We Were Never There

We Were Never There

Volume 3 - Clandestine CIA Flight Operations beyond the Iron Curtain, 1947-1960

Kevin Wright

While most famous for its U-2 penetration flights over the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the People's Republic of China, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operated a large number of ‘other' types of intelligence-gathering aircraft, or specially modified aircraft for operations beyond the Iron Curtain from the mid-1940s.
Date Published :
July 2023
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
Illustration :
90 b/w photos, 3 maps, 21 color profiles
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781804510247
Pages : 88
Dimensions : 11.75 X 8.25 inches
Stock Status : Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order


The creation of what Winston Churchill named the ‘Iron Curtain’ along the borders between Western and Eastern Europe in the late 1940s made conventional espionage extremely difficult. This forced the Western powers to fall back upon their large fleets of transport aircraft and bombers for intelligence-gathering work. The range of aerial spying activities were extensive, from classic photoreconnaissance, the insertion of agents deep within enemy territory (HUMINT), through to electronic intelligence (ELINT) – subdivided into communications intelligence (COMINT), signals intelligence (SIGINT) and telemetry intelligence (TELINT) – to the monitoring of nuclear tests.

Always at the forefront of such activities, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the USA clandestinely developed a large organization, operating dozens of – often heavily – modified aircraft for all of these purposes. Their activities reached frantic proportions especially during the late 1940s, when the Agency became involved in attempts to inspire popular uprisings in several countries of what would later be known as the Warsaw Pact, or even on the soil of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics itself. While sometimes revealed in public – whether by accident or by design – the mass of such operations remain largely unknown.

While the activities of the U-2 are reasonably well documented We Were Never There Volume 3, is the first ever effort to research, record, and explain CIA-run clandestine operations beyond the Iron Curtain by these other aircraft types and is based on extensive research, dozens of interviews with the participants and official documentation now released to the public.

The book is lavishly illustrated with original photographs, custom-drawn maps and color profiles, thus providing a unique insight into these affairs and and a single-point source of reference.

About The Author

Kevin Wright is a regular contributor to aviation magazines (including ‘Aviation News’ and ‘Aeroplane’) and is an accomplished air-to-air photographer. He has a lifelong special interest in Cold War intelligence collection and produced numerous articles on related topics. Other recent publications include co-authoring a book, with Peter Jefferies, on allied intelligence collection along the Berlin Corridors. He taught international security and politics for over 15 years at universities in the UK and overseas. His PhD was on the role of expert communities in arms control policy making which became the topic of his first book. He currently lives in the Republic of IE - Ireland.

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