D+18 1730-1830 Zulu 27 July, 1987

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

31 Replies to “D+18 1730-1830 Zulu 27 July, 1987”

  1. I had not considered those targets. Good picks. Gorky hits at lot of military industrial targets, and Novaya Zemlya is similar to Alert with the benefit of not really adding anything to the local background radiation….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Looks like Gorky is now permanently closed.

    Minor correction (unless Moscow is now operating on GMT/UTC) – the Politburo meeting would be 11 pm MSD (GMT+4 given Moscow Summer Time would have been in effect).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not so much closed but relocated to the upper atmosphere.

      Ugh, daylight savings time has been a pain for me in some of these posts. Good catch!


  3. All kidding aside, this is actually brilliant strategy.

    Unlike hitting an “innocent” nation, it is a strike on the USSR. It is within 3 hours drive time of Moscow, but still far enough away that with prevailing winds Moscow *probably* won’t get any fallout (at 10k ft. would there even be any?). It’s close enough though that they would have heard the detonation in Moscow proper, and seen the flash (10000 ft. detonation height).

    It does not create any problems for eastern bloc nations that were on the bubble. I would guess Romanov and his clique were hoping we’d take Warsaw or Prague in exchange, rather than hitting Soviet Russia internally.

    This would be like the Soviets hitting Pittsburgh or Philadelphia – far enough away from DC that it can’t be confused for an incoming decapitation strike, close enough to make a very real visual impression.

    Hitting a tiny speck of land in Canada and then a country in Europe 5000 miles from the US might have been the worst strategic decision the Soviets made since starting the war, and they just got that proof shown to them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmmmm….that’s an interesting point. Assume he would be, considering the hardline approach of the new Soviet leadership


  4. Regarding NBC protective gear, I’d be surprised that US forces, if not all NATO forces on the Central Front, were not already operating in MOPP 2. That was standard wear in the field at that time frame for exercises. “Train like you will fight”.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Love the post. Given the relative distance between Moscow and Gorky, did Reagan give the Soviets the target coordinates of the retaliatory strike as part of the pre-launch hotline message to lessen the chance of escalation?

    Also, I hate to be that guy, but I think you’re referencing Sidney, Nebraska (home of Cabela’s sporting goods) rather than “Sydney”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. Nope, he just named the targets and that was that.

      Well, damn. You’re right. Thanks for pointing that out. And I do love Cabelas. Wanted to get out to the one nearest me this weekend but the weather stopped that.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. So let’s go interesting – where is ground zero in Nizh? The shipyards? The old town? The main population centre? Depending on what you’re looking at here, and what your warhead profile is looking like maybe my little bit of cultural heritage might make it?

    That said, there used to be two towers across the Oka until post 1991 someone decided to monetise one, so maybe radioactive slag is a better legacy?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 2-3 kilometers west of the river and Molitovsky Bridge. Very near Pushkin Park. A reader did a setup using a nuclear weapons effect program, I’ll get you the link and put it up here


      1. Well, things are certainly heating up (sorry for the pun) …. I love the nukemap tool, although I’m assuming that it uses current population figures to calculate casualties, which would be significantly greater than the population in 1987. I just tried it with a 1MT airbust on London (centred over Covent Garden) with settings to detonate it at a height in order to maximise damage and it gave me a damage radius out to 25km, reaching Potters Bar in the north, Coulsdon in the south, Rainham in the east and Heathrow Airport in the west, generating 623,000 killed and 1,200,000 injured.

        It’ll be interesting to see what move the Soviets make next …. if they’ve bought themselves any sort of breathing space in Germany, they need to stabilise the front, move the next echelon of reinforcements up asap and sort out 3rd Shock Army.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Your pun is forgiven LOL

          I believe you can change population numbers in the nuke app.

          Those numbers sound right for 1 Megaton. Overkill really, but Russian guidance systems weren’t the best. So they compensated with huge warheads

          I wanted to talk more about the troops in the field with tonight’s post but was cut short today. I’ll definitely touch on what’s going on out there in the next post, tomorrow night or Friday


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