Tank tracks to Trafford: how USSR planned to invade Manchester

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1974 was a terrible year for Manchester, with United relegated to the second division for the first time in four decades and power cuts forced by the three-day week declared by Edward Heath's collapsing Tory government.

But the city would have been even more jittery had it known that in Moscow Soviet generals were eyeing the A56 between Deansgate and Stretford and checking that T-72 battle tanks could use the Mancunian Way.

Leaving nothing to chance, maps for an armoured invasion of the city were secretly printed that year, for distribution to frontline commanders should the cold war turn hot. Ignoring one-way streets and rush hour jams, they marked the lines of an assault in bold orange, sweeping into the centre past Old Trafford and the current site of the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry.

"There wasn't much they missed," said Chris Perkins, a lecturer in geography at Manchester University, and the organiser of an exhibition opening tomorrow which reveals the map to its potential victims for the first time.

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