The Basic Encyclopedia is an encyclopedia of the US Air Force that lists places that are targets for bombing. It was begun in 1946 during the Cold War as the Bombing Encyclopedia and included over 80,000 potential targets around the world during the Cold War. It included their B.E. number (which consisted of an eight digit identifier), a brief description, longitude and latitude, elevation, and category (military, industrial, or an airfield). The title was changed to Basic Encyclopedia in the 1960s or 1970s before its publication ended in 1973. The encyclopedia was computerized and used in the Defense Intelligence Agency's Automated Installation File.
^Schlosser, Eric (2014). Command and Control Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety (1st ed.). Penguin Group USA. p. 204. ISBN978-0143125785. They began by poring through the Air Force's Bombing Encyclopedia, a compendium of more than eighty thousand potential targets located throughout the world. The book gave a brief description of each target, its longitude and latitude and elevation, its category—such as military or industrial, airfield or oil refinery—and its "B.E. number," a unique eight-digit identifier. From that lengthy inventory, twelve thousand candidates in the Soviet Union, the Eastern bloc, and China were selected.