Dukhov was working in a tractor factory. In 1926, the factory Komsomol assembly sent him to study in an institute in Kharkov, followed by a transfer without test to mechanical faculty in the Leningrad Polytechnical Institute to study engineer-design for tractors and cars. He was responsible for designing the Soviet tractors and heavy tanks in the 1930s.
In World War II he was co-designer (with Zhozef Kotin) of the Stalin heavy tank.
In 1948, he was nominated as the assistant to Yulii Khariton, the chief designer of the Soviet atomic bomb. He continued his work on nuclear projects until his death in 1964.
He taught in the Leningrad Road Institute and at mechanical faculty of the Leningrad Polytechnical Institute. He became a corresponding member of the Academy of sciences of the USSR (1953).
The young man was attracted to agricultural and electrical equipment. For the club N. Dukhov made a tube receiver with a loudspeaker. Engineering creativity was gradually born. When he studied at the Kharkov Institute of Land ManagementLand Management, deputy. People's Commissar of Education A.A. Polotsky, a fellow countryman of Dukhov, saw how he looked with interest at a foreign tube radio, and said that he should not be a land surveyor, but an engineer.
During the war, the tractor plant in Chelyabinsk was converted for the production of tanks. The "battle of designers" began, where our country and Germany fought. N. Dukhov was in those years at the forefront of the creation and modernization of combat vehicles. These were tankstanks T-28, KV-1, KV-2, T-45, etc.