It’s fascinating to consider how much history is lost to nature’s elements. There are hundreds of sunken ships at the bottom of the ocean and entire cities buried under volcanic ash and magma, but sometimes we’re lucky enough to find and recover little pieces of what’s been lost.

Last April, divers in Russia discovered a World War II-era Soviet tank lying at the bottom of the Don River. After months of investigations, the Russian military was finally ready to pull it up to the surface…

This World War II-era Soviet tank was recovered from the bottom of the Don River in Russia.

tank-1Twitter / @klaasm67

The tank was a model T-34-76, the most efficiently designed tank of its era.

Blogspot / Pierre Kosmidis

Experts believe it was probably produced at the nearby Stalingrad Tractor Plant, where intense fighting occurred during the Battle of Stalingrad.

tank-3Twitter / @klaasm67

The tank was actually found by divers months earlier…

Twitter / @saitamakita

…but military personnel wanted to establish that there were no remains of soldiers inside before bringing it to the surface.

Imgur / 3rdweal

After confirming that it contained no remains, the Russian military was able to pull the tank up using one of their more modern armored military vehicles.

Imgur / 3rdweal

Even so, pulling it up was no easy task, given that it weighed 30 tons and was under 23 feet of water!

tank-9Twitter / @klaasm67

The current theory is that the tank ended up in the river when it fell from or collapsed a temporary bridge.

tank-4Twitter / @klaasm67

Other artifacts were found alongside the tank, including pontoon boats, small vessels, and weapons…

Blogspot / Pierre Kosmidis

Authorities say that the other items lend credibility to the temporary bridge theory.

VORONEZH REGION, RUSSIA - JULY 14, 2016: A part of a WWII T-34-76 tank that has been pulled from the bottom of the Don River by Patriot Park specialists, servicemen of Russia's Western Military District and divers. The tank was discovered by Patriot Park specialists at a depth of 6 meters in April 2016. Kristina Brazhnikova/TASS (Photo by Kristina BrazhnikovaTASS via Getty Images)Blogspot / Pierre Kosimidis

Few of these tanks survived the war, and many of those that did were later disassembled for parts used in newer tank designs.

tank-6Twitter / @klaasm67

Because these tanks are so rare, military historians would like to try to restore this one as much as possible.

Twitter / @saitamakita

It’s fairly well-preserved, and experts believe that, with a little bit of machine work, the tank might even run again one day!

tank-8Twitter / @klaasm67

What an amazing historical artifact! The current plan is to restore the tank and eventually put it on display in Patriot Park in Moscow.

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