Cold War stories

McDonnel Douglas Phantom FGR.2, XV499, of No. 41 Squadron based at Coningsby, in flight and displaying a weapons load of cluster bombs, Sparrow and Sidewinder AAMs. © IWM (CT 75)

The F-4 Phantom II: America's most prolific jet fighter

In 1958, McDonald Aircraft Corporation delivered a prototype, twin-engine, supersonic, all-weather, long-range fighter -  a design the US Navy could not ignore: the F-4 Phantom II. It would go on to become the most-produced American jet fighter in history and an icon of the Cold War. 
Ground personnel clears an F-111 for take-off on 14th April 1986 US National Archives

Operation El Dorado Canyon: Raid on Libya

In retaliation for the deadly bombing of a West Berlin nightclub in April 1986, US President Ronald Reagan ordered an attack at the heart of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's regime. Ten days later, F-111s took off from RAF Lakenheath for what would become the longest combat fighter mission in history.
. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, left, and U.S. President George Bush signing bilateral documents during Gorbachev's official visit to the United States US Public Domain

George H W Bush, from pilot to President

George Herbert Walker Bush was an aviator in the US Navy, and 41st President of the United States, his experience during the Second World War shaped the wars of the 20th Century.
 A graffiti covered section of the Berlin Wall photographed shortly after its opening in November 1989. ©IWM (CT 1491)

What was the Berlin Wall?

Patrolled by guards and dogs, illuminated by floodlights and fortified by barbed wire and watchtowers, the Wall divided Berlin for 28 years.

Would you push the nuclear button?

During the Cold War, global super powers dealt with the prospect of devastating nuclear consequences by adopting a strategy of mutually assured destruction. Suggesting that you might be willing to ‘press the nuclear button’ had considerable global consequences
U-2 Reconnaissance image of Cuba 14 October 1962 US Official

The U-2 and the Cuban Missile Crisis

U-2 overflights across the Soviet Union were incredibly dangerous missions. Every flight was at risk of being perceived as an unauthorised invasion of another country’s airspace.