Cover for Thor: Divine Deception Planning for Cold War Missiles

Len Scott, Huw Dylan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the late 1950s, as intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) replaced bombers, the development of Soviet ICBMs prompted fears of strategic vulnerability in the West. The Eisenhower administration’s decision to deploy Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles (IRBMs) on the territory of NATO allies sought to redress the perceived vulnerability until American ICBMs were ready. British deception planners considered how to enhance the threat posed by the IRBMs. An outline plan codenamed Celestial was intended to persuade the Soviets that the otherwise vulnerable missiles could not be readily neutralized. This article explores this deception and how such planning also sought to convey accurate information alongside disinformation. It also suggests that deception planners appear to have given little heed to the potentially counterproductive consequences of such an operation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)759-775
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Strategic Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • nuclear strategy
  • Deterrence
  • Deception
  • Intelligence


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