Finding World War Two relics in Russia is relatively easy if you know where to look, recently relic hunters found a World War Two 1942 pattern German StuG III Infantry Assault tank in the same region as they found a T34-76 tank, around Pskov in Russia. The StuG III was an infantry support vehicle and was made in large numbers due to it being cheaper to manufacture.
The cheapness derived from the fact that the tank had no turret, instead the main gun was integral with the hull. Having no turret also gave it a lower silhouette making it harder to see in tall grasses or hilly environments.
The StuGIII was quite a versatile platform for infantry support and several variants were manufactured. Many StuGIII tanks were fitted with a very short barrel as depicted in the image below and were suitable for ramming through houses or walls without fear of damaging the non traversable barrel.
Whilst searching for World War Two tanks on the Russian steppes there was no need for metal detectors or wet suits to find the tank this time, as it can be seen lying on the surface. How come this tank was not discovered earlier? well quite simply the steppes and plains of Russia are too vast, spreading far and wide in millions of square miles.
The tank was hauled out of the mud still in its inverted position, but more importantly...what state is it in? Could it just be a pile of blown up scrap? Many World War Two tanks were destroyed in combat, literally blown to pieces. Although covered in mud it looks complete and optimistically the tank is dragged out further.
The tank has been dragged over onto its tracks and a clearer view of it can now determine its actual state of repair, is it a wreck ? Well it all seams to be there, the hull and the gun barrel look ok. No obvious signs of an explosion.
The tank is complete! with all the wheels and tracks still in situ, even the tanks spare wheel rims are still affixed to the outside of the tank, what a great find!
It looks like a Stug III Ausführungen G, with much wider tracks for driving over snow and bog. The fact that the tracks are all complete with no broken links is also amazing. This tank must have run out of fuel like so many did in Russia, and then simply abandoned.
Many tank crews scuttled their tanks when abandoning them by detonating charges within the turret or hull. With this tank either they didn't have time or were not bothered.
Considering the tank has lain upside down in mud for the past sixty years the paint is still in fantastic condition with almost zero rust on the outside. As I understand, there were no human remains in the tank, so it was not a war grave.
Any tanks that are unearthed on the Steppes of Russia that do in actual fact contain human remains are left in peace, as far I can ascertain anyway.
The tank looks very complete indeed, a little worse for wear as you would expect but nevertheless is in fabulous condition, almost mint! The Germans had painted this tank in white, as at the time it was in use, the steppes were covered in deep, thick, freezing snow.
In fact 1942-43 saw some of the coldest winters Russia has ever experienced, there are winters, then there are Russian winters as low as minus sixty degrees centigrade. Tank crews in Russia would have been better off than infantry, as they kept themselves warm from the tanks heaters and engines and were also shielded from the freezing cold blizzards.
I bet they hated abandoning this StuG! Especially as there was nothing wrong with it.
The tank was winched up onto a low loader and transported back to base where it was thoroughly inspected by its enthusiastic finders. The tank was complete inside and out, with no damage anywhere to be found.
I only wish I could have been there to see this authentic World War Two StuG being examined and to have sat inside it.
Amazing how this tank wasn't found before, carted off and cut up for scrap metal as so many were at the end of World War Two. Now she can be preserved in a museum for everyone to enjoy.
A real piece of World War Two history being saved and will probably end up in Russia's Kubinka Tank Museum...The worlds largest collection of World War Two tanks under one roof.
Are the people who are finding these tanks making huge profits? Well the answer to that is no! The reason being, hypocritical as it sounds, in Russia it is illegal to buy, sell or ship any type of military hardware.
As stated in another chapter, any and all tanks that are discovered and salvaged are automatically claimed by the Soviet Government and are consigned to a museum. I have noticed too that all of the photos on my pages about these discovered tanks always seam to have military personnel around them.
In the U.K or U.S.A private ownership of a tank is quite legal, just as long as their guns are completely deactivated or the entire breach mechanism's are taken out. Plus they are not allowed to carry any ordnance or ammunition of any description, however fully inspected dummy guns and dummy shells are permitted.
Private ownership of a tank in Russia however, regardless of age is not a viable proposition at all, its simply illegal to do so. If you live in Russia and you want to drive a tank...then join the army!
Read more about German World War Two StuG's here or by clicking on the photo below.
Page created January 24th 2007. Updated November 16th 2012