The Cold War is often viewed as one of the most ominous time periods in American history. With two of the most powerful nations on the verge of nuclear war, the world watched on as a feeling of hope from the end of World War II quickly shifted to a constant state of fear.
While most people know the major elements of the Cold War – from the threat of communism to the atomic bomb and the space race – some stories from the era have nearly been lost in time.
For example, Soviet satellites spying on the U.S. military revealed top-level military officials routinely visiting a small building at the center of the Pentagon. Assuming this was an entrance to a secret bunker or meeting spot, the Soviets immediately aimed two nuclear weapons at the site.
It was later discovered that the Soviets had found nothing more than the Pentagon’s hot dog stand where officials would regularly get lunch.
Military.com compiled a list of five stories and events that often go overlooked from the Cold War. Check out the video below for more:
The Soviets and the U.S. spied on each other relentlessly, and were always trying to come up with new ways to gain intel undetected. One of the more creative ways in which the U.S. hoped to gain an upper hand was by using a surgically modified cat as a spy.
Code-named Acoustic Kitty, the CIA inserted a microphone into the cat’s ear canal, fixed a small transmitter to the base of its skull and hid a wire and antenna in its fur.
During its first and only mission, the feline was tasked with eavesdropping on two men sitting on a park bench. However, the cat ultimately fled and was hit by a taxi shortly after.
The Cold War also produced one of man’s greatest achievements: landing on the moon. In a race to prove their technological prowess, both the U.S. and Soviet Union battled to become the first nation to send an astronaut some 239,000 miles from home.
While the Soviets were first into space, the U.S. ultimately proved victorious after the successful Apollo 11 mission which saw astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin step foot on the moon.
However, before the U.S. sent astronauts to the moon, they initially wanted to prove their nuclear dominance by striking the moon with a missile instead. Project A119 developed by the U.S. Air Force was a top-secret plan that required detonating a nuclear bomb on the moon.
The purpose of the mission was scientific, but would also serve as a visual show of force. If successful, the explosion was thought to have been visible from Earth – in plain view of U.S. citizens worried about their nation’s strength, and as an obvious act of might towards the Soviets.
The project was abandoned in January 1959, and it wasn’t until 2000 that Project A119 was revealed to the public.