Mitrofan Nedelin

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Mitrofan Ivanovich Nedelin
MI Nedelin 01.jpg
Born November 9, 1902
Borisoglebsk, Voronezh Governorate, Russian Empire
Died 24 October 1960(1960-10-24) (aged 57)
Baikonur Cosmodrome
Buried at Kremlin Wall Necropolis
Allegiance Soviet Union
Service/branch Artillery, Strategic Rocket Forces
Years of service 1920 — 1960
Rank Chief marshal of the artillery
Commands held 13th Artillery Regiment (1939-40)
Artillery 160th Rifle Division (1940-41)
4th Anti-Tank Brigade (1941)
Artillery 18th Army (1941)
Artillery 37th Army (1941-43)
Artillery 56th Army (1943)
V Artillery Corps (1943)
Artillery South-Western Front (1943)
Artillery 3rd Ukrainian Front (1943-45)
Artillery Southern Soviet Group of Forces (1945-46)
Chief Artillery Directorate (1948-50)
CinC Artillery (1950-52, 1953-55)
Deputy Minister of War (1952-53)
Deputy Minister of Defence (1955-60)
CinC Strategic Missile Force (1959-60)
Battles/wars Russian Civil War,
Spanish Civil War,[citation needed]
Winter War,[citation needed]
World War II
Awards Hero of the Soviet Union

Mitrofan Ivanovich Nedelin (rus. Митрофа́н Ива́нович Неде́лин) (November 9, 1902, Borisoglebsk, Voronezh Governorate — October 24, 1960, Baikonur Cosmodrome) was a Soviet military commander who served as Chief marshal of the artillery, a position he held from May 8, 1959 until his untimely death. A member of Communist Party from 1924, he was honored as a Hero of the Soviet Union on Apr 28, 1945 for his service in the Second World War.

Military career[edit]

Nedelin joined the Red Army in 1920.[1] In 1939 he was appointed to command 13th Artillery Regiment.[2] Then in 1940 he was appointed to command the artillery of 160th Rifle Division.[2] In 1941 he was appointed commander of first 4th Anti-Tank Brigade,[2] then the artillery of 18th Army,[2] and then the artillery of 37th Army where he stayed until 1943,[2] then he moved to command the artillery of 56th Army.[2] In 1943 he was appointed Deputy Commanding Officer of the artillery of the Northern Caucasian Front.[1][2] From there he moved to command V Artillery Corps,[2] and then the artillery of the South-western Front,[1][2] and then the artillery of the 3rd Ukrainian Front where he stayed from 1943 to 1945, playing an especially important part in the capture of Hungary.[1][2]

In 1945 he became Assistant commanding officer and then commanding officer of the artillery of the Soviet Southern Group of Forces.[1][2]

In 1946 he became chief of staff of the chief artillery directorate of the Red Army,[2] and then chief of staff of artillery,[2] and then Deputy Commander in Chief of Artillery.[2] He became head of the chief artillery directorate of the Soviet Army in 1948,[1][2] and Commander in Chief of Artillery from 1950 to 1952 and again from 1953 to 1955.[1][2]

He was Deputy Minister of War in 1952-53,[1][2] From 1955 he was Deputy Minister of Defence,[1][2] and concurrently from 1959 Commander in Chief of the Strategic Missile Force.[1][2]


Nedelin inadvertently played a key role in ushering in the space age by concluding that rockets were the ideal means to deliver a nuclear warhead to USA instead of bombers and ordered Sergei Korolev to develop the massive R-7 ICBM to carry a large warhead to the USA. This rocket and its derivatives, while never an effective ICBM, was powerful enough to launch Sputnik and then Vostok manned space vehicles into orbit enabling the USSR to beat the US to space.

Nedelin was killed in a test rocket explosion on October 24, 1960 at Baikonur Cosmodrome along with approximately 120 other victims in an incident that became known as the Nedelin catastrophe. The tragedy was covered up by the Soviet authorities, with details only emerging in the 1990s. Until then, Nedelin's death was officially listed as having occurred in a plane crash.

Nedelin's tomb is in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis at Red Square in Moscow.

Honours and awards[edit]

Hero of the Soviet Union medal.png Hero of the Soviet Union
Order of Lenin ribbon bar.png Five Orders of Lenin
Order of Red Banner ribbon bar.png Four Orders of the Red Banner
Order suvorov1 rib.png Order of Suvorov 1st class
Order kutuzov1 rib.png Order of Kutuzov 1st class
Order bogdan khmelnitsky1 rib.png Order of Bogdan Khmelnitsky 1st class
Order gpw1 rib.png Order of the Patriotic War 1st class
Order badge of honor rib.png Order of the Badge of Honour
Defcaucasus rib.png Medal "For the Defence of the Caucasus"
Orderglory rib.png Medal "For the Victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945"
CaptureOfViennaRibbon.png Medal "For the Capture of Vienna"
Capturekoenigsberg rib.png Medal "For the Capture of Königsberg"
Capturebudapest rib.png Medal "For the Capture of Budapest"
20 years saf rib.png Jubilee Medal "XX Years of the Workers' and Peasants' Red Army"
30 years saf rib.png Jubilee Medal "30 Years of the Soviet Army and Navy"
40 years saf rib.png Jubilee Medal "40 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR"


External links[edit]

In other media[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Memoirs of Nikita Khrushchev, Volume 2, Reformer 1945-64, by Nikita Sergeevich Khrushchev and Sergeĭ Khrushchev, pub Penn State Press, 2006, ISBN 0-271-02861-0, p817.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s The Generals of WWII – Nedelin

Media related to Mitrofan Nedelin at Wikimedia Commons