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Soviet Nuclear Weapons - RT-23 Molodets (SS-24 Scalpel)

- a rail-based intercontinental ballistic missile system

If you have visited the first part of this Blog, you will have seen photos of the 'RT-2PM Topol' or 'SS-25 Sickle' road-mobile missile system. My second ex-Soviet nuclear weapon system was found a little easier, but was still no less of a surprise. I had taken the Metro to the Baltiskaya station in the south of the city, to visit St Petersburg's 'Museum of Railway Technology', on nab Obvodnogo Kanala, (adults R100, students R50, open 1100-1800). It proved a little difficult to find, as it is off the main street, and tucked behind some larger buildings. After wandering about for a bit, and asking questions in my basic Russian, it was eventually tracked down, and I sat by the entrance for a while, waiting for the attendants to arrive.

Through the fence, I could see a large yard of the usual retired steam and diesel locomotives, freight wagons and carriages. There was even a large field-gun, mounted on railway bogies, but one thing that I couldn't work out was a large vertical cylindrical item, buried somewhere in the middle of the yard, that didn't seem to have anything to do with railway museums that I had visited in the past. What could it be? What was it doing there? When the gates opened, and I had paid my entrance fee to the friendly old Babushka behind the counter, I wandered over to take a look. Imagine my surprise to discover that the large vertical cylindrical item was in fact a missile, mounted on a railway train!

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Overview of the RT-23 'Molodets' Missile Train

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Locomotive and cars of the 'SS-24 Scalpel' Missile Launching Train

This time, there was no worry that I might be looking at something I wasn't supposed to see. There were even notice-boards that explained the principle components of the system. I took my camera out, and began photographing it, lucky to have such a lovely sunlit morning for my visit.

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RT-23 'Molodets' Intercontinental Ballistic Missile

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Power Supply car

The 'RT-23 Molodets' External link opens a new Browser window, known to NATO by the name 'SS-24 Scalpel', was a rail-based intercontinental ballistic missile system. The RT-23 missile and military railway missile complex in general were designed by the 'Yuzhnoye' engineering department headed by academician V.F. Utkin in Dnepropetrovsk. The missile train and launching car were designed by the KBSM engineering department headed by academician A.F. Utkin in Leningrad. 12 complexes were manufactured in the period 1987-1991.

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RT-23 'Molodets' Intercontinental Ballistic Missile

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Closup of missile

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Angled shot of Launching Train

The military railway missile complex consists of:

1. Three launching units
2. Commander unit consisting of 7 cars
3. Fuel and lubricant tank car
4. Three DM62 diesel locomotives

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RT-23 'Molodets' Intercontinental Ballistic Missile

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Missile-launching train

The launching unit consists of 3 cars:

1. Control car
2. Launching car
3. Power supply car
In these photos we see one complete ICBM launching unit.

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View of Power Supply car and Launching Train

Control Car technical details:
Built by the Kalinin works in 1986, its size is: Length: 23.6m Width: 3.2m Height: 5.0m. The control car is designed for carrying out its battle duties in different grades of fighting train during the independent operation of launching unit. Like the Power Supply Car, it is provided with an arrangement to short-circuit and push aside the overhead electrical supply wire.

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Control car and RT-23 'Molodets' nuclear missile

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Doorway of Control Car

Launching Car technical details:
Built by the Kalinin works in 1986, its size is: Length: 23.6m Width: 3.2m Height: 5.0m Weight: 200t. The design is based on the standard 8-axle freight car (load 135 t). The roof is opened by the large hydraulic ram. The RT-23 'Molodets' missile carries ten nuclear warheads, each with a yield of 430 Kt. Warheads are equipped with an arrangement for overcoming hostile anti-ballistic missile systems.

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Launching car and base of missile

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Detail of hydraulic stablising rams on the Launching car

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RT-23 'Molodets' missile in launching car

RT-23 'Molodets' Missile technical details:
Missile range: 10100 km
Missile length: 23 m
Launching canister length: 21 m
Missile diameter: 2.4 m
Missile launch weight: 104.8 t
Weight of the missile with launching canister: 126 t

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Closeup of Missile and hydraulic elevation gear

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Closeup of Missile

Power Supply Car technical details:
Built by the Kalinin works in 1986, its size is: Length: 23.6m Width: 3.2m Height: 5.0m. The Power Supply Car contains four diesel generators, each with a power of 100KW, for independent operation of launching unit. It is provided with an arrangement that is able to short-circuit and push aside the overhead electrical contact wire, normally used to provide power to electrical railway locomotives.

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Closeup of equipment to short-circuit and push aside the overhead contact wire

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Power Supply car - detail of ventillators

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Rear and side view of Power Supply car

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Detail of ventilators on Power Supply car

Diesel Locomotive DM62-1731 technical details:
Weight in working order: 116 t
Design speed: 100 kph
Engine power: 2000 hp
Transmission: electric
The locomotive design is based on class M62, built for Soviet Railways by the Voroshilovgrad (former Lugansk) works in 1983. Class DM62 locomotives were built specially for working with railway missile complexes. The most important distinctions from the M62 are: bogies without axleboxes' horn guides, heat sensors for traction motor suspension bearings and axlebox bearings, automatic engine start, blackout lamps, filter and ventilating plant with a gas-mask jet, fuel top-up from the tank car, multiple-unit operation irrespective of position in the train set.This locomotive came to the St Petersburg 'Museum of Railway Technology' museum from the Khvoinaia depot of the October Railway in 2006.

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Cab 'a' of the DM62-1731 diesel locomotive, number: 15107318

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Front view of the DM62-1731 diesel locomotive, number: 15107318

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Detail of badge and lettering on side of locomotive

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Weapons of Mass Destruction - the old and the new

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