Tajik carpenter makes full-size wartime tank

Carpenter made a full-size wooden tank, Tula, Russia, 2019 Image copyright TeleTula
Image caption The tank seats five, at a push

A young Tajik carpenter has made a full-size wooden version of the iconic Soviet T-34 tank in time for the annual celebrations to mark the end of World War Two in Europe this week.

Muhammadsharif Jalilov lives in the Russian city of Tula, the historic centre of the country's arms industry south of Moscow, and decided to fashion the wooden tank at a friend's suggestion.

"He said - go on, make a T-34, as no-one's ever done it before," he told the local TeleTula online TV channel.

It took him three years in his spare time, and cost about half a million roubles (£5,900; $7,700) of his own money to buy the materials.

"Money's not the point, it's all about the thrill I get from my work," Muhammadsharif says. "What others spend on drink and cigarettes, I spend on the tank. It gives me satisfaction."

'All in my head'

Muhammadsharif, who has lived in Tula for seven years and comes from an dynasty of carpenters back in Tajikistan, says he didn't need to look at any blueprints. "I've got it all in my head", he says.

The one trip he made to measure the wheels on a real T-34 mounted in a Tula park led suspicious passers-by to call the police.

He says the hardest part was the initial work on the tracks and wheels, but the one thing he couldn't do on his own was get the tank to move.

Image copyright TeleTula
Image caption Muhammadsharif adds the finishing touches

Fortunately, he was able to call on his uncle, a mechanic working in Leningrad Region.

"He's been nagging me for a year to come down and install an engine, so this year I decided to help him out," Shamsidin Muhidinov told TeleTula.

He also fitted regular wheels under the chassis, as wooden tracks are not a practical proposition.

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Muhammadsharif's labour of love has won him widespread admiration in Russia, and made the news in Tajikistan too.

The plan was to gift the tank to President Vladimir on Victory in Europe day in the spirit of "eternal Tajik-Russian friendship, but it didn't work out," Mr Muhidinov says.

One social-media user suggested giving it pride of place in the newly-dedicated Patriot-Tula memorial park, which the Tulskiye Novosti news site says the city council is now considering.

'Wartime songs'

In the meantime, the wooden T-34 comes equipped with speakers, and Mr Jalilov says his "dream is to drive it down the streets of Tula, playing wartime songs".

This would require the permission of the traffic police, and he's raised the matter with them.

Muhammadsharif is not Tula Region's first T-34 modeller, as pensioner Alexei Molchalin of the nearby town of Novomoskovsk made a working model for his grandson a few years ago -albeit not full-size, and fashioned out of more conventional steel.

Image copyright TeleTula
Image caption Everything works, except the gun

Reporting by Marufjon Ismatov and Martin Morgan

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