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The real story behind the plane crash from the “Bridge of Spies”

The real story behind the plane crash from the “Bridge of Spies”
Exactly 54 years ago, on February 10, 1962, Francis Gary Powers walked past Rudolf Abel on Glienicke Bridge. The first-ever spy exchange was complete.
After watching the “Bridge of Spies” movie with my wife, I got so fascinated by the plane crash scene that I decided to do some research. While the movie focuses on the first-ever spy exchange between the United States and Soviet Union, I wanted to learn more about the American pilot himself and the reasons his spy plane got shot down.
Turns out the pilot’s story is no less fascinating than the spy exchange and the timeline of events preceding the crash and the events that followed it spawns exactly 45 years – 45 years of secrecy, fear, lies, deceit and just outright bluff. Since I speak fluent Russian and Latvian this story is a combination of facts taken from many different sources. I’ve tried hard to separate facts from fiction, so the end result should be as close to the truth as it can be.
At some point I realized that I’m writing a book, not an article, so I had to scale down and cut some things out. If you have any specific questions please feel free to drop me a note. But the story of Francis Gary Powers, his fateful flight and the events that followed it, as well as the political scene at the time, it’s all here. With that in mind…. Have fun.
 
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Posted by on February 10, 2016 in Cold War, History, Soviet Army

 

Flashback from my days in the Soviet Army

Flashback from my days in the Soviet Army

Took my a while to find the right pictures, but this is the amphibious armored vehicle of the Soviet Army, called BTR-60. As the name suggests it was introduced in the 1960s, but some countries still operate them even today.
Since I was a radioman, I got to ride in a very special version of this P.O.S, designated BTR-60PU. Unlike the standard APC version, this vehicle does not have a turret and was never meant to carry any grunts. Instead, it has 5 UHF radios inside and a 10-meter telescopic antenna on top. You have to extend the damn antenna every time you stop, just in case your commanding officer wants to call his wife or feels like ordering his lieutenants about. After you’re finally done extending the antenna itself, you also need to secure it with 4 cables staked to the ground, just in case a little breeze knocks that %^##$ antenna down.

Oh, but you only get to ride that BTR on special occasions, like wartime or maneuvers. In peace time you’re stuck with another P.O.S – GAZ-66 command vehicle. The radios are still there and so is the damn antenna, but at least this truck has 2 beds and a table, all too small.

To save gas for the power generator, the Soviet Army doctrine calls for the truck to be connected to any electricity available when stationary. I remember my driver once connected 220v power wires incorrectly, reversing the polarity (Soviet Army soldiers never bothered with such useless things as power outlets). The whole truck’s body became a one big “don’t touch me” area. I’ve learned that the hard way by trying to open a door and got glued to it, shocked by all that electricity going through my body, unable to disengage. Good thing my driver had enough brains to pull me down, damn the man. Couple of minutes later I realized I never thought I knew THAT many Russian cuss words….

 

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2015 in History, humor, Soviet Army

 
 
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