Russia Fished a Sherman Tank out of the Sea
During the Second World War, the United States sent thousands of tanks and armored vehicles to the Soviet Union as military aid. The flow of arms and equipment was vital in keeping the Soviet Union in the fight, and ultimately 4,102 M4 Sherman medium tanks were sent to the Eastern Front—where they were known as Emchas.
One tank that didn’t make it was traveling on the Liberty Ship SS Thomas Donaldson.Liberty Ships were military cargo ships designed for mass production, hauling cargo from the Pacific to the Persian Gulf. The Thomas Donaldson left Scotland on March 11th, 1945 bound for a port on Russia’s Kola peninsula. Just twenty miles from port, the ship was sunk by a German U-boat.
Several Emchas were on board, and in 2014 one of them was recovered and brought to the surface. The tank is an M4A2 Sherman, equipped with a 76-millimeter gun. Although both gasoline and diesel versions of the Sherman were produced, most sent to Russia were diesel and indeed the angled slope of the back of the hull indicates a diesel engine hides underneath.
The M4A2 is in surprisingly good shape for having been immersed in salt water for the last 70 years. That’s not surprising—aid recipients from the UK to the USSR reported that American-delivered equipment was always immaculately packed and secured for travel—especially against saltwater corrosion. As a bonus treat, Soviet tankers reported that Emchas often arrived with a special gift stuffed in the main gun’s breech: souvenirs from America, and sometimes even a bottle of whiskey.
H/T Atlas Obscura