The Cold War

The use of the atomic bomb on Japan to end the Second World War demonstrated that mankind had the ability to obliterate itself completely. Winston Churchill noted as the war drew to a close, that 'an iron curtain was descending across Europe'.

After more than 5 years conflict in Europe, the Middle and Far East, during what was termed a "hot war", there followed over 40 years in which East and West stood either side of an ideological divide, separated by the awesome prospect of nuclear holocaust. This was "The Cold War".

In the initial years of the Cold War, the Royal Air Force held the U.K's nuclear deterrent through its 'V Force' and from 1969 that deterrent was carried by the Royal Navy's submarines.

The Story of the Cold War is therefore much larger than one of aviation in isolation; this exhibition and its special website uses the part played by the Royal Air Force to illuminate and describe that period of world history in which our country was no more than 4 minutes away from annihilation.

A visit to the RAF Museum's National Cold War Exhibition at Cosford is the best way to get 'up close and personal' with current artefacts of this important period of recent history. However, new technologies allow us to bring our work to your home, classroom, office or anywhere you can make an internet connection.

They also allow us to develop new ways of providing access to the world-class educational resources that we have, and are continuing to develop around the subject. For the first time ever, we have found a way of placing the archive that underpins the exhibition on-line; this makes it possible to download content which would otherwise only be available to those lucky enough to visit us in person. Although this is quite a complex website it is full of information about a massive subject and this is only the beginning.

Our website, like the exhibition it supports, highlights the ideologies of both sides, the social history of the era, the technological achievements which evolved from the competition between East and West, and the eventual dissolution of the Warsaw Pact resulting in the world that we live in today.

It was an era so recent that at least half of the World's current population lived through all or part of it and we believe there was a real risk that, because it never became a full blown fighting war, it would be consigned quietly to the history books.

This would have been such a pity as the story must be told so that we can learn from history. By its very nature the Cold War was 'fought' in secret, or without the public realising that what they were witnessing was, in fact, a part of a Global 'conflict'. Our exhibition research has produced a focus which allows us to tell the story as comprehensively as possible, yet in an interesting way.

Through this website you can access the resources we have made available to our visitors, and join with us in taking part in the variety of formal and informal learning opportunities that we have created.

The real exhibition would not have been possible without the many sponsors listed on their own special page of this site, but the website itself would not exist without the encouragement and support of SCC plc and its Chairman, Sir Peter Rigby.