Published On: Thu, Oct 24th, 2019

World War 3: Soviet Union’s secret Belfast invasion plan exposed in chilling map | World | News

Produced in 1964, just two years after the Cuban Missile Crisis pushed Cold War tensions to the brink, the documents show more than 100 UK cities and towns, including highly sensitive Government buildings and military locations. They are a product of more than four decades of Soviet intelligence preparing for full-scale conflict with the West. The incredible collection came to be known as the Red Atlas and shows how life could have been very different for Britain under Moscow’s control.

One map, in particular, shows Belfast in Northern Ireland in eerily accurate detail.

The River Lagan would have become “ЛАГАН,” Lagan Bridge would be “мост КУцкс БрцЖс” and the now George Best City Airport would be “Аэропорт Белфаст Сити”.

Many famous monuments are marked on the map and given a reference code in the key, including the post office, Albert Memorial Clock, and Belfast Castle.

In 2017, John Davies and Alexander J Kent released “The Red Atlas: How the Soviet Union Secretly Mapped the World” to reveal the full collection.

Maps of how Belfast would have looked under the USSR

Maps of how Belfast would have looked under the USSR (Image: RED ATLAS/GETTY)

The river Lagan is clearly marked

The river Lagan is clearly marked (Image: RED ATLAS)

Cold War secrets are still tumbling out and some of them are beautiful.

John Davies and Alexander J Kent

Part of the book reads: “Nearly three decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Cold War secrets are still tumbling out and some of them are beautiful.

“An enormous and secret infrastructure supported the intelligence battles that were waged between the East and West throughout the 43-year Cold War standoff.

“The US and the Soviet Union and their allies spied on each other incessantly, because they wanted to be prepared just in case an unthinkable war ever broke out.

“Spying involves waiting, watching, remembering and recording, it involves sophisticated cameras and high-altitude aircraft and missiles with satellites – but also people on the ground quietly walking down streets looking.

“Sometimes the products of all that spying during the Cold War were intelligence reports, which told Washington or London or Moscow what the other side was doing.”

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Plans for the UK

Plans for the UK (Image: RED ATLAS)

The pair spent 15 years researching the maps for their book, adding on their release that the level of detail was “mind-boggling”.

The book explains: “Intelligence reports provide inside information that could be used to decide broad strategies – when to move armies and navies.

“But sometimes the products were maps, highly detailed maps, useful for spies and policymakers, for diplomats, invading armies, and occupiers.

“Maps that provide more specific tactical information than might come from intelligence reports.

“Maps that could tell a general which roads and bridges provided the best route to use to drive his tanks, or an admiral which harbours were deep enough for his destroyers.

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What London could have looked like

What London could have looked like (Image: RED ATLAS)

The maps came at the height of the Cold War

The maps came at the height of the Cold War (Image: GETTY)

“When the Cold War ended, the secret infrastructure built up by the superpowers was left behind.”

Among the collection are also plans for London, showing the Темза (Thames) weaving through the centre of the capital, with famous landmarks including Странд (the Strand) and Мейфер (Mayfair) plotted correctly.

It also clearly marks the Foreign Office, Ministry of Defence, several Government offices, Scotland Yard, the Post Office, the BBC and the US Navy HQ to Europe.

Moving further north through Britain, some towns are marked phonetically, making it easier for Warsaw Pact troops if Britain turned red.

Saufend-on-Sji (Southend-on-Sea), Mejdsten (Maidstone) and Czelmsfed (Chelmsford) are just some of the major locations that feature.

The book explains why the maps are so sobering.

It adds: “Today much of it has been rediscovered and repurposed, missile silos in the American Midwest, for example, are being turned into eclectic prairie homes.

“Now, with the publication of this book, we can discover another aspect of that long-secret infrastructure – Soviet military maps of Moscow’s great adversaries – the US and Britain.

“Once classified, the maps display an eerie reminder of an obvious, yet an unsettling fact, at least for American and British readers.

World War 3 flashpoints

World War 3 flashpoints (Image: GETTY/DX)

“They show that the Russians were watching them, just as much as the Americans and British were watching them.

“They were looking down from above, and looking from the street, the Russians didn’t miss much.”

Experts are still unsure of exactly how such a high level of detail was gleaned, given that they far exceed what is provided on usual Ordnance Survey maps. 

Because many of the maps leave out road names, some have suggested that aerial photographs taken by the Zenit satellites were a key source of the information. 

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