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Launch Pad UK: Britain and the Cuban Missile Crisis (ePub)

Aviation Military > Post-WWII Warfare P&S History > British History

By Jim Wilson
Imprint: Pen & Sword Aviation
File Size: 26.6 MB (.epub)
Illustrations: 35
ISBN: 9781781599167
Published: 16th October 2008


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For most British people the weekend of 27/28 October 1962 could so very easily have been their last weekend on earth. Yet, astonishingly, the fact that Britain's nuclear deterrent forces were set to such an unprecedented level of readiness was kept secret from the public. Thor nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles stood on a round-the-clock wartime state of alert ready to be fired; these were the 'other' missiles of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which made Britain, in effect, America's launch pad. During the height of the crisis both RAF Bomber Command and the US Strategic Air Command were poised at the highest states of readiness. Both were ordered to a level of war readiness unparalleled throughout the whole of the forty years of Cold War.

There is evidence to suggest that, had the US needed to launch an air strike against Russian missiles in Cuba, President Kennedy might have been willing to absorb a Soviet nuclear assault on a NATO ally without retaliation, if it would have avoided escalation to World War Three.

It is sobering to those who lived through that period that the British Ambassador to Cuba commented: 'If it was a nuclear war we were headed for, Cuba was perhaps a better place to be than Britain!'

This is a great book to go back in time for the people that grew up in the sixties or who is eager to know what really happened during the Cuban missile crisis. It tells who was involved, and what happened to Thor at the end of the crisis, how it was essential to America’s growing achievements.

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Oh My Bookness

In this Reviewer’s opinion, this volume is likely to be of greatest use to historians specialising in the geo-political events of the ‘Cold-War’ era (of which the ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’ was the apex), although more generalist historians may also find it of use. It could well become a valued resource. Aside from historians (and due to the breadth of its subject), this work may well be of interest to other groups. These could include those interested in both the Royal Air Force and the United States Air Force and the equipment and history of those organisations. Readers interested in military aviation, ‘rocketry’ space exploration and Twentieth Century technology may also find it informative.

NZ Crown Mines

This is a very important book that deserves to be read by many, both inside and outside the Space Policy community, and inside and outside the UK.

Space Policy


Thetford and Watton Times - 29th October 2008
 Jim Wilson
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