by Bruce Oppenhagen

January 2002




The Museum's expert conservation team has the historical knowledge and technical skills required to rebuild a wide variety of military vehicles to operational condition.Our talented staff restores vehicles for our collection as well as for a number of U.S. Government military museums.



Experience the roar of engines, the whine of the gears, the clattering tracks, and the trembling ground as these mighty machines roll by. And yes, the smell! Know them as only the troops knew them.

Come learn where, when, and how these vehicles were used-and the role they played in the history of technology, transportation, communications and warfare.

From a youngster whose only exposure has been history books or Saturday morning cartoons, to the veteran who remembers-we want to share the knowledge and the sensation of these magnificent relics with everyone.



The Museum's outreach programs seek to make its collection available for parades, ceremonies, and other special events open to the public. Private group tours and special vehicle demonstrations may be arranged.



"Remember, you can't hurt the tank, but it can hurt you."

Operating armored vehicles can be inherently dangerous unless safety is continually observed and practiced. Starting, moving, and storing of armored vehicles must be performed with safety as the primary concern. Always follow the safety warnings in this handbook and those provided verbally by VMMV staff. Following these guidelines can help prevent unnecessary damage to equipment and more importantly, injury to staff and volunteers.

General Safety Guidelines:

1. No volunteer should start or operate any vehicle unless instructed in its use by a qualified member of the VMMV staff or a qualified volunteer.

2. No volunteer should start or operate a vehicle unless directed to do so by VMMV staff.

3. Vehicles will always utilize ground guides to prevent injury/damage to facilities, equipment/vehicles, and personnel.

4. Volunteers that will serve as ground guides will be instructed in the proper hand signals to use.

5. When installing batteries ensure that terminals are correctly connected. Many positive cables will be marked with red tape, or sometimes an embossed "+". If you are in doubt or can not determine the correct polarity consult with a member of staff.

6. The driver of an armored vehicle has an extremely limited field of vision. You should never assume he/she knows you are behind, next to, or even in front of his/her vehicle.

7. Vehicle drivers are responsible for ensuring it is safe for their vehicle to move.

8. Ground guides are responsible for ensuring objects, people and vehicles are not damaged or injured during operations.

9. Volunteers must never push buttons or flip switches in any vehicle.

10. Volunteers should wear boots or shoes with rubber soles (steel toed if desired) and old clothes while working at VMMV. Battery acid, gasoline, diesel fuel, and motor oil are the volunteer's constant companions and clothing will be stained and even ruined. Also, you will be climbing around on slick painted metal. Clothing should fit close, but allow you to move easily. Loose fitting clothing has a tendency to snag on things, and there are lots of things that will be happy to do so.

11. VMMV has gloves, safety glasses and other personal safety devices available for volunteer use. Please request these items if you feel they are necessary during your volunteer shift. Typically you will end up drilling, grinding, welding, and pounding-all of which can cause problems if the bits and pieces start flying.

12. Please follow the directions of VMMV staff or senior volunteers when you are volunteering. Previous military or museum experiences or procedures should not be relied on at VMMV.

13. Please do not bring young children (under 17) with you when you come to volunteer. It is not possible for you to be responsible for your own safety, the safety of your child and still be effective as a museum volunteer.

14. Bring and drink lots of water while you are volunteering. The interior of a tank can get rather warm (read HOT) and your level of physical activity is liable to be greater then you are use

When a turret meets a tanker…the turret wins every time.

Real life horror stories from the US Army:

· Loader turned around on loader's stand to assist driver in backing. Turret stabilization was engaged to ensure gun tube remained down range. When tank turned as it backed, turret traversed, crushing loader's foot.

· Neither TC nor driver was wearing a CVC helmet, and there had been no safety briefing. As the driver was leaving the turret, it turned and caught his hip from lower back to mid thigh.

· Gunner traversed turret, catching soldier on front deck. Soldier's knee was caught and dislocated.

· Soldier was killed when he leaned out of hatch to manually release mine-plow on front of tank. He was caught between turret and hull.

· Soldier was riding with his foot outside the turret next to the hull wall. When the vehicle stopped, TC traversed the turret, and soldier's foot was dragged between hull and turret.

· TC was helping loader remove jammed shell casing, and gun returned to last firing position too fast. TC's head was caught between arming handle and turret roof. Luckily, he survived.

· Soldier was killed when he reached through the inner turret cavity to get TC's attention. Turret traversed and caught his head and arm.

· As loader reached to change radio frequency, he put his left knee on the turret ring; at the same time, gunner traversed the turret. Loader's leg was severely lacerated.

· Driver attempted to climb out of driver's hatch after TC announced power. His foot was caught between the turret and the hull.


Bruce Oppenhagen working on the M3 Grant