Talk:Square Leg

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As for towns like Eastbourne being hit for no reason - once an all out nuclear war has reached that stage, I presume the authors of 'Square Leg' were assuming that the Soviets would target any and all population centres; after all, they had enough capacity to hit Britain with one gigatonne worth of strikes so in the end game virtually every town would become a target.

Except population wasn't really the target. From what I remember, the Doomsday book points out that there were far more military targets in the UK than warheads, so wasting them on minor towns was crazy from a military standpoint: reliably knocking out a hardened military target might take four or five warheads. That said, 'Square Leg' wasn't intended for public consumption, so it was one of the more realistic British government exercises. Mark Grant 10:12, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
In densely populated Britain, "population" targets can't be separated from military ones because they're in such close proximity to each other, so there's no need to set aside warheads for civilians when they're going to get hit anyway. Also, groundburst nukes (used against hardened targets) make fallout, and this would blanket most of Britain--a "bonus" to quote Doomsday (think of the Buncefield smoke plume then times it by a million).
Yes and no. You're right that they didn't need to worry about targetting population centers because almost every one was in the blast zone or fallout zone from military targets, but that's a side issue as to whether some Soviet military planner would decide that dropping a multi-megaton bomb on Eastbourne was a good use of their resources; still, if I remember correctly one of the later exercises dropped a nuke on a mountain in Wales, so at least it's more realistic than that. BTW, you should sign posts so we know who's posting these comments. Mark Grant 12:41, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
Yes, I recall from library reading in the early 90s that one of the Square Leg targets was the town of Builth Wells - the comment was made that "casualties would be up into the millions and that is just counting the sheep". Vashti 21:12, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
The 1982 "Hard Rock" exercise, a home defence effort abandoned because of mass non-cooperation by local authorities, was even less realistic. "Hard Luck" included several near misses, maybe one was on a Welsh mountain - there's certainly a circle over Wales on page 104. - Some AOL user or another
"towns like Eastbourne being hit for no reason" -- Works like Warday and The Trudeau Papers (by Ian Adams) point out that it's reasonable to expect that some missiles will erroneously strike locations other than their intended targets, due to generic technical screwups, semi-effective anti-missile defenses, and the fact that the missiles are trying to navigate through a frikkin nuclear war. -- 13:53, 16 February 2007 (UTC)

Interesting discussion. Looking at the map and where Eastbourne is, it may not be hit for no reason. If you think back, wasn't that general area on the south coast of England the staging area and jumping off point for the D-day invasion of continental Europe? That area is the closest to the French coast, and in a World War 3 scenario where the Soviets invaded Europe, that area could once again become a staging post for a counter-invasion of occupied Europe by NATO. So perhaps the British planners suspected that the Soviets would pre-emptively strike that area in order to deny it to the allies and to wreck any facilities that might be there (ports etc.). Alternatively it could simply be a presumed error, or perhaps they were just trying to assume that the soviets would hit every populated area. --Hibernian 18:33, 17 April 2007 (UTC)


What does "Operation Square Leg was one of the exercises used to estimate the destructiveness of a Soviet nuclear attack in the 1984 BBC production Threads" mean? (talk) — Preceding undated comment added 09:44, 29 June 2015 (UTC)