In mid-September 1954, nuclear bombing tests were performed in Totskoye range during the training exercise Snezhok(Snowball or Light Snow) with some 45,000 people, all Soviet soldiers and officers, who were exposed to radiation from a bomb twice as powerful as the one dropped on Hiroshima nine years earlier. The exercise was commanded by the Marshal of the Soviet Union, Georgy Zhukov. At 9:33 a.m. on 14 September 1954, a Soviet Tu-4 bomber dropped a 40-kilotonne (170 TJ) atomic weapon from 8,000 metres (26,000 ft). The bomb exploded 350 metres (1,150 ft) above Totskoye range, 13 kilometres (8 mi) from Totskoye.

The experiment was conceptually similar to others performed at the time by the United States, the United Kingdom and other atomic countries, and was designed to test the performance of military hardware and soldiers in the event of a nuclear war. It involved the 270th Rifle Division,320 planes, 600 tanks and 600 armored personnel carriers. The soldiers were told that there would be a regular military exercise featuring a mock nuclear explosion and that it would be filmed. The military personnel were not issued any protective gear. Deputy Defense Minister Georgy Zhukov witnessed the blast from an underground nuclear bunker. The planes were ordered to bomb the explosion site five minutes after the blast, and three hours later (after the demarcation of the radioactive zone) the armored vehicles were ordered to practice the taking of a hostile area after a nuclear attack.

The residents of selected villages (Bogdanovka and Fedorovka) that were situated around 6 km (4 mi) from the epicenter of the future explosion were offered temporary evacuation outside the 50 km (31 mi) radius. Most of the local population was never warned, however.

The SovietEraMuseum exclusive. Photos approx. from Totskoye range nuclear tests (?):

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