Place this one in the strange but true category? The military subterrene! An urban legend? Combat Mole?
"Subterrene . . . is a vehicle that travels underground (through solid rock/soil) much as a submarine travels underwater, either by mechanical drilling, or by melting its way forward."
From some Russian sources:
"The Soviet Union was doing its best to achieve as much technological progress as possible. The ultimate goal was to make science fiction reality. Telepathy, amphibious boats capable of "navigating" under the ground, space planes - all these projects used to be developed in the USSR."
"Battle Mole, the secret subterrenes"
"USSR Battle Mole – This is probably an urban legend, because all sources are very unreliable and controversial.. According to some authors, Soviet Union like Nazi Germany and the USA had projects of Subterrenes in 1930s and 1960s."
This is a prototype of Combat Mole? Not a full-sized machine as proposed? Digger was to be thirty-five meters long? Click on image to see an enlarged view. Atomic powered also?
Atomic-powered digger was tested [prototype?] but the project cancelled because of an INCIDENT!
I might well imaginethe INCIDENT some sort of unreported nuclear meltdown and large release of radioactive particles into the environment. A spew deadly to life forms.
What makes you think that battle moles weren't produced or deployed deployed? In 2017, a former KGB colonel made a comment in a Russian seemingly hinting at the deployment of battle moles. This was immediately dismissed by the Russian government as being nonsense.
However, with only one incident of a mishap, where a large battle mole was destroyed, while other tests were highly successful, this leaves a question: Why would the Russian's cancel a highly successful program?
The "official announced" cancellation of the program in the late 1970s simply doesn't makes sense. What does makes senses are the persistent rumors of these battle moles being deployed to the coasts of Oregon & California. Perhaps, it is just paranoia, but who knows.
Oh, the purpose of theses devices with small nuclear weapons was to be deployed near known fault-lines and activated to cause what would be seen as a natural disaster event should war with the United States seem imminent.
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