U2 Spy plane

The U-2 spyplane; courtesy of macsmilitary.com
The U-2 spyplane; courtesy of macsmilitary.com


After World War II, the United States became involved in a "Cold War" against the Soviet Union. Instead of physical warfare that involved troops and weaponry, the rival countries challenged each others policies. As the world's most powerful superpowers, they fought for dominance and influence over the global community. They engaged in propaganda and weapons race. After the Soviets developed their own H-bomb and the long-range Bison Bomber, President Dwight D. Eisenhower felt the increasing threat of Soviet technology. To keep the United States ahead of the Soviet Union and prevent sneak attacks, President Eisenhower created the Technological Capabilities Panel. The President had asked James Killian, the President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, on March 27, 1954 to chair the secret commission. Killian’ recruited capable scientists, including Edwin Land, the President of the Polaroid Corporation whose wide variety of imaging devices earned him 164 scientific patents.

Along with the help of the Technological Capabilities Panel and Robert Amory, the CIA's Chief of Intelligence, Eisenhower began project AQUATONE. The project's main objective was to create a spy plane capable of flying at high altitudes undetected by Soviet surface to air defenses and interceptors. Clarence ’Kelly’ Johnson presented his design, the Lockheed CL-282. His design had been rejected by the air force because of its lack of conventional landing gear and maneuverability, and defense. Johnson’s design was a jet-powered glider with long sailplane wings. Its engine could carry its civilian pilot and imagery equipment above 70,000 feet. The aircraft's covert construction began Lockheed’s Skunk Works.

In 1955, Groom Lake, later known as Area 51, in Southern Nevada was chosen as U2's flight testing site. In July of 1955, Eisenhower's proposal of "open skies" or permission to conduct mutual aerial inspections of nuclear facilities and launchpads was rejected by Soviet leader NIkita Kruschev at the Geneva conference. On August 4, 1955, the first U2 took flight and broke the world's altitude record, which at the time was 65,889 feet. In July of 1956, the CIA began deploying U2 over Moscow and Leningrad. Almost four years later, the event known as "The U2 Incident" caused humiliation for the United States and the Eisenhower administration.

Unbeknown to U.S. intelligence, Soviet radars were able to detect the spy plane.However, the Soviets were unable to confirm that the aircraft was sent by the United States. Also, Soviet interceptor planes could not reach high altitudes and were incapable of attacking U2. However, in 1960, Eisenhower was uninformed that the Soviets developed SAM missiles that could reach above 65,000 feet. U2 flights over the Soviet Union. On April 9, 1960, a successful U2 flight took pictures of Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) facilities. Then on May 1, 1960, a U2 plane piloted by Gary Powers took flight from a base in Peshawar, Pakistan intending to land on a Norway base. While Powers was flying In the Ural Mountains over Soviet territory, his plane was shot down by Soviet fighter jets. Powers, although saved by his parachute, was captured and questioned.


Gary Powers beside a U2; courtesy of www.armchairgeneral.com
Gary Powers beside a U2; courtesy of www.armchairgeneral.com


The United States, not knowing whether Powers survived, announced that the U2 was performing a routine weather flight when the oxygen malfunctioned and the Pilot accidentally flew the plane over Soviet lands. On November 7, Kruschev declared that Powers was indeed alive and that the Soviets had discovered an aerial camera on the plane. On May 11, Eisenhower admitted that air surveillance had been conducted for three years. In the Paris summit, Kruschev demanded Eisenhower to apologize and promise to halt future aerial inspections. Eisenhower refused and Kruschev stormed out of the meeting.



The U2 incident; courtesy of www.youtube.com



1) Cold War Museum. Web. 31 May 2011. <http://www.coldwar.org/articles/60s/u2_incident.asp>.
I took much of my information from this site. The page does not contain only information about the "U2 Incident," but also the history of the spy plane.

2)"EMC - Eisenhower Stories - U-2 ." Eisenhower Memorial Commission. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 June 2011. <http://www.eisenhowermemorial.org/stories/U2.htm>.
This website not only supports my first source, but also adds to it. The website tells about events that occurred after U2 was shot down by the Soviet Union.

3) "Office of the Historian - Milestones - 1953-1960 - U-2 Overflights and the Capture of Francis Gary Powers." Office of the Historian. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 May 2011. <http://history.state.gov/milestones/1953-1960/U2-incident>.
Similar to the website mentioned above, this site gave me information of how Eisenhower and the Kruschev reacted to the capture of the Unites States spy plane. I used the site to add some more specific details to my webpage.

4)"U-2 Spy Plane Incident: Dangerous Conflict." Macsmilitary.com. Web. 31 May 2011. <http://macsmilitary.com/sgtmacsblog/memories/u-2-spy-plane-incident-dangerous-conflict/>.
The image of the U2 spy plane found in this page is found in this site. Although it did have some information about the spy plane, it contained the same facts as my other sources.

5) "YouTube - The First U2 Spy Plane Shot down Half a Century Ago - RT 100501 ‏." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. Web. 31 May 2011. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8RmbTQGj-M>.
This youtube video is from a news broadcast of Russia Today. It showed a detailed summary of the "U2 Incident."

6)"Francis Gary Powers, Jr., Interview – The Cold War Museum » Armchair General."Armchair General Magazine – We Put YOU in Command! Web. 28 May 2011. <http://www.armchairgeneral.com/francis-gary-powers-jr-interview-the-cold-war-museum.htm>.
The picture of a smiling Gary Powers with a U2, in which he would later be shot down, is taken from this site. I did not use the website for information.