27 – Flying the SR-71 Spy Plane

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Welcome to Episode 27 of Cold war conversations.

Today we are talking about the SR71 Blackbird spy plane of which only 32 were ever made.

The great defensive ability of the plane was its high speed and altitude. Standard evasive action was just to accelerate, which made it almost invulnerable to the attack technologies of the time. The top speed of the plane was mach 3.3 (2,200 miles/hour that’s 36 miles/minute).

Thanks to all those who are supporting the podcast with monthly pledges and donation. It is much appreciated and will allow us to expand our scope. If you would like to support the podcast further and get access to some exclusive extras click here.

Back to todays episode…our guest knows a bit about the SR71…

Buz Carpenter accrued 777 hours flying SR-71 planes. He flew Blackbirds as an aircraft commander and later as an instructor pilot, with over 60 operational missions. He also flew in the C-141, RF-4C, and T-38 planes, flying 150 combat hours in Vietnam. He worked in the Pentagon and served as Wing commander at Ramstein Air Base in German during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

He retired as a Colonel after serving as the 2nd Air Force Vice Commander, responsible for all the USAF Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance flying assets. He is currently a docent for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, Udvar Hazy Center.

We welcome Buz Carpenter to Cold War Conversations.


Sr-71 Blackbird: Stories, Tales and Legends

The Complete Book of the SR-71 Blackbird/The Illustrated Profile of Every Aircraft, Crew, and Breakthrough of the World’s Fastest Stealth Jet


Tour of the SR71 with Buz Carpenter

More from Col Buz Carpenter and the SR-71 Blackbird

Best Documentary 2016 First Stealth Blackbird SR 71 | History Documentary HD 1080p

Support the Podcast and get access to exclusive extra content 

Available on our Patreon page here

21 – BRIXMIS, British defence of Berlin, and Rudolf Hess

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Welcome to episode 21 of Cold War Conversations

Today we’re talking to Nigel Dunkley MBE a former Royal Scots Dragoon Guard, performed intelligence gathering duties in the former East Germany with BRIXMIS during the Cold War.

BRIXMIS ( British Commanders’-in-Chief Mission to the Soviet Forces in Germany) was an intelligence organisation worked throughout the Cold War years from 1946 to 1990 gathering intelligence in the former Soviet Occupation Zone of East Germany on the threat posed to the West and NATO by the 20 Soviet and 6 East German Army Divisions and their Air Forces deployed there.

In the 1980s Nigel  also interpreted for Hitler’s Deputy Rudolf Hess in Spandau Prison, Berlin and provided some fascinating insight into character of Hitlet’s Deputy Fuhrer.

Later in his military career he was awarded the MBE and Bronze Star Medal for his services with the US 1st Cavalry Division during Operation Desert Storm. Nigel was also Chief of Staff at the Royal Armoured Corp Centre at Bovington, ending his army career as Defence Attache at the British Embassy in Berlin.

I am delighted to welcome Nigel Dunkley MBE to Cold War Conversations.

Join the discussion on facebook here.



Details on BRIXMIS operations in the GDR

US account of US Military Liaison Unit operations

Rudolf Hess Flight to the UK

Article on Rudolf Hess & Spandau Prison

Trip Advisor reviews of Nigel’s tours

Berlin Audio tour app Nigel has worked on



Real footage of a BRIXMIS tour of the GDR

Trailer of film “Keep the Cold War Cold” covering the British, French and US Liaison missions

Secret Front – Cold War Documentary featuring Nigel (in German)

Secret Front – episode 2

Secret Front Episode 3

Support the Podcast and get access to exclusive extra content 

Available on our Patreon page here

19 – Able Archer & the War Scare of 1983

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Album Able Archer

Welcome to episode 19 of Cold War Conversations

Today we’re talking to Francesca Akhtar who holds a  BA Hons in American Studies with 1st class honours  from Canterbury Christ Christ Church University in Kent, and a Masters degree in US history & Politics from the Institute of the Americas, University College London.

Her main research interests are US Cold War foreign policy, intelligence history and defence. Francesca has written a dissertation entitled  “The most dangerous Soviet-American confrontation since the Cuban Missile Crisis?” An analysis of the origins, nature and impact of the Able Archer 83 incident .

I am delighted to welcome Francesca Akhtar to Cold War Conversations.


1983: The World at the Brink

The Brink: President Reagan and the war scare of 1983

Able Archer 83: The Secret History of the NATO Exercise That Almost Triggered Nuclear War

Reagan by Iwan Morgan

Reagan Reversal by Beth Fisher


Able Archer 83: The Secret History of the NATO Exercise That Almost Triggered Nuclear War

Favourite Cold War Era Films

View to a Kill Film trailer

View to Kill – Duran Duran

Wargames – film trailer

Moonraker – film trailer

Support the Podcast and get access to exclusive extra content 

Available on our Patreon page here

18 – Greenham Common – an iconic British nuclear airbase

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Album greenhamWelcome to episode 18 of Cold War Conversations

RAF Greenham Common opened in 1942 and was used by both the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Forces during the Second World War and the United States Air Force during the Cold War.

The airfield is probably best known, certainly in the UK,  for the controversial deployment of Ground Launched Cruise Missiles in the 1980s and the resulting Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp outside its gates.

Today’s guest is is a graduate in international relations, the author of “In Defence of Freedom; a History of RAF Greenham Common” and is also a Director of Greenham Control Tower Ltd.

I am delighted to welcome Jonathan Sayers.


Jonathan’s site covering the history of Greenham Common

Jonathan’s book detailing the history of the base.

The Greenham Cold War Experience

Greenham Common Control Tower preservation group

Website of the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp


Video about the GLCM deployment

501st Tactical Missile Wing Parade of vehicles

Greenham Common; The Other Side of the Fence (documentary 1994) Part 1:

Greenham Common; The Other Side of the Fence (documentary 1994) Part 2:

Video about the peace protests at the base.


Jonathan’s book detailing the history of the base.

Favourite Cold War Film

By Dawn’s Early light 

Cold War Music

99 Red Balloons

Depeche Mode – And then

Who would you like to meet from the Cold War?

President Bush Senior, General Eisenhower, Uk Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Henry Kissinger

Social Media Profiles 

Jonathan’s Twitter account

Support the Podcast and get exclusive extra content

Available on our Patreon page here

13 – The Last Days of Checkpoint Charlie

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Welcome to Episode 13 of Cold War Conversations.

Now most of you will know my good friend Shane Whaley over at the highly recommended Spybrary podcast who we interviewed in episode 4.

Shane and I have always been intrigued by a video posted on Youtube filmed in the 1980s by a then young US army soldier documenting his first days in Berlin for his family back at home.

Now I never dreamed that I would find, let alone talk to that soldier, but through the magic of the internet we got in contact and Michael Rafferty has agreed to give his first interview in 24 years to Cold War Conversations.

His story spans the last days of Checkpoint Charlie, from when the border was the heavily fortified barrier familiar to us from those spy films, to the opening of the wall and the unification of Germany.

I am delighted and honoured to welcome Michael Rafferty.

** Items purchased from the Amazon links will pay Cold War Conversations a small commission to help keep the podcast on the air **


Michael Rafferty & Kenneth “Casey” Beymer’s Video of his first days in Berlin filmed for his family back in the US

Favourite Cold War Film

Bridge of Spies

Cold War Soundtrack

Winds of Change – The Scorpions

Looking for Freedom – David Hasselhof

Who would you like to have a Cold War Conversation with?

Willi Brandt

Frank Howley – First Us Army Berlin Commander


General Lucius Clay

Book Recommendations

The Wall – The Peoples Story by Christopher Hilton

Berlin Command by Frank Howley

Discussion Group.

The Facebook discussion group featuring Michael’s photos

Episode 11 – Observing Armageddon

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ROC Post Album1

Welcome to Episode 11 of Cold War Conversations.

Today we’re covering a British Cold War civil defence unit called the Royal Observer Corps.

We’re talking to Alistair McCann who has preserved a Royal Observer Corps monitoring post as a museum in Northern Ireland.

We talk about the museum, the difficulties of the Northern Ireland Royal Observer Corps during “The Troubles” and what the reality would have been for these men and women should the Cold War have turned hot.

I hope you find our conversation as interesting as I did.  We welcome Alistair McCann.

Favourite Cold War Film

The Fourth Protocol

Cold War soundtrack

Silent Running Mike and the Mechanics

If you could invite three personalities from the cold war period to have a few drinks with, who would they be and what questions would you ask?

John F Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev


Attack Warning Red – A history of the Royal Observer Corps

The Royal Observer Corps Underground Monitoring Posts


Threads – trailer for this drama film about a nuclear attack on the UK

The Day After – US TV drama about a nuclear attack on the US

Royal Observer Corps Films

Sound an Alarm – Part 1-6







Protect & Survive – 1970’s UK Public infommercials On Nuclear War Preparation

A public information film about joining the Royal Observer Corps from 1977

The Hole in the Ground

A programme from 1983 featuring the Royal Observer Corps’ Dulwich Post which was situated on the Dulwich and Sydenham Hill Golf Club

Forewarned is Forearmed a Royal Observer Corps film

Cold war Museums

Alistair’s bunker in Northern Ireland

Cosford National Cold War Museum

RAF Museum Hendon

York ROC Group Control Bunker

Dundee ROC Group/Sector Bunker

Barnton Quarry

Other Preserved ROC Posts

Map of ROC Monitoring Posts

Episode 8 – Warsaw Pact Armoured Fighting Vehicles

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WP AFVs album

Welcome to Episode 8 of Cold War Conversations where we talk about the armoured fighting vehicles of the Warsaw Pact.

Russell Phillips has written several books on Warsaw Pact military equipment and our conversation is an interesting exchange covering  the evolution in design, tactics and the deployment of Warsaw Pact armoured forces should the Cold War have turned hot.

It also covers a slightly off topic conversation about saunas and swimming pools in Soviet submarines and Frankie Goes to Hollywood!

We welcome Russell Phillips


Warsaw Pact Treaty

Warsaw Pact Info

Sino-Soviet Split

Soviet armoured fighting vehicles

Sagger wire guided missile

Bovington Tank Museum

Kubinka Tank Museum

The Norfolk Tank Museum 

Stanislav Petrov

Contentious tank 

Valery Sablin – inspiration for the book/film “Hunt for the Red October”

Letters of last resort

Argentinian plan to attack Gibraltar during the Falklands War

Russell’s web site

Russell on Twitter @Rpbook


Red Storm Rising

Tanks and Combat Vehicles of the Warsaw Pact
Book 1 of Weapons and Equipment of the Warsaw Pact

Combat Engineering Equipment of the Warsaw Pact
Book 2 of Weapons and Equipment of the Warsaw Pact


US Army educational video documenting the characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses of two famous Soviet tanks of the Cold War era, the T-64 and T-72.

Modern Russian tank submerging with snorkel – not Cold War but gives you the idea.

Tankfest 2015 featuring Cold War T72 tank  making smoke

The Hunt for the Red October – film trailer

Deutschland 83 series trailer 

Swimming pool inside a Soviet submarine

Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Two Tribes

Episode 2 – Berlin during the Cold War and Signals Intelligence

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Welcome to Episode 2 of Cold War Conversations where we start with a fascinating eyewitness account of Berlin during the Cold War.

Michael K Ferris  lived in Berlin as a child of US Airforce personnel in the 1960s and 70s and then subsequently joined the US Airforce himself and worked in Signals Intelligence during the 1980s.

In a wide ranging chat, we talked about life for American families and their kids in Berlin during the Cold War and also about the challenges of signals intelligence in the heart of East Germany at tail end of the Cold War. We also talked about the Stasi spy in Michael’s unit, Kennedy’s visit to Berlin, Baader Meinhof attacks on US Forces, Soxmis and much more.

Our guest’s unit was described by the Commander in Chief US Airforce Europe as “his eyes and ears to the East.”

We welcome Michael K Ferris

Links to videos we talked about:

Counterpoint TV Series set at Templehof Airfield


Documentary on Stasi Spy Jeffrey Carney


Video of the remains of Marienfelde Monitoring Post


The Same Sky – TV Series


Berlin Enclaves



The Legend of Rita (fictional drama film of Baader Meinhof terrorist crossing to the GDR)


Reagan at Checkpoint Charlie 1982


Berlin Historical Maps


Game Set and Match



Talking Heads




Amazon UK  – Looking Down the Corridors: Allied Aerial Espionage over East Germany and Berlin, 1945-1990

Amazon US


(small affiliate fee from these book links helps pay for Podcast hosting charges)

Facebook discussion group-

Facebook Group




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