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  • East vs West.

  • Democracy vs Stalinism.

  • The fate of the entire human species hung in the balance, and now here are the deadliest

  • weapons of the Cold War.

  • USS George Washington

  • Several meters below the surface, somewhere out in the Pacific Ocean and thousands of

  • miles from civilization, there's a rush of bubbles.

  • Then, moments later a sleek black shape leaps out of the water.

  • Within a second of breaking clear of the waves, the massive nuclear-tipped ballistic missile

  • fires its rocket engine and roars into the sky.

  • It's shortly joined by 15 other missiles.

  • In minutes nuclear Armageddon will rain down across the Soviet Union, all courtesy of the

  • world's first nuclear ballistic missile submarine.

  • It's the late 1950s and America has a problem.

  • The Soviet Union has not just developed their own nuclear weapons, but intelligence suggests

  • that they are well ahead of the United States in developing long-range ballistic missile

  • technology.

  • This leaves American air and missile fields vulnerable to Soviet attack.

  • To add to the US's troubles, the Soviets have proven themselves capable aircraft designers

  • too, with the Mig haven proven its worth even in the hands of lesser skilled pilots in the

  • Korean War.

  • American long-range bombers might not survive long enough to deliver their nuclear payloads

  • on target.

  • But what if you could ensure the survival of your nuclear forces, and thus deter a catastrophic

  • first-strike, by simply moving your nukes underwater?

  • Enter the USS George Washington, the first ballistic missile submarine.

  • With a payload of 16 freedom-bringing thermonuclear ballistic missiles, the George Washington

  • could launch devastation deep into the Soviet Union, and her stealth features made it almost

  • impossible to detect even when just miles off a hostile coastline.

  • The Soviets had actually beaten the US to the development of submarine-launched nuclear

  • weapons, but they lacked a ballistic missile submarine with the payload of the Washington.

  • Further, they had yet to successfully launch a missile from under the water, leaving any

  • Soviet sub in serious danger of being destroyed as it attempted to launch its weapons from

  • the surface.

  • The George Washington however could fire its entire payload while completely submerged,

  • making it the first nuclear assassin.

  • The George Washington was the weapon that made the Soviets tremble in fear, knowing

  • that they could face immediate nuclear annihilation with nothing more than mere minutes warning.

  • The next weapon on this list though was the most terrifying thing American infantrymen

  • had faced since World War II.

  • AK-47

  • It's the weapon so iconic, it doesn't need introduction.

  • 75 million have been built since it was first designed in 1945.

  • It's tough, reliable, and deadly- it's the Soviet AK-47.

  • The United States wouldn't even know of its existence until 1953, when an as-yet unnamed

  • CIA agent cracked the veil of Soviet secrecy to smuggle out detailed drawings of the AK-47.

  • The Soviet Union was hellbent on keeping this revolutionary weapon a secret, and at first

  • only issued it to elite military units stationed in remote areas- and even then only to experienced

  • veterans.

  • New recruits were absolutely quote- forbidden to come close- end quote, to the top secret

  • AK-47.

  • The weapon was an absolute game-changer, as the US would quickly come to find out.

  • It allowed for the firing rate of a submachine gun with the range and lethality of a standard

  • battle rifle.

  • Able to switch between semi and automatic fire, an infantryman equipped with an AK-47

  • could deliver accurate long-range fire or suppress an enemy position with fully automatic

  • fire.

  • Despite being inaccurate at long ranges, the weapon was so good that even US Special Forces

  • wanted it- and they went to great lengths to get it.

  • The need for a new American rifle became truly apparent in Vietnam, when the US first went

  • toe-to-toe with the AK-47, and got absolutely trounced.

  • The M-16 was quickly produced and sent to the front lines, but the weapon suffered from

  • a long development cycle and hordes of issues until it was finally perfected.

  • Meanwhile, US SpecOps units began arming themselves with captured AK-47s, impressed with the capabilities

  • of the enemy's own rifle over their American counterparts.

  • As an added bonus, US special forces using AK-47s would often confuse enemy troops, believing

  • they were accidentally under fire from friendly forces.

  • The AK-47 would end up in the hands of revolutionaries around the world, and had the US ever gone

  • to war against the Soviet Union in the first half of the Cold War, American infantrymen

  • would have found themselves completely outgunned on a battlefield.

  • In the skies however, the United States operated what would become known as thelargest

  • distributor of Mig parts in the world”.

  • F-4 Phantom

  • It was what the F-35 struggles to become today, the world's most versatile fighter-bomber.

  • With the capability to perform air superiority, air defense suppression, reconnaissance, interdiction,

  • close air support, and fleet defense missions, there was little the F-4 couldn't do, and

  • it did all of those things extremely well.

  • Developed and manufactured by McDonnel Aircraft, the F-4 Phantom saw service with the US Navy,

  • Air Force, and Marine Corps, and was America's frontline fighter in the skies over Vietnam-

  • where it would earn its nickname as the world's leading distributor of Mig parts.

  • While the Mig 21 was more maneuverable, the Phantom had greater power and a much deadlier

  • armament, carrying up to four times the missiles of the 2-missile loadout Mig-21.

  • Early in the war American pilot casualties were high, but this was due to a complete

  • lack of preparation by the US military for dogfighting.

  • The problem was solved with the creation of the Navy's Top Gun school, and the addition

  • of a cannon to the Phantom to supplement its missile firepower.

  • However, the Phantom would truly prove its worth during Operation Bolo, a bold American

  • attempt to lure out and destroy the Vietnamese air force.

  • The brainchild of American double ace Colonel Robin Olds, who had earned his chops in the

  • deadly skies over Europe in World War II, Operation Bolo saw a flight of F-4s flying

  • a track with the characteristics of the notoriously outperformed F-105 Thunderchief.

  • Thunderchiefs were notoriously poor fighter-bombers, who were eventually pulled from active service

  • due to their astronomic loss ratio.

  • They were easy targets for Vietnamese pilots, and the Vietnamese were always looking for

  • an opportunity to knock more Americans out of the sky.

  • As Migs accelerated to intercept what looked like a flight of clunky F-105s, they were

  • surprised to break cloud cover and realize they were facing F-4 Phantoms.

  • In the engagement that followed, 7 Migs would be destroyed without the loss of a single

  • F-4, and the Vietnamese air force was effectively grounded for several months.

  • Had the US and Soviet Union gone to war, Soviet pilots would've found themselves hard pressed

  • to deal with the heavily armed and powerful F-4 Phantom, but on the ground US forces would've

  • trembled at the sight of one of the most iconic tanks ever built.

  • T-55 Main Battle Tank

  • It's believed that when drawing up plans for the defeat of Nazi Germany by overwhelming

  • the Germans with waves of infantry, Joseph Stalin remarked, “Quantity has a quality

  • all its own”.

  • This would certainly prove to be the ethos of the Soviet military for the majority of

  • the Cold War, and best represented by the most produced main battle tank in history.

  • Designs for what would become the T-55 were already in place during the Second World War,

  • but as manufacture of the badly-needed T-34 was already in full swing across the country,

  • industry could not be halted for the introduction of a new tank.

  • Shortly after the war however, the Soviet military began to receive the T-54 tank, which

  • featured a larger caliber main gun, better armor, and greater cross-country performance.

  • At the time, there was little doubt the Soviets operated the best tank in the world.

  • With the likelihood of having to operate on a nuclear battlefield increasing by the day,

  • the Soviet Union badly needed a tank that could operate in the immediate vicinity of

  • a nuclear blast.

  • The T-54 was found to be survivable at a minimum distance of 300 meters from the epicenter

  • of a nuclear blast, though the crew itself could only survive if at least 700 meters

  • away.

  • How the Soviets figured this out exactly is probably best left unexplained.

  • A series of modifications to the T-54 led to the T-55, the Soviet Union's first tank

  • capable of fighting a modern nuclear conflict.

  • Within .3 seconds of detecting gamma radiation, the tank's NBC systems would kick into effect

  • to protect the crew, allowing them to continue the fight even as the world burned in nuclear

  • hellfire around them.

  • The T-55 was a capable, though not extraordinary tank, and even featured a notorious weak point

  • in its thinner-than-normal rear armor, which had to be sacrificed due to the weight of

  • additional equipment elsewhere.

  • However, what made the T-55 strike fear into the hearts of American generals was the sheer

  • numbers fielded by Warsaw Pact forces, with as many as 100,000 built since its inception.

  • After Soviet military observers witnessed America's overwhelming victories in the first

  • Gulf War, they remarked to Soviet leadership that the only way to stop a US armor advance

  • was with nuclear weapons.

  • However, long before this NATO knew that its only hope of stopping hordes of Soviet T-55s

  • from sweeping across Europe was with the use of its own nuclear weapons.

  • The Soviets had the numbers when it came to tanks, but the British responded with a champion

  • tank that could easily take on a dozen or more Soviet T-55s.

  • Chieftain Main Battle Tank

  • In the 1960s Britain was tasked with defending the North German plain against a potential

  • Soviet invasion.

  • This would mean going up against endless waves of cheap Soviet T-55s, but Britain couldn't

  • afford to field nearly as large a tank force as either the Soviet Union or even their American

  • allies.

  • The solution: build a better tank than either of the two.

  • The successor to the Centurion main battle tank, the British Chieftain featured a small,

  • very angled hull design which greatly reduced its cross section versus contemporary tanks.

  • With thicker armor than the Centurion and a more powerful engine, the Chieftain was

  • more survivable and had greater range than its predecessor, and could withstand much

  • more punishment than any European, American, or Soviet tank.

  • Its armor included an average of 60mm more protection than Soviet or American tanks,

  • and it paid for it with a lack of maneuverability.

  • However, when you can swap body blows with a dozen enemy tanks at a time, agility matters

  • for little.

  • With a 120mm gun vs the American 105mm gun and the Soviet 115mm gun, the Chieftain packed

  • a punch so hard that it could cripple an enemy tank with just one hit.

  • Many contemporaries joked that the Chieftain was in effect a fortress- not very fast, not

  • very agile, but incredibly tough and with a deadly cannon.

  • While the T-55 and later models had the advantage of numbers on their side, they would've been

  • hard pressed to break a unit of well-disciplined and well-trained British tankers operating

  • Chieftain tanks.

  • However, even these mighty tanks would have a hard go at it on a battlefield absolutely

  • saturated with this next deadliest weapon of the Cold War.

  • Soviet M1938 122mm Towed Howitzer

  • The Soviet military had a simple adage: if the enemy is proving difficult to defeat,

  • you're simply not exploding them enough.

  • Easy and cheap to produce, simple to learn to operate, and with devastating results on

  • a battlefield, there's little Soviet military planners didn't love about their artillery,

  • which explained why they fielded some of the largest artillery forces in history.

  • With a range just south of 12,000 meters, and delivering high explosive shells at a

  • rate of 5 a minute, the 122mm Howitzer was everything a Soviet General loved about military

  • hardware: it made fascist invaders go kaplooey with incredible accuracy, and it was cheap.

  • Employed to great effect during the later stages of World War 2, the M1938 became the

  • most numerous artillery piece in the Soviet military, with tens of thousands of them used

  • to defeat the Germans at the Battle of Kursk, and 13,000 of them deployed to defend the

  • city of Stalingrad.

  • Production continued after the war, with the Soviet military making liberal use of artillery

  • in war planning.

  • With the development of an anti-tank round, the M1938 quickly became a tank-killer, with

  • its barrel able to be completely depressed to take on waves of advancing enemy tanks.

  • An absolute nightmare for NATO military planners, the sheer number of howitzers employed by

  • the Soviet Union made crushing a Soviet attack a difficult task indeed.

  • Now go watch Deadliest Weapons of World War 3, or click this other video instead.

East vs West.

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The Killing Machines of Cold War (Deadliest Weapons)

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    Summer posted on 2021/07/02
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