Why Soviet military maps surprised Americans


After the collapse of the Soviet Union, secret military maps of the former USSR began to fall into the hands of foreign cartographers. According to experts of the American edition of Wired, the level of performance of cards of those times was unattainably high for other countries.


Secret Soviet military maps were more detailed than their foreign counterparts. So, on the maps one could find information about the carrying capacity of bridges, types of industrial production, the width of roads, etc. There were also data that would seem to have no military value - for example, the location of bus stops in some small town in Texas.

The author of the Wired article, Greg Miller, believes that such cards at that time were similar to Google and Wikipedia, only in paper form. It is not known exactly how many such cards existed - presumably, the bill can go up to millions.

After the collapse of the USSR, dishonest servicemen began to sell military cards, and a whole business arose in the sale of these documents of that era. And they learned about maps all over the world - they became a real example of quality for cartographers in many countries, since no one was able to do something more accurate.

Director of the US company EastView Geospatial, which specializes in the resale of secret Soviet maps, believes that the cartography culture in the Soviet Union was akin to the wine culture in France.
Photos used: Military Topographic Directorate GURKKA
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  1. Dear sofa expert. 1 June 2020 10: 06
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    There was also data that, it would seem, did not have military value - for example, the location of bus stops in some small town in Texas.

    Americans would be surprised if they could find a plan for their aircraft carrier from the Russians, with the exact location of the button, manual shutdown of the cooling system of the nuclear reactor, and next to a list with a dozen names of "volunteers")
    1. zaycev. Offline
      zaycev. (Yuri) 1 June 2020 19: 12
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      We all profiled ....
      1. Dear sofa expert. 1 June 2020 19: 13
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        Quote: zaycev.
        We all profiled ....

        I'm sorry.
    2. Igor Ryazanov Offline
      Igor Ryazanov (Igor Ryazanov) 1 June 2020 22: 22
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      That would be surprised Americans

      And you would not be surprised by the issue of the magazine “PROSIDING” of the US Ministry of Defense of the 70s, with a full description of the Soviet “helicopter carrier” Minsk, with a detailed description of equipment, fire systems and radar frequencies?
      1. Dear sofa expert. 1 June 2020 22: 46
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        And you would not be surprised by the magazine issue

        Why do you ask?
    3. Alexander Egorov (Alexander Egorov) 3 June 2020 16: 17
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      In 1973, I served at the KTOF. I saw the KTOF album, according to the USSR Armed Forces, published in the USA. No. V / H and the name of the regiment, satellite image, Technique, count. l / s regiment, ns, (five years late.) In 2000, in the magazine "Soldier of Fortune" you could find ALL military units of the Russian army.
  2. Sergey Latyshev (Serge) 1 June 2020 12: 08
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    And to compare?

    Secret Soviet military maps were more detailed than their foreign counterparts.

    Where are these analogs?

    And the picture is clearly not "Secret Soviet military maps" ....
    1. Bitter Offline
      Bitter (Gleb) 1 June 2020 22: 10
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      The military cards, apparently, had different statuses, the picture was probably an ordinary chipboard, and the higher the degree of secrecy, the more information it could contain.
      I think that those cards that small and medium-sized officials somehow sold to the side were nothing with those cards that were provided to beloved "partners" by submitting assassins, obsessed with a democratic sale of everything and everything, the highest leaders of the country and the relevant ministries.
      1. Sergey Latyshev (Serge) 1 June 2020 23: 52
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        For sure.
        But since they allegedly slip the bullshit photo, then the info is worthless.
        1. Bitter Offline
          Bitter (Gleb) 2 June 2020 00: 53
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          supposedly bullshit photo

          Normal for an example photo. For foreigners, maybe they are already just old paper, but for their own, maybe still wow service material.
          Although maybe the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation on "Hello, Google" also sometimes suits marches. request
      2. Arborist Offline
        Arborist (Sergei) 2 June 2020 08: 17
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        Secret were maps of the territory of the USSR. Maps of the territory of a likely adversary - particleboard.
        All cards were the same in quality.
        One sheet, a format slightly larger than A4, is the result of two months of work by a large team of cartographers.
        1. Bitter Offline
          Bitter (Gleb) 2 June 2020 23: 00
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          Secret were maps of the territory of the USSR.

          But now, many of them have become chipboard - Yeltsin-style savings.

          ... the work of a large team of cartographers.

          Whoever did not participate there, is the titanic and meticulous work of a huge mechanism. Topographers and cartographers respect! soldier
      3. Arborist Offline
        Arborist (Sergei) 2 June 2020 08: 28
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        In the nineties, a Map store was opened in Minsk, where you could buy any cards, even with a coordinate grid.
  3. GRF Offline
    GRF 1 June 2020 12: 25
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    Interestingly, this was enough to satisfy the hunger, or did mother have to be sold too?
    1. Bitter Offline
      Bitter (Gleb) 1 June 2020 22: 12
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      enough to satisfy hunger ...

      This is not so, because today it is often respected people, patrons of art and well-deserved something and somehow figures who have made a great contribution .... and so on.
    2. Sergey Latyshev (Serge) 1 June 2020 23: 53
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      When Putin hired a TV director from the Voice of America, the head of TV, maybe he asked him too: How can you, Mom, are good at selling?
  4. Mikhail Surin Offline
    Mikhail Surin (Mikhail Surin) 24 August 2020 23: 18
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    I actively used these maps when conducting trips. The cards are good. Now on the Internet it is quite possible to find maps of kilometers ... There are maps with a scale of 500 meters ... There is the Ozi program (and a number of others), with which you can work with these maps in electronic form. Another thing is that now there are Yandex or Google maps.
  5. Vyacheslav34 Offline
    Vyacheslav34 8 September 2020 11: 21
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    The map must correspond to reality so that the officer, when planning a march through this village, knows exactly the traffic capacity of the road, the option to drink and feed the soldiers, as much information as possible by looking at the map.