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This picture nearly started World War III

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Picture: Getty

In August of 1962, an American spy plane flying over Communist Cuba, captured an image that almost started World War III.

What initially appears to be a fairly innocuous image akin to a star, it turns out that this pattern marks the beginnings of an anti-aircraft Soviet missile system.

This is the picture that almost launched a thousand missiles (more specifically, one or two nuclear ones).

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Picture: (National Security Archive)

 

If you were to have a birds-eye view of places where the Soviets had helped set up these 'SA-2' missile sites around the world, such as Cuba and Vietnam, you would see a worrying correlation.

Given the escalations of the Cold War you can imagine that seeing these particular Soviet missile sites in an image that close to American soil was disconcerting to say the least.

It wasn't until months later that a full Soviet missile base was discovered during an extra reconnaissance mission over Cuba in October 1962.

The images discovered in August 1962, and subsequently in October, triggered the 13-day meltdown known as the 'Cuban Missile Crisis' which almost brought two of the biggest powers in the world to a full-scale nuclear war.

 

I think you will all join me in a collective sigh of relief that a full-scale nuclear war didn't break out in the 1960s.


More: A map of the countries who think we're about to go war

 

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