USSR's five amazing top secret projects that were shelved

The Soviet Union was doing its best to achieve as much technological progress as possible. The ultimate goal was to make science fiction reality. Telepathy, amphibious boats capable of "navigating" under the ground, space planes - all these projects used to be developed in the USSR. 

1. Brain Radio

Controlling mind and thought at a distance has been a long-standing dream of mankind. Such a psychological weapon, if invented, could become the most frightening and most effective weapon in the history of human civilization.

In 1923, electrical engineer Bernard Kazhinsky presented his project of the "brain radio", capable of transmitting brain impulses, turning them into signals at long distances. He conjectured that man was a live radio station that could operate both as a radio transmitter and a radio receiver. 

Thus, electromagnetic waves transmitted by one person could be received by another, if the two people were configured accordingly. The results of Kazhinsky's scientific research produced a sensation. He would be invited to major research institutes and laboratories around the world. Upon his return, his developments were found effective, and the scientist received all necessary conditions to continue working on his experiments. 

On March 17, 1924 the first test of the "brain weapons" were held in Moscow. The test was conducted on animals: a dog was supposed to take a certain book from the shelf and bring it to members of the commission by the power of a brain impulse. The dogs performed very well, but for some reason they lost the ability to perform usual commands afterwards.

Nothing is known about the future of the "brain radio." Kazhinsky himself firmly believed in his invention until his dying day. He died in 1962, having published a second book about the "brain radio" shortly before his death. 

2. Flying Tank A-40

In 1941, the Red Army command set a complicated task to chief engineer of the glider aviation industry Oleg Antonov. The military wanted Antonov to make armoured vehicles fly. 

The idea was to create an armoured vehicle that could travel by air. Antonov decided "not reinvent the wheel." He took the light T-60 tank and designed cropduster-like light wooden wings for it. It was assumed that the flying tank would be towed to its destination by air before it would glide to the desired landing point. Immediately after landing, the wings would have to be dismounted, and the flying tank would be ready for battle.

The first and the last flight of the A-40 tank was unsuccessful. The TB-3 bomber could not ensure a stable flight even for the most lightweight tank with no fuel, turret and tool box. The A-40 project was shelved.  

3. "Spiral" Space Fighter

At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union considered any opportunity to outstrip the adversary.  In response to the US development of the orbital manned interceptor bomber, X-20, the Soviet Union decided to design its own aerospace system.

The top secret task was set before 115 Design Bureau, under the chairmanship of Chief Designer Gleb Lozino-Lozinsky. The project was dubbed the "Spiral."

Lozino-Lozinsky suggested the "Spiral" should consist of three main parts: a hypersonic accelerator aircraft, a two-stage rocket booster and a space plane. The accelerator aircraft was to achieve the speed of 7500 km/h and reach an altitude of 30 km. Afterwards, the orbital plane would separate from the accelerator aircraft and reach the first cosmic velocity with the help of the rocket booster (7.9 km/s). Thus, the plane would come into orbit where it could start performing reconnaissance, interception of space targets,"space-to-Earth" bombing tasks and so on.

The project had many advantages. For example, the aircraft could reach any part of the world quickly and land in all conditions. In the second half of the 1970s, when the first aircraft was ready for testing, the Soviet administration suddenly closed the project. Then- Soviet Defence Minister Andrei Grechko destroyed all the documentation saying "we will not be carried away by fantasies." As a result, one of the most promising space projects of the USSR was buried. 

4. Underground submarine "Combat Mole"

After WWII, the Soviet government obtained projects of German underground tanks "Subterrina" and "Midgrada Snake." They were designed as amphibious vehicles, capable of moving on the ground, under the ground and even under water at a depth of 100 meters. 

A group of scientists led by Professor Babat and Pokrovsky concluded that such a machine could be used for military purposes. It was assumed that such a vehicle could reach strategically important objects of the enemy and blow them up from under the ground, creating the earthquake effect. 

The vehicle was built and tested. The nuclear-powered "Combat Mole" could move through the earth stratum at a speed of 7 km/h. The results of the first test in the Ural mountains amazed everyone: the "mole" entered the soil without any complications, overcame the distance of 15 km and destroyed the bunker of the imaginary enemy.

However, a second experiment was a disaster. The subterrina exploded for unknown reasons, killing the entire crew. The project was suspended, before Brezhnev closed it permanently. 

5. The nuclear-powered aircraft

In early April 1955, after Soviet physicists confirmed the possibility to create a nuclear power plant for aircraft, the USSR Council of Ministers ordered Tupolev, Lavochkin and Myasishchev design bureaus to create a large aircraft with a nuclear power plant. The developers came across a serious problem at once - radiation. The plane would harm not only the crew, but also the ground staff.

In addition, the researchers failed to find a solution to protect the atmosphere from nuclear residues. One launch of the nuclear-powered aircraft was to create a zone contaminated with radiation. 

Finally, it was the possibility for a plane with a nuclear reactor on board to crash that determined the fate of the nuclear-powered aircraft. The idea of a nuclear reactor flying somewhere was unacceptable. The programs for the creation of nuclear-powered aircraft were shelved both in the USSR and in the USA in the 1960s.

Andrei Terentyev

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov