Amazing Pictures of Abandoned Soviet Tanks Left Behind on Shikotan Island

After departure from the village, I went to 'conquer' the tank hill. The way took me 30 minutes. On one of the hills, the beautiful sight of the Krabozavodsk Village appeared.
After departure from the village, I went to 'conquer' the tank hill. The way took me 30 minutes. On one of the hills, the beautiful sight of the Krabozavodsk Village appeared.

A note from the author

It’s clear that no one will save these tanks, though it’s still sad to watch as such armor is thrown away to rust. Incidentally, some of the tanks here arrived just after the World War II. Once upon a time, these machines were a formidable force capable of resisting the enemy for a long time, now they are just remnants of the past age.

Now the tanks are just standing on the hills, between them are dug trenches, often even concreted. Powerful armor, tanks, and regular well-trained combat crew had in service 10 vehicles, which was a significant problem for the possible enemy attack. Each meter on the island was measured and sighted. Shikotan Island, and other Kuril Islands, at that time were well protected. On Iturup and Kunashir, I often came across the remains of fortified areas but never saw such a number of tanks as on Shikotan.

The end of the Soviet Union came in early ’90 and consequences of that even were felt for a long time. A serious earthquake also had a part in destroying buildings. People survived both of those calamities and tried to live as best as they could. Japan helped with the food and goods shipment, and in return, the Kuril Islands were disarmed. No one needed such strong bastion out there anymore.

Wartime History

Prewar, the Kuril Islands belonged to Japan. As early as 22 November 1941, Japanese ships began assembling in the Kuril Islands area, for the secret “Hawaiian Operation” to attack Pearl Harbor and Oahu.

During the Pacific War, Japan blocked the passage to the Sangar Strait from Soviet ships. Although Russia and Japan were not officially at war, the Soviet Union was receiving lend-lease from the United States.

During 1943-1945, the Japanese fortified the Kurile Islands, and were the target of American attacks from bases in Alaska in a strategic effort to tie down Japanese forces in the far north. The area was occupied by the Japanese until late August 1945.

On 9 August 1945, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan and began the Soviet–Japanese War. On 18 August 1945, Soviet forces landed on Shumshu Island in the Kurile Islands. On 21 August 1945, a localized ceasefire between the Soviets and the Japanese ended fighting.

Credit for all photos and text: Ivan Dementievsky (Иван Дементиевский) from LiveJournal.

‘Conquering’ the hill was quite easy and it’s impossible to get lost in this area as the flora out there is rather scanty.
Despite the fact it was the end of the October, it was a very hot day. Midges were flying everywhere.
At the top of the hill, I found the remains of an observation post.
Breathtaking views. That part of the military history of the Soviet Union took place in a beautiful location, I think that those soldiers who stationed here still remember their service with nostalgia.
All the bunkers are now overgrown by the greenery.
That’s the only ‘building’ that still stands. Trash, empty cans and bottles of vodka and beer are common thing to find.
A little further begins the tank part of the journey. On the photo magnificent IS-3.
The entire hill is a well-fortified defense system. Can You see all the tanks in the background? Yes, they are out there.
I was traveling in the late Autumn, though even then the flora camouflaged the tanks in an efficient way.
The tank standing on the concrete trenches.
Another shot of the same tank, Iosif Stalin, a proud successor to the KV-series.
Only the silence surrounds this little one. It’s a bit strange to see this IS-2 aiming toward the peaceful and quiet village. Maybe someone was just trying the mechanisms of the turret, they say. Of course, it never fired, and probably never will.
A pair of poles and the remains of barbed wire. Interestingly, not many visitors are aware of the military history of the island, and not only this one but about whole Kuril Islands.
IS-3 was mainly used by Soviet Union, China, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, DPRK, Egypt, and Poland.
And fought in World War II, Hungarian Revolution of 1956, Six Day War, Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, War in Donbass.


In 1951 under the terms of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, Japan gave up sovereignty of the Kurile Islands to Russia.

Damian Lucjan

Damian is a history geek that’s working for War History Online for almost a decade. He can talk about the history and its chain of events for hours and is 100% legit fun at parties. Aside of history, geography and etymology of all things are no less exciting for him! An avid video game player, meme distributor, and your comment section moderator all in one. Mythologies of all cultures are fascinating to him, Greek, Nordic, Slavic – you name it, and he’s in!

In his spare time, assuming he has some left, he gives it all to his family, enjoying morning walks, a good book, an exciting FPS, and a long nap…or a few. Definitely a cat person.