John F Kennedy’s ‘victory map’ of Cuba auctioned for over $138,000 | world news | Hindustan Times
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John F Kennedy’s ‘victory map’ of Cuba auctioned for over $138,000

The map, consisting of two sheets once taped together at the centre, features eight types of sticker symbols applied to the surface, representing Soviet MiG fighter jets, Komar-class missile boats, IL-28 bombers, SS-4 missiles, SSM-Cruise missiles and nuclear storage sites.

world Updated: Apr 15, 2018 15:07 IST
File photo taken on October 24, 1962 shows then US President John Fitzgerald Kennedy signing the order of naval blockade of Cuba at the White House in Washington, DC, during the Cuban missiles crisis.
File photo taken on October 24, 1962 shows then US President John Fitzgerald Kennedy signing the order of naval blockade of Cuba at the White House in Washington, DC, during the Cuban missiles crisis. (AFP Photo)

Former US President John F Kennedy’s personal ‘victory map’ of Cuba - used during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 - has been sold at an auction for $138,798.

The map, consisting of two sheets once taped together at the centre, features eight types of sticker symbols applied to the surface, representing Soviet MiG fighter jets, Komar-class missile boats, IL-28 bombers, SS-4 missiles, SSM-Cruise missiles and nuclear storage sites.

The intelligence represented by the map was supplied by U-2 spy planes, confirming Kennedy’s worst fears of an increasing Soviet military presence just one hundred miles away from the American coast.

The map, marked “Secret” in the lower left and upper right corners, was originally expected to fetch $20,000, according to the US-based RR Auction.

A two-page key paper-clipped to the upper right corner, headed “MRBM-IRBM Status of Cuban Missiles,” dated October 27, 1962, summarises the Soviet military buildup, listing sites, enumerating number of launchers and missiles, and completion status.

The map shows the position of every Soviet missile, bomber and fighter jet and nuclear storage facility in Cuba as of noon on Saturday, October 27, 1962.

This was the most dangerous moment of the Cuban Missile Crisis. October 27 was the day the crisis came within hours, even minutes, of triggering a war between the US and Soviet Union.

That morning, a Soviet anti-air missile shot down a U-2 spy plane on a photo reconnaissance mission over Cuba.

Many years later, the Cubans claimed Fidel Castro himself pushed the button to fire the missile.

Later that afternoon, two US destroyers dropped depth charges on a Soviet submarine. At the last minute, the Soviet captain surfaced his submarine, his other option being to launch his missiles against the US mainland.

When the sun set that evening, Robert McNamara, the secretary of defense during the Cuban Missile Crisis, wondered if he would be alive to see the following Saturday’s sunset.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff pushed for an air strike against the Soviet missile sites and other targets. Had Kennedy given the order, this map shows the nine Soviet targets US warplanes would have bombed. However, everything changed overnight.

Relying on a letter from Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to President Kennedy, Attorney General Robert Kennedy and Soviet ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin hammered out a deal.

The Soviets agreed to withdraw their missiles and other offensive weapons in return for the US pledging not to invade Cuba. The US secretly promised to remove obsolete missiles from Turkey.

The nine targets on the map became the weapons the US forced out of Cuba. When Kennedy presented the map to McNamara, he called it the ‘victory map.’

In the annals of the Cold War, no event is more talked about and debated than the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 16, 1962 to October 28, 1962, RR Auction said.

It is considered the closest the world has ever come to nuclear war. This amazing map dates to the penultimate day of the crisis - October 27, a day that saw an American pilot shot down over Cuba.