WW2 Tank Found After 62 Years

When doing some research for an article, I came upon this interesting article that I would love to share with everybody in Hub Pages.  Some of you might have read about it before, but I could not resist in publishing it here.

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14 September 2000, a Komatsu D375A-2 pulled an abandoned tank from its archival tomb under the bottom of a lake near Johvi, Estonia. The Soviet-built T34/76A tank had been resting at the bottom of the lake for 56 years. According to its specifications, it’s a 27-tonne machine with a top speed of 53km/h.

From February to September 1944, heavy battles were fought in the narrow, 50 km-wide, Narva front in the northeastern part of Estonia. Over 100,000 men were killed and 300,000 men were wounded there. During battles in the summer of 1944, the tank was captured from the Soviet army and used by the German army. (This is the reason that there are German markings painted on the tank’s exterior.) On 19 September 1944, German troops began an organized retreat along the Narva front. It is suspected that the tank was then purposefully driven into the lake, abandoning it when its captors left the area.

At that time, a local boy walking by the lake Kurtna Matasjarv noticed tank tracks leading into the lake, but not coming out anywhere. For two months he saw air bubbles emerging from the lake. This gave him reason to believe that there must be an armored vehicle at the lake’s bottom. A few years ago, he told the story to the leader of the local war history club “Otsing”. Together with other club members, Mr Igor Shedunov initiated diving expeditions to the bottom of the lake about a year ago. At the depth of 7 metres they discovered the tank resting under a 3-metre layer of peat.

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Enthusiasts from the club, under Mr Shedunov’s leadership, decided to pull the tank out. In September 2000 they turned to Mr Aleksander Borovkovthe, manager of the Narva open pit of the stock company AS Eesti Polevkivi, to rent the company’s Komatsu D375A-2 bulldozer. Currently used at the pit, the Komatsu dozer was manufactured in 1995, and has 19,000 operating hours without major repairs.

The pulling operation began at 09:00 and was concluded at 15:00, with several technical breaks. The weight of the tank, combined with the travel incline, made a pulling operation that required significant muscle. The D375A-2 handled the operation with power and style. The weight of the fully armed tank was around 30 tons, so the tractive force required to retrieve it was similar. A main requirement for the 68-tonne dozer was to have enough weight to prevent shoe-slip while moving up the hill.

 

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After the tank surfaced, it turned out to be a ‘trophy’ tank that had been captured by the German army in the course of the battle at Sinimaed (Blue Hills) about six weeks before it was sunk in the lake. Altogether, 116 shells were found on board. Remarkably, the tank was in good condition, with no rust, and all systems (except the engine) in working condition.

This is a very rare machine, especially considering that it fought both on the Russian and the German sides. Plans are under way to fully restore the tank. It will be displayed at a war history museum that will be founded at the Gorodenko village on the left bank of the River Narva.



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Comments 9 comments

kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 5 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi leabeth This is a very interesting and informative hub, it is surprising to find this tank in such good condition after so many years hidden .

Great hub and pictures to !!!


JY3502 profile image

JY3502 5 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

I really enjoyed this one leabeth. I love antique things.


leabeth profile image

leabeth 5 years ago Author

Kashmir - I am also quite amazed that the tank kept so well. It made me started wondering about the substance of peat and I found the following on wikipedia about peat, especially the type that are found in Russia.

"Use of peat for energy production was prominent during the Soviet Union, with the peak occurring in 1965 and declining from that point. In 1929, over 40% of the Soviet Union's electric energy came from peat, which dropped to 1% by 1980.

In the 1960s, larger sections of swamps and bogs in Western Russia were drained for agricultural use and to generate peat fields for mining. Plans are underway to increase peat output and increase peat's contribution to Russian energy generation. However, there is concern about the environmental impact as peat fields are flammable, drainage degrades eco-systems, and burning of peat releases carbon dioxide."

That makes one think that there must have been an oily substance in this peat where the tank was found.


leabeth profile image

leabeth 5 years ago Author

JY3502 - When I saw the article I immediately thought about you and just knew that you would love it. Thanks for stopping by and reading my hubs.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa

This was an extremely interesting read. “At the depth of 7 metres under a 3-metre layer of peat.” Who would’ve ever found it in there if that local boy did not notice the tracks and the bubbles, and, low and behold accidentally shared his memories years later with the right people at the right time. I hope they gave him a token of appreciation. Thumbs up, my friend, this one is a stunner. And I see you’ve mastered amazon.com as well :))))


leabeth profile image

leabeth 5 years ago Author

Martie - Thanks for your lovely comments. About Amazon, it took a while to get the hang of it. They say everything is easy if you just know how. The next would be the maps which I want to use with my next hub.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

Wow - what an amazing story! Just have to send this on to a few people I know. Enjoyed this oh so much. Rated up and awesome!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

This is a fascinating story. Thank you for the good read. I enjoyed it.


ruffridyer 5 years ago from Dayton, ohio

A nice hub on an interesting topic. Thanks for sharing.

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