Protect and Survive: A Timeline

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Macragge1, Aug 20, 2010.

  1. Astrodragon Coffee-seeking Dragon Donor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2008
    Location:
    UK - Oxfordshire
    Only one thing, really.
    Nuclear missiles do have a fail rate. Indeed, it was estimates some of the Russian designs for the period had a fail of 50% (although this includes wild misses due to guidance failure). Remember, noones actually done a real test of one..!!! (On either side - and the polar shots are in an even worse case!)
    Also, nukes dont always go off, and when they do they cause fratricide.

    So the results, while terrible, will be somewhat erratic with some places that should have been incinerated being ok.
     
  2. Macragge1 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2009
    Location:
    IDU
    You are of course, absolutely spot-on when it comes to explaining the mess that was Argentina in the mid-eighties in OTL. In the Protect and Survive universe, however, the rising tensions since about mid-'83 have led to a much more militarist atmosphere (this is not unique to Argentina - many neutral nations, even far away from the battle-zones, are looking to strong, right-wing leaders to protect them - this is both down to increasing anti-communism and the fact that these guys are seen as the country's best chance of survival if the war that seems more and more inevitable each day is to come).

    The outbreak of global thermonuclear war has had a profound effect on every nation, even those untouched by a single bomb - put simply, they're not thinking straight - in the absolute confusion that will exist for a good period after the attack, the risk of the new Argentinian government chancing what they think will be a bloodless takeover (hell, they'll market it as a 'rescue' for the stranded British there) in order to unite the people behind it in tough times - sure, the defeat in the Malvinas left a bitter taste and killed the Junta, but this only makes the new government want it more, if you get what I mean. It would only be a bad decision in so much as 1982 was a bad move - one has to get inside the weird stuff going on during Armageddon. As mentioned above, if this does happen, things might get a bit complex.

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news...


    Astrodragon - thanks for the comment - there were definitely a few duds amongst the hits on the UK (although given the amount of megatons falling per square mile this mostly means less overkill) and quite a few misses - only a few Soviet missiles hit their targets dead on - not that it matters in most cases, although this may come to be important later on.

    The biggest effect on the mainland will come from the fact that CHANTICLEER (which the DPM ended up in, despite the fear the Sovs knew about it) survives due to a bad miss from a big bomb meant to ground burst it - to be candid, the DPM was gambling on this happening - after all, it would take almost a direct hit to turn the occupants of the bunker into soup, and there were few other places available for the DPM and staff to hide (more cynically, he is expendable - there are other nuclear deputies and military leaders hidden around the place - even at sea, as we have seen)

    A more obvious effect of the dud nukes comes when looking at more isolated NATO targets around the world (which will be discussed in more detail once communications are restored) - here, a failed nuke is the difference between life and death, rather than the difference between roasting on gas mark four rather than gas mark three.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2010
  3. Philadelphus Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2010
    Macragge - compliments on your work. The bit about the Cadet's experience makes me shudder and I can only hope that if that were me there really wouldn't be time for the brain to register relief. (Have you ever, say, burned a finger while cooking and notice that you feel the pain a couple of seconds later?)

    Without taking away from what you've done, I have a quibble: if Newcastle's spared a direct hit, how have the Old Man and his Wife died instantaneously (you haven't actually said they did, just that the flash was the last thing they ever saw). Shouldn't they be living a few seconds more and dying when something (the column in the square?) collapses on them, or burning to death, or.... Of course, they could have been facing the flash and blinded.

    The generic-but-capitalized character names are a nice touch, by the way. Any one of us can be a Wife or an Old Man (depending...) or a Cadet so those names can apply to lots of people. But capitalizing them makes them seem like individuals too. I'm probably not telling you anything you didn't think about, though....

    Again, shudder.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2010
  4. Macragge1 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2009
    Location:
    IDU
    You're very observant, Philadelphus - without giving too much away, one must take the phrase 'last thing they ever saw' pretty literally...
     
  5. Philadelphus Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2010
    For some days, I've been mulling over whether and how to respond to this. This may not be the place for extended reminiscences. The situation became a minor obsession of mine late in 1983, between the broadcast of The Day After and Washington's annual air-raid-siren test, which happened to be two or three weeks later, and the siren happened to be particularly loud where I was living that year. I'd known that nuclear war would be pretty bad, but hadn't really realized until that moment that it could happen on a moment's notice. I started reading up on weapons effects, realized what being less than two miles from the White House meant.... Not that I was holed up in a bunker reading only about weapons effects, it just sort of added itself to the list of things I was interested in. Until the fall of the Soviet Union, I couldn't go a day without thinking about it. And yet I was 19 to 26 in this time period, discovering the world, optimistic by nature, hoping for the best.... And no one in my life ever talked about it. So I took the cue and kept it to myself as well.

    The fear went away when the Soviets went away. (I know, objectively, the danger's not gone, and I carefully avoid threads on this forum like "the next war," but it's not an ever-present fear for me any more. I figure my odds of living a normal life span are pretty good.) The months - up to two years, even - after 9/11 felt a bit the same to me. Two many "what ifs" in the papers and me living in the middle of a major city. I didn't set foot in Washington - a city I like very much and which isn't too far away from me - during the week until early 2004. Figured if something was going to happen there it wouldn't be on a weekend.

    If the fear were completely forgotten, I wouldn't be on this forum. I found Amerigo's Cuban Missile War timeline while googling for I-don't-remember-what. But it may have fallen back into the category of a general morbid fascination with the human experience in deadly situations like the Titanic. I can pick up a book on that sort of thing, providing it's mostly from the perspective of those experiencing it rather than more technical, and read it cover to cover.
     
  6. Macragge1 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2009
    Location:
    IDU

    Thanks for that man, it was really interesting - can't think of a better place to stick one's reminiscing about the threat at the time. As I think i've said before, it's really interesting hearing about what it was like for someone living in what was basically the world's no.1 target during the height of the Cold War - hell, living in Newcastle, which would more or less receive its bombs out of politeness, after the fall of the USSR, I can still sympathise with that morbid fascination you're describing.

    Coincidentally, it was Amerigo's CMW TL (which is of course, superlative, and a big influence on this one) that brought me to this site too. I agree with you as well that the human perspective is the thing that really makes something like this for me. Obviously, statistics about kilotons and blast radiuses are really interesting and terrifying, but I always found that it was the stories of families like those in Threads (or the lovers in Titanic for that matter) that put the numbing casualty statistics etcetera into sharp relief; that's the thing i've tried to achieve with the italicized bits here.

    Thanks for all your compliments about this TL and thanks again for such interesting comments.
     
  7. JN1 Who Patrick Harvie wishes he was

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2007
    Location:
    My house
    Wow, just wow. The attack was not unexpected, but it is still a shock when it came.
    When the V-bombers were the main deterrent one of the nuclear deputies (probably the Defence Secretary) went to RAF High Wycombe. I'd presume that when the navy took over this particular deputy would go to HMS Warrior instead.

    Nice to see inclusion of the 'letters of last resort'. I do have reservations about including 'EMP' effects, but I won't complain.

    Well I'm now dead. :D
     
  8. Macragge1 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2009
    Location:
    IDU
    I'd love to see what's been written on them over the years (actually, given what that would entail, I'm not so sure) - obviously mine's just a complete guess (there's no doubt, however, that it would be a 'go') but you've got to wonder how short these things must be - I'm sure PMs (especially the old classicist Macmillan) have had the urge to write these sweeping little essays on duty and responsibility etc. I would hope they'd have come to their senses - after all, it's hardly like the XO is going to sit there and read through it - it's gonna be a case of ripping it open and finding yes or no straight away.


    It's my selling out to Hollywood, Jan :D - but yeah, it's not made clear, but the EMP effects in this aren't even anywhere near the popular belief of every electric thing exploding (i.e an iron...) - it's mainly just communications that are fried, and even half of this is just thanks to so much infrastructure being ripped up by blast and heat.

    Glad you liked it though and thanks for the continued input!
     
  9. JN1 Who Patrick Harvie wishes he was

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2007
    Location:
    My house
    I've read that in most initiations at the point HEMP becomes a serious problem for unshielded electronics (i.e civilian spec stuff, military electronics are shielded) it is the least of one's worries as heat and blast will have reduced the said electronic device to radioactive dust.

    Cars and other vehicles should continue to work, if unscathed by the other effects. The electrics are essentially inside a Faraday Cage.

    It's been speculated that the letters may have had one of four options:

    1: Get on with it and retaliate
    2: Place yourself under the command of the United States (if it is still there)
    3: Head for Australia (if it is still there)
    4: Use your own judgement.

    It has also been said that a lot of captains would have gone for No.4 whatever the letter said.
    Funny how the Americans and French spent millions on communications aircraft while we depended on listening out for the Today programme on Radio 4 and four hand written letters. :D

    EDIT: Glad to see no use of the 'E' word in that last chapter. ;-)
     
  10. Lemon flavoured British Miami Dolphins fan

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2010
    Location:
    Newark, Notts, UK
    As far as I'm aware (i.e, likely not very much...) that's still the procedure.
     
  11. Philadelphus Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2010
    The Today programme?
     
  12. JN1 Who Patrick Harvie wishes he was

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2007
    Location:
    My house
    Indeed it still is; Henessey mentions it in the latest edition of his book. Major apparently took a whole weekend off to write his four letters. We don't know what Blair, Brown and Cameron did, but at least one of Brown's letters may still be in one of the four V-bombers depending on when the last one sailed.

    Once a PM leaves office the letters are destroyed without being opened.

    The Today Programme: http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/default.stm and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Today_(BBC_Radio_4). Some people are sceptical about the claim that the programme has a place in the nuclear deterrent.
     
  13. Philadelphus Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2010
  14. Lemon flavoured British Miami Dolphins fan

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2010
    Location:
    Newark, Notts, UK
  15. JN1 Who Patrick Harvie wishes he was

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2007
    Location:
    My house
    Radio 4's frequencies would have been used for the WTBS, so no Today Programme once WTBS is brought in. That suggests the test would be to see what WTBS is saying.
    However a BOOB attack might silence R4 without a move over to WTBS.
     
  16. Stateless Well-Known Watermelon

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2007
    Location:
    Who's asking?
    A BOOB attack sounds fun, and not at all terrifying as in reality.
     
  17. JN1 Who Patrick Harvie wishes he was

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2007
    Location:
    My house
    If I didn't know what it meant I'd certainly like to come under a BOOB attack. :p
     
  18. Macragge1 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2009
    Location:
    IDU
    A really worrying amount of the planning for nuclear war does seem almost farcical - Jan, I'm sure you read Hennessey's story about how, in the 60's, the PM would have been fumbling for change at a payphone in order to order a nuclear strike (assuming he was out and about, of course)
     
  19. RCAF Brat Vanguard of your destruction

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2006
    Location:
    Dark Space
    Nuclear war in 1983. I am so dead. (flight time for an ICBM is about 40-45 minutes, so I've got half an hour left at this point.) I guess that that is the price paid for living next to one of the more important targets in my country.
     
  20. anon_user anonymous member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2010
    Location:
    somewhere
    Hmm... maybe Bignone manages a step-down that comes out better for the military - amnesty for all but a few, with trials to be conducted by the military? If CONADEP happens, it'll screw up the reputation of the military; then again, it might get suppressed or not happen.
    I do like the idea of a 'rescue' operation - perhaps the Argentines attempt to send troops to 'restore order'?

    Excellent writing, by the way.