to defend it. The temporary no-man’s land created by the five nuclear detonations would have bought time for American forces time to contain the Soviet breakthrough but brave and enraged Soviet forces charge through the radiation determined to make sure their comrades did not die in vain.
10:31 PM – The final go-ahead for the initial phase of the nuclear bombardment of Cuba is given. The first phase consists of a full barge of MGM-29 Sergeant surface-to-surface missiles and a squadron of B-47 Stratojet bombers, an ironic pairing of the latest Army missiles with some of the oldest aircraft in SAC’s inventory (newer planes having all been called into alerts against the Soviet Union). Between 10:30 and 11:30 PM, 10 nuclear devices ranging from 50kt to 2Mt will be deployed in Cuba. Most are dropped or launched to cover the evacuation of the invasion force. But, two are deployed around Guantanamo as the survivors of the naval base are evacuated. Fewer than 1,000 of the pre-war 20,000+ contingent survive.
West of Havana, the evacuation proceeds at a strange quick but calm pace. Repeated nuclear strikes have brought the fighting almost to a halt, and American soldiers embark on the beaches at night in a surreal scene lit by the enormous fires that surround the beachhead. Those who have chemical and nuclear gear wear it, adding to the strangeness of the scene. Many evacuees describe the scene as something beyond hell, as badly burned men are loaded onto evacuation ships. The armor of the Marines and First Armored holds back what little hostile action there is.
11:00 PM - General Pliyev outraged by the American nuclear strikes authorizes the launch of 2 of the rocket base’s 10 SS-4 Nuclear Missiles.
11:14 PM - The SS-4 missiles make landfall and kill 75% of the remaining U.S. Troops who were evacuating. About 1 out of 10 all American troops make it out.
11:12 PM – Kennedy finishes a conference with Prime Minister McMillan of Great Britain, who has informed the President that he intends to strike first at Soviet targets should the inevitable escalation continue. Great Britain is directly in the Soviet line of fire, and barring the sudden outbreak of common sense, the only way for Britain to survive is to strike first. Nuclear fighting has clearly broken out in Germany, and McMillan informs Kennedy that he has authorized his forces on the ground to respond to nuclear attack with missiles of their own – even to strike first if it appears that the Soviets are going to employ nuclear weapons. Britain is already undertaking full Civil Defense measures, Kennedy is informed.
11:55 PM – A nuclear missile hits the Soviet city of Rostov-Don launched by a rogue American Commander who ordered the launch of a single nuclear missile against the city from its base in Turkey.
Tuesday, October 31, 1962 – The Last Day
12:37 AM – In response Khrushchev gives out orders to the Strategic Rocket Forces, PVO air defense, and Long-Range aviation to attack! The attack is to commence in three hours. Soviet bombers, already at the ready, begin to take to the air, while Soviet Submarines prepare their Nuclear Torpedos for launch and begin stalking U.S. Battle or Carrier Groups, while ICBMs, IRBMs, and SRBMs begin spinning up their gyroscopes and begin receiving location and targeting information.
1:32 AM – Having misinterpreted the preparation order, the Soviet commander on the northern flank of the invasion of Germany issues an order allowing for local commanders to use tactical nuclear weapons as they deem appropriate.
1:46 AM – British and Dutch forces defending the embattled city of Hamburg are vaporized as a spread of six tactical nuclear weapons is employed in a semicircle around the city. British forces respond with their own nuclear weapons to stem the resulting Soviet breakthrough. Losses on both sides are massive, and at least one detonation takes place in the city itself, causing enormous civilian casualties.
1:58 AM – A radio broadcast, reportedly by Ludwig Erhard, Vice Chancellor of West Germany, is picked up by radios across the front. The message calls for an immediate cease-fire and says that the government of West Germany will surrender unconditionally to the Soviet Union in exchange for a suspension of nuclear and chemical attacks in West German territory. The message repeats several times before suddenly cutting off. No official contact with the West German government has been made since the early hours of the Soviet attack, when Chancellor Konrad Adenauer was presumed killed in a Red Army Faction assault on his armored limousine. The broadcast is not taken seriously by NATO and they continue to fight against Warsaw Pact forces. But Warsaw Pact forces take it seriously and all front commanders order that nuclear and chemical weapons are not to be used unless NATO Forces use them first against Warsaw Pact Forces and they broadcast this order across open channels and then confirm them via secure channels.
2:02 AM - As promised in the Radio Broadcast West German forces lay down their arms and surrender to Soviet Forces all along the front. This causes their to be many gaps in NATO which the Soviets exploit by rushing through with mechanized and tank brigades. They soon afterwards encircle the NATO northern flank and rush towards the Rhine in a mad dash to make it their before NATO Forces contain their Breakthrough. Also West German Forces turn over the locations of over Half NATO’s nuclear weapons stockpiles.
2:07 AM – Informed of the events near Hamburg, and informed by his military advisors of an increasing number of radar contacts near the Soviet Union, Kennedy authorizes the use of American nuclear weapons in a “forward defense” role, similar to the strategy already employed by Prime Minister McMillan.
2:08 AM - Warsaw Pact Air Forces launch an attack against these locations and destroy over half of NATO’s nuclear weapons in Europe. NATO only has about 250 of their original 5,000 Nuclear warheads in Europe to use against the Soviet Union.
2:12 AM – Three 10 kiloton nuclear artillery rounds land in a Soviet staging area west of Hannover, presumably fired by elements of the US V Corps. Soviet commanders on the scene respond with 2 20 Kiloton FROG missiles launched at the position from which the rounds were originally launched.
2:17 AM – After several hours of fighting, embattled Soviet forces reach the Bin-Charlottenburg U-Bahn station in the heart of West Berlin, cutting the combined American, British, and French contingent in two. For the time being, the Soviet strategy will consist of reducing the southern, largely American half of West Berlin, while lighter forces hold the British and French brigades in place. Multiple armored columns attempt to move from the Zossen area into the central portion of the city in an effort to quarter West Berlin, but are stopped near the Papester U-Bahn station by hastily-placed mines and ferocious anti tank fire. However after mine sweepers are brought up and chemical weapons are deployed in the area after NATO used Chemical weapons Soviet forces manage to drive a wedge between British and French forces.
2:34 AM – President Kennedy is once again contacted by Prime Minister McMillan, who informs him that if the situation continues to deteriorate, he will order a first-strike nuclear attack on Soviet-captured airfields in Norway and bomber bases in the Kola Peninsula. Kennedy attempts to talk McMillan out of the approach, calling it “insanely dangerous,” but is interrupted by a string of messages about the nuclear fighting in Germany. As he reads through the messages, Bobby Kennedy, who has remained with JFK in Washington, remarks, “Well, there’s only one thing left to do now, John.”
No sooner has he uttered the words when another officer enters, bringing word that a large number of Soviet bombers have been detected by radar at Thule Air Force Base in Greenland and by radar stations in Alaska. Though the aircraft have not yet crossed into Canadian or American airspace, they have continued on their headings for several minutes, and given the large number of aircraft, the Joint Chiefs of Staff believe this to be a major Soviet attack.
Silence falls in the White House’s situation room. After several moments, Kennedy orders fighters to intercept any bombers that cross the border. When clarification is requested, Kennedy furiously responds, “That means shoot the damn things down – I don’t care what you use, but those aircraft are not to reach the United States!” When asked by Gen. LeMay, Commander in Chief of the Strategic Air Command, if this means he is free to execute SIOP-63, the nuclear plan for action against the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, Kennedy hesitates. Not yet, he declares softly, clearly unsure. “I want to see what they do next,” he says over the crackling line to Omaha, where LeMay is guiding his bombers to their Fail-Safe positions.
LeMay responds heatedly, demanding that they not wait until the bombs are falling on the United States, and Kennedy fires back with harsh words of his own, saying that he will not risk nuclear war. Quietly, he agrees to LeMay’s suggestion that should a nuclear attack take place anywhere in North America, he will be free to release the bombers to their missions.
With the issue settled, Kennedy hangs up the phone, and begins to address the next crisis in a long list of them. In Omaha, LeMay is handed an extensive list of bomber dispositions and fuel states, and with a sinking feeling, realizes that if he does not issue a go order in the next 15 minutes, nearly 20% of his bomber force will need to turn back for refueling. Many bombers have been holding at Fail-Safe for far longer than was planned, and many are now on the edge of being able to perform their missions and return to North America, let alone their staging airfields.
While one-way missions are only to be expected, 20 percent is a large proportion of the force in the air, and that will be on top of a large number of bombers that have already cycled back from Fail-Safe or are only now returning to it. Those bombers will be needed for follow-up strikes, and they cannot be thrown away, LeMay believes. Quietly, he hopes that the issue will be decided soon.
2:48 AM – A battery of Soviet surface-to-surface missiles launches an attack on a suspected NATO special weapons depot in central Germany. Six Soviet nuclear weapons devastate the area, destroying a stockpile of Corporal missile reloads. Over 60 NATO nuclear warheads are destroyed. That only leaves 190 warheads to be used.
The attack creates a crisis in the NATO command. British, Belgian, and Dutch commanders, with Prime Minister McMillan chiming in from an underground bunker in Wales, demand immediate action against Soviet airfields and known fixed missile positions in Eastern Europe. The threat is clear, they declare to what's left of NATO High Command – the Soviet Union is clearly on course to escalate the conflict, and the more nuclear weapons NATO destroys, the fewer that can be launched against Western Europe. When NATO Command counters that he does not have the freedom to launch nuclear weapons without the authorization of the President, McMillan replies that Kennedy’s orders of “forward defense” cover this situation, and that by not attacking, Norstad is violating Kennedy’s orders, not following them.
NATO High Command attempts to find a compromise solution, but there is none. McMillan announces his intention to use Britain’s nuclear capability, with or without America's assistance – but without America’s help, the effectiveness of the attack will be greatly lessened. The American high command is torn – on one hand, Kennedy’s instructions to them were to avoid widening the war whenever possible, but on the other, nuclear war has clearly broken out. He cannot risk splitting NATO in wartime. If he didn’t go along with McMillan, and the war ended tomorrow, could NATO survive America throwing England to the Soviets in its darkest hour? No, he decided. It couldn’t. Reluctantly, he agrees to McMillan’s plan, but requests some time to coordinate his forces. Communications are growing more and more difficult, thanks to Soviet attacks, telephone lines being cut, and the increased radio interference caused by the nuclear detonations. “Time,” McMillan replies, “is something we do not have much of at the moment.”
2:50 AM – In Omaha, SAC commander Gen. Curtis LeMay is facing a similar conundrum. If he does not issue the go order immediately, his bomber force will lose a substantial portion of its strength for at least three hours. On the other hand, if he does issue the go-order, it might trigger a full-scale nuclear war, not just the little one in Cuba and Germany.
After a conference call to NORAD headquarters at Cheyenne Mountain, he issues the order. The Soviet aircraft approaching Canada and Alaska have not turned back, so his decision is the obvious one. Unless a full recall is issued, his aircraft are to continue on to Russia and destroy their targets. Though they’ve used up all their loiter time, the bombers on the edge should still have enough fuel in their tanks to hit their targets and crash-land somewhere in North America – barring battle damage. And of course, if the Soviet bombers turn back, they can always be recalled. But as LeMay looks at the situation board, deep underground, that doesn’t seem likely.
2:51 AM - McMillan orders an immediate first strike against Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union with every available weapon. Across Britain, air-raid sirens blare and telephones ring as the four-minute warning is put into effect. The name will be somewhat of a misnomer – it won’t take four minutes for the Soviet missiles to reach their targets. It will take nine.
2:52 AM - Soviet Radars detect 20 ICBMs and 30 IRBMs (All that was left of NATO’s nuclear Arsenal in Europe that wasn't destroyed) launching from silos and launch sites in Great Britain, France, NATO controlled Germany, Italy, and Turkey.
2:53 AM – As news of the incoming first strike reaches Khrushchev in his bunker in Siberia, the final order is given by him – Transmitted by landline, the men of the Strategic Rocket Force receive their final orders and prepare to launch. The precise coordination of the Strategic Rocket Force is fully executed among Red Army-controlled launch facilities in Eastern Europe. All of the Red Army’s IRBM and MRBM facilities acknowledge the initial order and targets all across NATO Controlled Europe. All the MRBMs and IRBMs make it of the ground and hit their targets in Western Europe.
2:55 AM – At missile sites in Central Asia, missile erectors raise themselves to an upright position and fire. Similarly, sixty concrete missile silos blow their rocket-propelled hatches clear and fire their missiles. In total, 148 of the Soviet Union’s October 1962 total of 150 ICBMs will reach their targets. Two will suffer a gyroscope error and will impact in north-central Montana, incinerating the village of Hays, Montana (population 486 in 1962) and the other will land of target in Northern Ohio destroying Port Clinton, Ohio (population 6,870 in 1962). The other 148 will proceed to their targets, unnoticed for the first ten minutes of a scheduled 33-minute flight time.
Ten of the missiles will be SS-6 Sapwood missiles launched from Baikonur and Plesetsk. Plesetsk will launch seven, and Baikonur three. Another forty missiles launched will be SS-7 Saddler missiles, launched from soft (non-silo) positions. Due to the newer nature of the missiles none fail in flight. As they launch, curving northward from their launchers in Central Asia, they will proceed undetected, below the horizon, for nearly a third of their flight.
At T+11 minutes, they will be picked up by the Ballistic Missile Early Warning radar station at Clear, Alaska. That station will likely also be dealing with several IRBMs inbound to points in Alaska, possibly even at the station itself. A full 80 IRBMs will launch from bases near Anadyr, in the Soviet Far East, with the goal of knocking out Alaskan and Canadian air defenses and opening a hole through which Soviet bombers can pass. Despite that distraction, standing orders dictate that missiles higher above the horizon (likely to be targeted on the United States proper) have priority. A warning will be flashed to NORAD and Washington.
At T+12 minutes, they will be picked up by the third and final BMEWS at Thule, Greenland, which should detect the missiles as they cross the horizon and arc over the North Pole. Further warnings will be issued, but NORAD will already be well aware of the situation.
At T+14 minutes, they will be detected by the RAF’s Ballistic Missile Early Warning radar at Fylingdales, in the UK. That station, monitoring several hundred IRBMs in flight over Europe, may easily miss the ICBM tracks inbound to the United States and Canada. If not, they will immediately pass a warning on to NORAD, which will further the information to Washington, D.C.
President Kennedy, upon hearing the news, will want to issue a full-scale civil defense alert, but the highest level of alert – that of a Civil Defense Air Emergency – has already been issued 24 hours earlier. The attacks from Cuba have already put Americans at a higher state of alert than any government warning could provide, but the last-minute alert, issued at T+17 minutes, causes many in urban centers to begin fleeing in their automobiles at high speed towards the countryside. Kennedy and his brother will evacuate to Mount Weather and the Pentagon is rushed into Raven Rock while most of congress is already safe inside the Congressional Fallout Shelter.
At T+22, the missiles will disappear from the radar screens at the BMEWS facilities. Their radars only point in one direction, and cannot track the missiles to their ultimate targets, nor do they have the processing power to analyze where the missiles might hit. They only serve to warn, and with their jobs done, they wait to be annihilated themselves. They won’t have long to wait.
At T+29, the missiles may begin to become visible to Canadians and Americans looking skyward. The night sky will provide a brilliant backdrop to the fiery streaks of the reentry vehicles, which should shoot across the stars like meteors.
Between T+30 and T+35, all 150 will impact within the United States and Canada. It is unlikely that any will be targeted on sites in Western Europe, as these are well within the range of IRBM and MRBM launched from Eastern Europe and western Russia. Nor is it likely that the missiles will be fired at American missile silos, since these early Soviet missiles lack the accuracy to reliably knock out hardened targets. Exceptions will likely be made in the cases of Cheyenne Mountain and Offut AFB in Omaha, the headquarters of SAC, but these will likely be the only exceptions. The missiles will also not be targeted at early-warning radars or interceptor bases – no one in the world had the capability to shoot down an ICBM at the time, and the most the United States can do is watch as the missiles streak in. Theoretically, a nuclear-tipped BOMARC or Nike Zeus missile could destroy an incoming ICBM, but that would require a level of coordination with radar and computer-aided guidance not available in 1962.
2:57 AM – BMEWS Fylingdales picks up a large number of missiles launched from Eastern Europe, heading west. Which is most likely the Soviet Counter Strike underway. In a panic, the Prime Minister is notified.
2:58 AM – In an instant, Prime Minister McMillan knows all is lost. Though he will likely survive from his bunker deep in the Welsh mountains, the vast majority of Britain – hell, Europe – will not. “We won’t have to fight them on the beaches this time. The war’s already over.”
3:00 AM – Fylingdales, having calculated the trajectories of many of the missiles inbound to Britain, passes word to the Prime Minister’s bunker that the apparent targets seem to be limited to military bases only – the fact that many of these bases are near major cities is a fact known by everyone. McMillan, after a moment of hesitation, does nothing. The attack will continue as planned. V-Bombers to targets in Soviet-occupied Norway and the Kola Peninsula, and No. 77 squadron’s Thor missiles will be targeted at sites across Eastern Europe. As planned.
3:01 AM – At airfields across the United Kingdom, Valiant, Victor, and Vulcan bombers armed with American-built W-38 gravity bombs lumber down the runway and into the air. Many pilots anxiously turn their eyes skyward, half expecting to see the contrails of incoming missiles. In peacetime, the pilots took pride in their ability to reach the Soviet Union before even the bombers of the Strategic Air Command. Now, in the face of an unknown number of Soviet fighters and SAMs, that pride turns to a growing fear.
In Lincolnshire, at five RAF bases, missile launchers are thrown upright by giant hydraulic rams, and toxic rocket fuel is pumped into fifteen separate American-built Thor missiles. At the launch site, crewmen work in frenzied panic, one eye on their work, and another on the sky. By the book, it takes fifteen minutes to fire the Thor from its horizontal storage position. Driven by fear for Britain and more importantly, themselves – it will only take six. For those that make it, that is.
3:03 AM – NATO high command authorizes a full NATO orders a full nuclear defensive posture. For many locations in West Germany, the warnings will come too late. Many units have dispersed, particularly the nuclear and chemical units, but those in close contact have not. Moreover, the sheer number of incoming warheads will negate much of both sides’ dispersal strategy.
In Italy, two squadrons of nuclear-armed Jupiter IRBMs are readied on the launchpad. From their locations north of Taranto, they can reach deep into Eastern Europe. If, of course, they can be launched in time.
3:05 AM – President Kennedy is informed of the massive European missile launch. He immediately sends authorization for NATO command to use any means necessary to ensure the security of Europe – an order more redundant than anything a President had ever given. In addition, he authorizes the execution of SIOP-63, Option B, – the targeting of Soviet and Warsaw Pact military and communications installations. As with the Soviet strike, the fact that many of these targets are in or near major population centers is conveniently overlooked.
In Omaha, Gen. Thomas S. Power is far too involved with the immediate actions of his SAC bombers to be worried about the targeting restrictions placed on him by Kennedy. With scarcely a word, he acknowledges Kennedy’s operations order, gives several targeting orders of his own, and orders SAC’s nuclear missiles to launch against population centers, military bases, and economic centers. President Kennedy’s authority is no longer needed. With the order given, Power’s main concern shifts to ensuring that none of his bombers will be shot down by NORAD’s fighters over the Arctic Ocean.
In the air, every SAC bomber not previously en route to the Soviet Union begins to wing its way towards that country. Even those that had been turned back for refueling now make 180-degree turns back towards Russia. Fuel to return to America is a luxury some of Power’s bombers cannot afford. All that matters now are the bombs dropped on target. Over 1,300 American bombers are now winging their way north, across Canada and the Arctic Ocean.
3:06 AM – Two dozen IRBM launches are detected by BMEWS at Clear Air Force Base in Alaska. Launched from far eastern Siberia, they are clearly inbound to targets in Alaska. Word is passed to NORAD and Washington, which can only stand by and wait. The dispersal of fighters has already taken place, and those not already in the air probably never will. SAC’s bombers are airborne, and it’s all over but the waiting. The only variable is how many missiles and bombers will reach their targets.
3:07 AM – BMEWS Thule detects 150 inbound Soviet ICBMs. All, but 2 will reach and destroy their targets. News of the incomings adds to the air of fatalism among the few people who remain in the White House which are only a few members of the secret service.
In Lincolnshire, the first Thor missiles begin to take flight, soaring upward on a pillar of fire. Before the last of them leave the launch rails, an enormous roar in the air signifies the arrival of several Soviet missiles. RAF Helmswell, Feltwell, and dozens of other airfields in Britain are annihilated. The scene is repeated in Western Europe and North Africa, from SAC bases in Morocco to Italy and Turkey and northward, to the unoccupied portions of Norway, as Soviet ICBMs, IRBMs, and MRBMs reach their targets.
The attacks devastate NATO airfields and naval bases, communications, command, and military centers. Though the Soviet missiles have a failure rate approaching 23 percent, the sheer number of missiles ensures that every major target, including every SAC base, is hit at least once. BMEWS Fylingdales is hit by no fewer than five nuclear weapons, completely vaporizing the facility, and eliminating any chance to observe future attacks.
In West Germany, tactical nuclear weapons and chemical warheads fly with across the front lines , devastating both sides equally. While NATO and Warsaw Pact forces fight on as they die at the hands of each other's gunfire and chemical and nuclear weapons. Dispersal is little help, due to the immense number of warheads. In Berlin, fighting stops as the night sky is lit with dozens of mushroom-cloud explosions at all points of the compass. No weapons fall in Berlin itself – it appears no one was willing to risk hitting their own side.
North of Taranto, Soviet IRBMs destroy virtually all of the American and Italian Jupiter IRBMs on the launch rails. Only two of the 30 missiles manage to escape the first strike, and one will be driven off course by a detonation, landing harmlessly in Hungary. In Turkey, the third squadron of American Jupiters, the centerpiece of Kennedy’s missiles-for-missiles proposal that would have brought an end to the Cuban crisis, has long since been destroyed by conventional Soviet bombing.
3:15 AM – The first Soviet IRBMs begin to fall on Alaskan military bases. Elmendorf, Eielson, and Clear Air Force Bases are among the first targets hit, but over a dozen other targets are hit as well, victims of the 24 IRBM launched from Siberia. In the air, fighting rages as Soviet fighters and bombers clash with American fighters of the 343rd Fighter Wing.
In the end, the simple realities of fuel, ammunition, and the lack of SAGE Facilites to direct their efforts is what brings down the Delta Darts defending Alaska. For every bomber they bring down, there are two more, launched from bases in nearby Siberia and with their bases destroyed by Soviet IRBMs, there is no way to refuel and rearm. The vast majority of the fighters launched from Elmendorf and other airfields eventually run out of fuel and have their pilots bail out. A handful manage to reach Juneau or a Canadian airfield, but almost none are refueled in time to defend again before Juneau and the Canadian airfields are eviscerated by 50 kiloton nuclear bombs dropped on the airfields by the very bombers they were trying to defend against.
Across the Bering Strait, a mirror of the Alaskan battle is being played out over Siberia as Soviet fighters clash with Alaska-based bombers. Thanks to the virtue of being based a thousand miles closer to their targets, the Alaskan bombers find themselves engaging an alerted and able Soviet defense. With no American IRBMs to soften the Soviet defenses, they go down in gruesome numbers, but not without landing a few hits of their own. Few even make it to their targets and even fewer make it back to friendly bases.
3:20 AM – At missile silos across the United States, rockets blast off silo covers as SAC ICBMs take to the skies. At many silos, however, all is quiet. They represent something the Soviet Union does not have – a reserve. But the reserve silos are destroyed by Soviet ICBMs and Bombers before the order ever comes to launch the reserve.
It will take only 25 minutes for the first missiles to reach their targets, long before SAC bombers – which passed the fail-safe line over nearly 40 minutes previously – reach their targets.
3:22 AM – Britain’s revenge begins hitting Eastern Europe as the surviving 6 of Britain’s 15 Thor IRBMs begin to land in the Warsaw Pact. Those that fall in East Germany are lost in the frenzy of tactical and short-range nuclear destruction. Outside of East Germany, the capitals of 2 Eastern European nations join the nuclear bonfire. Inside of East Germany, there is already very little left. In Berlin, scattered fighting continues, but with fewer and fewer orders coming from higher authorities on either side, and the obviousness of what has happened, no one seems willing to press home the attack.
3:25 AM – Soviet ICBMs begin to land in the United States and Canada. From New York to Washington to the West Coast, tens of millions of people die. In the space of five minutes, more Americans die than in every American war combined. In Washington, Kennedy watches the meteor-like trails of the incoming warheads from the roof of the White House. A few streaks rise to meet them – Nike-Zeus antiaircraft missiles – before the sky brightens with one final sunrise.
3:29 AM – At Mount Weather, Virginia, President Kennedy and other members of the Executive Branch are read the list of targets in a sense of gloom. Five hundred feet below the mountains of western Virginia President Kennedy and his Cabinet begin planning what comes next.
3:34 AM – Above the dark, frozen wastes of Greenland, American fighters clash with Soviet bombers intent on the destruction of Thule Air Force Base, the northernmost outpost of the Distant Early Warning radar line as well as the northernmost American fighter and bomber base in the world.
A half a squadron of specially-equipped Tu-95K bombers is tasked with the destruction of the base and the adjoining BMEWS radar station, roughly 18 miles northwest. The bombers are engaged several hundred miles north of the target, and two are shot down. Unfortunately for the defenders, this leaves four bombers, which continue onward, juking and weaving. Roughly 250 miles away from the airfield, the survivors release their underwing AS-2 Kangaroo cruise missiles before they turn back and escape the pursuing American Fighters. 2 more bombers are shot down and their crews do not survive dark shores of Greenland, but their loss is not in vain. four supersonic cruise missiles streak towards Thule AFB.
Thanks to forewarning from the intercepting fighters, Thule is ready. A score of BOMARC missiles roar into the air from the darkened base, lancing forward at a closing speed well in excess of Mach 6. Small multi-kiloton warheads explode in front of the cruise missiles, knocking them from the air or destroying them outright. But a missile survives. But that’s all that’s needed. The 3 Megaton warhead explodes a bare thousand feet over the base’s runways, destroying the base instantly.
The radar operators at the BMEWS radar station eighteen miles away are spared immediate death from the nuclear detonation, only to suffer a prolonged death from starvation and freezing, as the site is completely isolated from a United States with far greater problems on its hands. They will be joined by a few homeless pilots who bail out of their fuel-starved aircraft.
For the Soviet Union it’s a costly, if successful operation and it’s one that can be repeated. The 6 specially-modified bombers represent almost half of the entire AS-2 capable force, barring two aircraft down for maintenance, the 2 that survived the attack, and the 6 left in reserve. However, the extraordinarily unwieldy missiles require over 20 hours to be attached, armed, fueled, and readied for launch. Thus the next strike will be one consisting of 10 Su-59s armed with the Kangaroo Cruise missiles.
3:45 AM – The first American ICBMs begin to strike targets in the Soviet Union. From Anadyr in the east to Murmansk in the west, from Moscow to Baku, Baikonur to Chelyabinsk, the Soviet Union is hit by approximately 140 warheads. Hardest hit were airfields, communications systems, command and control systems, and military bases. As with the Soviet attack, where possible, cities were avoided – where possible. Cities like Moscow, Vladivostok, Murmansk, Archangel, that housed large military bases or command facilities, were hit regardless of their civilian population. The Soviet Union had done the same.
However the hardened Soviet anti-aircraft network is still very much intact and most SAC bombers will be shot down. Kennedy also sends orders, via radio, to the American ballistic missile submarine fleet, instructing it to engage the Soviet Union where possible. The submarines’ Polaris missiles lack the accuracy to hit military targets.
3:46 AM - Khrushchev learns of the Launch of the Polaris missiles and orders an immediate retaliation by the Strategic Submarine Missile Division or SSMD and as such Soviet SBLMs begin to leave their SSBNs in the Atlantic and Pacific on their way to targets in North America.
3:47 AM – Canadian-based interceptors begin to engage Soviet bombers above the Canadian Far North. As the bombers come in at low level, the radars of the Distant Early Warning Line have difficulty locating many of the Soviet aircraft. This is further compounded by the loss of the SAGE combat centers to Soviet ICBMs. Due to that loss, fighters can't be guided to their targets and thus are grossly ineffective against Soviet Bombers.
For every Tu-95 that is intercepted, another breaks through to hit the DEW radars and continue south. For every radar that is destroyed, more bombers remain undiscovered, hitting the line and winging their way south. As the radars go down, one by one, enormous gaps are torn in the DEW line, allowing more and more bombers through. Of the approximately 600 bombers sent across the Arctic Ocean, about 500 survived to continue south to hit targets in North America.
4:12 AM – Nuclear fighting in Europe continues as British V-Bombers strike at Soviet-held airfields in Norway, relieving pressure on Britain from the north. Several bombers continue onward to strike targets in the Kola Peninsula, but many find that their targets are already burning, victims of American ICBMs. All eventually find some target worthy of an atomic bomb, or are shot down. The survivors turn westward, with many bomber crews bailing out over Britain, unable to find a usable airstrip on which to land. Several others land in neutral Sweden, which has not been hit in the fighting, and are interned. Also a few soviet bombers land in sweden and are also interned.
4:20 AM – Sunrise does not come for the survivors of Berlin, nor for much of Europe. Dark clouds of ash blot out the sky over Germany, and dark rain begins to fall as water vapor coalesces around ash from hundreds of nuclear detonations. Survivors remember it as heavy, heavier than anything they can remember. Throughout the growing storms, NATO and Warsaw Pact bombers and fighters continue to clash.
With an enormous gash ripped in the front line, the aircraft can engage in combat without a fear of ground fire, and can penetrate deep into the opposition’s territory before facing enemy fire. From Germany, bomber strikes move east and west. The gap in defenses allows NATO bombers to hit Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia with ease, just as Warsaw Pact bombers can hit targets in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Britain.
In many cases, communications have broken down between what remains of higher authority and the bases launching attacks. As more and more weapons fall, the situation continues to grow worse, with greater and greater civilian casualties. Only the accelerating rate of attrition and the destruction of the remaining stockpiles of weapons and operational aircraft might provide an end to the fighting.
4:32 AM – A regiment of Soviet IRBMs near Vladivostok launch an attack against American bases in Japan and South Korea. 11 warheads will impact across the two countries, grievously wounding South Korea, which feels the impact of six weapons. American bombers based in Guam will avenge the hits by completely leveling the area around Vladivostok, which has itself already been hit by two ICBMs. However the Soviets will respond by leveling Guam with 30 IRBMs.
5:36 AM – The USS Sam Houston, an Ethan Allen-class ballistic missile submarine, launches its load of 16 Polaris missiles from a location in the southern Kara Sea, south of the islands of Novaya Zemlya. After firing from a depth of 10m, the submarine slips away undetected as scattered Soviet aircraft respond to the radar contacts.
The scene will be repeated twenty more times over the next 48 hours, as various Polaris missile submarines contribute their missiles to the firestorm engulfing the Soviet Union and various soviet submarines launch their payloads against the united states. Of the 80 American missiles fired, 67 will successfully hit their targets. As for the 180 soviet missiles fired 160 hit their targets in the United States. Two additional submarines will remain silent, destroyed by soviet submarines to complement the destroyed missiles sitting in SAC silos which were supposed to be a reserve but in the end were missiles waiting to be taken out and they were. Two more commissioned ballistic missile submarines lack missiles, and one – the USS Thomas A. Edison is destroyed in the destruction of Charleston. Two uncommissioned submarines at sea survive the war, but three others still fitting out or under construction are destroyed.
Not everything goes the way of the American submarine force. The USS Abraham Lincoln is lost with all hands in an encounter with a Soviet hunter-killer submarine before firing its missiles. Additionally, the Regulus Missile-carrying submarines fail to mirror the success of their Polaris counterparts. Due to their weapons’ minimal range. All are sunk before launching their targets, killing several hundred American sailors in the process.
6:13 AM – B-52 bombers of the Strategic Air Command, based in Spain and Morocco are all shot down and do not hit their targets in Bulgaria and Romania or select targets in the Ukraine and the Caucuses. Also because their bases have been destroyed by Soviet IRBM and bomber attacks, the crewmen of the bombers that turned back before they were destroyed (and reached their targets) are forced to divert to remote airfields in Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus. None will make a second mission, due to a lack of weapons.
7:04 AM – The Soviet bombers that survived the DEW line begin to encounter the radars of the Mid-Canada and Pinetree defensive lines. Coming in low over the empty forests, the scattered bombers manage to evade most contact. However, once in range of the radars of the two southernmost lines – which happen to overlap – interceptors can be efficiently vectored to the incoming bombers. Of the 500 survivors, 5 are downed by fighters guided by the radars of the Pinetree and Mid-Canada lines.
Most of the survivors manage to avoid the radars, either by using the Rocky Mountains to shield themselves, or by flying low across Baffin Bay to avoid contact via the immense spaces involved and the confusion caused by Soviet ICBMs hamper interception efforts.
7:29 AM – The first large wave of American bombers cross the north coast of the Soviet Union. Over seven hundred have been shot down over the Arctic Ocean by Soviet interceptors, but over a five hundred are still in the air, storming southward towards targets scattered from one end of the Soviet Union to the other. Soviet air defense is still very much intact.
Only the sheer number of American bombers, ironically, prevent the Soviet defenses from having greater effect. Without a central system to coordinate interception, Soviet fighters must be guided by their onboard radar or the facilities from their basing airfields. With over 500 aircraft heading south, the strong effort of the surviving Soviet defenders is enough to destroy over half of the remaining U.S. bombers and only around 200 U.S. SC Bombers make it through. However, Strikes on air bases further reduce the effectiveness of the Soviet defenses.
7:57 AM – Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is hit by a Soviet submarine-launched ballistic missile, which impacts in the southwestern portion of the harbor, wrecking the city of Honolulu and many of the ships still in harbor. The brand-new USS Arizona memorial, dedicated five months previously, is completely destroyed, as is the airfield on Ford Island. The Hotel-class submarine that fired the missile would escape in the confusion. It should also be noted that over half of the American Pacific fleet and all of its supply and logistics structure is destroyed.
9:19 AM – The final Soviet fighter base covering the north coast of the Soviet Union is destroyed by a bomb dropped by a B-52. In total, almost 1000 American bombers have been shot down by Soviet fighters. Unfortunately for surviving citizens of the Soviet Union, this still leaves over 200 nuclear-armed bombers to range over the wide-open spaces of the country. What little opposition remains is limited to SA-2 sites near primary targets, most of which have already been destroyed by ICBM warheads.
10:33 AM – The city of Vancouver, British Columbia, is destroyed by a 5 Megaton nuclear bomb dropped by a bomber of the Long-Range Aviation Division of the Soviet Air Force. The attack is somewhat of an accident – Seattle was the primary target for the bomber, but due to repeated momentary contacts with Canadian and American fighters, the crew spends more time evading than navigating towards its target.
The attack is the first of 378 successful bombings of major North American cities by Soviet long-range bombers. 120 of the attacks, due to faulty navigation, purposeful attack, or harassment by interceptors, take place against Canadian cities. Two separate attempts by Soviet bombers to penetrate Chicago’s defenses are defeated by nuclear-tipped BOMARC anti-bomber missiles, which knock the low-flying aircraft into Lake Michigan with their shock waves. However one bomber finally makes it through and nukes Chicago less than a minute after another bomber dropped a nuke on Seattle.
By 4:00 PM, the last Soviet bomber and American bomber has been destroyed or has turned back to their respective bases or where they use to be. By the end of the day, the bomber threat to United States and the Soviet Union is over.
10:30 PM – The cease fire order is given to Warsaw Pact Forces by Soviet Premier Khrushchev and to NATO and American Forces by Kennedy. The war is now over with over a Billion Dead and 20,000 nuclear devices detonated world wide. The Northern Hemisphere lies in ruins and the Soviet Union and United States are obligated. What remains of the two nations militaries now turn their attention to rebuilding what they destroyed in less than 48 hours… The world. The number of estimated nuclear detonations is 5,000 in the United States, 1,000 in Canada, 5,000 in the Soviet Union, 1,000 in China, and 8,000 within the territory of both nations allies in Europe and Asia.
This war has many names. The Great Nuclear War, World War III, the Final War, but no matter what you call it, targets worldwide were destroyed, and the results of this total nuclear exchange are close to the frantic forecasts of the General Public. This results in more than a billion people killed initially, and another billion in the Winter of 1962 and the following famines and fallout.
With the world largely devastated, and most of the Northern and parts of the Southern Hemisphere in ruins, the estimated survivors in these areas desperately try to keep together what is left of their societies. They are facing challenges that we would consider third-world today.
After an horrifying first few years Post-War, a few regions, territories, and countries stabilize and master basic problems such as food, water, and defense. As time passes and the recovery continues, new (sometimes shocking) nations are formed. The fragile new world order emerges and it soon become obvious that initial hopes of some survivors for a united mankind (or at least warfare and destruction being ended forever) are indeed naive. Famine, disease, and lack of resources provoke conflicts and wars in large parts of the world, potentially threatening all recovery.
New dangers to this fragile world have emerged all throughout, destroying some of what has been accomplished in the last 50 years...
- therubbleoroursins; Manager, Official Cartographer
- The.Brick.Battle; The Community Think Tank and North America Expert
- Col. James Hsu; Italy Expert
- Bryce3; Britain Expert
- Gillan1220; Asia Expert?