Report (Permission Visit) - Duga 3 (Chernobyl 2) - Ukraine, October 2014 | European and International Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report (Permission Visit) Duga 3 (Chernobyl 2) - Ukraine, October 2014

Idle Hands

28DL Regular User
Regular User

Back in the Zone

I was in two minds about posting this but it’s been a few months since I last reported on anything. Is there an appetite for another Chernobyl and Pripyat report? Half the members here seem to have been and the other half will have seen its extensive online coverage already. This was my second visit to the exclusion zone; the first having been mesmerising but bleak at the end of a harsh winter. As soon as it was over I wanted to go back, and this time we got lucky: it was tee-shirt weather - blue skies, warm sunshine and autumn colours everywhere and I was really happy with the shots I took.

But as I say, that’s all been covered before so I thought I’d concentrate instead on the less well photographed Duga 3. Sadly the only time a cloud passed over us but still the best walk in the woods I’ve had in ages.​

The Woodpecker

Duga 3 was an over the horizon radar system operated by the former Soviet Union from two sites, one in Siberia and this one near Chernobyl. In its short operating life (July 1976 – December 1989) it broadcast sharp tapping noises across short wave radio at an incredibly powerful 10Hz giving it the nickname of the Russian Woodpecker, disrupting all manner of broadcasts from radio to aviation to the point that woodpecker blankers were included in the design of modern receivers in the 1980s.

Speculation was rife and ranged from theories that it was intended to control the weather, or even the minds of the people, but amateurs and professionals alike soon realised its purpose. Further to that it was enormous – 150 metres tall, 500 metres long and easily visible from the rooftops of Pripyat some miles away. NATO military intelligence had also photographed and pinpointed it, dubbing it the Steel Yard.

It was the sheer arrogance of the Soviets in defying the generally accepted ‘rules’ of radio transmission with such a powerful output – effectively piggy-backing off anything that was convenient - that quickly and easily gave it away.

By the end of the 80s the Cold War was ending and the Soviet Union on the brink of collapse. Technology had also evolved and the circumstances combined to render the operation obsolete. The frequency lessened and eventually stopped altogether after just 13 years.

But secretive was the Soviet Union then and secretive it remained. The authorities have only recently relented to allow visitors access to the Duga 3 site, now rising inert through the trees like an enormous climbing frame flanked by decaying buildings. At the end of a long and increasingly overgrown and uneven road through the trees, military men still guard the place from gates embellished with Soviet stars. Once through the gates though there didn’t seem to be any restrictions whatsoever…​




This building was used as living accommodation for the staff…






There were handwritten documents on huge sheets littering one room – detailing the daily work of the writer. No state secrets to be found here…


Murals adorned many of the walls in the complex, fading away over time but as near to a Soviet time capsule as you’ll find anywhere…


And of course, there was Lenin. Everywhere there was Lenin…


Through the woods we walked to the radar itself…




And there it was…





The thing was huge, matched in length by a building that runs along the base of it. Possibly the longest room in the world…


It was through here that we would find the control rooms – in the basement and through some very dark and dank passageways. Headtorches on and avoiding the pipework that blocked the way, we got there…



And with that we headed on to our next destination. Well worth a visit if you’re out that way.

Thanks for stopping by :)​
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28DL Regular User
Regular User
Hoping to see this in a few days time, looks like one of the best places to visit over there from what I've seen :thumb


A Predisposed Tourist
Regular User
gotta say that crridor is the longest ive ever seen ..nice shots mate have to say this place was soo much more than i expected


28DL Regular User
Regular User
I'd be interested in seeing another report on Chernobyl.

Nice report mate, thanks for sharing! I love seeing this place. Dream of going there.

Oxygen Thief

Staff member
Good to see the buildings and not the dangling leg pictures.

If I didn't give a shit about my blood cells instantly splitting into some horrible mutated mush I would like to have seen this sometime.


A Predisposed Tourist
Regular User
Good to see the buildings and not the dangling leg pictures.

If I didn't give a shit about my blood cells instantly splitting into some horrible mutated mush I would like to have seen this sometime.
The radiation levels really arnt anything to worry about ,there's still people in old chernobyl who just refused to go or moved back in..

Idle Hands

28DL Regular User
Regular User
Thanks for all the comments everyone, much appreciated as ever :thumb

Were you in the group that was there with Konrad this week? If so, didn't catch the username!
No not me I'm afraid - I was there a couple of weeks ago with Marek :)

Hoping to see this in a few days time, looks like one of the best places to visit over there from what I've seen :thumb
Yeah it's worth the effort - hope you enjoy your trip!

Idle Hands

28DL Regular User
Regular User
20 likes - would love a poke about there. Must learn Russian sometime....
Thanks mate - I approached a Russian lady to translate a lot of my shots the first time. She told me it was all written in Ukrainian rather than Russian, but did the translations. It was fascinating stuff!

Awesome pics IH. We went earlier this year that mast is ace :thumb
Thanks as ever Paradox :)