U.S. Commandos Were Fond of Captured AK-47s
This story originally appeared on May 26, 2015. While the Soviet Avtomat Kalashnikova has become the iconic weapon of bad guys in Hollywood blockbusters and big-budget video games, U.S. commandos made good use of the rugged rifles in Vietnam. By the end of the conflict, the American military had... Read more
To Understand Soviet Satellite Imagery, the CIA Once ‘Spied’ on America
In 1963, director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency John McCone wrote a memo to Secretary of State Dean Rusk stating that the CIA had obtained “good reproductions” of Soviet satellite imagery. The memo, recently disclosed, is the subject of a brief article by Steven Aftergood at Secrecy News.... Read more
The Royal Air Force’s Bomber-Killing Bomber Was Just a Dream
In 1976, the British Royal Air Force had a problem. In the event of war, Soviet Backfire bombers flying from Europe could have devastated resupply convoys sailing from the United States to Europe. The RAF needed a warplane with enough range to patrol the vast Atlantic — and enough... Read more
Hitler Hated the Nazi Assault Rifle
This story first appeared on Nov. 26, 2015. By 1944, the Third Reich pulled out all the stops when it came to technological marvels. It was the year of the Wunderwaffe, the “wonder weapon” – devices born out of a combination of science and desperation that Nazi Germany hoped... Read more
Eating Too Much Rice Almost Sank the Japanese Navy
This story originally appeared on May 31, 2014. In August 1882 in Incheon Bay near Seoul, four Japanese warships were locked in a tense stand-off with two Chinese warships that had brought troops to quell a revolt on the Korean peninsula. On paper, the Japanese flotilla outnumbered the Chinese,... Read more
America’s Abandoned $6-Billion Missile Pyramid
This story originally appeared on May 31, 2014. The Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex, nestled along North Dakota’s remote northern border, is one of America’s most fascinating examples of military waste. It’s a pyramid-shaped missile silo that was part of the Safeguard program, an elaborate missile-defense system meant to... Read more
This Is How the World Could Have Ended
This story first appeared on Jan. 14, 2014. This is a plan for the end of the world, dated 1970. The arrows are armies and the red vertical symbols are nuclear bombs, all part of a part of Cold War contingency plan crafted by the Soviet Union and its... Read more
NSA Spies Helped Save Drones From a Fiery Death Over Vietnam
This story originally appeared on Feb. 24, 2015. The Air Force unleashed its first major drone program during the Vietnam War. In short order, the North Vietnamese compromised the aerial spies’ codes and began blowing them out of the sky. An angry general, a group of NSA spies and... Read more
Those Who Witnessed Castle Bravo Looked Into Armageddon
This story originally appeared on Feb. 28, 2015. More than 60 years ago on an island in the South Pacific, scientists and military officers, fishermen and Marshall Islands natives observed first-hand what Armageddon would be like. And it almost killed them all. The Atomic Energy Commission code-named the nuclear... Read more
War and Forgiveness
This story first appeared on Dec. 24, 2013. With war rumbling across the planet, it’s good to remember that even sworn enemies can, in time, find deep and lasting peace. Spring 1942. The Allies were reeling from the ferociously successful Japanese assault upon East Asia and the Western Pacific.... Read more
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