This is a pretty amazing story from several years ago  — this is from http://www.rense.com/general75/germ2.htm; there are a lot of pictures on this site.

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An abandoned tank was pulled 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 north-eastern 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.

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.

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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.

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, [the oil was still in the engine] 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 Narv.

The latest news about T-34 (from 2007):

Have successfully started the diesel engine not replacing any spare parts.
Have replaced only bearings on skating rolls.
Assembly of the tank will soon come to the end and it will be ready to trial runs.
It is planned in the following season to carry on tourists and to show it as a working exhibit of our museum.

See also http://www.diving.ee/articles/art035.html for more videos.


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