Who was Huang Yongsheng?

Introduction Huang Yongsheng (simplified Chinese: 黄永胜; traditional Chinese: 黃永勝; pinyin: Huáng Yǒngshèng; 1910–1983) was a general of the China’s People’s Liberation Army. In 1955 Huang was awarded the position of Shang Jiang (colonel-general), and Huang continued to rise throughout the 1950s and 1960s, eventually becoming Lin Biao’s Chief-of-staff during the Cultural Revolution. Because of Huang’s… Read More

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What is Underground Project 131?

Introduction Underground Project 131 (Chinese: “131”地下工程; pinyin: “131” Dìxià gōngchéng) is a system of tunnels in Hubei province constructed in the late 1960s and the early 1970s to accommodate the Chinese People’s Liberation Army command headquarters in case of a nuclear war. The facility was never fully completed or used, and is currently open to… Read More

What was the Demon Core?

Introduction The demon core was a spherical 6.2-kilogram (14 lb) subcritical mass of plutonium 89 millimetres (3.5 in) in diameter, manufactured during World War II by the United States nuclear weapon development effort, the Manhattan Project, as a fissile core for an early atomic bomb. It was involved in two criticality accidents, on 21 August… Read More

What was the Strategic Defence Initiative?

Introduction The Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI), nicknamed the “Star Wars programme”, was a proposed missile defence system intended to protect the United States from attack by ballistic strategic nuclear weapons (intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles). The concept was first announced on 23 March 1983 by President Ronald Reagan, a vocal critic of the… Read More

What was Operation RYaN (1981)

Introduction Operation RYAN (or RYaN, Russian: РЯН, IPA: [rʲæn]) was a Cold War military intelligence programme run by the Soviet Union during the early 1980s when they believed the United States was planning for an imminent first strike attack. The name is an acronym for Raketno-Yadernoe Napadenie (Russian: Ракетно-ядерное нападение, “Nuclear Missile Attack”). The purpose… Read More

What was Able Archer 83?

Introduction Able Archer 83 is the codename for a command post exercise carried out in November 1983 by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). As with Able Archer exercises from previous years, the purpose of the exercise was to simulate a period of conflict escalation, culminating in the US military attaining a simulated DEFCON 1… Read More

What is the Underground City (Beijing)?

Introduction The Underground City (Chinese: 地下城; pinyin: Dìxià Chéng) is a Cold War era bomb shelter consisting of a network of tunnels located beneath Beijing, China. It has also been referred to as the Underground Great Wall since it was built for the purpose of military defence. The complex was constructed from 1969 to 1979… Read More