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Map of Western Hemisphere showing ranges of 1100 and 2200 nautical miles

Map of Western Hemisphere showing potential ranges of Soviet ballistic missiles from Cuba.

United States. Department of Defense
1963 February 06

Map of Western Hemisphere showing potential ranges of Soviet ballistic missiles from Cuba, February 6, 1963, United States Department of Defense, Department of Defense Cuban Missile Crisis Briefing Materials, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston,

This map of the Americas demonstrates the potential ranges of two types of Soviet nuclear missiles based in Cuba: medium-range (1,100 nautical miles) and intermediate-range (2,200 nautical miles). The map shows a potential threat to the United States. However, keep in mind that both the United States and the Soviet Union had long-range missiles capable of striking each other from bases in the home country, as well as missiles on airplanes and submarines that could closely approach each other. Look at a map of Europe to see how US missiles in Turkey and Italy could strike targets within the western Soviet Union, including Moscow and St. Petersburg (then called Leningrad).

While the presence of land-based Soviet missiles in the Western Hemisphere was certainly new, the threat of Soviet missiles to US territory was not. Remind students that the United States already had the same capability of hitting bases in the western Soviet Union. The US held a clear nuclear advantage in the early years of the Cold War. You can discuss with students Kennedy’s motivation for responding as he did to the placement of Soviet missiles in Cuba. His campaign platform had emphasized being tough on the Soviets, and the Bay of Pigs disaster had damaged his political position.

This source is a simple map of the Western Hemisphere, without the southern part of South America. There are two shaded areas, one showing the area that could be hit by medium-range Soviet missiles fired from Cuba (1,100 nautical miles) and the other showing the area that could be hit by intermediate-range missiles (2,200 nautical miles).