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WWII tank buried 30 feet underground for 74 years has been completely restored

Tanks for cleaning! Buffalo military vehicle, buried 30 feet underground for 74 years, has been fully restored after being excavated by volunteers and will be able to drive well next summer

  • The feat took a team of volunteers three years of searching and planning in the area
  • Rare LTV-4 Buffalo tank was surfaced last April to be restored to working condition
  • It sank underground in 1947 after being used as a dam in Lincolnshire with 15 other tanks
  • It features new tracks and a new engine, along with original parts that have already been repaired

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A huge WWII tank buried underground for 74 years in the Lincolnshire Ferns has been fully restored.

The 26-meter-long Buffalo tank has been buried nearly 9 meters since 1947, but amazingly could become Europe’s only drivable specimen by next summer.

Farmer Daniel Abbott, 42, and his team of volunteers pulled the massive 20-ton amphibious tank from the ground last April after three years of searching and planning.

The Buffalo sank after being washed away when it was used as a flood defense to protect the village of Crowland, Lincolnshire, during the floods of March 1947.

It was part of a temporary dam to contain the flooding of the Welland River, which involved 15 other tanks.

The WWII tank was buried 30 feet underground and needed a massive dig to be salvaged

The WWII tank was buried 30 feet underground and needed a massive dig to be salvaged

Daniel Abbot, 42, on top of the tank worked three years to get out.  He and his team restored it to its current state in just over a year

Daniel Abbot, 42, on top of the tank worked three years to get out. He and his team restored it to its current state in just over a year

The 26-foot-tall tank is relatively well-preserved thanks to being buried in peat and clay for the past 74 years

The 26-foot-tall tank is relatively well-preserved thanks to being buried in peat and clay for the past 74 years

Notably, Daniel Abbot believes the historic tank could be fully drivable next summer, with some of the original components restored to working order

Notably, Daniel Abbot believes the historic tank could be fully drivable next summer, with some of the original components restored to working order

The tank ended up underground after being swept away and sank during flooding in 1947

The tank ended up underground after being swept away and sank during flooding in 1947

Now, just over a year later, the tank has been restored in time for the 75th anniversary of the 1947 floods and will be on display during the Thorney & Crowland 1940s Weekend on June 25 and 26.

The cockpit of the LVT-4 tank has been restored, the front armor has been repainted, the original gearbox has been repaired and new tracks have been fitted.

Daniel Abbott, who located the Buffalo, said: “I am absolutely blown away by the restoration. We have a new working engine from America and hope to put it in the tank over the winter so it will be drivable next summer.”

Daniel Abbott poses with a Union flag after it is unearthed in Crowland, Lincolnshire

Daniel Abbott poses with a Union flag after it is unearthed in Crowland, Lincolnshire

The crew managed to excavate the 20 ton tank and remove it from the 30ft tow in April last year

The crew managed to excavate the 20 ton tank and remove it from the 30ft tow in April last year

The Buffalo tank was one of 16 deployed as part of the flood defenses off the nearby village of Crowland when the Welland River overflowed its banks.

The Buffalo tank was one of 16 deployed as part of the flood defenses off the nearby village of Crowland when the Welland River overflowed its banks.

The Daily Mail's original report on the floods

The Daily Mail’s original report on the floods

He said that the original bodywork has not been repainted because of its many interesting features.

Mr Abbott added: ‘When we started cleaning the tank we found people’s names scratched into the panels and we’re not sure if that was during the Second World War or in 1947.

“We also found a hand-painted symbol of a bull’s head from the 79th Armored Division painted on the front, and someone painted ‘everything okay’ on the panels.”

The March 1947 floods came after a combination of heavy snowfall, a sudden thaw, high tide, rain and wind, which caused the River Welland to burst its banks.

About 30,000 acres of land around Crowland were flooded and 16 Buffalo tanks were deployed to close the breach.

When the water was pumped back into the floodplain, the water got under some buffaloes and five of them floated away. One was recovered, two sank in fishing pits and two were left in a hole.

Daniel and his team spent three years planning the tank out of the hole. Much of the digging was done by hand, but also with a machine from the North Level Drainage Board.

The tank was buried in clay and peat and was well preserved. The team eventually wants to build a museum in the city to house it.

Daniel added: “Hopefully we can eventually put it in a nice barn in the city and turn it into a museum. It’s been in Crowland for 74 years and it’s part of the town’s history.”

Buffalo LVT-4s were used at the Rhine crossing in 1945.

How were Buffalo’s amphibious vehicles used during the war?

The Buffalo tank was originally an American freighter

The Buffalo tank was originally an American freighter

The Buffalo, also known as the Landing Vehicle Tracked, was an American freighter originally designed to carry stores from the ship to shore in the 1920s and 1930s.

It soon became an assault vehicle landing troops during amphibious operations after engineer Donald Roebling modified his previous military tank, which he named the Alligator.

The US Marines used them extensively in the Pacific against Japanese forces and even armed them with deadly flamethrowers.

In Europe, the British Army used 600 of them to cross the Rhine in 1945 during Operation Plunder, armed with 20mm cannons and machine guns.

The Royal Marines used them in Burma and Malaya and in the ill-fated Suez Crisis of 1956.

During the Suez Canal Crisis, the Royal Marines made a landing at Port Said using the American tanks, supported by a number of Centurion tanks from the Royal Tank Regiment.

In 1943, the US Marines used the vehicles when landing on Bougainville Island, which is part of Papua New Guinea, during World War II.

The tanks were also used in small numbers by the US military in Europe in 1944-45 for river crossings.

It was first used in North Africa in 1942 to tow vehicles and also salvage boats.

After World War II, some tanks were used during the Korean War for the landing in Incheon and the subsequent crossing of the Han River to recapture Seoul.

The amphibious vehicles were also used in the Hungnam Harbor evacuation when Chinese forces attacked.

After the war, the oldest Buffalos were disposed of or sold to other countries, but the LVT-3 and LVT(A)-5 remained with the US military.

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