Could a post WW2 US attack the USSR (with nukes) and succeed?

Mrbsct

Ad Honorem
Jul 2013
2,578
USA
#1
Title

This is refering to the period before the invention of ICBMs. Many on the top such as Kurtis Lemay advocated a nuclear attack against the USSR before they grew in power. Could US really have defeated the Soviet in a nuclear war? US did not have thousands of nukes, but hundreds may have done the trick along with conventional forces. The US may have only had a couple hundred bombers that could deliever these nukes, probably with no fighter cover. Could Soviet Air Defenses stop lets say the majority of bombers (I expect some to get through "Bomber will always get through theory"), and accelerate their nuclear production to even the playing field?
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
2,406
Las Vegas, NV USA
#2
What does the US want? It could inflict damage but it didn't have the power to destroy the USSR with the size or number of bombs or bombers it had in say 1947. The US could probably have used threats to gain certain concessions such as breaking the Berlin blockade. Since the Soviets didn't try to stop the airlift and eventually caved on West Berlin, the implied nuclear threat may have been the factor to cause the US to gain a victory. I just don't see the US carpet bombing the USSR with nukes to make it go away.
 
Oct 2018
53
Minneapolis, MN
#3
I was going to say something similar as stevev.

Is the goal to get them to sign some terms of surrender? maybe. But I don't see an outcome of the US holding the Soviet Union.


But otherwise possibly. Figure we had about 300 atomic weapons by the time the USSR first had theirs. If we kept a full production based on using them I'm sure that number would be much higher. Pre 1950 means Soviets don't have their own atomic weapons, nor do they have the Mig-15 yet which made our prop bombers obsolete. And even still, they were effective at night still, and with atomic weapons, close enough counts.
 
Sep 2012
102
#4
I was going to say something similar as stevev.

Is the goal to get them to sign some terms of surrender? maybe. But I don't see an outcome of the US holding the Soviet Union.


But otherwise possibly. Figure we had about 300 atomic weapons by the time the USSR first had theirs. If we kept a full production based on using them I'm sure that number would be much higher. Pre 1950 means Soviets don't have their own atomic weapons, nor do they have the Mig-15 yet which made our prop bombers obsolete. And even still, they were effective at night still, and with atomic weapons, close enough counts.
FYI? Intercepting a B-29 at 30-35000 ft was "problematic"; Intercepting a B-50 at 35-40,000 ft was more so. Intercepting a B-36 north of 40K is essentially impossible with all first generation jet powered fighters. Google up "density altitude" and "coffin corner".
Fighter aircraft of the era at these kinds of heights are basically "wallowing" about, 10 kts above aerodynamic stall in most cases. To even make a standard "rate one" turn of 30 (compass) degrees at these heights will likely cost the fighter more than 1000 ft of altitude...or many thousands more if handled by an inept pilot. Or an aerodynamic stall/induced spin, which would not be recoverable inside of ten thousand feet. There were tests done in the late 40's/early 1950's where it was shown that the ADC's fighters could not get an effective firing (guns) solution at these altitudes. This is the primary reason that the USAF armed their "interceptors" with barrage rockets in the 1950's .
During the early 1950's our buddy LeMay could have dropped every bomb at his disposal on the USSR and there was SFA that Stalin could have done about it.
The Soviets knew this (they weren't idiots) and that's why we see the MiG-19/MiG-21/Tu-28 etc were prioritized.
Just the same as the USAF pursued a solution (WS-201/F-102/F-106).
MiG-15 at 40K+ ft was no threat to B-50 or B-36...29's in Korea at 30-35K? Different question.
Density Altitude=determinant in the discussion.
 
Oct 2018
53
Minneapolis, MN
#5
FYI? Intercepting a B-29 at 30-35000 ft was "problematic"; Intercepting a B-50 at 35-40,000 ft was more so. Intercepting a B-36 north of 40K is essentially impossible with all first generation jet powered fighters. Google up "density altitude" and "coffin corner".
Fighter aircraft of the era at these kinds of heights are basically "wallowing" about, 10 kts above aerodynamic stall in most cases. To even make a standard "rate one" turn of 30 (compass) degrees at these heights will likely cost the fighter more than 1000 ft of altitude...or many thousands more if handled by an inept pilot. Or an aerodynamic stall/induced spin, which would not be recoverable inside of ten thousand feet. There were tests done in the late 40's/early 1950's where it was shown that the ADC's fighters could not get an effective firing (guns) solution at these altitudes. This is the primary reason that the USAF armed their "interceptors" with barrage rockets in the 1950's .
During the early 1950's our buddy LeMay could have dropped every bomb at his disposal on the USSR and there was SFA that Stalin could have done about it.
The Soviets knew this (they weren't idiots) and that's why we see the MiG-19/MiG-21/Tu-28 etc were prioritized.
Just the same as the USAF pursued a solution (WS-201/F-102/F-106).
MiG-15 at 40K+ ft was no threat to B-50 or B-36...29's in Korea at 30-35K? Different question.
Density Altitude=determinant in the discussion.

Well the entire purpose of the Mig 15 was to be a B-29 killer and they brought about black tuesday in Korea and grounded the US bombing raids with B-29's during the day. And of course when the US got a defector in a Mig 15 in 1953, they proved maneuverable at 30k ft.

But yes it was not a forgiving fighter for sure. I remember sabre pilots saying they could become ace's without firing a shot due to the mig 15's propensity to lose control.

B-36 had a much bigger altitude advantage and wouldn't be completely weighed down by the ordinance either.

So yeah you would have that short window for a few years where we had the B-36, USSR didn't have a fully capable fighter to take it out or a nuclear deterrent of their own.




And I guess a few other things I wasn't thinking was don't really need precision with nuclear weapons, so night flights, even with the B-29's, losses might be higher, but there's no way to cover all that airspace in the infancy of radar. So they could even mount an effective nuclear campaign.



I'll go with you here. Considering what would be acceptable losses before the USSR as long as it happened when we had a stockpile and they didn't, that war would be one sided. 1948 or so we had 50 nuclear weapons, could have ramped that up if preparing for a war with Russia.
 
Nov 2015
1,474
Kyiv
#7
I think that if the Americans were able to successfully drop an atomic bomb on the Kremlin and destroy the Russian leadership, Russia would have come to a complete collapse even without an American invasion after a nuclear strike. Russia was a tough pyramid. And the destruction of its top would be fatal for the whole pyramid. Moreover, if the Americans would have destroyed whole Moscow with several A-bombs
 
Jul 2016
7,353
USA
#8
I think that if the Americans were able to successfully drop an atomic bomb on the Kremlin and destroy the Russian leadership, Russia would have come to a complete collapse even without an American invasion after a nuclear strike. Russia was a tough pyramid. And the destruction of its top would be fatal for the whole pyramid. Moreover, if the Americans would have destroyed whole Moscow with several A-bombs
:lol:

Hitler and his general staff thought the exact same thing in 1941.

And lets play the game, Who said it better?

Hitler: ''We have only to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down"

You: "And the destruction of its top would be fatal for the whole pyramid."
 
Nov 2015
1,474
Kyiv
#9
:lol:

Hitler and his general staff thought the exact same thing in 1941.
And lets play the game, Who said it better?
Hitler: ''We have only to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down"
You: "And the destruction of its top would be fatal for the whole pyramid."
Is it possible to clarify what exactly “the same” was thought by Hitler and his
general staff in 1941? Did they have an atomic bomb to drop it on the Kremlin? Or were they going to bomb Stalin and all the other Russian leaders in the Kremlin somehow differently?

Can you clarify the source? I find this interesting — for I very much doubt that Hitler said such things. His chief of staff Galder certainly did not say anything like it.

Otherwise, why would Hitler concentrate such a powerful army against the Russians if he thought that Russia would collapse after the first German strike at the door. And why did Hitler write in a letter to his friend Duce the day before the invasion of Russia - As far as the war in the East is concerned, Duce, it will surely be difficult - ?

Why did he need to frighten Mussolini in vain for this campaign - if Hitler definitely expected to draw Italian troops into it?
 
Oct 2015
853
Norway
#10
Soon er or later ground troops would have to get involved. Americans
and their allies in Europe were tried of war in 1945 and were completely unmotivated for a new world war.
 

Similar History Discussions