In the event of a nuclear war, the Pentagon in 1956 penned a report that listed 1200 cities and 1100 airfields spread across eastern Europe, the Soviet Union and China that were prioritised for various levels of destruction, should the unthinkable happen.

The goals were twofold: deny the former Communist Bloc's ability to field an effective air force and then destroy its ability to wage a protracted war.

The details of the Pentagon's plans were revealed in the 800-page Strategic Air Command Atomic Weapons Requirements Study for 1959, "the most comprehensive and detailed list of nuclear targets and target systems that has ever been declassified", according to the National Security Archive, an organisation run by George Washington University that published it last week.

The document, written before the age of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, or ICBMs, outlines a main effort to initially destroy the Soviet Union's ability to field their bomber fleet against Nato countries and United States interests in Europe.


The first two airbases slotted for destruction, Bykhov and Orsha, are both in Belarus, while the first two cities targeted are Moscow and Leningrad (St Petersburg).

The targets ranged from military command centres to "population centres" - such as the suburbs of Leningrad.

Targets to destroy population centers would have been hit with atomic weapons. The nuclear weapons would have been delivered by aircraft such as the B-47 (based out of Britain, Morocco and Spain) and the newly introduced B-52 bomber.

- Bloomberg