The U 2 Incident Essay

1443 words - 6 pages

This essay is an analysis of a US History event, examined through two different sources, one being a traditional and other being a non traditional source.May - July 1960:The U-2 Airplane EpisodeIn September of 1959, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev visited United States. During the visit, the government of the United States would not allow Khrushchev to enter Disney World because they believed that they could not provide adequate protective services in such an environment. Khrushchev joked that they might have rocket-launchers located inside. After, the relations between the United States and the Soviet Union grew increasingly wary. Both countries grew bitter about each other's ...view middle of the document...

Since this was a national holiday, it was believed that the Soviet radar and anti-aircraft crews would be less vigilant (David and Thomas, 48-87).However, many of these reasons actually worked against the success of the mission. Francis Gary Powers took off from a base in Pakistan on May 1, 1960 and began his long flight over the central Soviet Union. His assignment was to capture aerial photographs of Soviet military installations and to specifically check the progress of the Soviet missile program. His plane was equipped with a granger that created artificial static on enemy radar, a self destruction bomb to blow up the U-2 if it was forced to land, and a blasting mechanism fitted to the tape recorder to destroy any evidence of the CIA's monitoring of radio signals (David and Thomas, 59-88).Unfortunately, the May Day celebrations meant that few Soviet aircraft were flying that day allowing Soviet radar stations to quickly pick-up and track Powers' aircraft. Once within Soviet airspace, 13 fighters were dispatched to attack the U-2, but all of them struggled to keep up with the high-flying plane. Numerous surface-to-air-missiles (SAMs) were also fired, but were unable to reach the U-2 at its 70,000 ft altitude (David and Thomas, 73,171-181, 257-266).Although the information provided on what exactly happened next, is unclear. The conventional story, given in most sources to explain the crash of the U-2 and the subsequent capture of Gary Powers is that a surface-to-air missile brought down the plane (The CIA and the U2 Program). However, the U-2 spy plane was constructed to be unassailable by conventional weapons. The major benefit of these high altitude planes was their ability to stay above enemy fire. Also the idea that Soviets lacked the interceptor aircraft and missiles to shoot down planes at high altitudes that of a U-2, proved to falsify the explanation. If the plane was flying at its proper height and had been shot down, many questions as of how Powers could have survived. It would have been very likely that he would have died in the explosion or from the high altitude ejection. (U-2 Incident)While other sources state that something went wrong with the U-2's engine. Because the U-2 flew so high in such thin air, the engine could only operate with an injection of a small amount of hydrogen to assist combustion. Some reports indicate that the engine flamed out, which was not unusual. To restart the engine, the aircraft had to descend simply because the air was too thin at cruising altitude. At this point, there were several possibilities as to what may have occurred. Some investigators suggested that the U-2 dropped low enough that a Soviet SAM hit it and brought the aircraft down. Because the wreckage showed little or no damage to suggest an explosion, many believe that the missile crashed through the U-2's fragile tail without...

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