In 1979 Anthony Cave Brown published a book (Operation, World War III: The Secret American Plan 'Dropshot' for War with the Soviet Union, 1957, Arms and Armour Press, 1979; Google Books, Amazon) which was based on declassified war plans of the Operation Dropshot.

Are these war plans genuine? Did anyone ever question their authenticity?

This is the reason why I am suspicious: If you look at the way Soviet propaganda tried to incite hatred towards Americans, there are two common themes:

  • Discrimination of Africans
  • Persecution of Communists

These ideas were so prevalent that they became subjects of jokes and songs even in post-Soviet Russia. In modern Russia, people still remember them.

If the war plans from the book above were real, Soviet propaganda would have a much better ideological tool. Instead of saying Americans are bad because they discriminate against Africans and Communists, they could say Americans are bad because they wanted to kill us all.

The latter message would be much more effective than the former because if someone (the Americans) wanted to kill you (Soviet citizens), you are more likely to hate them than if that same nation

  • discriminates against people (African Americans) who live on the other side of the world, look differently and whom you never saw in your life or
  • against Communists which many Soviets did not like.

But the Soviet propaganda (to my knowledge) never used the Operation Dropshot materials. If they are real, it means that the US and its allies planned to subject the Soviet Union to a nuclear Holocaust in 1957.

Wikipedia writes:

Dropshot included mission profiles that would have used 300 nuclear bombs and 29,000 high-explosive bombs on 200 targets in 100 cities and towns to wipe out 85 percent of the Soviet Union's industrial potential at a single stroke.

Soviet Union could not retaliate at that time because it lacked means of delivery of an atomic bomb.

These plans were a much stronger reason to hate the Americans. But for some reason Soviet propagand did not make use of it. This is why I think these war plans may be fake.

  • Perhaps Soviet propaganda didn't use it simply because the "Soviet Union could not retaliate at that time ..."? Nov 17, 2019 at 11:08
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    Note that plans are often made just so you have a plan if needed
    – user31561
    Nov 17, 2019 at 12:08
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    @Displayname ... but also it is true that you do not need the plans to be genuine in order to use it for propaganda(for example WWI British propaganda about Germany using the corpses of its soldiers in industrial processes). The fact that the plans were not used in propaganda does not imply that the Soviets thought they were false as false plans could have been used for propaganda too, so it is kind of irrelevant if they were used or not.
    – SJuan76
    Nov 17, 2019 at 17:18
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    @sempaiscuba I guess the OP is asking why the SU did not use those plans in its propaganda not in 1957 but after the book was published in 1979, at a time it had retaliatory capability. Of course it could have just been that sending the message of "the USA could have destroyed us with impunity and they did chose not to do it" could be problematic from a propaganda POV.
    – SJuan76
    Nov 17, 2019 at 17:22
  • The premise of the question is dubious. Pro-Soviet propagandists would need do no more than make the details public just as Anthony Cave Brown had done. If there was genuine sensitivity to the material, as the question implies, then the press and public commentators such as ourselves would do the rest. The absence of public controversy does not in itself indicate that there is a public consensus that the material is fake. Jan 19, 2020 at 8:54

1 Answer 1


A simple answer is: Soviets had barely the same plan for an all-out nuclear war.

In the 50s, Soviets as well as Americans had a very lazy perception on nuclear weapons: one general wanted to use nuclear bombs over China's border, and tactical nuclear weapons were developed like the Davy Crockett.

In the end, the Mutual Assured Destruction doctrine was shared by both countries and probably both Russian and American citizens were OK with the "don't use nuclear bombs", but it was after USA and USSR had considered the options of a real nuclear conflict.

  • +1 Why this answer has been downvoted is beyond me. For most peaple at that time Duck and cover procedures were considered a realistic protection. Only during the Cuba Crisis (1962) did the full effects of what such a war would really entail begin to sink in on all sides. Jan 19, 2020 at 12:05
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    I don't see in this post an answer, or even attempt to answer, the question asked. Jan 19, 2020 at 17:14
  • @PieterGeerkens Maybe you did not read the text of the question: actually, the core of the question contained presomptions that made the "OP" thought plans were fake. I am giving a good reason why the plans were not use by propaganda, and thus there is no reason to contest their "genuinty" Jan 19, 2020 at 18:17

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