Jack D. Ripper is an Airforce General with his finger on the button and a head full of conspiracies. He launches a preemptive nuclear attack on the Soviets by using a special attack plan reserved for retaliation against the Russians should the White House be taken out, Wing Attack Plan R.
General Ripper’s executive officer, British officer Captain Lionel Mandrake, tries to reason with Ripper and convince him to call off the attack. But Mandrake’s feckless British propriety is no match for Ripper’s paranoia. And Ripper proceeds, convinced that the Soviets are out to rob Americans of the vitality of the precious bodily fluids through the fluoridation of the water supply.
Meanwhile, Major Kong pilots a bomber plane near Russia when Wing Attack Plan R is ordered. They immediately move on their target and look to drop some nukes on Russian soil.
Merkin Muffley, President of the United States, hears the news and meets with his advisors in the war room in the Pentagon. His chief military advisor, General Buck Turgidson, tells the President that the planes are on their way to bomb the Soviets, that their radios have been turned off and can only be accessed with a certain code, and that only General Ripper has that code.
While they try to crack the code and call off the bombers, the President invites the Russian ambassador, Alexei de Sadeski, into the war room, despite General Turgidson’s warnings. Together, they call the Russian Premiere, Dimitri, and tell him the location of the planes and to shoot them down. Dimitri tells them of a secret Russian doomsday device that is set to destroy all life on the planet if a single nuclear bomb is dropped on Russian land.
Meanwhile, Major Kong’s bomber is attacked by a Russian missile. The missile nearly misses and destroys the radio system on the bomber, preventing them from receiving the retreat order after Mandrake successfully deciphers the code from Ripper’s ramblings. Back in the Pentagon, they see that Kong’s plane persists, so the Russians put all their resources into the primary and secondary targets for the bomber. However, the missile also caused the bomber to leak fuel, so Kong goes after a third target. With the Russian defenses deployed elsewhere, there’s nothing to stop Kong. However, the bomb gate is stuck shut. Kong goes to fix it by straddling the nuke. He repairs the doors just in time to ride the bomb down on the target, waiving his cowboy hat and hollering into the first of many mushroom clouds.