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My home: Nuclear Base. Episode 02: "Main Testing Field"
The site was selected in 1947 by Lavrentiy Beria.
Prisoners were used to construct a city, with houses, along with a bridge, a simulated subway in the vicinity of the test site, an airport, a rail-station, hospitals, schools. Armor hardware, and approximately 50 aircraft were brought to the testing grounds, as well as over 1,500 animals to test the bomb's effects on life.
It was falsely claimed that surrounding vast 18,000 km steppe was "uninhabited".
The first Soviet bomb, Operation First Lightning, was conducted in on August 29, 1949, scattering fallout on nearby villages of Kazakh nomads, which Lavrentii Beria, had neglected to evacuate.
The yield was 22 kilotons of TNT, similar to the United States' "Fat Man" bomb. Its development was years ahead of American military-intelligence projections, and came as quite a shock to the West.
Later on, this area was used for more than 100 subsequent above-ground weapons tests.
When we arrived to the field, at the distance of about 300 meters, from the center of the first explosion, we found four conical cement things, about 3 meters in length, these used to be a protection for ballistic jet heads, now its blown away by an impact to another 300 meters.
A bit in the distance we discovered testing towers, which represented apartment buildings. Apartments were filled with furniture, animals and manikins.
There are also command centers, cement bunkers, and different types of army related structures.
About one year ago, in the epicenter, there was old, rusty military equipment, tanks and armor. Now it's stolen by the Kazakh nomads, for resale as a scrap metal.
When we walked in the underground metro station, there were no animals or birds inside. Quiet and cold. Army had trains installed here, but it is metal, which means it has been stolen by the nomads, and sold for scrap.
When we went back to the field, It was a good feeling to stand in the epicenter ...