Advancements in Weaponry During the Cold War

Nuclear Arms Race

When Germany fell at the end of World War II and the atomic bomb was dropped on Japan, there were two super powers that emerged in a race to be the best nation in the world. These two super powers were the U.S.A and the Soviet Union. These two super powers were in a deadlock race to have the greatest nuclear capablity.
After the drop of the atomic bomb on Japan by the U.S. the Soviets wanted to develop its capability of launching a nuclear weapon. In August of 1949 they developed their first nuclear bomb. The Soviets called it the "First Lightning." An observer 9 miles away described the bomb, when detonated as an "unbearably bright light.
On September 23, 1949, president Harry Truman the Soviets nuclear capability to be able to launch a nuclear weapon. This struck fear in the hearts of the American people. A man named Lewis Strautuss said that it was a top priority to have a program to develop the hydrogen bomb. A panel of scientists voted unanimously against the development of the hydrogen bomb. Even though the scientists said they didn't want to build it President Truman announced that the development on nuclear weapons and the H-bomb would continue.
The first confrontation between these two super powers was in the Korean War. The U.S. dropped 4,000 tons of bombs on North Korea.On August 20, 1953 the Soviet press announced that they started the making of their hydrogen bomb, It was called the Layer Cake test. Before the testing of the bomb the surrounding area had to be evacuated. When the bomb was dropped, it turned night into day and made a dust cloud of 6 km. The testing of this bomb raised the already high tensions of the Cold War.
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Aircraft Battles

Between 1949 and 1991 there were many different kinds of incidents that occurred where Soviet aircraft battled or were confronted by armed American military aircraft. In most of these incidents radar locks, the sides threatened use a missile launch. The aggressive action usually resulted in one side breaking off and retreating for home. Sometimes actual combat happened and the two sides went at it. Twenty US Aircraft were downed by the Soviets during the Cold War. Regular intercept missions occurred intercepting the two sides. An Example is even in the Battles in Vietnam and Korea, American pilots would see Soviet pilots flying the aircraft of the other side. Both sides developed aircraft over the years that were able to drop nuclear payloads over each others country without having to refuel and return home. The more time that passed the more development and sophisticated the weapons they used became.




Between 1945 and 1991, the United States and Soviet Union built 936 submarines. Of the 936, 401 of them were nuclear powered which made them run longer and more powerful. The Soviets built more than 650 submarines. With Western intelligence reports showed and proved the speculation behind the true capabilities of Russia's submarines that were mainly powered by diesel electric motors. Both of them had the power of advancements in torpedo, warheads, and missiles. Both sides if necessary had the capability to launch a nuclear strike from the submarines.

The reason to how the superpowers built their impressive submarine fleets began at the end of WWII. The Americans, Russians, and British were able to find several of the new German Type XXI U-boats intact, and were shocked to learn that the design superseded it's Allied opponents in just about every regard. The XXI became the baseline design for the post-War submarine fleets for both the United States and Russia. Both Countries started tearing apart their old submarines out dated parts and upgrading them with new and improved equipment. At about the early 50s both nations had become aware of the potential capabilities of nuclear submarines. The Americans came first with the Nautilus, Sea wolf, and Skate-class boats, while the Russians answered with the November SSN and Echo SSGN. These sub's were the first of many more nuclear powered submarines to come in the future.


The Significance that all these advancements in weaponry had was that they all played a huge factor in both side becoming the two super powers of the world. Especially when it came to the nuclear technology of how both countries would use that power of having it. They used their knowledge of nuclear advancement for better bombs and weapons of mass destruction but also to power the submarines and battle ships/ aircraft carriers. With the advancement in nuclear technology came in the advancement in better weaponry such as guns, tanks, and technological advancements in the field work. They developed better missiles and rockets that could have better pinpoint accuracy in destroying it's target. There are reasons why that both these two countries rose to their super power over the rest of the countries in the world. But with these advancements in technology put both countries a head of the game and a race to see who could out "power" and smart the other.

Work Cited

American Military Technology, Written by Barton C. Hacker With the assistance of Margaret Vining, Published in 2006

Chronology of the Cold War !917- 1992, Written by Lester Brune, Published in 2006 by Taylor and Francis Group at 270 Madison Avenue New York, NY