Mitrofan Ivanovich Nedelin

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Mitrofan Ivanovich Nedelin ( Russian Митрофан Иванович Неделин ., Scientific transliteration Mitrofan Ivanovich Nedelin * October 27 jul. / 9. November  1902 greg. In Borisoglebsk , Voronezh Governorate , Russian Empire ; † 24. October 1960 in Baikonur , Kazakhstan SSR , Soviet Union ) was a Soviet chief artillery marshal and Hero of the Soviet Union (1945). He gained notoriety through the Nedelin disaster named after him in 1960.


Nedelin joined the Red Army as a volunteer in 1920 and took part in the civil war. He then completed further military training and became a member of the CPSU in 1924 . Nedelin stayed in the military, made a career and experienced all the major conflicts in the Soviet Union at that time. From 1937 to 1939 he was one of the Soviet "military advisers" who took part in the Spanish Civil War . Hardly back home when he was sent to Finland for the Winter War in 1939 . At the beginning of the Second World War he had just returned from the academy and took over various armies as commander. He eventually became chief of artillery on the Southwest Front and from 1943 to 1945 on the 3rd Ukrainian Front and played an important role in the conquest of Hungary in 1944/45. After the war he rose further in the leadership of the Soviet artillery, whose commander he was in 1950/52 and 1953/55. In March 1955 he became Deputy Minister for Special Armaments. From December 17, 1959, he was Commander in Chief of the Strategic Missile Forces .

Nedelin disaster and death

Main article: Nedelin disaster

From 1955 with the rank of chief marshal of the artillery, Nedelin drove the development of the first serial Soviet ICBM R-16 . He was under time pressure because the start should take place on the 43rd anniversary of the October Revolution if possible . Nedelin accelerated the work by lifting numerous safety precautions. The launch should take place on October 24, 1960, although the rocket was still in the test phase. Repairs were carried out on the fueled rocket due to the preparations for launch that had been canceled the day before. In order to put the personnel on the rocket launch table under further pressure, Nedelin demonstratively placed himself on a chair a few meters away from the rocket. The missile exploded shortly afterwards.

Nedelin was dead on the spot, as were all those standing by. The explosion went down in history as the worst disaster in rocket development . All that remained of Marshal Nedelin was an epaulette of uniform and a melted medal. This catastrophe had to be kept secret, and the party announced that Nedelin had died in a plane crash. The catastrophe and the real background to Nedelin's death only became known in the wake of glasnost . Nedelin was honored with a state funeral, and an urn dedicated to him was buried on the Kremlin wall in Moscow.

The use of aggressive fuels such as nitric acid contributed significantly to the extent of the disaster. Nedelin is said to have enforced this against Sergei Pavlovich Korolev , the leader of the civil missile program.

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