The Cold War helped to cook up some of the most batshit plans known to the modern world, from the bright idea to nuke the Moon or the what-could-possibly-go-wrong ploy to arm spaceships with lasers guns. As part of this paranoid game of one-upmanship, the Soviets devised a weapon that's so flamboyantly ludicrous, it sounds unbelievably similar to the weapon created by The Underminer, the mole-like supervillain from The Incredibles and The Incredibles 2.
As recently pointed out by Jalopnik, the gigantic drill-tipped vehicle featured in The Incredibles movies bears an uncanny resemblance to the USSR’s prototype nuclear “subterrenes”. These clunking machines consisted of a chunky metal cylinder with a colossal drill attached to the end. The idea was that the vehicles could bore tunnels and covertly cork-screw beneath enemy lines, totally out of sight, to deliver troops or supplies beyond enemy lines. Alternatively, it could use its subterranean vantage point to meddle with enemy communication lines.
Russia Beyond, a Russian state-owned news agency, reports that the early incarnations of the subterrenes quickly ran into problems. Besides anything, it probably didn't help that early prototypes of the machine were inspired by the motion that tiny moles use to dig through soil, according to a 1956 report in New Scientist.
After this hurdle was jumped, it became apparent that a huge amount of energy would be required to drill a tunnel through hard types of soil and rock. So, in 1964, the USSR unveiled a nuclear-powered subterrene, dubbed "Battle mole”. Just like the nuclear submarines, of which they are still many, the “Battle mole” would be fitted with a relatively small nuclear reactor that could provide all of its energy needs. Equally, the extreme heat from the reactor could also be utilized to help bore through the earth.
Bear in mind, most information about the military's projects were kept under wraps during the Cold War, so there’s not much in the way of official information out there. Nowadays, a search for “Battle mole” will bring a host of state-owned Russian news sites and suspect YouTube videos.
Nevertheless, Russia Beyond claims that “some reports” show that the Soviet nuclear subterrene was actually built and tested out in different geological conditions. Some of the trials in the suburbs of Moscow and the Rostov region appeared to go well, however, a handful of tests ended in tragedies. In one instance, the nuclear subterrene blew up deep within the Ural Mountains. As you can imagine, an explosion, deep underground with a nuclear reactor nearby isn’t going to end well, so the project was promptly scrapped.
Stay safe out there, the Underminer.