The first novel in my ‘Cold War’ trilogy, The Red Effect, published by SilverWood Books, is now available. Thoroughly enjoyed writing it, as i do with all my novels. There will be three books in total, covering the hypothetical invasion of West Germany, the Federal Republic of Germany, by the Warsaw Pact in the mid 1980’s. Book 1, ‘The Red Effect’, encompasses part of the intelligence build up leading to the initial Warsaw Pact strike against the NATO forces lined up against them. The purpose of the next few posts is to give the reader some additional background information to enhance their reading experience.

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‘The Red Effect’ by Harvey Black – Available now. The Cold War that became a Hot War.

The Cold War era started very soon after the end of the second world war, when the communist east, led by the Soviet Union, and the Western world, led by the United States and its NATO allies, faced each across what became known as the ‘Iron Curtain’.

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The perception of a potential Third World War, was generally one of a nuclear war. It may have come to that. In reality we will never know. But, one scenario is that of a conventional war. The massed forces of the Warsaw Pact against the supposedly technically superior, but weaker, NATO armies, that may well have escalated into a nuclear exchange.

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The Chinese Type 59, main battle tank. Top speed of 30mph.

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It is essentially a copy of the Soviet T-54 tank. Powered by a V-12 liquid cooled diesel engine.

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A rugged simple design, ideal for mass production.

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36 tons on torsion bar suspension.

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A 100mm, rifled main gun. Over 9,000 were built. .

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Although the tank was fairly dated in the 80’s, the Soviet army still possessed 35,000 T-54/55 and T-62s.

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T-62 main battle tank.

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This one was captured from the Iraqi forces during the Gulf War in 1991.

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Top speed of fifty miles an hour.

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It had a thirsty diesel engine, covering 2 miles to the gallon. 

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115mm main gun

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The BMP-1, another captured vehicle from the Iraq war. Above the the main gun, there is a Sagger anti-tank, wire guided missile. When the Israelis first came across the sagger missile, packed in a large suit-case type container, and set up on the ground, they destroyed their tanks with devastating effect.

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This can claim the mantle of being the first ever mechanised infantry combat vehicle. The west followed later with vehicles such as the Warrior and the American M2 Bradley.

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The Soviet soldiers would exit via the two rear doors. It weighed 13.5 tons and had armour 23mm thick. They could also exit through four hatches in the roof. The hollow doors also acted as fuel tanks, meaning a hit from behind would have a devastating effect. The internal fuel tank was located between the benches in the rear, putting the soldiers at risk.

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It was also amphibious, driven through the water by the movement of the tracks, hence the vanes at the rear.

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Although very cramped due to its low profile, it could carry eight soldiers in the troop compartment. Four ports either side allowed the soldiers to fire from within the vehicle.

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The 73mm main gun, was a low-pressure, semi-automatic smooth-bore gun.

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It could travel up to a speed of 40mph. It also had a radiation-shielded interior, allowing it to fight in contaminated areas. The Soviet military saw future wars being conducted using nuclear, biological and nuclear weapons.

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The Soviet BRDM-2. Although primarily a traditional reconnaissance vehicle, also had other roles.

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This version of the BRDM-2, another vehicle captured from the Iraqi forces, is a chemical reconnaissance vehicle.

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Equipped to locate areas of the battlefield contaminated with nuclear, biological or chemical weapons and mark a safe passage for advancing forces.

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The safe route was identified by firing the yellow flags into the ground as it moved through the area.

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Nuclear, chemical and biological weapons were a key part of the Soviet arsenal.

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Blister-arm

Soviet Chemical Weapons:

Blister Agent

Causes severe skin, eye and mucosal pain. Breathed in and the effects would be far worse, causing major damage to the lungs.

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Sarin-3D-balls

Nerve Agents:

Sarin – Disrupts the mechanism by which nerves transfer messages to vital organs. Contraction of the pupils, profuse salivation, involuntary urination and deification and eventual death by asphyxiation.

Blood Agents:

Works at the cellular level by preventing the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the blood and the body’s cells. Cells suffocate from lack of oxygen.

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This is the bog standard BRDM-2 Reconnaissance vehicle. Although a four-wheel vehicle, between the main wheels there are a pair of smaller wheels either side. These are chain driven from the gearbox and can be lowered to assist across rough ground, 

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Much larger than the ideal reconnaissance vehicle, but the size was necessary as a consequence of it needing to be amphibious. In fact it is twice the size of a British Ferret reconnaissance vehicle.

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Powered by a Gaz V8 petrol engine.

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The engine also provides power for the ducted water jet that it uses when swimming. The flap at the back pivots sideways allowing the jet to push the vehicle through the water.

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Top speed of 60mph, a 14.5mm gun in the turret  and a crew of 4.

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Going forward i will add more information in support of my Cold War trilogy, including maps and photographs.

The equipment Photographs and Blog are copyrighted to Harvey Black.

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‘The Red Effect’ by Harvey Black – Kindle and Paperback versions available now.  The Cold War that became a Hot War.

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The Cold War. A Hot war in reality.  Part 1

I have completed the second novel of my new ‘Cold War’ series. There will be three books in total, covering the hypothetical invasion of West Germany, the Federal Republic of Germany, by the Warsaw Pact in the mid 1980’s. Book 1, ‘The Red Effect’, will encompass the intelligence build up leading to the Warsaw Pact strike against the NATO forces lined up against them. The Black Effect follows on……

The Cold War era started very soon after the end of the second world war, when the communist east, led by the Soviet Union, and the Western world, led by the United States and its NATO allies, faced each across what became known as the ‘Iron Curtain’.

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The capital of Germany, Berlin, was divided into four Sectors. The consequence being, that the three Western Allied powers now controlled territory deep within the Soviet Union Zone of Germany.

Over time, the tensions between the four Allied powers increased, eventually resulting in the Berlin blockade in 1948, when the Soviets attempted to starve West Berlin into submission and force the other three Allied powers out. This failed and the Soviets eventually relented, but an ever-increasing number of East Germans fled to the West; between 150,000 and 300,000 a year during 1951-1953. As a consequence restrictions were placed on movement between the divided country. From 1961, the border was closed and Berlin completely encircled, first by barbed wire, then bricks and finally a concrete wall, along with the infamous ‘death strip’.

Access was now restricted between Berlin and the West. A wall, 124 mile miles in length, was placed around the three sectors of West Berlin, cutting off the city from the rest of the world.

The badly damaged Reichstag. Berlin 1945

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An Iconic picture of the face-off between the West and the East.  The Cold War starts – October 1961

Another iconic picture of a GDR Border Guard fleeing across the barbed-wire to escape to West -Berlin (1961)

The Reichstag, showing the Berlin Wall in place behind it. – West Berlin 1981.

I shall cover various aspects of the two opposing forces, providing the backdrop and background information my Cold War trilogy.

In 1984/85, the Warsaw Pact was already a significant force, the Soviet Union in particular. For this, and the next Post, I will cover the Soviet and NATO strategic inventory, which was being modernised by both the Warsaw Pact and NATO.

SS-19. In 1984/5, the Soviet Union had some 360 of these ICBM’s (Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles), most of them of the mod. 3 variety, with 6 MIRV’s (Multiple Independently targetable Reentry Vehicles), basically multiple nuclear warheads. 

The SS-19, deployed in 1982, was 27 metres in length, 2.5 metres wide and weighed in excess of 100,000 kilograms. It had a two-stage liquid fuel propulsion system with a PBV (Post-Boost Vehicle for a hot launch) which gave it a range of up to 10,000 kilometres. Mod 3 would carry a 550 kiloton yield (MIRV), whereas the Mod 2, would carry a 5 megaton yield warhead.

Apart from the SS-19’s, the most modern ICBM in their armoury, the Soviet Union had 520 x SS-11, 60 x SS-13, 150 x SS-17 (many being deployed with 4 MIRV’s) and 308 x SS-18 (Being upgraded to carry 10 MIRV’s).

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Minuteman III missile inside its Silo, 60 miles from Grand Forks Air Base, late 1980.

NATO too, in particular the United States, modernised their nuclear arsenal in the race to reach a state of ‘mutual assured destruction’. NATOs strategy was dependent on the Soviet Union believing that NATO would respond with an all out, devastating nuclear response to any aggressive moves they might make, whether Nuclear or Conventional. The focus very much on the Iron Curtain hot spot that stretched along the Inner German Border.  There were many incidents that came close to inciting a nuclear exchange.

NATO’s strategic forces (I shall cover bombers and submarines at a later date) were underpinned by the United Staes, United Kingdom and France. The US had 450 x LGM-30F (minuteman II), 550 x LGM-30G with 3 MIRV (minuteman III) and 37 x Titan 2, phasing out by the end of 1987.

A minuteman III missile being launched. An ICBM, with a three-stage power plant, consisting of three solid-propellant rocket motors; first stage – Thiokol; second stage – Aerojet-General; third stage – United Technologies Chemical Systems Division.

With a height of 18 metres, diameter of just under 2 metres it weighed significantly less than the SS-19, at 36,000 kilograms. But it still had a range of over 6,000 miles and could travel at a speed in excess of 15,000 mph, Mach 23! It carried a warhead of  170 kilotons, 350 kilotons or up to 450 kilotons. With three MIRV’s, this was capable of a significant punch.

The British and French nuclear forces were very much submarine and air launched (apart from tactical nuclear weapons), I will cover those at a later date.

There were also the conventional forces lined up along the Inner German Border, the visible barrier between the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the German Democratic Republic (GDR), or better known as West and East Germany. I shall be covering their organisation and equipment over the coming months.

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The T-62 might be an old tank, but in the early days it was the mainstay of the Soviet Army.

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Weighing in the region of 40 tons, it could still travel at a top speed of nearly 50mph with its V-12, 38 litre engine.

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This one, on display in the Bovington Tank Museum,  was captured from the Iraqi forces during the 1991 Gulf War.

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Infrared searchlight on the right of the turret, next to the 115mm main gun.

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These days the Infrared could easily be detected by modern equipment.

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A Soviet T-62 in East Berlin.  – East Berlin, 1984

 


t-54/55 on parade – East Berlin 1984

Although it can be classed as an insignificant tank, and maybe not even referred to as a Main Battle Tank, when up against T-64’s, T-72’s and T-80’s, it is still very much in use across the world. One thing I would like to point out, in 1984/5, the Soviet Union had 35,000 T-54/55/62’s in service. The British Army at that time had less than a 1,000 MBTs. Quality versus quantity? Would we have had enough ammunition?

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My intention is not to portray a particular message, but just share some of my research and experiences with you.  This is the first of my new ‘Cold War’ series, supporting the writing of my new ‘Cold War’ series of novels, covering the hypothetical invasion of West Germany by the Warsaw Pact in the 80’s. ‘The Red Effect’.

Photographs and Blog are copyrighted to Harvey Black

Berlin, the Cold War Years – Part 4. A Hot War in reality.

At the end of World War 2, what remained of pre-war Germany was divided into four zones of occupation. Each of the Allied powers; the United Kingdom, United States, France and Russia, controlled one of them.

The capital of Germany, Berlin, was also divided into four Sectors. The consequence being, that the three Western Allied powers now controlled territory deep within the Soviet Union Zone of Germany.

Over time, the tensions between the four Allied powers increased, eventually resulting in the Berlin blockade in 1948, when the Soviets attempted to starve West Berlin into submission and force the other three Allied powers out. This failed and the Soviets eventually relented, but an ever-increasing number of East Germans fled to the West; between 150,000 and 300,000 a year during 1951-1953. As a consequence restrictions were placed on movement between the divided country. From 1961, the border was closed and Berlin completely encircled, first by barbed wire, then bricks and finally a concrete wall, along with the infamous ‘death strip’.

Access was now restricted between Berlin and the West. A wall, 124 mile miles in length, was placed around the three sectors of West Berlin, cutting off the city from the rest of the world.

Remnants of the infamous Berlin Wall – February 2012

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Remnants of the infamous Berlin Wall – February 2012

Having free, unhindered access to East Berlin and Museum Island was a real treat for me. Below is the Der Deutschen Kunst Museum, the House of Art Museum.

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Deutschen Kunst Museum – Berlin – February 2012 

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Deutschen Kunst Museum, Berlin. Joseph Goebbels visiting – 1937

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Also on the Island, the Berliner Dom, or Berlin Cathedral. In the 1940’s, it suffered considerable damage from bomb blast waves and incendiaries. Over the years it has been slowly restored.

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Berliner Dom – February 2012

With my passion for military history, I naturally wanted to see this building below, Wilhelmstrasse 81-85. Luftwaffe Historians would know that in 1933, the newly formed Reich Aviation Ministry, headed by Hermann Goering, occupied it. The complex was demolished  in 1935 and was re-built.  The building you see today, with over 2,000 rooms.

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Wilhelmstrasse 81-85, Berlin – February 2012

The Bebelplatz is known as the site of the infamous Nazi book burning ceremony held on the evening of the 10th May, 1933. Today, a memorial by Micha Ullman, consisting of a glass plate set into the cobblestones, shows empty book cases below.

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Bebelplatz, Berlin – February 2012

At the end of the day the GDR, and East Berlin, were occupied by the Soviet Union and their military were ever present.

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Russian T-62 driving passed a Kindergarten – East Berlin 1983

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There were ‘Restricted Areas’ where the Soviets preferred us not to go. We naturally ignored them. I got this one to take home as a souvenir.

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Russian helicopter taking an interest in us. Hip (Mi-8) – East Berlin 1983

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This one is a deadly Hind-D (Mi-24). The worlds first Attack Helicopter. East Berlin – 1983

Below are some photographs of the Treptow Soviet Memorial. Although the GDR was part of the Warsaw Pact, the Soviets were still very much an occupying power. The memorial below, to the Soviet soldiers killed in WW2,  is of a significant size.

Main entrance. The people give you an indication of its size. East Berlin – February 2012

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View from the main entrance. Note the vertical slabs either side – East Berlin, February 2012

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Each slab was carved with a scene depicting elements of WW2 – February 2012

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Treptow Park Memorial – East Berlin, February 2012

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The view looking back towards the entrance. East Berlin, February 2012.

For an interlude, I will share a few shots of my very first parachute jump. I did my jumps between my first tour in Northern Ireland and coming to Berlin. I completed my jumps with the Dutch Commandos, my first one landing on my feet, arse and head. Not quite the perfect roll I had anticipated.

Gulp, I’m ready. 1981

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Yes that is me. My chute did open.

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Yes you do have to carry your own chute back!

One key event that occurred every year, was the military parade to celebrate the formation of the GDR. This was naturally a key concern for the western allies. A country we didn’t officially recognise, holding a military parade on our doorstep. It was also an opportunity to disguise the movement of troops for a potential attack.

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Troops start to flood in on the outskirts of East Berlin – 1984

First one is a FROG (Free Rocket Over Ground) 7 resupply, the second a FROG  7 TEL (Transporter, Erector, Launcher). FROG 7’s played a key part in the missile attacks on Israel during the Yom Kippur War.

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Ural 375 – East Berlin 1984

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Troops also arrived by rail – East Berlin – 1984

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BRDM at the front and two ACRV’s, Armoured Command and Reconnaissance Vehicle. East Berlin 1984

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Many of the troops were camped out at various parks and car parks on the outskirts. East Berlin 1984

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Night time operations were a regular part of our life, often staying out for days at a time. East Berlin 1984

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Posing shot…  – East Berlin 1984

Then the fun and games begin….

Can you spot him? East Berlin 1983

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See him now?

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And another.

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The VOPO were never far away. East Berlin 1984

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The more troops and equipment that arrived, the more reinforcements to make life difficult for us. East Berlin 1984

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Underside photographs were a key goal.  This one showing a mine plough attachment. Weld thickness would also help in determining the thickness of a tanks armour. East Berlin 1984.

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This is of a BMP-2, moving at the time. East Berlin 1984.

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The tensions steadily got worse. Don’t forget, we didn’t recognise the GDR government, let a alone the Police. West Berlin police had no authority over us either, as we were also an occupying power in West Berlin. East Berlin 1984.

The glasses were fashionable at the time!

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BMP-2, the latest MICV, Mechanised Infantry Combat Vehicle, in the GDR and Soviet arsenal. An AT-5, Spandrel anti-tank missile sits on top of the turret. East Berlin 1984.

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BMP 1. A close up of the AT-3, Sagger, anti-tank missile. The wire guided missile devastated

the Israeli tanks during the Yom Kippur War  – East Berlin 1984

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SA-13  Gopher, Surface to Air Missil carrier. – East Berlin  1984

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SA 8 Gecko, Surface to Air Missile carrier – East Berlin 1984

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T-72 tank, the latest in the GDR  Army, the NVA, National Volksarmee. East Berlin 1984.

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During the parade preparations they didn’t like us being around. A bit difficult when one of your team is six foot eight

and built like a brick wall. – East Berlin 1984

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SA 9 Gaskin, Surface to Air Missile, mounted on a BRDM 2. East Berlin 1984

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SA 4 Ganef. Surface to Air Missile, resupply vehicle.  Big! Flew at Mach 4 and could reach a height of 20 miles.

Now I know why I didn’t join the RAF (Best air force in the world). East Berlin 1984

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FROG 7 TEL,  East Berlin 1984.

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The German Navy was always in attendance. East Berlin 1984.

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Tatra 813 towing and M1974 artillery piece. East Berlin 1984.

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T-72 East Berlin 1984

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BMP -1, MICV with troops. One draw back was thin armour and fuel tanks in the back doors. East Berlin 1984

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Silkworm TEL, Surface to Ship Missile. East Berlin 1984.

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Silkworm missile resupply. East Berlin 1984.

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T-72. East Berlin 1984.

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T-72.  East Berlin 1984

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The military were pretty high tech, not so the cars. The famous Trabant.

One Trabant hit us and didn’t leave a mark, but the cars front end fell off. Berlin 2012.

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The VOPO, Volkspolitzei’s main mode of transport in the 80’s. Berlin February 2012.

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I shall finish off with an old photo of the ICC, the International Congress Centre. West Berlin 1982.

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My intention is not to portray a particular message, but just share some of my photographs and experiences with you. 

Photographs are copyrighted to Harvey Black

Berlin, The Cold War Years – A Hot War in reality. Part 1.

At the end of World War 2, what remained of pre-war Germany was divided into four zones of occupation. Each of the Allied powers; the United Kingdom, United States, France and Russia, controlled one of them.

The capital of Germany, Berlin, was also divided into four sectors. The consequence being, that the three Western Allied powers now controlled territory deep within the Soviet Union Zone of Germany.

Berlin Sectors

Over time, the tensions between the four Allied powers increased, eventually resulting in the Berlin blockade in 1948, when the Soviets attempted to starve West Berlin into submission and force the other three Allied powers out. This failed and the Soviets eventually relented, but an ever-increasing number of East Germans fled to the West; between 150,000 and 300,000 a year during 1951-1953. As a consequence, restrictions were placed on movement between the divided country. From 1961, the border was closed and Berlin was completely encircled, first by barbed wire, then bricks and finally a concrete wall, along with the infamous ‘death strip’.

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Remains of the Berlin Wall and ‘Death Strip’ –February 2012

During my time in Berlin in the 80’s, I was one member of a small army intelligence unit that had the task of monitoring Soviet and East German activity in the Eastern Sector of Berlin. In February 2012, I returned to Berlin again, after a gap of 25 years; I would like to share with you some of my experiences.

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Brandenburg Gate –February 2012

As you can see from these recent photographs of the Brandenberg Gate, the general public now has free access to both sides of this unique monument. On the day I took these photographs a protest was in progress right next to it, unheard of back in the 80’s. By the way, West Berliners don’t normally dress as Monks and wear white face masks.

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Brandenburg Gate -­‐ 1983

As this photograph, from the early 80’s, shows access to the monument was prohibited and the Berlin Wall is in plain view.

During the Cold War, there was very much a dark side to East Berlin. Although I had seen the Soviet Special Camp and Ministry of State Security (Stasi) Remand Prison from the outside in the 80’s, on my recent visit I was able to see it from the inside.

Stasi Prison

Outside the walls of the Stasi Prison, Genslerstrasse, Berlin – February 2012

VOPO
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Blocked in by VOPO’s, early 80’s

Although we endeavoured to gain access to all areas, we were often boxed in by the VOPO’s, Volkspolizei, who frequently tried to detain us and often blocked us in, sometimes covering our vehicle in blankets.

Stasi Water

Stasi Prison-­‐water torture cell – February 2012

For this particular site, the Stasi Prison, it was obvious why they didn’t want us near it. The above photograph shows the instrument used for water torture.

Stasi Van

Vehicle used to transport and disorientate Stasi prisoners –February 2012

When arrested, they were driven around Berlin in a sealed vehicle for up to 4 hours to disorientate them. Bear in mind the prisoners were on Remand and had not, as yet, been convicted. They were basically held until such times as they signed a confession, then taken to court and sentenced.

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Padded cell for isolating the prisoners – February 2012

In the padded isolation cells, as above, the prisoners were held incommunicado. There was even a traffic light system in the corridor to ensure prisoners never met.

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Russian T-­‐62 tank, East Berlin -­‐ 1982

When monitoring Soviet troop movements such as these, the reaction was often far more violent. On one occasion, our vehicle rammed side on, so hard and pushed along sideways, that the tyres were ripped off the wheels. And on one occasion, I was personally dragged out of my vehicle and beaten up by Soviet and KGB troops.

BMP1

Russian BMP-­‐1, East Berlin – 1982

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Photographs are copyrighted to Harvey Black