In our timeline, during the crisis, the Soviet submarine ''B-59'' was cornered by US warships which attempted to force the submarine to surface for identification with depth charges. The captain, believing war had already broken out between America and the USSR, prepared to launch a nuclear torpedo at the Americans, but was stopped by his second-in-command Vasili Arkhipov. Here, Arkhipov is incapacitated, and the the captain goes through with the launch, destroying the aircraft carrier USS Randolph and setting in motion a catastrophic chain of events.
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Contains examples of:
- Allohistorical Allusion: In the postwar environment, President Lyndon Johnson orders contaminated no-go zones arounds nuked cities with soldiers keeping anyone from going in or out to prevent the spread of radiation sickness. Bandits from the zone often attack the soldiers in hit and run operations but retreat back to the zone where the soldiers are ordered not to follow. Sound familiar?
- Apocalypse How: The Soviet Union and most of continental Europe gets subjected to a class 0.
- El Cid Ploy: When the Moscow Plotters kill Khrushchev to take control, they continue to send orders in his name.
- For Want of a Nail: The Soviet submarine B-59 goes ahead with launching the nuclear-tipped torpedo at the USS Randolph and her escorts. It gets worse from there.
- Going Down with the Ship: President Kennedy decides to stay in the White House as opposed to evacuating.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: After launching a torpedo at the Randolph, B-59 gets sunk by the blastwave from the explosion.
- Nuke 'em: The timeline in a nutshell.
- Oppressive States of America: The postwar United States gradually turns into this due to President Johnson's increasingly draconian attempts to maintain order, until he is overthrown in a coup in 1965.
- Shown Their Work: Great detail is given on the military equipment used in the war.