ALLENDALE, Mich.-- We've all seen them here and there, perhaps in front of a VFW hall or inside a museum...M60 military tanks that were used in war during the 1960s. We found two such tanks, both functional, behind Engine House Number Five Museum in Allendale.
"We just were able to work out, get on a list. The government was donating vehicles and we were able to get on the donation list and we were anxious to preserve these two vehicles,” says Jeff DuPilka with the Engine House Five Foundation. The M60 tank is a pretty heavy machine weighing in at about 1,000 pounds. That weight doesn't include fuel, shells, or the four personnel that typically make their daily home inside.
It's one thing to see these big machines parked on the side of the road, but to actually hear them running and see one in motion is quite the thrill. West Michigan Stories was given unprecedented access to climb aboard as the engine was fired up and thousands of pounds of steel and rubber treads began to move. Its big diesel engine sounds like a truck! The steering wheel, known as a tiller bar, is located in the front of the tank in a small compartment just large enough for the driver.
There was a gunner (who fired the gun), a loader (who loaded the shells), a commander (who was in-charge), and a driver of each tank in a typical scenario. The average range of each tank on a battlefield with fuel was about 300 miles. The 155 millimeter gun held 70 pound artillery shells and the tank was jammed with as many as possible, stored in ammunition chutes.
Both tanks are located behind Engine House Number Five Museum in Allendale. While both are due for refurbishment and a new paint job, Jeff says "“anytime of the day or night you can come here there are people getting their pictures taken. They’re climbing up and taking a look at the tank. They can’t look in it obviously, but they’re sitting on it getting their pictures taken. I think it’s just the fact that we were able to make these available.” Down the road a platform will eventually be built and the hatches will be opened for people to peer inside and see a day in the life of a tank operator.