In March 1946 Gen Carl Spaatz, commanding the US Army Air Forces, asserted that “Strategic Air Command will be prepared to conduct long-range offensive operations in any part of the world”. The success of heavy bombers during World War II had demonstrated their devastating power. Post-war, Strategic Air Command (SAC) acquired 2,042 jet-powered B-47 Stratojets and then 744 B-52 Stratofortresses capable of delivering nuclear weapons at 550kts over a 3,000-mile combat radius.

Faced with the formidable task of defending its vast land area against both this threat and high-flying US spyplanes, the Soviet Union urgently promoted a new generation of interceptor fighters, but for the defense of its cities another layer of protection was required that would be more effective than fighters or guns. In 1945 Soviet scientists used captured data from German surface-to-air guided missile projects to design first-generation SAMs, but internal political competition prevented their completion. By 1951 Joseph Stalin had instigated a new project, codenamed Berkut, which surrounded Moscow with SAM batteries and radars connected by ring-roads. The first batteries were declared operational in 1956, using the V-300 (NATO codename SA-1 “Guild”) missile conceived by fighter designer Semyon Lavochkin.

Подпись: 16A second, mobile system was needed for the protection of wider areas of the Soviet Union, and in November 1953 the Almaz design bureau’s Boris Bunkin headed a team that conceived the S-75, with Lavochkin-trained Pyotr Grushin as principal designer.