1 May 1960, a Lockheed U-2 reconnaissance aircraft in 05: Moscow time Moscow time invaded the airspace of the USSR from Afghanistan. It was the first link in the chain of events, where everything was: the pursuit of a spy plane and its destruction, diplomatic demarches, a loud international scandal and the famous Khrushchev promise to show the Americans "fucking mother."
9 September 1945 the Second World War ended with the signing of the Unconditional Surrender Act by the representatives of Japan. Yesterday’s allies once again became, if not enemies, then rivals in the struggle for influence in the world. Gunsmiths competed in the creation of new types of weapons, scientists - in the development of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction, intelligence officers - in revealing each other's secrets. From the beginning of the 50-ies began repeated attempts to invade Soviet airspace reconnaissance aircraft. 1950 to 1960 Soviet air defenses shot down more than 20 intruders. But, despite the risk, reconnaissance flights continued.
U-2 reconnaissance aircraft
In 1955, Lockheed’s U-2 reconnaissance aircraft took off. Flying at an altitude of more than 20.000 m at a speed of 780 km / h, it was out of reach for fighters and anti-aircraft artillery. Eight cameras installed on U-2 allowed to scan the territory of 4300x800 km in one flight. The pictures taken from a height of 15.000 m, read the headlines of newspapers.
The “10-10” air squadron was created, the purpose of which, according to legend, was to conduct meteorological observations; in fact, flights were reconnaissance in nature. The planes flew over the Warsaw bloc countries and along the borders of the USSR, and on July 4 1956, the U-2 for the first time invaded the USSR airspace. Soviet air defenses recorded flights, the government sent formidable notes to the United States, but the American leadership could not resist the temptation of new flights. During 2-4 hours, U-2 collected unique reconnaissance information about the Soviet air defense system, the location of military airfields, antiaircraft artillery positions, and the location of naval and radar ships.
With each U-2 flight, deeper and deeper invaded the territory of the USSR. By the beginning of 1960, U-2 had already made 24 flights over the territory of the USSR.
9 April 1960, the spy plane flew safely over the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, photographed the atomic bomb installed on the tower and ready to explode and safely flew abroad. The military got on the first number, in the corridors of the Ministry of Defense clearly pulled the grave cold of 37 of the year.
Operation “Grand Slam”
In the meantime, in Peshawar (Pakistan), the new U-2 was preparing to fly under the tail number 56-6693. As part of Operation Grand Slam, the aircraft was supposed to cross the USSR for the first time from south to north along the Kirovabad-Magnitogorsk-Chelyabinsk-Sverdlovsk-Kirov-Plesetsk-Arkhangelsk-Murmansk route and land at a military base in Norway. The flight duration is 9 hours, the distance is 6000 km, of which 4700 is over the territory of the USSR. It was assumed that, flying over the largest industrial centers and military bases, U-2 will bring the most valuable intelligence information that a dozen of the most knowledgeable agents will not be able to gather over the months.
Pilot Francis Gary Powers was to fly the plane. Powers was considered the most experienced pilot of the 10-10 squadron. He has already had 27 flights to U-2 over the territories of Poland, East Germany, China and the USSR.
1 May 1960 city
The flight, scheduled for the end of April, was postponed twice: they were waiting for permission from Washington, or for the suitable flying weather. Finally, 1 May stars, as they say, "come together." Powers received from the unit commander, Colonel Shelton, the last farewell and thousandth reminder that, no matter what the circumstances, the plane should in no way fall into the hands of Russians: before leaving the U-2, the pilot must press the self-destruction button cars.
An intelligence officer presented Francis with a “souvenir” - a silver dollar keychain with an ear, inside which was a pin smeared with curare venom. “If the Soviets take you prisoner and the torture becomes unbearable, this is the last chance to die worthily,” the officer showed touching concern for the pilot.
"Blood from the nose!"
Spy plane spotted immediately when crossing the border. The first of the hierarchs of the USSR found out about this the chairman of the KGB Shelepin. At the air defense headquarters, where he urgently called, they were “not yet in the know.” Despite the early morning, Shelepin dialed Khrushchev's number (of course, not at all to congratulate him on the holiday). The reaction of Nikita Sergeevich, distinguished by his immediacy, was: “Shoot down! Blood from the nose! ”Everyone was running: the marshals and generals, the commanders of all the armed forces and districts. It was literally in the air that if the intruder left this time, it would not be the head, then the shoulder straps from the shoulders of many would fly.
Ordered to ram
At the beginning of 1960, the Su-9 fighter-interceptor, capable of rising to a height of over 20.000 meters, was adopted by the USSR. The first cars appeared in separate aircraft regiments at the end of the 1959 of the year. But there were few machines, and the pilots who mastered it were even smaller. One of them, Captain Mentyukov, on May 1 was in Sverdlovsk at Koltsovo Airport - it overtook a new Su-9 from Novosibirsk to Belarus. It was Igor Mentyukov who was the first to raise U-2 for destruction.
The fighter was unarmed. The car overtook, naturally without ammunition. Su-9 had no guns. Already in the sky, Mentiukov received the coordinates of the intruder and the order to "destroy the target with a ram."
Captain Ayvazyan says: “Having heard the order to“ ram ”, I realized that the pilot was doomed. Overtaking the aircraft pilots fly without a sealed suit. A ram is always a risk. In this case, even if the plane survives, it is useless to eject - at the height of 20.000 meters the pilot who left the plane will simply burst like a balloon. The pilot who accepted the order calmly replied: “I understood everything, to ram,” he added a little hesitant, “please, don't forget your family and mother.”
It was not destined for Captain Mentyukov to die that day. Flying at a speed of about 2.000 km / h, the Su-9, in order to bring down the “low-speed” U-2 (780 km / h), needed a tip from the ground. The lead fell: the target periodically disappeared on the radar screens. Having spent fuel, Su-9 went to "Koltsovo".
In the case of rocket men
By May 1960, the Soviet air defenses began to move to the air defense system. The C-75 missile systems were set up around major cities.
Quick reference. C-75 "Dvina": hits targets flying at speeds above 1000 km / h at distances 29-34 km and altitudes 25-27 km; Mass of warhead - 200 kg.
In the zone of one of them, namely the 2 th division of the 57 brigade, U-2, led by Powers, turned out to be. Combat crew was commanded by Major Mikhail Voronov. The spy plane was at the very edge of the division's coverage area. Voronov hoped that the plane would change course and hesitated with the launch team to shoot for sure. When it became clear that the violator would not change the course and was about to go beyond the reach of the missiles, the major gave the order to fire a volley with three missiles. Of the three flew one.
The only rocket that took off exploded behind the plane, destroying the tail and damaging the wing. The car began to fall. Powers' blast pressed to the dashboard, he realized that if he tried to eject, he would cut off his legs. Therefore, I decided to get out of the cab. Contrary to the instructions, the U-2 self-destruct button was not pressed. (According to Powers himself, when he threw back the flashlight, he was half pulled out, and he simply could not reach it. According to another version, there was a rumor among U-2 pilots that the plane was undermined immediately, and not with a delay assured, Powers decided not to risk and violated the instructions.)
This happened in 8: 53 in 32 km from Sverdlovsk, 3,5 hours after U-2 broke the USSR state border.
The first combat launch in the USSR
The launch of 1 May was not the premiere of the C-75. Back in October 1959 of the year, “Chinese comrades” (such as Li Xi Qing and Wang Yu Shin) shot down a Taiwanese reconnaissance aircraft RB-57D. But it was first combat start in the USSR. Nobody from the personnel of the shooting experience division had any.
After the explosion, a whole cloud of pulses appeared on the screen of the locator, among which is the responder signal of the fired missile leaving the target. The impression was that the intruder used passive interference, throwing out the foil, the rocket did not explode and passed the target. In fact, the missile warhead successfully worked, destroying the U-2, but the engines and the rear hardware continued to work. If not heads, shoulder straps were at stake - for sure, that is why no one rushed to report “the target was destroyed!” In order to guarantee the defeat of the target, the commander of the neighboring division, Captain Sheludko, performed another volley. Three missiles have fallen on the wreckage of the aircraft.
A week later, the newspapers published the Decree of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on awarding for the destruction of the intruder aircraft the orders of the Red Banner Major Voronov, Captain Sheludko and the fighter pilot Senior Lieutenant Sergei Safronov. The note did not indicate that the latter was awarded posthumously.
Tragedy in the sky
As soon as the U-2 was in the area of responsibility of the 57 anti-aircraft missile brigade, the “Carpet!” Command sounded. According to it, all aircraft, regardless of their departmental affiliation, sit down at the nearest airfields. The rocket operators on the screens of their locators should only see the intruder. But, contrary to the team, our planes were in the sky.
In addition to the already mentioned Su-9 Igor Mentyukov, two MiG-19 - captain Boris Ayvazian and senior lieutenant Sergey Safronov were lifted into the air. Someone from the highest ranks of the Air Force gave the order to lift airplanes into the air, without notifying the rocket men about this.
Powers' plane was already shot down, but the rocket men were not in a hurry with triumphant reports. In case of an error, no excuse would save them from the wrath of the celestials from the Central Committee. Only when the wreckage of the U-2 began to fall to the ground, the report went upstairs: "The target is hit." But until that moment, the operators of the neighboring divisions saw air targets on their locators, which should not be in the sky!
Therefore, the neighboring divisions carried out another 4 launch, one fell on the Su-9 and three - on the MiG-19 pair. Captain Mentyukov on the Su-9 gone from the rocket. Captain Ayvazyan, seeing the danger, also dived sharply. Senior Lieutenant Safronov slowed down with a maneuver for hundredths of a second.
At the end of the 50s, a major reduction of the armed forces took place in the USSR. The army was reduced by 1.200 thousand. Warships were cut into scrap metal, Tanks. The Air Force command understood that if fighter planes beat the spy, it’s not only stars on epaulettes and orders on the chest, it’s also a powerful argument in the struggle for priority with the air defense forces. The victim of this fight was the Soviet pilot. Two months before his death, March 25, 1960, Sergei Safronov turned 30 years old.
For two days, the US government was silent, hoping that the missing plane would be announced somewhere. The Soviet side was silent too. When hopes for a safe return of U-2 disappeared, the Americans reported the loss of a NASA aircraft that conducted meteorological observations. 5 May was followed by a response message from the USSR about the destruction of the violating aircraft. The text was drafted in such a way that it followed: the plane was completely destroyed, the pilot was killed. The US State Department acknowledged the fact of the violation of the border by an aircraft, stated that the pilot of the USSR airspace was inadvertently violated and that the plane was completely peaceful.
After a pause, 7 in May Khrushchev loudly presented the whole bundle of "trump aces" to the world: the testimony of the surviving pilot of the reconnaissance mission, the remnants of the photographic equipment installed on the U-2, the equipment of the pilot with the marking of the US Department of Defense. In TsPKO them. Gorky had an exhibition where everyone (and especially foreigners) was shown the remains of an airplane and spy equipment, Powers suit, his business ID, money taken from him (7500 rubles), gold coins (48 pieces), USSR map with applied flight path and silent pistol. Over 320 of thousands of Soviet citizens and 20 of thousands of foreigners managed to admire the trophies of Soviet air defense.
A wave of rallies and meetings swept across the USSR at which the working people condemned the aggressive actions of the American imperialists (and at the same time assumed obligations to respond to vile provocations by issuing over-the-board products). It was then that a legend so dear to our heart was born (alas, only a legend!) That N. S. Khrushchev promised the Americans from the United Nations rostrum: “We will show you whore!”
While the Soviet people were proud that the American hawk was clipped by its wings (and some citizens demanded that its head be torn off), a special commission scrupulously studied literally by minutes the actions of the military. It turned out that for the first time in the defeat zone of the U-2 air defense missile system was still under Chelyabinsk, but the SNR was not capable due to the blown fuse. Instead of controlling the work of the equipment entrusted to him, the responsible operator admired the coherence of the work of the starting calculations. When the trivial malfunction was eliminated, the U-2 was already out of range.
Especially interested in the commission история with two missiles that did not come off the launchers. The official conclusion was that at the moment when the “Start!” Command was given back, the SNR cockpit was on the plane-rocket line, in which case the launch of the rocket was automatically blocked.
I. Tsisar, who served as a guidance officer in a famous division, asserts that the author of this version, according to which “no one is to blame for anything,” and therefore he suited everyone, he is. http://www.webslivki.com/u11_2.html
The commission understood for a long time, decided for a long time what to do: to plant or reward? We decided to reward. In addition to the already mentioned Voronov, Sheludko and Safronov, another 21 man received orders and medals.
17 August in the Column Hall of the House of Unions began an open trial of Powers. The political leaders of the USSR decided to use the current situation to the maximum and turned the Powers trial into a trial over the United States. The show was delivered in a big way. The Prosecutor General of the USSR, Rudenko, acted as the prosecutor. The lawyer competed with the prosecutor in an effort to “put” the spy behind bars for as long as possible.
On the other side of the ocean, the Americans took retaliatory steps, presented caught Soviet spies, showed the world from the UN tribune Soviet bug (“Chrysostom”) from the American embassy in Moscow (we are not the only ones to spy!), But the bowl on which the U-2 was shot down, far outweighed. In addition, Rudolf Abel was stubbornly silent about his belonging to the USSR, and the presentation of "Chrysostom" caused the opposite effect. The promulgation of the fact that the intelligence services of the USSR managed to establish a wiretap in the office of the American ambassador in Moscow and the Americans for 8 years (!) Could not find it, caused homeic laughter among diplomats.
Meanwhile, Powers repented, pleaded guilty and gave detailed testimony. "The most humane court in the whole world" measured the pilot 10 years.
Of the 10 Soviet years measured by him, Powers served less than 2's. 10 February 1962, he was exchanged for the Soviet intelligence officer Rudolf Abel arrested by the Americans.
The pilot who returned after his release to America was not greeted like a hero. Powers appeared before the investigative, and then before the Senate commission, was subjected to a lie detector test. And although both commissions found him innocent, many newspapers openly called him a traitor, asking many uncomfortable questions. Why was not the plane destroyed? Why surrendered? Why collaborated with the investigation? Why took part in the play "The trial of an American spy"? Destroyed the family of the pilot. As it turned out, the wife was not going to be loyal to her husband, who was sentenced to 10 years; returning home, Francis could only make a divorce.
Justified Powers subsequently worked as a pilot at Lockheed. For his services he received the “Silver Star” and (hold on tight!) “US POW Medal” (there is one). He wrote a memoir about his flight “Operation Flight,” in which he spoke not very flattering about the CIA, which caused him to be fired from Lockheed. Subsequently worked in news KNBC Broadcasting Company Helicopter Pilot.
Death of powers
Powers died a death worthy of a military pilot. 1 August 1977, a KNBC television helicopter flew to shoot a report about extinguishing a fire near Santa Barbara. Suddenly, the engine began to stall. Powers took the helicopter to land, but the children were playing at the nearest landing site. The pilot decided to fly to the airfield. True, it was far away from him, and fuel was tight, but Powers decided to take a chance. The helicopter did not reach the aerodrome. KNBC operator George Spears was killed along with Powers. The pilot fell asleep, as befits a military man, at Arlington Cemetery.
What is the "bottom line"?
After 1 on May 1960, U-2 flights over the USSR stopped. Only with the advent of the SR-1964 in 71, the Americans again decided to test the strength of Soviet air defenses. The Soviet designers, having received the wreckage of the aircraft, tried to copy it, but then abandoned these attempts, although some design solutions were used to create the M-17 (interceptor plane).
The international consequences were very serious. In 1960, a summit was to be held in Paris, at which the leaders of the USSR, the USA, Great Britain and France were going to discuss arms control issues. Incident with U-2 put a fat cross on the idea of the summit. The hopes that arose for the coming detente in international relations had to be buried. The story went the other way.