From: European Union
How the Soviets mapped the world
During the Cold War, the Soviet military mapped the entire world, parts of it down to the level of individual buildings. The Soviet maps of US and European cities have details that aren’t on domestic maps made around the same time, things like the precise width of roads, the load-bearing capacity of bridges, and the types of factories. They’re the kinds of things that would come in handy if you’re planning a tank invasion. Or an occupation. Things that would be virtually impossible to find out without eyes on the ground.
Given the technology of the time, the Soviet maps are incredibly accurate. Even today, the US State Department uses them (among other sources) to place international boundary lines on official government maps.
The US military’s air superiority made mapping at medium scales adequate for most areas of the globe. As a result, he says, the US military rarely made maps more detailed than 1:250,000, and generally only did so for areas of special strategic interest. The Soviets, on the other hand, were the global leaders in tank technology. After suffering horrific losses during the Nazi ground invasion in WWII, the Soviets had built up the world’s most powerful army. Maneuvering that army required large-scale maps, and lots of them, to cover smaller areas in more detail. “One to 50,000 scale is globally considered among the military to be the tactical scale for ground forces These maps were created so that if and when the Soviet military was on the ground in any given place, they would have the info they needed to get from point A to point B
< Message edited by katukov -- 7/19/2015 3:10:41 PM >