Totskoe training range

In 1954, in Totskoe were carried out military exercises, which were accompanied by an explosion of a real atomic bomb.

Large-scale military exercises were designed to test whether it is possible to use nuclear weapons in a conventional military operation (and not a global nuclear war, after which there will be no winners). The operation that was dubbed “Snowball” was led by Marshal Georgy Zhukov. The place for it – Totskoe training range.

Totskoe: about the Atomic Bomb

Totskoe training range

During military exercises the atomic bomb “Tatiana” was dropped, the nominal power of which was 40 kilotons. This is approximately equal to the total power of the American atomic bombs that destroyed the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

“High” Observers

All military leadership of the USSR came to observe the military exercises, including the head of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev, as well as many military delegations from the countries – allies of the USSR.

Preparing for Nuclear Exercise

Of course, people were aware of the harmful effect of radiation on humans. Yet the main damage effects of a nuclear weapon in those days were considered a shock wave and a heat flash.

To protect the population it was suggested to evacuate people from the surrounding towns and training ranges. Evacuate only for the duration of the exercise …

More than 45 thousand military personnel with heavy weapons and vehicles and about 10,000 civilians had to be at a particular distance from the place of a nuclear explosion.

At the epicenter of the explosion at different distances there was placed some equipment: vehicles, tanks and aircrafts.

Consequences of Nuclear Exercise

According to some sources, after the commencement of nuclear exercise the wind changed, and the radioactive cloud headed not in the direction in which it was planned.

Military personnel all got personal protection items, but, apparently, not everyone took the recommendations seriously. At the same time for the vast majority of soldiers the time of contact with radioactive terrain was either not too long or not existent.

All the consequences of a nuclear explosion were immediately classified. Military personnel and civilians caught in the zone of radioactive contamination, could not discuss the incident, which naturally gave rise to many rumors.

Only on the decline of the USSR in the late 20th century, public investigations of the levels of radiation and morbidity took place. According to one source there was a marked increase in the number of cancer diseases. According to other sources, background radiation and level of morbidity were not changed.

See also

Totskoe: Nuclear apocalypse in action


To discover Russia with Alexey Gureev

Photos from an album, made on the results of atomic military exercises in 1959 (

We are glad to discover Russia together with you!

We put our heart into the project. Join us on Facebook or Twitter: