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SPANNERS NEEDED!

If you possess that special kind of lunacy that takes pleasure in sacrificing time, fingernails and marital harmony to tinker with vintage machinery, then you'll find yourself in good company among the bunch of spanners here at Duxford.

We need volunteers to help us keep on top of our ever-growing collection. That can mean anything from applying emery cloth to rust spots to answering visitors' questions, researching histories or barreling round the field in an APC pretending to carry out essential tests.

If that sounds like fun to you, you're just the kind of spanner we're looking for. Click here to contact us and find out more.

You have to love these big brutes. And they do need a lot of love. For all of our careful sanding, priming, and copious applications of paint, the natural colour for a tank is rust. The Military Vehicle Wing is a semi-autonomous group within Duxford Aviation Society, and we all share a fascination for these no-nonsense assemblies of metal, oil and bad attitude.

We're based in the workshop area of the Land Warfare Hall at IWM Duxford, where we care for as many as fifty chunks of heavy metal. In many cases, we're able to restore them to running order, allowing us to put on spectacular (though not entirely silent) displays for visitors to the museum.

APC takes passengers for a blast at MVW Duxford
Fun in the mud for visitors to the Military Vehicle Wing

Many of our volunteers hold 'H' licences, allowing visitors to experience at first hand the thrill of blasting through the mud in a tracked vehicle. If you think 30mph sounds slow, wait until you experience it from the less than salubrious comfort of an armoured personnel carrier!

The fleet is made up of our own vehicles, alongside those belonging to the Imperial War Museum, plus visiting machinery and the much-loved treasures owned by some of our volunteers. All of them receive equal care and dedication.

Dedication is an important word here. We've not chosen an easy task - nuts and bolts have undergone a lot of changes of standards over the years, and it's unlikely you'll find a Haynes manual to help you strip the carburettor of a Rolls Royce Meteor. Add to that, for a good many of our exhibits, the manuals we wish for would be in Russian even if we had them! But when you finally find the right spanner, and three days' applications of penetraiting oil finally do their job, there are few things more satisfying than shifting a nut that hasn't moved for fifty years.

No one said it would be easy though. That's part of the reason we do it. Military vehicles were built to take rough punishment, but they weren't built to last. Unless there are people willing to step up an fight the invasion of time, these important pieces of battlefield history will be lost.

So that's what we do, and why we do it. And when twelve cylinders, each one with the capacity of a family car, burst into symphony, it's all so worthwhile.

 
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