The last remaining Soviet T-34-76 tank produced at the Stalingrad Tractor Factory was recovered from the Don River in southern Russia.
The recovery operation was staged near the village of Ukrainskaya Builovka in the Voronezh Region. The crew included specialists from Patriot Park in the Moscow Region, soldiers from Russia’s Western Military District, and divers.
They used a BREM-1 repair and evacuation vehicle that is based on a T-72 tank. The recovered tank was retrieved from a depth of seven meters. The T-34 came through the operation well.
All T-34 tanks that were produced at the Stalingrad Factory had been destroyed in the first few years of The Great Patriotic War against the Nazis in World War II.
There are two different versions of stories about how the tank ended up on the bottom of the river. The first is told by local residents who claim that Soviet troops sank the tank to prevent it from falling into enemy hands while they retreated. The tanks armament was not removed, so this version of the story seems implausible.
The second story tells of how the tank was crossing the river on a pontoon boat and then fell in. There is evidence supporting this version of the story as the divers found sunken pontoons, transport vehicles, and small-sized vessels on the river bank near the tank.
The tank was likely lost in the summer of 1942. It weighs about 30 tons, is in very good condition, and could be restored to run again according to Anatoly Kalemberg, Head of the Patriot Park Department for Exhibits’ Search, Repair and Restoration department.
“If it is restored externally, this won’t be difficult and won’t take much time as it has remained in a very good condition. If we start restoring it to its running condition, this will take more time,” he said. “I hope we’ll restore it to the running condition,” Kalemberg said.
The crew found no munitions, dangerous items, or crew remains in the tank.