D+18 1730-1830 Zulu
**All times in this line are Zulu (GMT)**
1735– Five minutes prior to the scheduled launch time, a hotline message is transmitted to Moscow. Its contents were mainly solely to inform Soviet leadership that the US response will be proportionate to the initial Soviet attack. Reagan suggests that the two leaders speak again in six hours’ time.
1740– An LGM-30G Minuteman III is launched from silo Golf-04 located ten miles north of Sydney, Nebraska. Although Warren AFB was in Wyoming, the missile alert facilities and silos of the 90th Strategic Missile Wing were spread out around the base’s home state, as well as the neighboring states of Nebraska and Colorado. Less than twenty seconds later, a second Minuteman III of the 321st Strategic Missile Wing at Grand Forks AFB left silo November-39 south of Cooperstown, North Dakota.
1807– The first of three W-78 warheads from the Warren-launched Minuteman III airburst 11,000 feet over the Soviet city of Gorky.
1808– The two-armed warheads from the Grand Forks bird explode 10,000 feet over the nuclear testing site on Novaya Zemlya in the Arctic Ocean.
1810– Following verification of the nuclear detonations in Gorky and Novaya Zemlya, and radar confirmation of no further inbound missile tracks, General Secretary Romanov orders the Politburo to be convened at 7 PM. The next order is an authorization for Marshal Akhromeyev to inform Soviet military commands of the exchange and for them to prepare for the possibility of future exchanges.
1827– President Reagan holds a conference call with NATO leaders and the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe. He confirms the success of US retaliatory strike. Gorky and Novaya Zemlya have been destroyed. He will be addressing the nation in 30 minutes and asks that his fellow NATO leaders refrain from issuing public statements until after he speaks.
1830– In Central Europe, combatant commands on both sides of the battle line learn of the limited nuclear exchange and take measures to ensure their forces are prepared in the event of a battlefield-level exchange. Units in the field are dispersed, putting more space between them to lessen the damage from a nearby nuclear explosion. The bulky and restrictive protective gear is donned by troops on or in close proximity to the front. Far behind the front in NATO’s rear areas, Pershing II, GLCM, and other nuclear-tasked forces move to new launch positions and have their security measures reinforced. On the Soviet side, similar moves are taken with SS-20 battalions and other units assigned exclusively to a tactical nuclear role.
Brief Note: Tomorrow I’ll put up an entry explaining how the rest of D+18 will be presented. Two more posts at the most, but I want to discuss it a bit, along with touching on what comes next. –Mike