What was the best weapon of the entire Red Alert video game arsenal? If you didn't answer with the "Tesla Coil," then not only have you failed in your appreciation for Red Alert weaponry, but you've also unconsciously ruined the introduction to this article.
The Soviet Tesla Coil was a terrifying weapon which fried any incoming enemy with a big bolt of blue lightning. Personally, I would surround my Red Alert base with dozens of the things, but I always assumed they were limited to the imagination of some desk-bound video game developer. That is until now.
Russia's Real Life Tesla Coil
Russia's English language news service/propaganda tool, Russia Today, was recently allowed unprecedented access to Russia's real life "lightning machine," a bizarre and enigmatic research facility hidden deep within the forested regions around Moscow.
Russia Today was able to fly a drone over the site, namely its Marx generator, a massive "Tesla Tower" built by the Russian Electrical Engineering Institute back in the 1970s. You may be relieved to discover the Soviet Tesla Tower was not designed to disintegrate humans, although it is used for military purposes. Ostensively, the Marx generator (which is technically not a Tesla coil) is used to test the electrical insulation and the effects of lightning on Russian military aircraft.
Further to this, the facility was also designed to study the weaponization of electro-magnetic pulses (EMP) and the effects of nuclear and solar blasts on vehicles and electronic systems.
What Can It Do?
Although the Tesla Tower was not designed to zap Allied grunts, you certainly wouldn't want to be anywhere near it when it goes off. The device, which is one of the most powerful lightning machines in the world, is capable of discharging the entire energy of Russia's electrical network in just under 100 microseconds. Furthermore, the lightning bolts it creates have a range of around 150-meters. You can check out exactly what that looks like in the video below:
In recent years, the officially named The High Voltage Research Center, has become an attractive destination for adventurous tourists. However, despite some mothballing and rumors of abandonment, the Facility chief, Vladimir Sysoev, claims the site is still very much active, stating:
They just keep coming and coming, and they’ve been lucky to avoid killing themselves so far! It’s impossible to keep ‘tourists’ out.
Indeed, the facility has recently been used to test the insulation on Russia's next-generation Sukhoi Superjet strike aircraft.
Unfortunately, the massive facility is becoming more and more difficult to fund and maintain, with the site's electricity bill running into tens of thousands of dollars each year.
But don't worry, Uncle Sam is also packing his own incredibly powerful lightning machine. For example, the most powerful X-ray generator in the world, the Z Pulse Power Facility, is located out of Albuquerque, New Mexico.