Apr 01

The Russian Woodpecker (Chernobyl Exclusion Zone)

A highlight of a Chernobyl tour is a visit to the Russian Woodpecker, or Duga-3.  It’s a 1 km long, by 150 meter high hunk of rotting metal radar technology.  The “woodpecker” name comes from the tapping sound it makes while in use.  This remnant of Cold War time was a way for the Soviets to spy on the Americans.  For the last few years, tourists to the Chernobyl Zone can visit this tower, and even climb the ladders.

Mural entering this secretive military town, and support location for the Duga tower.

Everything was so green walking towards the tower. Lots of spring rain had fallen.

Russian Woodpecker

Interesting dragonfly-wing like pattern of the radars.

Russian Woodpecker

At 150 meters high, I couldn’t get the top in my photos of the tower reflecting in this puddle.

Russian Woodpecker

This thing is massive.

Russian Woodpecker

A close-up.

The 1-km long tower was backed up by this 1-km long servicing building. You had to watch your step, there were holes that fell to another floor underground.

Trashed equipment outside the control center for the Duga radar.

more trashed equipment.

Mural and junk inside the control center.

The control center had at least 5 stories and huge rooms for workers.

Control panels. Did NASA look like this in the 1980’s?

Inside the “propaganda” room.

More anti- US propaganda. Notice the American in his cowboy hat, holding his head in shame.

A window in the propaganda room.

View of the Russian Woodpecker from the roof of the control center.

Trees are starting to grow on the roof!

Light shining thru one of the control panels.

1980’s technology and other bits. You can still press the buttons!

A kiln seen on the walk to the supporting town.

Murals at the playground in the support city.

Inside the rec center of the Duga support city, this room was a movie theater.

Boys restroom in the rec center.

Gym in the rec center. There’s even a pummel horse.

More equipment and junk seen on our way out of town.


There is a documentary called “The Russian Woodpecker” that I recommend.  It may be available at your library.  In addition to providing visits to Chernobyl exclusion zone, and more about the Russian Woodpecker, it explains a theory that the Chernobyl disaster was actually a cover-up to disguise the failure of the very expensive Duga technology.  Supposedly, the development costs were 2 times that of the entire Chernobyl Nuclear plant.  There’s also a rumor that a new Duga has been built and is being used somewhere in Russia, and the woodpecker “tapping” has begun again.

Traveled May, 2016


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