Introduction: Cold War Skies 1945-89 (04:00)
After 1945, the United States and Soviet Union confronted over power; in the late 1950's, the intercontinental ballistic missile, ballistic submarine and bomber formed the Nuclear Triad. Military tactics and aviation technology advanced greatly during the era.
Post World War II (03:12)
Western Allies dismantled wartime aircraft after May 1945, but the Soviet Union did not. The United States alone possessed the atomic bomb, forming the Strategic Air Command in March 1946; they were equipped with bombers and reconnaissance craft. The Air Force became an independent military arm in July 1947.
Berlin Blockade (05:37)
Germany's capitol was split into four sectors controlled by Americans, British, French and Russians; in June 1948, access to the city from the west was blocked by Soviet forces. Curtis Lemay devised Operation Vittles to supply citizens with food. In May 1949, roads and railways reopened.
Nuclear Arms Race: Initiation (06:33)
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization formed in April 1949; the Warsaw Pact started in 1955. In August 1949, Russians exploded a nuclear bomb; in 1953, Americans tested the hydrogen bomb. Lemay was appointed to head the Strategic Air Command, establishing major training and aviation engineering advancements; Soviets developed nuclear bombers.
Nuclear Arms Race: Advances (05:35)
On October 4th, 1957, Sputnik 1 was launched into orbit with a rocket capable of sending a nuclear weapon to the United States; they responded by establishing Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles in 1958. Strategic Air Command developed Low Altitude Bombing Systems, and the George Washington submarine completed the nuclear triad.
Sonic Speeds and Weaponry (05:58)
To combat nuclear bombers, interceptors such as the Convair F-102 Dagger were innovated. Traditional fighters proved superior on the battlefield; the Soviet MiG-15 outperformed others. The first supersonic fighter debuted in 1953, and Russians responded with the MiG-19; the pressurized G-suit helped pilots deal with additional G forces.
Ground Attack Threats (08:41)
Americans replaced fighter weaponry with missiles; Vietnamese fighters armed with cannons proved more advantageous in air to air combat. In 1967, the Israeli Air Force attained 50 victories with guns, preemptively striking, and destroying Arab airfields. NATO produced the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt and Electric Canberra.
Reconnaissance and Stealth (05:31)
Lockheed Skunk Words produced the U-2 to avoid radar; Francis Powers flew over Russia in May 1960 and was put on trial. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, America jets implemented onboard terrain following radar to avoid upgraded anti-aircraft artillery systems.
Variable Geometry and Conflict End (04:48)
In 1967, the American F-111 Aardvark became the first Swing Wing bomber to enter service. The B1 Lancer launched cruise missiles and made speed, payload and distance records. In the early 1980s, General Bernard Rogers focused on destroying the Warsaw Pact's following forces with air power.
Credits: Cold War Skies 1945-89 (00:43)
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