The Arms Race 1949-1963

When was Sputnik launched into space?
October 1957
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When did the USSR first test its ICBM?
May 1957
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What did the USSR respond with after the USA's SAC?
In 1956 with TU20 Bear that was copied from a B52 design
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What were the drawbacks to delivery bombs by plane for the USSR?
Were relatively slow, could be shot down and the USSR had no access to airbases near US territory
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What became the USA's main nuclear strike force?
The LeMay Strategic Air Command under General Curtis
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What were put on 24 hour alert?
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When was the USSR's lead in rocket technology confirmed?
April 1961
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Why was it then?
As Yuri Gagarin in Vostok I was first put into space
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What did this event prompt the USA to do?
To introduce NASA in 1958
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Due to the USSR's successes with ICMB, Sputnik and Vostok I what fear did it lead to in the US?
The US feared that the Soviets had more advanced military strategy
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What reinforced the idea of a 'missile gap'?
The US findings in the Gaither Report of Nov 1957 and the failure of the first US Vanguard satellite launch
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Who was often first to achieve a technological success?
The USSR but the USA were not far behind
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What did the USA launch in Jan 1958?
The satellite 'Explorer'
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What did this culminate in?
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What was this far more superior to?
Soviet missiles
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What was gathered in 1960-61 by government intelligence?
Gathered by US U-2 spy planes government intelligence were gathering evidence and photographs
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What did the destructive capacity of the superpowers' nuclear arsenals play a major role in?
In shaping US and Soviet conduct in the Cold War from 1949 until 1963
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What made nuclear deterrence a strategic reality for both the US and the USSR?
The USSR's acquisition of the atomic bomb & the Soviet's determination to match US deployments
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When was the 'Little Boy' dropped and by who?
By the USA on Hiroshima in Aug 1945
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When was 'Ivy Mike' dropped and by who?
By the US in a Pacific island in Nov 1952
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When was 'Joe 4' dropped and by who?
By the USSR and in August 1953
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When was 'Castle Bravo' launched and by who?
By the USA in March 1954
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When was 'RDS-37' launched and by who?
By the USSR in Nov 1955
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When was the 'Tsar Bomba' launched and by who?
By the USSR in Oct 1961
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What had happened for the US by 1953?
40% of its US defence funds were being allocated to the air force
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What had the US owned by 1955?
The B52 Stratofortress which was the first bomber with a intercontinental range
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Due to the creation of what were the US' atomic bombs first created?
Due to the Manhattan Project initiated WW2 used to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki
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When did the US' nuclear monopoly end?
In 1949 when the USSR successfully tested an atomic bomb
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What did Truman then commission?
The development of the hydrogen bomb (H-bomb) and this second generation of nuclear weapons was based on nuclear fission and known as thermo-nuclear devices
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What did the USA'S 'Ivy Mike' bomb explode into?
A megaton explosion that was 1000 times of that at Hiroshima
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How long after had the USSR built its own H-bomb?
A year later (19
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Where did their Soviet testing take place?`
In Kazakhstan in Aug 1953
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What did Sakharov's test of Nov 1955 demonstrate?
That the USSR had developed a bomb as powerful as the US H-bombs
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During what period did the number of US nuclear warheads increase?
From 1950-1960
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What did it increase by?
From 1000 to 18,000
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What was stationed in West Germany by 1953?
The first battlefield tactical nuclear weapons were stationed in 1953
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Who developed the new strategy of 'massive retaliation'?
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What did he believe?
That a huge nuclear arsenal was capable of annihilating the USSR and would deter a nuclear attack
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In 1961 what did Krushchev announce?
The successful testing of the 50-megaton 'Tsar Bomba' but it was actually 58 megatons but was a non-practical military option
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What did a CIA report then confirm?
The power of the weapon but it also emphasised that it could not be loaded onto any ICBM and could only be used by aircraft in test conditions
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As the two superpowers gained a decisive lead what did the arms race do?
It increased tensions between the USSR and the USA
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What existed between the two superpowers?
A 'balance of terror' which deterred direct military conflict which could potentially escalate into nuclear war
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What did the threat of war force the superpowers to do?
To respect each others sphere's of influence (e.g. US didn't intervene in Hungarian crisis in 1956)
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What put a huge strain on each of the superpowers' economies?
The vast cost of developing both the weapons and the delivery systems
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What couldn't the US or the USA eventually develop?
Delivery systems that were powerful enough to attack each other directly
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Prior to 1960 what did nuclear tensions only really focus on?
Central Europe which was the only area within range of both superpowers
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When did the USA launch 'Polaris' and what was it?
They first launched it in 1960 and it was the first SLBM (submarine-lanched ballistic missile)
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What existed by the early 1960s?
A 'balance of terror'
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What had the arms race then reached?
A point of mutally assured destruction
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What did the Gaither Report on deterrence reveal?
That the USSR held a missile lead so a (three-to-one missile gap) would lead
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What did the US need for their defence budget to close the gap?
$44 million defence budget for over the five years and this was needed to close the gap
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What did limited war mean?
A war fought with conventional weapons that were limited in scale and were therefore restricted to a particular area and region
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what did nuclear weapons encourage?
They encouraged superpower brinkmanship which could have resulted in total devastation
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When were the events of total devastation?
The US doctrine of 'massive retaliation' (1954) and the Cuban missile crisis (1962)
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How did financial strains on both superpowers have a destabilising effect?
It had a destabilising effect on superpower relations as it compensated for the USSR's relative weakness by adopting an antagonistic approach to negotiations with the West
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What was the decision to station Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba due to?
Due to the fact that the USSR was basing short-range missiles in Cuba as it was cheaper than basing long-range weapons in the USSR
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What did nuclear weapons not stop?
Other forms of superpower competition for influence in the 1950s and early 60s
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What are examples of this?
Soviet economic and military aid to the developing countries like Egypt and US support for anti-communist regimes in South Vietnam, South Korea and Taiwan
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What was deterrence linked to?
Limited war
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


When did the USSR first test its ICBM?


May 1957

Card 3


What did the USSR respond with after the USA's SAC?


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


What were the drawbacks to delivery bombs by plane for the USSR?


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


What became the USA's main nuclear strike force?


Preview of the front of card 5
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