Article The cold war - Soviet Army

Soviet officers in the classroom for chemical protection. During the war years, the BS-MO-2 combined-arms gas mask was produced in the USSR. At the end of the war, the old gas masks were repaired and returned to service. Together with them, the production of new MO-4 gas masks began.

In general, the stern Soviet fighter of the 1962 model looked exactly like this. Notice how the uniform with a stand-up collar and the unloading system are organically combined. The image is taken from the legendary book "How to act in the conditions of the use of nuclear, chemical and bacteriological weapons" in 1962. This image proved to be so strong and powerful that it was used in a number of other Soviet textbooks until the late 1980s (with changes in uniform, of course).

You know American history very well. In 1945, the United States demonstrated to the whole world the power of atomic weapons by destroying the American cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Two explosions destroyed thousands of people and were intended, in my opinion, to show the USSR the power of the United States. However, they hardly knew overseas that Stalin created atomic weapons even before the war. The main problem of the USSR was the small amount of uranium - before the war, geologists practically did not search for it. That is why Soviet scientists had to be content with the achievements of German miners, as well as a remote Soviet field in the mountains of Tibet. Uranium was mined there by hand and transported on donkeys. And already in 1949, the Soviet Union violated the American monopoly on atomic weapons. One of the most secret places in the USSR was deployed at Proving Ground of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR number two near Semipalatinsk, where explosions continued until the collapse of the USSR. Based on the test results, the film "Experience at the Test Site No. 2" was created and shown to Stalin personally.

Unfortunately, the destruction of the USSR made many archives inaccessible to us. Despite the fact that all the terms of secrecy have expired (which is why the Americans have already digitized their chronicle), the recordings of the films continue to lie in the archives. And it is not known when they will be shown to our public... There are only a few whole films on the topic. There are snatches of newsreels from various tests. But they do not exhaust even a small part of the entire scale of the Soviet atomic program. In 2020, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation at the Army forum showed some photographs of the first Soviet atomic explosion.

In the minds of our generals, atomic weapons began to be portrayed as a kind of tool capable of any task. The enormous destructive power was impressive. However, the Soviet command needed as much information as possible about atomic weapons. And if the USA had Hiroshima and Nagasaki, then the USSR had to be content with sheep, horses and dogs on the experimental sites of the Semipalatinsk test site.

Further, it remained only to prove the possibility of conducting military operations in the conditions of the use of atomic weapons. For this purpose, on September 14, 1954, in my (Orenburg - then Chkalov) region, at the Totsk training ground, the first military exercise in the USSR with the use of atomic weapons was held. In total, in the history of the USSR, there were two tests of atomic weapons with the participation of troops. These were the aforementioned participation in Totskoye, as well as conducted in 1956 (very small - less than a thousand people) exercises with the landing of a helicopter assault in the focus of an air explosion.

With the collapse of the USSR, as I have repeatedly noted, it has become fashionable to throw mud at its history, especially the history of the USSR. The secret (in the USSR) exercises at the Totsky training ground did not pass by either. Immediately, numerous stories and rumors began to spread, from weapon tests on captured Hungarian / Italian / German soldiers to the fact that weapons were thrown off directly at the soldiers, and then they were driven to slaughter at gunpoint... In general, one fairy tale is more hilarious than the other. But first things first.

The attached picture is a visualization of one of these fairy tales and is posted here for information only.
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Totsk military exercises on September 14, 1954 have been the subject of heated historical and political discussions for thirty years. The first in the history of our country exercises with the use of atomic weapons split the Russian society into two opposing and irreconcilable camps. And only a small part of people are able to clearly and carefully assess the events of the past days.

The results obtained as a result of the first Soviet atomic tests turned out to be simply unprecedented - the appearance of such a powerful means of destruction both in the United States and in the USSR seriously changed the geopolitical balance of forces, and meanwhile, the tactics of waging the alleged Third World War. On September 29, 1953, a decree of the Council of Ministers of the USSR was issued, which marked the beginning of the preparation of the Armed Forces and the country for actions in the so-called. "Special conditions". A gradual study of possible options for the development of events began - so far at the level of the heads of the headquarters of military districts and fleets. However, for a complete and comprehensive picture, only one thing was lacking - to actually see the possibilities of the Soviet army conducting military operations in conditions of the use of atomic weapons.

Such exercises were not something new in world practice - as of September 1954, the United States already had five (!) Military exercises from the "Desert Rock" series with the participation of regular units of the American army. There were eight in total, not counting the exercises with the participation of the US Navy and the US Air Force.

So, the search began for a range where it would be possible to conduct a combined-arms exercise using atomic weapons. Among the possible variants of the landfill, Kapustin Yar was also considered. In the spring of 1954, a group of Lieutenant General I.S.Glebov assessed the Totsk test site, located between the cities of Kuibyshev and Chkalov. It was this training ground, as the safest and most convenient, and was chosen for the exercise. The military exercise on the topic "Breakthrough of the prepared tactical defense of the enemy with the use of atomic weapons" was scheduled for the fall of 1954. The exercises were supposed to use the atomic bomb RDS-2 with a capacity of 40 kilotons, tested near Semipalatinsk in 1951. The leadership of the teaching was entrusted to Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov.

The objectives of the exercise were:

Investigate the impact of an atomic bomb explosion on a previously prepared defense area, as well as on weapons, military equipment and animals;

To study and practically check in the conditions of using an atomic bomb: the peculiarities of organizing offensive and defensive actions of units of formations; actions of advancing troops in breaking through defensive zones following atomic strikes; actions of the defending troops in the conditions of the use of atomic weapons by the advancing side, conducting a counterattack following an atomic strike on the advancing enemy forces; organization of anti-nuclear defense of troops in defense and offensive; methods of command and control in offensive and defensive operations; material and technical support of troops in combat conditions;

To study one of the possible options for preparing and conducting an offensive from a position of direct contact with the enemy, without withdrawing its troops from the first position for the duration of an atomic strike;

To teach the personnel of the army - privates and commanders - practical actions in the offensive and defense in the front zone when using atomic weapons by their own troops or the enemy.

According to the concept of the exercise, the attacking side ("eastern") was assigned the task of breaking through the prepared defense of a simulated enemy with the use of atomic weapons, for the defending ("western") - organization and conduct of defense in conditions of the use of atomic weapons. The main attention was paid to the attacking side, whose troops actually carried out atomic, artillery and air preparation for breaking through the defense and overcame the area of the atomic explosion. At the same time, all the troops participating in the exercises were briefed in advance on safety precautions, and the units occupying the defense were withdrawn to a safe distance in advance. In total, about 45 thousand people were involved in the exercises. personnel (the basis of the military grouping was the 12th Guards Mechanized Mozyr Division and the 50th Guards Rifle Division, which had up to 600 tanks and self-propelled guns, 500 guns and mortars, 600 armored personnel carriers, 320 aircraft and 6 thousand vehicles and tractors for various purposes). The troops were withdrawn to the exercise in specially designed states and were provided with the latest types of weapons and equipment. The offensive of the rifle corps was planned to be provided with three explosions: one medium-caliber atomic bomb and two stacks of boxes of TNT and barrels of gasoline (simulators of a nuclear explosion). The personnel of the troops at the time of the atomic explosion were withdrawn from potentially dangerous areas and were located in cracks and shelters. In case the explosion was on the ground and not in the air, it would be an emergency, the exercise was canceled, and special measures developed by the leadership headquarters took effect. Within a radius of several tens of kilometers, the local population also took refuge. Among those hiding in the distant 54th year was the wife of my great-great-grandfather. A photograph of her against the background of the "mushroom" of an atomic explosion is still kept in our family archive.


On the day of the exercise, September 14, 1954, at sunrise there was a clear, sunny weather with a weak wind. At 9:20 am, the leadership of the exercise listens to the latest reports on the meteorological situation and makes a decision to detonate an atomic bomb. The decision is recorded and approved. 10 minutes before the atomic strike was delivered, the "atomic alarm" signal (aka "Lightning" - "Molniya") was given, by which all the troops took shelters and shelters. The crews of tanks and self-propelled guns took their places in the vehicles and closed the hatches.

At 9:34 am, a TU-4 carrier aircraft dropped an RDS-2 atomic bomb with a capacity of 40 kilotons from an altitude of 8000m, the explosion of which followed 48 seconds later at an altitude of 350 meters from the earth's surface. Approximately 1 minute after the explosion, the cloud rose by ~ 4 km, and after 7 minutes - to an altitude of ~ 15 km.

Five minutes after the explosion, artillery preparation and a strike by bomber aircraft began, after which RHR groups (radiation and chemical reconnaissance, "radiatsyonnaya i chimicheskaya razvedka") were sent to the focus of destruction, arriving at the epicenter area 40 minutes after the explosion. They found that the exposure dose level in this area 1 hour after the explosion was 50 R / h, in a zone with a radius of up to 300 m - 25 R / h, in a zone with a radius of 500 m - 0.5 R / h.

At 10:10, the "eastern" ones began to attack the positions of the mock enemy, having previously sent forward radiation reconnaissance patrols. By 12 o'clock, the advance units of the attackers reached the border of the lesion focus and began to overcome it at an increased speed. In total, about 3 thousand people were involved in the area of a real nuclear explosion, that is, no more than 10% of the total personnel involved in the exercise, while about 500 people passed directly through the epicentral zone. At the end of the exercise, it was envisaged to deploy washing and decontamination points in pre-designated areas. 6 hours after entering the area of infection and partial sanitization, a complete decontamination of equipment, washing of personnel and a total change of outerwear began.

Two days later, on September 17, 1954, a TASS report was printed in the Pravda newspaper: “In accordance with the plan of research and experimental work, in the last days in the Soviet Union a test of one of the types of atomic weapons was carried out. The purpose of the test was to study the effects of an atomic explosion. During the test, valuable results were obtained that will help Soviet scientists and engineers successfully solve the problems of protecting against an atomic attack."

As I already wrote, many materials on the Soviet atomic program have not yet been published. They are no longer secret, no, but none of the official authorities want to do this. Perhaps someone does not want people to compare the current state of our science with the Soviet one. But, most likely, no one wants to do this because it does not bring money. Now, unfortunately, everything is just on the money and twisted.

Based on the exercise, most likely, a special staged educational film was shot, telling about the actions in the focus of nuclear destruction. Unfortunately, we do not know either its name or its year - we only have a few seconds from this film.

I do not know why the Americans conducted these exercises in such a large number, it looks more like some kind of sadism. However, this does not at all prevent the current Russian press from issuing photographs from Hiroshima and from the Desert Rock exercises for the "horrors" of Soviet atomic exercises.

The teachings provided rich material for research. Already in 1954, the first mass publication for soldiers and sailors appeared "Actions in the conditions of the use of atomic, chemical and bacteriological weapons." This book was then reprinted in 1959. Agree, Soviet illustrators could paint truly epic pictures.


In 1962, another legendary edition was written - "How to act in the conditions of the use of nuclear, chemical and bacteriological weapons." Alexander Danilovich Gorchakov, a legendary man, took part in writing the publication. Our NSGO team is now bit by bit restoring his biography, trying to find his descendants. Unfortunately, the coronavirus and the commercialism of Russian archives greatly slow down this process... Damn it, in the USSR, the search and establishment of the fate of war veterans was only encouraged, and now you have to pay money for this! About times, about morals. And these people will talk about patriotism...


Alexander Danilovich Gorchakov. Chevalier of five orders, many medals.
Now I am writing a research article about him for a scientific journal of our university.
Images from Gorchakov's book. I suggest you feel this atmosphere. Soviet textbooks of the 50-60s were distinguished by a very high intelligibility and a wonderful easy language that helped any person to assimilate information. If you like, I can later send you this book in file.

The issues of protecting soldiers from weapons of mass destruction are some of my favorites. So don't hesitate to ask questions! I am happy to answer your questions. But for now, I think I'll be absent - there are several important things to do.

A patriotic song about the Volga city "Konakovo" performed by Ivan Bukreev (tenor) and Twice Red Banner named after A.V. Aleksandrova of the Soviet Army Song and Dance Ensemble.
Music - Oscar Feltsman, lyrics - Mark Lisyansky.
Conductor - Boris Alexandrov.

Fragment of the broadcast of the concert of the Ensemble. Alexandrov in the hall to them. Tchaikovsky, Moscow, 1962.
Central Television, USSR.

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Since the beginning of the 1950s, the mass introduction of the latest technology into the army - armored personnel carriers - began in the USSR. During the War, the Red Army used either the American "Scouts" supplied under Lend-Lease, or captured German "Hanomag". The first Soviet armored personnel carriers were the BTR-40 and BTR-152. In their own way, legendary cars that have become an integral image of the Soviet army of the 1950s. From the Soviet armored personnel carriers (up to the BTR-60) it was possible to get out through the roof. The moment when the soldiers jump to the ground, captured in many photographs, has truly become legendary.

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Вот ч-черт! Только сейчас заметил, что на первом фото не советские солдаты, а немецкие. Категорически прошу прощения, замылился глаз и не заметил... Но фото само по себе действительно мощное.
Unfortunately, I made a literal error. I already wrote that English is not my native language, I am learning it slowly, including with the help of this forum. To begin with, I drive my thoughts into Google Translite (or I write them myself, if I can do it), after which I edit them using the Soviet dictionary and the Multitran dictionary. Specifically here, my blunt, did not see. Hiroshima and Nagasaki, of course, in Japan. I can no longer edit the message, but I will try to be more attentive in the future.
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"While the match is burning"

In the Soviet army, the training of a young soldier consisted of many factors. The Soviet soldier, among other things, had to be able to quickly dress and undress. The first, which is logical - for raising the alarm, the second - in case of emergency removal of uniforms. In the Soviet army of the 50s, sergeants did not have stopwatches, so they used matches for clarity. A standard Soviet match burned for about 45 seconds, which was approximately equal to the standard. Later, when stopwatches appeared, the sergeants continued to use matches anyway - this became a military tradition.

During the time the match was burning, the soldier had to put on breeches, a tunic (gimnasterka), wind up footcloths (portyanka), put on boots, a belt and a cap, and then line up in the barracks. After the formation, the next stripping norm followed, it also lasted 45 seconds. If someone did not have time to meet the standard, then it was continued until the entire unit began to fit into it. Or until the sergeant has spent all the matches, ahahaha. Constant training allowed to significantly reduce the time to put on the uniform. My grandfather said that before demobilization he managed to get dressed on command in twenty seconds.

By the way, about the footcloths and boots. In the topic about the Afghan war, we actively discussed the shoes of Soviet soldiers. I would like to touch upon this topic as well. The main footwear of the Soviet, and after the Russian soldier (until approximately 2015) were tarpaulin boots. In Russian they are called "kirzovye sapogi" aka "kerza", "kirza", "kirzachi".

"Kirza" is a leather substitute invented in Russia, a specially processed fabric that does not allow water to pass through and in all its characteristics corresponds to the skin. It was invented under the tsar, but it was not profitable for Russian industrialists to make cheap shoes for the army - this cut their profits. As a result, in the First World War, our soldiers suffered from a lack of shoes. Again "kirza" was opened, improved and put into operation during the Second World War. Shoes, ammunition bags, headgear linings were made from it.

Wearing Soviet boots had its own characteristics. It was impossible to walk in socks in them - the sock would get knotted into a lump, after which the leg was erased "into meat", as they say in Russia. Kirz boots were worn with "portyanka". "Portyanka" could be absolutely any piece of fabric (in the war they were made from scrap materials, after the war they were factory). The fabric was wound around the leg and fixed in a special way, which allowed the fighter to keep his legs intact. Soviet Army veterans say that the portyanka was much more comfortable on the hike, even than a sock. Some members of the Russian army still use "portyanka".

Despite widespread rumors, both ankle boots and military boots were produced in the USSR. Moreover, they have been produced since the 60s. It was just that the Soviet army had to serve in various latitudes - from the Arctic Ocean to the subtropics and from the Pacific Ocean to hot deserts. And it turned out that boots turned out to be the most versatile type of footwear for the army.

Putting on the portyanka. Simple, clear. With the right experience, putting on this item can be much faster than putting on a sock.
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Okay. I will slowly return to the history of the army as a whole, otherwise something takes me away.

Stalin died in 1953. This man took over the country with a wooden plow and hunger, and left it with an atomic bomb. He also left her with a powerful army - it seems to me that according to its training, the Soviet army of the 1950s was the best in the world. Several films will help me to describe well the general state of the army, its way of life and traditions of the mid-1950s, the "Stalin army". I am very sorry that these films are not translated into English - I really looked for them with translation or at least with subtitles.

I don't know if you will understand me, but in the Soviet and Russian armies there is such a term - "starshina". This term designates a junior officer chosen from a long-serving sergeant. "Starshina" is responsible for ensuring that all soldiers in his squad have excellent equipment and weapons, monitors the condition of the barracks, and manages the combat and political training of soldiers. Starshina also acts as a mentor, helps the soldier with advice, shares the wisdom of military service. After the Great Patriotic War, many veterans from the junior command staff remained in the army. It was they who began to become starshina in the army. These people knew perfectly well the horror of war, they themselves knew the complexity of a soldier's life and tried in every possible way to make it easier for the soldiers. They were usually very good and kind people.

In the 1950s, there was an iron discipline in the Soviet army. Most of the commanders, sergeants and starshina, as I already wrote, were in the war. This left an imprint on the entire nature of the service. By "iron discipline" I do not mean suppression of the will of the soldiers, pushing them into frames - no, quite the opposite. It's just that the entire service of a soldier went exactly according to the charter and moral concepts of veterans, who were demanding of the soldiers, but loved them very much and tried to educate them into real warriors. It was that period in the history of our army when the majority of the soldiers not only respected and loved the commanders, but also made friends with them. Unfortunately, after the 1960s, this ceased to be ubiquitous, and by the 1990s, such friendships became generally an isolated phenomenon.

Under Stalin, soldiers were in the army for three years. During this time, they were made into real specialists - there was a lot of time and the soldiers were very well trained. Most of the soldier's time consisted precisely of study - classes in combat and political training. Emphasis was placed on the physical development of the soldiers. As in all armies, in the Soviet, the soldiers had the so-called. "naryad" - regular missions for the unit. For example, helping in the kitchen (cleaning vegetables), cleaning floors, and so on. And in their free time from studies and outfits, the soldiers were free. They could easily ask the starshina for permission and go, for example, to the shooting range to practice shooting. Could go to the library at the military unit. Among the fighters, "samodeyatel'nost '" - various cultural hobbies, became widespread. For example, the fighters played musical instruments, created theatrical circles, were engaged in singing and dancing. Some fighters created flower beds on the territory of their camp. The cultural development of the soldiers was encouraged in various ways.


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