The Opening Moments D+24 (2 August, 1987) 0000-0015 Zulu

D+24 (2 August, 1987)

0000-0010 Zulu

The gravity bomb contained a 30-kiloton warhead that was set to airburst at 800 meters. This aspect of the plan worked perfectly with the warhead exploding at the prescribed altitude. The Fencer aircrew’s delivery of the weapon, on the other hand, was off. The pre-selected ground zero point had been designated four kilometers west of the Soviet headquarters, directly between Wünsdorf to the east and Klausdorf to the west. For reasons never entirely determined, the Fencer’s navigator/weapons officer missed the mark The weapon detonated one kilometer west of the officer housing on the Group Soviet Forces Germany headquarters complex.

The immediate effects of the 30 KT airburst have been documented and described in dozens of government and private sector reports over the years. The majority of these are open source and available to the public. As a result, I am not going to delve into the details of the damage caused by the nuclear detonation. Suffice to say, significant damage was done to the GSFG headquarters complex and surrounding area and the casualty numbers were high.

The blinding white flash and subsequent mushroom cloud was seen by thousands of people south of Berlin. Predictably, Soviet military personnel and East German civilians in the Wünsdorf area were the first to witness it. They would not be the only ones, however. The flash and subsequent cloud was also seen in Berlin and by over twenty-four NATO pilots and aircrew members over East Germany that night. The proper term used here should be surviving aircrews since at least eight NATO warplanes were destroyed by the nuclear detonation.

Naturally the detonation caused an immediate disruption of communications in the central and eastern regions of the GDR. But the EMP emitted by a 30 kiloton explosion at a fairly low altitude was nowhere near what a larger warhead at higher altitude would’ve caused. Yet in those first minutes following it, the disruption was enough. Confusion dominated the first fragmented reports transmitted to both NATO and Soviet higher headquarters. Also, in those initial minutes the need for more complete, verifiable information prevented the news from spreading higher up the chain of command.

This was the case for Marshal Snetkov at Western TVD headquarters in western Poland. The initial reports received there told of a ‘possible nuclear explosion’ somewhere south of Berlin. While the communications officers at Western TVD attempted to determine exactly what had taken place and where, more reports flooded in. To make matters more confused and worrisome, GSFG headquarters at Wünsdorf was off the air. Snetkov’s alarm growing by the second as he reviewed recent developments in his mind. First it was NATO’s use of chemical weapons, a worrisome if anticipated move. But then to be followed up by reports of a nuclear detonation inside the GDR less than thirty minutes later…..

Whatever was taking place was dangerous. It appeared, to Snetkov, NATO’s retaliation for the earlier use of chemical weapons against Danish and West German units was now rapidly taking shape and was apparently not limited to only chemical agents. My God, this is all about to spiral out of control, the marshal realized at once. Next he ordered the communications officer to raise Moscow immediately.

28 Replies to “The Opening Moments D+24 (2 August, 1987) 0000-0015 Zulu”

      1. I mean you titled this update “The Opening Moments”, Mike, c’mon! 😀

        Also, this seems to follow suit with what we know about the Soviets had they acted on their various war plans: either win in two weeks or start throwing around WMDs as casus belli to use more and more (IOW throw a tantrum when the world said no we don’t want the communist boot on our necks and we’ll fight you and beat you to stop you).

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Whether its 1987 or 2027, any direct conflict between US/NATO & RUS and/or the PRC, will end in a negotiated settlement. The only question is the timing of the negotiations: before the 1st fireball, while we’re launching the fireballs, or by the maybe 500k of us left after we done lit off all the fireworks.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. There was a reference in the post to numerous government and private sector reports about the nuke available post-war – and a much earlier one about “one of Reagan’s greatest speeches” in the pre-war posts – so I have a suspicion it doesn’t all end in flames.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Snetkov is a professional… and my read is his thinking on this spiraling out of control will be replaced with “This isn’t their playbook… What else is going on?”… especially after he gets ahold of Moscow.

    If he gets a hold of them.

    How fast though… is anyone’s guess.

    BTW- Historicon was a blast. Fall In is in November.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s the key here, how fast general officers will react and then how fast events will unfold. For Snetkov, his troops just endured a chemical attack followed by a nuclear bomb dropped on his former headquarters. He’s not thinking anything good 🙂

      Fall is at Valley, right?


      1. Nope. Fall In is at the Wyndham Lancaster Resort (aka the former Lancaster Host). So no excuses on distance. 🙂

        Still waiting on when you want some demos and still willing to host you up at my hovel.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Mike, I found this blog a few months ago and just finished reading through the entire timeline. Excellent stuff and I’m very interested to see how you wrap it all up. Really glad that further posts will be deep dives into some of the more micro subjects, I personally don’t want the great reading to end!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for checking in, Nick and taking the time to read through the entire timeline. Deeply appreciated and glad to hear you’ll be sticking around


  3. Been following the blog so far, and it’s a good depiction of World War III. I also don’t think it’ll all end in flames, given the hints in the story, but it will be bad, IMO. On a side note, have you been to They had a good (IMO) nuclear war timeline called Protect and Survive on there…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Tommy, thanks for checking in as well as the kind words. I’ve spent a lot of time at but not lately. Sounds like I need to get back and check it out. Protect and Survive is a great timeline. I’ve spoken to the timeline’s author through this blog I believe. He put together a great piece of work.


  4. Hey Mike, first time comment, but been binging the blog for months now… Pure awesomeness!

    For a little perspective on a 30Kt airburst at 800 meters, anyone above ground at Wunsdorf is gonna have a bad morning. That statue of Lenin out in front of the officers barracks would be hit with 9psi of overpressure, 39 cal/cm² of thermal radiation (instant BBQ), and an initial dose of 970 rems.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Spencer. Appreciate you checking in. Yeah, the Lenin statue is now liquid, more or less and everyone still around Wunsdorf and on the surface is in for a big sun burn


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