Were there any Soviet overflights of Western Territory?

And continental America in particular?

I was just reading about the Western overflights of the Soviet Union (Canberra, U2, SR-71 etc) and I was wondering if there were any equivalent actions from the other side?


Nothing on the level of what the US was doing to the Soviets. Soviet plans would occassionally get “lost” and fly into American airspace, where they were quickly intercepted by American fighter aircraft.

The Soviets, AFAIK, never developed anything like the U-2 or SR-71, but they didn’t have quite the need for them that the US did. If a Soviet agent wanted to get photos of a US military base, he could rent a plane, and while he would be unable to fly over the base, he could no doubt get a pretty good view of the place from the air, even if he was outside of the restricted airspace surrounding the base.

How many spy satellites did the Soviets have? Were they particularly effective?

I don’t know how many they had, but there’s websites by amatuers who track them. As for how effective they were, they didn’t have the same level of resolution that the US had, and I imagine that they stayed with film longer than the US did. In one respect, Soviet satellites were highly effective: The panic in the US caused by Sputnik (which was simply a radio transmitter in a ball making noises) led to the creation of DARPA and NASA. We might well have not gone to the Moon in '69 or developed the internet when we did, if it hadn’t been for at least one Soviet satellite. :smiley:

Stupid post, erased.

Thanks, makes sense really, the US was an open society and so much easier to get basic information than a closed society like the Soviet Union.

The Soviets would routinely send Tu-95 bombers into US airspace, and we’d scramble fighters to escort them back out. But the main point of these exercises wasn’t to take pictures, it was more to get an idea of the capabilities of US air defense.

How did this work? I picture a canister full of Kodachrome being ejected in a capsule aimed at the middle of Russia…

That’s about right.

The US Spy satellites would eject canisters of film that would then be picked up by airplanes. I would imagine the USSR had similar technology.

The Soviet imaging gear may not have had as good resolution, but the USSR could partially make up for it by bringing the satellite to a very low orbit. This, however, dramatically shortened the lifetime of the satellite. Sometimes making it the sats last mission.

I have heard it claimed that a Soviet spy could walk into a U.S. gas station and buy a road map that had more useful information on it, than any spy planes could produce.

A road map isn’t going to show things like building size, numbers of buildings in an area, or vehicle movements, or troop movements or any of a number of other things.